Monthly Archives: November 2008

MUSIC!

Hope everybody had a cozy, happy Thanksgiving (or as my friend R. called it, “steal a country and kill a turkey day”). Today, Black Friday, I’m giving you oodles of Christmas presents early, from me to you (and all without my favorites to back me up, on my parents’ computer).

I have an enormous, voracious, ravenous appetite for new music. To that end, I have several tools that I use to find more. Whenever I see a movie, I often look up the soundtracks at imdb or Amazon. I’m likely to email my friends Dave and Nick and beg for suggestions. The Gossip Girl website is good for new music (there are separate playlists for all the characters) and cdbaby is always there for me (and now sending me a newsletter!). Another good source of music you hear on t.v. is TuneFind. Just while looking for one of my links, I found this blog called Song a Day, which didn’t last long but looks interesting, but alas, I can’t find the one I was looking for. I’m a big fan of Cassette From My Ex (though I wish they’d update more often), which I’ve mentioned before. One of my happiest finds was NPR’s Song of the Day newsletter (they have a Music Notes newsletter, too). Another extremely good find was the NY Times’ Living with Music blog where writers are asked to make playlists. One of my recent favorites was Elissa Schappell and I, of course, adored Nick Hornby’s. He made me extremely angry about a Ben Folds song I can’t find anywhere. And best of all, he introduced me to the music blog I Am Fuel, You Are Friends.

Okay, don’t say I never gave you anything. Hey! If you want to give me something, send me some links for great new music finds. I always need new music. Have a great weekend everybody.

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Lying to tell the truth

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It was actually a bit over 45 minutes, but the timer re-set itself while I was writing. Still pretty freaking awesome!!

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Emily the Strange and Cyber Space

I’m amused this morning to see Emily the Strange and Lauren Conrad side by side on the main page of MySpace. Oh what a world we live in.

And in my inbox, Megan McCafferty’s newsletter showing me the cover and synopsis of the fifth and final Jessica Darling novel, Perfect Fifths. These books have pretty much shadowed me at every turn of my growing up so far, since I read the first one, Sloppy Firsts. And I read an amusing blog from McCafferty on her Fifteen Minutes on Facebook and MySpace. I feel like that pretty much every day, but I will persevere on in this cyber space.

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You have everything you need

Jamey told me that my new mantra is, “You have everything you need,” and I am invoking it as frequently as possible. It’s already helped the past few days and considering how crazy I’ve been, imagine how much crazier I would’ve been without, “You have everything you need.”

Let’s talk about food for a moment. Or an hour.

Can I just say how impeccable and lovely the meals always are at the Monteleone Hotel? The food is wonderful and the service is to die for, cordial and consistent. I always feel like I’m living my dream life when I’m in the rooftop dining room, looking out over the curve of the Mississippi and eating my vegetables like a good girl. Words and Music, the parts I attended, was divine this year, as usual. It’s always chock-full of memorable people and experiences.

Afterwards, I dashed into Beckham’s Bookshop (which, if I remember correctly, was the first bookshop I ever visited in Nola ten years ago) to buy James Nolan’s Perpetual Care. Then, went into Southern Candymakers to buy some pralines. I’m always welcomed there like an old friend and I amuse them by selling candy while I’m in line by recommending my favorites to the tourists. I was shocked and enormously pleased when they gave me a discount. I once had an argument with somebody over which was the best candy shop in the city and after about five minutes of intense disagreement, we realized we were talking about the two locations of the same shop (at either end of Decatur). Another friend insists Laura’s Candies is the best, especially their truffles, which I’ll admit I haven’t tried, but my money is always on Southern Candymakers, especially for pralines (but also try a Jackson Square or their huge peanut butter cups or their white chocolate macadamia tortues or their covered Oreos or their fudge or anything really). One of the candy sellers and I have an intense ongoing debate about whether pralines are best served warm (him) or frozen with milk (me). Either way, peanut butter and coconut are my favorites.

After my candy purchasing, I hopped in the car with Martin and was whisked away from downtown to Oak Street and the New Orleans Po’Boy Preservation Festival. Great fun all around and ran into some of Martin’s friends and some of my own, which was nice and always the best part of festivals. However, I will name my favorite discovery of the festival. At the suggestion of Martin’s cousin’s friend’s girlfriend L, and then the smell of my friend T‘s po’boy, we ventured down to the Parkway Bakery tent and got a $2 roast beef po’boy that was simply to die for. We’d already had two excellent po’boys (and a beer) between us (and there’s no counting how many the two of us have had in our lifetimes), so you can trust me when I say that this was one of the most amazing gustatory experiences I’ve ever had. My friend V created the best adjective when I was clumsily trying to describe it to her later: po’gasmic (you’ll have to bring it up with her if you want to use this in advertising). [Martin loves picking on me when I’m tired and reminded me that L is not his cousin-by-marriage’s girlfriend, but rather his cousin’s friend’s girlfriend. Oh, south Louisiana…]

Which brings me to the last thing I wanted to discuss today. My novel has been TRULY making me crazy lately and in her usual, knowing way, Toni has written what I needed to read in today’s Murderati blog, called Comfort Reading. Go read it now. If it doesn’t make you cry or start writing immediately, as it did me, you have no heart and no eyes.

I’ve been enjoying watching the counter shoot up. Thanks to everybody who’s reading.

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The alchemy of reading

What happens when a room full of editors and agents get asked the question, “What would you do if you were Oprah for a day and could change the publishing industry?” Well for one, if you’re extremely lucky and make like Jane Goodall (stay still, downwind and silent), they’ll forget that you (lots and lots of writers) are there and inadvertently engage in an industry meeting that *every* writer should witness. To every person involved in that panel at Words and Music, every agent and editor, thank you. I’m so glad that I and a gaggle of other writers got to see that. I was going to quote some of you because I did manage to jot down some of the pithier things you said verbatim. But the thing I think needs to be stressed most is that to change the publishing industry, we need to change the way our culture reads, change the way we think and speak about reading. When we love a book, we need to use the power of our voices and our fingers to tell everybody we know. At heart, despite everything else, writing and printing books has an intended goal – for people to read them (the “selling” and “buying” parts are secondary processes that allow the writing and printing to continue, but it’s not the goal or product). How can we forget, allow others to forget or neglect to teach our youth what it feels like to not only hold a book (paper, ink, words) in your hands and read it with our very own eyes and our very own minds and our very hearts, but to be transformed by a book. The alchemy that reading is capable of is like nothing else out there. Nothing.

That said, here’s a book that looks like it’ll be really good and I soooo wish somebody had asked me to write for, Zombies Versus Unicorns. Anybody wanna guess which side I’m on???? 🙂 And another book that I’m gonna read after hearing James Nolan read from it, Perpetual Care. And one of my favorite books ever, the one I buy every copy of in used bookstores to give as Christmas presents, re-read every year or so, Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. That should keep you busy while I play hooky from writing conferences and writing both…

P.S. This is my 100th post.

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Outlook good…

So today kicks of Words and Music, whooo hooooo and I’ve been lucky to meet Laura of The Three Ps of Post-MFA ’08, not to mention a gaggle of other writers/filmmakers with whom she’s associated, which is exciting AND NaNoWriMo is still on-going (so there’s still a breath of a chance that I might actually do 50,000 words). So much going on.

The funny thing about working for a writer (who also happens to be your friend and mentor) is that eventually (even if you try to avoid it) you end up talking about writing and she (the writer, your friend and mentor) ends up figuratively kicking your ass in a much-needed way. Thank Gawd for Toni. After the figurative kick in the pants, I drove home from Baton Rouge in UTTER silence (which I never do) and sometimes spoke my story out loud and realized about seven major things in the book that I needed to know. Example? The biggest one – I realized one of my favorite characters has died by the last third book and oddly, the character has been trying to tell me that he’s dead already for a while now by not appearing for the scenes I want him to be in. He just doesn’t show up. I have every intention for him to be in that scene and then he stays in his apartment and won’t play with the characters like I want him to. Whew.

So, I got home and went to pick up Chinese food at this place I like and it turned out I didn’t have an acceptable mode of payment with me. Since they’ve seen me in there before, they were kind enough to let me leave without paying, trusting that I’d call them with a credit card. I did, of course, but I love that kind of trust in this day in age. And I had two fortune cookies in my bag, so I opened both of them (of course) and amazingly, it was the SAME fortune (different luck numbers): “Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goal. You will succeed.”

All of my fortune cookies (and horoscopes) seem to be telling me the same thing – focus and you can finish this book by the end of the year.

So I had a great writing night that night and a pretty good one tonight. Hence:

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I’m off to get pretty for dinner.

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Further signs of the apocalpyse

Proposed New York library budget cuts. If anybody reads this, it’d be awesome if you’d sound off in the comments about why libraries rock. Why they’re essential for an educated, healthy society and should be elaborately and lavishly funded.

[11/17: Nothing? Really? No one wants to say a word in defense of public libraries? I know there’s been a bit of traffic here over the weekend…]

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Oh thank Gawd

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Lucinda’s luxurious lyrics lulling…

Listening to Lucinda Williams’ Little Honey, which I finally broke down and (found!) bought myself. I have hereby bought my first Lucinda Williams cd, after all of the cds SOO’s given me just bursting with her songs. Mr. Fox asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said that, so then I thought I was being silly and should treat myself to what I wanted…

So much to discuss! Where do I start??? The physical act of writing has been crummy lately, but I’ve been getting tons of insights and everything I see, hear, read, feel seems to be influencing. I should be woken EVERY morning by one of my doctors calling me and gamely diagnosing my fictional character for me via the telephone. LOL. He’s a good sport, he is, for taking the, “Uh, did your nurse tell you the question’s not about me but about the character in my book…?” so very well. And the last line of my horoscope (Tarot.com) is telling: “Staying true to your character today is the best course of action.”

Amusing me lately are these:

Code names for the future first family.

Apparently, I grew up in one of the best places to raise kids. But I’m no longer anywhere near such a place…

Enjoy the Rachel Getting Married website, then go enjoy the movie. It’s a bit tough, but sooo beautiful and extraordinary. And I’m not just saying that because Demme somehow, magically picked my brain and filmed MY WEDDING years before it takes place. Seriously. I wasn’t the only person to think so. Two people who know me both independently told me, “It was weird to watch your perfect wedding in the middle of that movie.” Before I said anything about it. Between the multicultural aspect (for no explained reason, but which felt so right for the family and the couple), particularly the Indian influence (THAT CAKE! THOSE SARIS!) and the loose collection of musicians constantly playing and demonstrating, that is my wedding. Almost exactly as I’ve described it to friends. One part talent show a la Dr. Angelou’s family Thanksgiving celebration, one part ongoing, random music concert and lots and lots of friends and family being angsty and loving and impossible and gorgeous. Seriously. On the other hand, if I ever do make a movie, I want to make it just as Demme et al did with this one. He invited his friends and family to be extras, guests at the wedding, armed guests/extras with cameras and had everybody at risk to the camera constantly, including the musicians, who played whenever and however they wanted. Seriously, SO COOL. (Somebody could give me the soundtrack for my birthday… if they wanted…)

Speaking of music, saw a great show at Circle Bar earlier this week: Simon Lott, Helen Gillet and Lucas Davenport. Check any and all of them out if you get the opportunity, highly recommended.

So sitting here at Cheers, I saw a girl who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9, entirely self-possessed, walk into the coffee shop with a copy of Twilight under her arm. She went and ordered a TALL coffee and then, equally self-possessed, walked out. It touched me and scared me to see her reading that book. It’s a great book and I’m glad to see an 8 or 9 year old reading such a large book (not that the vocabulary would be too tricky…) BUT part of me wanted to stop her and go, “PLEASE don’t grow up looking for love like this. Love like this in real life is SCARY. It’s all well and good in a novel, but loving somebody or being loved like Bella and Edward love each other in these books is NOT something you want to aspire to. It’s debilitating and dangerous.” I like the books a whole lot, but it really scares me to see young folks looking at love through this lens – probably like it scared people when Wuthering Heights came out. Or even Romeo and Juliet, probably.

Now, I’m going to have to use this nifty little tool that comes to me by way of both After the MFA and GalleyCat and get some writing done.

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It must’ve been a slow news day…

…which is good news, I suppose. Enjoy.

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