Monthly Archives: June 2009

Buy it today!


Toni’s second Bobbie Faye book, Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, is out today. Get it now so you’ll have time to read it before the third (previously un-released book!), When a Man Loves a Weapon, comes out August 4. These books are really funny and sexy. Perfect summer reads to indulge in if you’re going on vacation or if you’re stuck at the office and can’t get away. Memorize some corporate jargon to answer with in case anyone pops into your office, hide the book in front of your computer screen and enjoy! Course, you’ll probably give yourself away when you start laughing uncontrollably, but that just means you can get everyone at work hooked, too!

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Filed under book news, books, bragging on, Friends

Bragging on some friends…

First, from Nick Fox’s latest email newsletter (I know y’all loved reading his guest post/newsletter before):

“Every city has its personality, and every personality has its moods. When traveling, you’ll find your mood may or may not match the mood of the place you’re in. A city that felt like home in the past, or at least an old friend, suddenly feels distant, on to other things. The idea in this situation is to find a place to hole up, because no matter the city, there will be a corner somewhere that feels like a valentine. It can be difficult to find. It’s taken me almost three days to find the Esperanto Café on MacDougal Street in Manhattan. But I’ve found it, and now I sit here looking at this quiet stretch of the city that not only never sleeps, but never rests. And I rest. And I write.

Writing is the order of the trip. An adventure in the middle of an adventure. And sometimes the adventure gives you a place to land. I didn’t expect it, but last Tuesday, I found a landing. A complete first draft of my novel. 451 pages. 134,000 words. THE END being the last two of those words.

The last time I finished a book was five years ago, and I followed that experience by shrieking and running up and down the hallway, leaping in the air, beating my chest and howling at the roof. Nothing of the like this time around. I hit those last two words and saved the file, then went outside and sat for about a half hour, considering how much further I have to go. I don’t think the last 100 pages of the book work at all, and the second draft will involve massive rewrites. But the draft is DONE, by God, and the feeling that accompanies that is not exaltation, but relief.”

And the second book in Toni’s Bobbie Faye series is coming out at the end of the month. You can pre-order it now. More on that in a later post…

Last night, Jamey and I went to Clarence’s book party where a fun mix of family, friends, book groups and artists celebrated him and his newest book, Too Much of a Good Thing Ain’t Bad. It was a lot of fun. Celebrating my friends is a good thing I can never get too much of. Clarence and I met in grad school at LSU, were neighbors for a time in Baton Rouge and traveled together to D.C., North Carolina and Atlanta to promote the prequel to the new book, Three Sides to Every Story. We’ve had the same scary dream from two different hotel rooms in a rural Georgia town, given each other advice, spent time with each other’s families and I know he’ll always be a part of my life. I’m incredibly proud of him and I can’t wait for you to discover his words. Do it now, before his first novel is made into a movie. That way, you’ll be ahead of the curve. 🙂

When I get them, I’ll put up a pic or two from the party. Unfortunately, my camera crapped out. But there was a photographer there and Jamey got some pics as well.

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A new gig

A quick post to tell y’all some news. Perhaps you will see less SYTYCD comments here, because I’ve been asked (okay, after significant campaigning, I’ve been allowed…) to write occasionally for Pure So You Think You Can Dance, one of my favorite blogs period. I’ve linked to it a lot on this blog and especially love it because John, the host, goes to significant trouble to track down the extraordinary music that appears on SYTYCD.

Look for my intro post soon. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know.

The best part? I now have a bona fide “excuse” to never miss an episode. Dude, it’s my gig! 🙂

[6.25.09: My first post is up! Check it out!]


Filed under freelance work, pop culture, So You Think You Can Dance, t.v.

SYTYCD judges answer some questions

As part of a piece I’m working on for 225, I was able to pop by the SYTYCD auditions in New Orleans today and speak for a few minutes with the judges. Two of them anyway. Mary Murphy, Adam Shankman and Lil C were there, though Lil C went back into the auditions before I could speak with him. You’re going to have to forgive me if I seem needlessly mysterious. Because these auditions are for Season 6, which won’t air for a few months, information about the progress of individual contestants is protected until particular episodes air. However, it’s my understanding that everything not related to the progress of contestants that was said to the press (that would be me, as well as reporters from The Times-Picayune and offBeat), or in front of us, is fair game.

Adam spoke about how the SYTYCD judges tend to give lots of (positive) feedback to the dancers, even the ones they know won’t go forward or even appear on the show, because every single one of the judges has been in the contestant’s shoes, trying to begin careers as professional dancers. He also commented on his tendency to encourage contestants to continue dancing even if they might not necessarily be the best, if it’s clear that dance brings them joy.

Something I enjoyed finding out about was that the judges now often watch monitors (on the show) so they can give feedback on what the audience sees after a performance. A while back, Adam mentioned, he gave feedback that he got lots of flak for and he realized later it was because what he’d mentioned hadn’t even been shown on the televised show. They are live shows – so the camera doesn’t always catch details the judges see.

He said that the bar’s been set higher than ever for the contestants currently trying out for Season 6 because not only are they having to follow memorable dancers from every previous season, but they’re essentially competing with the current Top 20 for the judges’ attention. They have to stand out not only in their own cities, but also against the tough competition of Season 5’s Top 20. That being said, I’m happy he was so impressed by a contestant in New Orleans, saying in one of his latest Tweets, “Just saw a kid audition that I swear will be top 20. Unreal.”

It’s no secret that Adam Twitters, but I was not expecting him to Twitter while he was answering our questions. Presumably, from what I gathered at the time and since, someone sent Adam a direct Tweet, telling him to keep his eyes open for a particular contestant. Can’t name names, and this is all hearsay (I was standing next to him at the time) of course, but I have good reason to believe that the contestant Adam was Tweeted about may be the same contestant he mentions in his Tweet. 🙂 For the record, Adam and the other judges had already seen the contestant in question by the time Adam received the Tweet. Whew! Technology!

[3.31.10: Can’t believe I never added this after the fact. For the record, the contestant all this hubbub was about is Jakob Karr, who not only made Top 20, but also Top 10 and Top 4 and eventually came in 2nd place to Russell Ferguson. And he auditioned in New Orleans. I got to see his audition, in fact, though I didn’t know it was him at the time.]

What really gets me is this picture Adam Tweeted – I didn’t know Cat Deely was there! Why didn’t I get to interview her?

One of the reporters asked Mary how well the judges are able to keep track of former contestants after each season and she amazed me by reeling off (without any notes or hesitation) many contestants’ names and their current projects. You definitely get the idea from watching the show that it’s a pretty tight community, that the judges remember and look out for the contestants, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised she was able to name around a dozen contestants and what they’re doing now. I didn’t know, for instance, that Neil had been injured and probably won’t be able to perform for a year.

While the other reporters interviewed the other two judges, (the reason I missed Lil C!) I stayed behind to ask Mary more questions.

Mamma Mia! wanted me to ask her how the hot tamale train got started. When I did, confessing that my mom wanted to know and that we watch the show while texting each other after every routine, she laughed her trademark laugh and told me that she’s called dancers hot tamales throughout her career. She happened to put one of those hot tamales, Anya from Season 3, on the “hot tamale train” and the catchphrase was born.

If you read my blog, you know I go on sometimes about SYTYCD and that I was recently upset about Natalie Reid getting cut without being asked to dance for her life. The circumstances of that seemed odd to me (and others in the blogosphere, from what I can tell). So, I asked Mary what happened with Natalie. She seemed genuinely sad when she said that Natalie hadn’t been standing out throughout Vegas week, hadn’t been living up to the expectations of the judges, who remembered her (of course) from last season. Many dancers, she said, are able to stand out in their cities and sometimes don’t carry through in Vegas, when the best of the best are together. She said that by the time Natalie was cut, there weren’t any more opportunities to dance for your life. In the episode, other contestants dance for their lives after Natalie was cut, but it looks like the editing of the episode may have a lot to do with our confusion. In the clip, Natalie even mentions, “They just kept saying ‘you’re not living up to our expectations,'” which you don’t really see them say in the episode. I just keep coming back to Sonya using Natalie and Brandon as the example of her choreography, Sonya jumping up and hugging Natalie after she got cut (Nigel did, as well, I should say).

Both Mary and Adam seemed genuinely warm and demonstrated that they’re very passionate about discovering new dancers and mentoring them. SYTYCD has always seemed like “kinder, gentler reality show” (as reality goes) from my viewpoint as a fan on the couch and that’s only been strengthened by meeting two of its judges. And before our interview ended, Mary asked me to tell my mom “hi,” which Mamma Mia! loved, of course.

When Season 6 airs in the fall, I’ll confirm whether the Mystery Contestant Adam’s excited about now does indeed progress to the Top 20. And of course, when it prints, I’ll link to the 225 piece that started it all…


Filed under freelance work, New Orleans, So You Think You Can Dance, t.v.

Some updates

The Book: One reader has gotten back to me – finishing the book in a day and a half! Which is good news itself. She had some really good feedback and I did break down after 9 days and begin a bit (very little) work on the book. The things that need to be fixed are relatively minor and just a matter of layering in a bit more, fleshing some things out. Which is what I was hoping for. Now, it’s been two and a half weeks and except for that bit of work, I’ve been focusing on other things. But the cool thing is that my brain is still processing the book, coming up with the things that I need right before I lay down to sleep or in my sleep, etc.

The Next Major Project: I already have what I believe will be my next book in mind. It will be drastically different from TCB/TWC, very genre. Me said that it sounded like the kind of thing I used to write when I was younger, before grad school, more like the books we read growing up (Dean Koontz). I won’t divulge here, but it will have a kick-ass female protagonist who will literally kick ass. For now, I may do some plotting and research occasionally, but probably won’t get to working on this in a major way till NaNoWriMo in November.

SYTYCD: Very upset that Paris and Tony got booted last week. I really liked them both and enjoyed their hop-hop. Honestly, I think Tony experienced some reverse-favoritism because of his looks, his lack of experience and his height. I suspect Paris got sent home primarily because none of the other boys in danger were tall enough to partner her. She clearly danced better than the other two girls in the “dance for your life” aspect. I really hope Asuka leaves soon cause she annoys me and she seems really one-dimensional as a dancer. Of course I’m watching tonight.

[6.18.09: I claimed that no one was tall enough to partner Paris and watching last night, I realized that Ade probably is (of the guys in the bottom three last week). But I tend to forget about him. He’s a great dancer when he’s right in front of my face, but I never remember him. After watching last night, I’m agreeing more and more with this post by Lyndsey Parker where she discussed the potential for the judges to be giving opposite feedback. Something is off with the judges this season – they claim to be wowed by routines that leave me cold and needlessly pick on routines that I love. For instance: they loved Asuka and Vitolio’s waltz (Mary cried, which I don’t buy) and I was so bored and disinterested. I can’t connect to either of those performers and luckily, it seems like people (other than the judges) agree with me. Whereas I love Randi and Evan, adored their performance last night and the judges seemed to be looking for negatives to pick at. I tend to agree with this break down of the couples and last nights’ performances. We’ll see how it goes tonight. What I really love is that Mamma Mia! and I text each other throughout the show.]

Last night: I experienced a phenomenal show last night, The Devil Makes Three at Hi-Ho Lounge. I hesitate to say much about it here, for the moment, because I’m hoping to review the concert. We’ll see. However, it was perhaps the best live show I’ve seen in a good long while. I’ve already listened to the new c.d., Do Wrong Right, twice since I bought it at 1:30 this morning. The show was opened by a (local? it’s hard to tell, I can’t find them online) band called Death By Arrow that was pretty interesting, especially once they hit the mid-point of their set.

Some quick links:

An SLS teacher of mine, Tom Swick is in the latest issue of Oxford American.

I’m writing about the latest One Book One Community read, Poor Man’s Provence, for 225.

Dave Eggers writes non-fiction about Katrina.

AP Style gets with it re: Twitter.

Toad and Frog, some of my favorite characters, have new adventures.

This piece about race in a community magazine has a bit of a Rorschach test in its title.

Christian group wants to burn Francesca Lia Block books as part of an effort toward “Safe Libraries” and I’m thinking they’ve never read Fahrenheit 451. Which would make sense. This makes me very angry and there’s a lot more flip and funny and mean things I could say, but I won’t. Read the piece, read all the press and I’m sure those flip, funny and mean things will come to you naturally.

Ending on a good note, Flashlight Worthy Books is on Twitter. And everywhere else, too. 🙂

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Filed under freelance work, literature, musing, politics, pop culture, random rant, So You Think You Can Dance, t.v., writing updates

One week later

So I finished my “quick edit” on the book a week ago, after finishing it and not looking at it for 24 hours. I’m making myself not read it for a least two weeks so that I can do another read-through and edit relatively fresh-minded. And you know what? It’s actually pretty hard. I haven’t so much wanted to tinker with it as read it. I want to read my own book! I hope that’s not another indication of delusion. 🙂

In the vein of not thinking about it, I have been reading a lot, watching SYTYCD, having dinner with my Papa Bear and friends and spending way too much time on Facebook. I haven’t worked any on the essay that I wanted to go back to, not yet. So basically, I’ve been giving my creative juices a big ol’ break.

Speaking of SYTYCD, I’ve been enjoying it immensely (and will even more next week, when the Top 20 are paired up), but I’m very, very angry about one thing. Why did Natalie get cut without even a chance to dance for her life? She’d done everything right up till that point, had even been asked to demonstrate (with Brandon) the dance she got cut on. What’s with that? I smell some sort of conspiracy or cover up, but haven’t been able to find anything online, just other people really upset and angry over it. Did she get offered a contract at the last minute and rather than explain that she had, they cut her? I don’t understand. Were they being accused of favoritism because she’s Katee’s former roommate? They’ve been really hard on favorites who tried out and almost made it in other seasons, but why cut her? She didn’t dance the routine that badly, and even if she had, it was her first mistake (televised anyway). I guess that’s enough rumination there.

Some great stuff:

Video of Toni Morrison talking about post-Obama writing.

Awesome journal, One Story.

I’m like the last person to discover Texts from Last Night. Kinda painful. And glorious.


Filed under family, funny, literature, musing, pop culture, So You Think You Can Dance, t.v., writing updates

Cool news, not ‘fessing

Two of my favorite writers (and people) have upcoming books.

First: Toni McGee Causey‘s first two Bobbie Faye books are being renamed and re-released this month. The first, called Charmed and Dangerous now, is out tomorrow, but I can tell you now that it’s on shelves in at least one Wal-Mart already. They can also be found at Target, your local bookstores and online retailers. Toni’s books are some of the funniest I’ve ever read, really suspenseful and action-packed. It won’t be too long, I’m confident, before they’re made into movies, cause they’re really visual. If you hit the first link, her website, you can read the first chapter. The second in the series, Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, is coming June 30th. And the third book, When a Man Loves a Weapon, which hasn’t been released yet (and which ROCKS!), will be published August 4th. I can’t recommend this series enough.

Next: Clarence Nero’s new book, Too Much of a Good Thing Ain’t Bad, the sequel to Three Sides to Every Story, is out June 23rd. His books are racy and engrossing, it’s impossible not to invest in what’s going on, just like the best gossip.

I came back from BR today with a lot of books to read for fun and these books are at the top of the list to re-read and enjoy.

Also, for those of you asking, “What’s next?” now that my book’s done, have no fear. Before I’d even finished, I was excited to return to a long-form essay about the 10 years it took from the moment my father said, “We’re moving to New Orleans” for me to actually get to New Orleans. If you want to know how that’s possible, well, you’ll just have to read it. Which means I’ll have to finish writing it and find someone to publish a long-form essay in this economy. LOL.

P.S. The New Moon Trailer made me soooooo happy. Check it out and watch is several times as I did. The first half is kinda slow and awkward, but the second half (and Jacob’s exploding jeans) makes it so worth it. Did I ever officially come out as Team Jacob? Well, think I just did folks.

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