A BLOG FOR READERS AND AUTHORS OF MTV BOOKS
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I could list things I will never put in a book all day. But it’s easier to tell you what I will ALWAYS write. I write romantic stories, and I will always give you a happy ending.
I’m not talking about a satisfying ending. You and I have different ideas about what constitutes one of those. You may love those, but I tend to throw those books against the wall. I have invested a lot of time and emotion in this couple. If they don’t get together in a timely manner and live happily ever after, you may think it’s for the best, but I feel cheated. These satisfying plots include the following:
• Boy and girl are not right for each other.
• Boy and girl are right for each other, but she is already married to somebody else, and he lets her go.
• Boy and girl are right for each other, but the obstacle keeping them apart is so insurmountable that they can’t get over it.
• Boy and girl are right for each other, and just when you think they’re going to get together, one of them DIES OMG!!!!!!!!
• Boy and girl are right for each other, and do get together, but only after 50 years, wherein the boy has lived a full life and traveled the world, while the girl has thought the boy was dead and has shriveled into a wizened heap of skin and bones, with only enough energy left to lift her head and greet the boy upon his triumphant return. Hooray!
Y’all. All these books have been best sellers and most of them have been made into movies, but where you see satisfying, I see a waste of my time as a reader and viewer. I want some payoff. And I always try to write the book I want to read.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Here are some obvious things I’ll never write about: politics, the economy, quantum physics, or the love life of the Peruvian skink. Those topics and about a thousand others are outside my range of knowledge and interest.
But if we’re talking fiction, one genre I’m not likely to write is historical fiction. When I was a kid, history class meant memorizing the beginning and ending dates of battles and wars, the names of dead kings and queens, and the routes of explorers like Magellan and the guy whose name you call out in the swimming pool. I got some of my best sleep from reading history books.
Another reason I probably won’t write historical fiction is all the research I’d have to do. My research for FAIREST OF THEM ALL was on a bunch of different topics—modeling, dance, volleyball, acting, alopecia--and happened in little bursts of effort. Good historical fiction requires sifting through tons of letters, diaries, maps, public records, etc., etc. I can’t see myself spending months and even years digging through all that paper. By the time I’d gathered all the facts and details to write the book, I’d have forgotten what I was going to write about.
The third, and most important reason I won’t be writing historical fiction is that I’m not passionate about it. What’s the point of writing about something that doesn’t move me? I’d rather stick with contemporary fiction and leave writing about the past to amazing authors like Christopher Paul Curtis and Ann Rinaldi.
So historical fiction is probably out for me. But the love life of the Peruvian skink might be kind of interesting—at least to another skink. I wonder if skinks are big readers? I'll have to do some research to find out.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I had so much fun coming up with those tips, I got to rehash everything about guys that I don't understand and put them down on paper. It was like therapy.
So I don't think I'll ever write a book with a guy as the main character.
I am currently writing a book with a boy as the main character (RYAN PICKLER: BORN TO BE RAD). But it's a middle grade book and I'm writing it with my son, who is a fourth grade boy. And I know him pretty darn well enough to write a character that is the spitting image of him (and all the gross things a 9 year old boy does). I'm loving every minute we spend coming up with crazy stuff for Ryan Pickler to do, say and react to. I love Ryan Pickler, farts and all.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I must say, I thought this topic sounded like a lot of fun to write about. I have pondered this question before and there are a few things I cannot see myself diving into as a writer. If I ever tried to write erotica, I think the teen in me would just start cracking up. Using words and phrases like pecs, thrust, in the heat of the moment are just not my thing. I really enjoy a good love scene but it has to be within a story, not what the story is centered around. I was definitely one of those kids that covered their eyes every time Jack from Three’s Company made out with a hot chick.
I also don’t see myself writing a self-help book because I don’t know what I could help people with. Do people want to read a whole book on how to conquer mounds of laundry or convince their kids that they really should brush their teeth, everyday? Didn’t think so.
Books on religion are also not my cup of tea. I respect different religious views but to me religion is more a personal, spiritual thing. It's not necessarily something I want to write about or have the responsibility of educating people on the subject.
I know I should never say never but erotica, self-help and religious books are three areas that I don’t see myself getting into. If you are what you eat, then I am what I read. My favorite genres are teen and adult realistic fiction. I also love humorous nonfiction and biographies. And my favorite food combo, chocolate and peanut butter—yum! Now this is what they call food porn—more down my alley!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Didn't the thought that you would never write another song
Another feverish line or riff
Make you think twice?
That's what I don't understand
Because it's kept me alive, above any wounds
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Zoey’s life in her Florida beach resort town is happy and organized. She’s the captain of her high school swim team, and she works for her dad at his popular water park. Then her dad has an affair with one of his employees, and her mother has a breakdown. But Zoey begins a committed relationship with a hot lifeguard, which makes her feel stable, even if things aren’t perfect at home. Everything is still under control.
Until she has a car accident that she can’t remember. She should have been with her boyfriend that night, but he doesn’t seem to know anything about the accident—and he doesn’t seem to care. The person who does care, and knows more than he’s telling, is Doug, Zoey’s darkly handsome arch-enemy who saved her from the wreckage. As Zoey begins to piece together what happened that night, she finds her sense of control over her life was only an illusion. And she inches closer to discovering the darkest secret of all: why Doug has fallen in love with her.
The folks in editorial usually have a different idea about what makes a good description, though. If my description actually appears on the back cover, that will be the first time!
I’ve also had a conversation with my editor about ideas for the cover. I told her I honestly can’t imagine a cover more beautiful than the cover of Going Too Far. Doug and Zoey look very different from Meg and John in Going Too Far, but I would be happy with a similar cover.
This can backfire. I spent three and half years as the contest coordinator for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and I can’t tell you how many times an author sent me copies of the wrong book because all her books looked so much alike! In the bookstore, I’m afraid this may translate as a reader picking up Forget You and thinking, “Oh, I already have this one,” and putting it back.
There’s one change I know I want to make. Take a look at my critique partner’s first book
and her sixth book, coming out in January.
Is that her name on the cover, or is she just happy to see me? As authors get bigger, their names on their covers get bigger, because readers start buying their books on the basis of their famous names alone. Now check out my name on my first book. (Hint: use a magnifying glass.)
Forget You will be my sixth book, and I’m thinking something like this will be in order:
Well, all RIGHT. But by my seventh book, I will be so big, my name won’t even fit on the cover.
Next stop: revisions. I can’t wait!
Monday, September 7, 2009
This summer has brought some good times, but it’s been kind of a bummer, too. Here are a few of my gripes:
1. A tree in our backyard rained enormous branches on our house and yard until we gave up and had it cut down.
2. The road to our development collapsed during a flash flood, and I was cut off from civilization for an entire day.
3. Gizmo, our Pekingese, wiggled under our backyard gate and vanished into the woods.
4. About a minute into my morning run on August 31, I had a heart attack.
If you follow this blog, you've read about items one and two, and you’re waiting breathlessly for updates. Wait no longer.
Two weeks ago we planted a red maple in our backyard to take the place of our former tree. It’s farther from the house, and we have a few years before we need to worry about falling branches.
A permanent solution to our crater/road is on the way. Construction begins tomorrow to add a fourth culvert under our road—and reinforce the whole thing with concrete—so only a Noah-level flood can wipe it out. Two problems solved.
Our straying pooch Gizmo straggled home two days after his getaway. His ears, tail, and all other body parts were so matted with stick-tights that the groomer had to cut his fur down to ground level. Until his coat grows out, we’re living with a Pekingese disguised as a pug. As you can see from his picture, he's not too happy about it. Mike lowered the gate to eliminate Gizmo’s wiggle room and prevent future escapes. Problem three solved.
Yes, I really did have a heart attack. And, yes, I’ve been running for a zillion years. I don’t smoke, drink infrequently, lift weights, eschew red meat, and basically do everything possible to take care of myself. I'm no stranger to shin splints, stress fractures, and pulled muscles. But a heart attack?
My heart was the one organ I knew I could count on. So when my chest and neck and arm burst into pain, I was stunned and in denial. But I wasn’t completely stupid. I stopped running, got myself home, and called the paramedics. By the time the ambulance reached the hospital, the clot causing the problem had dissolved. The tests showed no blockage, the damage to my heart is minor, and recovery will be 100%. In a few weeks I’ll be back running again.
What’s the bright side of having a heart attack? Let me think. I can vividly describe what a heart attack—and all the subsequent testing, poking, and prodding--feels like. I can write what it’s like to ride in an ambulance, hang out in the ER, drag an IV around, and have a tanker truck of blood sucked from my arm. Of course, the paramedics, technicians, doctors, and nurses will make great characters for future stories.
And, if you’re going to make me see the glass half-full, I suppose the bright side is obvious. I’m still here to bitch, moan, and write it all down.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
"You can never have too many jeans," I told him. But it got me thinking about jeans, and how jeans have defined parts of my life.
One year for school (6th grade) I told my mom I wanted "French" jeans. She bought me a pair of Sassoon jeans before anyone had ever seen them mentioned (along with Oo-la-la) in a commercial. The next year I got a pair of Calvin Klein jeans and I can remember how they'd stretch when I put them on because they had spandex in them. Those were my designer years, when jeans felt "formal" and special. And even though nothing came between Brooke and her Calvins, underwear came between me and mine.
In high school, my sophomore year, I got the greatest pair of Girbaud jeans. They were amazing. I wore them with flats. I went to a high school with a dress code that didn't include jeans, so on the weekends all I ever wore to parties were jeans. That pair of Girbaud saw lots of life in their three years of high school. I felt so contemporary when I wore them.
My first week of college I bought a pair of Levi's. I thought they were too dark, so I also bought a bottle of bleach and soaked them in the bathroom sink until they were a nice pale shade of blue with some patches of dark where they didn't get covered. I wore those jeans into the ground. Jeans in college were all about comfort and feeling good. Even when they eventually ripped (I really did wear them ALOT) I sewed blue bandannas into the knees and kept wearing them (I went to college in the late 80's so the look was totally acceptable).
After college I bought Gap jeans. Skinny ones. They never made me feel as good as the Levi's.
Now I have 12 pairs of jeans in my closet. The newer ones are bootcuts (from Abercrombie), which I never thought I'd wear because I never thought I was a bootcut kind of girl. I have some with tab pockets in the back, which look cool but sort of make me feel like I'm trying too hard. And I have a few old pairs that for some reason I keep even if I haven't worn them in years. And I still have that faded pair of Levi's from college (and they still fit). It's not like I ever plan to wear them with all their holes and bandannas sewn all over the place. But I can't bear to get rid of them. They remind me of college and hanging out with friends and writing on my jeans in class when doodling was more fun than taking notes on Plato's Republic. If those jeans could write a book, let me tell you, it would be a comedy and a drama and one heck of a read.
What about you? Do you have clothes in your closet that tell your story?
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
It’s been about a year and a half since I accepted an offer from MTV Books for Shrinking Violet and during that time I have fielded many questions about being an author. I thought I’d share some of the more interesting questions with you. All in good fun of course, but I sure did get a kick out of some of these questions!
1. “Are you going to be as rich as J. K. Rowling?”
My answer: “I wish!”
2. “Do you need a personal assistant?”
My answer: “Are they giving those out for free?”
3. “Your book is with MTV? What Channel?”
My answer: I’m not answering that one. Enough said.
4. “Do you need someone to fly with you on your book tour?”
My answer: “Sorry, I already have a personal assistant for that.”
5. “Will you remember me when you’re famous?”
My answer: “Remind me who you are again.”
Whatever your profession is, I’d love to hear some funny questions that you’ve encountered along the way.