Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Goodreads Giveaway of Afterparty!!!

I'm so excited about this!  Afterparty was just released in paperback, and to celebrate, the folks at Simon Teen are doing a Goodreads giveaway.  Soooo, if you haven't read the book yet and you'd like to, go win the darned thing!

(Note that this post is very short.  This is because I invoked Dear Clueless.  "Dear Clueless," I said, "so, should I post something brilliant and incisive about the roller coaster that is Goodreads?"  To which she replied, "No."  To which I replied, "But I love my Goodreads giveaway!"  To which she replied, "Still no.")

Here's the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/122904-afterparty

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Really Bad Writing Advice: It's Everywhere!

Today I step back from my mission to provide so much bad writing advice that I'm the last writer standing.  This is because today, surfing the Net to avoid writing a chapter I'm having a hard time with, it hit me: There is already so much really bad writing advice out there, I can put my mission on hold for as long as I like and would-be writers will still be more than sufficiently mislead.

To clarify, I have nothing against writing advice.  If you're Anne Lamott or Steven King, your advice is brilliant and I hope and pray you'll keep dispensing it.  I think Martha Alderson is a great plot whisperer even though I'm constitutionally unable to use her workbook, and I know people who swear by, write by, and produce terrific books with Save The Cat.  Keep saving that cat!  If these folks advice works for you, but all means, follow!

I'm talking about my bad-advice competitors.  People who list 67 words you can use instead of "said."   "Ignore them!" she ejaculated/exclaimed/declared/bubbled over/whinnied/whined/cried/inveighed.  The same goes for the 99 words to use instead of "went."  Seriously?  

I'm talking about all those random and completely nonsensical rules.  Don't give a physical description of your characters.  Don't use adverbs.  Don't use adjectives.  If you must use adjectives, never use the word "nice."  Never use the passive voice.  Run on sentences are the kiss of death.  No, sentence fragments are the kiss of Death.  No, rhyming picture books are the kiss of Death.  No, alliteration is the kiss of Death.

Today,  I actually read something that, in an effort to mislead writers about how to create interesting characters, told me that my heroes should listen to women while my villains should interrupt them. 

All right, I admit my competitors in the Really Bad Writing Advice arena are highly skilled. 

But (never start a paragraph with "But" BTW) I just wanted you to be aware that in order to avoid direct competition with my really bad advice, my competitors have taken to disguising themselves as purveyors of good advice.  Helpful advice.  Warnings to save you from the dire consequences of adverb usage.  So if you're out there beating the bushes for terrible advice, feel free to embrace them despite the mislabeling.

I say, purveyors of terrible advice disguised as good advice, stand your ground!  Urging writers to produce truly bad prose by replacing the word "said" with as many awkward substitutes as possible on a single page is an honorable calling!  Stand your ground, hold your head high, and acknowledge the glorious badness of your truly rank suggestions.

Bravo!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Years in Authorland

For me, the New Year always starts the day after my birthday.  Today, in fact.  January 6th.  Which this year happens to coincide with the release of Afterparty in paperback. (Today!!!!!)

This gives me plenty of time to get birthday'ed out -- which I did in spades, in Montecito with my husband, tooling up and down the coast and revisiting old haunts -- before I start wallowing in resolutions.

Given that last time I was on this blog, my plan was to get a life in a mere 100 days as an antidote to the binge writing I'd fallen into for, say, the previous five years, (and 150 days later, I didn't) I've kind of reached the conclusions that binge writing is my life and that coming up with resolutions might not be a plan.

So here I am, resolution-free, unimproved and not flogging myself to improve.  Feels great.

There was something about the birthday trip to Santa Barbara, though.  I dragged my husband to the restaurant on the pier where I used to eat with my folks (great view, vile chowder) and it hit me that if, during my Santa Barbara adolescence as an irredeemably weird person, I'd had any idea that one day I'd be back with a really nice husband of decades, two lovely grown children I'd managed to shepherd through teen years during which they were notably un-weird, a (literal) room of my own that also qualifies as a room with a view, a dog, and a career as a goddamn writer (!!!),  it would have saved me no end of angst.

Of course, without all that angst, it might be more of a challenge to write YA.  But I would be more than willing to make it up.  To have avoided it in real life. 

Because this trip to Santa Barbara, maybe because I'm so much further away from it in terms of years and in terms of how firmly entrenched I am in a wholly unexpected life, I started to think about all the really bad stuff from when I lived in Santa Barbara.  The stuff that just makes it into my writing in tiny little flashes, but that I don't address directly.  The stuff I don't remember fully or vividly beyond tiny little flashes. 

And I'm thinking, maybe this new year, as an author, I'll go there.  Maybe I'll get closer.  (Given that the literary structure I came up with for addressing it while fooling around on Butterfly Beach yesterday was a lot like Murder on the Orient Express, I might have a long way to go.) 

Anyway, I'm here to say I have no idea whatsoever what 2015 in Authorland will look like for me (except for the binge writing), or what book I'll  have written by the end of it.  I've got most of a very old middle grade or a very young YA almost good to go, and a piece of non-fiction I love that I've been working on and will happen if the principals are good with it, and a thriller that's coming out, but there's something else brewing and I'm not even sure yet what it's going to be.

I am so happy and incredibly (all right, credibly) grateful that this ended up being my career.  And that as screwed up as things might have been during a period of intense and angsty weirdness,  that's not my life anymore.  But even if it were,  that's not baggage, it's material. 

Happy New Year!






Monday, July 14, 2014

Manifesto: Binge Writing Is Bad --or-- 100 Days to Getting a Life

Saturday was an extreme writing day.  The kind that gives writing caves a bad name.  My only act reminiscent of actual human life was making a fruit salad to go with the lox and bagels my husband brought in.  And, oh yeah, I ate this at a table. (A table with a three foot stack of magazines and books at one end, but nevertheless, a table.)

At 9:30 that night, there I was.  Wearing the same orange tee shirt I'd slept in.  Sitting in the same spot on the family room sofa where I'd dropped after breakfast.  And I passed 60,000 words.

Huzzah!

Except that I was wearing the same tee shirt I'd slept in and was sitting on the same spot on the sofa with only my laptop (which overheats) to keep me warm.  Even my dog, who is 17 and cuddles indiscriminately with throw pillows and table legs, had abandoned me in favor of an unmade bed.


I picked my way through our kitchen -- which, courtesy of binge writing, had bacteria colonies so large you could watch them slither along the counter in the darkness -- turned on the light, and made dinner.  Which we did not eat at the table.  Husband and I were so exhausted by our days of sitting in one place working that we hunkered down in front of a BBC historical.  Our primary conversation was that our brains were so fried, we couldn't follow what the hell the characters were saying.

A successful writing day.  A completely crap day from any other perspective.

Anyway, I've had it.  Yesterday I went to a housewarming, a bookstore, and a birthday dinner wearing an actual outfit with cute shoes.  I banged out 500 words.  I cuddled my dog.

And I'm here to say, I'm out of the cave.  This is the manifesto.  I'm spending the next 100 days balancing my life.  And finishing the WIP.  And just generally having more connection with other people and the world beyond my laptop.  And moving parts of my body not involved in the physical act of writing.  And -- did I mention? -- finishing the WIP.

I'm not sure if embracing this philosophy is going to turn out to be Really Bad Writing Advice, as promised on this blog.  Who knows, I could end up abandoning the laptop in favor of admiring butterfly wings, freezing in place for hours at a time smelling the roses.  But I suspect it's going to be a good thing all around.