Friday, June 27, 2008

How do they do that??

As a child, I never questioned how an author managed to pump out a book a month. I simply convinced my father, or my mom, or my grandparents to drive me to the bookstore to pick up the latest. At one point the closest bookstore would hold copies of the latest Babysitters' Club or Nancy Drew until I arrived to pick it up. I never questioned that there was no humanly possible way for an author to write and publish a book so quickly. I simply took for granted that it happened. I knew that the first Tuesday of the Month (or was it Thursday?) I would get a ride up to B. Dalton and pick up my book. Then I'd rush home to devour it as fast as I could.
Now that I've been part of the writing community for a while, I understand that something in this equation doesn't fit. Sure, if your book is one of three, the publishers might distribute them back to back across three or maybe four months. But something's fishy when you have over 100 books coming out once a month. How do they do that?
The Today Show partially answered my question the other day. They had the YA author Erin Hunter on their show to participate in their Kids' Book Club. She writes the series The Hunters, and has a new series, The Seekers, out in stores now. There are dozens in her Hunters series, and I have students who can't finish them fast enough. On the show, Al introduced us to Erin Hunter. Only Erin isn't her real name. In fact, not only is it a pseudonym, but Erin is really a total of 3 authors! Apparently Victoria Holmes is the brains behind the operation. She comes up with the storylines and makes sure there is consistency from book to book. She then passes her ideas off to either Cherith Baldry or Kate Gary to write the actual book. They three work together to produce each of the books and according to their website, chose to write under one pseudonym to avoid shelving confusion.
I'll be honest, this totally blew me away when I learned the truth. I mean, most of us know that Carolyn Keen doesn't actually write the Nancy Drew books any more. That's a pretty well known secret. I know of several author teams who use a combination of their two names as the pseudonym for their books. I totally get the idea of collaborating and writing together...but this is way different. I'm intrigued, and at the same time as a writer I can't imagine turning my work over like that.
So what about you? What do you think of my new discovery?

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Simply magical...

With my summer break finally here, I'm back to work on my book, and on my TBR pile. I have so many wonderful books waiting, and wait they have through final report cards and various other end of the year duties. But now it's all done, and I once again have the time to let the books absorb me into their world.
My most recent one is The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. Shannon introduced me to this writer's books with her first one - Garden Spells. I fell in love with her lyrical writing, and her magical prose. The Sugar Queen is a fabulous sophomore release. All of her books have a touch of magic to them, and this book is no exception. It's never fully overt. We're not talking witches casting spells or Vampires running through the night after their prey. Instead it's more subtle. It's the young woman who mysteriously appears in Josey Cirrini's closet, refusing to leave. It's peppermint oil on thresholds to ward off evil. It's books that know exactly when the reader needs them, and keep following until she's willing to pick them up.
The Sugar Queen is a beautifully written must read for the summer. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Let your voice be heard...

MSNBC is running a poll right now about reading habits. They're trying to find out what percentage of readers read Romance. Now, unfortunately they are a little small minded, and their word choice is down right insulting (they call all Romance bodice rippers), but the intent is in the right place. So them that Romances are a force to be reckoned with. Vote here. Scroll down past the cover for Danielle Steele's latest novel. Make your voice heard.


Monday, June 16, 2008

The difference is...

There are many differences between men and women. Let's face it, most of these differences are very good things. They make life interesting...and they give me something to write about. And I can always use more fodder for my books.
Sometimes those differences are exhausting. Case in attired. Before you get too excited, let me remind you it's not my wedding. I'm a bridesmaid in the fall, and the three of us have been on the look out for our dresses for months. You wouldn't think it would be difficult to find a tea-length black dress appropriate for a wedding.
You'd be wrong.
Apparently it's like trying to find a left over bagel in the house after my family has brunch...which is to say nigh on impossible.
We've searched high and low, a search impeded by the fact that one of us lives in another state, and all three of us are no where near the same body type. But we searched valiently. We sent each other pictures. We visited different locations of the same store on the off chance they'd have different merchandise. We searched and searched, and finally found it. It will need minor alterations (need I remind you I'm short?), but it manages to do the almost impossible and make me look respectable.
Men, to be contrary, walk into a tuxedo shop, try on maybe one or two (if we're really lucky) and settle on the one that buttons. How is this fair?
Still, we have the dresses. Sort of. They're being ordered, or picked up; they'll be altered appropriately.
But then we have to find the shoes. Oy.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is that a...goat?

The other day I met my friend R to visit one of the malls down in the South End. The mall is far enough away that you don't want to take two separate least, not if you can help it. Especially with gas prices the way they are. So we agreed to meet at a local Park and Ride. Only, as I drove by one entrance, I noticed some odd plastic fencing next to some relatively new condos. Even weirder, I could have sworn I saw goats in the middle of that fencing. So when I turned around to go back to the other end of the P&R, I almost caused an accident stopping in the middle of the road.
There, in the middle of the plastic enclosure, were goats happily munching on the wild vegetation surrounding them. This wasn't just one or two goats. No, we're talking closer to 20 goats and kids munching away.
I've never seen the like before. Apparently in this neck of the woods you can hire a landscaping company that uses goats instead of lawn mowers/clippers to take care of hard to reach, hard to manage, landscaping areas. Of course, upon seeing this my first thought was how do they keep the goats in that little area? What's to keep them from running out into the middle of the road? The fence isn't that high, and as several goats demonstrated, they can stand very nicely on their hind legs when they want to. So why weren't the running around, trying to get to the greenery on the other side of the road? You know, the kind with fewer thorns to stick their tongues. Seemed like the logical option to me.
Of course, this also goes to prove my friend Allison's point. She calls where I live the land of the granola people. Considering we're apparently the kind of people who use goats to mow our lawns, she may be on to something.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Writing Workshops aka Only me...

I love attending writing workshops. There's something about the energy in the room, it gives me such a high...I want to immediately go home and write the next great novel. That, or they leave me with the desperate belief that my writing is crap and I must therefore go home and consume an entire carton of coconut creme pie ice cream bars.
The other night Serena and I joined forces to go listen to Bob Mayer (of Agnes and the Hitman fame) speak at one of our local libraries. I mean, c'mon! Who's gonna pass up a chance to hear an NYT bestselling author talk...for free! He's a great speaker and fully commands the attention of his audience. He's good enough Serena bought Bob's The Novel Writer's Toolkit. Technically, I have part ownership of this book, and may claim visitation rights every other weekend for 2 hour chunks.
Nothing he spoke about was revolutionary, but it was cut down to such a fine point you find yourself rethinking what you already know. The basis of his talk was know your idea. Not the story, but the idea. Somewhat similar to Jayne Ann Krentz's know your core story. Know the kernal of thought that brought you to a place where you thought you could write a book about it. If you don't have that? You don't have a story. And if you lose that? Your story is lost too.
He touched on a lot of other thoughts and topics, but this is the one that truly stuck with me.
Of course, this could be because of the little incident at the occurred before the talk began, and therefore leaving me with diverted attention most of the evening.
And I'm not surprised. No one should be surprised. Frankly, I should have recognized the signs when the water bottle flew out of my purse and landed on the ground when Serena picked me up. But did I leave it behind? No. No, instead I put it back in my purse and hopped in the car. Which meant that I was destined for a repeat performance when we arrived at the library. And I got one. We sat down. I went to pull out something, and out popped the water bottle (open) to splash water all over my pants. Yes, folks, I spent the rest of the night looking, and feeling, like I'd wet myself. Trust me, any of you who have had to wear wet jeans? Double the uncomfortable factor since I was wearing nice pants, with a lining. Even when the pants dried, the lining was still damp, leaving me with a very unpleasant session. I spent most of the talk squirming in my chair, and I'm sure if he ever noticed, Bob now thinks I have serious problems. But you already knew you can't really take me anywhere, so this shouldn't be news.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

More books!

On our walk from dinner the other night, Mom and I stopped in at the local bookstore to check out what they had to offer. Mom usually knows better than to go into a bookstore with me, since it's likely I'll be a while, but thanks to me not bringing the money with me (plus not wanting to haul them home), I put my finds on hold instead of buying them outright. This week is definitely the week of new releases from many of my favorite hours.
The offerings include:
Allison Brennan's TEMPTING EVIL
Jill Shalvis's SUPERB AND SEXY
and the long awaited LOVER ENSHRINED by J.R. Ward.
Can we say I'm in heaven? Too bad I'm supposed to be using this time to work on my report cards.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Movies, movies, movies...

This weekend was apparently one for the movies. It wasn't supposed to be. It was supposed to be a fairly busy weekend between work, grading, and writing. Of course, reality? Never lives up to the hype. At the last minute Job #2 told me if I wanted the weekend off, it was mine, and I leaped at the chance. Not that I don't enjoy my job, but since we're entering crunch time (15 days and counting) I could use the time off. So I called up Mom and we made a night of it. We walked to dinner, then walked back and ordered up a movie on On Demand.
Or we tried to.
Leave it to me to have the receiver with ADD. All we wanted to do was watch a preview. I swear I pressed the back button. I know I did. Except...apparently I didn't. Nope, instead, I ordered the movie.
But it wasn't the one we wanted. So we stopped it and went back to the menu for Attempt #2, which was ultimately successful. We laughed our way through Lars and the Real Girl, which if you haven't seen? Go rent it. The premise of the movie is that of a man who lives a fairly solitary life, but in a town where he is loved by everyone. One day he comes to dinner at his brother's with his new girl friend...who in reality is a doll. Even stranger, he seems to think she's a real girl. What follows is a very funny, sometimes sad, always intriguing look into the human mind.
From a writer's mind, I found it especially interesting how the screenwriter chose to reveal bits of information. The story behind why Lars is so convinced Bianca is real, is never really told to the viewer. Instead it's hinted at, and we're left to put the clues together. This one definitely has the "Show, Don't Tell" down to an art form. Calling all writers! Check this movie out, for a fabulous example of how it should be done.
The second movie I watched was Across the Universe, the rock-musical tribute to the Beatles...and possibly to an acid trip. Visually stunning, I can see why this movie was nominated for an Academy Award. But I still think I'm reeling from it. It's a full on assault of the senses, but a definite happy ending. Plus, Beatles can't go wrong with Beatles music.
Movie #3 is not for the faint of heart...or epileptic tendencies. I took three of my students on an auction outing to lunch and the movie Speed Racer. The kids had a wondeful time, and I? I think the headache from all the bright, flashing lights may go away in a week or two. It did have one redeeming quality...the monkey. No movie can be all bad when it has a monkey.
I'm thinking I'll have to go movie free for a few weeks, to get over this movie binge of mine. But in the meantime I have plenty of books to keep me company.

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