Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Honor Code

If you're like me, you probably take national holidays for granted. It's not a conscious igging of the merit or foundation of the holiday. But when you work a full-time job and have a full-time life (i.e. kids, hobbies, obligations, whatever) a holiday quickly becomes one of those "aah, no work tomorrow," kind of deals.

In my lifetime (so far) only one new National holiday has been created, Martin Luther King Day.

I remember the March on Washington where Stevie Wonder sang his tribute to Dr. King, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, because my parents took me to DC that day. The Mall was shoulder-to-shoulder people. And I remember it being hotter than July (no pun intended, Stevie) and complaining about being thirsty.

It didn't strike me, at the time, that this was about forcing the government and society to acknowledge that Dr. King deserved a holiday like veterans, dead presidents and the birth of our nation. Yes, literally, this was history being made.

My parents would keep me out of school on Dr. King's birthday as a sort of thumbing their nose at the system. Back then, on that day, we'd sit around and talk about civil rights and the progress African Americans had made. And of course, all while Stevie blared in the background.

We really did hone in on the day. It wasn't just me being out of school outside playing. I was home and I knew exactly why.

Finally years later, the holiday was made official.

Yet, now, I do the same thing on Dr. King's birthday as I do any other holiday. I sit on my butt and try to soak in the precious moments I have away from the rat race.

A part of me feels a little guilt - after all, I was sort of part of the "struggle" to make the holiday official - but most of me is just grateful to have the day off.

So, tonight, as I sat bawling watching A&E's movie, FLIGHT 93, about the passengers who brought the fourth hijacked plane down in a field in Pennsylvania on September 11th, I started thinking about how I felt about making September 11th some sort of holiday.

What is the code when it comes to honoring a great or tragic moment or persons in history? Is marking everything a holiday really the best way to remind us of the original essence of that day?

I recall discussion about a 9-11 holiday being batted about in '02 or '03. But I never followed up on it. Then tonight the whole concept hit me over the head.

My eyes are puffy and red and my nose aches from wiping it so much. I pretty much cried throughout the entire movie. A first for me.

I've been known to cry at a movie or two. Hell even at old episodes of M.A.S.H. and a few commercials always sock me in the heart too.

But watching FLIGHT 93 was different. It took me back to that day.

I watched the events unfold on television like the rest of the world. And I was as obsessed as the next person for those 24-36 hours, watching the horrible scenes over and over again.

Watching the movie and seeing it dramatized based on transmissions from the plane, phone calls from passengers and control tower re-enactments just kept my tear ducts on full.

And after I wiped my last tear, the first thing that sprang to mind was - how do you mark a day like that?

I don't know the answer. But I do know how I feel about making it a National holiday. No. Un-ah. We shouldn't do it.

I'm not saying that to disrespect the lives lost. Not at all. I'm saying it, because I know no matter how much we say we'll pay homage to those lives on September 11th, we won't.

It will become another day off from the grind.

We're an overworked, under played society. We could use a whole lot more family and siesta time and less Blackberry while we're at our kids soccer game moments. But that's on us to make right.

I hope someone does come up with a way to pay tribute to the victims of 9-11.

I hope it's something that makes us stop and think and ponder the fragility of life. Maybe even make us slow down a little. It can be done. It should be done.

But not as a vacation day.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hello Flo, Whaddayaknow?

Flo is my muse. ::cue the New Agey music::

Seriously, though, flo as in FLOW. It's not one particular thing or person, but a state of mind that comes and goes.

When it's there, I'm able to write like a person possessed. The characters and story arcs FLOW out of me naturally. But without FLOW I get only fractured ideas, dialogue snippets and pieces of information disconnected to any substance.

In October, finally coming off the high of sending my first manuscript to my agent, I started to feel guilty that my weekend off from writing had turned into, well, an entire month.

Apparently, not guilty enough.

Because I still hadn't written a lick, come November. But, by early November an inkling of an idea started to come into focus.

I got all excited, thinking FLOW was back.

Yeah, that was a bit premature. That one story idea changed every day over the next month and a half without me ever writing any of it down. These themes and arcs kept coming to me. But they were fuzzy and disjointed.

When the holidays came, I gave up. Instead, focusing on Christmas gift-giving and aborted New Years plans.

I forced myself back into the FLOW by signing up for this Plotting Bootcamp facilitated by Rose's Colored Glasses. This was the first time I went about coaxing my muse, actually coercing it into place.

The bootcamp was great. Made me look at the writing process differently and respect writers who have to churn books out, like packaged deals, on the regular. I'd do it again, if only for the experience. That's what us writers need most, to write well.

Unfortunately, as a muse writer, the constraints of plotting out everything from the premise to the conflict was overwhelming.

At one point, I looked up and my entire desk was covered with papers. I had no idea how to start the story because I had tiny grains of information spread out everywhere.

I plodded on anyway, half-finished charts and all, and sat down to write Chapter 1.

Know this, as a muse writer, once I get into the FLOW I can whip out a chapter in a matter of minutes. Well, at least an hour. It took me THREE days to write Chapter 1. THREE!

At the end of day one, I had a mini-break through when I realized all of the paper was not going to get the damn book written. So I pushed it aside and wrote out an acronym to help me get through. An acronym I came to call Pasta ASD'B (Action, Scenary, Dialogue, Backstory).

I woke up fresh on Day two, ready to tackle the chapter and get the Pasta made. Only to end up frustrated at the end of the day when I had read and re-read and re-written the first few pages a half dozen times and still didn't have an ending to the damn chapter.

Today I stopped fretting over the process and just wrote. Finally, FLOW was back.

As a writer, I experience a mad case of imposter's syndrome everytime I think about writing a novel. No matter that I've finished three manuscripts so far. Which, for a writer is nothing. I know writers who have twenty (unsold) under their belts.

Hell, I'm still playing catch up.

My point is, whenever I THINK about writing, I freeze up.

I think, when did you grow enough balls to think you could do this professionally?

I feel like I must be insane to think that I'll ever call myself an author. It's a horrible insecurity and I'm told, unfortunately, it's an occupational hazard.

But if I just write and don't allow myself to get caught up in how to structure a sentence, how to ensure my story arcs match my character arcs, making sure I have internal and external conflicts...if I stop thinking about all that and just DO IT, I'm fine.

When I just do it, it never occurs to me that becoming published is a damn hard goal to accomplish. Never crosses my mind that I'm expecting my first or third manuscript to sell. Even knowing it took some authors their 5th or 10th or 20th manuscript before they sold one.

Un-ah, as long as FLOW is with me, I'm cool. And now that she's back...he? I don't know. I don't care. Now that they're back, I'm back.

2006 will be my long as I don't think about it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Big Pimpin' Up in NYC

"Yo yo yo.. big pimpin', spendin cheese. We doin' - big pimpin', on B.L.A.D.'s.
We doin'.. big pimpin' up in N.Y.C." Jay-Z, Big Pimpin'

Okay, so I probably won't be spending a whole lot of cheese - outside of what it's costing me to travel and stay there. I can forget eating!

Since I'm taking the train, I'm definitely not rolling on B.L.A.D's.

But one out of three ain't bad. Because next weekend, I will be big pimpin' at the SCBWI Mid-Winter's Conference in New York City.

I'm always psyched to hit NYC. Always!

It's been three years since my last visit, which is two years too long. In '03, I really was big pimpin'- meeting with an editor from ESSENCE magazine and an executive from Universal Music (um, no I'm not trying to cut a demo. I was doing a lot of music reviews at the time).

This time, it's more a low-key fam' trip with the conference serving as my primary purpose for going. All the while, hubby will be doing the Boys Weekend for Super Bowl in sunny (hopefully) S. Carolina. Of course. It's the manly thing to do on Super Bowl weekend. Not trek to some writer's conference with your wifey!

I'm hoping to get into the "Writing A Series" workshop being facilitated by none other than one of my fave authors, as a teen, Francine Pascal, Ms. SWEET VALLEY HIGH herself.

Another perk, Nikki Giovanni, my mama's favorite poet, will be key noting.

And while the Francine Pascal is what drove me to register for the conference, one of the things I'm looking most forward to, is introducing my daughter to New York.

By the time I was her age, I had already been at least a dozen times. It was nothing for my parents to hop in the car and say, "Let's drive to New York," like the place was down the damn road. Let me tell you, three and a half hours is NOT just down the road.

But they were road warriors like that.

Now, Princess A will get her first taste of the Big Apple at age 11 and Princess Bea will be getting hers at age 20 months.

Typical. Princess Bea has already been exposed to way more uppity crust stuff than any barely two-year-old should. And now New York.

We'll never be able to convince her that she's not a Princess, but merely the child of a Produce Buyer and an aspiring author.

Please feel free to pass along any good haunts I should check out. I've gotta show the Princessess a good time!

New Yorkin' it,

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Crying Game

Every Sunday night I play, "try not to cry during COLD CASE." Have you ever tried this? Great game. Oodles of fun.

You sit through an episode of the CBS procedural and tell yourself that it's a TV show for God's sake. They're acting! Geez, get a grip.

Half way into the show, you think you're winning. Because the tear ducts are dry and you're merely intrigued by the latest mystery. Like, how did that woman end up dead in a canoe in the middle of the lake?

But by 8:47 the tightness in your chest begins and that achiness in your throat tells you - you're gonna lose again. Sometimes a heavy sigh helps to gulp down the water works. But by 8:53, forget about it. As the COLD CASE detectives put another case to bed and they show the spirit of the dearly departed smiling because they've finally been put to rest - a tear will roll.

Or is that just me?

Okay, you cold hearted bastards, maybe it's just me.

But COLD CASE is one of the most touching crime procedurals I've ever watched. And I'm a die hard LAW & ORDER chick from way back! So I know of crime shows.

Maybe it's because I used to watch COLD CASE FILES on A&E - the real-life version of the CBS drama minus the sappy music, flashbacks to the past and dead spirit smiling peacefully. Watching A&E's version brings to reality how many crimes go unsolved and just how long it can take some to get a resolution.

So, pardon me if a 60 minute sentiment fest moves my heart a little. But it's a great show and long since replaced DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES for my Sunday must-see (even though DH is on an hour later).

The first time COLD CASE moved me to tears, I thought it was because the show was about a little five year-old getting killed. But un-ah. Every week since I first started watching, I've found myself sniffling and wiping my eyes like I'm watching STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

Don't tell me you didn't cry during STEEL MAGNOLIAS! When Sally Fields has her rant at the cemetary over Julia Roberts death. Umph...moving stuff.

I've become somewhat of a weepy Wanday over the years. Had something to do with hitting my 30's, I think. That whole mortality thing really comes into focus once the roaring 20's are over.

I don't care. I look forward to having a good cleansing cry on Sunday. The day I can steel myself against the tear flow during COLD CASE, I know it's time to find a new line up.

Friday, January 20, 2006

5 Signs of the A-pop-alypse

Ahh pop culture. You fill our days with mindless nuggets of trivia. We nestle to your bosum for comfort away from the real world of politics, war and paying bills.

The Double O-Nickel wasn't a bad year for pop culture fiends - Michael Jackson beat his rap, with one and a half hit single, The Game built his rep (go figure) and Brad Pitt went from childless in L.A. to a global baby daddy to kids.

But 2006 is already revving up to be a good year for us pop culti kooks.

Yes, here are five signs that the apopalypse is upon us:

Vincent D'Onofrio carries a show 5 seasons!
Okay, so he has like 54 film credits to his name. I've heard of...eight of them. Hell, who am I fooling? I only remember him in MEN IN BLACK! But the dude who played the humanoid insect in MIB rocks on L&O: CI. A show that can roll as an entire acronym has to be special, right?

I love that Chris Noth is back cracking heads as a Det.

But, man when D'Onofrio is on screen, sniffing people, fondling their clothes, and asking weird questions that only someone with either a lot of intelligence or a shit load of time on their hands to study EVERY subject on earth can, you marvel at his ability to play such odd balls. You can't turn away from his weird ass. He's like Monk on heroin.

Michael Moriarty Goes all serial killer on our ass
He was steely-eyed, tough as nuts D.A., Ben Stone, on Law & Order for four seasons. And we loved him. One part compassion, three parts tweak their tits til they turn state's witness, Ben Stone had nothing on Moriarty's take as a serial killer on Showtime's MASTER OF HORROR series. Oo-wee! Watch, the "Pick me Up" episode for Moriarty's crotchedy, old-man with a thick New Yawk (or is that Bahston?)accent. But stay for the intellectual thug philosophy he spews as he kills gleefully.

::sniff:: I still miss you, Michael. But V-D'O ain't doing a bad job filling your void.

White People Recognize Jamie Foxx...therefore, he exists as a great talent
Black folk been laughing at Jamie since '91. And, I copped his first CD. That's right, PEEP THIS circa 1994.

So take that band wagon jumpers!

But now that he's all Mr. Academy Award, he is getting crazy love from the "mainstream," (i.e. white folks).

I ain't mad at you, Jamie. But I am a little teed. When, when, when will what is hot in pop culture music, film and television stop being wholly determined by what the lillies of mainstream media say?

I mean, when my book is out and I'm all on the best sellers list, it's going to be b/c my peeps had my back. Right? right?

Aww damn. I better start trying to whip up the white vote, now!

The 80's are baacckkkk!
Let me say, it turns my stomach a little to see the 80's back so soon. Damn, it was only 26 years ago! Yet, Kanye got the kiddies rockin' polos with the collar up. Madonna is writhing on a DDR in a leotard and a flipped 'do. And dammit, I can't get Fall Out Boy's DANCE, DANCE out of my head.

Oh, my mind tells me to hate it and hate it good. But when it comes on, my feet start moving. Traitors!

I love the 80's rhythm of DANCE, DANCE. And before someone outs me, yes, dammit, it's in my iPod.

My pledge: I will not try to outrun the 80's craze, merely pick and choose the elements I want to relive.

And the #1 sign that the apopalypse is right around the bend...

The real Master of Horror taints what we cherish most...again!
Stephen King, what sick, twisted world do you live in?

Oh, right. This one.

I haven't read the whole book yet - merely a blurb and two chapters. But King's latest novel, CELL, is all about some weird experiment/conspiracy where cellies turn people into instant cannibalistic, loonies.

Wait...I got choked up for a minute. You can not not love Stephen King. He takes eveyrthing we cherish - the virtue of small town America, 1950 classic cars, big old lovable dogs and now cell phones - and screws, chops and mangles it so we'll never look at them quite the same.

How doe-eyed innocent we'd all be if it weren't for this man and his sick, twisted imagery.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Big Pro Fan

Okay, I don't mean I'm a fan of prostitutes. I'm a huge Project Runway geek.

Just when you think you're sick to death of crap reality TV, something comes along and reels you back in.

And since I write YA fiction, a lot of TV (crap included) is great fodder for research. I've watched my fair share of Lizzie McGuire, That's So Raven and Drake and Josh - all in the name of pop culti research.

Project Runway always gives me great fashion ideas to incorporate in my writing. Cause let me tell you - having to make up hot fashion when you're not a designer...not so easy. I've seen several really cute designs on the show that will likely make the pages of future P.C. Hyman novels as I outfit my characters in duds appropriate for the teen divas that they are.

But research aside, I like the show. It's cool to watch the talented (Santino) and the WTF (Guadalupe's design tonight)go head-to-head. How they do it with only 24 hours and a few swatches of fabric, I just don't know.

Okay and here's just how geeky I am. I visit the web site and check out all of the behind the scenes drama AND I purchased the My Scene Barbie that was outfitted by Nick. But his dress was so cute! I couldn't resist.

It'll be one of those collector item things where it doesn't come out of the box.

Yeah, right. I have a 19-month old...let's see how long that lasts!

To bed, to bed. With the new year I've promised to get back to working out ::Sigh:::

If I don't get to bed before midnight it's damn near impossible to drag my butt out of bed in time for any decent work out. So, ta.

- frustrated fashion geek w/o a lick of design skill!