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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Whup That Trick!

Remember, this, there are only two constants in life:

1. Change is inevitable

2. It's never TOO early to start talking smack when University of Miami (The U) and Florida State University are involved.

I am a rabid Miami fan. My husband is a die-hard FSU fan.

Yes, it makes for interesting times in the Hyman household. And this weekend will be more interesting than most, because the annual 'Canes vs. 'Noles football game is played on Labor Day.

Rivalries are what makes college sports (heck, any sport) more fun. And The U/FSU rivalry is college football's most fierce. In the face of this matchup, there may as well be no other games this least none that matters!

This is THE game.

The only thing I hate is how early it's played.

The game used to be mid-season, when a win or loss really impacted our standings in the BCS (that's Bowl Championship Series, for those of you whose eyes glaze over at the mention of sports).

Now, no matter who loses, both teams have plenty of time to make up for it and secure a bid to a Bowl - Fiesta, Sugar, Rose etc...

But the 'Canes/'Noles games is not about BCS standings or glory. It's about pride!

We're coming off a loss. So, pardon my french, but our balls are against the wall this year. Miami has gotta win!

In a wack twist of fate, Miami lost last season's game because of a field goal.

Why a twist of fate? Historically, the botched field goals are FSU's department, having lost to Miami FIVE times because of a field goal kicked Wide Right or Wide Left.

So my boys from The U need to whup that azz this season!

In honor of the game, I've ordered this...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why Girlfriends Rock

Today is the first day of school.

Can I get a Yaaay!?

But this post isn't about why it's so nice to get the kiddies back inside the halls of wisdom. It's about friendship.

I myself, am a friend fanatic. It's probably fallout from being an only child.

Over the years, I've made some great friends. And I continue to meet and grow close to those I've met through my writing.

But it's even more fun to watch Princess A develop friendships. She's a 'tween and friendships are always so life and death at that age. You either really heart someone or really hate them. And that can change daily. Still, she has a solid group of girlfriends.

This morning, two of them came to pick her up, so they could all walk to the bus stop together. They shared an exchange that reminded me why it's such a cool thing to have girlfriends:

* Your self-esteem needs a cheering section.

Princess A had an involuntary hair cut yesterday. Her hair was breaking and damaged in the back, so it's way shorter than she'd ever willingly go. But it's cute on her. I've told her so, the King has told her and so had grandma. But what do we know? We're just parents.

Well, when the new 'do made it's debut, her two girlfriends went:

"GASP! Your hair."

Princess A: I know. It's so short.

Girlfriend 1: But, girl, you are rocking it!

Girlfriend 2: My hair is really short too without my braids. I had to get it cut because the ends were split.

I was in awe that at age 11 and 12 they already know the girlfriend code - always cheer on a fellow sister when she's doubting her image/self-worth/abilities.

* Having your girls, by your side, makes just about any situation bare-able

The Princess hasn't been looking forward to school. By middle school you're painfully aware how short summer really is AND just how badly you need the downtime. Even for the social outlet school provides, you're not really hot to get back.

But, when I announced that her two friends were en route to the house, she immediately perked up. You could see her attitude change from begrudging to "hot damn!"

* When you're around your girls, the rat race of popularity and being cool ceases to exist

It was almost like they had an invisible bubble surrounding them, this morning. I could see how comfortable just being with one another made them. If they had any anxieties about starting a new year, being the middle child of school (7th graders) or whether they had chosen the proper outfit - the mere presence of their clique squashed them.

* You never have to explain yourself

When it's someone that's truly your girl, things like your mom popping into your room in pajamas singing "Good morning, girls. Ready for school?" does not faze you. Because, you know your girls understand that when they've made the choice to love you - they love all of you, wacky parents, new 'do, weird quirks and all.

Monday, August 28, 2006

All in the family

The first two years, after jumping back into writing, I pretty much went it without joining any writer's groups. I wasn't being anti-social. I was simply hyper-focused on pitching editors with freelance ideas and then the novel came about.

But once I ventured out, I discovered quickly how supportive the YA community is. I'm sure adult writers are supportive as well. But YA authors are almost Stepford wife-like in their enthusiasm to embrace other writers.

And I love it. The friendliness forces you to come up for air from your latest project; to emerge from your office, shed your pajamas and throw on real clothes and use very non-YA language.

Maybe the reason YA authors are especially warm is because we have to grin and bear innocent comments from people who think writing YA or children's book is a good "start," to a writing career. As if we do so, solely as a step toward breaking into adult fiction.

Also, maybe what bonds us is that on average (okay, now I said on average) we're not paid as handsomely as adult fiction writers out of the gate. There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. I even know some of them. Nonetheless, we're not making as much scrilla as first timers.

Could be that we're so in tune to our inner-child/teen that no one else knows how to communicate with us but us.

No idea.

But, when a community shows you love, you're inclined to show it back. So the Clique Lounge page of my website will be dedicated to featuring YA authors that I've met along the way (and a few I haven't).

Hopefully, it'll shine some publicity their way. But mostly, I just like hanging out with other YA authors. And the Clique Lounge is a fun way to do that, while also showing another side to the author. Because in the lounge, we're never serious. So, no adult questions allowed. It's all about kicking it.

Don't ask me how I've decided who to feature. The only two "rules," if you can call them that, are they're authors I've met (in person or online) and books I've read.

Other not-so definitive rules are - When I have time to make up new questions, when the author I've chosen has time to answer them, when I've read a good book and think the author would be interesting...who knows. Whatever tickles my fancy.

I just hope people enjoy the TQTR (Ten Questions That Rock).

First up, Lauren Barnholdt, author of Reality Chick.

Racey Survivor

I haven't watched Survivor in many, many least not a full-season.

A few times I peeked in on a few eps or I caught the last two including the finale. But watching it from start to finish? I think the last one I saw was about seven seasons ago.

Now, Surivor has decided to pit race against race, this season. There will be a team of African Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic Americans and White Americans.

Yeah, yeah it's politically incorrect as hell. Yet, I can't wait to watch. Here's why:

* As superficial as it may end up being, I'll give Survivor producers a little dap for not shying away from the issue of race. There's an element of tip-toeing around racial issues in our country that some will deny and others exxagerate.

No matter what side you fall on, the fact is, for every person who wants to scream "What difference does race make? Why do we keep talking about it?!" there are many examples that proves the "playing field" is not balanced and race still matters.

So, I'm interested to see how having people with at least one very general commonality, working together as a tribe will mainfest itself into drama. And, no doubt, there will be drama.

* At least the start of the season will be interesting. Once the tribes merge, it will be the same old game of Survivor.

Let's be real, there's only one original. Since the first season, all the other seasons have been the same cycle of allegiances, back-stabbing, lying etc... ::yawn::

And let's get the obvious out of the way - this isn't sociological experimentation. People are people. There will be plenty of inner tribal disputes and fighting. Sharing a race line has nothing to do with how pissed you'll get when someone on the island doesn't pull their weight.

Also, the tribes are "American." If it were authentically steeped in race, the Asian tribe would originate from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam etc... I'm sure this will most likely be a generic panel of American contestants who have some Asian roots.

Same goes for the Hispanic tribe. After all, it didn't announce an El Salvadoran tribe or Mexican tribe or Puerto Rican tribe.

Is this a cheap production trick on the part of Survivor? Absolutely.

Can it be fun to watch? Maybe.

Is it another small reminder that race is and always will be a part of our social fabric that requires our attention? I hope so.

Because whether you watch it or not, like the idea or hate it, if it gets you thinking about race for a minute and/or talking about it, I can't find the bad in that.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

In, Carbs, I Trust

Okay, so I might make some enemies over this post. But I don't believe in a carb-less diet.

I love Carbs! They're good and that's that.

Put me on a carb-less diet and I'll show you one angry, sistah ready to rip someone's head off.

People who are willing to strip carbs from their daily diet are in a cult. Run as far away from them as possible.

You've been warned!

However, although I look upon the Atkins diet and anything like it with an evil eye, I am willing to make peace with reducing the amount of carbs in a diet.

I don't need a lecture about carbs. I know all about them. I know what havoc they wreak when you're trying to lose weight (boy, do I know). But I also know that if given a choice between a big ol' pot of baked macaroni and cheese and a thick juicy steak, I'd choose the mac, everytime!

And I LOVE steak!!!

Carbs are just so addicting.

But I'm nothing if not a reasonable person (okay, no laughing out there). And recently, I've attempted to REDUCE some of my carb intake, in an effort to drop some lbs. Granted, my reduction in carbs and the average person's reduction in carbs is probably very different.

Still, yesterday, I had a grilled pork chop and a side of brocolli for dinner. Believe it or not, no potatoes, rice, or pasta AND no bread.

I thought it would kill me to not have something starchy. But I was really okay with it. Most importantly, I left the table feeling full and satisfied.

In the past, when I've tried to cut down on carbs I've still felt hungry after a carb-less meal.

Oh, and last Saturday, when we went and got McDonald's for Princess Bea I passed on french fries. Trust, these are huge steps for me.

When the no-carb craze was out of control, I laughed in the face of that dietary fad as I scarfed down a small loaf of warm bread over dinner.

The truth is, I've always seen the benefit in carb moderation. But the no-carb thing was such a huge, intrusive, blatant fad that I went out of my way to distance myself from it.

Now, the fury has died and I'm able to admit that I can give up a few carbs each week. But, know this, on the day I'm allowing myself to indulge never go for the last warm roll over me. I'll have to cut ya.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I've decided to cheat

Kids, do not try this at home. Leave cheating to the professionals.

I know the saying goes, cheaters never win. But I believe I'll be the exception to that rule.

For the sake of my sanity and in the name of time management, I have decided that I will have to cross-post between my two blogs, Myspace and my LJ. Yes, that's cheating, because, each outlet has a different audience. And my goal should be to develop original content across the board for each of those audiences.

But alas, I am only human!

The way I calculated it, if I were to develop original content for all four sites, my day would look something like:

7 a.m. Rise and greet my day - "Hello, world"

7:15 Blog about my late-night edits on Paula's Jort

7:30 Brush teeth etc... so as not to offend

7:45 Blog about new Danity Kane CD on Paula's JORT Too (I know you're loving it Britt, but ah...yeah, I'm not)

8:00 Forgot I had kids to get ready for school, immediately wake them up and rush Princess A out the door...crap, she's missed the bus. Make her dress little sister while I get dressed and then drop her off to school on my way to work

8:30 Drop Princess Bea off to daycare

8:35 Think about what to blog for Myspace

8:50 Arrive to work, make small talk

9:00 Blog about how weird it is that your hands prune under water and somehow connect this to promoting the book

9:20 Oh right, I'm at work! Get to work!!!

10 - 4:15 In between working, obsess over what next blog entries will be

4:30 Leave office and ponder blog entries more...half way home, remember that I have books to write and switch gears to character development

5:00 Arrive home, kiss hubby and kids, sit for two seconds then either A) start dinner or B) Head to cheer practice

8:00 Shower

8:15 Watch some TV. Some people have Miller Time, P has TV Time

9:00 Shoo the kids off to bed (now that I can do ON TIME)

10:00 Shoo hubby off to bed

10:15 Go into office, make loud declarations about how it's so nice that everyone else can sleep while I still have work to do

10:30 Pretend to do book edits while reading my fave blogs

11:00 Book edits/creation/tweaks

1:00 Not tired but figure if I don't sleep now, I never will

1:15 Tell my brain to shut up as it continues to think about book edits

1:30 Drifting off then suddenly have great idea for tomorrow's blog entry, run to office, write it down then drag self back to bed

SLEEP, Wake up, start over!!!!

Okay, so now, if I cross-post between the blogs, I can get Princess A off to school in time AND think about pop culture junk on my way to work. See, that saves me a whole 50 minutes.

I should teach a class in time management. I've got this stuff down pat!


I can't believe it. My book is nearing BLURB stage.

I write it in caps because it feels like a word you should say really loud, like OMG and LOL. Some words deserve caps.

I know all of you writers know what a BLURB is. But for those scratching your head, thinking maybe I'm off my meds, BLURBS are those quotes on an author's book from other authors much more famous than the author who wrote the book.

BLURBS usually say really nice things like "I laughed until I wet my pants. How did we survive without Author, Shining Star?"

I have no idea if having a BLURB pushes more units or not.

I think they can. I've picked up a few horror books because Stephen King blurbed them. I mean, if Stephen King says that another horror writer scared the hell out of him, the ish must be scary! And P loves a good horror novel.

Still, I doubt there's any scientific formula to gauge just how many more books you'll sell because Famous Author A, B or C BLURBS it. But man are they cool.

All writers are author groupies to a certain degree, and having an author who has actually reached some degree of status in the publishing world say nice things about your book puts you one degree separated from them.

It's like meeting someone over the internet, talking to them regularly and suddenly referring to them as your "friend" or saying you "know" them. You may have never met them in person - but your feelings toward them are genuine.

Well, if Famous Author A,B or C says something nice about your book, they're saying something nice about you. I assume that means, should you happen to be in the same vicinity as Famous Author A,B or C, they wouldn't call the cops on the creepy little woman making goo-goo eyes at them from across the room.

They'd be relieved when you went to intro youself and say, "Hey, I'm Author, Shining Star, you liked my book."

Another reason BLURB stage is exciting? It means galleys will soon be available for DRAMA, pushing my baby girl one step closer to being on the shelves.

Okay, but here's the scary thing about BLURBS: someone other than the people who love the book (my eddy and agent) has to read it.

Well, of course they do, P, you're saying.

But think about it - someone who has absolutely no vested interest in whether my book sells or not must read it and ::gulp:: give it the ol' Ebert & Roper thumbs up or down. That is scary!

Has a book ever reached BLURB stage and Famous Author A, B, or C sent the book back to a writer's agent stamped BURN THIS, IMMEDIATELY?

Meh, if you have a good enough publicist they can take that and make it sound good. Imagine this on the cover of the book:

"Judy Blume says Author, Shining Star's book is so hot it'll burst into flames after you read it."

Okay, so the publicist would have to take a little creative liberty. But when you're hot, you're hot. haha!!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I Think I've Gotta Go

I can't believe I'm so bummed over this. But I think I'm going to have to fold this JORT into my new blog.

The original intent was to keep both. I figured I'd have more writerly posts here. But the truth is - there's no need for two. I can be writerly at JORT TOO just as easily.

I'm not going to close this blog down, right away. But I'm fairly certain life will be easier with one spot to wax philosophical on my writing journey or the latest ish going down in the world of pop culture.

It's weird that I feel so melancholy. I mean, it's an online journal, get over it!

Yet, even though it's a very public diary, it's a diary all the same. And you'd never just toss your diary into a trash can or recycle bin. You'd store it away, some place you can run across it now and then to reminisce over the entries. It gives you a chance to reflect on where you've been and far you've come.

It's no different with this blog.

I started it in late 2004 and never bothered to post anything. Then last year, I began posting regularly around the time I attended the SCBWI Mid-Winter.

Now, anytime I need/want to write creatively, without getting deep into it - like I have to when I'm writing a book - the blog is the first place I run.

Even though I'll still be channeling the same energy into JORT TOO, it feels weird to abandon this one.


Is it a sign that you're getting old when you get weepy over everything?!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Paula's JORT Too

Because my life is just NOT busy enough, I have a second blog, which just happens to be connected to my newly launched website:

It just went live today. Stop in while it's still the newest hot spot.

Paula's JORT Too is targeted to teen readers, so please feel free to pass along to your age-appropriate young 'uns.

I'm now able to mark one more thing as COMPLETE on my "To Do" list for the book. It's a good day!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Un-stuck in the office

It's a beautiful day!

So pretty and autumnal that it's hard to complain about being stuck in the office.

I have writing to do...technically, as a writer, shouldn't I always have writing to do? Me thinks so. Writing should be the norm, not just an extra "to do" on my list. But I'm not yet used to being an honest to God author - one who writes to feed ones-self.

The day is begging for me to sit outside and ponder. But pondering sometimes leads to relaxation and that, in turn, may result in a mid-morning nap.

Instead, I took the Princesses on a brisk walk (exercise, yay!)and can now officially squash any guilt I may feel later on for not enjoying the weather.

The windows in my office are open and a light breeze buzzes me every few minutes. If not for the lovely noise of blaring construction (friggin' overdevelopment!) I might label this a perfect Saturday morning.

I should be bummed that I'm not out doing something more exciting. But I'm not. Today I'm genuinely thrilled to be un-stuck in the office.

I call it un-stuck, because I could easily blow off writing, today. No one's forcing me. My eddy's on vacation (sipping a tall, cool one for me, I hope) and the only person who will suffer if I decide not to dedicate a few hours to my craft, is me.

But I love writing and I have two books under contract.

What's to complain about?

On the other hand, if my full-time gig required me to come in today I'd be kicking and screaming the entire way. Spouting expletives about the unfairness of life and lack of employee rights.

Such antics are prone to arise when one only works a job because the prospect of foreclosure is somehow not sexy to them.

Luckily, that is not the case today. It's cool, sunny and I'm happily un-stuck in the office hanging out with the Del Rio Bay clique.

This, is P stopping to smell the roses.


Friday, August 11, 2006

A story is a story is a story....

Two America's Next Top Model producers are picketing, because they want their work classified as writing. The classification would in turn make them eligible for certain Writers Guild of America benefits and union pay.

The direction reality TV has taken, in the last two years, makes this an interesting topic - especially where writing is concerned.

Reality TV has gone from blatantly false assertions that its programming is indeed REAL, translation - never doctored via editing - to open admissions that somebody puts a story arc together out of the hours of footage (duh). Thus making it reality-like.

It is this foundation that the ANTM producers are using to build a case. They are storytellers, they say, and should be allowed to join the writer's union. And the WGA is more than happy to welcome them.

I for one, agree.

Reality TV has displaced a disturbing number of television writing positions. Yet, if there were no staff to make drama, I mean sense of the footage, how many of us would bother watching?

We live life each day - it ain't ever as exciting as anything we see on an RTV show!

With a little creative splicing and dicing, voila, our lives could be as much fun as our fave reality tv "star."

What producers/writers on RTV programs do may not be traditional writing, but it's storytelling all the same.

What say you?

Write with passion, revise with...

Something else.

As many of you know, I'm a muse writer. If the little voices in my head aren't speaking to me, no words hit the page.

When those voices are speaking (chanting) (yelling!) my world is good.

I'm passionate about what I write. So much so, I'll fall in love with the project, the characters and my story lines. When I'm writing, I always read the passage or chapter prior to the new segment in progress, to get me back into the story. And it almost never fails that I want to keep reading.

That burning desire to remain in my characters world is euphoric, kind of like a crush. You can't stop thinking about when you'll see them again and what will happen next.

Dare I say you need this passion to write well?

I hesitate to make such a broad statement. All writers have different styles and writing processes. But, being passionate definitely helps push you to the finish line. A place you may not always reach with a crush, eh?

Well, let me tell you - do not and I repeat, DO NOT attempt to edit with that same level of passion. It does not work.

Frankly, once you reach the editorial phase of your book, you may need to break down emotionally altogether...shut down, I meant shut down!

Throughout the ed phase, I've had to lecture, reprimand, and coerce myself into being objective when it came to my editor's insight.

See, my head knows perfectly well that the feedback is sound and is refining the story. She catches tiny logistics that, while passionately writing, never occured to me. Like - hey you have the character outside but never told the reader they walked out the door. She also points out areas that don't have an organic feel or gaps in the plot.

So, how come reading the feedback always sent my heart thumping?

Because I'm a total emotional reactor and am unable to squash my passionate side where my writing is concerned. Also, it's damn hard to look your flaws/weaknesses and sometimes just plain "oops" in the face.

I don't know how many times, as I sat down to revise, I had to give myself a pep talk - "You will not be defensive!" "Shut up and write, dammit" "This is making the book better."

Granted, only that last line echos anything close to encouragement. Still, those are the lines I needed to turn off my knee-jerk emotions. And they didn't always work.

Bottom line, write like there's no tomorrow. Wax on until you're exhausted. But edit like you take medicine when you're ill. It's gonna be bitter, sure. Just make that weird, screwed taking medicine face and swallow.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Doing The New York thing

Well, I'm back among the suburban.

New York was great!

I had a productive meeting with the Marketing Director at Kensington (Hi Magee) and got to meet my editor, Stacey, after nearly seven months of email tag and occasional phone calls (Hey, Stace!). And btw, Stacey, the walk back to the hotel was a breeze. ha, ha!

I'm pretty certain that I was a New Yorker in a former life. And if I wasn't, I seem to channel a native anytime I'm there. Because instinctively, anytime the King asked me how close something was to our hotel I'd say, "It's just a few blocks."

After 24 hours of me saying this and us walking more than two blocks to get to Central Park or Times Square he finally shouted, "Stop saying that! Nothing has been a few blocks away."

I finally told him that to me 7, 10 or 12 blocks was "just a few blocks."

Later, we met up with one of his vendors who confirmed that indeed, anything under 20 blocks is...let's say it together, just a few blocks.

Next time I go (and there will be a next time) I'm heading down to SoHo. Seriously, shouldn't every creative type tip through SoHo - the heart of the arsty fartsy?

Now, this is probably just me, but as we walked around I became very excited anytime we passed a major publishing house. Our hotel was diagonal to Simon & Schuster. Just a few blocks from Kensington (my home) and not too far away from Random House.

The girls didn't find that very exciting but...what do they know? They spent $40 on a tee at Abercrombie and Fitch on Fifth Ave. I won't take any excitement cues from them - I'd go broke!

So, I lost three days of writing for the trip (well worth it I might add) and now it's crunch time.

So, check out the slide show of "My New York."

Oh.. wait. Apparently, there's some evil photo-eating bug out there because I'm missing several slides - for one, a pic of the top of Kanye Wests' head. We caught an impromptu concert of Kanye and Pharrell in front of F.A.O. Schwartz - classic New York moment. Walking down the street, minding your own biz and bam - a concert! And free!

Anyway, for those who are all bummed because you were dying to see the top of Kanye's head or a piece of Pharrell's yellow party shirt. Sorreeee. Blame it on the three-digit temperature. It was hot as hell in New York!!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Nominate your girl, P

Okay, so I don't usually enter contests and such.

Not that I don't like them (who doesn't like to win?!). But most times I'll see a contest and don't bother because it'll just mean more spam in my inbox.

But, I love blogging. And having my blog recognized...well, that's just one more little piece of publicity that can help the book along, no?

So, to all my loyal readers (all five of y'all - ha, ha!!) check out The 2006 Black Weblog Awards and nominate my spot for either Blog to Watch or Best Topical blog. Oh and umm...go back later and vote.

No pressure!

But, thank yew for your support. :-)

I'll be posting about my wild and wacky adventures in the ENYCE, later.