Monday, March 30, 2009

Feed by M. T. Anderson

I went for brunch with a friend who had read an excerpt from my WIP. She spoke highly of the tension I created between the two characters, within the protagonist, and in her as a reader. Her comments made me giddy! I believe there must be tension throughout a novel, and was stoked to hear I had achieved that.

Later that night I was researching M.T Anderson, the fantstic author of one of my favorite books, Feed, and came across this article from a November, 2009 issue of the Washington Post. In it, Anderson suggests that such tension even extends to the relationship between author and text:

"Think of it as Anderson's revenge. As a teen, he says, 'I felt that I was always being cajoled, by this whole set of images, to be something that I fundamentally didn't want to be.' He was a kid who liked the harpsichord -- how uncool is that? He'd been 'angry about those things for so long' that it was enormous fun just to 'form a fist and strike out.' But the scariest thing wasn't that consumer culture was exerting pressure. It was that he'd internalized it. Part of him, he knew, 'would much rather be young, wealthy, pretty and oversexed than who I am,' even if this desire went against everything he believed. This tension, he says, is what made "Feed" interesting to write.'"

I'm glad I finally found a career where my propensity for anxiety and tension is actually an asset!

The article goes on to say, "On the surface, Octavian Nothing couldn't be less like Feed. Yet as Anderson points out, each creates its world through its characters' voices, 'the way the sentence structure works and the words they use.' He was so obsessed with getting Octavian's voice right that for the better part of six years, he restricted his reading to books written in or relating to the 18th century. He started speaking in 'much longer sentences with a lot of semicolons,' with the unintended consequence that his girlfriend mocked him for sounding like 'some 18th-century [expletive].'"

Yikes, it's like the authors' version of Method acting! Not for me, that's for sure. Although, it did earn him the National Book Award for Young, still not my style!

I haven't read The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party yet, but I plan to this summer when I have plenty of uninterrupted time.

But if you haven't read Feed yet, there is no excuse, hop to it!
5 Scoops, fo shizzle.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Julia Schwadron- Superstar

We all need some beauty in our lives. Find some here.

If you want to own that beauty, go here.

If you want some words in your beauty, check it out here. 

Balloon Drop!!!!!!!!!

My friend and coconspirator, Maria Gabriella Pereira, just published 
a story on the ezine Clever Magazine; check it out
You can keep track of this superstar at her blog, 

Baby Steps

That's me! The tiny little pink blob at the podium behind the massive heads and those empty chairs. That's me reading the first chapter of my WIP, Hiding Hector, out loud in front of living, breathing, drinking, human people.  

It was a terrifying experience. And an EXTREMELY long one, since none of the 33 other readers honored the 4 minute time limit. I mean seriously people, 10 minutes is just self indulgent and RUDE! Even if it's brilliant, it's still super tacky to go on for so long. 

Anywho, I had some awesome supporters in the crowd who were in it for the long haul, despite my repeated urgings that we should all just bounce.  Of course my name was drawn last, LAST!  Of course! The upside to this was that as everyone blathered on, I was looking for any possible word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph that could be cut.  I really trimmed some fat off of what I thought was already a lean chapter.  

I don't know exactly what reaction I was looking for from the flask-swilling, glazed-over crowd, but the reading did reignite my fear that my first chapter is not flashy enough.  As a reader I like to get a picture of the world I'm entering, I don't need to be thrown right into the action, but I worry that this is what editors and agents are looking for.  I'm going to have to spend some more time thinking about this, for sure.

All in all, I am really glad I did the reading and I appreciate my friends pushing me to do it.  I always learn something about my writing when I hear it out loud.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Please Read This

This was such an amazing article! It is about isolation and the damaging affect it has on the human psyche. READ IT!

Recent Reads

Charlotte's Web by E.B White = 5 scoops

A Rat's Tale by Tor Seidler = 4 scoops

Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table 
edited by Amanda Hesser = 3 scoops

The End of the Beginning by Avi = 3 scoops

Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn = 2 scoops

How Many Scoops Are You?

Now, not only do I have stack of books waiitng to be read, I have a stack of books waiting to blog about. Sheesh! So, I'm taking a short cut. I have devised a rating system that connects my love of books to another love: ice cream. So, here it is:

5 scoops= perfection
you must read this book or your life will not be complete

4 scoops= great
you should totally put this book on the top of your reading list

3 scoops= good 
you should add this book to your reading list

2 scoops= okay
read it if you have nothing better to do

1 scoop= bad
there is no reason to read this book

empty bowl=  atrocious
do not read this book. boycott this book. run away from this book.

Let's practice by rating ice cream brands:
Godiva-Chocolate Raspberry Truffle= 5 scoops
Haagen Daz- Coffee = 4 scoops
Baskin Robbins- Mint Chocolate Chip= 3 scoops
Breyer's- French Vanilla= 2 scoops
Rice Dream- Carob Almond= 1 scoop

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hairy Eyeballs

Advice for writers from Scott Westerfeld

Holy Shirt!


The list of books I want to read is growing unaccomplishable.....I know that isn't a word, but please, just nod your head, smile, and follow along.  

I mean, I read quite a bit. And I read quickly. But, yes, I do have friends and I do watch TV and I do go to work and whatnot.  But even with all of those time consuming activities, I still make reading a priority.  Over that past few years I've probably averaged about a book a week. And still, I feel like I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. And they keep publishing more for craps sake! So, what's a girl to do? 

I know, I know, there are worse problems to have in this world.  But look at this list of books I discovered today at the NYPL Teen Author Read, and you'll see what I mean. 

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

Great stuff! And I want to read it all immediately!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Juvenilia Smackdown

I had a great day at the library. There was reading out loud and clapping and raucous laughter... basically, this ain't your Grandma's Library, this is New York Fucking City....The NYC Teen Author Festival to be precise.

I got to hear Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Alaya Johnson, Justine Larbalestier, David Levithan, Diana Peterfreund, and Scott Westerfeld read some of the stuff they wrote as teens. In the audience I spied Coe Booth (my favoritest) and Eliot Schrefer, who were there to support the panelists. I love the YA world. I really look forward to celebrating the successes of my talented New School classmates and going to see them speak on panels.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Algonquin Hotel

I ventured forth and sat myself in a chair in the lobby of The Algonquin Hotel around 5:oopm this evening.  I ordered a pot of tea and commenced with writing. It was not the inspired sort, oh no, this was the kind where one take a look at one's WIP and figures out where all the holes are and then sets about filling them. Drudgery. But, after much staring into space (which the waitstaff mistook as the desire to order something more or an impatience for my check) I was able to produce one semi-decent chapter..minus an ending. An important chapter, no less, a first kiss kind of chapter and it was hard as hell to write it. I wanted it to be dramatic without being cheesy and original without being gimmicky. Alas, alack. But, even if I had had an ending in mind I doubt I would have been able to concentrate because at around 6:15pm, said Hotel Lobby began filling up with an assortment of characters that I have not witnessed since I left the community theatre circuit. You see folks, it was cabaret open mic night at the Algonquin, and what a night it was. I heard some singers that made my eyes water and my skin tickle from their amazing sounds and emotional resonance, others that made me laugh  by their song choice (the theme was Fear, Foreboding, and The Irish) or over the top charisma, while others made me stare down at my napkin in an attempt to keep a composed, neutral face...which if you know me at all, you know is a near impossibility.  One woman was so...odd.  She was playing the acoustic guitar and singing an original ditty which, to prevent a real facial expression outburst, forced me to pull my notebook from my purse and commit my snark to the perfectly descriptive word: Phoebe.  Now, if only I could find the right words to end that chapter....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


If you promise to still love me in the morning, I will tell you how I spent my night...

I watched The Clique. On DVD.  And, yes, that means I'd actually planned to do this. 

Why, you ask? Why would I do such a thing? I, who has purposefully avoided reading or seeing anything Harry Potter or Twilight or Gossip Girl or The Hills or Hannah Montana related? Why would I sully my good-taste name? Well, I was curious. That's why.

And, surprisingly, the movie didn't totally suck.  There were a few scenes that bordered on parody, but overall it seemed to want to be a heartwarming story about how being yourself is the best way to make real friendships. 

The actor who was playing the role of "hot guy" was so NOT HOT. I don't care how old I am, there is a difference between a hot 14 year old boy and a not hot 14 year old boy, and this kid was clearly NOT HOT! 

The actress playing Claire deserves to be drop kicked down a flight of stairs for such a bad performance, but the other four, particularly the actress playing Massie, were quite good. Massie was as snarky as I hoped she would be, but she also did a good job of capturing the conflicted, insecure girl underneath. Claire, on the other hand, had one, maybe two, facial expressions throughout the whole movie; deer in headlights and smiling like a vapid idiot. Thank God for the editor who found a way to cut quickly to another angle to spare the viewer from having to see her for too long, but it really took away from the emotional impact. 

Another major flaw was the ending which the screenwriter butchered.  The end is where you are supposed to see the real humanity of both Massie and Claire, but this ending was just awkward. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

To Be a Happy Writer

Some words of wisdom for the miserable mess that is the writer!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Early Bird...

DAMN! Somebody gone stepped on my title!

Author Terrance Dean's Memoir

“Hiding in Hiphop”

Reveals His Search for Truth

Book Cover Ideas

In case anybody ever asks me, these are possible covers (borrowed from the interweb) that I approve for my book (yeah, the one that I haven't finsihed writing yet, but nevermind that fact):


You have to read this article in the NY TImes about Hannah Emily Upp, a young woman who went out jogging and suffered from a rare form of amnesia called  dissociative fugue (the name alone is intriguing!) which manifests as spontaneous travel and a loss of the memory of one's own identity. Bizarre.  

Here is the money quote:
“We tend to experience our identity as a thing, as if it’s a constant,” added Dr. Loewenstein... “But it’s a lot less stable and has less unity than we want to believe.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sucker Punch

Amazing. Lovely. Gritty. Poetic. Painful. Beautiful. 
Read. It. Now.
(5 Scoops)


Kendra, the second book by New School graduate Coe Booth, is an interesting read. Although I wasn't as compelled by the voice as I was in Tyrell, her first book, the premise kept me turning pages. Booth's work infuses themes and plot points from the culture of "street lit" with a definite "high literary" sensibility. What I find most refreshing, sophisticated, and admirable about her novels is the way in which they resolve themselves. They do not fall victim to a Pollyanna happy ending, nor do they wallow in despair; instead, there is a very authentic mixture of hope and resignation that is profoundly interesting. The ending of Kendra is such that if you explained it to someone, they would probably have a hard time imagining how a character got there and how anyone could possibly see it as a step up. I imagine many teachers and parents have had a hard time with this book, finding its content implausible or not relevant for "their" students, but, based on all of my experience working with young people, it is certainly plausible and absolutely relevant. This is exactly why it should be published, purchased, and read by as many people as possible, young and old alike. So, get out there and buy your copy and send that message to the industry.