25 May 2010

YA? Why?

Status: Meh (long day at work but had an amazing dinner - life evens itself out)

On tv: World's Dumbest Criminals (seriously, even I had no idea that there was this much stupid running around)

We spent last weekend attending my step-daughter's high school graduation. A six hour road trip just to get there, tons of gifts, lots of hugs and, of course, plenty of tears later I'm proud to say that the hubs and I are now the parents of a high school graduate.

As we watched our precious little girl cruising down the aisle while a rock version of Pomp and Circumstance blasted from the PA system (seriously? how kick ass is that?), I noticed that she was crying. Not just regular crying but full on snotty nosed, wracking sobs crying. Really? Crying?

<----  Oh, yes, there was sobbing.

I watched her collect her diploma and I couldn't help but think back to my own high school graduation. There had been no tears from me on that night. I'd walked through my entire four years of high school with a cosmic kick me sign taped to the back of my hand me down K-Mart clothing and, on graduation day, I was so incredibly happy to be done that I couldn't wait to get my diploma in my hand and leave my high school experience behind me forever.

Which leaves me wondering why I'm drawn to writing YA novels...it's not like I'm trying to relive my high school glory days because, let me assure you, I had none. I had humiliating days, awkward days, lonely days, ugly days, and hurt filled days but definitely no glory days. After that kind of experience, you'd think the last place I'd want to revisit, even in fiction, would be high school. Yet, that's where I often find myself when I sit down to write.

I open a word document to find myself once again navigating the uncomfortable territory of high school hallways, lunchroom table seating politics and the horrors of the girls locker room during gym class. *shudder* Why? Really, why would I want to do that? Maybe it's like being a ghost stuck in an endless loop reliving your own murder over and over again until your murder is avenged. Only in my case it's more like being an awkward teenager reliving the moment when I got stung by a bee - on my ass- in the middle of gym class or the day that I slipped and fell, butt naked, coming out of the shower in the girl's locker room? I mean, it's practically the same thing, right? Hell, I think I would have preferred dropping dead over laying there on the cold tile floor of the locker room while all the cool, pretty girls laughed at me (okay, I totally would have probably laughed at me too, but still...).

As I sat through that hot, neverending ceremony (was the 20 minute slide show really necessary?), I realized that I write YA because teenagers can be mature and funny, smart and naive, hopeful and angsty all at the same time. They have the future wide open ahead of them and think that they've lived it all and have all the answers. Basically, they can be anything and everything - often all in the same day (if they're teenage girls, they can run the full gamut in less than 10 minutes). They're fun and interesting if you don't have to live with them.

Here's our graduate! It's all official, the sobs are gone, the smiles have appeared and may her future be just as bright and filled with joy as she is!

Also? If a character who vaguely resembles one of the cool, pretty clique of girls who tormented me during high school just happens to fall, butt naked, coming out of the girls shower in one of my novels? It's totally a coincidence. I swear.


05 May 2010

Dan Quayle Was Here?

Status: Crazy stressed (lots going on, not enough time or sanity to go around)

On tv: Addicted (Another intervention type show - wondering if my slight obsession with reality tv could be considered an addiction. Maybe I need an intervention?)

The hubs took me out to dinner tonight because, well, I was having a bad day and he knew that if I didn't feel like cooking, dinner prep would fall to him  he loves me and wanted to pamper me. It was steak night at the restaurant that he chose - so YAY!! Sorry, but I seriously loves me some steak! :)

However, when we sat down at the table and I glanced at the "special" steak menu, I felt my eye start to twitch. The special menu listed the different types of steaks one might order along with the note that each meal came complete with a salad, a dessert and my choice of POTATOE.

Really? You run a restaurant and you don't know how to spell "potato"? *sigh* I tried to ignore it. I tried to convince myself it didn't matter if the word was spelled wrong but really, it does matter. I couldn't sit there and eat at a table where the little standing menu proclaimed that I could have a potatoe.

So, I did what any self respecting writer would do. I pulled my favorite pen out of my purse, removed the paper insert and scribbled out the "e" at the end of the word. Finally all was right in my world and I could enjoy my dinner.

Tomorrow, I'm totally fixing the sign outside the local market advertising the fact that they "except" debit cards.

I seriously suspect my hubs has the local insane asylum on speed dial.


04 May 2010

Some (More or Less) Helpful Advice for Writers

Status: Worn Out - I think that this week may have already lasted about a month.

On Tv: The Maury Show - I'm no genius but I'm betting it's going to be about someone who doesn't know who her baby's daddy is.

It seems that there's been a lot of discussion around the writerly interwebs lately about our "on-line presence" as writers. How we should brand ourselves, how we should present ourselves and whether we should post about our writing or discuss the publishing business. ACK!!!! 

At first? I'll be honest, I blew it off. I was all "I'm like Popeye!" I am who I am, right? Or am I? After reading one too many articles I started to worry about what I was saying and how I was presenting myself. Suddenly I was afraid that I was coming across too...angry (road rage) or judgemental (weird neighbors) and just plain old self centered and intolerant (Dealing with the public).

Suddenly it was like I was back in high school worried about wearing the wrong clothes (which I totally did - we were poor, my clothes were K-Mart hand me downs)* or sitting at the wrong table at lunch (the cool kids don't want to sit next to the poor, K-Mart hand me down wearing nerd). I would start a blog post and delete it just as quickly because I was certain I wouldn't be presenting my writer self in the best light.

Then, today I read another "top ten tips for authors" article - this time giving advice for television interviews and public appearances. One of the first things on the list? The tv adds pounds so dress to hide yours. The article also went on to say that it wouldn't be out of line to consider minor cosmetic procedures like botox or collagen injections. Seriously? WTF? BOTOX????

It was then that I realized just how crazy some of this advice really is. Sure, some of it is great. Some of it is great for some writers. However. Some of it? Is.total.crapola. So, I came up with my own list of helpful advice for authors (aspiring or otherwise).

1.) Write the way you want to write. Plan, outline or just fly by the seat of your pants. Edit as you go, or edit at the end. Whatever works for you because writing is an art and art is in the journey and the beauty of the art is appreciated differently by different people. That's okay!

2.) Be who you are...whatever that means. For me it means that sometimes I'm cranky, intolerant and just plain in a bad mood. It also means that sometimes I'm kind, compassionate, caring and empathetic. If someone chooses to judge me based on one or two blog posts? There's nothing I can do about that but I'd rather have someone dislike me for who I am than like me for who I'm pretending to be.

3.) Don't worry so much about what people think of the way you look. I'm fat and no amount of clothing is going to hide that. I've also got gray hair, laugh lines, and vampire pale skin. But you know what? That's okay because it's part of who I am. If I want to lose weight, cover my gray or get botox because I think it will make me feel better about myself? Then fine. But I'm not going to do it to impress someone who more than likely doesn't care about how I look anyway. Seriously...when was the last time you looked at an author interview and thought "gee, I'd love to read her books but she's just too fat and wrinkly to possibly write good fiction."

Remember, chances are you're not perfect but there is every chance that you are perfectly and uniquely you!

4.) Finally, some advice specifically for women: Buy.a.tiara. Seriously. Because writer girls in tiaras just rock!

So, there you have it...my very best writerly advice. Take it for what it's worth, throw out the rest and, as I've said before, embrace your inner awesome!

* The hand me downs? Were often from my grandmother. If you think wearing your grandmother's hand me down K-Mart clothes doesn't make you the most popular girl in school then you just didn't know what you were missing!