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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

OK, so the new TV shows have started and I'm loving some and not so much on others.

First...the returns. I still enjoy The Mentalist, but that Beckett woman on Castle just drives me nuts. Can she be any more wooden? That show would be unbeatable if someone really good had been cast as Beckett--and not just good looking, which Stana Katic, is no doubt. Is it too much to ask that she can act, too?
My pick to replace her : how about Mary McCormack from In Plain Sight? Now that would be interesting.

Casting's not an issue with Durham County. You lovers of creepiness, get ye there. This Canadian show is so eerie my husband refuses to watch it. The premise? What if the guy who lives in the house next door in the typically Spielberg subdivision--you know, the nice guy, the one with the wife and kid, the one who could have been a hockey star if only--what if he is a serial killer? It's kind of Dexter meets The Cosby Show--without the laughs. It's on the DVR list and I watch it in small doses.

I thought The Good Wife was compelling enough to make the list. Now there's a cast that can handle lines. And who could resist that slap Alicia gives her crooked politician/cheating husband?
Not to mention her struggle to separate herself from her last name and her husband's dirty laundry. It pulled me right in.

My taste runs to anything scifi, so of course I checked out FlashForward. I love the premise. And it's interesting to see Joseph Fiennes try out his American accent. From a sword to a gun. Hmm. Not very British of him. I won't say I'm hooked yet but FF is on the list. I'll give it a few more episodes to see how it plays out.

I'm also looking forward to the new Stargate show. I hear it's going to be darker and less episodic than SG-1 or Atlantis, which is music to my ears. Nothing can replace Farscape, but maybe this will help.

I'm not a huge comedy fan (bet you're not surprised to hear that...) but I did give Community and Modern Family a try. The former...eh. The latter I may watch again.

I do miss Burn Notice, The Closer, and In Plain Sight. Sigh.
If you've got any recommendations, lay them on me. Ditto to disagreements or endorsements.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Home Again Jiggity Jig

That's right, folks. I'm back in the Southland.

Heard from my agent that the book is a-okay and ready to send.

I'm moving on up...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nothing To Do

Still away from home. Very early this morning. Gloomy from rain. We are all up, but it is sleep quiet nevertheless.

Hubby is getting ready for business meeting. Son-in-law for his day of work. Daughter is writing and rewriting. I have nothing to do.

She offers a book, but I have a book. I have magazines, computer games, gameboy, sudoku, Morning Edition on the radio. But all that is nothing to do.

I have only a hard seed of an idea. A series. It rolls around in my head and sprouts only questions. Who? What? Why? There are no answers. The thing is greasy. I reach for it and it slips out of my grasp.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meet Me in St. Louie, Lewie

My mother always pronounces it: St. Louie. Then again, she's from Brooklyn. I've been told it's a great faux pas to say anything but St. Lewis.

In any case, that's where I am--in St. Louis with the newlyweds.

The football is on, though muted, and we are talking about people who throw their cigarette butts on the ground. Larry wants a bumper sticker. Here are some suggestions from the group:

Butts are not attractive

Butts are garbage, too.

Littering is punishable by death (and that means you, cigarette smokers)

We all decided the last one was too long for a bumper sticker.

More later from the exciting life here in the gateway to the Midwest.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Year's Update

OMG--that chicken is fantastic. We had a great meal last night. And so far, a good start to 5770..

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Specials

Hey, y'all! It's Friday, and, as promised, my "healthy writer" blog is already up and running. So click on over and let me know what you think about body issues and adressing them.

Changing the subject: Tonight the Jewish New Year begins at sundown. The holiday, Rosh HaShana--Rosh, meaning "head" or "beginning" and HaShana, meaning "the year"--celebrates the birthday of the world, or at least that's how they phrase if for the kinder (children).

You can't have a holiday without food--oh, wait a sec, if you're Jewish, you CAN have a holiday without food because the next one coming up, Yom ("day") Kippur ("atonement") is supposed to be a fast day, but never mind--MOST things Jewish come with food, and Rosh HaShana has its own epicurean traditions.

First and foremost that means sweet things, so that the coming year will be sweet for you. Traditionally that means apples dipped in honey--not my favorite. Now apples dipped in caramel--that works. But so messy.

Another tradition, at least if your family tree resided in eastern Europe, is brisket. Usually baked with a ton of caramelized onions, carrots, and a dab of ketchup. Several years ago I served this to my husband's fantasy baseball league, and the guys are still talking about it...

This year I'm eschewing all familiar tradition and posing as a Syrian (Iranian, Moroccan, you get the picture). I'm making Roast Chicken with Dried Fruits and Almonds.

You can't pretend to be middle eastern without couscous, so that's my side.

And for dessert, I'm substituting apples for the nectarines in this Nectarine Golden Cake, which is the kind of cake a non-baker like me can do.

So give me props for experimenting.

Happy 5770 everyone.

May your year be filled with the sweetness of heart, mind, and body.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sin in Book Clubs

As you may know, I ran a photo contest last month. You had to send in a photo of yourself (or your Barbie dolls, cat, dog, whatever) with a copy of One Deadly Sin. At the same time, I spoke at a friend's book club and told them about the contest. They all quickly gathered themselves with the book and snapped a picture.

Things being what they are...the photo never got sent.
Until now.

So, no winnings, but they do get a special posting. Here they are--the book club ladies Sinning away.

By the way--if you're interested in reading one of my books for your book club, let me know. I'll be happy to call and chat with your group about the book.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Learning

I'm almost through with the third book in my reading spree. The second was by Daniel Silva and this one is by Mariah Stewart.

Silva writes international thrillers with a continuing character, an on again-off again Israeli agent. Set in Europe, the book hops between countries--England, Switzerland, Italy, Spain. The story not only bobs between places but between plot points: chapters consist of many, many short scenes. Most are from the hero or antagonist point-of-view, but some are from the POV of more secondary characters.

The book didn't engulf me, although the hero has a haunted past that makes him interesting. But I didn't feel as though there was much at stake. Since the hero is a continuing character, no matter how badly he's beaten, you know he'll survive. And if he didn't, and his mission failed, the world wouldn't end. Injustice would prevail, but there is always the sequel...

Compounding the low-end stakes was the fact that main threat in the book--to a world-famous musician--never materializes into an actual attempt at killing her. In the end, the assassin decides not to do the deed after all, though he is in place and close enough to carry out his mission. I wonder if Silva found himself liking her too much to kill her off. Maybe she or the assassin will appear in another book?

But I liked the way he moved around the story, cutting scenes off, even sectioning off long scenes into shorter ones without changing POV. I've had several instances in my current wip where I wanted to do that but wasn't sure how. Now I know.

I'm two-thirds into the Mariah Stewart book. The book was hard to get into. Beyond the prologue, the writing appeared thinner than I like. But as I kept on I began to see the advantages of the style. It's mostly dialog with almost no interior monologue. This gives the book a super-fast pace. Again, the story isn't the most innovative or remarkable on the planet, but I suspect her fans don't care. Violence happens off-screen, the main characters are neither dark nor tortured, and the murders happen to strangers we don't really care about. All of which makes for a safe read. And I've met readers who don't want their mysteries to be too intense.

I've also met readers who don't like to read anything but dialog. I spoke at a book club a few weeks ago and one of the members reiterated this opinion. Stewart's book would be perfect for her.

As for me, it made me think about my own dialog to internal monologue ratio. Sometimes I write pages and pages of dialog and it feels wrong somehow. Too expository, and, well, icky. And by icky I mean, boring, cliched, unclever. But reading Stewart I see how it works.

I've got 2 more books to go after the Stewart book. I think the next will be by Laura Lippman. It was so intense my husband stopped reading it. It should be an interesting change from what I'm reading now. Wonder what I'll learn?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Heads Up

Just an advance notice: I'll be blogging on Trish Milburn's Healthy Writer blog on Friday (this Friday, Sept 18, 2009). It's all about dressing your body, no matter what shape your body's in. So tune in and tell me what you think.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

After the Ball is Over

What a weird feeling. Yesterday I sent my book off to New York and today I'm without meaning and purpose...

It's a strange thing writing a book. Living with the story, the characters, the struggle of putting it all on paper--and then poof! It's done. It's...gone.

Move on. Snap out of it. Enjoy the freedom.

Bah. Humbug.

Can't live with it; can't live without it.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Anyone Out There?

It's kind of liberating to know the answer is...no. I can pretty much write what I want and it doesn't matter.

Two thoughts: Saw Julia and Julie today. Had such a good time. Sweet, warm movie. And I definitely can relate when Julie thinks no one is reading her blog.


Can't remember what the second thought was.


My annoyingly well-educated daughter informed me that when Rochester calls Jane his "little mustard seed" he is referring to Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.

After a little research, I discovered that Mustardseed is one of four fairies that Tatiana, the Fairy Queen, calls upon to wait on her new-found love--the clown Bottom, now changed by Puck into a man with the head of an ass. Throughout Bronte's book, Rochester attributes elf and fairy-like qualities to Jane, as though her magic alone can redeem him. The morning after she agrees to marry him, he continues the analogy, drunk on happiness and his belief that a life with Jane will bring him salvation.

The exact lines are "Is this my little elf? Is this my little mustard seed?"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday on the Mark with Jane

It is Sunday, the hump of the long weekend. My daughter and her new husband are here and I'm looking forward to spending a glorious day with them.

To begin, we are watching the BBC production of Jane Eyre with Timothy Dalton. It's stilted and play-like, but the best adaptation of the book I've ever seen. Whole sections of dialog lifted from the book and spoken so beautifully and perfectly by the actors that the 19th century words sound normal. "She sucked my blood. She said she would drain my heart!" So speaks Mason after being attacked by his sister. "You long to recommence a life more worthy of an immortal," says Rochester. "My little mustard seed," he calls Jane after she agrees to marry him.

Sigh. Little mustard seed, indeed.

What a great way to start this day.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009


Warning: Rant Coming

Once my SFD (see below) was complete I promised myself I would take a week off and read. Ironically, since I began writing full time, I have stopped reading novels altogether. So this was to be an experiment. Could I could pick up the habit again? And, as an added component, I thought I would dip my toes into the sea of literary fiction and find out what the supposedly better half was doing.

My first choice was Atonement by Ian McEwan. I picked it because I usually like books set in the past. My brother loved it. And so did a million other readers, including those from La La Land. I finished it yesterday. What an amazingly written, engrossing, horror of a book.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

A day later, I am still furious. How dare he call the book Atonement when there is none? How dare he trick his reader into thinking all will be well, when it won't? How dare he lead us all down the garden path of happy endings, then pull the proverbial rug out from under us? That book is exactly why I write romance.

Are the deaths of the lovers more realistic? Perhaps. But who needs realism? Just turn on CNN. Is the cowardice of the liar more true to life? Perhaps. But surely there are people out there who would face what they'd done and ask for forgiveness. Is the long, prosperous, and hypocritical (re: philanthropic) life of the perpetrators unusual? No. But, as McEwan says at the end, the writer is God. He can manipulate the truth any way he wishes. Why, then, did he choose to create such a heartfelt and ultimately cynical book?

Clearly, he is not a Buddhist. There is such thick, deep suffering in the book, but it is not redemptive. And he is not Christian. There is no hint of death being the portal to "a better place." And he is no Jew. Jews must face those they've wronged, actively seek forgiveness, and work to right whatever harm they've done. I don't know much about Islam, but I'd take bets he's not Muslim either. So what is McEwan?

A coward. That is his religion.

He's a coward for not being brave enough to give his tortured lovers an ending that overcomes or makes sense of their suffering--which he clearly wanted to do. A coward for not braving the sneers of his fellow "serious" writers, who would call an "emotionally satisfying ending" a trip down sentimental lane. A coward for the slick, dirty joke he pulls at the end.

And now I need to wash my mind out with the brave words of my own kind. At least we don't play games with our readers.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yawn, Stretch, Open Eyes

September is here, and the long sleep is over. Why I referred to the last month as if I were hibernating, I have no idea, since I was working my butt off. But who can know the intricate workings of a writer's mind? Certainly not me.

Had things gone the way I'd predicted my book would be off to my editor today. But in the great wide world of publishing things don't always go as predicted. Turns out my next book has been pushed back a month, giving me 4 more weeks to fidget and worry and revise, revise, revise.

In fact, if I'd been thinking, I would have revised all those dozing pictures to ones of furious output, which is what I was really doing, much to my surprise.

The other day I was commiserating with my friend, Jenny Fields, who writes literary fiction and is currently working on a book about Edith Wharton called The Age of Ardor. We were talking about how much more fun it is to revise than anything. That Shitty First Draft, as Annie Lamont calls it, is the hardest part of writing for me. I know you're supposed to just vomit something up but all that stuff at the bottom of my innards usually doesn't want to come out. I eke out those pages like hunting for water in the desert. Some days it flows. Most days it doesn't.

I did something different this past month. I wrote the last book, One Deadly Sin, at Panera's. I couldn't get back into the rhythm of that for this one. Instead, I got up early and while it was cool, sat on my screened in porch and finished the manuscript. I don't know why home worked better for this book than the last. But it did. Odd how place is important to writing. I won't be able to continue out here when the weather turns. Wonder where I'll go next.

Does every book need its own place? If so, I'm in deep doo doo. I'm going to start running out of places to go.

Most writers have offices. They write everything there. I have an office but I avoid it. It's too small, too messy, too overwhelming with...stuff.

Anyway, now that the SFD is done and I've gone through it a couple of times, I feel like I'm waking up to a spring thaw. My schedule is breaking up and I've got a little time to do other things.
Like this.
So, howdy world!

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