Thursday, April 29, 2010

America on Spring Break

The other day I was watching TV with Catherine and The Man from Snowy River was on. I was telling her how Uncle Gregg and I used to watch that movie a lot when we were little. (After it made it to cable, that is.)

Then the part came where the horses all go over the cliff and we talked about that. How amazing that was and the riding skillz involved.

She's been on a horse once, I think. I grew up with country relatives, so I occasionally rode horses as a child. When I was her age, I was scared of them. But after a few summers at Kueta (camp), they had me scraping hooves and combing tails and brushing horses down enough that... well, I was still a little scared of them, but at least I knew what I was doing.

Watching TMFSR made me think back, though. It seems like that was when Australia was really breaking onto the world stage. It was 1982. I don't remember when Mad Max came out, so I could be wrong, but up until then, it seems like Australia was just sort of wild and unknown.

I remember David Letterman once said to an Australian guest that Australia was like America on Spring Break. I thought that was So. Funny. Because that's pretty much how I'd always thought of it.

Now we think of Australia and we think Nicole Kidman, L O S T, Sydney Opera House, Finding Nemo...  They actually do get dressed and go to work Down Under. What a let-down.

Speaking of Letterman, I had an Indy friend shoot me a msg that he's sick of reading about how great south Alabama is and to write something about how cool Indianapolis is.

Have I mentioned how much I love you guys? That email made me LOL!!!

OK, A.E., I really liked living in Indianapolis.

Before I moved there, Richard lived in Indy but I was still in Louisiana. We had several discussions about how to get ourselves a little closer together and tossed out possible ideas for where we'd like to live, set up shop, raise kids, etc.

Richard went to law school at Vanderbilt, so he had many friends and contacts in Nashville. That was one possibility. I'd worked in my field in Baton Rouge for almost 10 years at the time, so that was another. Louisiana law threw a bit of a wrench in that plan, but Richard wasn't entirely averse to the idea.

Ultimately, I moved to Indy, and we were there for three more years. But my most lasting memory of those discussions was an email I sent that said "I just never imagined I'd end up in Indianapolis. Not in all my imagining..."

Richard of course, replied, "Well, I'd like to think we haven't ended..."

After moving there, I joined Richard in having a great, hilarious, fun-loving, supportive group of friends. We had three golden years in the Midwest that left me with memories as strong and dear as anywhere I've lived.

Almost half of the gang we ran with there have moved on as well to places like San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago... all great places to live.

So I might not've imagined living in Indianapolis, but I do miss it. It wasn't on the list, but it wouldn't have been such a bad place to end up.

Monday, April 26, 2010

(Not a) Blog Blog

A little over a month ago--right after the Oscars, whenever that was--I rented Julie & Julia (despite Richard's protests). I really enjoyed it.

I feel like I learned a little bit about who Julia Childs was as a person, and of course the publishing struggles were extremely relatable. It was shortly after I started this blog, so that part where Julie talks about blogs being vain and self-indulgent and narcissictic... (sp?) I totally got that. I felt that way. I still do... sort of.

So why am I doing this? Well, I read an agent's (Janet Reid's) blog post on "How to know when you're ready to start sending query letters." Her advice included the following: 1-Your book's finished, 2-You've done your research on agents, and then (cringe) 3-You've established a web presence, and I don't mean Facebook.

OK. I'm a smart person (stop giggling!) and I know. It does make you more appealing to publishers if they see that there are people out there (other than your mom/husband) who actually like reading what you write. (I also finished J&J, so I saw the end with the phone ringing off the hook because of her blog. A.k.a., "the dream sequence.")

So that's it. The answer to "Leigh, why did you start a blog?"

In its defense, since starting my blog, I've revised my initial judgment on them. I've really gotten to know a lot of you better through it--through your emails and comments--and I suppose you'd say the same of me.

I like it when you send me suggestions of things you'd like to see (Anthony! Next post~), and I especially like reading your comments. It's cool because I can see how once an author's books are out there, s/he really doesn't know how people respond to them. Unless s/he trolls the Internet to find chats or whatever. Here I can actually post the occasional literary musing and hear back from you guys almost instantly. I love that.

Update, I got a reply from an agent I queried back in January yesterday. She asked for a sample of the book. And there you have it. The speed of this game. Otherwise, still in "no news is no news" purg. I feel myself growing... and not just from the stress eating.

In music, I managed to get Richard's original "(Not a) Train Song" up on YouTube! I had to make it into a video, so if  you want to turn off your monitor and just listen, that's better. Otherwise, you'll be treated to family photos. (I tried to find ones of Richard playing music, but we actually don't have a lot of those. JRM asked why there were no train pix. LTM: It's not a song about a train.)

Musical guests include "Na$hville" Dave Harper on guitar (and production) and Margrette "Marge" Lane on mandolin and backup vocals. Here's the link.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Madonna Earth

So Happy Earth Day! The girls and I'll be at the Rave at 4:45 p.m. watching Oceans, and I cannot wait! I know, Nerds Unite (again). But it's really not like that. OK, it is, but it's more a tradition that started last year.

I love love love movies, right? And I would live in the movie theater if I could, but that's ridiculous. Still, I'm always looking for something good the girls and I can see. In that spirit, I don't know if anyone remembers last year Disney made a big deal about their movie Earth. If you went to see it on Earth Day, they'd plant a tree for every ticket sold.

So naturally we went. It was gorgeous and beautiful, and ... there was a circle of life moment that took us a few hours to get over. Wah wah waaahh... I felt bad about that.

When I was a kid, grown ups were always showing us movies like Bambi and Old Yeller and Dumbo and Where the Red Fern Grows, and I swore that I would never, NEVER! watch another movie that starred an animal again as long as I lived...

Well, we got over Earth, and before the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, they had a trailer for Oceans. Now I gotta tell you guys, I like the earth, but I LOVE the ocean. So I'm totally psyched.

I'm also hoping it'll be harder to get emotionally attached to a squid than say, a bear. (Of course, they'll probably make it Flipper or something. I'll let you know.)

Bonus: For every ticket sold today, Disney's donating a dollar to save the coral reefs. So... looking for something fun to do?

As for Madonna, well, you might've caught this week's Glee, which was devoted to her legacy. Richard said some of his secretaries were surprised that they were uncomfortable letting their kids watch it because it was too provocative.

At first I was empathetic and wondered if maybe there should've been more warning. But then I thought some more, and c'mon, people. This is Madonna we're talking about. Remember her? The one who got kicked out of the Catholic church by His Holiness himself? The name should've been warning enough.

Richard wondered how much she got paid for allowing them to use her songs. I wondered how much she paid them for making it look like there was actually a method to all her exhibitionism.

I was in middle school when Madonna was really getting big, and my parents were super strict. I mean, they worked hard to shelter us, bless their hearts.

I love my parents. And I knew every word to every Madonna song ever released. Even some that weren't released. And of course, I saw all the videos.

I try to remind myself of this as my little ladies creep closer and closer to their tweens. You can only protect them so far. And then they leave you and go to school/dance/art/friends'/etc.


When you think about it, parenthood is just one long journey into never sleeping again. Seriously. They're born, up all night. They move to "big girl beds," up all night. Even now.

Richard and I were having this big discussion last night about whether it's fair to attribute positive social change to Madge and all her silly antics when in walks Catherine--who'd been tucked in an hour before, mind you. She saw a UFO from her window.

I had to let Richard take that one. He's the SciFi nerd.

Then they'll start dating and driving, holy cow, no sleep. Then college... 

And that's how it goes, teenage girls. If that isn't an abstinence lesson in and of itself, I don't know what is.

OK, I'm just kidding. I don't know the magic formula. Is it right to shelter kids from sexual messages? Or should they be viewed as conversation starters. Of course, it all depends on maturity level, I know. Ultimately, while that Glee episode did push the envelope (much like its subject), the overall message was positive.

There's a lot of talk that kids are exposed to too much sexuality today. I grew up with Prince and Madonna and Duran Duran... My parents had the Rolling Stones and the Doors, Woodstock and Studio 54... my grandparents had Marilyn Monroe and Rosalind Russell...

So I'm not sure it's fair to say that.

I wasn't a sexually active teen, but some of my friends were. And we all knew what each other was doing and talked about it. (Ugh! Did I mention parenthood equals no sleep?)

Get me outta here. On a more positive note, I finished the new book!

Now before you spray coffee on your computer, it's not completely finished. The story's there all the way to the end, but I really pushed through it fast. Now I'm going back and filling in details at certain spots. And I really like it!

I'm also super excited that I actually came up with a completely new, standalone work that isn't part of the previous series. It's very encouraging. I just might be a novelist after all. Now if I could just get somebody in the publishing world to agree...

Still waiting on that front. Have a great weekend, guys. Next post, Monday~

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'll keep the ole back 40...

Just in case you missed it, I'm having to cut back my blogging to Mondays & Thursdays while I work on other writing projects. I know. And I call myself a writer...

That is, of course, unless there is breaking news on Debut Novel--in which case that screaming sound you hear is me. (Yes, that includes you, Overseas Readers.) But I will also post it here. And everywhere.

So those of you sweethearts who have been asking, I'm still in what's known as the purgatory of no news is no news.

But I was thinking I haven't said anything about music in a while. I thought about it today as I was jogging and songs were coming on that I liked. The one mentioned in the title of this blog, for instance. (Robert Earl Keen, fyi.)

The girls have entered a Taylor Swift phase. I blame Lori Quimby, their GA teacher, but Catherine came up to me the other day and timidly asked if we could download a few of her songs. (She has her daddy's old iPod shuffle.)

I'm a sucker for the timid request for music, so we jumped on the iTunes immediately and started scrolling through Miss Swift's offerings. I hadn't listened to any of her songs, but now that I have, they're sweet.

They're like the musical Cliff's Notes for a lot of these YA novels I've been reading lately. Update, Something, Maybe was a bit of a let-down. Hmm... Elizabeth Scott is still great at the buildup to the kiss, but wow... it took fuh-evah to get there.

Starting I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter next. And I admit, I only bought it because Ms. Carter's agent is Kristin Nelson. Ms. Nelson seems like she should be my agent; I'm curious about what she actually represents. More soon.

So back to Taylor Swift. I've been enjoying her stuff. I was a very girlie little girl (shocker...), so I understand the attraction of these songs.

Richard, on the other hand, is a merciless ridiculer. Some of you know that he sings "Tim McGraw" as "When you play Donkey Kong." (I hope you have your sweatpants on...)

I forbid such behavior when the girls are around because I like them listening to *nice* music. (I finally got them to stop asking for "Tik Tok" and "Party Like a Rock Star.")

Still, our recent trip to the beach was a test. Catherine and Laura were demanding their Taylor Swift rock block, and Richard was literally squirming in his seat from all the one-liners just NEEDING to come out.

For example, TS's song "Today Was a Fairytale" was playing. The girls were happily singing all the words in the back seat, the following was going on up front:

TS: Today was a fairytale, I wore a dress... etc. Today was a fairytale.
JRM:  (under his breath) how many times is she going to say that?
LTM: (quiet, scolding voice) Richard...
TS: Today was a fairytale, you've got a smile, takes me to another planet...
JRM: Sounds more like a science fiction story.
LTM: (cuts eyes)

Ahh... The little ladies were unaffected. And I have to say, I've reached the point where I'm recognizing the cycles in the entertainment industry.

It's OK, I am not a ridiculer. Especially when you get that rare performer who actually wrote her own songs and then is actually singing them. And I think it's awesome that there's something out there for everybody (and at every stage of the game).

I'm sure these are the character-building lessons one learns in no news is no news purgatory.

Richard's a songwriter, in case you didn't know it (most of you do). His songs have titles like, "Kiefer Sutherland's Mother," "That Dog'd Bite You," and of course, the "(Not a) Train Song." They're in the humorously unexpected genre. I'll see if I can upload one for your musical enjoyment.

As for me, I'm just trying to get all the paying gigs done so I can get back to my sophomore effort. It's going quite well, and I'm noting how little I've leaned on my musical crutch for this one. (What could it mean...?)

I'll let you know when we're ready to start Round 2.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Starting Again

I've never watched any of those Psycho sequels, but that's a great line.

It popped in my head this morning because writing a book is a little like being possessed. Not in a murderous "my dead mom's telling me to kill people" kind of way, but close. (Although I suppose if you're Stephen King, it's exactly like that.)

The thing is, it takes so much focus and concentration to keep those characters in character and not lose them. Or get them mixed up with your own character. Or another character. And I've got the worst memory. Seriously.

Last fall when I was working on Debut Novel, I went in the cave for two weeks. I didn't leave the house, didn't socialize. I just thought about the book and the plot and the characters and what they'd do next and why and what would happen next to get them where they needed to be. And why...

I took care of the kids, finished my paying gigs as fast as possible, and then hit the laptop. I'd be up in the middle of the night writing. I had to! A scene or situation of dialogue would come to me, and if I didn't stop (or get up) and write it down, it'd be gone by morning.

I finally had to tell Richard what I was doing when he made some crack about me having an online affair.

Uh... no. Sorry. Nothing that exciting or potentially destructive. Just writing a book over here.

Richard has also said I have a touch of OCD. His proof is that I'll be typing on the computer while he's talking to me and I can completely block out his voice. I've told him. He really talks a lot...

So I did it. I wrote this book from about Sept.-Oct. of last year. Then I got to the point in the story where there had to be a reason two of the main characters were keeping this Big Secret, so I sat down and wrote a sequel/prequel to Debut Novel.

That just happened. I wasn't really planning to write a sequel/prequel.

Then I went back and polished polished polished Debut Novel and started sending it out. Then I started finding links like this and had an episode of mini-depression:

Then I started getting requests from agents to see DN, and I got over it. It just might happen after all...

All this time I was thinking that that was it. I'd done it. I'd written two and a half books, I was working my tail off to get one published with the hopes that people would like it so much, I'd finish out the series, and that was it. That was all I had.

Over. Done.

I seriously couldn't imagine coming up with another story line or another set of characters or another situation or anything like that. I don't really remember how I even came up with the first one.

I mean, I can sit around and think of a lot of incidents and conversations  that led me to the point of having enough stuff in my head to fill a book. A few books even. But an actual inciting incident? ...


And then last week I was sitting around, minding my own business and I thought of this girl getting hit in her car. She's sitting at a redlight, minding her own business and WHAM-O, somebody plows into her back end.

She isn't hurt, but now there's this person in her life she didn't know, didn't ask to know, that she's having to deal with. Her life's been changed and it doesn't stop there. Things are going on in her home, in her small hometown, etc.

And I'm down the rabbit hole again.

I let Richard read the first 30 pages last night, and he's diggin it. I have an idea where this is going, but it's a little scary to me. I'm not convinced I'm brave enough to follow these characters where they're headed. I'm not sure if I'm a skilled enough novelist yet to show how much they really do care about each other. (Aspiring novelist.) They're about to be hit with some tough, painful decisions...

Richard says, "Keep writing."

So I guess I have to. More soon~

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nerds on spring break...

Driving in from the coast yesterday, my oldest complained that she wanted to stay all week.

"But then you wouldn't get to see Grammy!" I tried to console her. "And Daddies don't get spring break," Richard said.

Catherine's response: "When I grow up, I'm not going to work. I'm going to sit around all day in my slippers and eat chips."

Of course I had to ask. Doritos.

Living near the beach, we've become very aware of plastic and its effect on the sea life. We reuse and recycle, and I'm one of those nerds who hauls the cloth bags into the grocery.

I'm also the nerd who arranges all my items on the conveyer belt so they fit neatly in the bags and don't make them too heavy for me to carry.

Most checkers don't even make eye contact.

Imagine my surprise when a colorful-haired Asian boy checker looks up and says, "I like the way you organized your items."

I smiled and couldn't think of a thing to say. Is that a thank you moment?

It was definitely a "Nerd Alert" moment. And a potential character interaction was wrinkled in my little writer's brain...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lots of Book Reviews - That Summer, H.B.S., Geek Charming, etc.

Woo! Next week is spring break in Baldwin County!

Many of you will be here, many of you are hitting Disney. I expect lots of funny pix on Facebook.

So I reported a while back that I've been updating my knowledge of current YA fiction for girls since deciding to hit the market with Debut Novel. And I have to gush, it's been so much fun!

I seriously love this stuff. I grew up addicted to Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Francine Pascal, you name it. Pretty much anything like that I devoured.

Naturally, Debut Novel falls into that category of books. However, I was also a Nancy Drew fan, so I wanted to throw in a little mystery. I think it works. Now I'm trying to convince the gatekeepers...

Since I've been reading so many of these books lately, I felt I should share in case any of you out there are looking for a fun, beach read.

First, That Summer, by Sarah Dessen is amazing. I could not put the book down, and it was not at all what I expected. Loved it. Go out and get it now. Don't be misled by the cover image--not once does any character do a cartwheel on the beach...

Loved, loved, loved the book. That being said, I also read The Truth About Forever by S.D., and loved it, too-! I discussed this one earlier under "eerie conicidences" because it has similar themes to DN. Anyway, S.D. might become a favorite author.

Bloom by Elizabeth Scott was good, but I felt like it was unfinished. There were details I would've liked to know about the characters, and I didn't really feel like the story concluded. More like it just stopped. But it stayed with me, and that's a great thing for any book.

I'm looking at another of Scott's books, Something, Maybe, to read next. It's recommended by S.D., so I'm optimistic.

Robin Palmer has a fun sense of humor and her books are very clean for all you parents reading. Geek Charming turned out to be super-sweet, although I didn't like the ending. Little Miss Red wasn't as tight as G.C., but it was funny and entertaining. Her books are like the literary equivalent of Clueless.

On Monday I finished Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon, and I'm still trying to decide if I'd categorize it as YA. Some situations described are v. adult. I suppose a 16 year-old could handle it, but I'd be selective if I had a sensitive reader.

It took me a week to get to Page 130, and I almost put it down a few times. But at last it took off and soared through to the end. I didn't think it was as scary as it was billed, but the conclusion was satisfying.

Before that I read Forever by Judy Blume. Being a fan of hers, I was surprised I'd never seen this title in my private school library. Richard informed me it's her "sex book."

Hello! He's right. Now how did he know that, and I didn't? Clearly even the boys will read J.B. if there's sex in it. Ha ha.

Yesterday I finished Deb Caletti's Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, and yes, if you're keeping track, that's two days after finishing Promise Not to Tell. My taste in books is showing...

H.B.S. just flew out of the gate. I was on p. 155 after two hours just loving it, but then it sort of got lost on the way to the bathroom. I mean, I get it that D.C. had to figure out a way to resolve the love situation she had created, but I wasn't sure I bought it.

Somebody that emotionally powerful isn't so easily gotten rid of in my opinion, which is what she set up through the mom and the Lillian character. And I kept wanting some verbal show-down. The one we get is a bit unsatisfying.

But it was a fun read. I definitely recommend picking it up. I laughed, I cried. And it's a National Book Award finalist. Bonus!

Also interesting to me was that Caletti was a journalist before becoming a novelist, although I'm not sure how long she worked as a journalist. I also read that her first four books are still unpublished. bluh...

So there you go. And I'd love to hear any recommendations from you guys!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Funny Kid

My youngest child absolutely destroys clothing. I'm not kidding. Yesterday she came home with a hole in her uniform shirt. I asked her if she did it on purpose, and she said yes without blinking.

But it's not just clothes that she's hard on. Her knees are going to have permanent scuff-marks on them before she's in middle school.

She's very much a character from a book I just finished reading. I wouldn't have believed the author if she hadn't been describing my offspring.

I was watching her and my oldest child playing in the back yard last week, and she would hit the ground with serious force and then roll over laughing. I'm beginning to think she also suffers from that disorder where one doesn't feel pain. Well, except when I'm brushing her hair.

Now I'll admit, I was a messy kid. Mom likes to say dirt would jump on me. The truth is I liked playing in the dirt. Laura likes playing in the mud.

I called her Pigpen until she became a huge fan of Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving and then Christmas specials. Then I dropped it, although, I'm not convinced she would've cared.

These days I just call her the Master of Mess.

Mom says I'm speaking it on her. Mom's a big believer in the power of speech to influence outcomes. I keep telling Mom to repeat "Debut Novel will be a bestseller." (Maybe I should tell her to add "this year.")

So I switched tack and started telling Laura to be neater than she could possibly be. I told her that was her one goal. So far it's not working.

I remembered one of my brother's girlfriends saying she wore toughskins as a child. I also remembered my uncle saying my aunt, his little sister, wore her shoes from the insides out. (She ran around barefoot a lot.)

Both of these women are extremely clean and well-adjusted members of society now. We live in hope.

A dear friend of mine claims Laura is going to grow up and be an artist because she's very interested in touching things and feeling textures. I think that's a very positive spin to put on the situation.

I suppose when she grows up and becomes a famous artist, she can write a book about her insensitive mother and how I attempted to supress her budding artistic talents.

I declare it to be a bestseller.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The House is Not for Sale

The Koors house is empty now.

It was quiet and their American flag was waving on the front porch when I walked out to get the paper early this morning, but no one was home.

It made me think back to when we first moved here six years ago. We didn't know anyone in Spanish Fort. Richard had lived in Mobile his first time through, and I didn't know what to expect from this tiny, country town on the bluffs of Mobile Bay.

The night we arrived it was storming. I'd driven with Dad from Baton Rouge to Indianapolis, where Richard and his dad were waiting for us. Our friends helped us pack and then the four of us drove two loaded pickups and a Penske 13 hours to south Alabama.

I didn't know anyone when I moved to Indy either, but by the time I left, I knew so many awesome people. A big group of us still keep in touch, mostly through Facebook and L O S T discussions. I miss them. Sometimes very much.

In Indy, Richard and I lived in a duplex on North College Street that was a few blocks down from Atlas grocery. Atlas was where David Letterman had been a bag boy as a teenager.

It was a small, old-school grocery, but I liked it because they carried andoullie sausage and authentic Louisiana ingredients for making gumbo and jambalaya. Tough stuff to find in the Midwest.

Atlas closed while we were still on North College, and I was so disappointed. But soon after a nice fellow opened a restaurant called Yat's a few blocks down and eased the pain.

I met him once. Louisiana people always seem to find each other. He was from New Orleans and sold large plates of etoufee and creole jambalaya with maque choux and a slice of French bread for $5. I stopped missing Atlas.

The other side of our duplex was vacant several months until a mixed-race couple from Cincinnati moved in with their roly-poly baby boy.

Their names were Corey and Megan and the little boy was Alex. Megan had long light-brown hair and she was a painter. She practiced "attachment parenting" and had an alternative immunization schedule for Alex. I think she was planning to breastfeed him until he was five or something.

I had no idea what "attachment parenting" was and Catherine got her immunizations by the book. But I was also nursing, so we had something to talk about.

Corey was light-skinned and a sculptor. He converted the shed where we were supposed to park into a studio where he hammered and welded wood and metal items together to make strange-looking figures.

I crept out there one night to peek at what he was doing, and I was amazed at how nice the former parking shack now looked. He showed me some of his pieces, and I commented that he made a door for the entrance. It was good work.

Corey was the first person I met who did that style of art. I'd only known painters and one mixed-media artist up to that point. He was tall and skinny with a goatee, and he wore dreadlocks.

They were both super-nice kids, and I remember thinking how young they seemed. I wasn't very old myself, but they seemed much younger.

I remember thinking they should've kept moving from Cincinnati to California, but they ended up buying a house on Winthrop Avenue in Broad Ripple.

We bought a house on Winthrop also, but less than a year later we sold it to move here. We made just enough money on that real estate deal to put a downpayment on this house.

It only took a few days to meet my neighbors in Spanish Fort.

First, I received a hibiscus plant from Sue Ronk with a welcome card and her telephone number. Next came a peace plant from Marilyn Allen with a card and a note that her high school daughter babysat. Last came an Easter lily from Miss Betty Koors.

Miss Betty was 85, and she brought it over herself. Then we walked around my elaborately planted yard and she told me what everything was. Miss Betty's yard was also elaborately planted, and she made some grumble that Miss Retha (the previous owner) bought everything and didn't know when to stop.

I imagined they had an unspoken yard competition going on, and grinned. Miss Retha was also in her 80s, and I met her at the closing when she teared up as we all signed on the dotted lines.

I felt bad that she was crying about us buying her house and made some comment about how the girls would love the upstairs bedroom that was decorated with wallpaper featuring bunnies in a flower garden. She left us her telephone number and a note to keep in touch. She also left us her cat, Snowball.

Catherine was 17 months when we moved here and Laura was 6 months. They loved Snowball and the yard and playing in the bunny room. I loved carrying them across the street and talking to grumpy Miss Betty. We had the same birthday.

Miss Betty died three years ago, and Nina came to live with Mr. Jerry. He can barely walk and has Altzheimer's. Last week Nina died.

It's strange to look across the street and not see somebody poking around in that gorgeous, over-planted yard. I don't know that they'll sell the house, but I'll be curious to see who moves in.

I'll have to bring them an Easter lilly and tell them I have no idea what all's planted there. I never cared much for gardening.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Success Box

On the iPod, "If You're Feeling Sinister," Belle & Sebastian
In demand by the little ladies, "Here Comes Your Man," Pixies (I know!)
Movie rec: (500) Days of Summer (It's not a classic yet, but it might be one day. Got it for the Zooey D., and then it turned out to be so honest and heartbreaking and warm... good stuff.)

Now what's this Success Box? Well, I had this thought upon learning the Big News: Stephanie Meyers is releasing a new book in the Twilight saga on June 6.

It's actually a novella by her standards, and it's about one of the "newborns" from Eclipse, Bree.

I gotta tell ya, I don't remember Bree, and the newborns were my least favorite characters in her books. I'm also feeling a bit vamped out, but I'm sure I'll pick up a copy. I did like the first three books. Book 4 was ... a bit much. (But I bought/read it, didn't I?)

That's when I had my thought. Here it go:

So you all know I've worked up the nerve to try and share Debut Novel with the world. I'm actually in the process of finding an agent, and the idea that no one will like it is overwhelmingly fear-inspiring. (It's always pushed right back out of the brain the split second it sneaks in every few hours...)

But after reflecting on my reaction to the Big News, I thought "How bad would it be if everyone liked it?"

OK, I know. It wouldn't be bad, it would be wonderful. (!)

For Debut Novel.

But what does such enormous success do to your career as a writer? How do you live up to that? How do you get away from it when you want to get in there and do something different.

I once read where SM said that she didn't want to be known as "the vampire girl." ...


The pressure to create another Bella-Edward love story must be enormous. And everything that comes after it is going to be measured by how well she captured that ... whatever it was that millions of readers connected with. Success like that can really put you in a box.

Oh, who am I kidding, I'd be happy to find out how one gets out of that little box. I'll discuss it with Stephen King the day we're having coffee... Ha ha.

In conclusion, I'd like to remember my transplanted neighbor across the street, Nina Koors. She lost her battle with cancer Tuesday, and it's a sad day for her family. She was a good daughter who moved in across the street to live with her invalid dad after her mom died a few years back. Lots of love to those guys today.

And Happy Easter/Passover! Feeling Sinister? Click here; Prefer Pixies? You got it.