Monday, December 27, 2004

Make It Go Away

Christmas is over. Now I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make the mess go away. What does this have to do with children's lit or writing, you may well ask? I get the same feeling when I finish a long, intense draft.

Well, here's a little round up of things I've noticed:

I often see references to January Magazine. It appears to a be a collection of book reviews and interviews with authors. It has posted its "Best of 2004" lists including a Best Children's Books list. These best books don't look like a particularly fun bunch. Not that I'm dissing the list, by any means. I hope to make it one day. I'm hoping to make any and all lists some day.

I'm linking to this article on breaking into creative nonfiction because I hope to do that one day, too. I also hope to get around to reading this article at some point, and by linking to it here, I might be able to find it again.

(Thanks to Karin at Southern Comfort for those two links.)

Quite some time after reading this article about the house that is supposed to have been the inspiration for Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre, I remembered that I'm a Jane Eyre groupie and should be really excited about this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


I have avoided reading anything by Diana Wynne Jones because she writes fantasy, and, as I may have stated before, I really don't care for it. However, I had been reading that an animated version of one of her books was making a big splash in Japan so I decided to give it a try.

I am talking about Howl's Moving Castle.

Now, I found the plot hard to follow. The curse the Wizard Howl was worried about was a mystery to me. However, Howl, himself, was marvelous. The book is so worth reading for that one character. The fire demon was a charmer, too, and the spunky girl narrator was, well, spunky. But Howl--what a creation.

I definitely believe that a good character can redeem a book. Anne Shirley is the powerhouse that drives the rather formulaic Anne of Green Gables. Sherlock Holmes is the only reason to read any of the books involving him. And Howl just plain rocks.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Anxious for Literary Thoughts

Okay, the Christmas cards are out. Except for a couple. The tree was purchased and trimmed this afternoon. Just in time, it seems, since there was no one else at the tree lot, and there were only markdowns to choose from. I've baked a bunch of cookies, bought a bunch of presents, and almost finished wrapping them. And I don't have to make Christmas dinner this year.

So as far as I'm concerned, the holiday is almost over and it's time to start thinking about other things. Bookie things, for instance. Writer-type things.

I've been thinking about something that happened at writers' group the other night. The Guy and I were the only ones who showed up. The Guy is a very nice human being who is really willing to glue his butt to a chair and work. He likes to write very plot-driven sci-fi/horror thrillers. The one he's working on right now includes a male character and a female character who seem destined for a romantic entanglement.

Now, I don't care for romantic entanglements, anyway, and I felt this one seemed a little predictable. So I suggested some alternatives. The Guy's response? "People want the romantic entanglement."

I repeated this story to a young relative who is studying scriptwriting. His response? "The Guy is right.

Well, this raises all kinds of questions in my mind. Who wants a romantic entanglement? Readers? Editors? Do publishing companies choose new authors on the basis of their ability to produce a predictable romance? Are publishers looking for the same old, same old or do they want something different? Are readers looking for the same old, same old or do they want something different? And are writers obligated to write what they think will make their book marketable? What makes a book marketable? The same old, same old or something different?

I hear both sides of this argument all the time. As a reader, I have to come down on the side of wanting something different. Which means that as a writer, I want to deliver something different.

Friday, December 17, 2004

December Stinks

December is always a lousy month for me because I can't multi-task so getting ready for Christmas while working and just walking around living is way, way too much for me. After my incredibly intense November taking part in National Novel Writing Month (don't worry--I'm not going to get started on that again; though they did send me my NaNoWriMo decal this past week)all I've done this month is work on updating my website. And that's not done yet. Oh, wait. I wrote an essay for my black belt promotion test. Oh, wait again. That's not actually work related.

Oh, wait a third time! I did a seventh--that's seventh--draft of Happy Kid!. The work involved was minor, and I was able to turn the job around in 48 hours.

So I'm looking forward to January, which is a favorite month for me. I'm thinking about making a big effort to do even one little work related thing each day in the new year no matter what. Of course, last year at this time I think I said that in the new year I would write in my journal every day, which would be doing something work related.

I've got to think of an easier work related thing I can do every day.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Princess Diaries

I finally saw The Princess Diaries. I agree with the person who wrote the review I linked to. The movie is pleasant but not extraordinary. I did think Julie Andrews had a great deal of screen presence, and the movie was more interesting when she was on-screen. She also had great clothes. I'm afraid that thinking that makes me an old coot.

I may try reading one of Meg Cabot's Princess Diary books now. Not because I found the story so gripping but because I'd like to see how the book differs from the movie. I got the impression from the website that the princess's father isn't dead in the book.

Cabot says at her website that when she was a child she used to tell her parents that her real parents, the king and queen, would be coming to get her soon. I can remember having fantasies that my real parents were someone other than the people I lived with. Except in my case they were wealthy Mafia kingpins. I guess I believed it was more likely that I'd be related to criminals than royalty.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Where Have I Been?

Working on Christmas--which is always overwhelming for me--and studying for a black belt test. Oh, and I've had trouble getting on Blogger, too.

But enough about me. That's not why you're here. You're here for professional book and writer stuff.

Well, this past Sunday was the awards ceremony for the Connecticut Book Awards. I didn't win but a picture of me made their website. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. They even identify me. Not bad for a runner up. (The hot guy with his back to the camera is my husband.)

During the ceremony we sat with Susan Campbell of the Hartford Courant. I know Pegi Deitz Shea, who won the award in our category, though I haven't seen her for years. Pegi introduced me to another author, who, it turned out, I had already met because we'd appeared together somewhere. I also saw Nancy Antle, who I'd met a couple of years ago at an authors' tea in New York City. And Katharine Weber, who I know from Readerville and have met in the real world a couple of times, was there because she was nominated for adult fiction.

The above is not supposed to be a "La-di-da look at the literary people I know" kind of thing. It's a "La-di-da I know any literary people at all" kind of thing. I didn't think I did.