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Without giving much away…a wild turkey becomes a part of the family in my newest novel. LOL. I know. Weirdness.
But I know zero about turkeys except how to stuff a Butterball on Thanksgiving. Anyway, I’m doing turkey research trying to figure out what they eat, how they live, and how the sound. I stumble on this amazing link of wild turkey noises.
It added so much to the scene I was writing to know what the bird noises mean. Totally by coincidence I had him purr before I even knew turkeys could purr. They also cackle, gobble, tutt, and make a bunch of other sounds. I kinda wanna get one as a pet when I move to CT.
Oooh, that and a goat. I saw the goat on Tori and Dean and it is so damn cute. Can you picture it? Me walking around the neighborhood with my turkey, goat, and dog? My mom would kill me…Kinda makes me want to do it more. LOL. And to imagine Dad’s face…Priceless.
I giggled to myself that: a)I could find this on the Internet and b)that I was researching this for my novel.
Anyway, I was wondering what are the weirdest things you’ve found yourself researching for your novel?
My office has automatic flush toilets. I pee roughly 7-8 times a day there. Then I come home to my manual flush toilet and use it 2-5 times. Sometimes, I got to the movies and it’s hit or miss as to whether there is an auto flush or manual flush. Most restaurants are manual but not always.
The problem is, I get conditioned by the auto flush toilets at work. Then I am around manual flush toilets and guess what? I forget to flush. Of course, by the time my brain remembers it’s not an auto flush, someone else is in the bathroom. Hence my embarrassment. I know how to use a toilet properly, but when there are two completely different methods of flushing and one is more common, I go on auto pilot and assume it’s an auto flush. But the person in there must be thinking, what the hell is wrong with this girl was she raised out in the wild? How come she didn’t flush? I want to scream out, because I forgot to check to see if it was an auto flush or not.
My point is: I like consistency. One way to flush the toilet. Either auto or manual. Otherwise, it’s like using the metric system and the U.S. system of inches and pounds. It just muddies the waters. And then there are some public restrooms using auto flush and some not. Look, it’s a public restroom–I want in and out as fast as humanly possible. So don’t make me have to use my foot to press the lever. Convert to auto flush. Don’t half ass it.
Which do you prefer? Have you ever been embarrassed by an auto flush toilet?
I do not like being overheated. Let me rephrase. I absolutely hate being hot. For some reason I sweat mostly via my head and face and back. Gross. Sweat drips from my eyebrows into my eyes and blinds me. Like life isn’t hard enough wearing glasses? Anyway, we have started summer in NYC. And by summer in NYC I mean sticky sauna-like conditions above ground. Waiting on subway platforms, you expect Satan to walk up to you and ask, “How do you like hell?”
You long for the days of summer when you’d throw on a bathing suit and run through a sprinkler or go swimming in a friend’s pool.
But wait, the heat has another unbearable side effect. Human stench. You can smell urine hanging in the air for a good 200 feet from the source. I am so damn sick of smelling urine.
Did I mention subways run pretty infrequently on the weekends so you spend a lot of time waiting in hellish conditions?
Better yet, the haze in the air–yup it’s that freaking sticky and hot.
Usually at some point, approximately 30 minutes of continuous heat causes me to meltdown. I rant and rave to myself and my friends, swearing I will not spend one more summer in this god forsaken hell hole. There’s many more expletives thrown in by the way. I start stringing together cuss words in ways you never imagined.
Thankfully, this is my last summer in hell. I won’t be riding the subway in the summer of 2011. No. Where will I be? Not sure yet. But nowhere hot and humid.
Have you ever had to deal with absolute jerks and felt your neck muscles locking up? That was yesterday. I have a lot going on-planning a move, novel writing, doctor appointments, physical therapy, MRI, blogging, preparing for conferences, sending in proposals for auctions I won, doing my chores, taking care of the dog, etc. I don’t ask for anyone to make it easier.
But please don’t make it harder on me right now. Unfortunately, no one seems to have gotten the memo. So people keep coming at me with shit. Right now, I have about 10 ongoing projects to deal with each day. Toss a few more in and I’ll start dropping balls. There’s just so much I can handle with my own two hands. Multi-tasking is fine with a few tasks, but the more tasks you have the less attention each gets.
I feel like the picture above. I’m surveying the land and I know if I make it through all those sand dunes, the ocean is there. But I know that making it through the sand dunes is almost impossible. And I freeze up. Suddenly, it’s all too much. I’m completely overwhelmed by my own life.
My neck tightens up and I end up getting a migraine. Great. Another impediment to accomplishing my tasks. I lay down and try not to think about what’s getting to me. Of course, all I do is think about it. Finally, I go do my neck stretches. It helps a little. Then I sit down at my computer with my Mac Dictate software and draft some new scenes for the story. 3000 words later, I’m exhausted. Still feeling ill, but at least I got something done.
Do you find anger is fuel for your writing? Or does it exhaust you and leave nothing for the writing?
Today I had a bunch of appointments, which meant lots of waiting…and I got to finish E.J. Copperman’s Night of the Living Deed! This is the first book in “a haunted guesthouse mystery” series. People, I read this book in 2 days. This is super fast for me. Normally, it’s a book a week in my spare time. So that means–it’s really good!
The plot is well executed and clues are carefully laid out throughout. I’m starting to think I am not so good at solving mysteries though because I couldn’t figure it out until it all played out.
The characters are quirky and lovable. Even the contentious ghost Maxie has redeeming qualities (which you won’t see until the end). The single mom renovating the house is a great protagonist and I enjoyed seeing everything through her eyes. I love love love the ghost aspect of the story. And the dynamics between the characters–they play off each other beautifully.
The setting–Jersey Shore sans Snooki–is perfect for the book.
The blurbs on the book are completely on target. This is a great tale. I skipped watching TV to finish it tonight.
Last night, I attended the MWA Library Series: Chick Lit Mysteries presentation: Laugh of I’ll Use My Stiletto to Kill You at the mid-Manhattan Library. The panel was well moderated by Maggie Barbieri and the panelists shared their thoughts and experiences. Parnell Hall, Sally Koslow, Annette Meyers, and Deborah Nolan were an absolute delight to listen to. Hearing writers talk about what they love to do is a magical experience–it makes you want to keep trying and always renews my determination.
Each author gave a brief intro about their background and their main character. It was a wonderful way to introduce mystery readers to their books and I have a feeling I’ll be purchasing several new books tomorrow. Sally Koslow’s protagonist was quite distinct in that she is already dead. Her book is sort of a hybrid of mystery and fantasy with a dash of romance thrown in. Deborah Nolan’s protagonist is a female lawyer. Annette Meyers protagonist is a former Broadway dancer.
When the question of how they conceived their protaganists was asked, Parnell Hall said he was desperate to sell and did the opposite of his earlier PI series. So he created this Milli Vanilli cross word puzzle lady who can’t do cross word puzzles, but is pulled into cross word puzzle related murders and has to help the police solve them.
Sally Koslow was at a funeral imagining her own funeral. In her story, the protagonist doesn’t know how she died.
Annette Meyers had a colorful career as a head hunter on Wall Street. She used those experiences in her books. A telephone booth scene in her book is what set off her writing. A broker left her with his attaché case while he ran to make a call in the telephone booth. After 30 minutes passed, she took his brief case and went in search of him. She found him all slumped over in the telephone booth and wondering what if she opened the door and he slid out dead? She went home and told her husband who’d written several books and he encouraged her to write the story.
What brings their sleuth into the case?
- For Annette Meyers, Wetzon is a kind, but nosy person–the type of person people tell things to.
- For Deborah Nolan–things happen to Lily.
- For Sally Kosow, her protagonist needed closure.
- For Parnell Hall, she’s good as solving crime and needs something to occupy her time.
What does the sleuth bring to the case?
- For Maggie Barbieri, she’s smarter.
- For Sally Koslow, she has a bull shit detector.
- For Deborah Nolan, Lily is accessible.
- For Annette Meyers, Leslie is trusting and naive and Smith is an amoral person.
- For Parnell Hall, she’s good at figuring out stuff based on being married so many times. She learned something from each husband.
The next question was about how they successfully weave elements of humor in their books
- Deborah Nolan mentioned that she had to figure out how to make light of serious subjects. When you’re dealing with life or death on a daily basis you have to have a sense of humor or you can’t do it.
- Annette Meyers mentioned how Wall Street is hilarious although the trader humor can be very dark. The theater is pretty funny too.
- Parnell Hall said that the humor just comes out of his character and noted how one critic calls her Miss Marple on steroids.
- Sally Koslow talked about how close friends said the book was very funny but that she usually is not.
- Maggie Barbieri mentioned that police humor is dark but funny
What would the protagonist do if they didn’t do what they did in the book?
- PH said stripper
- SK said magazine stylist
- DN said painter
- AM said dancer
- and MB said exotic dancer
The most appealing thing about the main character?
- AM said honesty
- DN said warmth and charm
- SK mentioned her ability to get at the truth
- PN said loopy wit
One thing about the main character we would be surprised to learn?
- SK said she’s a bike rider
- DN said Lily lives in New Jersey
- AM said Wetzon is a Republican
A member of the audience asked about what to do after you’ve written the novel. Panelists discuss their individual experiences. Who you know is important, but Deborah Nolan stressed the importance of joining writers groups, going to conferences, and talking to people. Sally Koslow concurred on joining writing workshops and recommended New York Writers’ Workshop.
The question of what happened when Hollywood comes calling came up. Maggie Barbieri had the best response: Hollywood called and hung up. Most of the authors on the panel had their book optioned, but it usually fell through. Parnell Hall talked about when the book was optioned and then they hired him to write the screenplay. He agreed that Hollywood destroys your book but it’s even worse when they pay you to do it.
They ended the panel by stressing the importance of making time to write and setting deadlines. And handing out several free copies of their books.
I just finished the novel, Secondhand Spirits, by Juliet Blackwell, which is described as a witchcraft mystery. It was a fun read with a great twist ending involving murder and a missing child.
The protagonist, Lily Ivory, has been an outsider her whole life. She moves to San Fran, hoping to lay down roots. But old habits die-hard and self-doubt rears its ugly head. By the end of the book, the author leaves you wanting to know more about Lily and the two men in her life, Max and Aidan. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series.
The first two pages immediately drew me in. Actually, from the first line–witches recognize their own– the story hooked me. Several times, I nearly missed my subway stop because of this book–definitely a good sign.
The setting of San Fran worked well. Having visited a few times, I could picture places that Lily went. It also is a great place for Lily to explore who she is–just perfect!
The main plot and subplots wove together so well, you didn’t even notice them. As a reader, I found myself wondering what next and not being able to guess. I really enjoyed going along for the ride and having no idea where we would end up. Made me finish the last 50 pages tonight.
I was skimming through Time Out New York for an inexpensive massage in the city. Luckily, as a mild horder, I kept the “spa issue” from the winter. And lo and behold there is a 60$ 60 minute massage at Asia Tui-na Wholeness Center. (Just a little background…Tui-na is Chinese for push-pull. It’s a type of massage that focuses on doing just that to open up energy blockages and relieve pain)
So I head uptown on Saturday for my massage. As usual, I am early. So I wander into Madison Square Park and read a few pages of my book. Finally, I decide, it’s too hot and I’d rather wait in air conditioning. I finish my walk to 28th street. I end up in my old neighborhood. 28th and Park Ave South. Ah good times. Back in 2000-2002. Feels like another lifetime now.
The massage was painful, but amazing. I stripped down to just my panties and got on the table face down with a blanket over me. Luckily, I read the online review, because the woman doing my massage, literally, climbed up and sat on me to get leverage. She found about 6-7 muscle knots around my right shoulder-blade that seem to be causing a lot of my right hand problems. She pushed and pulled. Used her knuckles and elbows. Most of the time, it hurt, but when it was over…well I still hurt.
I felt woozy–same as I do after acupuncture. I went home and took a 2 hour nap. Today I feel a lot better. I think I will go back a few times and try to work out all these knots.
So, I was a little overzealous in the bidding and ended up winning several auctions from Do The Write Thing For Nashville. But it was for a great cause, and the prizes were pretty awesome. I thought it might be useful to talk about what happened after winning.
In terms of collecting the items, the auction organizers e-mailed me the contact information for each item. Then I send a brief e-mail to the individual who donated the item, she responded with details on how we would do the critiques and the lunch meeting. It really was that easy and seamless. So if anyone worries about how the auction was run, this one was super well organized.
First off, I won a critique of my young adult manuscript from Tricia Mills. She critiqued my first thirty pages and my synopsis. This was extremely helpful to me. I’d had a few beta readers but none of which were published authors. She pointed out where the transitions were bad in the first few chapters and gave several important examples of how to improve my scenes. Worth every penny I spent. The most important take away was that my writing of the manuscript was far better than my synopsis writing. That’s really essential to know because the synopsis is supposed to sell the manuscript. Her comments helped me to improve the synopsis tremendously. I also won 2 signed books from her!
Second off, I won a critique of my young adult manuscript from Lisa Desrochers. She critiqued my first three chapters (50 pages) and my query letter. I’ve been struggling with the query letter. She gave some super helpful insight and showed me how to rework it. When it came to critiquing the manuscript, she was great about pointing out what worked and what didn’t. She was tactful but honest, which meant the manuscript and I both benefited from her feedback. Another wonderful experience. I’m also receiving an ARC and the first 4 chapters of her next book! (After reading the snippet she released on her blog, I’m happily anticipating their arrival!)
Third off, I won a critique of the first 10 pages and the synopsis for my romance novel from a senior editor at Pocket Books, Abby Zidle. When I won this auction item, I had only written 10,000 words of the story. I had a synopsis but it hadn’t gone through as much critique and editing as the other book. I was kind of testing the waters. One of the most important takeaways from this critique was that the synopsis was badly written. But this is good to know because now I can work on it. This is my first foray into romance writing and I also had the genre wrong. Originally, I thought it was romantic suspense, but after reading her comments I realize it’s more of a paranormal romance. She gave honest, straightforward feedback and advice. I am planning to rework the synopsis and first 10 pages in July.
Fourth off, I won a lunch with the amazing Rose Fox, who is a SF/fantasy/horror and mass market reviews editor for Publishers Weekly. I met her at Grand Sichuan, which is a delicious Chinese restaurant. Having received super valuable written critiques and feedback, it was a nice change of pace to sit down with someone and talk about my story, show her a few pages, and have more interactive feedback. I got to pick her brain about potential publishers for my story, what should being included in a one line pitch, and whether my story was young adult or adult (which seems to be the most difficult question about my book). We also talked a little bit about my new paranormal romance story but since that’s still in draft, we focused on my young adult paranormal mystery. Besides sharing some of her awesome knowledge of the publishing industry, she also ordered the most delicious dishes! We had pork soup dumplings, smoke tea duck, and a lamb dish. I left there feeling completely satiated and excited to getting back to work on my novel.
I still have one auction item left, but because of my neck problems I haven’t been able to send in the materials. The agent, who will be giving me feedback, has given me a couple months to get it together. I’m hoping to work on it soon.
Lastly, I want to say 1000 thank yous to all these people for donating their time and expertise to help out the people of Nashville. And a big thank you to the tireless and dedicated people who ran the auctions. Can’t wait to see the T-shirts!
I am currently reading Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell. Her protagonist runs a vintage clothes shop and is a witch. It’s a fun read so far. It has an amazing line about how changing clothes is a magical experience. I totally agree with her. When I slip into a silk dress, I feel a different side of myself emerging. I’m more flirty and fun. When I throw on my jeans and tank tops, I tend to act like I’m still in college. Throw me in a suit, and I’m corporate Kour.
After my workout tonight, I took a nice bath and slid into my satin bathrobe. I puttered around the kitchen throwing the asparagus into the pot to boil, but feeling way more gorgeous than I ever felt in my gym clothes. Now I’m sitting here in a baby doll top and gauchos hovering between relaxed and work mode.
I remember back in college, my bff and I would spend hours laying out my clothes for the week coordinating accessories, shoes, and handbags. We even coordinated my nail polish. Each day felt so full of possibilities. I had to be dressed to meet them. Nowadays, I throw on a T-shirt and jeans or a tank top and jeans, grab my hoodie, and go. I pretty much put 10 to 15 minutes max into my outfits.
Unless I’m doing something fun. Then I like to play with my closet. The cool thing about having more time on your hands is you get to think about these things.
Like why did I stop putting effort in? Honest answer: I gained weight after my spine surgery and it’s been a struggle to take it off. Not because I don’t work out, I do. But because I’m an emotional eater. Every time I’m stressed or hurt or upset I use sweets to make me feel better. I tried this experiment in April and May, where every time I would reach for food, I worked on the novels. That went really well and I lost 10 pounds… until I pinched a nerve in my neck from all the typing. Now I’m working on moderation in typing and eating and exercising… let’s see how this goes.
How much time do you spend picking out your outfit? When was the last time you went all out to put together the perfect outfit?
PS–I know I missed a blog post on Tuesday, so there will be a Saturday blog this week to make up for it!