Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Dog Days Are Ongoing

I feel I must apologize for my infrequent blogging and commenting and my hideous response time these days. A full calendar, busy job and constant rotation of house guests are drawing away my time, and the little I have I am scrimping away for my writing endeavors. And for reading! My CP Liz went to Comic Con, and because she is utterly rad (yes I said rad), she brought me some exciting ARCs including Shatter Me and Legend. Whee! Go check out her blog because she will be hosting some amazing giveaways sometime soon.

In other news: LASCBWI is this week!!!! I am so excited, I can barely contain myself. I went to this conference last summer on a whim--a stalker's whim. I wasn't blogging or tweeting myself, but I was Twitter-stalking, and a particular agent that I liked had tweeted something about catching a flight to L.A. I wondered what was going on in my city, because I'd never even heard of SCBWI. Fortunately, I guess last summer registration didn't sell out, because I was able to join the society and sign up for the conference about four days before it began. I think that's where I came up with the name for my blog, too, because boy did I feel suuuuuper awkward all weekend. I loved the speakers and meeting other writers, but I felt a bit like a giraffe wandering through a meerkat community.

But not this year! Joining SCBWI has enabled me to meet my critique partners, which is how I got into blogging, which is how I met all you cool folks. I'm so looking forward to catching up with friends and meeting other bloggers face to face. If you're going to be at the conference and happen to see this giraffe ambling through the corridors, please come say hi, and I will do the same. In that spirit, I'm also updating my profile picture, since I don't plan on donning the pink bunny ears despite the instant recognition they would bring me.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 25, 2011

What's your favorite line?

Happy Monday! I hope everyone out there had a glorious weekend and got more sleep than I did. Folks who went to Comic Con: POST PHOTOS NOW PLZ K THX.

Yup, that's the one
Most of us have a movie quote or two in our regular repertoire, am I right? Two of my favorites are "You can do eeet!" and "Chill, Winston," and at the moment I could not tell you which movie either of them came from*. Lately, though, one of my favorite lines to quote is from the book The Giver: "Precision of language, Jonah." I didn't even dig the book that much, but the line is great to use on flaky friends or a nonsense-talking husband (who, unfortunately, is the only one who gets it). Just a few minutes ago I was poking around online and I found a sentence someone had written that was the equivalent of: "Kelsey and me stood around long after the party was over." That kind of bad grammar makes my toes curl, and the first thought that popped into my head: Precision of grammar, Jonas!

(Side note: I did an exact search on this quote, thinking I would find it used in a hundred different places, but I only got one hit. Guess it's not as popular as I wanted to think.)

Other than a few completely random and useless Stephen King phrases that I will never get out of my head, I don't think I have any other favorite memorized lines from books, but I'm guessing that some of you do and I'm curious to hear them. So if you have time, please share your favorites!

*Yeah I had to go look them up. I knew Rob Schneider says the first one but I didn't realize he says it in, like, every Adam Sandler movie. The other is from Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels, and if you haven't seen that movie yet, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fun With Dialogue And Stuff

So I'm finally getting back into the writerly swing of things in my sunny new home office, working my way through the Dreaded Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen Where Things Get Complicated. Not that things aren't complications in every chapter, but here I'm trying to construct some deception and in a way I feel like I'm writing a geometric proof.

My deception is based on dialogue, and two characters who each suspect the other of something terrible, but each are hiding secrets of their own. Trying to write their conversation makes my head hurt, because it's not just question and response, but what is character A not telling and what does character A think about character B that's not really true, but what can he say that will fit both what he knows and play into what character B believes about him, which also isn't really true. I ended up scribbling out two separate pages of what each one would want to say, and then tried to match them up like a puzzle. I've got it down now, but it's a pretty awkward conversation and will require much smoothening in a future draft.

In other news, I took quite the beatdown* in critique group this week from a CP who's having trouble with one of my character's dialogue. I do have a weakness for tossing in the random extremely formal line of dialogue--I think I read too much British lit when I was a kid. So at some point I'm going to have to go through the entire manuscript and highlight this character's lines to make sure his voice stays even.

Do you like writing dialogue? Got any good tricks for making it work?

*Not really a beatdown, I just like that word. It was more like bitter medicine--good for me, but still unpleasant to take.

Friday, July 15, 2011

News From The End Of The World

The end is coming in Los Angeles, have you heard? That's right: Carmageddon is here. Tonight, starting around 7 p.m., authorities will begin shutting down a major section of one of our major freeways. Havoc will ensue, we've all been promised. There are billboards, public service announcements, apps and probably even entire companies springing up around this one event. My favorite billboard leads with the line: DON'T GET STUCK. Have you heard about this, rest of the country? 'Cause here it's mayjah.

What will happen? Will there be gridlock spread out over every inch of the city? Will there be rioting for essential goods? Will the entire county spontaneously burst into flames? I predict...not much. Most people I know are staying home, staying local, keeping it low-key. Riding bikes, reading books perhaps? I'm hoping for an idyllic weekend, and perhaps fewer inland yahoos at the beach.

Reading: I finished Unwind, and whoa. Have you read it? There is a chapter near the end that is hands-down the creepiest thing I have ever read. Bravo, Mr. Shusterman--you blew Stephen King out of the water. I'm now reading Thirteen Reasons Why because I needed a taste of reality, even if it's kind of dark and depressing. I'm thinking I might need to read Bossypants or Anna and the French Kiss after that to lighten the mood.

Writing: Revising a chapter a week, thanks to the tireless nagging encouragement of my CP Liz. She's going to ComicCon next week and I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. It's not three-chapter-a-week progress, but right now I'll take any forward motion.

What are you up to this weekend? If you're in L.A., are you hunkering down with some rations and duct tape? And can you believe we're already halfway through July? What happened??

Friday, July 8, 2011

That Old Disembodied Feeling

It's been five years since I last moved, and I'd forgotten about that odd feeling that comes with waking up in a stranger's house every morning, making coffee in a stranger's kitchen. I feel so detached from my old routines and my old self. Who am I? What do I do? Really, I was writing something?

Let's see if I can dig up enough random thoughts for a Friday Five:

  • Firstly, thanks go to my critique partner Liz, who has hounded me relentlessly this week to get back into my revisions. (I swear I'll get more chapters to you soon!) Were it not for her, I probably wouldn't start again until mid-August.
  • Google+ is out and everyone around me is going bananas for it. Are you on it? Do you like it?
  • I have never lived somewhere with hardwood floors before. I have no idea what to do with them. Do I need to buy a mop and bucket? A scrub brush and kneepads? Do these Swiffer monstrosities do the trick, or is it like rubbing a wet paper towel over a greasy stovetop?
  • Reading time has been severely curtailed, but I'm still reading Unwind by Neal Shusterman and love that I have no idea where it's going right now. 
  • I baked a cake! It looks very pretty, but to be honest the eating experience left something to be desired, as the cake base came out unpleasantly dense. In Germany you just buy your cake base in the grocery store, and thus I haven't been able to find many recipes online. Any Germans out there have a fabulous recipe for a nice fluffy Tortenboden?

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, July 4, 2011

We hold these truths to be self-evident...

Happy Fourth! If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend watching the John Adams mini-series that HBO made a few years ago with Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. I don't really read any non-fiction history books, but I bet there are some great ones about the Revolutionary period. Can anybody recommend any for me? Is Stephen Ambrose the way to go?

Pretty cool guy
My favorite Fourth of July memory is from one of the years when I was living in Germany. A bunch of us Americans got together for a bbq and brought our favorite dishes from home--I brought strawberry pretzel jello salad--and we invited all of our German friends and taught them how to do keg stands. At the end of the evening, we stood together and sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and I'll be damned if I didn't get all teary. It's nice to feel like you belong somewhere, and I think it's important to take a day and appreciate that.

Today my husband and I are celebrating the holiday by unpacking boxes and cleaning the patio. The cat is still figuring out these hardwood floors, and he's had a few Bambi moments. When he runs across the room, he sounds like a horse. We haven't gotten our grill yet, so we're making cold Turkish food for our holiday meal. What are your celebratory plans?