Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Next Big Thing!

I'm participating in #PitchWars - a contest where a few writers are chosen by writing mentors to hook up with and prepare pitches for agents. There's a Writing Meme going around and the hopefuls are participating. I'm a hopeful, so here I go.

*Clears throat and announces* The Next Big Thing (!!)

This is my attempt at concise answers STOP LAUGHING.

1. What is the title of your book?

Just a Little Sting. Look at me being concise!

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I met two people in the span of two weeks who were synesthetes - meaning they had synesthesia - meaning they actually freaking see sounds as colors, shapes, and even thoughts and smells. This just blew me away. I'd gone my entire life without having met a single person with synesthesia and now I knew two of them! Clearly, The Universe was trying to tell me something. It's very concerned with me and my daily goings on.

My mind began whirring with the possibilities of creating a character with synesthesia. Both of the people I'd met were classical musicians, and so it seemed only natural that my character would be a musician, too. Only mine is of the electric guitar variety.

Most people with synesthesia find it to be a minor inconvenience, at times. Who wants to read a story about someone who is minorly inconvenienced? Not me! So my character is often completely crippled by his synesthesia. It's been a problem throughout his entire life and it's led to some bad behavior. In other words, my bad boy has issues. Poor baby.

That was me not being concise. I'll make up for it on the next question.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary Romance

4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Cleo, my red-headed 30-years-old and still trying to find her way in life heroine, would ideally be played by Amy Adams. Isn't she adorable?

Julian, my guitar-wielding hero, would have to be a conglomeration. Casting people! Get on that! *snaps fingers*

The actor would have to look a little like John Frusciante when he's playing guitar:

And he'd have to have tattoos like Adam Levine.

And he simply MUST talk like Russell Brand. We're all suckers for accents. Especially if they're colourful!

So basically, I don't know who would play Julian, but it would NOT be this.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Oh dear. If I write a huge run-on sentence that makes all other run-on sentences look like they were merely jogging or possibly running in place, do you think anyone would notice?

Here goes:

Julian risks his hard-won sanity and sobriety by stepping back into the spotlight of rock and roll in order to win the affections of Cleo, a woman he mistakenly believes can't love him without fame - because without fame, he thinks he's just a freak.

That wasn't so bad. I inserted a hyphen in there all smooth-like, though. Technically STILL ONE SENTENCE. And it leaves out so much and this is why I so desperately want to be chosen for #PitchWars....I need the help!! HELP ME.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The world of self-publishing has changed. It really has. It isn't your grandmother's world of self-publishing, anymore. There's more to self-publishing now than people hawking cookbooks and memoirs in the back rooms of conferences. But I want an agent. Agents know things. They know smarty-smart-smart things. Also? I work better with a buddy.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your novel?

A freakishly long time. I foolishly thought the transition from nonfiction to fiction would be easy. Aren't I kind of cute when I'm all innocent and naive?

It was not easy. I'm a huge reader, and I thought I'd instinctively know how to write fiction because of it. But I didn't. People know a book is bad when they're reading it, but they don't know why it's bad. I had to learn the whys of the bad, and then I worked on the ways of the good. Like a Jedi.

It took over two years. Don't judge! I did it while dealing with the sexual irresponsibility we like to call our five kids! And during this time, one of them had brain surgery. That's right - I'm playing the brain surgery card. 

The novel I'm writing now is progressing at lightning speed in comparison. Thank God.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I like my romance steamy, but I like my characters to have depth. I like layers to dig through, and humor is a must. If you like the novels written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Rachel Gibson, you'll like Just a Little Sting.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I stated above, I met two musicians with synesthesia and that got the ball rolling.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The characters in this story are trying to reconcile who they used to be with who they want to be, while who they really are slowly creeps up on them. It's what we're all doing, really. Only my characters are prettier than we are while they're doing it. Also? Sex scenes where a synesthete is involved are colorful, to say the least.

     This situation was annoying as hell and hadn't gone at all according to plan. The plan had been to whip off his sunglasses and cook the redhead with a smoldering look even though nobody wearing a stained t-shirt and some sort of horrible men's trunks deserved one. In no part of his plan was he supposed to be wearing women's clothing while suffering the scathing scrutiny of an unimpressed pint-sized bundle of bravado.
     He lifted his eyes towards hers and did what he did best; a highly perfected sexy glance, followed by a boyish gaze through the lashes. He deliberately pulled his eyes away from her brilliant green peepers for a greedy stop at her mouth, where he noticed she was nervously biting her bottom lip. Cute. Then he let his eyes drift intentionally lower to make the obligatory pause at the breasts. Okay, more than a pause. White t-shirt. No bra. Very nice.
     When his eyes made it back to hers, he was gratified by a furious blush spreading across her cheeks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When it's NOT Harder Than a Femur.

Something just happened and it made me question everything I thought I knew about anything.

Song lyrics. We humans are famous for getting them wrong in hysterically entertaining ways. I, myself, am no stranger to this phenomena. In fact, Jeff and I have had HUGE FIGHTS over song lyrics. And just last week, I was writing in a coffee shop when a song came on that reminded me of Ellie. It was by a band she'd really liked back when we were travelling around looking at music schools and it made me miss her. So I immediately facebooked her:

Hey Ellie I'm in a coffee shop and they're playing that song by that French band you used to like and now I miss you. It's that one that goes: Like a rhine, like a rhino! Or maybe it's like a wine, like a wino!

And she responded something like:

Oh my God, Mom! It's like a riot, like a riot, oh!

Whatever. I was close. Also, I really liked my version better - the one about rhinos.

So this sh*t happens, sometimes. But you don't screw up the lyrics for Your Band. If it's Your Band, you know their lyrics like the back of your hand, even if Your Band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their lyrics are Somewhat Nonsensical. They're lyrical (lyrics!) and poetic and they mean something, even if it's only Hey This Rhymes! and you don't mess around with them!

Sir Psycho Sexy is a dirty song. It really is. And it isn't dirty by implication, it isn't nasty by nuance, it's just really filthy smut. In my younger years, as a new mommy, I didn't appreciate Sir Psycho Sexy. It was disgusting in a frat house sort of way. But now? Well, now that we're all grown up and keeping our socks on our feet where they belong, it's just kind of funny. And funky. With some great grooves. It makes me grin. And my favorite part? Was this line:

Harder than a femur!

Harder than a femur! That's freaking hilarious! Especially if you're talking about an erection, which I have assumed, since 1993, that we were! Harder than a femur! WHAT A LINE.

Whenever I face a difficult task or a trying time, I might say, "Geez, this is harder than femur." DO YOU SEE HOW PERFECT A LINE THAT IS???

Sure, it bothered me a little that it didn't quite rhyme with beaver (don't over-think that - I know this is supposed to be a family show) - it almost rhymed with beaver in the same way that Dora almost rhymes with Explorer if you say it like you're from New Jersey.

Anyway - back to the boner - of the femur variety, specifically. How can I say this? How can I say that the most perfect phrase, the best ever little witty line in that entire stupid song - the adorable word-tangle that redeemed Sir Psycho, DOESN'T EXIST?

It doesn't exist.

Harder than a femur doesn't exist. Not even a little. What Anthony Kiedis wrote, and what he sings, is the way way way less impressive and non-noteworthy and So Been Done Before Hotter Than a Fever.

Hotter than a fever? HOTTER THAN A FEVER?!? Really? Are you kidding me? That's not funny! That's not original! That's not anything I can say when encountering a humongous obstacle of enormous proportions! I wouldn't even say it IF IT WERE REALLY REALLY HOT OUTSIDE.

It's That Much Meh.

It does rhyme with Beaver, though.

So tell me, people. What else do I have all wrong?? Do I even know anything at all anymore? Other than the fact that sometimes, finding something to blog about is HARDER THAN A FEMUR!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Riding the Curve and the End of the Can

Today, we're trading in the Sardine Can for a small little pop-up camper. That's right! The very can that started this blog is heading for greener pastures, hopefully with another adventuresome family.

Our camping life over the years would look like a Bell curve, I guess. We started out as two in a backpacking tent. We thought about nobody but ourselves and it was ROCKING AWESOME, don't kid yourselves. Jeff proposed to me on the Pine Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park. At the time, we didn't consider the possibility that one day we'd hike that trail with babies on our backs or strapped to our chests with dirty diapers outweighing our water bottles. But we did.

Tent camping with a baby basically sucks. So we bought a little pop-up camper. Eventually, the pop-up camper was overflowing with 7 people. It was pretty bad, and smelly, too. So we traded up to what became known as our Sardine Can.

Man, it was like we'd moved into Trump Palace! A bed for everyone! A heater! A freaking refrigerator, stove, microwave, and shower! A stereo system that regularly blasted out Red Hot Chili Peppers and, if my dad was with us (and he often was) Pink Martini or Herb Albert or on one very long evening involving tequila, Axl Rose singing "Since I Don't Have You" over and over and over while my dad tried to learn the lyrics. We were always popular with the other campers.

Then a weird thing started to happen. The kids got bigger and wanted to sleep in tents. Sometimes they (gasp) didn't want to go at all. Maybe they had to work, maybe they had something planned with friends, and then Ellie abandoned ship and left for college.

The event, however, that sealed the Sardine Can's fate was the selling of The Bus. Like the Sardine Can, the 12-passenger van I drove started out with 2 car seats, a booster seat, 2 big kids, 2 parents, a friend or two, and The Grandpa. But for the past two years, it mostly drove me and Camille into the city for ballet. It was a HUGE waste of gas and more than we could afford. It was also the only thing we owned that could pull the Sardine Can. I replaced it with a small, red car that rocks on the gas mileage.

And we are now the proud new owners of another small pop-up.

Bell Curve. We start out small, we expand to near bursting, and then we deflate and end up back where we started. You can't really see the curve when you're riding it, you know. Everything is Now and Permanent and The Way Things Are. Of course, maybe if we knew that was all an illusion we'd cherish moments more, but we're not wired that way. Maybe if we knew we were riding a curve we'd never make the climb. Maybe if we knew we were only going to end up right back where we'd started, we'd just stay where we are. It's ingenious, really, the way these things work.

I'm sad, watching the Sardine Can go. It was at the top of the curve, baby! It really was. And on that very first trip to California, the one that started this blog, it taught me a lesson about what's really important. Maybe I don't remember everything about that trip as clearly as I remembered it last year, or the year before. But I'll tell you what I do remember:

I remember being in the camper beneath the stars, the second week into the trip. I remember the feel of a baby nursing at my breast, the love of my life cuddled up against my back. A mere few feet away were the other four children, asleep in bunk beds. It felt as if everything that was good and important and necessary in the universe had been titrated down to it's essence and poured into a 26-foot camper. Nothing existed outside of that little cocoon that mattered at all.  And I was totally cognizant of it. I was lucid - and come on - how often does that happen? It was a gift, that night.

My life is different now. With every milestone of independence the teens and tween take, part of me evaporates. I'm stretched, watered down, I feel...diluted.

They've grown, and I've shrunk.

I'm learning to live with this new version of myself. The version that has held tight, let go, and lived to tell the tale. It has some scars. It's smarter than it used to be. It's more...grateful.

Good things are ahead for all of us, I'm sure of it. There are new Bell curves to ride; I just need to find where my next one begins.

And for the love of God, that does not mean I'm pregnant.

If you want to see what we were like when it all began, you can check out the very beginning of the blog. Or you can just wait and see where we all go from here.

Signing off now, as the Sardine Mama Without a Can