Friday, February 26, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Friday

If I were a famous author...

One of the coolest and simultaneously depressing aspects of the web is the ability to connect - or seemingly so - with well-known people. I, for instance, am Facebook "friends" with some amazing YA authors who've sold thousands and thousands of books. Sarah Dessen, John Green, Megan McCafferty, and Maureen Johnson, just to name a few. They post links sometimes, or comment on their breakfast, posts which get retweeted hundreds of times and a thousand people "liking" them or commenting themselves on how much they too love breakfast burritos with extra cheese or wish they were eating said breakfast burrito with Famous Author right now!!!!

As a Not-So-Well-Known Author Who Aspires to be Bigger, I wonder what it's like to be a Real Famous Author. Of course, I'm pretty sure I know it's extremely cool to sell a ton of books and make bestseller lists and get awards but what about the other stuff:

1. What's it like having so many "friends" you need a fan page? So many blog and twitter followers that your every move is re-documented a thousand times over?

2. What's it like getting an email inbox full of fan letters? Do you get real ones too with paper envelopes and stamps?

3. Is it as cool as it seems to have people contacting you for autographs, school visits, sequels, and to purchase foreign rights for Uzbekistan?

4. Do you still love to write?

I've had a tiny, itty bitty taste of what it would be like to be Kind Of Famous. I've seen my Amazon rankings skyrocket when one of my books was mentioned somewhere popular. I've gotten a few actual letters in the mail and some emails from fans who loved my books and want to know more. I've spoken at a few schools and received requests to participate in authorly things and a couple of states even have my books on their reading lists, which is incredibly awesome.

I think I would happily accept the pressure that comes from being Real Famous. Not just because I've experienced the pressure of being Not-Very-Famous-At-All And Trying to Be Bigger, but because I do love to write.

So if the Universe needs an answer from me, bring it on, big guy, I'm ready.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Underrated movie to rent: World's Greatest Dad

Okay, 80s comedy club fans: who remembers Bobcat Goldthwait? The funny looking guy with the funny sounding voice? Well, he's a director now, apparently he's been behind the camera for episodes of some live television as well as having directed a few of his own small features. His latest film was released on video-on-demand and then had a limited theatrical run in August 2009. "World's Greatest Dad," which he wrote and directed, is available on Netflix instant play (my very favorite and a great way to try out movies and TV you wouldn't normally waste time renting).

The movie stars Robin Williams as Lance, a private school poetry teacher who is also a failed writer. His son Kyle is that teen guy you see who's always screwing up. No one likes him and he's a jerk to everyone, including his dad and his best friend. He has an unhealthy obsession with porn and women and sex and in particular, auto-erotic asphyxiation - I think you can see where this is going. Lance has a pretty young girlfriend (a fair weather girlfriend who is a fellow teacher and won't go public with their relationship) but in most respects, allows himself to be walked on by her and by other teachers and by Kyle. Yes, he's a sad sack but Williams plays him right on the edge, not overblown in any way, never over-the-top Patch Adamsish.

When Kyle dies in an "awkward" accident, Lance writes a suicide note for him to spare him any embarrassment about the way he died. The letter is leaked to the school paper and suddenly, Kyle (and Lance) become heroes, representing all the downtrodden and invisible students. Lance decides to go further with the ruse and even constructs a journal containing all of Kyle's pithy thoughts and philosophies. The book is a huge success and propels Lance into the spotlight.

The only problem is, the one person who knew the real Kyle, his friend Andrew, doesn't believe any of it. He is the only thorn in all of this for Lance and the one who eventually brings Lance to his senses.

I heartily recommend this movie to anyone who loved "Rushmore," "Donnie Darko" (Richard Kelly is a producer and his presence is definitely felt) or even "Heathers." The movie hits the exact right tone - not too subtle or over-the-top. After all, beneath everything and despite the big laughs, this is about a man whose son dies and no matter how awful the kid was, he did love him. Robin Williams is fantastic as are the rest of the cast members. I can't believe I am now a huge Bobcat Goldthwait fan. Awesome.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Friday

My favorite winter Olympic sporting events... far.
1. Men's short track speed skating - I thought I'd be rooting for Apolo Ohno but now I'm a JR Celski fan, the 19 year old who seems to be following in Ohno's steps (or skates). And I totally dug the relay. It looked so complex with all those people on the ice - how could they tell who was up next?

2. Women's snowboarding half-pipe - I love these girls! Sure a lot of them wiped out last night but that was because they were kicking butt and taking names, going for the big air, the twists and turns. Very impressive - and no tears for the losers. These women are pros.

3. Men's snowboarding half-pipe - Who doesn't love Shaun White? I mean, seriously. Did you see his final run the other night - *after* he knew he had the gold? And his teammates were no slouches either, despite the grunge-inspired uniforms.

4. Women's moguls - I had no idea this would be so interesting. I thought it was strictly speed but as it turns out, there are some jumps involved which require judging. Plus each run is short, which I like - long slalom events kinda bore me.

5. Men's and women's skating
- We've only had men so far and they have all been fantastic, although as a friend told me, they really need to lose the Bob Mackie-designed costumes (except for Johnny Weir, the only one who can pull off the flamboyant look). I was so bummed for Jeremy Abbott in both of his programs but I think the men have a lot of young talent coming up the ranks who will raise the bar next time. Can't wait for the women's events!

I have to admit I'm a little burned out on the Olympics and they're not even half over! It's a function of there not being anything else on of interest when I come home late at night, plus it's only once every few years. I just have to watch.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cut off from the web = Cut off from the world

My internet was gone for most of the past day or so. The withdrawal symptoms went away after about an hour, once I realized it wasn’t coming back for a while. I resigned myself to not knowing what Sigalerts there might be for my drive to Pasadena. I acknowledged I wouldn’t be able to access my email until the next day. I accepted that I couldn’t obsessively watch my Amazon, YouTube, Scribd, Goodreads, Homestead, Shelfari and LibraryThing numbers.

And I felt good about it. I was almost relieved not to have the internet to rely on. I did have to leave extra early to teach just in case, you know, there *was* a Sigalert on my drive. But otherwise it was kind of freeing. Each time I got stuck when I was writing, I couldn’t simply go to the web and look something up. I had to make it up or make a note to check at another time – and keep writing. If my brain got tired, I couldn’t perk it up by reading some inane CNN article on yet another Olympian I had never heard of. I just got up, walked around, made some tea – and kept writing.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

This morning, I did my required 2K words in an hour and a half. That’s 1.5 hours. I wasn’t busting my butt. I didn’t type my fingers to the bone. I just wrote steadily, had some coffee and breakfast –and wrote and wrote and wrote and before I knew it, my words were done. And I still had energy to write more.

I had heard people talk about the web being a massive time-suck and I kind of knew that in the back of my mind, but this was honestly the very first time I had experienced it for myself. In the past, my time away from the web was vacation time, so I wasn’t writing or doing any work. But this was different. I am smack in the middle of 2 projects and a variety of outlines and man, did I get a lot done. It’s not enough to simply turn off the web, I think. It has to really NOT BE THERE. There has to be no possibility of getting to it, if you really truly want to work.

Was I happy to get the connection back? You betcha. I tried to be good, tried to keep working as I was without the web, but my old ways soon crept back. Some things won’t change – in fact, they will probably just continue to get worse. But whenever I can, I think I’m going to shut down the internet and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Until I need to look up who that guy was who did the curling or the biathlon or the speed skating long track. Some things you just have to know.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Things I Would Buy Used

The economy is a shambles. We all have to watch our pennies and make do with what we have for longer but there are certain things you just have to buy:

1. Books - of course! I love used bookstores - you never know what gem you'll find hidden under a pile of old Highlights magazines.

2. DVDs - these things are so cheap to make, I find it hard to spend more than 10 bucks for a movie I really want.

3. T-shirts - you gotta be careful with other people's clothes, even the "vintage" ones. I would never buy shoes, for instance, and maybe not even jeans - there are certain items that get a little too personal, if you know what I mean.

4. Lamps and wooden chairs - used furniture is okay so long as there's no fabric that could retain any kind of smell or cat hairs.

5. Dogs - I have longed for a dog for so long and I know that when I do get one, he'll be a rescue. No puppy mills for me.

Used items to stay away from : lingerie, appliances, computers, cell phones, food, and pillows. Anything you'd care to add to either of these lists? Share your money-saving ideas!

And a reminder: today is the last day to download all 4 parts of THE RISE OF GINNY COOPER for free, exclusively at The Story Siren! After today, we will take it down and...who knows where it will be?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How can it be February already?

This is insane. Are we really 10 days into February? How did this happen? I swear it was Christmas a few days ago and I was planning for the new year.

February, the shortest month of the year, used to be my favorite when I was in school. After all, it had 2 holidays - Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday, now grouped into one Presidents Day - sorry kids! That was one good thing from the olden days.

It also had Valentine's Day which was also lots of fun. We used to send carnations to each other - one class had the business as a way to raise money for activities - anonymously or not. They would be delivered to your homeroom in the morning. Red for love, of course, pink for affection and white for friends. You did NOT want to get too many white carnations for obvious reasons.

I had a boyfriend for 3 of my 4 years in high school so I did get a few red and pink ones but I remember distinctly sending an anonymous red one to a senior I had a crush on when I was a freshman. He played basketball and had a girlfriend which really makes me wonder why I bothered to spend the buck on the guy. But it was fun and anonymous and I think he assumed it was from his girlfriend who probably took the credit. As I recall, I think she got pregnant.

But now, February just means a short month in which to get a LOT of work done. It's also the month my husband has a birthday so for weeks I will be saying, "What do you want to do for your birthday? Do you want a party? Do you want to go out? What, what, what????"

Yep, February has changed a lot since I was a kid.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Text and Subtext

1. Text: THE RISE OF GINNY COOPER is available *exclusively* and for *free* at The Story Siren until February 12th. If you haven't read it or downloaded all 4 parts, you can until next Friday,

Subtext: What are you waiting for? You can open a new window and then come back to this while you're waiting. That's one of the cool things about the internet - you can do more than one thing at once. And can I tell you how my life turned around when I learned the concept of "windows"? Seriously worldview-changing.

2. Text: LOST is back and I could not be happier - and sadder since the show will end this season, but that's a good thing because I don't think I can take any more questions about the island.

Subtext: You can pretty much tell everything about me by the scripted television I watch. I only watch 3 dramas: LOST, Medium, and Fringe. And I only watch 3 comedies: 30 Rock, The Office, and The Simpsons. So I'm kind of snarky and prefer alternative realities.

3. Text: Facebook gets all my best ideas. It's so easy to jot down a few funny words and a minute or an hour later change them when something better comes along. And yes, I admit I will save something interesting for Facebook rather than say it out loud. Sue me.

Subtext: It's a fine line between funny and annoying and I constantly struggle with it. This is the exact same thing that happens when you write for real: if you put words on the page that are meaningless to you simply to provoke or manipulate a reader, it backfires. People sense insincerity.

4. Text: I hit the ground running before I'm out of bed, planning my day from hour to hour, and still everything doesn't get done. I need a clone.

Subtext: I need to say "no" more often. And I need a clone.