Monthly Archives: February 2008

Hey, kids! Let’s put on a show

I am brainstorming the program for MacKenna’s synchronized swim show. Yes, I realize MacKenna is a fictional character, going to a fictional high school, in a fictional town, and her synchro team is, in fact, fictional.

I still think compiling a list of songs on the fictional program for the fictional show lends a certain amount of verisimilitude.

Theme: movie music. This can be the obvious, like songs from a musical, or soundtrack music, as long as it’s fairly short (no seven minute numbers please). So far I have:

  • Stars and Stripes Forever ~ Sophomore number (ties into a joke re: typo in the printed program)
  • All That Jazz ~ MacKenna and Constance’s duet
  • Greased Lightin’ ~ Junior number
  • Surrey with the Fringe on Top ~ Freshman number
  • Lady Marmalade ~ Becca’s solo

I need ten more songs to round out the show! All suggestions considered and much appreciated.


Filed under Writing

Funniest. Thing. Ever.

I can’t stop laughing:

Garfield minus Garfield


Filed under Misc

Weave it and read

I went on a serious writing tear this weekend. Serious. Tear. I think there’s a light at the end of the third draft tunnel (and I’ll refrain from making oncoming train jokes). I have a crucial bit of back story to weave in, along with some minor edits, then I’ll be looking for victims, suckers, beta readers for the third draft.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read, I’ve discovered two new WordPress blogs:

The First Book has interviews with authors of … first books. I was happy to discover it took Jay Asher twelve years and that he felt he’d been writing in the wrong genre. I think this is a far more common mistake than a lot of writers realize.

On the other hand, I have much hate for Mark Henry. (Kidding. If Mark Henry happens upon this blog–unlikely–please know, I have nothing but hearty congratulations for you.)

Over at Elves Among Us, Esri Rose has been mining gems (sometimes quite literally) from eBay. Today’s not to be missed offering: Incubus Possessed Ring.

Seriously, you don’t want to miss this one.


Filed under Noodlers, Reading & Writing, Writing

Drawn with love


Portrait of Andrew, by Kyra

I had to talk her out of “fancying it up” and filling the entire white space with beads.


Filed under Kids

The (non)interview: Marianne Arkins

Today, Marianne Arkins and I are chatting about her debut novel One Love for Liv, which is available from Samhain Publishing.

I wouldn’t call this an interview. More of a chat, where I ask Marianne the tough questions about writing and publishing, involving DNA, non-headless models, and the best way to waste time.


Charity: First things first, now that we have the cover front and center. Is it me, or does model portraying Geoff (lower right-hand corner) look like the result of combining the DNA of David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier) and Ian Ziering (Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills 90210)? Your thoughts?

Marianne: LOL… okay, that’s really funny and a little scary to think of Niles and Steve mixed together.  But, honestly, you may just be right.  ((shivers))

Charity: In a related question, while I’m thrilled you have models with heads on them for your cover art, was it difficult/weird to adjust your mental image of Geoff and Mike?

Marianne: Ack, YES!! The absolute biggest problem I had was the people chosen for the cover.  The artist, Dawn (who has the patience of Job) and I went back and forth on it.  Oddly, I wasn’t as married to the image I had of Liv as I was of Mike.  I was content with the woman she’d selected for that, even though she really wasn’t the same as I’d chosen on my collage. 

Eventually, we decided to go for an illustrated “comic” cover because of that, and she came up with one that was spot on (I wish I could share it with you … it was AMAZING).  Unfortunately, it was vetoed by the powers-that-be who explained that those types of covers really didn’t sell well.

I sent Dawn a cover to another book that I loved, and she used that as an idea of what to do with Liv.  I still don’t think Mike is right, but he certainly is handsome.  And I’ve gotten several unsolicited compliments on the cover, so she must have known better than I did!


Marianne’s collage for One Love for Liv

Charity: Although now that we’ve tossed up your collage, I’m thinking the cover artist was spot on where Geoff was concerned. Wait a minute! Is that Ian Ziering in your collage? And speaking of collages, excellent visual aid for writing or simply a lovely way to procrastinate? Do you have any other (unusual or otherwise) prep work that you do for writing?

Marianne: I do think that the artist did a great job with Geoff’s image.  With the exception of the receding hairline, he’s really spot-on.  I love having a collage… I’d originally seen the idea on Jenny Crusie’s blog, but didn’t have time, patient, inclination or magazines I’d need to do a real one.  Then this terrifically talented person I know (*cough*Charity*cough*) showed me how I could work one up in Power Point, and I’ve never looked back.

[Chairty: It’s true. I have mad PowerPoint skillz.]

I really do think creating one helps to boils the story down to some basics.  With Liv’s I tried to focus on the characters and their differences:  hence the spa, and the beer and pizza.  Of course, beer and pizza is an important part of the book.  I know my editor fell in love with Mike over that scene in the book.

Charity: I think I’ve heard you mention that you like quiet when you write, but are there any songs you associate with Liv? Would you ever be tempted to make a novel playlist?

Marianne: I love music, but not while I write, because I tend to really focus on the words and the stories in the songs.  So, yes, I write in utter silence.  Even slight noises like the stove clicking (as it is now) can be terribly distracting.  It’s one of the reasons I do the majority of my new writing in the morning before anyone (including potentially noisy neighbors) is awake.

I do mention some artists in “One Love For Liv”:  U2 (a nod to a certain person I know) and Led Zepplin.  Liv needed a musical education in the novel, because she’d primarily been exposed to classical music in her life.  But a playlist?  I can’t imagine what I’d use, to be honest.  I don’t really associate specific songs with this story.  Classical music and classic rock would have to be the mix.  Yep, a little odd.  But so is the story.

Charity: I know you’ve mentioned being surprised that One Love for Liv was the first novel you sold, since you had several others completed. Thing is, I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I knew you had something with Liv from the very first scenes I read (and I know you’ve revised since then). Did you ever have a whisper go through your mind that maybe this one was the one?

Marianne: Maybe.  I do know that I kept returning to it, even when I’d pretty much decided that no one would want to publish it because it was a little off center.  Of course, I can’t seem to write anything that falls neatly into any one category.  “One Love For Liv” is categorized as romantic comedy by Samhain Publishing, but I’m not sure I’d call it that.  Certainly, it has some pretty odd situations, but it’s not as “comedic” as, say, Jennifer Crusie or Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I tend to think of it as a romance that doesn’t take itself seriously more than flat out comedy.

* * *

There you have it! I want to thank Marianne for being gracious and answering my weird questions. If you want to know more about Marianne’s writing process, what her writing space looks like, and the other real writing questions, visit her blog tour page for all the real interviews.


Filed under Books, Friends, Reading & Writing, Writing

Jonas Brothers concert: That’s just the way we roll

From the “you have been warned” category. My first clue we were in for an all-out love fest?

The rear windshield of a SUV in the parking ramp emblazoned with: Jonas Brothers Bound with a big heart drawn around it.

The love. There was much of it.

The screaming. There was much of that, too.

Somehow I slipped into the parking ramp after the daily rate, but before they jacked up the price to event parking. We found a nice spot for dinner before it got too crowded and had plenty of time for Cold Stone Creamery ice cream afterwards.

So all those little annoying things that can make going to an event so tedious didn’t happen.

We were spooning in ice cream when we spotted The Jonas Brothers tour bus from our perch in the skyway. A new mission was born. The kids decided to brave the cold and have their picture take by the tour bus.

The bus is covered in a fine layer of winter grime, that lovely combination of salt and sand, and who knows what else. In that grime? The names of many, many, many girls, along with *ahem* a few phone numbers. Kyra decided she’d like to write her name on the tour bus. Andrew did not.


Next stop: The Target Center

We navigated the line, then got in another for T-shirts. Kyra went with pink (you’re surprised, I know) with The Jonas Brothers standing in a frilly heart. I promised one of my nieces a shirt, and Andrew and I debated the merits of each (minus the Future Mrs. Jonas one–nobody in our little circle wanted that).

Shirts bought, we made a restroom stop, then found our seats. We had an awesome view of the stage because for the longest time, no one sat in the seats directly in front of us. Sadly, this only lasted through the opening band.


Clearly, they’re excited, so excited, Andrew feels the need to take his own pulse

I took a lot of pictures, mainly to figure out if I could get any decent shots and if so, on what setting.

The settings? Not so helpful. There are two separate ones for babies, one for “soft skin portraits” (which sounds a little sketchy to me), and an underwater setting (like I’m taking the damn thing into the lake any time soon).

A concert setting would’ve been really helpful. In the end, I used “simple mode” where the camera decides for you. This is also known as the “you’re too dumb to own a camera” setting.

The opening band, Rooney, was pretty good. They didn’t seem upset that they weren’t the main reason for the concert. This was unlike the time I went to see U2 and Smash Mouth got all bent out of shape because people decided to leave their seats while they played.

During the break between bands, three very tall girls plopped down in front of us.

I looked over at Andrew, then down at Kyra. Sure, Andrew could stand and see the show, but she couldn’t.

But the girl sitting next to me planned on standing/dancing/playing air guitar during the entire concert and offered her seat to Kyra. Unbelievably, in front of me/the girl were two moms, below them, another mom, below her, a dad. This strange phenomenom = adequate view for the petite Miss B.

Now, on to The Jonas Brothers Love:

Oh, the outfits. If someone wasn’t in Jonas Bros. wear prior to entering the arena, they most likely left with some. The styles ranged from the homemade to purchased, and included declarations of devotion and hearts. Lots and lots of hearts.

My favorite were two girls wearing T-shirts with the Jonas Brothers logo (JB) emblazoned on the front like the Superman one. Only this was no last minute glitter glue job. We’re talking serious sequins. They completed the outfit with jeans, Ugg boots, and … wait for it … red satin capes.

Thing of beauty = joy 4-EVAR. I want me a red satin cape.

Kyra and I did wear ear plugs. The music hadn’t even started, just the screaming, when Kyra ducked, held her hands over hear ears, and cried, “Mommy! The ear plugs! The ear plugs!”

And believe me, there was screaming.

They started the concert with Year 3000. More accurately, they played Queen’s We Will Rock You over the sound system right before The Jonas Brothers took the stage. That got everybody wound up. And yes, the teen/tween population knows all the words.

Just what everyone wants to see: my crappy concert photos

The boys didn’t talk a whole lot. See the part above about all the screaming.  They did mention that just two years ago they were playing the small venue across the street (Seventh Street Entry) and now were packing half-arena shows at the Target Center. For this, they thanked everyone.

And there was much screaming.

They did flips and cartwheels off the different levels of the stage, various dance moves, tossed around the mic stand, and so on. During the first song, one of the boys (and honestly, I always mix them up) threw his hat into the crowd.

Behold, there was much screaming.

Imagine if there were screaming to go along with this

They asked the parents to stand up and dance during That’s Just The Way We Roll. Most did. Kyra and I held hands and danced. Speaking of Kyra, she spent a short time sitting on my lap, then suddenly hopped off and started dancing like the big girls, waving her arms, and … screaming.


Again, not the same without the screaming

This lasted for about two thirds of the concert. Then she collapsed in my lap and slept. That’s right. She fell asleep and stayed that way during a rock concert. Clearly she inherited my freakish sleeping ability. It must be genetic. Perhaps I should notify the scientific community.

Other tidbits:

The cell phone is the 21st century version of the Bic lighter. During the slow songs, you flip open your cell, hold it up, and wave your arms back and forth.

The moms in front of me went into a spontaneous 80s flashback and jumped up to dance when The Jonas Brothers did a cover of aha’s Take On Me.

All in all? Good time = had by all. Sure, it’s not like The Jonas Brothers are cutting edge or anything. They play nice pop tunes. But you know, at least it wasn’t My Little Pony All Star rock band (I don’t even know if there is a My Little Pony All Star rock band–I just made that up).

And it wasn’t the latest Disney offering, which is Finding Nemo On Ice.

No. I didn’t make that up. Andrew and I saw the posters and simply gave each other Say what? looks. A story about tropical fish. On ice. The illogic of that might make my head explode.

Really, I need to stop thinking about it.

So, I know Kyra had a good time. I think Andrew did, despite being surrounded by a legion of screaming girls. (“Mommy, why are they screaming? There’s nothing to scream about, the show hasn’t started yet.”) And I had a good time. Talk about a goldmine for a YA writer. Plus, my inner thirteen-year-old had fun too.

Even if she didn’t scream.



Filed under Kids, Misc

Booking Through Thursday: Format

Booking through Thursday this week:

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

I was surfing around some of the responses and was delighted to discover I’m not the only one who likes trade paperback. I like the size. Mass market feels claustrophobic to me and hardcovers are heavy.

And since we’re in recovery mode from The Jonas Brothers concert last night, that’s about all I have to say on the great hardcover/trade/mass market debate.


Filed under Books, Memes