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It’s really a very sweet post by Elizabeth, about why she can never read my books.
So here’s a little interview I did with Paul Sladkus on the Good News Broadcast. In which I Tell All, including what’s sexy about firefighters, how to find a publisher and what the real meaning of passion is.
Aaaand! http://www.random.org picked the winner from yesterday’s post. It’s MJ! WTG! Keep checking in, people. The month is young. I loved everyone’s Mothers Day suggestions.
Today’s question comes from one of my favorite entries from yesterday–charitable giving. Where do you give your time or donations? List your favorite cause in the comments section. The prize–a signed copy of Just Breathe, and one of Invisible Lives by the incomparable Anjali Banerjee.
Congrats to yesterday’s winner, selected by www.random.org –Miz White Roses herself, Darla! A copy of Just Breathe and one of Love in Bloom will be winging their way to you soon. I loved everyone’s input about favorite flowers. Amy gets the prize for funniest comment. And I think it’s so touching that our faves are almost always tied to an emotional memory. Mine are peonies, thanks to a childhood memory of cutting them in the yard with my mom to make a bouquet for my teacher. The petals were always wet with the rain and we’d have to shake them off. There were always a few ants on board but they were the harmless black variety.
Or…wait! Lily of the Valley, my birthday flower! Smells so good I get high! And OMG nightshade! I need to stop now. I still have pages to write before quittin’ time.
I’m doing another drawing tomorrow. Post a song recommendation in the comments. I know music choice is tricky, so personal and such a matter of taste. But I’m always open to hearing new artists. Help us discover someone new! And you might win the drawing–a signed copy of Just Breathe and a two-pack of Heath and Reese’s popcorn. What’s sweeter than that?
In my Shelf Awareness feature, I admitted to this:
Book you’ve faked reading: Du Coté de Chez Swann by Marcel Proust. In French. I was trying to impress a professor who I later learned was gay. Quel dommage!
I wish I could be more patient with this book, because the bits and pieces I’ve read are truly beautiful. All four of them. Yet the book was so good that one of the several publishers that rejected it later wrote him an apology. However, the image above stole my heart–it’s a galley proof from a manuscript that sold at Christies for £663 750. But that’s not what stole my heart–it’s his cutting-and-pasting technique. Masterful. But how did the poor man write a whole work of literary genius without Post-It Notes? No wonder he died young.
And p.s., Proust is wise:
“Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”
Your turn–have you fake-read any good books lately?
Today, a step-by-step guide:
- Get up at the crack of dawn. Make strong coffee. Stay in your jammies–who’s gonna know? Set a lofty goal for your page count. Ten pages of your novel, at least.
- Innocently check e-mail queue to make sure the world didn’t come to an end overnight.
- Discover that, yes, the world did come to an end overnight. Your professional world, anyway. Your book, which is a finalist for a big-ass prestigious award–the Queen of all Knicknacks–has not been received for judging at the Central Judging Office of the Universe.
- Remember the unbending strictness of this rule. If books are not received by the cut-off deadline, you will be immediately disqualified. This has happened, people. It’s happened to the best romance writer on the planet. Her contest entry books were held up by trolls at the US/Canada border one year and arrived a bit late and she was DQ-ed and sucked forever into the Tubes of Obscurity. Shudder to imagine the same fate for yourself.
- Suffer deep executive assistant envy of your friends who have them. If you had an executive assistant, you would simply push a button on the intercom and say, “Mr. Matsura, would you please send Five Copies of my Finalist Book to the Central Judging Office of the Universe to arrive before 5pm Central?” And he would adjust his loin cloth and say, “Yes, ma’am, right away ma’am” and you would start scribbling madly, knocking out those pages.
- Shake off fantasy, track the shipment you expedited twelve days ago and discover it has been labeled “Exception” which is their way of saying, “My bad. Your books are lost, honey.”
- Let coffee get cold, decide to go to Proper Office to get more Author Copies to re-send, overnight, at Enormous Financial Expense. Slog up the driveway to Proper Office in your jammies and gardening clogs, praying the neighbors don’t see.
- Cheerily greet Mr. Dow who gives you a wave on the way to get his paper. Tell yourself he already thinks you’re an unemployed alcoholic anyway, so this won’t change anything.
- Discover that there is not a single author copy left of the book in question, except the versions in Chinese, Latvian, Urdu and Manga.
- See if you can figure out a way to pin this fiasco on a man, because somehow it has to be the husband’s fault. Oh! I know! He raided your supply of author copies to give out at a charity golf tournament. It’s too perfect. Better than a smoking gun.
- Call local bookstore which has good news! They have completely sold out of that title! 100% sell-through, baby!
- Call adorable daughter. Learn that she is suffering from the plague and consigned to bed and besides, her local bookstore only has three copies anyway. Call indulgent mother. Learn that she is gone to a Red Hat Meeting and besides, her bookstore is fresh out of copies, too.
- Sheepishly e-mail publisher and ask if they can send books. Remember publisher is in Canada and fear that Border Trolls will hold up the shipment. Listen to Adam Lambert’s “Mad World” with new appreciation for the lyrics.
- As a back-up plan, log into Big Giant Online Lollapolloza Bookstore and order 5 copies to be sent overnight, at Enormous Personal Expense. Feel nervous about the Fine Print.
- Consider calling girlfriends in Houston to ask them to round up books and take them to the HQ of the Biggest Writers’ Organization in the Universe (BWOU). Realize girlfriends have better things to do with their time.
- Discover that the BWOU employs a compassionate person who wants to help. Accept her offer to pick up books at a local bookstore. Dub her your NBF (New Best Friend). Call local bookstore and be told they don’t accept payment over the phone. Overnight check + chocolate to NBF.
- Realize the Hq of the BWOU will soon receive 20 or 25 copies of Finalist Book.
- Dare to look at clock. Remember company is coming for dinner. You are still in your jammies and there is no food. Regard blank pages in horror.
- Clonk head on desk.
- Repeat as necessary.
From the Deborah Bouziden interview: How is writing a series different from writing a single title? Which do you prefer and why?
SW: I love both, and continue to do both. The actual everyday work of writing the books is not so different. I live deeply inside the story, whether or not it’s part of a series. However, with the series books, I’m very aware that every character is fair game. A walk-on in one book might become the protagonist in another. In writing the Lakeshore Chronicles books–an open-ended series about a small town in the Catskills–I never planned to write a book about Daisy, the troubled teen. But she has inspired a record amount of reader mail, and she is so multilayered, that she’ll get her book one day.
What do readers prefer? Books in a series, or single titles?
Another Q from Deborah: Back in ’89, you wrote a picture book, The Canary Who Sailed with Columbus. How did that book come about? Have you considered writing more children’s books?
SW: I wrote it for my daughter, who was five at the time. I’d been researching a historical novel about the first Columbus voyage, and we made a family trip to Spain, so it was a way to give her a glimpse of the process. I didn’t really expect to publish the children’s book, but the illustrator and I put something together and we sold it to a small Texas publisher. I loved it, because I got to do school and library visits and meet adorable young readers. It would be fun to do another one day, but there’s nothing on the horizon at this time. Children’s book publishing is tough–a bunny-eat-bunny world out there!
How about you? What writing project have you tackled just for fun, or for your kid?
From the Deborah Bouziden interview:
DB: In October, there was an incident involving a pair of hiking shoes. Writers know that everything that happens to them is fodder for the written page some day. Please relate the story and do you see it showing up in a book later down the road? Do you suggest writers keep a notebook/journal to record incidents like this? Why?
I won’t relate the story because it’s routine (I am routinely klutzy). It’s “dog bites man” rather than “man bites dog.” Digest version–slippery shoes+wet grass+dog tugging at lead=dislocated elbow. Now, the part that might be of use are the details a writer absorbs from incidents like this–the expression on a stranger’s face when he saw the grotesque angle of the arm. Pain so intense I thought the top of my head would come off. The stranger’s kindness and swiftness as he dialed 911, crated the dog, secured the house, found my purse and mobile phone…all the time keeping his eyes averted from the arm. My feeling of dismay as the EMT cut off my brand new, expensive Patagonia hoodie. The interesting apparatus filled with styrofoam beads, which they used to immobilize the arm. A busload of school kids on the ferry (had to take the ferry to the ER in Seattle), lining up to peer into the ambulance to see if there was any blood and guts. Little details, like the meth addict screaming obscenities. Oh, wait, that was me! The doc’s name: Milkman. A nurse rushing in, saying, “I have your diagnosis! #1, you have a severely dislocated elbow. #2, you’re famous, I love your books!”
A writer should pay attention when strange things happen. I wasn’t taking notes because it was my left arm and I’m left handed. Generally, if they’re dramatic enough, you remember the important bits. Some things, you don’t need a journal for.
How do you put life into your fiction?
Thanks to all who took part in the Fireside audio giveaway! Here’s how the winners were chosen–with the super-duper Random Integer Generator. This will satisfy anyone’s inner geek. Interested geeks can go here http://www.random.org/integers/ and see how to randomize entries. You just put in the number of entries from 1 to whatever, and tell it to generate the number of columns = to the number of prizes on hand. Et voila! So congrats to Vecia, Molly, Beth, Judy, Pam, and Sandi. I’ve e-mailed you all for your mailing addresses, and you will soon be in Avalon, listening to the latest installment of the Lakeshore Chronicles. This was fun–I’ll do more in the future, so check in now and then. Thanks for the fun, everyone!