Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Never Mind First Class... I'm Flying Coach! or Threesomes Really ARE All They're Cracked Up to Be!

Do you see that gorgeous purple, grey, black and white bag? It's mine... MINE!!! It's my first Coach bag, and believe me, the smile I've got from this stellar purchase was well worth the loss of my Coach cherry cost.

Why do I deserve such a great gift? I don't. But my husband thinks I do, so why argue? Like my mom always says, "Choose your battles wisely." Why fight it? 

"Go buy yourself a purse, honey, " he said, "Anything you want! Consider it a belated birthday present."


"Yup, anything! You deserve it. You've worked hard on your writing this year, snagged the greatest agent of all time, and picked me to live your life with. Those are just a few small examples of why you deserve it."


Let me explain something. I'm normally a two-purse-per-year girl. One in early spring that screams, "Summer's Coming!" and one in the fall in shades of I hate the world because winter's coming brown or black. But that was the old me. Now I only need one bag per year because I'm flying Coach!

This purchase was not impulsive. I'm a writer. I did my research. First, I combed through the aisles of handbags at Macy's and Bloomingdale's. At Bloomie's, a certain bag caught my eye. It was a Coach bag with a $358 price tag. Ouch! Major freaking OUCH!

More research was in order. Turns out there's a Coach outlet store five miles away. I'M SO THERE!

I soon found myself in the company of about 1,000 completely annoying strangers of my closest friends jammed into the post-Christmas Coach outlet store. I left not a single bag unturned or untouched. Ew! H1N1 magnets! But, alas, "my" bag wasn't there. 

Not one to give up without a fight, I perused Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Ann Klein, and Juicy Couture. Still no luck. What does a girl do when faced with such a mammoth problem? She heads right back to the mall, that's what she does. This time, I bypassed the uncouth department stores and headed straight for the big guns. 

For those of you outside of the Philly area, here's an important fact: On the eighth day, after much R&R, God created the King of Prussia Mall. She sat back, gave herself a high five, and said, "Damn, girlfriend! You are goooood! And you thought the Grand Canyon was all that? BWAHAHAHA!!!!"

At the KOP mall, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Sal Ferragamo each have THEIR OWN STORES. I stood in a massive hallway surrounded by handbag royalty. I checked my pulse to make sure I hadn't died and gone to retail heaven.  

Louis Vuitton: All the bags look nearly identical. I picked one out for grins. "How much?" I asked.

"$1100" said the clerk.

I blinked. "Uh huh." I pretended to consider the possibility of purchasing the little clone. Little did I know, $1100 would soon seem reasonable.

Gucci: All the bags are seated on their own shelves BEHIND the counters. That's right, you can't look at a bag unless you ask for it. I perused the perfectly lit shelves. "May I see that one?" I said, pointing to a periwinkle blue leather bag.

A twenty-something woman in a perfectly tailored suit carefully handed it to me. I sensed my Fossil bag made her nervous. "It's part of the new Palimiere Collection." (Or something like that. I couldn't quite understand what she said since I'm not fluent in Gucci-speak.)

"Does that mean something?"

She glared at me over her Gucci eyeglasses. "Well, a lot of people are coming in asking for it."

I looked around. There was one other customer in the store - a man - and he was looking at gloves. I'm not sure where the hoards of customers were hiding. Perhaps behind the finely lit shelves? I inspected the bag, admired the stitching, the perfection of the leather, the seamless zipper. "How much?"


I looked it over for a few more seconds. I mean, really, I had a choice here: buy the bag and risk a divorce summons, or walk out of the store remaining a happily married woman. For a moment, it was a tough call. "It's nice, but I'm going to keep looking." Me and my $75 Fossil bag scurried out of the store like a rat in the subway.

"$1690?" I thought. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???? (Fun fact: While doing research for this informative post, I clicked onto the Gucci website and picked out a nice-looking bag. Not extraordinary-looking, mind you, just nice. The price? $2450. Bite me Gucci.)

There was one more store to explore before heading back to Coach: Sal Ferragamo. These bags looked more  inexpensive "normal." I relaxed as I perused the bags lined up along the  SAME long shelf (blasphemy!). You could even pick them up and inspect them without asking permission. Can you say, slumming? I eyed a little black leather beauty with a distinctive silver clasp. "How much is this one?" I asked the clerk, who'd just given me the spiel on which bags were on sale, including the one I was dangling before her. I guessed $250.

"That's a great deal! It's 30% off - only $900."

"Really?" I set it down and grinned at her as I peeked at the tag on one of the New Arrivals. $1390. I headed out the door.

The Coach store was shiny, new, and blessedly uncrowded. Apparently, I'm one of the only idiots in the area choosing not to shop at the outlet store. I looked at almost every single bag in the store at least twice. The same bag I'd seen at Bloomingdale's was perfectly perched on its own shelf. Nora (I decided to name her, because that's what writers do) looked stunning. Then I spotted her evil twin Natasha - the same bag, but instead of dull gold and brown, Tasha was dressed in eye-popping purple, grey, black and white. Hussy! I felt the floor shake as our souls became one.
"I'll take this one," I said to Andy, the obviously gay and very happy sales person.

"And did you see the matching wallet?" He fiddled around on his handy store iPhone. "Hmm... Yup, just as I thought. It's the last one."

The little wallet reached out, took my hand, and whispered in my ear, "You had me at hello." For $98, it should be able to do freaking trapeze acts! 

"Fine. I'll take that, too."

Victory flooded Andy's face. 

"Just head towards the back, sweetie, and they'll wrap it all up nice for you. They'll call you when it's ready." He punched my first name into his phone.

Now, I'm doing something I never thought I'd do - I'm living in a polygamous marriage. Me, Chuck, and Coach. And, for the record, threesomes really are all they're cracked up to be.


Happy New Year, everyone! May 2010 be filled with good health, happiness, laughter, hugs, great music, and many dreams fulfilled. And a new Coach bag, perhaps? 

Once again, namaste; I bow to you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

True Confessions & Personal Questions

Here's my latest True Confession. Yesterday I ate:

Breakfast: Egg and cheese sandwich from WaWa

Lunch: Popcorn (at Up In the Air)

Dinner: Chocolate Chip Muffin and a glass of OJ (after Avatar)

Um, yeah, sad, but true. So....

I'm hereby declaring December 26th to be: NATIONAL HEALTHY EATING DAY! (Cue inspiring music.)

Join me if you dare!!!

I sent my agent the polished 2nd draft of THE SECRET KEEPER on Thursday AND... I started writing the follow-up yesterday! I wasn't planning on it, but there it was - the first couple of pages. Ah, fresh, new ideas. SQUEE!!!

Our Christmas: We saw UP IN THE AIR - thought provoking, great acting by George Clooney (so what else is new?), ending fell a bit flat, and...

TAR (3D!) The MOST incredible special effects known to mankind, great story, some good acting (though I think it could have been better,) long (3 hours) and great political/moral messages.

I love asking personal questions, especially when the answers are juicy! Here are a few for you, my dear readers. Be creative.

How were your holidays?

Did you snag some groovy holiday loot?

Did you get to hang out with those you love?

Did you see any great movies?

Did you have any intense family drama?

Did you laugh a lot?

Do you have any deep, dark secrets you want to share?

Do tell!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Drenched in Awesome - Penny Lane ROCKS!!!

Poem: I have a friend. Her name is Penny. We both love cupcakes and Katy Perry.

Here's her latest post. Please tell her how uber-awesome she is, and follow her to the ends of the Earth.

To All My Dear Readers,
Hugs and best wishes for a holiday season filled with happiness, laughter, good health, and hugs, and a new year (like Penny) drenched in awesome.

That is all. Carry on with your holiday cheer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

BEWARE: Subliminal Messages!

I've done subliminal messages in the past, and except for the enormous amount of folks from the religious right who read this blog religiously [none that I know of], I've gotten great responses from it [lukewarm responses, tepid at best]. I'm thinking of making it a weekly feature. Let me know what you think.

FYI: Subliminal messages are placed in [] brackets, so if you'd rather not read them for fear of all things subliminal, feel free to skip over said [ma
jorly important] messages.

First of all, depending on your gender and sexual preference, you're welcome for the pics of the freaking gorgeous Christina Aguilera and ridiculously handsome Brad Pitt in my last post. I heard some readers actually passed out from their extreme gorgeousness. [I heard no such thing, but wouldn't that be cool?]

Secondly, I've been mixing fun with work lately, using my birthday as a [valid] excuse not to work as hard as usual on my manuscript. But, my birthday [weekend] is over and now the harsh reality of work and work alone [with a splash of Tru TV thrown in for good measure] is setting in. Until next week, that is, when husband has off and we'll be doing fun things like dining out, driving around looking at the pretty lights, [doing things I can't mention here since this blog is rated PG], seeing movies, working on our music, and SLEEPING IN.

So, from here on out [the next four days], I'm getting down to business. Butt In Chair in a big, fat, big-butt kind of way. [Except when I'm downstairs eating brownies or napping.] I promised my agent a fully polished 2nd draft for Christmas, and I intend to deliver [shouldn't be blogging, should be working on ms].

So, here's a toast to getting the work done. Join me if you wish [dare, have nothing better to do, are a natural-born "follower"] and get some work done. Because next week, it's PARTY CENTRAL, BABY! [Yeah right. Who am I kidding? Next week I'll be writing just like I always do.]

Here's a chance to share your thoughts! [I'll do what I want, anyway.]

a) Yay! Weekly Subliminal Message Day! [It freaking ROCKS!]


b) No way, Jose! Subliminal Message Day is like totally lame, dude! Stick to REAL messages. Oh, and no more voodoo dolls!!! [Yeah, whatever you freak. I love me some voodoo dolls!]

Friday, December 18, 2009

You Say It's My Birthday, We're Gonna Have a Good Time!

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me.... Happy Birthday to me! (And many more...)

I know this is a bit cryptic, but guess what? TODAY'S MY BIRTHDAY! Good thing I told you, or you never would have guessed, right?

In some circles, it might be considered "tacky" or "self-indulgent" or "conceited" to dedicate a whole post to one's own birthday. But, you know what? I don't care. And, do you know why I don't care? BECAUSE IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!

And, I share my special day with some pretty special folks:

Brad Pitt
Steven Spielberg
Keith Richards
Christina Aquilera
Katie Holmes
Brian Orser (figure skater)
Leonard Maltin (film critic)
Steven Biko (anti-apartheid activist)
Betty Grable
Paul Klee (painter)
Ty Cobb (baseball player)

Anyway, you get the picture - I'm in some pretty freaking awesome company.

If you couldn't tell, I'm part of a family where life is celebrated, birthdays being first and foremost. The day you came into the world was and always will be the most special day of your life. There would be others, like your anniversary, spouse's birthday, kid's birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, New Year's, etc., but your birthday would always remain number one. If you can't fully celebrate/love yourself, then you can't fully celebrate/love another.

My family's still that way, celebrating all the important milestones in life. In fact, they threw a kick-ass party for me just last month for my miraculous agent-snag (I love you, Bernadette!!!) and we're planning a family cruise for me and my mom's "high profile" birthdays next year.

I'm lucky and grateful to have been born into a family that appreciates life enough to celebrate it so fully. I'm also lucky and grateful to have people who comfort and support each other in the bad times as well. Of course, we have our squabbles and our brilliant humor can be biting, but we are always each others' best friends. Always. If I had one wish, it would be that every child in the world be born into a loving family like mine. Many of the world's problems would evaporate instantly.

So, my friends, today is my day (and Brad's and Christina's and Steven's and Katie's and Keith's, etc.) So, please join me in wishing me (us!) a very Happy Birthday.

(Thank you, God, for giving me a reason to put this wildly delicious picture on my blog. I owe you. Big time.)

Speaking of wildly delicious, bring on the chocolate cake!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting Revenge: Voodoo Doll vs Writing

One of the greatest joys of becoming a better writer is helping others along their path. I recently received a request to assist someone with her query and synopsis. She knows I'm deep into editing my novel THE SECRET KEEPER, but felt she could benefit from my expertise. (Hah!)

What I realized while looking at her work is how far I've come in such a short time. In November of last year, I received my first and only request for a partial for LITTLE PEARLS. It was my first book, consisting of a series of quasi-autobiographical vignettes loosely linked together to form a "novel." I worked on it off and on for over 13 years. What was the result of my one and only partial request? A much-deserved rejection. It was terse, something along the lines of, "I was very disappointed in these pages. They were nothing like I hoped they'd be." OUCH!!! (That's how I remember it. I threw the actual rejection away. I don't like having negative juju around.)

Did I consider getting a Voodoo doll with name of said agent that I could mercilessly stick with sharp pins? No! Okay, well maybe for a few, glorious, self-indulgent moments. But ultimately I decided to get even another way: I kept writing.

In the past year, I wrote three and a half novels. (I still hope to turn that 1/2 into a whole one of these days!) The requests for partials and fulls increased with each project, until I landed the most awesome agent in the history of the universe. (My mom always said I was a drama queen. To this day, I don't know what she means.) I'm working hard with my agent (SQUEE!) to get my book ready to go on submission. That is my current and very focused goal.

No matter where you are in the process, concentrate on that. There really is a time to every purpose under heaven. When you're ready, your time will come, the doors will slide open, and your dreams will unfold.

Until then (and forever after), work your ass off!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Seeing A Dream Come True

I promised I'd let you know what it feels like to sign an Agent Agreement when the time came, and now I know:

It feels TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME, that's how it feels!

Did you get the deep, psychological meaning of those capital letters? Good. These pictures not only depict a writer signing a contract; they illustrate a dream coming true.

You may notice the address on my mailbox. Yes, I live on Twilight Circle where the murder in my last book took place. It's a scary neighborhood! Not really, but it is evidence that our ideas often arise (very!) close to home.

I can't wait to see pics like these from all of you waiting for "The Call." Have faith! It shall be. If you keep at it, your dreams will all come true. And I, for one, can't wait to see that happen. ;-)

There are different types of dreams that manifest in our lives. Here are lyrics to a song called, "Dream Come True" that my husband and I wrote after the birth of our first son, Adam:

for Adam, 1989 (and Ethan, 1992!)
Speak softly to me, my love, tell me the things you're dreaming of
Speak sweetly, my love, I see you come from up above
Since the day you came to me, I've found a world that's not the same
When you're looking up at me, well I can see!

You're a dream come true
And I love all the things you do
It's true, how I love you

You are the magic in my soul, you're every dream I've ever known
In your eyes so blue, well, I love you

You're a dream come true
And we love the things you do
You're a dream come true
And it's true, well we love you

You were the light we'd seen before
You shined as bright as the brightest star
All we wish for you to know... Is we love you so

You're our dream come true
And we love the things you do
You're our dream come true
And it's true, well we love you -

Pictures of our "babies" now - proof that dreams change and grow over time in beautiful and unexpected ways. ;-)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Character Development, a Scrap of Honesty, a Beautiful Bouquet, and a Nobel Peace Prize

Natalie Whipple has a great post on character development on her blog. I gleaned a useful tool for fleshing out my characters from it. Natalie suggests asking your characters the following question:

What do you care about most in the world?

This doesn't need to be one thing, in fact I've already found the more things your character tells you they care about the better.

Like Natalie, I flesh out my characters as I go. I don't use an "Interview Sheet" like some writers do to get to know their characters or any other device other than simply writing. But, this one, simple question I found to be extremely helpful.

Here's a sample of what some of my characters told me matters to them:

MC: Family, boyfriend, everybody getting along.
MC's Boyfriend: Sports, family, girlfriend, sex.
MC's Best Friend (BF): Family, boyfriend, being thin, being MC's BFF, getting good grades.
MC's Other BF: Being popular, looking good, MC's boyfriend (uh-oh!), family, friends.
MC's Male BF: Protecting MC, humor, his sexuality, people playing by "the rules."
MC's Ex Boyfriend: Being in control, getting drunk, sports, bugging the crap out of people, family (ha!).

These things didn't surprise me, but it was helpful to have them clarified. I feel closer to my characters now; more sure of their behaviors.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. What tricks of the trade do you use to help you get to know your characters better? Do the "real" people in your life think you're crazy for "talking" to the slightly "less than real" people in your life?

Blog Bling! Ca-Ching, Ca-Ching!

Thanks to Lisa Desrochers and Julie Nelson for a couple of awesome awards. Since I'm deep into edits now, I'm going to pass on the "proper" way of doling out these awards, however, if you feel like one (or both!) of these awards calls to you, please take it/them with my best wishes and refer to Lisa and Julie's blogs for the "proper" way to forward them along. I'd hand them out to all of my followers if I could, but I'd have to give up my writing career in order to do that. (Very time consuming!)

So, here they are. (Drum roll, please!)

From Lisa Desrochers from Personal Demons, the HONEST SCRAP award! WOOHOO!! I'm supposed to tell you something honest about myself that you may not know, so here goes...

I realize I may lose some followers for this true confession, but... I don't like coffee. I don't even like the smell of coffee. There, I said it. I know, it's shocking but true. Please try to forgive me and remember we're each separate yet special snowflakes, and this particular snowflake hates coffee. (This snowflake does, however, love Starbucks chai tea latte w/cinnamon & chocolate!)

Next up is the FROM ME TO YOU BOUQUET from Julie Nelson of Literary Jules fame. For this award, I must tell you something you probably don't know about me.

Okay, for those of you who are left after learning I'm a coffee-hating freak and fell for that whole snowflake thing, here's a juicy little tidbit: My grandmother's first cousin, Isidor Isaac Rabi, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944. Them there are some smart genes in my family! I know you're thinking exactly what I'm thinking: too bad they skipped me!

So, there you have it. Character Development, a Scrap of Honesty, a Beautiful Bouquet, and a Nobel Peace Prize all in one post. Wow!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Little by Little All Your Sweet Dreams Really Do Come True

A few months ago I went to see the Australian phenomenon Tommy Emmanuel play guitar. Let me rephrase. A few months ago I went to see Tommy Emmanuel elevate guitar playing to a level I never thought imaginable.

One of the stories he told involved the phrase, "Little by little all your sweet dreams come true." When he said it, I was transformed. I couldn't get the phrase out of my head, nor did I want to. I changed the layout of my blog the next day to reflect this amazing and inspiring saying. I refer to it often at the top of my blog page, and I believe it with all my heart and soul.

My writing dreams are beginning to come true, and I'm deeply grateful and humbled. I promised I'd write about what it feels like to receive your first Editorial Notes from your shiny new agent and sign your first (and hopefully, only!) agent/author contract, and I do my best to fulfill my promises. So, here goes...

As far as receiving the Editorial Notes goes, it feels freaking awesome, that's how it feels... for about a week. Then it feels, well, kind of scary. And then you read the notes over and over again and smile because someone majorly awesome who can help get you published not only knows about your book, but about each of your characters and their motivations, quirks, and dreams. Not only that, but they care about you! They care about you as a person and about you becoming a better writer and about making your story shine. You look in the mirror and pinch yourself to make sure you're awake and not just having the best freaking dream of your life.

Then you get back to work.

That's where I'm at now: editing. Huh, this is eerily familiar, except with a little more direction. Correction: make that a lot more direction. Nice.

I'm sure each agent has their own style. My agent - the uber-wonderful Bernadette Baker-Baughman - sent me notes with a wide brush stroke. This is because we're working with a first draft. We decided together, that I have until the end of January to dig a little deeper into the story and get it back to her for a second look. At that point, she'll do a more thorough read and edit. I'm hoping the third time will be the charm, but that remains to be seen.

Some of the wide brush stroke topics included in her Editorial Notes were:
  • TONE
For example, TONE: Go darker, really dark. Or CONFLICT: Set up conflict right out of the gate, and she went on to make suggestions. This is precisely what I need at this point - to have direction and concepts to think about as I add color to the black and white sketch that is the first draft.

I said I'd post about what it feels like to sign the agent/author contract, but I don't know the answer to that yet. She emailed it to me in order for me to review it and ask questions, and the paper contract is currently on its way somewhere between Portland, OR and Philly. I'm sure signing it will be a thrilling moment. I'll do my best to keep my hand from shaking so much that my signature won't be legible.

I hope my experience helps you envision your own Editorial Notes and agent/author contract. If you believe and work hard, you will soon have your own version of this story to tell.

Lyrics from songs I wrote many moon ago:

Dreams... dream on - until they are no longer fantasy.


Dreaming dreams along the way
If you slow down you'll fall astray
Finding what you need in love
Knowing you'll soon rise above...

Dream on, my friends, dream on. And, always remember: little by little all your sweet dreams will come true.

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