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Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Don't Understand Writers Who Wait For "The Muse"

The Olympics are over and I can’t decide whether I wish my parents had put in me gymnastics or swimming. On one hand, I’d get to try for the coveted gymnastics all-around title and stand beside Mary Lou and Nastia. On the other hand, I’d get one of those ridiculously toned “swimmer bodies” and make millions of dollars in endorsements after my eighth gold medal. Ah, decisions…

But since I didn’t excel at any form of athletics (again, does cheerleading count?), I’ve found myself looking at the skills I was born with. As such, I stumbled upon this article in The Oregonean. It asks writers whether they sit around waiting for divine inspiration (i.e. the muse) or whether they tough it out and fight for their stories like athletes do for Olympic gold.

I have to say my writing style is definitely all muscle.

Personally, I never really understood those writers who claim they don’t control their stories, that they are merely the vessels for the infamous muse. They feel that stories are channeled through them and they were simply the medium who is honored enough to tell the tale. “Oh, come to me, almighty powerful God of Inspiration!”

I wish.

That’s not to say that I don’t get inspired. I did wake up one morning after having dreamt that I was a young adult author—along with the idea for an entire series of novels. No joke, this dream is what inspired me to write my first book (still available, if there are any publishers reading).

But I also put in the work to write that novel—fighting, clawing, and kicking it out of me. Usually when I’m working on a first draft, I write 3,000 words a day. That’s all muscle. There isn’t some magical fairy hidden in my desk writing those words for me. In fact, sometimes I sit at the keyboard feeling like I’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson.

That said, if I had to compare my writing style to that of an athlete—and having just watched the summer Olympics—I’d say my writing style is most like water polo.



I spend the majority of my time treading water and swimming in circles, but every once in a while there’s a break in the madness and I get the perfect shot off. That’s when it’s all worth it—when you read back a chapter, a scene, a paragraph and you think, “Wow, that’s pretty good.”

Of course at the end you’re ridiculously exhausted and even if you get the gold, most of the world still has no idea who you are—but hey, you know you scored the winning water polo goal. We can’t all be Kobe Bryant (Who graduated the same year as me from a neighboring high school. I saw him play in my high school gym.)



Writing is hard. The Olympics are hard. And getting to the finish line of either of those endeavors is pretty awesome.

POP-CULTURE RANT: Closing Ceremonies

Okay, clearly the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Games were sick. They had more performers participating than there were athletes competing—that’s insane. And they were totally worth it. I was in awe of the high level of thinking it took to choreograph that. But was it just me or did the Closing Ceremonies seem to run a little long? And by long, I mean a few Chinese pop singers too many (don’t even get me started on Jackie Chan with a microphone). I think they should’ve quit why they were ahead—with that cool Memory Tower. Because it’s a little hard to tout your country’s “musical sensations” when you’ve got London’s 2012 committee bringing out Jimmy Paige, Leona Lewis and David Beckham. ‘Nuf said. Point London.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Taking a Cue from Earl and Getting Some Karma

I'm a big fan of public education. I went to public school (and can still sing my alma mater, "To Ridley High, we pledge our faith…"). And I spent the years prior to becoming an author doing PR for a nonprofit that works to improve Philly's inner-city schools. So as an author, I love doing things that showcase public school kids' talents, especially their artistic abilities. And as such, yesterday I got to be a judge for a student art competition. Great, right? Well, the not fun part was that the theme of the work was domestic violence.

The program, run through the Lutheran Settlement House and Mural Arts Program, offered students seminars on the abuses of domestic violence and then asked them to create a work of art that symbolized this theme. Let me tell you, the artwork was amazing. But the themes were incredibly sad, and far too personal. Most of the judges walked away thinking “these kids know TOO MUCH on this topic.”

For example, the contest was broken down into three age categories, and it was very tough to look at an eight-year-old’s drawing of spousal abuse equipped with verbatim dialogue in little cartoon “air bubbles” that seemed far too cruel and realistic to have been imagined. As were the teenagers’ paintings that depicted boyfriends controlling relationships with everything from fists to text messages.

Of all the pieces, there was only one that I thought showed optimism—a colorful painting of a woman having a fantasy of the perfect relationship. I voted for this one. Mostly because it was one of the few that didn’t show an angry male fist, or puppet strings holding up a woman, or a father shaking his son. After taking in all of that, I appreciated the message of hope (though I did still vote for some of those others).

The winning students will have their work displayed in a real art gallery in Olde City, Philadelphia. I can’t wait to go to the opening and meet the artists.

In other news—that has little to do with improving my karma, but might help my book sales—I will be appearing as a panelist at the Baltimore Book Festival. If anyone is in the area on September 27th, stop by the “Young Adult Panel” being sponsored by Book Divas. The event is free and open to the public.

I’m very excited about this speaking engagement. Partly because I’ve attended many conferences in my day, but I’ve never actually been on a panel. (Remember, I used to be a hotel reporter. I know far too much about Marriott’s franchisee brand standards.) And partly because my parents and my sister live in a Baltimore, so I’m guaranteed a cheering section! So come out, buy some books and meet my mom! Now there’s a conference slogan for you :-)

POP-CULTURE RANT: Gymnastics

It’s pretty sad when people who know nothing about gymnastics can watch the events and think the judges are smoking some form of narcotic. Is it just me, or does it seem like the announcers for NBC know more about the sport than the ones doing the scoring? And breaking a gold-medal tie with some convoluted computer program that leaves the end result up to one judge (damn you, Australia!) makes about as much sense as a shoot out at a soccer match. But at least soccer players get a few overtime halves before they have to go to that last resort. Nastia Liukin got bupkis. She ties the “16-year-old” Chinese gymnast (despite landing a better dismount), yet one gets a gold and another a silver all thanks to modern technology. But hey, at the end of the day, it will still be Nastia’s face on the Wheaties box and that’s what matters, right?

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It’s My Party and I’ll Blog If I Want To

It is now officially less than one month until the debut of my first novel. Let the countdown begin! Oddly enough, no matter how long you spend trying to get your manuscript to this point, it’s surprising how scary it is the closer the date gets.

When you spend your life as a bit of an over-achiever, you think about failure a lot. Anything below a “B” in school is depressing. Anything other than a perfect score on your employee evaluations is insulting. And then, as a writer, the struggle to get an agent. The rejections from editors. The nervous questions from friends and family about when they’ll finally be able to buy your book.

All of that can be ulcer-inducing. But the idea of THE WORLD having access to something you’ve created opens you up to a whole lot more when it comes to the nervousness department. My husband is already dreading the day I get my first negative review (if you’ve seen one already…or written one, please don’t tell me).

But another more entertaining aspect also comes along with all the fear of judgment. You get to celebrate!

I WROTE A BOOK! It’s going to be at your local Barnes & Noble. It’s going to be in sold for actual money. And I’m going to have a party!

I sent out invites this week to my upcoming Book Launch Party in Philadelphia. I’ve never been to a book launch party before, let alone hosted one, so my husband and I are pretty much winging this. We’re hosting it at a restaurant with Latino music, an open bar (margaritas and mojitos anyone?), and tasty Latin-fusion appetizers. So it should be very festive. Plus, I’m going to have a quick reading and a Q&A before my signing. I think that’s going to be the weirdest part—having people line up to get my signature on a book. (You mean it’s not just gonna be my mom there?). It’s still hard to fathom. Not that long ago, I couldn’t even write a query letter. And now, wow. Dare to dream people.

I’m also stunned by how many people have already RSVP’d and how encouraging everyone’s responses are. You expect to hear kind words from your immediate friends and family, but sometimes it almost means more to hear it from less acquainted people who have no reason to be so nice. So thank you all! See you at the party!

POP-CULTURE RANT: Brett Favre

Seriously, Brett? The man is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game. He’s the man other players are judged against—the accurate passer who never gets hurt and who loves the game. Other quarterbacks grew up wanting to be him (Tony Romo, anyone?). He inspired not only his fans (who adore him), but people everywhere who wore his jersey no matter what state they lived in. And now—Poof!—he will forever go down as a traitor. A man who didn’t know when to quit. A man willing to turn his back on his endlessly loyal fans and be traded to the enemy (though despite his first choice of going to the Minnesota Vikings, looks like he'll now be going to the NY Jets). A man who erased his impressive legacy in one big swoop. How, after a career as stellar as his, could he be willing to kick himself out of retirement, leave Green Bay, play for some mediocre team, and ultimately retire someplace else? Come on. Say it ain’t so, Brett? But I guess if New York doesn’t work out, there’s always arena football.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

All That Twitters Isn’t Gold

We interrupt this blog to report that the coolest thing just happened… Dennis Cass, the creator of the awesome YouTube sensation “Book Promotion 2.0,” just emailed to thank me for posting his video on my blog. How nice is that? Thanks, Dennis! And I’m keeping an eye out for your debut on Rock Band!

Now, back to the blog…

If you were paying attention to Mr. Cass’s video, you probably caught some funky promotional words you may not have heard of before like, “Dig, Delicious, Twitter, etc.” And I’m happy to report that I have joined the technological masses and created a Twitter account.

What is Twitter, you ask? I’m not gonna act all superior and pretend that you should totally know this already. Because about a week ago, I’d never heard of it. But alas, here I am twittering. So, here goes. Twitter is basically a blog where you can only post two sentences at a time. The intent is to let people know what you’re doing, in that instant, in short bursts.

Now, on the surface it seems like a silly idea. After all, I already have a blog, a MySpace account and I’m a member of several writer-related message boards. But as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of friends and family seem curious about what I do all day. So, I’m looking at Twitter as a way to answer those questions.

If you really want to know what I accomplish, professionally, on a daily basis come read all about it at: http://twitter.com/dianarwallach.

You also might see a few familiar faces in my “followers” section. You know who you are :)

And if you really can’t get enough of me—or if you just find it frustrating that I post these blogs randomly with no set schedule making it hard for you to keep up with—you can now SUBSCRIBE to my blog on my website. We’ve added the “RSS Feed” feature on the right-hand side of the page (the little orange icon). For the technologically challenged, if you click on icon, you can then choose to “subscribe” to my blog and get updated every time I post something new. Enjoy!

Also for anyone hoping to get a sneak peak inside “Amor and Summer Secrets,” I took my techie interests over to another popular website, Wordle.net. I cut and pasted my entire manuscript into their submission field and in return I got this awesome image of the “most popular words” used in my novel. The bigger the word, the more I used it. Make of it what you will. But “Lilly” and “Vince” seem rather popular, so do “Puerto” and “Rico.” Go figure.



POP-CULTURE RANT: Breaking Dawn

The final installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga comes out this weekend. I’m a 30-year-old woman obsessed with this teen series. I preordered my copy from Amazon a month ago. But you know what’s annoying? Despite having four weeks notice, Amazon will not be getting my copy to my doorstep the day that it’s released. Instead I have to wait until the shipping department gets back to work on Monday to process my order. This means I probably won’t get my book until Wednesday. Come on, Amazon. You can send me emails detailing everything I ever purchased and recommending “things I might like.” But you can’t get me my book the day that it’s released? Really?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I’m Gonna Write a Hit Song and Get it on Guitar Hero

If you’re in publishing, at some point in the past two months you’ve probably seen the video “Book Promotion 2.0.” It’s hysterical, like rolling-on-the-floor-laughing hysterical. And the thing is I can pretty much bet that most people not in publishing don’t understand a single humorous thing about it. I guess this because I have fielded every one of the promotional suggestions in this clip. And the people offering that advice were not trying to be funny.

So, to any readers who haven’t seen it, might I suggest you watch the video now. Go ahead, I’ll wait:



Now I know a joke isn’t funny if you have to explain it but, trust me, if I (or any other writer) had a dollar for every time we were greeted with, “Hey, maybe you can get your book on Oprah!” we wouldn’t need book advances.

And how about when he asks, “What am I doing? Yes. That is the question.” I almost spit my coffee on my computer screen. I have had friends and family go so far as to ask, “What are you doing to fill your time?” As if because I (finally) got a book deal, I can now sit back and eat bonbons and shop QVC while the money rolls in.

People are shocked when I tell them I still have to edit the book—actually three books. And despite the fact that I’m publishing a trilogy and I wrote three books in one year, I had someone as recently as two weeks ago suggest that I have tons of free time on my hands because I “don’t have a full work day.” At the time that comment was made, I was simultaneously editing two books while writing an entirely new one. But, hey, my laptop does all the work. I just sit here daydreaming.

My husband says I need to do a better job explaining to people what I do, because I know you all mean well. Truly, I do. But I’m just not used to having to talk about work in that much detail. Let alone repeat those details to everyone I know.

But since Dennis Cass opened the door, I might as well enjoy his platform. So here are a few more anecdotes in case Cass ever makes “Book Promotion 3.0.” Might I suggest:

Despite the growing popularity of “cell phone books” in Japan, I really don’t think I’ll be text messaging my novel to anyone anytime soon.

I also think that selling the movie rights would be a great way to promote my novel, but unfortunately Steven Spielberg continues not to take my calls.

And no, I don’t think I’ll be able to get James Earl Jones to read the audio book—if the rights ever sell. And it won’t be my voice on the audio book either. Believe me, no one wants to hear that.

Yes, I did hear about Stephanie Meyer’s promotional concert series for “Breaking Dawn,” but unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to sell out Madison Square Garden quite yet. But I will try to get some midnight release parties planned at bookstores when my first novel comes out. That type of thing is absolutely common place these days.

And thanks for recommending the publicist you used to promote your new Indian Restaurant, but I’m not sure if she’s the right person to get my books in the hands of teenagers. However, I’ll be sure to give her a call.

And yeah, it would be awesome to have fan sites with message boards and fan fiction, but I need to have readers first. I can’t really make those sites myself. That’d be kinda weird.


So thank you Dennis Cass for giving us authors a good laugh. Though I do have to disagree with you on one thing. If I’m gonna write a hit song, I’d rather have it on Rock Band. Guitar Hero is so five minutes ago.

POP-CULTURE RANT: So You Think You Can Dance

Seriously, America! You voted out Will. Seriously? Mark the quirky guy remains safe, but Will and Twitch were in the bottom two. Did you all fall asleep while dialing? Now, I know I have no room to judge. I don’t vote. I just watch. But like the judges, I trusted America to get it right. I’m so disappointed in all of you. I guess I’ll just have to wait to see Will when he joins Alvin Ailey. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time at this point. All hail Twitch!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oh, to Finally Hold the Book in My Hands

So it’s real now. I really wrote a book. And it’s really going to be published. I know this shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point, but still nothing prepares you for receiving a random FedEx in the middle of the afternoon that, upon opening, you see is filled with copies of your first book!!

We’re not talking galleys here; these are not bound versions of a rough draft laced with typos and a plain pink cover. No, this is the actual book. The final copy. All the revisions are there. The cover is on. My bio and photo are on the back. My dedication is present, and my teaser covers are displayed.

But for some reason, with all that, it was the Acknowledgments page that first caught my eye. I read through the entire page again almost as if for the first time (it’s been awhile since I wrote it). And I actually teared up. Just seeing the names of all the people who helped me get to this point—from my agent to my parents to my teachers to my husband—I felt (to borrow a page from Mike Myers in Coffee Talk) ferclempt.

It takes a lot of hard work to get to this point, people. I’m not just talking about writing and editing. I’m talking about the querying, the submissions, the rejections, the heartbreak, the whole package of misery that comes with trying to sell a book. But now it’s paying off. I can literally touch it. My manuscript is a real book, and it doesn’t just exist on my computer anymore!

So of course, with a lump in my throat, I immediately took a photo of my box of beautiful books with my camera phone and sent the picture message to my husband. It was 7pm, and he was still in an office meeting (he works too much). So then I sent the photo to my agent, who cheerful replied with congratulatory enthusiasm. And then, I patiently read another author’s book while I waited for my husband to get home and celebrate with me, which he eventually did.

We went out to a celebratory dinner, and when I got back I had him take a picture of me. So here it is for prosperity—a photo of me on the day I held my first book:



Aren’t they gorgeous? Dontcha just wanna run out and buy one? And the good news is – you can! Click here to preorder! Shameless plug, sorry. But if you go to Amazon, you can read the first chapter of the book online. Check it out and get a sneak peek.

POP-CULTURE RANT: General Hospital

First I have to start off with, “Where, oh, where is Sam McCall?” That poor girl has been left hanging on the back burner for far too long. I was thrilled to see her today, even though it was for a lame counterfeit drug storyline. But her sudden reappearance made me notice something else—it’s not only Sam who’s been back-burnered, it’s also Elizabeth. I’m wondering if the writer’s were as sick of the baby Jake storyline as the viewers, and they decided these two needed a break before their fan bases actually killed each other. If so, it’s understandable, but let’s not take this too far. There’s only so much Kate Howard I can stand.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It’s getting hot in here…

So if you live anywhere in the Northeast, you’re sweating right now. A lot. Like it’s disgusting here—record-breaking, 100 degree temperatures in Philadelphia with humidity that feels like you’re walking through hot sauce.

Even my cat is protesting the heat wave, because let’s face it, you know it’s bad when your cat shows no interest in going outside. She’s barely moving off her chair—except to vomit.

Now, I could keep the air conditioner running full blast to keep from dripping like that girl in the Ring movies. But, a) I don’t want to go broke given that my electricity bill already costs more than my mortgage, and b) if I pump up the AC nonstop doesn’t that mean all those documentaries I watched on global warming were for nothing?

So, yesterday I decided to work at a coffee shop. They’ve got free internet and free air conditioning, which at this point is my vision of heaven. And while there, I ran into a colleague of mine who’s been helping me plan my book launch party. She was also there hoping to suck up the AC. You see, when you live in Philadelphia and your house is four stories high with your office on the top floor, working from home can get a bit uncomfortable. And by “uncomfortable,” I mean you find yourself cursing your own sense of logic at purchasing a 175-year-old, vertical home surrounded by nothing but brick and pavement. So, I’ve resorted to working in my kitchen, which is in my basement, because it’s cooler (really, you gotta visit Philly to understand). That means I’m working surrounded by my dishwasher, my washer-dryer and my HVAC system, which when all running simultaneously can sound a bit like the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan.

Anyway, I spent most of yesterday reaching out to schools in the Philadelphia area about possible speaking engagements in the fall (when my series launches). And I got a great response! Four school districts are already planning to host me. But that’s not the best part. I spoke to my former high school English teacher and she was so sweet!

First, isn’t it nice to just to be remembered? I graduated with about 400 students let’s just say a few years ago. Second, it’s even better when said teacher sends a glowing email that even your grandma couldn’t write (if my grandma were alive and actually able to write in English). And finally, my English teacher forwarded my email to my Spanish teacher who sent an equally nice email—in Spanish!

After this experience, I have to say to all of you writers out there, when the rejections are pouring in and you feel like you can’t write yourself a Hallmark card, think of contacting your high school teachers. Because you wouldn’t have become writers without them, and they deserve to know how much they influenced you. Plus, you get some really uplifting responses in return, which when your knee-deep in miserable responses from editors can make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Not that you need any help in the warm department—at least not until this heat wave ends.

POP-CULTURE RANT: Legally Blonde The Musical

Now, I haven’t seen the Broadway show…yet. But this “reality” competition on MTV is hysterical, and I’m not sure that’s its intention. Some of these girls are trying so hard to act like Elle Woods that they sound like complete crazies. I’m all for showing a little self-confidence, and I love Legally Blonde, but Elle is a fictional character! Her perky spunk is meant for the stage. And looking into a camera and saying that you’re “awesome, blossom, fabulous, fantastic,” might be taking things one bend-and-snap too far.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Didn’t I Already Write This?

If you read my last blog, you know that I recently traveled to Italy to do some research for my WIP. I love doing research like this. My husband and I ran all around Rome, Venice and Cortona plotting out scenes from the manuscript. We scouted the streets the characters would walk down, the places for romantic encounters, and the location of the dramatic conclusion. I mapped it all out. I had to. I only had 10 days to answer any potential questions that might come up.

Problem is that I had only written about 60% of the book before my trip. So in order to make the most of my travels, I had to create an outline for the first time in my writing career. This means I now know if the characters will fall in love. I know if the protagonist achieves her goal. I know all the twists and turns. In other words, I know everything.

This sucks.

Usually I write organically. I sit down with a vague idea of a character, an initiating incident and a climax. Then I fill in the rest as I go along. It just sort of pours out. Then about 75% of the way through, I’m usually positive that book is total crap so I spend a few days thinking about “what’s missing.” I wait for the brilliant idea, then “Eureka!” I add it in and charge toward the ending.

This whole process is completely different.

I feel like I’ve written the book already. But I still have about 30,000 words to go. You’d think the fact that I’ve already written it in my head would allow me to put it down on paper faster, but it’s sort of like watching a movie when someone’s already spoiled the ending. The element of surprise is gone.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my WIP. It’s my favorite project so far. I’ve put tons of time into the research, which I never did with my previous books. I mulled it over in my brain for almost a year before I got started. I’ve been talking to my agent about it endlessly. I think it may be my one GREAT idea.

Now if I could just finish writing the damn thing…

POP-CULTURE RANT: Saturday Night Live

“Where am I? Oh, yeah. I’m at Brett’s house.”

So I was on vacation and I’ve just gotten around to watching the last two SNLs on DVR (which is one of the most important inventions of my lifetime). They were the episodes with Shia LaBeouf and Steve Carell. Now, nothing against Shia (the guy from the Transformers movie if you’ve never heard of him), but I didn’t have high hopes for his episode. So when it sucked, and it sucked BIG time, it didn’t phase me. But Steve Carell? He’s funny. Really, really funny. And his episode utterly and completely blew. In fact the only funny episode this whole season was Tina Fey’s. I still laugh just thinking about her Rock of Love spoof. “I’m rocking one leg, jealous!” SNL, you need another Tina!

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

You CAN Judge a Book by its Cover

It’s hard to get published. Duh. There are oodles of writers out there who are (regrettably) slaving away on manuscripts that will never land at a bookstore near you. And a common piece of advice offered by many published authors is that there is no magic trick to expedite the process because when it comes down to it, “it’s all about the writing.”

Yeah, turns out that advice is only true when landing an agent and an editor. Once your book sells, the letters can practically drip off the page like alphabet soup because it’s all about the marketing, folks.

Clever titles catch readers’ eyes. Pretty covers get primo placement in bookstores. The words inside? Eh, leave that for the critics who will only review your book if it has a pretty cover and catchy title. Or if it was written by a celebrity.

Worst part about it? Authors have zero influence over the glossy image that graces the manuscript they practically bled on. We don’t even get much of a say in our own title. Seriously.

We sit, panicky, in front of our computer monitors waiting for that email with the cover art and praying that we don’t hate it. Because if we do, oh well. Too bad. The sales team loves it.

I’m currently waiting to receive the cover image and final title approval for the third book in my series. I’m praying that I love it (Is there a patron saint of graphic designers? Font choices? Color schemes?).

So, here’s hoping it’s as awesome as my first book cover, which I LOVE. You’d be surprised how many single guy friends ask me if I can introduce them to the gorgeous model. Pervs. She’s, like, fifteen! And no, I don’t know her. Though I would love to randomly run into her on the street one day.

Hey, this is a MySpace world. The girl probably has a page somewhere. So if you’re reading this and you’re my cover model, totally leave a comment! I’ll even put you in my top friends. :-)


POP-CULTURE RANT: Tom Cruise

So did you guys see his two interviews on Oprah? He’s totally sane again! I’m so happy. He acted almost like a young Tom Cruise, circa A Few Good Men. He and “Kate” (as he calls her) seem so happy. And talk about a piece of gorgeous property. Never been to Telluride, but I’m so adding it to my list. And didn’t you love how he leather-bound all his scripts with his hand-written notes. I’m already thinking about doing that with my manuscripts, though I doubt they’d catch as much at Sotheby’s as his would. Cheers to Oprah for asking the hard questions we’d all want to ask, and cheers to Tom for answering them!

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Authors can only control the writing

I’m a Type A over-achiever. This means I put immense pressure on myself and I worry a lot (thanks mom for passing down those genes). I stress about everything from money to Christmas dinner to dentist appointments. I’m also crazy competitive. In the 10 years that I’ve been in a relationship with my husband, I’ve beaten him in Scrabble—a lot (“Riesling,” 77 points, all-time high). I even catch myself in Zen-inducing yoga classes oddly competing with the Cirque du Soleil contortionist next me even though my muscles clearly are not made out of rubber bands.

So when it comes to dealing with the publishing process, I can stress myself into a bout of TMJ. Because as an author, you can’t control beyond the last word you put on the page.

You can’t control whether the book gets sold. You can’t control the shifts in the market. You can’t control whether it gets reviewed by People. You can’t control how it’s perceived in the marketplace. And you can’t control whether it gets picked up by the Goddess of Oprah. You can only control the writing.

It’s a lesson I learn everyday. It’s how I keep my Type A tendencies in check. I write. I always have something new in the works, because writing is what I love to do.

It also helps that I have an agent who gets me and an editor who loves my work. Plus, I have a background in public relations, which means I get to spend the months between now and September (the book launch) obsessively focusing on ways to sell my book. Sure, I can’t control how many teens go out and buy it. But I can control how many schools I speak at, how many book stores I contact, and how many press releases I promote. Plus, I have a husband with a background in marketing who works for an interactive advertising agency. That doesn’t hurt.

So I know what needs to be done and I’ve never been one to sit back and wait for things to happen. If I were, I wouldn’t have gotten this far; I wouldn’t be an author.

“I majored in marketing, baby, and so did my husband. We came to play.” –Regina King in Jerry Maguire

POP-CULTURE RANT: Elections

I have an odd obsession with CNN’s election coverage. I love that board they draw on like they’re John Madden. But what I love even more is that it all comes down to Pennsylvania, baby! Since I have been of voting age, the primaries have all been decided by the time they got to my home state. Why does PA vote three months after Iowa? I have no idea (Rendell should get on that). But now all those “expert pundits,” who were ready to hand Obama the victory after a single state’s election, have to wait until the keystone state weighs in. Seven weeks of nonstop stumping in Philadelphia! I wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea Clinton shows up at my niece’s Communion to stir up votes (hint, hint).

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

So what does a soon-to-be published writer do all day?

Prior to becoming a novelist, I rarely fielded questions about my career. Actually, I can safely say, I never fielded questions about my career. But once I told family and friends that I was writing a novel, the inquiries flooded in. “How’s the novel going?” “When’s it gonna be published?” “Can I buy it in stores?”

After Amor and Summer Secrets sold (to Kensington for publication in September 2008), and I began working at home as a full-time writer, the questions changed. Suddenly I began hearing, “Wow, you have the life. What do you do all day? How do you fill the time?”

Trust me I’m busy. So I’ve decided to take the opportunity of my first blog entry to answer this question.

This is the honest unedited life of a recently turned 30 young adult author:

I wake up at 9am. I don’t have kids and I’m not a morning person, so sue me. I make breakfast (that means a Special K bar), I flick on something from DVR (usually the Daily Show from the prior night) and start up my laptop. God bless Gateway, because my laptop is on approximately 14 hours every day.

Then I begin navigating my online ritual. At any given moment, someone can contact me digitally in 11 different ways:

• I have two Instant Message accounts.
• I have two personal e-mail accounts.
• I have an old corporate e-mail account that I use for my ongoing consulting work.
• I contribute to three different online writers’ discussion boards.
• I check my MySpace account, accept/reject new friends, answer any MySpace messages and comments, and send a couple of friend requests.
• I regularly receive messages from BU alumni asking for publishing advice through our University’s advisory network.
• Then, of course, there’s the good old-fashioned cell phone/text messaging machine that’s glued to my side.

After I’ve completed a full cycle through my online routine, I do the normal things: showering, teeth brushing, bed making, etc. And then I turn my attention to my writing.

Right now, I’m conducting historical research for a work-in-progress (WIP). Last week, I was reviewing copy edits for Amor and Summer Secrets. Next week, I’ll be sketching out the plot of my WIP. By the end of March, I’ll be meeting face-to-face with a contact who can elaborate on my historical data. When I get to working on the rough draft, I write no less than 3,000 words per day. When I’m editing later drafts, I go through at least 20 pages per day.

I usually do all this work from my home though sometimes I go to Philly Java Company (as seen in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) not far from the gym I frequent at least three times per week. I make dinner. I watch CNN’s election coverage. I work on my Spanish using the latest in computer learning tools (“los ninos estaban corriendo”). I read four different writing related blogs. I scan philly.com. I feed my cat; her name is Lupi.

Once my husband comes home (he too puts in far more than a 40-hour week), we watch primetime TV over our side-by-side laptops. I often spend my evenings completing projects for my consulting business, or planning my book launch party for September, or fleshing out marketing ideas for my books. Then I go through my cyber routine all over again.

I usually don’t turn my computer off before 11pm.

That’s what I do all day. I’m a writer. And I love it.


POP-CULTURE RANT: Lost

Since when do I need an advanced degree in Quantum Physics to watch primetime TV? If you’ve been following Lost, you’d know that this season is getting into some pretty heavy topics. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But I’m not sure I’m prepared to add academic prerequisite reading material to watch a TV drama. On a separate note, SNL has been awesome. I loved Tina Fey last week and if you want to get a taste of the show’s post-writer strike flavor, check out this clip. It’s the best thing about There Will Be Blood.


http://tv.popcrunch.com/snl-there-will-be-blood-sketch-i-drink-your-milkshake-video/

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Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved