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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, 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. :-)


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, April 25, 2008

If at first you don’t succeed… Hope you do the second time. Or maybe the third…

I watch a lot of Oprah. I have a long history with the woman that stretches back to me and my grandma when I was a tiny chica in grade school. I now DVR the show every day. I own Oprah’s 20th anniversary DVDs and the book she released at Christmas. My husband thinks I’m crazy.

However, some of the philosophies that Miss O touts really do make sense. For example, one popular refrain is that if you don’t learn a lesson the first time, you will continue to be faced with that same lesson your whole life until you finally get it through your thick skull. However, she phrases it much more elegantly. Something like, “God speaks in a whisper, and if you don’t get it, he tosses a pebble, then a stone, then brick, until the whole house falls on you.”

I’m in the throws of several life lessons at the moment. And I’m really hoping that I get them this time, and that I don’t end up with my house in a pile of bricks (and this is Philly, so it would be brick…and shutters).

I’m currently going through the copy edits for my second book. Now, when I had received the copy edits for Amor, it was the first time I was faced with the “secret code” of copy editors—all those red squiggly lines and hieroglyphics that make up the corrections to my prose. It took about two weeks to decipher them, read them, add in my changes and mail them back.

I didn’t make a copy.

You can probably guess where this is going. A couple of weeks ago, I received the proofs for Amor and many of my changes had been accidentally overlooked by typesetters, or printers, or somebody. I had to recreate them all from scratch. My wonderful mother-in-law even volunteered to read the book (two times! How great is she!) in one panicked week to help me look for additional errors. And all the while, my poor agent was saying, “You really should’ve made a copy.”

This time, I will.

And while that may be an easy lesson to learn, I find that those lessons dealing with your personal life are much harder to recognize. I’m blessed that in my 30 years, I’ve formed a lot of close friendships. My husband and I joke that we’re the real-life “wedding crashers,” only we’re always invited (10 weddings the year that we got married, and another 10 this current year). I know all the words to “Shout!,” I can also recite First Corinthians and chant a mean “Baruch Atah Adonai…”

But I also know that with friends, family and festive functions, comes drama. I’ve had to deal with people who were afraid to walk up steps at a reception (we’re talking, like, five steps), people who have relieved themselves in areas that were not bathrooms, and people who have blown the surprise for the bridal shower. But whether the problems result from big things, like scheduling conflicts, or little things, like car bombs (the alcoholic kind, not the dangerous kind…though I guess they’re both kinda dangerous), something always comes up. Always.

Now, the question is, have I learned enough from dealing with my past experiences to apply those lessons to this next crop of weddings? Or will I wait until I need to learn a lesson so big that it’s on national television (like that diva from the Big Give who Oprah reprimanded in the after show…ouch. Watch it here: http://www.oprah.com/about/oprahsbiggive/episodes/106/episodes_114.jhtml)?

I’m hoping I figure it out before I end up on national TV. But if I don’t, then I hope it’s Oprah I end up on and not Jerry Springer. I’m not good at throwing chairs.


So…..now that the PA primaries are over, Hillary and Barack don’t call anymore? It’s just over? No, goodbye. I was receiving a good four messages a day from Hil. Another two from Barack. And another two from John Dougherty (State Senate, but man did that guy have a ton of cash for a promotional campaign. He called me as much as Michelle Obama). I mean, Barack’s people offered to drive me to the polls! Hillary’s people invited me to rallies! We were close. I was important. Real-life, non-computer generated people even called me. And now, poof! It’s just over. Barack was in Indiana before the primary numbers were even in. And CNN’s already forgotten about us. I feel so used…

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Starve a Cold, Edit a Fever? No Wait, Write a Fever?

You know those times when you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t want to do anything? We’ve all been there: like finals week in college, or the deadline before the big meeting, or the days leading up to a major event. To this day, I still remember that dog-awful Women’s Studies final I had junior year at BU; it was the most intense cram-session of my life. And it was a class I took as an elective!

Anyway, I’m currently in the midst of one of those overwhelming moments. And in response, my body has given me the flu.

Twisted, isn’t it?

I just turned in the proofs of Amor and Summer Secrets, coughing all the way to UPS. When I got home, the copy edits for the sequel were sitting on my doorstep. I have less than two weeks to make my changes and send them back. I actually laid on the couch yesterday afternoon with my head on a pillow and read the first 40 pages (though considering the amount of meds that were in my system, I’m not sure how much I can rely on my judgment at the time). I also wrote 1,000 words for my WIP, which I was hoping to finish next month but now I’m not so certain. Damn you, flu bug!

Oh, did I mention that I still do consulting for my former company? And that they’ve asked me to do a newsletter for them in the next two weeks? But they still haven’t sent me the copy.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary asked me to help run her PA campaign. Oh wait, they did call and ask me to attend a rally before the debate tonight. But, sadly, I think my fever and I will be watching it from the couch—completely ruining my husband’s tailgating plans. We wanted to set up an Eagles tent and folding chairs outside the Constitution Center while grilling burgers and drinking cans of Coors Light. “Every time they say ‘healthcare,’ drink!

Who knows, maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and be miraculously cured. I mean, the Pope is only two hours away. Do his healing vibes stretch this far?

POP-CULTURE RANT: Hillary's Drexel University Speech

Okay, I get that she’s famous and needs to be “protected” and all, but did the little Secret Service guys with the wires in their ears really need to push me away and cause me to lose my chance at an autograph? I don’t exactly look like Osama bin Laden, folks. Come on, how threatening am I? You see, I have this list of 100 things to do before I die, and one of them is “Meet the President.” I already met John McCain in New Hampshire when he ran for president the last time. So I was hoping to shake Hillary’s hand and solidify the fact that I had “officially” met her. Instead, all I got was this photo of her and Mayor Nutter (note: Mayor Nutter is not the Secret Service guy standing behind her in the close up). Do you think it counts? Anyway, look out, Barack, you’re next on my list! Only, your people don’t seem to be calling me as much as the Clintons…


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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Covert Op with Agent 006.5

I sat on a barstool, a martini in my hand. Before the first sip touched my lips, an older gentleman appeared beside me. His head was clear of any hair that might have grown in his youth, but his face was confident with a strong brow and rounded cheeks. I could tell he must have been handsome in decades past.

“Look straight ahead,” he ordered, his deep voice displaying a thick Eastern European accent.

My eyes snapped to my wide-mouthed glass.

“Are you her?” He lit a cigarette.

“That depends. You got a name?”

He blew a cloud of smoke on the mahogany bar. “You want a name or do you want information? Because you can’t have both.”

He was one of the most wanted communist secrets agents of the Cold War and that was how I met him…

Okay, not really.

But it sounds WAY cooler than how things really went down. :)

Yes, I did really meet with a communist spy on Monday. And, yes, the Czechoslovakian government did have a death warrant on his head for decades. But these days Lawrence Martin-Bittman is a very pleasant older gentleman living in Rockport, Massachusetts who paints watercolors for a living.

It’s a far cry from his days as Deputy Chief of Prague’s bureau of black propaganda. During the ‘50s and ‘60s, the man scuba dived into lakes to plant false Nazi war chests, he organized trips to manipulate foreign reporters, and he spread pro-communist propaganda worldwide. But that was before he emigrated to the states under political asylum to escape the Soviet tankers that invaded Prague in 1968. And before he was sentenced to be executed if he ever stepped foot back in his home country. And before he became a professor at Boston University.

He kinda makes your life seem dull, doesn’t he?

I mean, seriously, I wrote a couple of YA novels. Lawrence Martin-Bittman has written about a dozen books (under his given name, Ladislav Bittman), all on his experiences as a communist spy. Heck, he even went on to teach a journalism course about how to detect the types of propaganda he was so successful at spreading.

And it was this expertise, in the field of disinformation, that led me to meet with him. I’m in the midst of new WIP that deals with international espionage and global propaganda, and how lucky am I that I happened to graduate from the one University linked with the foremost expert on the subject? Thanks, BU for hooking up an alumna!

The man couldn’t have been nicer. He invited me into his home, spoke to me for two hours, and offered me his opinions on everything from how to start a privatized espionage ring (more common than you might think) to whether the famous WMDs were the part of the greatest disinformation operation in world history (probably not).

He even gave me a print of one of his paintings. And he’s really good. Check it out.

It’s a view of his hometown of Prague, a city that welcomed him back in the mid-90s when they finally lifted their death warrant. A city I happened to have been visiting on 9/11 when my apartment (five blocks from Ground Zero) was being caked in dust. A city I remember vividly and am happy to have represented in my home.

It was an honor to meet Mr. Martin-Bittman. And I thank him so much for obliging me.

I mean, come on, it’s not often you get to meet a real James Bond. Though he doesn’t like to be referred to as 007. Instead, he named his artist studio “006.5.” I think that makes him even extra cool.


Okay, I get that she’s this big country music icon, but my God, did American Idol suck this week. Any one of them could be going home. And the fact that America had to cast those votes is a sad case of “blaming the victim.” Poor David Cook sang a song about a “Little Sparrow;” there’s no way to make that bird cool, no matter how well you sing it. And I realize that Dolly has had dozens of Number One hits with these records. But country music fan or not, that entire show, in the words of Simon Cowell, was “utterly forgettable.” What’s next? Idols very special tribute to line dancing?

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

I’d Like To Thank The Academy….and Google

Seriously, what did writers do before the Google Guys were born? I can’t imagine how long it would take to write a book if I had to go to the library and look at microfiche every time I wanted to know when the U.S. invaded Italy in WWII (September 1943). Or if I wanted to know when Woodstock took place (August 1969—the original, not the crappy commercialized one that caught fire in ’99). Or if I wanted to learn how to say “good morning” in Italian (“buongiorno”).

And don’t even get me started on Wikipedia. Yeah, I know it’s not technically accurate. It’s just a bunch of “facts” that can be altered by any schmoe with an Internet connection (as proven by Stephen Colbert and the Great African Elephant Incident of 2006).

But regardless, I still love how Wiki pops up on the first page when I do a Google search for just about anything. Seriously, I might have to give these wondrous cyber inventions top billing on my next Acknowledgments page, because that little Google toolbar saves me hours of time. Time I could be spending looking at funny cat photos on http://icanhascheezburger.com.

I keep threatening my cat that if she continues to drink out of the toilet, I will photograph it and post it on this page. In the meantime, I could just post this:

Isn’t she classy?

Her name’s Lupi, though in some circles she’s known only as “The Hisser.” I seem to be the only person she likes. My poor mother has bribed her with everything from lunchmeat to sirloin, and Lupi still hisses (but she eats the food, she’s not stupid).

My husband and I even adopted her together, saved her from a shelter in Harlem, yet everyday she hisses at him as if she has no idea what he’s still doing here.

She doesn’t hiss at me though; she follows me around like a little shadow. What can I say, she’s a good judge of character. ;-)


I’m going to go out on a limb and say something that isn’t very popular right now—I am not a fan of David Archuleta. There, I’ve admitted it. Something about the kid reminds me of Zoolander and once I noticed it, I couldn’t get it out of my head (like that episode of “How I Met Your Mother” with the ‘glass shattering revelations’). Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good singer, but in a Michael Bolton kinda way. And unlike that scene from Office Space, I do not celebrate Michael Bolton’s “entire catalogue.” I am, however, rooting for David Cook, because of his talent, or Michael Johns, ‘cause he’s pretty and I can say that because my husband is totally crushing on that Carly Simon-looking girl, Brooke White. What can I say, we’re a house divided in Idol loyalties :-)

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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


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.


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.


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Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved