Tag: writing

Defacing Public Property.

img_20161028_171652Okay. It was actually a book signing. But it was my *first* book signing so it seemed a little strange that people wanted me to write in a perfectly good book.

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to take part in the author reception at the Fall Discovery Show held by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. So…lots of authors and lots of booksellers. Or something like that. It was a blast.

My favorite comment of the night was a young woman that hurried over to my table to tell me that she had read the description of my book and that she “had to find me” because my book was something she “needed in her life.” I know, right? Super cool. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t confuse me with someone else, so I’ve got that going for me.

Funniest comment of the night: someone said “So?? What do you like better? When you were an attorney or now, being a writer?”

To which I replied (likely with little grace, thanks to the two glasses of wine): “Oh, I’m still a lawyer.”

They replied (with what seemed genuine astonishment) “Really?”

Yeah. Really. “I’m pretty sure a lot of authors have to keep their day jobs,” I said. “Unless you have a dream about pale, sparkly, teenage vampires!”

Okay. I didn’t say the part about sparkly vampires – but I thought it. But, for all those authors, working the day job and moonlighting as a writer? I gotta say, seeing my actual book in actual print…made all that moonlight worth it.

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So, This Happened.

Galley Cover

Just like that. I have a title. And a cover. And a description that is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster in that it’s partially my original story pitch and partly what “they” came up with (whoever “they” are that tinker with these things at the publishing houses).

So, sure, it felt pretty real when I got the deal. And it felt a little more real when I signed the contracts. And then it felt realer still when I got that first advance check.

But, I must say, this sort of hit a new level of “oh my god – this is really happening!” Which is a pretty good level.

And, about the time the actual book cover showed up on my publisher’s website (Forge is part of Macmillan), it showed up for PRE-ORDER on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even popped up on Goodreads!

Oh – and I now have my official release date: January 10, 2017.

So, I’m gonna ride this high until I get my copies of the galley (Advance Reading Copies) and am actually holding a copy of my book in my hands and then I’ll write a post about how that’s the realest real yet! I know. You can hardly wait.

Look at it this way…I’ll probably be a lot cooler on my next go-round. But this time? I’m gonna enjoy every, little, teeny, tiny step. Because it took about 15 years to get here 😉

I Want To Be My Dog When I Grow Up.

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Jack and Sawyer

These are my dogs, Jack and Sawyer (yes, just like in “Lost”). They are the loves of my life (but don’t tell my husband…Steve is holding out hope that it’s him). They are rescue dogs, meaning a little damaged, a little neurotic, and 110% devoted.

But to get to my point. If I ever do, in fact, grow up, I want to be just like them. Because dogs get it right.

Jack and Sawyer have no aspirations. They are utterly and completely satisfied with precisely where they are (unless they hear the leash jiggle…then they are utterly and completely satisfied if they are going for a walk).

Jack and Sawyer have zero ego. They don’t get embarrassed that they’ve put on a few extra pounds, shed incessantly or occasionally lick their behinds. They don’t get their feelings hurt when I tell them they have bad breath or that they need a bath.

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Jack making a spectacle of himself.

Jack and Sawyer don’t strive for success. They don’t compare themselves to other dogs and wonder if they are living up to their full canine potential. They don’t run three miles with me only to think to themselves, “we’ll run five next week, for sure.”

Jack and Sawyer live for today. Because dogs have no sense of time. But also because they don’t plan for tomorrow. They don’t let today pass them by because they think tomorrow might be better because I promised to take them in the car. No, they are going sprawl out on the floor like it’s spa day and they have the VIP package. To hell with tomorrow.

ImageJack and Sawyer find joy in the little things. That patch of sunshine on the deck. The sound of me coming through the door after work. A doorbell ringing in a TV show making them feel justified in barking as if a herd of cats and mailmen is trying to break in through the front door. The fact that, while typing this, I’m rubbing Jack’s belly with my foot, making him sigh contentedly.

Jack and Sawyer forgive. When Steve yells at them for getting into the cat’s litter box for an afternoon snack, or if I get annoyed because they tried to cuddle when I was leaving for court in a black suit, they let it go. Sure, it could be because they have a short attention span, but I choose to believe it’s because they just don’t have it in them to stay mad.

Although Sawyer does a decent job of holding a grudge after a bath. Obviously Jack does not.

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Sawyer giving me the silent treatment after a bath. Not Jack’s style, though.

So I’m going to not think about whether or not an agent will call me tomorrow…or that stupid ruling the judge made yesterday. I’m not going to wait to be happy till I get published, or make more money or lose 10 pounds. I’m going to enjoy the wine in my glass, the way Jack and Sawyer wag their tails whenever I smile at them, the way Steve winks at me when he catches me looking at him.

Hell with tomorrow.

Comments on the Comment Section.

Some people are like slinkies...

If I’m feeling a little too relaxed, a little too happy-go-lucky, or if I ever start giving humanity a little too much credit, I just go to a news site, celebrity blog…anything really…and read the stupid shit people say in the comment section. I’m not talking about here. This little aspiring-writer universe we’ve got going and my kindly 64 blog followers who joke with me and do not call me out on stupid shit are excluded from this rant.

But beyond this universe? Oh my God. Blinding, white-hot rage. Examples:

  • People who callously or maliciously comment on tragic stories. My family had a personal tragedy several years ago and there was a news story online about it. Some asshole comments to the effect that “it was their own stupidity and I’m more sorry about the traffic jam it caused.” This story resulted in a toddler being in ICU for three months and passing away a few years later at the tender age of seven. But, by all means, dick, tell us what you think.

Many people are alive only because it's illegal to shoot them.

  • People who pontificate on an expert’s blog. Most recently I made the mistake of reading the comments on a literary agent’s blog. This was an agent who’s been in the business a long time and I’m guessing people read her blog to get her insight. This guy apparently thought readers were there for his insight. Yeah, I realize you work at Starbucks, but please, tell me more about your insight into becoming a New York Time’s best-selling author.  No, really.
  • People who comment on a celebrity’s blog just to tell them they hate them. Your mother was right. If you don’t have anything nice to say – go play in traffic.

So, yeah. I try to not read comments on blogs, articles, news sites…because Einstein was right.

Two-things-are-infinite-The-Universe-and-human-stupidity-and-Im-not-so-sure-about-the-universe

Comments?

This Blog Is Entirely Self-Serving.

But, not to worry, it only has 36 followers. So I’m apparently not servicing myself all that well (that sounds a little dirty). Here’s your definition (lest you thought I was kidding about my infatuation with dictionaries):

self-serving (adjective) \-ˈsər-viŋ\ :  serving one’s own interests often in disregard of the truth or the interests of others

Ouch. I have to disagree with the “disregard of the truth” part since I obviously use this bitch to overshare constantly.

And why is it self-serving? Because 1,000 literary agents tell you that you ought to have a “platform” from which to market yourself. So me and 500,000 other aspiring authors just like me (yes, your mother lied – you are not special) run out and create blogs in hopes of building a platform. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my 36 blog followers are not going to land me a coveted book deal. I suspect you need more like 36,000 followers before an agent gives a shit about your platform.

Bottom line? I’m only mildly interesting and occasionally funny (but only in writing – one of my BFF’s assured me that I am not at all funny in person). But I’d like you to help me serve myself and follow me anyway.

Why My Decision-Making Privileges Should Be Revoked (alternately titled: Why I’m Interesting at Parties)

So, the connoisseur of poor decision-making thing.  People continually seem to get a chuckle out of that line.  But a connoisseur?  Really?  Since I’m a fan of dictionaries (and had to look it up anyway to see if I’d spelled it correctly), here you go:

con·nois·seur
ˌkänəˈsər,-ˈso͝or/
noun
: a person who knows a lot about something: an expert in a particular subject

I would say I qualify.  Clearly, since I am not dead or in prison, I can laugh about most of my poor decisions. And, because I enjoy humor at my own expense, here is a sampling, in no particular order:

  1. 1993 – At 20 years old, deciding to drive to Vegas to marry a guy I’d only known for 6 months…because it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Yes, I know that I said “in no particular order” and that sure as hell seems like it would be “Number One,” but let’s just say it seems to be the first one that comes to mind.)
  2. 2008 – Deciding to go to law school at 36. Point of fact, I love my job, but that is because of the people I work with and not the whole “being an attorney” thing. It’s not bad, but it will definitely not hold up to a cost-benefit analysis…or a return-on-investment analysis…or even a pro-con analysis. Oddly, this also seemed like a good idea at the time.
  3. 2008 – Taking off my diamond rings on a beach in Mexico to apply sunscreen.
  4. 2001 – Quitting Intel. But, who knows, if I’d stayed, perhaps not quitting Intel would be on the list. But if it were on the list, No. 2 would not be. Dizzying logic.
  5. 2008 – (2008 was apparently a busy year) IM’ing a co-worker to speculate as to whether our boss looked pregnant…without being certain I wasn’t accidentally IM’ing my boss instead. Thankfully she was, in fact, pregnant. And she didn’t fire me.
  6. 1991 – Quitting my job and moving to Utah.  Yes, Utah (where I had no family, friends or job). Still scratching my head over this one.
  7. 1988 – Bangs.  I had curly hair.  That was never going to end well.
  8. 2000 – Thinking ‘go big or go home’ applied to tattoos.
  9. 2002 – The series of events that led to me almost being arrested on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
  10. 1991 – Jumping off that bridge over the river because, damn it, if my guy buddies could do it, so could I.  No, I don’t recall which bridge…but it was high enough that you had to hide if the cops drove by because, surprisingly, you weren’t supposed to jump from it. My (painful yet) superficial injuries from this brilliantly ill-conceived move did not require medical attention, but a kick in the ass may have been warranted.

Honorable mention goes to the dozens of times I have stuck my nose where it didn’t belong, overshared at parties, and failed to keep my mouth shut when wisdom, logic, or propriety called for it.

This is just a small sampling.  And no, I don’t obsessively catalogue and record all of my mistakes for future reflection. My OCD takes care of that for me.

Top 5 Literary Crimes Committed by Lawyers.

I was an English major before law school, but law school definitely did its damnedest to instill terrible, lawyerly habits in me that would have seriously pissed off my English professors.  And, yes, I’m going to limit this to just five.

5. Jargon.

jar·gon (ˈjärgən/)
noun: jargon; plural noun: jargons
1.
 special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.

Yeah, I’m not sure I even need to elaborate on that.  Thanks, Google, for that most-perfect definition.

4. The Damn Latin.

I belong to the only profession that didn’t get the memo that Latin was a dead language.  And we use it, too.  Granted, I myself don’t really know enough to be obnoxious with it, but you would be amazed by the number of briefs I read where other attorneys have expertly woven it into their prose which, ipso facto, is annoying.  (More annoying when I have to return to said Google to look up a word. Except quid pro quo, which, thanks to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, I know by heart.)

3. Verbosity.

I challenge anyone to come up with one other profession as skilled at using 30 words when five would do. What is funny is that law school actually does attempt to teach you not to do this.  Yet, when you combine overly cautious construction and a healthy dose of CYA? Voila. Legal prose.

However, in defense of lawyers (that may possibly be the first time in history that phrase has been written), every five words superfluously added to a contract were only added after someone sued and won because they weren’t there.

2. Awkwardly Proper Grammar.

When I’m home at the end of the day, there is definitely a release when I turn back to my novel (or my blog) because I can do what I want. I can use all the sentence fragments and dangling participles I want and no one can tell me I’m wrong because it’s style, and “in which” can go straight to hell. (i.e. this is the blog in which I rant about stupid crap.)

1. Double Negatives.

I saved this for last because it’s my favorite.  As an English major, double negatives are a no-no. In legal writing? They’re freaking everywhere.  Because, God forbid, you tell someone they’re right…only that they’re not wrong. Do you know how many times I have read a court opinion where the court says that “Plaintiff is not incorrect” in his argument? (Really, Judge?  He’s not correct?  No, no no. He’s just not incorrect.) Yes, I understand that it is driven by rhetoric and not flawed grammar, but still.  You’re not fooling anyone.  If you’re not wrong, by definition, you are right. Right?  I’ll agree with its usage in situations such as, “he’s not unattractive” or “she’s not an idiot”…because those are sliding scales. Not being unattractive does not make you Chris Hemsworth and not being an idiot does not make you Stephen Hawking.

I’d like to give an honorable mention to Passive Aggressive Writing. I didn’t put it on the list because I’m a fan. Genuinely. Telling someone that “I’m curious as to the source of your conclusions” when I’m actually suggesting they’re an idiot who didn’t do their homework is occasionally the highlight of my day.

Killing Off Your Beloved Main Character and Other Ways to Piss Me Off.

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I have a bone to pick with you, Veronica Roth. I just finished reading the Divergent trilogy in about four days. Clearly, I was riveted. Couldn’t put it down. So after investing hours and hours and approximately 1,500 pages (**Spoiler Alert**) you killed the heroine!  Now, I don’t use exclamation points lightly, so clearly I was caught off guard by your betrayal.

Okay, okay.  Was it meaningful and poignant?  Yes. Was it profound? For sure. Was it moving, yet devoid of any Nicholas-Sparksian (remind me to add that term to Urban Dictionary later) saccharine contrivance? Sigh. Definitely. Was I a 41-year-old woman feeling relieved that her husband and teenage daughter were not home to see her crying through the last 30 minutes of the book? You betcha. Do I understand, deep down, why you felt like you needed to kill her? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t only read happy, little novels with endings that could be played by Meg Ryan. A Tale of Two Cities is my very favorite novel, I didn’t curse Edith Wharton’s name after House of Mirth left me a sobbing mess for an hour, and don’t even get me started on my love for Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Maybe, in this case, I had lulled myself into a false sense of security because these novels are considered “young adult” fiction and so I expected a kinder, gentler ending for your characters (which, I’ll admit, was fairly naïve given the overall brutality of the story).

Bottom line? It was sort of the literary equivalent of someone fighting long and hard to battle cancer, overcoming it, and then getting killed in a car accident (if the car accident was representative of sacrificing your life to save those you love and thousands more…so I guess it isn’t the same thing at all). Admittedly, Veronica, I loved the books, but I’m pissed at you for depriving me of my well-earned happy ending. Now go take a time out and think about what you’ve done, Missy (killing Tris, I mean, not the whole becoming-an-incredibly-successful-bestselling-author thing…I’m guessing you’ve already given that sufficient thought).

I’m a Huge Fan of Stereotypes.

So I showed my husband my new blog and he laughed when he saw my banner photo.  “Um.  I’m not sure what you’re trying to tell people when they go to your blog.”  I said, “what?  I love that picture.  I took that from one foot away on the Louisiana swamp.”  He replied, “yeah, I know where you took it. I was there.”  True story.  He was sitting next to me.  We were in a six-seater airboat on the swamp and our guide was feeding marshmallows to the alligators.  And this little guy apparently really likes marshmallows because he came right up to the side of the boat and posed for this picture.  Or it could have been the weird distressed-baby-alligator sounds the guide was making in his throat since, apparently, big alligators think baby alligators are very tasty.  Either way, I guess he was looking for a snack.

Okay.  I’m off-topic.  Why the alligator?  Because I’m a lawyer and I didn’t have a cool, close-up photo of a shark.

“I’m So Happy For You!” and Other Lies We Tell to Avoid Looking Like a Petty, Jealous Asshole.

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I say “I’m so happy for you!” constantly.  The good, selfless part of me means it implicitly.  The other 90% of me, however, probably only means it if it was something I didn’t want, anyway.

“You’re pregnant?  I’m so happy for you!”  Totally genuine.  Thank God it’s not me.  “You’ve decided to go to law school?  I’m so happy for you!”  Having doubts about your intelligence, but still, mostly genuine (even more so if I don’t really like you and I know that you will be hating yourself and the world in general for the next three to four years).  “You’ve decided to give up drinking?  I’m so happy for you!”  Genuine (and we likely won’t be hanging out any time soon).

“You’re being published?  I’m so happy for you!”  Basically waiting for lightening to strike me down in the middle of my kitchen.  Like I said, 10% of me?  Actually pleased for your good fortune.  90% of me?  Petty, jealous asshole.  Who wants it to be me, not you.  Who wants to know how someone could have picked you over me. Who, thankfully, is a skilled actress who can pretend the shit out of being happy for you.  Cause 10% of me is. (Yes, yes, I know.  I really need to work on my asshole ratio.  It’s on my to-do list.)