Thursday, October 25, 2007

3 unrelated things on my mind

I have got to get my article finished and turned in ASAP, because I have 3 books waiting for me to read them: Beige by Cecil Castellucci, Schooled by Gordon Korman, and my fresh-off-the-press copy of the book with all the buzz these days, Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why. I need to read the last one in the next few days to figure out whether it has, in fact, rendered my own suicide-related novel redundant, before I consider whether to actually write said novel for NaNoWriMo this year (highly unlikely, anyway--I started off last year planning to write that one and changed my mind and changed projects, and then scrapped the whole endeavor). I really doubt there would be many similarities at all between Jay Asher's book and the one I have in mind, other than the main character feeling partially to blame for the suicide, but I have a feeling his will far surpass what I was thinking of, in any case! (Oh, and I'm not just reading it for my own selfish reasons... I would have wanted to read it anyway.)

In other news, I got my first writing check of the year today--hooray!--for an article about artificial Christmas trees, of all things. (Obviously an assigned article, not something I would have thought of.) I theoretically have another check coming from a sale to another publication, but I'm not sure when to expect that one.

And my baby turned 9 months old today (already?!), and took his first accidental steps yesterday... I'm not sure he's taken any purposeful ones yet, though. He can dance while not holding onto anything, though! Real steps should be any day now. He has always been in a hurry. We thought he said "Dada" meaningfully today (that is, "Dada" meaning "Daddy," not "Dada" meaning a cultural movement embracing meaninglessness...), but later he seemed to say it referring to me as well as to his father, so we're not sure. Maybe he thinks it means "parent" or "strange large person who keeps trying to stop me from eating anything fun like paper, cameras, or cell phones."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Paragraph contest

Have you seen this?

It amazes me how many first paragraphs there already are that, despite not being poorly written, don't interest me in reading any further... But it probably does hurt to see them all there in a row. They all start sounding the same to me after a while, like they're trying too hard (or not hard enough!), in a way that they might now if I saw them in isolation.

I doubt I'll dare to enter, but it's fun to read.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Crepe Happy

Recently on the show Throwdown with Bobby Flay, we saw a segment in which chef Bobby Flay was bested at crepe-making by Flip Happy Crepes here in Austin, a funky, trailer-based restaurant that apparently happens to make some of the best crepes in the country. My husband had a meeting downtown yesterday, so I went along with the baby so we could could check out the crepes when he was done. I had read an online review saying the savory crepes were so big, the reviewer and her companion shared one and still didn't have room for dessert. I knew I wanted a dessert crepe, so we decided to split our main course. Bad choice! They weren't really that big, and my husband's choice of crepe (shredded pork with cheddar) was just not what I would have picked (it was good, but tasted more like a burrito to me--I wanted something more French). For dessert, I had the vanilla cream crepe with strawberries and berry sauce... Oh. My. Goodness. That is my idea of a dessert. I love chocolate cake, but 4 times out of 5, I'd pick a fruit tart over anything else for dessert, and this was like a fruit tart with better pastry. I was in heaven. The only problem? After I finished it, I was still hungry. Very hungry. I wanted more crepes! I wished very much I'd tried the roasted chicken crepe or the ham crepe, but they take a long time to prepare and we didn't have time to wait for another. husband has to go downtown again today, and we're thinking of going back for more crepes!

P.S. Updated 5 hours later to say: we went back. I got roasted chicken with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms in garlic sauce. This is extremely remarkable because it is the first time I have eaten a mushroom willingly and one of few times I have eaten onions willingly. I normally say "no mushrooms" and "no onions" on my food, or pick them out. But I wanted the whole experience, and man, it was good. Though it was still a lot like a fancy burrito--I actually picked it up and ate it as one, which you couldn't do with the crepe I had at La Madeleine a few months ago. But since burritos are probably my favorite food, that's not a bad thing! I also had another berry crepe. This time it had blueberries mixed in, and I'm not a huge fan of blueberries, but it was still very good.


I haven't been writing, given that the world's most active baby is nearly always with and/or on me, but I've been reading some.

First, I've been reading the short stories in 21 Proms, partly as a quick way to get exposed to the writing of some YA authors I haven't read before, as well as to read new things by writers I already knew. I've been skipping around (randomly, not purposefully) and haven't finished it yet, but so far, my favorites have been the ones by Sarah Mlynowski (written in second person!), E. Lockhart, and John Green. A few others I found very intriguing, including some, like those by Adrienne Maria Vretand and Will Leitch, which read more like adult literary short stories to me than typical YA fiction (especially Leitch's, as it's told from the father's perspective).

Second, I finally read Lauren Barnholdt's book Reality Chick, which I bought ages ago but just came across when organizing my bookshelves. The subject matter isn't weighty (which is fine with me) and the language was a bit in-your-face for me at times, but it kept me reading, and I Iiked the ending. 

Third, yesterday I read E. Lockhart's latest novel, Dramarama, about a summer theatre camp. I don't think I liked it as much as some of her other books, especially The Boyfriend List (I missed the footnotes!), but it seemed like a must-read book since I did theatre thoughout junior high and high school. Even though on the outside, I'm very different from the main character Sadye (she's tall and brash; I'm short and quiet), I identified with her singing problems and her feelings of not quite having what it took--while still loving every minute. When her acting teacher lectured her at humiliating length about never being late to rehearsal or otherwise acting unprofessional, I actually read the whole page and a half aloud to my husband, saying, "See, this is what I learned in drama!" because I've mentioned to him a thousand times how, if nothing else, theatre drilled into me to honor my commitments, and it's a lesson a lot of people in this world apparently didn't get growing up. The (initial) ending of the book almost crushed me for a moment, and surprised me. It was more real than I expected! And I so related. The epilogue-type chapter after that, all in dialogue like a few previous sections (a nice touch in a book about plays), didn't seem necessary to me as an adult reader, but I think I would have really wanted that part in there if I was still 16.

I went to the Borders Express store in the mall tonight. Even that tiny bookstore has a large YA section now. I was looking at all the books, and suddenly realized that the kind of small paperback YA novels I always read when I was growing up, the kind I imagined my own name on someday, have been replaced almost entirely by large trade paperbacks. There are also so many hardcover YA books for sale these days, when they seemed rather rare in my own teen years. Basically, there are hardcovers, and then there are paperbacks in approximately the same page size as the hardcovers. The paperbacks are very high quaity these days, and I particularly love the ones with the smooth, non-glossy covers, but it still seems weird that it's just not what I ever pictured. I suddenly wasn't sure my books would fit there. I wondered if I should concentrate more on my midgrades, because the midgrade section looked more comfortably familiar somehow. Not that I'd really change my writing for that reason; it just struck me. Though I did note that if I had a book for sale there, I'd be shelved between the A-List books and Sarah Dessen, and that couldn't be bad for getting people's eyes on my books!