Archive for the ‘Book deal’ Category

Back in the Groove

September 23, 2011

I have not been writing. Anyone following my blog here or Milf Alert can clearly see that.

I have a million and one great excuses – realistically probably a thousand or so – most of which are legitimate (i:e planning a birthday party, moving furniture, pregnancy, the doctor telling me to rest more – although this could be perceived as a motivation, a new nanny and so on), but none of which will help me finish my book or keep the creative juices flowing.

And there are plenty of decent motivations that should help me through this hump.

I think about my book, even ordered two books that seem remotely related to mine. One of them, Posh is proving to be unreadable. One would think that seeing a poorly written published book would motivate me to finish mine and seek a publisher. One would think.

I rearranged my home office, and actually have a decent desk, albeit under the staircase, and now have some surface area to work. I no longer have a door to my space so my kids have been rummaging through the drawers spilling paper clips, emptying the shredder and running off with my wrist rests. On the upside, I do feel on top of most of my office paperwork that needs attention.

Frustrated with my nearly eight year old laptop and intermittent battery, I splurged on a new macbook air, opting for the lightest computer to reduce any excuse about not wanting to carry around my bulky laptop. I’ve had a few minor hiccups with it and as a result I’m not entirely certain I want to keep it, so I’m hesitant to install Microsoft Word on it (Yes, a $1,000 plus dollar computer still requires additional basic software), as I’m limited to the number of installations.

Before I completely embrace my new computer and apply the cover which allegedly scratches the computer surface upon removal, I need to spend time on the phone with customer support. Finding a few moments when the kids leave me alone to make the call and play on the computers is usually after bedtime when I am tired, hungry and likely angry from fighting the bed time battle ritual.

Editor Speak

June 28, 2011

I had my conversation with the editor regarding my book. As I had mentioned I’m was not totally keen on the comments I had received.

Microsoft Word shows when comments were made and I could see that she might fire off three comments over five pages in a span of about 1-2 minutes. There were typos she should have caught including me referring to the wrong character, of course you could argue that I should have picked up on it myself but I was not hired as an editor and typos in some of her notes.

Some of her ideas were cheesy and cliched. She’d add a line like “I felt his hot breath on my neck and I just wanted to go home and get in bed with him.” I had mentioned nothing about sex and if I did, I would have done so in a classier or at least more original voice.

She also cut out some great dialogue, really snappy endings. But hey, I’m the writer so I get to put it in.

We had our telephone consult today and I feel much more encouraged. I defended my desire to use multiple point of views, something she had nixed. Understanding my perspective, the editor suggested I do it more and begin it earlier creating consistency. So I will.

In all I feel more encouraged, and still slightly overwhelmed. While the edit was not a panacea to get the story in sellable shape, it will spawn more writing and editing.

She warned me I may have another draft after this one. Sigh. But I think she said this so I do not get all hung up on making the next draft *perfect* as opposed to getting it done.

The secret to writing is writing and rewriting. I imagine if I sit down and do it, and with two kids at camp I definitively have time. I also imagine that almost every writer has done this, write edit repeat.

I’m in good company.

Editor’s Notes

June 23, 2011

I received my manuscript back from the editor and have begun reviewing her notes. I’m not totally thrilled. Some of her additions include cliches and her advice directs the story in places I specifically did not want it to go. I agree with some of the edits, need to be convinced of others, and totally disagree with some.

Perhaps the moral of this is that I know my story and I have the confidence to craft the book I want, not necessarily what the editor suggests.

The other moral is that I really need to trust my gut. I liked that this editor had a reputation of giving concrete examples and ideas but my overall instinct on her writing and the total outcome was not totally optimistic. In retrospect I should have interviewed several editors instead of following the first referral.

Fortunately it was just an edit, not an insane amount of money, and perhaps this is the push I need to get me to finish the story. I did spend several hours last night reviewing her notes and am excited to continue today. That alone should be worth the cost of admission.

Her notes will help me fill in some of the blanks I had struggled with previously. Also included is a telephone call, and I imagine/hope lots of emails. So I will remain optimistic and relish the new energy I have for the novel!

An Immortal Cell Lives On

April 5, 2011

I recently read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot about cells taken from a black woman in 1950s. The cells, unlike any other, had an immortal quality where they kept multiplying and even infesting other sterilized scientific studies. The sample, as was practiced at the time, was taken without consent. As the cells grew, spawning an entirely new industry the family was never made aware. They have yet to be compensated by any of companies profiting from the cells and cannot even afford basic health care.

The story has stuck with me on several fronts.

The first was that horrible childhood of Henrietta, her children and even some of the grandchildren. Henrietta had, besides cancer, syphilis and HPV likely gifts from her philandering husband. One child was abused so, and I only know from the two antidotes in the story so I must fathom it was worse than what I read in a few pages, that the reader can almost forgive his unpleasant disposition. Another daughter was repeatedly raped by the husband of her father’s girlfriend, while the father turned a blind eye. All left school early.

Perhaps its a testament to my sheltered life, but it’s so hard to imagine such abuse existing even though I know it does. I have had my fair share of trauma and drama throughout my childhood. While I was raised in a privileged home with two siblings, I remember feeling extremely alone and often a burden to my parents. By the time I went away for high school most of my misery subsided. I have survived without physical abuse, sexual abuse or rape which must put me ahead of many, and light years ahead of the Lack’s family.

The other part of this book that I struggle to comprehend is that Ms. Lacks’ cells are still circulated and used for countless research including a cure for polio. I’m sure the family must grapple with part of their mother not being at rest. From a Jewish perspective, the immortal cells would cause many discomfort. Some rabbis collect all of the stray hair and fingernails of the deceased so the soul can rest without concern of the body.

When going through my mother’s bathroom shortly after she passed I found her hairbrush filled with stray hairs. Holding that brush, longing for my mom I briefly contemplated what to do. Without consulting my sister, as I had been doing for many decisions, I threw the hairs away. Now I cannot imagine my internal debate, but then it had been a big decision. Imagine if each of those hairs where in someone else’s hands, or laboratory, out of my control. Like the Lack’s I’d be happy they were being used for good, but I’d feel violated for not being consulted on their secondary life.

The final thing that I love about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is that it took the author ten years to write it! Sure she has a much better excuse than I have offered (The Lacks family initial reluctance to talk to her, and all of that scientific research) but it’s comforting to know that even talented writers have their obstacles.

I left the book at my hotel on vacation with the hopes that someone will find it and enjoy it as much as I did.

One Day

August 23, 2010

I just finished One Day By David Nicholls. It was one of those delightful books that I was disappointed to finish, and slightly disappointed by a sudden event at the end. I’m struggling to find another book that I will enjoy as much.

It followed two friends over 20 years on the same day each year, a clever and challenging undertaking for a writer but it works surprisingly well.

I related to the character Emma in her disappointment for how her early 20s passed into less than she had hoped. A disappointment, rather with unfulfilled dreams, unrequited love and lack of direction. I look back on my early 20s with a pang that I did not achieve more success as a writer. I look at authors with such awe when I should focus that the only difference between me and them is discipline, and maybe some connections and education. There’s slight embarrassment that I do not have more to show for my attempts at writing.

Just as there is slight embarrassment that I have not read certain classical novels or ever embraced Shakespeare. I know regrets do not have a place in a productive life.

Emma found her focus when she returned to school and became a teacher, sharing her passion with kids. So, at 32 I have my life ahead of me and still time to do more. Which means I should probably return to that novel that I’m ignoring.

Oh, Nujood

June 1, 2010

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced is the story of a ten year old girl in Yemen sold by her impoverished parents to a man triple her age. It was a short easy read, in the sense that I finished it quickly which was good because I am in no mood to dwell on her and her peers’ awful fate.

Despite cultural traditions, I found myself annoyed and frustrated at her mother’s complacent behavior and inability to defend her daughter. If anything Nujood’s older sister was more protective of the ten year old.

What’s even more disturbing is this book is not more than two years old, meaning the custom of marrying a ten year old is still active. I’m not so naive to forget the suffering around the world, but being a mother my heart aches especially for young girls in such awful circumstances. I was challenged to imagine a ten year old enduring her awful experiences away from home in an abusive isolated environment, and part of me appreciated the author’s broad descriptions. I don’t want to envision it because I fear it will consume my emotions.

The role of Nujood’s step mother, for lack of a better word, was downplayed although she is the one that sends the girl to the courthouse eventually leading to her divorce. I’m also amazed that despite everything that has happened to Nujood, divorce and public attention, her life has not changed that much.

I commend Nujood Ali, Glamour’s Woman of the Year 2008 for fighting back and actually inspiring other girls to seek divorces from abusive older men. I just hope it’s not for nought.

Less Impact Woman

May 17, 2010

After watching No Impact Man a documentary about writer Colin Beavan and his family’s attempt to eliminate his carbon footprint for one year, I’ve tried cutting back.

I figure even a small step will make a difference. So I’ve been writing to the companies whose products I love to order on the Internet and cancel my catalog subscription. I’ve been more conscious about keeping a fabric bag under the stroller and I try to buy products with less packaging. Progress, not perfection.

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You Wrote a Book?

April 28, 2010

I just received an email from my husband’s cousin’s wife who wrote a book. [snide face]

Her story is an awful one, not one that I would ever want to write even if it guaranteed me a book deal. A recovering alcoholic and mother of three young boys learns that her youngest son has a rare disease. So rare that the best doctors in the world have never seen it before. Thank G-d her son will be fine, but I could not fathom having that scare. It reminds me how lucky I am with my healthy children.
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If You Knew Suzy

April 19, 2010

I just finished a book by a writer who lost her mother to cancer. Reading it, I felt like I could have written it. I found myself nodding in agreement of certain maternal descriptions and shaking my head to others.

If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Reporter’s Notebook by Katherine Rosman is a daughter’s discovery and reflection surrounding her mother’s ultimately fatal fight with lung cancer. Katherine tracks down people who both influenced her mother and those whom her mom influenced. There were no great epiphanies but I imagine closure for the author.
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If Bennett Can Do It

March 28, 2010

t’s not schadenfreude but there’s a part of me that resents writers who have book contracts handed to them. Just as I’m sure professional chefs with fantasies of publishing their recipes grumble when the wife of a celebrity not only publishes a cookbook but also gets loads of publicity.

So I read Laura Bennett’s book Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday: A Mother’s Guide to Sanity in Stilettos with mixed expectations. Was she a reality show contestant trying to ride her momentum and squeeze out a sixteenth minute of fame? Would I read this book thinking I could write better and curse her good fortune? No. She writes well and funny enough to entertain reviewers, mothers and even my babysitter alike.
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