May 3, Houston: The big one -- the Inprint reading -- occurs at the Alley Theatre on Monday, May 3. Do not miss it or you'll be sorry. I'm not kidding -- I'm going to say the craziest, most intellectual yet hilarious stuff I can think of, and I'll be sharing the stage with the ultra sexy Oscar Casares, too.
June 24, Houston: I'm one of the peeps scheduled to read at Poison Pen, at Houston's famous Poison Girl bar. Besides me, everyone there will be ultra, *super* sexy. Come see me and drink!
June 26, Washington, DC: I'll be reading at the American Library Association conference. Come on down.
My other blog: Go read my the Houston Chronicle parenting blog (or my ChronMomBlog, as I like to call it) and make sure my kids won't resent me more than other kids resent their own parents.
Buy my new novel, Lone Star Legend. Already did? Well, buy a few more for your friends, then. :)
Monday, January 29, 2007Writing Advice from a Writer (Part 2)
Ova Girl asks:
Reading what you have to say about rejections for book proposals, I wanted to know...when do you give up. (Not you giving up, I mean 'one') The hard thing I think is when you've actually had some success and then...nothing. I'm depressing myself here so I'll stop but you know, it's something I'm wondering about. This year it occurred to me that I was getting really tired of all the NOs out there. It's not like I think it should be easy but...actually no, I think partly it should be easy in the way that writing sometimes is effortless, still hard work putting it down etc but the flow, that bit's effortless...
I'm glad you asked that question, because it's one that's been on my mind a lot lately. When do you give up? If you're me, you promise yourself that you'll give up after the very next rejection. But then, you don't. Or, you haven't yet.
Let's work it out together in numbered list format, shall we?
1. You (general you) are a writer because you are compelled to write. I hope that you are, that is. If you don't really like writing that much, but you're in it for the money or the fame, then I can't help you.
2. It hurts to be rejected, of course. But you keep submitting work because you know that, when you do sell your work, it'll totally be worth it. And you're right. It will be.
3. But, once you sell work, it puts that much more pressure on you to keep selling, doesn't it? And you go through crazy thought cycles, like,
"Haven't I already proven myself? Why am I getting rejected again?" or
"Maybe that first sale was just a fluke and I'm a shitty writer, after all," or
"Damn it, they OWE it to me to buy my stuff!" and
"You know, I should maybe quit while I'm ahead and start teaching creative writing now."
These thoughts string you along while you try, try again. And you keep getting rejected (more often than not).
4. So let's say you do give up. Eff it. Too much time and energy. It's not worth the pain anymore.
5. But you keep writing, don't you? You say, "I'm so glad I'm not submitting work anymore! Now I can just enjoy myself by writing [my blog, my chapbook, a comic book, a series of love letters, a homemade book for my baby niece, whatever.] And I'll do it for fun, for free. No pressure!"
6. You have fun and write stuff. (Or paint stuff, or compose stuff, or do freaky performance art.) Then, you realize that there's no harm in submitting that stuff, is there? After all, it's not like you can't take rejection. Why not just try? What the hell.
And you never stop, do you? Why should you stop?
You know what? I think you should go ahead and let yourself give up right now. I'll do it with you. I give up!
See, now we can be free to do whatever we want. And, if we end up doing something good, there'll be no harm in submitting it, will there, now that we've given up?
Best of luck, Ova G. Have fun with your projects.
Labels: writing6:54 PM # (7) comments
Saturday, January 27, 2007Rainy Saturday
I feel virtuous this morning because I started on my taxes. Mostly, that means I skipped through TurboTax steps while making notes of information I need to find in the pile of papers on and in my file cabinet. But I'm pretty sure I'll be paying this year. Either that, or just barely breaking even.
The other day a guy showed up to edge my lawn, because my homeowner's association sent me a pissy letter about the edging, and I did buy a weed whacker but it hasn't been enough to battle the edges left by the former owners. So I'm waiting for this guy to show up, and he's late, and I go down the street to get the mail, and I see other guys working on another lawn. I have a long talk with them. (In Spanish, so it took a lot of thought and effort on my part. How do you say hedges in Spanish?) They give me their number for future lawn service consideration. They were hard-working, normal-looking guys.
So then I'm back home and this guy shows up to edge my lawn. (See first sentence of paragraph above.) His appearance surprised me. He'd told me, on the phone, in perfect English, that he would be there himself. (He was a co-owner, not an employee.) So I don't know what I was expecting. But it wasn't the guy who showed up. He was styled sort of like a younger, straighter Raymundo Baltazar. But cuter than that. He had red highlights in his gelled hair, and the cutest short-sleeved western shirt over his gray cotton thermal.
The way he spoke to me gave me the impression that he was used to being forgiven by women, whether for postponing their lawn service or sleeping with their friends. It was funny. He wasn't my type, but he amused me, so I let him do the lawn. And then I paid him the price we'd agreed upon, even though he didn't bring the tools to trim the hedges. When he left, he smiled over his shoulder and said, "Maybe you can write a review for our company." I guess he'd noticed me typing away while he worked.
I'm thinking I'll call the normal-looking guys next time. I wouldn't want this cute guy working on my lawn more than once or twice a year.
The grass is still wet outside. I like that I can see my back yard while I'm typing. We have one squirrel and one tiny wren who forage here every day. All the leaves on my pear tree are suddenly red and gold. There's a pile of tangled windchimes on a broken patio chair. I need to hang them up for good feng shui. But I'm not in a hurry. I'll type a little more, first.
Labels: stories11:02 AM # (7) comments
Tuesday, January 23, 2007Real Quick (Writing News)
I am super-duper busy this week, having adrenaline flashes and Tazmanian-Devil-esque flurries of activity all over the place. I'm thinking I'll be busy next week, too, at least until after the Feb. 2 reading.
I know - you're thinking, "Since when are you a poet, Gwen?" I'm not, really, because writing poetry doesn't come easily to me. Not good poetry, anyway. (I can write bad poetry like a mofo, though, and always have. Ha, ha.)
But, you know, I wanted to push my limits, challenge myself, put some eggs in another basket, and try something new. I read some of my poems on the radio tonight, making the second time ever in my life I've read poems aloud. I think it came out okay. I hope it did. I mean, the vomity feeling in my guts subsided by the time it was done. (I still feel vomity sometimes before a reading, no matter how many times I do it.)
In April, Houston's Museum of Fine Arts is cranking up a new festival, and I just heard that I get to read as part of that. So that's good...
Besides that, I've been writing a lot of book proposals and then getting them rejected. Although I hardly mention it, that happens all the time - it happened a lot to me in 2006 - and I've gotten so good at coping with rejection, it's like water down a duck back, now. Almost. Pretty much. I just got my fourth or fifth proposal rejection today. Breathe in, breathe out. It's okay; I'm working on a new proposal now. Cross your fingers for me, please, still.
Advice for Writers, from a Writer
Look: here's a question about writing, from a longtime reader. With her permission, I'm putting it here so everyone can share the answer. If you want to send more questions, let me know. I'm probably too lazy to create a new site feature for them, but I don't mind giving advice when I can.
I have had an idea for a book for several years. It is something I would really like to do in my ample spare time, like you have plenty of it yourself. [She's being sardonic, y'all. She's a single mom, too. --GGZ] How do you work it in? My girlfriends thought it is a great idea and I would mainly be editing it since each short chapter would be from different contributors. I even have a title. I really should do this. How the heck do you get started?
The answer: You just do. You just start it, and work on it until it's done. That's it.
The trick, though, is getting yourself to actually start it. You say you want to do it, you say your friends think it's a great idea, and then you tell me (or yourself?) that you "really should do this."
Do you really want to do it? If so, how bad? For instance, is this project worth giving up prime time TV for? Is it worth doing on your lunch hour? Is it worth waking up an hour extra in the mornings, so you can have time alone, while the kids are asleep?
If so, you should totally do it. Set a goal for yourself. I'm assuming your goal is to get this work published, right? Set a realistic timeline in which to achieve the pieces of your goal. Like, it may take six months or a year to compile the work, then three to six months to edit it, and then you may give yourself a year or two to submit to agents and publishers. Look at your schedule and decide what you can do.
Then, just start. Or, if something is still holding you back after that, ask yourself what it is. Are you afraid of failure? Of rejection? Are you afraid to spend a lot of time on a project that might not succeed?
Admit the reason to yourself and then dismiss it. Stumble boldly forward. You only have one life to live, that you know of, so why the hell not take a chance on your dream.
Labels: writing9:29 PM # (6) comments
Thursday, January 18, 2007Dream Blog! DREAM BLOG!!!
1. My ex-husband died, and I had to think of a way to tell the kids, and I wondered if I should call my lawyer. (And then I woke up and wondered, if my ex-husband died in real life, how I would find out.) (Knock on wood. I don't hate him, I just wish I didn't have to deal with him. Not that he would die, though.)
2. I was getting ready to go to the prom with my boyfriend. I spent lots of time putting on lots and lots of sexy blue eyeshadow. Then I threw on a wrinkled fuchsia satin dress from my closet. Knee length. My boyfriend showed up and frowned at my clothes. After I begged him to, he admitted that he thought my dress looked cheap. He took me to a costume shop where he knew one of the employees (a white chick). She said she only had a few plus-sized dresses. The ones we found were ugly and hopelessly vintage. She gossipped with my boyfriend instead of helping me look for more. I was annoyed.
3. There were spooky monsters.
4. I left work because of a fire drill or something, and went to the mall that magically appeared across the street. I shopped and shopped, and eventually decided to skip out on the rest of the work day. I didn't even care. I couldn't find any good clothes, but I was glad to be at the mall instead of at my job.
5. Oh, god... Every single day for a week or more, I dreamed that I had a baby, and that I wasn't doing a very good job of taking care of it. Other people were handling the baby while I ran around doing readings or whatever. In a way I was embarrassed about it, but then again I wasn't. But then I felt guilty about not being embarrassed. Sigh.
1. February 17 is Chinese New Year. So begins the Year of the Golden Pig. That means that any babies born this coming year are guaranteed to be rich.
2. I went to the doctor and they told me I gained seven pounds. "But I've been dieting!" I whined. "Maybe it's my boots. They're heavier than my shoes were last time..." Plus, I'm still wearing the same clothes. (So I haven't gained inches, either.) The doctor gave me a paper about weight loss. It had a lot of math and science on it. When he was done explaining it, I said, "But that sounds hard." He said, "I know. That's why I'm fat."
3. The medicine they had me on, for my hyperprolactinemia? Has stopped working. It worked really well for two months, but now the secondary symptoms are coming back. Those are: Every time I get stressed, or excited, or after I eat, or just whenever my blood goes fast, I guess--I immediately have a hot flash, with side orders of nausea and dizzyness. IT SUCKS. But the double periods haven't yet returned.
Please, Lord, help Dr. Smith figure out whatever the hell the deal is. Also, please make my insurance plan stop sucking so bad, because I can't afford to pay full price for my doctor visits for much longer. (Or if it's easier for You to make me have more money, instead, then that's okay, too.)
4. I think my body is mad at me because it wants a baby. I don't want a baby, but I think my body's not used to sleeping with the same person for 3 or 4 years without getting knocked up. (New readers: I am 35 years old, and I have 86 kids.) Hence, my body keeps trying to ovulate twice a month. No matter how much medicine I put into it. I mentioned all that to Dr. Smith, but then he said, "What's that?" and then I said, "Oh, nothing."
5. My Chinese sign is Pig, but nothing I read today said anything about me getting rich this year, in the Year of the Golden Pig.
However, I remain optimistic.
Labels: dreams9:58 PM # (2) comments
1. Cross your fingers for me today (Friday, the 19th, by the time you read this), please.
2. [I just erased an item about the item below and the] [I just erased what I was gonna say about the email we got] [I can't talk about this.]
3. I feel censored. Self-censored, and for my own good, but still.
4. It took me an hour and forty-five minutes to drive home from work today.
5. Every day I feel grateful that I'm not poor.
6. I never post drunken blog entries, but once in a while I'll post drunken blog comments. On other people's blogs, I mean.
7. Everyone who's working hard this week: You go, people. Rock on.
8. Sometimes I wish I would win the lottery, but then I know that it would be at the expense of accomplishing anything good in my life, so then I let the wish go.
9. In a way I think it's sad that band members always fight, but then again, screw it. That's life.
10. I'm only typing this because I'm taking a break now. Everyone, please cross your fingers. I'll type something interesting next time. Thanks.
Labels: venting9:45 PM # (3) comments
Wednesday, January 17, 2007Ice Storm
There was an ice storm in Houston overnight. An ice storm means that a bunch of ice gets on the freeways, and SUVs slide into each other. Then the city closes a bunch of freeway entrance ramps because that's easier than sending out trucks with salt or sand. Apparently.
I woke up at my normal time, 5:30, and heard on my alarm clock radio that all the schools were closed. So I hit Snooze.
My boyfriend called at 6:00 to say that he'd called my building and we were expected to come into work today. So I turned on the radio again and the first thing I heard was that there'd been a huge accident at the first freeway exit that I pass on the way to work. Then, they started listing all the freeway and road closings. I reset my alarm to 8 AM, then went back to sleep.
At 6:30, one of my kids stumbled into the living room and mumbled, "Mom."
"No school today," I called from bed. "Go back to sleep."
At 7:00, I woke with a start and a guilty conscience. I waited until 7:30, when my earliest coworkers get to our office, because I was unable to sleep. I listened to the radio. Wrecks and road closings. At 7:30, I called everyone in our office, but no one answered. I fell asleep.
At 8:30, I woke from a dream in which my boss's boss was being uncommonly friendly to me, and it was making me suspicious. Immediately, I rolled over and grabbed my phone. I called everyone in the office that I would normally call if I were not coming in. None of them answered. Guiltless, then, I returned to sleep. No one was going to work. Awesome.
I woke up at 10:30. A nagging feeling made me call in. The first two people didn't answer. The third one did. "Hey. You came in?" I said.
"Yes," she said. "I'm the only one here, too." I detected a slight bit of resentment in that tone.
"Well, I'm not coming. I guess you already figured that out." As I spoke, I looked out the window at the ice coating my patio set and icicle-ing from the eaves and the plants I should have brought in two days ago. "There's ice everywhere here. I don't want to have a wreck."
"Yeah, that's what I told our boss," she said. "But he asked me why you didn't call in. I said I didn't know."
At that point, it didn't matter that I'd called in twice and gotten no answer. It didn't matter that I said that and she admitted that she'd been away from the phones for a while, and my boss apparently hadn't heard them ringing.
All that mattered was the intimation that my boss was upset with me. That's the kind of thing that drives me crazy.
The rational side of me repeats over and over that 1) my boss probably forgot his curiosity about my absence the moment he uttered it, and 2) the other two women in our group were also absent, and probably without feeling bad about it at all, and 3) it really isn't safe on the freeways today, and there is no job in the world worth risking my life for.
And yet, I still feel this wrenching in my stomach.
It's funny how I feel that every weekday, even when I'm at home.
I got my kids Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II (Playstation games) for Christmas. It turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving.
It's a fun game, first of all. You have these little plastic guitars with buttons that simulate frets and a lever that takes the place of strings. You pick your rockstar on the screen, then pick a song to play along with. It has some good little songs, too. Not just the newest stuff, but old rock classics from the '70s, too. Of course. How could you make a guitar game without the '70s?
Anyway, I love playing the game with the kids and reminiscing about the old songs with them. They listen to my stories graciously because I paid for the game. Plus, now, whenever the radio plays a song that happens to be on Guitar Hero, me and the kids can all sing along. "It's more than a feeling! I hear that old song play, it's more than a feeling!" You know?
Whenever we go to Best Buy or Fry's, of course we have to play the demo of Guitar Hero they have set up, to show off our skills (Medium level for me and the two younger kids, Hard level for my oldest). I see a lot of older dads watching everyone play the demo. These guys get a gleam in their eyes, and then they buy the game. And I'm glad for them, because I know they'll get at least as much enjoyment and family time out of it as I have.
Isn't that weird? That a video game could inspire parent/child bonding?
No, it isn't, because I've been playing video games with my kids for years. But I think Guitar Hero is incredibly brilliant, because it draws in people who normally don't give a crap about video games. DDR did the same thing, but I think it drew in more moms, and I think moms are less likely to show up at Best Buy and make a big impulse purchase like that.
I hope other moms are playing Guitar Hero, too. I hope they're tearing that shit up.
Schools are closed today, as I said. My oldest son is in the next room playing Jimi Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic." In a little bit, I think I might join him.
More Bonding Through Music
The other night, my youngest son and I stayed up late watching music videos on You Tube. First, we watched a bunch of stuff from the '80s, because he and I had seen VH1's "Top 1000 Songs of the '80s" (or whatever it was) the day before. Then, I decided to move through history, to the '90s, which was when I stopped watching MTV in real life. Probably because it stopped showing music videos then. Where were people getting music videos from in those days? I don't know, but they certainly existed.
Long-time readers know that I always loved Blur. But I had never seen their videos. Not one. And, oh my god, I had no idea Blur was so freaking goodlooking until the other night. (Damn, that Damon Albarn looks like the lovechild of Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Cillian Murphy.) And their videos - so horrifyingly cute.
So I watched Blur videos, and Pavement videos, and Veruca Salt videos, and then a video with Pavement and Veruca Salt...
and my youngest son watched it all with me. Just soaked it right in. Until our eyelids grew heavy and we had to go to bed.
It was nice. 11:13 AM # (5) comments
Tuesday, January 09, 2007Newsflash!
I sold my fourth book today. Yay!
It's another kids' book, and it's called Sunflowers. (Assuming they don't change the title between now and publishing date.)
Anyhow. I'm happy.
I'm also tired. And working like a maniac on many things. Hope to have more news soon. Until then, it's time to go to bed.
Lately I've been obsessed with the sugar-free Jell-O they sell in the cafeteria at my work. I crave it in a way that makes me suspect it contains sugar.
Really, I don't have much else to say. But I'm putting off going to bed because it feels so wrong, going to bed so early.
Actually, no. I've had a long day. Going to bed early feels right.
Labels: writing9:00 PM # (13) comments
Sunday, January 07, 2007To the Next Person Who Steals My Credit Card Number
Learn from the last person who stole my credit card number and used it to make a fake credit card. Learn from his mistakes, and you'll be able to steal more money from my account:
1. Don't go to McDonald's or Dunkin Donuts. I never go there. Try Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels, your local bubble teahouse, or Jack in the Box. That way, my bank won't immediately look at my transactions and say, "What the...? Gwen never eats McRibs! And there's no way in hell she'd go to Dunkin Donuts instead of Shipley's!"
2. I don't know what the last guy spent $211 on at Duane Reed, but you be sure to buy your drugs at Walgreen's, and throw in a bunch of buy-one-get-one-half-off lipglosses to make it look authentic.
3. Biggest hint of all: Don't use my credit card number in New York. I don't live in New York.
4. If you must disregard tip #1 and go to McDonald's, anyway, then at least refrain from going twice in the same day. Dude. Come on. Spice it up a little. What's the use of being a criminal if you won't even risk trying new foods? 9:50 PM # (6) comments
Wednesday, January 03, 2007Chreativity
So now I'm in the post-holiday, early new year phase where I feel all pumped-up to start new projects. Why does this happen every year? Because Christmas fuels creativity, I think.
I have one writing project that's almost done, so of course I'm eager to start a new one. But discipline rules me, so I'll finish the first project, first. Then, of course, I'll totally lose my enthusiasm for the second, the moment I'm free to work on it. Because projects are like the dream rushes that Alice reaches for, on the boat with the sheep, in Through the Looking Glass. It's almost impossible to be satisfied with the project at hand, and you keep wanting to reach for the ones that look better from far away.
You can't tell yet, because I haven't yet updated the sidebar over there to the right, but my novel with Warner has been delayed yet again, until the Spring of 2008.
The thing is, Warner got bought out by Hachette. Did you know that? No, you didn't, did you? You know why you didn't know it? Because Hachette hasn't yet done their big rebranding campaign, of course. Guess when they're gonna do it, then. That's right - right before my novel was scheduled to come out.
My novel is one in a brand new imprint, as well, so they don't want that imprint's launch to get overshadowed by the rebranding. So they postponed it.
All that makes perfect sense to me, so I'm not upset about it or anything. My editor and her boss were really sweet about it, calling us all personally and making sure we were okay. But I was totally okay. I know how things roll, and I don't want the imprint to get overshadowed, either.
Plus, I already got paid for that book, so I'm good. They can postpone it 'til 2037, as far as I'm concerned.
Ha, ha, just kidding. And, actually, I don't know if anyone reading really cares about all those details. But I figured I should type them out, just in case anyone's been wondering.
A Post-Christmas Nasal Miracle
Backstory: When I was 14 years old, my nose got broken but did not get repaired by medical professionals. Hence, my nose has been slightly crooked ever since that day. Not enough so that you'd look at me and think that my nose had been broken... just enough so that it always looks like I'm smirking or holding my mouth weird. Also, once in a long while my nose bridge hurts a little and makes me regret having been poor and unable to get it fixed back when I was 14. So...
Back to the present: So last night one of my kids and I were watching a marathon of Season Two of America's Next Top Model. And I was thinking that, whether you love her or hate her or are grossed out by her subsequent fame-whoring, that Yoanna certainly does have a beautiful face.
And one of the guys on the show agreed with me, and at one point he said, "Yoanna's face is perfectly symmetrical."
After the show, I went to brush my teeth and idly wished that my face was a little more symmetrical than it is. Then, I looked in the mirror at my crooked nose, to remind myself of how crooked it is.
And, weirdly as hell, I saw that it isn't crooked anymore. In fact, I couldn't even see the little bump that used to be on the side of the bridge, up near my left eye. (If I touch it, I can feel it, but otherwise it's now undetectable.)
Isn't that bizarre? Either a good fairy wished my nose straight (in which case: Thank you, Good Fairy!), or else my nose gradually straightened out on its own.
Oh, or maybe I wished it straight, myself, after seeing Yoanna on TV.
Maybe Yoanna healed me with her magical, symmetrical, America's Next Top Model face magic!
Anti-Shopping Mode, Idle Boot Lust
I turned 35 a few days ago (It's too late to wish me happy birthday, so please don't worry about it - tricked y'all, ha, ha, now you just have to read this entry and wait til next year) and I kind of had a half-ass plan to buy myself a pair of boots. Brown ones, though, as I already have 3 or 4 pairs of black.
I couldn't find any brown boots I liked, though. Or, none that I liked but could also afford.
What's up with that? Where are all the nice, affordable brown boots in Houston? Is it that black boots hide their own cheapness better? Probably.
Besides that, I haven't felt like shopping much. Probably because I'm broker than living hell. Having a house costs a lot of money, as y'all most likely already know. But I have a house, so I'm not complaining. But I'm not shopping, either. Doh. Oh, well.
Actually, I'm lying because my dad gave me a gift certificate to Half Price Books for a very luxurious amount, and that's the bulk of the shopping I've done since xmas. That gift certificate has brought me days of enjoyment so far, in book-shopping hours and book-reading hours. So I'm happy. Thanks, Daddy! You rule.
Happy New Year, people. May you all have good daddies, good shopping, nice houses, and/or mysteriously self-repairing body parts. 11:39 AM # (7) comments