Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dancin' Matt & the World Goes 'Round

Okay, so Dancing Matt was in Austin, and what a hoot! I love Dancing Matt, and discovered him while watching Ellen when I was supposed to be writing an article for a regional magazine. So why do I love Dancing Matt? Okay, first because he's hilarious and adorable and travels the world filming himself doing this ridiculous little dance and then posts it on YouTube so the rest of us who are home chained to our regular every day lives can blow some time watching him live his life. Here in Austin, a bunch of us joined Dancin' Matt at the Stevie Ray statue on LadyBird Lake for a boot-stomping (okay, sandal-stompin'--it is Austin after all) good time.
We love Dancing Matt so much we put his Internet jig on the cover of the Statesman Metro section. Take that Governor Perry. So, why does Austin love Matt, a former slacker from Connecticut? Despite the fact he's a yankee, we in Austin have a soft spot for slackers of all kinds *i.e., our own slacker in residence, Matthew McConaughey* Like our own naked-bongo-dancing Matt M, Yankee Dancing Matt ditched his day job and made a movie about a guy who didn't have a day job. Unlike our Matt M, Dancing Matt usually keeps his shirt on.

I love Dancing Matt's videos, but even more I love his outtakes, which show Matt dancing all over the world with all kinds of people. I say we should make Matt our Mobile Ambassador to the World. The world could do worse.
*who's off to dance with her dog*

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Southerner on the Jena Six

Growing up as an Airforce brat, I didn't think about race. The military has its own caste system that, in my lifetime, had nothing to do with race. Or so I thought.

I was shocked when the first news trickled out about the lynching "prank" in Jena Louisianna, where racial tensions exploded when a handful of white boys hung nooses from the branches of a "white only" tree on school property after black kids sat under it.

I shouldn't have been shocked. Louisianna is our neigbor to the east, and we in Texas have had more than our shameful share of "lynchings," and in typical Texas fashion, we did it bigger, badder, and more real. Jasper, Texas ring a bell?

After writing Dead Copy, my second book, my editor called to ask questions about Cauley (the main character who happens to look like Kate Hudson) and Mia (her best friend, who looks like a young Jennifer Lopez) and their racial tension. I said, "What racial tension?"

But what an eye-opening question. After speaking with a couple of my hispanic friends, I discovered a horrible secret. The tension's there, even when I--or we--don't see it. It silently seethes in the subtext of everyday life, in every job opportunity, every college application, every time a cop pulls over a driver.

Working with Search and Rescue has opened my eyes to all kinds of inequity--racial, economic and social, and it makes me physically ill. "Amber Alerts" are plastered on highway signs, flashed over the television and make the nightly news. But what about the "Aretha Alerts?"

I hate growing up. It means having to look at things like they are, not like you think they are. Or the way they should be. I don't know what the answer is. I wish I did. I think the best thing we can do is listen. Talk and listen. And take Anne Lamott's advice--that none of the other commandments matter as long as you follow the subtext...Thou Shalt Not Be An Asshole.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Signings, retreats and other bumps in the night

It's been an incredible week, with lots and lots of stuff to do. USA Today Bestselling Author *and Super Pal* Julie Ortolon had a fantastic signing at A Thirsty Mind, where Pam & Anita hosted a killer champagne party, and Barbara Calderaro sang her big ol' heart out! Big, big fun.

Saturday and Sunday was the 2nd Annual Austin Romance Writer's Retreat at McKinney Roughs--and can I just say,
"Wow!" This is THE most talented group of women on the planet, I'm sure. We critiqued, brainstormed, wrote and okay, had way too much fun with Skylar's Knock-You-Naked Lemon Drops.

Lexi Connor regaled us with a lilting rendition of Amazing Grace *probably also thanks to the Lemon Drops :)* but it was beautiful, and I got to know my writing pals on a whole new level.

Emily McKay and I went for a little brainstorming hike *okay, it was a walk, but it was hot, okay?* and sometimes I forget just how off-the-charts creative she is. She was The Key in our critiquing sessions, and I got a good, solid reminder in the most important plotting question--"What is at Stake?"

Skye, Robin and Jan Yonkin offered tarot readings, and toward the end of the day Sunday, I gunnied up the nerve to ask Jan to do my cards. I was afraid to sit for the reading because the last two years have been so emotionally sucky I wasn't sure I could stand anymore gloom and doom. But Jan is one of the most intuitive empaths I know--she's one of those people who emits calm spiritual strength, and it rubs off everyone around her. I needn't have been afraid. It turns out I am my own worst enemy, my guy loves me, and it's all blue skies ahead as soon as I get out of my own way. And, it seems there's a baby in my future... I'll keep you posted...

Until then, keep writing.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Writing: Prep Work

Novel in 90 Days: Getting Ready

Taking the Writers' League Class? Get ready, 'cause we're writing a book!

  • Begin making space in your life for your novel. Get your house clean, streamline your desk. Enlist the help of family and friends that you are making a commitment to getting your novel written.
  • Really think about your novel. Figure out where and what time this story takes place, who the main characters are, what they want and how they’ll get it, or if they’ll get it. Write a two or three page “guide,” just as you would give someone directions. You should also know your GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) for your book. Why are you writing it? What is it you want to convey to the reader?
  • Collect things that will help you along the way. I collected photos of what my characters look like, made out a blueprint of my protagonist’s house and office and got a map of Galveston, which is where part of my book takes place.
  • Create a tagline for your novel. The tagline for SCOOP was Janet Evanovich meets the Ya Yas. Encapsulate your idea in one sentence. All of this is to get your wheels turning, to get inside your novel and work it from the inside out.
  • Be accountable. Log on to and subscribe to the Novel in 90 Days group. We’re going to post our word counts and progress there.
  • For more information on Novel in 90 Days, visit Kit’s blog at or email her at

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ready, set, write!

Okay, gang, get ready for Novel in 90 Days, complete with lessons I've learned, am still learning, and stuff I wish I'd learned a long time ago. If you're planning on coming to class (and even if you're not), have a favorite novel's First Page ready to go.

We're going to talk about getting started, setting attainable (but BIG) goals, how to dive in, where to dive in, and how to stay afloat once you're in up to your eyelashes.

We're going to talk about ideas and how to tell if they can carry the kind of book you want to write. We're also going prepare our left and right brain for the task at hand.

Left brain, listen up: We're going to make lists, we're going to practice timed writing, we're going to journal, we're going to talk about interviewing sources and research, and we're going to read in order to tighten up those fat, flabby frontal lobes.

Right brain, loosen up. Take a walk. Pet the dog. Make a list of things that make you happy. Describe the intricate details of the thing or circumstance that makes you happy. Splash in mud, take a hot bath, visit the library and soak in other writer's work through the happy osmosis that takes place in libraries.

Choose a soundtrack for your novel, choose a movie that puts you in the mood to write your novel.

And get ready. We're about to write a book . . .

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing