Friday, May 18, 2007

The Signing!

Whoops, sorry about yesterday guys. I know that I said I'd fill you in on the signing, but, well, life is so crazed right now for a variety of reasons, and the blog is sometimes the first thing to go. I know that you understand!

Anyhoo, the signing was a total blast. For reasons unknown to me, I was completely freaking out about it. My stomach was going bananas, I couldn't concentrate on other work, I was just a total mess! Which is just so weird because I used to do a lot of theater and performing, and I have no issues getting up in front of a crowd and making a general ass of myself, but ugh, I was out of my brain on this!

So after losing my mind for most of the day, I arrived at Borders and saw my mom snapping pics. :) How cute! So she shot one of me at the entrance:

Then my agent and publicist arrived and cased the store, handing out flyers, urging people to come hear me speak. Hee. Poor victims who just wanted to shop and not be bothered.

At 7:10, I was introduced to the crowd (most of whom I knew! LOL), and I read three passages.

For the curious minds who asked what I read, here's what I chose and why: 1) the opening diary entry. Sort of for obvious reasons - it sets up the entire story and helps explain the other two passages that I was going to read. 2) The beginning of chapter 2, in which she composes an email to Ned. (Pg. 13-pg. 16.) I felt like this section demonstrated that despite the fact that the book tackles a serious subject, there's a lot of levity to it as well. 3) Her first appointment with Dr. Chin. (Part way down pg. 23-most of the end of pg. 25.) I also wanted to choose a section that counterbalanced #2, a section that showed that indeed, there is depth to the book and that readers might (hopefully) find themselves on an emotional roller-coaster.

From there, we did a fun Q/A, and toward the very end, my son rushed down the aisle and demanded that I pick him up. Then proceeded to stare out to the crowd with awe. I think we found someone who loves the spotlight. :)

He remained on my lap while I signed books, as you can see here. Talk about a juggling mom!

And well, that was that...I signed, people eventually drifted out, and my husband and I headed home to eat some cold pizza. Ah....the glamorous life!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Come Hear Me Read Tonight!

Hey all you peeps in the New York area,

Swing by Borders at Time Warner tonight at 7:00 PM. I'll be reading and signing, and it will be a good time for all!

Here's a little preview of the window at Borders. I took this from my Blackberry, so it's not great, but you get the idea! So fancy that I'm nearly a semi-celeb. :)

Hope to see some of you guys there!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Slipping You the Secret Handshake

I am not new to writing, but I am new to having my writing published. ~rim shot~

I have just finished my second novel, and I am already working on the third...nothing like an optimist!But here's the question: How exactly does the secret handshake go? Left hand upside down first? Thumb up? Down? I know if I just knew this damned handshake I'd be all inside with the easy street crowd and not on the outside, in the sunshine, with my pale skin starting to pink in the sun.

LOL! Seriously, you made me giggle! Hee!

Well, just as I was sworn to secrecy over my sorority's secret handshake, so too am I over the published author's handshake. :)

Naw, look, I'll tell you what I know: unfortunately, as you've surmised, it's not as easy as an arched index finger that scratches the other person's palm while interweaving thumbs. Too bad, eh? But I think you have the right idea - you're still writing. Every time you start/finish/draft a book, you arguably should become a better writer. If, I should add, you don't simply regurgitate the same outline/prose/concepts in each book.

Have objective readers take a look at your previous work and tell you where you can make it stronger, then apply this advice to your next one. If you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, then you're just treading water. But if improve each time, then you're well on your way to publication. I can't tell you how many writers I've heard about who have 5 or 6 unpubbed novels in their desk drawers, only to hit success on the next one. (Jon Clinch, who wrote the best-seller Finn, comes to mind, if I'm not mistaken.)

And even published writers can learn from the past. I've written the first half of my second book, and I've been told by several people that it's better than TDLF. Why? Because I worked out a few kinks and think I'm a better writer now.

So keep writing...I think that's a better tip than giving you a fancy finger-hold anyway. :)

Readers - what's your advice that's the equivalent to a secret handshake?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Easy Editing?

As I'm reading your book, I'm curious about what other aspects changed. Has the tone remained the same and you've just tweaked plot points and characters? How different is the book from what you'd originally envisioned?

One thing I've always said about writing is that as an author, you shouldn't get too attached or fall too in love with any passage or particular part of your prose, and I think that this attitude served me well when it came to TDLF revisions. It's very easy to think that what you've written is genius, but writing a decent book isn't and shouldn't be easy, and thus the harder decision often isn't what to say, but what to leave out or what to cut.

So, with that out of the way, to your question. The tone has essentially remained the same. I "got" Natalie's voice from the get-go, and her voice is such a critical part of her story and her evolution that I never dreamed of - and more importantly, no one suggested - that I modify it.

That said, as I've mentioned before, I certainly made other drastic changes. After reading the first draft, my then-agent suggested that I might have started at the wrong point of the story - I'd originally started on the day that Natalie was diagnosed - and guess what? Turned out she was right.

So out when the first 90 pages. Easy come, easy go. Even though yes, I'll admit that it was a tad painful hitting "delete" on all of those pages. Then, we decided that Natalie needed to be more likable, more relatable. So I went back and threaded in the entire Price is Right plot line. Yes, it's true, the aspect of the book that seems to be among peoples' favorites wasn't even in there to begin with! I also went back and added touches and hints about Natalie's relationship with her mom: why Natalie was who she was and how she got that way.

And this doesn't even cover the stuff that shifted in my mind while I was writing the first draft: the shifting love interests, the role of Susanna Taylor (who I didn't realize would play such a pivotal role until I was writing), the friendship issues (won't elaborate too much on those, in case of spoilage). These all came up organically as the story took me where it did.

So, the bottom line of this post is really to say, go with the flow. I think often times, authors lose any chance of objectivity because they so passionately believe that what they wrote is solid gold. But there's a reason that we have critique partners and editors and agents. And that reason is because they make our writing better. So let them.

How do you guys feel about the editing process? Is it painful and ego-blowing or a means to a better product?