Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Day

The black books on the mantel have been replaced by pink and green. One thing I learned: There are not many pink books in print, unless you read chick lit. When James Frey came on my show to talk about My Friend Leonard, he said he liked the pink cover because it played against the prison/bad guy motif (at, you can listen to that show). Diane Leslie wasn't happy with her second book's cover Fleur de Leigh in Exile because she said it gave the wrong idea about the book, which is a mainstream/literary novel. It goes well here, though, doesn't it?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Four questions

My friend Amy sent me these questions a long time ago. Okay, here goes...

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? And
what's stopping you?

I want to live so many places--Italy, Paris, the Northwest, Vermont, Virginia, New Mexico, Canada, Iceland, Scotland, the English countryside. The trouble is, I can't decide where! Also stopping me is we have an 11-year-old son and my husband is a musician and has lots of gigs and students here in Southern Cal., which took years to build to the point that they're at. So I'm--uh--stuck. Ew...I hate how that sounds: stuck.

2. If you could get free plastic surgery and change anything about
your appearance, what would it be? What changes do you think it would
make that would really make that much of a difference in your life?

I've always been kind of down on plastic surgery, as anyone who knows me knows. I doubt I'd get it, even if it were free. But if I could change anything without going under the knife, it would be my face. I'd have it tightened just a bit so I wouldn't look so serious all the time.

3. If you could change anything that happened in your past, what
would it be? And if it makes you who you are today, would you still
want to?

In my mother's later years and when she was becoming ill, I wasn't there enough for her. She lived on the East Coast, I'm on the west and had a baby, then a young son and just wasn't as involved as I now wish I had been. I'm not sure how it makes me who I am now, except for a little more sad than I used to be, and I wouldn't mind some of that sadness going away. A day doesn't go by that I don't think about it.

4. If you found out that you were going to die tomorrow, what would
you do before shuffling off? And why haven't you done it already?

I would burn my old journals and a bunch of old pictures that my son doesn't have to see. I haven't done it already because I have a hard time letting go (a writer, burning journals and pictures??) and because there are other things during the day I'd rather do and have to do.

Copy the questions and answer them, too....

Saturday, April 08, 2006


A friend e-mailed me and said that a week ago Thursday, when she listened to the show (Stefan Fatsis and Susan Straight were guests), she noticed that I was sighing a lot. She hoped everything was okay.

Oh, dear!

I didn't mean to sigh so much. But it points to the fact that I need a lil break. Starting in May, for a couple of months, my guest host Debbie Keith said she'd take over some shows--maybe half, if it's okay with the station.

So when I am there, hopefully I won't sigh so much.

If there's anyone you'd love to hear on the show, let me know. I'm open to suggestions (if they fall within the range of the types of guests I like to have on: literary and mainstream, suspense, poets, narrative nonfiction, agents).


Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Very Well Known Writer Flakes

A Very Well Known Writer was scheduled to come on my show. Her publicist contacted me, we went back and forth regarding dates, and settled on one. This was a couple months ago. The other day the publicist contacts me and says this Very Well Known Writer's tour has changed and she can't make it and can I reschedule?

I really did want to talk to this author; I've been a fan for years. But I told the publicist that unless she could promise that it wouldn't happen again, I wouldn't reschedule. I said I had sent releases out to the papers and that it makes me look incredibly flakey when someone cancels. Flaked on once because something better comes along, are you going to make a date again? Not without a ton of trepidation.

The publicist couldn't promise. So she's not coming on. But the publicist was profusely sorry, she said. Uh-huh.

This all is coming out because a friend and former student emailed me. Did you see Very Famous Writer on the ____ _____ Show the other night? he said.

No! I said. What were you going to tell me--that she was witty and charming? I said. If you were, it's an act. She's a flake.

I was going to ask you if you saw her shoes, he said.

I didn't ask him about her shoes. Even though I am curious what it was about her shoes that interested him so. He doesn't seem like one to notice a woman's shoes.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Keeping track of the goings-on in my novel

I am not an outliner. I've said this before. But I want to tell you about a way I've found that helps me keep track of where I am in my novel that's been in progress for a while now.

Joseph Wambaugh gave me the idea. He lines the walls of his office with butcher paper and goes around the room writing down what goes on in his novel (I'm not sure he does this for nonfiction, though I could be wrong).

I no longer work in a room of my own, (which is fine with me--I don't miss it. Actually, the silence was distracting!) so I can't line my walls with butcher paper.

What I did was take one of those big rollers of newsprint that my son used to draw on--and occasionally still does--and I went through my book through chapter 17 or so, and sketched out each chapter and the major occurrences within that chapter. I use a device of photographs throughout the book and I wrote those in red, so I can keep track of where the photos are. I wrote down when characters enter the story. Things that are so easy to lose track of when you're writing a novel.

It's not exactly an outline because it comes after the point. But it helps me to keep track.

Other writers--Anne Lamott for one--use 3x5 cards (I believe she strings hers up on a clothesline in her office).

Organization of your material has got to be one of the most difficult things in writing a novel. How do you keep track? I'm all ears.