Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A toast

Very sweet of my internet friend, Deborah
to send me a bottle of wine to celebrate finishing my novel (from Very thoughtful. Thank you, Deborah...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hermes 2000 ... Who uses typewriters?

I wrote about my Hermes 2000 typewriter a few months back. It's out again, being used. I'm ordering ribbons. And I want to compile a list of writers who use typewriters. Don DeLillo does. So does Joe Eszterhas. Larry McMurtry.

Who else?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Revision, according to Carolyn See

No work on the book this weekend, but a firm resolution to begin today, and I did, amazingly.

First I outlined the rest of the chapters--21 through 30--on this roll of newsprint that Travis used to draw on I wrote down the major actions of the chapters.

Then I re-read the section in Carolyn See's book, Making a Literary Life, on writing--in particular, revision. I love that book and I love Carolyn.

I took notes, and I give them to you now, here:

1. Reread the entire mss., making only the most minor of changes. Read, don't edit. You have to know what you have before you can begin sculpting.

2. Read again. On second reading, make a list: What I have/What I need. This should run 10-20 pages for a novel.

*Work only 2 hours at a time. After 2 hours, it's all blather.*

3. The third step is to make a one sentence summary of each of your chapters. (See says her ideal novel is comprised of 12 chapters with 30 pages to each chapter, giving you 360 pages.)

4. Do another "What I have/what I need" list, which should look sweeter and more barren than the first time you did it.

Read it through a couple more times.


So I did my newsprint roll outline and began reading. It's good to not make changes yet, because I'd be crossing out all over the place.

But I do make notes. On the typewriter, I wrote: "Put more food in it." It is, after all, called Starletta's Kitchen. My son, who's been typing on the Hermes 2000 lately, laughed.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The End

Lovely words, don't you think?

Well, I finally wrote them on the middle of page 395 of Chapter 30 of Starletta's Kitchen. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hold that glass of champagne aloft and toast with me....

Now begins the task I'm actually looking forward to: revision. (I'm also dreading it, too, if that makes sense.) The manuscript needs so very much work, but I'm looking forward to it. Getting the words onto the page--the first draft--is the harder part, for me.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ann Hood knocks me out

Ann Hood was on the show yesterday. I had been aware of her work for years, but it wasn't until Pages magazine asked me to review her new novel, The Knitting Circle, that I read her. I loved the book, a story about a range of women with stories. I then picked up her collection of short stories, An Ornithologist's Guide to Life and it knocked me out. The tone of the stories was much more flip, less serious than the novel (based on Hood's life), and with each story, I grew more and more impressed with her skill and seeming alacrity with which she writes. I want to read more of her stuff--all of her stuff, in fact. We didn't discuss this on the show, but I believe her book has been optioned by Julia Roberts, a confirmed knitter. Hood is especially great at short story endings. Every writer knows how hard ending a piece is and she does it just right, tying things up a bit, but not too much so as to seem contrived.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Barbara Seranella's Obit in the OC Register

Barbara. Last few days, thoughts of Barbara underlie everything. She had such vim and vigor. To the end.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Barbara Seranella ... sad news

Barbara Seranella
Born April 30, 1956
Died January 21, 2007

Barbara Seranella, 50, bestselling mystery author and resident of Laguna Beach and PGA West in La Quinta, died peacefully on January 21, 2007, at 4:15 p.m. EST (1:15 p.m. PST) at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband Ron Seranella and her brother Dr. Larry Shore at her side. Barbara, who died of end-stage liver disease while awaiting a liver transplant, leaves behind her husband Ron, brothers Larry Shore of San Francisco and David Shore of Woodacre, parents Nate and Margie Shore of La Quinta, and stepdaughters Carrie Seranella and Shannon Howard.

Private funeral arrangements are being made by the family. A celebration of Barbara’s life is being planned for February; details will be announced later.

For information, please contact Debbie Mitsch, Barbara’s publicist, at, (714) 743-6127.


I will miss her greatly. We were in a critique group together for a while. She was on the show a few times. Here's the podcast of the last show.

And something she published in the Times in December (Thanks, Bill Fitzhugh): Click here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Book Soup, Dutton's, West

Rumor has it that Book Soup at South Coast Plaza is closing at the end of March. I had my first book launch there and liked the store, only I must echo that lousy refrain, Location Location Location. It's too hard to get to the store for book browsing. You have to park in the South Coast Plaza parking lot and hike a ways to get to the store. So much easier, I have to admit, to pull up to Borders and run in. Too bad. I do like the store.

I had my other book launch at Dutton's in Brentwood, one of my favorite bookstores of all time. All these little outposts circling a courtyard. But the landlord has other plans, wants to upgrade and keep Dutton's but Dutton's isn't so sure.

And finally, West, the magazine that accompanies that Los Angeles Times on Sunday will no longer be publishing fiction. The future of the magazine hangs in the balance, so I hear. I hope they bring the essays back. I always looked forward to them.

Palm Desert

I seem to have gotten into a habit of photographing my mantel when I change the books on its corner, so here is my January mantel.

Spoke before a wonderful group of women, PEN Women of Palm Desert, yesterday. Only a few chapters here in Southern Cal., and this was one of them. Educated, creative, productive women. Very worth the 2 hour drive each way. They sold out of books. But cold! Of course I love it, but it was odd. The last time we were out in Palm Desert, it was 50 degrees warmer--114 degrees, in the summer. They spoke of ice on the pavement early in the morning, and bougainvillea that was now black from freezing. And little dogs out for a walk, slip-sliding around.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sobol contest cancelled

On my 9/14/06 post, I talked about contests and basically expressed a general disdain for them. Well, The Sobol contest was cancelled. There just weren't enough takers.

Here's the story.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Elizabeth Benedict on my show tomorrow

I love it when I love what I'm reading. Right now it's Almost by Elizabeth Benedict. Just finished The Practice of Deceit, her last novel, and loved it, too. Written from a male POV. She also wrote The Joy of Writing Sex and is going to be on the show tomorrow for the entire hour.

When I walk, I listen to Anna Quindlen's new novel, Rise and Shine, which I also love. Written in first person, past tense, it's a good one to study, re: great characters and a hefty plot. I'm not at the end yet--probably another 20 pages or so--so I'll report back when I've finished. I like that Quindlen was a journalist (still does essays) and turned to fiction. You can see her skill at reporting all over the place in her fiction and it works so well.

So for my question once again: What are you reading now that you love?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Back at work

Yup, Travis is back in school and I'm back at work on Starletta's Kitchen. Trying to get more food into the book. If I don't, I have to--eek--change the title.

I was just noticing that a lot of blogs by male writers are impersonal. Informational and interesting, but not personal. Just visiting The Elegant Variation (, which I like very much, and it got me thinking. So I thought I'd made a gross generalization. ; }

Everyone back to writing (if you took the holidays off)?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

An interview on Wow-Women on Writing

Here's an interview I just did for "Wow-Women on Writing," with Annette Fix. The Web site has a ton of good information for writers, and interviews with writers. Also check out the interview with Diana Abu-Jaber and Cynthia Kadohata.