"I'm telling you, Clones don't have the force. When you get a written letter from George Lucas that says Clones have the force, then I'll believe it."
This quote was particularly hilarious because it was the father telling his young son... and from the frustration in his tone it was clear this was not the first time he'd had to correct this terrible mistake.
I wrote it down at the time because, really, I thought there were so many different directions I could go with it.... pop culture, parent/child relationships, the toy isle at Target. Now, though, after watching twenty kids each have a different take on making a pasta skeleton during their HAlloween party, I am struck by how the quote might relate to imagination.
Albert Einstein amously said... "Imagination is more important than knowledge." I think this must be difficult for children to understand since often we live in a world that reward facts more than curiousity. My dughter struggles with this constantly. The desire to be correct frequently keeps her from experimenting with being wrong. And yet... she has one of the most amazing imaginations of any child her age I know. It is, in fact, her strongest asset.
What better day, though, than today to reflect on imagination. Halloween, as a holiday, is the one day a year where we encourage our children to push their imagination to the limits. For one day they do onot have to be 'real' or accept the visible/factual world around them. They can imagine witches flying on brooms over their head, or ghosts floating through the branches of a tree. They can become a princess, or a ninja, or a superhero....
Or.... on this one day at least... they can become a clone who indeed has the force; because on HAlloween, anything we imagine is possible.
"My son was playing with my phone the other day, and when I got it back from him I saw a bunch of books that he had downloaded (actually just samples), but anyhow... he looked atm e and said 'mom, they're all the kind you like.' And then I noticed they all had steamy romance covers on them."
OMG - I was cracking up when I overheard these two women talking about this. So much for keeping a low profile. They totally caught me listening and I had to apologize but told them I was an author so their conversation had totally snagged my attention. The one woman telling the story let me look at her screen.... and, sadly, none of the books were Betting Jessica. It was quickly obvious since, indeed, there was alot of skin showing on the book cover models.
Part of me wishes I could write steamy stuff.... but so far if that's what someone wants to read, they are not going to find it in my books. Ironically, though, my writing about sex has become more graphic at the very same time as my writing has taken on a more inspirational bent. Not sure how to resolve those two things except that the older I get the more I see that love conncetions have to happen at both a physical as well as emotional level in order to really make sense and resonate as true.
That said, I find the idea of creating an erotic romance novel cover intriguing. One author I met told me she had to keep sending the cover art back because the pants on the male model were so low you could actually see pubic hair. Seriously! Can you imagine the conversations between the author and editor?
On the other hand.... since I designed the cover for Betting Jessica myself I am glad I didn't have to make it erotic; not the least of which is because I am not sure where I would have found models willing to bare all.
"He's just one of many...."
In this case, the emotion behind this statement caught my attention as much as the words themselves. I have no idea what was being discussed (although, given that it looked like two moms I can take a guess.) But for me it struck a cord immediately. It's not far from how I feel right now about my book, Betting Jessica.
With its release on Kindle it is difficult not to keep track of the numbers, the ranking, the reviews... not to mention the comments from friends and family. Still, the fact is, it is one of many books on Kindle that are probably very worth reading. This is both daunting and exciting.
Daunting because, when I worry about the numbers I get lost in how to be heard above the competing noise. But on the other hand, ever since I decided to put the book on Kindle I have thought alot about my readers and what they will think of Betting Jessica. This has made me consider my own reading habits and I realized, that there is room for every good book ever written.
And this is the part I think is exciting. I can't get enough of well told stories. (Seriously... I mean, why else would I read every single book that is by, about or related to Jane Austen.) The hard part, though, finding those books that are in the genre I love; something that is very specific and not always easy to define.
This is probably why I love Amazon so much. Sure, I like seeing Goodreads or Fcebook recommendations from friends; but what I really love is when I get a recommendation from Amazon. Since they know what I read, the books Amazon recommends for me are usually pretty close to my preferred style.
So, while Betting Jessica may be one of many great contemporary women's romance books available in Kindle, I know if I help Amazon target the right reader they will want to dive into it.... even if they already just read twenty great books. The big challenge is targetting the right reader.... which takes me back to the dauting aspect of being one of many.
So, if you've read Betting Jessica I'd love to hear your comments (see below) about the tags you would use for describing the story. What resonated most with you? The fact that Jessica is having career trouble? Her bet? Her quest? Her friends? Or maybe the general humor in the book. I'll take anything you can give me.... After all, I sincerely believe that while each of us may be one of many, we also each have a unique and important point of view.... just like every
"I'd say... you'd better get a lawyer, fast."
What a great first line.
It certainly caught my attention and made me wonder what the guy (talking on his headset, of course) was referring to. Since I couldn't hear the other end of the conversation I will just have to use my imagination to fill it in.
The reason it makes such a great first line is that something big has obviously happened. A divorce, of course, comes ot mind... although it could just as easily be a marriage or death. It could be something corporate, like wrongful termination; or it could be simply a bad traffic ticket.
One way or another, though, it makes us wonder and that is the main function of a great first line. Keep the reader reading to find out more. Everyone has a favorite first line of a book... and when we hear them they seem so obvious we think they must be easy to create. But, as any writer will agree, they are the most difficult part of the book.
E.B. White's first line of Charlotte's Web - "Where's Papa going with that axe?" said Fern to her mother as they were
setting the table for breakfast. -
Apparently was added way at the end of his writing. Prior to that, the beginning was supposedly a much more innocuous description of Fern coming down for breakfast. (see http://www.npr.org/2011/08/19/139790016/weaving-charlottes-web
for more details on Charlotte's Web and that amazing first line)As a writer I have to wonder... how can I do a better job creating my first lines? Obviously they have to relate to the story (and thus the reason it seems obvious to write them after I am finished with my work); but there is more to it than that. Many experts in literature discuss not just the content of the first line, but even the sounds of the letters in the selected words... the punctuation.... the rhythm. It torments me with the idea that my writing could always get better than its' last form. So do I never publish or do I never try? It is a balancing act that I continue to work on and I imagine always will.
Perhaps the main benchmark for my first lines, however, should be that when my husband reads them he doesn't say...
"You'd better get a lawyer fast!"
No, It’s not! I wanted to yell at the two little girls sitting
near me. Of course, I was talking about converting my Word doc to html for Kinde while
they were simply trying to make worms out of paper straw covers.
I am surprised, in fact that I actually overheard anything since
I look like a troll, hunched over my computer trying to figure out code. Can
someone please explain to me why formatting is so strange in MS Word? Headings,
in particular, give me a headache. It seems like MS may not have realized that
most of their word users have outgrown the need for templates. We don’t really
want the computer to tell us, anymore, how to
But, since I just lost everything I was writing in my Blog and
have now had to re-create it; here I am in MS Word typing away so I won’t lose
it again. Ironic, huh! Let’s hope, when I cut and paste, Weebly doesn’t force me
to go out and re-code it. Okay... trying it now
HA! So no re-coding, but look how it cut and paste. Really? Shouldn't it know to fill the page. What on earth is going on in the computer's brain. I wonder. I imagine many engineers are out there laughing at me right now...
All I can say is.... thank God I'm a writer! Oh... and I now know how to make paper worms wiggle!
"They would only get one candle a day."
Our guide was sharing the story of the miners life; including the experience of eating lunch in the dark because they wanted to conserve their candlelight. Most miners died before they reached their mid-forties. Today we have so many modern conveniences we barely have to wipe our own butt (as my grandmother used to say). And I am positive there is a Japanese toilet that even takes care of that function now. Yet... we complain.
Don't get me wrong... I am all for workers rights. I hate injustice and the idea that some in our country have so much while so many have so little. At the same time, i get tired of hearing complaints. I feel like action is needed. The problem... how? How to exchange ideas openly... how to listen to others' ideas without judgement.... and especially, how to be heard in general.So, on the one hand, the Occupy Wall Street movement worries me. I am anxious that heated emotions could lead to violence. At the same time, I am worried it will just be another sound bite for the news and then will get dropped without having a consistent message.
On the other hand, I am glad there is a place for so many different voices to be heard. And, if we could elevate it above complaints I think there would be great power in such a strong outpouring of emotion. With so many people all voicing their concern and frustration, what better platform for dialogue?
The organization No Lables (www.nolabels.org/) seems like a perfect leader for such a conversation. Can you imagine all of those people in one place having access to the many different ideas out there for improving our economy.... being led in an organized, legitimate debate with real thought leaders? All of these disparate thinkers in one area with their own spot for sharing the information they want people to know.
I mean... if we are going to occupy anyplace shouldn't we fill it with more than complaints? Shouldn't we leave it better than we found it; filled with education and ideas and options? Otherwise it is simply like we are sitting in the mine without a candle.
"Can you speak yet?"
Yesterday my husband and I went out on a real date to celebrate our 13th anniversary. It was a beautiful evening and the view over the lake was amazing. My drink, bourbon with other stuff that didn't really matter since the bourbon was so good, felt very chic. We were having a lovely conversation, really connecting, you know, and then.... this nice looking older couple sitting near us turned on a suctioning machine and the mood was pretty well ruined.
Sadly, I really wanted to think it was romantic. Here they were, a couple like us, perhaps even celebrating a special occasion, and calmly dealing with a throat problem which required them to suction, first by machine and then by hand, junk out of his throat through a tube. Sigh. It wasn't romantic... no matter how hard I tried to make it so.
Meanwhile my husband looked like he was ready to vomit up the nice glass of wine he had been drinking. We ended up moving tables and I know it will be one of those moments we laugh about for a long time.... one more example of trying for the Disney version of romance and ending up flat in the middle of messy life.
I should have recognized this sentiment, in fact, since it harkens back to our wedding itself. For our first anniversary I commissioned a painter to recreate a scene, captured in video, from the reception. It appears to be a touching, romantic moment; my husband and I together, outside on the terrace, talking intimately. But what I love most about that moment was that, in fact, he was giving me Tums for my upset stomach. I have always thought it was a wonderful reminder that romance happens in the real moments of life, not the the idealized ones.
I felt really badly for the couple sharing their evening (and bodily functions) with everyone and could imagine my husband and I someday needing to help each other in the same way. Hopefully we would treat each other as kindly and gently as the woman was the man.
Long live romance!
"I have to bribe my son to shop, but my daughter is already a fashionista."
This was particularly funny as the girl in question was probably only 5 years old or so. Meanwhile... my seven year old was carrying around a stuffed animal and threatening to not try on any other clothes unless I promised to buy it for her.
I'm pretty sure somewhere along the way I lost control over what she wears. The bright, flashy t-shirt, for example, which left sparkles all over the house and in the dryer, might have a nice sentiment about peace, but it wouldn't have been my first choice of what to buy her.
The sad thing is.... she might actually be more fashion aware than I am. Okay... not might... I am sure she is. Today she walked out of the house in a cheetah shirt and leggings, looking like she just stepped off a runway somewhere. I may have frowned when she pulled the shirt off the rack at the store. It's difficult to remember, because at the time my brain was trying to work out whether my mom ever would have let me wear something like that at her age.
But... thankfully the pants aren't floods, which was the main impetus for the shopping trip to begin with. And, I was able to convine her that the t-shirt with bling hanging off of it might get uncomfortable to wear all day. So that was a win of sorts. More importantly, she actually agreed with something that I picked out; a pretty sophisticated outfit that still had some sparkle to it. Maybe it is a sign that our tastes will someday converge.
In the meantime, I will continue to allow her to express herself (within reason) through her clothing and she will just have to put up with my sweats from Costco. At least she'll be happy to see that after I wash and dry them they should be covered with sparkles.
"I'm going to be Clark Kent for Halloween. What about you?"
Halloween is everywhere. Suddenly and without warning I am surrounded by it. My daughter woke up Saturday morning ready to decorate. I gave in reluctantly.... it seemed a long time to be living with bats and ghosts. But when we went to a friend's for dinner that night guess what? Yep... fully decorated. They even had their lights up outside. (Not to mention the cute skeleton wearing Nike sneakers and a sun hat.)
To be honest, it is very unlike me not to embrace this holiday full on. I LOVE Halloween. Not just the candy, of course, but the creativity of it; the childlike fun of it; the cool weather and beautiful colors which are such a part of it. But mostly, I love the ability to celebrate a holiday without any family drama.
No worries over where to spend the holiday. Of course we would be home.... how else do you trick-or-treat around
the neighborhood? No big dinner to cook and no anxiety about who feels left out. It is a wondeful holiday.
My best memories of growing up are from Halloween. My mom would make such creative costumes for us (back in
the time when the best costumes were home-made). One year my sister was even Anna, from the musical the King and I. I'll never forget how much I envied her glamorous hoop skirt dress (made with a hula hoop!) Of course it was handed down to me the next year, but it could never be the same as wearing it that very first Halloween.
Our neighborhood was a perfect microcosm of the age we lived in. Block after block of cute little houses all
decorated and ready for the neighborhood kids who came by. There was the scary house no one would ever go to because we were convinced there was an actual witch who lived there (we had some reason for this belief, but that will have to wait for another post). And there was the house where every year we got our picture taken in our costumes. It was around the corner from us, so I am not sure I ever really knew the couple who lived there.... but I sure would love to see those pictures. I can imagine the stacks they must have from all the kids over all the years.
So, why I am reluctant this year, is unclear. Maybe it is because with every year that passes I realize my daughter's childhood is slipping by so quickly. We have gone from animal costumes, to princess costumes and now we are at Cleopatra (and thank goodness for that.... every other 7 year old child I know seems to want to be a vampire
Maybe it is because our summer seemed so short this year. It is the first autumn in years that I wish I could
just hold off a little. I really want to enjoy it, but it is difficult when I am grieving the end of a barely existent
More than anything, though, I think it may be that time marks my move toward putting my work out there.... in the hands of readers who may or may not be gentle with it. I dread the convergence of my private world, where Halloween is my favorite time of the year and my soon to be very public world where I am no longer the only friend (or enemy) to my characters.
Perhaps I will just jump into this head-on. So.... if anyone sees me walking around on Halloween wearing a t-shirt that says, "I'm Jessica... Duh!" you'll know why.