Thursday, June 26, 2008

Different Tastes

My husband and I found ourselves with two hours of uninterrupted time while our son was taking a class this morning. We had somewhere to be before and after, and we were already dressed and out of the house, so we wandered over to a local coffee shop. As we were waiting for our orders, we listened to the piped-in music.

Husband: (grimacing as the song played) I hate stuff like this.
Me: But it's from the '80s! The Cutting Crew. "One for the Mockingbird." It's not like it's one of those New Millennium Bands With Whiny Lead Singers that you always complain about. And it isn't rap, so...?
Husband: (still grimacing) I would've flipped the station on this.
Me: Even back then?
Husband: Oh, yeah. Back then. And now.
Me: (shrugging) Whatever.

So, we talked some more and drank our coffees--my husband having ordered "a small black decaf" and I having ordered "a large mocha-caramel latte thing" (after making sure it was fully caffeinated and made with extra chocolate syrup and whipped cream). We finished and we still had an hour before we needed to grab our son.

My husband, clearly sick of defending his musical preferences, said, "I've got an antique shop I want to take you to. It's got this cool Colt and a really amazing unmarked Derringer." (These are weapons, by the way. Civil War era guns. Objects that never fails to excite my history-teaching spouse. I, by contrast, prefer to look at antique items like, oh...teapots and calligraphy sets.) "And," he added enthusiastically, "the music there is great."

I raised my eyebrows at this, but we went. And the Colt, the Derringer and even the Winchester (a rifle, but I always think of those boys on the show "Supernatural" :-) were to my husband's liking. The music, this moody 1950s stuff (not the fun, boppy songs I associate with beach movies; not Buddy Holly or Elvis), was most decidedly NOT to my liking.

Husband: What did you think?
Me: (wincing) About the guns?
Husband: (rolling his eyes) About the music.
Me: Oh. I would've flipped the station.

Yeah. Been married 15 years. It's good we have other things in common.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Emma Goes Gangsta

Okay, it's been a couple of days since I first saw this article and this one and, quite honestly, I'm still not sure what to make of it.

A gangsta, hip-hop musical version of Jane Austen's novel Emma.

Really? (Breathing deeply, trying to fully assimilate the implications.)

I mean, REALLY??!

There's a part of me that's thinking, "Hey, more Jane is always a good thing. No matter what, right? They're being creative and showing the incredible adaptability of her work." And there's another part of me that keeps saying, "WTF?!" over and over again.

I just keep trying to picture the dance moves. And what this new urban "Mr. Knightly" will be like. And what Jane would say if she were to watch the film with me.

Good thing she had such a great sense of humor...and I'm nothing if not curious about how the classic "Emma" character will translate to the screen in this particular incarnation. (Hey, I loved Clueless. :-) But what do you think? Would Jane be delighted by this adaptation or horrified?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Or, maybe, if you have one of these, you'll let me drive yours. Check out the nifty YouTube video of the BMW GINA Light Visionary Model: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTYiEkQYhWY . It's somewhat different than my 2004 Honda Civic.

And, yes, I'm blogging about a car today, and that's uncharacteristic of me, but you've gotta trust me on this--it's REALLY cool! It's got SKIN! I mean, the thing is so James Bond in its features and appearance, but it's out there...and someone, somewhere can actually drive it.

If you had a car like that, where would you drive to?

I see myself motoring down that California coastal highway (Hwy 1, I think) like a character in one of those 1960s beach movies. A silk scarf flying behind me. The sunlight glinting off the water. Jan and Dean crooning into the wind.

Or--equally appealing--the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. One hand on the steering wheel. One hand wrapped around a double chocolate-orange gelati cone. Euro-Rock blaring from the radio.

Yeah. I'm there :-).

Okay, your turn.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Melissa Senate Asks Questions...and Answers Them!

Melissa Senate's latest novel, QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MARRYING, was inspired by a very popular New York Times article, which lists 15 questions couples should ask before marrying. In Melissa's book, bride-to-be Ruby Miller and her fiancé Tom Truby have questions 1 to 14 almost covered. It's question 15 that has the Maine schoolteacher stumped: Is their relationship strong enough to withstand challenges?

I read some of those "challenges" and, wow, do Ruby and Tom have their work cut out for them! It sounds like a fabulous and funny book, and I'm delighted to have Melissa here today as part of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit tour to answer a few questions I had about the story and her writing life. Welcome, Melissa!

New readers want to know about this story. Can you tell us the basic premise? QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MARRYING is the story of estranged twin sisters on a long and bumpy road trip. Stella, professional muse and face reader, is essentially staging an intervention to stop conservative school teacher Ruby from marrying a man she thinks is all wrong for her. Meanwhile, Stella is pregnant from a one-night stand and is searching for the baby’s father—would help if she knew his first name. These sisters learn a lot about each other, themselves, and life while on the road.

Did you use any musical references in your novel? If so, do they play a significant role? I don’t often reference music, but I did sneak some favorites in. While on the road, Ruby and Stella stop at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame museum hoping to see the hot Levis Bruce wore on the cover of Born In The USA. They also listen to Jack Johnson in the car because they find it impossible to argue while he’s mellowly singing and strumming that guitar. Right now, I have some crazy taste in music—a sudden love of vintage Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd. (Very '80s--excellent choice!)

Do you have a favorite food? I would rather eat chicken tikka and vegetable biryani than anything else. I could have Indian for lunch and dinner every day. (I love Indian, too. Well, and Italian and Chinese and Mexican and... :-)

What's your Writer Fantasy--i.e., to see your book make into a feature film, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.? The New York Times list would be amazing, but my fantasy would be to see a book of mine on the big screen. My debut novel, SEE JANE DATE, was made into a TV movie and that experience, everything about it, was one of the top 5 highlights of my life. Was one of those magical I-can’t-believe-this-really-happened to me events. (Readers should know, Melissa is the author of seven novels thus far. SEE JANE DATE was made into a movie for ABC Family, but she also writes YA for Delacourte and just sold her next two adult novels to Pocket. Busy lady!)

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication? A very wise editor once told me that the greatest thing about writing fiction is that you can fix whatever you want in your own life in any way on paper. I glommed onto that and it makes all my work very personal for me, raises the stakes for me and in turn for my characters.

Do your neighbors/hometown acquaintances know you're a published author or did you just choose to tell those closest to you? Funny—a woman I see at kindergarten drop off every day said to me: “I saw the ad in the paper for your book signing! I had no idea you were an author—how could you not have mentioned that!” Close friends know, but I rarely mention it otherwise—I suppose because it sounds sort of “boasty?” Not really sure.

Finally, what's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why? I always fall madly in love with my foil character, who in QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MARRYING, is Stella, the professional muse and face reader and seeker of her unborn baby’s father’s name and whereabouts. We only get Ruby’s point of view in the novel, but Stella came so alive for me that she stole the show.

Thanks for these fun questions, Marilyn!

You're so welcome, Melissa. Glad to have you here today and congrats on your new release!! And to the rest of you out there, what's a question YOU think you should ask someone before marrying? (And, if you're married, did you ask it??)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer...It Turns Me Upside Down

Who else can name the song and musical group I'm referencing?

In my misty recollections of my own elementary school-endings, they were always these lazy, bordering-on-lethargic days that we meandered through for a week or two until we could get to the even more lazy, lethargic days of summer...

Not so with my little 3rd grader. (Sorry, ALMOST 4th grader--he keeps reminding me.)

I recall, of course, the obligatory end-of-the-year Class Trip with the required sack lunch and disposable beverage. I remember (since I've never been able to block it out) the annual Field Day. And who could forget the End of School Party culminating in cupcakes and--oh, joy!--the unmitigated delights of cleaning out our desks for the last time?

Yes, my son is experiencing all of these but--added to it--is a full 2-page LIST of scheduled activities designed to exhaust even the most enthusiastic Room Mother. There was "Amazing You" Day (where everyone had to share a beauty-pageant-esque "talent"). There was "Wacky Facts" Day (where everyone had to arrive at school in possession of a few obscure pieces of information appropriate for the average 9-year-old). There were relentless "Visiting" Days (where troops of 2nd graders invaded the 3rd grade classes, followed by my son's 3rd grade class arriving en masse in the 4th grade wing...). Letters were written. End-of-the-year Class Books were made. Project Portfolios were completed. Class Colors were worn. Yearbooks were signed. And, still, with two days remaining, The List is not finished.

And--here's the frightening part--even when The List IS finished...a new one will begin. There's Summer School. And Vacation Bible Camp. And an insane number of out-of-state trips. And sports stuff. And friend stuff. And pool visits. The last day of school is like the first day of a 3-month-long, hot-weather marathon.

I remember my last day of 3rd grade. I'd really liked my teacher and class that year. We'd had our field trip to the zoo with our picnic lunch the day before. We had our class party with pink-frosting cupcakes on that final Friday. We'd stuffed our backpacks with a whole bunch of writing journals and math notebooks I knew my parents would never look at again. (I actually still have that writing journal.) And my mom picked me up from school and drove us home via the grocery store, where she grabbed some milk, I got a whole Hershey's bar as a treat and then I got to swing on my swingset for hours.

And summer...relaxing summer...started.