Thursday, May 29, 2008

What We Call "Sexy"

For the June 2008 online issue of ELLE, writer Walter Kirn wrote an article on relationships called "Pieces of You" that I came across yesterday. It leads with the tag: "That crooked nose. That untamed hair. The enormous appetite. The hottest girl in the room isn’t who you think. Why pretty isn’t (always) sexy."

Kirn continues in this vein for four pages, but I found it worth the time to read--if only to feel marginally better about my "untamed hair" and to examine a point of view that isn't always forwarded in modern media. This idea that a man's version of a sexy woman doesn't necessarily equate with what we see lauded in most magazines, virtually all prime-time TV shows and any movie where Brad Pitt costars was...for want of a better word...refreshing.

But--I kept wondering--is it TRUE?

Not being a man, I'm hardly one to claim absolute knowledge on the subject. But, from a woman's point of view, it rang true for me in the reverse. When I was in college and single, I met a lot of really handsome men--some stunningly so. A couple were male models. Many were very nice. A number were quite talented in some field or other. But none were guys I really wanted to date for long. (Granted, I was a "challenging" girlfriend--as one ex so helpfully pointed out--so there were few guys I wanted to date for long...and fewer still who could put up with me. :-)

The guys I fell hard for, though, were rarely attractive in a GQ sense. Their sexiness snuck up on me. They had killer wit. Surprising grace and gentleness. Several decades of experiences and insightful observations they'd somehow managed to pack into their first 22 years of life... I don't know where most of these men are now or if I'd still feel similarly talking with them again, but I do know they set a standard of "real-life sexy" for me that was far from that of some pretty-boy type.

And they're the men (along with my husband, of course--Hi, honey!) who I think of when I write my heroes.

What traits--whether traditional or not--do you find really sexy about someone?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Trading in My Webster's...

...for a new kind of dictionary.

I first came across many of these twisted terms at Fiction Scribe http://www.fictionscribe.com/category/writing-humor/ under their "Wordplay" entry, and they made me laugh, so I sought out more. But their origin is from The Washington Post's "Style Invitational"--a weekly contest that asks readers to do a variety of clever literary things. The rules of this particularly popular contest involve taking any dictionary word and altering it by adding, subtracting or changing just one letter, and then supplying a new definition. Here's a sampling of terms I pieced together from multiple sources:

Foreploy: (n) any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of obtaining sex.

Doltergeist: (n) a spirit that decides to haunt someplace stupid, such as your septic tank.

Glibido: (v) all talk and no action. (They claim verb here, but I might argue it's a noun in some cases. :)

Reintarnation: (n) coming back to life as a hillbilly.

Decafalon: (n) the grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you. (Hilarious! And I had to include it, even though they changed 2 letters instead of one...)

Giraffiti: (n) vandalism spray-painted very, very high, such as the famous “Surrender Dorothy” on the Beltway overpass.

Sarchasm: (n) the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn’t get it.

Inoculatte: (v) to take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Hipatitis: (n) terminal coolness.

Osteopornosis: (n) a degenerate disease.

Karmageddon: (n) It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these like really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like a serious bummer.

Deifenestration: (n) to throw all talk of God out the window.

Acme: (n) a generic skin disease, or: the *best* skin disease.

Arachnoleptic fit: (n): the frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web. (Also taking some extra-letter liberties here.)

Beelzebug: (n) Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

Dopeler effect: (n) the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

There were more, but these were the ones I especially liked, although I can't seem to narrow them down to one favorite. I mean, c'mon: "Sarchasm"?! Who thought of that? And "Inoculatte"--ha!

So, which ones did you like? And, does anyone else need a cup of coffee to go? I'm getting some...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On Tour with Maggie Marr

I recently joined the wonderful writers of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit and am looking forward to getting to showcase their novels here and, in turn, "blog touring" my own with them next year. I'm thrilled to be a part of this group and especially pleased to start with Maggie Marr's newly released and delightfully entertaining novel SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB (Crown, April 2008), which is a follow-up to her debut novel HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB.

In reading about Maggie's background, I was fascinated by her experiences. She's currently a writer and producer for Six Mile Ridge Productions and Dahooma Productions, but she began her Hollywood career as a motion picture literary agent in L.A. at ICM Talent Agency. She's been involved with high-profile projects like Austin Powers, Meet the Parents and Wedding Crashers, and she's worked with such celebrities as Owen Wilson, Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon. How cool is that?!

I also had a chance to cyber chat with her this week, and she graciously answered a few of my questions. Take a peek:

1. New readers want to know about your book. Can you tell us the basic premise? Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club is Entourage meets Sex And The City.

2. Of all the celebrities you met through ICM, who were one or two that you particularly enjoyed working with? I really enjoyed working with Cameron Diaz. She is an amazing person, beautiful inside and out. I also had the opportunity to work with Susan Sarandon and she too, is amazing. Stunningly smart.

3. As a motion picture literary agent did you primarily represent actors or, also, novelists/screenwriters? When I was a motion picture literary agent I primarily worked with film directors and screenplay writers. But since I worked at the second largest agency in the world, I also got to service (help find material for) amazing A-list actors.

4. I've never been able to choose just one favorite food, but do you have a clear preference? If you can't narrow it down, how about your favorite food item per category--i.e., your favorite fruit, veggie, appetizer, main dish, dessert? Oooo….French Fries, and mashed potatoes and sushi…but not together.

5. Who was the first person you told when you got The Call announcing you'd sold your first novel? My husband.

6. 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.? I’d love to be on The List. That, I think would be the coolest.

7. Would your high school friends be surprised to discover you'd become a novelist? Maybe. I mean, I didn’t write much in high school. I wrote a ton in grade school but I stopped for a while in high school.

8. What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication? Never give up!

9. Do your neighbors/hometown acquaintances know you're a published author or did you just choose to tell those closest to you? Yes, they know. I did a signing in my hometown, or where I went to high school. My family moved so much that I consider where I graduated from high school to be my hometown.

10. What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why? Loyalty. The four lead characters are loyal friends. I think loyalty is a great trait and so important.

Many thanks to Maggie for sharing her time with us, and congratulations to her, again, on her new book release! To learn more about Maggie and her projects, visit: http://www.maggiemarr.com/.

Friday, May 16, 2008


While I don't spend a lot of time online rhapsodizing about how wonderful I think the cast of the CW's show "Supernatural" is, this in no way means I'm not thinking it. Often.

Last night was the finale for the 3rd season. It had its share of gore. It had demons doing demonic things. It had blood, death and, lest we forget, hell hounds. Normally, I'm not so into stuff like this, but I've seen every single episode of this series for three seasons now--horror themes or no.


Because of the Winchester boys and their fabulous relationship. It's complex, frequently funny, intense--and I'm in constant awe that the writers crafted such well-drawn characters and that the actors (the talented Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) manage to balance the show's action in the midst of these wild paranormal plots with a dialogue that's intimate enough to make me believe they're really brothers.

Well, and there's the '80s music Jensen's character likes to blast from his car stereo. I like that, too...

For more information on "Supernatural," check out Yahoo! TV http://tv.yahoo.com/supernatural/show/37502 and the show's official home on the CW http://www.cwtv.com/shows/supernatural (where you can even watch full episodes, if you want :).

Monday, May 12, 2008


The talented and clairvoyant Maureen McGowan (who magically guessed I needed a subject for my next blog post :-), tagged me for this today.

Here are the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you’ve posted your three sentences.

My nearest book is a fun novel by Sarah Strohmeyer called THE CINDERELLA PACT. Page 123 is the start of Chapter 18 and, oh, what an intriguing chapter it is. Take a quick read:

Chip--or the man formerly known as Chip--is before me in a loose gray T-shirt that hangs off his shoulders and those faded jeans again. Does he wear anything else?

"Hey," he says, standing back to take a look.

That excerpt went by way too fast. Only 3 sentences are allowed? Seriously?! But don't you all wanna know what else Chip says? Or what the "me" in the story is doing to make Chip look at her? Or whether Chip decides to wear anything else later in the chapter?

What a tease this tag is!

Okay, well...I guess you have to read the book to find out more. (Or email me privately. I'll tell. I'm indiscreet that way.)

L.A. Mitchell did a different version of this meme using manuscript pages of a writer's draft--check out her 1-2-3 blog post from April 30th if you get a chance. But, since this is different (and shorter), I'm tagging her anyway!! As for the 4 others, I'm also tagging:

Nadine Dajani
Sandra Ferguson

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wisdom from Debbie Macomber

A little over a week ago, I spent a lovely 2 days at Chicago-North RWA's "Spring Fling" Conference. The fact that it's my home writing chapter doesn't bias me at all. (Not a bit! :-) Neither does the fact that I had good news and Ghiradelli chocolate squares to share with my fabulous chaptermates... But, if getting to spend a celebratory weekend with so many wonderful writers, agents and editors wasn't delightful enough, all the conference attendees were treated to an inspiring keynote by NYT bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Anyone who's ever listened to Debbie knows she has a touching style of speech. Her prior addresses to writers have left me in tears every time, which is highly embarrassing and really interferes with my ability to concentrate on the dessert cheesecake. Last Saturday night was no exception.

But this time, between sniffles, I grabbed the conference dinner menu and jotted down one of the things Debbie said on the back of it: "When we follow our dreams, we give our children permission to dream."

This made me fight tears even more than usual because her words really hit home. Like many writers, I'd dabbled in fiction for decades, but it wasn't until my son was born that I got very serious about it. The reason, of course, was based in that netherworld between fear and love. I so loved this little baby and, at the same time, I was afraid of everything.

One of the many fears that haunted me was something I'd witness time and again in the lives of others: Parents who lived out their own dreams and ambitions through their children. I was petrified I'd somehow do this--consciously or unconsciously, it didn't matter which--so I felt I needed to do all in my power to follow my deepest dreams, regardless of the end result. I wanted not only to try to be a good example of someone who worked hard to create a life I loved but, also, to give my son complete freedom to follow his own heart's path without ever feeling a responsibility to complete any part of mine.

My son is now 9. He doesn't remember a time when I didn't write. He's frequently annoyed by the number of hours I spend at the computer (and doesn't hesitate to tell me so), but I know he's never doubted I'm doing what I love. He was the first person I told when I got "the call" and he was wildly excited...because it meant we got to go out to his favorite restaurant for dinner :-). Aside from that, though, it was just another afternoon with Mom--and, truly, that's exactly what I wanted it to be for him.