Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bad television...truly bad television...

One of the things that's nice about not having a day job--actually, everything is nice about having a day job, except for the lack of money part--but I digress...

Anyway, I have more time to devote to writing, and with getting my book ready for publication, I've needed it. But it's not like I'm taking all of this additional time and being productive with it. I find my lack of productivity frustrating at times, to be honest. Sure, I've been able to do some things more quickly-- I just finished a screenplay draft in pretty much record time (and had a blast doing it). But back when I worked full-time and was really in a rhythm, I used to crank out hour-long teleplays in a couple of weeks--at night, after work. I'm not making any claims that they were brilliant, and it's not like I made money on them, but I sure was able to put out the pages.

Now? I mainly feel like everything...has...slowed...down....And I like it.

I like having time to walk everywhere instead of driving. I like being able to have dinner and drinks with friends and not worry so much about all the work I need to do before I fall asleep. I like being able to sleep and not have to drag myself out of bed the next day feeling like cat-food. I like being able to mindlessly surf the interwebz and only feel somewhat guilty about the time suck.

And you know what I really like? Watching television.

Oh, man, I have been watching a lot of television. Lots of football (both pro and college). And...just bad television.

I mean, it's one thing to spend your time watching MAD MEN and BREAKING BAD. These are genuinely good shows. No, I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about "My Secret Shame" level of stuff.

THE BACHELOR. And THE BACHELORETTE. Oh yes. And AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL. And BIGGEST LOSER. Though I can tell myself that the last one is about, I don't know, personal transformation, the Bachelor/Bachelorette is all about the train-wreck, baby! Don't look! Cover your eyes!

Hah. Made you look.

Then there is the world of Bad Hour Long Dramas. Now, some stuff I just cannot watch. All of those CSI/LAW & ORDER shows? Not interested. Medical shows, I want to like, but when they are bad, they are so bad. This new one, THREE RIVERS? Unwatchable. Even with former Vampire Detective from MOONLIGHT and hot-regardless-of-your-sexual-orientation former lesbian hairdresser from THE L WORD--which, by the way, is a candidate for my own personal Hall of Camp Fame. Wow. The one where Cybill Sheppherd comes out...dreadful. Classic.

See, it can't just be bad. It has to be fun bad. I'm not really sure what the line of demarcation is, but I know it when I see it.

Do I watch a double-bill of GHOST WHISPERER and MEDIUM on Friday nights? Why, yes, I do! Are either of these shows good? Well, I'd argue that MEDIUM is better quality -- Roseanna Arquette is great, and she might actually be in double-digits, size-wise. It's refreshing -- but MAD MEN good? Not really.

(and by the way, last week's episode of MAD MEN -- "The Gypsy and the Hobo" -- that had to be one of the most riveting episodes of the series thus far. Sooo tense! I was freaking out -- "she's in the car! She's in the car!" If you saw it, you know what I mean)

Do I actually focus my full attention on these shows? Nope. I use them as backdrop for cooking, laundry, proofing, surfing...I don't even have a TiVo, so it's live or nothing.

And then there's my latest, "Wow, I can't believe I'm watching this!" candidate -- EASTWICK.

Let me just say, EASTWICK is not a "good" show. It's been described as DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES meets BEWITCHED, which kind of covers it. The first episode was...pretty bad (and not good bad). I will say that it's improving. And EASTWICK has one thing that makes it a must-watch for me: Paul Gross.

Oh. My. God. What is it about these Canadians? Paul Gross plays the Devil, or something. It's not clear, and I don't care. He is hilarious. Smarmy-licious. Practically Shatnerian in his self-aware, nudge-wink side-of-ham performance. I'm considering a TiVo just to fast-forward through all the parts he's not in.

Yes, I am a fan.

I expect this period of television immersion is not indefinite. I'll probably get tired of it pretty soon. Maybe even tonight. I have a stack of books to read, and you know...

I just can't get into GREY'S ANATOMY...

UPDATE: THE MENTALIST? Not feeling it...

SECOND UPDATE: Several readers have left comments naming their own Television Secret Shames. I'd like to propose that those prepared to confess their embarrassing TV habits do the same. Who knows, we might get enough for a poll!

Okay, this is Paul Gross in SLINGS AND ARROWS (a show set backstage at a more than usually dysfunctional theater company), which I think I need to Netflix. Which means I need to get Netflix...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Flock of Writers...

Anybody who follows publishing industry news is aware that this last year and a half, two years, has been one of the worst times for new writers to break into the business, to get that first deal. Publishing is changing in ways that no one can yet predict and the overall economic crisis has compounded pre-existing structural problems in the business. There are so many commentators who are more expert than I am, and I'll direct you to this post by my amazing agent, Nathan Bransford, for just one example of the seismic forces at work here.

But that's not what this post is about. Instead I want to talk about beating the odds. Yeah, this is a happy story.

My novel will debut from Soho Press next year. But it's not just me. All kinds of people I know have sold, gotten agents or otherwise achieved some publishing success during this very tough time. I'll name a few names: Judi Fennell (who sold her first three book series in 2008 and just sold a second), Elizabeth Loupas, whose historical mystery/romance will debut in 2011, Bryn Greenwood (agented, on sub), Dana Fredsti (on sub), Jenny Brown (sold three book romance series), and Nathan Bransford (already a publishing pro and now an author whose middle-grade novel comes out in 2011). I recently started hanging out on a forum at Absolute Write, where in the last couple of months, more writers than I can count have gotten agented and/or sold.

And finally, just two days ago, another writer friend scored a multi-book deal (I'm leaving that announcement to the writer in question).

I'm trying to figure out what the lessons are here, that so many writers I know are achieving career milestones during what is arguably the worst period in publishing since the Great Depression. I'm concluding two things: that serious-minded people flock together, and that a sort of positive group-think emerges, one that is oriented toward success and encourages the success of others in the group. My own progress I attribute in large part to the people by whom I'm surrounded -- I don't know that I would have known how to scramble up to that next level without the knowledge and enthusiasm of writer friends who in many cases were ahead of me in their own career progression, or at the very least certainly had a better idea of how to go about it than I did.

So, the take-away? Surround yourself with serious-minded writers. People who have the same commitment to excellence and success that you do. You'll boost each other up, and you'll fill in the gaps in each other's knowledge and experience.

I know that sounds suspiciously like management-speak (especially that "commitment to excellence and success" part), but you know what, it's true.

Plus, you know, maybe there's some kind of weird quantum physics at work here. Success reinforcing success, blasting out success waves...or something.

Okay, maybe not.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Junk mail that made my day...

You know those solicitations you get from shady companies wanting to refinance your mortgage? The ones that say "OFFICIAL US MAIL!" "DELIVER TO AUTHORIZED ADDRESSEE ONLY!!!" and of course it's a load of crap because it's just a piece of junk mail? I got one from Geico, the auto insurance company, that says, first in red letters:

Followed by:
Do not deliver to the wrong addressee!
Do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate
Do not lock your keys in the car
Do not wear brown shoes with a navy suit
Do not forget your mom's birthday

Okay, it made me laugh. But the gecko, guys? Still not feeling it...

Friday, October 16, 2009

ROCK PAPER TIGER available for pre-order (!)

I was going to post something else today (a post about my vaguely embarrassing television habits, and I promise I'll do that tomorrow), but something came up, and even though I posted it as a news item on my Lovely New Website, I figured I'd better repeat it here...

So, yeah, I've been checking Amazon occasionally (daily) to see when my book shows up for pre-order without really expecting it to be there. I figured it would appear around the same time as the Soho catalog for Spring/Summer 2010, which I think is November. Tonight, as I was chatting with two friends in two separate chat windows, I idly surfed on over to Amazon for my routine search (because two chats is not nearly enough multi-tasking for my attention-deficit-addled brain) and, whoah...

There it was...

There are all sorts of moments that stand out in this journey to publication, some of which are pure joy and validation (getting an agent, getting the sale, seeing my cover), and others that are joyous mixed with..."Oh. Weird. That's my book."

Oh. Weird. That's my book.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hey! Look over there!!! ----->

At my new website! It is very nifty, thanks to the amazing design job of Ryan of Dao By Design, whom I highly recommend. Take a look -- I think you'll agree with me!

UPDATE: and I absolutely must give a shout-out to graphic designer Kerrin Hands, who created the awesome cover for ROCK PAPER TIGER! (the design of which you'll see reflected in the overall look of the website). I should have thanked him by name way sooner -- I feel so fortunate to have my book represented by his work.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Book People are Nice People!

I forget what book person's blog I read that on, but it's true. I now have four very nice blurbs for ROCK PAPER TIGER from four very successful, busy authors. I don't know many other professions whose members overall are as generous with their time and willingness to help out newbies.

I'm getting ready to launch my new website (this blog will be a part of the site, no worries) and now I am faced with the enviable problem of having to rethink where I'm going to put all of these kind's a nice problem to have!

Okay, that's my brag of the day. But it's also a reminder to myself -- if I achieve any level of success, I owe it to the Book Universe to pass the generosity along...