Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorable Seduction Lines

"I say we take our clothes off."

"Why don't we get in the back seat?"

"I want to poke you."

"What does the rest of the house look like?"

Now dear reader, make no assumptions, please. I have garnered these morsels from many sources and may actually have never heard any of them myself.

The painting depicts that rascal Cupid and his lover Psyche. I'd say he's primed for success right here, wouldn't you?
In my nun book, or ex-nun book that I am writing, my protag will of course face the dating world She will fall for the worst cads, of course, because she is entirely innocent. But the fat guy will be there all the way and getting less fat as time goes by.
It's not a romance, though.
She has lost her faith in God but can't and doesn't tell anybody. It's not like anything I have written before.

In other news, mass quantities of bees are marshalling forces outside my bedroom window and indeed outside all the upstairs windows. It's a yearly thing for them, probably like the company Christmas party and I wouldn't doubt that many of them are drunk and attempting seductions themselves. The constant buzzing is annoying and alarming in a dull muted way.
They (the bees) occasionally build little mud hives right on the side of the house, which I bravely reach out and whack loose.
QUIT PROBING MY RHODODENDRONS (possible further connection to seduction theme)

Sorry, I keep yelling. But I AM NOT AFRAID OF BUGS!!! Seriously. I can kill an ant or spider with my thumb while I sit talking at the kitchen table.
Some have been horrified by this.
Men are ridiculous where bugs are concerned. I never met one who didn't want to kill them with aerosol spray. In the time it takes to mildly choke a wasp with oven cleaner fumes, I could have killed a dozen of them with a wrapped-up magazine. [shakes her head in disgust and strolls outside to lasso a few dogies, wherever they may come from here in central Massachusetts]
And so I am off to NYC for a writers' conference, which promises to be great fun. I am moderating a panel of high-octane literary agents, so let's pray that I don't trip over anything or otherwise make an ass of myself.
Death to all bugs and snakes!
A bientot

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Spring: Why it Doesn't Suck and Why it Does

This is the best week of the year, dear reader. You know it's true. Everything is in thick bloom and surrounded by that bright kelly green that is so cheerful and hopeful.
Like everything good in life, it's fleeting, so I say we all sit outside and let our sinuses fill up with allergies.

Azaleas bloom, though not nearly in the same profusion here as in Arkansas. I haven't seen the azaleas in Little Rock for many years, but it is my hope to do so one of these springs. It is truly a remarkable sight. Is anyone yawning?

Well, okay, it's not ALL good.

You want to know what is decidedly NOT good about the final official irrevocable arrival of spring in New England???

Oh yes, dear reader, you are right. BUGS!!!! Billions and billions (my Carl Sagan impression is pretty good, maybe I should put it up at my web site) of tiny insects, all ready and primed to bite you, sting you, suck your blood, and ruin your outdoor drinks party. One thing it will really ruin is a late-night romp in the kiddies' wading pool.

For me personally, the advent of warm weather also means another of the many homeowning traumas and humiliations that come around with such cruel regularity.

The person in this picture is wearing safety boots. Do you think I do that? HAH!!! Well, at least I don't wear sandals. Not the pink ones anyway.

Can you see how high the grass is? And this was LAST week. This is my back yard, of course, septic tank lid partially obscured.

I do have an excuse. The man who is working on my house jammed the shed doors shut and I can't open them so I can't get the lawnmower out. Okay? I CAN'T.

I don't think I'll be doing it this week either because I am going to NYC for a conference, so the grass will be even worse a week from now. I'll keep you posted.
This is what you call WHINING, dear reader. But you already know how excellent I am at it.
I am reading THE YEAR OF ENDLESS SORROWS by Adam Rapp which is quite good and very funny. I do love to howl out the window.
Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.
A bientot

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hit By a Rocket (almost)

No, no, not this Rocket haha (or as we call him, the lousy dirty Yankee traitor)
I'm talking about a real rocket.

Every department in every section of a school has something festive going on at the end of the year. The Art Department has an art show, the Drama Club does the spring musical, the band has Pops Night, it goes on and on. You might think that the shop department (industrial arts) would be immune to this propensity, but they are not. Shop guys get worked up for their stuff too.

You can trust me on that.

I was walking back to my car after a delightful two-mile stroll RIGHT BY the shop department of our local high school, where the proud students, all guys of course, were hauling out the result of a year's design work on a rocket ship. It was impressive. Bigger than a breadbox but smaller than a Honda. It had a bit of a Rube Goldberg aspect to it, which should be no surprise. The instructor, who looked like one of the students, was telling them how various other years' efforts with the rocket had gone.

"Some years it goes out that way," he said.

The boys weren't listening.

"Then again some years it heads more toward the football field."

They were almost ready to launch.

"Make sure no one is down there," he said. The thing was aimed in the opposite direction of me so I wasn't worried. I wasn't even really listening until I heard a high pitched swooshy kind of sound. I thought of World War II movies and then
CRIED OUT IN FEAR as the rocket fell an inch from my nose.
I hope they didn't spend ALL year working on it.

There is no good time to walk at the track, it seems. Either there are teams practicing on the field or outer space paraphernalia are raining down in the parking lot.

In other news, my rhodies just started to bloom! This signals a generally happy era, going all the way back to when my local theatre group used to perform at Brandeis in the yearly competition. I still remember getting home when it was light out and seeing these very blossoms.


(not necessarily for any book)

Living the Dream (I'm rather partial to this one)

Wearing the Drapes

Croesus' Pieces

Dolores Bucks Up (I know, I know. It rhymes with Dolores F----s Up, but still)

Twenty More Minutes of Arguing
Twenty More Minutes of Pasta
Twenty More Minutes of Kissing
Happy Memorial Day, dear reader. May your rhodies bloom in happiness.
A bientot
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How I Ruined My Hair

You don't think I'm actually going to show you, do you?

It all started last week in Arkansas when Clarissa, my parents' helper, "made me over." It looked pretty good. I liked it. It was a little greasy, though, just between us, dear reader. But whatever.

My regular hairdresser was actually unable to replicate this look. Not enough gooey stuff, the way I saw it. So today I went out and bought multiple slimy hair products, not to mention a small flat iron (I already have a big one) like the one Clarissa used, and an actual curling iron, which I threw in for good measure.

One of the directions listed (I don't usually read these of course) says NEVER USE THIS PRODUCT WHILE ASLEEP.

Frankly, I wish I had the mental capability to be able to do that. I wonder who does. It would be great if I could accomplish household tasks while I slept. Sort of like some of those childbirth amnesiac drugs that make you forget everything that happens.

Or mabe just smoking a big doobie. Is that what they call it these days? I'm not in the classroom right now, so I can't ask anyone.

I wasn't really going for this look.

Or this one either.
I think I've already had this style, haha.
In other news, the new book is coming along. The fat guy character is getting all the funny lines, wouldn't you know. And my character Mrs. Greer (from the abandoned old lady book) is appearing now in this new one. That's the fun part about being God, you can move 'em around any way you want.
Hope your week is going well, dear reader. Oh yeah, so how does my hair look? It's frizzy AND slimy, the best of both worlds! Yeah! And a non-dairy whipped topping too.
Maybe I should have put that in there.
Living the Dream,

Monday, May 21, 2007

Personality Switch

To go along with my own new look, this is Violet. You may recall her as the Good Sister of my daughter's two cats.

Well, forget that.

She is now the bold one, the rebel. The one who jumps onto the table and tries to eat your Mother's Day gifts.

Shocking, really.

Now this is Dahlia, formerly the scamp, the rascal, the Exasperating One.

Not any more. She is now rather reclusive, shy, and aloof. Not to say that you can't bring her out of her shell, but she's entirely different than she was a few weeks ago.

See, remember? She was headed for a life of crime. (I still think she wears eye makeup--some vices you can't get rid of no matter what)

The one thing that happened to these two is this: they got spayed.

Funny, huh? It was liberating for one and a damper for the other.

Oh well. Life takes some strange and interesting turns sometimes, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, I am working hard on my outline. It's fun populating a world. I'm dreaming up this fun fat guy, a fat guy who might lose weight and become babe-ish. Don't know yet. I'm making him tall, though, nothing like a tall guy.

Also in the meanwhile department, today is my first day of Living the Dream. No work, no class, no papers, no obligations. Where are you going, Becky Motew? Disney World? Hell, no. I'm going to the high school track to walk around and write my book.

Let's enjoy the summer, dear reader. May we all find joy and harmony and may they not arrive with too many complications. Or at least not insurmountable ones. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
A bientot

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My mother's back yard

On the right is St. Francis. He looks rather pious, doesn't he? He's the one who took care of the animals, I think, and he is frequently shown with birds and creatures hovering near him, not unlike Dr. Doolittle when you think about it.

Next to him is, gosh, who is that little minx? Bo Peep? No sheep showing, so I doubt it. Little Red Riding Hood? No wolf. It could be Little Miss Muffet, and if she keeps lifting that skirt up, we could end up seeing more of her tuffet than she intends. Let's not go there. Lady of the Lake? Too young, I'd say. Mistress of the Stables? No horses. These two have stood together now for many years in the same place. I wonder if he tries to lecture her sometimes.

"Hey. Whatever your name is."

"Are you talking to me?"

"No, I'm talking to the bird feeder. Of course I'm talking to you."

"Well, funny thing, my name isn't 'hey.'"


"And I thought you were the bird feeder. You have more stains on your head than I do."

"Your immodesty is giving me dreams at night, honey."

"What immodesty? I'm only eight."

"Yeah. And I'm the Queen of England. You're very big for your age, you know."

"I'm big boned. I can't help it."

"Please don't talk about big bones."

"Well, it's true."

"I think you're in puberty."

"Oh, you wish. Can you shut up for two minutes? People are sitting there on the patio and I have to look my best."

I'm sure it goes on and on. Life With the Bickeringtons. Anyway, I am working on my overall outline for the nun book. It will follow the course of a school year, so that is fairly easy to work with. I already know there will be Christmas vacation and the different breaks and holidays. I have always liked working with the calendar year.

I like rules in general. Rules are liberating. I can follow them.

Maybe St. Francis will have advice for me too.

Quite cold in New England today, dear reader. It feels really cold after Arkansas.
A bientot

Thursday, May 17, 2007

GCC: Kelly Parra's Debut

Well, I think I have waited all my life to see a cover like this. And the book sounds really good. Take a look:

About the book:Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble...Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with the winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track start and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside her can truly break free.Praise for Graffiti Girl:"With characters as bold and exciting as the art they love, and an honesty that keeps them raw and real, Graffiti Girl shows us that they only thing better than discovering your talent is finding yourself along the way." ~ Jenny O'Connell, author of Plan B and The Book of Luke"Graffiti Girl is a fast-paced story that boldly looks dreams and temptations in the eye. 16 year-old Angel Rodriguez steals your heart as she tries to find her place in the world--artistically, socially, and even inside her own family. Don't miss this one!" ~ Tina Ferraro, author of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress"This book blew me away. Kelly Parra writes with the keen eye of an artist. Graffiti Girl is warm, gutsy, and true-to-life--an unflinching, honest portrayal of young adults. A seamless and impressive debut." ~ Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Pale ImmortalAbout the Author:Kelly Parra writes young adult fiction for MTV Books. When not at work on her current novel, she spends her free time roaming book stores, surfing the blogosphere, and watching reality TV. Graffiti Girl is her debut novel. For an excerpt visit her website. You can also find her here or, of course, you could just go for it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Me and the Jag

I know I should say "the Jag and I," but it feels so thrilling to venture away from conventional grammar.

I'm on vacation and will be for another month and a half. I might even say "ain't," dear reader. I'm dangerous sometimes.

This is my brother's car, not mine of course. I have returned from Arkansas.

This is my brother and his wife and little Zoey, to whom they are devoted. They all live happily on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs.

This is part of the view. The ash tray is for the nightly cigars.

My trip was great. I got to eat good Mexican food (you can't get that in New England), see some old friends, talk to some other ones, and hang out with my parents.

I have a new hairstyle too (not shown above--that's the old "wild" style). Caregiver Clarissa at my parents' asked me the other day, "would you like a makeover? Would you like me to make you look totally different?"

"Um, well...."
"Good. Just sit here."

I confess, dear reader, as I sat with a towel over my shoulders, I was fearful. I thought I was going to look like Betty Boop on a bad acid trip. My hair is very curly.

Everybody loves the new do. I think I do too, but I'm still considering.

Meanwhile, my trip home on the plane proved once again why a good book can save the day. I was seated next to a bona fide "Deliverance" guy. He had shoulder length hair, not too many teeth, and reeked--reeked!!--of booze. I believe he consumed four Budweisers on our 2.5 hour trip. His mother was seated across the aisle from us and I eagerly offered to trade with her so they could be together, but she declined.

I read Catching Genius by Kristy Kiernan and I'm very glad it was so good.

"Females don't take long in the bathroom, do they?" my seatmate asked me once.

"Mmmm," I said. What could I have said? Any remotely possible reply would have put us on a far more intimate footing than I desired.

Then when he returned to his own seat a bit later, he confided in me that "they don't make them rest rooms for tall people, I can tell you that."

"Oh," I said. Again, words failed me.

"Sorry," he said. "Ah know yew want to read yer book."

"Oh, it's quite absorbing," I said.

I should have had Zoey the Royal Dog with me. She would have known what to say.
Anyway, dear reader, I am glad to be home. I ain't going nowhere for a while.
A bientot

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Welcome to Arkansas

For most people, Bill and Hillary are the only residents they've ever known from the Natural State. Is that what they call it now? It used to be Land of Opportunity on the license plate. Actually, Bill is a true Arkie, but Hillary is from Chi and now they're both in New York. You can see Bill's hometown Hot Springs, just a little way to the left of Little Rock off Rte. 70. My dad used to refer to the bypass there with WalMart and all the other stores as "Paris on 270" We still laugh about that one. And we still call it that too.

I'm still learning about this new Google stuff and haven't yet figured how to get copy underneath the map. I'm making my way slowly up the learning curve.

I am actually writing to you from the Fletcher public library in Little Rock. I have the car and I don't have to be home for an hour. AAAAAAAAAAH. It may be SteinMart time!!!

My dad told someone last week that Mother was "in the hospital for corpuscles."

Back next Tuesday, dear reader.
map of Arkansas cities

GCC: Jennifer OConnell

I'm off to Arkansas, dear reader. Meanwhile, Jennifer O'Connell is a doll. I'm proud to say we share the same agent and I have met Jennifer and socialized with her. She is what we call in New England "wicked smaht" (a Smith grad) and funny and very cute. She has a very successful writing career going for herself and this is the latest. I can't wait to read it:

ABOUT THE BOOK:One woman is about to take her knack for risk management to a whole new level in Jennifer O’Connell’s new novel, INSIDER DATING.Abby Dunn, barely past thirty and still reeling from her divorce, has taken herself off the dating market. Instead, she’s using her experience to turn the tables on the opposite sex by building a database to rank underperforming men and set women straight when investing their greatest asset: themselves.Now, what started as a pet project is becoming a full-time enterprise. But while Abby’s busy hedging bets, someone is skewing her data and threatening to ruin her business. Abby is about to find out that sometimes even the savviest market wizards can be headed for a crash.While it may be perfectly legal, nothing good can come from insider dating.ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jennifer O’Connell received her BA from Smith College and her MBA from the University of Chicago. She lives outside Boston and when she’s not writing, she spends her days as a market strategy consultant. She is the bestselling author of Bachelorette #1, Dress Rehearsal, and Off The Record.You can find Jennifer at her website or on her blog. On the other hand, why wait??

Bye, dear reader. If I can get my dad's computer to work, I will give you a shout from there.

A bientot,

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Monday, May 07, 2007


Here are a few test takers, waiting to see how hard the questions will be. Their expressions changed after I told them they had to name every book ever written.

God, I'm so zany. No, I forgot, I'm QUIRKY.
In truth, I thought the test was pretty easy.

So did these two. Or maybe they're just happy to be getting away from me at long last. The girl on the left, Dawn, walks in nearly every day and says the same thing. "You're going to kill me."
"Did you hit my car?" I ask.
"Then I'm not going to kill you." It's cute the way they think I am so invested in bibliographic entries. I am , of course, but not EVERY minute.

This bunch thought the test was a beast.

Oh, pshaw and come now.

Every semester I see some sad things and some happy things. Young people who are persevering under extremely adverse circumstances. Others who are being forced by their parents to attend. At least one student per semester writes to me of a loved one killed in a car accident. I never knew there were so many fatalities. It scares me. Love blooms in front of my eyes sometimes. I have actually helped it along, though they never would have guessed. The only thing is I never get to see how it turns out.
Some of our vocabulary selections this semester were: reticent, pretentious, splayed (I begged them not to pick that one), perpetuate, vindicate, boisterous, coquette (everyone liked that one, but I think they just liked to see me bat my eyelashes), acquire (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT ONE? They pulled one over on me for sure), irritable (SAME), and I guess I've forgotten the rest.
I won't forget them, though. At least not until I get their grades entered.
A bientot

Friday, May 04, 2007


This is Hansel. He is a babe. You can trust me on that. Back in the day, Hansel could turn the cable TV on and off with impunity. He alarmed me, an occasional visitor, because of his size. I learned to love him, though. But recently, he was displaced. Shut out. He's still loved but he is, shall we say, not valued in the same way as before. What caused this tragedy?

Yes, here she is. Little Maeve (she loves to chew on these tapes; don't ask me why. Tape Girl.).

In the early days when Maeve came home, Hansel would look over his shoulder at Loren, his mummy too, as if to say "You used to like me best." Heartrending.

Loren reports that Maeve LOVES Hansel, adores him. When he walks by, she goes crazy. Sadly, Hansel hates her. He can't wait to get away. Maeve doesn't know.

These are some of the sad realities of life, it seems to me. People want us to go away and we don't even realize it. We stand there talking like an idiot. But how does Hansel feel? His life is greatly diminished in some ways.

But you know what? The last time I saw him, he was starting to get over it. He approached all of us adults with a new heart. Love me anyway. I'm still a babe.

And we do, dear reader.

I like learning life lessons from a cat. It's so open-minded.

Going to Arkansas next week where I may learn a few more.

A bientot

Thursday, May 03, 2007

GCC: Shanna Swendson's Damsel Under Stress

I met Shanna Swendson last year at the Romantic Times convention in Daytona Beach and she is the owner of the most fabulous pair of ruby slippers. I was quite covetous. Her newest Katie Chandler book is out this month and it looks terrific. Here's a taste.

Katie Chandler and her wizard colleague Owen have finally gotten it together and are about to have their first real date, after confessing their feelings and sharing an electrifying kiss at the office Christmas party. So naturally, when the eccentric fairy Ethelinda appears and announces that she is Katie’s fairy godmother, here to help her find true love, Katie dismisses her. She’s found her true love and they are on the path to happily ever after; why would she need Ethelinda’s help?

But Ethelinda isn’t taking “no” for an answer and continues to pop up when Katie least expects—or wants—her. Add in the evil wizard Idris’s scheme for world domination, or at least magical domination, and Katie has her hands full. She needs answers. Is Owen The One? What exactly is Idris’s next move? And how does she get rid of a fairy godmother who has more ulterior motives than Cinderella’s stepmother?This summer prepare yourself to be spell-bound by Katie’s world in DAMSEL UNDER STRESS.About the author:SHANNA SWENDSON escaped the corporate rat race to be a novelist and pop culture essayist. She is the author of Enchanted, Inc. and Once Upon Stilettos, in addition to contributing essays to books about television series, authors, and novels. When she’s not writing or watching television and movies so she can write about them, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and singing.

Visit her web site here, her blog right here at Livejournal, or join me in buying it immediately!

A bientot

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Irresponsible Fog

Today was the first day that I didn't have to teach anybody. I planned to stay home and grade, grade, grade. And indeed I did do that in the morning. But then I succumbed to pleasure, dear reader, and had lunch with some old coupon friends. It was hilarious. I love hilarity in general. Is there a better feeling? Anywhere? Well, okay, not that.

I feel like this right now (except who is that guy? Is he a good dancer or just faking it?). Stephen King writes an essay (read in my class) that talks about a child's ability to bench press disbelief. Disbelief, as King maintains, is hard to get rid of, difficult to dislodge. Kids do it easily. There aren't many days in an adult's life that s/he can float around in an irresponsible fog. And yet that's what I did today.
Cover ImageI signed a book for someone and that felt good. That reminds me, my mass market release is this month. Yaaaay!! Mass market!!! I don't have anything planned really and I should. Well, I will be toured on the Girlfriends' circuit and that will be beneficial, I hope.
So what is my real life? Writing? Teaching? Having lunch? Oh, don't make me pick.

A bientot