Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Modigliani haunts Machu Picchu, wearing a tiara

at Machu Picchu, where I didn't
work on Suzuki England

So I'm kinda sorta doing this Next Big Thing blog tour, which is a bit like a chain letter (I hate chain letters) in that you're supposed to get 5 more writers to do it & they're each supposed to get 5 more writers & pretty soon there will be world domination of all blogs as people who didn't even know they were going to be working on a book quick began to write one so they could get in on it. Grin.

Except I don't have 5 writers, because I checked with about 7 of them & a bunch of them didn't get back to me & of the ones who did only one wanted to do it & since it wasn't fun for me to try to get people to take over the world 5 blogs at a time I quit trying to get other people to do it. So, Cathy Tenzo & I will do it ourselves & whoever else Cathy gets to play, if anyone. It was just fun for me to fill out the questions for my books. If anyone wants to play & would like to be announced on my blog, let me know. I won't insist you have other conspirators.

So, here goes:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

The Secret Life of Suzuki England

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was driving toward between Pueblo and Denver on a road trip (I love a great road trip) and there was a lot of construction. Ahead of me was a little 4x4 with Suzuki written on the spare tire cover driving the way I like—safe following distance, not speeding in the construction zones and speeding just enough when we could—so I was hanging with it. Then we all ground to a dead stop. We were in the left lane, and there was one of those trucks that says “England” in fancy font on the shiny back door next to my pet 4x4. “Suzuki England,” I mused. (We were stopped for quite a while, so I had plenty of time to muse.) “That sounds like a good name for a character.”

Many years earlier, I had an idea for a character who writes poems on the soles of her shoes. I’d been waiting for the right character to show up and I decided Suzuki England was definitely it. That was all I knew when I started. I wrote a few hundred words, killing Suzuki’s mother in the process, and then started brainstorming some possible things about her, settling on “three quarters elf.”

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy set in the here-and-now world—and a world beyond

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Chloe Grace Moretz (from Hugo) would be Suzuki England. Her mother: Anne Hathaway. Her father:  maybe Hugh Jackman. First and Second: Shia LeBeouf. (Perhaps he’s a tiny bit short for the role, but I really like him.) The scary aunts: Cate Blanchette. Nicole Kidman. Julia Roberts. (How often does she get to play a less-than-good character?)

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After her mother is killed by a swarm of yellowjackets, Suzuki England heads into the world with the ability to render herself invisible and a mysterious map that leads her to the knowledge that she is three-quarters elf—and may not survive the encounter with her newly-discovered elven family.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully the latter. I have a revision request from an editor I’ve worked with before and definitely need to get on with it.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Six months. I invented the 2-sentence-a-day rule at about the time I was beginning to write Suzuki (if I am recalling correctly…) and only missed two days in that whole period, both when I was in Peru, seeing Machu Picchu and such. (I give myself a pass for that.)

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle has the same sort of traveling-between-worlds energy. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, perhaps a bit.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Suzuki England herself inspired me, as she appeared and evolved on the page. Her journeys inspired me. Wondering what would happen next inspired me.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Suzuki England is one of my favorite sorts of characters, the kind who accomplishes more than she otherwise would because she doesn’t know she’s not supposed to be able to do that sort of thing. Poetry as a plot element is something different.

Ta da!

To see how Cathy Tenzo answers these questions, go to

on Wednesday, the 5th of December, 2012.

To completely change the subject, did anyone else notice the Modigliani painting in the new Bond movie, Skyfall? It got quite a lot of screen time.

Blog alternative: (which, in case anyone is wondering, is a suggestion for people to do other than reading or writing blogs & other web stuff...)
244. Wear a crown around the house--or even around town. You might have to make your own, if you don't have a tiara handy. A paper grocery bag has pretty good crown consistency. Burger King, of course, has crowns aplenty. Also, you can get plain brown crowns at craft stores. I got one at JoAnn fabrics that I'm going to collage.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Adorable author picks a winner (no pomegranates harmed in the making of this post)

I thanksgivitated in a most beneficial way, with walking & talking & a modicum of eating. Way more than walked the calories away. Yay, metabolism. Bought some rotisserie chicken that turned out not to be done. No damage from eating a piece, but we did boil the heck out of it to increase enjoyment & health benefits.

Last night I won $18 playing poker. Fun was had. More fun today, at a vitamin-ish store: I chose my stuff & asked the clerk if it was likely that I had a discount home on my email, which I'd forgotten to check. He said he could take care of it at the register, his words, "I'm only doing this because I think you're adorable. You have really good energy." I told him he did, too. Plus he was about 20 years younger than me. Nice to get confirmation from the universe that you're not the only one who thinks you're awesome. Grin.

Tomorrow I'm doing a blog based on a writing project, so I shall go put away some more papers & escort this cute little stinkbug outside & play with art supplies.

This blog celebrates the wonderfully-diverse 20-somethings I know, a couple of whom are related to me: big screen TVing, little target plinking, over-ripe pomegranate knife-throwing, poker-playing, head-shaving, healthifying, great energy beings.

Also found out that Brad Parks, the one mystery writer I've sent fan mail to, has a book on Kirkus Review Best Fiction of 2012 List. Yay for my good taste. Read his novels in order. (I believe there are, sadly, only 3 so far...) (I know, I only have 1 so far. My bad.)

Blog alternative:
243. Write a fan letter, whether it's to your child or the author of a new literary find or a potter who made a great morning coffee cup. You can even write an appreciative letter to your dead uncle or perhaps to Modigliani.

p.s. yes, I know. Q-tips. I could pretend I was avoiding trademark infringement because "cotton swab" just doesn't have the same ring to it but actually--in 2 separate blog posts--I brain-farted.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cue tips, dental floss, vinegar: plumber's alchemical secrets

x marks the spot where the light floods in

A few weeks ago I had a couple of compulsory baths. Not that I don't like a bath, but it's nice to have a choice & the little lifty thing (technical term) that determines whether the water goes up to the shower head or down to the tub faucet was firmly stuck in down position.

Derrick tried to fool with it & peered up into the mechanism with the help of a flashlight & decided calcification was the issue. Ah, I thought, remembering my mom's techniques for cleaning her shower heads in the Montana mountains with a baggie of vinegar tied up all around it. One sandwich bag, one twist tie & about a cup of vinegar later, we were soaking.

The next day, I removed the solution & Derrick put a towel in the tub to lie on & I hovered nearby, ready to swiftly act. "Cue tip, stat." "Cue tip." (We went through several cue tips.) It was getting pretty good, but then he asked for that plumber's staple: dental floss. He cleaned off the last bits of calcification & voila! we have showers & baths at will.

We have been having a fabtastic time with Nick. He's been doing a bit more work here than he planned to need to do, but some bugs cropped up after a recent Skritter release & he was also behind in work time because he did a whole bunch of romantic preparation to ask Chloe to marry him. Yes--I went to the grocery store to get broth & bread & a mop & came home with a daughter-in-law to be as well. (Nick called me with the news while I was in the mop aisle.) Speedy little characters, they have already set a date for next June. We are all very excited.

Blog alternative:
242. Use vinegar to clean something. Bonus points if you also use dental floss...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eating off the walls

Yesterday I vacuumed the ceiling. Then the walls. By the time I was done, the walls were clean enough to eat off, if you had food that would stick to them, which would have meant that they weren't clean any more...

The walls would definitely pass the white glove test--because sheet rock dust is white. Grin. Vacuuming only goes so far, as a shop vac is not exactly a hepa filter device.

We'd just done a little sheet rock sanding in the Cockpit, a room that used to be a dirty ole tool storage room & is now an awesome lil meditation space/art studio/guest quarters. The next guest to be thus quartered (so far the only guest to have the honors) is my son Nick. This will be his third installment in the Cockpit, which has progressed slowly & is now about done. We didn't get it painted yet, & we don't want to fume him out, so it shall not occur before this visit. Maybe later in the season. More likely in the spring. Who knows. I'll drape a sheet against the wall where Nick's head shall be so he doesn't end up as a cue tip.

Yay Nick! Fun shall be had.

I've had a song running through my mind for the last whiles. "Garden Party" by Ricky Nelson. (I have a particular affinity for Ricky Nelson, because my aunt, Ellen Louise, who is only 5 years older than I am, has always said I have Ricky Nelson lips. It is true!) Anyway, I show up at poker on Monday night & what comes up on satellite radio but that very song. So fun. I give you the chorus & invite you to listen to the song.

"But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself"

Chairs I bought at an auction a while back
(Not the most comfortable chairs in the universe--
UNTIL I added little lumbar support mesh thingies
from Goodwill. Now they rock. 
I'm guessing they originally came in a set of 8,
based on the shape.)

Blog alternative:
241. Look up the lyrics to an old song that runs through your mind. Maybe play it on Pandora. You can use my song if you'd like.