Open Letters Between My Novel & Me

(This picture is so embarrassingly MySpace. Minus gratuitous cleavage.)

Dear Novel,

This is the first time I've penned a letter like this. Normally, if I'm not pleased with a service I've received, I pretty much just sit on my frustrations and stew. I'm not one for writing complaint letters.

But you've crossed the line.

Your deadline is tomorrow, but are you even close to being finished? You keep telling me you are, but then I look at your word count and see it's swelling, and I look at your page number and see how many more there are behind you . . . and frankly, Novel, I think you're a liar.

You aren't done. You will NEVER be done. So cut the horse poo and give me a straight answer.

Do you ever plan on being finished? I'd like my life back.


Dear Stephanie,

I'm sorry, but I couldn't hear you over the sound of all of those Pik-Nik sticks you've been consuming behind your desk.

You should really lay off those. You're gaining weight. And it's making your T-zone shiny.

HEY! Here's an idea -- instead of complaining about how long it's taking me to finish, why don't you go make your own Pik-Nik sticks before the grocery store runs out? You can fry the potatoes with your face grease, fatty.


Dear Novel,

How COULD you?? After all of these hours, weeks, months spent together. When our anniversary is just around the corner!


THAT'S IT!!!!!!!



P.S. You're the fat one with your STUPID BLOATED WORD COUNT.

Dear Stephanie,

I know you'd like to believe it's over.

But I also know I'm all you think about.

I'm the first thing you think of in the morning. When you're at work. I'm what you tinker with on your lunch break, what you daydream about in the afternoon, and what keeps you from eating dinner with your husband. I am your evening, midnight, and daybreak.

And those three hours of sleep you're getting?

I know you're dreaming of me.


Dear Novel,

Why why why???

Why are you doing this to me? What did I ever do to you??

All I want is a little more time. To read books and watch trashy television. To see my friends and work on my blog -- I'd LIKE to post several times a week but, Novel, YOU ARE KEEPING ME FROM DOING IT!

I'd like a decent night's rest and to redye my hair and to bake cookies from that amazing Martha Stewart book. I'd like to take a walk around the block. And resume piano lessons and see the new Ricky Gervais film. And then go back to sleep!

I really, really miss sleep.

Are you worth it? Can you prove to me you're worth it?


Dear Stephanie,

If I weren't worth it, you would not be typing these idiotic letters back and forth. You'd be throwing that Danny Boyle movie marathon you've been meaning to hold for the last six months.


Dear Novel,

I am TOTALLY throwing that marathon anyway. You can't stop me.


Dear Stephanie,

Now you're being childish.

Take your nap. I'll see you upstairs in an hour.


Dear Novel,

Okay. I love you. I'm sorry.


Dear Stephanie,

It's okay.


P.S. I will be finished soon. I promise.

Dear Novel,

Pinky swear?


Dear Stephanie,

Double pinky swear.


P.S. Do you think you might still have time to bake the cookies? I could really go for some Snickerdoodles.

Dear Novel,

Bite me.

-- S.


Nineteen Questions That Have Nothing to Do With Anything

This picture of my husband kissing a Giant Prairie Dog has nothing to do with the questions either. But it's cute.

I should be doing one of the following right now:

(A) Revisions -- Yes. Still.


(B) My promised 1995 vs. 2008 Sense & Sensibility Smackdown.

But . . . I've been tagged! And this is way more fun.

1. What are your nicknames?
T-Bone, Killah Dillah, Pudge, Skanky McSkank-a-lot, and Iron Steph. Except totally not.

2. What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD?
When I was in third grade, I bought a VHS copy of Edward Scissorhands because I knew there was a beautiful man underneath all that makeup. And guess what?

I was SO right.

(Hey, speaking of Johnny -- did you hear the rumor he might be the new Riddler? How cool would THAT be?)

3. What is your favorite scent?
New paper (just like Hermione Granger)

4. What one place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back to?
Westminster Abbey. That place is mad haunted, yo.

5. Do you trust easily?
What an odd question!

6. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?
I'm pretty obsessive (I know -- you'd NEVER guess this about me, right?), so I'm a thinker. Except when it comes to speaking, and then I'm known for my verbal diarrhea. Conversational gaps make me nervous.

7. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?
I found out my Hot Mexican Boyfriend is having a baby. And it's not mine.


8. Do you have a good body image?
I resemble an albino praying mantis, but some people think that's hot.

9. What is your favorite fruit?
Cherry. Preferably in pie form.Preferably made by the man on the right in this photograph:

10. What websites do you visit daily?

11. What have you been seriously addicted to lately?
Ooo, my new necklace! It arrived in a pretty little box yesterday. I put it on immediately and haven't taken it off since. It was made by Liz, this fabulous blogger, and you can check out her etsy shop here! (Her work makes me wish my ears were still pierced.)

12. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
Elise is a SUPERHERO (as evidenced here).

13. What's the last song that got stuck in your head?
Probably something embarrassing. I think it was Europe's "The Final Countdown" aka GOB's theme song.

Doo doo do doooo. Doo doo do do dooo.

14. What's your favorite item of clothing?
My sweatshop-free pseudo-Chucks. I don't leave home without 'em. No Sweat Apparel is AWESOME -- when you buy from them, they mail you a list of the wages and benefits their workers were paid for making your shoes! I'd like to see NIKE do that.

(Nike, if you weren't aware, owns Converse, so Chuck Taylors haven't been American-made in years. I actually know someone who lost their job when the plant closed & went overseas.)

15. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?
The cereal? No. But the treats? Marshmallows and butter make everything better.

17. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?
Helloooo Amazon.com. Books, books, books.

18. What items could you not go without during the day?
A) Air
B) Water
C) Pajamas

19. What should you be doing right now?
Um . . . that thing . . . what's it called?


Which I better, you know, go do. Right now.

Okay, I'm supposed to tag eight people, but that feels excessive & I think 99% of the writers I know have already been tagged. So I'm just going to drop a few names. Play along if you like, but no pressure Amber, Asheville Dilettante, Gretchen, Jolie, Laini, and Mindi!


The Return of Good Television: Pushing Daisies + Ugly Betty

I took the advice of a friend today.

I took the day off. Well, not the whole day -- the afternoon and evening. Let's not get crazy here.

For the last week, I've suffered from a titchy wee bit of COMPLETE AND TOTAL burnout. Revisions aren't progressing, the novel will never be done, I'm going to miss my new deadline, and blah blah blah, poor sad pitiful me.

I'm kind of a wreck.

I've been spending my days at work (the one that pays, that is) fantasizing about being kidnapped and taken to a remote location with no writing equipment and being forced to watch BBC period romances for an entire week. Or two.

Or how about this one? The daydream where I quit BOTH jobs and run off to South America to live in a treehouse community. All I'll do is order books off Amazon (to be delivered TO the Amazon) and sit in my tree and read. Giant fantasy tomes, classic romances, swashbuckling adventures, graphic novels, and, of course, tons of young adult literature. And when I need to stretch my legs, I'll walk through the rain forest and discover new species of orchids and name them after characters in the books I'm reading.

Edmond dantesum

My friend suggested perhaps it was time for a break. She was right.

So this afternoon, I put on my sock monkey pajamas and watched the new Sense and Sensibility, which I had taped last spring. It's a CRIME that it has taken me so long to get to it, but there you go. That pesky novel thing getting in the way of my fun again.

It was wonderful, of course. But more on it later.

After S&S, I took a nap. A delicious two-hour nap. And when I woke up, I discovered Jarrod had baked a chicken pot pie (Yes. He baked while I slept. How amazing is that?) which we then devoured in front of the television set.

I KNOW! I sat in front of the TV twice today! Oh, how I've missed you, television.

And then . . . I finally saw the first episode of Pushing Daisies.

I had pre-ordered the DVDs and -- in a moment where everything aligned in the universe -- they arrived today. Last fall, I heard such great things about it, but before I had the chance to tune in, BLAMO! Writer's strike. (Which, you know, I supported. But it still sucked.)

So it was exciting to finally be able to watch it, nearly a year later.

I loved it, of course. LOVED. IT. I can't wait for more! We're going to watch an episode every night, so we'll be ready for the premiere October 1st.

I will find time for it.

After Lee Pace & cherry pies & technicolor tile floors, we took the dogs on a walk. The temperature was perfect and the moon was plump and have I mentioned autumn is in the air? I love the smell of autumn. The only slight frowny face was when we had to cut it short due to a Strange Moving Shape on the street ahead of us.

Because that was the moment we remembered that last night my neighborhood had another BEAR sighting.

I mean it was probably just a large cat or a dog or a beaver or something. But better to be safe than sorry.

So . . . when I was researching the new season of Pushing Daisies, I realized Ugly Betty starts next Thursday. Yay!

It's such a fabulous guilty pleasure. What an amazing cast. I love America Ferrara, and the supporting characters are some of the best on television. Justin! Hilda! Marc! Amanda! (Becki Newton - Amanda - has the best comedic timing.)

I can't wait to dive back into this lovely sparkly telenovela, and find out if Betty has gone to Tuscon with Henry or to Italy with Gio.

The first season, I was smitten with the adorably nerdy Henry, but last year, he turned really . . . eh. Such a disappointment. Anyone else feel this way? Thank goodness for Freddy Rodriguez! As far as I'm concerned, he was the highlight of television last year. Gio is such a funny, charming, charismatic character. My screen explodes with joy every time he pops up.

Or maybe it's just me. Exploding.

So my vote? Gio all the way, Betty.

(Not that we'll get any real answers in a season-opening episode.)


I was going to write a special Sense and Sensibility Smackdown (1995 vs. 2008), but I'm sleepy so I'm headed to bed EARLY for once.

Yes. Two a.m. is early now.


"I Love Your Blog" Award

Lookie! Someone loves me!

Wow. Thank you, Laini, for the "I Love Your Blog" award! What a fantastic way to start off a week. I'm all jittery and dance-y inside.

You know what this calls for, right? (Of course you do.)

A Hot British Man!

Jude Law: Skeezy nanny-banger or HBM? (Both.)

So now I get to name seven of my favorite blogs. Fun! Here's how this tag works:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (as shown above).

3) Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Tra la la! Here we go.

The Lifetime Achievement Blog -- ljc fyi

I have to mention Jenny's first, because I've been reading it the longest. I've never met her or spoken with her or had any contact other than the occasional "Heh dude. I like yer blog" comment I've left behind, but well . . . I like her blog! It's been updated daily since 2000 (think about that) with photographs of pugs, scooters, crafts, gardening, and Cute Items Found at Wegman's.

The New (To Me) Blog -- Gretch-a-Sketch

How cool is Gretchen? She likes Neko Case, Jim Halpert, and pie. She had me at "I'm having a hard time trying to figure out why I haven't been reading your blog since the beginning of time, basically." Oh yeah. Flattery gets you everywhere. Right back at you, Gretchen!

The how much do I #$!#@&* love this person? Blog -- Mad About Old Movies

Deb is pretty much the coolest person in the world. Or at least Canada. She's been hanging out at the Toronto International Film Festival (um, can I die of jealousy now?) and was awesome enough to snap this photo of JIM STURGESS for me. Hee hee. We'll have to take her word on it, but that does look like a nice head of sufficiently mussed hair. (And she makes truffles and drinks gourmet tea, so I think we can trust her.)

The Local Blog -- The Asheville Dilettante

An Asheville librarian with colorful hair streaks who likes cooking and weird factoids and children's novels and gardening and Run Lola Run? WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME I HAVE ANOTHER BLOG???

The Obsession Blog -- Jane Austen Today

There are a lot of great Austen blogs, but this one is hands-down my favorite. It's an exploration of Jane in the modern-day media. Which means there are a lot of pictures of HBM in breeches and cravats.

(Not to mention, it brought my attention to the above picture, which makes me giggle to no end.)

The Escape + Research Blog -- Paris Daily Photo

I'm a longtime fan of PDP. Eric's posts are warm and funny, and his photography is always breathtaking. It's a welcome escape from work, even if only for a moment.

So it was weird for me when suddenly I found myself writing a book set in Paris, and his blog became one of my most valuable research tools! (And I say suddenly, because I swear, I had nothing to do with it. It just happened. It dropped out of the sky and into my lap and I went, "Huh? We're writing about this now? Are you sure?").

In other words, my escape from work became work itself! But if looking at gorgeous pictures of Paris is research, than I'm in the right business.

The First Click of the Day Blog -- Laini Taylor

I'm not sure if it's kosher to give an award back to the person who gave you the award, but how could I not? If you like books and faeries and brightly colored rooms and talons and baby animals and cupcakes and backyard boxing rings (wait, what?), then this is your place. She's an AMAZING writer -- if you haven't read Blackbringer yet, do do do! -- and I'm honored to be her friend.

Plus, she has hot pink hair.

Hold on . . . what's this??? A BONUS AWARD??

The It Saved My Butt Blog -- Not for Robots

Double the Laini!! It's more like a series of essays than a blog, but the simple fact is this. I have learned more practical writing advice here than from ANY book. Unique and detailed and encouraging, she gives the kind of wisdom I wish I'd had years ago. Thank you for saving my tired, weary, frustrated self (again and again and again).


And for SCIENTIFIC PURPOSES, I need to post another picture stolen from Deb's blog. You know, so we can compare the hair in the sketchy picture above with this crisp, clear photo below. Does it look the same?

WHO CARES? It's Jim Sturgess! And he doesn't boink nannies, so he comes guilt-free.


Don't Call Me Little Bunny by Gregoire Solotareff -- the most messed up picture book you've never heard of

Look! I'm not talking about revisions!

Instead I'm sharing one of my favorite picture books with you, Don't Call Me Little Bunny by Gregoire Solotareff, 1988.

Never heard of it? I hadn't either.

We were discussing terrible children's books at work recently, and my supervisor mentioned this forgotten gem. At one point, all of the branches in our library system had it, but since then, it has dwindled down to one.

(My real question is why we all had it in the first place. It must have gotten a good review. Why why why???)

Now, I don't love Little Bunny because I think it's GOOD (and I *DO* love Little Bunny). As far as content is concerned, it's pretty much the worst picture book ever conceived. I love it because it's so wildly inappropriate, and I'm flabbergasted as to how it was ever published, nevertheless written in the first place.

It's long out of print and completely obscure, so hopefully no publishing Big Wigs will mind if I share the story with you...

It's about a bunny named Jack Carrot. But no one calls him this, they call him Little Bunny, because according to Jack's grandfather, "small rabbits are cute and cuddly."

So far so good right? I mean this is a FACT, as evidenced time and time again by Cute Overload:


But Jack is NOT a fan of his nickname. And when he gets bigger, the other rabbits are still calling him Little Bunny! What's a moody teenage rabbit to do??

Why, become the "most rascally rabbit anyone has ever seen," of course!

But being rascally isn't just throwing snowballs and stepping on candy. No. To be TRULY RASCALLY, you've got to give it your all.

And how does one do that?

Oh, with just your simple, average, run-o-the-mill bank robbery.

"Armed with a real pistol, a bow and arrows, a very pointy dagger and a sword, he held up a bank . . . Jack had no use for the money. He only wanted to strike fear in the hearts of people and rabbits."

Oh yeah. A picture book about a bank-robbing bunny striking fear in the hearts of people (and rabbits) with a real pistol and a very pointy dagger.

But wait! It gets better!

So he skis away from the heist (Yes. He skis. He's European. That's how criminals do it in France.) and is caught by a Big Bad Policewolf.

Oh no! Little Bunny is hauled away to prison.

"The police had taken his weapons and he was all alone. It was dark. He began to cry."

Aww, they away took his weapons. Snort.

(But wait! It gets better!)

So Jack Carrot meets another jailbunny named Jim Radish. Jim is in prison for MURDERING a hunter.

"If I hadn't killed him, he would've killed me," says Jim. Which, okay, seems sort of fair to me. But instead of -- I dunno, deciding to become better citizens -- they make a pact! To escape from jail!

So they dig a tunnel ("It was a specialty of theirs, after all") and run to Jack's grandfather's house.

And this is the point where SURELY some morality comes in. Right? RIGHT??

(Come on, Grandpa! Give these boys a talkin' to!)


Grandpa hides them in a secret burrow and brings them food and blankets and chocolate and chewing gum and the evening paper. The headline reads: GREAT ESCAPE OF TWO LITTLE BUNNIES.

"Jack and Jim found this vastly funny."


So they stay in their mountain hideout, and Jack's grandfather continues to visit. And "when the police have forgotten about them, they will leave their hiding place. But they are in no hurry to go."


Fo' reals.

This book blows my mind. Can you imagine reading it to a three year-old?

"And the moral of the story, Susie, is that if someone is mean to you and you threaten them with weapons, you can always escape from jail. And I'll hide you in my backyard and give you candy until the cops forget about you."

I'm just happy it exists for my own, sick sake. Thank you, Solotareff. Let's do lunch.

* Look who's got the cute baby animals now, Laini!


New Advice, New Deadline, (Still) No Sleep

It's crucial that before I begin, I post a HOT PICTURE of my husband. You know, before he develops the fear of me leaving him for a Hot British Actor. Or the fear of me leaving him to stalk a Hot British Actor.

Jarrod (center), looking hot

See honey? I still love you best.

Moving on . . .

So you'll NEVER EVER GUESS IN A MILLION BILLION YEARS what I'm going to talk about today. (But I'll give you three chances.)

1) Unicorns?

Not even close!

2) Turtleneck sweaters?

Not for another month!

3) That the Krebs cycle is a cycle of enzyme-catalyzed reactions in living cells that is the final series of reactions of aerobic metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fatty acids, and by which carbon dioxide is produced, oxygen is reduced, and ATP is formed?

Um . . . cough . . . what?

Give up?


Yes, I am still revising my novel. Yes, my deadline was Monday. Yes, I have a new deadline.

But I'm not as depressed as you'd think. In fact, I'm not sad at all. I didn't hit my goal, but for the first time in my life, I know there is nothing NOTHING more I could have done to reach it. I've realized the previous goal was an impossible one because:

I. Have. Worked. My. Butt. Off.

(Actually, my butt is still technically "on." Thank goodness. But it's getting lumpy from the lack of exercise. I should do something about that.)

I have never worked harder. Ever. For the last three weeks, my bedtime has been 4:00 am. My health is wrecked, my friends have forgotten what I look like, and I am totally out of underwear. Seriously. Someone needs to do the laundry. My vote? The dogs. They've been slacking.


But I've also never felt better about my work. I'm proud of myself. And now I have a reasonable idea of how much longer it'll really take to finish this draft.

I'm halfway through revisions, so I'm putting three more weeks back on the clock. So yeah. If you were looking forward to me talking about something other than writing this month, you are going to be disappointed.

I'm kind of obsessed.

My official new deadline is September 30th. Which means October 1st, my Super Awesome Writer Feedback Crew will be mailed/hand-delivered full manuscripts.

Prepare yourself Super Awesome Writer Feedback Crew! (AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.) I will be harassing you this October!

Anyway. On to the good stuff! Writing advice!

Well, it's good stuff if you're a writer. Otherwise you're skimming right now for Hot British Actors. In which case, I apologize. I'm shirking my duties.

What would you say to this?

Clive Owen. I knew you wouldn't mind.

Bit of Advice #1
-- Match Word Choice to Theme

Recently I recommended a book here called The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. One of the things that impressed me was how she took her theme of sweets and applied it directly to her word choice (without overdoing it). Take these delicious morsels from the first chapter:

the protagonist has "curly, licorice-black hair"
"a fine sheen of sugary frost" covers her windows
"If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps."

I love the idea of taking the theme and/or plot of a book (or a chapter or a scene), and enhancing it via word choice. So you aren't just talking about the character's relationship with candy (this one hides it in her closet), but you're actually sweetening the text itself. Does that make sense?

Speaking of candy.

I remembered The Sugar Queen last weekend, because I was working on a scene that took place inside a p√Ętisserie in France. And I didn't want to just describe a bunch of desserts (though I did that too, and gladly), I wanted the feeling of the entire chapter to be sweet (especially since the subject matter being discussed in the shop was NOT sweet -- and I needed a balance). So what did I do?

I got out a cookbook.

Yep. I spent twenty minutes cruising through the dessert section of Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, making a list of every baking verb, adjective, and noun I could find. Then I went back into my chapter to see what AVERAGE words I could replace with my new FANCY words. Here are a few of the results:

-- chandelier crystals changed from "topaz" colored to "honey"
-- wind "whipped" (instead of "blew") through the shop
-- the glass rings on someone's fingers resembled "spun sugar"
-- a woman's glare turned from "dirty" to "frosty"

Not huge differences, but it pleased me.

On a related note, I've also heard about spicing up your prose by stealing verbs from the sports section of the newspaper. Love this idea!

And I'm also big on name-stealing. Every time I pass by a graveyard or cemetery, I can't help but jot down a few of the more unusual names inside. And I love watching movie credits, especially during foreign films -- lots of cool names hide in the those credits! Look for them.

What unusual places do you steal words from? (I'm especially interested in advice regarding the tactile and scented. I have difficulties remembering to keep these two senses in my work.)

No clever caption. Just completely unrelated Sin City hotness.

Bit of Advice #2 -- Use Your Nose

Speaking of scents . . . I have a really weird/embarrassing writing trick I'd like to share with you now. I mean it's really weird, so stick with me for a moment while I try to explain. And don't scoff too loudly, because I can hear you all the way from here.

I used to suffer from 40 Minute Warm-Up Syndrome. Meaning it took forty minutes minimum before my brain and fingers began making love on the keyboard, and words would enter my blank Word documents. FORTY MINUTES! That's a lot of wasted time. So I got to thinking about how I could -- pardon the barfy sports analogy -- "get in the zone" faster.

What would jog my memory? How could I zap myself back into my novel in less time?

Well. You know how the smell of mothballs reminds you of Grandma's church clothes? Or the smell of rotten eggs makes you think of Yellowstone National Park? Or the smell of stinky cat litter reminds you of that one friend you had growing up? The one with the really really gross house?

I made a scent for my novel. But not an icky scent. A pleasant one.

My magic formula is as follows:

Orbit Citrusmint Gum + Lychee Rose Body Creme = Novel

So in other words, every time I sit down to work, I slather on the rose-scented lotion and pop a piece of orange-flavored gum. And the amazing thing is, my warm up time has gone from forty long, excruciating, dead minutes to . . . none.



My nose goes "sniff sniff" and my brain goes "Oh, that's right. We're doing this thing now." Which doesn't mean the first bits I start writing are brilliant (they aren't), but at least I'm writing something. I plan on using this technique for, oh I dunno, THE REST OF MY LIFE. Seriously, from now on, each novel I write will have its own unique scent.

I'm thinking apple-scented lotion next. I don't know why.

"Stephanie? Are you almost done blogging? It's bedtime."

(Just one more, sweetie! Be there soon!)

Bit of Advice #3 -- Inspiration via Music

This is another trick I use when I'm stuck. Never underestimate the power of a good song.

What do I mean?

Well, say you're writing a kissing scene. (Because I like kissing scenes.) And the kissing is nice and all but . . . not anything to get hot and bothered about. In fact, right now your kiss is as chaste as an "inspirational" Amish Wanda Brunstetter novel (don't get me started -- okay, maybe a little bit -- why the heck would I want to read A LOVE STORY without any of the good bits? Is she crazy??).


So you need to up the hot factor, but you're not feeling it. Maybe you had a rough day at work. Maybe you just cleaned cat vomit off your favorite pair of shoes. Maybe -- and this is PURELY HYPOTHETICAL -- you haven't showered in three days. So what do you do?

Make a playlist.

Put together every sexy, romantic song you think of and start listening. Pretty soon, something's gonna happen to your characters. That kiss is going to start sparking. No, that kiss is going to start shooting FLAMES.

Why wasn't King Arthur more popular? Keira Knightley and Clive Owen DID THIS.

I make a playlist for every scene I write. I think about what emotion I want it to carry, and I find the music I feel best represents it. And not only that, but I have emergency playlists, for more generic needs, scenes, and situations.

Quick! Was the main character just dumped? Let's whip out the "Depressed" playlist! Is she fighting with her best friend? Put on the "Pissed!"

Eventually SOMETHING will inspire me, whether it's a pulsing rhythm carried through the guitars or a pointed lyric that packs a certain punch.

Now, I won't bore you with my playlists. "Sexy" to me probably does not equal "sexy" to you (unless we are talking about Clive Owen, obviously, who is NOT music, but if he were, would spontaneously combust your speakers).

But I do have one that's done me good this week. A flexible one, that can be used in many situations since it's instrumental -- the Atonement soundtrack. (I'm doing everything I can NOT to post a picture of James McAvoy right now. Oh, screw it. It's my blog. I can do what I like.)


If you don't remember what the music sounded like, check out the beginning of the trailer as a reminder.

Hear that cool typewriter noise? Yeah. It's on the soundtrack. I mean (nerd alert), HOW FREAKING COOL IS IT to write to TYPEWRITER music! Last weekend, I used it to kick myself out of least five different slumps. Genius.

By the way, the music was composed by the fabulous fabulous fabulous Dario Marianelli. He had previously worked with the director, Joe Wright, for the AMAZING Pride & Prejudice score. (No, Stephanie! Don't do it! ARGGHHHHH!)

This is why I should not blog late at night.

ANYWAY. What I was trying to say was that Marianelli won the Academy Award for the Atonement soundtrack, and rightfully so. That was it.

Where was I?

"Go to bed, Stephanie."

In conclusion, if you are stuck, don't be afraid to try silly things! Open up cookbooks. Spritz on cucumber body spray. Listen to music.

No one ever has to know.

(Unless you insist on blogging about it against your own better judgment.)


In Which I Run Out of Excuses to Post Pictures of Hot British Guys, But TOTALLY DO IT ANYWAY

Jim Sturgess, Hot British Guy

Since personally I am not very exciting right now, due to:

A) Three to four hours of sleep per night (for the last two and a half weeks) making my brain fuzz fuzz fuzzzzzzy


B) my inability to discuss anything other than revisions (I may not be sleeping, but my coworkers nod off every time I open my mouth)

I thought I'd talk about interesting things going on in the rest of the YA literary world:


Maureen Johnson has an amazing post about Bristol Palin, teen pregnancy, and abstinence-only education here. I cheered aloud at this bit:

"A lot of people say, 'ABSTINENCE! IT IS THE ONLY WAY! THE ONLY THING TO TEACH! All of this fornication is a horrible modern thing brought on by television and video games and BOOKS!' Har har har! GOOD ONE! I don’t know how these people missed hearing about all of human history . . . but this sex thing has been going on for a while now, and frankly, it’s probably going to continue. It’s the world’s oldest form of entertainment. We come pre-installed with all kinds of hormones and squishy bits."

LOVE her, right?


As you've probably heard by now, Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer's take on Twilight from Edward's perspective, has been put on hold indefinitely due to an illegal posting of an early draft. Like most of her fans, I was upset by the news. But do I think she's overreacting?

Absolutely not.

I cannot begin to fathom the humiliation and anger I would feel if an early draft of ANYTHING I had written made it online. And I am a NOBODY. Meyer is a bestselling novelist with all kinds of unrealistic expectations heaped upon her, and I am so, so, so saddened that this has happened.

She is NOT smiling like this today.

"My first feeling was that there was no way to continue. Writing isn't like math; in math, two plus two always equals four no matter what your mood is like. With writing, the way you feel changes everything. If I tried to write Midnight Sun now, in my current frame of mind, James would probably win and all the Cullens would die, which wouldn't dovetail too well with the original story. In any case, I feel too sad about what has happened to continue working on Midnight Sun, and so it is on hold indefinitely."

She's made the incomplete ("messy and flawed and full of mistakes") draft available on her website to counter the urge to illegally download it (brave woman), but I hesitate to read it. Do I give in to temptation and let curiosity get the best of me? I loved the excerpt that she DID have posted, and I'm dying to hear more from Edward's point of view.


"I'd rather my fans not read this version of Midnight Sun," she says. And who could blame her? The humiliation and anger, remember?

But then there's this HORRIBLE, NOT NICE part of me that's curious just to see another author's early draft. To prove to myself that I am not the only one who writes really, really terrible first drafts! Isn't that awful? That's, like, the worst reason ever to read it.


I am going to respect her wishes. And for now -- as long as I can hold out -- my decision is to stay away from it.

Which sucks.


In HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY news, Juliet Marillier's companion to Wildwood Dancing (one of my favorite-est books ever) comes out this Tuesday! The book is called Cybele's Secret, and it's already getting starred reviews.

If you're a fan of romantic fantasy like Shannon Hale and Sharon Shinn, Marillier is a must-read. I don't know how many times I have to mention Wildwood Dancing on this blog before you read it, BUT I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! NEV-AH!


If you like fairy tales and true love and really, really smart writing, PLEASE check her out. You will thank me.


I am going now. Revisions await with Eskimo kisses and stabs in the back. But first, a mini-update! Because, seriously, I cannot stop talking about revisions. It's like:

FRIENDLY PERSON: "Hey, Steph! Great we're finally getting some rain, isn't it?"

ME: "Hey speaking of rain there's this scene in my book where it's raining and did you know I only got three hours of sleep last night and the revisions are going really well thanks for asking but I've come to the devastating conclusion that there's no way I can make my deadline but I'm just going to keep pushing through, you know? I mean I've never worked this hard on anything before EVER and I'm so exhausted and I'm so proud and hey. Hey! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?? I WAS JUST GOING TO TELL YOU HOW HARD WRITING A NOVEL IS!!!"

Five more days until my deadline. Unless I am granted the miracle of divine intervention, I am not going finish on time. But that's okay, because you know what?

I am TOTALLY rocking it.

Okay, I'm really going now. I hope this post makes sense, and I don't sound too idiotic. (Did I mention I am running on NO SLEEP?) Don't be surprised if you come back here later and discovered I've inserted bits about Noam Chomsky or string theory. I might have to beef it up a bit to save face.

Oh. Wait a second . . .



Shame on you if you didn't see that coming.