Cue Maniacal Laughter (MWAHAHAHA!)


I am so awesome, I can hardly stand it.

I wrote TEN THOUSAND words today for NaNoWriMo!

Please let me repeat that, because chances are slimbo that I'll ever get to say it again: I wrote ten thousand words today. Yippee!

Except . . . I never would have done it without Jolie's best-ever sticky note advice and Laini's "Once upon a time" strategy. And Jarrod's bargaining chip -- that if I reached my 10k goal before 10:30, we could watch an episode of Firefly tonight. ("Also, I can kill you with my brain.")

Love this.

So thank you Jolie, Laini, and Jarrod. I raise my glass of crazy delirious happy to you tonight.

In other news -- yes! Of course I saw Twilight this weekend!

I went with my fab pals Sumner and Paula, and it was cheesy and melodramatic (and WHAT were they thinking casting Jasper? SERIOUSLY?) but I totally loved it anyway.

The I-want-to-kiss-you-but-I'd-kill-you was yummy and romantic, and I adored Edward's fwoopy (as I keep hearing it described) hair, and GUESS WHAT??? Bella wore my shirt in two scenes! Very exciting to see a tiny piece of me -- in clothing form -- interacting with the dreamy Edward Cullen.

That is SO my shirt! I got it at H&M last Christmas. Which is NOT in Phoenix, so I don't know where Bella is shopping.

Also cute:

-- The protective dad scenes involving Charlie and Edward.
-- Stephenie Meyer hanging out in the cafe.
-- How they slipped the cover image from the novel into the cafeteria scene.
-- Radiohead during the credits. Totally unexpected.
-- Edward hanging out in Bella's bedroom. (Sorry, Paula!) Totally hot.
-- Edward in sunglasses. TOTALLY hot.


But yeah. Let's hope New Moon gets a bigger makeup budget. And that ballet studio? So not in Phoenix either! And there's a future drinking game to be had with the all of those Steely Vampire Looks.

And Jasper.


What. Were. They. Thinking?


Lewis Show Saturday + New RSS Feed

Mah huss-bahnd. Ees so dreamy.

First things first. For all you local Ashe-villains, my Cutie Pants husband's band (the "real" one, not the OTHER one), Lewis, is playing this Saturday night, November 22nd, at Stella Blue.

The show starts at 8:00, and we'd love to see you there!

It's a BIG DEAL because not only is Stella Blue a great venue, it's their first show as a three-piece band. (Well, with these three guys at least.) They lost a member this summer, so they took a few months off to reorganize & re-awesome themselves.

And they did it. They sound awesome! YAY!

Bet-tah than ev-ah.

In other exciting news . . .

By request, I've added an RSS feed option to N/A. It's at the bottom of this page, if you're looking for it.



For blog-readers & blog-writers.

Do you prefer full feeds or short feeds? Mine is currently set to "short," but I can change that if everyone prefers full.



I'm back! (And behind) + Fiiiiirefly!

This is my parents' dog, Maggie:

This is Maggie wondering why my computer was turned off when I am so far behind in NaNoWriMo:

And THIS . . .

is Maggie saying, "Oh, screw it. Rub my belly."

(I rubbed a lot of belly last weekend.)

Well, I'm back in town. And -- OF COURSE -- I forgot my camera at The Big Event (my friend Jamey's wedding reception) and took pictures of the dog instead.

So you will just have to believe me that the bride was beautiful (and wearing this adorable dress I thought was vintage but she made) and her husband was super-sweet and everyone had a fabulous time.

And while it snowed here in Asheville, it was eighty degrees in Phoenix, which allowed Jamey's party to be a GARDEN PARTY.

Yes. A garden party in November.

Only in Arizona.

Sooo, yeah. I'm a little behind in NaNo this year. How about you? Is it sucking for you too? Please assure me yours is sucking, because (insert obscenities here), my novel (insert obscenities here) blows.

(Insert obscenities here) blows hard.

I'm ten thousand words behind, which isn't impossible to overcome, but isn't a walk in the park either. Even if the park is a REALLY REALLY BIG PARK, like Golden Gate Park. In fact, I'm (insert obscenities here) mad at myself for letting the situation get this bad. But what are you gonna do? Sit behind a lousy laptop and write the dullest characters and dialogue you've ever typed in your entire life . . .

Almost Real Example:

"Hi, Joe."
"Let's do something."
"Like what?"
"I dunno."

Or go to a GARDEN PARTY in sunny Arizona?

That's what I thought.

And . . . okay . . . the garden party was only one day. What about the other sixteen days so far this month? I blame it on Joss Whedon. Joss and his INCREDIBLE AWESOME LOVE LOVE LOVE IT SHOW, Firefly.


So to all of my friends who've tried to get me to watch it for the last year (Staci, Laini, Jim): Um. You were right. It's awesome.

Like painfully awesome.

And I realize I abuse the word "awesome" (along with "dude" and the phrase "it's my favorite thing EVER"), but seriously. It's awesome. For those of you who missed it the first time around, like myself:

(A) Yes, it's set in space.
(B) No. There are no weird prosthetic makeup jobs or techno babble.

It's just a good solid . . . space western drama.

Which sounds awful -- BELIEVE ME, I KNOW! -- but wowie wow wow. Unlike my (cough cough) NaNo novel (cough cough), the characters and the dialogue sparkle and burst and are so wonderful that you just can't possibly imagine how much fun you're going to have when you start.

And Jarrod and I still have five episodes left, plus Serenity (the film that tied up the loose ends after the show got canceled because Fox is an evil butt bag), so NO SPOILERS IN MY COMMENTS!

For reals. I will hunt you down and sit on your head and make you eat one of my husband's famous egg foo young and leftover fish burritos.

You will not like the burrito.

And for fans of the show, here's my favorite moment so far:

I totally want this for my front yard. Anyone want to papier mache me a giant Jayne statue? He'd make an excellent Christmas gift.

What?? I'm stalling????? Nooo. You're crazy! I'm not stall--

Okay. I'm stalling.

Goodbye, then. Back to my regularly scheduled NaNo.


Danny Boyle Saves Cinema (Again)

A quickie post while I'm out of town. Yippee! I'm visiting friends and family in Phoenix. It's so brown here, but in such a beautiful way. Nice to be back on my old stomping ground.

(Even though it looks NOTHING LIKE my old stomping ground. Seriously. It's as if all of the shopping complexes in Scottsdale fell into a Xerox machine and someone hit the "100 copies" button. WHERE DID THEY ALL COME FROM?)



Slumdog Millionaire just opened in limited release, and if you happen to live in one of those shiny happy cities, GO AND SEE IT!

I was lucky enough to catch it last Sunday, as it was the closing film at this year's Asheville Film Festival. And oh holy nachos, people. Just when I thought cinema had nothing to offer this year . . . along comes Danny Boyle.

Danny Boyle, aka Director Supreme of My Universe. My all-time number one most favoritest A++ director everrrrr.

In the hands of most, this story would be depressing beyond belief. (It's about being a child in the slums of India.) But one of Boyle's strengths has always been infusing any situation -- no matter how dire -- with humor and hope and humanness, or humane-ness, or whatever you want to call it, but never in a way that feels like he's manipulating you. (Cue the sad music! Zoom in on the quivering jaw!)

He's too smart for this. He trusts us to make our own conclusions.

And I don't want to go on and on because (A) I'm on vacation, remember? and (B) I will bore the britches off you because have I mentioned how much I LOVE DANNY BOYLE??? Because I DO.

So instead, here are four reasons to see Slumdog:

(1) The music. Boyle blends film and soundtrack better than anyone. Perfection as usual.

(2) The cinematography. Gorgeous. Also as per usual. And in INDIA this time.

(3) The acting. I don't know about you, but I'm always wary about movies with young children in the biggest roles. Sometimes they're awesome. But often . . . cringe. But Boyle proved he brings out the best of children in Millions, and he did it again here. They were the most real people I've seen on screen in a long time.

How great is that face?

(4) The color yellow.
Used symbolically. Very cool! Watch for it.



And thank you, Mr. Boyle. Please please please never stop making movies.

(Because I luufff you.)

In Which I Read John Green's Paper Towns and Give Up Writing Forever

Okay, so I haven't given up writing. Obviously. But I contemplated it.

Because this book is so good, people. It's the kind of good that reminds me how woefully inadequate I am, how much smarter other people are, and how I will never, ever, EVER be as brilliant as John Green.

And I don't meant this in a "please compliment me" way (it's not like many of you have read my novel, anyway). I mean it quite seriously. Whether you're a pianist, a long jumper, a circus clown, or a window washer -- there will always be someone more talented than you.

And John Green is WAY more talented than me.

I actually had tears in my eyes as I finished. It was that perfect. To me, John Green is the Everest of American literature. Not even "just" young adult literature -- because I believe YA literature is the absolute best thing being written today, an essay for another time -- but the Everest of American literature period.

To me, he's the greatest.

His stories are deceptive. They're funny (ohmyWORD they're hilarious) and they clip along at such a pleasant pace that you think -- at first -- that they're just these quick little fun reads. But his ideas are so intelligent, his characters so well drawn, and he always packs this incredible, profound WALLOP at the end that is so perfect, something you realize he's set you up for the entire time . . . and GAHHHH!!!

Read him. Read him, read him, read him.

And it's not just me who thinks he is Seriously Hot Stuff. John won the Printz award (that's the biggie for YA) for his first novel, Looking for Alaska, and the Printz honor for his second, An Abundance of Katherines. And so far with Paper Towns, he's received four stars -- this is practically unheard of -- from various book review journals.

Did I mention you should READ HIM?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. He's so good it hurts. It physically hurts. Like ripping off a Band-Aid over arm hair hurts.


I should throw away my laptop and my manuscripts and all my novel notes and start a bagel business. And I'll only sell salt bagels, because I LOVE SALT BAGELS. They're like soft pretzels, but with even more dough and even more salt.

I did not take this picture (this talented person did) nor did I bake them. But this is what they will look like. Only maybe even saltier.

Wait. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Paper Towns!

Okay, I don't want to spoil anything -- his work is too good for that -- but let me just say, that if you like girls who dress like ninjas and kidnap boys in the middle of the night to get revenge on their mutual enemies, then you are going to LOVE this book.

Read it!

(And if you already have, let's snortle over THE THING about Radar's house for awhile, no?)

So perhaps I feel especially like quitting because of that whole pesky NaNoWriMo thing.

I know, I know. I love it right? I'm always like, "NaNo was the beeest thing that ever happened to me after my wonderful dear husband of course and I think you should all do it and who cares if it's hard because it's SUPPOSED to be hard yippee!"

I am seriously considering smacking my fingers with the wooden end of a spatula for that baloney.


Oh fudgesicles. It's like the biggest pile of steaming rain forest gorilla poop that I could ever imagine. And I have a pretty good imagination. My characters are as boring as PBS telethons, their dialogue tastes like stale Cheerios, the plot -- slim at best -- skips like a scratched DVD, and for THE LOVE OF LENNON, why can I not pick a tense???




So. I have been reading from my NaNo self-help book, aka founder Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem!, for encouragement.

(I know. How embarrassed was I to buy a book with that title? It felt like admitting defeat. But it's seriously worth it for anyone struggling to finish a first draft. It's GOOD.)

Here are some choice ideas from said book helping me breathe right now. Perhaps they'll help you too, in preparation for the Dreaded Week Two (much harder than Week One, as all of the surprises and fun has evaporated and suddenly your characters actually have to Do Something):

* The Novel Check-in: On nights when you don't have the time or the energy for a full writing session, try sitting for a short stretch -- twenty or thirty minutes -- and typing out a quickie. Five hundred words or so. This will keep your "word debt" low and help you maintain a connection with your novel. Because the longer you stay away, the harder it is to come back.

* Don't Get It Right, Get It Written: Baty relates the story of mystery writer Julie Smith, who told of her days working at a newspaper. "Don't get it right, Smith," her editor once said. "Get it written." I don't know about you, but last week I spent waaay too long worrying about what was "right" for this novel. Which is ridiculous, because I don't even KNOW this novel yet. And I won't know . . . its truth . . . until I am done with this terrible first draft. So don't worry about getting it right. Worry about getting it written.

* "Lower the bar from best-seller to would not make someone vomit.": Now THIS I can do. I may never write a Printz award-winning novel, but I am reasonably positive that I can write something that will not make someone hurl their dinner.

Maybe they'll just hurl my novel instead.

And because everyone doing NaNo has such a challenging week ahead of them, how about a picture of James McAvoy, for old time's sake?

There. I knew you'd feel better.

He's shown here accepting his "Most Mentions on My Blog" award. Congratulations James! Gael Garcia Bernal gave you quite a run. It was a difficult race, and you should be proud of this fine accomplishment.

P.S. To the Very Nice Anonymous Person who recently commented here: Thank you for the compliment, and I'll look into the RSS feed shortly! (I am quite exhausted at the current moment.) How exciting. This pony always enjoys learning a new trick.

P.P.S. Did I just call myself a pony?


The Great White Page (aka, Happy NaNo!)

This is the magnetic memo board that hangs beside my writing desk. A few days ago, it was covered in overlapping pictures and notes for my last novel. (Eek! My last novel. How weird is that?) And this is what it looks like now.




Have I told you how scared I am? Of this year's NaNoWriMo? I've talked of the excitement -- and I AM excited, I AM thrilled -- but there is also this thin layer of terror, coating the whole experience.

What if I don't finish? What if I never find the plot? What if it's even worse than I expected?

So for anyone else feeling nervous and ooky today, here are two people helping me through this Premature NaNo Panic:

1) Shannon Hale.

If you were wondering what that lone piece of paper stuck to my memo board is, it's a printout from her blog, "Horror story, one word at a time."

My copy is well-loved. Last November, I even carried it around in my pocket! No matter how many times I read this post, it soothes me. It's about how HARD writing is ("Writing a novel is not for sissies"), how everyone struggles, and how you just have to keep going anyway.

Here's my favorite part, which over the last year, I've memorized. It's become my writing mantra:

"No one can write a book. It's too long and complicated. But I can make some sentences. I can find some characters. I can put them into scenes. And slowly, slowly, the book will come."

2) Ira Glass.

(I luuurrrve Ira & This American Life!) I think I got this video from Laini's blog a few months ago, but oddly enough, I emailed myself the link and then never watched it. Until today.

And I can't believe how appropriate it is! It feels serendipitous that I actually DIDN'T watch it until this morning. In it, Ira discusses making videos, but his advice applies to all storytellers. It's about having good taste, having this idea of something really amazing you want to create . . . and then falling short. And it's about pushing past the desire to quit and finishing your work anyway.

Which is, essentially, what NaNo is all about.

"Your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment . . . you can tell that it's still sort of crappy . . . a lot of people never get past that phase, a lot of people at that point quit."

"Most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where . . . they could tell what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be, they knew it fell short . . . everybody goes through it."

A nice reminder coming from a storyteller as talented as Ira, no?


Before I skedaddle upstairs to start the NEW NOVEL, here are a few pictures from last night. I've mentioned here before how many trick-or-treaters my house gets -- this year, between five and six hundred -- but I've never shown a picture.

This is the line to our candy bowl. Which doesn't stop for three hours. Jarrod came home an hour into the festivities last night, and I thrust the bowl at him before he even had a chance to change out of his work clothes. I already needed a break!

Take note of Darth and Dorothy, perennial favorites. But the big costume this year were the pirates. Holy Jack Sparrow. I'm shocked there's not one in this picture, because it seemed like every group had at least one pirate (and usually two) in it. I even saw three -- THREE -- goth pirate cheerleaders.

As well as this guy:

ELVIS!!! I love it when the parents dress up.

So we always invite friends over to help pass out candy, and this year we had three awesome guests: Tai, Staci, and Sara. Sadly, I flaked out and have no pictures of Tai and Staci, and the only one of me and Sara . . . well, our faces were too frightening -- and not in the Halloween sense -- to share with the entire Internet world. But I have to show you the BOTTOM half of that picture, because check it out!

We both wore (wrinkled) silver bridesmaid dresses!

It was totally unplanned. As were the actual costumes themselves, which weren't even costumes, and more like: "Hmm. I don't have anything to wear, so I'm just going to put on something shiny." Since you aren't allowed to see our faces, let me assure you, Sara (on the left) was wearing a wicked great wig and hat. She called herself a witch. And I wore a kimono and called myself a Warrior Princess.

Because I could.

So here's Jarrod -- after finally having a chance to de-work -- corrupting my pumpkin with Twizzlers and wine:

Yes. That's wine in a plastic cup. I swear, we aren't really rednecks.

And one last picture:

Why does our creepy baby skeleton have no neck?? This perplexes me every year.

Hope you all had a good Halloween, and GOOD LUCK to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo! See you in the trenches.