Thursday, April 30, 2009

A miracle is about to occur

Everybody watch this! My son Geoffrey is about to show me how to link to my column in the Deseret News.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to REALLY tick off thirteen year-old girls

Publish a column in the Deseret News suggesting that in real life Edward Cullen might be considered a stalker . . .

Dude! Laisse les bonnes temps roulet!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ann Dee Ellis at The King's English tomorrow!

Okay, folks, you should know that Utah's own Ann Dee Ellis has one of THE most original voices in YA today. I'm very serious about this. And her new book EVERYTHING IS FINE is a terrific read.

Anyhoo. She'll be at the store at 7:00. I think she'll be reading. I know she'll be signing. Come by and say hey. And watch for an interview to be posted here soon.

It's Monday! Time for letters to celebrities!

Dear Robert Pattison,
Is it because I'm old that your hair bugs me so much? Dude. Wash it. Thank you.

Dear Billy Ray Cyrus,
Is it because I'm old that your soul patch bugs me so much. Dude. Lose it. Thank you.

Dear Jared Leto,
Is it because I'm old that your eye makeup bugs me so much? Dude. Break out the cold cream. Thank you.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How do they do it?

I met up with Gene Nelson (Provo Librarian and Children's Lit Guy Extraordinaire) on Friday at the ULA meetings, and I was struck again by his PASSION for kids books. Like, he was going to dress up as "Cool Motorcycle Dude" man to perform a reading that afternoon of a picture book he loves and wow. Can I just say I was impressed? And jealous? He's been in this world for a long time, but he's still feeling the love.

My own enthusiasm is flagging right now, so I find myself intrigued by people who can find ways to keep connecting and caring. How do they do it?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Other people's children

Am working a shift at TKE in the kids' room all day today. I always semi-dread Saturday shifts because some parents just turn their kids loose to do whatever. All that rough handling of the merchandise starts to make me r-e-e-e-a-a-a-a-l-l-l-y nervous. We can't sell something that's been profoundly mauled. Shouldn't that be obvious? And yet it's not my place to ask parents to help their children treat the books respectfully.

So. I'm just bracing myself.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Feeling humble

Yesterday I went to Provo (family seat and so forth) to hear my mother give a presentation on THREE CUPS OF TEA to her literary club. As I drove south I knew these three things for sure.

1. My mother would give a thoughtful, well-prepared report.
2. She and all her friends would be dressed to the nines.
3. I would be served an excellent chicken salad.

And I was right!

But here was the thing I didn't expect--to be so touched by the all of it. I was touched by my mother's passion for the book. I was touched that some of these women have been getting together for over forty years to broaden their world through literature. I was touched by that generation's commitment to pulling on a pair of pantydamnhose and looking so GREAT in the middle of the day.

They kind of made me feel like an intellectually flabby badly dressed slacker actually. Not that I'll be buying pantyhose any day soon. But still.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Falling (momentarily) (also happily) off the wagon

So in Monday's column I kvetched about that nasty cupcake I had at Barnes and Noble to make the point that food should TASTE good. Duh! And I mentioned that I like Mini's here in Salt Lake. Well! I heard from cute Laurlee Morrison of Cakes de Fleur about her cupcakes, suggesting that I give her cupcakes a try. And then she offerred to drop me off a box of them--AT MY HOUSE.

I did not say no.

All right, people, they were excellent--chocolate with chocolate frosting, chocolate with buttercream frosting, carrot and lemon. Heaven! The cupcakes are mouth-meltingly moist. And flavorful, too! Wow. I was groggy with delight.

You can buy Laurlee's baked goods at Emigration Market, The Store, The Store Too, and Pirate O's in Salt Lake City. Or place an order directly at 801 474-CAKE.

(For the record, this is the first time I've ever scored something because of the column. Thank you, Laurlee, for restoring my faith in humanity.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In my other life

My boy Alec once did a funny post about googling your own name and seeing who you find out there in cyberspace, not counting yourself. It's like going on a snipe hunt, only in this case you're going on a doppelganger hunt.

Anyhoo! One of my doppelgangers is also an author (just like me!) whose most recent title is SEXUALITY: GOD'S GIFT FOR ADOLESCENTS (just not like me!).

Okay. Can I even tell you how entertaining it has been this morning to imagine myself writing that particular book?

MY TEENAGERS: Mom! We're hungry! When are you going to fix dinner?
ME: As soon as I quit writing this book about you and God and also sex, okay?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More adventures in sampling

So, as I said, I'm laying off the cupcakes for a bit. And I'm trying to like diet drinks, which is hard, because they leave the same kind of chemical-y aftertaste in my mouth that my friend Marilyn complained of when she was undergoing chemo. Still. I'm determined. So I've been driving around the valley sampling diet Cokes on tap. Yesterday, for example, I went to McDonald's on Seventh East and Second South. That's Phil's favorite place to get a diet Coke, and with fresh lemon it wasn't so bad. Except for the part where I couldn't taste my food for the rest of the day.

Just now I went to Hires and bought a CHERRY diet coke. A large one. With crushed ice.

Crushed ice wins.

Writing letters

I finished up a novel and sent it to Lovely Agent Tracey last week, which means I should start another. Only I don't feel like writing a book at the moment. Instead I want to write letters to famous people. Here's what I would write.

Dear Gwynneth Paltrow: Stop hanging out with Madonna. I think she could be a bad influence on you.

Dear Drew Barrymore: What's up with your hair these days anyway?

Dear J-Lo: I just read where you want your nanny to check in with you every thirty minutes and give you an update on the twins.
Dude. Can't you walk across the hall and take a look for yourself?

Dear Candy and Tori Spelling: Quit writing snotty books about each other. It isn't helpful.

Dear Angelina Jolie: Except for the kissing-my-brother-on-the-lips part, I used to want to be you. But now I think you're sorta crazy.

Dear Mel Gibson: I never saw a young man more handsome than you were in THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY. May I say I'm so very sad the years have not been kinder to you?

Dear George Clooney: Stop working for the fug girls and come work for me.

My son Geoffrey gave me a subscription to STAR magazine for my birthday last month. Best. Damn. Present. Ever.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Feeling the newspaper love

Whenever we were on the road as a family (which was a LOT in the summer), my dad always started off his morning with the local paper. It's a habit I acquired from him, especially when I pass through small towns.

My favorite small town paper is the The Beaver Press, which I always, always, ALWAYS buy on my way to St. George. I love getting updates on church ball games and the Senior Center menus (this week at the Milford Center you can get pork chops, creamy chicken with rice, and chili dogs--just not on the same day). I'm especially fond of the Beaver County Sheriff's Report that gives you the straightup 411 on criminal activity in the area--1 abandoned vehicle, 1 animal problem, 2 assualts, 1 burglary, 3 citizen disputes, 1 convulsions or seizures, 1 livestock problem, 2 unconscious persons, etc.

My favorite bit this week was a wedding announcement that concluded with the following sentence: "Please consider this your invitation."

I realize it sounds like I'm making fun of the paper. I'm not. Honestly, I love that there are still places in the this world where everybody knows everybody and that what happens there matters. A piece of me wishes I had a life in a place like that.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

First things first

Just got back from St. George. Spent the weekend offline. Came home and found kind posts. Just want to say thanks to all of you. Reading your comments is like opening up a nice little gift on Christmas morning. Or eating cupcakes. Which I won't be doing for awhile, I've decided, because I have gained many pounds the last 18 months. But whatever. The point is I do appreciate you guys.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

To attend or not to attend

As an on-again-off-again employee of The King's English, I've had the opportunity to attend a LOT of readings over the years. In fact, I attended one last night. Heather Armstrong, aka "Dooce," did a reading at the Framery (next to the store), and she was everything her many fans would have wished for--gorgeous, funny, sassy.

When I was telling a friend (a poet! and a fabulous one!) about the event, she told me how much she does NOT enjoy going to readings, even if she adores the author. And I do have to say that some of the readings I've been to at TKE made me want to seriously sedate myself. Literary short fiction writers tend to be the worst. They drone on in these portentous monotones with occassional (and sometimes suprising) bursts of emphases. Like I remember this one writer who read the word "broccoli" as though it was full of special significance and symbolic heft, which it wasn't. It was just the word that happened to be there when she randomly switched gears from "monotone" to "dramatic."

Anyway. Enough of that. I want to know what you think about readings--as someone in the audience, as someone who's been the reader.

Meanwhile you'll be thrilled to know I ate two cupcakes this afternoon. One of them had orange creme frosting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On writing a Harlequin romance

Yesterday over lunch Louise brought up the subject of Harlequin romances. So naturally I had to tell her about the time I wrote one in the hopes of making some money. Okay. This was a LONG time ago. Like, I think Jimmy Carter was still president and Ken and I were still living in married student housing. Not that the two facts are related.

Anyway, I can't remember too much about my novel--just that the hero was half-Gypsy and that he hardly ever wore a shirt. Also, I think he may have been a wrangler on a dude ranch in Montana, because you know how it is up there in Montana. The place is just crawling with partially clothed wranglers who are half-Gypsy.

I called the book THE DEVIL'S DUES and sent it in under the pen name "Lucinda Lawson." Yes! I know! Fancy!

The book was rejected in record time. Not only that, but I received the lowest form of rejection possible--an impersonal form letter. I was naive enough to be shocked that Harlequin--HARLEQUIN!--had not accepted my book. But what I learned from that experience is this: you should only write romances (or mysteries or fantasy or whatever) if you love romances (or mysteries or fantasy or whatever). There's no point in messing around with a genre that you don't know inside and out. Otherwise you're just a poseur.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I need your help

I want to write a column about stupid stuff dogs eat. Yes! I know! America is dying to read this one! Anyway, I'd appreciate any posts on the subject.

Meanwhile, I skipped buying a cupcake yesterday for the first time in many, many days. I felt kind of virtuous, actually. Like I could do self-denial or something. But then of course today I'm going there was a cupcake out there with my name on it. And I missed it. And where's the fun in that?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Books on my "Waiting to be Read" shelf

THE MODERN DOG by Stanley Coren
THE TOURIST by Olen Steinhauer
THE INDIAN BRIDE by Karin Fossum
THE TEMPLARS by Barbara Frale
SWEEPING UP GLASS by Carolyn D. Wall
SORCERY AND CECELIA and also THE GRAND TOUR by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child
SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes

Houston, we have a problem. Why do I keep buying books when I have so many I haven't read yet? I'll need many lifetimes (hopefully satisfying ones) to finish them all.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Easter wish for you . . .

. . . is that you find the renewal you need. And peace, too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sampling for comparison purposes

I stopped at the venerable Backer's bakery on South Temple to sample their hot cross buns because apparently (thanks to nervous Protestants) I can't get them after tomorrow.

They were okay. Elizabeth's buns are better.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, April 10, 2009

One a penny, two a penny

Seeing as it's Good Friday, I sent one of the strapping lads who lives here on over to Elizabeth's Tea Room and Bakery to buy me some hot cross buns. For the record, Elizabeth's makes a very pleasing bun--soft and loaded with currants with a lovely little glaze on top.

While the boy was gone, I went to Wikipedia and read up on hot cross buns. To wit: "According to cookery writer Elizabeth David, Protestant English monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous hold-over of Catholic belief in England, being baked from the dough used in making the communion wafer. Protestant England attempted to ban the sale of the buns by bakers but they were too popular, and instead Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas."

I thought this was an enjoyable bit of 411--am having a FANTASTIC happy time imagining Protestants running around London feeling threatened by buns and so forth. And of course if there were Frenchmen hanging about, they would have been sneering and going we fart in your general direction.

Bien temps all around!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Do this at your own peril

I'm developing a theory about re-reading books you REALLY loved at a certain time in your life. I can condense it into one word. DON'T.

Okay. Maybe that's a little too dogmatic. But I have to say that whenever I re-read a book that I really, really connected with a long time ago, I'm invariably disappointed with it now, not counting THE SCARLET LETTER. Except I actually didn't like it the first time I read it (when I was seventeen). I had to grow up (and acquire better reading skills) to appreciate that one. So never mind.

I just re-read WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor, which I read for the first and only time when I was back in grad school with Lisa B. I was CRAZY for Flanners then. CRAZY. All I can say is . . . I wish I hadn't re-read WISE BLOOD. On the other hand, O'C's letters are truly delightful. And "Revelation" remains one of my favorite short stories in the history of the universe. If you ever take a literature class from me one day, I. Will. Make. You. Read. It. And I will force you to be happy that you did.

I'd be interested in hearing about a book you loved and why. Give me the title and your age (then, not now--unless you want to tell me how old you are today) and I will tell you not to re-read it, although I'll leave that up to you.

In other news. I've been crying all day. And the only reason I can give is that it's raining. So right now I want to personally thank all my English, Scottish and Welsh ancestors for getting their rears on a ship and making a big fat beeline for the New World, so I didn't have to grow up in this weather.

Perhaps a cupcake will help.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Here's how I know I may still be interested after all

So mainly I've been having a crisis about my life as a writer lately. Boring. I won't share details. But long story short I've wondered if I even want to keep this up.

Then yesterday I had an experience with my mailman. I was out front with my dogs and noticed suddenly that the mailman (who'd previously been walking toward our house) crossed the street. At first I thought he was mixing the route up to make his life more interesting. Dude. Delivering day after day has got to be even more boring than my crisis. Then I realized my dogs were making him nervous, even though they were doing nothing but sniffing air. Still. Seeing a dog that weighs 170 pounds covered with drool has got to be intimidating. So I gave Mr. Mail Guy a friendly wave and said I'd take the dogs inside.

"Too late," he said as he walked on by. "No mail for you today." I'M NOT KIDDING. MY MAILMAN WAS CHANNELING THE SOUP NAZI.

Not only that but he didn't deliver to the neighbors on either side of me, he was avoiding me and the dogs by that much.

I was stunned. And furious. Seriously I wanted to to chase him down and beat him around the ears with all those annoying circulars from Shopko that he keeps leaving me.

And at the exact same time I was feeling the hate, a calm neutral part of my brain was going, "Now how can I use this in a story?"

I must not be ready to throw in the towel completely.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Just heard from a reader who says there is such a thing as Dr. Pepper made with pure sugar cane?!!!! Can it be true? And where can I find it?


Downside first so I can end on a high note: Just not feeling much in the way of joie de vivre right now. Who knows why? Maybe it's the weather, which hasn't been great until today. Maybe it's this lingering cough I have that I can't get rid of. Maybe it's that I feel like I'm at a crossroads where my writing life is concerned, and I can't figure out what to do next.

And now for the upside! I've been receiving lovely e-mails from D-news readers telling me where I can buy Mexican Coke. People, you can buy CRATES of the sweet stuff at Costco and Sam's Club. Another thing to be happy about--Shelley posted a link to a great blog called Cake Wrecks ( Lisa and Louise, you guys will love it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Those Brits

Am reading THE ANGLO FILES: A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BRITISH by Sarah Lyall (American journalist, married to a Brit and residing in England). It's pretty much hysterical. I especially enjoyed the chapter on parliamentary (mis)behavior. Favorite story? When an MP showed up to a session without combing his hair first, everyone howled like werewolves when he took the floor. Can you imagine that happening here in the States? Government might be more FUN if it did.

Word of warning. Anyone who has spent any time in the UK knows that the Brits swear more casually, frequently and robustly than we do here. And you will see that reflected in the book. So. If you're squeamish, give the book a miss.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Here's why I'm a leetle sad today

ABC cancelled LIFE ON MARS. I came to the series kind of late--sometime in January when I was basically sitting on my bed the whole time except when I needed nourishment--and I was an instant fan. LOVED the characters and the actors who played them, especially Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli (who looked like a Serpico wannabe) and (interestingly) Gretchen Moll, who was completely likeable and luminous (way to go, Gretchen Moll!). And I especially liked the whole look and sound of the show--so very 70's in an authentic way, unlike THAT 70'S SHOW. And I would know, because dudes! I was completely there! Except that I was in Utah Valley! And not New York City! The series even looked a little yellow-ish, the way old footage of sporting events from the period look.

But then it got cancelled. The last episode was on Wednesday. I didn't mind it as finales go--I've sort of accepted the fact that finales can never live up to our expectations. And at least the writers tried to wrap things up, which I completely appreciate. Only now I have nothing to look forward to. Except maybe for baseball.

Baseball? Okay, I feel better now.

Had a cupcake from Mini's today. Vanilla with pink frosting. Please remind me that I prefer chocolate or lemon next time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

One down

I did it! Wrote a crappy picture book manuscript today! But still! And the good news is that it was kind of fun to do. Writing is SOOOOO much easier when you have no expectations of yourself (other than to finish something).

On the food front I ate many, many (sadly many) caramels today to obliterate the memory of yesterday's nasty cupcake. AND my boys, my daughters-in-law, my husband and I went to our favorite go-to restaurant for my belated b-day dinner--Rio Grande. Yes! Life is good!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

No excuse for . . .

. . . a crappy cupcake. That's what my friend Lisa says and she is sooooooo right. Anyway, I had a terrible cupcake this morning at the Barnes and Noble down at the Gateway. It was red velvet with cream cheese frosting and a chocolate mousse center. DUDE! HOW CAN YOU SCREW THAT UP?

Here's how. Let it sit in your glass case for too long so that it dries out and tastes like cardboard with a dollop of nasty pudding. What a disappointment.

But! Speaking of Lisa! (Which we were!) She does this thing where she writes a poem a day for a month. The poem doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done. And after the month is over, Lisa has this treasure trove of raw material. Genius! Anyway, I want to do a picture book verion of this project (something several Utah children's authors have done). I'll write a picture book a day--and we'll see where that takes me.

Hopefully NOT back to the cupcake at Barnes and Noble.