Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Possibly not a good sign

That 45 pages into my book (see what writing every day--except on wedding days--and also a few days before--and a few days after?) I can't say exactly what it's about.

People, think "plot nugget." I've mentioned this before--the idea that you should be able to say in two sentences what your book is about.

I'm a leetle alarmed, actually.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I hate it when . . .

. . . an author ends a book the way Susan Hill ended THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN.

**SPOILER ALERT** One of the main characters through whose POV we experience much of the story is murdered.

Here's the deal. Hill is SUCH a fabulous writer. The way she handles details of setting and character both is remarkable. My good friend Mystery Girl, who has muy excellent taste, recommended the book to me, and I can see why she did. Only I felt jerked around by the book's ending. I probably won't pick up another mystery by Hill because I kinda don't trust her now.

All of this has me thinking . . . as writers we want to surprise our readers. We want to be fresh and original. But I think it's important to play fair, too.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference 2010

People who are interested in writing for children frequently contact me for advice and I always say dude. Check out the FABULOUS Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference run by Carol Williams, Lisa Hale and Cheri Earl. Really, it's an amazing conference, giving writers of all levels guidance, as well as access to the best in the biz.

The conference, which has been held at BYU for the past 10 years (or so), will be held in Sandy at the Waterford School this year. You can get all the 411 at www.foryoungreaders.com. Honestly, I can NOT say enough wonderful things about this event.

I especially want to mention the beginning novel class, taught by the enormously talented Emily Wing Smith, who also has sensational hair and the best smile in the state. I can't think of a better way to jump start the story inside of you than to take a class from Emily.

There's still time to sign up. Don't hesitate.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Thursday already?

Okay, I'm a leetle off my stride. I hit 1000 words yesterday, only 700 today. But it's been great to have family in town. Sending Chloe Ann's parents back to Oregon in the morning. The house is gonna feel REALLY empty without them.

Chloe Ann, in case I haven't mentioned it, IS MY FIRST GRANDBABY (due to appear this July). Please note the middle name. Because I have been noting it. A lot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Well, the wedding was fab and now . . . back to real life.

Picked up a mystery to read, the first in a series by Susan Hill. This one's called THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN and I'm digging it so far. Probably because it reminds me of something P. D. James would write--long on character and atmosphere.

Meanwhile we've spent the past few nights catching up on episodes of MODERN FAMILY and I'm agog with admiration. Great snappy writing. Great snappy performances. Every now and then TV throws some real pleasures your way . . .

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I did write 1000 words yesterday.

But since I have a son who's getting married this weekend I'm going to let myself off the hook and aim for 500 words per day this week. I am, as you can imagine, busy with other things.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Movie musings

When Ken and I were in high school he worked at the old Uintah Theater in downtown Provo where he pretty much saw everything made in the late sixties and early seventies. One of his fave old movies was M*A*S*H, the iconic Robert Altman film. Anyhoo. He wanted to watch it again.

So here's the part where I interrupt with the following pertinent 411. Ken often wants to revisit old movies that he once loved. And in fact, he wants to revisit them with our grownup sons. He's sure they'll love (fill in the blank) as much as he did. Invariably the evening turns out to be disappointing. Turns out our kids don't think "The In-Laws" was that funny, that "The Three Musketeers" with Michael York was that thrilling, or "The Seven Percent Solution" with Alan Arkin was that clever. To them (and even to us) the movies look stagey, dated--as though they'd been shot with a home movie camera in someone's overlit garage. The only exception has been "Butch Cassidy," which holds up remarkably well.

Anyway. We got M*A*S*H and attempted to watch it this weekend. Within 30 minutes even Ken was going "why did I ever love this movie?" It was all attitude and posturing with not much narrative arc and no one to really root for. Yet at the time it was groundbreaking and Altman went on to have a brilliant, quirky career and my husband loved that movie with all his rebellious hippie adolescent heart.

Which broke last night because another movie failed to live up to his expectations.

Which brings me to this point. Is it ever a good idea to revisit a movie (or even a book) you once adored? Would you mind providing me with titles that disappointed? Or that didn't? I'm interested.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend update

1 box lime Jello
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. cottage cheese
1 c. crushed pineapple
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. horseradish
Mix Jello with the 1 1/2 cups boiling water and drained pineapple juice. Cool and let start to congeal, fold in cottage cheese, mayonnaise and pineapple mix together. Put in salad mold and chill.

Okay, that right there is the classic green Jell-o recipe which I have NEVER made until today even though I'm a Utah Mormon. But I sort of started craving it--probably because when Bea Williams and I had lunch at her retirement center, they served this and it was GOOD and I've wanted some ever since. Besides, how can you resist a recipe that has the word "congeal" in it?

And as long as we're on the subject of Guilty Pleasures, I also watched the original "Cutting Edge" today and really. How can you not like a movie that ends with a kiss and a gold medal? GO, AMERICA!

Anyway. I did write 1000 words yesterday even though it was Saturday. And I've written 800 words so far today, even though I've been eating Jell-o and watching movies about ice skaters with non-ironic big hair.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Little surprises

Well, I got online to tell you I've written my 1000 words for the day. But actually I'm much more interested in the fact that Clark from R. C. Willey posted a comment on my blog about sushi. So it just goes to show you never know who's reading.

Welcome, Clark! I hope you'll drop by again! And I promise the next time you give away sushi I'll be there!

Meanwhile, I did write that 1000 words. And THIS time I did super early in the morning. I got up at 5:15. Did my hour walk with Miss Kathy next door, then WROTE--the theory being that the closer I am to my dreaming self, the more easily I can tap into my wellsprings of creativity. Or whatever.

It kind of worked, too. I think it helped to practice what I've been preaching for years--DON'T EDIT YOURSELF WHEN YOU WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT. Just let it flow, baby.

We'll see if this works tomorrow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making a commitment here

I'm going to write 1000 words a day come hell or high water on this novel I just started. Even on Saturday. Possibly on Sunday. Writing every day keeps me connected to the thing, whereas a day off sends me floundering and it's Wednesday before I know what I'm doing again.

Here's the deal. If I write 1000 words a day, in 30 days I will have 30,000 words. And THAT, my friends, is a novel. A messy one, yeah. But that's what re-writing's for.

I just finished my 1000 for the day. Toward the end I was crawling, snail-like, to the finish line panting for water. But yay! I did it!

Places where you possibly might not want to get your sushi from

R. C. Willey.

But that was the big advertising hook on the radio here yesterday. "Come to R. C. Willey tonight and get free sushi!"

QUESTION FOR THE DAY: When did sushi become America's new hot dog as in "Come to R. C. Willey tonight and get a free hot dog!"

I'll probably have something else to say today--possibly about the craft of writing. But that's all for now.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Question of the day

Why is it that red velvet cupcakes invariably disappoint? Like, I always THINK they're gonna be killer--just a big old plate of migraine-making chocolate with some sexy cream cheese frosting on the side. So I buy. Dash to my car. Rip open the boxlet. Take out the cupcake. And taste.

And feel . . . like I could spend my calories in more satisfying ways.

After which I eat the whole thing.

I drove out to Diva's on 33rd South--another cupcake, sandwich place--and bought the red velvet. It was fine. But not quite fine enough. (Have to say Diva's is a pretty cute place, though.) I think my favorite red velvet is still the one at Mini's, although they have to go and screw things up a little by putting chopped pecans on the frosting.

MEMO TO THE WORLD: Please do not chop your pecans and put them on my food crap. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Here's what I want to say today

That I think you people who read this blog are fabulous.

Here's why. I've been visiting YOUR blogs and wow. I'm smitten. And humbled by how clever and funny and artful your writing is. It occurs to me that while it's true I have some talent and while it's also true that I work (kinda) hard at the whole writing thing, I've also been lucky. Really. There's no reason why YOU shouldn't be the ones doing the columns.

Some of you, I know, are working toward the goal of publication. And I applaud that. It's something I've worked for, too--something I still work for. Please know that I'm over here at my house pulling for you and cheering you on.

While eating, of course.

(Keep it up.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And to all a good night

Time to wrap it up. Thanks for following. Thanks for comments.


for Kathryn Bigelow.

I love that a woman made THAT particular movie. High-five, Kathryn Bigelow.


Please. Please. I beg you.

I'm guessing

that a memo went out to everybody involved with "Precious." It went like this: WEAR BLUE.

All of them are wearing blue. Did you notice? Are you still watching?

Because this show has gone on for a long, long, long, long time.

Just realized

I AM going to have to hear Sean Penn, after all. Bleh. I hope he remembers this night isn't about HIM.


Best Actor and Best Actor Awards--I do like this format, where co-stars get to say something about the nominees. I just really hope I don't have to hear Sean Penn say something tonight.

OR for the rest of my life.


Mango licorice.

my thumb . . .

. . . is getting tired. Time for the oscars to be over.

Taratino's Spanish accent sounds like Peggy Hill's.

This is what I have to say

I. Never. Want. To. Watch. Interpetive. Dance. Again.

And now time for a little interpretive dance

Really? You can do an interpretive dance about "The Hurt Locker"?

Demi Moore

Looks uncomfortable. Don't you think? And all one color, too, from head to toe. Kind of like a really, really expensive ace-bandage.

She's pretty, though.

Twilight people

But where's her boyfriend? The vampire? Getting fake abs spray-painted on his stomach? Again?

Oh, good. Here comes that famous clip from "Jaws" which reminds me--did you know that shark attacks have gone down since the recession hit? I heard that on "This American Life" with Ira Glass yesterday. Shark attacks are down because no one can afford to go to Florida on vacations these days.

Geoff just asked . . .

. . . how much longer this is going to last. And I'm feeling a little fatigued, too. Although apparently Steve Martin can still make me laugh with a good clothes whore joke.

Time to fortify myself with some chips and salsa. And good news! I mounted an intense, take-no-prisoners search and rescue operation which resulted in me finding some licorice. Mango-flavored.

Here's somebody else I love

Morgan Freeman.

And oh good! Here comes the Queen. I love her, too. And I stand by my original assessment that she looks GREAT in pink.

Don't you wish they'd honored Lauren Bacall tonight? I mean seriously? Watch "To Have and Have Not." She teaches Bogart to whistle in that one.

I haven't seen "An Education." And actually here's what I'm realizing. I've hardly seen any of these movies. I seriously just do not see that many movies any more.


i'm digging the way they're presenting screenplay stuff this year. Like I really LOVE how they're showing the bits of script.

I never thought I wanted to write a screenplay. But who knows. Maybe I'll try someday. LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE IN AMERICA.


Make up

The real young Victoria was only that good-looking in her dreams.

And okay. I am secretly glad that "Star Trek" won because I liked that movie a lot more than I thought I would.

Also, I think as a general rule men should not ear berets to the Oscars. Even guys who do makeup for Star Trek.


It's not like I LOVED John Hughes. But watching these clips reminds me of how iconic so many of his films were. And look at all the people who were in those movies. Wow.

We've all gotten older, haven't we?

Here's someone else I love. Ed Asner. Who can forget his turn as Lou Grant? I loved the "Chuckles the Clown" episode when Lou said after he died he just wanted to be out with garbage with "his hat on." Dude. Words to live by.

Molly Ringwald.

I've been thinking of dying my hair red and cutting thicker bangs in time for Dylan's wedding.

But now I'm having second thoughts.

Tina Tina Tina

I love her, too. But I don't like that dress, really. I'm not crazy about the one shoulder strap look.


I want a pair of Robert Downing Jr.'s blue-tinted glasses. Yes, I do.

Yes I'm happy

I just spotted me some Robert Duvall. I love him, too. I kinda have a special place in my heart for him and Gene Hackman both. Like I put them in the same category. After my dad's last game at Rice Stadium when BYU broke Utah's heart, my girlfriend Becky called and said WHO IS YOUR DAD'S FREAKING SCRIPTWRITER? And also I THINK GENE HACKMAN SHOULD PLAY YOUR DAD!

I'd vote for Robert Duvall, though.

Who would you want to play YOU in a movie? Speak up, America. I want to know.

I still have more to say

Have you seen "The Blind Side"? Should I see it? You'd think I'd have been in the first in line because dude! It's about football!
But again I sort of got put off by the Kathy Lee Gifford thing. And then okay. I'll confess. I have had a bellyful of the whole southern Christian football vibe . . . and well. Well, well, well, well. I should stop.

But I'll go if you say I should.

Okay. That ad with Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck was sweet.

Wow. Did Cameron Diaz just really screw up? Calling Steve Carrell "Jude" as in "Jude-oops-I-accidentally-slept-with-my-kids'-nanny Law"? Or was that planned?

Hmmm. I just saw that "Hangover" joke coming a mile away.

In addition to looking like Jodie Foster, Amanda Seyfried looks like Dakota Fanning. When she was twelve.

So far

I think Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are actually . . . really funny. Like this is making me laugh in the way that Billy Crystal used to when he hosted the show.

I like that Jeff Bridges' wife looks like she's about his age. Don't you?

Yeah. Penelope Cruz looks beautiful. Red is such a great color.

I think Matt Damon should win the oscar because he sounds so South African, the way he says "distiny" instead of "destiny." Like I was totally convinced.

Oh. Wait a minute. I want Captain Von Trapp to win.

Captain Von Trapp

I love him.

And now the show starts

I like the way they just introduced all the best actors and actors (formerly known as actresses). That was kind of nice. And I have to say I dig the set.

Who knew that Doogie Howser sings? Is he on tune, though, strictly speaking? Please advise, those of you who are musical? Thank you.

I like the Vegas-y feel. Yes I do.

Oh, good. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin just arrived. And so far . . . I'm charmed.

Here we go again



Can I just say how much I hate that ad with all the Victoria Secret models going "I love my body" like this is some big empowering thing. Dollfaces. EVERYONE loves your bodies. And there's nothing magic about your underwear. Putting it on THIS body won't make it look like YOUR bodies.

Oh. Let's see if Cameron Diaz remembered to comb her hair this year.

Yes! She did!

Memo to Ryan Seacrest: Stop interrupting your guests. We want to hear them, not you. (Except we don't really want to hear them either. Time to turn down the sound again.)


Meryl Streep looks so so so pretty in all that white. High-five, Meryl!

I'm guessing everyone is wearing Spanx, right? Even Ryan Seacrest. Especially Ryan Seacrest.

Oh. Just caught sight of Kate Winslet who is looking really . . . thin. And mermaidy. What a transformation she's undergone since her early slightly lushly overweight days on screen. I kinda miss the old Kate, actually. She looked so beautiful in a real woman way. Now she looks beautiful in a Hollywood-y way. At least her hair looks natural this year. Last year she looked like she was wearing a hair helmet.


Okay, Miley Cyrus. Apparently my mother needs to tell you to THROW YOUR SHOULDERS BACK and also to STAND UP STRAIGHT. Not that I ever listened.

Red Carpet Redux

Keanu Reeves looks like he's getting ready to do a guest turn on "My Name is Earl" with all that facial hair. Someone hurry and tell Keanu that Earl's been cancelled! Which makes me so sad!

Oh, and I meant to say that pink looks very lovely on the Queen.

What about it? Do you like the single strappy thing? Please advise.

Crap. I'm already out of licorice. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Red Carpet Stuff

Miley Cyrus looks kinda . . . matronly? Her mom, on the other hand, has wings tattooed on her shoulder blades.


Poor Matthew Broderick. Ryan Seacrest just cut him off in the middle of a sentence. And now we can't even see his face because Ryan is in the way talking to SJP's hairdo.

GEORGE CLOONEY SIGHTING! He's so cute. ( But I think he needs a haircut.)

Really? Kathryn Bigelow is 60? I think that's what my son told me.

Ew. Charlize Theron looks like she's wearing a pink bra on the outside of her dress. I myself used to try on bras over my shirt in the seventh grade because I was too embarrassed to get undressed at JCPenney's. But somehow I think we should all hold Charlize to a higher standard than this.

Live! From the Oscars!

So I just turned on "E" and saw Ryan Seacrest interview Sigourney Weaver and wow! She's twice as big as he is. It's official! Sigourney Weaver = My Favorite Giantess!

He's talking to Diane Kruger now. Apparently she borrowed part of Bjork's swan dress.

Did anyone see "Blind Side"? I'm guessing Sandra Bullock was fab. But here's why I didn't see it. Because her character looked like Kathy Lee Gifford.

Faith Hill. Wearing black. Slit up to there. Fancy panty hose.

Who knew that Amanda Seyfriend and Jodie Foster look so much alike?

Actually, I just turned the sound down so I don't have to listen to actors talk without scripts. Listening to actors talk without scripts is often v. depressing.

MEMO TO RACHEL MCADAMS: Doll. You're so much more beautiful as a brunette.

Wow! Jake Gyllenhal isn't that much taller than Ryan Seacrest. This means My Favorite Giantess Sigourney Weaver would tower over him, too!

I know. It's sad that I know who all these people are. And that I have opinions.

More shortly.


I think I'm going to try some live-blogging while watching the Oscars. I may get bored after five minutes but whatever. Lisa did it once and I was vastly entertained. So I'll put on a pair of fancy earrings and give it a try.

See you later.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mamas don't let your babies

grow up to discover Kookaburra licorice from Australia. Because even if they don't really like licorice--especially green apple licorice--they may become obsessed. And even though it's snowing outside, they may feel compelled to go to the nearest 7-11. While wearing flip-flops. Even though it's snowing. Because their running shoes are still wet. And their church shoes would look stupid with sweats. And they can't find their other shoes. Or at least they don't want to take the time to FIND their other shoes. Because you know what? They NEED that licorice.

Right. This. Very. Minute.

(Can you guess what I did yesterday?)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Words to live by

For Christmas Sara Zarr gave me a lovely, inspiring little book called THE POCKET MUSE by Monica Wood. The bit below really speaks to me because I think it's so wise--and also because I love poetry, although I don't write it. I especially love the poems of my friend of many fabulous years, Lisa Bickmore. I always tell her she's my favorite poet in the history of the universe, along with W. B. Yeats. (She's cuter, though. Funnier, too.)

"There is a special throne in heaven for poets, who labor in obscurity. The rest of us harbor an unexpressed hope for fame and glory. You might be tempted to write for a market. You might be tempted to ride the crest of a trend. That kind of writing is about as stable and fulfilling as day trading. Write what interests you. Write what frightens you. Write what thrills you. Take a cue from the poets, bless their underfunded little hearts."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In Loving Memory of

Emma Rebecca Brown Thomas
April 23 1956-March 4 2004

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I don't really like

Green apples. Or licorice. So why did I just eat a whole bag of green apple licorice? There is just something so so so wrong with me.

In other news! I finished the Dresden Files book. It was fun but I'm not sure I'll read another. Loved the concept--Mickey Spillane Meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I just think the author could have done so very much more with the great Chicago setting.

I myself have an idea for a mystery series kicking around in my head. I don't know what stops me from giving it a try. Slacker-ness for one thing. And also the sense that maybe someone somewhere would end up writing posts like "I just think the author could done so very much more with the great southern Utah setting" . . .

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Last night at the Richard Peck event (he was thoroughly divine btw) a few local writers and I had a chance to chat and do you know what these talented women did? They berated themselves for being SO LAZY!

Okay. These are first-rate writers who have published extensively and STILL all they could talk about was what slackers they are.

Have you heard people talk about themselves this way? Do YOU talk about yourself this way? Why? Discuss, please.

On the food front I drove up to Park City and ate an omelet for breakfast with Kim. You can't be unhappy when you start a day off like that.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Geoff asked me to post my reasons for liking THE HURT LOCKER, so here goes.

1. I was in awe of the film's ability to create and sustain suspense. As a writer I'm always interested in how to accomplish this. Frankly, the lessons of film don't always generalize to the printed page. I suspect camera work had A LOT to do with generating tension, but still. The sense of conflict was so real and urgent, it left me breathless.

2. I cared about the characters. Would they survive? Would they survive with body parts and humanity intact?

3. I think I better understand how it must feel to be there in the thick of action, which gave me a renewed sense of respect for our servicemen, including my daughter-in-law's father, who was in Baghdad for nine months. THE HURT LOCKER doesn't have any political message. Our decision to be in the Middle East--for good or bad--isn't the point. The point is what it FEELS like to be there. To this end, the film is graphic. Lots of real bombs. Lots of f-bombs. And that's exactly the kind of thing that folks get their undies in a twist about. But do you know what? I don't think any of it was gratuitous. And the film would NOT have been anywhere near as effective without the gritty look and language.

4. And because I'm shallow, I liked the full hit of testosterone I got while watching it. Which is one of the points of the movie, actually--how that rush of adrenalin one feels in the face of danger can be its own form of addiction.

Anyway. Wow. I'm glad I watched it.