Sunday, February 28, 2010



More on FAITH:

I am rewriting/revising my latest book ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL for the third time. I know that the ending doesn't work. I've written and rewritten the ending four times, but I was just struck (no lightning pun intended), while rewriting chapter 11, that by the time I reach the end of the book, the ending will come, and it will be the right perfect ending for this book. I have faith. It's like I have to keep experiencing the characters, knowing them better each time, in order for the right ending to emerge.


Saturday, February 27, 2010


44 DAYS to go:

Some thoughts on the spousal relationship:

I love to write. I am so grateful that I'm able to do what I love, and I get to do it for a living. In John Gardner's On Becoming a Novelist, he mentions that if at all possible, a budding novelist should marry someone who can support him or her. For obvious reasons. He notes too that love, for obvious reasons, is also pretty darn important. I might add that writers need to marry folks who are tolerant of their bizarre needs to write and research at odd hours. And if the novelist is like me, the spouse has to endure hours and days of, "Let me read you this one thing..." or "Can you read this for me?" And when the first draft is years later complete, and the writer (me) says, " What do you think? I mean, what do you think of the whole thing?" the poor spouse has to somehow relay that he can't see the forest for the trees because his relationship with the words/story has been about as rationally sensibly narrative as listening to a three year old tell a story.

Have Faith:

It's HARD to get published! No matter how talented a writer you are, it's a laborious process of querying agents, waiting for responses, sending out chapters and pages, and starting the process all over again. It takes patience, perseverance and faith. Mind you, these are traits that no matter who you are, tend to falter. Just the same, whenever possible: Have faith. Believe in your words. Persevere.


Friday, February 26, 2010



45 days is one-and-a-half months, which is no time at all... but right now I'm struck by the constructs of life, how publication seems terribly important until you think about what's really important: family and friends and making connections with people.

This short month, I was born nearly four decades ago. Last year, a little girl that I babysat when she was a toddler, died at age 16, on my birthday.

On February 20th, four years ago, a little baby boy my son's age, died in his parents' arms.

Yesterday, my friend's mom died.

February, with its frigid winds and snow, is a bleak month.

Today I feel fortunate that those closest to me are healthy and happy. I want to live in the moment and not in a constant state of anticipation. It's easier said than done, but I think it's important for all of us to try. I am looking forward to spring. Peace be with you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


DAY 46: This is an excerpt from ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL.

There was a tick-tock like from a grandfather clock down the hall, but there was no clock. Gloria chalked it up to the ghost of Lillian Priddy. She’d been asking around: Who exactly was Lillian Priddy? Getting the same answer: An old woman. A shut-in. But everybody was somebody before they got too old for people to care.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


DAY 47

Writing today. In the mood to be quiet and start painting again. Having a friend over for dinner. Life is very good.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Day 48

Spent the morning revising ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL. Revised from page 133 to page 147 before I heard the dishwasher making a funny noise and discovered soap all over my kitchen floor. It reminded me of THE BRADY BUNCH episode where Bobby puts too much detergent in the washing machine. I sort of wish Carol Brady was my mom. Then she'd be here to clean up the mess.

As far as ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL goes, this is my third rewrite/revision of the full book, and my agent has asked me to mark the spots where I've done the most significant rewriting, but truthfully, I feel like I'm rewriting every line to some extent. I guess I'll only mark the really big rewrites where elements of plot have changed.

I'm excited that sometime this spring an excerpt from ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL will be published in Makeout Creek, and sometime in March, I plan to read that excerpt or another excerpt at Chop Suey. I'll let you know the dates when I know them.

I wish I could write more today. I had hoped to reach page 150, but I'm so close, and if my darling Christopher is inclined to watch a little "educational" TV later, I might be able to get there. The sun is shining. Smile and do a twirl. Make sure someone sees you. It's better that way. Speaking of things being better this way or that: There was a man at the gym this morning wearing headphones and singing REALLY loud. He had a voice like mine. Terrible! I'm doing kickbacks, laughing my ass off. It was great. He made my day. So go dance for somebody. Or sing!


DAY 49
I like to drink wine, and I like to whine... so allow me to do so for one sentence. Today, I got a phone call and a letter telling me that my son didn't get into the private school to which we'd applied for his kindergarten year. All right... This is already more than one sentence. Here's the thing: Had he been accepted, my husband and I would've declined them. We did not have a good experience, and as my husband so kindly pointed out to me last night: "You went to public school, and you turned out great. I went to public school, and I turned out all right." (For the record, my husband turned out super great.) Anyway, all you moms out there know that anytime your child is denied something or isn't "chosen," we take it personally. I took it personally. But here's my final word: THEIR LOSS! My son is extraordinary. Thanks for letting me whine. Now where's my wine?

On to writerly things: I revised 33 more pages today of ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL. My friends keep asking me if waiting for THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS to finally come out is making me crazy/nuts, if the anticipation is killing me. But truthfully, because I've been waiting since November of 2008 when the book sold, I'm doing really great. I'm completely calm (which is not typical). Writing and revising my newest novel ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL keeps me sane. This book allows me to let the public have Buckley and Becca (the main characters from THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS.) I've fallen in love all over again--this time with Gloria and Isabel and a host of others.

Today is really day 48... I didn't have time to post yesterday. Please forgive me. I take this countdown quite seriously. I'm definitely doing post 48 today! Thanks for the love and support.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


DAY 50:

Inspired by the group SHE WRITES, I've decided to start this: My personal countdown to the publication of THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS.

Today, Sunday, February 21st, there are 50 Days to go. No big book news today. I had your standard worries: first, my son's five-year-old friend, who had a sleepover last night, was crying because our hermit crab Purple Wurple pinched her. I washed her finger and got her a Band-aid, not realizing that poor Purple Wurple, who can't break skin or do much damage, was loose in my office! So, the next hour was spent down on my knees searching for Purple Wurple, who we adopted this September in Hatteras. Now, these are the first hermit crabs I've ever owned. I'm the only person I know who doesn't seem to kill them, probably because I don't let anyone else touch them (then again, no adults want to handle them), and because, I spent like $200 on their fancy digs. These guys have a humidity gage and a little heater. (I also have living Sea Monkeys: since Christmas!) Pretty nuts.

Then we were off to Toys R Us and then to the river. My son's recent concerns are that I love everything else compared to him. "Do you love Daddy more than me?" "Do you love Georgia (his friend who had the sleepover) more than me? "Do you love Purple Wurple more than me?" "Do you love writing novels more than me?"

"No and no and no and no... I don't love anyone or anything more than you."

So, 50 days to go. I hope you'll join me for the next 49. I don't know what to expect. Most recently, I was invited to attend and be on a panel at the James River Writers' Conference (October), which, being a native Richmonder, I am elated at the invitation. The first year of the conference, I was honored to meet Tom Robbins. I adore him. Other than that, things are good. I celebrated my birthday with friends on Friday. Felt blessed to have so many cool people in my life. Excited that in less than two months, I'll finally see my book in hardback form. It's still hard to believe. Thrilled about having a book launch party at Gallery 5 on April 18th. All is well. I hope it stays that way. I'll be in touch tomorrow, and I hope that if you have any questions or comments, you'll post them.

Also, remember that Chop Suey Books will be selling my novel at the launch party on April 18th. I'll be signing books too.

Thanks for all your support.