Friday, July 31, 2009

I Can Haz Dream House?

Navigating the world of Los Angeles real estate, and by that I of course mean the world of Santa Clarita real estate juuuuuust outside L.A., even in this supposedly "first-time buyer's market," has been confusing and bizarre.

We are so desperate to move and I needed a laugh, so I was psyched to see One-Minute Book Reviews', er, one-minute book review of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (also a film with Cary Grant), about a New York couple's move to the countryside. Further synchronicity: a co-worker of mine had a copy of the book and lent it to me.

I feel so much better now, after reading about the various ways in which Mr. Blandings is ripped off! And how out of his depth he is! And how he wants to jump at the first place he sees because he's convinced the nefarious Other People will get there first. Because -- yes. I can relate, even though it takes place in the 1930s.

We have an awesome real estate agent, and I've been yanked bank from the brink of despair and/or overexcitement more times than I can count, but no matter what happens, it will not compare to the insanity of poor Mr. Blandings and by that I am comforted.

Also: stop barking, dog who lives in my apartment building.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Skylight Books Delivers Another Great Author Talk

Last night's event at Skylight Books was awesome!  Four authors read from three anthologies with a Q&A and book-signing afterwards. (I arrived too late to sample the cookies, but I hear they were excellent.)

I probably shouldn't be buying books since I'm planning to move to a new place soon, but how could I resist Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd? Amazon, I know I just linked to you, and you have many wonderful qualities, and we'll always be friends, but buying from a brick-and-mortar bookstore is just where I am in my life. It's no one's fault. Let's not make a scene.

Many thanks to Cecil Castellucci, Aimee Bender, Lisa Yee and Melissa De La Cruz for making the event so fun!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Gift for the Tendonitis-Sufferer Who Has Everything

I'm alllll about the ergonomics. I've got the wrist braces, the split keyboard, desk-tray, click-less mouse (simply hover the mouse, and let it click or highlight for you) and the roller-ball thingie (very scientific sounding, I know).

And they all work great, but I say, what about the pampering? What about the fake spa???

Therabath has a paraffin wax treatment system you can set up in five minutes flat. Okay, after that it takes 8 hours to melt the wax, but then you're home free. So easy a Sarah could use it!

Dip your hands 4-7 times in the wax, place them each in a loose wrap so the wax doesn't stick everywhere (confession: I use old, cleaned-out plastic bread bags) and slide them into a large mitten hand towel. Ahhh. Put your feet up, hang out on the couch for twenty minutes, perhaps with an episode of "...Maria?", and let the heat therapy do its thing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

When Novelists Tackle TV

According to the Hollywood Reporter, best-selling author Harlan Coben has sold a new show to FOX about a private investigator turned criminology professor who helps his graduate students solve crimes. The twist is that he's, well, kinda crazy. He's got "a frontal-lobe injury that suppresses his inhibitions."

I'm curious if Coben's style as a novelist will help produce well-plotted longer-term stories. 

Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars, got his start writing novels (Rats Saw God), and in fact VM was originally conceived as a novel. I think his background was a fundamental reason that the first season of the show was so expertly crafted.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend Reading Round-Up

Currently Reading:

1) Fat Kid Rules the World by KL Going (for August book club -- I'm actually reading it ahead of schedule!)  

Read This Week:

1) Feed by MT Anderson (excellent, eerie sci-fi)

2) Shortcomings, a graphic novel by Adrian Tomine (bittersweet, darkly comedic relationship drama)

Recommended read:

1) KL has also written a great how-to book on writing and selling Young Adult novels. A must-read for aspiring authors in that genre

2) Another New Yorker article, this time about people who donate kidneys to strangers!! "Do we find them noble or freakish?"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Wee FAQ About Magic

Q: What's it like being married to a magician?
A: It is magical.

Q: Seriously now.
A: It's like Hogwarts. All the time. (Seriously, it's great.) Joe's got mad skillz and it's fun to see his routines before anyone else. One of my favorite things when I'm at his shows is to scan the audience for people's reactions. I love seeing how astonished and happy he's made them.

Q: Does he tell you all the secrets OMG?
A: I prefer not knowing, and I rarely figure things out on my own; my brain simply doesn't work that way. I spent several months researching magicians for my novel, and that was a blast -- but I wasn't looking much into the how-to's of tricks. It's more fun for me to wonder.

Q: Do you hang out at the Magic Castle (private Hollywood club for magicians) a lot?
A: I used to go once a week, but now it's more like once a month. Joe understandably likes to talk shop with other magicians, so I try to give him space to do that. I love bringing people who've never been before, and seeing the place through their eyes -- there's no club like it in the world!

Q: Which style of magic do you like best?
A: I'm sort of biased, but I think close-up magic can be the most amazing to witness live. I also have a soft spot for Vegas-y shows that use big cats.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Love/Love Relationship With "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?"

When you read scripts for a living, it's very difficult to be surprised by plot twists. Even when you haven't read the episode in question, the formulas across the board tend to become obvious. So my love for "reality" show / musical audition program "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" has tripled in recent weeks.

This show is CRAZY. They make the losers participate in sudden-death sing-offs in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and then the person voted off is forced to sing "So Long, Farewell" from Sound of Music as they tearfully exit stage left. How will I survive when it ends next week?!

Let's discuss the panel of judges. First we have absurdly good-looking actor guy John Barrowman, who is exactly like Tom Cruise, if Tom Cruise were less Tom Cruise-y. I guess he's on a popular Dr. Who spin-off that I've never seen. Nor do I happen to watch Dr. Who. But he's famous and attractive and gets to make remarks like, "You can be my leading lady anytime, baby."

Next up is the semi-evil vocal coach, Zoe. She is tough to please, and usually gets the audience all riled up and angry when she critiques the vocal stylings of the contestants. Still, I think she's fair, and willing to work with people and give them second chances.

Lastly is the white-haired, slightly older-looking theater producer man whose name escapes me... The problem is, I can't Google this stuff yet because I don't want to inadvertently spoil the identity of the winner. The show airs on BBC America, and has presumably crowned its Maria in Britain already, so if I look up the show I risk ruining my life. But anyway, Producer Man was gushingly in love with Sioban at first, but now he seems to have realized that she might not actually have the acting chops to be Maria.

I am putting all my hopes, dreams and money on Connie for the win!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Yes, I Would Love a Free, Brand-New Mac

I know I was just complaining about how dreadful Mac keyboards are, and I stand by that assertion, but their customer service is phenomenal.

A few weeks ago, our Mac's fan randomly started going on, which I know can be the death knell of Macs. My husband called up the store but they were backlogged and couldn't get to ours for a few days. This was fairly stressful because we were both in the middle of projects that needed our attention. Eventually the Mac people replaced some piece of hardware, which would've cost us $800 if we hadn't purchased the warranty when we originally bought the Mac a couple years ago. (Can you sense a moral to this story?)

Anyway, we took it home and plugged it in, and the fan came on. Argh! Again, several days passed before they could take another look, and this time they admitted they didn't know what was going on, and that it may take them awhile to figure it out -- so would we like a free, brand-new Mac instead?

They even upgraded us to a bigger screen!! So essentially for the price of the $175 warranty on a 2007 model, we got a brand-new 2009 version with double memory, speed, and a 24-inch screen.

Now if only we could find a good version of Word to install...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Reading and the Living is Easy

There's still time to pick up a Summer Reading List or 70! But which Coast do we trust, East or West?

New York Times is all about the ladies.

L.A. Weekly includes plenty of excerpts and dares to tell us how fiction works.

Okay, so I'm a bit biased toward California. Maybe that's because my local branch has been having some spectacular author talks this summer. Unfortunately I missed Janet Fitch (White Oleander) on July 10th, but I'm hoping to catch sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and oh, a million more) on August 31st. I have the feeling the event will be packed.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Reading Round-Up

Currently Reading:

1) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik (rec'd by one of my critique partners)

2) Tyrell by Coe Booth (for my book club meeting on Sunday afternoon -- I know, I'm cutting it close)

Read This Week:

1) Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (rec'd by my agent and so freaking good!!)

And now here's my recommended read:

A few weeks ago The New Yorker asked, "Should Creative Writing Be Taught?"

If you've ever considered getting a Master's in art, you may find this discussion illuminating. And every letter printed in the most recent issue was about this article, so clearly it struck a nerve.

Friday, July 17, 2009

In Los Angeles, Even Library Events Have Swag

I expect to see free swag at nightclub events or movie premieres (at the opening of "Nothing Like the Holidays" last year, I got a full Thanksgiving meal while fake snow blew outside) but at a library book swap?

Last night, the Mar Vista Branch outdid itself. Not only was there an open bar, an author signing (Lisa See was there promoting her awesome-looking book "Shanghai Girls"), and a terrific pile of free books to choose from, but on the way out the door, we were handed LED Mini Book Lights and pens that say "Reading is Sexy."

It is now! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Swap

Tonight I'm attending a GoodReads & Young Literati Book Swap with my good pal Amy. It's at the Mar Vista public library, a branch I've never visited before.

FYI, the Los Angeles Public Library system is amazing. There are 70 + branches, all of which are searchable online, and if the one closest to you doesn't have a book, they mail it from wherever, and you can drop it off at any of them. The only problem is, all the books I've put on hold tend to come in at the same time -- and then it's a scramble to read them all before they're due back.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mac Keyboards Are a Carpal Tunnel Nightmare

I know, they're super cute, all stylish and sleek but they're also the worst combination of factors for people with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome: the hand position, lack of depth to the keys, the flat surface with no angle or tilt; the difficulty in typing reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons when Homer is trying to dial the phone and the operator goes, all chirpy, "Your fingers are too fat to use this phone!" and he's like stabbing it with a pencil in his fist. The dialing wand. That's also the episode where he's in a muumuu for most of it, so the phone bit is understandably backburnered.

Reading TV

I've got one of those jobs that could only be a job in Los Angeles (sort of like the woman who hangs out in the fish tank in the lobby of The Standard on Sunset Blvd). Basically, I read television and film scripts and write character descriptions of the roles being cast.

When I first started my job, this was a typical scene at the office:

ME: OH MY GOD! Did anyone see [insert TV show] last night?!?

Awkward pause.

CO-WORKERS: We don't watch TV.

ME: Really?? Because I think it would be so cool to see who they cast and how it all looked!

CO-WORKERS: ...Yeah. You'll get over that.

It's true that I watch less TV now than I used to, but I still definitely geek out over certain shows. Although my favorite program this summer is a reality show on BBC America, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. It perfectly merges two of my obsessions, Top Model and Sound of Music. What more could I ask for?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And Away We Go!

I'm thrilled to report that I've signed with the fabulous Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency. I'm so honored to be working with her!!

I know my novel is in great hands and I think we're a perfect fit.