Thursday, May 31, 2012

Odds & Ends

Today's the last day to bid at Brenda Novak's charity auction for Diabetes research. As of this second, you still have eight hours to win from me a full screenplay critique or 50 pages of a novel critique (presumably the first 50 pages but you know, I'm flexible). Thanks and good luck! If it's too rich for your blood, I'll be participating in another auction next week.

Also I'm writing this from beyond the grave because the latest episode of Mad Men was so depressing I would've given it 5 out of 5 razor blades had I reviewed it. Instead, I send you to a terrific analysis at

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Los Angeles Novels for Every Mood

I started Jennifer Bosworth's STRUCK this week, a YA book about a teenage lightning addict living in post-Apocalyptic Los Angeles. The setting is pitch perfect and Bosworth clearly knows her L.A. stuff.  It got me thinking about my other favorite novels set in L.A. -- novels that absolutely couldn't be set anywhere else:

1. THE LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler (classic hardboiled mystery)

2. DOGTOWN by Mercedes Lambert (gritty, unglamorous East L.A. of the 1980s)

3. MY HOLLYWOOD by Mona Simpson (overpriveleged families of Santa Monica, seen through the POVs of immigrant nannies)

4. WHITE OLEANDER by Janet Fitch (the brutality of the foster care system)

5. HOLLYWOOD by Charles Bukowski (hilarious and insane look into alcholic writer's movie-making experience)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Having A Baby Has Taught me About Life, The Universe, and Everything

1. Turns out it's possible to function on 4 hours of sleep a night. Had I known this sooner, I could've written twice the number of manuscripts currently under my bed.

2. Babies appreciate every minor sensation the world has to offer because it's all new to them. As a writer, this can be invaluable to observe. (Yes, you know what, Elliot? You're right: The way light comes through the window and creates shadows along the wall IS beautiful and worth staring at.)

2a) What once seemed like minor scenarios have become highlights of my life. Like Elliot dancing, teaching himself to roll over, splashing in the bath, and blowing raspberries. Each milestone squeezes my heart. And he'll never be this small again, so each day is acutely poignant.

3. Sometimes a 2-hour commute on the 405 on a Monday morning is a welcome, restful respite from the 96 hours that preceded it.

4. Changing diapers, long feared, ended up being nothing whatsoever and the least of my worries.

5. I always knew Joe was my partner, but now he's really been in the trenches with me. And there's something sexy about a guy who knows how to rock a baby to sleep.

6. With time to read at a premium, only good books make the cut. (Sorry, bestseller that shan't be named. You've sapped my will to live. Although the extraordinarily repetitive nature of your prose does make it easy to drift off, which is sometimes helpful.)

7. My respect for other parents -- particularly my own -- has increased one million fold.

8. Just when I think my friends, loved ones and neighbors couldn't be kinder, someone does something so generous and thoughtful it blows my mind. Example: my cousin sending me a sleep mask and a bright red leather bag so I would feel pampered as a new mom. And the things my parents and in-laws have done for us are too numerous to even grasp or summarize.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getcher Novel or Screenplay Critiques Right Here

I'm participating in Brenda Novak's Annual Auction for the Cure to Diabetes. As you may have guessed, it's an auction, and it raises money to find a cure for diabetes.

Do you have a novel or screenplay that you'd like me to critique? Come place a bid! Don't be nervous. I do this for a living. (Wow, that sounded dirty.) I just mean, I read screenplays for a living, and when I'm not doing that, I'm writing novels for my other living, so I have experience and knowledge and all that good stuff.

I'll stop blathering now and let someone else blather.

The lovely, gracious, and talented Melanie Bennett won a novel critique from me last year. Here's what she has to say (thanks, Melanie!):

"Sarah critiqued a manuscript for me and her smart advice and insightful comments were a big part of why that manuscript earned me three offers of representation. She critiques in a way that helped me feel her experience with my work as a reader, but she backed it up with the writerly know-how of strategies for fixing issues. It's a great combination and well-worth a big, fat donation to a charity if you get the bonus of her mad skills."

Sound good? Operators are standing by and I'd love to help you whip your writing project into shape. Please let your writer friends know about the auction, and please consider helping out a good cause.

You can bid here until May 31st.


I'll be particpating in another fundraiser on June 2nd. More details to come...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Recipe for Successful Line Edits

1. An editor who's smarter than you (Maggie is wicked smaht and insightful; together we're conspiring to make me look like less of an idiot).

2. A cooperative, sleepy baby who'll take naps so you can work.
Okay, so I'm not exactly working.

3. A sense of humor. My all-time favorite line edit concerns whether a character would be eating Pop-Tarts vs Toaster Strudels. (It's an issue of icing.) We've both done research and a winner will be crowned any day now.*

And in this corner...
4. The desire to tweak. Just call me Tweaker Sarah**! I love tweaking lines to get just the right phrase, mood, and style. Line edits give me the opportunity to do this to my heart's content.

Watch out for the Dough Boy. He'll cut ya.
I know you are dying to find out whether we went with Pop-Tarts or Toaster Strudels. You'll just have to buy, steal or borrow BRUISED next Spring.
*Unsurprisingly, Maggie was correct.
**Now I sound like a meth head