Friday, January 29, 2010

Seymour Finkelstein and Other Elusive Dreams . .

As a girl, I read the same books over and over again. All the Nancy Drews at least 3 times, my favorite titles (The Password to Larkspur Lane, anyone?) perhaps dozens. Go Ask Alice and Are You There God, its Me Margaret (forget the iPad, remember the pad belt?!) occupied space on my night stand for months. But the book I most remember reading was a somewhat less patrician title called I Saw Him First in which two hormonal teenage girls fight over the new class hunk, Seymour Finklestein. I don't recall the ever so important details, but I'm sure you'll be shocked to find out the narrator, who fought to woo that tall drink of water, Seymour, finally realized the water, tall as it was, didn't run very deep. I don't remember if the girls became friends again, if the narrator ended up going to the prom with the nice kid from her side of the tracks who loved her from the beginning--oh, wait, I've ventured into film. Old Molly Ringwald movies aside (are there any new Molly Ringwald movies?), the righteous indignation that inspired the title of I Saw Him First reared its ugly head in my home this week, in a very non-fictional way.

Laura, the more media savvy of us, sent me several links to several Twitter feeds this week. (So un-savvy am I that I'm not even sure its called a Twitter feed, but I think that's right). If you're interested, they are as follows:

If you're not that interested, don't worry I'll summarize. The first is a tweet from Jennifer Weiner, she of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, noting that ABC is reading her pilot about a smart, sassy lady lawyer. The second is an article from the Huffington Post written by two female co-authors waxing poetic on the benefits of co-authoring a novel.

By way of reminder, Laura and I wrote a novel about a smart, sassy lady lawyer. Five years ago we wrote it. And its good. We've been talking to groups for some time now about the benefits of writing together. And we're charming. I promise we are. For the moment, however, I'm abandoning that charm and instead of understanding that sometimes it really is about who you know, or just a matter of timing, or even wondering whether we gave up on The Pecking Order too soon, I'm opting to stomp my feet and grab for Seymour. Laura and I, after all, saw him first.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Square Peg

We've been told our book, The Pecking Order (available now, online, for free!), doesn't quite fit into an established literary genre. It's like the offspring of chick lit and literary fiction, although every now and then one might whisper behind closed doors that it resembles the mailman (his name is Romance). Our agent called it upscale commercial women's fiction . . . whatever that means . . . but, still, even with a name, it hasn't found a comfortable home. I was beginning to wonder if, perhaps, it was destined to be a loner forever. But then I read Love Walked In and Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. And I gotta tell you . . . The Pecking Order is in good company. It does not (unlike that stinky cheese we're all so fond of singing about) stand alone. The review "blurbs" for Love Walked In describe the book alternately as chick lit and romance, and praise the author's literary skills. As for me, I define her books as riveting, with characters I want to tuck in my pocket and carry around, conversations I want to jump into, and language that lingers long after I've closed the back cover. Marisa de Los Santos's books are filled with humor and self-deprecation . . . with a literary slant but a pop culture, relatable feel. And though Ms. de los Santos writes in a way I only aspire to, sometimes, every now and then, it seems that one of her sentences could have bled from my (and Kris's) very pen. So maybe "not fitting in" can be a good thing.
P.S. I just read that Sarah Jessica Parker is slated to star in the film version of Love Walked In. I titled this blog post "A Square Peg" before I knew that. Maybe I need my own psychic hotline?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Relentless Forward Progress

Its been a little more than a year now since my last marathon. I'm still smarting. And it wasn't my first. It was my fifth. That doesn't exactly qualify me as a "marathoner", but I also shrug off the label of "runner" like its an 80's ensemble. I just don't consider myself properly in that category. Yes, I've put one foot after another for 26.2 miles on several occasions and for 13.1 miles on even more occasions, not to mention the scads of 3, 6, and 10 milers I have under my belt. Yet still, in my mind, I am not a runner.

Almost a decade ago, I ran the most difficult race I've ever done, the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, rated one of the hardest marathons in the country. And you know what, I didn't train. And no I don't mean, oops, I only did a couple of long runs. I mean my hardest training run was a 40 minute hill workout on the treadmill. I will save the unimportant and uninteresting details related to why I didn't train, but suffice to say I was being obstinate in a way that only hurt me. And as I looked ahead at 26.2 miles and a 1000 foot climb, I told myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I took to heart something my husband said as I watched him leave me in his dust at mile 3 - "relentless forward progress".

I (Laura and I) have written a novel. A good novel. Not to mention several short stories, countless legal briefs, and more than a hundred pages of a second novel. Yet I still have difficulties considering myself a writer. But as I look ahead at another 200 pages of that second novel, with callous-free fingertips and a word processing program that hasn't received a creative words in months, I remember what my husband said at the Grandfather Mountain Marathon - relentless forward progress. It took me across the finish line at Grandfather Mountain and I can't help but believe it will take us to the final chapter here.