Friday, June 29, 2007


I just want to know what the big deal is. Why would you stand in line to buy the first of a product you know will have bugs, is ridiculously over-priced by about $500, and really isn't offering you something revolutionary? The iPhone is basically just a Blackberry without buttons.

Please, if you know, tell me!


I'm reviewing Hooked, by Matt Richtel on KQED Radio's California Report today.

You can listen LIVE on your radio if you're in the SF Bay area: 88.5 FM at 4:30 and 6:30pm PST. You can listen LIVE in STREAMING online at .

Or you can wait until tomorrow when it will be archived at The California Report online.

I did a very consumer-like, stereotypically female thing last week. I bought a cute dress that is utterly impractical and cost more than I really needed to spend.

So then, of course, I knew I needed a place to wear said dress. Coincidentally, E. and I have been trying to decide where to go for our planned vacation in August. E. suggested Hawaii. And so now I have the perfect place to wear my impractical summer dress.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I've decided I need to return to writing about things literary, no matter how obscure on this blog. Don't worry, you'll still get the inane details about family events gone awry, absurd outbursts and tirades on popular news items, and random musings on weird facts, but I feel a duty to return to the lit world for at least awhile.

Last night I finished the ARC (advanced review copy) of Anne Patchett's new novel, Run, scheduled for publication in October. The bummer about reading ARCs is that you can't tell all your friends to run right out and read the book too, and so you're stuck reading reviews online for that satisfying conversation that should follow a good read.

What I loved about her novel Bel Canto is true, in a certain way, of this novel too. You start out sort of on the fence. Will I like these characters? Will I care where this story is going? And I wasn't really sure. Her characters are always just complex enough that you can doubt them for a little while, even judge them.

But then, just when you think you might be able to take them or leave them, you find yourself gripped.

The novel is about Bernard & Bernadette Doyle, of Boston. Bernard was the Mayor of Boston many years back and is a born politician. After their only natural son, Sullivan, was born Bernadette suffered a handful of miscarriages, so they decided to adopt a baby boy, which ended up being two boys--brothers. One a newborn, the other 14 months old, Teddy and Tip. And they're black. The Doyles are Irish-Catholic white.

Then the story leaps forward nearly 19 years. Bernadette is long dead of cancer when the boys were little. Sullivan is the screw-up brother working with the AIDS-stricken populations in Africa and is in some way responsible for the fall of Bernard's political career (revealed toward the end of the book). Bernard--called "Doyle" persists in putting tremendous pressure on both sons to become politicians, dragging them to political events and encouraging them to memorize political speeches. Tip's interest--and a serious one at that--is icthyology, while Teddy is considering becoming a priest. Their father's inability to see his sons' desires is his greatest weakness.

The novel really begins when, one evening after the family leaves a Jesse Jackson speech on a very snowy night, A woman darts out of the night and pushes Tip out of the way of an oncoming car that nobody saw coming, and is critically injured herself. The woman's name is Tennessee Moser, and as it turns out, she's no stranger to these boys. Nor is her 11 year old daughter, Kenya. The rest of the novel centers on these relationships as Tennessee goes into the hospital for immediate surgery and little Kenya comes to stay with them.

I won't say much more except that it was a really nice change of pace to read a novel that gets away with being poignant and touching and focusing on bonds of family without getting too sentimental. And even the issue of black vs. white, I thought, was handled very well--neither overly delicate, nor too heavy handed. I will be curious to see how people react to this book's race themes seeing as Patchett is white and this is often cause for someone to get all up in arms (You're not black! How can you write about black people?) The irony is that Tip and Teddy have been raised by a white, well-to-do family in a comfortable part of town and received good educations and were saved from bullying as kids by their older brother Sullivan, while young Kenya has grown up in a housing project and is a latchkey kid and has only her mother to look out for her.

The conclusion of this story is exquisite, but I won't say why or how. When it comes out, do yourself a favor, and read it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

UPDATE on The Quills:

I WAS on NBC-11's morning news segment "The Quills" this morning (god, could they have put up a less flattering screen shot??). If you want to watch the video, go to the link, then click on the teeny-tiny yellow button with an arrow in it below my tired looking face; that's play. It might take a few seconds to start up depending on your connection speed.

For those who can't see it, the books I recommended were:

The Liar's Diary, by *The Divine Patry Francis
The Year of Fog, by *The Fabulous, Michelle Richmond
The Color of a Dog Running Away, by Richard Gwyn
The Carpetmakers, by Andreas Eschbach
Epicure's Lament, by Kate Christensen

*Adjectives reserved for writers I've met in person and happen to personally admire :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


For most people, their "resolutions" start on January 1--I don't know why that date offers a fresh slate to usher in new changes exactly. For me, major changes tend to take place at the beginning of spring/ summer. Something about that bright sun shining down on all the damp, dusty corners of my life that makes me rethink my attitude and outlook.

So here's what I've been figuring out very, very slowly:

Happiness is a daily effort. You really can be happy, and have your dreams fulfilled and have fabulous relationships and wealth and creativity. But you absolutely must work on it every day. And let's face it, who doesn't have a down day. . . or five?

This week I'm back on board with keeping my happiness well-fed, paid and supported. It involves a bevy of things: taking lots of breaks from the computer; silence; eating carefully; exercise; social contact of a stimulating but not overwhelming nature (right now the bookstore suffices though I prefer it in the form of hanging out with good friends); limited contact with my family (sorry guys, but it's true); taking notice of all that I'm grateful for; writing every morning...and so on. See--this is no small task list. But the fact is, when I let any of those variables slack, my happiness plummets so significantly that, if it were a stock, all the investors would be bailing out fast.

What do you need to be happy? How often are you able to do it?


I will leave you with one last grad photo--three siblings, in age appropriate order :) (Outfit coordination purely accidental!)

Monday, June 18, 2007

My brother has graduated high school (same one I graduated from 15 years ago). You'll see in these photos how happy he looks. I've never seen him beam like this. He's free! He goes off to college (with his adorable girlfriend, below) in September.

Elliott & Jocie

Elliott giving speech

On his way to the diploma line

Drake Pirates!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Here is the good company my book will be in this fall:

Fall 2007 Titles
101 Songwriting Wrongs and How to Right Them
Book in a Month
Hatch’s Order of Magnitude
How I Got Published
Make a Scene
Police Procedure and Investigation
The Legends of Literature
The Lost Saranac Interviews
The Writer's Digest Writer’s Encyclopedia
Write is a Verb
Writer’s Digest Writing Kit
Writing the Christian Romance

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bada Bing

I do NOT want to know what happened on the final season of the Sopranos . . .
because I'm waiting for it to come out on DVD.

But does my local news appreciate this? No. (and tell me how this qualifies as news??)
My Google homepage? No.
Even some of my favorite friends blogs? No.

I am working really hard hear to pretend I don't know how it ended people. Can't you help me out?

You Complete Me

There are many stages a book has to pass through before it becomes published. From rough outline to finished product the drafts along the way may resemble the stages between tadpole and frog

My book is done. From first draft to completely revised new book. It's done. Oh, there will be one last final round of post-copy-edit changes to make in early July, but the writing and rewriting is truly done.


My book looks a little bit shinier than a frog, too and can be pre-ordered from this place, and this one.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

(Unlike other bloggers, I don't have a "WTF" category, but if I did, this would certainly fall under it):

It's always comforting to know that your government has not only its priorities straight, but some solid talent in its sights to ensure your safety.

Maybe redirecting the energy of
these writers is a good thing....

Another post that pretends to talk about something interesting but really doesn't
E and I recently got a propane-powered outdoor grill. We've been on a grilling frenzy, eating nothing else for the past week. It's fun to grill. It's fast. It doesn't heat up the house. And hot-dogs taste way better grilled than any other way (as do most vegetables).

So last night, or really this morning--around 2 am--we awoke to what sounded like cracking and popping coming straight out of the grill. I became paranoid that I had not shut off the gas and left it on and there was some sort of mini-explosion taking place.

E. got up, turned on the backyard light and we saw that one of the little doors beneath the grill was open. Something was inside, having a midnight snack out of the greasetrap. Our friendly....

He looked totally busted when he saw E--who then had to prod him with a hammer (gently) to get him out of the cupboard. He was only able to consume half of the delicious fat-drippings.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Some people would say it is silly, but today, barely six months after Figaro passed on, I miss him more than ever. It's lonely without him.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I know that like attracts like, but THIS is just weird!