Friday, May 23, 2008

We've moved!

Finally at 345 posts, we got some new digs. And are they spiffy. Yes indeed.

What Came Down Today now posts from a new url.

So, please update your bookmarks, accounts, RSS feeds, and blogrolls. This blog has been renamed What Came Down Yesterday. Get it?

The archives will stay up for at least a year at this location, I think. I'm still trying to import some of these posts (the good ones) into Wordpress. Just need time and more time.

And please forgive the construction at the new location. Wordpress is a whole new ballgame for me. Some of the ads don't work yet (static) and the search boxes don't work either, I don't think. And I'm just not sure about the theme yet. Hope I settle on something soon! I've only changed it about twenty times!

But anyway, see you over there!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book 1 of 100: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I've heard half a dozen people recommend this book to me in the past few months, but it wasn't until agent Kristin Nelson recommended the series in her April newsletter that I finally paid attention. And then the book sat on my book table in my living room for a month before I realized it was due back at the library and I couldn't renew it because it there was a waiting list of people after me! So I read it, just this week, in entirety. And I couldn't read it fast enough.

The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld is a YA look at a semi-spooky future, but you don't realize it is spooky until after you finish the book, which I think lends to its charm. Tally Youngblood is three months away from 16 at which time she'll undergo plastic surgery (everyone on earth does at 16) to become pretty. Until then though, she's still an Ugly. The Uglies can't do anything fun and are bogged down with rules and plain-jane clothes and surroundings, whereas the Pretties live the high life: parties and clothes and fun and games. At the start of the book, Tally sneaks over to the Pretties side of town to see a childhood friend and on her way back meets another Ugly, one who isn't content with her Ugly lot.

It's a book filled with new images and places and yet, all of this is easily recognized as a darker picture of our modern society. The book moves very fast and every page is jam-packed with new information that enlarges the landscape. Tally has quick wits and is modestly fearless. She brings to the YA fantasy genre a new heroine that teens (and adults) won't be able to resist. I certainly could not.

It's high-concept YA at its best, I think. And it solves the often-perplexing problem writers face. Eudora Welty says to write about what you don't know about what you know.

And then Alice Laplante points out, as writers, we're not looking to provide a lesson, or a moral; we're not therapists looking to cure our characters of pain or neurosis. Our job, as writers, is simply to render what is, using precise, concrete detail.

I think that's what makes Westerfeld's first book so lively and engaging. He does not tell us why something is, he shows us how it is. He doesn't give us easy answers. Rather, he helps us understand the precise nature of the questions.

As Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes says, "Bad books are about things the writer already knew before he wrote them."

My Beginning

A blogging friend, Jen Miller, author of The Jersey Shore, Atlantic City to Cape May: Great Destinations, and the inventor of the Book A Week Blog, sent me a copy of her blog in Word form this week. Planned to span 52 weeks (a book a week), it actually went much faster than even she anticipated (we're all in awe of her now).

I really liked her opener to her book a week series (posted back in October):

I like to read. A lot. Whenever I move, my mom asks "do we have to move all your books? Again?" I have managed to turn books into a sliver of my freelance career -- I review for a few newspapers and magazines, and write about books and authors, too, if not profiles, then using them as 'experts' in my magazine articles.

I can't give you one reason why I like books. I think they offer an escape, and a much more textured and indulgent one than you'll find on TV. Even the frothiest of novels demands more from you than watching TV, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

I know that reading a book a week is not a new idea, nor is it a new idea to do so and write about it. But why not give it a go? I find myself drifting when I don't have a book to read, and I'm in need of an anchor.

Trish again.

I like to read too. A lot. Whenever I move, my entire family asks "do we have to move all your books? again?" (they've only helped me move them three times, whoop-de-doo-dah) and while I haven't had the amazing freelance writing career of Jen, I've worked on a lot of books before publication--as a copyeditor, project manager, proofreader, researcher, and developmental editor--from non-fiction to fiction, college textbooks to gift books. I love my work and I love my job.

But the books I read for work are not what I would pick up and read for fun.
Thus I feel a bit disconnected and adrift if I don't have a book I'm reading for fun. So I recompense with several books at once!

So I decided, after seeing Jen's blog and then her blog in book form, I need to record my book reading journey.

You see, a few years ago, I discovered Jane Smiley's Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Novel and it has since become one of my most favorite books. When I am at odds with life, I sit down and thumb through Jane's mini-reviews (similar to what Jen has done) of the 100 novels she read after September 11, 2001. It took her three years, but what a rich treasure came from those three years. It will probably take me longer and I don't doubt there will be weeks (and months) that I don't get any book reviewed on my blog.

I'm not in a race, and I'm not doing this to try and beat Jen's record. I think that by doing this, I will a) have more interesting content for this blog and b) I will keep a record of what I've read. I read voraciously (thanks to a well-stocked King County library system) and often there is no pattern or texture to my reading. I just read. You may like what I read, or you may not. The choice is yours.

I think it will enrich my life and perhaps the lives of those who faithfully follow this blog, even though a) I still have not published the novel, and b) I work too hard some days and my brain goes completely empty.

So, dear readers, this is my beginning.

And, thanks to Jen's good example, I intend to start . . . today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Balancing Your Creativity With Others' Input

This is hard work for me. I'm a people-pleaser, I guess. If someone gives me advice, I really try hard to take it and use it, but oftentimes that makes me double-minded about my work and my creative pursuits.

I have made a decision and it was not hard, but obvious to me, however, it wasn't the popular consensus. It meant choosing a fiction project over another. I'm neck-deep in revision and it is so easy to want to start on another fun project, but 2008 is the year I learn to plow through the tough revisions and persevere. I can write first drafts until the end of time, but the point is to revise.

So I picked my current WIP to continue on and I will make it the best I can. Next up, the fun book (which is a series, high concept, and just really entertaining for me).

A few stories:

Journalism going mobile from Editor and Publisher.

Sex and the City ads banned in Jerusalem, from

And off I go to get things done so I can write.

Currently listening to: Leona Lewis
Currently reading: Pretties (Scott Westerfeld)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No One Cares What You Have For Lunch

Saw a book with this title on Amazon today and chuckled. I feel like this blog has been just that dull of late. It's been a miracle just getting something up on this blog every single day in May. (Don't travel when you want to improve traffic to a blog!)

So today we go back to the basics. This blog is my writing blog. I'm not here to help anyone improve their writing, or even to improve my writing, I'm just talking about my writing journey. I am an aspiring novelist, have written and published several non-fiction gift books and one children's picture book and I'm moving onto YA this year. I also write essays and non-fiction and copyedit a lot of pages on a weekly basis.

Currently I'm just about to begin my massive revision of the YA novel I've been working on for the past year. I plan to have 100 pages ready by the first of August (or sooner) to send out to a second editor for her opinion and I plan to sell this book in time to grab the summer/fall reading lists for 2010. This means I need to find an agent this fall and sell sometime in early 2009. Or somewhere thereabouts. Plans of mice and men and all that . . .

News roundup today:

CJR reports on the changing face of journalism; not so much about magazines anymore.

Print news is growing, not decreasing, in emerging markets, according to the NYT.

Professional blogger/podcaster Amanda Congdon is back on her own terms.

And a bunch of information sites to get the scoop on everyone you know (or hate). Privacy? What's that?

And last, not definitely not least, Penelope Trunk talks about productivity testing, with some very interesting results.

Have a great productive Tuesday!

Currently listening to: ASAJ 2008 mp3 recordings
Currently reading: Pretties (Scott Westerfeld)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Home Again


And we're home. Really glad to be here too. London was delightful and wonderful and I would do it again in a minute, but I was ready to head for home, especially when I heard about the wonderful weather we're finally having here (England was lovely too, for the record).

And so today is a la-de-da day, with me trying to get back on the correct time zone and relaxing while I sort through email and snail mail and unpacking and laundry and writing.

Would you believe I read half a dozen books while I was gone? Thank goodness for the Kindle and for nine-hour flights both ways! Reading that much prepares me nicely for writing and I'm ready to go.

I start my new writing class in a week (Memorial Day proper) and am working on a book proposal and an essay. Plus, the novel work commences in earnest this week.

I relied so much on YouTube over the past ten days that I am going to take a break and not use one today.

Currently reading: Girl's Guide to Growing a Million-Dollar Business
Currently listening to: the Ellen Show

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Homeward Bound

And we're flying home today. I'm ready, but so sorry to leave London. It is a wonderful home away from home and I really got comfortable on this trip. I found a hotel that I love in a location near my day job and near everything I want to see each time I visit. I'm anxious to get back and hopefully will in another 8-12 months or so. Or sooner. Who knows.

We have a lot of work to do in the next seven weeks until launch. So I go home knowing that I will be working hard before I can get on a plane to Boston for the U.S. employee meeting.

Plus, right before I flew over, I was admitted into Brenda's very hard-to-get-into writing class in West Seattle (I was writer #8) and she almost capped it at just seven people. I am so excited and grateful. Many of her students get book deals (and very lucrative book deals). It will be a great growing experience.

Coming home, I'm also beginning to drift into fiction writing mode. I have a lot of work to do--lots of writing to do--and I'm excited and a bit nervous.

Currently reading: back of my eyelids--sleep!
Currently listening to: Basshunter

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Notting Hill

The Saturday market in Notting Hill on Portabello Road is something unto itself.

Of course, Notting Hill brings up memories of this movie:

But until you've actually been there on a bustling Saturday morning market day, well, you haven't really experienced Notting Hill.

Vendors selling everything you can imagine and people are jam-packed into a space that sometimes includes cars and march the long route through the market in a blizzard of language and chatter and noise. It's a cacophony of humanity. I go to Pike Place Market every so often in Seattle and Notting Hill is a completely different experience and quite wonderful.

Today is our last day to run around in London so we are out soaking it up. Home tomorrow.

Currently reading: The Host (Stephenie Meyer)
Currently listening to: Amy Winehouse