Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From the outside looking in

Tomorrow I'm heading off on a week's vacation, which will include five foreign destinations (not counting my layover in Ohio). In an unintentionally fitting kick-off to my trip, tonight I went to a Spanish conversation meet-up, where it was confirmed that, (1) yes, I have lost almost all of my formerly great Spanish-speaking skills, but (2) I can still understand a lot.

It was interesting to be in a situation where I could follow conversation and be reminded of this world I used to inhabit almost effortlessly, and yet not be able to express myself very easily at all, let alone be understood. But I think it's a good position to put oneself in every once in a while, especially in contrast to the smugness I sometimes let myself fall into when I'm at the French meet-ups and feel like a star.

Maybe you writers should try something similar--try out a different POV, explore a different world, attempt to inhabit the mind of a character who at first seems so foreign to you. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

So, with this optimism in mind, I'm going to go pack for the Baltics, where I know not a word of the languages spoken--and maybe that will make my experience even richer. You never know.

Happy (interesting, thought-provoking, challenging) travels!

- L'Editrice

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seeing quadruples

One of the many benefits of reading your work out loud is hearing when you overuse a word or phrase. I should have followed my own advice on this post in particular. Apparently, I like the expression "a bit" a bit too much.

Hmm, and some people have said I was bit too harsh on the bored copywriter who penned the Eurostar sign-off I referenced yesterday. Fair enough, but I still say personality and whimsy should be kept to products and services that have whimsical prices, too.

- L'Editrice

Monday, August 24, 2009

So snarky

Listen, I like a bit of cheekiness as much as the next person, but I do have an issue when customer service communications are more sarcastic than smart. Call me crazy, but when I've just given you my credit card information, I want you to be all business and "Thank you very much, ma'am," and not "We'll send you a confirmation email shortly. We look forward to seeing you on board! Unless you have a photographic memory, you might want to print this page for your records."

- L'Editrice

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I'm pretty ambivalent about Stephen Colbert, but I liked this--dare I say it? Yes!--feminist clip from last night's show. Sure, it has its trademark Comedy Central immaturity, especially at the end, but it's in the service of Colbert making fun of himself at the same time, so I can live with it.

In terms of it being a "teachable [and post-able] moment," it says a lot about the easy stereotypes writers can fall into, as well as the importance of making all your characters three-dimensional and well-rounded (Hey, Colbert, stop snickering--no pun intended!).

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Speaking of the representation of women in fiction, even by women, check out this great criticism of films like The Ugly Truth and The Proposal. (Stephanie, I thought you especially would be interested in this.)

- L'Editrice

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Speaking of bookshelf must-haves . . .

. . . I've finally started reading Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, and it is indeed as brilliant and heartbreakingly beautiful as everyone says. I want to underline every other sentence, mark every page, and let my waiting tears out.

This. Is. Writing. I'm even more regretful now that I missed Vanessa Redgrave's one-woman show of it.

- L'Editrice

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Talking bookshelves and ghostly books

Let's be honest: it's pretty much impossible to keep from judging someone on what he or she is reading. You're on the subway, you look at what your fellow rider is [admitting to] reading, and you can make some assumptions about him or her, fair or not.

So when it comes to guests looking at a host's bookshelves, the judgment is probably one hundred times greater. After all, these are the books that a person can, ostensibly, hide from the prying eyes of strangers, and books that they like enough to have bought and/or keep. So, take a look at your bookshelf--what does it say about you?

I know, it's not fair. Analayzing my bookshelves before my last move, I noted all the bubblegum-pink paperback freebies that I had accumulated in my years working in kids'/YA publishing, and they didn't necessarily reflect my entire range of reading interests. Luckily, I'm a bit less of a hoarder than most of my fellow bibilophiles. I actually love sending books out into the universe--selling them to a cool secondhand store, giving them to friends, leaving them in my apartment building's lobby for my neighbors to find.

So I managed to pare down my collection to only books that had major sentimental value for me, great books that I like to refer to over and over, and books that I've worked on. I'm quite proud of my current streamlined (for now) book collection, and would not be embarrassed by any guest poring over it. In fact, my shelves are in my office-slash-guestroom, and I love the idea of a houseguest looking through my tomes to find something interesting to read before falling asleep, and thereby discovering a new favorite.

All this to say that I know my current catalog quite well, so I was intrigued and a bit creeped out when I spotted a stowaway on my shelf this afternoon. It's a yellowed paperback of The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles, and I've never seen it before in my life--nor, I should perhaps be ashamed to admit (since the quotations on the book indicate that it's quite famous and important), had I ever heard of it before. (I'm giving myself a pass though, as it was published in 1949.) After making my jokester husband swear that he hadn't placed it there and that he knew nothing about it either, I'm now trying to figure out how it got there--a ghost, or a sweet-but-sneaky houseguest? It still has its pricetag from the Brattle Book Shop, so it hails from around these parts, but that's all I can figure out.

Whatever its provenance, though, I may just have to read it. Maybe the answer to the mystery will found be inside its covers. . . .

- L'Editrice

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Make me a mad woman!

I've always been into vintage clothes, dressing up, and theme parties. I think this ties in to my love of fiction, literature, and theater--escaping to new worlds and all that. So I was so excited to learn about this contest to win a walk-on part on "Mad Men" (which I've just started watching--great storytelling, great visual details, but the sexism that existed at the time is, as I expected, so infuriating to me. I have a feeling, though, that some of the Mad women are going to start fighting it. . . . )!

Here's my entry above . . . and a request for you to vote for me on something. The contest ends Tuesday, August 11, and you can vote (by rating me five stars) once every twenty-four hours through then. Thanks for your support!
- L'Editrice

Friday, August 7, 2009

Confessions of a perpetual adolescent

At the mall last weekend, a friendly, preppily-dressed middle-aged woman and I exchanged pleasantries while we were both looking at the mall directory. When we crossed paths again at Anthropologie, the petite blonde remarked, "We must be looking for the same things!"
Well, we definitely were, because I saw her once again . . . in the crowd to see the adorable Vanessa Hudgens, one of the stars of the new movie Bandslam. As you can see above, most of my fellow fans were just a tad younger than me. It's moments like these when I actually appreciate looking so young--no one gave me a second glance. I can't say the same for the very eccentric 40-something woman dressed a bit too matchy-matchy in pink and purple, who answered Vanessa Hudgens trivia questions with some frightening enthusiasm (not my new friend--she also passed as a young fan or as kid-chauffeuring mom).
Vanessa was beautiful, albeit way too fake-tan and annoyingly smacking her gum (one of my biggest pet peeves). (Umm, oh yeah, the "star" of the movie was with her, too. But, honestly, no one was there to see him. Sorry.)
Anyway, at the event I got a pass to see an advance screening of the movie the following Wednesday. It was actually pretty good and different--if a bit music-snobby, as well as the same old story where a very nerdy-looking guy gets to choose between two gorgeous girls. The audience was a bit older for the movie (teen rather than tween), but I did see the purple-and-pink fanlady again, and I sat next to a middle-aged man who was laughing a bit too much. I found myself feeling creeped out by him--Why is he here by himself?--which wasn't really fair of me, since, hello, I was an adult there by myself, too. But again, I can appreciate my young appearance when it finally works to my advantage, right?
- L'Editrice

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vote for Winston!

Come on, you have to admit he's the cutest dog ever, right? You can vote once a day!

(Full disclosure: Winston is my nephew.)

- L'Auntie Editrice

Cutest Dog Competition
Vote for my DogSponsored by All American Pet Brands makers of premium dog food.

Sunday, August 2, 2009