Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to the blogworld . . . and GCC!

Whew! I'm back. It's been a crazy summer, but I finally feel like I've got my head above water (and groceries bought and laundry done).

The completely new rewrite (and I mean NEW . . . different POV, new setting, lots of previous characters gone, others in much larger roles, etc.) was written in record time (for me, that is) and is now off to my agent. So that means I can now look around and take care of all the things I let slip. I'm reading and cooking and ignoring the weeds that have taken over my garden. And that also means I get to blog about my buddy Carleen Brice's newest release, CHILDREN OF THE WATERS, which Booklist hailed as "a compelling read; difficult to put down." It explores the connection between love and race, and what it really means to be family and poses the intriguing question: Can two strangers become sisters?

Let me first say I love Carleen. She's smart and fun and creative and wonderfully supportive of her fellow writers. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of her debut novel, ORANGE MINT AND HONEY, and I knew within the first few pages that she was a fabulous writer. And you don't have to take my word for it because it's being made into a Lifetime movie(!!) and also won her a slew of awards.

Let's hear from Carleen in her own words . . .

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?

The idea came from a story my sister-in-law told me. She’s biracial and was given up for adoption and raised by a white family. Her birth sister, who’s also white, found her when they were adults. I wondered what would happen if she had been adopted and raised by a black family.

I can’t really separate character and plot—they go hand in hand for me. But I need a strong handle on the story or else I’ll just keep writing in circles.

2.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

A secondary character named Fletcher who is a senior citizen who sells marijuana to other seniors. The why is obvious, right?

3.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?

Haphazard. My process is whatever it takes at the time—a walk, going to a coffee shop, getting up early or staying up late, working in the kitchen. And my office is always a mess.

4.) What's your favorite part of writing?

When I find little clues in my story that I’ve left for myself that help me work out the problems. I like how the subconscious and the collective unconscious work or serendipity, whatever it is.

5.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

Do what works for you. I hate those “absolutes” people toss out. You must always or can’t ever. Phooey. Do what works for you and your story.

Carleen has written an amazing book--lyrical, moving, and one that will have you singing for joy. I promise.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Can I get an "Amen" on Overkill?

Is this just me? Or did anyone else scream at the sight of Matt Lauer on The Today Show this morning, standing in Michael Jackson's kitchen with his (Michael's) two dogs? I mean, yes, Michael's passing was sad, he lived a very tragic life (even in the classical, Greek sense of the word, not just the overused "News at Five!" sense in which everything is a tragedy). I was a big fan of The Jackson Five growing up, still break into song at times. He was adorable and grew into an incredibly talented solo artist.

Then he went nuts. With the plastic surgery and lifestyle and dancing on top of his lawyer's car last fall.

So, yes, his death at age 50 was sad. But a week's worth of mourning and retrospectives and headlines? Please. That was the entire Today show today. After the "dog scene" mentioned above, I flipped to Good Morning America only to be greeted with the breathless news that "Coming up, a look inside the King of Pop's Bathroom!"

No thank you very much. I don't really want to see inside anybody's bathroom.

Is it just me? Has my curmudgeonly nature completely taken over? Or can I get an "Amen" to letting people die in peace and giving them and their loved ones some privacy?

Me, I'm off to read the paper and drink coffee on my front porch.