Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I. Am. Responsible. For. Everything.

Hubby (Cadillac) & I saw a new doc yesterday. We ditched the old doc because he refused my request to put on gloves when he took out my ingrown toenail-- I know, yech!

Anyhoo, this new doc is great and is also the doc of Cadillac's folks, so we knew he was good. He got on Cadillac's case about his weight. Actually, he got on MY case. "Don't feed him more than 1800 calories a day," he said to me. "Go on a family walk for an hour every day when he gets home from work."

"Oh-kay," I said, wondering if I should defend myself. I make things like baked salmon with salad for dinner, limit sweets, go crazy if he buys the kids sugary cereal-- why do I have to caretake my hubby to this extent, too? Is he not an adult? Can he not pull out the bag of celery if he wants a snack?

The other thing is, Cadillac is still, oddly, in pretty good shape. That is, he can run 6 mph forever and he is still strong. He just doesn't get enough exercise. He has a desk job. He gets up at 445 am and goes to sleep at 11 pm, because we're dealing with kids and then he likes to watch TV and then he decides he's going to do some laundry or whatever...and I tell him to go to bed and he's too stubborn to. What am I supposed to do, tuck him in and sing him a lullaby?

Anyway, I am not sure how much weight he needs to lose. Our Homedics scale says he weighs 14 pounds less here than he did at the doctors! I weigh 8 pounds less at home. So what the heck? Which scale is wrong? What's going on?

I tend to think the doctor's scale is wrong, because I can fit into certain clothes at certain weights and not above; and I now fit into my pre-baby clothes. So there.

The scale also measures body fat; it has an "athelete" setting so it won't think you're fat because you have loads of heavy muscle. Unfortunately, Cadillac has a titanium plate in his neck and can't use this feature-- it sends some kind of electric signal through you and it says people with metal plates are not supposed to use it.

But I am hopeful. Maybe he doesn't have so much weight to lose. And I started making him lunch and told him he's accountable for his exercise. We're going to do the family walk thing. It won't kill us, after all.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Editing the novel

After a long, hot summer of waiting, my editor delivered my edits to me, in the form of an 11 page treatise. It was a fantastically well thought out letter, and left me on my knees thanking God that she liked it well enough to buy it in the first place.
I spent a month or so adding 22,000 words, cutting characters, and reshaping it into a much better novel. This required a lot of babysitting, provided gratis by the grandparents; and my hubby, who took a week off work so I could work nonstop. Everything was in my head, waiting. The only thing stopping me was the fact my ass kept falling asleep.
Tis complete, and now I await my editor's comments. More waiting.

The local paper had an article about some delayed gratification project done in the 60s, called the Marshmallow Experiment. They took kids and put a marshmallow in front of them, saying, "You can either eat it now or wait 20 minutes and get two." Apparently there's a correlation between intelligence and waiting. I would have eaten it, fearing a trick.

This book is also a big lesson in delayed gratification and makes me crave chocolate and In and Out. Or maybe that's just PMS, which feels like it lasts 3.75 weeks these days. Time to move on to the next project.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

About My Novel

My novel is called HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE. It will be published by Putnam Books in 2009, or maybe 2010. Don't know yet.

Here's the crazy-good synopsis that someone at the publishing house wrote:

HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE is a novel about the strong pull of
tradition, and the lure and cost of breaking free of tradition. Set in California and Japan, it tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI as a way of improving her and her family's fortunes, moved with him to the States, and tried to learn how to be a proper American housewife; and her grown daughter Sue, who finds her own life as an American
housewife is not at all what her mother would have wanted for her, or even what Sue had hoped for herself. When Shoko's illness prevents her from making a long-awaited trip to Japan to be reunited with her brother, she asks Sue to go in her place, and the trip changes both women's lives in unexpected ways. With beautifully delineated characters and unique entertaining glimpses into Japanese and American family life and aspirations, this is also a moving mother and daughter story that reaches a happy conclusion. Interspersed with quotations from Shoko's guide to being an American housewife, this is a warm and engaging novel full of surprising

It was the Suckiest of Times...and the suckiest of times

Ah. Is there any sweeter pleasure for a busy mom than a houseful of sleeping children and a husband who's off at the gym? I'm in front of the computer, Tainted Love turned up too loud. At last, a break from Mommy and Wife.

This summer has sucked. No money, no air conditioning, and a house full of children. They don't care. They have watched enough cartoons to get me thrown into the Dr. Sears/Supernanny rehab center. The yard-- I'll get into THAT monstrosity in another post-- is entirely dirt. Cadillac only works on it if I start working on it and he feels guilty. Plus, no money. Did I say that?

But really, it hasn't entirely. That's because we have...a pool. Pools make things more bearable. Even when they're 4 foot lap pools, a rip in the side that appeared after the house closing, surrounded by a deck that the previous owners put a cosmetic wash on that splinters all over us and gives my baby a dreadful rash. And the fence around it is falling down from termites.

Summer has never sucked more than these past three weeks. All the kids have been sick. One at a time, beginning every Saturday and lasting through Thursday. Friday is a respite, then the next one goes. Fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose.

There's nothing worse than seeing your child suffer, especially your two-year-old who has just been potty-trained (big Hoo-rah for that, BTW!!) She cannot breathe, it's hot, she can't nap but she can't stay awake. She lies on the couch in a horrible half-state, melting Otter Pop in hand, eyes watering, croaking, "I not sick. I go Chuckie Cheese."

And who the hell gets sick in summer? It's against nature.

I count my blessings, though. They are sick, but it will pass. It is nothing like the sickness of Cadillac's sister, who had an undiagnosed kidney reflux problem when she was Kaiya's age. Her doc kept telling MIL that it was a urinary tract infection, again and again, inserting painful catheters and doing nothing to help, until at last her kidneys failed. She has had two transplants and is on dialysis. Cadillac is supposed to give her a kidney, but he's not completely compatible and she doesn't think it will take.

While other people survive only a couple of years on dialysis, Cadillac's sis has survived for many. She teaches full time and earned a Master's in chemistry AND ushers at baseball games. Oh, and she lives by herself in the Midwest. I think MIL still feels guilty that she couldn't diagnose this disease on her own. So if you ever start feeling sorry for yourself-- like the time Cadillac got hit by a car running a red light and he did a header over it and had to have metal put in his neck-- you can count on MIL to tell you that your troubles really pale in comparison. Which is true, though hard to swallow at times. Cadillac's neck healed. His sister's kidney did not.

How to Get a Literary Agent

Okay, lots of people have asked me how I got my literary agent. This is what you do:

1. Write a book. Not just the idea for a book. No one will look at that. I say this even though a woman at a party, upon hearing of my book deal from a mutual friend, said that when she was at a conference she presented an idea to an agent, who promptly gave her some? sort? of? contract? Yeah. That happened. Thunder-thief.

2. Look in books of people you like or their websites. They often mention an agent. Query that agent.

3. Go to conferences if you can. These have agents floating around. For a fee, you can get a one-on-one. Even with no fee, shmooze them up at cocktail hour. Have some guts.

4. Network. Make friends with people in writing groups and classes. If you're very talented and they know of people who can help, people usually don't mind referring you. If they're nice, that is.

5. When one door closes, another opens. Cliche, but true. I found this out after I DIDN'T sell the hot book I thought I was gonna sell 3 years ago. And then my old agent fell out of love with me, kind of. I had to get a new one. The good part: other agent had introduced me to the Book Whisperer, Jane Cavolina. She helped me whip my book into shape and picked me up when my morale guttered.

6. Don't listen to the naysayers. You-know-what the naysayers. Send out your queries and forget about them. All you need is one person with taste (because ANYONE with taste will surely fall in love with your book, no?) and that will be that. It could take a week, it could take ten years, but keep your day job and don't give up. Cue the Peter Gabriel music.

Querytracker is a nifty way to track your agent queries. There's also extra info in there, like how long individual agents take to get back to you. They were kind enough to interview me, their faithful user.

Princess Cupcakes

My daughter's birthday is on Sept. 4, and I decided to recreate these Princess Cupcakes. They're really Pink Lemonade Cupcakes, from Cast Sugar's blog, but my daughter calls them Princess Cupcakes. "Oh, my cupcakes! My princess cupcakes!" she exclaims, and then she clasps her hands together and tilts her head to one side. Where she learned this, I cannot say. She's pretty darn cute, though.

Check Me Out, I'm a Novelist!

For my .5 fans, I have not posted in forever. That's cuz I've been busy. Selling my novel.

That's right. I now go around talking about me. Being a Novelist. Yes, in capitals.

About a month after I signed with Elaine, Putnam bought my novel. Yay! Now for the hard work.
Instead of it going to press all pristine and as-is, I have to do some edits. Oh, they're not bad. They just involve CUTTING OUT A CHARACTER.

Actually, I don't mind at all. I'm working with Peternelle van Arsdale, the executive editor, and besides having a totally awesome name, she happens to be some kind of genius editor who is really nice to boot. And her suggestions are things that a) I didn't think of and b) will make the book better, so why wouldn't I? Besides, at this point, I'm just a whore for sale. What do I care if my book's commercial? Sell it already.

I hope my overnight success comes soon. Let's see, that's 10 years of writing. Not all of it novel, but still.