Tag Archives: JK Rowling

We’re Back! Three Thing Thursday!


Last night I dreamed Ryan Reynolds installed the new granite countertop in my kitchen.

He knew how much I loved him so he surprised me by being an installer!

He was funny!

And super-cute!

It was a great dream. Far better than the one the night before where I dreamed my daughter was swept out to sea by a giant wave and there was nothing I do to save her and I knew she was going to die because the sea was so rough. Yes, the Ryan Reynolds dream was great.

Plus–guess what?! I wasn’t even looking for him, and I found RR on Twitter! (His wife was in photos with him, but I didn’t look at her.) It was so weird, just happening upon him on Twitter. Like I was walking along in a new neighborhood and found out where my crush lived.

The Twitter thing was all about Deadpool, and I couldn’t decide to follow him. Do I? Don’t I? Do I? Don’t I?

I know how I am.

I might take a Xanax for a migraine and wake up the next day to see that I’d tweeted 8 billion messages to him like:

I know I am old but u r cute. I write books. Do you read?


Could you be keynote at WIFYR? Pay– $300. (Only 30 minutes. I heart you.)


Do you mind flabby/chubby/balding/funny/older women? Teeth okay.

At this point I am NOT following Ryan Reynolds on Twitter. But yes, I still pause the moment he is naked with Sandra Bullock in THE PROPOSAL.

And FYI–what you have just witnessed here is exactly how I write.




If you’re anything like me, then one of your favorite fantasies is becoming an award-winning author right out of the gate. Can’t you just picture it? All the highest awards, every accolade available, all of the critics universally agreeing that your debut is the greatest ever written.

But I remember hearing Shannon Hale speak once. My favorite novel of hers was her first, The Goose Girl. Someone else in the audience felt the same, and asked her why that one didn’t win a Newbery like her later novel, Princess Academy.
She replied that she was actually glad that it didn’t win. She felt that if it had, she would have felt so much pressure to have the same success that she might never have written another novel. The moderate success and the loyal fanbase was exactly what she needed to motivate her to continue writing.
Shannon Hale went on to say that Kate DiCamillo had a great deal of difficulty writing her next novel after The Tale of Despereaux won. J.K. Rowling felt she had to write under a pen name after Harry Potter. Harper Lee didn’t write another novel for decades. Stephen King stated that he always feels a bit hurt when someone says that his best novel was The Stand….does that mean that nothing he’s done since then has been good? Is his best long gone?
So perhaps instant fame and fortune isn’t the best method. Maybe writing careers, like story arcs, need time to build to a climax. Isn’t it wonderful to think that your best is yet to come?
Oh, the lasting effects of a thoughtless comment.  As I was re-reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones (yes, I’m still on that path through the woods), she told about a childhood experience.  Playing her cousin’s piano in Brooklyn she was singing along with it “In the gloaming, oh my darling . . .”  Her cousin, nine years older, screamed out “Aunt Sylvia, Natalie is tone-deaf. She can’t sing.”  From then on she never sang, listened to music only on rare occasions, but learned the words to all the Broadway songs from the radio.  She never tried to imitate the melody.
My own long-lasting childhood bruise was when I was playing with a younger boy cousin.  We were only 3 and 4.  My aunt Virginia had a beautiful, knit afghan which we were using as a “dress-up” item.  I wrapped it around my tummy, and twirled and twirled.  Weldon wanted a turn, but I was bigger, older and wouldn’t give him a chance.  When he began to cry, Aunt Virginia stormed in, rather upset with me.  “Brenda, why are you always so selfish?”  She whisked him away into her bedroom, bedecked him in a long flowing skirt of many colors and a cowboy hat with a shiny brown bead that slid up a cord to secure the hat to his head.  Needless to say, I wanted a turn with those items: the afghan puddled around my feet, and had lost it’s glamour.  And I believed for many, many years that I was “always” selfish.
What lost opportunities did Natalie miss out on for enjoying music?  What guilt did I carry with me well into my adult, even mothering, years?  Be careful what you say (or what you make/let your characters say): “Children will listen,” and bear the scars.
What are your characters’ childhood scars?  Still festering?  Ingrained?  Somehow, still debilitating?  How may those scars be healed or overcome?
Carol Again:
Just found a site with Ryan Reynolds pics.
Just saying.

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Three Things Thursday–Including Miss Debbie!

1. So it looks like J K Rowling couldn’t stay away from the Harry Potter world. What do you think? I’m sure many people are excited.


2.Guess what else? If we want, there’s an app that allows us to block Miley Cyrus. What do you think of that? Is there a way to block everyone I have trouble with? That I don’t like? That make me sick? That I feel jealous of?

I must admit, though, MC is getting on my nerves. If I thought she had talent or if I thought something unique about her, maybe I wouldn’t be bothered bu seeing her in the news so much. For a long time I loved Lady Gaga.

Tongues, body, sex. Freaky stuff. Ye haw!

And a great song.

3. Salsa and Writing – by Debbie Nance

Making salsa takes time. First, you need tomatoes. Earlier this year, my hubby and I went to a couple of places to find the best tomato plants and then Cal planted four of them in our garden. The tomatoes needed good soil, fertilizer, water, sunshine, bees to pollinate the tiny flowers, wire cages to support the vines, and plenty of time in order to grow and become ripe.

Writing a book is a lot like making salsa. First, you need an idea. Maybe you have a great first line, or an amazing main character, or a wonderful setting/location, or a terrific climatic moment, or a fantastic finish. Maybe a reporter says something on the news or you read about a subject online or your kid/neighbor/random stranger does something funny or mean or kind and it sparks an idea for a plot. Next, you let the idea germinate and soon enough you’re ready to start typing.

For salsa, I washed, blanched, peeled, and chunked the tomatoes. Next, I added a little sugar, salt, and spices. I chopped onions and two kinds of peppers in my blender, and added those to the pot. I stirred everything together and let the mixture heat. I tasted it and I had Cal taste it.

For a novel, you write a scene or two, you add characters and show their feelings. You add in scene details and dialogue to spice up the plot. You keep typing, chapters appear. Pretty soon you have a first draft, but that is only the beginning. You read the book aloud and have someone else read it. Maybe several beta readers or your critique group.

Oops, the salsa was too spicy. Now what? I poured half of the salsa into a different pot then repeated the process for making another batch— except with fewer peppers—then poured half of the second batch into each pot and stirred. Again, I tasted it and I had Cal taste it… better. After an hour or so of cooking, the salsa had boiled down to a thicker consistency. Perfect!

You discover there are parts of your book that you like and a few things that need revising. Maybe you need to spice up a scene or slow down a section. Or maybe you need to keep half of the book and put the other half on the shelf to simmer for another time. You keep typing. You keep adding and deleting and revising until… Perfect!

I poured the salsa into clean hot jars with clean hot lids and rings and put the jars in a hot water bath. I waited for the water to come to a gentle boil. It seemed to take forever. Finally when the water boiled, I set the timer and went to do other things. After the allotted time, I removed the jars and put them on a towel to cool. No doubt, some people will think my salsa is too sweet or not spicy enough or too chunky or not thick enough. For me, it is just right and I am pleased with my efforts.

You send your book to your agent or editor, or to someone you would like to be your agent or editor. You wait. It seems like it takes forever. You start on another book. After the allotted time you hear back from the pros. No doubt some will think your book needs more revisions and you will decide what changes, if any, you need to make. Whether or not it is ever published, at some point your book will be just right for you and you can be pleased with your efforts.

Anyone for chips and salsa and a good book to read?

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Failure and Revision

Thank you, Andy and Carol, for posting a blog on my behalf plugging my own new book.  As you both know, it’s always nice to finish a book and see it born, but the gestation of a book is so long that by the time the book takes its first public breath, you’re well on your way into the next book, or the next-next book.

That’s where I find myself today: on my way to my next book, and I have to choose between writing a blog or working on the book.  Guess which I’m going to choose.

But don’t despair.  I didn’t want to disappoint my 1.5 blog readers today, so here I present to you JK Rowling’s 2008 graduation speech to students at Harvard.  It’s inspiring, and it’s an entre into thinking about writing and revision:


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The New Year and Flap Copy

I’ve never been good at corporate politics, and that in part explains while I languish in the lower decks  at Throwing Up Words, Inc. as a mere token male Junior Apprentice Co-Blogger.  It’s been brought to my attention that this is an actionable discriminatory situation in at least three categories.

Discriminatory Category #1:  Gender Discrimination.  Yes, I have suffered emotional and professional distress by being the Man about the BlogHouse.  You have no idea the number of sexist comments I’ve endured from Carol, Andy, and Kira.

Discriminatory Category #2:  Nepotism.  The three of you who read this blog may not know that Kira is Queen Carol’s princess (aka daughter), and her familial position has given her preferential advantage over me.  And it’s possible that that Carol is Andy’s grandmother, and that would explain why Andy is the COO and Vice Blog Mistress in Charge of Throwing Up Words and why I’m left scrubbing the decks without pay.

Discriminatory Category #3:  Ageism.  Neither Carol, nor Andy, nor Kira are my age.  Kira and Andy are a couple years younger than I am.  And if Carol were a few years older than she really is, she’d be older than I am, and I’m certain that when the Royal Bloggeresses of Throwing Up Words, Inc. get together to do their nails and gossip, that my age is a frequent topic of discussion.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve overheard whispered, giggling conversations like, “Look at him . . . he can barely manage that bilge pump,” and “Is he using that mop as a cane or to swab the decks?”

So one of my new year’s goals is to rise above the gender discrimination and nepotism and ageism and abuse and neglect and unfair treatment and overwork and lack of appreciation and lack of pay that are inflicted on me at Throwing Up Words, Inc.  I will embrace as my own 2012 mantra, the put-upon, downtrodden male disco anthem made famous by Gloria Gaynor.  Yes, “I Will Survive!” despite all that Carol, Andy, and Kira will do in 2012 to break my indomitable spirit.

While I’m talking about 2012, I’ll share four of my goals as Commander Carol has ordered us to do:

1.  read a book a week.

2.  finish the revisions as soon as I get my editorial letter

3.  finish a new novel by the first of June

4.  rid the world of cats

But on to today’s topic:  flap copy.

Flap copy is the content of the book cover flaps of your book.  Typically the front flap copy is written by your editor, perhaps with some assistance from the marketing folks at your publishing house.  Front flap copy is usually a plot summary told in a way that entices readers to open the book.  You don’t have to worry much about front flap copy except, well, that you first have to finish a book before any front flap copy can be written.  Back flap copy is a different matter because it’s usually written by you, the author, with assistance from your editor and the marketing staff.  If you’re a rookie or an unimportant writer (that is, if you have the clout of a Junior Apprentice Co-Blogger) your bio-note will be brief and mugshot-less.  If you’re a bigshot, fabulously wealthy and famous Author, your bio-note will include a photo and a list of your previous big books and their awards and other stuff about you.  In the off chance that you will one day rise to such prominence, I offer some advice about your future back flap copy:

1,  Do NOT use a cheesy glam-shot of yourself.  Nor should you use a gag-shot.  Too many author mugshots look like posed airbrushed colorized photos of mannequins.  Unless you are a mannequin masquerading as a human being, avoid such photos.  Likewise, avoid stuffy posed photos of yourself gazing into space with your chin resting on your fingertips.  Likewise avoid weird and silly photos of yourself chasing lambs on the barren Canadian Tundra.  Likewise avoid photos of you with your flock of children and/or grandchildren and/or flock of dogs or cats or fish.

2.  In the flap copy itself, you should include a personal detail or two, mention of other books you’ve written and other jobs you’ve had.  It’s not unusual to also mention whether or not you’re married and whether or not you have kids.  But do NOT fall into common trap of ending your backflap copy with a mention of your pets.  Not only is such mention an obvious bow to PETA and their army of book reviewers and buyers, but it’s irrelevant.

Imagine, if you can, if the actual backflap copy for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that ended like this, “Ms. Rowling lives in Edinburgh with her daughter.” were instead “Ms. Rowling lives in Edinburgh with her daughter, her hairless Sphynx cat Noodles, her herd of Scottish Shelties, and a pirhana named Wanda.”  Who CARES if an author has a pet or pets?  What can pets possibly add to a book’s qualities?  And how is it relevant or interesting to readers that you choose to share your abode with grimy, drooling, smelly, shedding creatures?

So, please, keep the livestock out of your backflap copy.  Leave the beloved pets in the pasture, kennel, or pound where they belong.  If animals can’t READ flap copy, they have no business being mentioned in your backflap copy bio.


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