Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Lamest of the Lame

Alas, I've been too busy to do many of the things I love and that includes blogging.

This is to say that I am on a break, a hiatus, a holiday, taking a breather, rolling over and pressing the snooze button for the 8th time.

Thanks for being so kind and patient and cool and all the things you know you are.

I love you.

I'm back in January.

And we'll take up where we left off, darling.

Your pal,


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Got Milk?

First, I am alive. I have been swamped with edits, children, house guests and life, I guess. I love blogs, I love blogging and forgive me for ignoring my responsibilities. Here's an update
  1. I totally bailed on NANOWRIMO. My kid's birthday was in there and I had to take a bus with a baby and a stroller to Target to buy crap for the party because I couldn't do it any other day and then I was a whole 2 days behind and was never gonna catch up no matter how many pep talk emails they sent to my inbox. I am not discouraged. It made me think about my next project and now I'm all committed.
  2. I've been listening to a lot of Terry Gross interviews while I work and I love it.
  3. I have not done laundry in too long. We are finally out of sheets, towels and underwear.
  4. I have lots of fun little Sylvia Plath things going on and I'll tell you more about it when I have time and when they happen.
And now I must share THIS with you because it is precisely these kinds of things that make me fall in love with people and the internet all over again. Thanks to Paisley Pajamas for the heads up... just clickety click on the HERE for funtimes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm Running Away to Join the Circus.

Have you heard about this? There's this PBS Documentary about the Big Apple Circus like a behind the scenes Real Housewives of New Jersey but real and cool and it is amazing. It's called, THE CIRCUS, a six part series that started yesterday and airs on Wednesdays at 9pm EST. I am already addicted and can't wait for more. I also just found out that a parent I know's partner is the editor and THIS is why I love NYC. There is also this woman who lived near me who actually did pack it all in and joined the freaking circus. I think she was into hooping or horses- I can't quite remember but the point is, she did it. She packed up her hobo kerchief, slung it on a pole, and hopped a freight train dreaming of the glamour of the flying trapeze, trained tigers and sequined fishnets. I have a relative who did something similar with drag queens and dancing poodles but that, my friends, is a story for another day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I am doing it. I am going to write a novel in 30 days. Hannah Moskowitz made me do it. And my life made me do it, too. I have three ideas for another book and I'm the kind of writer that needs to be threatened, whipped, cajoled, shamed, dared, challenged, tricked, peer pressured etc. into producing words. I think I would be more productive if I would stop self editing at every opportunity and use the bonsai approach- just vomit out 50,000 words and then prune, trim, hack away until I like the deformed little tree that remains.

I have mocked the NaNoWriMo in the past as a gimmicky exercise in futility but have seen the light. I need to get started. I'm going to just write my guts out: EVERY DAY. For one month straight. Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted. I think I'm going to try and expand my favorite and most successful short story "Buying the Farm" into a novel ala the great Meg Mullins.

I'm getting my literacy charity links together and they are good ones. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Geek Alert

There is this company called Outofprintclothing that sells t-shirts with vintage book covers on them. For each shirt they sell, one book is donated to a community in need through their partner Books For Africa.

I wanted to buy, oh, all of them but I ended up getting To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and The Master and Margarita. Three of my all time favorites and what better to wear to a promotional event for AND THEN THINGS FALL APART than a Young Adult classic under a cozy boyfriend sweater?

And this way I can write them off for tax purposes. Because I can't believe I spent almost $100 on t-shirts. But they have sexy lady tees too so check them out.

At the end of your purchase, they flash an image of these happy African children in school uniforms reading books. And all guilt was miraculously gone.

SHOP SHOP SHOP! they have all kinds of badassery for sale...

I should think about linking some donation buttons to literacy charities. I don't know about you, but this blogging seems pretty narcissistic. To me anyway. Next post will be all about my headshots.

Oh I DO crack myself up!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Am Alive...

Just been a little crazy. My most favorite thing I've done since we last spoke was obey my horoscope entirely (thank you Susan Miller at She said that I would get an opportunity to volunteer for something and I should just say yes and not question it. And so when my neighborhood Harvest Festival put a call out for facepainters I did as instructed and said "Yes!"

Now, I have never facepainted before but I'm an artist and a master of disguise and I love kids who love to get painted and dear reader, it was: AMAZING.

I brought my own brushes and used the lead painter, Donetta's, paints. I began at 1:30 and stopped at 5:00. I painted about one kid every 2-5 minutes so that's about 2,000 children.

I was sore. I was tired. But I was inspired and so into it! The kids were great and fearless. I did fairy princesses, harlequin masks on two cool 6th graders, pirates, Spidermen, dogs and cats and leopards. My favorites were the scary ones. One girl wanted to be a Vampire Princess. Two older boys didn't know what they wanted to be but I made them Day of the Dead skulls and they loved it. I did a Rainbow Tiger with a large glittering jewel on her forehead. I made an 18 month old a stubbled and scarred wayfarer on the high seas.

It was like the universe gave me a big kiss and a glass of wine.


I also started throwing pottery again and oh mysterious 30th follower- when the stuff emerges from the kiln, I'll send it out!

This is what I do whilst taking a month long vacation from writing...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading and Writing

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.
--Stephen King

Thank you twitter. And thank you @adviceforwriters.
So right (write!).

I am editing. And planning a birthday party. Doing laundry. Washing the kitchen floor. Making lamb chops for dinner when my dad came to visit. Whipping up gobs of Flubber with borax and glue. Writing. But reading?

No effin way.

A woman of magnificence I know recommended a book to read called Lonely Werewolf Girl about a skinny, Scottish, runaway, werewolf princess named Kalix. I am loving it. It is so not what I usually read but I am making time in my ridiculous schedule to read it.

I abandoned Marie Antoinette. I have foresworn mindless television watching save for Sunday marathons of HBO and Madmen and the occasional netflixed pic on Thursday and Saturday nights.

This is what it takes, people. I have a stack on my nightstand of books to be read and here is a list:

A Visit from the Goon Squad
The Artist's Wife
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Marlene Dietrich, a biography
If I Loved You, I Would Tell you This
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Bonjour Tristesse

I better get crack a lakin'

And 30th follower and winner of mysterious prize? I have not forgotten about you!

Yes, there is a winner. No, I don't know what the prize is...

We have a winner for the 30th follower! She seems grand and when I decide what it is she has won... I shall send it and then make it public here.

I'm editing like mad and am preoccupied with the work at hand. It's like work, this editing. The writing writing is like playing. It's like playing badminton on hallucinogens with ovulating angels.

Editing is like work. Temping on Wall Street type work and I don't like it. What's so demoralizing about it is that your editor, if she's any good-- and mine is very very good-- finds your weakest spots as a writer and irons them out dele mark by dele mark.

You thought that no one would notice that weird thing about the grandma and just keep reading. Wrong. You thought your quirky use of punctuation and the word "and" was groundbreaking? Nope. You thought that your MFA from Columbia University gave you a complete understanding of correct comma placement and how to conjugate lay, lie, lain. Ha. Were you deluded!

That's were this is at. And ending a sentence with a preposition is bad English. It just happens to be how people from Chicago talk. Unfortunately.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm trying to rack up my numbers here, people.

No, I do not know what the prize will be.

It will be a good one- maybe a book? Food? A decade of the rosary said on your behalf one Wednesday morning mass?

Become the 30th follower... And find out!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Sylvia Plath Inc.

There was a time, long ago, when I was obsessed with tattoos. I was so into them, I subscribed to Tattoo magazine and felt that permanent ink was the only way to identify myself as an individual. Or something.

So I have one, and I love it but that is only because I can't see it. It's on my lower back and as good as invisible to me. Sometimes, I'll pass tattooed people and sigh like my mother, "Oh, why would they do that to themselves," before remembering that I, er, HAVE ONE. And kind of a big one at that.

Getting it was one of the best days of my life. Right up there with getting married and having babies. That night, I had my first martini (with a slice of Polish sausage in it instead of an olive). I was high on adrenaline all night and went and saw a band called the Cocktails, flashing my tattoo/ass to anyone who wanted to mess with me. Like those other milestone days, it was momentous. It was painful. It would be remembered forever.

So there is this whole literary tattoo trend underfoot and I'm intrigued. I wanted to showcase a few Sylvia Plath tattoos because they are relevant and something I think, that my main character Keek, might go off and do one day.

Most of these are of the I am I am I am variety and
this one is rather nice and MFA subtle...

These are a little Angelina Jolie (in a good way).

This one is an ode to "Tulips" and it is huge and dark and
Sylvia had no idea this is where here words would end up!

This one is cool too. It has all got me considering another one,
tattoo that is. Not baby. Or even book... Well, maybe book.

I'm thinking I want to write the kind of books that inspire people to tattoo themselves. This is the answer I will give the next time some interviewer asks me, "Why YA?"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Other Car is a Bicycle

That is a bumper sticker I never quite understood. Another bumper sticker I never particularly enjoyed was of the "I'd Rather be Fishing/Hunting/Sailing" variety and yet, since getting my long awaited edits, believe me: I get it.

This editing is way harder than I thought.

I would rather be:

  1. At Ikea
  2. Cleaning out the hall closet
  3. Doing effing laundry
  4. Reading my Marie Antoinette book (Almost done! How will it end?)
  5. Playing around with lipstick and eye shadow so my lips look like the above

Anything anything ANYTHING other than making artistic choices strongly encouraged by my editor...

No news on the title either.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's in a Name?

I'm having some title trouble and I don't really want to go into it except to say there is this new book out, by fellow MFA holder Lish McBride, with the best title ever.

Are you sitting down?

It is called HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER and I am so green with raging envy at the amazingness of it that it only makes my own title search all the more difficult because, well, it is hard to see through the green haze.

The cover's Lou Reed cool too.

And it's on my to-read list and I hear, from smart people, that it is a great novel too.

As for this title business let me be clear. This is an issue for me in all areas of my life, putting a clear label on a thing. If you do a little digging, you will see that my short story title prowess is also rather lacking (although I rather liked "Cannibals"). I had trouble calling my husband "my Husband" till about a year ago and don't get me started on how we named the kids. The words I would use are... slowly, passionately, randomly. Which describes the way I do most things in my life.

My soon to be named novel is about a lot of complex things and I don't want to scare people by some freak show title. But then I want it to be a name for my book- not just any book out there. I want it to be:

  • catchy
  • enigmatic
  • specific
  • funny
  • weighty
  • start with the letter A
  • wink to Sylvia Plath
  • avoid being too Plathian

How hard could it effin be?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oh, Johnny.

My one time writing teacher, mentor, and fellow-midwesterner Jonathan Franzen is on the cover of effing Time Magazine.


Long ago he was in there for a little "writers to watch" thing so they have been onto him for years. Now he is the most famous Great American Novelist ever and he seems so far far far away from me when I once thought we were the same people in different bodies.

Well. Maybe he'll blurb BELL JAR SUMMER for me... The teens are way into the Franz.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ponderosa Stomp!

Hey cats. Summer weekends when I am not writing on deadline, shopping at Trader Joe's or lying on a couch drinking gins and tonics and watching the Wonder Pets with my children I do other things. Like Rock the eff out. OK well here's what we did this weekend.

  1. We woke up and ate frozen waffles, watched Nick Jr. till we were seasick, took out the garbage, and left the house at noon.
  2. We dragged our beautiful gadabout children to the zoo. We became members and got a t-shirt! Saw the elusive snow leopard. Ate a pre-packed picnic lunch and drank iced coffee.
  3. Went to the Victorian Gardens at Central park where we spent thousands of dollars. We went on the froggy ride, airplane ride twice, and played whack-a-mole and a clown mouth water shooting game. We won nothing but had a freaking ball.
  4. Dragged kids to free outdoor Lincoln center show celebrating Detroit's hot music with Death, The Gories, Question Mark and the Mysterians, and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels!!

Death was amazing and the drummer was tight.
The Gories, my new favorite, sang a song called "You Think You're Something but You're Nothing to Me." Which might be the title of the next one.

The kids loved it! We loved it. We looked cool and made out a lot and drank beer. Outside. With The Gories on stage and the kids in the double stroller! OK, we couldn't stay for Mitch Ryder but we ALMOST did.

AND THEN we went to Whole Foods and picked up sushi and went home. Fed the kids cold pasta and milk at 10:30. Got them to sleep by 11:15. We passed out with them and woke up at midnight and ate the sushi and drank sake and watched Michael Clayton. The movie.

I am not trying to brag about our amazing weekend but it was the first time in a long time we felt like the cool hip parents we are. We ALL had fun and the weather was perfect and it was right up there with a big date I had with my then boyfriend, now husband where we went to Coney Island all day, went back to my place to change and then got all gussied up for a swing show at Don Hills. Yes. It was a LONG time ago.

Rrrrreal Rock and Roll bebeh!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Am I supposed to be giving things away here? Ok. Perhaps I shall start. But not today. I know a lot of bloggers are just giving away the store, every day, just win this, and first five commenters that, and one lucky commenter will... and actually I LOVE it.

That reminds me. I have a bar of Green & Black's organic dark chocolate here with a Simon Pulse paper label around it that says "Welcome to Simon Pulse! We're excited to have you- and excited to meet you on Friday!" and it is signed by Anica and Annette, my gifted editors who, in my head only, I refer to as Annettica. Should I give this away to a lucky winner?

I got that in March. I have been saving it, for what? I do not know, nor can I bring myself to eat it. This is how hoarding begins. It is probably stale and gray on the edges by now.

I'm thinking of a contest and with only 25 loyal and intelligent followers, your odds are really good here, folks.

I'm busy getting ready for our splashy Pen Parentis Author Salon on September 14- Jen Eagan and Darin Strauss and... Abby Sher! Rock and freaking roll!

Oh and I'm afraid I am in a weird kind of love with James Franco. Allen Ginsberg. James Dean. Who's next in his repetoire, Abraham Lincoln?

Can these posts be any LESS coherent? Yes. Yes they could.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Agent

Hardest working agent in the book biz. So glad she is mine!

xxoo, Suzie

Friday, July 23, 2010

Queer Divine Dissatisfaction

I just hit send.

Meaning, I just sent my heavily revised MS to my editor/s. Meaning I am now on vacation for 2 weeks. Meaning I am shitting myself. Meaning I will now take a little nap, awake, and then put together a toy chest from IKEA. Meaning I am very sad that this part of the process is over.

Have I ever been happier? Not really. I loved writing on a deadline. I loved being with Keek every day. I loved that people were waiting for IT, what I was WRITING, with baited breath. I know there's still a ways to go. They might hate it. They might want 400 more pages by next weekend. They might take out my favorite parts. There is work to be done! But still. This part is over and I'm sad and exhausted and am reminded of this:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others"
--Martha Graham

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Truth Has a Name and it is Peter K Steinberg

So I'm working on this book about a girl who is obsessed with Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar- have I mentioned this?- and I've become an admirer and pal of Plath scholar and champion Peter K Steinberg and his great blog Sylvia Plath Info.

Remember your junior year of high school when you had that English teacher who was tough as nails and would give you an F if your A paper wasn't stapled correctly?

The one who made you pay ATTENTION to commas?

The one who made you make clear and precise arguments to defend your views on great literature?

The one who you loved to mock because she wore bobby pins in the back of her head to keep a cowlick down and you'd sit there in class furious that you wanted to impress her so bad with your amazing English Language Skills?

For me that teacher was Mrs. Cain and it is a great thrill to discover that Mr. Steinberg is of the Cain school of citing and attribution. In a world where media is transient as summer tan lines and twitter is re-wiring our brains and kids in the UK don't get married anymore I am tickled pink that there are a rare and honorable few who know how important words are. And he mentioned my little project here, so. There's that too. XXOO Peter! Keep fighting the good fight! And thank you for paying close attention.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Should Be... Tweeting?


Not whatever the hell I think I am doing that is so much more important than writing.

Oh yeah, and I'm tweeting now. Reluctantly. Come! Follow me! Because I am so effin facinating you just can't get enough.


@ArlainaT if you are interested.

DEADLINE LOOMS... the art is by Maissa Toulet. She is French. These are from 2008 and I love them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sylvia Plath is Lavishly Apt

Anagrams are my new favorite thing.

And so is this:
And I am nearing the finish line with the pages here.

And loving it!

And hating it!


Talk more soon...


Friday, June 25, 2010

Great Literature Blows My Mind

This is a new gem from my pal Peter K. Steinberg at He's videotaping the actual public garden Plath writes about in Chapter 11. My favorite part is the end where Peter says he thinks that's what a weeping scholar tree is. It's beautiful and surreal, to see in real life what you have imagined in your own reader's brain a thousand times as you revise your YA book called Bell Jar Summer. In Chapter 11 she also mentions Chicago and imagines the intricacies involved in committing Hari Kari, "...they would jab in the knives in and zip them around, one on the upper crescent and one on the lower crescent, making a full circle. Then their stomach skin would come loose, like a plate, and their insides would fall out, and they would die."

I know!

This whole video reminded me of the time I was in Russia in 1994 post Perestroika and Galsnost, pre now. I was a Russian Lit freak (are you surprised?) and in love with Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita and we visited Patriarch's Ponds in Moscow where the beginning of the novel is set and it was like walking fully awake through a recurring dream. On a corner of the deserted water there was a cafe with a giant menacing black cat painted on the wall (Behemoth) and we spent what little money we had left to eat real food there. The place was filled with drunk Russian gangsters and a skinny and terrified strolling violin player. There were roses on the tables and menacing hilarity throughout. If only I had a digital camera then.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

To All My Friends!

Things are purring along here in Bell Jar Summer Land. The words aren't exactly leaping out of my brain onto the page but, they are slowly but surely showing up for work. Bukowski, as played by Mickey Rourke in Barfly, said no writer worth anything wrote in peace. And thank christ because things are upside down and inside out and etc. all around me. Summer camp registration, laundry, dinner, can you pick up my kilt from the dry cleaner, blackberry washing, packing, car seat ordering, bed making, picture hanging, oh and my Mom's on her way to Paris, my baby needs a haircut and I can't tell if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty. We're off to Scotland in one week. I need 50 more pages of great genius. And YET!! I love it all! When I remember to eat is is standing over the sink and involves hummus, hot sauce, and some kind of whole wheat mini bagel or whole wheat tortilla. It's all good but. It's a lot. When I imagined my eventual rise to literary infamy it involved lengthy in-depth interviews on NPR, smoking while wearing cashmere and long un-interupted days immersed in language and nuance and insights to the human condition. Ah well. I'm doing it aren't I. Aren't I?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Recycling Tarantulas and Sex Tapes

I'm thinking about tarantulas and how they freak my shit. I wrote a short story long ago about a 29 year old who found herself at a teenager party. She ended up petting a tarantula and putting her nipples into the mouth of a 17 year old boy. The story was obviously the young adult writer within my soul clawing to get out. Fast forward to now and I think I have found a way to use a tarantula to even better effect in this revision of my YA novel. I'm also thinking a lot about virginity and the power of young women's sexuality. There is this sex tape out of Kendra, Hugh Hefner's former Girl Next Door. Apparently, she is barely 18 in it, asks many times to not be recorded, and is yet able to be a total come hither sex-pot when not protesting the whole situation. Which sounds entirely age-appropriate to me. And then I read this on The Evil Beet:

Why the Kendra Wilkinson Sex Tape Should Make You Angry

[Kendra's sex tape exploits] that space where young women have discovered and perfected their sexuality and its value, but haven't yet figured out how it's empowering. They just know that it's something people want from them; it's something people expect from them. Something young men expect from them; something, perhaps, that young men haven't learned how to ask for politely. It's uncomfortable and new and everybody's learning, and what happens, more often than not, is that the male partner's desires come first and more forcefully, and the young woman is disrespected and disempowered and left with a sense that she's less valuable and less capable of demanding respect and control than her male counterpart - a sense than lingers into her twenties and beyond, even though she might not recognize it as such.

And I remember being a teenager and a smartass, I remember being hopped up on hormones and Mickey's bigmouths, vulnerable and so young I was convinced I knew exactly what I was doing at every naked moment. I remember it all so well that I'm thinking that I have a lot more work to do and a lot more deep thinking to do on this revision before I hand it in to my editor...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One Story Literary Debutante Ball, May 21 2010

Here are some candid photos in no particular order from the most amazing night in Literary History! I bring you: The One-Story Literary Debutante Ball... Before I continue let me just say that I have never had such fun with writers. Graduate school was often a cauldron of ambition and jealousy. Oh we were friends and good ones, but underneath the camaraderie was a constant undercurrent of competition that kept your teeth on edge. That unpleasant buzz was gone from this event. Everyone looked beautiful. Everyone was happy. My good friend from grad school who is a successful writer has always said there was plenty of room for everyone who writes, and at the One-Story Ball for the first time in my entire writing life, I believed her.

This first one is my favorite. It's my mentor, pal, and escort of amazing-ness, Victor LaValle and me soaking up the applause of Mr. Jonathan Lethem. That little feather thing in the bottom right corner is my Pen Parentis partner MM De Voe's cocktail ring.

This lovely lady is none other than Ms. Elissa Schappel who looked resplendent in her red hair and retro garb. I was talking to her for about 15 minutes before I realized who she was, and forgot to tell her how much I admire her work... See, that was the whole thing about the event. Writers are not Brangelina. You don't know who is who unless you know them. Which I love. But which is also a little intimidating because one minute you are sipping Brooklyn Lager with a nice lady at the empanada station and next thing you know you have revealed all your breast feeding tips to an Academy Award-winnning screenwriter, aka Tamara Jenkins.

This is Alexis McGuinness. She played a moth in "Bar Joke, Arizona," Sam Allingham's story. I did not know this and thought she wore wings for the hell of it, which I thought was rad.

Revelers- all Pulitzer Prize nominees/winners

Vic. Tor.
He looked amazing and was so charming and great. I think the reason I had such a great time is because such a talented and take no prisoners artist had my back. A thousand thank yous, Mr. LaValle. I owe you a rotisserie chicken.

These two lovebirds are the literary power duo JT Petty and Sarah Langan. Don't they look great?

Yo DJ! My feet were killing me and so not much dancing. I love to dance. I just could not.

One-Story Editor Hannah Tinti and Webonair Devin Emke pose for snaps. Note Colson Whitehead in suit and tie.

This sparkly wonder is Ramona Ausubel who moments before the ball sold a story collection and novel. I know! She is tall and gorgeous and charming too. I hear she can write you under the table too so look out litterati- she's coming to get you and take all your prize monies.

This is Cheston Knapp and Sam Allingham. Two nicer gents I have never met. Writers are so funny. Self-depricating, ambitious, sensitive, envious, emotionally intelligent, bad with money. We are all walking conundrums. We spend our days washing dishes in restaurants to pay the rent and our nights typing on our laptops, pasty and wired on espresso till sun-up, so dressing us up and making us twirl for an audience was quite bewildering for us all- the boys especially. Except for Patrick Somerville- he loves to twirl.

One-Story gave these fake tattoos out a long time ago. This reveler knew to save hers for a special occasion... cool right?

I could have used a better bra, lost 20 pounds and gotten a good night's sleep but this is me at the Ball. I had a singular experience never to be forgotten and can't thank One-Story, Maribeth and Hannah, Master of Ceremonies John Hodgman, Mr. Victor LaValle, my Facinator-maker Heather in London, or my Darling Husband enough... It was a night to remember. You can always subscribe to One-Story or donate $$ to them and write it all off at any time...

I want now to mention all the Debutantes because they are all awesome and I loved spending time with them. We all had a lot in common and were all really different. I shall mention their escorts because they were great too...

Sam Allingham escorted by Dan Chaon
Ramona Ausubel escorted by Michelle Latiolais and Ron Carlson
Nell Casey escorted by Tamara Jenkins
Amelia Kahaney escorted by Michael Cunningham
Cheston Knapp escorted by Jim & Karen Shepard
Grant Monroe escorted by Jonathan Lethem
Patrick Somerville escorted by Hannah Tinti
Cote Smith escorted by Deb Olin Unferth

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Literary Debutante Ball fashion advice from One Story’s Associate (Fashion) Editor:

I have copied and pasted this from One-Story's blog because it is hilarious, inspiring, and I am too busy dying my hair and writing to come up with my own blog material today...

Literary Debutante Ball fashion advice from One Story’s Associate (Fashion) Editor:

An image from Amy Vanderbilt's "How to be well dressed."

I’ve been asked to act as fashion godmother for anyone wondering what to wear to this Friday night’sLiterary Debutante Ball. I must assume this is because I own the complete set of Amy Vanderbilt’s “Success Program for Women,” and quote from its more illuminative tomes such as “Your European Vacation” and “How to Develop Poise and Self-Confidence” regularly.

Happily, there is no dress code for our literary ball. A straw poll reveals our staff is thinking cocktail dresses, sundresses and rompers for the ladies, blazers and ties over jeans, skinny jeans, khakis, or pants my grandmother would refer to as “slacks” for the gentlemen. The American Can Factory in Brooklyn is a fun and creative place, so you could arrive dressed as a slice of Swiss cheese and feel right at home. Unless someone else shows up dressed as one (heaven forbid).

Vintage prom dresses and tuxes, casual Friday office attire: all good! Be comfortable. Be brave. Do your best.

Even more happily, it doesn’t matter what you wear. What matters is whether you have a good heart and how many times you compliment the Associate Editor on her Swiss cheese costume.

Finally, I offer a few nuggets of fashion advice I’ve collected over the years:

“Glamour, always.” – Dita Von Teese

“Before you go out, take one piece of jewelry off.” – my grandmother

“Before I go out, I put one more piece of jewelry on.” – Kim Kardashian

“It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.” - Coco Chanel

“My mother taught us that it was always better to be underdressed than overdressed.” Audrey Hepburn’s son, Luca.

“It’s not the clothes, it’s how you wear them.” – Me, 1987

“You cannot go to school with Swatch watches in your hair.” – my mother, 1987

“We’re calling because your daughter came to school with Swatch watches in her hair and refuses to take them out. To make matters worse, after seeing her, several other girls have put their own Swatch watches in their hair. We can’t have that.” – my principal, 1987

“Don’t forget yourself—make sure of yourself!” Amy Vanderbilt’s Success Program for Women, How to Develop Poise and Self-Confidence.

“Nothing beats a nice pair of slacks.” – my grandmother

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Tantalize You...

I have upped my Do the Write Thing for Nashville DAY 8, ITEM 11 auction to include not only a SIGNED copy of BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott and a short story critique by me but also a copy of the SPRING 2009 issue of INKWELL MAGAZINE where my disturbing and hilarious tale of placenta freezing resides in all its glory and a copy of THE FIRST 5 PAGES: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO STAYING OUT OF THE REJECTION PILE. This is basically, 2 years of Columbia's MFA program distilled into a totally portable moonshine of inspiration and guidance...

NASHVILLE! Day 8 Item 11!

My pals at Do the Write Thing for Nashville single handedly pulled together an online auction of writerly things to make some $$ for flood ravaged Nashville. Now, I have never been to Nashville, or even seen the movie but I love country western music, I love people, and hate to see pretty buildings and nice people under water. Please bid on my little contribution of a SIGNED copy of Bird by Bird by the one and only Anne Lamott and a short story critique by one card carrying Columbia MFA grad and One-Story Debutant er, me. All proceeds are tax deductible and go to flood victims. I'd love to get $100... bid early and often~! You can also donate directly and/or bid on other great items!

CLICK HERE to become the person of generosity and integrity you've always wanted to be.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sylvia's Library

Who the hell takes a VIDEO of a bookshelf? Peter K. Steinberg at sylviaplathinfo, that's who.

His blog is awesome, smart, and well researched. It always surprises me with a new facet of Ms. Plath- some new insight to her non-suicidal self that never fails to inspire me during this May of Mayhem revision!

I love that he geeked out and went to the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College and took an action-packed VIDEO of Sylvia's personal library shelves. I felt compelled to share it here. Parts 1 AND 2. ENJOY! Fun to play simultaneously...

Books/writers I could make out were: Blake, History of the Bible, German Dictionary, Dostoyevsky's Diary of a Writer, Henry James, The Golden Bough, Freud, The Poems of Robert Frost, Botany Books, Hawthorne short stores, Dubliners, Finnegan's Wake, Kafka, Goethe poems, The Writer's Handbook, Chaucer... D.H. Lawrence, Death in Venice, Christopher Marlowe, Oxford Book of Sixteenth Sentury Writers, Rimbaud, Anne Sexton (!), Baby and Child Care (!), Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, Plato, Shakespeare, The Painted Caravan, Yeats, Richard Wilbur. If you can see anymore without going blind, let me know! And THANKS, Peter K. Steinberg at Sylvia Plath Info for all the hard work!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Collection of Brand New Sentences!

...So if eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich means one less horrifically slaughtered dumb and long-lashed cow, why not? Is meat really so delicious? Well. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, I am obligated to make an exception.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May of Mayhem is going Freaking Fast!

Yes, I'm doing it but it's taking me a while to get in the zone. And my frenemy the Internet, is being really passive/aggressive. Yes, it's a great research and networking tool, yes I'm getting important emails regarding my literary career, no I don't need to look up "Dubstep" on YouTube because a member of Arlainas Rule the World on Facebook told me to.


Meditating helps. I took this Media Bistro course eons ago about how to make time for writing and basically, the secret is meditating. Sitting down for 5-10 minutes with some kind of guided meditation to focus your creative brain was the instructor's big suggestion. And it so works.

Google "guided meditations" and you'll get a slew of mp3's for your ipod.

And I'm starting to FREAK THE FUCK out about my outfit for the One Story Debutante Ball on May 21st... I'm committed to the lurid and over the top fascinator now that the payment went through.

Dear Reader, do I have the balls to carry it off!?

Stay. Tuned.

Monday, May 3, 2010





Well, not really write, write. Read read read is more like it. And get permissions set up and laid out for my agent.

Meanwhile, I'm in convo with a British Etsy seller about a fascinator for the One-Story Debutant ball...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Libba, Stephen, and Harper Lee

Last night I left the children in the care of someone trustworthy to attend the 50th Anniversary Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird at Symphony Space. In addition to Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director at The Public Theater), Kurt Andersen (novelist and Studio 360 Host), Jayne Anne Phillips (novelist and National Book Award finalist Lark & Termite), filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy (author of the upcoming book Scout, Atticus, and Boo), were two of my favorite people in the world Stephen Colbert and Libba Bray (award winning young-adult novelist Going Bovine, winner of 2010 Printz Award)! Basically, they read excerpts from the book and went on about how great it was. And the audience concurred! The panel was mostly Southern-raised and had a deep connection with the book. I didn't read it till I was out of grad school and at my Scottish husband's insistence (!) but it nevertheless tore my guts out. Scout’s voice is amazing, and I think what every writer, YA or otherwise, aspires to achieve in their work. Just when I thought I could not possibly love him anymore than I already do, Stephen Colbert says that he reads To Kill a Mockingbird at least once a year and his copy is held together with rubber bands. It was a great night with a bizarre panel. Jayne Anne Phillips was a little "I'm a National Book Award Finalist and Who the Hell Are You" the whole night, Libba was a little shy, and it did drag on a bit but Stephen kept it lively and it was a real pleasure to be in a room where people were talking about falling in love with a book. Then we went for tapas and wine (sadly without Libba and Stephen) and caught a taxi home. I was shaken up because all I could think of was Scout and Atticus and Jem and my own two little ones at home and the YA book I'm about to delve into come Monday and the power of words arranged artfully on a page to change the world while drinking a fantastic tempranillo and eating patatas bravas... Not quite a Literary Night of Debauchery but pretty fucking close.

Days to May of Mayhem: 4

So, I'll begin a little Q & A here ala Isaiah Sheffer: What do you remember most from reading the book? Where were you when you first read it and how old?

Your turn! Er, in the comments!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Bunker is Ready for the YApocalypse

How to prepare for the MAY OF MAYHEM
  1. Talk to an inspiring writer and friend for 58 minutes and talk about writing, art, and deadlines
  2. Download Microsoft Word onto your newly refurbished laptop and transfer your files
  3. Become Facebook friends with writers you admire
  4. Email your agent about how great the edits are going in vague terms
  5. After looking up how to install Jibbitz into your surprisingly chic new Crocs on the internet, wear them out on important errands
  6. Go for lunch (oxtail special) at your favorite Dominican restaurant with your baby and an old friend
  7. Spend 27.00 on bizarre headbands, sparkly bracelets and a bedazzled elephant pendant at the 2.99 accessory store
  8. Make 2 trays of baked ziti- one for dinner and one to freeze for emergency rations during the May of Mayhem
  9. Get quarters for laundry
  10. Buy soymilk for a vegan friend who is coming over tomorrow to see you and your new apartment and unbeknownst to her- help you with laundry.
  11. Blog about it

Days to May of Mayhem: 5

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Pacific- on HBO

My husband insists I watch it.

It's a testament to the horror and futility of war.

It honors the vets and the human toll of needless violence.

It's very literary! Two of the main characters in it are soldier writers.

History can't be swept under the rug!

Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

You can't watch nothing but Glee, Arlaina.

But all day, all I can think of is that scene where the creepy guy is tossing pebbles into the dead Japanese soldier's skull and that horrible noise they made when the hit the brain slosh. Until I'm so depressed I can hardly stand it.








In other news... Days to May of Mayhem: 6