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...