Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Joys of High School

I've been thinking and thinking about this topic for a few days now and was worried that I wasn't going to be able to come up with an embarrassing moment. It's not that I haven't had my share of them, but over the years I seem to have forgotten them. With four kids there are always embarrassing moments happening, but as quickly as they happen they're usually lost in my cluttered head of recipes, errands, appointments and chores. But just when I thought I was going to have to tell you all that I can't remember an embarrassing moment, my pathetic memory recalled one. It happened the year I entered the 8th grade. I was very shy and a little awkward, and completely terrified by the grade nine and ten students that attended my junior high school. They seemed so old and mature to me. I can remember avoiding the hallways where their lockers were, fearful of being picked on or ridiculed at lunchtime.

It was 1988 and the movie "Young Guns" had just come out. My friends and I went to that movie about a dozen times, each of us in love with one of the young stars. My crush was on Emilio Estevez. I'm not sure why I loved him as much as I did, he certainly wasn't the typical Hollywood hunk, but I adored him. I would ask my mother, poor woman, to go to the store and buy me Tiger Beat Magazine so I could tear out the pictures of Emilio and tape them to my bedroom walls. I would day dream about him every chance I got and even pictured myself marrying him one day. Well one day I decided to express my love in a letter that I planned on mailing to him. How funny and naive I was back then. To think that I believed he would read my letter and drop everything just to rush to Canada and marry a 13-year-old girl. So silly. Anyway, I wrote my letter professing my devotion, signed it and then placed it inside an envelope that I covered with lipstick kisses.

Not wanting my mother, who frequently tidied my room, to come across my letter of love to Mr. Estevez, I tucked the letter inside my math binder. When Monday came around I had completely forgotten about the letter. It was just after lunch and I was heading to my math class with my binder held against my chest, when a big grade ten boy bumped into me. The force of the bump caused me to drop my binder. When the book hit the floor the metal rings opened and all the papers inside were scattered. Mortified at being on display, I got down on my knees and began to pick up the papers, my face red with embarrassment. Suddenly I noticed out of the corner of my eye that one of the most popular boys in the tenth grade was down on his knees helping me pick up my papers. I smiled at him and said "thank you," barely able to make eye contact. Though my heart belonged to Emilio, I secretly had a crush on this boy.

The bell had already rung and I was desperate to get out of the hallway, so when I thought all my papers had been picked up I quickly left. It wasn't until the middle of math class that my wonderful memory reminded me that my love letter had been in my spilled math binder. With my heart in my throat I flipped through the book, my stomach growing sicker as each page flashed by with no trace of my lipstick kissed envelope anywhere. I looked in my book bag...nothing. I excused myself so I could check the now emptied hallway...nothing. I looked in the garbage cans around the school..nothing. My letter and all its affections was gone. And the worst part was that it was probably being read (and laughed at) by one of the coolest boys in school. For the next month I made a point of avoiding him whenever I saw him. And to this day I have no idea where my letter went.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Moment Certainly! Embarrassing - Not So Much!

I hope my fellow Girls will forgive my breach of topic etiquette, but I would like to post about a moment that was not exactly embarrassing. Last night, I had the official Launch Party for WONDROUS STRANGE! (The Canadian edition hits the shelves this week).

And it was not embarrassing. Not in the least. It was, in fact, pretty darn awesome!

You can read an account of the event posted by the marvelous folks at Indigo here.

Here is the marquee outside the Dominion on Queen, where the party was in full swing and the room was jam-packed all night, in spite of sub-zero cold!

Here I am reading an excerpt - I suppose that might have been embarrassing, if I'd stumbled over my own words or barfed from nerves or something... sadly (for the purposes of this topic) I did good (or so I've been told!).

Here I am celebrating with awesome fellow authoress, Adrienne Kress, she of the freshly-released TIMOTHY AND THE DRAGON'S GATE! Check her out - she rocks!

This is me signing for some of the lovely young ladies who came out. I think I spelled everyone's name right so, again, no embarrassment (but a mighty, might hand cramp by the end of the night - I signed for over 2 and 1/2 hours!).

I even had a flock of Faerie-winged fans show up to help me out! Aren't they lovely? And all taller than me.

And I was interviewed by the national television stations BRAVO and SPACE! Haven't seen the footage yet, but I don't think I embarrassed myself... Here is SPACE producer Mark Askwith asking me a few questions about the book.

All in all it was one of the best nights of my life! But not really embarrassing. I didn't fall over or spill on myself or anything. Sorry.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Gap Incident

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that it’s been exactly one year since The September Sisters sold and since my grandfather died. (You can read my post about that week here.) And it’s fitting that I’ve also been trying to think of my most embarrassing moments at the same time, because I’d have to say the majority of my childhood embarrassments occurred in the presence of my grandfather.

My grandfather was the kind of person who did and said what he wanted, and didn’t ever worry about what other people thought of him. As he got older, people seemed to think it amusing, that he was just an eccentric old man, but according to my mom, he was always that way.

Growing up, I didn’t see my grandparents too much. They lived six hours away, so we only saw them a few times a year. Though these were some of my favorite times, I was also always a little leary of going out with my grandfather in public. Especially shopping. He enjoyed chatting animatedly with the salespeople and trying to talk his way into a discount or a free something or other (which he usually did) – something which I found to be utterly embarrassing as a child and teenager. My most embarrassing store memory with him is something that my sister and I now jokingly refer to only as “The Gap Incident.”

When I was 13 and she was 10, my grandfather insisted on taking my sister and me to The Gap so he could buy us something. We picked out a few things to try on, but the store was really crowded that day, and there was a line for the dressing room. So as my sister and I got in line, what did my grandfather do? He located the store manager, and asked the guy if my sister and I could try on our clothes in the stockroom instead. Then, after some persuasion, he actually got the manager to say yes! Neither my sister nor I can remember exactly what happened next, whether we actually tried on the clothes or ran from the store red-faced, probably because we blocked it out. But we do remember that it was years before we felt comfortable walking back into that store.

Flash forward 10 years, when my grandparents came to Arizona to visit me and my husband. The hotel my grandparents were supposed to stay at didn’t have their room ready on time, so they offered to give my grandparents a free meal at their restaurant. My grandfather decided that a free meal for them, really meant for all four of us, and really meant anything and everything that the restaurant had to offer, so he insisted that we all order multiple things off the menu and appetizers and desserts and drinks, until the bill was close to $300 and we had enough food for about 20 people in front of us. The bill was so enormous, that the restaurant couldn’t even figure out how to comp. it, so they had to call in the hotel manager. But in the end, my grandfather got them to give him all the food for free. Have my husband and I ever gone back to that restaurant? Nope.

There were other things too – my grandfather was always singing, even at oddly inappropriate times and in public. And forget going out to eat any time near your birthday -- he’d always want to get the waiters to sing (and bring free cake) even if your birthday wasn’t for six more weeks. There’s a spot in my wedding video when he doesn’t realize there’s a camera in front of him, and as my grandmother is giving her good wishes, he starts clapping, dancing, and singing right into the camera (which he clearly doesn’t notice). I love that that moment is there, because it captures everything about him, so perfectly.

Though I would absolutely never make my kids (or grandkids someday) change in a stockroom at The Gap – there was something to be said for my grandfather’s philosophy – this uncanny ability he had not to care what anybody else thought about him, to try to get away with things because they were fun, because he enjoyed it. I can’t tell you, as a kid, how many times I begged my grandfather not to embarrass me as he was about to do something utterly embarrassing. His response always was. “There’s no reason to be embarrassed.” And looking back now, I wish I could’ve taken just a little bit of that embarrassment back and spent more time enjoying what a completely unique person he was.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I can feel my toes curling all over again!

First off, I want to thank my wonderful, witty and intelligent literary agent, Holly Root, for taking time out of her crazy-busy day to visit us here at The Novel Girls! Thank you, Holly!

This week's topic should come easy to me. Not a week goes by that I don't embarrass myself. Really, it happens all the time. The foot goes in my mouth so often I have become as limber as a teenager. But I can't share all my horror stories, nor would I want to, so I've been searching my repertoire of killer toe-curlers for your on-line amusement. Here's a good 'un.

When my oldest son was seven or so, he joined his first machine-pitch baseball team. After the first practice, his coach came up to inform me that Michael would be catcher in the first game and that I should get him a cup.
"A cup?" I asked, just as he was turning away.
"Yeah," he said, and then darted his eyes away from mine.
"Oh, sure, no problem." I thought about his request for a moment and realized I had no idea what he was talking about. As he was walking away I called his name. "Excuse me. Coach Jim?"
He turned around with an eager first-day-on-the-job smile.
"You said Michael needs a cup," my face, puzzled.
"A cup?" I asked again.
"That's right." His once smiling face was now expressionless.
"Is there a certain size or color up that all the boys use or will any old cup do?" I asked, oh so naively.
After Coach Jim's eyes bulged out as far as humanly possible, he gazed at me for a moment before saying, "You know . . . a cup." At that he cupped his hand.
No I didn't know. I had no earthly idea what kind of cup he was talking about. Keep in mind, I grew up in a family of four girls and had gone to an all-girls school for thirteen years. Dixie cups were the only cups introduced into our home.
Poor Coach Jim. The dude had no way out of this one. "It's a, it's a, (now he's waving his cupped hand in front of his crotch) It's a, you know, an athletic supporter!"
"Ohhhhh," I said and hit my forehead. "Of course. A cup!"
For a brief moment we both stood and stared at each other until the embarrassment was too much to take.
"Well, see you Saturday!" I managed a shy wave before scurrying back to my car.

Oh the joy, that comes with raising little boys. Here's one more quickie. And this one's worse.

I have no idea whatever possessed me to do this, but many years ago I fibbed about my youngest son's age so he could get into a local attraction for free. He had just turned six two weeks earlier and the cut-off age for free admission into The Hermitage was five. When the lady behind the ticket counter asked me how old he was, I - for some unknown, highly regrettable reason - said, "Five."

Will immediately screamed (for all of the thirty people in line AND the ticket lady to hear) "I - AM - NOT - FIVE! I'M SIX. YOU TELL HER RIGHT NOW THAT I AM SIX." Big ole crocodile tears streamed down his face.

Try to imagine yourself in that moment. First of all, I never do things like that. I'm standing there, nabbed, for the whole world to view as a big fat liar! All of that embarrassment just to save a measly $5.00.

Oh well, if nothing else, it makes for something fun to write about!! See you next week!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Novel Girls Welcome Agent Holly Root!

Hey everyone!

Please join me in welcoming literary agent Holly Root of the Waxman Literary Agency! She's not only my agent, but fellow Novel Girl Lisa Patton's agent, too. And she's uber fabulous!

Holly began her publishing career as an editor in Nashville, TN before coming to New York and joining the William Morris Agency’s agent trainee program. She then moved to Trident Media Group, where she sold audio rights for the agency’s clients, including a number of New York Times bestselling authors, before joining The Waxman Literary Agency to represent her own list of authors.

ML: What are you currently looking for?

HR: Right now I have the most room on my list for YA, and narrative nonfiction. I'm always sniffing for a high-concept mystery. I would love to take on more big commercial women's fiction but I am having to be super, super picky about it too--must have a high concept that feels fresh and great writing; I have to say no to a lot of "lovely but quiet" projects because they're just tough to place.

ML:What's selling well now?

HR: YA & romance remain strong, nonfiction's perennial...Moreso than any one area that's "working," really, it is so much about having an incredibly clear, strong hook. Make it easy for the editors, the sales force, and the marketing team to all say "We know exactly what this book is and how to sell it."

ML: What's your favorite part about being an agent?

HR: Working with my clients. I am so lucky to work with authors who are just fabulous. Getting to read their work and make good things happen for them and then see that manuscript I loved in final book form on the shelves in the store--can't be beat. Although calling someone with good news (an offer, a marketing coup, etc.) ranks pretty high too, but part & parcel with "working with authors," so I'm still on point, right?

ML:What catches your attention in a query letter or sample pages?

HR: Voice and concept--when they're both there and both working, my Spidey-sense just goes off.

ML: What are some of your favorite books?

HR: Counting out my own authors, I'll read anything Scott Westerfeld writes, ditto for Marian Keyes. I, like everyone else alive, adored THE HUNGER GAMES. Over Christmas I picked up a YA novel called ARTICHOKE'S HEART by Suzanne Supplee, which is set about two towns over from where I grew up and was really lovely, and CHEER by Kate Torgovnick, which is a great nonfiction book that follows three competitive college cheer squads through one season--I highly recommend both!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Holly!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Red-Faced Moments!

Everyone has an embarrassing story or two (or three) to share, and I'm no different. When contemplating this post, however, I realized that some of my moments (the ones that still make my cheeks turn pink to this day) are not ones I can really share here. Get me cornered and buy me a drink or two, though, and I'll spill all.

So, since I'm not cornered and have only consumed vast amounts of coffee today, I'll go with one of my, shall we say "appropriate" embarrassing moments.

This happened when I was a very new mother. My daughter was only a few weeks old. It was cold out...very cold, actually, and I was feeling a little too housebound. I decided to brave the cold, and the scariness of the unpredictable nature of my infant daughter, to escape the house and go to the mall.

Yes. The mall.

Remember, it was cold, so the park or any other outside activity was not an option. My mother-in-law phoned right before I left and I told her my plans. She did not think it was a good idea. She offered to come get me and my daughter and take us to the mall. Because I was stubborn (okay, I'm still stubborn), I refused her offer, and headed out with my little one all on my own.

Everything was fine. Really. We walked through the mall and I picked up a few odds and ends, a few books to read, and after a couple of hours I was more than ready to head back home. So here I was feeling all powerful because I'd done it! I'd taken this little baby out into the world and we'd survived!

I push the stroller to my car, settled my daughter into her carseat, and then locked the car door and shut her in...nice and tight. Walked around to my side to get in...and, as you've probably guessed by now...realized I'd locked my keys inside the car with my precious infant daughter. I could see them, taunting me, sitting right next to her.

This was before cell phones were common, and I didn't have one. It was cold out. I couldn't leave my daughter inside the car to go call for help. So I stood there, hoping someone would walk by that I could beg for help from. This is a good place to mention that at the time, I lived in a very, very small town and the "mall" was not one of those booming huge places filled with people seven days a week. No, this mall had a total of 10 stores in it. Maybe. I'm not making this up. Basically, it was a weekday morning and barely anyone was there.

So I stood there and worried, looking around the lot like a crazy person, when who should I see? My mother-in-law. Yep. I called her over, and the look she gave me...well, I'm sure you can imagine it. That I-know-better-than-you-so-why-didn't-you-listen-to-me type of look. Not that I cared THEN, all I wanted was to get into my car and take my daughter home. With my mother-in-law's help (she called the police to come jimmy the door open), I did...and we were all fine and safe.

But I listened to this story being told for years after it happened. How if I'd "just listened to her in the first place, it wouldn't have happened." I've suffered more than my fair share of embarrassment over this story! Of course, you can be sure I've never locked my keys in my car again.

Though, I'll admit my daughter (now a teenager) finds the telling of this moment absolutely hysterical...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Novel Girls News

Agent Holly Root will be guest blogging with us this Tuesday, January 13th. So make sure to stop in to see what she has to say!

And if you haven't already, pick up a copy of Lesley Livingston's awesome urban fantasy, Wondrous Strange! Check out this video of her talking about the book.

Tracy Madison's A Taste of Magic and Jillian Cantor's The September Sisters, will both be released in 43 days, so it's not too early to pre-order your copies!!

The Novel Girls