Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why Big Love is the Best Show on Television



Ok, I know I keep saying that I'm going away and I'm still here posting, but this is the last one before vacay. Seriously. Well, probably.

I just watched this week's episode of Big Love and it was one of the most perfectly executed hours of television that I've ever seen. They took something as normal and cliched as a family road trip and turned it into a tour de force. As an aspiring writer it was an inspiration to watch. Taking a hackneyed concept and completely reinventing is an art, and it reminded me that if your characters are strong enough, different enough, then there are no cliches. When you put fresh characters into an overplayed situation the results are surprising, exciting even.

I know that Big Love is a controversial show. There are people that find it offensive because it plays on religious stereotypes, but I couldn't disagree more. I remember when I first heard about the show and I was so turned off by the concept. I wondered why anyone would ever want to watch a show about polygamy, it was just such an icky topic. But the beauty of Big Love is that while their lifestyle is completely foreign to most of us, they have the same struggles that we do. They fall in love, they lose faith, they lie, they laugh, they take care of their kids and make dinner every night. Granted they do it all with sister-wives, but it almost starts to seem normal after a while.

If you've never watched the show I urge you to check it out. This season in particular is simply outstanding. And really, getting a sister-wife wouldn't be all bad, right? I mean, aside from having to share your husband, just imagine the possibilities for your wardrobe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One last thing...




What is with the Jonas Brothers? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Is it just me or do they sort of look like they're made out of wax? Whenever I see a picture of them I'm always left wondering if was taken in Madame Tussauds.

Laura and I have discussed them at length and decided that if we were 11-years-old, we'd be all over them in spite of (or perhaps, because of) their overall goofy appearance.

Ok, that's all. Just saw this pic and had to comment. I always find Disney manufactured tween obsessions somewhat fascinating mainly because I can totally picture how the E! True Hollywood Story will unfold in about 10 years.

Random thoughts on a Wednesday...

It's been a while since I've shared some random thoughts with everyone and since I've got a terrible combination of edit brain and almost-on-vacation brain leaving me approximately one step above brain dead, this is just about all I'm capable of today.

Behold the random musings of a barely functioning mind!
  • It's almost a guarantee when some guy you work with is really condescending and revels in making your work-life a living hell that he's under 5'3.
  • Am I the only one who sees the previews for He's Just Not That Into You and thinks of agents rather than men? Yeah, maybe it's just me...
  • Speaking of chick-lit turned Hollywood, I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic and was sort of meh on the whole deal. Isla Fisher bugs. Rebecca Bloomwood is a tough character because she's perpetually walking that fine line between charming and annoying, but with Sophie Kinsella's writing she somehow always manages to stay on the charming side. Throw a spastic Isla Fisher into the mix and she veered way into annoying territory. Still worth seeing if you enjoyed the books, but not one of my faves.
  • I really have nothing to say about the Academy Awards...boring. Does anyone else think it would have been far more entertaining for them to ask people like LiLo and Britney to do the little nominee speeches? Now that would be an awards show worth 5 hours of your time.
  • If they gave out an Oscar for best hair, Connie Britton would win hands down. It doesn't even matter that she's technically a small screen player, Friday Night Lights might as well be an hour-long Pantene commercial.
  • Speaking of commercials, anyone else watching the new show, Trust Me? It's like a modern day Mad Men set in Chicago. Very entertaining. I love how they're always dropping Chi-town references. I get a little tear in my eye thinking of my days as a single gal in the city.

Anyways, this is probably going to be my last post for a while. Vacation 2009 officially starts 7:15 AM on Saturday morning and we can't wait. In the meantime I'm stuck in preparing for vacation mode which is a very special form of hell that leaves me wondering if the actual vacation is going to be worth it. I'm sure it will be once I'm finally on the beach with a book. I've got a stack waiting to be packed and I have to admit that I'm pretty excited to a) read something I didn't write and b) being able to read without looking for comma splices.

I'll be back next week with some book reviews and carefully cropped beach shots.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Beta readers ROCK

Ok, it's confession time. I've always been slightly skeptical about the value of beta-readers.

I know, I know...it's crazy right? I guess we've just had some bad experiences in the past with fellow writers that critiqued our work and didn't get our voice or barely bothered to comment at all. We had our trusted reader, who reads purely for pleasure and would tell us when things weren't making sense or if they got a little too confusing. Life was good.

But here's the thing. A good beta who really understands the craft of writing will make your book even better. We've been lucky enough to have a couple of amazing people read and critique FINDING GRACE and their comments have helped us improve our book and our writing tenfold.

Hallelujah, we have seen the light!

So, a huge thank you to the beta readers that read FINDING GRACE in all of its different incarnations. I'm dangerously close to weeping all over my blog, but you should know that your feedback helped us create something pretty special (yeah, I might be weepy, but I'm still not all that humble...). THANK YOU.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Query Evolution Continues...

Well, it's very exciting over here. We're getting final edits from a couple of beta's and we're inching closer to a final draft of our query for FINDING GRACE (aka GMAIL).

Just in case you're interested in the latest query (I'm sure you're all just on the edge of your seats) I'm posting it below. Feel free to comment. Ummm..actually I'm sort of begging you to comment. We've changed this thing so many times I have no idea if it even makes sense any more.

Sorry for the boring post, but I have absolutely nothing else to write about because I'm living, breathing, eating and sleeping (yeah, I even dream about the damn thing) the book at this point. As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm a really good time right about now. Divorce is imminent.

****************************************************

Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course that’s before she got the e-mail from Grace.

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Christian.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.


Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a dangerous turn when her confrontation with Christian, Grace’s addict brother, almost gets her killed. Good thing she finds a couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth. Armed with her newfound sidekicks, the investigation continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school that threatens to destroy them all.

Kate knew finding Grace wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who to trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

After all, everyone’s a suspect.

We are sisters-turned-writing-partners. FINDING GRACE is a 53,000 word YA Mystery. Upon your request, we are prepared to submit the complete manuscript. We look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sleep is for the weak...

Oh boy, it's going to be a late one over here in L&L land. While Laura has been busy at her new house with no interwebs (I seriously don't know how she's surviving...), I've been busy with an intense round of Gmail edits. Just finished the last chapters and sent them off to a couple of trusty beta readers and I'm totally DYING to hear what they think of our big finish.

Anyways, I've got to go clean my house for a monster playdate tomorrow. Believe it or not, I'm going to be hosting 5 moms and their 11 children ranging in ages 6 weeks - 4 years old in our teeny tiny little house tomorrow. It's going to be an ungodly nightmare. And even though it sounds a little insane, I have to make sure that the house is clean at least for the first 5 minutes they walk in the door. I know, it's crazy. But I'll feel so much better if my floors are freshly washed before the terrors litter them with crushed cheerios and goldfish.

Ooh, and the other big news on our end is that we've joined a real official (well, virtual) writing group! Can you believe it? We feel so writerly. And it doesn't hurt that the other writers are made of awesome. Good times!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some poetry for your Thursday...

Things have been quite crazy with the new house and I'm totally cut off from the internet. The horror! So, sorry this is late. I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats…

V.B.’s skin holds a strange green/orange glow,
and could she get any thinner? I don’t think so!


This one’s for you Lis, Chuck Bass is out on the town,
although his pointy-toed shoe boots are dragging him down.


It’s Paris’ birthday, celebrate and yell, “Hurray!”
pink balloons, a big old cake, and a lingerie-inspired dress mark the day.


Vanessa, “she’s just like us” pumping gas into an invisible car,
except I'd never wear those nude high-heeled booties, no matter how expensive they are.


And then we have Suri, another celebrity babe without shoes,
we’re in public people, or does that rule not apply to a Cruise?


Jess is out with her sis, the same old routine,
but her knee’s put on weight, busted straight through her jeans.


It’s time for me to go, that’s all for this week,
I’m sure you can’t wait for my next critique!

Introducing a new query and a new title...

Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send emails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course that was before an e-mail from Grace with cryptic clues and a dire warning appeared in Kate's inbox. Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d totally take everyone's favorite teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

The emails continue and Kate’s quest takes a dangerous turn, compelling sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth, to become her knights-in-(not so)-shining armor. Armed with her new found sidekicks, Kate launches an investigation involving Grace's addict brother, the school’s resident Queen Bee and even one of her tarnished knights. Kate knows finding Grace isn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who she should trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

After all, everyone’s a suspect.

We are sisters turned writing partners and FINDING GRACE is a YA Paranormal Mystery, complete at 55,000 words.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm going to apologize in advance...

Posting on this here blog is going to be a little spotty for a while. Please, don't cry. You'll survive, our little hiatus, I promise. Yes, we're super-fun. And I know it's difficult to imagine getting through a long 8-hour day at work without our riveting thoughts, but we'll be back. Soon. Promise.

The thing is, we're knee deep in Gmail edits, I'm going on vacation in a week, and Laura just got the keys to her new house (yay!). So, things are pretty insane, but we'll be back and more random than ever very, very soon. And in the meantime, we'll be in and out as time allows.

So, wipe those tears away and fire up some Bravo fabulousness. The Real Housewives of NYC are back and I, personally, am very excited to see Simon in a speedo again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The First 250 Words of FINDING GRACE

Her e-mail was bold-faced in my inbox. It didn't move or disappear or do any of the creepy things I'd expect an e-mail from a ghost to do.

It was just there.

Existing.

With trembling fingers, I clicked on Grace’s name.

To: K8Lowry@gmail.com
Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
From: GraceWlsh13@gmail.com
Subject: (no subject)

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Christian.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

I didn't think dead best friends could send emails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Cue the men in white coats because it was entirely possible that I had lost my mind.

I should have been screaming or crying or something, but instead, my legs, my arms, my heart went numb. It was like the moment was happening to someone else. I watched myself sitting at my desk, the white-blue glow of my computer screen casting crooked shadows on the walls of my bedroom. I saw the beads of sweat drip down my back between the straps of my tank top, and even watched tiny goose bumps erupt along my arms.

The second my mind found its way back to my body, I read Grace’s message again. She’s where? In my room? I jerked my head to the left and right looking for Grace or…a form of Grace. A trickle of sweat rolled down my chest.

“Grace?” My voice cracked her name.

As soon as the sound left my lips, I regretted it. Really Kate? A ghost? No wonder my parents sent me to a shrink.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy V-Day


I'll be spending the day cooking for a baby shower. So romantic, I know. Try not to be jealous.

And then there's talk of ordering sushi for dinner which is probably the least romantic meal on the planet. Maybe it's the Italian in me, or maybe I just watched Lady and the Tramp too many times growing up, but romance for me is a huge plate of pasta. Yum...

Anyways, have a great day everyone! We'll be back with further randomness and writerly neurosis tomorrow.

XOXO,
Lisa and Laura

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Feedback is a gift...no, seriously, it IS

And we have a revamped version of the first 250 words of Gmail prove it.

Oh, but then my old friend Doubt creeps in...

"Are you sure it's better? I mean lots of people really liked the old beginning...and what does stupid so and so know anyways? And be honest, you sort of like the old beginning better, don't you? DON'T YOU?"

Stupid Doubt. She's such a bitch.

Anyways, as new(ish) writers we are constantly struggling with how to apply feedback from agents and other writers. Obviously, feedback from agents and editors carries more weight than our fellow writers (sorry guys!), but should it? Sometimes we get feedback that really resonates and we do the old "DUH, how did we miss that" routine, but more often than not we're left grasping at straws. Love your voice, hate your voice. Great hook, not hooked at all. The pacing is off, the pacing is perfect. You get the idea.

We recently had our first 250 words critiqued by many of our fellow writers and 90% had very positive things to say about our work. They mentioned that our narrative needed some tightening and they gave us some great suggestions, but overall they were hooked. The other 10% completely disagreed and thought our voice was distracting, redundant and (gasp!) melodramatic. So now we have a shiny new version of our first 250 words, but I guess I'm still wondering if it's better.

Oh god, this makes me want to start another poll. Don't worry I'll be strong and at least tinker with the new version for a few more days.

Anyways, as always, interested on your take on this. Please comment!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You know what helps...

me swallow a really tough critique?

A long discussion with Laura about how we're going to apply the criticism in a way that maintains our vision and voice for the book.

And then ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feel the burn...

It’s about time for another hump day poem. Just tell me when to stop.

An entire poem inspired by Speidi…
Spencer: I need this umbrella, my hair frizzes when wet.
Heidi: Are the photogs looking over, are they looking over yet?

Spencer: Go lower, squat lower, get that knee to the ground.
Heidi: Have they taken my picture? Are they still around?

Spencer: Next comes the medicine ball, I’ll throw it your way.
Heidi: I don’t see flashes and I don’t have all day.

Spencer: Here’s your water, re-hydrate, take a long sip.
Heidi: Should I pull my pants lower, should I maybe strip?

Spencer: Next comes the rubber black thing, you’ll really start to ache.
Heidi: Are the matching outfits too much? Have we made a mistake?

Spencer: Good work out, nice going, you’ve improved your hotness.
Heidi: They got one! I saw it! Us Weekly = Success!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How do you filter through feedback and crits?

Our question of the day for our fellow writers out there is how do you know when to take criticism?

We posted our query in a forum and are sifting through critiques and are left wondering whose advice to take.

And which version of the query do you prefer? You know we can't resist putting up another poll, so please vote. It really does help us out a ton.

Thanks in advance for any comments and/or advice.

**************************************************

Version 1:

Kate Lowry has come to accept that her best friend, Ava, is dead. She’s been missing for a year and her disappearance is one false lead away from cold case status. And then, a mysterious e-mail from Ava with cryptic clues to her whereabouts appears in her inbox. If she were like most girls, Kate would ignore Ava’s warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux-Chanel, her skirts are way shorter and she’d totally take everyone's favorite girl detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

The emails continue and Kate’s quest takes a dangerous turn, compelling sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth, to become her knights-in-(not so)-shining armor. Armed with her new found sidekicks, Kate launches an investigation involving the school’s resident Queen Bee, a newly-thin ex-bestie, and even one of her tarnished knights. Kate knew finding Ava wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who she should trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

After all, everyone’s a suspect.

We are sisters turned writing partners and GMAIL is a YA mystery, complete at XX,XXX words.

Version 2:

Kate Lowry's best friend, Ava, is dead. Or so everyone assumes. She's been missing for a year, when Kate receives a mysterious e-mail from Ava with cryptic clues to her whereabouts.

She should go to the police, but instead, she decides to channel everyone’s favorite girl detective, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux-Chanel, her skirts are way shorter and she’d totally take Nancy Drew in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

The emails continue and Kate’s quest takes a dangerous turn, compelling sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth, to become her knights-in-(not so)-shining armor. Armed with her new found sidekicks, Kate launches an investigation involving the school’s resident Queen Bee, a newly-thin ex-best-friend, and even one of her tarnished knights. Kate knew finding Ava wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who she should trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

After all, everyone’s a suspect.

We are sisters turned writing partners and GMAIL is a YA mystery, complete at XX,XXX words.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

YA Thriller or YA Mystery?

Ok, so we just figured out how to use the polling function on our blog, so sadly you can expect lots and lots of annoying polls over the next couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone who commented and participated in the great F-Bomb debate. You've given us a lot to think about and we're honestly still torn (and really, so were the poll results!). Hearing from parents and teachers who can't (or don't want) their children reading this kind of language has definitely made us think twice about including it even once or twice.

So, onto our next big debate. We're getting dangerously close to query time for Gmail and one of our big discussions lately has been around whether we should market Gmail as a YA mystery or a YA thriller.

According to Publisher's Weekly, "in a thriller, the heroes are in a race to save the world from known villains out to destroy it; in a mystery, a sleuth seeks to solve a murder committed by an unknown killer whose identity the reader tries to figure out before it's eventually revealed."

Here's the thing, in Gmail everyone thinks Ava is already dead, but Kate believes she is alive, so it's kind of a mix.

What do you think? Is Gmail more of a Thriller or a Mystery? Is there one genre that's more appealing to agents or editors right now? Are you more likely to read a book if it's labeled as one or the other? Can't wait to hear what you guys think in the comments or via the poll.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Is it sad...

that this makes me excited? Really excited?

Wait, let me answer that. Yes. Yes, it is.

P.S.
We're closing in on the end of our first cut of Gmail. Just a few more chapters! Can you believe it? We have already outlined some places where we want to go back and add a bit more detail, but it's looking like we'll meet our deadline of completing draft 1 before Laura moves into her house.

P.P.S.
Which also means that I'll be dragging the manuscript, sticky notes and a red pen with me to the Bahamas.

P.P.P.S.
It's also possible that Ken might divorce me if I spend our romantic vacation in edit mode, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Who's Chucking the teacher?



Oh boy, the title of my weekly Gossip Girl post feels a little provocative after all of the interesting commentary we had around the age old question - to F-bomb or not to F-bomb. But I couldn't resist.

Solid episode this week. My TiVo is extremely backlogged, so I opted to ditch my fave hot cast aways for (even hotter) Upper East-Siders tonight. It got me to thinking about what I would do if forced to choose between Lost and Gossip Girl. I think I could write an entire book debating my answer - Lisa's Choice. Man, that's deep. Forget Gmail, this has bestseller written all over it.

Anyways, onto a few (non-spoilery) observations about this week's installment of GG:



  • First and foremost, who is dressing Vanessa? I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that she was wearing day-glo green stirrup pants or the fact that I'm actually old enough to remember fighting valiantly to try to convince my mom to buy me the exact same pair.

  • LOVED Blair's shout out to Damages. She's really kind of a Patty-in-training if you think about it.

  • Enough with the cardigans, Dan. You look like a 17-year-old Mr. Rogers and in light of recent developments that seems somewhat ironic.

  • I was drooling over the sweater set Blair wore with all the black chunky jewels. Too bad it probably costs more than my mortgage payment. Wait, make that two mortgage payments.

As for my favorite oversexed teen CEO, he had kind of a boring episode this week. I mean, secret societies are so 1999, right Laura? And honestly, no memorable quotes for him either. My fave line of the week goes to my girl Hazel (And sorry, Chuck, that means she gets the picture too which is actually a good thing because I'm totally running out of pics for you):

"Is a scandal still a scandal if you can't text about it?"

Philosophy a la Gossip Girl. I'm totally dedicating an entire chapter of my book to that quote alone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To F-bomb or not to F-bomb

That is our question...

So, we just finished a scene in Gmail where a particularly evil character drops a few F-bombs. If you've read our work, you know that we're pretty clean writers (edgy, we are not!). No sex, no violence and typically only mild swear words throughout the book. But when I was writing this scene last night I just had to drop a few F-bombs. This character is so dirty, so underhanded, so vile, that I wanted her voice to match.

So what do you think is the F-bomb ok in YA as long as it's used in moderation? I've posted a poll and feel free to give us your 2 cents in the comments.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Deep Celebrity Thoughts

Deep Celebrity Thoughts
Christian pulled an Alec and swore out the wazoo,
but not at his daughter at some dude on his crew.

It looks like something’s eating Marc Anthony’s head,
a man of his stature might consider other options instead.

(NOTE: Since writing the poem, Marc's turtleneck picture has mysteriously disappeared from Us' website. I think J. Lo had it pulled)


Is it just me or did Zac Efron line his eyes?
Don’t listen to Vanessa, it’s NOT cool for guys.


I wish Katie Holmes would stand up all the way,
Tom must have a slouch rule that she has to obey.

Another blow for Jessica, her movie went straight to DVD,
and we thought the weight gain was the worst it could be.

The hard-hitting recession's leaving many with the blues,
a perfect example is Liam Spelling in public sans shoes.

And let’s not forget Matthew, he can’t afford a full shirt,
and just look at his toes they are covered in dirt.

That’s it for now, Us’ website’s been slow,
let’s hope they beef it up for next Wednesday’s show.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gmail Query Take 1

So, we admit, we're query whores. We love to query and couldn't resist drafting ours before we've even officially finished our first draft of the book.

What do you think? Does this work? We're totally open to feedback.

****************************************************
Kate Lowry has come to accept the fact that her best friend, Ava, is dead. She’s been missing for a year and her disappearance is one false lead away from cold case status. But when she gets a mysterious e-mail from Ava with cryptic clues to her whereabouts, she’s left with a choice. If she were like most girls, Kate would ignore Ava’s warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel everyone’s favorite girl detective, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux-Chanel, her skirts are way shorter and she’d totally take Nancy Drew in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

The e-mail leads Kate to believe Ava’s addict brother is a critical piece of the puzzle, but when her confrontation takes a dangerous turn, sexy bad boy, Liam Gilmour, becomes Kate’s knight-in-(not so)-shining armor. As Kate gets further entrenched in the mystery, she teams up with her awkward red-headed neighbor and launches an investigation involving the school’s resident Queen Bee, a newly-thin ex-bestie, and even Kate’s tarnished knight. Kate knew finding Ava wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who she should trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined. After all, everyone’s a suspect.

Gmail is a YA Thriller, complete at XX,XXX words. We are sisters turned writing partners and Gmail is our second completed novel.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Are you ready for some football?


I hate football, Ken is still out of town (shouldn't we be done with bachelor parties by now, anyways?), and the kids are in bed on time for once. So, what's an anti-football girl to do on SuperBowl Sunday?

Well, if you're me, you make some nachos and grab a beer (because if there's one thing that's good about the SuperBowl, it's the food) and watch TiVo'd Saturday Night Live.

Yeah, call me anti-American, but I think this just might be the perfect evening. I've learned all sorts of things. For example, there's a new castmember who does a killer Angelina Jolie impression. She seriously nailed it. And Steve Martin can not only play the banjo, but he apparently has an entire CD of children's music. I bet the kids would love it. And I have a raging crush on Jason Mraz! The kind of crush that makes me want to lapse into groupydom. Who knew? He's not even that attractive, but there's just something about the way he moves on stage that's just...yum. Oops, maybe that's the beer talking.
Anyways, hope everyone is enjoying the big game. Go Bucks! Oh wait...