Monday, August 31, 2009

The Hope Tank

So, Laura and I have come up with an entirely new dialect since we've been on submission. This is bound to happen when you spend approximately 3-4 hours a day (I really wish I was exaggerating here, but I am not) discussing whether or not your book will be published. The cornerstone of this new (and pathetic) language is the Hope Tank.

Here's the technical definition for Hope Tank:

Pronunciation: \ˈhōp\ˈtaŋk\
Function: noun
Etymology: LiLa's fictional language, origins in Love Tank, from The Five Love Languages, which Laura had to read for pre-marriage counseling . She loved it and tried to convince everyone to read the book. No one listened.
Date: Summer 2009
dialect : a figurative receptacle for the holding or storing of hopes and dreams, typically as they relate to getting a debut novel published in horrendous market conditions. ex. The Hope Tank is almost completely empty since we didn't go to auction after being on submission for 24 hours.

Hope Tank levels are typically very cyclical. Every Sunday evening Laura and I have a marathon discussion about what we may or may not hear in the upcoming week. We discuss everything from the chances that Major Agent has already sold the book and forgot to tell us, to the possibility of receiving an awkward e-mail from Major Agent saying simply, "it's over."

Typically, these Sunday night conversations result in a full Hope Tank. This may sound like a good thing, but really, it isn't. When the Hope Tank levels are full, every time your phone rings, you jump a mile and you almost always ignore your children in favor of refreshing stat counter logs. So LiLa with a full hope tank is bad news for friends, children and all living relatives. We're just not much fun to be around.

Around Wednesday, the Hope Tank typically springs a leak. Things get really painful when our hope is slowly leached out of the tank like the sand in the hour glass on Days of Our Lives. When we start losing hope, we get bitchy. We screen all of our calls and rarely say more than two words to our husbands. Not pretty. Perhaps this is where The Five Love Languages book would come in handy.

By Friday, the Hope Tank is completely empty. Now you might think this is a bad thing, but it's really not so bad. Usually by Friday or Saturday we've convinced ourselves that this book will never, ever sell under any circumstances, so we'd better get our asses in gear and start writing a better book. An empty Hope Tank = productivity. Of course the husbands and kids still miss out because usually we're chained to our computers writing during this stage in the process. Their poor Love Tanks are hovering around empty. But, not to worry, we'll fill them back up. Eventually.

This week, I'm determined to keep my Hope Tank on "E". That's right. I've forbidden Laura from giving me any pep talks or discussing any encouraging horoscopes or psychic dreams. I'm convinced that an empty Hope Tank = a happier Lisa. But Laura is sneaky. Just look at our Skype convo from Sunday:

[8/30/09 2:34:47 PM] Laura: i think it's going to be a good week
[8/30/09 2:34:50 PM] Lisa: you do?
[8/30/09 2:34:51 PM] Lisa: oh god, don't do this
[8/30/09 2:34:54 PM] Laura: the book is SO good
[8/30/09 2:34:55 PM] Lisa: you promised not to do this
[8/30/09 2:34:57 PM] Lisa: you bitch
[8/30/09 2:34:57 PM] Laura: someone's going to fall in love, how could they not?
[8/30/09 2:35:02 PM] Laura: haha
[8/30/09 2:35:02 PM] Lisa: don't fill up my %$&*(&^ hope tank
[8/30/09 2:35:12 PM] Laura: oh mine is full baby, over flowing--i can't help it
[8/30/09 2:35:15 PM] Laura: i'm spreading the hope
[8/30/09 2:35:16 PM] Lisa: i hate you

Do you see how she lures me in? Do you hear her maniacal laughter? Yeah, yeah, my hope tank is full.

Damn it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fail

OK, it's Friday and it's pouring down rain. Again. I think we'll be hitting the gym and the bookstore today so we all don't kill each other. Anyways, it's been an interesting week over here in LiLa land and we've learned a lot.

1. Today is Tiara Day. Laura is all over this as I'm sure you can imagine. I wonder if you get extra points for actually writing your entry while wearing a tiara?

2. We're dreading the weekend. Yeah, it sounds crazy but when you're an aspiring author on submission the weekend means no news. And no news makes us crabby. Really crabby.

3. I think my 4-year-old might be a ninja. I was dead asleep this morning when subconsciously I must have heard the sound of a door opening or maybe I felt Jack's warm breath on my face. I opened my eyes only to find his face about a half-an-inch from my own. I literally jumped out of bed. Jack thought it was hilarious and can't stop talking about it. Keep in mind that he's used to dragging me out of bed every morning. Something tells me I can look forward to many more mornings of the Jedi-mind wake-up.

4. Becca Fitzpatrick needs to buy these shoes. Seriously. Hush, Hush debuts in a few weeks (have you pre-ordered your copy?? If not, you must. Trust me. It's that good) and they match the cover perfectly. Plus she's hard at work revising the sequel, Crescendo. Come on Becca, you know you want them and we want to live vicariously through you!

5. We really need to remember to lock our doors at night. This week someone found our blog by googling "I think I might be turning into a cold blooded killer." Um...scary...

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Longest Day Ever

It's Thursday. It's raining. I have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old who have already watched the same episode of The Backyardigans (Viking Voyage for those of you who might be interested) 3 times and spent 10 minutes in time out. I've broken up 3 fights, waxed philosophical on the reasons why we generally shouldn't spit milk and threatened to send them back to bed if they don't stop crying. And you know what? I sort of feel like crying too. Sadly, no one is sending me back to bed.

This is not going to be a good day.

So we all have bad days. One of my biggest struggles is keeping my writing life separate from my family life. When I'm having a bad day writing I tend to be short with the kids and when I'm having a rough day with the kids it's almost impossible for me to get any work done.

So how do you guys do it? How do you stay balanced on days that are anything but?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Batshit Crazy = Raging Success?




Ok, so if you read this blog on a regular basis you know that we have an obsession for all things Bravo, and today it occurred to me that there might actually be a reason for this, a reason aside from my unfulfilled desire for a gay boyfriend.

Here's the thing with Bravo, whether you're tuned into The Rachel Zoe Project, Flipping Out, Top Chef or even Miami Social, you're watching people at the top of their game professionally. These are people who work insanely hard, oftentimes at the expense of their social life and families (Yes, Katrina, I'm looking at you). So here's my theory, maybe in order to be that good at something, that driven, you have to be just a little crazy.

A few weeks ago Laura and I received some really fantastic feedback on The Haunting of Pemberly Brown. Feedback that required a major rewrite, we're talking additions of major characters, completely retooling the central mystery of the book. Major.

Now initially we resisted the idea. The thought of doing another revision sort of made our stomachs hurt. But after 24 hours of really thinking about the things the editor brought to our attention, we knew it had to be done and we knew the end result would be a stronger, more marketable book.

So we did it. We worked day and night. We lived and breathed Kate Lowry and her cohorts for 2 weeks. We sent chunks of the manuscript to our amazing beta readers and got instantaneous feedback. And when we sent the final version to Major Agent, our suspicions were confirmed. We nailed it. She loved the new version.

Is it crazy to completely rewrite your 85,000 word novel in two weeks? Yes. Were our husbands ready to divorce us? Absolutely. Did our children watch enough Noggin to turn their small brains to mush? Um....we plead the 5th.

Bravo reality stars, we salute you and your insane quest for perfection. What about you guys? Do you have a bit of the crazy in you?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tell the Truth Tuesday...


Tell the Truth Tuesday (TTT) is brought to you courtesy of the Southern belles over at Plot This. Quick warning, reading their post could lead to a bizarre craving for artichokes. Just an FYI.

So it's Tuesday and here are five of our deepest, darkest truths (Upon review they're not really that deep or dark, but they are true):

1.  We sent Major Agent a bangin' (yes, I've been watching too much Rachel Zoe) revision of The Haunting of Pemberly Brown and now it's been sent off to editors and we feel like we might throw up. It's not that we're worried it's good. We know it's good (our complete and utter lack of modesty should be another confession...), but it's still a little terrifying.

2. We suck at beta reading. Just not our forte. We've heard that it's a skill you have to develop and we're definitely still learning. Feel free to leave tips for us in the comments.

3. We still haven't edited the first 50 pages of Unclaimed Baggage. I know, it's been on my to-do list for weeks. I will do it tonight. Please hold me to it. I'm so easily distracted and Flipping Out is on tonight and you all know how I feel about Flipping Out.

4. Laura doesn't know how to use Twitter (it scares her), and I've got a wine date with a friend, so I think we're going to miss #kidlitchat this week. So bummed. If you guys are on Twitter and write YA, MG or picture books you have to participate. Every Tuesday night at 9 EST a bunch of editors, agents and writers talking children's literature and publishing. Fascinating. You can follow the conversation using TweetChat.

5. We're still obsessing over the picture of Kate that Realm created for us. What does it say about me as a mother that I replaced the picture of my kids on my computer background with Kate? Wait, don't answer that.

OK, now it's your turn. Spill. We want to hear your truth this Tuesday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

LiLa's Book Club: Julie and Julia


We had our second book club meeting last night and we had a blast. We all read Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen and then went to see the movie. So there were mixed reviews on the book. Laura absolutely loved it. I liked it but found Julie Powell to be a little whiney. Others in the book club couldn't even finish it. Proof that books really are subjective. But everyone loved the movie. If you haven't seen it yet, we highly recommend it. Especially if you're an aspiring writer. It's got a few elements of writer porn in there...book deals, literary agents and editors calling bloggers, authors holding their books in their hands for the first time, you know the stuff.

But here's the one thing that I was really struck by in the book and the movie: the whole concept of using writing to discover yourself. I could really relate to both Julie and Julia. They both had these moments where they found their current lives lacking. Not that they were unhappy or depressed, but they just had a desire for something different, something more. And so they set out on journeys that would change their lives.

Laura and I did the same thing just over a year ago. While we're not sure we'll ever achieve the levels of success that Julie and Julia achieved when they followed their dreams, we're sure as hell going to try.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Funky Friday...

Five things you need to know about me today:

1. It's 3:15 PM and I'm still in my pajamas and I haven't even brushed my teeth. (TMI? Yeah, probably but it gets my point across) Now you might think this means I've had an extremely unproductive day, but I beg to differ. I may not have left the house yet, but I've crossed 6 things off my To Do list. Not bad for a 30 hour vacay.  And as soon as I post this I'm off to the gym to work out AND read the book club book. I'm so efficient. And don't worry, I'll definitely brush my teeth first.

2. We joined a new writer's support group this week, but we're not allowed to talk about it. It's sort of like Fight Club for writers. I'm still waiting for Brad Pitt to show up. I think I've added most of the members into our blog roll, so be sure to check out some of the new blogs.

3. Had a classic conversation with our sister Stacey this morning:

Lisa: His e-mail just sounded really terse.
Stacey: Yeah, that's good though.
*awkward pause*
Stacey:  Wait, what does terse mean?

Awesome.

4. I watched the Project Runway All-Star Challenge, and I am bitter. So bitter that I haven't yet been able to watch the new episode. I wish I could blame Lifetime, but I really think this one is on the judges.

5. I heart my Kindle. I'm sure you remember how excited we were when we got them a few weeks ago, but the Kindle has been life changing. It's obviously great for reading books, but we like it even more for reading manuscripts from our critique buddies. It's so easy and portable with no eye strain. 

That's all I've got for today. Off to be productive with my last 2 hours of freedom. Have a fab weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

9 Tasks 30 hours

As of 12:30 PM today, I'm on a 30-hour vacation. That's right. My mother-in-law is picking up the kids and I have 30 hours to do whatever I want. I'm more excited than you can even imagine. 

Here's my tentative plan:
  1. Buy fabulous baby gift for fabulous friend visiting this weekend.
  2. Find cute outfits for kiddies to wear to wedding rehearsal in September.
  3. Pedicure. Stat. It's necessary, trust me.
  4. Finish fabulous memoir I'm reading and send feedback.
  5. Finish book club book (Julie and Julia) for this Sunday.
  6. Date with husband.
  7. Workout.
  8. Sleep.
  9. Revise first 50 pages of Unclaimed Baggage and write the next chapter.
So, it's pretty ambitious, but that's just how I roll. I thought about adding in some laundry to make it a perfect 10, but I'd totally be setting myself up for failure.

What's on your to do list for the next couple of days?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top 5 Reasons We Love Realm Lovejoy

5. Dude, her name is Realm Lovejoy. You know you want to see what she looks like...(adorable, for the record.)

4. She's represented by the fabulous Joanna Stampfel-Volpe. And it's like a universal law that we pretty much fall in love (or at least develop a raging girl crush) on anyone Joanna represents.

3. Her graphic novel Clan sounds amazing and gives us the sneaking suspicion that Realm has more talent in her pinky finger than the two of us have combined.

2. She's insanely nice, approachable and supportive of aspiring authors. She even has a special feature on her blog interviewing authors and creating a picture of their main characters. Very cool.

1. So you knew this was coming, Realm has posted an interview with us today and you guys have to go check it out so you can see the picture of Kate. It's AMAZING. Honestly, I feel like she somehow sucked our mental picture of Kate right out of our brains. It's that good.

Oh, and while you're over there, do yourself a favor and follow her. She also does a really great Book News post every week that you won't want to miss.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Unclaimed Baggage (working title)

I thought we'd be able to wait a while before diving back into our WIP, but we're antsy. Not even bad TV and fabulous books can keep our mind off the waiting game that is submissions. And I'm excited to get back into Sarah and Emily's world. After all this revising, I'm ready to go back to writing new material.

SO, we're back in action on Unclaimed Baggage. But *ahem* a certain well-respected writer friend of ours does not approve of the title, so be prepared for a title change. Eventually. Maybe. 

Anyways, as you'll see from this excerpt the book is written from two different POVs. Last time we heard from Sarah, but this time around it's Emily's turn. 

***

My freshman year of high school my Aunt Marsha called crying. When I handed the phone to my mom and saw the lines of worry contort her face, I knew I needed to stay. I tried to remain as still as possible as my mom lowered herself into a chair. She was silent, listening, her eyes heavy and sad-looking.

            “Oh, Marsha, when did you find out?”

            Find out what, I thought. My mom cupped her face with her hands and shook her head slowly back and forth.

            “Have you set up a doctor’s appointment?”

            I wondered if my Aunt Marsha was sick or maybe my Uncle Ben. Had something happened to Allison? I hovered close to the kitchen and shooed my younger sister Sarah away after I heard her barrel down the stairs.

            “Shh, I’ll come and talk to you in a second,” I whispered in her direction.

            After my mom hung up the phone, she sat at the table, twisting the corner of a napkin before indicating that I should sit as well.

            “That was your Aunt Marsha,” she began. “Allison is,” she paused and hundreds of terrible words ran through my mind in the seconds it took for her to finish, “Allison is pregnant.”

            “Oh, thank God,” I had said.

            “Emily,” my mother scolded, “how could you say something like that? This is serious! Your Aunt Marsha and Uncle Ben are devastated.”

            “Well, I thought someone died or something,” I mumbled, pushing my chair back. I couldn’t wait to tell Sarah. She was going to flip.

            Allison was our 16-year-old cousin who had recently told Sarah and I that she was planning on sleeping with her lame ass boyfriend. What she wasn’t planning on was getting pregnant.

But after Bentley was born (yes, Allison named her baby girl Bentley. If that’s not evidence that a 16-year-old isn’t old enough to have a baby, I don’t know what is), everyone cooed at her and wanted to hold her and bought her the most adorable dresses from Baby Gap. It was like that phone call nine months ago had never happened.

The next year when my mom called my Aunt Marsha crying, it wasn’t because she, too, was going to be a great-auntie. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten knocked up.

I'd gotten cancer. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Randomness...


1. You know that feeling you get when you're done with a big project and you're not really sure what to do next? Like you have all this free time and aren't really sure how to fill it? I'm so there right now.

2. I know I'm a little obsessed with Bravo. It's no secret. But with the crazy ass Rachel Zoe ("I die!") and Jeff Lewis (he would weep man tears if he saw my sadly decorated home) coming back, I'm in trashy TV heaven. Do you think Andy Cohen would be my gay boyfriend? Yeah, I'm guessing he doesn't go for gals in torn yoga pants, but still. I think they need to create a show where average women like me can compete to be Andy's new girlfriend. They could have competitions like "Best live catty commentary on Bravo Programming" and "Who can write the funniest blog about NYC Prep" I'd kick some serious ass.

3. Mad Men is BACK. Oh, this show makes me want to be a better writer. Hell, it makes me want to be Matthew Weiner. And Joan. She's sheer perfection. Smart, catty, and bitchy with an hourglass figure and the most amazing wardrobe on the planet. Love. Her.

4. I think I've finally figured out the key to this whole Stay-at-Home-Mom thing. We go to the gym in the morning, followed by some exhausting activity (who wants to run laps around the house?) and then lunch, Noggin and nap. With a little luck the kids don't wake up until 4:30 or 5 and we're ready to play the wait-for-daddy game. Easy peasy.

5. 10 Things I Hate About You (yes, the television show...) is growing on me. I think there should be some kind of law that if you're going to attempt to write YA you have to sit through at least one hour of ABC Family a week. It qualifies as research in my book.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We're totally sitting at the cool table in the cafeteria...

You know the one...

The girls are who sit there are always laughing and flirting with the cutest boys. They have a confidence that the rest of the room lacks and their certain je ne sais quoi attracts fabulousity like a magnet. But most of all, they always look like they're having the best time.

When Laura and I first started this blog we had about four followers who read and occasionally commented on our ramblings. Two of whom were our mom and grandmother. Safe to say that we were eating lunch together in the handicapped stall in the bathroom. Almost a year later we've met some truly incredible people (this is the part where I get a little teary eyed) who have become more than just fellow bloggers and writers, but friends too.

Today we were nominated for The Kreativ Blogger Award three different times, which in our mind pretty much cemented our spot at the cool table. And because we're rebels, we're going to ignore the rules (duh, we're sitting at the cool table now...who needs rules!?) and instead share a little bit about fab gals that nominated us, so you can check them out.

Weronika Janczuk is going to run the world someday. She's an actual Young Adult, (How cool is it to have a true Young Adult friend? Really cool if you're boring quarterlifers like us.) she writes like a madwoman (seriously, this girl cranks out more words in a week than we hope for in a month!), she volunteers, she takes care of her family AND she finds time to contribute to the blogosphere. Rock on, Weronika. Rock on.

Jenna Alexander is one of our newest blog friends, and she's the only person we know with an R-rated blog. No, it's true! Her blog has a tag that says you have to be 18 or older to read it. Yowsa! And she has five sisters. FIVE! We love her already, which explains the copious amount of exclamation marks in this description.

Shelli Johannes-Wells is not only a talented writer represented by a kick ass agent, she's also a marketing genius. I know, I know, it's SO not fair. But if you're an aspiring writer and you're not following her blog you're doing yourself a serious disservice. She's crazy smart and I think that if we all listen to her we'll learn how to attract agents, get an editor and sell lots and lots of books. 

Well guys, thanks for reading our randomness on a regular basis and for saving us a spot at the cool table. It's really nice to not have to rest our packages of Twizzlers and cans of Diet Coke on the toilet seat.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Husband, The Professional Golfer...

So let's just say that Ken came home from work one day, and told me that he'd decided to pursue his dream of being a professional golfer. Sure, he knew it was a long shot, but he had always loved it and one of his brothers was going to be his caddie. They were going to do it together, and they didn't care how much work it took, they were going to go pro. Only problem, it was probably going to take up a lot of his free time, you know, weekends, evenings, etc. He'd still be around. He'd just be golfing. All. The. Time.

And then he goes out and wins a couple of minor tournaments. He was spending a lot of time on this golf thing and he was getting better. Sure, he played like total crap most of the time. Crowds even booed him at tournaments, but he kept golfing. And kept getting better. Until the day came when he won a pretty big tournament in our neck of the woods and all of the sudden Phil Mickelson's golf coach decided to take him on. He saw potential. He thought that with a little more practice Ken would be ready for professional golf.

Unfortunately, a little more practice meant that Ken was busy almost all the time. Sure he was around, but he was sort of obsessed with golf. It was all he could talk about, all he could think about and he stayed up late into the night practicing his chip shot. Oh and that brother of his, he was always calling and texting, always around talking golf and there was no question that he spent a lot more time with Ken than I ever did. 

Of course, the chances of him actually winning a professional tournament were slim, but that only drove him harder. It made him work more and sleep less. There were weeks where he was almost completely focused on putting and we spent our evenings watching him practice in our family room on one of those mini putting green things.

When I complained to Laura that Ken wasn't being supportive enough, this is the scenario she presented to me. How would I feel if the shoe was on the other foot? If Ken decided to pursue some crazy dream at the expense of time with me and the kids?

Yeah, I'm not sure I want to answer that. Particularly on 4 hours of sleep. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We're with you in spirit...

We are busy, busy girls right now. And we're really happy to be busy girls especially since we're busy for happy reasons (both personal and professional), but unfortunately we may not be blogging as regularly as usual for the next week or so. And we probably won't be able to visit as many of your fabulous blogs as usually do.

So just bear with us for a little bit and we'll be back and more obnoxious than ever. Pinky swear promise.

P.S.
Laura totally made me do this. Blame her! She really is a wet blanket and doesn't like me having any fun. It's like that tiara sucked all the fun out of her.

P.P.S.
If you haven't noticed, I'm doing my best to characterize myself as the "fun" sister. Laura automatically gets the "hot" sister, and I'm guessing you guys wouldn't buy me as the "smart" sister. So this is all I've got. You're welcome, Laura.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Good news...Bad news...

Good News: Laura and I played tennis tonight.
Bad News: We got our asses kicked. We're like the Bad News Bears of tennis. It's laughable.

Good News: Fun BBQ on Saturday at Laura's house!
Bad News: The boys tricked us into it so they could play golf and ditch us with the kids. Bastards.

Good News: We read the best book ever and can't wait to tell all of our friends about it...
Bad News: It's not published and about to go on submission in September. So you guys are going to have to wait a long, long time.

Good News: I've started Tweeting again.
Bad News: It's because I'm desperate for new and exciting ways to procrastinate. Pathetic.

Good News: I have hours and hours of fabulous TV on my TiVo including the NYC Prep Finale and tonight's Top Chef Masters. Long live Bravo.
Bad News: Laura won't let me watch it. That bitch.

Good News: I managed to post a blog for today.
Bad News: It sort of sucks.

Promise to be more fun tomorrow...er...eventually. XOXOX

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I confess, I'm a cold blooded killer...

Yeah, that's right. I just killed our darlings. About 6,000 of them to be exact. Hmm...I guess technically that makes me a mass murderer.

Laura prefers to call it a lipo for our work. And there is something satisfying about the imagery of sucking out all the fat that's bogging us down, to create a skinnier, hotter, cellulite free manuscript. But there's something a little sad about it too. There are some darlings that I just didn't want to kill...

But, they died for an honorable cause. I'd even give them medals of bravery if I could.

So tell us, have you killed any of your darlings lately? Feel free to post an obituary in the comments.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My ode to HBO

Ok, first off, for the record, I'm not really a vampire girl. I'm more of a Gossip Girl, 90210, anything Bravo conceives of kind of gal. Of course, if Bravo happened to find a fabulous group of gay vampires and decided to chronicle their every move with cameras with a special focus on shopping trips, I would probably do my best to find one and convince them to make me undead too. I'm such a follower.

Anyways, I read Twilight. Every last book. Devoured them in fact. But I was Team Jacob all the way. Edward just didn't do it for me.

So, last summer when True Blood premiered, I tuned in somewhat reluctantly. Critics called it vampire porn, but it was HBO vampire porn and I figured that might be interesting. And I was right. SO right. It's not a show I really want to watch, but it's impossible to stop. Literally impossible. Every single week they end on a cliff hanger that makes me want to scream. Every. Single. Week. People should study this show when they're working on their MFAs because they have tension nailed. 

Anyways, this week's episode was the best ever. And let's just say I'm team Eric all the way. Bill = boring. And Edward and company ? They're SO last season.

And as if I didn't love HBO enough already, immediately after the best episode of True Blood ever, they played a preview for the next season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I feel like I'm watching television history being made when I see previews for that show. Larry David is a freaking genius. A Seinfeld reunion that's not technically a reunion but rather a season of a completely separate unscripted HBO television show? Genius.

Sorry for the randomness. Happy Monday.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Annual LiLa Writer's Conference - The Art of Procrastination

At that other writer's conference that also happens to be going on this weekend you'll learn all about how to get published. Just what you need, right?

Wrong.

We're here to tell you how to procrastinate. You didn't really want to finish that novel you've been working on for the past year anyways, right? And if you do really want to finish that novel, what the hell are you doing on our blog? Ha! Caught you.

Anyways, I was supposed to be hard at work writing today, but I've instead spent my time procrastinating in a variety of highly entertaining ways, all of which involve me being on my computer (and here's the key) allow me to look like I'm actually writing. Beautiful, right?

1. Pandora Radio - Welcome to the ultimate time suck. You can create your very own personalized radio station based on your favorite songs and artists. It's like musical crack. And the best part is you can totally rationalize all the time you're spending on the customization by convincing yourself that you'll write better if you're listening to good music. You're welcome.

2. ShopBop.com - What you haven't gotten that huge advance just yet? Hmm, can't say I'm surprised considering that you're reading our blog instead of working on your book. Good thing this little website has all sorts of designer goodies for up to 70% off in their sale section. That's right. You can look like you're a money author without actually having to write a word. Good times.

3. Twitter - Twitter scares me a little bit, but it really is the #1 cyber stalking tool out there. Waiting to hear back from an agent or editor? Why not obsessively check their Twitter feed to see if they post anything that might even remotely pertain to your manuscript. It's both masochistic and amusing.

4. Blogging - This is kind of a no brainer, but whenever I really don't want to write or revise, I blog. Or I stalk your blogs. Some of you wonder how we manage to visit and comment on so many blogs, well, let's just say we're REALLY good at procrastinating.

5. AbsoluteWrite or QueryTracker stalking - There are all kinds of interesting writer discussions going on over at these boards and you can spend hours reading posts all in the name of research. Well, that's what I like to tell myself anyways.

Ok, procrastination attempt complete. Back to work. Of course if you all chime in with your favorite ways to procrastinate in the comments I'll have to personally check them all out. Just to, you know, verify that they're legit. Laura is going to kill me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Hour at The Annual LiLa Writer's Conference - D-Bag-O-Meter: Ed Swiderski

So, now that everyone is nice and loose after our networking session, things are really starting to get interesting at the First Annual LiLa Writer's Conference. 

I think I spy Jo and Loretta dancing on a table near the bar. Come Together started playing and they just couldn't resist. Little Ms. J. is teaching P-Clo some of her patented pole dancing moves. Kelly is looking everywhere for the crown she borrowed from her daughter and Suzanne is laughing because she totally hid it from her. Rebecca and Christina are gossiping about how much cooler our conference is compared to that other conference.  Abby and Corey are working on opening another bottle of Prosecco, and I swear I just saw Elana, Tess and Sarah make off with our Twizzlers. 

Turns out our conference really doesn't involve much writing. Go figure.

In an effort to call everyone to order without seeming like a total wet blanket, Laura takes the stage in her tiara and Homecoming Queen sash to announce the latest D-Bag-O-Meter reading.

Dear Ed,

I have a confession to make. I only watched one episode of the Bachelorette. I know, I know, you must be wondering how on earth I am in a position to judge. Well, let me share a little secret. Thanks to Us Weekly's handy dandy slideshow entitled, Jillian and Ed's Most Romantic Bachelorette Moments, it feels exactly as though I tuned in to the entire season, without wasting hours upon hours of my precious time. Phew, I feel better getting that off my chest.

Anyways, when I plugged your name into our prized invention, the D-Bag-O-Meter (patent pending), the arrow went a bit crazy, hovering closely around Spencer level (Total D-Bag) and finally settling a few marks away, labeling you a Serious D-Bag.

I've heard all about you Ed (and apparently so has the D-Bag-O-Meter). You go and offer Jillian (who, according to Joel McHale, has a great personality) a shiny engagement ring and then you cheat like the liar you are. It's bad enough that you left her, mid-season, because of your so-called job (I wonder, was this "job" you talk about being a lying cheat?), but then you go and send flirtatious text messages to some blonde chic, sleep with her and she spills the beans to Us or some other tabloid to make a buck (way to pick 'em).

Congratulations, Ed. Everyone's disappointed in you. But I will say, even after watching one lone episode of the Bachelorette, I never liked you and could see right through you. Kiptyn had my heart from day one (er, from the only day I watched).

Better luck next time Serious D-Bag.

Love,
Laura


Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Annual LiLa Writer's Conference - Networking

So, now that everyone has a glass of Prosecco which they're happily slurping through a Twizzler straw (don't forget to bite off the ends before you start sucking!) I think it's time for a little networking.

First up, the fabulous Loretta Nyhan has started a blog. Now you may not know Loretta yet, but she's represented by the amazing Joanna Stampfel-Volpe and she's going to be the next Sarah Dessen. Trust me. Go check her out and follow her pronto. You can thank me once she's made all the bestseller lists and you're bragging to your friends that you knew her way back when.

And not that she'd ever be caught dead at a writer's conference, but our fabulous, amazing, way-more-talented-than-we-could-ever-hope-to-be sister, Stacey Vaughan, has started her very own website, Poochie Prints - For the Modern Mom. And don't be fooled by the adorable name, it's definitely not just for moms. There's all kinds of gorgeous stationary, cards, and wall art available for purchase. And on top of that she does custom everything! So whether you need business cards, invitations, or a photo shopped picture of you standing with Gerard Butler - she's your girl.

And last but not least, we just joined this crazy thing called Skype. Knowing us we're totally behind the times and all of you guys are already on it, chatting amongst yourselves and making fun of our lame conference. Regardless, if you're up for some real networking you can chat with us or we can even have a live video conference. Just know there's no way we'll agree to a video chat if we're in our yoga pants with the holes in them, which is like 99.9% of the time. Of course, you might get lucky and catch Laura in her tiara, and she's always up for a video chat in her tiara. Anyways, if you ever want to chat shoot us an e-mail and we'll send you our usernames and add you to our buddy list. 

Ok, conference attendees, now it's your turn. Share a few of your favorite blogs, websites and networking forums in the comments and we'll all get the chance to meet some fabulous new people.

Man, our conference rocks. Off to top off my Prosecco. Ugh, Little Ms. J is totally right, the Prosecco made my Twizzler straw taste like wax. Oh well, guess I'll just have to open up a new package.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Annual LiLa Writer's Conference

Yeah, so we've heard rumors of some writer's conference going on this weekend in LA. Sounds totally lame if you asked me. I mean who wants to go to Los Angeles and meet all of their fabulous writer friends, listen to amazing publishing professionals discuss the industry and rub elbows with uber successful authors and editors? Sounds awful doesn't it?

Anyways, we figured we'd hold a writer's conference of our own over the next couple of days. I have no idea what this is going to entail, but there will definitely be Prosecco and Twizzlers involved.

Get excited.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Haunting of Pemberly Brown

Just in case you guys have forgotten about the inimitable Kate Lowry, we thought we'd post a little reminder. Everyone needs a little Kate in their life. Especially on a Tuesday.

This is an excerpt from THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN. It's a flashback scene where Kate's bestie Grace has just found out that she can go to the big school  bonfire, but only if her parents drive them. Unfortunately Maddie has other plans...

            “No way, Grace,” Maddie replied flipping her curly black hair. “We’ve got a ride with Bradley Farrow.”

             Grace and I stared at her, mouths hanging open. Bradley Farrow was, well, Bradley Farrow. He was Pemberly Brown’s resident BMOC (Big Man on Campus). He was only a third year, but was already captain of the football team and school president. Oh, and he was gorgeous. Perfect mocha skin, eyelashes like paintbrushes and a shaved head that every girl at Pemberly was dying to get her hands on.

            “Bradley Farrow? How did you end up with a ride from Bradley Farrow?” Grace couldn’t hide her shock.

             Maddie rolled her eyes. “Oh, sorry, didn’t realize that it’s such a stretch that a girl like me could get us a ride from a guy like him.”

             “Come on Maddie, you know what she meant. It’s Bradley Farrow, he’s practically a god around here.” I jumped in to save Grace.

             “Well, if you must know, Naomi and I are in study hall together 2nd period and she said he’d take us if we wanted.”

             “Oh, so basically his parents are forcing him to take Naomi and because she has no friends she asked us?” Now it was Grace’s turn to look annoyed.

             “She has friends…”

             “Yeah, if you count those caterpillars she calls eyebrows,” Grace quipped.

             “Enough!” I went into peacemaker mode and turned to Grace. “Naomi is super nice and she’s…well, really good at tennis, so lay off.” Next I turned to Maddie, “You know we can’t ride with Bradley, why don’t you ask Naomi if she wants to come with us?”

             Maddie stuck out her lower lip like a petulant child, “That totally defeats the purpose. I mean this is Bradley we’re talking about here.”

             “Uh, actually this is your best friend we’re talking about here. Come on, we’ll ride with Bradley some other time.” Grace shot me a grateful look. I knew how important it was to her to at least pretend she had a normal social life and there was no way I was going to let Maddie’s attempts at social climbing ruin this for her.

             “Yeah, yeah. You’re right. As usual. This is starting to get a little irritating, Kate.” Maddie elbowed me in the rib cage as we started down the hall to our next class.

             “Well, they don’t call me Kate the Great for nothing.” I glanced down at my bag and realized that I'd left my Latin notebook in my locker. “Crap, forgot something. I’ll see you guys at lunch.” I rushed back to my locker, twisted the combination lock and reached in to grab my notebook.

             But sitting on top of my messy pile of books and school supplies was a pristine cream envelope with my name written in calligraphy on the front. I grabbed the card and looked around the crowded hallways. This definitely hadn’t been here 10 seconds ago. Who could have slipped this into my locker so quickly?

             The paper of the envelope felt creamy and expensive beneath my fingertips. I opened the envelope carefully, not wanting to rip it.

             The text on the invitation was hand written in the same gorgeous calligraphy as my name:                        

Kate Elizabeth Lowry your presence is requested at Pemberly Chapel at dusk on Friday the 13th of September. Come alone. Tell no one.

             Looks like I was going to have more important places to be the night of the bonfire.

Monday, August 3, 2009

When Weddings Bite: A Cautionary Tale

Ah weddings. The flowers, the dresses, the toasts, the cake. The waking up in my hotel room, damp, in a t-shirt, in the fetal position, with no recollection as to how I stumbled home, without my husband or why my bathroom looks like something out of a horror movie.

Let me explain...

John and I had a wedding in Chicago this weekend. Weeks of planning went into this night. Looking super cute was crucial because friends I hadn't seen in years were going to be in attendance. Judging. Anyways, as you know, I'm a mom and I don't get out much. Oh, and I barely drink. Like maybe a beer or two, some wine, anything more than that and I've been known to fall asleep on other people's couches, at bars and once even at a concert venue. I'm a real party animal.

Well, since John was a groomsman, I was kind of on my own. Luckily, Lisa's brother in-laws and future sister-in-law kept me company between the ceremony. My choice to order a Three Olives Cherry and Diet Coke, was my first mistake. It went down smooth, too smooth.

At the cocktail hour I was feeling pretty good. When the reception started, I was feeling really good. I danced, and drank and drank and drank. This is when the night starts to get a little dicey. Shots were offered and I distinctly remember saying, "My body rejects shots." And yet I kept taking them.

And taking them. And taking them.

Eventually I ended up feeling like I was walking around with my eyes closed. I literally could not see. I'm sure I looked really hot.

Someone must have thought it was a good idea to get "that girl" as far away from the reception as possible because the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the back seat of a cab with Lisa's mother-in-law. Oh yes, I was sharing a cab with the in-laws. My husband was apparently having too much fun to escort his wife home and I was in no state of mind to argue.

Lisa's mother-in-law is the sweetest woman you'll ever meet, but she's a talker. She talked quietly through the ceremony, pointing out various family members on the groom's side, she talked throughout the reception and she talked the entire ride home. I, on the other hand, was grinding my teeth, knowing that if I dared to open my mouth, it wouldn't be words pouring out, but rather...um...other stuff. I feel terrible because I literally did not answer ONE of mom-in-law's questions. I sat, grinding away, taking a few deep breaths and focusing on not hurling all over her.

Fast forward a few hours. I woke up in our hotel room, my hair was wet and crazy-looking, mascara smeared beneath my eyes. I was wearing a t-shirt and not a whole lot else. I probably looked like Taylor Momsen when she woke up the morning after her Sweet 16 party.

It was a little bit like a horror movie. The light in the bathroom was on, but the door was closed. I knew something terrible was behind that door, and I had to see it. So like one of those dumb ass slasher movie chics, I pulled myself up out of the bed with great effort and opened the door. I'll never publicly admit to what waited for me behind that door. It was one of the most horrifying sights I've ever seen. Let's just say I had ended the night with approximately 10 cranberry-vodkas and leave it at that.

So for all of our YA readers (of which I'm 99% sure we have none at this point in time) let this be a lesson to you.

Just. Say. No.