Archive for the ‘writing’ Category
Saturday, October 1st, 2011
To “merch” or not to “merch, that is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler to languish in obscurity and maintain a strong authorial distance and literary reputation far above the commercial fray…. Or say Fuck it! and offer the cool apron and ironic water bottle imprinted with pithy sayings from the novel available NOW!
I think you know my answer:
- I think that any buzz is good biz.
- I think it’s fun to design merch and post it. I think I’d rather have you buy a book than an apron, but hey, why not both.
- I think, let the writing in the book stand for itself.
So order a mug. Order an apron. And don’t forget to pre-order a signed-by-me-premium-edition of The Edge of Maybe and get it shipped as soon as it’s published.
Hey, anybody know how/where I can get Action Figures made? I’m thinking….
- Kira with her yoga mat.
- Adam with a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a bottle of Percodan.
- Polly with a razor blade and a stuffed animal.
Oh, you need to read the book for that to make sense.
Friday, September 16th, 2011
So…. The Edge of Maybe, my novel forthcoming next March (which really is right around the corner, like it or not), has its own website now! A sister-site to this one.
Come visit! Though I’ll be adding more cool things (like podcasts, a book trailer, songs… well, that’s the plan, anyway), you can already:
- Read about the book’s origins and pre-origins and more
- Peruse the map of book locations (yes, Stockmen’s Hotel in Elko, Nevada is a real place, as is Café Gratitude in Berkeley)
- Even preorder your own specially inscribed matte cover Premium Edition copy of The Edge of Maybe.
Come on over and play!
Sunday, September 11th, 2011
Part of a series of blog posts about the-story-behind-the-story of my forthcoming novel (March, 2012), The Edge of Maybe.
Where did this book begin?
I began this book with Polly. In the early 2000s, I wrote a short story called “Fair Game,” about the friendship of two eight-year-old girls named Polly and Nell. In it, Nell and her mother, Lindsey, find the body of a teenage girl on the stairs to their house, and Lindsey muses about what will happen to the girls and their friendship when they get older:
Polly spends the night Saturday. “Can we make a shrine for the dead girl?” Nell asks. Polly, behind her, nods vigorously. In between holding Squeaky and Bluebell and snacks they create the shrine. A shoebox, collaged and painted and glued. Feathers and glue and glitter and magazine pictures of girls like princesses, models, fairies. The girls they want to be. It’s beautiful.
When they bring it down the long stairway, somebody’s already been there. A Mylar Pooh balloon, a vase of pink chrysanthemums: We miss you, Cheri. Rest in heaven. Mom. The girls place their shrine next to the flowers. “Come on, Polly,” Nell shouts, running back up the stairs, scooping up a neglected yellow rubber duck. “Let’s teach Duckie to float.”
“Fair Game” became a long short story, then shrank and became a short short story, and then was published by a (now-defunct) literary journal called Pindlyboz, and then sank to the back of my files.
But the character of Polly, and Polly’s family situation, stayed with me. I was interested in what happened to a child whose family faced the question of “maybe” family members.
The characters in “Fair Game” became the seeds of the characters in The Edge of Maybe, five years later in their lives. Only now do I realize how Nell and Polly’s experiences mirror each other; In “Fair Game,” Nell and her mother find a dead girl on the stairway; in The Edge of Maybe, Polly and her mother find a very live girl – a maybe relative – on theirs.
But even before that, where did this book really begin?
Do you mean the impetus behind the book? I began with two questions: “What makes a family a family?” and “What do we owe the people in our lives?”
Yes, the story for The Edge of Maybe began with “Fair Game,” and Polly and Nell. But looking even deeper into my own family, I realize how many times these questions have come up in my own life, and how these themes run through much of my work: Hidden family members. Issues of claiming and not claiming. Questions of responsibility to the people in our lives.
Through exploring these themes in writing — especially in The Edge of Maybe — I’ve come to a deeper understanding of my own history, and the changing nature of my answers to those questions.
The Edge of Maybe is forthcoming from Last Light Studio in March, 2012. Watch this space for pre-order information, coming SOON.
Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
The ARCs are here!
Advance Review Copies of The Edge of Maybe have just arrived! I’m ridiculously gleeful. First, the champagne. Then, the promo machine gets to march into action, sending them out to movers and shakers and reviewers and other important peeps.
It’s a very exciting moment, seeing the book as a book (even if the cover isn’t exactly the way it will be). It’s a book. I have no words. I am so, so grateful. Thank you so much, Last Light Studio, for giving me this opportunity and believing in this book.
And for the rest of you… The book will be published in MARCH! Stay tuned for preorder information, a fancy new website, etc.
Okay, I’m babbling. Signing off. It’s a good day.
A pile of ARCs.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
It’s a medical term, “brain fog,” and it’s a symptom of thyroid disease.
This past Spring, in the throes of hyperthyroidism (caused by the horrifically named Graves Disease), I was aware that I was brain foggy, but too foggy to know how foggy I was.
A few examples: I often do Sudoku puzzles, and I’m pretty good at them. But it took me twice as long on average to complete one. Also, I had a hard time reading, and especially reading instructions, so I made a lot of stupid mistakes. Even recipes were a bitch. “Shit. I needed three eggs!” and doubling or halving recipes was completely baffling.
All this is a very long introduction to the fact that I completely messed up requesting permission to use a certain Rumi poem in my forthcoming novel The Edge of Maybe. Oh, I filled out the online form. But it wasn’t until three months later, i.e. yesterday, when the final, final manuscript has long been set in stone, when the book is in the middle of layout, that I, with my slightly-less brain-fogged head, realized that this particular request for permission was supposed to be snail mailed. The online form I’d filled out was for something completely other, and had ended up who knows where. I would have to start again, if I wanted to use the Rumi poem. And getting permission rights takes a few months. I don’t have a few months.
Now, this Rumi poem is not an epigraph or something optional in the book. It forms a key plot point. It’s on a card sent by a yoga teacher (the type who would quote Rumi, or Khalil Gibran, or Paul Coelho) to a yoga student. I needed to find a substitute right quick.
So last night, I wrote one. A substitute. It had to be the exact same length as the Rumi poem I couldn’t use – 74 words – and it had to include some words that are referred to in later dialogue in the novel. It took me about 15 minutes to write. I threw in some peacocks and Beloveds. It was great fun.
This morning, I posted it on Twitter and Facebook and asked for help identifying a possible author:
“Okay, folks, help me out here. Any guesses who wrote this?
“Open wide your heart, Lover, as you would open the window to the shining day. In the courtyard below, the peacock’s blue tail spreads wide. The peahen saunters brown. Fling yourself through the love window, Beloved. I will catch you. I would join with you as flame joins flame, in a single surge of light, of heat. Heart to heart, and all around the world fades away. Open the love window.”
I just wanted to see if it would pass.
The votes (mostly from other writers):
Rumi, Rudyard Kipling, Rumi, Hafiz, Khalil Gibran, Rumi, Song of Songs, Rumi
Nobody said: “Oh, some horrible new age poet who is trying to sound like Rumi.” Nobody said, “Ericka, you wrote it, can’t fool us!” So, I guess I have a future writing fake ancient Persian love poetry, if this novel writing gig doesn’t work out.
In other news, brain fog is part of what I’m blaming for my long hiatus from blogging. I’m not flinging myself out the window of bloggy love, here, but with The Edge of Maybe on the edge of happening (March 2012), I’m opening the door just a crack.
Monday, September 20th, 2010
What’s YOUR idea of the Afterlife? Mine is a big party where we get to talk and talk all night….
Saturday, May 29th, 2010
This week AOL’s ParentDish featured my opinion piece on my daughter’s dropping out of high school. (Technically she didn’t drop out, she took the California High School Proficiency Exam — but since some people consider her a drop out, I used the term).
And the comments came flooding in. Over 500 of them. And many many sweet letters. Both Annie and I feel tremendously moved by the support — and know enough to ignore the naysayers who compare her to Lindsey Lohan and call me every name in the book.
If you want to read it yourself, here’s the link: http://www.parentdish.com/2010/05/24/opinion-im-in-favor-of-my-daughter-dropping-out-of-high-school/
What do YOU think?
Saturday, April 24th, 2010
Paris is everybody’s favorite city, except mine. I hate it. Yes, I know, it’s amazing. I’ve been sporadically visiting Paris for 30 years and I know all about its glories: the food, the streets, the Seine, the wine, the fashion, the museums and monuments. I agree completely — amazing. And hating the City of Light makes me look like a spoiled brat. But read ahead and see why.
- I always get sick in Paris. I’ve spent many nights vomiting into toilets while everybody else walks under the lit-up Tour Eiffel, then eats moules frites in an ornate brasserie, then dances until dawn — when they stroll the quiet streets before stopping to a charming local café for croissant and a Grand Créme. But me, oh no. I just had to order a carafe d’eau instead of springing for Perrier. Either the water did me in or the Steak Tartare. Does it matter?
- I always get lost in Paris. Paris is segmented into triangles, not squares, and then within each triangle, it’s an insanity of narrow streets. It doesn’t make sense. I’m always thinking, “I can cut back by turning left and left…” and then I’m hopelessly confused and lost. And every part of Paris looks familiar, in that it all looks like part of Paris.
- I’m always miserable in Paris. It’s the most romantic city on earth, and either I’m alone and lonely or, when I was married, in a fight with my husband. Paris is for lovers. And I am so alooooooooooone.
- I’m always insecure in Paris. I wander the streets trying to look French even though I know this is ridiculous. I must achieve this, because no matter where I go in the city, people ask me for directions. And my mediocre French gets me about four sentences in before it fails, the direction-asker looks at me betrayed, and I feel like a jerk. It must be my fierce “Parisian” pout, honed by decades of practice.
- Or, it’s the scarf. In Paris, I, like every American woman in Paris, tie a scarf around my neck and refuse to smile on the street. Which makes me grumpy because…
- The damned scarf never looks right, it keeps slipping. That doesn’t happen to real French people. They must have scarf tying classes at the lycee. Also, it’s physiological. They say that if you smile, you actually improve your mood. You get happy by acting happy. All that pseudo-French pouting — no wonder I have a history of being depressed in Paris. And grumpy. And picking fights.
Now, this trip — this volcano-shortened couple of days alone in Paris — was a little different. I didn’t get sick! I was alone but not lonely. I got lost but I didn’t panic; I knew that if I found any Metro station I could find my way. My scarf looked awesome.
And yet, I still wandered the streets like a spurned lover before I figured it out. I hate Paris because I loved Paris. And Paris, that goddamned tease of a city, broke my heart.
[Cue the violins]
When I was young, 19, 20, 23, I thought Paris was my future. I knew I’d live in Paris someday, or better yet, grow up to be French. But that didn’t happen. So for years, I’ve hated Paris because I felt like I’d been cruelly dumped, and I sulked and I threw fits and got sick in its toilets and Paris, that cold hearted demon, didn’t notice one bit.
So here’s what I figured out. Paris is like George Clooney. Handsome, sexy, famous, talented, widely desired… he might not be everybody’s favorite but I wouldn’t kick him out of the car, so to speak. But George Clooney infuriates me in the same way Paris does.
Why? Because we’re perfect for each other. We’re the same age which means we have all sorts of cultural references in common. I’m brunette, and he likes brunettes, right? And he’s smart! And I’m smart! And he has a sense of humor! And I have a sense of humor! See? Perfect. Except, George Clooney dates tall, gorgeous women, and I am 5′ 2″. Also, he dates younger women. So between that and the short thing, there is no chance that he would date me, even if he met me.
I am a woman spurned and scorned and ignored — by both Paris and George Clooney — and I do not take rejection lightly and I hate being ignored. I toss my scarf over my shoulder. Haruumph.
This week, I walked around Paris a lot, and I stopped at every real estate office to look at the apartment listings. I live in the Bay Area so I understand about real estate. But my dream of a little apartment in Paris? A tiny apartment in a bad neighborhood for five hundred thousand euros? If I divested everything I owned, I could maybe rent a garret. But then how would I earn a living? I could live in Paris, but not eat in Paris, not shop in Paris, not enjoy Paris, so what would be the point? It would be like getting a job shining George Clooney’s shoes. Not very satisfying at all.
So for now… and happily so…. I’m back in the Bay Area. Where if I want world-class monuments I can take a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge (take that, Eiffel Tower). I can also dine on the finest of all cuisines including French, hike in the redwoods, drive to the mountains, and never get lost.
Clooney, Paris, who needs you, anyway.
Monday, March 22nd, 2010
I’m back at Literary Mama with a new column called Solo, about my life as a solo mother after an unexpected tragedy, about my impending solo life as my 17-year-old prepares to leave the nest, and about my evolution into a solo performance artist. My first column is called, “Solo Means You’re the Star.”
You never expect it to happen. People say this as cameras zoom into their shocked faces: “In an instant, my life changed.” The earthquake, the car accident, the drive-by, the overdose, the proverbial hit-by-a-truck. We say “live for now, it could all end tomorrow.” Yet life goes on, decades pass, and you never expect it to happen to you.
Read it here….
Leave a comment, let me know what you think!