Friday, September 27, 2013

F-It List Friday: Weepies

In today's edition of F-It List Friday, I'd like to disccuss the fear of reading sad books. I am guilty of this fear. I cry enough with a newborn baby and two hours of sleep per night; why would I want to read a book that makes me cry? As a teenager, all I wanted to do was cry. I read books to cry, watched movies to cry, and listened to music to cry. [I also remember crying heavily at an episode of "Blossom" when they had to sell their house. I also remember my dad getting annoyed with me when I did so. Ah, teenaged life.] But now that I am an old lady/grown-up/Ke$ha-fan-type person, I don't want to cry if I don't have to. I avoid movies that people talk about as "emotional." Same goes for books. And my musical taste these days has nothing to do with being curled up in a ball inside my closet.

So why write a book about a teenager with cancer? Well, there's a long story about the why, but this blog post is about the how. [I have to note that I just spent over an hour cleaning so much shit out of my car that I now have a stomachache and headache, so this post may not be as coherent as originally planned.] And I don't mean how I write.  I'm not blogging about my process today. I'm blogging about how I write books about things that are sad but try to make them not as sad. [Damn, this post sucks. I'm sorry. I wanted to have a regular post up each Friday, but I feel about as good right now as the bottom of my car's floor mats.] You see, when you are a writer and you are writing, you have to be in the head space of a book for months at a time. And who wants to be in the head space of a depressing, painful book? Not I. It is very difficult to write about a friend with cancer and how everyone deals with it and not go into a dark place. As much as I write books I want others to enjoy, I wouldn't write at all if I didn't enjoy the process [I used that word again. Forgive me]. So, as I often do in my own life to diffuse sadness, I add humor to my project to help me get through it. And sex. This new book has sex. I found that humor wasn't enough to get me past the cancer hump, so I added, um, some other humps, too. [Oy.] Once a book comes out, people are so critical of every piece and word and decision an author made while writing, as though the author was cognizant of how each word would be affecting readers. But as the author, at least for me, it comes down to writing a story guided by the characters and making it an enjoyable time for ME. Is that selfish? I don't care. What I learned from my time publishing zines that were all about me (and my friend, Liz, to whom The F-It List is dedicated) was that no matter how personal my writings are, someone else can always relate. Therefore, I don't sit down to write books that make people cry. Because I don't want to cry. It is possible that parts of The F-It List will make people cry, and that makes sense. As I've said, it is a book about a girl whose best friend gets cancer. But I also hope it will make people laugh. And cringe. And relate. And dance (can books make people dance?). Because it has never been my goal as a writer to cause you to curl up in a ball in your closet. If I had to add a label to my name, it would say: "Contemporary Young Adult Humorist." You know, after "Mom" and "Wife" and "Cleaner of Cars." Actually, it would come before "Cleaner of Cars." I write novels far more often than I clean my cars. Now that's a sad story for another day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

F-It List Fridays!

I'd like to try a new feature called "F-It List Friday." Since my new novel is coming out in less than two months, I thought I'd start blogging about it on Fridays (you know, since it starts with F). Right now, however, I have to jump in the shower before the baby needs to eat, the kiddo needs to eat lunch, and I have to take her to preschool. So we'll see how well I stick to my feature. I figure I can write about different things regarding the book, perhaps inspiration, movie lists in the book, and other stuff that is much more interesting than I can manage to think up while panicking about getting things done so Romy isn't late for preschool.

This is where you come in. What do you want to know about my new book? My writing process? What brand of deodorant I use? Ask away! I'd love to get some blog ideas, so I can get this feature up and running every Friday. You an comment on this post, my FB page, my tweet, or email me @ Next week I plan on tackling something I've seen a bit online-- that people might not want to read "The F-It List" because they don't want to cry. So stay tuned for that post.

I'm off to the shower now. Smell ya later.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Clue: My Movie

Anybody else read this amazing article about "Clue: the Movie" last week? I didn't realize the movie was a cult hit; I just assumed everyone was smart enough to know it is AWESOME. I liked learning more about the making, casting, and aftermath of the film. And it reminded me: My love for "Clue" knows no bounds. I'm talking the board game. I'm talking the movie. I'm talking the VCR game. I've loved them for a good portion of my life. I think it started when I was playing the game with my friend, Beth, with whom I played all of my board games (Trivial Pursuit and War were some of our favorites. During War whenever one of us set cards down for a war, we would have to sing, "War! Huh! Good god, y'all!" Didn't everybody?). Even though it was just a board game with little, metal (or were they plastic back in the 80s?) weapons, there was something creepy about it. When you think about it, people were being killed by the weirdos photographed (or were they drawn? Geez my memory is terrible) on the cards and box. Rather gruesome for a kids' game. Then came the movie, which so intrigued me when it was in the theater because, of course, there were three different endings. I don't think I actually saw it in the theater. Or maybe I did (Seriously - who took my brain?) But I managed to see it 600 times when it aired on HBO. Brilliant. [Side note: Beth ran into Martin Mull some years back, I believe smoking outside of a theater where he was doing a play in Chicago, and she sidled up to him and exhaled, "Colonel Mustard," as if that was his defining role. I love that story.] Then I got the VCR game. If anyone has played this, you know how insanely complicated the game is. Not only is it difficult to solve, but the actual rules and game play are wack-a-doo intricate. It took well over an hour to finish one game. No matter. I still have the game sheets with hilarious seventh grade graffiti from when Beth and I used to play for hours. The actors in the video were geniuses. I could sit around watching the video just for fun. I may have to do that later. Here are some choice tidbits (these are from the 2nd game, which is the one I had. I think the actors refined their roles for this one really.)
But it doesn't end there! I own numerous other Clue board game incarnations, even if I haven't played them all (My husband is not a board game player, alas, and my kids are too young. But they won't be for long!). I have two in the trunk of my car. And, I don't know if this is because I love the movie so much or that I just forgot I owned the previous version (Are you there, Brain? It's me, Julie.), but I own "Clue: the Movie" on DVD and Blu-ray, in addition to my VHS of the movie taped off of cable TV. I didn't realize until after reading the article just how much of a fan of Clue I really am. I suppose that's one of the reasons I love murder mysteries, as well. (Check out my adventures in murder mysteries here and here and here. Note how all include my Ke$ha partner-in crime, Katie. Not shown here is the murder mystery I threw at my house a few years ago with a bunch of co-workers. I was a man, a Colonel, I believe who wore a monocle, scratched his chin, and repeated, "Quite. Quite." frequently.)

Here is a smattering of my collection. Behold!
 See how complicated the VCR game is? Oooooh, how I wish I could play it right now!

These are just a couple of my murder mystery party game sets.
How did this get in here?

Not as exciting as it sounds.
And I'm not even a huge Simpsons fan!

The greatest VCR game ever created. For some reason I made it available for checkout at my school library. Thank goodness  no one lost any pieces!

The trunk of my car. Always prepared.
Strangely, I never read mystery novels. I think I like to be part of the action, not watching from the sidelines. Is this morbid? I wouldn't put it past me to be morbid. So I guess the moral of this story is: Never find yourself alone with me in a billiard room with a candlestick. Or a monocle.