So, You're Really Done?

Q: I hear you’re done. Is it true?

A: Oh my God! Who told you? Well, nevermind.

Yes, I finished the whole first draft.

Q: Good. I didn’t think you were seriously going to finish. Honestly, I thought you’d get distracted with another project or something like that.

A: Well, aren’t I lucky to have YOU as a friend?

Q: You are! Who convinced you to get that icy teal shirt that brings out the green in your eyes, emphasizes your breasts and makes your stomach look flatter?

A: Good point.

Q: Alright, let’s dig in. Did you come up with a title for the book?

A: Hooked.

Sometimes I call it Hooked: A Love Story.
Or Hooked: An Addictive Love Story.
Once I thought about Hooked: An Addict’s Love Story.

Do I have to commit to that now?

Q: Hello??? This is a book, not lipliner. You HAVE to make a commitment.
A: Then let’s say I’m flexible.

Q: So I hear. But back to the book. What’s it really about?

A: It’s a story about several people, all of them fixated on the one thing that they just can’t have, so they find other things to fill their minds and hearts.

Things they get hooked on.

Q: Like what?

A: Love. Cuba. A perfect body. Family. Money. History.

Q: So what do they get hooked on?
A: Drugs, sex, cheating… and I would be a rotten storyteller if I told you everything, wouldn’t I?

Q: Sounds kinda like Valley of the Dolls.

A: Oh, you’re read it? Good! That’s a GREAT comparison.

But more in the TONE of Marian Keyes' Rachel's Holiday.

But have you read Wally Lamb’s I Know this Much is True?
Q: Please. It’s like a billion pages long.

A: Whatever. If you’d read it, I could compare how it has a book-within-a-book that works brilliantly. He definitely inspired me.

Q: Who’s your favorite character in Hooked?

A: Good question. I like it when you pretend you’re interested.

Q: Thanks. Now answer.

A: I love each and every one in the book because they come from pieces of reality

If I had to name one character that makes me laugh out loud and want to head to Vegas with, it would be Mira.

Q: Mira? Isn’t that Spanish for “Look”?

A: 10 points to Gryffendor!

Mira Maria arrives in the US from Cuba in 1960 and pretty much makes up her own rules in America.

She is sexy, brazen, resourceful, deceitful, and completely fixated on herself.

Oh, and she’s the main focus of the manuscript Annabelle is writing as part of her Ph.D. program in Historical Fiction.

Mira is the perfect foil to Annabelle. You’ll see!

Q: Oh, sounds like a great love story…. Not!

A: Well, my answers can’t be better than your questions. You’re the one leading this!

Q: Whatever. Is it a love story?

A: Definitely.

Q: Hello, make me interested. Make me want to read it.

A: Alright.

So, Annabelle – she’s the narrator, and she’s the one who writes Finding Cuba, the novel-inside-the-novel which unfolds as parallel chapters – meets this really great guy while she’s in college.

Q: Oh, totally original. (yawn)

A: I’m not done!

The book opens in January 1993. Annabelle meets a guy (whose name she never writes) on a plane, and they have this thing (I can’t look you in the eye and say it’s love) for several months.

You can just tell something is wrong with her.

She’s the walking wounded.

Starving herself, living on a cocktail of pills that she takes great pleasure in hiding all over the place.

Q: Wow. The romantic story of the century!

A: Yeah, I guess if that was it, it would be pretty rotten.

But then the book goes backward to March, 1990.

Annabelle, a senior in college, goes on a roadtrip to Arkansas with a friend.

Q: Arkansas? What?

A: Hey, it makes sense. They’re in New Orleans, trust me.

Annabelle isn’t really into Arkansas at first, either.

Q: Does she meet Bill Clinton?
A: That’s another book. Now stop interrupting me!

Annabelle meets an amazing guy, (whose name she never writes) who chips away at this huge wall she has around herself.

He becomes her family, her guide. They’re going to spend their lives together.

Too bad she messes everything up.

Q: Oh! Why is she so cold?
A: Annabelle tells you in the chapters of Finding Cuba.

Everything bad that happens to Daisy really happened to Annabelle.

Q: Oh.

A: Yeah. Well. Bad things happen, right?

Q: OK, so how does she mess everything up?
A: Ick. It gets ugly.

She’s really angry at him for letting her down in a few ways, even though, to defend the guy, he was completely honest.

She just is into something (which I will NOT tell you here, so bite your tongue and don’t even ask), which is running -- and ruining -- her whole days.

Because they pretty much have a long distance relationship, the poor guy hasn’t got a clue about what’s really going on with Annabelle.

Still, he loves her, at least the pieces he sees. She loves him too, almost too much.

On Christmas Eve, 1992, they’re supposed to get engaged.

It’s no secret that he has the ring in his pocket, and she wants it.
But something else happens.

Q: What?? What!!

A: Well, it’s not good.

We know that something bad happens in Christmas 1992 because when Hooked opens in January 1993, Annabelle is single.

And hungover.

You’ll have to read the book.

Q: Do they end up together?

A: That’s a great question.

I think you’ll know the answer, or at least the real question, when you get to the last page.

Q: Stop abusing me and let me read the book already.
A: OK, that TOTALLY wasn’t a question.

Q: Sorry. I guess I got excited. When can I read the book?

A: That’s better.

The answer is “soon.”

I wrote the manuscript out longhand instead of typing it up.

When I’m on the computer I tend to revise revise revise, and I knew that I needed to just write the entire thing, start to finish, in a linear way.

So that’s what I did.

Now I have months of typing and revising to do. But that’s OK. I’m already thinking about what happens next.

Q: Next?

A: Yes. Of course.

There are exactly 2 book-shaped holes within this story.

Q: Oh, now this sounds like a saga.

A: I’d call it a romp.

Q: A romp. Great!

A: Glad you’re excited.

Now, can you help me find someone to publish it?

Actually, can you find me an agent to sell it to a publisher?

Q: Hello. I’m your shopping diva, not one of your blue-suit friends. Ask someone else!
A: Hey, it was worth a try. Now scoot. I’ve got a ton of typing to do!

Q: Congratulations, by the way.

A: Thanks!!! Now goodbye!

Hard to be Me. Today.

Today, I hate myself.

I think it's because the suit I'm wearing isn't fitting right.
My stomach looks... weird, at least from my angle.

And I think I have the wrong bra on for this suit.

Did you know that some people (me?) have different bras for different suits? Honestly. See, the girls need to be at different levels (up or down by an inch or two) depending on the cut of the suit.

So if they're too high -- not good.
Too low? Even worse.

I'm not for sure about this, but I bet that women with 1) size B cups 2) "physician enhanced" breasts and/or 3)have never had kids DO NOT have to worry about things like correct nipple placement.

Their boobs are in the same place every day. Wow. No wonder they have a better quality of life than I do.

But, well, since I don't fall into any of those categories above (yet) I have this extra burden.

Breast placement is a science, and today I get an "F" for not doing my homework.


I probably wouldn't be so hard on myself if I didn't have a mirror.

At least I won't be in front of one for several more hours.

At the office (where I'm hiding until 9:30am, probably for the last time since the move to Tallahassee is so close....) the women's bathroom is locked *with the key inside* so I can't get in until Lory gets here... BUT the men's bathroom is NEVER locked so I sneaked in there.

Guess what? No full length mirror.
Just a stall, a urinal, sink and small face-level mirror.

Why do *they* TORTURE women with full length mirrors in the bathrooms????

While driving here at 5:30am, I started to list 100 things that I despise about myself, but I was having trouble stopping at 100.

I won't bore you here with it, but hopefully another diet coke and maybe thinking about the students I get to work with today will totally change that mood.

After all, it isn't about me.... right?

The Car Man Cometh

(from 2006) I was just sitting in my office yesterday, alphabetizing final exams and final papers as foreplay to grading.

There was a gentle knock on my office door.

He opened the door before I could respond, then stood in the doorway as though I'd been expecting him.

Of course, I hadn't, but I pride myself on world-class bluffing skills, so I said *Hi.*

He was handsome, stern and kind at the same time.

I remembered him well but knew better than to show my delight.

Instead of standing up to offer a handshake or a hug, I leaned back in my chair and smiled. This always makes me feel more powerful, but it goes against my nature -- which is FAR closer to a spastic cocker spaniel than a regal but disdainful cat.

He closed the door behind him conspiratorially, and leaned a shoulder against the wall.

What's the story about your car?

I love the accent that lilts his words, making them sound more like poetry or music than plain conversational English.

Oh, my car. (Damn!!!! He wants to talk about my CAR?? Well, I am a married woman.)

Um. So you've been reading my blog? (He nodded)

OK. Well, see, I had a little accident wayyyy back in September , and needed new tires and rims, but I never got new hubcaps.

So I have this car that is reliable and great but it has no hubcaps, and one of the doors doesn't work, and it doesn't play CDs.

And I really need to vaccumm it....

Yes. What's the story? You haven't taken care of cars as long as I've known you. And now all this "good car," "bad car" stuff....

That's not true! I. I mean, I... well. I....

You're right. I don't.

I looked up at him with my puppy dog eyes, admitting failure, hoping to be scolded, praised, hugged and maybe taken for a loooooooong walk without a leash.

I wilted a little bit in the chair.

My invisble cocker spaniel tail kept wagged quickly, betraying my delight at his attention.

Well. Maybe I don't take care of my cars because I'm hoping someone will do it for me.

He laughed, but still didn't sit down.

And since he didn't ask another question, I babbled on with my confession, hoping for a treat, scratch behind the ears, SOMETHING.

Umm, my spedometer and odometer kinda don't work, so I know I probably need an oil change but really I can't tell if I've gone 3,000 miles...

He nodded, not excusing me, but showing his understanding.

Wal-Mart has oil changes for $14.95. And a nice waiting room where you could grade exams while you wait.

Do they have hubcaps too?

He laughed, told me to behave myself, and slipped out as quickly as he arrived.


He forgot to ask for my car keys. Does he seriously think I'll do it myself?

Maybe I will go to WalMart for the dreaded oil change.

It would be something to write about.

And I could pick up some doggie treats -- like diet coke, cabernet, and stuff to make a carrot cake -- while I'm waiting.