Friday, May 19, 2006

Stay Out of the Poppy Field and Head for the Rainbow

DONNA [10:47 A.M.]: I always forget how challenging it is to plot a novel until we start working on a new one. Maybe it's selective amnesia.
Virginia [10:49 A.M.]: Of course it is. Do you think if we remembered we'd do it again? It' s like what my mother always says about childbirth..."it's the hardest pain to bear but the easiest to forget." Birthing a book isn't exactly the same, but it's close.
DONNA [10:55 A.M.]: Clearly. But I have also forgotten I need the epidural. Oh, I guess that's why I have been fighting a serious case of the munchies. I always eat when I'm wearing out my brain cells. Did I say fighting--actually, the munchies have been winning.
Virginia [10:57 A.M.]: You? An epidural? Tell me it isn't so. Aren't you the one who's always telling me that the pain isn't too bad? You're the one with the high pain threshold. Or is the "epidural" analogy a compromise? 'Cause you know I'd want to be knocked out. Wake me up when it's over!
DONNA [11:06 A.M.]: I'm far too nosy--I mean curious-- to be knocked out during anything. I'm the one who's had a heart procedure where I was awake and watching the monitor while they went surfing around in my ventricles looking for the bad spots. Who needs reality TV? But on the book front, I always think I should be able to find the story faster. That all the twists and turns should reveal themselves in a logical, timely fashion. Then I'm truly stressed when it doesn't go like that.
Virginia [11:11 A.M.]: And I get stressed because I know it doesn't go like that...I actually KNOW the story comes in little pieces and that we somehow put them together and end up with a book. We NEVER know all the answers at the beginning. But I think we spend so much time talking about the last book we've done---managing the talking points, answering questions which always happens such a long time from the beginning of the process. So when we start a new book we think we should know all the things we did about the previous one except that our perception of what we knew and when we knew it has been shaped by all the time between.
DONNA [11:16 A.M.]: I guess. It's a contradiction really, but I have to force myself to relax and let the ideas flow. Float really. And keep my mind quiet enough to hear them bubbling to the surface. You know how good I am at relaxing. Not!
Virginia [11:17 A.M.]: About as good as I am about holding in my feelings. NOT!
Do you believe the writers who say "the whole story just came to me one day and then it wrote itself?" Because I don't...believe them that is
DONNA [11:20 A.M.]: Either I'm not that talented or my muse is in Fiji without me.
DONNA [11:26 A.M.]: But I love the feeling when a piece of the story crystallizes and presents itself to me--like a gift. It's such a relief, a release. Then it feels like, "of course." Like it's always been there.
Virginia [11:29 A.M.]: I think it's the selective memory thing again. We all have some strain of it. We don't remember how the story got started at all. But it always involves process/progress. It has to. You can't feel or ascertain the nuances or subtleties or "moments" of a story in an instant. I don't believe you can feel that until you are in it.
DONNA [11:49 A.M.]: And the very first notes from all of our books never resemble the finished novel--not even close. People have different occupations, different partners, different family situations, different genders. . .
Virginia [11:51 A.M.]: And I think it will always be that way. You know how we always tell people who say they want to write but don't know where to begin that "you just have to put something down?" It's because it's true.
DONNA [11:53 A.M.]: I'm just glad some of the panic has subsided--for the moment. There'll be more.
Virginia [11:54 A.M.]: Ya think? Panic, stress, the big empty creative hole, quicksand, dead ends, detours, all of these things are waiting for us
DONNA [11:55 A.M.]: Lions, and tigers and bears--oh my! Just stay out of the poppy field and keep heading for the rainbow.
Virginia [11:56 A.M.]: No poppies? Dag. You're no fun. But the rainbow it is. What I need now is a nice pair of glittery red shoes
DONNA [11:57 A.M.]: You can always find an excuse for some new shoes!
Virginia [11:57 A.M.]: Yes. Breathing is a good reason. Note that I say reason, not excuse. Friday is a good reason. Because they're there is the best reason---especially since I have no interest in climbing Everest! And before you say it...NO I don't have a pair of glittery red ones already!
DONNA [11:59 A.M.]: I'm gonna go find my flip flops and head for the yellow brick road.
Virginia [12:00 P.M.]: Equal opportunity footwear! This is America after all.
DONNA [12:01 P.M.]: Because sometimes we each get to be the decider.
Virginia [12:01 P.M.]: Isn't that Decider with a capital D? Anyway I'll meet you on the YBR!
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 12:32 PM 2 comments

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dinner with Tabahani members after our event.
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 10:45 AM 1 comments

V&D signing books after the Tabahani Book Circle Event

We had a great time in Long Beach, CA helping The Tabahani Book Circle celebrate their 10th Anniversary!
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 10:41 AM 1 comments

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Opal Mehta Mess---Publishing's Own Milli Vanilli?

DONNA [12:09 P.M.]: I know I'm not supposed to feel smug or vindicated or anything, but I heard this morning that there are no longer plans to amend and reissue Opal Mehta. The movie deal is kaput. The Harvard Crimson found passages in Opal that were suspiciously similar to those in five or six other books...including one by Salmon Rushdie!!!! Seems Kaavya Viswanathan has become publishing's own Milli Vanilli.
Virginia [12:13 P.M.]: Go right ahead and enjoy smug and vindicated. Enjoy it for all of us who toil in the fields of originality. For all of us who struggle mightily for the best story, the right words and do it without the assistance of "instant book in a box" Just add equal amounts of BS and $$ and you're good to go directly to the top of the bestseller lists!
DONNA [12:18 P.M.]: Creating characters and stories that readers embrace is freakin' hard. And it doesn't happen overnight the way publishers would like. I mean, I read that "book packagers" actually share in the authors royalties. Would that be because they actually create the book and find "writers" with pretty faces whose pictures they slap on the back cover? It makes me mad. . . and sad.
Virginia [12:23 P.M.]: Mad because hard work doesn't count for as much as it used to? Sad because everything is about marketing and packaging? Not about content? Authors have to have a "platform" now---some kind of built in audience that can be tapped into without having to travel the usual publicity avenues. You know that now everyone is looking for "first books" because they have no record, no sales history and they can be promoted as anything the publisher wants or needs them to be (read: thinks you will drop $24.95 to buy). It's no longer about building a writer's career and audience. It's in for the quick kill, out and on to the next book and author.
DONNA [12:25 P.M.]: And that established authors are taking pseudonyms to walk away from the less-than-bestseller sales figures that mean book stores won't give them a chance? Yep. I know all of that.
Virginia [12:26 P.M.]: Talk about being pissed off.
DONNA [12:29 P.M.]: Yeah, but I gotta get more out of this than pissed off. We're plotting a book now, so I have to believe this will be some kind of cautionary tale. OK--that sounded like a fairy tale as soon as I wrote it. I'm just glad the cat is out of the bag.
Virginia [12:30 P.M.]: Like everything else in our society, this is all about spin. Convincing people this is what we should buy, eat, watch, read, think or be concerned about. I'll bet you another whole dollar that there will be a "tell all" where Viswanathan (for more big bucks) explains in great and tedious detail how all of this Opal Mehta brouhaha came to be. What sounded like a fairy tale?
DONNA [12:34 P.M.]: That this would be a cautionary tale. Like it will change the way editors look for manuscripts and what they will choose to publish. It's naive to believe this will have a radical effect, but maybe they will have to pay at least a little more attention to what goes in the package.
Virginia [12:35 P.M.]: The Opal shell game is on the heels of A Million Little Pieces, and the DaVinci Code trial...see any lessons learned? Didn't think so. Hmmmm. We are plotting a book and since it's a sequel/follow up I guess we have to be careful not to plagiarize ourselves!
DONNA [12:36 P.M.]: I'm not worried about plagiarizing ourselves-- just about telling a good story. Working with characters we've already created will be a new challenge, but I'm always up for a challenge.
Virginia [12:36 P.M.]: Yes, you are definitely that kinda girl...
DONNA [12:36 P.M.]: And since Opal Mehta has been pulled from the shelves, the existing hardcovers will probably start showing up on Ebay as collector's items.
DONNA [12:38 P.M.]: Correction--they already have. Thereare a bunch of them on E-Bay--- there’s an ARC going for $57.00 and a “Rare book no longer in print” going for $42.01.
Virginia [12:38 P.M.]: No surprise there. It'll be interesting to see how high it goes--
because the only really BAD publicity is NO publicity. So when you get right down to it, (the bottom line) what's a little cheating if it helps to sell---- ANYTHING.
DONNA [12:40 P.M.]: Truth is, I feel sorry for Kaavya Viswanathan. I'd be in a dark room in a far away town for a really long time behind this fiasco. Is that when I'd write my memoir?
Virginia [12:41 P.M.]: I don't know whether to feel sorry for her or not, but like I said, the story behind the story is coming and Viswanathan will GET PAID again.
DONNA [12:43 P.M.]: I heard there was speculation about whether she would be sued by her publisher for her advance. She had a $500,000, 2 book deal, but we know she hasn't received all $500,000. I'm guessing somewhere between a third and maybe a half, at very most, has been paid. But how can the publisher sue when they're complicit in these little games?
Virginia [12:45 P.M.]: They can't. And I'm sure they won't. They want this to go away. Little Brown has (or had as the case may be) a reputation they want to preserve.
DONNA [12:46 P.M.]: T’is true. Anyway, enough. We've got a book to write.
Virginia [12:47 P.M.]: I'll bet that's how we'll end most of these chats for the next year.... YIKES! We have a deadline!!!!!!
DONNA [12:47 P.M.]: Shhhh!!!!
Virginia [12:47 P.M.]: Uh huh. I won't tell.
posted by DeBerry and Grant at 1:25 PM 4 comments
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