This is my Writer’s Block.
I received it as a gift, when I was just starting out in TV. I was a Writers’ Assistant on Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which meant my job was to sit in the room with all the Writers, type up their thoughts and ideas, input their changes into the scripts as they gang-rewrote them, then make sure everything was formatted properly so the PA’s could xerox a zillion copies and send them out to everyone.
99.99% of Writers’ Assistants want to be Writers. Everyone knows this, and often it’s rewarded with freelance scripts or even shots at getting on staff, but most of the time it’s ignored in the mad flurry of assistant work that needs to get done now.
So when Christmas rolled around and Dennis Haskins, a.k.a. Mr Belding, traipsed through the office with presents for all the Writers, I didn’t expect to be included. But there it was on my desk: a Writer’s Block, just like the ones he’d given to all the other Writers.
I’ve had it on my desk ever since. Not just for the pun, which is always a quick way to my heart, but for that little vote of confidence. My title didn’t matter. The titles we hold in our daily lives still don’t matter. If we’re passionate about writing, if we commit ourselves to making our writing better and better, and most of all if we put finger to keyboard and write and write and write… we are Writers.
Tell me… what little votes of confidence have you gotten along the way that made a difference to you in your writing career? I’d love to hear about them!
~ Deb Elise
Congrats to Karen K who won Sofie Kelly’s Curiosity Thrilled the Cat! Didn’t win? Buy a copy HERE.
From the 2011 Debs…
Becky Papp, a terrific Mom blogger, has a podcast of her interview with Deb Kim last month. She did a terrific job with questions and follow up, also has a preverbal daughter on the autism spectrum. http://beckypapp.libsyn.com/-9-becky-papp-podcast-kim-stagliano
On Friday, Deb Tawna celebrated one year since her agent called with the good news that Sourcebooks was offering a three book deal for her romantic comedies. She marked the anniversary by curling up on her sofa and reading like a fiend all day long!
Deb Dish — The Debs’ Favorite Place and Time of Day to Write
I actually did a blog post about this recently, because I have a conundrum. My favorite time of day to write is late at night… but lately I’ve been too crazy-tired to actually work those hours between 10pm and 2am. I do love my Panera days. I work out super early, get to Panera when it’s close to opening time, pop on the noise-canceling headphones with Pandora blaring in my ears, and I’ll stay there all day long writing.
Weirdly, I usually end up writing in the evening, though I’d rather write in the morning. I’m at my best morning and late afternoon, but that’s usually when I’m at the gym. And I can write pretty much anywhere, but it’s always better when it’s done by the pool at the Portofino Hotel in Orlando. Clearly they need to hook me up with a writing residency.
Mornings work best for fiction. Used to be night – before noon works well now. Lots of coffee! Non-fic is anytime I need to blog or get something off my chest.
At night! I tend to do my magazine work during the day and focus on fiction at night. I thrive on the quiet time after my kids are in bed and maybe I can sip a glass of wine and just zone out with my characters. I love to write at night—it feels like I’m playing more than working.
I’m lucky to have a part-time day job that allows me to work three days a week and then have four straight days to devote to writing. I tend to spend mornings editing, afternoons plodding along, and evenings writing fast and furious (the product of a glass or two of wine, which explains the need for editing the next morning).
The Debutante Ball is so excited to have Sarah Pekkanen back for a waltz around the dance floor! Sarah is a 2010 Debutante and is thrilled to be back! Her debut novel, The Opposite of Me, has been published in eight countries and is in a sixth printing. Sarah lives in Maryland with her husband and three young sons.
More on Sarah’s brand new book – Skipping a Beat – and a chance to win a copy after the interview!
Sarah Pekkanen takes the Deb Interview!
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. He showed that non-fiction can be every bit as riveting, graceful, and seamless as fiction, and his masterwork inspired me to write narrative feature stories for newspapers and magazines. For example, after the Columbine school shootings, The Baltimore Sun sent me to Colorado. I ended up writing the story of a boy named Adam Foss who was the class clown – he used humor to hide the fact that he had no idea what he would do after graduation. His twin brother and friends were all applying to college, but not Adam. He was hiding from his own future. When gunshots rang out, Adam was transformed. He led students into a tiny office – running back into a classroom to physically carry in a few students who were frozen in fear – and barricaded the door with his body. When a student had an asthma attack, he broke out ceiling tiles and lifted her up so that she could breathe fresh air. He kept kids calm, and saved lives. At the end of that day, Adam was no longer an aimless boy.
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.
Once I met an unbelievably wealthy woman – someone worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Through a strange set of circumstances, we ended up having a rather tense discussion (I know it sounds odd but I swear it’s true). And midway through our conversation, she uttered the word, “Ain’t.” I didn’t react outwardly, but at that moment, a book idea unfolded in my head like a flower opening its face to the sun: What if a woman from a poor family in West Virginia went on to become fabulously wealthy? What would it be like to feel as if you were an imposter in your own life? The result is Skipping a Beat.
Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
My kids! I have three little boys, and they are the funniest people in the world. Recently they made up a holiday jingle: “On the first Day of Christmas, my doctor gave to me… a cup in which to hold my pee!”
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
One page a day. That’s all you need to do. Don’t overthink it. Don’t beat yourself up. Just get those words on paper – they don’t even have to be good words! You can fix them later. Write a page a day, and you’ll have a draft of your book in a year.
What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?
A dog, chocolate, and a tent. If I could only pick one thing, I’d pick a dog. Or David Beckham. Ooh, a chocolate-dipped David Beckham?
Has anyone ever thought a character you wrote was based on them?
Sigh. All the time. It’s sort of strange – my parents are convinced they’re the parents in my first book (they do have in common an intense, bizarre love of Ikea’s low-priced breakfasts, along with a willingness to spend five dollars in gas and an hour in driving time to get to Ikea for said “bargain” breakfast). Even casual aquaintances, like a mom of my kids’ school, have approached me to ask if I based a character on them. (Hey, if I did, I’d never admit it!)
Chocolate-covered David Beckham? Hmm…we’ll take some of that! Thanks for coming back for a visit! You can catch Sarah on Facebook or at her website!
Sarah’s latest novel, Skipping a Beat, is available NOW! Want to know more?
What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite the rules of your relationship? Skipping a Beat is “soulful, original and engaging” (NYT bestseller Emily Giffin) “wonderfully compelling” (Library Journal starred review), a “two-hanky weepy” (Kirkus) and ”culminates in an ending that will leave readers breathless” (Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black). It went into a second printing a month before publication!
Sarah is giving away a copy of Skipping a Beat to one lucky Deb Ball reader – leave a comment below to enter (don’t forget to include your email address!)
We’re supposed to be sharing our favorite websites this week, but friends suggested this isn’t the appropriate time for me to be honest. It’s a family-friendly blog, after all.
In all seriousness (or not) I have several go-to websites for the basic necessities in life:
One of my favorite finds at allrecipes.com, Cranberry Pork Roast from the slow cooker.
When I want to laugh: Damn You Auto Correct is the site I visit when I want gut-twisting, tear-producing laughter in 30 seconds or less. It’s a collection of hilarious text message auto-corrections and one of my very favorite places on the web.
When I want to eat: I love to cook, and I also love trying new recipes. One of my favorite sites is allrecipes.com. Their advanced search feature allows me to inventory what’s in my fridge, plug my findings into the ingredients list, and click to figure out what the hell I can make with turnips, brown sugar, and feta cheese. I’ve found some of my favorite recipes this way.
When I want connection with the writing world: When I was still wet behind the ears and confused about the publishing industry, I relied on agent Janet Reid’s blog to show me the ropes. Even now that I presumably know the ropes (and not in the way you’re thinking) I still go there daily for news, knowledge, inspiration, and a good chuckle.
When I want to be a stalker: I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with statistics. I keep track of the Google Analytics stats for my own blog, this one, and the one I write for in my day job. I can tell you with a few simple mouse-clicks that Deb Eleanor’s Tuesday post was exceptionally popular in Russia. I also know that 253 readers arrived at The Debutante Ball via Twitter links in the last 30 days. Doesn’t it improve your life just knowing that?
So what websites do you count on to sustain your basic needs in life? Please share!
And if you’re a recipe hussy like I am, please share your favorite linkage!
And now’s the time we really get to know each other! I’m going to air my dirty laundry and tell you the sites I visit regularly, in addition to this lovely site, of course. Promise to still like me? OK, I’m kidding–my list isn’t that deplorable.
In no particular order, and barring Twitter (follow me, please?), the zillions of book blogs I read (can’t even begin to pick a fave—so many good ones!) and Glamour.com (I’m the health and fitness blogger for Glamour, so I visit the site hourly as a labor of love!), here are my daily reads:
*US magazine: No judging, now! I admit to being hopelessly obsessed with what Gwyneth Paltrow ate for dinner and who John Mayer is dating at the moment.
*Smitten Kitchen: Don’t you just adore this food blog? I’ve been reading for years, and this site never fails to make inspire me–and make me really hungry.
*Publisher’s Marketplace: I’ve had a membership to this site for publishing industry folks for the past few years, and I have to say it’s so fun to peruse! I love reading up on the latest deals and keeping tabs on what markets are really selling, etc.
*Facebook: Seriously, I can’t even start writing for the day without knowing what my peeps are up to. Mid-day and evening check-ins happen to. And, I have a new author page on FB! Will you “like” me? Pretty please?
*New York Times health section: Even if I wasn’t the health and fitness writer for Glamour.com, I’d still check out the health section daily. I’m a nut about health news, and I love sharing it with readers just as much as I love giving my husband daily updates about a.) what food he should be eating, b.) what food he should not be eating, and c.) what supplement will protect him from getting cancer and leaving me a widow with three children.
What Web site do you have to visit before starting your day/being productive at your desk?
I’ve found the writing community to be incredibly generous and helpful to each other. From the first Yahoo group I joined in 2005, to this blog, support is everywhere. I have a page I send to people who say, “I have this book idea,” or “How do I get published?” It has books, websites and blogs. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments. I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite writing blog first though. Can you guess what it was? Click HERE for a trip down memory lane, and BYOG. (Points to whoever can de-code that in the comments.)
1) Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents, 2008 Edition, by Jeff Herman
2) Write the Perfect Book Proposal, by Jeff Herman
3) The Elements of Style, by William Strunk
4) Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynn Truss
5) How I Write, Secrets of a Best Selling Author, by Janet Evanovich
6) The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman
7) The Forest for the Trees, by Betsy Lerner
8) Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
9) On Writing, by Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King)
Websites for Writers:
1) Backspace, The Writer’s Place: www.bksp.org
2) Agent Query, www.agentquery.com
3) Publisher’s Marketplace, www.publishersmarketplace.com
4) Writer’s Digest, www.writersdigest.com
Agent Blogs with tons of info
1) Kristin Nelson http://pubrants.blogspot.com/
2) Nathan Bransford (former agent) He has Publishing essentials on his left sidebar: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/
So, I know, you love spending the days here with us at the Debutante Ball, but did you know we all have other sites as well?
Deb Elise’s site features pictures of her with multiple Muppets (say that five times fast), information on Elixir, the novel she co-wrote with Hilary Duff, and Populazzi, her solo debut (which I recently had the pleasure of reading and may I just say, WOW), and links to her on Facebook and Twitter.
Elise also has a blog on her site, which is, unsurprisingly, hilarious and smart, as is the woman herself. You can read there about how she met Richard Simmons and how Justin Bieber ruined her Friday night.
Kim Stagliano’s website is so much retro-awesome you won’t be able to stand it (bonus that it is done in my very favorite color – pink!).
Find out about her sad and hilarious and thought-provoking book, All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa, meet her on Twitter and Facebook, and catch up on her events schedule.
Kim’s blog is over here, and I totally recommend that you check out her interviews on Good Morning, Texas and Fox 5 San Diego Morning News, if for no other reason than to marvel about how calm and eloquent she is on television!
If you doubt that Sarah Jio is Superwoman, go ahead and follow her online. Her site has a blog (complete with pictures of her precious new baby!), links to articles she has written for a billion and one publications, the book trailer for The Violets of March, you name it – it’s there.
Sarah also blogs daily for the Glamour.com health and fitness blog Vitamin G, which has featured both Deb Elise’s date with Richard Simmons and my treadmill desk (and my former gym teachers are laughing hysterically at my being featured on a fitness blog), but is overall one of my favorite daily reads.
Tawna’s site is wonderfully pirate-themed, in honor of her debut novel, Making Waves, and I could spent hours clicking the pirate chests and watching them open and close. While you’re there, you can check out her Contact page and find her on Facebook and Twitter.
But the real action happens over at Tawna’s blog. She’s funny and smart and there’s an active community of commenters who keep things hopping. Plus, she posts every day, so you can always stop by and find something new.
Although those clickable pirate chests are really, really fun.
And then there’s me. My site is here, with all the fun goodies you’d expect. But I have to admit, looking through the sites and blogs of my fellow Debs makes me want to be a better writer, blogger, person, you name it. How lucky am I to spend my weeks surrounded by these beautiful, talented women?
Your turn – what site should I be reading on a daily basis?