I was so excited about today’s topic on The Ball, because I love lists. Love them. Really, let me illustrate how much. I keep notebooks all over my house. One in the bathroom. One on my nightstand in my bedroom. One in the kitchen. And a big stack in my office. This way, if I’m running around the house and happen to think of something, I don’t know, sorta brilliant, I can jot it down quickly (or else, it vanishes into the sea of motherhood). Note: All of these lists are paper lists. You’d think I’d figure out a way to get them in one place, or put them on my Blackberry, or something, but no, I prefer paper (which is why you can probably guess that I still prefer real, physical paper books, too!). So, each day, I have four lists in progress:
*Topic idea list for my Glamour.com blog, Vitamin G: Whether it’s breaking health news, a subject inspired by a chat with a friend, a new health food product I’ve tried or want to try, or ideas about people I want to interview, I keep a running list of blog ideas on my desk (yes, it’s a very long list).
*Novel idea list: I have a list on my computer of half-baked novel ideas. (As my author friend Carol Cassella puts it—the influx of story ideas is like having a chronic disease; it’s hard to turn your mind off!) On this list are the ideas for the books I hope to write next, and a few less-developed ideas, and also a few simple novel titles (sometimes I’m simply inspired by a title, so I write it on this list, knowing I’ll come back and add to it once a plot/story strikes me).
*Dinner/grocery list: Confession: I dread grocery shopping, so I have them delivered via this fabulous service called Amazon Fresh in Seattle. I have three young boys and a very hungry husband, so you can imagine that this list is long and ever-growing. And for the record, if I actually shopped for groceries at a physical store, I’d spend 20 hours a week buying, bagging and bringing it all home!
*Family plans list: Because my work life is so hectic, I try to plan the week around fun things my kids can look forward to. So, each week I scan the calendars of some local parenting sites and find out what fun kiddo events are happening, and then pick the things everyone wants to do.
*The slush list: Then, I keep a running list of to-do’s on my desk—people I need to call back, people I need to email, magazine stories I need to complete, doctor appointments I need to make, etc., etc. This is not my favorite list, for obvious reasons.
There you have it! The riveting list of Sarah Jio. A nail-biter, wasn’t it? xo
My husband would like to write this post for me. It would look something like this.
“If Kim tattooed a list onto her hand, she’d forget to look at it.”
I’m not a complete catastrophe of organization, but I’m close. I always have several balls in the air – don’t we all? I am a happy Deb, I run Age of Autism, I have a very lonely wife-blog that may well have cobwebs on it today Kim Stagliano , there’ s FaceBook , Twitter, I write for Huffington Post and also the MSNBC TodayMoms blog. And I’m now writing for Autism File as a regular columnist starting this Fall. I have a non-fic proposal I’m working on and fiction that really should be War and Peace by now, and yet resembles a Bob book at this point. Oh yes, I also have three children. With autism. Which may or may not complicate my life, I’m not sure. It’s all I know. I can imagine that shuttling typical kids around is no picnic in terms of organizing schedules.
I jot reminders. If you follow me on Twitter or have read my book All I Can Handle I’m No Mother Teresa you know I’m a Howard Stern fan. On Monday, the topic between Howard and his producer Gary Dell’Abate (Bababooey) was organization and lists. Howard is borderline OCD with organization – Gary carries a wad of sticky notes in his pocket. I’m team Gary. I use the sticky note feature in Windows – when I log on to my computer I have a pink sheet that tells me what posts I need to prep for AofA. My Outlook contains flagged messages with colors that tell me what’s kids, family, work, personal. Pink is kids. Wait. No. Pink is writing. Blue is kids. No. wait. Blue is AofA. You see how well this works for me? Sigh……
I’m a big fan of lists of all kinds. When I am writing, I keep a list of ideas and scenes or even phrases or sentences I want to use at the bottom of the Word document I am writing in, and when I’m stuck, I drop down to the bottom and root around until I find something good.
For daily life and errands, I’m all about the to-do list. I take such satisfaction in crossing things off that I have been known to put things on the list I have already done, just so I can cross them off.
But, like most people, I also have a tendency to procrastinate, and sometimes I need a little more satisfaction than crossing something off a list.
I’m a carrot person, so I like to reward myself for doing things. I’ve probably mentioned before that The Weird Sisters was powered by Dairy Queen – when I finished a chapter, J.C. would take me out for ice cream (I highly recommend this if you are trying to increase the size of your manuscript and the size of your behind at the same time). Going to the gym when I’m really not feeling like it can earn me a new song from iTunes. I might promise myself that if I only clean out my email inbox, I can spend a half-hour or so playing a video game.
Speaking of video games, my friend Amanda uses an iPhone app called Epic Win that is like a to-do list and video game combined – you can earn points by doing tasks. The more odious the task, the more points you get.
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a reward that’s motivating enough for something I don’t really want to do, but I’ve never really tried to punish myself, either.
What about you? Are you a carrot (reward) or stick (punishment) person? And what are your favorite rewards for a job well-done (or at least done!).
I loooooooove lists!!!! I have a Franklin Planner — not an electronic organizer, but a pen-and-paper binder — and I’ve been using it for years. When I keep up with my daily lists, I’m productive and sane. When I don’t — and all too often I don’t — I’m frazzled and overwhelmed.
For today’s post, however, I don’t want to write about to-do lists.
I was out with friends the other day, and we started gabbing about all the TV shows, books, and movies we had loved over the years. As we spoke, I realized many of these were the reasons I became I writer — I enjoyed the stories, the comedy, and/or the way they made me feel so much, that I wanted to create that experience for other people. So instead of a to-do list, today I want to share a list of TV shows, movies, and books that made me say I Wanna Do That!
I can’t call it a Top Ten list though… I can’t rank them in order that way, and so many works that aren’t on this list were still HUGE influences on me. So instead of a top ten list, with a nod to Happy Days (which isn’t on the list, but I did watch it an awful lot), we’ll call it:
1. Every single Anne Lamott book Her fiction, her non-fiction… I have yet to read a single Anne Lamott book without thinking “Wow, I would love to write like that.
2. Moonlighting It’s smart, suspenseful, hysterically funny, and the romance had me hooked well after it officially jumped the shark. I don’t think there are two better hours of television than the Black and White noir episode and the Taming of the Shrew episode.
3. The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy The whole series, really, but especially that first book. Douglas Adams has a brilliantly irreverent narrative voice that has always made me drool.
4. Cheers This series was fantastic, and it managed something very tricky. Most shows, once they run long enough, turn their characters into caricatures. Sex and the City, for example — for me, Samantha went from being a complex character who happened to be sex-crazed… to simply sex-crazed for easy jokes. Cheers never fell into that trap. The characters were quirky, but they were never one-dimensional.
5. Airplane (the movie), Police Squad (the TV show) Forget the Airplane sequels, forget the Police Squad movies. The original Airplane movie and the original six episodes of Police Squad were genius. My guess is you already know and can quote most of Airplane, but if you haven’t seen the old Police Squad shows, Netflix them. Leslie Nielsen’s best work.
6. Speak and Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the only time these two books shared a list with Airplane. I’m a Laurie Halse Anderson geek, and pretty much stopped breathing when she agreed to visit us here at the Deb Ball awhile back. While I love all her books, these two reach new levels of depth and honesty. I’m too involved in the stories to think about craft when I’m reading them, but afterwards I just lay back in awe.
7. The Princess Bride, both the book and the movie And as long we we’re on this one… a moment of silence for the late Peter Falk, who was so charming in the movie. The Princess Bride is one of those rare cases where I like the movie even more than the book, though I’m crazy about the book as well. William Goldman’s screenplay is very true to his novel, but the casting is so brilliant, it puts the movie over the top. As with Moonlighting, what I covet in this is Goldman’s ability to combine laugh-out-loud comedy with an emotional arc that’s genuinely moving.
8. The Entire Harry Potter Series I loved this when it came out, and now that I’m reading it to my daughter, knowing the whole mythology, I love it even more. For me, part of the wonder of writing is creating a universe filled with characters, even the smallest of whom has their own unique story. J.K. Rowling does this beautifully — over the course of the seven books, so many of the characters flower and come into their own. Add to that the rich sense of place, and of course the magic — it’s all wonderful. Oh, and Rowling also has Ron Weasley work in one of my daughter’s and my favorite jokes. In Divination, the students are using the planets to tell the future, and there’s this exchange:
Lavender: Oh, Professor, look! I think I’ve got an unaspected planet! Oooh, which one’s that, Professor?
Trelawney: It is Uranus, my dear.
Ron: Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?
9. Seinfeld and Phineas and Ferb No, seriously, I group these together! I love them for the same reasons! Both have characters that are crazy, but totally believable within the world of the show; both push their plots to truly absurd places to make fantastic comedy; and both are impeccable at taking at least three separate storylines and making them all mesh at the end. Oh, and both have a platypus. Except Seinfeld.
10. The Muppet Movie Oh come on, you should know me by now. Did you really think I’d have a top ten anything without the Muppets??? This movie in particular has it all: great jokes, brilliantly groan-worthy puns, over-the-top absurdity, break-the-fourth-wall irreverence, and a beautifully emotional story about making your dreams come true.
There we have it — ten things that make me jump up and shout, “I WANNA DO THAT!”
Already my head is spinning with all the things I left off, but ten’s a good place to stop. Now I’d love to hear from you — what are some movies, books, or TV shows that make you say “I Wanna Do That!”
Can’t wait to hear…
~ Deb Elise
Congrats to Ashlyn Rae who won Katie’ Alender’s From Bad to Cursed. Katie can be found online at KatieAlender.com, Twitter, and Facebook.
From the 2011 Debs…
Deb Eleanor is excited to be spending a few days in New Orleans, visiting with some of her favorite kind of people….librarians! The annual ALA conference is wrapping up, and I can’t wait to talk books and eat beignet! Oh, and I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble in Harvey, LA at 6:00 TONIGHT with Tayari Jones and Jon Michaud. How fun!
Deb Sarah is excited that The Violets of March has been chosen as the June book selection for Portland’s ABC morning show, KATU, as well as a July book club pick for the Manic Mommies, and also the September book club pick for SheReads! Yay for summer reading!
Deb Tawna is thrilled that Making Waves just received 4 1/2 stars from RT Book Review magazine. The review noted, “This delightfully witty debut will have readers laughing out loud.”
Deb Elise loves this quote from Populazzi’s Publishers Weekly review: “In her first solo novel, Allen offers a smart mix of hilarity and tragedy in this Macbeth–meets–Mean Girls tale.”
Deb Kim is taking her girls to the fabulous Lake Compounce park for an autism event. It’s much easier to be surrounded by families facing similar challenges than to brave a theme park on a “typical” summer day.
Past Deb News
Deb Mia King (Good Things) is giving away a Kindle and there’s only a few days left to win! If you’ve read her latest book, FRIENDSHIP BREAD (written as Darien Gee), or want to, then entering is easy! Visit her at the Friendship Bread Kitchen (the book’s website) for more details. The Miami Herald calls it “an engrossing read,” and Ladies’ Home Journal says it’s “charming.” Ends 6/30/11. Good luck!
Friends of the Debs
Sarah Skilton, a member of the LAYAs (Los Angeles Young Adult Authors — other members include Deb Elise and former Deb Katie Alender), is thrilled to announce her debut BRUISED, about a 16-year-old girl with a black belt in martial arts who freezes up at an armed robbery and is left wondering if martial arts failed her or if she failed it. The book was sold to Maggie Lehrman at Amulet for publication in 2012, by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency. Congratulations, Sarah!
Deb Dish — What the Debs are Most Looking Forward to This Summer
Oh well this is just too easy, given Populazzi’s release August 1st. So, um, well… that. Also, I have a mega-big birthday coming up in exactly ten days, and while I think I’m required to dread it… I’m really really really looking forward to it. Let the celebrations begin!!!!
Exploring Colorado! We moved there at the end of September, and I’ve pretty much been traveling since January when The Weird Sisters came out, so I’m hoping to spend some time going to some Denver restaurants I’ve had in mind, visiting a couple of resorts, and enjoying the gorgeous summer.
I love the easier tempo of summer. Even though my girls go to summer school for special ed, we feel less rushed and hectic.
I’m itching to start my fourth book (just finished #3)! I realized this may make me sound like a workaholic, but I’m crazy-obsessed with writing fiction right now, and getting the chance to sit at my desk and write with a warm breeze blowing through my open window in my office is just plain bliss. P.S. I also look forward to chilling on my back deck with good wine with the hubs after the boys are in bed—our favorite summer pastime. We’re celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary on July 21!
I’ll avoid stating the obvious and squealing “the release of Making Waves on August 1!” I love summertime in Central Oregon’s high desert. I plan to do a lot of hiking around the mountain lakes, floating the Deschutes River, and enjoying sunset dinners on my back deck.
We’re excited to welcome back Deb extraordinaire Kristina Riggle to the Ball today! Kristina’s new book, Things We Didn’t Say, is out next week, and we hope you’ve pre-ordered your copy! Take it away, Kristina:
You know what my writer fuel is? Other writers. Publishing is a subjective, sometimes arbitrary, thoroughly weird business. And though my husband does his level best to understand my life, it’s not the same as being around someone who has been in the foxhole with you. That’s why I’m so grateful for the whole Debutante Ball experience. I’m writing to you as a Graduate Deb, class of ’09. The 2009 Debs are to this day helping each other through the submission, writing and promotion of subsequent books. We soothe each other about the inevitable negative reviews, and even laugh about them. (Eventually).
Better yet than commiserating over email is getting to meet real, live Debs. I’ve met ’09 Debs Meredith Cole (POSED FOR MURDER and DEAD IN THE WATER) and Gail Konop Baker (CANCER IS A BITCH). I’ve met two members of the original Debs, Anna David (BOUGHT and PARTY GIRL) and Eileen Cook (UNPREDICTABLE and THE EDUCATION OF HAILEY KENDRICK) . I’ve met I-don’t-know-how-many guests of the Deb Ball, such as hilarious memoirist Wade Rouse and Kelly O’Connor McNees, whose LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT just came out in paperback.
When I introduce myself as one of the Debutantes, it’s like meeting an old friend. Every time. I was lucky enough to meet current Deb Eleanor Brown at the Printers Row Lit Fest this month in Chicago.
I went to her panel discussion, had a fabulous time, and she went to mine. We had dinner, we had drinks, we had fun conversation and shared war stories. We’d been in the same foxhole after all. I came back to earth on Monday with my agents’ revision notes on Book Four. I could be exhausted and overwhelmed; I’m on a tight deadline. Yet I feel refueled and recharged by my experience meeting Debs, and loads of other excellent writers, not to mention the readers flooding Chicago all for the love of books. How can that be anything but exciting?
As I launch my third book (wow, third? Where did the last two years go?) I may be sitting alone on my couch trying to resist checking my online sales rankings and obsessing about whether my book is selling or neglected on the shelf… but I’m not alone, not really. Because of my writer friends and my Debs.
Yours in pearls and a tiara, Deb Kristina
From the moment I glanced at this week’s topic, “fuel for writers,” on Monday morning, I’ve had Dire Straits’ 1991 tune “Heavy Fuel” stuck in my head.
In it, the band extols the virtues of cigarettes, hamburgers, scotch, lust, money, and violence as a means of fueling yourself.
Though I’m pretty sure the song is meant to be ironic, I’ll admit I gain a good bit of writerly inspiration from my own vices. Only one of them is on Dire Straits’ list, but I’ll leave it to you to guess which one it might be.
Not tough to do, considering I write romance.
Though I’m not a huge fan of scotch, I’ll certainly pick up a nice glass of Pinot Noir to get my creative juices flowing. Many’s the time I’ve gotten stuck on a scene and pried my brain loose using a crowbar and the contents of a good piece of Riedel stemware.
I don’t have a lot of unhealthy food vices, and tend to prefer snacking on frozen peas or raw almonds over hamburgers or chocolate or potato chips. Still, give me a really nice hunk of expensive cheese to go with the wine and I’ll be extra happy and productive.
The internet is one of my biggest vices, and I’ll admit I can fritter away hours giggling over www.damnyouautocorrect.com. Then again, I can almost justify it by pointing out I write romantic comedy, and reading anything funny is sorta like research.
Do you have any vices that inspire you? Or distract you, whatever. It’s tough to tell the difference sometimes, isn’t it?