“She's rude, she's crude but she's funny. Oh wait, that's me. Molly is neither of those things but she is funny.”
Suzy Soro, comedian as seen on “Seinfeld,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” http://wherehotcomestodie.blogspot.com 

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BIRTHING A BOOK

I wrote a novel. Titled Keep the Ends Loose, it will be released next Tuesday, February 24. Dry facts. Hardly interesting. But I am going to let you in on the backstory:

Sit down at computer. Come up with a few characters. Write about them. No. This is awful. Wait a few weeks.

Sit down again. Come up with some other characters. One is a fifteen-year-old girl. She starts talking about her family. Hey, this sounds promising! Type about two thousand words. Wow. Stuck. All books need plots, right? Wait a few weeks.

Think about Mandy Heath, this fifteen-year-old narrator, all the time: while you are at the grocery store, and as you fill your prescriptions at the drugstore. WAIT—her dad should be a pharmacist! Yes! And her mother should be kind of a busybody! YES! Rush home and write a few thousand more words. Whoops. Stuck. Go back. This kid needs an annoying brother and some kind of problem to solve. Erase two thousand words. Write a hundred. Wait a week.

As you are in spinning class, it hits you: Mandy Heath’s family needs to almost fall apart. You think about soap operas and melodramas. Sex. Violence. Chaos. Well, maybe not the violence. You take a shower, go home, and type in another few thousand words.

This thing is taking shape! It should be a breeze to finish! Yup. Wait—show don’t tell. Damn. Erase a few thousand words. Wait another few weeks.

Cogitate, cogitate. In the middle of the night, Mandy wakes you up. Of course! You go downstairs, and Mandy dictates another few thousand words. Yawning, you go back to bed at four a.m. Wait another week or so.

The plot is falling into place. You realize that there are probably some gaping holes in this thing. So you hire an editor and send her the manuscript. Wait about two months for her to go through it with a fine-toothed comb.

Good God. The editor sends back five pages of queries. You erase, cut and paste, rethink, and even poor Mandy is getting confused. Sleepless nights. You are obsessed. This damn thing will never be finished!

Cut to a year and a half later. The book is done. The loose ends get tied up. But should they have? WAIT. This is the title: Keep the Ends Loose! So you submit it. Wait weeks, maybe months. Get nervous. Then despair.

But the day arrives. The Story Plant will publish your book! Hooray!!! Wait. Editorial queries. Copyeditor. Proofreader. More rewrites. Cuts. Additions. Gosh. This isn’t like falling off a log AT ALL.

It seemed like just a minute ago, you got the idea for this book. But you check your calendar. That was two years ago. Good grief. But the dream came true. You are a novelist.

So you start another one. This should be a breeze—you know how to do this now. Sit down. Type a few hundred words. Wait. Erase. Sigh…

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NADA

I have been blogging faithfully for years. I have raked my family over the coals, commented on current trends in housing, embarrassed my husband more times than I can count, discussed world crises, and admitted to my own foibles.

And finally, after weekly postings for all of those years, I have run out of things to say. I sat down here at my desk, sighed, and came up blank. This has never happened. I am a little shocky. Is this writer’s block? Am I finished? Is my imagination drying up?

First, I considered talking about things that most people like, but for some reason, I don’t: salmon. It looks so delish, but takes so damn FISHY. I don’t get it. And is kale something that everybody lies about liking? Just to be in the in-crowd? But then I decided against a salmon and kale column. Too limiting.

Then I thought about all of those people snowed in up in New England. They must be going out of their minds. I bet there will be a lot of babies born nine months from now. Yup. I got nothing more on that subject.

Well, what about cooking? I find it  ironic that I gave my Crock Pot away last winter, because everything I made in it tasted boiled, and suddenly there are thousands of delectable sounding Crock Pot recipes on my Facebook feed. Boring.

Brian Williams is a liar. I was so surprised about that. Then I remembered that I once told everybody that I nearly drowned in the bathtub, when in actuality, it was the sink, and I was rinsing my hair and inhaled some shampoo, but it didn’t make a very good story. So that’s enough on lying.

I haven’t seen many of the Oscar nominated movies. I watched the Grammys, but had no idea who Sam Smith was, and nobody else on that show looked vaguely familiar, so I changed the channel.  Boyhood took twelve years to watch. That is about it on the awards. Nothing there.

Sooooo, this has been my week in review. I am optimistic that this isn’t actually writer’s block, but merely a small blog hiccup. See you next week, when I am hoping to be chock full of ideas. Maybe I will buy a new Crock Pot.

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LET’S GO TO THE MOVIES

I love watching movies. These days, you don’t even need to go to the theater, buy a ticket, and sit with your feet sticking to the gluey floor. No, you can see just about everything on TV. On demand. Or on HBO. Or Netflix. But this is a problem over here, because my husband hates watching movies on TV.

He prefers getting dressed in something other than sweats, putting on shoes, getting in the car even when it is freezing out there, parking, slogging through the ice and snow to pay an exorbitant price for tickets, and sitting there in the dark. He doesn’t even like popcorn.

I asked him about this, because a friend lent us some CDs they bootlegged somehow: Gone Girl, Whiplash, Boyhood, and some other good ones. I was excited to watch them, but he declined to keep me company.

ME: How come you won’t watch these with me? They are all up for Academy Awards!

HIM: I don’t like movies at home.

ME: But why? It is so much more intimate.

HIM: Because you can pause them.

ME: Huh?

HIM: Pause. In order for you to go to the bathroom. Or get an orange. Or ask a hundred questions. Or comment about the guy’s abs or the girl’s hairdo.

ME: I don’t do that! Well, everybody has to pee sometimes.

HIM: You ask me what is going to happen. Is that guy going to get killed? Or worse, you “call” the show: “She is pregnant!” or “He is going to kill the wrong woman by mistake!” You basically ruin things. What do they call those—SPOILERS? You are a big spoiler. You can’t do that in the theater.

ME: Oh.

I had no idea that my comments weren’t helpful. Or that eating an orange during love scenes was distracting. Hey, you know Gone Girl? Well she wasn’t very nice…

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FAME

Supposedly, everybody gets fifteen minutes of it. You know, either you do something fantastic, and you get all kinds of press—you saved a dog on the freeway, or you caught that little toddler just before he/she fell off the slide to disaster—or, you do something so incredibly foolish that your deed is infamous—that elementary school teacher who had sex and subsequent children with her preteen student, or the woman who forgot to wear underpants and went out during a windstorm in a skirt.

Some people get more than fifteen minutes. These are the celebs, the Nobel Prize winners, the war heroes, or the Olympians. These folks get used to being hounded for autographs and selfies. They have tons of Twitter followers. We all, at one time or another, wish we were famous like this. We imagine what it would be like to be asked for autographs, have people gasp when we walk into the room, or nearly faint at the sight of us. I think that would be fun. For a day or so.

Being a writer can make you famous. I am sure that everybody knows what Ernest Hemingway looked like. Or they recognize the name J.K. Rowling the moment it is uttered. However, very few writers—even bestselling ones—have a face or persona that the man in the street would instantly recognize. So it is very exciting indeed, to have an experience like I had in the post office the other day, where I went to send out some “Advanced Reader Copies” of my novel to reviewers. A woman I recognized but had not actually met hustled over to me, and uttered those words that all of us fame seekers hope for:

“Aren’t you Molly Campbell? Didn’t you just do something? What was it?”

Ok. It wasn’t fifteen minutes. Not even close.

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THE INTERVIEW

As most of you know, I have a book coming out at the end of February. Keep the Ends Loose is a coming of age story about a girl and her average family that go haywire one summer before she enters high school. You might want to pre-order one right this minute: There is a link on the sidebar of this blog–handy and convienient!

Anyway, I am very hopeful that this book will be a success. Having a successful book means that there is a “buzz” created around your book, and as a result, other people want to talk to you about your writing, your book, and your brilliant insights on life and the world. I am not that  brilliant or insightful. I have also not been interviewed much in the past. So I have been doing some research on what actually constitutes a good interview, so I can practice up for when somebody actually contacts me for one. So far this hasn’t happened, but I tell myself that it is early days.

Here is what I have found out. To be good in an interview, you have to lead the person questioning you away from the usual interview fare (“when did you discover that you wanted to be a writer?” BORING) to more interesting questions. This is a real skill involving the segue. So I would say this, “I honestly never wanted to become a writer. But I always got A’s on my term papers, so I guess it sank in that I had a little talent with words. But guess what happened to me last week when I went into the basement to put the laundry into the dryer?” Now this would turn the course of the interview into a lively discussion about spiders, and both the interviewer and I could have a meaningful exchange about our worst fears.

Interviewers always ask the person they are interviewing for “tips.” This is unnerving, as I imagine readers or listeners pulling out notebooks and pencils, waiting for something really useful. All I can think of that might help would-be writers out there is to limit the use of the words “like” and “very.” So I need to bone up on this: maybe I should talk about how important “show, don’t tell” is. The fact that I am lousy about showing and perfectly comfortable telling is probably not important, right? I can develop some sort of take on this (note to self: find out what “show, don’t tell” actually means).

Good interviews always seem to have a great story. The person interviewed overcame a huge obstacle, walked across the desert all alone in uncomfortable boots, kicked a huge drug habit, or nearly committed suicide. Tough one. I guess I can tell the story about the time I spit on my collar during a job interview to see if the sweat I felt rolling down my armpits into my brassiere actually showed on the outside of my blazer. Then I had to figure out how to cover the dark spit spot on my lapel, or at least have a logical explanation for how it got there while the interviewer briefly left me alone in the room. Ok, check.

I like that Lipton man. You know, the guy with the index cards who asks all the celebs he interviews what their favorite swear words are, what sounds they like the best, and what jobs they would do if they could choose any profession? I am ready for him.

Shitballs, cat purr, and the person who gets to name all the nail polish colors for OPI.

Ok. I think I am ready for my interview. What? You want to know if I always knew that I wanted to be a writer? Guess what I found in the basement this morning?

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