Hey there. It's Thursday night and I just watched Me and Bobby Brown, one of my new favorite shows. It's so G-D bad that it's good. Had dinner tonight with my Park Avenue friends. They have a professional chef cook a healthy dinner for them every single night. This is how the other half lives, my friends. Me, I'm lucky if I can zap a Lean Cuisine. Sometimes I'll do that and pretend that my personal chef cooked it, but it isn't even close to having a real personal chef, trust me. I've seen the difference. We all watched my Richard & Judy tape and boo-ed Toby Young when he said he couldn't believe CZJ was going to play someone who looks like (ugh! vomit, vomit!) the author. Pul-ease. Okay, that's the last time I'm mentioning Toby Young. I'm really not mad at the guy. He also said some nice things about Ivy and I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt - that he was just trying to create good television by stirring up the some contraversey (sp??). CZJ can play the author! No, the author's a too ugly. She's not. She is. She's not. She is. AAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaa. Okay, enough of that. Toby's forgiven and I'd even have him to my home for dinner, the big slug. Leave us all move on.
Meanwhile, I'm writing my third book and having so much fun with this one. I absolutely love, love, love this book. I know I keep saying this but I can't help it. The plot is fantastic and so are the characters. You'll forgive me for being so cocky, but I have to tell you that this is a book I'm not writing. I'm channeling it from God knows where. The book I'm writing now is called "India Fudge and the Time Travel Tunnel." The second book in the series will be called "The Rescue of Pup Daddy - an India Fudge Time Travel Adventure." Love, love, love working on this book. Every night I thank God for blessing me with a life of writing.
I find myself at the stage of writing a book that I like best. That's when I'm laying down the bones of the story. At this point, you don't have to worry about perfect writing, excellent character development, important themes. No, you just make up a great plot and that's my favorite part. Once I lay down the bones, then I'll go back and round out my characters, strengthen my themes, decide what message (if any) I want the book to impart - all the little details that can make a good book great. But it all starts with the story. If you don't have an unputdownable story, you don't have crap. At least not for the average joe reader, and that's what I am. As a reader, it's the plot that gets me every time. The characters always come second for me. Other writers would disagree, but I believe that fascinating characters with no plot (or too literary a plot - gag - take your pick) spells B-O-R-I-N-G. So there you have it. I'll stop repeating myself now.
I am writing about 8 hours a day lately. And what I find is that in that time, I manage to crank out 7 - 10 pages. Every day, I write one to two amazingly funny lines that I feel are channeled from the great beyond. I don't even think about them. I just write write write and then I go back and read what I've written and then I crack myself up. Did I write that, I'll wonder. Yes, I must have because it's there in my computer. But where did it come from? The great Henny Youngman joke bank in the sky. This is hard to explain. You kind of have to be there. But this is how the process works for me.
Got to go. 8 hours of delicious writing await me tomorrow. Adios.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
My So-Called Glamorous Life
It's Sunday afternoon and I just woke up. Had to get up at the crack of dawn yesterday to let the refrigerator guy in so I didn't get my big sleep. Made up for it in spades today. Sam left me a note that he's gone back to the movies. Apparently he snuck into The Wedding Crashers yesterday (rated R - on one under 18 admitted w/o an adult), ironic eh? Anyway, he was so into it that he went back today to watch it twice. Lots of explicit sex which is made to order for a prepubescent (sp?) boy. My mother was scandalized that I let him go but I figured there are a lot worse things that a 12 year old can do besides sneaking into an R rated movie. Ah, I remember sneaking into my first R rated movie like it was yesterday - it was Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. I'm sure it was tame compared to The Wedding Crashers.
I'm on strict orders to post new pictures of Schuyler. She HATED the pictures I posted last week. Hopefully, she'll like these better. Apparently she reads my blog ("Hi there Schuyler! How's camp going?") and she came upon her photos, then contacted me immediately imploring me to remove them (I really don't know how to take them down, I swear it!) and replace them with better pics. She's having a great time at camp, at least according to the IM's I'm getting. We talk everyday on line which relieves me of the need to send letters (not packages, however, those are still mandatory). Here are the new Schuyler pictures. What do you think? Better?
I was introduced to a freelance writer from Denver, Sally Stitch, who is going to include me in a story she's writing for Women's Day. I'm excited about that, but was struck when she mentioned that she thought I lived a much more glamorous life than most of the readers of that magazine. That's because I'm the living embodiment of the anti-glamorous working mom. I never wear makeup anymore because most days no one sees me but my kids, babysitter, cats, and husband. I suppose I should try to look sexy for Mark but really, we're married 25 years. I hate to waste my expensive Chanel makeup on him unless we're going out which we never do (See! NOT glamorous). I ran into a neighbor on the elevator the other day and she said, "Oh, did you just work out?" And I said, "no, I just worked," because my everyday wardrobe is shorts and tee-shirts. Yes, Catherine Zeta Jones is going to play me in the movies, but have I ever met her? Has she called me? Have we done lunch? NO! Not only that, this week I received the tape from the Richard & Judy show where they reviewed my book. The segment was quite fabulous except for this one moment when this guest author, Toby Young I think his name was, holds up a picture of me from the London edition of Ivy and says, "Can you believe that Catherine Zeta Jones is going to play HER!" The way he said it, I was surprised that he didn't hurl chunks all over Richard and Judy. And trust me, it's not like Michael Douglas would play Toby in the movie version of his life. Jason Alexander would be perfect. It's not that I'm trying to be as mean to Toby as he was to me. It's just that OF COURSE I look nothing like CZJ - I'm unglamorous like 99.9% of the rest of the world. That's why she's a movie star and I'm not. Anyway, the lovely Judy stood up for me and said she thought Rene Zelwegger would be perfect to play me. And even though I know she was thinking about the fat Rene Zelwegger, I still appreciated the sentiment and will forever be a Judy fan.
I did do one rather glamorous thing this week. I went to Peter Max's studio as I said I was going to. I Met Peter himself, who was so friendly. But talk about feeling unglamorous. When Paul Zerler introduced me to him to him, he referred to me as a famous author (of course Peter had never heard of me or my book). When you look around Peter's studio, you see the people he has painted - Christopher Reeves, Sting, Mick Jagger - Bill Clinton's saxophone, a piano signed by the Beatles. Compared to all the glamorous people Peter Max has met in his life, I'm so not worthy. Still, I so enjoyed getting to know Paul Zerler better. He's the man who invited me to Peter's studio. Paul is a very accomplished art appraiser who I'm convinced knows everyone in the world. He told me stories of hanging out with Luciano Pavaratti, Frank Sinatra, Andrew Wyath and lots of other luminaries that totally impressed me. Paul has been appraising all the artifacts that have come off of the Titanic and is going to introduce me to the man heading the Titanic project. But what most impressed me about Paul was how he could remember everyone's phone number. He was like, "Now, you MUST call Luciano. You can get him at 818-456-9879. Or else try his cell at 989-847-9243. And if he doesn't answer, try his wife at 818-878-4837." He did that with every single person he mentioned. And the guy's in his 80's. Although he doesn't look a day over 70. I can't remember my own phone number most of the time so I'm very impressed with anyone who has such a brilliant head for numbers. Talk about a guy who has led a glamorous life!
Oh, here's a big piece of news I forgot to mention. My English publish, Simon and Schuster, is taking my new book - Wife in the Fast Lane. I'm still waiting to hear from Viking in the U.S., but I'm very hopeful. Meanwhile, I'm working hard on a new children's book, a novel really, called India Fudge and the Time Travel Tunnel. I needed something to do after finishing Wife, so I thought I'd try my hand at a book for kids about my own childrens' ages. I'm loving doing this one. Time Travel novels are my personal favorites.
And one last piece of bummer news. Mark and I were all set to go on this amazing cruise around Greece, Italy and Istanbul in August. First we were going to this world track and field championship in Helsinki, Finland. BORING! But I agreed to go because I knew we'd be going on the very cool cruise right after. Well, Mark had a bunch of cases blow up at work and we've had to cancel our fabulous cruise! Now, my vacation is going to be watching a bunch of half-naked athetes run around a tartan track all day in Helsinki which is essentially the Cleveland, Ohio of Europe. Nothing personal to Cleveland, Ohio, but it's just not a place I would go on vacation. I'm hoping Helsinki will turn out to be better than I expect, and we'll be with our friends Stacy and Stuart, and they're a lot of fun. But still. I've been to Helsinki once and the most exciting thing we saw there was a bunch of cops commanding a german shephard to attack a drunk on the street who refused to get in the paddy wagon. And the german shephard jumped the guy and bit him silly. I'm not kidding. That really happened.
Anyway, see you in Helsinki.
P.S. I just returned from dinner and want to add one thing. Above, when I was trying to think of the actor who should play Toby Young in the movies, I wanted to say Wallace Shawn but for the life of me I couldn't remember his name. I could picture him perfectly in Woody Allen's last movie (Melinda and Melinda, I think), but his name just wouldn't come to me. So, I suggested that Jason Alexander should be the one to play Toby. Anyway, Mark and I just went on one of our 5 mile Sunday night walks, and in Greenwich Village who did I run right into but Wallace Shawn (out with his friends). Of course, the moment I saw him I remembered his name. But isn't that a remarkable coincidence?
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Okay, I'm getting ambitious. I'm going to attempt to post some photos. I was just blogging about some of my artwork, and I found a picture of our apartment with some of my paintings, plus a few family shots that I thought I'd show you. If you are reading this and there are no pictures, it means I have failed in my attempt to post pictures. This is me attempting to do something high tech, so failure is definitely an option. If this does work, here is what you will see below: my cats, Smokey and Cookie, Me and Mark in front of a beautiful chateau in France (I'm totally squinting, sorry), Mark and Sam in Florida, my beautiful daughter, Schuyler, a few of my paintings in our apartment. I think that's it. So, let's see if they actually appear...
Ooh la la! It worked. This is going to open up a whole new world for me. Now if I can just figure out how to download photos from my camera to my computer, I might start peppering my blog with photos that bring my words life. Can you stand it!
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Smokey, camp, and Peter Max
Have I told you about my cat, Smokey? If I have, just skip this paragraph. I tend to repeat myself. She's a Russian Blue and just the sweetest thing in the world. She acts like she's really tough and will hiss at you if you do anything she interprets as suspicious. But she'll also jump into your lap for petting or roll over like a dog so you can rub her stomach. And she sits at my feet when I write every day which I find lovely. Anyway, Russian Blues are natural hunters and if she were able to go outside, she'd be hunting mice, birds, and other rodents. But we don't let her go out and there are no mice (or birds or rodents) in our apartment. So, Smokey hunts pens - ball point pens. At night, when everyone is asleep, she prowls the apartment in search of her prey. Her best hunting ground is my desk, where pens are plenty. Sometimes, I'll get up in the middle of the night, having thought of something to write, and I'll turn on my study light and there will be Smokey, on my desk, with her enemy already captured in her mouth. In the morning, and I mean EVERY morning, when I open my bedroom door, a pen is waiting for me, an offering from my Smokey. I just think that is so sweet.
We visited Schuyler yesterday and it was so great to see her. She performed magnificently at circus doing tricks on the trapeze that I would never have been able to do, ever, in my entire life. She's totally in her element, happy as she can be, with nice cabinmates and great counselors. I dropped off teen magazines, along with pounds of candy, potato chips, and other unhealthy foods for her and her friends. It was a long trip up and back and I'll do it again in three weeks. It'll take three weeks to recover from the long drive.
I've been trying to interview this man named Paul Zerler. Paul is a accomplished, distinguised, and famous art appraiser who I met not too long ago. He has been assessing all the artifacts that have come off the Titanic since they began excavating it, and that's just a tiny piece of his practice. We haven't been able to settle on a date, and we were going to meet tomorrow. But there was a death in his family. So, he asked me if I'd meet him at Peter Max's on Thursday so we could work out a time. I said of course, thinking Peter Max's was a restaurant, like Peter Luger's. But it turned out he meant Peter Max, the artist's, house. I remember what a phonomenon Peter Max was in the 60's. As an artist myself I would adore meeting the man and seeing his own art collection. I am a painter myself and if I could ever figure out how to post pictures on this blog, I'd show you my paintings. Maybe when Schuyler comes back from camp, I'll ask her how to do that. Anyway, isn't it exciting that I'm going to meet Peter Max? Doesn't that sound like an adventure? I once went to Andy Warhole's studio (called the Factory) and met his manager, Fred Hughes. But this is even more exciting because I'll meet the actual artist. I'll tell you all about the visit later in the week.
Ta Ta, karen
Good Richard & Judy news!
Apologies for not having blogged in such a long time. I've spent the last few weeks working on two projects, one a non-fiction book that may or may not come to fruition, the other a young adult novel that I'm experimenting with. The young adult novel has caught my fancy a bit more, so I've spent the last week working on it. I told Mark last night that I really felt the book (I'm up to chapter 4) is destined to become a classic. Is that confidence or what? With Schuyler away and Sam at camp everyday, I'm able to spend 7 hours a day writing which is the most delicious pleasure. If only I could figure out how to keep my butt from falling asleep.
Haven't been exercising however and I'm getting fatter by the minute. I'll be a cow by fall. I bought a new pair of shoes last week and the first time I put them on I walked across the floor and the right shoe seemed to crumple under me and next thing I knew I had a severely sprained ankle. Of course I took the shoes back a week later when I could walk, but little consolation. So now I'm limping around and not able to exercise. What's really sad is that I secretly love having the sprained ankle as an excuse not to exercise. That's how much I hate exercise. But of course, not exercising isn't even an option. By next week I'm back on the treadmill even if I can only walk. The weight/exercise battle is one I haven't been able to win.
Very exciting news on the Richard and Judy front. My book was reviewed yesterday on the show and apparently all the reviewers (including a supermodel!) really loved it. I was thrilled to hear it and now Ivy is selling like mad in London. I've been checking Amazon.com pretty regularly and at one point, Ivy was #12 of all the Amazon books selling in the UK. We have 200,000 books out in the UK which I think is a lot. I don't have much to compare it to, but my sense is, for a new writer, this is good. I'm so happy and grateful that this is happening. Richard and Judy are the best. They can come to my house for dinner anytime. I've also gotten the nicest notes from my English readers. It makes me want to move to London.
I've also sent book #2 to my editors both in the U.S. and London. I'm waiting with bated (or is it baited?) breath to find out if they like it. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
We're going to see Schuyler at camp on Saturday. I cannot wait to see her. We've been IM'ing a lot since she's been gone. She seems to be very happy, although there was a terrible tragedy the first week. Three counselors were in a car accident and two died. Schuyler was devastated because one of the kids who died was like a brother to her. She told me she would need serious therapy when she returned home to get over it. I hope not. Apparently they have grief counselors for the kids. But what sadness, eh? - to go to camp and have two counselors die. You can't get away from real life, can you?
Anyway, I'm off to watch Being Bobby Brown which my friend Brook insists that I watch. It is pretty hysterical. When I see the way Bobby Christina acts, it makes me feel my children are little angels. What a brat that child is! And Whitney Houston - ooooooh she's a bitch. You should watch it. It's like seeing a train wreck happen before your very eyes.
Until next time...
Thursday, July 14, 2005