Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Writer Workout: Wii!

Now that the kids are all back in school, and the lazy days of summer have come to a screeching halt, it's time for me to get moving again. Yes, it's so hot here in Phoenix, that we move as little as possible June through August. Sometimes into September. But my on-the-wrong-side-of-forty writer's body can't wait. So move I must.

As much as I believe in walking, the air here is awful. This summer's haboobs (it's a monstrous dust storm, but much more fun to say haboob) didn't help. And with high gas prices, driving to the mall just to walk is not doing my wallet any favors. Neither does the gym. My solution: I head to the Costco, stock up on AA batteries, and plug in the Wii.

You'd be surprised at what a good workout you can get from a video game. I prefer the original Wii Sports, which you can buy separately now for $20. First, I use my right hand to play Wii fitness, then a best three out of five tennis match, power hitting baseball, and finish up with a round of golf or ten frames of bowling. Next, I switch to my left and start all over again. The whole thing takes a good hour, and for the first week, my arms kill me. But I'm moving and feeling better. And discipline in one area (working out) spills over into another (writing). Now I'm ready to sit and write.

TIP: do not measure this workout on the scale. Muscle weighs more than fat. Use a measuring tape or how your clothes fit. I can tell it's working for me because now my shorts no longer cut off the circulation to my brain. Another writing plus!

Come move with me. If you don't feel better, I'll treat you to a zumba class.

¡Buen provecho!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

¡TMI ay ay!

I've come to conclusion that my novel is a bad first date. You know, that date that gives way too much information up front and sends you running from the restaurant? The one you follow up with an uncomfortable text a few days later, if at all? I've been on that date. Heck, I've been that date. These days that text has been replaced by the rejection letters I've received for my book. Thankfully, that can be fixed.

Greater minds than mine have said that the first fifty pages of a first novel are more for the author than the reader and usually can be cut.

:::hanging head, raising hand:::

My bad habit tells me I have to give my reader all the information upfront so they can understand what's going on, why it's so important, and what to expect next. But half the fun of reading is DISCOVERY. I'll say it again: DISCOVERY.

Harry Potter wouldn't have been as satisfying if we knew that Snape (SPOILER ALERT) had loved Lilly so much that he was really protecting Harry all along. Nor Star Wars if we had known from episode one (the REAL one - for you youngsters, that would be episode four) that Darth Vader was Luke's father. Ok, that one's a movie, but it still works.

So I'm taking a good hard look at my first fifty pages. Maybe the history of the breaking of the world doesn't need to be there. Or how Wind, Water, Heat and Cold came to be. Or my main character's lineage. Yet. Giving all your information up front, while important for the writer to know, makes for a boring read. I not only want to hold the attention of my reader, but my agent, editor, and pubilsher as well. Even more so given that this is my first book.

But I got better at dating. So if I can get married, I can get published.

For more information on better beginnings, check out:
HOOKED by Les Edgerton, and

¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy. Mazel Tov to a wonderful read!

First of all, welcome back after what I hope was a wonderful summer for all! Be glad you weren't here: we are still hitting temperatures of 115 this week. Where ever you are, enjoy the weather - its got to be better than the Arizona desert.

Back to business.

I have a wonderful debut novel from a Phoenix author to recommend. Highly. OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy is about fourteen-year-old Ellie who was born to argue, especially with her beloved Zeydeh (Jewish grandfather). So speech and debate became her likely passion, until she meets a young man at speech camp with her same gifts and talents. Did I mention he was hot? Complicating the issue of first love is that she is at a Christian speech camp. As her Zeydeh says, "We've been arguing with Christians for two thousand years. You have to go to camp to argue more?" Furthermore, she's competing for a scholarship to a prestigious high school she desperately wants to attend and cannot afford. But when the scholarship's benefactor, the hot young man's grandmother, makes it clear that being Jewish is certainly not going to help her, Ellie must decide if she's willing to hide her Jewish identity, and outspoken Zeydeh, in order to get what she wants. Oy vey!

I loved this book! Amy Fellner Dominy captures the realistic casualness of having parents from two different backgrounds, when you don't strongly identify with one side over the other. I didn't have a Zeydeh, but I had a Tata (Mexican grandfather). I wasn't half Jewish like Ellie, but half Mexican. So, like Ellie, people couldn't always tell exactly who/what I was. Dominy expresses precisely what can happen when people assume you're something you're not, and how easy it is to allow them to, especially when you're afraid that you may be something they may not like. Or hate. The pressure, and temptation, to conform is so strong in teens (and, let's admit it, in adults, too) that this story is a tale for everyone. There are no stereotypes here, just complex characters interacting with one another. Ellie is a wonderfully realistic young teen. She knows what she wants and how to get it, but eventually realizes she can't live with that. And she shouldn't have to. I cheered for her at her big moment as will everyone reading it. OyMG is faced-paced, well told, funny, and poignant. And while you're being entertained, you just might learn a thing or two without even knowing it. So don't be a meshuggina, go get yourself a copy today.