It’s Easter weekend, although it doesn’t feel like it here in Atlanta. Too cold. But the Easter Bunny will come regardless of the weather and that means chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and Peeps.
Okay, so I don’t actually eat the Peeps. Too sweet. Besides, I’m not a big fan of sticky marshmallows. But Peeps aren’t just for eating. They’re for creating.
Every year, the Washington Post runs a diorama contest where readers submit their best Peep Artwork. My friend Julie and her daughter Katie turned me on to this a few years back when they submitted their creation: The Peep Mobile. Isn’t it cool?
The contest has taken off since then as you can see by this year’s contestants. But Julie and Katie were ahead of their time because several of the 2013 entries featured the Pope, including this year’s winner and my personal favorite: Peeps Mourn Their Peeps, Twinkie Rest In Peeps.Funny, huh? Not to mention wildly creative. Congress wasn’t spared either. Nor where some of this year’s best movies. Jump on over to http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/peeps and look at all the entries. You’ll be amazed!
So, what are you doing with your Peeps this spring? Don’t say eating them!
If you follow author Jill Shalvis’ Facebook page, you’ll know she asks that question at least once a week. It always makes me feel inferior. I mean the woman is a PROLIFIC writer. A rock star! She publishes at least four books a year. What’s she doing reading?
Forgive me, I’m just cranky because I’m in the middle of a manuscript and I don’t have time to read the bock of a box of cereal. Apparently, my productivity pales in comparison to Ms. Shalvis’. Or, perhaps, she’s just torturing herself contemplating all the books she hasn’t read—just like me. We’re like two chocoholics sniffing the wrapper of a Milky Way bar.
I’ve read only two books so far this year, both were book club picks. The first was Sharon Draper’s Out OF My Mind. This book was a light easy read, beautiful in its message. It’s written in the first person, the story told by eleven-year-old Melody who has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. She’s by far the smartest kid in her whole school, only no one knows it. Melody, you see, has cerebral palsy. The story deals with her struggle to communicate with her family and to “fit in” with the other kids at school. The overall message is one we all should embrace: tolerance and inclusion. I’m so glad I took the time to read this book.
I read the February book club selection because I kind of had to: it was my month to host and I chose the book: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. I’m going to say it right now, I loved this book. If my manuscript is late, I consider it well worth it to have been able to sift through the prose of Ben Fountain’s debut novel, already a finalist for the National Book Award. It’s the story of nineteen-year-old Army Specialist Billy Lynn, and the eight surviving members of the celebrated Bravo Squad. They are on leave from Iraq for an eight-day victory tour across the U.S. after surviving a harrowing firefight caught on film by none other than Fox News. The book takes place over Bravo Company’s last twenty-four-hours stateside: Thanksgiving Day at a Dallas Cowboy’s football game, complete with Destiny’s Child as the half-time performers!
Mr. Fountain’s writing is brilliant; his descriptions very visceral. The men of Bravo Company are depicted eloquently both as the teenage boys that they still are and the men they’ve become as soldiers. The book also contains some wonderful commentary on society as a whole, complete with some unforgettable one-liners. My favorite: when he describes the trophy wives in the owner’s box as having “the pinched look of angry vegans.” I. Love. That. Line!
So my TBR pile grows on my Kindle and beside my bed (including this month’s book club selection) as I trudge through the last half of a manuscript due the week after my first book comes out—I have to remind myself I wished for this. So you see, I have serious reader envy. But I’m going to ask anyway.
Go ahead. Torture me. Whatcha reading?
Okay, those of you who’ve read my blog posts over the past several years know about my love/hate relationship with reality TV. I hate it; my family loves it. Seriously, I don’t get the draw. If I’m going to spend time watching television, I’d rather watch something that takes me away from real life; maybe to an estate in England, perhaps. I try to get my husband interested in the life of the Earl of Grantham, his family and the staff of Downton Abbey, but it seems he’s got gold fever. He’s obsessed with ordinary people digging for gold in Alaska. Not that they’re ordinary people at all. I’m not sure I’d want to hang out with any of the ruffians on that show. Except for maybe eighteen-year-old Parker Schnabel. Yo, Parker, if you strike it rich, I’ve got the teenage girl for you!
The demand for reality TV hasn’t dimmed, apparently, because a friend of mine was approached to help develop a show about her son’s travel baseball team. Teen Slugger Dads, maybe? She hasn’t decided whether to take the gig, but the offer would be a nice pay day. Now she just has to decide if it is lucrative enough to put her family under such scrutiny.
All this got me to thinking; would I want to subject myself to having my life exposed on reality TV? It depends. My daily life is pretty boring, so it couldn’t be about that. Anyone who knows me knows that Survivor is a definite no can do. Dancing with the Stars is out, too, just ask anyone in my step class. My favorite reality show is the Amazing Race and my husband and I always joke that our children need to learn to drive a standard transmission car, just in case they ever get on the race. Of course, if any of the roadblocks had to be done in the dark, they’d pretty much knock me out of it. Then there are the tasks that involve eating bizarre foods. Yuck! And bungee jumping would. Not. Happen. So I guess that’s a no for that show, too. Too bad. It looks fun. From a distance.
Of course, if Clinton Kelly and Stacy London jump out and ambush me, I wouldn’t run. I could always use a nice lesson in What Not to Wear. The shopping spree on their dime wouldn’t hurt either. My husband would definitely choose digging for gold. Or maybe a trip with American Pickers. Of course, he can just venture in to the garage for that one.
How about you? Would you ever consider appearing on a reality TV show? Which one?
My husband calls it my “spidey-sense”. You know, that feeling of intuition one gets proclaiming something just isn’t as it seems; or worse, that gloom and doom are on the way. My spidey-sense is fairly refined and pretty darn accurate. It’s what made me an effective congressional investigator for so many years. It’s also something my family knows not to mess with. My kids can’t outrun it. Believe me, they’ve tried. My BS detector is just too well honed for them to get past. They’ve learned to just fess up and live with the consequences. When it comes to the doom and gloom, let’s just say my track record is pretty accurate there, too; enough so that my husband doesn’t question my predictions. Actuality has made him–the wearer of rose-colored glasses—a firm believer in my intuition.
Does having such a strong intuitive nature make me a cynic? I don’t think so. I’m not Dr. Greg House from the television show, House, whose mantra is: Everybody lies. Basically, I’m just a “glass-half-full” kinda girl, who’s also a realist. There are very few things I take at face value. Perhaps it’s my inquisitive nature or just living through some hard knocks, but I like to know the facts. I’ve been known to Google statements made during a church sermon. I like to kick the tires and dig in the dirt to assure myself things are legit.
That’s why this whole Catfishing mess with Manti Te’o makes no sense to me. How does something like this go on for sooo long? Perhaps the better question is: why did it happen in the first place? What did the person perpetuating the hoax hope to gain? Sadly, Te’o is just one of thousands of people who get swept up in these types of scenarios every day. It’s kind of like that silly insurance commercial where the girl believes everything she reads on the Internet, including that her slovenly date is a French model. Are people just that gullible? I really don’t think you need an enhanced spidey-sense to fall for such nonsense, but maybe I’m wrong.
How about you? Do you have the gift of “spidey-sense”? Have you sniffed out a lie or a hoax?
This year, our Christmas cards not only boasted a photo of my two children (smiling lovingly at one another in a totally false depiction of everyday life) and my aging Labrador retriever, but also a thumbnail photo of my debut novel, GAME ON. As expected, the book’s cover drew mixed reviews from the card recipients. Kudos to the folks at Berkley, because the photo of a shirtless football player did the trick: people were talking. Mostly, they were mumbling “I didn’t know she wrote…that.” Yes, I’ve come a long way from writing congressional reports and testimony.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the number of emails, posts and texts I got about the book’s name. It seems the phrase “game on” has become very popular lately. Folks have had a lot of fun pointing out the use of the phrase on everything from catalogs to store fronts to newspaper headlines. A friend even texted a photo of a bar in Boston’s Logan Airport. It’s named Game On. For months, my husband and children have chuckled every time we’ve heard the phrase on the radio and television. My husband even went so far as to record an episode of NCIS where the phrase was rampant.
There are a few other books out there with the same title, including one by football great, Emmitt Smith. And guess what else? There’s even a Game On diet! Hello New Year’s resolutions! Who knew I’d be on the cutting edge of pop culture when I named my book? I’m such a forward thinker, right? Not.
Truth be told, GAME ON, was only the working title three years ago when this book was written. In fact, it wasn’t even the original title. I searched my computer and found the first one: RULES WERE MADE TO BE BROKEN. I thought it was pretty catchy at the time. Until an editor at the Algonkian Pitch conference told me it was the only thing about my pitch she didn’t like and to change it. My trusty critique partners and I swilled wine and ate cheesecake in our New York hotel room that night and tried to come up with a catchy name. But, we just kept coming up blank. Finally, at the eleventh hour, I took a phrase out of the tag line from my pitch:
“It’s game on as the rule breaker takes on the rule maker in an all out battle for the heart.”
Yeah, I know, smarmy. But the title stuck. I really figured it would get changed by now, but who knew the phrase would be such a part of the 2013 lexicon? Pretty serendipitous, huh? Of course, the cover works pretty well, too! What do you think?