- What’s Jack up to? Jack’s a bit better today. Not much snapping so that’s good. I’m taking a hard line, but of course it’s hard to do with those big brown eyes of his. I must stay strong.I’ve been a terrible blog hopper and lately not keeping up with many of my favorite blogs which maybe means that I’ve been a good blog hopper because for a while there blogs were taking up way too much of my time and kind of taking over my life.But yesterday while doing some perusing over at one of my favorite blogs The 5 Spot I read a post that really hit me that one of my favorite writers, Liza Palmer wrote. You may remember Liza from my interview I did with her here. Well Liza was talking about Ebbs and Flows and how this is an “Everything and Nothing kind of summer,” that “There’s this dip happening where it just seems like everything’s hard and nothing’s quite working out and life has taken on this molasses-y kind of pace.” Lines like this is why Liza is one of my favorite writers.She then talked about the journey and the quiet moments and how hard they are and how we as women especially hate those quiet moments (or years in my case). They can be positively brutal. You know those times when you plod along from work to work to work with what seems to be no real progress or reward. When people ask, “what new?” and you really don’t have anything new to report so you just nod and smile and say, “oh just the same ole thing,” With a small knot in your chest.
But you’re at that strange point in your journey. Too far past the start to turn back. As a matter of fact way past the middle and the journey is not a hop on hop off type of thing. Take the next train back to normal. It’s a desert trek. If you turn back you could possibly die. So you have no choice, but shake your canteen, wipe your brow and plod ahead putting one foot in front of the other and move forward.I guess that’s what it’s all about the forward motion, not standing still or going backward, but moving forward and learning to enjoy and accept the quiet. I hear the best ideas come in the quiet moments anyway.You can check out Liza’s entire post here. The way she compare Michael Phelps and Mariska Hargitay is not to be missed.In Birthday news Happy Birthday to the P-I-C Megan. It is truly a magical moment when you find that special someone who really gets you. No, I’m not talking about that special someone. I’m talking about a girlfriend that other special someone you call to complain about that other special someone and all the other things that really irk you nerves because you that they just irk her nerves too. So cheers to you P-I-C!
- What’s Jack Up to? He’s shaking of the rain after his walk this morning and marveling over the quiet of the house. Whew. Could it be we’re alone again, Jack?
The weekend and Spring Break are both over and it’s back to the grind. It was nice to have a week without the daily push and shove, but it will also be nice to have a few hours of alone time in the house again. Possibly a few house of writing time once all the missed errands of the week are done in a a day or two. Can you say laundry?
This weekend before all the yard work the DH and I were super nosey and went to see a house that doesn’t know there’s a recession going on and gas is at 4.00 a gallon. It’s in walking distance from our house and we’ve watched this mini-mansion being built for the past year and a half so when the sign went up for an open house I was practically running over there acting like at potential buyer.
Of course we started going back and fourth about what the asking price would be in this NY suburb. DH went low which was not low at all and I went considerably higher considering the schools and the town.
As we were walking one of our neighbors drove by and asked where we were going and we told him. “Oh you gotta tell me what they want for that thing when you get back!” he said with excitement.
Real estate is a funny thing. We live in a town where the houses go from modest cottages (like ours) to just a few blocks over Mc Mansions that need intercom systems to call every one to dinner. And in the end it’s all about the school. I often say, “we didn’t buy a house we brought a school.”
Well, I’m proud to say I know my high end real estate. I priced it perfectly at 1.6 mil. Cra-zy. The house is gorgeous. Drool worthy. 4 bedrooms. Office. Great room with vaulted ceiling and stone 2 story fireplace. Basement ready to be finished as you like included in the price. I imagined a small theater and billiard room. The DH a 2 lane bowling alley. But still, 1.6 mil. I sure hope it sells. Will be great for my property value. Hmmm, must go and sweep the cottage steps.
Since it’s Monday, that also has me thinking about dieting. I’ve been doing so poorly. So I’m shaking things up. I’ve been on WW forever and not really following it forever. Usually being done with my points by around 12:00. But instead of giving up on WW I’m shaking things up by going on core today where you eliminate the white products but get whole grains and fruits. It’s more limiting than flex with the food choices but maybe that’s what I need. Wish me luck. Let’s see if I can make it till 3:00 today. Eek.
Oh, and once again the winner of the Liza Palmer Seeing Me Naked contest was Brown Girl Gumbo. See below and if you missed the interview click here. Liza was so inspiring. Thanks Liza!
What’s Jack up to? He’s relaxing on this Sunday after watching the DH and I (mostly the DH) work in the front yard all afternoon yesterday. Now today it’s rainy and perfect for lounging around.
Thanks to all who left a comment and entered Liza Palmer’s Seeing Me Naked contest. I had the lovely DH pick a winner out of a hat and the winner is:Brown Girl Gumbo!!!
Who also has the coolest blog check it out when you have some time.
Brown Girl please send me an email with all your info and we’ll get your book to you. Congrats.
In honor of Liza, Seeing Me Naked and Top Chefs everywhere here’s a final goodbye to faux-hawk Jen. She’s no longer doing it for Zoi. Oh and check out her super cool Casio watch. Perfect for timing dishes.
What’s Jack Up to? Jack is tired. It’s getting near the end of spring break week and he’s feeling ready to have his quiet days back, oh wait, is that just me? Whew.
Today I have the cool honor of interviewing author, Liza Palmer. I have been a big fan of Liza since reading her book Conversations With A Fat Girl and became an instant friend after bonding with her on line at an RWA convention in Dallas while waiting for free books. Somehow the first season of TOP CHEF came up and that was it. We were soul sisters!
Now I’ve become and even bigger fan after reading her latest book Seeing Me Naked. The story of Elisabeth Page, daughter of famous novelist Ben Page and sister to equally famous novelist Rascal Page who is trying to make a name and life for herself as a pastry chef in in the hottest restaurant in L.A. while coming out of the shadow of her famous family.
Now to the hard hitting interview:
1.First off I’ll start with a couple of traditional questions. Liza did you always want to be a writer? Is it something you always knew you’d do?
I started writing at a very young age – even before I could write actually. My Mom would write my stories down– stories about Animal Land. Hilarious.
But then…life happens. And especially for young girls – writing and being different are not really sought after characteristics in junior high school. So, I stopped. And then high school came along – where you just try to survive. And then it became about putting food on the table – and there wasn’t any room for dreams and silly stuff like that. It was like this numbness set in. Years later I looked at my life and…well, it wasn’t what I wanted, you know? I was working at this law firm in LA and it just freaked me out – I could see myself there in ten years, twenty years. So, I started going to these little Saturday morning workshops at Vroman’s bookstore here in Pasadena. And weekend by weekend I started believing that maybe…maybe I could write after all.
2.Please tell us the story of you ‘overnight’ success? I always laugh when I ask that one.
So, these little workshops taught me the business of writing – query letters, yaddayaddayadda. You know. So, I wrote the Worst First Draft ever over that summer, gave it to a group of friends (now former…echem). I thought in the time it takes to edit this draft down to something not ridiculous, I could send out these queries. So, I looked in the acknowledgements of books that I thought we like mine (Conversations with the Fat Girl) and queried four agents. Three of them wanted the manuscript and one turned me down…twice.
I thought…okay, they won’t forget about me in a month – so, I edited the draft in about three weeks and sent it back out. I signed with one of those first three. And then that little book just kept wriggling into the perfect situations…it was bought by Warner three days before Christmas and then launched the 5Spot line at Warner (now Grand Central).
3.What is your usual writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser. Do you have a set everyday writing schedule?
I am definitely a pantser. If there ever was one…but, it’s evolving though. I think of it like this: I know that I’m driving from LA to San Francisco. I know where I’m starting and where I’m ending. And I just need to decide if I’m taking the 5, the 101 or the 1. But, the problem with this whole “drive to san francisco’ theory is that most times I get stuck somewhere around San Luis Obispo wondering where the heck I’m going.
Lately, I’ve been going to this amazing little coffee shop everyday because a) I am actively bribing myself with nonfat lattes and b) I’m starting to feel like a shut-in. And you know – it’s totally worked. I look forward to writing again and it’s been a nice evolution for me. I’m probably going to stick with it for a little while.
4. Seeing Me Naked takes us into the world of a gourmet kitchen. How did you choose that as a setting for the book and how did you do the research? I was totally immersed and it felt like it was written by an expert. Did you ever work in a kitchen? How much research do you do for your books?
When I just started percolating about Seeing Me Naked, I thought about jobs that I could see myself doing – if I couldn’t write. And I thought: chef. So, then I did some research and learned that the only place a woman is really tolerated in a French kitchen is in the pastry corner.
I then made a few phone calls and got hooked up with Karen Rawers, who was the pastry chef under Michel Richard (citronelle). I picked her brain for everything…every last detail. She drew out what a French kitchen looks like, told me all about etiquette, staffing, politics…all of it. And then we went to Bastide here in LA, when Chef Ludo Lefevre was still the chef there. We ordered the chef’s surprise menu, had it paired by the sommelier and then got a tour of the kitchen…it was just one of those nights. It gave me everything I needed…until I asked my next battery of questions.
But, I needed it to be right, you know? I hate reading books about certain settings and finding wrong details…, so, I really worked to make that kitchen as authentic as possible. And the recipes in the back are the real deal…my step-dad’s chicken and dumplings recipe, a family friend’s flan recipe (I can’t even begin to tell you how I wrassled that from her grip)…and on and on. I really had fun with all the desserts that Elisabeth made throughout the book…and now, my dish at Christmas is cherry clafouti! Pretty cool.
Sidebar question: With the setting for this book, all I want to know why in the world you had to be coaxed to blog about TOP CHEF? LOL!
I had to be coaxed because I didn’t know if everyone was going to be as nutso for it as I was, you know!?!? I mean, I can go OFF on that show…I love it. But, I wasn’t sure if people were only into Project Runway or if they were sick of the tv recaps. But, I’m so glad I did – I love it. I am totally Blog Envious though…because you are so much more succinct about those shows then I am – you say things and I’m like…ohhh, that’s how to say it so people understand. Good to know.
5. You are so good at your characterization. How do you come up with your characters? Do you do the whole GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) for all of them or is it just something you have in you?
Weird! I just learned that GMC thing in this screenwriting class thing. Weird??! Eerie, even.
So, obviously…I didn’t use the GMC thing for my characters…where was I when that thing came out? I mean, it’s genius!
How do I come up with the characters…I don’t know. How’s that for a bad answer! No, I just build the main character and then just ask why over and over again….like, okay – Elisabeth is kind of snobby. So, how did she get like that? Then I build the parents – Ballard and Ben. Ben is a key element to the novel – so I spent a long time building the biggest shadow that Elisabeth would have to come out from under, you know? I mean, all of our parents are these titans, but I really wanted to create a Zeus in that character. Then I thought I should give her a sibling who she could be in the trenches with (Rascal), but I wanted to make him the opposite of Elisabeth – so she’s this hard-driving perfectionist and Rascal is this Fainting Couch dauphin who is constantly being brought down by melancholy.
And Daniel. Well…Daniel was certainly a lot of fun to write. Sigh. A basketball coach from Kansas? Just this straight shooting man? He almost eclipsed the whole book, because I loved his interaction with Elisabeth…how he made her really look at herself.
6.What’s the one piece of writing advice that you would give aspiring authors?
*Do you want to write A story or YOUR story.
*Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
* Kill your darlings. (Yes, you think it’s clever, but does it move the story forward?)
*and most of all – WRITE!
Stephen King says to ‘close the study door’ as you finish your first draft. Such good advice. Just finish that first draft before really talking about it, sharing it or letting it see the light of day. You’ll never finish it if you keep editing and futzing…something which everyone does and inevitably ends with someone tearing my final drafts from my cold, dead hands.
7.What’s next for you, Liza?
I just finished a script for a television show I’m thinking about…I love it. I love working in only dialogue (can you imagine?!?!?!) – it’s awesome. And then it’s back for the second draft of my third book – which is due in May…oh wait…what day is it? The 24th? Uhhhh…maybe I should get on that.
Thanks so much for doing this interview Liza. Once again I’m honored to have you here.
Don’t forget to live a comment to me entered in the giveaway guys. I’ll announce the winner on Sunday.
Oh and Check out Liza’s site http://www.lizapalmer.com/