On the Island

Thursday, January 29, 2009

In New York now, and updating my blog from the seat at the kitchen table I sat in as a child every night for dinner. Unfortunately, there is not a bowl of macaroni and cheese in front of me as there might have been during many of those years.

The flight was kind of a mess. First off, due to all the east coast weather yesterday morning, residual delays meant our 5:20 flight took off at around a quarter to eight. Not typically a problem, but we were flying into Newark, rather than Queens, which means a much longer drive home. We ended up landing at 11 pm, which had my poor aging mother schlepping to Jersey in the dead of night on unfamiliar roads. And of course it had me, after this insanely long day, driving from Newark on unfamiliar roads back to Long Island. Needless to say, I fell asleep pretty quickly. Sam and Beth are napping even as we speak.

Readkiddoread.com is up, from James Patterson, and I like it. But it doesn't have a section for kids who struggle with reading but don't want to be left with books written at kids younger than them. In other words, it needs some high-low and high interest: Jake Maddox style!

Anyway, we're off in an hour or so to our local kosher-style deli. Very excited.

Oh, and on the YA MS the First front, editor reports riveted, but that was Friday. I am expecting something more soon, and am appropriately excited. I have done essentially no work in almost a week now, with the exception of updating my resume and WIPs for the conference, mainly by adding yet another several sports/Maddox books and a little blurb about YA MS the Second. I need to edit it, however; it doesn't touch as heavily on the fantasy/supernatural aspects as I'd like it too. Here is the blurb! You can tell me what you think:

A Terrible Mistake
Jessamine Parson’s mother died in childbirth, and on the same day her grandmother was found dead and clutching a mysterious note: “There’s been a terrible mistake.” Nearly eighteen years later, Jessa is a foul-mouthed, socially inept, and extremely reluctant college freshman. She plans to spend as little time as possible living a typical college life, preferring to game away the hours in a violent and magical online world. But Jessa’s real-world college experience turns out to be more amazing—and dangerous—than the one she leads online.

Within days of starting her college career, Jessamine is already attracting more attention than she wants: Rope, the wiry resident assistant, seems to be around whenever Jessa needs help; Thomas Priestly, Jessa’s anthropology professor, makes an unexpected appearance in game; and fellow freshman Henry is having the strongest effect on Jessa of all—it’s something in his eyes.

WARNING: This book does NOT contain vampires.
I hope I can find a wifi signal at the conference.

Flash! Ahaaah! It'll save every one of us . . . manuscripts!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're off to New York today. I'll be packing up Harry in a couple of hours and dropping him at Doggy Camp. Then Sam and I are off to get Beth, to the airport, and on to sunny* Newark, New Jersey!

In an episode of crazy, I just put all my works in progress onto a flash drive in case we land in the Hudson and my laptop is destroyed. The flash drive will remain safe and dry on our dining room table.

* Newark is not actually sunny, especially not today, from what I hear.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One of my literary heroes is riding a crest of success; another has passed away. John Updike died this morning at 76 of lung cancer. In high school, after reading "A&P," I devoured the Rabbit books, at the advice of my father. It was very likely these books that helped me to move past my nihilist/Beckett phase, while helping me to see that not only does every person have a story, but that every story is valid. And I'm sure my own Simon's finish owes more than a little to the close of Rabbit, Run.

I haven't read him in years, and some of his "celebration," or at least close examination, of the troubles of the wealthy in post-war America really rubs me the wrong way nowadays. Still, I'm at a loss.

4 items

Monday, January 26, 2009

1. My envy of Neil Gaiman increases at an alarming rate.
2. I got zero work done this weekend, but I'm okay with it. I needed a weekend off. We mall-walked.
3. Sam is the rolling over--both ways!--champion of Saint Paul.
4. We're flying to New York--well, Newark, actually--on Wednesday. I'm very excited for:
A. The food
C. Seeing various peoples
D. Various peoples seeing Sam

Lazy. Ooh, mail's here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday, just after noon. You'll never guess what: Beth, Sam, and Harry are sleeping.

It's not like they're still sleeping, but still. You gotta wonder.

In Beth's defense, she was up until two last night--watching the latest Lost. I didn't watch. Completely over it, along with the rest of TV, with the exception of The Daily Show and the MST3Ks and Buffys I have on DVD. Natch.

Finished Coraline last night while Beth watched the first hour of Lost. Then, like a normal person, I went off to bed. Anyway, it was good. The first 25% or so was, I felt, on the weak side, chock full of various middle grade cliches which can be for the most part traced back to CS Lewis. However, it occurred to me as I read that in many ways this book is--more so for sure than the Golden Compass--a direct response to the Narnian chronicles. Also it was pretty scary, a quick-as-hell read, and seriously Mr. Gaiman is blowing up on Twitter today; it's kind of ridiculous. Also I'm excited about the movie, if I didn't already mention that. Here's a trailer I like very much. Here's another via the man's blog.

Well, I think that's five posts for the week. I'm going to have a cup of tea.


Friday, January 23, 2009

I suppose I'd better drop something on this blog, to be sure I make my five posts for the week. (Might have to make tomorrow a double; I'll check later.)

So my last post was my 50th. Not a huge milestone or anything, but hey, not too shabby.

Beth and Sam are asleep on the couch, and Harry is asleep in the comfy chair. I just read the first half of Coraline as the house settled along with night. It was creepy, and I'm a grown man. So weak. I should watch Don't Look Now again soon, next time I have the house to myself after dark.

This should be a good weekend. I'm looking forward to possibly some work time tomorrow, as well dinner with friends at the Japanese restaurant behind the St Paul Hotel, the name of which escapes me at the moment, but which I like very much. Also I love being so near to the St Paul Hotel for the memories. Hopefully we can keep nicely busy this weekend, even beyond those two things, as I'm hoping for some notes in response to YA MS the First next week.

Well, let's see how subtly I can wake up at least one of these lazy bones. Rice and beans for dinner tonight might not be happening, as it takes ages to prepare and it's already seven. What are we, European? I don't think so. I'm this close to ordering in Chinese food. Meh.

Stay on target. . . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I skipped another day. I shouldn't be playing this fast and loose with a resolution (5/week, remember?) so early in the year.

The fact is, with YA MS the First done, I've been keeping away from the blog, I suppose. But that's a folly. So here's a small update:

1. I submitted the latest, longer draft of YA MS the First to aforementioned editor. When I first submitted this MS (albeit a much shorter version), he read it in one night. I don't hold any such hopes, but still, waiting blows so much.
2. Second meeting of my only class for this semester was last night. I'm not finding it to be very valuable as far as my education education (intentional double) goes, but I am learning a little about the Indigenous nations of North America.
3. The vacation in Azeroth is not the thrill I thought it would be. I don't think I will have any trouble making it only a vacation and giving up the game once again at the end of the 30 days.
4. I've decided while I wait to hear about YA MS the First, I'll get back to work on YA MS the Second. My plan is to make a very firm, strong outline to finish out the title, and to not shrink from the long road ahead. I intended this to be in two parts when I first conceived of it, but upon reflection, that felt daunting. I say daunting it shall be, then! And I will make it happen anyway.

All right, I suppose that's all I've got. I haven't mentioned Sam, but know this: he is right next to me, asleep. He snores a little sometimes.

Be patient and tough . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just this minute finished reading Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You. That was, without question, the quickest I've read a book in quite some time.

I liked it very much. For some reason, the narrator's voice bothered me a lot, but I think that's only because his obsession with language and sentence structure hits a bit too close to home, and I was wondering the whole time why Simon didn't have a voice more like James's, since I certainly do. But I think I'm ashamed of it! That's probably why I gave up copyediting.

Anyway, I am relieved that the spirit of Holden Caulfield is alive, despite the (waning?) current fashion of not liking The Catcher in the Rye.

Ha. James's grandmother's favorite drink is rye. Too, too rich.

Young-Adult Manuscript, the First

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Um, I think it's, maybe . . . finished?

Just under 70k words, just over 200 pages. I'm not sure I've fixed all the issues of draft one, but hey, it's book length, right?

And I think, for the most part, it's not too bad.

I'll send it off before the end of the week, I expect. One more read through, since you know I am the typo king, and because I'll just feel better if I read it one more time.

Currently downloading the 10-day trial of WotLK, btw. Heh heh.

Down with the sickness?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

YA MS-wise, not an entirely unproductive day. I did write up Suzanne's little finale, and I'm happy with about 80% of it. Right now, I'm taking a break from another read-through of Lily's part, which will need some tightening. I think I'll ink it up, fix it up once, and then call it ready for editorial eyes.

However, today will not the productive day I'd hoped it would be. Beth and Sam are still living with the colds they've had for a couple of days now, and so we've canceled all our plans, including the part that involved me having five hours of quiet work time today.

Last night was a fun little gathering at SAB's editorial honcho's place, along with the rest of the SAB editorial staff. It was a good time, with excellent vegetable lasagna and chocolate cake. We got home after nine. Can you imagine? This might have been our most social weekend of all time, if not for those dastardly colds the other two Brezenoffs are dealing with.

Let's hope they feel better soon.

70k words! Give or take.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I just printed up YA MS the First, so I could give it a full read through before I go back and do some revisions, plus write Suzanne's tiny section to finish it off. Beth, too, we'll hopefully read through all the new material. I think she'll be better able to tell me when it falls apart and what a piece of crap it is.

So, like I said, printed it up (on the slowest (but least expensive!) printer in the history of the world, by the way), and it is almost exactly twice as long as the original novella, which makes a nice length for a genuine novel now. Of course, as it is actually a collection of three short stories and one novella, I guess it's not a novel at all. Who knows.

A nice package came via UPS yesterday afternoon: ten copies each of my six newest SAB titles. They're all credited to Eric Stevens, but a couple of them I'm actually pretty fond of. So that's cool. I'll take one of each over to the Hamline branch in the next few days to donate. Because really, do I need ten copies of each? No, I don't.

On the personal front, my cold is still with me, though it's not so bad; mostly I'm coughing in the night. No fun at all. But worse still, it seems to have spread to Sam and Beth. Hopefully it will soon leave our family completely. I mean, after Harry gets it too. And he better, the little jerk.

Oh, also I finally finished Pretty Monsters, and it's the best thing I've read in ages. I loved just about every word of it. I think I said this before, but Kelly Link has got to be the bravest writer I've ever read. I need to read more of her to improve my chances of becoming as brave, or nearly.

I've started Someday This Pain . . ., by Peter Cameron. This narrator is one smart cookie, so I have to stay on my game. Only a few pages in so far.

The weekend is here. Tomorrow is going to be a very productive day, with any luck. Suzanne's tiny section will be finished, and the printup I just made will be marked all up in red ink. Won't be long now.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If you're ever working on a YA MS, and you're specifically writing a first-kiss, or first-sex, or break-up scene, and you're beginning to wonder--just every so often, from the back of your mind--if young love really was such a passionate, heart wrenching, soul-crushing, all-consuming experience (because really, who can remember?), go hang out at a college for about four hours. Because you will see some awe-inspiring love going on.

Across the hall from me right now, camped out on a wood-frame, purple-cushioned couch, is a couple, I'd say age nineteen or so, doing nothing, but leaning on each other, holding hands, using the other hand to pet the other on the arm, or leg, or face, or neck, or et cetera. They're also sharing earbuds. Neither has smiled for about an hour. But both are wearing expressions that suggest they are, indeed, Romeo and Juliet themselves.

It's pretty great. Maybe Lily's not so crazy after all.

Lily is in the can. *giggle*

I think I finished Lily's story!

I even think maybe the ending is effective.

That leaves Noah tweaks, a super-secret (and short) Suzanne section, and Simon revisions to do before I can resubmit this puppy. No problem, January 28 deadline!

Watch this space for my return, in which I will undoubtedly declare, "Lily's story in fact sucks! I'm a wreck!"

p.s.: Big ups to the visiting mishpocha for watching Sam and Harry this afternoon. Holla back.

p.p.s.: I'm writing from the lounge in the Ed building at Metro State's Minneapolis campus, which they share with MCTC. This is where the school's gaming club meets. Which brings me to my point: I'm totally taking a month-long vacation in Azeroth when this novel is done. Beth says it's okay, so there.

The ongoing saga of Lily's tale

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I've got my work cut out for me for tomorrow's big Workfest downtown. First, a short proposal to write up for SAB, which shouldn't take too long. But more pressing (in my mind) is Lily's story, which has possibly, as usual, gotten out of hand. I have brought up more than I intended to, and very likely, can adequately deal with. But we'll see. The "loose ends" text that I usually allow to pile up at the bottom of a document is dauntingly long.


I hope this will have been worth it. So far, I do like the revised YA MS One better than the novella it used to be. Lily's story is really a lot of fun, and, since I normally get a little lost and have to really buckle down by around 15k words, I shouldn't let this little feeling of "set back!" bother me so much. I bet this time tomorrow, after I've had some quiet time to reflect and really nail things down, I'll feel a million times better.

Tell you what, gentle readers: check back at around five CST tomorrow, and I bet I'll have good news on the Lily front.

Bottle time for Sammy!

PS: Anyone know a good place for free wifi and decent draft beer in downtown Minneapolis? I expect not, but I thought I'd ask.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Well, I skipped the weekend, which means I'll have to pick it up to maintain 5/week in here. Shouldn't be a problem.

Anyway, an update on YA MS the first. Last night I slammed down about 3000 words for Lily (mostly a party scene; I think the drunkenness comes across). With any luck she'll be finished up on Wednesday, when the in-laws will be here to babysit at noon, and I'll be in downtown Minneapolis for about five hours with nothing but writing time on my hands before my first class of the semester. (Have I mentioned my slowly ongoing teacher's license in this blog yet? I'm not sure. Anyway, it'll be a few years, at this rate, which is fine. If I have my license done by the time Sam can hit kindergarten, I'll be happy.) So, that five-hour block will probably cinch up Lily, and then I can reapproach Noah, who I think just needs a few tweaks.

Simon, too, is waiting for tweaks, but that will be essentially a couple of hours and a strong cup of coffee. I'm starting to feel more confident about getting this done before the trip to NYC. (Especially with ongoing help from the in-laws.)

This morning, I was hoping to get some work done. Sam, however, had other plans. To think I once I had a knack for getting Sam down for naps. Lately, whatever skill I had seems to be gone completely. Today, when he showed tired signs just before 11, all hell broke loose somehow. It took an hour of shrieking and screaming before he fell asleep, and here, ten minutes later, he's already waking up again. I think maybe he'll go into the swing now.

Just another Friday

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nine days into the year, and I am so far right on track for the minimum five posts per week. I think I've posted every day so far, as a matter of fact. Not too shabby.

Today might have been the most productive day of the week, quite accidentally. I say it might have been, and would have been, if I had thought to bring along my laptop when I took in Beth's car for an oil change and to have the alignment checked. However, I did not think to, so I was stuck at the Harmar BN for a couple of hours. I mainly browsed the children's section, of course, but with all those YA novels in my face (many of which I worked on back at S&S, btw), it made me feel like I could spending my time much more effectively.

Well, eventually I got back home and got right to work, but I only had about 20 minutes to spare at that point. The good news I did manage to finish one Lily scene and sketch out the rest of her story completely. That means the next time I get a good two- or three-hour chunk, I could vey well finish her off. Her story, that is. Not her. She isn't real. Also I would never kill anyone. It's not in me. Well, I guess I would kill off a character, sure. I have, actually.

In other news, this weekend looks to be sort of on the busy side, with a wedding to attend for most of the day tomorrow and chores to do around the house. But we'll see if I can't finagle some writing time in there someplace.

First you get the power . . .

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Yesterday was not the productive extravaganza of writing I intended it to be. First and foremost, I am a curmudgeon, and as such had a hard time finding someplace to work that satisfied me on all levels. The levels in question are:

Free wifi, reliably. Wifi is nice, but not if you want me to buy credits and pay for it, tyvm BN cafe. Wifi that is free and spotty is worse than pay-per-hour. It can spell disaster.

Good food. If your establishment has free wifi, that's great. But if your burgers are dry, overcooked, without lettuce, tomato, or onion, and on a tasteless white bun, next to obviously-from-the-freezer fries, you fail.

OUTLETS EVERYWHERE. Seriously. This is the big one. If I'm going to set up camp and buy coffees, teas, snacks, and sandwiches for five hours straight, I want to plug in. My battery is good, but it's not that good, and one outlet for every twenty customers just ain't gonna cut it. Especially when that weird lady who had been standing on the corner singing to a photograph is at one of the tables blessed with power. She had a scone, by the way, and whatever she was drinking out of the blue plastic jumbo take-out cup she came in with. She did not use the outlet. Many glared in her general direction. I chose to seek outlets elsewhere.

So I finally settled, much too late, at Brewberry's, mainly because I was cranky and wanted ice cream. NOTE: Brewberry's is not selling ice cream until the spring. Super.

But they do have great coffee, and I did finally get about 2000 words down, which I realized after writing it had been very "tell, not show," so I rewrote all of it this morning. And here we are.

Sam just fell asleep for a nap, a little ahead of schedule, so back at it. I've still got more than three weeks left of January, and probably about 20k words to write, and I still have hope that this YA MS the first will be done before I leave for SCBWI in NYC on January 28.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Took this meme from John Green's blog; if it's good enough for him, it's certainly good enough for me. So, without further ado, a silly survey!

01. What's the last TV show you saw?
The Daily Show. I watch it on Hulu.com most mornings since we canceled the cable.

02. What are you wearing at the moment?
A black hoodie and jeans and my Skechers. It is, with very few exceptions, what I am always wearing.

03. Favorite Song of the Moment?
I've been listening to "Separate Beds," by Squeeze a lot. For some reason.

04. What is your favorite scent?
A tie between very old books and very new books.

05. What's your occupation? What do you do there?
I am a writer. Also, this question needs to be copyedited. I used to be a copy editor.

06. What do you drink the most?

07. What is your favorite restaurant?
It varies. But as I've been particularly homesick for NYC lately, I'll choose Acapulco in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

08. What will you be doing after finishing this?
Getting back to Lily's story. She's hella fun to write--and craaaazy! Who knew.

09. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer and a stay-at-home dad. Oh my--!

10. Your favorite romantic movie?
Somewhere in Time. You may slap me if you need to.

11. What's the least favorite thing about yourself?
I get too easily angry at inanimate objects and my dog.

13. What are your ideal qualities in a novel?
A new, provocative, accurate voice. The story is secondary, since we tend to repeat ourselves anyway.

14. What time do you usually go to bed?
9:30. Now who's old??

15. What's the meaning behind your LJ username/name/nicknames you go by?
brokenbuzz (RIP) is a combination of the titles of two songs I wrote, one ("Broken") being the first song I ever wrote, and the other ("Smoke and Buzz") being the last I'd written when I picked that screen name (1998, I think; like I said: old).

Now, back to Lily.

Grumble, grumble

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I am in no mood to update this afternoon.

I have a wicked cold and cough, a Nyquil hangover (I think there's an ingredient in Nyquil, aside from the alcohol itself, that, as it wears off, puts you in an especially bad mood), and an infant son who is bucking all the rules of the schedule.

Of course, my mood is bad from within, and I am not blaming Sam for it.

Wanna know a secret? When Sam is obviously tired, and I'm obviously being a grump, and Sam keeps spitting out his pacifier and therefore won't fall asleep, and then he looks up at me and laughs, I sometimes think, Stop laughing at me! Pathetic, ain't it?

I want to thank the people at Blogger for not citing "ain't" as a misspelled word. Kudos.

Next stop, Eric Stevens Town, where Mr. Stevens has just submitted his latest Jake Maddox title to the good people at Stone Arch. I should be using this afternoon's free time to work on the mysterious (apparently) YA MS. But, as I noted above, I am in no mood.

I hope I find the proper mood soon, though. It would seriously suck if my big day of writing tomorrow was wasted simply because I'm being such a sourpuss.

I bet you're thrilled to your toes that you bothered reading this entry!

"Yiddish" is Yiddish for "Jewish."

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'd been meaning to link this, and forgot to earlier, but Moonrat over at Editorial Ass has started a new feature, Yiddish Expression of the Day. I'm enjoying it so far, and I hope you will to. If not, meh, shlup kup en vant.

Ya shmucks.

Monday morning quarterback

At the moment (or anyway at the moments surrounding the few moments I am taking to write this blog entry), I am working on the next Eric Stevens writing as Jake Maddox title. It's the story of an eighth-grade football team, and their fight to beat their longtime rivals. Their rivals have won every meeting between the two in the schools' history. Who will triumph this year? I'll give you one guess.

The writing is going fairly well so far, oddly enough. Football, as I've previously mentioned herein, is not my thing. But hey, that's what research is for, I suppose.

And speaking of Eric Stevens, the Stone Arch Blog is updated as of this morning for the new year, and it includes a link to the new line of Superman and Batman chapter books that company is putting out. Eric Stevens wrote two (the Superman/Metallo title, and the Batman/Clayface title). Those were fun but stressful to write, since the licensor is so heavily involved at every stage. The website for the DC tie-ins looks really great though, so I recommend having a look.

And speaking of websites that my wife is responsible for, here's her new blog!

Once Sam wakes up, I'll have to put this work on the backburner, so I better get back to it right away.

Winter cleaning

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today is cleaning day here at the Brezenoff household. Beth's slaving in the bathroom right now, while I am on lunch break. Fear not; I do my part (vacuuming, dusting, some odd decluttering). We also took down the Christmas tree, which is a relief. I like it; don't get me wrong. I'm not about to get all anti-goy on this. Fact is, when I was a tot, I was jealous of many of the Christmas trimmings. I do get sick of seeing it, though, after a few weeks, and its placement makes everything else have to shift to one side a little. Now everything is back to normal.

I think after lunch, though, before I tackle the kitchen, I'm going to brave the cold and take Harry on a longish walk. It's sunny out, and I could use a little of the old vitamin D, believe you me. The winter continues to hammer away at my soul, so I better fight back when I have the constitution to do so.

This evening, I think it'll be Jake Maddox time; I'm behind on the next title (a football story), and it's due Tuesday. Eric Stevens's good name must live on.

Wednesday is looking like my big highlight this week. Various in-laws will be watching Sam for me for about five hours, and I intend to use every minute of that to work on YA MS the first. I have this ridiculous notion that I can get a draft finished before the end of the month. It's probably a pipe dream.

I am not watching football. Football is boring.

Satellite Office, DBC

Friday, January 2, 2009

I'm at the DBC on University Avenue right now, working hard and getting through YA MS, the first. I'm pretty happy with what's coming out so far. Probably helps that I've returned for the moment to the main protagonist. Or antagonist, if you know him. Ha!

Anyway, had to drop a quick update, just because my stupid resolution calls for five updates a week, and hell if I'm going to blow it on day two, know what I'm sayin'?

I also dropped ninety-nine cents just now to buy Superchunk's "Driveway to Driveway." The opening riff was used on NPR for some strange reason, uncredited BTW, and I had to hear the whole thing. The Russian site didn't have it. Shock.

Harry pooped in our bed this morning. That's twice in a week. I think he's jealous of Sam finally. I guess we knew this would happen, though I didn't know it would take such a smelly and gross form.

Back to work. I'm excited about finishing this thing.

The Morning After

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Woke up late* on New Year's Day. I guess, if you stay up past your bedtime**, that'll happen. I staggered into the kitchen and sighed; who likes cleaning up after a wild New Year's Eve***? Nobody, that's who. Empty cans**** everywhere, food debris***** . . . all manner of mess to deal with.

But I push on, because it is a new year, and I am starting on a few of my resolutions right away, including number 3, with this entry, and number 1, for which I will later today head to DBC for a few hours of solid work time, if they are open. [ETA: They were not.]

I have not yet begun work on resolution number 9, and instead made crepes for breakfast at Beth's request. They came out really good, and we ate them standing in the kitchen over the counter like savages--savages with crepes and expensive-looking jellies!

*7:30 am
**9:15 pm
***Punch pizza and in bed by 10:30
****Specifically four empty diet caffeine-free sodas
*****The remainders of a nice mesclun and prosciutto salad with pine nuts. It was quite nice.