Friday, December 31, 2010

happy end of 2010

This year I moved out of a house I'd lived in more than twice as long as any other.  I finished drafts of two books. I got chickens.  I tweeted.  I facebooked. I wrote lots of email, ads, taglines, blog posts.  I wrote some press releases, newsletters, web content.  I skied.  I swam in the ocean. I did lots of loving, cooking and drinking.  I celebrated, serenaded, said good-bye.  I traveled, tantrumed, took my kids' dogs for walks.  I watched things bloom and fade.  I de-cluttered and re-cluttered.  I impersonated a princess, spouted off imperatives, and got be called the best writer in Portland without a book.

So, 2011, whatcha got for me?  I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writers and Twitter

Today, a colleague of mine asked how writers use Twitter--an EXCELLENT question, and one that, obviously, has myriad answers.

Let me tell you about my own little love-hate thing with the micro-media medium. I currently have three profiles that I tweet under: @suzy_vitello; @princess_sisi; @BPC360. Under my namesake profile I'm pretty much myself: quirky, curious, sometimes crotchety.  My tweets range from attempts at concise poetry to "alerts" to RTs (that's, retweets) of other "tweeps." Sometimes (okay, mostly) I'm just talking to myself.  Which is what writers do a lot, I think--audibly and embarrassedly.

Occasionally, like when I post some "profound" rumination in this very blog, I link to it from Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter), thus inviting, in a tagline way, others to read my lengthier diatribe on this or that.  This is mostly the reason for @princess_sisi.  With the Princess, I'm trying to build a readership to The Empress Chronicles--though, in truth, I haven't been trying REALLY hard, since I haven't nailed the voice/mission 100% yet.  But once I have, I'm certain to be as obnoxious as can be about "driving traffic" to the site.

And speaking of traffic-driving maneuvers, that brings me to my business profile, @BPC360, which I share with Laura McCulloch, my business partner at BridgePoint Creative.  The purpose of Twitter for BPC is to get in on the conversation and love-fest with other communications companies, clients, artists, um, okay, I'm gonna say it: thoughtleaders in the industry.  It's an echo chamber like no other. But occasionally, you find yourself cozied up to the watercooler with the latest industry gossip--which is, I think, the reason for Twitter's success.  If you want to be the first on the block (along with other Twitter addicts) to know the details of the latest Google merger or smart phone technology, you can't beat the medium.  Yeah, it's a love-hate, for sure.

Of course, beyond me and my reasons for tweeting, you can't discuss the viability of the thing without getting into the phenomenon of @shitmydadsays, right?  As one of the early followers of Jason's "dad," I witnessed firsthand the "if you build it they will come" Zeitgeist that can happen under perfect storm conditions.

I am curious though, how other artists use the medium, beyond the obvious and already stated.  Anyone have some input?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

writing into your deepest fantasy

The coronation of Chelsea's Barbie
This year I wrote two books.  STAIRWAY OF LOVE and THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES. What they have in common is that they both were fueled by an interest in actual, historical people, scandal, and big, dysfunctional families.  As a writer, if I have a niche, I suppose it's the "what if" in the "what about"--taking history and revisioning it. But this year, I discovered a micro-niche as well--and it was propelled by a blossoming self-indulgent urge to imagine what it would be like to be-er, well-a princess!

The coronation of Lidia's chimp
Although SOL has a sort of blue-blood wealth kind of royalty theme, TEC goes right for the traditional fairy tale version of kings and queens--specifically, 19th century Bavarian-Austrian royalty.  And I know I'm not alone. After all, don't we all have a latent fascination with kings, queens and all things courtly? I mean, don't we just pore over the daily developments of the royal romance of William and Kate?

"Hayshrope" gets a crown too!
I must say, the process of flinging myself into "what iffing" the character of Sisi (or the Empress Elisabeth of Austria), led me down a most fantastical rabbit hole, and, indeed, she's become quite the alter-ego in my fantasy life. I've appropriated her likeness on Twitter. She has her own pretty little blog, and when I was recently down in Old Pasadena, I came across this fascinating Steam Punkish store, Gold Bug, where I swooped up the featured crowns you see sitting atop doll heads belonging to my workshop mates. What fun!

So, dear readers and writers, I leave it to you.  What interesting rabbit holes did you stumble into this year?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

pass the prose-ack

One of my very favorite blogs is Betsy Lerner's

On my daily fave blog recon today I saw this post, in which Betsy expounds on an article which rates writing (and they lump entertainer and artist in there as well) as one of the ten most depression-inducing jobs.  

My husband's profession (teacher) made the cut, as did my daughter's (social work).  Egad, thank God for pharmies.

Here's what the article in says about our ilk, specifically:

These jobs can bring irregular paychecks, uncertain hours, and isolation.

Creative people may also have higher rates of mood disorders; about 9% reported an episode of major depression in the previous year.

In men, it’s the job category most likely to be associated with an episode of major depression (nearly 7% in full-time workers).

“One thing I see a lot in entertainers and artists is bipolar illness,” says Legge. “There could be undiagnosed or untreated mood disorders in people who are artistic…. Depression is not uncommon to those who are drawn to work in the arts, and then the lifestyle contributes to it.”
But that was before Twitter took the "i" out of isolation, yeah?  Y'all have anything to add?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Elizabeth's red dress

I read RESILIENCE last summer, on the way back from the deathbed of my sister-in-law who slipped away from pancreatic cancer on July 2. That Elizabeth Edwards wrote such an unflinching, heartfelt book while battling for her life, enduring myriad domestic atrocities, and trying to cope with the accidental death of her teenage son just, well, it blew me away.

Here's to resting in peace. Whatever that means. And here's to her children, the little ones and the grown daughter. I hope the media has the good grace to leave them alone, and let them grieve, thrive, and become amazing adults. Their mother left them quite a legacy.

Here's a Dorothy Parker poem Elizabeth favored, as she claimed that it captured the flow of her life. Enjoy.

The Red Dress by Dorothy Parker
I always saw, I always said
If I were grown and free,
I'd have a gown of reddest red
As fine as you could see,

To wear out walking, sleek and slow,
Upon a Summer day,
And there'd be one to see me so
And flip the world away.

And he would be a gallant one,
With stars behind his eyes,
And hair like metal in the sun,
And lips too warm for lies.

I always saw us, gay and good,
High honored in the town.
Now I am grown to womanhood....
I have the silly gown.

Monday, December 06, 2010

It's cool to mess with Jane

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, parody must be the higher highest form. An Austen scholar, an Austen imitator, and a humorist are judging the "Write Like Jane" contest, where aspiring Jane Austen acolytes can submit 800 Austenesque words and stand a chance of inclusion in a Bad Jane Writings anthology.  Plus, there's prize money.

What is it about Jane Austen that sends readers and writers into Steampunk paroxysms?  Certainly we've all guffawed to Jane Austen's Fight Club (see video above), but did you know that there's a Jane Austen drinking game? It involves watching Austen-inspired chick flick--guaranteed blotto for the frat set.

And don't even get me started on social media profiles. Facebook and Twitter are replete with Janefaces of one sort or another.

And then there's the Zombie books. It's sort of like a Saturday Night Live skit, the zombified "Pride and Prejudice."  Perhaps engineered by an app that just searches and replaces various words with "zombie."  But terribly fun to read:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.  Never was this truth more plain than during the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead."

Let's see Keira Knightley say that with a straight face!

So all you idolatrous Janeites, I challenge you, amidst your tea-cozy crochet sessions, crank out a pre-Victorian romantic gentry scene set in some cold London manse where bosoms heave and corsets pinch, and ladies are ladies, unless they are gents.