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New Blog and site!

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for subscribing to my entries. I wanted to tell you that my blog can now be found at http://www.margiewrites.com/blog/

I have a new website as well: www.margiewrites.com

Hope to see you all there!!

Margie :-)

Boy Talk

 There is that tiny paragraph when you first open a book that says " The characters portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author." I have writer friends who have said as much themselves, that their characters come only from their imaginations. I'm here to tell you that my male characters don't. Not entirely anyway. See, girls are easier for me to write because (duh) I am one. But when it comes to my teen boys, I need someone to start with. He has to remind me of someone, a look I can work with, a fun personality. Left entirely to my own devices, I make the guys too good. You know the type, the really deep boys who get the girl that make you swoon, that make you wish you had them, that could talk forever about your dreams and feelings with the desire of getting into your pants being secondary at best. Don't get me wrong, we all need the swoon, but back in h.s. did any of us know guys like that? Sure, I had good guy friends who I talked on the phone with forever, who I dissected movies with....who I later found out had bigger (read: romantic) plans for me than just deep thinking convos. I want the teen boys I create to have the deep thoughts and the romance but I need a starting point and that's where dudes I've known come in. If an ex read my book, he may be able to say, "Oh, yeah, I used to do that" but that's only one facet of the guy's personality. And, hey, you're not the only one who played hackey sack and ultimate frisbee. Below is a list of things that have made it into my books or stories or will. If you were me, wouldn't you include them too?

1. Camp Counselor Guy I: You were quirky, kind of immature, liked The Dead (although innocent, pre-college me thought they were just dancing bears and found you cuter for wearing those shirts). I used your laid-back attitude for my YA boy. He might even have your hair.

2. Camp Counselor Guy II: You wore a yarmulke, were going to Jewish College, all up in the religion. But had a thing for making out in back seats and not committing yourself to just one girl (I guess like the men in the bible who had more than one woman in their tents). My sister dated an older version of you. She said guys like that weren't sleazy, "just ahead of their time." It's now called "Friends with Benefits." I'm waiting for the chapter that will be the best fit for you.

3. Camp Counselor Guy III--(I guess I needed something to keep me busy during my summers)--Lopsided smile and too cool attitude made the cut

4. College Party Hook Up Boy--Tried to get me to sleep with you by saying "It will only take a minute." How can that line not make it in?

5. College BF--Broke up with me by saying, "When I said you were my girlfriend, I meant, you know, girl who's a friend, and when I said we were going out, I meant out of your house." True story, people.

There are other guys too--like the ex who wrote poems and read books with me (like Joey and Pacey) or my husband whose amazing math skills inspired me to write one of my female MCs. And when I feel my teen boy is becoming too much of a player, I reel him in with the some "good guy" characteristics. But the bad ones are just much more fun. :-)

The End to Sleepless Nights?

 OK, I'm so scared to post this in case the evil sleep fairies are just playing a trick on us. BUT, we have had 2 nights (yes, that's no exaggeration, people, 2 whole nights) where N slept 4+ hours--in his own bed--w/out waking after we put him down. Those of you unfamiliar with our sleep saga may think this is no big deal, but he will be 2 next week and this has happened maybe once before. So I'm holding my breath and hoping night 3 will be more of the same. This could be due to the new car bed he has or me teaching him to fall asleep w/out rocking by sitting next to him or a combo of both. Or, he just loves his mommy oh so much and decided if he's ever going to get a pony mommy will have to finish some books to make it happen--something she can't do if he keeps waking up every 1-2 hours. Whatever the reason, I'm hoping it's a new trend. Fingers crossed.... Can you cross yours as well? And eyes, toes, arms, and legs too?
 Nice and chill weekend and almost over. Blah.
Small recap: Friday, hubby was home from work so he, N, and I spent the day together looking at trains (of course), playing with N's bat, ball, and rake (those things must always come in threes), and running around and climbing. N so tires us out--in a good way--but he never seems tired. Mommy has no time for gym so he's really helping me out.

Also, on Friday, on a whim, not in the mood to go food shopping, we decided to go out to dinner. This may sound uneventful, but a sit down dinner (even at a place that's a diner) with an almost 2 year old, is never just sit down. And, don't tell me I should just take him to Fuddruckers or something. Those places are even worse because he's so distracted by everyone and everything, he won't sit AT ALL. We haven't gone out the three of us to dinner since Mother's Day (that actually went super well) so we figured why not? He sat in the booth for a while, colored, threw things in my water (who needs to drink?) and was doing well. Now, if only they had brought out all the food just 10 minutes earlier than they did. Then, N had enough and wanted to go "OUUUTSIIIIDE." Well, wouldn't you know it, then, miraculously all the food is ready and brought to us. I guess they saw him getting restless and made their decision to bring stuff out that was sitting in the back?  Hubby went to play with N in the parking lot (gives new meaning to "Go play in traffic") and I finished maybe half my dinner and then hubby and I switched N roles. All in all, not a bad outing. Went far better than the last time we went out, which I just remembered was not MD, but a few weeks ago when we braved Applebee's. N sat for maybe 5 minutes that day. So this time way better.

BUT, the real highlight of the dinner is about me. When I ran outside to find N and hubby so we could do the eating swap, a car honked at me. I wasn't in the street at risk of being run over so maybe I dropped something and the driver noticed? Nope. When I looked up, dude was all smiling this "you're cute" smile and honked again. OK, folks, it's been quite a while since I've been honked at. I guess baby as accessory does not invite honking. Go figure. Back in my single days, I would have ignored honker or rolled my eyes. But, I was wearing my cute, fitted pink shirt so I just smiled back and then went to find my boys, feeling, hot, hot, hot. I don't advocate leering, but once in a while, a few honks don't hurt. Maybe I should wear a shirt on days I need a honk. You know, something like, "Honk if you support moms." I don't know....I'll work on that idea.

Writing Stuff and Books to Read

Finished one article, one to go, and I want to get moving on my two WIP but those are harder for me because they don't have deadlines. Some writers say deadlines freak them out or block their creativity, but I work MUCH better with deadlines. I need someone to tell me that I have 2 weeks or 2 days or whatever to complete something. Ok, a 2 day deadline would cause me to have a nervous breakdown so maybe not 2 days.

Trying to get some inspiration from Stephen King's ON WRITING, and I love what he says about muses. I was trying to picture mine and am not quite sure what she looks like. I know what she's not, though. Definitely not a girly girl or one of those chicks who gets her nails done every day. But I don't see her as a tomboy either. I think she wears funky clothes and cracks on her gum a little too loudly and keeps things real. Like, she'll roll her eyes if I'm making my characters too sappy or really trying for an ending that will make my high school self really happy but will not work with the book. Sometimes she's goofy and makes faces at my son to get him to laugh, while looking at me from the corner of her eye to make sure I'm working. And other times she rather watch reality tv and chill with black coffee (loaded with real sugar--none of that artificial stuff for her) than help me out. I think that's what she's been doing this week, and it's quite annoying. What bribe should I give her so she'd be useful again?

Culture (Dis?) Connect

 It happened again today. I was in the park and my almost 2-year-old son "N" wanted to play with another little boy. Not a problem in itself, but the boy was Russian and his grandma only spoke Russian so I had to engage her to make the play happen. So I make small talk in my heavily accented Russian and then encourage N (in English) to share with her grandson, E. And this is where it starts. "He doesn't know Russian?" she asks me. "Nope," I say. "You don't think it's important to teach him?" she asks (obviously, she thinks it's important I teach him). I tell her my husband is American, I came here when I was three, and English is much easier for me so no N doesn't speak Russian and no it's not a priority for us. She lets it go and the boys play, but she does manage to throw in one more time later in conversation that her grandson (who is 4) is only learning English now because knowing Russian was very important to them and that he should always have that connection (I believe this was a pointed comment but that's OK). Overall, she wasn't a bad lady, N and E had a good time playing, and that's what really matters. Besides, I normally get much more judgy comments and moms who are relentless in continuing a convo I ended. And, usually, I end the convo really quickly (was being nice here as this was the boy's grandma and has set Russian views as she grew up there).

But here is the issue. I don't really understand what the big deal is and it's on my mind because the novels and stories I write do have a Russian-Jewish component that is relevant to the story. This is what I'm drawn to. Yet, continuing the language is not really important to me. I know my mother is not thrilled with this (and she claims she is but then she is quick to point out to everyone that N doesn't know Russian--like every random person cares). I don't feel connected to the language. I feel connected to the culture; the mahtroshka doll (the doll-within-a-doll-within-a-doll) always makes me sentimental and think of time spent with my grandparents. Stuffed cabbage and cutlets (made Russian style) are foods I make while I remember my grandmother's hands rolling the meat between her fingers. But the language itself? It doesn't evoke much; I don't feel that alone defines me. I taught N a few Russian words like "yazik" (tongue) and "myach" (ball) and he knows some nursery rhymes. I'll teach him Russian-Jewish traditions and show him old photographs my parents had and for me that's enough. Still, I can't help sometimes like I messed up in some ways. Like SHOULD I care? SHOULD the language matter? Am I the only one in a bilingual household who is raising her child to only speak English? And why am I made to feel like less of a parent because I choose to do this?

The Writing Condition

 So I have recently realized that all my neurosis, quirks, and issues can be attributed to being a writer. Who knew it was that easy? Forget therapy. It's just a writer thing. My insecurities? Nope, not due to birth order or parental unit woes. My need for control? That has nothing to do with my childhood either. Perfectionism? No deep meaning here either. All these things are, apparently, just the make-up of the writer. Phew. Makes you all feel better doesn't it?

You may think I'm exaggerating, but I have yet to come across a writer without even a little bit of neuroticism. In fact, this whole epiphany started with a Facebook post. I wrote, "I just realized I have control issues." and a writer friend wrote back, "It's called being a writer." Really? This never occurred to me and then the more I thought about it, the more writers I talked to, I have come to realize that there are certain traits common to people in this profession (or maybe I'm just drawn to other unstable people). So which came first? The quirks or the writer? Or is it just the life of all people in the arts--the insecurities, etc. We are just made that way.

If you are a secure, non-neurotic writer can you speak up and show yourself? Because I am totally convinced you are an imaginary creature like the elf or the unicorn. 

Planes, Trains, and Lawnmowers


I have two articles due within a week of each other, am waiting for edits for my first book, trying to decipher all the plots in book two, and hoping to start book three in the near future, but instead of working my day is built around watching planes and chasing trains and lawnmowers. This is what my almost two-year-old wants.


Recently, I got the local train schedule so I could coordinate my coffee trips with the trains' arrivals and departures. I figure I have to go into town anyway, what difference do five minutes make, especially since my kid's smile and excited bounce at the sound of the train coming are so worth it. He's at a funny age. He always wants to be on the go, to play, to climb, but will stop whatever he is doing if he hears a lawn mower and then stand for more than 20 minutes watching landscapers cut grass. Sometimes, this is a good break for me because I don't have to chase him. I can sit on the grass beside him and watch, allowing myself to be hypnotized by the moving machinery. Other times, I feel like one of those tornado chasers, trying to determine where the lawn mower sound is coming from, running from one street to another only to discover the mowing is in someone's back yard and we can't go there.

Back in my boy-chasing college days, when my friends and I would wander from one party to another, hoping the next place we went would have a better view, I would never have believed frat boys would one day be replaced with trains and lawnmowers, an occasional low-flying plane thrown in. That you could get a high from rolling on the grass or a little person looking at you in amazement when you showed off your hitting “skills” (read: hitting a ball a foot into the air), that turning cartwheels would impress little boys as much as big ones.

All this stuff surprises me because I have never been, nor am I now, a relaxed person. I'm not the girl who can chill on a bench for half-an-hour and just zone out. I'm the girl who sits on the bench and watches people and thinks about how they'll fit into her next book, who wonders how this activity can result in some pitches for magazines, who even as she is typing this is getting all jumpy because she should be working on a novel or her articles. But with N, I focus on him, live in his world for a while, slow down and breathe. It feels good to breathe.

And then productivity happens, like an extra reward. There is a park we like to go, and when N gets bored with the slides, tunnels, and climbing structures, we head to one of five homes whose backyard opens into the park. The house he loves has at least seven bird houses and the yard is flooded with flowers, birds, and squirrels. He stands on the path just outside the trellis and points out all the birds to me, tells me how they are flying, how he wants to touch them (he says this last thing with a sly but hopeful smile because he knows I won't let him touch them). They're almost as good as the lawnmowers and trains. Almost. I never rush him because, other than his nap, we have no other plans and recently I saw the birds and grass and flowers as he did. Let myself fully relax and watch. And that's when this picture came into my head for a subplot I have been struggling with. A boy who loves birds, who is calmed by them. That's what I will write about this weekend when I have the time to write.

In the meantime, N and I have lots to do: there are men drilling outside, lawnmowers on my neighbor's front lawn, a train coming in an hour, and birds so close you can touch them. If I let him.