A Hero Protagonist with Some Energy

So last weekend we had our book club – The Namesake.

I really love Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing – all those long, lyrical sentences with clause after clause to string your thoughts along. But I was a bit disappointed in the plot. I felt the hero, Gogol, never really did anything. He simply waited for life to … well, happen.

His “goal” was to find his identity. Which isn’t a very creative goal, of course – I mean, that’s a basic coming-of-age story. But I’ll give Lahiri credit for throwing in the added complications of finding identity when you’re in a cross-cultural family and having a name that you never feel fits you properly in the first place. That was creative, and interesting. But the way Gogol goes about achieving his “goal” is to basically do … well … nothing. He just lets life happen and hopes for the best.

Yes, he changes and begins to find his identity, but not by any actions on his part. His awareness simply comes by way of circumstance (family death, etc.). I liked the book, but I wish the protagonist had some energy. I guess I like my protagonists to be heroes, and Gogol really wasn’t. I like heroes with courage. I like heroes who have to make excruciating choices. I think of Atticus Finch here. I think of Henry DeTamble (The Time Traveler’s Wife). I think of Jake Barnes (The Son Also Rises). In romance novels, I think of Kenny Traveler (Lady Be Good) and any of Laura Kinsdale’s fight-to-the-death-when-you’re-already-kicked-to-the-curb heroes (gosh, Jervaulx anyone?). I like my heroes with some “bite,” I guess.

How about you? What type of hero do you like? Who stands out in your mind?

Girl Confession: I Hate to Shop

Sometimes I worry I’m an embarrassment to girldom.


I mean, in many ways, I guess, I’m fairly girly – I love flowers; I own hairspray; and I’ll cry at any kind of movie that has Hugh Grant and some allusion to the word “forever.”


But in one way I feel I’m completely out of the loop, like a missed the flourish in the second X chromosome: I hate to shop. And I especially hate to shop for clothes.


I know, I know. You probably do. You probably know the difference between Manolos and Choos and even know how to spell them and make them plural. You can probably spot an Yves Saint Laurent skirt from a mile away. And you probably followed Vera Wang well before she landed in Kohls.


But I’m just missing this gene.


I know I must be a terrible disappointment. I’m sure my shopaholic mother swaddled me in a pink department-store blanket when I was born and thought, “Ah ha! A comrade in arms. …” Continue reading

Your Thoughts on the Oscars 2009 …

I thought I’d open this post up to you: What did you enjoy about the Oscars last night? What surprised you?

  • My list of surprises would have to start out with the fact that Hugh Jackman could sing!
  • I also enjoyed the dresses: everyone looked beautiful.
  • I was happy that Heath Ledger won.
  • I was excited about Slumdog Millionaire winning, but I haven’t seen it (so now I’ll have to do so!).
  • Lastly, I really liked that they had the previous winners come and “present” the new winners one by one — nice touch.

What about you?

Kids: Becoming ‘Beautiful in the Heart’

Every time I open my top dresser drawer, I see it. It pokes out from underneath a red bra I hardly ever wear and a plastic baggie filled with my kids’ baby teeth. Sometimes I push these things further aside so I can see it better. It’s a simple frame, with a card inside – decorated pastel brushstrokes around a single quote:

“What is important is that my children grow up to be beautiful in the heart.”

Beneath is a line and attribution to “an African Nyinban woman.”

Now, I’m not sure who the African Nyinban woman is (or if it’s really some grizzled white-haired writer at Hallmark), but I’m thankful for the simple words, which have brought me comfort for upwards of 13 years.

I received the card from a coworker when I was pregnant with my second child. I sometimes wonder if she was struck by the simplicity of the statement too, or if it was just the first card she saw when she was rushing into the market to buy a half gallon of milk and a bag full of apples. Either way, though, I’m grateful she found it. I’m grateful she connected me with such a powerful concept.

The sentiment isn’t complex, nor does it seem particularly profound when I see it here now. But I know it struck me as profound when my children were born. Continue reading

Writing Weekend

We’ve had a nice, long President’s Day weekend, and I’ve spent most of it writing. It’s been nice. (It helps that it’s pouring rain here in So. Cal and no one wants to go out.)

I’m trying to catch up on some edits I needed to do for the second of my three books I’m working on. I sent the manuscript out to Harlequin for critique, and they sent back a really nice writeup with tons of encouragement and very specific recommendations. All very doable. So now I just need to … do.

I’ve been an editor my entire adult life, but I’m used to editing small chunks of material at a time. But editing your own novel — which is a full 100,000+ words (!) — is really daunting. (It takes me a whole weekend to skim 100,000 words, let alone ponder and edit each sentence!) I keep having to start over, tackling small sections. I’m not sure I’m doing this in the most efficient way, but I’m doing it in the only way I know how.

Anyway, I wrote a permanent page here on the blog called “Currently Writing” about where each book is in the writing and editing process. My very favorite stage is the “Fast First Draft,” and I have one book there that I love working on. But I have two at the last stage, awaiting their revisions, and I need to dedicate some time to them so I can finish. (That’s what I worked on this weekend!)

Drop me a line if you have any questions, any encouragement, or — absolutely — any recommendations for how to edit 100,000 words smoothly! I’d love to hear from you readers and writers!

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