I decided this is going to be a monthly feature, for when I get sick of listening to myself talk. SO. I'll keep the comments open over the weekend, and you can ask me ANYTHING ANYTHING AT ALL and I promise to answer honestly.
Writing-related, not writing-related, serious, funny, hard, easy, ANYTHING AT ALL AAHHHHH GO GO GO
Friday, January 29, 2010
I decided this is going to be a monthly feature, for when I get sick of listening to myself talk. SO. I'll keep the comments open over the weekend, and you can ask me ANYTHING ANYTHING AT ALL and I promise to answer honestly.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
No no...it's TEASER TUESDAY!!
This is the first page of something YOU WILL NOT RECOGNIZE.
He ignores me and changes lanes, his arms draped over the steering wheel. His cuticles are bloody rags. Boy.
“Only children bite their nails, Noel.”
His eyes flicker behind his sunglasses. “I’m aware.” He doesn’t close the sunroof.
The radio hisses soft static. We can’t agree on music. Drops of water bounce in and slide down the dashboard.
“Consequently, I’m getting wet.”
Noel finally cracks a smile. “Quiet now,” he says, but he turns the knob and the sunroof slides shut.
About half an hour ago we left the Baltimore Beltway and changed to softer suburban roads. Now we turn frequently and wait for the stoplights. The rain against the hood sounds like a typewriter. Noel’s ruined fingertips tap the steering wheel while I stare at a red light. The message is clear: we’re almost there.
“I’m thinking we don’t go tonight,” he says.
I look at him.
It’s not like I don’t understand his position. It’s just that my entire life is about not going places.
“I mean, it’s getting sort of late.” He indicates the 7:03 flashing beside the speedometer. “Maybe we just check into the hotel tonight. Call Mom and let her know we arrived all safe and sound. And worry about, you know, the family. Tomorrow.”
He’s freaking out. Unbelievable. Noel tends to cycle—-he goes from stagnant to hyperactive, like a bipolar toddler. Freaking out, however, is not part of either of these stages.
“You’re freaking out.”
“I’m not. I just don’t think it’s right to emotionally tax ourselves tonight.”
My fingers crawl into my pocket and I withdraw the two creased photographs. There’s Mariah, striking as always against the old electric factory I used as a backdrop. There’s Josh, trying to be serious for the camera, and I can see right into his mind...loyal, my ass...how could I have been so stupid...all he wanted to do was touch her. Always.
Noel snatches the picture out of my hands. “Especially considering how close you are to some kind of dementia.”
I cross my arms. “Shut up.”
“Look, you’re grieving,” he continues, and our green arrow lights up. We turn left. Noel makes his pretentious voice. “You’re grieving for a seemingly timeless relationship with the seemingly perfect best friend that disintegrated as you walked in on him undressing your girlfriend. Oh, Josh, how could you? Thirteen years of near-brotherhood washed down the drain. The shock, the anguish. Oh, to be sixteen and backstabbed again. These are the happiest days of your life, Ian. Lavish.”
“Have I mentioned shut up?”
“And you’re just trying to change the subject,” I say. “You’re seriously chickening out?”
He is no longer smiling. “Fuck off,” he says, the predictable shut-out. “We’re going tomorrow.”
I pull my knees up and stare out the window. I would do well to remember that Noel and I are not close. Sometimes we get along so well that I forget.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I kind of hate the way this blog looks, so I'll be making it pretty today. Sorry if it gets all crazy messed up during transition. And let me know what you think of the new look...
I got off the phone with Suzie, and she was so sweet and lovely and we really clicked (butterfly swimmers ftw.)
Did I mention she was really sweet?
Did I mention I'm an abrasive Jew?
I emailed Brendan one sentence--"can I say 'fuck' to her???"
He replied--"fuck yes!"
So that's really how I knew everything was going to be okay.
Friday, January 22, 2010
(here's that post I teased you with.)
Not to brag, but I conduct myself differently from a lot of other writers, which is something you might have noticed and might find a little confusing. I'm open about a lot of things other blogging writers might sweep under the rug. I have a lot of sass and attitude and a lot of other attributes some people might not find attractive, but so does everybody. I'm just loud about mine.
I didn't do this by accident. When I started this blog, I knew exactly one thing: I wanted to be an example of a writer who was a fucking human being, because, let's be honest, a lot of writers scare the shit out of me.
Have you noticed that the only thing that seems to divide published writers online and unpublished ones is that the published ones always seem all together and shit? They never worry about revisions or going on submission or what agent is taking what queries. They're all lying in the sunshine drinking margaritas, and it's like they were never the writers down in the trenches, pounding through those first drafts and fielding rejections and stalking agents online. And that isn't a part of me that I want to hide or forget.
So I wanted to do things differently, and I trusted that people would like it.
And not one single person has ever told me, "hannah, stop with the fucking cursing and clean up your act and maybe act like a professional."
So I feel trusted, too. You guys, reading this, and my family, hopefully not reading this, and my agent and my editor, knowing exactly what I'm like and letting me talk to humans anyway, trust me.
And yet I'm still getting emails from people asking me how they can be sure agents aren't going to steal their ideas. And there are writers out there--published writers--afraid to share a few sentences of their books online because they're worried they'll be scolded.
I know that I'm not the most careful of people, but I am not stupid. This career means more to me than just about anything that isn't related to me or covered in fur. I'm not going to put it in jeopardy just to be edgy. But I trust myself to not go to far and I trust the powers that be not to overreact. And I think that's pretty reasonable, because, in a lot of ways, this is an industry that revolves around trust.
Your advance is based on the amount of copies your editor trusts your book to sell. Your print run is based on the amount of copies all the book stores trust you beautiful readers out there to read. My last two agents and I worked on a handshake (a virtual one), not a contract.
When you pick up a book, you trust the author to give you characters you love. You trust the awesome book bloggers out there to tell you what's good. You trust the author to write a satisfying ending. (er, sorry, guys.)
If we stop trusting each other, this industry falls apart.
And that's why it boggles my little mind that writers can be the least trusting people on the planet.
GUYS. All it takes is a few google searches and a few friendships with other authors to figure out who's going to try to screw you. The scams exist, but they are NOT well-kept secrets. And no one else wants to see you get hurt. Trust us. We're going to take care of you.
And if you don't trust me, and you don't trust the other writers who probably aren't writing impassioned fucking pleas like this on their blogs, I want you to trust one thing.
IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY.
Publishing also revolves around this statement. Stuff can be fucked up, queries can be awful, manuscripts can be late, but EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.
And here is an example. P.S., this is the real reason this post is coming right now.
On Wednesday, I moved into my new house. It was a huge crazy step for me--a real house without my parents, close to the college I'm transferring to, starting to live like an adult, all that shit.
On Thursday morning, I got an email from my agent, Brendan, asking if we could chat.
He calls and tells me he's taking an editorial position, so he won't be my agent anymore. He sounds so apologetic on the phone that I'd almost believe someone's forcing him to switch jobs. He tells me who my new agent's going to be, and that he still wants to be in touch with me, and I congratulate him and try to make my voice sunny and bright and then hang up the phone and cry all day.
In case you missed agent appreciation day, Brendan was, without a doubt, the best thing to ever happen to my career.
So I felt crushed and awful, and if any of you had come up to me and been like HANNAH EVERYTHING'S GOING TO BE OKAY I would have spit at you.
And then on Monday, my new agent emails me and tells me she's read all my books and she loves them, and this is going to be awesome.
And yesterday she emails me with more examples of her awesome.
And all of a sudden my world has rainbows again.
I'm going to miss Brendan like crazy, but goddamn, he's going to make a lot of authors (and hopefully me someday?) very happy with his mad editing skillz. And guys...my new agent is really, really awesome. And she's prettier than Brendan.
So this post is really to tell you that I'm now repped by Suzie Townsend.
And that everything really is going to be okay.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
just kidding about that big post. It needs a little longer to cook. So let's celebrate post 100 with the first bit of INVINCIBLE SUMMER, shall we?
This is pre-notes from editor, so God knows if this will bear any resemblance to the first page in the real thing. But here's what it looks like now.
Gideon keeps falling down.
He and Claudia slipped outside to the beach before anyone else was ready. They’re greasy and gritty with sand and sea water now—no point in dragging them back inside. None of us feel like making the effort. My mother, who’s a little too old and way too pregnant to run around outside and parent them hands-on like she used to, drifts to the deck to watch them, one hand on her stomach, one on the railing.
My dad looks at Noah and me lingering by the windows. We’re moaning every time we see a particularly good wave roll by and looking at each other—maybe we should go out? Maybe we can? No.
Outside, Claudia is laughing. She always says she’s way too old to play with Gideon. But she still does, at least when we’re here. Here no one is too old. Except Mom and Dad. Claudia and Gideon are the two youngest, so they get shoved together and there is no way to avoid it, even though Claudia’s eleven and Gideon’s barely six.
Dad says, “Aren’t you two going out?”
We can’t. Despite the sand clinging to our feet from the walk from the car and the soaked-in sunscreen smell of this carpet, Noah and I know that it isn’t quite summer. Not yet. Summer can’t start at night, first of all, and it definitely can’t start before we see the SUV roll up outside the Hathaway’s beach house. And until it comes, we’ll wait here. That’s tradition, and Noah and I do not kill tradition.
Noah is eighteen, four years my senior, as long as you’re not talking about emotional age. His nose hooks at the end, just covering where his spiky mustache is coming in. His hand taps a beat on my shoulder.
Monday, January 18, 2010
and it will be the hundredth post on this blog.
So I wanted to get rid of 99 right now, because the next post is important, and I like the metaphorical significance.
So. Happy post 99. I'll see you tomorrow.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking with me. And thanks, always and forever, for giving a shit.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
I'm the first to admit that character names and titles are not my strong suit. More often than not, someone else comes up with them for me. BREAK was not my original title--that was all Anica Rissi and her fabulous army over at Simon Pulse. I chose the name Jonah myself (Fun fact--a ton of my manuscripts have a male main character whose name starts with J, though not a lot that will ever be published) but the lovely Suzanne Young thought of Jesse. I was all "QUICK WHAT NAME GOES WELL WITH JONAH" and she gave me Jesse. Pretty sweet.
It also totally breaks that rule you always hear, that you shouldn't have two main characters whose name starts with the same letter. If they'd been Jonah and Jonas, that would have been a problem, but Jonah and Jesse look different enough for it not to be a problem.
(They also sound different. Do you hear words in your head when you're reading, or is that just me? I think this keeps me from being able to read very quickly, because I have to hear each individual word before I can move into the next one. Holy mother of digressions.)
ANYWAY. Do you ever get help on character names or titles? You hear a lot about how publishers will change your titles, and they do, frequently, but not all the time. INVINCIBLE SUMMER, as far as I know, is going to be the thing's name, and that title I actually did come up with all on my lonesome. (Not entirely--it's from a Camus quote, "In the middle of winter, I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer." It's about the only line Camus ever wrote that ISN'T quoted in the novel.)
So though publishers do change titles, it's by no means a guarantee that your book won't hit shelves with the same title you gave it in its word document. So how much thought do you give to your titles? What about to your character names? Do you get help?
(Kitten pictures tomorrow)
Monday, January 11, 2010
If you have a manuscript to query
QUERY THAT SHIT.
Do you think an agent's going to come down your chimney and offer you representation?
SEND THE GODDAMN LETTERS.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
End of the year wrap-up survey, just in case people want more HANNAH MOSKOWITZ THE EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD stuff and less HANNAH MOSKOWITZ THE WRITER STUFF. But there will still be writing stuff in here. Promise.
1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Saw my book on bookshelves. Went to college. Got within a few feet of a lamb. Did a long-distance relationship. Moved away from home. Made a life-changing decision to change colleges. Learned how to comfort myself, by myself. Discovered some fantastic music. (I hate the word "discovered" when it comes to music. It's not like I unearthed this shit.) Got an agent who I don't know how I lived without. Sold two more books. Wrote my first adult book. Wrote three YA books.
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I had any for 2009. I made a few for 2010 that I hope to keep.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not very close.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. But my grandfather died somewhere between New Years Day, 2008, and the day after, so New Years always makes me think of him.
5. What countries did you visit?
England for a week, but that's it...and the Bahamas, but come on.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A fulfilling college experience. An adult life. My own cats. My boyfriend closer to me. Uh...moar book deals?
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 25th. BREAK's release :)
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
BREAK's release. Selling two more books (have you heard these things enough already?) Being proactive when college sucked. Finding an agent who worked better for me.
9. What was your biggest failure?
College, college, college.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope, not even swine flu. And I didn't even sprain my ankle in 2009, which might be my first year ever not doing it. Maybe Jonah and Jesse suffered enough illness and injury in my stead?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My netbook is pretty fabulous. And my house, but that's renting (please, I can't buy a house.)
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My best friend Emma, for a year's anniversary of being incredibly strong.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Clothes. Food. Handbags...extremely lucky for me, my parents pay for college.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
BookdealsandBREAKrelease. Oh, and seeing RENT with Grace was incredible. All three times.
16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
When My Boy Walks Down the Street by The Magnetic Fields.
17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
Oh, a million times happier.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
READING. I did not read nearly enough in 2009. Huge problem. My goal is 50 books in 2009, which I know is NOT a lot for some of you, but it'll be so much better than I did in 2009.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas is done, saun. But I spent it at home, with my family and the boyfriend, then seeing Sherlock Holmes.
22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I think that yes, I did.
24. What was your favorite TV program?
Queer as Folk. heh.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nah, I don't have time for that shit.
26. What was the best book you read?
Oooh. Like I said, I didn't read nearly enough. But definitely WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by David Levithan and John Green. Incredible.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Getting heavy into Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, definitely.
30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Fantastic Mr. Fox, definitely.
31. What did you do on your birthday. And how old were you?
I'm eighteen. And for my birthday my friends and I went out for Fondue, like every year. We played SAY ANYTHING and ran around with a bubble wand, as well. And we watched RENT, and we measured our lives in love, etc.
32.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Christopher not going away.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Laziness. I used to spend a shitload of time on clothes, and now I'm very lazy. But I did start wearing heels, though not on a regular basis.
34. What kept you sane?
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Mmm. Huh. I really don't know.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gay marriage in D.C.
37. Whom did you miss?
The stupid boyfriend in Ohio.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
We should get my name out of the way first. It's Body Count Beatrice.
I mean, really it's Beatrice Tanerbaum, but the Disco Dykes always were fond of alliteration. I've been Body Count Beatrice ever since Kiley, who was girl number two. Kiley was the accident. That's how I think of her in my head. Elizabeth was the tragic. Kiley was the accident. Lea was the mistake.
When the Dykes came up with the name, after Kiley, in September, it was joking, gentle, to make me feel better. You silly girl, can't you see it's a coincidence? You're a voodoo princess, they'd say, rolling their eyes, mocking me. Body Count Beatrice, two isn't so impressive.
After Lea, in January, no one said it, everyone pretended the name had never existed, because that rule they teach you in acting class, about how things are funny when they happen three times? It doesn't count when your girlfriends are dying.
And then in April, I started dating Benji, and the few people who hadn't been avoiding me because I carried death on my fingers suddenly were, and “Body Count Beatrice,” they whispered in my ear while they pushed me into my locker, “How long are you going to give the boy?”
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I found Absolute Write when I was a 15 year old n00b. I had a few novels under my belt, most, but actually not all, of which were completely awful. I also had a lot of big ideas about publishing being some kind of corporate scheme, and agents were all part of some big capitalist machine of iron and steel and crushed dreams. To be honest, I didn't know a damn thing about agents except that I didn't want one and I was going to kick my little feet and cross my arms and tell everyone in the world I didn't want them.
So then I stumbled across Absolute Write, which is honestly the mecca of publishing information for a lost soul such as myself. And I went in there with my big ideas and my even bigger mouth and I got gently, but efficiently, slapped down to real life.
And these writers, who were bigger and older and more experienced and a hell of a lot wiser than I was? They scared the shit out of me. They'd been around the block, and they had shit like writing spaces and writing processes and writing schedules and writing pants or whatever, and all of it was stuff I'd never thought about and definitely never considered having, because I wasn't a real writer. I was the crazy little kid who wanted to get published before she was 18.
But luckily I was a crazy kid who listened, because I started querying, and goddamn was that the scariest thing ever. Forget being scared of writers, now there were agents. And agents were just the scariest fucking thing in the world, tweeting at each other and drinking coffee and taking phone calls and throwing around words like "slush" and "acquisitions" and "apartment." They were frickin adults, for God's sake. And here I was sending them emails and expecting them to waste their time on me.
I know people go through a lot of feeling when they get rejections, but does anyone else just feel embarassed? I think I'm over it now--now, if anyone rejects me, they're clearly heartless robots who don't understand my passion and prowess over the quill of amazing or whatever--but it used to be that every time someone sent me a rejection, I'd just want to email back I'M SORRY WHAT WAS I THINKING SO SORRY I MADE YOU READ THAT. Because I had it in my head that for some reason I wasn't worthy of agents' time. That they were up there on their Mount Olympus and I was down here in high school.
But I got an agent.
And then all of a sudden agents were my buddies and I could tweet at them and ha ha ha aren't we witty and oh my God, editors, oh my God.
And now it's holy shit, book reviewers.
This goddamn thing never ends, and it's awesome.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
And I am going to be a better blogger in 2010. I SWEAR.
I have nothing important to say to you today at all. Can this not count as 2010 blogging? It's 4 in the morning. I think I should be exempt from making sense at this hour.
If I'm smart, I'll delete this post right now. But I wanted you to all know I haven't abandoned you. (And if you sent me a query, I will read it. Really. At some point. I swear.)
Working up to a move on January 13th. Very excited. And I'm getting kittens on the 15th. There will be pictures.
BUT. First, a challenge.
NAME MY KITTENS.
They are nearly identical, two light gray tabbies, both boys.
I'll think of some reward if I end up using your names. It will probably be a fairly nice reward. Aaaaaaand go.