Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Honey, I'm Home!

And celebrating minutiae as always. So in the last two weeks:

  • I saw "Avenue Q," which is funny as hell and also uncannily accurate about twentysomething life in New York (especially if it actually involved puppets).
  • I played Super Scrabble for the first time, and won, although I inadvertently played three phonies during the game. Super Scrabble is fun but a bit unnerving, as the board is so big and the tiles and extra-points spaces so numerous that you don't play defensively -- you just try to score as many points as you can. So if you don't mind abandoning strategy in favor of making goofy words, it's a good time.
  • I finished editing So Totally Emily Ebers and sent it off to Lisa.
  • Recipe Discovery of the Week: Beeramisu.
  • My mother, who is a wonderful woman, gave me Milk Chocolate Caramel McVitie's as a late Easter present. The chewy caramel surprises me every time I bite into one, but it nicely balances the crispiness of the digestive biscuit and provides a pleasant variation on the McVitie's experience.
  • Melissa pointed out that I have ascended to the #1 spot in a Google search for "Cheryl Klein," beating at last that Re/Max agent in Savannah, Georgia and the talented MFA lady out in California. Thanks to everyone who helped me on the way to victory! But I must remember, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. . . .
  • My sister and I watched "Dirty Dancing." I had forgotten both how hot and how good that movie is -- when I was in fourth grade and my mom fast-forwarded through the sex scenes, I loved it for the dancing, but this time I saw it as a wonderful feminist coming-of-age movie, especially because of the sex scenes. . . . Baby quite actively chooses to lose her virginity to Johnny and never regrets it, and the movie cheers her on all the way. Curtis Sittenfeld has a spot-on essay about the movie here that I especially recommend to anyone writing girl-centered YA.
  • I bought a pair of elegant black heels that are rather stable as well, so despite wearing them for pretty much four days straight, I have not yet broken my ankle! Hurrah!
  • Lissa and I also went to the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, which was hilarious: They sold a mini-cooler-sized mug called a "Bubba Keg," and also something called a "Jerky Gun," so apparently you can kill your deer and turn it into jerky right there in the woods.
  • Partly because of my vast amusement at these products, my sister accused me of thinking all Midwesterners are hicks. Far from it. Some Midwesterners are more open-minded and thoughtful than some New Yorkers I know, and vice versa; neither region has a monopoly on intelligence or taste. However, it must be said, I do not think one could purchase a product called a "Bubba Keg" anywhere in the New York tri-state area.
  • I found a Hot Minister dress -- brown linen with spaghetti straps and a ruffle around the knee, both completely demure and subtly hot. My sister contended that it's not formal enough for a minister to wear to a wedding; however, with her next breath she asked if she could wear it to her college graduation, so I suspect an ulterior motive. Stay tuned.
  • I hung out with Elizabeth Bunce and Erin Murphy and we toasted "Charlotte Miller."
  • My second-grade teacher, high-school librarian, and very favorite high-school English teacher came to hear me speak at the Missouri Writers Guild conference.
  • I met Lizzy, totally unexpectedly! And she is very cool, as could be surmised from her comments.
  • The "Falling in Love" talk went over really well. The plot talk went okay, though I felt a little off-balance -- partly because it was hard to tell whether the audience was finding it useful or I was just confusing them, and partly because I was giving it barefoot since the heels hurt my feet. Anyway. I think my next talk might bind up the character chart, the plot checklist I developed to go with the plot talk, and assorted other notes and be about novel revision. Or maybe I'll talk about voice, since someone asked me about voice during the Q&A and I found I didn't know what to say. (I'm not yet booked for any conferences in the fall, hint hint.)
  • And I will try to post both versions of the plot talk this weekend.
  • Stephen Colbert completely embarrassed the president.

And three exclamation-worthy events of the day:


  1. "No one puts Baby in the corner..."

    Glad you're back to the 'ole blog. Sounds like you had so much fun, thanks for sharing! Happy you found a minister dress...there will be pictures from the wedding, right?

  2. Welcome back, Cheryl - you have been missed :)

    Joan P.

  3. Welcome back!
    Hope that you had some good barbeque. I found a place in Chelsea that is just OK--it's no Gates or Daisy Mae's, but it's less out of the way.
    Have you been following the whole HOW OPAL GOT KISSED, GOT WILD, etc. plagiarism controversy? Any thoughts on it? When editing a book or sifting through submissions, do you have a nagging fear that maybe passages are plagiarized? Is it the case that when you look for a clear "voice," you're less likely to get plagiarized material (or at least better plagiarized material)?
    Does plagiarism really matter? In the case of HOW OPAL GOT KISSED, etc. isn't she just borrowing some background passages to flesh out a relatively story?
    Hmm...maybe I should have just e-mailed you.

  4. So, this does not have much to with your post, but it should be exciting news. My friend Elanie (you have probably heard that name) her boyfiends friend is drumroll please . . . That Tony guy from your beloved High School Musical. 6 degrees, huh?

  5. Glad you're back! And I heard you were great in MO!

  6. Oh, and congratulations on the starred review! Maybe there will become a series of sorts....

    I enjoyed reading the National Review essay on the book. I wonder whether you plan on responding to the following:

    I know what's more important: proper grammar. When I was a youngster — back in the days when the Department of Education was just a twinkle in Kennedy's wandering eye — my teachers told me to end sentences that are questions with question marks. (The sentence was: "If they agree to pass it, the President of the United States will sign the bill, and we will have a new law to improve our schools. What could be more important than that!")

  7. It sounds like you had a great trip. Welcome back!

  8. So glad you are back! Sounds like you had a wonderful time (aside from the heels hurting your feet)!

    Congratulations on ascending to the #1 spot! We'll all have to keep googling you to keep you there. ;-)

    Ah, "Dirty Dancing" . . . the memories. I was forbidden to watch it when I was growing up, so naturally I watched it at a friend's house. :-)

    I look forward to seeing your plot talks!

    Welcome back!

  9. I have very mixed feelings about the Viswanathan situation. My primary emotion is sympathy for Little, Brown, for the huge financial hit they're taking on something that really isn't their fault. . . . Author contracts include a clause verifying all the work is the author's own; Viswanathan obviously violated that, and there was really no way the publisher could have known that beforehand. But I also want to give her the benefit of the doubt about the intentionality of the borrowing, despite all the evidence against her; it's just too strange to think of her sitting down and copying out these random unimportant lines from SLOPPY FIRSTS -- why not quality dialogue or something, if you're going to steal at all? I feel like there's something that we aren't being told in the whole media dustup. And in the meantime: Sorry, Little, Brown.

  10. Was great to meet you, Cheryl!

    (And you too, Lizzy!)


  11. Stewart / Colbert

    Welcome back!

  12. You're back! My morning coffee just got more literary! Hooyah!

    I've watched the Stephen Colbert speech several time over the last few days. It's mesmerizing on so many levels; the content, the smack downs, the unease of the audience, the body language…wow. I would have loved to have been able to "head hop" in that room.



    Please write again soon. Though my own life is filled with activity, letters encourage momentary escape into others lives and I come back to my own with greater contentment.

    Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, 'A Woman of Independent Means'

  13. Hi Cheryl. Thanks for coming to KC for our conference -- great opening remarks. I have a reviewer copy of ``Caddy Ever After'' that I can't wait to read. I love the Cassons! Hope your feet have recovered.
    Mary (the photographer)

  14. My daughter loves Dirty Dancing. No matter how many times we watch it, I still get goosebumps at the end. Of course, I cry at everything, including commercials!

  15. Come on back to KC any old time, now. Wasn't that conference a blast?

    Melinda (the hyper gal who got that reader's report and told you about it twice!)

  16. Cheryl, contrary to your suspicions, your session on plot hit its mark. Everyone I talked with about it felt you made some excellent points. I had just listened to SENSE AND SENSIBILITY in my car on the drive to KC and heard P&P on the way back, so your references to Jane Austin's plotting were timely for me (food for thought on the long drive home). I've thought of your words many times since you spoke. Thanks for coming; it was a pleasure to hear your thoughts on writing.

    I wish I had spoken with you a little longer when we were introduced by Lizzy, but it took me by surprise, and I'm afraid I reverted back to my shy, fifth-grade, fade-to-wallpaper persona. Anyway, I wanted you to know that your session on plot went very well and was much appreciated.

    Christy Lenzi