#navbar-iframe { display: none !important;} The Naked Page: May 2005

The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary


Weekend Catch-Up

Let's get one thing straight: I'm not a weekend blogger. I didn't realize it when I started this blog, but it's true. Look at my record. I don't do weekends. If I show up here on a Saturday or Sunday, consider it a bonus.

I spent the long Memorial Day weekend catching up on boring chores around the house, plus doing some photography stuff, which is my hobby. I did my son's five-year portrait, then did my neighbor's daughters' portraits. This was my first time photographing anyone else's kids, and I was surprised that I actually got some good shots. Next up is my daughter, who at two years old, is soooo not into cooperating. I've been putting off doing her portrait for several months, and if I don't get it done soon, I won't be able to call it her two year old picture.

I also did some of the photos of myself on my website, using a tripod and a camera remote control (or, occasionally, just the camera's timer). All the ones where I'm wearing a white top--I did those.

So now I've got to get my brain back into writing mode. I emailed a chapter of my work in progress off to my agent last week for feedback, so while I'm waiting to hear back from her, I'm going to start revising a proposal I wrote last year that has been languishing while I met contract deadlines.


American Idolatry

I have to say this: Yaaaaaay!!!! Carrie Underwood won American Idol!!!! Whooohoooooo!!!!

Ahem. I'll spare you any further whoopin' and hollerin'. I just think Carrie kicks butt (and I can usually be found listening to old-school R&B, not country).

It was a bit of suffering to have to sit through that whole damn 2-hour show to find out the winner though. Urk. The whole Simon-Paula fakey-fake drama thing is beyond stupid.

And what was with Constantine, Nadia, and Jessica singing Walk This Way? Truly painful to watch. And Jessica in a belly shirt?! No. That's just wrong.

I was a bit sad to see some of the unjustly voted off Idols on stage last night, singing such unsuitable songs. I do think the right person won in the end, but if I were queen of the universe, here's who the top 6 would have been:

1. Carrie
2. Constantine
3. Bo
4. Vonzell
5. Anwar
6. Nadia

Okay, okay, other than Carrie, I might be a little off on the order. I wouldn't argue that Bo deserved to be in the top two--he just didn't pick many songs I liked. Interesting to note, I started out wanting Constantine voted off immediately. Couldn't stand his whole screechy rocker thing, but each week, he impressed me more and more. I think Anwar could have grown some too if he'd stayed in the competition longer--he needs to find his niche. Nadia suffered from more than a few poor song choices (but benefited from having the best fashion sense of anyone ever to stand on the AI stage), and Vonzell needed to be a little more unique.

So that's my AI wrap-up. Next time, it's back to our regularly scheduled programming. All me, all the time.


The Hand of God and Stuff

Oops, no blog posting yesterday thanks to restricted internet access (see below). Also, I have a cold. Should I list more excuses? No, I'll spare you.

Ever since I dropped my laptop a few months ago, it has been going a little wonky. Mainly just the internet connection though. Sometimes I can connect to the internet, and sometimes I can't. Sometimes it stops working for minutes, sometimes days, and my techno-savvy husband cannot fix it.

I can't decide if it's a blessing or a curse. But I'm beginning to wonder if it's the Hand of God operating through my computer. The internet connection invariably stops working when I have a book deadline looming and shouldn't be wasting time doing things like checking my email 50 times a day or querying Amazon to see if the cool new title I just thought of three seconds ago has already been used recently. It's like He knows I have no self-control and need an outside force to intervene.

Well. I've been trying to write a new proposal, not making much progress, having major life distractions, and voila--my internet connection has kicked the bucket again. I haven't been able to connect on the laptop for almost two days now. A sign from above to get down to business?

Speaking of my work in progress, I thought last week that I was really on a roll, and then...nothing. I'm trying to write a story that's quite a departure from what I've done in the past, and it's a lot fun, but it also is causing me to second-guess a lot. And agonize over every word. That said though, I fully intend to email the first chapter to my agent today to get her feedback on it. If she thinks I'm going in the right direction with it, then it's full speed ahead, and I'll be really optimistic and say that I think I can finish the full proposal by the end of next week.


Someone asked about my July book and whether I'd be posting previews of it on my website. Yes! Most certainly. Soon as I get off my ass and do it. For now, I'll just say, Sexy All Over is the first of my books I've ever re-read at the copyedit stage and felt really proud of. Usually, I re-read the story once it's in production and worry that I've done everything wrong, that I'm an imbicile and soon the general public will know, because it's too late for me to make major changes. This time, I didn't have that reaction, so I'm not sure whether to take that as a good sign...but for now, I will.


Dreaming of Dinosaurs

Back from weekend trip. Suffering from extreme crankiness caused by sleep deprivation due to resident two-year-old with strong resistence to sleeping in hotel rooms. Thinking we may never embark on another family trip in this lifetime.

Also, discovered that Torrance is actually in LA County, not Orange County as stated in my previous post. Please excuse geographical error.

Ahhh. Diet Coke caffeine is finally taking effect... I'm almost feeling perky. I have a feeling this high will be short-lived, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

On our way home from the parade, we stopped yesterday at LA's Natural History Museum to gawk at the dinosaurs. My five-year-old is all about dinosaurs, and this was a long-awaited treat for him. He still doesn't quite understand why his efforts to unearth dinosaur fossils in the back yard meet with constant failure, but oh well. I've got to admire his persistance.

This kind of single-minded belief in a dream--whether the dream is to discover a T-Rex in your sandbox or to publish your first novel--is the faith it takes to survive in the publishing world. There are lots of naysayers, plenty of practical reasons why you can't make the so-called impossible happen, and many frustrating obstacles. Not to mention the struggle to transform your naked pages into a fully formed novel.

If you can maintain belief in your dream above all else, you're halfway there. You just have to hold onto your shovel and keep digging.


Au Revoir, Writing Goals

I'm taking off tomorrow for a weekend trip to The OC.

That sounds so much hipper than the whole truth--that we're going there for an Armed Forces Day parade, in which our family will ride in an army vehicle while we smile and wave at the crowd. This is a perk of my husband's job, and while it may not be very hip, it's pretty damn fun. I mean, how many opportunities does one get to travel the streets of California in a combat vehicle? Not enough.

And it's touching too, to see all the people who come out to show their appreciation for the military. Torrance, CA, you rock!

But on the downside, I have not met my writing goals for the week. Sigh. Maybe a great burst of creative inspiration will strike me in the next few minutes. Or not.

Unless my hotel has internet access, I'll be away from the land of blog until Monday. Ciao!


The Mean Season

I love summer. Love the heat, the sunshine, the long days, the flip flops--it's my favorite season by far.

But like every other woman I know, I'm not so crazy about the looming threat of donning my first swimsuit of the year. Like many a bikini shopper, I've wondered if extreme ass lyposuction is really the answer to all my swimwear problems, but even if I could afford it, I'm not sure I'd have the guts.

Bombarded with magazine headlines like "Get Butt-tastic and Bikini Ready in 4 Weeks!" I have to wonder, do I really want to be butt-tastic?

Sadly, the answer is, like everyone else who buys all those magazines, I do. So I'm stuck with getting swimsuit-ready the old fashioned way: by depriving myself of anything that tastes even remotely good, and by working out until just before the point of death by heat exhaustion.

In honor of this mean season, I give you my list of favorite weight loss and fitness tips:

1. If you can carry on a conversation while doing aerobic activity, you're not working hard enough. If, however, your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth and the only words you can hope to utter are "call 9-1-1," you're probably in the zone.

2. Step away from the doughnut. I said, STEP AWAY FROM THE DOUGHNUT.

3. If you're a parent, restrict yourself to eating only your kids' leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you have a two-year-old, like I do, you'll find that slices of pizza that have been mutilated and smeared around on the floor aren't all that tempting.

4. If you're hungry between meals, drink lots and lots of Diet Coke. The carbonation will fill you up, and the crazy hunger rampage you'll go on after a month of dieting can be blamed on all the weird chemicals in it.

5. Quit your job and move back in with your parents to exercise full time, becuase really, as much effort as it takes to get in shape while simultaneously eating nothing but carrot sticks, Diet Coke, and pizza crust, you won't have any energy left to do things like have a career or a life. Just remember, all that matters is the size and tightness of your ass. Everything else is irrelevant.

Oh, and be sure to write and let me know how long it takes you to get butt-tastic.


She Writes About S-E-X

I've been thinking a lot lately about how people react when they find out I write really sexy books. I've seen pretty much every reaction from lips pursed in disapproval to blatant enthusiasm. Usually the enthusiasm comes from unexpected sources, and the obvious disapproval comes from people who seriously need to untwist their big white granny panties.

Some people act embarrassed, then try to cover up their embarrassment with a sort of "hey, I really do like sex" bravado. I'm never quite sure how to react to any of this, so I usually just smile a little smile and say nothing.

I think sex and its effects on male-female relationships are one of the most interesting aspects of romance. Plus, it's fun. And at times, funny too.

But what's most fascinating of all is how we as a culture try to keep a dark shroud over the topic. It's okay for commercials and television shows and movies to scream sex in all sorts of nonverbal ways, but it's not okay to talk about sex in public? I think this is the biggest cause of the awkward reactions I mentioned above. People just aren't accustomed to talking about S-E-X with other adults.

And how weird is that?


Monday, Monday...

I still have only one character and no plot for my work in progress. Life interfered in the past few days, but now I have this new glorious Monday to start all over again. No distractions, nothing else to worry about but getting this damn proposal written. As a writer, I love Mondays. I'm endlessly thankful that I have a job I actually look forward to doing, and I even look forward to wrestling with this plotless characterless mess I've made.

I can easily remember the days of old when I had many a crappy job--too many to list--and I dreaded Mondays most of all. They were the furthest point from the next weekend, and I had a whole week of drudgery to look forward to. My worst job? Telemarketer.

No throwing rotten vegetables. I was only a telemarketer for two weeks, and I was trying to pay my way through college. Everyone else working there was miserable too. It's the only job I ever left where people actually clapped for me when I walked out on my last day there. A few people, with looks of desperation in their eyes, demanded to know where my new job was and was there any chance they could get hired there too.

The telemarketing place where I worked was about a step above slave labor. Our time was so strictly monitored that we had to be really quick about using the restroom or risk having our pay docked for taking minutes too long on our breaks. Our phone conversations were monitored, and if we didn't follow the script and push as hard as we could to get the desired customer response, we risked being fired.

I like to think that having suffered through one of world's crappiest jobs gives me an acute sense of appreciation that I'm doing my dream job now.

And I swear, I never called your house. Well, probably not.


Blazing Hot Bimbos

I'm simultaneously amused and weirded out by some of the search words people use to find my website. Here's a sampling from this week's website stats:

1. i kissed her sexy leather boot
2. sizzling hot sexual fantasies
3. strip tease horseback
4. blazing hot bimbos

Hmm. How would that horsback strip tease work, I wonder? These were the search terms I could repeat. Others were not so repeatable, while some were actually people searching for my name (bless you!).

I can't help but think the people searching for hardcore S&M sites and weird strip tease scenarios are horribly disappointed when the land on my website. Sorry dudes. Get your jollies elsewhere.


Joining the Nudist Colony

I'm in the painful throes of the first chapter. I have been for more than a week now. It sucks. Nothing with my new book is going well. Nothing. The characters are stupid--oh, wait make that character, singular, since I only have one so far (perhaps a big part of my problem)--the plot is nonexistent, and I've rewritten the beginning at least five times. Each version is stupider than the last.

It occurs to me that maybe my file has been corrupted by some kind of unheardof nudist virus. The pages refuse to be written upon. They just wanna be naked. I mean, I can rewrite certain pages, but I can't seem to write any new ones. So maybe only some of the pages are nudists.

Maybe I just need to open a new file. Or maybe embrace the nudism.

Is it possible my agent would buy the explanation that all those blank pages are actually part of the story? That it's just kind of like...um...a naked story?


The House of Flying Dildos

I've been watching Asian films for the past decade, many of which are visually breathtaking in a way American films rarely accomplish, but what seems to be missing (at least in the films that make it to America) are many romantic comedies.

First let me say, if you didn't catch The House of Flying Daggers in theaters, be sure and watch it on DVD. It's amazing, funny, breathtaking, etc. A really good example of Chinese filmmaking at its best. The fact that it has some humor in it is a breath of fresh air in a genre laden with trajedy.

But if I were directing the movie, I think I'd have to liven it up a bit more. Like, instead of the heroine being an expert at knife-throwing, why not, say...dildo throwing? That could do some damage.

And why couldn't she have, like, an Austin Powers-style bra that shoots poison darts?

Speaking of costumes, why do the heroines in these movies always dress like men for fighting? Don't they realize if they just wore a skimpy bikini or maybe even went topless (whenever the bra runs out of darts), that there would be no fight? That their male opponents could be a hell of a lot more easily defeated?

Well, maybe The House of Flying Dildos will never make it to the big screen...but I'm just sayin'. Dildos are a lot funnier than knives. And they have the element of surprise going for them as weapons.


Crafts for the Depraved

Like 86.4% of all suburban moms, I have a craft area complete with a sewing machine I never use, approximately 23 different gluing implements, and enough overpriced acid-free, lignin-free paper to create 500 archivally sound scrapbooks. And like most hoarders of supplies, this stuff exists in my house not so much for me to use, but to fuel my fantasies of a life in which I might actually have enough leisure time to do crafty things.

I'm not even a crafty sort of girl. But I am an almost-art-major (English won out because the classes were shorter), and I have all sorts of artistic visions of the mixed media works of art I'm someday going to create. I call this area full of unused arts and crafts supplies my "art studio," a name that would be far more appropriate if it didn't apply to a space that also included the washer and dryer and all my husband's old basketball and disco competition trophies.

But if my writing career ever takes a nose dive, I plan to hole up in my art studio/laundry room and start producing voodoo dolls for writers. These will be works of art with a practical purpose--to send out bad mojo to the brutal reviewers, indifferent publishing industry professionals, and unsupportive friends and family members that can make the writing life such a rollercoaster ride.

I'm not saying I have any of these negative people in my life. I've been blessed with a fabulous editor and agent, and my family is way supportive. But being a writer means always feeling like external factors control our careers.

I think every writer needs a voodoo doll for those days when you just want to jab a pin in someone's ass. Armed with my dusty sewing machine, I could start my next business and travel the writers' conference circuit, hawking my evil dolls.

Or maybe I should get back to work on my proposal.


I Like It Rough

First drafts, that is. You thought I meant something else, didn't you?

I like my first drafts rough, messy, out of order, virtually unrecognizable as books. I know I'm in my deeply creative mode when I'm not thinking of anything but the story. And when I'm that far into the story, I don't worry about form or spelling or in what order the scenes come to me. I just write it all down. I do edit some as I go now, but I don't think of it as editing at the time. It's more like erasing a sketch line and re-drawing it.

The more books I write, the less messy my first drafts are. The editing process has worked its way more and more into my creative process, but I never would have gotten my early books written this way. I had to give myself permission to make a huge mess. Sometimes I could clean it up afterward, and sometimes I couldn't. But it was all part of developing as a writer.

I think this process is very much like give art supplies to a small child. Early on, all they can do is make a mess, scribble, smear paint in their hair...but it's wildly fun to them. And slowly, they learn. Years pass, and eventually they can not only clean up their creative messes--they can even create recognizable works of art.

If you're an aspiring writer, give yourself permission to make a horrible mess of your naked page. It's all part of the process.


Back to Clothing the Naked Page

I'm home from Vegas. I swear I'm never going there on a weekend again. I think I've said that before, but this time I mean it. It's too crowded, and I have a low tolerance for sharing space with other humans.

My house guest from last week has been deposited back at the airport to go home, and I've sufficiently recovered from my last book deadline, so I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for a week of getting back to serious, productive writing.

I'll be staring at the naked page again tomorrow morning. Must come up with a stylish outfit for it to wear. Something attention-grabbing. Something fabulous.

Or at least, for the first draft, something that doesn't suck.


What Happens in Vegas...

I'm off in the morning for a weekend trip to Las Vegas. We're going for a family get-together, but I also inadvertently set my next few books there (long story) without really planning to become "that girl who writes books about Vegas," so I'll be doing a bit of research while we're there too...if shopping and eating out can be counted as research.

Word of the Day: Bootylicious

Bootylicious: boo.ty.li.cious \'bu:t-e-'lish-*s\ adj. 1: curvaceous or voluptuous, esp. in the derriere (i.e., booty) 2: see fine 3: sexually attractive in a way that causes males ages 18-25 to desire to grope, fondle, lick, or otherwise touch the booty cheeks
(Source: UrbanDictionary.com)

In my work in progress, the heroine is slightly obsessed with the size of her butt. She's bootylicious...JLo-esque...well endowed in the booty department. Baby got back.


The Divine Path to Bestsellerdom

Excuse me while I assume the lotus position and take on my wise, all-knowing-one expression...

When I was starting out on the publishing industry, I thought that if I just paid close enough attention to other writers' careers, I'd discover the secrets of success. Now, I'm far from a writing veteran, but after struggling for 5 years to sell my first book, then spending the past three years learning the ins and outs of being a beginner in the industry, I've changed my mind about a few things. Probably the hardest lesson is that there aren't any magic secrets or easy answers out there regarding how to have a successful career. One author acheives success by following the long and winding path, another does it by following the straight and narrow one, and the sad truth is, neither of these paths belongs to anyone else. We each have to create our own.

I'll bet many aspiring authors will have the urge to stop reading at this point. Create our own paths? I know. It sounds vague and frustrating and not even remotely helpful. But it's worth thinking hard about. There is no formula for success, other than writing the best damn books you can write.

And even then, we each have a different definition of success. The prevailing one is to become a New York Times Bestselling author and make enough money to be independently wealthy. That's a perfectly good definition of success, but each author's own particular version of it is unique, as are the books they write and the strategies they employ to achieve success.

If you're an aspiring author who wants to know the secrets of having a successful writing career, you're going to have to look within to find those secrets. It's as simple and complicated as that. Only you know the right career path for yourself. No one else's is going to lead you where you want to go.

And that marks the end of my lapse into vague, hoaky, not-exactly-helpful advice-giving.


The Latest Girl Talk

My critique partner, Cindy Procter-King, and I recently started doing this thing called Girl Talk. It's sort of an article, but in conversation format. This month's Girl Talk is on the topic of finding an agent.


Fockerize Me

We just watched Meet the Fockers on DVD, and I had to spend the rest of the night resisting the urge to ask my husband if he wanted to Fockerize me. If you haven't seen the movie yet, do. I laughed until I cried. I'm a big sucker for Ben Stiller movies, but I think this is one of his best.

Oh, and my inner Martha Stewart could not help but drool over the Fockers' house. Wow. That's my dream house, minus some of the clutter. I could even dig all the sexual artwork and groovy wall colors.

And I felt a bizarre connection with Mrs. Focker, the sex therapist. I can only hope to be as fun as her when I grow up.