#navbar-iframe { display: none !important;} The Naked Page: December 2006

The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary


Brilliant Quote of the Day

"Don't be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done."- Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

Did you read that? Go read it again.



Happy Solstice!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy Holidays!
Happy New Year!

Did I forget anything? I'll be away from the blog for the holiday weekend. I wish you all the best, the happiest, and the sweetest time on Earth.

Peace and Love,


Zen and the Art of Ignoring Reviews

I've probably already blogged about this, but I'm too lazy to go back and check...

I google my own name about once a week to see if anyone is putting anything weird about me on the internet (naked photos, slanderous accusations, etc...heh). Really, that's about the only reason anymore. It used to be that I was hoping to find complimentary reviews, or morbidly curious about negative reviews, but I've finally gotten to a place where neither have much effect on me. I'm happy if I get a positive review from RT, but only for about 5 minutes. And I'm vaguely bummed if I get a negative review, but only for about five minutes.

Putting your work out there as a writer means you will either learn to have a similar neutral attitude, or you'll slowly drive yourself insane. Because ultimately, if you're going to discount the negative reviews, you have to discount the positive ones too. Really. I know, it sounds shitty, but actually it's a cool thing to realize that your opinion is the only one that should count with you in the end.

You have to reach that Zen place where other people's opinions wash over you like water. Or something. I should have a better metaphor, but I think you get the idea. You can develop this talent even before you sell by learning to feel the same about rejection letters.

Sure, an editor or agent's opinion is about a million times more important than a reviewer's, but you can't ever let yourself forget that most of the best writers in the world suffered through lots of rejection, and an editor or agent's opinion, even though it feels like it's going to make or break your career, is really still just one person's opinion, and the only things that will make or break your career are things you do yourself.

Taking this lesson to heart is one of the best gifts you can give yourself as a writer. Let go of the need for everyone else's approval and write to please yourself. Write something you can believe in, because your opinion has far more power over your writing career than anyone else's does.

And blah blah blah. I can't believe I just wrote another rah-rah motivational post. What the hell is wrong with me?

Here's something more interesting. A certain website known for harsh reviews said my second book read as if I'd written it with a gun held to my head. LOL. That comment hurt at the time, because it was probably true--that's pretty much how I felt when I wrote most of that book. I had to finish it right after 9/11 happened, while I was mostly alone in a foreign country feeling utterly devestated, missing my family and friends, and feeling like the world as we knew it had come to an end. Trust me, the last thing I wanted to be doing was writing a light, humorous romance novel. But I had to write it anyway.

Sometimes the bad reviews are true, and sometimes the good reviews are true. And it doesn't really matter. Some people really loved that gun-to-my-head book. Some people didn't. That's life. I like the book, and that's what matters to me now.


Must We Discuss Panties Again?

I've noticed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for my recent blog topics. You people clearly don't want to talk about writing, which leaves me wondering what the hell to write about. Panties again? Why are panties the most popular topic here at The Naked Page? Shouldn't we be embracing full-on nakedness? Shouldn't readers of this blog be more passionate about the commando look than the boy short?

Apparently not. I hope you people who were all rah-rah about boy shorts last year have come to your senses. I still do not look good in them, so they are a fashion trend I must reject, even though I own a few pairs of the dispicable things. Adding insult to injury, the only new undergarment trend I see in the Victoria's Secret catalog is the low-rise boy short. Bleh.

So come on, suggest a topic. If it's panties, okay, I'll play along, but what else is there to say about underwear that we haven't already said?


Meet Fake Jamie

I should probably be reporting this to the Myspace authorities...and I have, and I will again...but while I'm trying to get the page taken down, I just want to introduce you to Fake Jamie. Why did someone create a fake Myspace page with my photo and only partially correct info about me? Why do they have some of my information correct (and how did they find out any of it?), while having other things totally wrong (I'm NOT a guy, and I already have kids, whom I do very much want)?

I'm baffled. This must be a scam, but I don't know what kind, so let's all befriend Fake Jamie. Invite him (her?) into your friends network. Email him (her?). Fake Jamie looks pretty lonely. And Fake Jamie needs to update his (her?) photo, because that pic's a few years old and I (he?) no longer have blond hair.


Romance Novel Cover Model Speaks Out

Today, my favorite news publication, The Onion, brings us this insight into the mind and lifestyle of your average romance novel cover model.


Giving Myself Cavities

A friend mentioned recently having read a few of my early books and commented on how they managed to be blatantly sexual and yet sweet at the same time. My first reaction was to think, "Sweet?! My writing?! No way."

I have long bristled at the word "sweet." I once considered it a comment on a person's character that is so cliche and generic that it's basically meaningless. Hence my reaction when I hear the word applied to my writing.

But I know deep down that it's true. I've heard the comment enough times from my agents, my editor, and readers, that my stories, much to my once-chagrin, have an underlying sweetness about them, that it has forced me to face my inner sweet girl and give her a break.

It's something very interesting about writing. Once you've written enough that you have found your voice, you are essentially putting your personality on the page every time you sit down and write. The stronger your voice, the more of your true self you're putting out there.

I like to think of my novels as being kind of brash and hard-edged, but really that's an aspect of my personality. Just as I do in my writing, I tend to hide my gooey, cavity-causing center under a layer of brashness.

Having trouble finding your voice? Hearing comments in rejection letters about how you're writing isn't quite there yet, or isn't distinct enough, or doesn't stand out from the pack? Try to put more of yourself into your work. If you write the story in a way that is truly you, that reflects who you are as a person, then you'll be writing the story that only you can write. And you'll stop hearing those "it's not distinct enough" rejection comments.

One exercise I think can help you get in touch with your most distinct voice is to write a scene as if you were writing it for only your best friend to read. Feel free to use the language you think only he or she would appreciate or understand--slang, profanity, whatever--and allow yourself to relax like you would if you were having a conversation with that friend.

What aspect of your personality do you think you'd be most embarrassed to find reflected in your writing?


Spreading Myself Thinner

I'm participating in a new blog with some fellow writer friends, Samantha Hunter, Karen Kendall, and Sarah Mayberry. It's called Love Is An Exploding Cigar, and I predict it's going to be the most phallic-symbol-laced blog on the internet.

Come check it out during those times when The Naked Page is developing cobwebs, or when I post holiday gift guides here that are so lame the only comment is from a spammer.


What Not to Buy

Since last year Cindy and I did a Girl Talk holiday gift guide, I thought this year I’d do a Naked Page Anti-Gift Guide: what not to buy for your editor or agent for the holidays. Don’t ever say I never gave you any valuable advice.

Avoid sending Pepperidge Farms Assorted Big-Ass Sausages, unless you know for sure that your colleague is not a vegetarian and also does happen to feel passionately about processed tube-shaped meats. I’m all for absurdity, but gift sausages just aren’t quite absurd enough to be clearly a joke. Also, although I know lots of people send and enjoy receiving smoked fish as a gift, I just think it’s an all-around bad idea. I would avoid the entire meat section of the gift catalog, frankly.

Another thing—avoid sending lingerie (this goes double for sex toys). It just involves too much margin for error. You can’t really guess accurately whether your editor is a 34C or a 36D unless you have a highly discerning eye, and you don’t know either if she’s into trashy or elegant or girl next door. You can guess, but you can’t know for sure. Would she want the naughty Catholic school girl get-up, or the black lace-up bustier? There’s no way of knowing. And while those What Would Jesus Do? thong panties might sound great to you (yes, I’m going to keep bringing these panties up for the rest of my life), if you don’t know your colleague’s position on the whole Christ thing, you’re going to risk offending. Really.

Speaking of Christ, religious gifts in general--not a good idea. That pink ruffled bible cozy with the crucifix on the front might seem really sweet, but not if your editor is Jewish, or Hindu, or has an upside-down pentagram tattooed over her left breast. Seriously people, this is why you need me…to clue you in on this stuff.

Last but not least (and this is only loosely related to the sex toy thing and the meat thing), no appliances. Your Aunt Sally might love a George Foreman turbo double burger grill, but I’m not sure my agent even has a kitchen, and if she does I doubt she’s ever cooked anything in it. Remember, the publishing industry is in New York City. Electric can openers, blenders (unless accompanied by tequila and margarita mix), toaster ovens and the like just don’t go over well with that crowd.

Okay, and last, last thing…speaking of alcohol, unless you’re absolutely sure your editor is out in the open about being a hard liquor girl, that Maker’s Mark gift assortment is a tricky choice. If you hit her with it at the right time (like, say, on the day you’re a week late with your most recent book and she’s going to have to stay up all night editing it), it might be welcome. The rest of the time, you risk offending her with the suggestion that you know all about her little drinking habit.

And there you have it, the gift guide that keeps on giving.