Writer’s Group

One of my favorite Z stories is how she asked me to play picnic with her one morning. She’d arranged all the plastic and wooden “food” on a blanket on the floor, and she’d enlisted a plastic Lego box for a little table. So I came in and sat down on the floor, thinking I was doing her a huge favor, taking time from cleaning to be a part of this picnic.

I said, “Okay, here I am! I’m ready for the picnic!”

She picked up a throw pillow, set it on her lap, and pretended to type. Then she said, “Just a minute, I have to do something on my computer.”

Color me sheepish.

Our "computers." They never get viruses or need updates. In fact, the green one still works after Z's diaper leaked on it, although it is a bit lumpy from the washing machine.

Another time, I was rushing to get a plate of vegetables together to bring to a potluck/schmooze for SCBWI. Z informed me that she was going to her own writer’s group, and she was bringing marshmallows.

And today, she asked me if I wanted to go to writer’s group with her. Of course I said yes. So I had to get in our “car” (the couch) and let her drive us there (after closing the car doors and buckling up our safety belts first). Then we got out. She gave me a throw pillow, and took one for herself, and we “typed.” I asked her what she was writing, and she said, “How are you, Boo BOO!” She asked me what I was writing, and I told her I was writing about Owly Fowly (Owly Fowly is a character we made up together, who features in many of our stories).

Then we got back into our car, buckled up and closed the doors, and Z drove us home.

Someday, maybe we’ll be in a real writer’s group together. But for now, this is real enough.

Beth’s Book of Pretty Girls by Beth

This is my 100th blog post, so let’s celebrate with an extra-special book review. This book is currently out of print, so I spoke with the publisher and she told me she didn’t mind my posting the book in its entirety on my website.

As I am the author of the book, I agreed to be interviewed by an anonymous, sympathetic interviewer who we will all agree to pretend is not me. Suspension of disbelief, people!

ASI (Anonymous, Sympathetic Interviewer): Beth, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us about your book, “Beth’s Book of Pretty Girls (Written by Beth).”

Beth: It’s the product of an afternoon spent at my grandparents’ house. As a young girl, I was inspired by beautiful, strong women wearing sagging tube dresses. Cats and flowers figured largely into my fantasies as well, as you can see from the first page of the book. (shown below)

ASI: Could you tell us a little bit about the “NO” and arrow pointing to the cover image’s…skirt?

Beth: Well, as I was illustrating the cover, I realized my readers would most likely appreciate a non-example of what my book was about (i.e. an ugly girl). However, the title clearly says “…Pretty Girls” so I needed to succinctly indicate that the cover girl is indeed not pretty. [Truth: I was trying to draw a pretty girl, failed, but had already written out the title. As I was creating this masterpiece in ink, there was nothing to do but make sure the audience knew that I knew that the ugly girl on the cover was a mistake.]

ASI: I’m not sure how to put this delicately, but I notice there is a large number of typographical errors in this story.

Beth: Yes, my editors worked only part-time, and only when requested. For example, I recall asking for the spelling of “girls” for the cover page. At the time of writing, I couldn’t be bothered to ask for the spelling on subsequent pages, nor did I think to refer to the cover. Perhaps the cover had already gone into production and was unavailable; the details are fuzzy on this.

ASI: How old were you when this book was published?

Beth: I think I was five. Possibly six, although I’m pretty sure I knew how to spell “girl” by the time I reached first grade.

ASI: Have people likened your child genius-ness to other young authors such as Christopher Paolini and Hannah Moskowitz?

Beth: Not yet, but I think with the recent publicity of this book, “Beth’s Book of Pretty Girls (Written by Beth),” they will soon.

ASI: Even though you’re, um…no longer young?

Beth: I thought you were supposed to be a sympathetic interviewer?

ASI: Right. Tell us about page 2 of your book.

Beth: I didn’t want to limit my audience by focusing only on flower princesses. By adding the castle princess to the story, I feel I really moved out of a niche market and into a wider audience.

ASI: Any comments on those Edward Scissorhands-ian fingers?

Beth: Hands are difficult to draw. I was on a deadline. And long, pointy fingernails were all the rage in 1986.

ASI: Do you think the waistline of this figure sets up unreasonable body shape expectations for young girls?

Beth: I suppose you could ask the same question of Barbie and every single Disney princess. I think everyone should instead focus on her poofy sleeves.

ASI: The paper medium you utilized for this project is very unique.

Beth: Yes, printing costs were up, so I made do with scratch paper from a library’s card catalog. (Click here for a Wikipedia entry on what a card catalog is, you young whipper-snappers who’ve never heard of such a thing.) My maternal grandmother worked in a library for some years and kept us in good supply of scratch paper.

ASI: With the third page of your book, you really branched out.

Beth: Not wanting to limit my audience to princess-admirers, I included a rock-n-roll girl…complete with side ponytail and sticky-up bangs.

ASI: That’s amazing artwork. She’s wearing a sort of Disney Peter Pan dress.

Beth: That’s her cool mid-80s grunge rock dress.

ASI: Wasn’t grunge a 90s thing?

Beth: What’s the point of this interview exactly? I thought it was me, and my book.

ASI: Moving on to the last page of your book, we can see how you really experimented with textual and rhythmic forms.

Beth: I’m especially proud of my use of repetition as a literary device.

ASI: Let’s type out the text here to make sure all of our readers can catch it:

Pritty (girls) are very very Pritty.

Handsome boy’s are very very Handsome.

do you need a doll or do you Need a Boll.

two frot’s are moore fun then one [note: “frot’s” should be “fruits”]

Beth: I should confess that the last line was borrowed. From a commercial slogan, if I remember correctly.

ASI: Well, almost as amazing as the intelligence, insight, and industriousness of this book is the fact that you have remained the owner of the sole copy in existence for all these years.

Beth: I expect to start getting bids for the original any day now.

ASI: Well, folks, this is the only place you’ll find Beth’s Book of Pretty Girls (Written by Beth). Thanks for stopping by, Beth, and indulging my questions.

Beth: (gracefully, modestly, and looking ten pounds lighter) Any time. I’m happy to be here.