Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Blue Screen of Death

Last week, after much debating, I decided to finally buy a new laptop. My old machine frequently shuts off on me - the machine begins to hum and the screen turns an electric blue color (hence the title of this post). The machine was under warranty when this first began happening, but of course, the store said that it was a software problem and not a hardware issue, and therefore not covered (since then, I have never bought another extended warranty). I took the machine in to a PC doctor, who after a week and $130 could find nothing wrong with the machine.

I have been living in constant fear of THE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH for almost two years, but no more. In another few days, I should get my brand new laptop, an HP dv1000t notebook. I won't drown you in the details, but the machine has one of the new Intel Dual-Core chips, which should make it a much more powerful and efficient machine. Of course, being that all I usually do on my machine is listen to music, write and cruise the web, I probably don't need a lot of power. But dammit, after skimping on the price on my current machine, I decided to go all out and get the laptop that I really wanted.

And no, Mrs. V doesn't know how much I spent on it, and I hope she never finds out.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Essence Bestselling Author

Red Polka Dot is #6 on the Essence Best Seller List for Paperback Fiction.


I'm sure that many of you have never even heard of Essence Magazine. It is a lifestyle magazine that caters to African-American women. According to the website, it has a monthly circulation of over one million and a readership of seven million. And every month, it compiles the preeminent listing of best-selling African-American books.

This month, I'm on that list.

Before you rush out of the house to buy ten copies of the magazine (like I tried to) let me forewarn you: I'm not listed in the print version of the mag. The print magazine only lists the top five books in each category, while ten are listed on-line. I just missed the cut-off. But then again, maybe that gives me something to strive for.


I can't tell you how many book sales this relates to. I can't tell you if this means that I should abandon YA literature and stick to writing adult fiction. I can't even tell you if anyone will really notice.

All I know is that for a least one month, I'm a best seller. And yes, it feels good.

P.S. - Monique, thanks for the heads-up on this. I owe you one.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Knocking on 30

I turned 29 last week, and spent the weekend celebrating with family (my twin brother) and friends (a fraternity brother from college). We had a good time just hanging out - watching tv, eating sushi and speaking of old times.

I'm not going to sit here and say that 29 is old, because most people I know would love to be 29 again. But with the big 3-0 looming around the corner, I do feel a lot older than I felt last year. There's something about turning 30 that makes you realize that you're an adult, whether you want to be or not. My body isn't as limber as it used to be. My eyesight is getting worse every year. While at OU last month for my book discussion, one of the guys called me Mr. Johnson. I rolled my eyes and told him to call me Varian. It wasn't until I did the math that I realized that when I was in college, this guy was in 3th grade.

FYI - I haven't heard anything back from the Delacorte contest (which is good, I guess). I did participate in an online SCBWI chat with Krista Marino, an editor at Delacorte last Wednesday. She didn't talk about the contest much, but she did give out a lot of good information about Delacorte and her personal tastes. If your an SCBWI member, check out the website for transcripts of the chat.

And to my Sister-In-Law: Yes, we watched Fantastic Four this weekend, and yes, Jessica Alba is BEAUTIFUL.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Life As A Pseudo-Bachelor

Early Friday morning, I dropped Mrs. V off at the airport for her two-week trip to China. Since then, I have:

1) Eaten food from McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway, and Arby's,
2) Not shaved at all,
3) Not washed a single dish,
4) Admired some very "artistic" pictures while cruising the web (don't worry parents, I won't provide the links),
5) And have finished two chapters of my novel.

As much as I enjoyed Task Number 4, I'm really happy that I was able to get a lot of writing done. Maybe two chapters doesn't sound like a lot to you, but for me, that's monumental. I'm usually lucky to finish one scene in a week, much less two full chapters. If I can keep up this productivity rate, I can hopefully get up to 1/3 of the novel finished before Mrs. V gets back home. And as much as I like to write and as much as I complain sometimes about not having time to write when Mrs. V is around, come March 19th, that manuscript won't even register on my To-Do list.

On to other news, it's been two months since I sent in my manuscript to the Delacorte Contest, and I'm at the point where I want to scream. I'll be honest - I'm not sure if my manuscript will even win. I'm not saying that the ms is bad, because it's not. It's just that I'm afraid it may be too edgy for the Delacorte line (I fear I have one too many of those pesky f-bombs scattered throughout the manuscript). But I digress....

The winner of the contest is announced at the end of April - a full four months after my submission date. I know four months isn't a long time in the writing world, but it still sucks to wait that long to hear something back. And being that the submission is exclusive, I can't submit the ms anywhere else until I hear back. The good news is that it doesn't stop me from submitting my work to agents, which is what I planned to do during my four month wait in the first place. Which brings me to my next point...

The contest doesn't stop me from submitting to agents, but agents that prefer exclusive submissions do stop me. Nothing against exclusives, but like the Delacorte contest, I hate wasting two months just to find out that an agent doesn't want to rep my work. I understand why it takes so long; an agent's first priority is his or her current clients. I'm not complaining about agents, per se; I'm just commenting on how much I dislike the process. (In other words, don't hate the playa, hate the game).

I am a published author, and while I would love to believe that that gives me some clout, it doesn't automatically get me a contract with an agent. At the most, my publishing status may help to get my work read at some agencies that are closed to submissions, but even then, that's a stretch. In the grand scheme of all things literary, I'm about where I was five years ago, but at least I'm a hell of a lot smarter, and if I keep eating all this fast food, I'm gonna be a hell of a lot fatter.

Anyway, it's off to bed...right after I say goodnight to Jessica Alba.