Showing posts with label Lauren Bjorkman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lauren Bjorkman. Show all posts

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gay Straight Alliance visit (Bjorkman)

Next month I’ll be Skyping with members of a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at a high school in San Francisco. I’ve wanted to do this ever since reading Geography Club by Brent Hartinger. Yep. GSAs are cool.

The teacher mentoring the GSA, Steve Taka, is a friend of mine from middle school that I reconnected with at our HS reunion. He’d just given up his corporate job to study psychology, and had taken a job counseling kids at risk.

He thought my first novel, My Invented Life, would generate a lively discussion in his GSA. The characters are gay, lesbian, bi, questioning, AND straight. It is a light and funny story that touches on many issues.

Since his students will read the book ahead of time, I won’t waste time giving them a synopsis. Instead I can tell them interesting tid-bits about the “making of.” Like who inspired my main character and how she reacted when she found out. 

Or what my seemingly hetero friends said to me when told what the novel was about:

I had a lesbian phase in college
I’m bi
I like women, too, but it’s easier to be with a man

Or some of the darker reactions from other friends, and why.

I’m also looking forward to learning about the students, and why they joined the GSA, and answering their questions. I just sent them each a personalized signed bookplate.

Can’t wait for April!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sometimes you have to lie ... (Lauren Bjorkman)

Our tiny room at the bow of our sailboat had very limited bookshelf space. When I was eight or nine, I read most of the books on that shelf many times. Some books I read more than others.

One in particular got an insane number of readings—Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

Harriet has cool things on her belt. Harriet is nosy. Harriet makes funny observations about people. I liked all those things about her. You have to observe people to understand the world, and that justifies two of my favorite activities: People-watching and eavesdropping.

The adults Harriet spies on are weird. Their weirdness corresponded well with my own experience with adults:

But, for me, the best part of the story was Harriet’s observations about her friends. 

We all filter our thoughts to some degree to get along in the world. We play nice so others will want to play with us. But should one do with all the inappropriate thoughts in your head? Write them down, of course.

Inappropriate thoughts made me become a writer.

When Harriet’s friends find her notebook, all hell breaks loose. That moment, and all that follows  fascinates me to this day.

Harriet says, "Sometimes you have to lie… But to yourself you must tell the truth."

The truth you tell yourself will not be the truth of someone else. Or the truth you tell yourself at a different time.

When I write, the truth is an ever-shifting target. I never get bored.

Monday, January 20, 2014

People watching ... or is it snatching? (Lauren Bjorkman)

“People watching” sounds more innocent than the thing that I do—noticing people, eavesdropping on their conversations, cataloging their mannerisms, and speculating on who they really are.

The inspiration for the main character of my first novel was a young woman I’d observed over several years—first as my son’s pre-school teacher, then as an actress, and finally whenever I happened to bumped into her in our small town. I’ll call her G.

G’s exuberance drew me in. She seemed not to care what anyone thought of her, and yet had a magnetic presence. I found the flip side of these traits—a degree of obliviousness—fascinating too.

So I thought about G when inventing Roz with her boundless energy, creativity, with a dollop of self-centeredness. Not long into my process, Roz became her own character separate from G, very funny and a bit crazy.

A few years passed. My Invented Life got published by Holt. G still lived in town. So did I. A year after that, I had an idea. Shouldn’t I tell G about her unwitting participation in my novel? Around then, she worked as a barista at a lively café I visited on occasion. So one day, while hopped up on caffeine, I confessed. She didn’t seem too freaked out, so I gave her a copy of the book to read.

After that, I panicked. Hadn’t some reviewers found Roz a little too crazy? Too intense? Too unreliable?

I hurried back to the café to explain it all to G. I don’t really know you. Roz isn’t you and you aren’t Roz. You just gave me the idea of her. You’re probably not like her at all.

You don’t have to read the book.

But she still wanted to read it. For the next several weeks, I went elsewhere for coffee. When I finally dared show my face again, though, it was awesome

Not only had G liked the book, she felt I'd hit on some truths about her, particularly regarding her relationship with her sister.

So now I’m less anxious about my evil snatching ways. When someone says, “Be careful what you say around Lauren, it might end up in a novel,” I smile enigmatically and give a slight nod of my authorial head. So true.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaNo Fail (Lauren Bjorkman)

NaNo is about turning off your internal editor and going for broke—an amazing premise. But even when I'm prepared with a shiny idea, characters, premise, theme, and a bare bones plot plot, it quickly collapses for me. I get bored with my outline. My creativity deflates like a balloon the day after the party.

As I draft, I usually reevaluate after every chapter. Do some research. Ponder. This takes time.

For example, in my current WIP, I planned a scene at a funeral in Hawaii based one I attended where the friends and family of a surfer that died gathered at the beach to distribute his ashes. At the end of the ceremony, a dozen surfers paddled out to sea on boards covered in leis, leaving the flower garlands on the water surface like living prayers.

The images were so deeply etched into my memory, the scene should’ve written itself. I knew in advance the funeral would be the backdrop for the first interaction between my main character and her antagonist. But as I dove in, questions came up? Was the ceremony I attended typical? Early Hawaiians hid their dead in caves so the bones holding their mana wouldn’t be found by enemies. Cremation destroys bones.

Before writing the scene, I spent a few hours researching Hawaiian funerals—both ancient and modern. And that led to a discovery of ancient burial caves only a few miles from where my novel is set. Legend has it that if you look at a Hawaiian's gravesite, the spirit will follow you home. Wouldn't that make a cool new scene? 

An hour of research may result in big changes or none at all. Still, for me, it serves a greater function. It re-ignites my passion for the story.

Still, I wonder what I'm missing. I have to try again. 

Next year.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Watching my kitty nap (Lauren Bjorkman)

I LOVE to write. When I sit down in front of the screen, cradling my cappuccino, an ahh-feeling comes over me. Bliss. Even when it's hard.

Still, writing every day makes me weary. And on most days I'm up to my ears in to-do lists, husbands (just one actually), kids, and pets. The mere idea of relaxation makes me laugh an evil laugh. So I do what any insane woman would do. I grab me recharge on the run.

My family likes to travel. I like to travel.

Iron age fort in Scotland: Pelle modeling rain gear

 My family likes to eat. I like to eat.

Sometimes we eat dinner out. Mostly pizza, though. This is my dream meal.

My husband likes to dance. I like to dance.

I wish I looked this good while dancing! My kids tend to hide from us at concerts.

My cats like to nap. I like to nap. Unfortunately, I don't get to.

Watching Zorro sleep is the next best thing to snoozing myself.

My family likes to laugh. I like to laugh.

My brother-in-law took this picture on a trip to DC.

Somehow it all works. 

Though I sure could use a nap.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My summer with TWO boyfriends (Lauren Bjorkman)

I am a late bloomer. A late, late bloomer. By the end of high school, my statistics in the romance department were deplorable:

Crushes – 16
Dates – 6
Kisses – 2
Boyfriends – 0

The summer after graduation my world changed. At the graduation party, Rick (not his real name) kissed me. A week later as I came off a shift at my summer job, Rick was waiting for me. I liked him. We started going out.

Before all that, I’d developed a substantial crush on another boy named Pelle. We’d met in a community college poetry class that I took my final semester of high school. On the first day he read a love poem. To his girlfriend. For some reason that didn’t discourage me from getting to know him (flirting, actually). After several weeks I learned that his girlfriend lived 400 miles away. (yes!) And then one day, he invited me to go sailing. The whole time we were together, we had a blast—laughing and talking and being silly.

Nothing “happened” on my date with Pelle. He didn’t ask me out again right away. While I waited for him to make the next move, Rick asked me to be his girlfriend, and I accepted. Rick and I enjoyed each other, but I couldn’t help comparing him to Pelle. Unfavorably. Then Rick told me that he planned to break up with me at the end of the summer because long distance relationships don’t work.

That was not a good move for him.

One evening Pelle appeared on my doorstep to return a sweater I’d left on his sailing dinghy. And to ask me out on a lunar eclipse viewing date. Oo la la. But one of my closest friends was staying the night, so I turned him down. When he left, I felt I'd blown my last chance.

A few days later Rick told me he wanted to have sex before the summer ended. Before our pre-determined break up, naturally.

Worst. Move. Ever.

Luckily Pelle persisted. Not long after, he invited me on a drive to an overlook. As we gazed at the shimmering lights together (swoon), he still didn’t try to kiss me.

Was I wrong to go out with him without telling Rick? Yes. Did I worry about it? No.

Finally the turning point arrived. Pelle and I spent a romantic evening together in San Francisco. At the end he hinted that he would break up with his girlfriend. I hinted I’d do the same.

Now Pelle and I are married. Our son is 16, one year younger than I was in the above story.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Worst summer job ever (Lauren Bjorkman)

A few months after my 16th birthday, my dad gave me a choice: Find a full-time job or work all summer as his slave. The next week, I filled out applications at dozens of places, and got hired as a stock clerk at a women’s clothing store.

The first days on the job were boring and horrible. I put ugly clothes on hangers and steamed away wrinkles. Blouses and pleated skirts invaded my dreams. Whenever the owner’s son leaned over my shoulder to tell me how to handle the hideous “merchandise,” his bad breath would curl my hair. The radios in the workrooms were tuned to ONE station, KGO News Talk radio. On my first shift, I became an expert on the Air Traffic Controller’s strike. By the third shift, I would’ve chewed off my right arm to bring the strike to an end. One of the salesladies snagged all the commissions, leaving the other two in tears at the end of each day. I ate lunch alone.

Luckily things got better. I got permission to change the radio in the clothes-steamer room to a rock and roll station. Though I foolishly got into an argument with the owner’s son over politics, he didn’t fire me (a mixed blessing, but still). 

The best part of the job was meeting an elderly Japanese woman that altered clothes for the customers. The first day I worked near her station, she kept glaring at me. When I finally asked her what was wrong, she just wanted to show me how to hang shirts without unbuttoning them, a trick I still use.

After that, I started eating lunch with Toshi, and my days got less lonely. Then she was fired (No kidding. This workplace sucked). On her last day, she invited me to a shamisen performance. Seeing her smiling among her friends and playing so beautifully choked me up. Though she’d just experienced a setback (and probably an injustice), she could still be happy doing what she loved.

Without meaning to, she taught me something important. Or maybe she meant to all along.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Addicted to Pinterest

When it comes to social media, I always have the best intentions. As an author, I'm supposed to use social media to network, making meaningful connections with readers and other writers. The motto is: Go forth and get yourself known.

But when I visit a site, I usually end up goofing around. Take Pinterest, my latest love. Essentially Pinterest lets you create virtual bulletin boards. Instead of decorating them with photos and tacks, you “pin” your favorite pictures on the board with links from the internet.

Then you spend countless hours perusing other people’s boards, commenting, liking, or repinning anything and everything you see.

But when you decide to repin a picture, suddenly you realize you don’t have the right board, so you have to create another. And another.

In one dizzying afternoon I created seven boards. Only two were related to writing and books. Stuff I want has 21 pins. Many of them involve miniature animals.

I’m in awe has cool pix, too.

 As does Tee Hee.

I put up at least a hundred photos in one day before cutting myself off. From the looks of things over at Pinterest, others are behaving far worse.

At least I’m having fun.

Care to join me? We can waste time together.