Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Find Us Fast!

Quick links to our new individual blog addresses...

Jay Asher: www.jayasher.blogspot.com

Robin Mellom: www.robinmellom.blogspot.com

Eve Porinchak: www.eveporinchak.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 28, 2008

...And It Was Good

Jump the Shark: A term to describe a moment when something that was once great has reached a point where it will now decline in quality. Origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on water-skis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show.

About three years ago, we put up our first post, describing this blog as an experiment. We immediately followed that with a Christmas-themed parody called The Twelve Form Rejections, which we’ve made an annual tradition on this site. Each time we come back to that tradition, it feels like we’ve come full-circle. In fact, we’ve come full-circle three times now, making the Disco Mermaids blog an official three-ring circus.

Like many experiments conducted by mad scientists, the results were beyond our anticipation. Here’s a brief list of things we never expected:

- The Newbery Jewels, our spoof on the Newbery Award’s scrotum controversy regarding The Higher Power of Lucky, led to a vague reference of us in Susan Patron’s Newbery acceptance speech…as well as a not-so-vague e-mail from lawyers for the American Library Association.

- The dePaola Code, our Tomie dePaola meets The DaVinci Code spoof, wound up being featured on Mr. dePaola’s own website.

- Jay was named one of the Hot Men of Children’s Literature even before he sold a book. (Hmm… Was that meant as a spoof, as well?)

- Robin was approached by, and acquired, a literary agent because of the writing style of her posts.

- Eve had a post reprinted in a book about writing.

- Some amazing logos were designed for us (scroll down and watch the right-hand column to see them all).

- We spoke at the national SCBWI conference in a workshop for bloggers, hosted by the always gracious Lisa Yee.

- We found ourselves illustrated in a picture book.

- We shared the joy and tears of selling a first book.

For us, this blog has been a wonderful way to document our struggles and successes as writers, and to meet so many wonderful people (both writers and readers). And while its dorsal fin hasn’t appeared yet, we know there’s a shark out there somewhere. So we’ve decided to jump off our water-skis, shake our Mermaid tails, and swim back to shore.

The Disco Mermaid experiment was a definite success.

When we get back to shore, we’re immediately trading our tails in for wings and flying independently into the blogosphere, thus beginning three new experiments. We consider these three new blogs like spin-offs, just like Happy Days spawned Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and…Joanie Loves Chachi?

Robin, Jay, Eve: Not it!

This blog will remain up because we already know we’ll want to come back to it often for nostalgia’s sake. But you can follow us into the future at…

Robin: www.robinmellom.blogspot.com
Jay: www.jayasher.blogspot.com
Eve: www.eveporinchak.blogspot.com

Lots of love,
Your Disco Mermaids

Thursday, December 25, 2008

All I Don't Want For Christmas...

(This is a repost of the conclusion to a 13-part series which jumpstarted our blog three years ago.)

(inspired by The Twelve Days of Christmas)

In my twelfth form rejection, the letter said to me:
Dear Author/Illustrator,
regarding (CAPS & BOLDFACE TITLE),
thanks for your submission,
we're so glad you thought of our house,
we're proud of ev'ry book we publish,
see Writer's Market for our guidelines,
due to the number of submissions,
we can't give personal suggestions,
though we strive for quick responses,
after careful consideration,
good luck in the future,
but this story doesn't fit our current needs.

So I cried for just a minute, and then
(surging with ambition)
tucked a self-addressed-stamped-envelope
into my next submission.

from your
Disco Mermaids

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reading About Writers -- Jay

It’s been a while since the Reading Bug bit me…and I blame the public library! Until recently, I worked full-time at a library. Surrounded by more books than I could ever read, I regularly took home more books than I could ever read. I’d skim through a few pages of whichever book piqued my interest at that moment, then put it down and maybe pick up another, hardly ever finishing two chapters of any book before it was due back.

Over time, I forgot how wonderful it is to get absolutely lost in a single book!

Now that I’m more selective about which books I begin, I realized the other day that I’m about to finish my third book this month. (I know, some of you read three books in three days. Good for you!) And then I realized, all three of these books are non-fiction titles dealing with authors and why…or how…they write what they write.

Author Unknown: tales of a literary detective by Don Foster makes it clear that “since no two people use language in precisely the same way, our identities are encoded in our own language, in a kind of literary DNA.” Mr. Foster first proved that theory with his work on a newly discovered poem by William Shakespeare…if that is who wrote it! Using the same literary forensics, he made headlines when he unmasked the anonymous writer of Primary Colors. But my favorite chapter deals with the true identity of the man who originally wrote the words ’Twas the night before Christmas… Did Clement C. Moore come up with that poem, as we’ve been told, or was it a man named Major Henry Livingston, Jr.? You absolutely must grab this book for that chapter alone. (Ever heard of Santa’s reindeer, Dunder and Blixem? Probably not. But you should’ve!)

The Man Who Invented Christmas: how Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol rescued his career and revived our holiday spirits by Les Standiford is a great book to pick up for the holidays. Not only does it tell some interesting history about a classic story and the man who wrote it (and there is no doubt that Mr. Dickens wrote it!), it’s a fascinating look at the evolution of how we experience the Christmas season.

Grant and Twain: the story of a friendship that changed America by Mark Perry was not one I expected to enjoy, but I’m over halfway through it and I’m trying to slow down my reading (yes, even slower than it already is!) so I can enjoy it for a few days more. It’s a book about history, literature, and the friendship of Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain. Twain influenced Grant to write his memoirs before he lost his fight with cancer. Those memoirs are now considered classics of American non-fiction. At the same time, Twain was trying to figure out what should happen in the last half of his book about a boy named Huck.

So what do I plan to read next? Well, for Christmas I asked someone to get me The Annotated Christmas Carol so I can dig even deeper into that book. And I just bought the personal memoirs of U.S. Grant, which is over a thousand pages long…so I think I’m set for a while.

- Jay

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Writing Holiday Gift—Robin

Today we had our annual Children’s Writers Holiday Luncheon and book exchange. It’s always a blast to catch up with our local writer friends and then watch their mouths drop when you steal a book from them during the gift exchange. Ha! Just trying to keep it interesting, y’all!

Last year, I walked away with my own copy of Twilight. Which turned out to be a new favorite of mine. So I’m hoping this year’s book will turn out to be another.

I have (ahem, stole…sorry, Yvonne!) a copy of What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell. Just the cover art and back flap got me excited to read it. Here’s a review from Publisher’s Weekly. Anyone else hearing buzz about this book? Can’t wait to dig in!

Blundell, author of Star Wars novelizations, turns out a taut, noirish mystery/coming-of-age story set in 1947; it's easy to picture it as a film starring Lana Turner, who is mentioned in these pages. When first met, 15-year-old Evie and her best friend are buying chocolate cigarettes to practice smoking. Evie sheds that innocence on a trip to Florida, where her stepfather, Joe, back from the war in Europe, abruptly takes her and her beautiful mother, Beverly, and where Evie falls in love with glamorous Peter, an army buddy whom Joe is none too happy to see. But after a boating accident results in a suspicious death and an inquest, Evie is forced to revisit her romance with Peter and her relationships with Joe and her mother, and to consider that her assumptions about all three may have been wrong from the beginning. Blundell throws Evie's inexperience into high relief with slangy, retro dialogue: Peter calls Evie pussycat ; Beverly says her first husband kicked through love like it was dust and he kept on walking. Readers can taste Evie's alienation and her yearning; it's a stylish, addictive brew. --Publisher's Weekly

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Theory -- Eve

The question I get asked most often these days by non-writers is "How did Stephanie Meyer do it?" Of course, if I knew the key to exactly why Twilight became such an epic phenomenon, I'd be Stephanie Meyer-rich by now. But I do have my theory. I saw Bruce Coville give a speech once on why Harry Potter became Harry Potter, and his thoughts were brilliant. It was something like: orphan+average boy+magic+fantasy world+adventure+world is at stake = winner.

I cannot claim to have the brilliance of Bruce Coville, but I can jot down my ideas on this here blog and see if anybody agrees with me!

First, Twilight is the classic "longing for the love that can never be," but with a genius twist. The love could easily be changed into eternal love by only one method...killing Edward's one true love and turning her into a monster. The same monster Edward has been hating in himself for 100 years! So we, the audience, want them to be together so badly, but experience constant conflict and tension because we know what it would take.

Second, Edward is perfection personified. He is smart, worldly, musical, athletic, sensitive, mysterious, funny, protective, loyal, generous, a little dangerous and it-almost-hurts-to-look-at-him gorgeous. Girls want to marry him. Boys want to be him. He's the ultimate. Who wouldn't want to spend a few hours with the world's most awesome guy? Of course, he is anything but boring because he also has the biggest flaw in the universe...he's an undead murderer and deep down he yearns to kill you!

Third, Bella is the every-girl. Truly, there is nothing extraordinary about her. She is plain looking (at least in the book), not athletic, nice enough, of normal intelligence. She is so very average. She could be us. We could be her! So, we the readers can easily put ourselves in her shoes and "live" Bella's story. Which means we, too, could capture Edward's heart!

Take the perfect guy, the normal, average girl, the impossible love story, combine with a little magic and fantasy, toss in a tiny bit of violence and adventure, but keep everything "real" in terms of high school issues, friendships and hardships, and you've got yourself a winner.

I think the most appealing thing about Twilight is that it taps into our romantic ideal of true love. I don't care who you are, if you have two X chromosomes, you've fantasized about that one perfect soul mate at some point in your development. And in our dreams, that one perfect soul mate loves us unconditionally. He would do anything to keep us safe and make us feel loved and happy. He is gorgeous inside and out. He has nothing but interesting thoughts and hobbies and things to chat about. He listens to us. And he truly believes that we are the best thing that has ever happened to him. Oh, if only we could be that lucky!

Yep, I totally get why Twilight is such a phenomenon. Just wish I had the brains to concoct the new recipe for the next big thing!

- Eve