Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Twooshes On My Mind

I like to make twooshes. A Twoosh is a combination of "tweet" and "swoosh" and it means a tweet that is exactly 140 characters.

My current novel-in-progress is on its third draft. When I was writing the first draft of it, back in 2003, I got very neurotic about how it looked on the page. Paragraphs had to be mathematically precise. If I deleted a word, I had to add a word. Hours were spent deliberating over the choice of a preposition. In the whole draft, there was not one line of dialogue, because it looked weird to me, physically. I couldn't let it into my manuscript. Eventually I scrapped that attempt and forced myself to write it as a screenplay, to get over my twitching. It worked -- I mostly scrapped the screenplay too, but I can now write the book with dialogue and it doesn't bother me too much.

Other authors have said that they like the 140 character limit on Twitter because it forces them to think about word choice and be thrifty about language. I like that too. I also like hitting that 140 character limit exactly -- it's like ringing a bell. It satisfies my need to be picky-picky with words without ruining my manuscript. I like twooshing for this reason. I've done it 330 times.

This is my Twitter cloud for the last five years, in alphabetical order (generated by Tweet Stats -- they can also tell you how many times you've twooshed). My Twitter handle is @lostcheerio. Should we really be following each other?

#fb #litchat #nanowrimo actually @andreakinnear author away awesome bad bed benny best better big bike blog book books @campcreek @celeritycycling chapter check child children come coming cool dan day @deadwhiteguys dear did didnt does doesnt dog doing eating @emilygatlin favorite feel finished getting girl glad going @gonavy1994 good great guy happy hard having head heh hes hey home hope hot house @hubcitybookshop husband @iamsusannah idea @joshilynjackson kids kind know @lbardugo let life liked list little long look looking looks @lostcheerio lot love lydia make makes making maybe mean minutes mom morning movie need new night novel oh okay old people person post pretty race read reading real really @rebeccaschinsky review right rt sadie said say shine song stop story sure tell thank thanks thats theres theyre thing things think thought time times today tomorrow tonight @tossedinmylap trying tweet twitter use violin virginia wait want watch watching way week whats @wileycash win word words work world wow write writing wrong www yay yeah year yes youre


Monday, July 30, 2012

10 Best Marriage Vows You Never Hear At Weddings

by Lydia Netzer

Love is patient, love is kind, love endures, blah blah blah, isn't it all wonderful? Vowing to persevere through sickness and health and in wealth and poverty is tradition, and it's comfortable when associated with lace and roses. But hasn’t it proven to be fairly useless when it comes to forging marriages that last forever? How many people have mouthed the words, “until we are parted by death” while privately plotting to move on as soon as a more attractive option presents itself?

Here's a set of wedding vows with practical merit. They might sound unconventional and unromantic. They’re certainly not poetic, but these promises, if kept, will go far in sealing a marriage for the ages.

1. I promise to clarify my expectations. 

A marriage ends because a spouse has failed to meet the expectations their partner brought to the marriage. Expectations are unique, and come packaged inside your fiance’s brain. You may think these things are obvious or universal, that “everyone knows” what makes a good husband, what makes a good wife. But the truth is: Your expectations are yours alone -- spawned from your experiences and locked in your head. There is nothing you can assume about your partner’s idea of what a good marriage looks like. No harm will come from being very specific and concrete about exactly what you want, not just in bed but in the bank account, at the dinner table, with regard to parenting, and everything else. If you’re too shy to mention what you believe is the right way to behave, and you’re hoping everything will become obvious as time goes on, you’re not ready to get married. Get it all in the open, and keep putting it out in the open. If someone fails you, they should have to do it by choice, and not have ignorance as an excuse.

2. I promise to give you the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to money. 

One of the biggest adjustments, when entering marriage, is joint finances. From being on your own and subject only to your own ups and downs, you’re now responsible for another person, or you’re depending on another person. That can be scary. Here’s a vow you can make that will help: If your spouse spends a lot of money on something, trust that they know what they’re doing. Trust them until it becomes impossible not to trust them. Don’t come out of the gate suspicious. Here’s why you can do this: You didn’t marry an idiot. Right? If you think they’re overspending this month, chances are they’re expecting a special check, or they’re compensating for underspending last month, or something else. This is not a fool; this is your spouse. Surrender the worry that they’re going to drive you into financial ruin. Give the benefit of the doubt. If they really do appear to be ruining you, then the last benefit of the doubt you can give is that they don’t know any better, and need help. Help kindly and respectfully, not with judgment and blame.

3. I promise to make sure I'm not just hungry, before I yell at you. 

Do your wife or husband a favor: Eat your favorite sandwich, and then come back and yell at her/him all you want, if you still feel like it.

4. I promise not to give in to you for the sole purpose of using my compliance against you later. 

Some people call this passive aggressive behavior, but this is a very specific maneuver that you can understand and avoid: Being the good person, even though you don’t want to, is not always good. Being so compliant and docile that a halo pops out of your hair and lofts itself over you, bathing you in its golden light, is sometimes a trick, and you really intend to strangle your spouse with that halo, somewhere down the road. Being so good that next time there’s an argument, you can point back to this moment as an example of how your goodness practically rent the sky in half -- that’s not goodness. Don’t do that. It’s not going to help, in the long run. If you don’t want to do something, fight not to do it. If you want to do something, fight to do it. Be honest, and don’t posture.

5. I promise to defend you to others, even if you are wrong. 

Your spouse is going encounter plenty of haters and critics. Don’t join them. Ever. In the privacy of your pillow, or your sofa, or your minivan, you can have conversations that need to be had, if there’s really something that needs to be addressed. But you don’t need to agree with someone who’s calling him a boor, or her an idiot. There is nothing uglier than watching a husband degrade his wife or a wife demean her husband in front of other people. It doesn’t make you smart or funny. It’s just a low behavior. Your spouse’s criticism hurts plenty, even if it’s private and kind. If it’s public and rude, it’s almost unbearable.

6. I promise to try to put you before the children. 

This is tricky, because your biological imperative will be to put the children first. Your physiology will be directing you to eat the face off your spouse if he or she threatens the children’s progress and happiness in any way. This is why it’s possible to make this promise to each other: to really try to prioritize each other sometimes, even though the children are absorbing so much of your life. In reality, if you truly prioritize your spouse, and leave your children out on the porch in a dirty diaper in the rain, the police will come. But because you’re a normal person and not some child-abusing monster, you’re not going to do that. Making this promise might actually result in some time spent together as a couple, some choices made for the benefit of Dad’s or Mom’s agenda and goals instead of the kids’ activities all the time, and some needed balance.

7. I promise to do the stuff neither of us wants to do, if you really don't want to do it more than I don't. 

My husband hates to do the dishes. He really hates it and thinks it is disgusting. I do not like to look at spreadsheets or think about money. At all. It gives me panting fits. Now, I don’t especially want to do the dishes either. Nobody wants to do the dishes. But I’m okay doing the dishes, yes every single time, yes even if I also cooked the dinner, yes even if he left a plate full of gravy and broccoli bits hardening in the sink. I don’t really care that much, and I’m not going to stand on principle to try and chase some goal of “fairness” and make him do the dishes half the time. If fairness were what we were after, then I would have to pay attention to the checking account, and have a budget, and worry about mortgages. And I don’t. That’s not fair either. But we don’t care because we’ve made this promise:

8. I promise not to keep score. 

You can’t win marriage. There are no points. Any reckoning or score-keeping on your part is only going to result in told-you-so trumpeting or sad dissatisfaction. Not keeping score means you don’t have to pay back the good stuff, and you don’t get to punish the failures. It also means you can give freely, and that you have a soft place to fall when you fail yourself. There are consequences for every action -- good and bad. That is true. But “forgive and forget” works two ways -- you forget the good stuff you did and the bad stuff he/she did. In return you can expect your bad stuff to be forgotten, and your spouse to give you good stuff without measure.

9. I promise to not care if you get fat, or skinny, or old. 

I’m talking about getting fat, people. Butt, huge. Arms, wiggly. I’m also talking about hot bodies wasting away to nothing. Boobs, gone. Butt, gone. Can we talk about hair falling out? Not just boy hair, but girl hair too. Weird moles developing. Facial hair getting thicker or thinner. Googly eyes. The truth is you don’t really care about these things. Your favorite person is your favorite person until the end of time, even if their head falls off or they grow a third leg. Even if a dragon comes and eats off the lower half of their body or they turn purple or get warts. You know what matters is on the inside, and you can articulate it. If you want to utter the most romantic words a woman will ever hear, say “I will love you forever, babe, even if you get wicked fat.” Trust me. Your skinny fiance will love you for this.

10. I promise to put your happiness before mine. 

Really it all boils down to this, doesn’t it? You promise to subvert your needs, your wants, your goals and priorities, to those of your spouse. And he or she does the same for you. If you’re both working for the other’s happiness, earnestly and sincerely, then you’re both going to be ridiculously happy. Here’s the key though: It’s not enough to sublimate yourself and be a virtuous martyr for his/her dreams to come true. You also have to allow your spouse to do the same for you. You have to be able to say “Okay!” when he says “Go!” To say “Thanks!” when she says “I don’t mind!” And trust that when it’s your turn to reverse roles, you’ll do the very same. Because in the end, it’s not even selflessness. It’s working for the common good. And if you can’t say you’ll do that, then “until we are parted by death” is just going to be a long, dull, sad life sentence.

In my opinion, if you can't wholeheartedly vow these things, you shouldn't be getting married. Yep, it's a little tougher to promise "in fatness and in emaciation, even if my mother hates you" than it is to promise "in joy and in sorrow, forsaking all others." But which is really braver, and what promise more meaningful?


Did you like this? Buy my book, quick. Read it, come back, tell me what you think of it. I'll listen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Dear Reader,

Dear Reader,

My novel is released today. Let's pretend you've bought it. Let's pretend you're holding it in your hands. I know what it feels like. 

Visible Woman by Perry Vasquez
The novel you are about to read has been with me for over a decade. Like all authors I’ve tried to put into it everything I have to say about life, just in case I never get a chance to do this book thing again. So what you’re holding is my best attempt at downloading everything I have in my head that matters.

I’ve been asked what pieces of this novel are from real life and which are pure invention. The truth is that nothing here is a direct representation of anything in “real life.” At the same time, everything here is very real to me, and all of my most important pieces: my kids, my husband, my mother, and even my robot fixation, are present. This book is a treatise; it’s what I believe. And that means true love and merciless death and mechanical evolution and happy motherhood and mortal fear. There’s some weird stuff, some serious stuff, some goofy stuff. Some of it is pretty dark.

Publishing a novel is, I am finding, a very personal public act. In the book, I expose my self – dark and light, good and bad – and when you have read it, you will know me better than I will probably ever get the chance to know you. I am so grateful that I have this way to explain myself, this book-sized opening in my head. And I am so grateful to you that you are willing to listen, to hear this story, and to understand.

In other words, I have waited a long time to meet you, and I’m so happy that you are finally here.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Three Book Launch Events for Shine Shine Shine

My book will be released tomorrow, July 17th! On this day you can walk into any bookstore, demand to be sold a copy of my book, and the bookseller will cheerfully comply. Cheerfully. And honorably. It's true.

I am having three book launch events because triangles. Here I have arranged them chronologically.

EVENT 1: Signing/Reading/Meeting/Greeting @ Prince Books: 12:00pm Tuesday, July 17

Prince Books
109 East Main St.
Norfolk, VA 23510

Special note: The first ten people to buy books from Prince Bookstore will receive a coupon to receive an item of your choice for free at the Leaping Lizard cafe. Browse the menu. Let Maxon buy you lunch. 

EVENT 2: Virtual Book Launch Party @ Shindig Events: 7:30pm Tuesday, July 17

No need to register, download, install, get a ticket, drive anywhere, or put on pants. There will be special guests including Joshilyn Jackson, who read the audiobook for Shine Shine Shine, Andrea Kinnear and my husband, who wrote the math equations. I may be wearing a robot head. I may be singing a song. You can participate with audio/video and appear on the screen via your webcam, OR you can participate via chat only. 

Official cocktail of the event:

The Perfect Mother

The perfect mother is always minty-fresh and peacefully diluted with vodka and sugar.

Start with this:
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine and boil, simmer, cool, then strain to make mint syrup. While it's bubbling, whisper your suspicions about your neighbors over the pot. As you're straining, mash the mint with vigor, attempting to extract all the secrets from its leaves. Should yield 1 1/2 cups if you strain angrily enough. 

Juice three limes into a pitcher. With each lime you strain, visualize one way you've changed for the better in the last ten years. Add a cup of vodka and a cup of club soda, and all the mint syrup. Stir with satisfaction.

Mix and pour over ice into glasses. Garnish with a straw topper by punching out the holes and sticking your straw in and out (click for larger image): 

EVENT 3: Book Launch Party @ Barnes & Noble : 7:00pm Wednesday July 18th

Come a bit early for appetizers, Italian soda, cupcakes and a beautiful book cake from Frank's cousin who needs a Facebook page so I can link to her! I'll get the party started at 6:30 and the actual event will begin with an intro from my son Benny at 7:00pm.