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Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I am thankful for clear warnings.

Also for the site this came from which my son sent me, because he knew it would tickle me so:


What are you thankful for today? Prepare! The big day is tomorrow, remember...

Rachel Vail

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Getting ready, feeling thankful.

What are you thankful for this time around?

Today I was wishing I felt thankful for M&M's.

Rachel Vail

Friday, November 20, 2009

How I Write After a Long Day Writing

Here's what I discovered, again, just now:

Speed writing is good for fiction but bad for shoulder muscles.

Anybody trying to do NaNoWriMo? Not me. A month? Hahahaha. I scoff in the general direction of a month for a novel.

I generally try to write my whole novel in a day.

(It doesn't work.)

But today, maybe, I got something done (four pages) that I will eventually be able to edit the hell out of and, if I am lucky and rigorous, come up with something worth working on.

So tonight, assuming I can detach my shoulders from my earlobes, I will celebrate that awesome achievement.

By going to see a high school production of Romeo & Juliet.

Speaking of which, did you know that the oaf in Congress was actually quoting Shakespeare when he shouted "You lie!" while the President was giving a speech????

Yup, Romeo and Juliet. Not even kidding. But I have learned through hard life lessons that there is a right time and a wrong time to shout out Shakespearean quotes. Sadly, it turns out, most situations are not the right times for it. You generally, at best, freak people out whenever you shout Shakespeare quotes, whether you are a Congressman sitting in that august chamber or just an undercaffeinated writer waiting in an absurdly long line at Starbucks. (For instance.)

Can you, actually, think of a right time to shout out a Shakespearean quote?

Correct answers win a prize of a virtual cow.


Rachel Vail

PS So does anyone who knows what book a virtual cow comes from.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brilliant Cover!

This just in!

I am so excited to see this beautiful cover -- and to learn that the publication date for BRILLIANT is May 25...

Here's a link to HarperCollins, for more info:


Aren't those shoes so pretty? Don't you think I should go buy them and wear them to any book signings??? I am pretty sure I could justify that as a business expense, couldn't I?

Rachel Vail

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I am speed-writing today, trying to get past my internal editor and get something down on the page. Do you ever do that? It's a really helpful trick.

But meanwhile, it is Veteran's Day. Deep thanks to all who serve or who have served our country, and to their families who cope with the worry and loneliness of their long absences. Wishing for many safe and soon homecomings...

In their honor, here are some clips of dogs welcoming their (veteran) people back home... proving that sometimes we have to count on dogs to do the interpretive dance of our feelings:

With thanks and love,

Rachel Vail

Monday, November 9, 2009


Just read this and, while I abhor stereotypes as a rule (which you could probably guess about me, just knowing my zip code), I had to literally laugh out loud. So I thought I would brighten your day and share it with you...

Is it ever acceptable to inform a shop assistant that the item of clothing they are trying to sell you is "trashy"?

-- Natasha, by email (to The Guardian, UK)

It depends on what country you're in, Natasha. If you're in America, of course, they're all about blunt honesty. If you're in Paris, the sales assistant will look at you as if you're crazy as she certainly wasn't talking to you, let alone helping you. If you are in Italy, they will be delighted, as "trashy" is a compliment of the highest order there. And if you live in the UK, the shop assistant will have a heart attack in shock that you didn't just smile and nod in embarrassment at the attention and then feel obliged to buy the damn thing out of awkward politeness. National stereotypes: as Homer Simpson says, they're funny because they're true.

Happy Monday.

Rachel Vail

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Harmony Project

I just got an email from one of my best friends from high school, a great guy named Tony.

It takes some courage to share your own good news, somehow, doesn't it? Why is that? We don't want to brag, of course, but I wonder why else we (okay I) hesitate to share good news maybe even more than bad. Any ideas on that?

Well, anyway, I feel so honored that Tony shared this with me. I asked him if I could post it here and shout it from the rooftops -- partly because we need to celebrate good news and good work whenever possible, and partly because (and this is a weird thought) I feel so darn proud of him.

Anyway, here is what he wrote:

...eight years ago I joined with some folks that I did not know very well to create a new nonprofit organization that helps low-income kids through music education. We started with a handful of violin students and now have 750 kids with three orchestras. I am very proud of the fact that we take the research on arts education very seriously and built a program that can really make a difference - and that we put a lot of effort into tracking the changes in the kids lives. There are very few programs that stay with kids through their whole childhood (we even have our own college scholarship program) and do all the things necessary to have an impact.

Anyway, yesterday, the Harmony Project was awarded the Coming Up Taller Award from the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities. Basically, CUT is the highest honor an afterschool arts program can achieve. Michelle Obama presided over the ceremony. Check this out:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/11/michelle-obama-gives-harmony-projects-a-round-of-applause.html or this:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/11/las-harmony-project-honored-at-white-house.html.

So, it is a big deal for the organization, and for me. Our student representative to the ceremony, Kiana, was living on the streets with her mother and two sisters when she entered the program. Her school thought she was learning disabled and put her on medication. According to her, HP built her confidence and ability to focus. She is now an honors student and gives back to the program by volunteering as teaching assistant. That's what it's all about.

Why am I telling you this? Because you're my flippin' friend or relative, that's why! And, as a board member of this organization, it is my responsibility to spread the word about it. I'm not asking for anything, but of course if you are interested in supporting the effort, go to www.harmony-project.org or just let me know.

Anyway, you can only win this award once, so this is pretty much it. This is the pinnacle of this experience. And I wanted to share it with you because you, [insert name here], are important to me!

(Back to me, Rachel, again, with tears in my eyes)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of this...

Rachel Vail