Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mustn't-See TV, or
The Year of Living Dangerously

As the bombs began falling on Baghdad in March 2003, I moderated a discussion with novelist Lee Smith and columnist Hal Crowther, her husband, at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Someone in the SRO crowd asked Crowther about his writing process. He answered, "I read the morning papers, and when I get mad enough I start writing." That got a big laugh, though I thought he was rather quaint--and maybe a bit immature.

Then I read this morning's paper and completely identified with Crowther. What set me off was this headline in the "Play" section of The Denver Post:
No comfort in "Last Days"
Scientists paint seven real-life doomsday scenarios showing how humankind may perish, in a terrifying special edition of "20/20."
TV critic Joanne Ostrow gets right to the heart of the matter in her opener:

You say you're sleeping well, experiencing a sense of security, feeling confident about the future?

Elizabeth Vargas will fix that.

And a few grafs later:
"Last Days on Earth," at 8 p.m. Wednesday on KMGH-Channel 7, is calculated to scare the pants off viewers. And it's not even the November sweeps!
Wow! Just what I needed! Something else to make me feel anxious, helpless and depressed.

Exactly one year ago, we were bombarded by non-stop media reports of the devastation and misery caused by Hurricane Katrina. As I noted then, perhaps the second-worse thing to being trapped with the miserable hordes in the Super Dome was watching them on TV in the E.R. waiting room with one's mysteriously sick child. (Food allergy was the spot diagnosis, but it turned out to be a hiatal hernia.) For weeks, the horrific news from the Gulf Coast was accompanied by oppressive humidity, low air pressure that immobilized me with crushing neuralgia (I suffer from "weather head") and torrential rains. That's when I made up my mind that it was time to quit Charlottesville, VA, for high and dry Denver.

We moved to Denver in December, thanks to Darling Husband's employer, which is headquartered nearby. No hurricanes here, though I got a bit of a chill when I saw the "Tornado Shelter" signs posted by the rest rooms at Denver International Airport (which to all intents and purposes is in Kansas).

Since moving into Our Gracious Home:
  1. In mid-January, the dog had surgery to remove 2 (!) cracked and abscessed molars only 6 weeks after her old vet gave her a clean bill of health.
  2. I came down with pneumonia over Super Bowl weekend.
  3. In early March, I got a wicked case of shingles.
  4. At the same time as #3, the dog was diagnosed with kidney failure that would kill her within 2 years. (Apparently a misdiagnosis, as she is fine and frisky with no medication.)
  5. In mid-March I fell and broke my nose.
  6. In late March I got a wicked sinus infection.
  7. On April 12, I came down with food poisoning minutes before the start of our Passover seder.
  8. During all of the above, we had to replace the entire heating system, much of the plumbing and all but one of the nearly 30 windows in our charming new (ca. 1902) house--all under the close supervision of yours truly.
  9. The Boy Wonder missed 38 days of school due to allergies (which were supposed to disappear once away from moldy VA) and various illnesses.
  10. In the wee hours of May 1, my mom in Maine went into the hospital with a knee injury.
  11. That afternoon, I landed in hospital for a week with multiple trauma from what should have been a short and pokey horseback-riding lesson: concussion, bruised liver; broken right arm, ribs & facial bones; banged-up mouth.
  12. In early June, I had 3 root canals on my top front teeth, and may yet need one on the bottom.
  13. Two weeks ago today, I had a 6-inch steel plate permanently screwed to my humerus.
  14. In two days, I'm getted knocked out at the dentist to: a) determine why my front teeth still hurt like crazy; b) put permanent fillings in the root canals; c) make bite plates to put my molars back where they belong so I can chew grown-up food again.
Meanwhile, my arm has turned sunset colors and the pain wakes me at night, even with Demerol; I can barely use my once-dominant right hand and I get shooting pains in my more-or-less numb, yet hypersensitive, fingers; I get intense burning and itching on my forehead, including numb areas; my upper lip is still so sore that I can just tolerate giving Darling Husband the briefest buss directly on the mouth (whiskers are excruciating).

Now that the case against the "extremely weird John Mark Karr is toast," as Denver Post columnist Diane Carman so succinctly put it today, the media is "back to all that important stuff [it] was criticized for ignoring....War, politics, natural disasters, social issues, the economy."

Enjoy, everyone! As for me, I plan on curling up with classic novels and Netflix. I'm sure you'll understand.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Food for Plot

If you're looking to be the next Jodi Picoult or Thomas Harris, but stymied for plot hooks, try trolling the web searches recently released by AOL. Here are some, courtesy of Something Awful, once again brought to my attention by the Boy Wonder.

For a "woman's" novel:
can not sleep with snoring husband
online friendships can be very special
online friendships
how many online romances lead to sex
how many online romances lead to sex in person
how do i get to the omni hotel in san antonio off i 10 coming from houston
omni hotel san antonio tx
how to make a good first impression
how to make a good first impression on a man
how to drive a man crazy with desire for you
nervous about meeting online trend
god does not want you to worry because he will help you
don't cut your hair before a big event
how can a woman charm a man and make him laugh
keeping busy can help your nerves
how can i learn how to relax
staying calm while meeting an online friend
should you plan sex before meeting a cyber lover
hotels in san antonio tx near the omni
husband does not think it is good idea for me to meet my online friends
my family does not want me to meet my online friend in person
how can i tell if my spouse put spyware on my computer
i gve my heart to another man
married but in love with another
i met my cyber lover and the sex was not good
why would a guy act weird towards a woman after they had sex
guy online used me for sex
how can you tell if he used you for sex
did not like cyber friend when we met in person
online friend is horrible in person
can someone get hepatitis from sexual contact
sexually transmitted diseases
how can you get aids
how can you contract aids
symptoms of herpes of the mouth
can herpes of the mouth be transmitted to genitals
had an affair with a man and he thinks i need him now
how do you break off an affair
the guy i had an affair with won't leave me alone
post traumatic stress disorder
i thought i could handle an affair but i couldn't
affairs cause so much trouble
you will get nothing out of having an affair
how do you get a mentally ill parent to get medical help
how to get your parent help for depression

For a heartbreaking woman's novel or Grammy-winning C&W song:
signs of miscarriage
bleeding during pregnancy
bishop skylstad
catholic diocese of spokane
catholic diocese of idaho
preconception advice
pregnancy symptoms during miscarriage
planning pregnancy
pregnancy complications and mother's intuition
pregnancy danger signs
pregnancy with twins
toddler sleeping problems
relationship trouble
marriage horoscope
signs of an unhealthy relationship
pre conception
preconception checklist
signs divorce is on its way
how to avoid divorce
chat rooms for lonely married people
dad and miscarriage
how to know your marriage is over
chuck e. cheese

For a scary thriller and/or true-crime story (shudder):
tara makowski
unsolved murder of tara makowski
tara makowski found dead in car
tara makowski found dead in car in san jose
young woman named tara found dead in car in san jose
unsolved mysteries
unsolved mysteries tara makowski
unsolved mysteries tara
cold cases in san jose california
san jose police departments cold cases
edward beaton questioned about the murder
san jose police edward beaton
edward beaton of campbell
psychological test given to prisoners
test to see if you are a serial killer

For another sequel to Silence of the Lambs:
feasting on thighs of young girls
steaks for thighs of young girls
barbequed girl meat
girls fattened for butchering
cannibals feasting on buttocks of young girls
spit roasted and eaten girls
girls strangled and eaten
cooked tender flesh of girls
girls cut up into steaks

N.B. I hope with all my heart that the last two searches were for research purposes only, but I have serious dubts.

Book Reviews for Fun and Profit!

Kudos to HarperCollins for having an online publicity department. At least they have their ears to the ground...er...eyes on the Web and are looking to expand coverage of their books beyond the usual literary suspects. In fact, they go so far beyond that they trolled Something Awful, the Boy Wonder's favorite cyber-hangout, to find someone to review Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.

HC indeed found a reviewer in Hassan "Acetone" Mikal, but I wonder whether they didn't think that maybe--just maybe--a smartass like him (and they're all smartasses on Something Awful, especially my own not-so-little darling) would write a smartass review. Which of course he did. Mikal's review of a Free Book I Got may not be quite what HC was looking for, but it had me weak with laughter.

There has been much talk of late on GalleyCat and elsewhere as to the importance of author photographs, and whether they attract readers. Mikal definitively settles this dispute, writing of Cullen:

She is pretty cute based on her picture on the inside cover though. This woman has no business putting words on paper. She should be in a classy lingerie catalogue. I'm talking Sears catalogue for sure, maybe Nordstom.

Mikal also discloses the secret that every reviewer--including myself, of course--guards jealously:
The key to writing a good review isn't in the criticism, it's getting a quote on the back of the book. Don't be satisfied with getting your quote on the inside sleeve or in the introductory pages. You want it on the back cover right up top or else it means nothing. This is why you must strive to get review copies as early as possible and review them as quickly as you can. Skip a few chapters if you must. The most important thing is getting the review done.
He offers these helpful examples:

RIGHT: Cullen's seminal work is both a pleasure and a delight to read and will inspire readers for decades to come.
A publisher will probably put this on the back of their book. Even years after the book is released the quote will still be relevant. Your quote doesn't even have to have anything to do with the book. It just has to sound fancy. In fact I expect Harper Collins to plaster this all over the next edition of whatever book I'm supposed to be reviewing here.

WRONG: Stacy is a sloppy cunt ass ho who will sleep with every guy but me. What a bitch. I want my shirts back Stacy.

When writing reviews it is important to leave the drama with your mama! That's what The Daily Dirt is for. While Stacy may be a slut who will sleep with everyone but you it has no place on the back of a major book. Maybe a Random House book, but we're talking the big leagues here.

Acetone writes: "Tell everyone you know that they can get a positive review out of me as long as I can sell the book for money to support my various crippling addictions!"

My response: "Um, you might want to actually, you know, review the book rather than the author pic and blurbs--though I much enjoyed your piece over ones in the NYTBR or Wash Post."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Shabbat Shalom

What you don't want to see on a peaceful Friday evening:
Four policeman with drawn weapons converging on the house directly across the street. If ever I neeeded reminding that I'm not on my sleepy, leafy old street in Charlottesville, VA, anymore, this is certainly one of those times.

Update: The cops cuffed some people, then let them go. Then the cops left. After that, nada.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Well and Truly Screwed

My right humerus shortly before (l) & after (r) surgery. The vertical line with holes is a 6-inch steel plate; the horizontal bars are screws.

Rather belatedly, here's the overwhelming winner of Miss Snark's Get Humerus Poetry Contest, who I hope will step forward--along with all the other anonymous poets--so I can convey effusive personal thanks:

A Confucian get-well sentiment:

I hear your arm hurts
nothing make bone happier
than a real good screw

Runner-up was #4, which provoked special hilarity because Darling Husband lost his pants years ago:

Sorry for your bone
At least it's not Alzhei--
Where have my pants gone?

My special favorites:
Bored of counting the ceiling tile
She offered to help with the slush pile
Bella held up her bedpan
And asked Miss Snark in a deadpan
Would you like a new query file?

#44, by YA author & veterinarian Christine Fletcher

Gomez, was it a bee
That compelled
You to propel our Bella
Into a post

Or just cussedness

You’re a horse so
We trust you had no
Plan involving

Much less, consequences
For bones

And yet
A moment’s regret?
A tiny Sorry from
A tiny brain

And then

#10, who gets a special Robert Frost Parody award

One bone diverged in a writer's arm
And, sorry it did not mend as well
As they had told her, doctors warm
On other ways to undo that harm
Which came upon her when she fell

They called the interns, young and fair
Though having perhaps a lesser claim
Because they had trouble rememb'ring where
The humerus was, and would declare
The trouble to be that she was lame

And so next morning nurses tried
And poked till she was blue and black
Oh! They never finished, so she'd hide
Her record chart, till one of them spied
It peeping out of her laundry sack

I now come to the part where she,
Sick of waiting ages since
The doctors had told her she'd be free,
Tried healing it through poetry
And that has made all the difference

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Mother's Heart Swells

The Boy Wonder started his senior year of high school today. I got up at 6 a.m. so I could send him off in style with a home-cooked breakfast and fresh cafe au lait. Though my right thumb and forefinger now bend more, they've lost strength since last week's operation, so he had to break the eggs and open the appallingly priced bag of Diedrich Coffee beans ($15.80 for 12 oz.; I'm sticking with tea!), but I was able to do the fixins' pretty much one-handed.

I worry plenty about BW, who's a bit...er...casual about his assignments. His motto: "I like school, I just hate schoolwork!" However, a couple weeks ago he engaged me in detailed conversation about the Warhol Factory (I knew some of the people peripherally way back when), and yesterday about Lou Reed while we listened to "Transformer" on BW's iPod. All on his own he's discovered the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, Television, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads. I wowed him by recognizing a song he played as being by Iggy Pop, and knowing the words to the Heads' "Born Under Punches" (though I confess I didn't know the title till just now). My sole motherly caution, based on too-personal experience: "Copy the music, not the behavior!"

I started BW with good home training. At 3, he was playing harmonica to Commander Cody's "Down to Seeds & Stems Again Blues" (a skill he has since lost, alas). Then I had some painful explaining to do when he wanted Aretha Franklin and Little Richard to come to his fourth birthday party. As he reasoned, their voices were constantly in our home and car; why couldn't they show up in person? However, I redeemed myself on his fifth birthday, when I took him to see Asleep at the Wheel and he got to meet leader Ray Benson just before he went onstage. After that, I had to put BW's name in glitter on his guitar strap, just like Ray. Around the same time, BW got to shake the late Freddy King's hand and ask James Cotton a burning question: "Who's older, you or Johnny Winter?" "I don't really know," was the disingenuous response. (Once out of earshot, I explained that Cotton was older, even though Winter's hair is white.) By age 8, I'd introduced BW to the Ramones with the hoot of a movie "Rock 'n' Roll High School," and he still loves them.

Though the Boy Wonder hadn't quite finished the required reading for his American Lit class last night, he started learning the chords and words to Patti Smith's "Gloria," which I remember excitedly spinning for friends nearly 30 years ago.

So I know I brought my kid up right after all.

P.S. See BW with canine companions on today's GalleyCat.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More Pained Laughs

Google Alert just notified me that I'm mentioned in a recent post on Dana's Tea House: In a Theater Not Near You, a collection of imaginary home videos by writer Dana Y. T. Lin, who is making creative use of her third bout of strep throat. I've often cast myself as a fairy-tale heroine, but never so hilarously. (And never mind that my enormous feet disqualify me as Cinderella.) My favorite is #7:
Finding Bella -– When a hospital orderly wheels a drugged up Bella into the wrong operating room, her dedicated doctor (played by George Clooney) cancels his date with Miss Snark to find her.

Two poems didn't make the deadline for Miss Snark's Humerus Contest:

Apply balm to your arm for the cut
Although it's now shiny
It could've been your heinie
Now that's a pain in the butt.

There was a reviewer named Bella-ire
who panned A Streetcar Named Desire
but nobody yelled Stella
when she was tossed by her fella--
Horse Gomez, now known as Horse Dire.

Only a Short Breather

Multi-tasking with Max

I got bored lying around reading and thinking (can't have too much of that, can we?), and a little while ago determined that it is indeed possible to use my laptop while flat on my back with my arm up on ice. That's just when Max decided that it was the perfect time to ensconce himself on my chest. Odd how such a time often occurs when I'm otherwise engaged.

What the World Needs Now

Apologies to Messsrs. Bacharach and David, but even more than love, sweet love, the world is in dire need of living, breathing copy editors. (Also, writers who are better-versed in grammar and vocabulary, but I won't go into that now.)

As illustration, consider the below exhibits. They're from Denver newspapers, but similar examples can be found all over the country.

From a column by Cindy Rodriguez in today's Denver Post:
Of course, one can't get to that point if they haven't gotten past Step 1.
From a column by Marty Meitus in yesterday's Rocky Mountain News (one of the very few news or opinion pieces that refreshingly didn't mention JonBenet Ramsey):
Meantime, the men would be outside, inventing things such as cars, so that way out in the [future] 21st century, one of their ancestors could call his mother...

GAH!!! How is our kids going to learn if they don't got good examples?

Full disclosure: I am a recovering copy editor and proofreader.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Taking a Break...I Mean a Breather

I was so excited to be back home with self-bending digits yesterday that I spent way too much time sitting up, much of it online. At the end of the day my arm was swollen and hot, and had turned all sorts of fun party colors. I had it up on a pillow overnight, but apparently not nearly high or straight enough, because this morning it was even more swollen and colorful.

So now I'm spending most of my time flat on my back, with the arm on ice at a good upward slant. This is not compatible with using a computer, though it is very compatible with having 13-lb Max nap on my chest--his favorite spot in cooler weather. People say you can't train cats, but he has learned not to walk on me via my right arm. I think my hollering and violently tossing him overboard may have had something to do with it. Now if I could just get Jenny dog not to nudge that arm when she wants me to pet her...

And so to bed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Devil's in the Details

First, let me establish that I currently have, and have always had, two arms firmly attached to the customary areas of my body. The upper right arm suffered a bit of damage, and three days ago Dr. M performed surgery to repair it. Before I was knocked out, he scrawled "THIS ARM" with indelible marker by my right shoulder. You want an orthopedist with an eye for important details. You want nurses like that too, but several times during my hospital stay I had to instruct them to put the blood pressure cuff on my uninjured LEFT arm, thank you very much.

This morning my osteopath had Dr. M's Operation Report faxed over. I glanced over it while stopped in traffic on the way home. (Darling Husband was at the wheel.) I was already feeling queasy from painkillers, and reading about how my own deltoid was peeled away from the fractured humerus and dissected didn't settle my stomach any.

But I burst out laughing when I got to this sentence: "The arm was able to be removed without difficulty." Inquiring minds want to know how it was reattached so quickly and seamlessly.

Fashion Reprieve

Over the past three months I've learned to do many things using just my left hand. To type, for example. However, there are several things I can't do. One of them is to clip the fingernails on my left hand; another is to tweeze my eyebrows. I have Darling Husband for clipper duty, but given the lingering pain around my broken facial bones, I'm not letting anyone near my face except my osteopath--and he makes sure I've had a couple Valium before he even attempts an acupuncture treatment there.

What to do? Fall is just around the corner, and with it comes the desire to be Fashion Forward--or at least not backward. Happily, yesterday The New York Times came to my rescue with a style piece, "Throw Your Tweezers Away." Seems that once again Fashion has caught up to me; or rather circled around and nipped me from behind. In other words, shaggy eyebrows à la 1978 Brooke Shields are back IN.

This is very convenient for me: All I have to do is keep doing nothing. Oh, and try not to shriek with laughter at the description of and ludicrous prices for the services of a "professional eyebrow groomer," including--are you ready?--eyebrow extensions. Here's another product of which I was blissfully ignorant and can't grasp the need for: clear mascara.

Last week, one of the Denver papers announced the return of 1980s "retro" fashions, and breathlessly forecast that women would be showing off their "well-toned thighs" in tight leggings topped by a tunic. Ha! Anyone who's been to a downmarket shopping center lately knows that style never faded away, and is particularly favored by the grossly overweight.

I suppose pretty soon we'll be seeing long, baggy jackets with enormous shoulder pads again too. Which reminds me: Circa 1985, I was at a party at the home of a friend's parents. The host introduced his cousin, a short, rotund, yet flat-chested woman attired in just such a jacket (in a loud print, if memory serves). Never one to mince words--or lower his voice--the host boomed, "If you ask me, those pads are in the wrong place!" We will draw a discreet veil over what ensued.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I wonder what kind of hospital celebrities check into when they're suffering from exhaustion. Surely none I've ever been to. Between the pain from surgery, drug side effects, too-thin mattress, beeping machines (my roommate was wired to all sorts of noisy gizmos), healthcare personnel squelching in and out at all hours, announcements on the P.A. system, roommate's laborious and noisy passages to the john, and her #@%! cellphone with the top-volume "Hallelujah Chorus" ring tone, I hardly got any sleep for two nights. (I was originally slated for just one night--"drive-by surgery," a friend calls it).

Other than that, the hospital stay was fine. The surgery went well, though I ended up needing a 6-inch, rather than 4-inch, plate screwed to my humerus. The incision goes from near the shoulder almost to the elbow on the inside of my arm. I'll have to show the scar when I go through airport metal detectors, as it's easy to fake a doctor's note. ("Wear short sleeves," advised the orthopod.) My arm hurts like bloody hell, but I already can bend my thumb and forefinger more; the hospital staff were kind and helpful; and most amazingly, the salmon I ordered for dinner last night was moist and tender--not the crusty brick I'd feared.

Boy Wonder had to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time over the summer (i.e., just before school begins next week). He loved it, so I brought it with me and read it cover to cover yesterday. I loved it too.

Best of all were the buoyant send-off and return greetings I got from the astonishing number of entries (84!!!) to Miss Snark's Bella Stander Humerus Poetry Contest (posted 15-17 Aug). Here's proof positive that the blogosphere is a community--and a generous, supportive one at that. Thanks again to one and all, especially to those who defended my and Miss Snark's honor against the Nitwit of the Day. I had no idea what an e-ruckus would be stirred up!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Dose of Humer...er...Humor

For three long months, my broken right arm was making steady, if slow, progress. I could move it more, lift heavier objects and--finally!--type with both hands, even though the thumb and first two fingers were dysfunctional. Then a couple of weeks ago things started going rapidly downhill. Now the arm clunks constantly, I can barely move it without pain and I'm back to almost exclusive use of my (non-dominant) left hand.

An Xray last month showed a bone splinter jutting out of the upper humerus--right where the arm hurt most, as I tartly informed my orthopedist. I had a CT scan a week ago, and one image showed the bone shaft looking like this: S
instead of this: O.

So in less than one hour I go to the hospital, where the orthopod will screw a 4" stainless steel plate to the bone. (I was assured that I'd get a special note so I could go through airport metal detectors-- my first worry.) I sent emails so informing my various correspondents. To my enormous surprise, the marvelous Miss Snark, the Literary Agent responded by running a "First (and last!) Bella Stander Get Humerus Poetry Contest."

Good thing my broken ribs and split lips have healed, else reading the entries would be excruciating. As it is, I laughed so hard my face ached. I can tell that some of the poems were written by personal acquaintances ("richly textured" in #5 is my pet-peeve phrase). Beverage Alert for #26, which had me weak with laughter, and a special nod to #10 for the brilliant Robert Frost take-off.

Laughter is indeed the best medicine. Thank you, one and all!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Party Like It's 1929

Can't get to the Riviera for a while? Enjoy reading about riotous drunks--natural and supernatural, tragically and comically violent? Here's the perfect pair of books to read in this exact order:
  1. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith
Fitzgerald explores Great Themes, though not as neatly as in The Great Gatsby. The book is a bit depressing too, but paints a vivid picture of American expats and Europe in the 1920s. The Yanks were like puppies, blithely frisking through the war-blasted landscape while the battered survivors stoically cleaned up after them--and sometimes battered them back.

Thorne Smith inhabits much of the same Riviera terrain (I wonder if they hung out together; and if so, who drank more?), but his book is sparkling with irrepressible joie de vivre and flowing spirits, vinous and spectral. He has a marvelous knack for rendering French verbatim into hilarious English, and you can practically taste the sunlit Meditterranean air.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Too Much Information!

I've been looking at a lot of author websites and bios in the line of work lately, and have been amazed at what I've been learning. To wit: Authors' ages, education history, work history, family make-up, family members' names--spouse, kids, parents, in-laws(!)--pets' breeds & names.

No one needs to know that stuff except family historians and stalkers. The former can get it from you personally. Don't help the latter.

Unless you've written a book on childcare, adoption or parenting, we don't need to know about your kids. Nor should we see their pictures on your website if they're school age or younger. If they're teenage or older, get their permission first.

Similarly, if you haven't written a book about animals, we don't need to know much--if anything--about the pets in your life.

Unless your significant other is your cowriter/illustrator or famous, we don't need to know his/her name either.

The only reason to indicate your age is if you're a Wunderkind like Christopher Paolini or a venerable ancient like Studs Terkel.

It's OK to mention your family (briefly and preferably not by name unless you've written a memoir) on the bio page of your website. Other than that, focus on yourself and your work. Rule of thumb: If you wouldn't put it on a job application, don't put it in your bio.

Good bio:
Joe Shmoe lives in Sullivan County, N.Y., where he spends his non-writing time chest-deep in cold water, hoping to catch a record trout.

Bad bio:
Jane Shmoe lives in Alexandria, Va., with her Chinese engineer husband Phil, 5-year-old twins Amethyst and Tourmaline, and Kerry Blue terrier Seamus.

By happenstance, a few days ago Agent Kristin blogged about TMI (Too Much Information) in authors' query letters. Read and wonder!