Friday, March 30, 2007

The Undomestic Goddess

My friend Suzanne has been telling me for years that I must read Sophie Kinsella’s books, and I’ve just never gotten around to it. But earlier this month I had to make a long car trip, so I dashed into the library and checked out the audio version of Kinsella’s The Undomestic Goddess (a departure from her more well-known Shopaholic books) to entertain me on my journey. (Trust me, when you’re driving for hours. . . and hours. . . and hours along I-70 into western Kansas, you need entertainment.)

And Suzanne was right. The Undomestic Goddess was a hoot—funny and fresh, with a feisty, often clueless, but totally sympathetic main character named Samantha Sweeting. And somehow, even though a summary of the plot sounds far-fetched (high-powered London attorney makes a mistake that costs her firm and her client a fortune, runs away in a mortified daze, and, even though she can’t cook and doesn’t have the first idea about cleaning, accidentally lands a job as housekeeper at a country estate and, of course, falls for the gardener), Kinsella makes the whole thing pretty believable.

As I said, this was on CD, and although I haven’t listened to enough audio books to even pretend to be an expert, I do know that a good narrator can truly enrich a story. I recently listened to one narrator whose voice was so cloying, I could barely finish the book. This version of The Undomestic Goddess, however, is narrated by Rosalyn Landor, a British actress and true voice pro (a quick Google search tells me she’s done lots of voice work for animated TV shows and movies, including “The Incredibles”). Landor gives each character a distinct voice perfect for that individual. It’s worth listening to the CD just to hear her nasally interpretation of Trish, Samantha’s newly wealthy manor-house employer.

Ed Asner, who does the audio versions of many of Carl Hiaasen’s books, is another terrific narrator. He slips easily into each character’s voice without drawing attention to himself, and his voice has a sureness that lets you sink into the book and relax, knowing you’re in good hands. He’s so good, you forget you’re listening to somebody read. He’s so good, I’d listen to any book he narrated, no matter who the author or what the subject.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kansas Author Dinner

Each year the Kansas Center for the Book invites Kansas authors to attend the Kansas Author Dinner at the annual library Tri-Conference (sponsored by the Kansas Library Association, the Kansas Association of School Librarians, and the Kansas Association for Educational Communications and Technology). So—yay! hooray!—on Thursday, April 12, I’ll be in Topeka, munching on barbecue with librarians from all over the state.

This will be my second Author Dinner, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a brilliant way for authors and librarians to get together, and this year it’s closer to home (last year it was in Wichita, which is a great city, but makes for a long drive), so it should be a truly enjoyable evening.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Trip to the Dental College

Three things you never want to hear your dentist say:

“I hope you brought lucky charms with you. The last two crowns I tried to put on didn’t fit. ”

“Oh, did I mention we’re out of anasthetic?”

“Well, let’s give it a shot and see how it goes.”

But today, within the first three minutes of my 11th (yes—11th; that’s not a typo) visit to the dental college to try to get my old crown replaced, my dental student uttered all three. I was also treated to this little exchange:

Dental Student: “Mrs. Harkrader has been very patient. This is the second time we’ve tried to to fit her crown.”

Faculty Dentist: “Yeah, it’s after the seventh or eighth try when the patience starts to run out.”

(Me: !!!!!!!!!!!)

Sadly, I had not thought to bring lucky charms with me, so no, the second permanent crown did not fit. So my dental student had to pack this stuff that looks like really fat dental floss up under my gums again (isn’t this how the Nazis practiced dentistry?) and take a third impression. I couldn’t even scream in frustration because my dental student and his faculty advisor both had their latex-gloved hands halfway down my throat.

At this point I’d rather they just carve me a wooden George Washington tooth and release me from the dental nightmare.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Speaking of Suzanne. . .

My friend Suzanne Lieurance, who started the Kansas City Writers’ Meetup I spoke at last week, is a writing coach as well as a writer. Her program is called The Working Writer’s Coach, and she has recently started a coaching program especially for children’s writers, The Writing for Children Center.