Thursday, May 31, 2007
Anyway, where to begin? How about the beginning? Let’s just get one thing out of the way: Marty and Ann picked me up at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning and...well...long-term blog readers can predict the stop at McDonald’s on the way to the airport, right? Right. (Oh, come on, M & A—you KNEW I was gonna tattle.)
The good news is, we arrived at the Burbank Airport having achieved a nearly impossible--almost UNHEARD of—feat. Namely, we got there at just the right time. Not too early, not too late. You Los Angeles natives will understand what that means. However, the bad news was, our flight was delayed an hour.
Okay, back up for a side note. Originally, we were scheduled to fly Southwest. For reasons that only Ann and I seemed to share, a couple weeks ago, we switched to American...without, er, informing Marty. As it turns out, (hey, I’m not married—what do I know?) changing travel arrangements do NOT go over well with some husbands. So, as the clerk announced that some freakin’ monster storm was attacking Dallas, Marty FUMED. See, apparently, if we were still on Southwest, we’d be flying through HOUSTON which, apparently, doesn’t HAVE freakin’ monster storms.
Eventually, we suck it up.
Our plane is now scheduled to leave at ten. Well, not exactly, they inform us. We need to PUSH BACK at ten. Then we’re gonna sit on the runway an hour. Oh, this thrills me to no end. Marty fumes some more. At least we’re traveling First Class; maybe they’ll ply us with cocktails.
And they do. Which is a good thing, since my seatmate imparts the sad info that SHE spent the morning sitting on an EARLIER flight (7 a.m.!) for an hour before they CANCELLED the flight and DEPLANED. At this point, I start praying because if it gets any worse, Marty will kill Ann and me for sure. Hell, I might kill MYSELF. Oh, and it doesn’t get any better when the pilot announces he’s now hoping to get us off the ground by eleven fricking thirty. Connections to New Orleans are starting to look iffy. A night in Dallas is starting to look possible.
Ann and I are in such deep shit.
And then...a miracle...the pilot suddenly comes over the P.A. to say, “we’re outta here.” And it’s only about 10:30! Yippee!!
Seatmate No. 1: Shauna. Consultant for the Department of Defense and the Homeland Security Guys. Trying to get to a meeting in Pensacola. We spent the flight discussing men, relationships, and the Israeli/Palestinian sitch.
Okay, moving on. Landed in Dallas, two hour layover, took off for New Orleans. Seatmate No. 2: Dina. Energy Management Specialist for La Quinta Hotel chain. At first I thought it was a bogus title, but then she told me interesting stuff about thermostats in their hotels, and how they can manage them from off-site to conserve energy. Also on the discussion table: friends who’ve circled the drain due to drugs and alcohol.
Landed in New Orleans. Man, the airport was like a ghost town. And, maybe it’s me and I was kinda projecting my feelings into the ambience, but the whole place felt...well, beaten down. Like if Katrina hadn’t come along, this place was due for a makeover and probably would’ve gotten it, but now those funds are going elsewhere. Just a hunch.
Picked up our car, and headed toward Biloxi. At this point, it’s now dark—which Marty points out quite frequently, since...as we all know by NOW, if we’d flown on SOUTHWEST, we would have flown through Houston, and blah, blah, blah...
But it’s about ten minutes into the 90-minute drive, when our OWN freaking monster storm its. I advise Marty to locate the windshield wipers before it gets really bad.
Uh. He can’t find them.
I advise Marty to pull over onto the shoulder.
Uh. He can’t seem to see well enough to follow that advice.
Eventually he does. We sit on the shoulder for five minutes before finding the wipers. Meanwhile, trucks are speeding by so fast, they nearly wipe us off the road.
Proceed toward our destination through lightning and pouring rain...which, as y’all recall...we Californians haven’t seen in quite some time, and aren’t altogether comfortable or familiar driving in. Especially when, NOW THE WINDSHIELD’S fogging up and we can’t figure out how to defrost it.
Another trip to the shoulder.
Suffice to say...journey FROM HELL but we made it, after all.
By eleven o’clock we were down at the casino, having no luck...took a break to have dinner at the Waffle House at midnight. Mmmmm. Patti-melts to die for accompanied by hash browns, not fries. (Good idea!) Then we meandered over to the Beau Rivage—a gorgeous hotel, originally built by Steve Wynn.
So far, I haven’t quite gotten a grasp on things down here. For instance, we’re at Harrah’s Grand Hotel. Ann and Marty remember it being on the other side of the street. Well, it was. THAT Harrah’s Grand Hotel is gone; what they’re calling the Grand Hotel now was a convention center/hotel turned into a casino and purchased by Harrah’s. Many of the hotels don’t appear to be open yet (like, the Hard Rock Café), but some are. Not a whole lot of traffic along the “strip” last night, and mostly locals at the hotel.
One thing I got a kick out of: our valet, when asked about Katrina, kept referring to it as “the storm.”
Well...I can only further report that a late night hand of double aces in Texas Hold ‘em brought me back to about even.
Today we’re gonna take it easy—do some lolling around by the pool, and maybe get down to the beach. More thunderstorms are perdicted, so wish us luck.
Oh, and when it got windy last night—and, I mean WINDY—don’t think we all didn’t get a bit nervous. After all, tomorrow’s the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Off to see if I can figure out how to load this to my blog.
Adios for now!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
In the meantime, guess what was in my mailbox today?? My THIRD (but who's counting) contract from Dorchester--another short story for True Romance. I'm lovin' these!! So, along with the one just out in May, now I'll have another one in July, and a one in August. At this rate, who needs the kind of advance paid for a novel-length story?
Okay, kidding. I do.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Betcha can't guess, huh? Okay, I'll help ('cuz that's what I'm here for). Anna Margarita de la Cruz and the dashing Senor, and I went to Citywalk Universal Studios. The first picture depicts the view from upstairs overlooking...something. I forget what, and you can't really tell, can you? The second is of the stage at Howl At The Moon. Dueling pianos stuff. Fun!
Yep, tonight I wiped out all the links to Triskelion Publishing and my book, Stealing Amy. I'm not going to dissect or rehash what's been going on with them. Suffice to say that I, along with the rest of their authors, were given the opportunity to take back the rights to our books when some stuff hit the fan. At the time, I elected not to for two reasons: 1) the company didn't breach my contract, so I believed I should honor my end of the bargain, and 2) once a book has been "published"--whether in e-format or print, it's not likely to get published elsewhere.
I came to that decision after much soul-searching because, believe me, the temptation was there, to yank my book. I didn't say anything publicly at the time, but the cringe factor started to build--especially in terms of what I see as my reputation.
Anyhoo, then the rumors started buzzing tonight about another management shake-up. My guess is that whether I take back my rights or not is now a moot decision. We'll see.
In the meantime, I checked out their (our!) author blog tonight to see if any official word had been put out about the rumor. That's when I decided I couldn't be associated with them anymore. At the risk of pissing a few people off, let's just say the post I read isn't what I deem appropriate as a public representation of an entire group of authors.
Straw that broke the camel's back, if you will.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Here’s the deal. Remember the GM advertising campaign that went something like: “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”? (Okay, bad example. I just googled that and discovered it was one of the biggest flops of all time.)
Whatever. Nevertheless. The truth is, it's time to revamp the pageant franchise for a new generation...with lessons from the past and present.
See, I grew UP on the things. I remember when the shows weren't one-shot deals squeezed in between the national and local news. I remember when they were week-long, nightly, EVENTS. Way back then--yes, I'm talking the 50's and 60's--over the course of "pageant week," we inevitably chose our favorites, rooting them on for the length of the competition.
Hm. Kinda like some other shows I can think of.
Yep, girls in my generation grew up wanting to be Miss America. Now they wanna be the next American Idol....the winning bachelorette...the Survivor.
See, Donald...here's the thing: what's better television? Beautiful women answering lame questions about how to save the world, or beautiful women eating bugs? Huh? I rest my case.
Well, no I don't. I got more. What's better television? Beautiful women on stage in bathing suits, or beautiful women in bikinis showering together under a waterfall? I rest my case.
Well, no I don't. I got more. What's better television? Beautiful women in evening gowns, or beautiful women with tear-streaked faces lamenting lost love? Huh?
Finally, in this day and age, thank GOD, it doesn't have to be about beautiful women. I mean, it doesn't even have to be about WOMEN period. Yes, Donald...I'm saying it's time to allow men into the Miss America pageant. (And after all the bitching we've done about Augusta National, I can't believe some guy hasn't already made a stink about this.)
Anyway, what I'm saying is, call up your buddy Mark Burnett (after all, he's not saddled with The Apprentice anymore) and see if you guys can turn Miss America and Miss Universe into the reality shows they TRULY USED TO BE.
And if I've failed to convince you, just snag a copy of American Idol's finale show and fast forward to the last few minutes. Watch Jordin Sparks, in her pageant-like evening gown, get "crowned" the new American Idol.
I'm telling ya, Don. The only thing missing is the tiara.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I'm kinda enamored--first, because who doesn't like a word with a q, but second, because it's onaomontapeic, y'know? I got to wondering where these pop culture words come from...and if, per usual, I'm a little late to the party on this one. So I googled it and damned if it didn't show up in Wikipedia. Does that mean it's already in the dictionary? Like, it's a real word? I'm too lazy to check. But while I was there, I noticed it's also an animal from the computer game, Mist, so maybe that's where it originated. Or, in a second Wikipedia reference, Squee is a recurring character in something called, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac...and, I'm like, huh? Suddenly, squee's not feeling so...well...squee.
While we're on the subject of words, I'd like to bring up a few I absolutely detest, abhor, need banished from the planet like, now. Yes, we're talking the double A's: amazing and awesome. Please, People. The last time I used "awesome" was in 1962 when I visited the Grand Canyon. Unless you've been there lately, or you've visited the pyramids or something, this one shouldn't be in your vocabulary, either. Ditto with "amazing" to describe mundane stuff like the Chopped Chicken Salad you had at the corner bistro last week.
Because at the end of the day....Wait!!! Stop the presses!! More overused verbal crap! This one I blame on corporate America, and if you're using it, you just aren't even trying.
Argh. Speaking of words, Blogreader Joe just sent me an email with the news that I used the wrong word in yesterday's post about the Sopranos. Off to research and revise....
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Over its ten seasons, I haven’t been a rabid Sopranos fan. The language, the violence (who can forget that guy kicking the living crap out of the hooker), and the convoluted mob stuff…just not my thing.
So when I heard (spoiler alert!) that Tony killed off Christopher, I decided to catch up on this season’s episodes. Why? Because in storytelling there ain’t nothing better than patricide, right? I knew enough, from my meager viewing, that for Tony to kill a man he looked upon as a son must involve deep, emotional, conflict. ***Okay, Blogreader Joe has brought to my attention that patricide refers to the killing of one's father (duh). The word I was looking for, as it turns out, was filicide. Huh. Why doesn't that sound familiar??
First lesson in story conflict? Torture your hero by putting him in a no-win situation. Better yet, make it a situation involving a moral dilemma. And we’re not talking about having to choose between right and wrong. Anyone can make that decision. No, the best internal conflict comes from having to choose between TWO WRONGS, or (to use Jenny Crusie’s words) sucky and suckier.
That’s why I eagerly watched the episodes leading up to the “death of Christopher.” When he modeled the hero in his movie after Tony, portraying him as a wacko bully, I went: “Uh-oh.” When he got involved in a pissing match with Tony’s second-in-command, I tsk-tsked. When his mobster pals convinced a “clean and sober” Christopher he didn’t “belong” anymore, I saw the writing on the wall.
All the ingredients were in place for a showdown between Tony and Christopher.
Only it didn’t happen the way I pictured it.
High on drugs, Christopher got them into a car wreck, and as he struggled for breath, Tony pinched off his nose to obstruct the only available airway.
Okay, maybe it’s me, but I didn’t see this as a huge moral dilemma, fraught with conflicting emotions on Tony’s part. First of all, the writers used an accident as the vehicle (no pun intended) to set up the scene. I’d rather have witnessed the two men making a sequence of decisions that consciously and deliberately brought them to a clash of destinies. Second, clearly, it was curtains for ol’ Chris anyway, whether Tony lifted a finger or not. I mean, globs of blood gurgling out of a guy’s mouth can’t be a promising sign of survival. So…did Tony put him out of his misery a la “They Shoot Horses Don’t They”? Not much evidence of that either, because Tony’s expression was flat. No regret, no remorse…no glee, either. Just…nothing. And what about Christopher? Where was the electrifying moment where we should have seen some nonverbal message pass between the two? Was I sleeping?
Okay, granted. In a subsequent scene, Tony expressed relief to his shrink…but it was a dream sequence. I guess we’re supposed to be horrified by this subconscious revelation, but to me it wasn’t enough.
Then Tony goes off to Vegas where he personally breaks the news to a lady friend of Christopher’s, and they get high and jump each other’s bones. Still no real expression on Tony’s face except maybe the manic euphoria during the sunrise scene. But was that the drugs talking??
I wanted to see angst. The huge, gut-wrenching, moral angst of a man forced to choose between his son and his future.
But then maybe that’s the point. I heard one of those TV analysts say we’re finally seeing Tony Soprano for what he is: a cold-blooded murderer. I say, huh? So all those other murders didn’t count? As long as he was a loving husband and father, we could forgive the other deaths? Ah, but see…the difference is (if I recall correctly), Tony displayed at least a modicum of emotion during those other episodes—whether it was guilt, compassion…nonchalance. Something.
I got nothing from Tony Soprano ending Christopher’s life.
And as a writer, I feel ripped off.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I pulled into one of two empty parking spaces behind the bar at which I was meeting friends, gathered up my purse, and stepped from the car. About five strides later, my toe hit something, promptly halting all forward motion which, you guessed it, sent me crashing (palms first) onto the asphalt.
(Okay, before you think this was an alcohol-induced moment, hold on. There'll be illustrations later.)
For a split second, I lay there taking inventory. No broken bones. Bonus.
A car crept by, and a guy lowered his window to ask if I was okay. (Side note: has anyone in the entire world, since time began, answered NO in such an embarrassing situation?) "Yes, I'm fine," I assured him. Meanwhile, splayed on the ground seemed the perfect position from which to track down all the crap that flew out of my purse when I fell. Cell phone, keys, random change. I really should start heeding Blogreader Joe's admonitions to keep my purse zipped.
Anyway, I scrambled to my feet, proving my fitness to concerned onlooker car-guy, then checked for damage. Blood and bruises on my left knee, right shin, and right palm--but otherwise, nothing serious. I turned to see what had caused this potential disaster and located it right away. In a parking lot big enough to hold about eight cars, a random berm-like structure jutted out beyond one of the occupied spaces. Some clever soul had painted the top white, but left the sides natural.
Uh, hello? Thanks for making the damn thing look like a stripe!
Oh, well. As long as I didn't break any bones. And maybe I can take it as a sign osteoporosis is a long way off.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
We're talking Sunday, Mother's Day, and okay...to tell you the truth, there was no river. Just a series of freakishly long winding roads. As the crow flies, Mike and Susie's is about twenty minutes away, and yes, although I can almost flap my arms and get lift-off, I was forced to drive. I took a two-lane road from my house through the Malibu mountains to Pacific Coast Highway, hung a right along the glittering blue ocean, then another right onto an even skinnier two-lane road. From there I climbed back up into the mountains until I forked onto a single lane road (sans middle white stripe), then a right onto a dirt road. This is the one I always pray won't result in a punctured tire or--even worse--a punctured whosis in the underbelly of my slightly low-slung car.
As I made my final approach, I remembered what brother Barry said the first time he made the trek: "Driving along that last stretch, I was sure this would be our last visit...until I saw the house...and the view."
Yep, stunning. So here now, for your viewing pleasure, some pictures I took on Sunday. Please note that as a Mother's Day present to mom Annie, I took NO pictures of her. It's an age thing, I guess.
P.S. Doggie Daisy is part wolf. Cool.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Today's discovery can be found here at a review site called Bare Essensuals. Hey, I swear I didn't pay her for the kind words! Imagine that! And we're not even related!
After giving a pretty damn good synopsis of the book (better than, er, I probably wrote myself), Michelle expressed this opinion:
"I liked this book from beginning to end. It was a fun and fast read. The heroine made me laugh out loud and her attitude about everything made me wish that I thought more like that. Even as someone kept taking over her identity and getting her in trouble she tried to carefree. Combine her with the sexy but uptight hero and it made for a great read. Best of all, the heroine saved herself in the end, while Nick had to come to his own conclusions and take care of his own issues that had been plaguing him. The characters were well built and the addition of several side character, including Amy’s rather neurotic mother and the alcohol swilling bad guy with many faces.
I read this all in one sitting. The pacing and tone of the book was well done – there was fun and suspense, a very hard combination but it worked here. I will definitely look forward to reading more from this author."
She wrapped things up by giving it a FIVE (on a 1 to 5 scale, 5 being best)....YIPPEE!
Monday, May 14, 2007
Don't forget to run out and buy the May issue of True Romance Magazine. (It WAS on your shopping list, right?) As, er, highlighted to the left, the story you wanna look for is titled "Party of Two--Catering to our Romance." No, you won't see my name anywhere; you'll just have to take my word that I wrote it. And don't worry--the trouble you encounter finding a local distributor won't be for nothing, because...come JULY...you'll get to run out and buy the SECOND story I sold them. Stay tuned for the title.
Friday, May 11, 2007
So I got my latest rejection on Leftovers. If you're keeping count, that's only about three or four. Drop in the bucket according to those in the know. Still...it's disheartening, isn't it? This particular agent read the first 50 pages. She had nice things to say. Very nice things. Even *almost* specific enough to lead me to believe the letter was tailored to me, but I'm no dummy. It was a form letter. I'm wondering now if agents have their A, B, C, and D letters.
Y'know. Like D would be:
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read your chapters. Unfortunately, (insert one here: my list is full right now and I'm not taking on new clients and/or I just didn't feel passionate enough to get behind the work). As you know, the publishing world is totally subjective; another agent might feel differently, so I encourage you to continue your search (or words to that effect).
Letter C is more like the one I got today:
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read your chapters. Although you write well, the plot is well-conceived and the characters are well-drawn, I just didn't feel passionate enough to get behind the work. Cue the rest of letter D.
Letter B is one I don't seem to be able to get:
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read your chapters. Although you write well, the plot is well-conceived, and the characters are well-drawn, I just didn't feel passionate enough to get behind the work. I do love your voice however, and feel your work has promise; do you have other material I can look at? (An alternate to that last sentence is the one that reads thusly: please feel free to send me anything else you have.)
Letter A is the one I've only gotten once (well, outside of the ebook I sold, which I'm not counting):
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read your chapters. I find I remain interested in this project and would like to see more. Please send the entire manuscript.......
Sigh. Moving on.
Oh, I submitted an 800-word piece to an anthology yesterday. Got some positive feedback, but nothing's a slam dunk, is it?
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Last weekend, I watched a comedy show during which Carlos Mencia referred to white people as "crackers." I watched a political discussion digress into "amusing" banter about blonde women, and I don't have to tell you where that led. The point is that race isn't the only criteria by which we as a society separate ourselves from others just to feel superior.
I don't personally know ONE PERSON who isn't guilty of some form of prejudice.
And it cracks me up that we think firing a person is progressive. If anything, getting rid of Imus allowed us to anesthetize ourselves into believing the rabbit crawled back into the hat.
Meanwhile, on this morning's Mark and Brian radio show, Mark recounted hearing Stevie Wonder's song "Living For the City"--on SATELLITE radio over the weekend. Remember that song? Having been a disk jockey back in the day, Mark remembered the shorter, edited, radio version, and the longer, unedited album version which contained the N-word. Well, guess what. In 2007, the unedited version on SATELLITE radio, became the EDITED version without the N-word. Now, come on, people. This song was recorded in the 70's, for God's sake. To me, taking out the N-word is like re-writing the author's story.
What's next? Covering up the genitalia on all those offensive statues? Oh, wait. Didn't someone in the Bush administration already try to do that?
Monday, May 07, 2007
I want all media types who make fun of fat people fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of skinny people fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of gay people fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of people with eating disorders fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of people who live in trailers fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of people whose advanced years cause them to move slowly or take their time remembering stuff fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of people who flip burgers for a living fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of people who aren't fashion forward fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of the way Asian people drive fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of teenagers with bad skin fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of bald men fired immediately.
I want all media types who make fun of Californians fired immediately.
While we're at it, let's expunge the air waves of all comedy performances taped for broadcast before May of this year.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
|You Don't Need a Man ... or Want One!|
Generally, you're very happy being a single woman.
And anyone who has a problem with that... well, that's there problem.
Not that you wouldn't share your life with the almost perfect guy.
You simply won't settle though. Your life is too good to share with some substandard man!
Turns out this guy's grandson is in the class...and the guy is none other than....
Yep. Just think of it. Bob Dylan serenading the pals of his grandson. The time's they are a-changin' all right. When did we all get so old?
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Anyway, let's make one thing clear. Brooke made me do it. Last year, we went to Atlanta unencumbered by dreaded appointments, which allowed us to have The. Best. Time. Ever.
So, why why why...? Why this year?
Beats the hell out of me, frankly. All I know is, we west coast people have to get up before six, make sure our fingers are up to the task of furious typing, log into our RWA accounts and....hands poised over keys...
Click, Refresh. Server's busy.
Click, Refresh, Repeat.
I got out of bed for this?????
See, the trouble is...I'm already low on the pecking order. Appointments opened up days ago for the current Golden Heart Finalists (as if THEY need extra help) and next came past winners and finalists. Now, today, May 1st, it's Pro and Pan members' turns. Well, guess what? This year, the pickings looked pretty slim to begin with, so I'm not hopeful for
WHENEVER THE FRIGGIN' SITE GETS FIXED.
I'm so frustrated I could...I could...I could smoke. Ha. So there.