Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year's Luck??

Rumor has it the publishing industry grinds to a halt for the entire month of December.

That's why I was surprised to find a request for a partial in my inbox yesterday. Squee! Put the sucker in the mail this morning and so another waiting game begins. By the way, that cryptic post from a few days back? Well! At the prodding of my departing (sniff, sniff, sob, sob) editor at Dorchester Media (publishers of True Romance Magazine), I inquired as to the status of the partial that's been with their novel division for a year. (Yes, THAT submission.) Anyway, the news was pretty good--it's with an editor. More squee.

And while we're on the subject of writing...last night I finished up another story for True Romance using my new plotting tool. Still tweaking it (the tool, not the story)--and learning from it--but I'm encouraged. Have decided to practice writing shorts for awhile, then adapt the modified version to the long stuff. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ripped (off) From The News...

First, from the L.A. Times, a glimmer of hope:

MUSLIMS JOIN IRAQI CHRISTIANS 'TO PLANT THE SEED OF LOVE AGAIN'"

BAGHDAD -- Outside Mar Eliya church, not much had changed since last Christmas: Concrete blocks still surround the building and guards check the IDs of those entering.

But inside, hundreds of Iraqi worshipers -- Christians and Muslims -- were crammed into the overflowing Chaldean Catholic church Tuesday, celebrating the holiday and the fact that they felt safe enough to venture out of their homes to attend Christmas Mass.

"Last year was the year of misery, desperation and sadness," said Samar Jorge Gorges, 33. "But this year is better. So many people attend the Mass and you can see that their praying was joyful."

Read entire story here.


Second, how's this for a chuckle? It seems Chet Fitch (who died last October) was a man with a sense of humor. At Christmas this year, his many friends received greeting cards "from beyond" (in fact, the return address read "Heaven").

Inside, he wrote:

"I asked Big Guy if I could sneak back and send some cards. At first he said no; but at my insistence he finally said, 'Oh well, what the heaven, go ahead but don't [tarry] there.' Wish I could tell you about things here but words cannot explain.

"Better get back as Big Guy said he stretched a point to let me in the first time, so I had better not press my luck. I'll probably be seeing you (some sooner than you think). Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Chet Fitch."

Yes, he'd conspired for years with his barber, keeping her supplied with an updated mailing list and extra money when postal rates went up. This Fall he told her: "You must be getting tired of waiting to mail those cards. I think you'll probably be able to mail them this year."

Sadly, Chet was right; he died a week later.

I'm sure his friends were cheered by hearing from him one last time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, Y'all!



And,hm...don't think I'm not givin' the idea of growing a beard to hide my neck some serious thought. Oh, and hey...if you click to make the picture large, you'll be able to see how my eyes apparently belong to two different people. Good thing I'm not vain or anything.

Much.

(Like I'm not heading for the phone to see if plastic surgeons work on Christmas Day.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Epiphany at 4 a.m.

So, you're probably guessing I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of last minute Christmas gifts I have to buy, right?

Wrong.

I woke up agonizing over my continued inability to move faster on my writing projects. Specifically, the untitled WIP (which I believe appears in last year's resolutions with a projected finish date of January 31--as in 2007), and a short story I'm working on for True Romance. Maybe the source of my insomnia also stemmed from writing friend Brooke's recent reminder that I once studied the snowflake plotting method.

I mean, geesh. What method HAVEN'T I studied?

Then, it came to me. I have to find my own method.

Period.

Perhaps a combo of the stuff I've found useful. Definitely something that attacks my deficiencies and weaknesses.

I have a bit of a plan in mind. (At least it looked good on the blank pages of my mental state with political pundits debating the upcoming primary race on "Morning Joe" playing in the background on MSNBC.) I'm gonna start with a plotting board but this time, instead of ending up with a big blank hunk of cardboard and four colors of post-it notes, I hope to have a computer spreadsheet that mimics it.

Then the hard part.

Figuring out how to make the instrument prod me for the story BEFORE the writing. AND, at the same time, how to get it to organically provide the proper structure and length. I'm convinced that if I can devise a scene-by-scene framework BEFORE I write, I'll increase my productivity by leaps and bounds.

Well, maybe just leaps, but at this point, I'll take leaps.

Hell, I'll take stutter-steps.

Stay tuned.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ho Ho Ho

Notice the lack of exclamation points.

Is Christmas over yet???

Geez, I hate feeling that way...like Christmas is something to get through rather than enjoy. It's almost cliche, and I don't wanna be that bah humbug person. I mean how hard is it, really? For me, anyway. I do most of my shopping on-line (with a big chunk accomplished at Rite-Aid last night--yes, a drug store!), and I don't do any baking or cooking anymore for the office party (which we hold at a restaurant).

I don't even have to wrap a million little presents for kids.

So, WTF?

Christmas carols are playing from a CD on my computer...how come I felt more Christmas-y when I heard them at St. Lucia's version of 7-11 in late October?

Why is writing cards a chore instead of a wonderful opportunity to reach out and touch old friends and relatives?

What's it all about, Alfie?

Okay, I comfort myself, knowing that at some odd moment, the spirit of Christmas may overtake me when I least expect it. I also know that the moment will probably involve alcohol. Preferably a Bailey's and coffee.

Hm. Wonder if we have any in the office kitchen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Britney's Gonna Be An Aunt, Y'all!

Lynn Spears, the mighty matriarchal figure to Britney and Jamie Lyn, got the bad news that her parenting book has been delayed indefinitely. This on the heels of her sixteen-year-old daughter's revelation that she's in the family way (and, man..."family way" takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to the Spears siblings, doesn't it?).

So what I'm wondering is, how did this book get contracted in the first place? Granted, despite the current media hype, it doesn't appear to have been intended as a "how to" book on raising kids. (The title, "Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World" pretty much disputes that, doesn't it?) Still...what a sad state of affairs when a pop culture mom is an "expert" on ANYTHING.

I mean, what pearls of wisdom could we have expected? Chapters on How To Ruin Career(s) With Two, Now Three Fast-swimming Sperm? Adventures in Head Shaving?

I can't help but picture the family meeting over this, the Spears's last hope for cash cow offspring since Britney's career looks doomed. Lynn, with all her savvy experience in a "tabloid world" must have known a certain medical option held too much risk of exposure, leaving them with one choice (forgive the expression). So, Jamie Lynn, a child herself, is having a baby--one with plenty of cousins, thanks to her older sis.

It's enough to make a person long for the days of Madonna and Papa Don't Preach.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Can Waiting ACTUALLY Pay Off?

Seriously?

Honestly?

You're kidding, right?

That's all I'm saying for now. Don't anyone hold your breath. Don't anyone start counting chickens.

Just sayin'...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kill Me Now...

Oh, wait...No. Kill me in utero.

I knew it would come to this eventually.

If, in the future, you happen to be browsing this site and the link doesn't work, feel free to email me to ask what this was about.

By the way, I left a comment...y'know, like, defending my LIFE. Maybe I'll blog about it later.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Waiting for Godot

Ha. Did y'all have to read that in high school? I did. Don't remember what the big "message" was, if there WAS any (which tells you something about my literary prowess), but I always liked the title.

Anyway....so...speaking of waiting...I'd given up on my submission to the Christmas Memories anthology. I figured the book must be out by now and I never received a copy, let alone a final contract.

BUT!

I should know by now that the writing/publishing biz works in mysterious ways. Got an email from the editor today saying the book has been delayed until 2008 and has been retitled "Christmas Through a Child's Eyes" and that although she hadn't seen the galleys, if I was receiving the email, I should be in the book.

Fun, huh?

But...geesh...2008? I have to wait until 2008???

I'd rather wait for Godot.

Whoever/whatever he/she/it turned out to be.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas at The Bellagio





Remember those cool pix I posted of the Conservatory at The Bellagio awhile back? (I'm too lazy to put the link in here, so use your imagination.) Anyway, on Sunday, Ann and I made a point of checking out the Christmas version.















The reindeer are made from pecans! The white flowers you see are carnations, and I don't remember the rest (yes, I make an excellent reporter).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dear Harrah's:

Just a couple recommendations for improvement at your Flamingo Hotel property.

1. Please get with the program and remove alarm clocks from rooms. Waking up at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning was not part of the plan.

2. You know that crack security chick you had patrolling the floors around 3 in the afternoon? Try putting her on the schedule between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. when all the crazies are out slamming doors, running up and down the hall, and generally keeping me from a good night's sleep.

3. That piece of tape substituting for the backing to the remote control doesn't work very well.

Other than that, thanks for the great time. Loved the view.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Fascinating

From dictionary.com:

Fascinating - "of great interest or attraction; enchanting; charming; captivating: a fascinating story; fascinating jewelry"

Let's compare the above with Barbara Walter's ten most fascinating people of 2007 to see how they stack up, shall we?

Hugo Chavez - Now I see where he would have been an obvious choice what with all the power-grabbing he's failed at lately. Not to mention how he called President Bush a donkey. But WTF? Barbara's interview showed him to be, in actuality, a boring schmoe. No charisma and truly no charm.

Don Imus - Personally, I happen to like Don Imus, and I'm glad to see him back on the airwaves. And, okay, the EVENT many months ago was fascinating, but I'm not sure that makes the MAN fascinating. So which radio station did he wind up on? Oh...wasn't it WABC? And which channel was Barbara's special aired on? Oh. I get it.

Katherine Heigle - If I were a betting gal (and y'all know I am), I'd place a hefty wager on the proposition that the majority of Americans have never even heard of this woman. Charming and attractive, yes. But fascinating? Hardly.

The Myspace Guys - Granted, news coverage of Myspace has amped up in recent months (probably because of the sale) but in truth this craze started waaaay before 2007. Come on, Barbara. You're a little late to the party on this one.

Jennifer Hudson - I don't mean to be politically incorrect, but if this is the token pick of color, in my opinion it's a little lacking. Don't get me wrong, the girl oozes charm and talent--I'll give her that. But so do a lot of other Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. What? No Native Americans in the Top Ten?

Jason Timberlake - Hate to say it, but I rescind my earlier post on whether he's brought sexy back. He has. Plus, from what I gather, this is one down-to-earth, well-reared (no pun intended) guy. Good call, Babs.

Bill Clinton - Oh, can we say YAWN? What makes him fascinating THIS YEAR? Just because he happens to be married to a woman running for president? And oh--by the way--doesn't that make HER more fascinating than HIM?

David and Victoria (AKA Posh) Beckham - Okay, worse than yawn-inducing, we're talking coma time. Truly, I can think of no more boring couple. She has zero personality and doesn't smile. He's at least cute if you can get past all the tattoos. Fascinating? Nuh-uh.

J K Rowling - I buy the notion of her being fascinating, but not for 2007, so it's a timing issue. How about when the Harry Potter phenomenon really got underway...say about five years ago??

So, there you have it. The Top Ten Most Fascinating People of 2007 according to Barbara Walters--who's what, about 102? In an interview with Fox's Bill O'Reilly, she confirmed the selection process was less than scientific. In fact, there WAS no process. Oh, she says she discussed (argued about) them with her producer, but she had the last word.

Which probably explains the omission of Rosie O'Donnell from the list, huh? I mean, if Don Imus makes it, doesn't the ex-View detonator qualify?

Now that I've dissed Barbara's choices, you're probably wondering about mine. I'm workin' on it, okay? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Desperate Housewives

No, not me. Hahahaha. Although, if I WERE a housewife, I'd probably be the desperate kind.

I'm talking about the television show. I love love love when I learn about storytelling from a medium other than books. In this case, the lessons are abundant, including HOW NOTs and HOW TOs.

'Cuz one season (last season?) the show just sucked big time. Too many tangents, too many characters we didn't grow to love. Besides the whole mystery of the guy in the basement getting tedious, somehow they lost what they do best: combine comedy and drama.

This year, they've got it back in spades.

I may be biased, but to me it starts with the writing. From good writing comes great characters. From great characters comes riveting stories. Check it out:

There's:

Ditsy Susan--the TSTL (too stupid to live character) who redeems herself with a substance abuse storyline.
Manic Mom Lynette--the least-likely-to-be-a-mom-yet-has-four-kids character gets the cancer storyline
Bree--the Stepford wife character--gets the heartbreak of disappointing kids storyline
Gabriella--the simpering high-maintenance beauty character--gets the passionate-yet-impossible-love storyline
And last but not least--Edie--the woman who flaunts her sexuality and isn't afraid to use it as a tool--gets the unrequited love storyline.

I'm just saying. Being hooked on Desperate Housewives defines the meaning of guilty pleasure.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Nano Wrap-Up

Hm. By the looks of my calendar, NaNoWriMo ended at midnight on Friday...and...um...well, I guess I didn't make it to 50,000, did I? Not sure what the final total wound up at...nor whether I wrote more than I ordinarily would have. Bottom line, I wrote the beginning of one story, two entire short stories, the beginning of a third, and (hold your ears against the cymbal crash), about 750 words on ye old Untitled WIP.

Oh, and when I really slammed into the proverbial writing wall, I wrote queries. Actually sent them out, too.

Y'spose that counts?