Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spaced Out

Okay, on Thursday, I composed a nice little rant, then forgot to post it. Friday came and went, same thing. Forgot about it. Now it's on my computer at the office and it'll be Monday before I can toss it up here. By then it'll probably be even more outdated than it already was. But take my word for it, the damn thing had Imus, Baldwin, and Rosie O'Donnell...what could be better?


Chalk it up to this stuff, and that's all I'm gonna say about it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

David Halberstam

It must have been about September of 1973 when I read David Halberstam’s “The Best And The Brightest.” The Fall Quarter of my junior year in college was about to begin and armed with my course schedule, I eagerly visited the campus bookstore to load up on assigned reading. I still remember how I’d get “intellectual goose bumps” from shaking hands with the assorted materials that would shape my world for the coming months.

On this particular day, I went straight for the shelves containing books for my Foreign Policy class. I picked up "The Best And The Brightest"--and nearly fainted. Nine hundred frigging pages. And it was only one of the ten titles required. Yikes.

I decided to get a head start, so even before school began, I cracked it open and started reading…and pretty much didn’t put it down again until I’d finished (which, you can well imagine, was a unique experience when it came to a “textbook”).

I was enthralled...and an instant fan.

So much so that somewhere around the Fall of 1976, when I saw in the newspaper that David Halberstam would be giving a talk at a local college, I couldn’t wait to go…only I didn’t know anyone who’d go with me. That was when I first realized that in life, you have to be prepared to do things on your own, or risk never doing them at all. So I went by myself, sitting a little self-consciously toward the back. First he gave a talk, then he opened things up for questions.

I had one in mind. I desperately wanted to ask about his research process. How he kept the massive amount of facts straight that went into a tome like "The Best and the Brightest." I sat there with my palms getting sweaty, scared to death my hand would involuntarily shoot up in the air, asking to be called on.

But, I was too shy. I never made a peep.

Still...I never forgot my "brush" with author greatness, and I'm saddened by his untimely passing.

Friday, April 20, 2007

This Just In...

Forget those smoothies from Jamba Juice.

Throw out all that wheat germ crap.

And, dammit, Blogreader Joe, if I hear you're still knocking back spirulina....when you could be making those free radicals behave and boosting your antioxidant capacity by drinking none other than...FROU-FROU COCKTAILS complete with gaily decorated paper umbrellas!

Okay, I'm not joshing ya, folks. It's all there in black and white in my LA Times today. A joint study conducted by U.S. and Thai researchers (bless their hearts), and reported in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. In their attempt to find a way to keep strawberries fresh, they added alcohol, and voila! Instant health drink!

I'd keep writing...but I'm off to fight cancer with a strawberry margarita.

Wow. Some days are just exceptional, aren't they?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Hm. I wrote half a post in MS Word, then my computer ate it. Maybe it's a sign. Yeah, think I'll ix-nay the topic I was going to write about....and instead...

Guess what was in the mail on Friday? A comp copy of the May issue of True Romance--with my first EVER story to appear in PRINT! They re-titled it (big surprise) so now you have to look for the one with: "Party For Two--Catering Our Romance" (you'll see it on the lower right hand corner of the cover). The best part was getting to let my parents read it (since, y'know, there's no S-E-X in it). I would have scanned and posted the cover, but I let them keep it. Oh, and don't go looking for my name 'cuz they don't print authors' names. My theory is, we're all (readers and writers alike) playing this pretend game that the stories are true. Anyway, it was still a thrill. Can't wait for July's issue, too!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

So, time's a-wasting...are your taxes signed, sealed, and off to the mailbox? (Or, better yet, winging their way through cyberspace?)

I tried. I really did. Turns out Turbo-tax doesn't like Windows 98 (which, of course, they neglected to mention until I'd PAID for and DOWNLOADED the damn thing). Next, I noticed they had an on-line version for us morons still using the antiquated operating system. Fine, I'd use it.

Only, it's next-to-impossible, because the on-line software doesn't let you override stuff. Doesn't let you go directly to a form and fill stuff in. So, for example, I'd have to go back to day one and input all the historical data on my real estate rentals to get the proper depreciation. Ugh.

Next I tried other on-line services. Just give me the forms, I cried. All I want are the forms.

No way. (Except for California State--they provide a nice little fill-in-the-blanks PDF version you can complete and print. Not save, mind you. Still...)

Anyway, I guess I'm finished. I basically did it all by hand. Manually. (I know...plenty of room for errors, huh?) But, the truth is, I only came up with one bottom line number...unlike last year, where each time I attacked it brought forth a new result.

Guess it's time to take the deep breath and put in the mail.

And hope for the best.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Lazy Girl's Route To Brainstorming

Jenny Crusie fans are familiar with her use of collages to brainstorm her fabulous books. Well, I was browsing her blog the other night and discovered she's found some software for making them on the computer. As soon as I saw the picture, I thought: THIS IS FOR ME.

See, I'm not an artistic person; I don't do well with glue sticks and scissors. But I AM kinda visual. I ACHE to see stuff pictorially, which is why I also like spreadsheets. Anyway, I hunted up the software but, dammit, apparently it's only available for MAC users.

But...but...there MUST be something for us PC slackers, right? I surfed around but didn't find anything suitable.

Finally thought about the way I make my web pages on sitebuilder. Hm. Yeah, I thought, that might work. (Okay, so later, my CP's said I could have done the same thing using MS Word. Duh, they were right.)

Anyway, view the result here at my website (click on the link that comes up in the box). It's not finished, but it represents my WIP...yeah, that one without the title. (Oh, and it may take a moment to load 'cuz it's lots of pictures.)

Fun though, huh?

Friday, April 13, 2007

From The Valley To The Peak!

Bleh. What a day yesterday. And I thought WEDNESDAY was bad.

Let's just say the highlight (insert sarcasm here) was when Jeremiah managed to get the company truck impounded on the way to delivering a chamber to a customer. Long story.

Phones still working only intermittently.

Main printer working only intermittently.

Vendor hounding us for big bucks--only it's hard to justify paying for something that was DESTROYED in shipment.

Anyway, enough of the negativity. To improve my mood, I phoned the de la Cruz's and talked them into dinner at BJ's. Afterward, Martay decided we needed more libations so we meandered up the street to try out the new bistro in town. Man, oh, man. Can't vouch for the food, but Mastro's definitely has it going on in the ambience department. I mean, how often do you come across a restaurant with an honest-to-goodness piano bar? Yum!

We finally dragged our butts out of there at...ten? eleven?...anyway, past my bedtime...and when I got home, guess what I found in the mail?

Another contract from Dorchester for a short story submission! Yippeeeeee! I LOVE seeing their envelopes amidst all the casino offers and bills!

And that, boys in girls, is how my day went from a valley to a peak!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What Did I Do??

If I were wearing one of those stupid mood rings from the 60's, it's color would be RED because I'm feeling extremely cranky. Turns out, the Technology Gods really have it in for me today.

First, I arrived at the office to find our network down. Might I add our IT guy is on extended vacation somewhere half-way around the world? Luckily, the instructions he left actually succeeded. Network's back up; score one for ME.

Second crisis, the phones stop working. Correction. They ring, you can tell a caller's there, but the static's so loud you can't understand what he's saying. Except, of course, that he's cussing you out--something to do with a chamber that was supposed to be delivered Friday, then Monday, then Tuesday, then today...but we don't have a truck to deliver it with because SOMEONE took it on some kind of service call up north without bothering to mention it to anyone...

Then there's the tug-o'-war between Pac Bell and the phone manufacturer. It's not our problem, it's theirs. Nuh-uh. It's theirs.

Mysteriously, after Pac Bell runs a diagnostic and pronounces the lines free of problems, they start working. We keep the Monday (Monday??) appointment with the phone manufacturer in case the system starts acting up again. Meanwhile, Pac Bell tries to talk us into paying a one-time $79 fee that will cover the cost of a service call in the event we need one. Otherwise, we'll be charged at the rate of $89 for the first hour and $25 for every fifteen minute increment thereafter.

Isn't this blackmail?

Anyway, third, our main printer croaked. Well, it TRIES to work, but jams every time. I don't even know where to begin resurrecting it.

Okay, so at least I don't have Don Imus's problems which, by the way, I'm composing a blog about, so stay tuned. I still would've been better off staying in bed today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Because We All Have Nothing Better To Do...

Someone came up with yet ANOTHER way to waste our precious moments. This time, it's BEBO and you can see my page here. Be sure to scroll down and take my quiz (it's on the left); you may learn something interesting about me.

Or, not.

Ooh...and now, just added for your political pleasure, cast your vote in my poll about what should happen to Don Imus. (It's below the quiz.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Stop Me If You've Heard This Before...

...but DAMN, the book I'm working on now is good.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I said the same thing a couple months ago, didn't I? And, guess what? I haven't written one new word.

This is the Nano project again--the one without a title that, I swear to God, will probably end up being "The Nano Project" forever. I read it again last night, and I wuv, wuv, wuv it. The only problem--the one that keeps sending me off to other writerly things like editing old manuscripts and submitting to True Romance--is that the plot is waaaay complex. Too complex for my brain? Maybe. Hope not.

I made some notes last night. See, the way it work is this: you got your hero and heroine. Then you got your secondary characters--about eight in all. My plot requires each of them to have a separate motive for killing the hero and heroine. (Are you following so far? Yeah, me either). So I connected all the dots pretty well, except a couple dots are kinda cliche and obvious. Those I have to work on. And one character is stumping me. Can't figure out her motive for killing anyone...which kinda tells me, she oughta turn out to be the villain.

Argh. Spreadsheet anyone??

But I will persevere. I must. This book's too good not to (and when's the last time you heard me brag like that??)

I toted up the old word count on this baby last night and it stands at 45,000. About half the book. My New Year's goal was to finish it by April.


Okay, so how about I finish it before the conference in July? Huh? Is that too much to ask? Hell, if I can whip out those TR stories in a week (7500 words), I should be able to write another entire BOOK by July.

Yeah, right.

Stop me if you've heard this before.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Welcome To Thursday

Doncha love when your day starts off with a process server?

So, I walk through the doors of the office this morning and a rather nice-looking guy is at the front window talking to Joey. An applicant for the job we're advertising, I think to myself as I brush past.

Joey stops me. "Hey, this is for you."

The guy takes my name and hands me the subpeona. "Thanks," I say.

"Have a nice day," he says before leaving.

At first I scan the thing with dread. What unintentional crime have we committed? Who is suing us and for what? Nuisance or real?

Then, the first thing I notice--we're not even the defendants. We're only being called as a witness. Doesn't even say who, specifically, should appear.

I flip to the pages without all the legal mumbo jumbo--y'know, where it says in plain English what we're expected to provide. Apparently, the case revolves around one Robert Jones who purportedly worked for 1959.


Extrapolating from the questions, the guy didn't even work an entire year. Yet they're asking us to provide the names of his co-workers, his supervisor, and stuff like where did we purchase our compressors that year. Reading between the lines, I detect an asbestos lawsuit. Have to wonder how old it is--after all, if Mr. Jones were still alive, he'd be pretty old by now anyway, wouldn't he? But the suit's in the name of a woman--probably his widow.

Did a small search of the archives--gee, somehow the 1959 files either didn't make the move with us in 1991, or they got tossed long ago. So we can't prove or disprove whether the guy worked here or not, although we know who his supervisor would have been--a guy who died about ten years ago. I mean, who are they kidding? Working adults employed in 1959 are liable to be one of two things--old or dead.

I mean, we're talking almost FIFTY YEARS.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

And The Forecast in Hell is for Snow

If you don't believe me, check out what NBA star Stephon Marbury is doing. Okay, if you'd rather not make the effort, I'll tell ya. Like a zillion athletes before him, he's endorsed a sneaker.

Big deal, right?

How about this...his Starbury sneakers cost 15 bucks. Yep, you read that correctly. Not one-five-zero as in a hundred and fifty--the cost of a pair of Air Jordans--but 15 (fifteen) bucks.

Affordable for young kids. What a concept, eh?

Didn't take a fancy signing bonus for 'em, either.

So, what's the deal? Must be a nutcake, huh? Nope...just a guy with a good memory of being poor and unable to afford designer tennis shoes.

Now if we can just talk kids into believing cheaper shoes are cool.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Another Saturday Night...

So there I am, driving home from a mini-high school reunion, and I decide it's too early to go home, so I swing by Bogie's, the watering hole I usually frequent on Friday nights. I snag a seat at the bar, say hello to the bartender, and notice immediately that the average age on a Saturday night is considerably less than on Friday. I order a Bailey's and coffee and prepare to make this a quick stop when...

A young man sidles up and strikes up a conversation. We find ourselves on topic number 76 in the book of things strangers talk about on a Saturday night in bars.

He asks me what I look for in a man.

I tell him a sense of humor.

He says something funny, and I laugh.

He complains about all the fifty-year old men lurking around. I refrain from giving up my age.

Time passes and I realize he's hitting on me. I politely mumble something about his being much younger, but he's not put off. "Live a little," he insists. "Throw caution to the wind." I wonder if he knows just HOW much younger he is. I begin to wonder myself.

I discover he's there to celebrate a buddy's birthday. A buddy's THIRTIETH birthday.

"How old do you think I am?" he asks.

Wisely, I guess thirty, and I'm right.

More discussion of whether I should go out with him ensues. Meanwhile, I try to gauge how much alcohol may be involved in his failure to discern the gap in our ages. Or, maybe he truly doesn't care.

Then another buddy comes up.

"She's not that hot," I hear him say.

I spend a few minutes trying to recall if there was any emphasis on the word THAT. As in she's not THAT hot, or just she's not that hot.

Either way, I pack up and go home.

Here, for your viewing pleasure...three "Hot Chicks" from the mini-reunion. L to R: Debi, Randi M. and Randy B. (Is it just me, or do I look like some kind of Amazon next to those two??) More pics tomorrow...