Thursday, August 21, 2008

Karma isn’t for pussies

I may have overplayed my assassin skills on a spider when the inevitable happened last night. I was sitting at the dining room table writing. The scene was intense – poor ol’ Kim eats it in the Amazon, and her surgical career could be over, so she’s trying to come to terms with losing everything she’s worked for. I was in The Zone – that place where I shut out everything, ringing phones, barking beagles, TV, baby spiders…


Baby spiders?

Holy mother of god. There are….how many…sheeeit…at least fifty of them, all floating down on invisible silk they spun from their evil little butts. I shot back from the table as if I’d had a proctology exam with a cattle prod. Random thoughts raced through non-firing synapses as I grabbed my laptop out of their landing zone. Why are there so freaking many of them? Is this some sort of spider convention and they all decided to spend the evening ensuring my karmic payback? After all, I did murder one of their own just last week. We live in a woodsy area and get a lot of them.

Ah geez, I got it. A freaking spidey egg sac. Instant shudder. I scream for hubby. We have to torch the entire house and move, I screech while dancing around on my tippy toes, certain the little infant Satans have a giant hairy thing waiting on the ground to bite my ankles.

I sped past hubby, whose mirth has him bent over gasping for air, and grab the mini Hoover. You really don’t need to do that, hubby says through a few snorts of laughter. I’ll get some paper towels, and….NO! I yell, don’t you get it? They’re out to kill me.

I plug the Hoover in and fire up the motor. Die, you little spawn of hell. I suck every last one of them into my faithful agent of all that’s good and right. Oh, don’t tell me spiders are great and they eat all the icky bugs off the plants. They crawl around on hairy legs and bite and scare the ever-loving shit out of me. Give me a snake or frog any day. Lizards are more than welcome.

I aim the Hoover hose at the chandelier where the evil egg sac must reside – how DARE that filthy rat bastard plant her slutty egg sac on my lovely chandelier? If there’s fifty little spiders, there are probably a thousand left, waiting to plot their web-evil when I least expect it.

WHACK! What the hell? Aw geez, I just sucked up two of my lovely crystal hangey-down thingies from my chandelier. Shit. HONEY, I scream and spew out in one breathless dribble, Canyouhelpme?Isuckedupmyhangeydownthings.

More laughing ensues. You just aren’t having a good night, are you?

Thoughts race through my head as to why I married this man. You gotta go into the Hoover bag and get my crystal hangey-down things.

Moi, kimosabe? sez he. It was my idea to get a paper towel.

This morning I sit in the dining room, looking at the two barren spots where my missing crystal hangey-down things should be and wonder if my karma hasn’t taken a U-turn. I look at the Hoover sitting in the corner and wonder if those sucked-up agents of evil are laughing while gaily spinning webs around my captured crystal.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a tiny escapee of last night’s carnage. I squish the little bastard with my finger. There, how’s that for up close and personal?

Did I mention that I really hate spiders?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How to tell when you’re not the favorite child…

I think this little guy needs all the Reiki hugs I can spare

Monday, August 18, 2008

Junk faxes – die!

I’m working diligently today when the fax rings. Normally my fax filters out the spam in some magical way that encourages me to bow before its countenance and heap great piles of praise on its little plastic platform. Until this morning when one little bastard snuck through my fax’s steely firewall and printed its bad self out, wasting MY PAPER AND INK. Bad fax machine! Well, it is Monday…

The fax was an ad for a 4 day Bahamas cruise. What? thinks I, this isn’t business…it’s…it’s…SPAM.

Indignant, I looked for a number to call and berate them. Much to my dismay, there was a number I could call and have my fax number removed. I quote: “If you have received this fax in error, please call…” IN ERROR? Do I look like an idiot? First you spam me, then you play cute and coy? Argh! Die, fax spammers, die!

What happened to that Do Not Call registry we signed up for? Twice? Is this our government tax dollars sleeping at the wheel? Again?

I’d love to know why I have to call a number to request they don’t bug me and waste my paper. Isn’t that double intrusion? Why do I have to take time out of my day to tell them to quit wasting my supplies? What’s really the pisser is that I have no recourse other than to turn off my fax machine.

It’s not like the junk mail that comes in with their prepaid envelopes inviting me to insert my check for a bajillion dollars. Shoot, I just love those. I collect all my other junk mail and stuff them into the prepaid envelopes.

It’s not like the idiots who call at dinner time asking if I’d like to order a new set of encyclopedias. Heck, I love those guys too. When the kids were little, I used to ask the guy if he’d like to order some of my daughter’s candy she was selling for her softball team’s fundraiser. “Uh, uh…”

Nowadays we just ask them if they’d like a free boob job at our new clinic we set up in the alley, that we have a special – we’ll use clean knives from Jorge’s Macho Tacos and offer a free bottle of Jack Daniels (the airline size). That never fails to get a reaction. We had one phone solictor with a very thick southern accent laugh until I think his heart stopped beating. Hey, it beats letting my blood pressure rise.

Which gets me back to my Bahamas vacation fax. I’m a get-even type of gal, so this is inability to strike back is very frustrating. There’s no victory in calling a number and requesting to be removed. I want my vengeance. I want to go to Ralph’s grocery store and scream right there in the middle of the vegetable aisle, “Company XYZ sends out spam faxes!” I want patrons to be horrified to the point where Company XYZ goes belly up, and they’re forced to pick strawberries for .45 an hour.

Then again, I may be classified as being a distant relative of those vegetables as they slap a straight jacket on me and cart me off for anger management classes…May be time for a Reiki session.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Like everyone else, I’ve been glued to TV to watch the Olympics. It was amazing to watch 41 year-old Dara Torres last night during qualifications. Everyone was lined up to start when Dara noticed the box next to hers was empty. She went over and talked to an Olympic official, and the race was delayed to allow another swimmer to get her racing suit fixed. The suit was fixed, the race started, and Dara kicked ass to come in first.

It may have seemed like a small thing to everyone else, but I’m betting the woman whose suit needed fixing will never forget the stray kindness of her fellow Olympian. She would have had to scratch had Dara not intervened. To me, Dara is a gold medal winner.

This reminded me of how it is in the writing world. I’ll never forget the kindness of John Lescroart as he compared our writing styles as “us dialogers.” Just putting me into his league…well, I’m still dining on it two years later. Critiques from strong mid-list writers from very large houses helped hone my story, and the Donovan series.
I’ve returned the favor many times over to writers just breaking into the writing gig. It’s like that commercial where one guy sees a random act of kindness and it entices him to do the same for someone else. Another person sees this, and so on. I have no idea what they’re pushing (shame on the ad agency), but I love the message of everyone pitching in to help.

Whenever I speak at writer’s conferences, I’m constantly struck at the willingness of the “big guys” to help the “little guys” by reading their works and offering guidance. There’s none of the expected I’ve-made-it-you-may-kiss-my-ring. We’re all just a bunch of writers who love what we do, and there have been plenty conference evenings spent in the bar with a bunch of writers, reading and critting. We cheer when someone signs with a great agent, or, better yet, signs a great publishing contract. I’ve always said it; writers are the nicest people in the world, and I’m proud to be associated with them.

Whee doggies, Oldfart is ok!

I’m smiling as big as Arizona right now…I had the chance to speak directly with Oldfart. 911 is visiting Farty, and he called to say hello. Farty sounds fabulous – cracking jokes and being, well, Farty.

I’ve been an MDOD addict for some time now. Those crazy docs have become like family to me. They’re my morning belly laugh, my afternoon check in when I’m supposed to be working, and my evening rounds – so having Farty in the hospital hooked up to very nasty doctor toys has felt like one of my own is suffering.

I’ve spent my week sending oodles of prayers and a ton of Reiki to Farty in hopes that he makes a speedy recovery. Hearing his voice, so cheery and strong, well, my day – heck, my weekend – is made. I’m so grateful 911 understands how hungry we are for info and has posted daily updates on the blog – 911 you rock freshly-baked Twinkies, dude.

Farty’s gonna be ok, and 911 is leading the Jack Daniel’s brigade. Life is good.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Banal Thoughts On Domestic Engineering

“No way are you getting away from me, you dirty rotten bastard!” I yelled like a screaming banshee as I tore after the spider. He made a mad dash for the crevice between the wall and the floorboards, and I imagined him sticking his little spider tongue out at me as he fled.

He was fast. I was faster and headed him off at the pass. Like a successful gunslinger, I sucked him and his six legs into the vacuous caverns of my Hoover, blowing on the end of my smoking hose like Sheriff John - except he’d never killed anything. It had been a fair fight - my desire to clean house was far inferior to his desire to live and spin webs another day. Today luck was on my side, and it became a victory for the two-legged creatures of my household. The six legged creatures had been put on notice and would have to reside elsewhere.

Normally, their living quarters aren’t much an issue. On any given day the spiders and dust bunnies rule my roost, throwing lavish garden parties while inviting any and all to open up condos in my fireplace or windowsills. However, their increasing brazenness has finally caught my attention and I’ve been forced to become the Toxic Avenger, armed mightily with a vacuum cleaner, dust rag and Agent Orange.

Taking a temporary break from my usual job as a writer is much more difficult than one would think. It’s far easier to blend in with the dining room furniture that serves as my office and allow the words to flow through the filters of my brain to my fingers to my keyboard. Forced into this submissive role of playing housewife is demeaning, and I consider taking another look at my marriage contract. I quickly abandon the idea. After nearly thirty years of marriage, I’m hardly in a position to re-negotiate with a wonderful man who puts up with my lack of culinary skills.

My husband and I settled these issues years ago. He would cut the grass and stomp around the attic in search of all the Christmas stuff and I would clean the house and occasionally iron. I nearly went on strike one year when he insisted on buying larger houses. This was never a part of the deal, I remember complaining bitterly. At the time we lived in a one bedroom hole that I could clean by opening the front door when there was a stiff breeze outside.

Opening the door to this house merely invites all the leaves to join whatever flotsam and jetsam already occupy the corners of all the rooms. So, today as I sat and tried to write with brilliance, the only thing that I could concentrate on was how dusty my monitor had become. Giving it a quick dust gave me a wonderful sense of accomplishment. I should have known I was toast after taking a gander at the floors and coffee table. Spying the layer of grime, the words wouldn’t flow, and the filter between my brain and fingers shut down. ‘Clean before Write’ seemed to be the only thing on the menu. Having no choice, I decided to reacquaint myself with the aged vacuum cleaner that sucks up more than my sixteen-year old daughter does when begging for a new prom outfit.

Two hours later the floors are finished and I’m thrilled. Gone are the chunks of blond dog hair that Mae West sheds like tiny bird nests every five minutes. I spy some dust on the walls and I wonder at the physics that allows dust to land vertically on a wall. Is this some freakish twist of the Space/Time continuum whereby dust doesn’t need a flat surface to create angst to the poor slob holding the business end of a vacuum? I change attachments and begin to go down the wall toward the front door, vaguely aware that I’m testing the yardage of the electrical cord. The vacuum finally dies of its own accord. The cord has stretched beyond its limits and pulls out from the plug. That’s good enough for me, I think gaily and roll the beast back to its nesting area.

Now, I admit I could have merely found a closer plug and continued vacuuming my walls, but I was overtaken with humiliation. What if someone came by and asked me what I was doing? I’d have to admit I was vacuuming the walls, and I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection. To say that I actually need to vacuum my walls is to acknowledge that I’m a complete failure at Domestic Engineering. My friends all have lovely homes. Clean and tidy. So tidy you could eat off their floorboards. Mine are only good for creating a hiding place for spiders that are occasionally faster than I.

Screw this…I’m getting a maid.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ground Control to Major Tom

While my first love is medical fiction, my second love is space. The cosmos holds unlimited history, possibilities, and wonderful storylines. I always thought that if I wrote about space, it would be something along the lines of Contact, but Carl Sagan beat me to it.

I do, however, have a new plot running through my brain after hearing about the amazing discovery of water on Mars. The pictures sent me reeling, and I’m afraid I have to dump poor doctors Kim and Erik in favor of Sven and Cookie. Take a look

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cell phone fun with Dick and Jane

Heard in a creative meeting between agent, author, myself, and publicist:

“Yo, sexymama, answer yo phone!”

It’s a cell phone ringtone. The sound is emanating from our table. I’m laughing to myself, grateful that I have a sensible ringtone that tells the world I’m a professional.

“Yo, sexymama, answer yo phone!”

Good god, there it is again. Probably the publicist’s. Why doesn’t she answer the darn thing? Has she no idea how unprofessional that is?

“Yo, sexymama, answer yo phone!”

Oh for the love of all that’s holy…wait…everyone is looking at me. Ohdeargodinheaven. The noise is coming from my purse. The voice belongs to hubby. He…he…recorded his voice and switched my ringtone. When did he do this?? WHY would he do this? Is he bored? Sick? Twisted?


Later that night:

I fumed as he stood there laughing his fool head off. “Whyonearthdidyouthinkthatwasfunny? I was in a meeting!”

He hugged me and insisted he was just goofing around.


Hubby has a meeting today. I can’t wait. It’s a meeting with lots of important people. They’re French. The ringtone?

“Hey, sexybuns, that a phone in your pocket or you just happy to see me?”

You’ll have to excuse me; I have a call to make.

Quotation of the Day

Warning: Novels 'Might Turn Out to be Habit-forming'

"Bookish people drolly claim to be addicted. I think, in some cases, this is literally true. . . . I suppose this makes me a small-time pusher, holding a couple of capsules of a novel compound, looking for vulnerable readers for whom it might turn out to be habit-forming. There's enough of them. When I walk into a bookshop--one of the big ones, a vast dispensary stacked with complex uppers and downers--I can't help thinking, my God, what army of junkies is all this feeding?"--Henrietta Rose-Innes, author of Shark’s Egg and The Rock Alphabet, in the Johannesburg, South Africa, Times.

Please, Oh Great Cosmic Muffin, let my series be habit-forming…

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is my computer a girl?

Since I'm spending this weekend glued to my computer, I thought this apropos.

The Spanish Lesson

A Spanish Teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

'House' for instance, is feminine: la casa
'Pencil,' however, is masculine: el lapiz

A student asked, “What gender is 'computer'?”

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer' should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that 'computer' should definitely be of the feminine gender (la computadora), because:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else
  3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine (el computador), because:

  1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on
  2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves
  3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

There's reviews, and then there's reviews...

There is nothing sweeter than a great review, and we writers live for the day when Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, or a good newspaper will pick up our book and give it a read and wee testimonial. Just like winning a writing award, it validates that someone found your work engaging and saw fit to write about it.

However, I’m pretty sure that had someone said this about my writing, I’d be just as happy to avoid reviews altogether and run away to a desert island. Of course, given this guy’s advance, he could afford to do just that.

“This much-hyped book is eye-bulgingly atrocious, packed with medieval history to disguise prose that's worse than your average Dungeons & Dragons blog…” read more

Friday, August 08, 2008


I should be working. I know this. But it's hot, the sun is shining, the beach is calling. I'm calling it a day and taking my crew to the beach for fun 'n sun.

*thanks, Lauren

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Where are the brains when you really need them?

I heard a story on my radio coming home from the gym about a man walking in our local wilderness area and claimed that he’d been scratched by a mountain lion. My ears perked up because I ride my bike there all the time. Seems that he saw some cubs and wanted to pet them because they “looked so cute.”

They looked so cute?

Ok, now I’m thinking this guy must have been standing at the back of the line when God ran out of brains. I’ve ridden my bike for twelve years in this area. I’ve seen deer, lots of kamikaze bunnies who love to tempt fate by crossing right in front of my bike, and mountain lions. Well, make that one lion. I stopped at my usual place for water, and there he was, sitting in a big ol’ tree just staring at me. I’m probably too stupid to be afraid, but I figured the chances of him climbing out of his easy chair to run me down and try to bite through my helmet were pretty slim.

There are some things I know; never travel without a hair dryer and clean underwear, always smile and shake the hand of someone who bought your book, and never, never, ever pet the baby mountain lions. Because baby mountain lions have big mountain lion mommies who can be very cranky. In fact, avoid mountain lions at all costs. They’re invariably hungry and are no longer afraid of humans.

Numbnuts was lucky; he got away with a scratch on his arm. A fellow bike rider I only knew by sight wasn’t so lucky. His bike chain fell off, and as he bent down to put it back on, a mountain lion came along and killed him.

*Reiki hugs = 20 (he probably needs more to make up for the air between his ears)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Women vs. Men

I love my husband. He always sends me the best men-bashing jokes. Personally, I adore men and wouldn’t dream of bashing them. But I have to admit that the differences between the sexes are great stuff for us writers, and I take full advantage in my own writing. These little ditties have probably been banging around the internet for a while, but, as usual, I don’t come out of my cage very often.

The Silent Treatment
A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.

Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM" He left it where he knew she would find it. The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.

The paper said, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up." Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests.

A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically,
"Relatives of yours?"

"Yep," the wife replied, "in-laws

"Cash, check or charge?" I asked, after folding items the woman wished to purchase. As she fumbled for her wallet I noticed a remote control for a television set in her purse. "So, do you always carry your TV remote?" I asked.

"No," she replied, "but my husband refused to come shopping with me, and I figured this was the most evil thing I could do to him legally."


I know I'm not going to understand women. I'll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax, pour it onto your upper thigh, rip the hair out by the root, and still be afraid of a spider. (Obviously, this man is a bovine. A spider is a hairy beast designed to suck the blood out of my jugular vein, then laugh about it as I lay dying on the kitchen floor. –lp)

A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day... 30,000 to a man's 15,000. The wife replied, "The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men...The husband then turned to his wife and asked, "What?"

A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said, "You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee."

The husband said, "You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee."

Wife replies, "No, you should do it, and besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee."

Husband replies, "I can't believe that, show me."

So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and showed him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says.........."HEBREWS"

God may have created man before woman, but there is always a rough draft before the masterpiece.

*Reiki hugs = 20 (but only if he puts the toilet seat down)

What to say when time is running out

I unchained myself from my desk the other day in order to get that oh so great looking color that god failed to offer me as factory-included equipment. While my head resembled Joaquin Phoenix in Signs, my hairdresser talked about how she was dying to read Randy Pausch’s book because he was such an inspiration. As I sat dripping smelly ooze from my hair follicles, I recalled the headline I’d seen about his passing and his inspirational lectures. I wasn’t aware that they’d been made into a book.

I don’t normally read inspirational stuff – probably a stress related by-product of my Deepak Chopra days. But I grabbed my Kindle and downloaded the freebie version of his book. I sat there riveted, so drawn in was I by his rational grasp of his mortality and his desire to let his young kids know the type of man he was. His words were powerful, and I’d like to think that I’d be just as honest and open about my impending demise.

But what to say? It’s not like I’m late for a train and reeling off last minute instructions while peeling out the door. The exit is permanent, and I’d never get another chance. What would I tell my sweet husband? My kids? I’m not talking about the usual platitudes of sure, honey, you need to remarry and the kids are grown now and will be ok. I’m talking about the things we normally spread out over a lifetime, those life lessons that impact the people we become. Do I have anything worth passing along? I’m not a philosopher, though sometimes I play one in literature, so what great tomes of wisdom would I have to pass on to my family?

Maybe that’s why I gave up reading inspirational books. They made me think too much and offered little in the way of answers. Of course, I know that the answers have to come from within, but I’m normally too rushed these days to contemplate the cavernous depths of my soul – though I do try to email it on a quasi-regular basis. Maybe Randy’s book will change that within me, and I’ll take more time to consider the really important things in life. Maybe I’ll stop and consider that there are still aspects within me that are worth passing along.

*Reiki hugs = 20