Saturday, January 10, 2009

Changing addresses

Well, I've done it. I've changed addresses over to WordPress because everyone keeps telling me it's better. I like how it lays out, so I hope to see all two of my readers over at:

Please be sure to change your bookmarks or blogroll.

Friday, January 09, 2009

New! Improved!

Every time I see that label blasted across an item, I switch directions because I don’t believe the product is new or improved. In fact, this is my personal litmus test that this actually gobbedlegook for “we’ve upped the price and crapped out the quality.”

Take my mascara remover. Please. Ba-dump-bump-bump. I’ve used the same brand of remover since the time I stole my sister’s mascara and hid in the backyard while slapping the tar-like goo on my eyelashes. Truth be told, I looked like a stand-in for the Bride of Frankenstein, but at the time I was convinced I was a goddess. My sister busted me and made me wipe it off. Holy shit!! I screamed as mascara globbed down my cheekbones, this won’t come off! No, no, stupid, my sis told me, use the mascara remover. Oh. Much better.

And that’s the way it worked for forty-two years. And then Maybelline came up with their New! Improved! mascara remover. New? Improved? What’s to improve, for chrissakes? Is this new stuff supposed to wipe away wrinkles? If so, sign me up.

Alas, no. The wrinkles remained. And so did the mascara. I had to use more and more just to get the mascara to smudge loose. WFT? I tossed Maybelline out and went for Cover Girl. They were New! Improved! too. Same results. What the hell? I decided to go for the heavy artillery and sucked it up for L’Oreal. After all, I’m worth it. Or so the gorgeous model on TV tells me. So now I’m out eight bucks for what I now believe is little more than purified toilet water, and I have mascara smeared under my eyes so that I look like I have a starring role in Night of the Living Dead.

You know what? The pox on this. I’m using good old-fashioned face cream to remove my makeup. It’s not New! It’s not Improved! It’s called Crackle, and I figure if it can keep my hands from feeling like alligator skin, it’ll do a number on makeup. I’m not going to get sucked in by those rat bastard advertisers who are eager to separate me from my hard earned peanuts. Madison Avenue can go suck stale Twinkie cream and fleece someone else.

Now…about those New! Improved! tampons…

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wha' huh? AAP addresses CAM

Interesting article floated my way (thanks Jack!) about how the American Academy of Pediatrics have seen a rise in patients who utilize some forms of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) and felt compelled to address the issue. For the uninitiated, CAM, as defined by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional Western medicine.

Complementary Medicine means that any of these diverse modalities, such as massage therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture, or guided imagery is used in conjunction with Western medicine.

Alternative Medicine proscribes to exclusivity, meaning that a modality is used in place of Western medicine, like using herbs to treat an infection rather than using antibiotics.

I find this whole issue of CAM and Western medicine holding hands together an intriguing idea, and became the foundation behind my book, Donovan's Paradigm. My character of Kim Donovan is trying to rewrite the medical books, starting with the surgical ward of her new hospital and runs into all kinds of heat.

What I find interesting about this article is its revelation of how some previously wiggy types of treatment wended their way into Western medicine. Things that were thought inane have now gained respectability with the majority of medical personnel. Modalities like the aforementioned acupuncture, massage therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy have been tested and integrated into doctors' verbiage and treatment plans.

So much so, that the language of medicine is changing. What used to be CAM has morphed into integrative medicine and holistic medicine, which is a nice way of saying "stuff we're willing to accept because we've tested it enough to prove its efficacy" and "no effing way." It's like a plus and minus column, and those columns shift depending upon the medical community's ability to test it for viable results. I'm hopeful that one day Reiki will move to the plus column.

The article is all quite science-y, but the end result is that the medical community realizes this CAM/Integrative/holistic stuff isn't going to disappear anytime soon, and they're studying it so they can provide better information to their patients.

Damn. Kim would be so proud.

The sweet smell of success

“Don’t burn the dinner, don’t burn the dinner, don’t burn the dinner…”

I’ve never been a fan of my culinary skills. Neither has my family. They bought me an apron one year that said, “Clean your plate; even my dog doesn’t like my cooking.” Hubby got me fridge magnets that say, “Last time I cook, hardly anyone got sick,” and “I kiss better than I cook.” I should be insulted at this unrelenting abuse, but if I can accept critiques on my writing, then I can certainly buck up and accept the fact that I’m challenged in the ways of the kitchen.

So it was with this frame of mind that I began dinner last night. Hubby's our chief cook, but he came home with the flu, so it fell to me to cook a whiz bang birthday dinner for our daughter, who turned 22. Hubby is a great cook. When the kids were young we had a rule; “If you want it now, I’ll cook it and you’ll be quiet about the quality. If you want it to taste good, wait for Dad.”

What to do? I can’t “wait for Dad.” He’s sick. Shitfireboogersnots. Daughter wanted nothing simple – at least not simple in my narrow field of tacos and meatloaf; chicken marsala and fresh spaetzle. I consider ordering out, but the fam would never let me live it down.

So I cooked.

And cooked.

I measured, I beat, I sifted, I added, I sliced, I prayed a whole lot, I cut up, I reduced, I drank three glasses of the cooking wine, and voila – I made dinner.


I’m still reeling. The chicken was paper thin scallopines with Marsala and onions. The spaetzle is a messy affair, but dang, not so hard after all. And fabulous. The fam freaked. “Mom, you really outdid yourself.” It’s fair to say that shock was the flavor du jour around our dining room table. But I did it. The lip smacking was as sweet as the best book review I’ve ever had – confirming that I really do love my family more than writing.

I’m thrilled that Daughter’s memory of turning 22 will be a happy one and not one of homemade fire extinguishers, smoke, and lots of swearing. I feel so empowered that I may conquer Duck L’Orange tonight.

Or maybe we’ll just eat leftovers. Hate to push my luck, yanno?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Surprise endings

My day job as an editor always has me looking for the "great ending." I love endings that I didn't see coming - surprise endings. To wit, this little guy has it down pat.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Wesley the Owl

I’m one of gazillions who are writing reviews of this precious story about Wesley, a barn owl that was adopted at four days old by the ever-patient, ever-caring, ever-loving Stacey O’Brien. Of course, her story captured me at the first sentence, but it was her writing style that kept me engaged and eagerly turning the cyber pages on my beloved Kindle.

This is Stacey’s first book, written as an emotional balm to assuage her immense grief of Wesley’s death. What style she has! In my day job, I see so much writing where the author fails to get their emotion from their head and heart to the page. But Stacey accomplishes this effortlessly, and left me in tears or laughing hysterically. I now find myself squealing, “Not for beagles! Not for beagles!” when my unreliable secretary deludes herself into thinking the red editing pen is her personal chew toy.

Being a writer ruins most books for me because I’m constantly critiquing others’ works. I often find myself muttering with a haughty harrumph, “I’d have written it this way,” like I’m all important and God’s gift to the literary community. But Stacey’s writing style not only kept me from channeling my inner editor, I was completely transported to hers and Wesley’s world.

The night I finished the book, I slept like crap because I was in mourning for a little barn owl who’d passed two years prior. For me, he had just died. That’s when I know when a book has affected me; it stays with me for days afterward.

As a writer, I try to look for the non-visual cues when reaching an emotional dénouement by going for the gut of a character's emotional foundation. Stacey had to do this on an hourly basis since she didn't speak owlese, and it's a sure bet his English left a lot to be desired. The patience required to learn to communicate with an owl made me think of how we humans take talking for granted, yet how much real communication actually occurs?

Stacey’s book is deep and thoughtful, and it was a real honor to read it. I found it pretty wild to discover that I use the same vet she did, and I know Michael Steven Gregory and Wes Albers of the wild and wonderful Southern California Writer’s Conference, having spoken there six months after Stacey.

Great job, Stacey. Thanks so much for letting us into your life and showing us the quieter, gentler side of life.

Sucking it up

As the ball in New York began its decent this past New Year's Eve, I took a reflective glance at my goals for 2009 in between quick slurps of my dad’s chocolate martinis. Damn, you just haven’t lived until you’ve sucked down one of those puppies. I managed four until I tripped over my own feet and spit out carpet fibers. My doting husband, Mom and Dad are quite forgiving of this unrepentant drunk, considering I only pull that trick once a year.

I’m not one for resolutions because they seem to be setups for failure. Rather, I look for themes. Last year’s was Survival. Since I’m still breathing, I must have pulled that off with relative success. This year, I decided would be devoted to Passion. If I’m gonna do something, do it with passion.

So far it’s been easy. I’m nearing the end of writing The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box which is like having a personal interview with twenty-five publishing industry professionals, and me. Besides writing, I love the publishing business. Talk about passion in spades. And I get to pour all of my loves, hates, dislikes, wishes, and recommendations into this book that’s designed to give authors the most unique insight to the industry they’ll ever get. Since I’m so passionate about helping authors, this is a no-brainer.

I discovered that writing nonfiction is different from fiction. Fiction requires me to create a made-up world with unreal characters who slog their way through a riveting plot, all while being plausible and compelling. Donovan’s Paradigm sucked me dry because the characters are so deep and complicated. I felt as though I had lived with my siblings for a solid month without a potty break. Truly a horrific thought. But I loved that book, and it seems many of my readers did as well since I’ve been hounded about when the next one is coming out.

And that’s the problem. I think I lack the passion for Kim and Erik right now, which really sucks because I adore them both. But their lives and complications about their medical future and commitment to each other require my complete concentration, and I don’t have that kind of time anymore. Which really sucks.

Some hats are easy to put on, yanno? I can go from being an editor to a mom with no problem. I can go from winning literary awards to getting critiqued to within an inch of my life without batting an eye. But stopping and starting the intensity of Kim and Erik requires a hard hat, and I left mine in my other purse.

I’m ready for something light and airy. Breezy. Dare I say it…women’s fiction? A romantic comedy? This is new territory for me, yet I find myself creating the plot, characters, timeline, and chapters in my mind as easily as burning dinner – something I do with alarming frequency. I feel such passion for this goofy story, which is shaping up to be something of a Bridgett Jones’ Diary variety, that I actually feel guilty for loving it so much. Like I’m being disloyal to Kim and Erik.

It worries me because Kim and Erik are a series of five books. The longer I take to crank them out, the harder it is to promote them. But maybe I should get this silly story out of my system and see where it takes me. I already know it’s achingly marketable, and I have the perfect set of agents in which to query. Maybe after I’ve taken this wherever it’s meant to go, I can get back to Kim and Erik with more clarity.

And maybe, just maybe, the passion that’s fueling this crazy story will portend something pretty cool. After all, I’m a follow-your-heart kinda gal…

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Careful what I wish for

What I'd give for a white Christmas. As a Californian, I yearn to awaken on Christmas morning with snow covering every visible surface. What a dream.
Or not...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday shopping at Cos-amillion-co

Finding a parking spot: $500 deductable after ramming the back end of a zippy little car whose driver was far too rude about trying to steal my parking spot.

Finding a shopping cart: $75 – a bribe to a nice gent who emptied his booty in front of the store and had his wife run to get the car.

Grabbing the last 14 pound turkey: a black eye. But you should have seen the other guy.

Navigating the too-small aisles filled with too many people: rammed twice, once with my finger playing the part of my cart’s bumper. Must be payback for the parking lot incident.

Dealing with the umpteenth shopper who insists on parking their cart in the middle of the goddamn aisle: Three teeth-baring snarls, two throaty growls, one “move your damn cart, lady,” and a partridge in a pear tree…

Paying for groceries: “Whaddya mean my ATM card won’t read? Holybatshitkillmenow.” Magnetized strip? What the bloody hell? Merry Christmas Visa.

Getting home and having spawn unload car, put groceries away and stick a margarita in my hand: Priceless.

Edited to add:
It dawned on me that people who don't know me may think these things really happened. Literary license and all that. I'm a writer and given to exaggeration. I should be in politics.

The car ramming: only in my imagination. I got a great parking spot with nary a bruised ego or bumper. I got a shopping cart without bribing a single person, but I did have to wait for Cart Collector Carl to arrive with a new supply. There were five 14 pound turkeys, and I did have to lean in and grab one, where it proceeded to slip out of my hands and fall on my big toe. I really did snarl at the lady in the aisle - that sort of thing pisses me off - but I kept my mouth shut. Paying for the groceries: that really happened. Unpacking the groceries: really happened (I have the sweetest spawn in the world), however, they didn't make me a margarita.