Friday, August 29, 2008

Can I Get A Re-do?

List of Things I Would NOT Do If I Could Restart Yesterday:

1. I would NOT have driven the 9-4 out to Daredevil's school to pick him up for his doctor's appointment.

2. Because then I would NOT have gently driven over the speed bump in the school parking lot (which may or may NOT be the culprit but nothing else comes to mind) which, unbeknownst to me, knocked either a hose loose or a hole in the gas tank, even though I never scraped bottom.

3. Also, I would NOT have blithely assumed the stench of gasoline in the air around the 9-4 belonged to another car.

4. When the 9-4 refused to start on my first attempt to leave the school parking lot, I would NOT have given it another go.

5. When pulling out of the parking space, I would NOT have neglected to peruse the pavement for the GIGANTIC puddle of gasoline lying there, plain as day.

6. Which means I would NOT have attempted to drive thirty-two miles to Nashville to drop Daredevil off with my hubby.

7. Also, I would NOT have simply opened the windows to air out the overwhelming scent of gasoline while we were driving when pulling over would have been a much better option.

8. Which brings me to the fact that I would NOT have suddenly clued in to the fact that something of a flammable nature was wrong with the 9-4 while I was surrounded by semi trucks and idiot drivers who couldn't care less that the van in front of them was leaking like sieve.

9. Which means I would NOT have spent the last few minutes of the drive frantically calling my hubby to ask what was wrong with the van while remaining hyper-alert to any sign of smoke from either my hood or my exhaust pipe.

10. All of which means I would NOT have run out of gas while on a dangerous curve of a busy freeway with no real shoulder and absolutely no place to stand safely.

11. Which means, of course, that I would NOT have been inspired to communicate LOUDLY and with GREAT FERVOR with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to PLEASE DON'T LET ME DRIFT TO A STOP WHERE THERE'S NOWHERE TO GET DAREDEVIL TO SAFETY!

12. Which means I would NOT have had my prayer answered and coasted to a stop where the road again gained a shoulder and a patch of grass to send my son to safety while I wrestled with his backpack, my purse, and my ipod. (Some things are worth risking life and limb.)

13. I would definitely NOT have engaged my author's imagination as I peered under the car and saw the last of the 15 gallons of gas I'd had at the start of the trip pour out.

14. Which means I would NOT have wondered if the van would explode the second I turned my back, giving me a dramatic exit from this life but possibly taking Daredevil with me, an option I found unacceptable.

15. I would NOT have had to call my hubby to come get us and then watch cop cars and motorists alike whiz by a woman and her small son without stopping to see if I'd punched a hole in my gas tank or worse, broken the heels on my stilettos while running up the embankment from the potentially explosive 9-4.

16. I would NOT have had to thank the very nice man who did stop and offer to stay with us until my hubby arrived.

17. I would NOT have had the pleasure of seeing Daredevil recover from his fear that the van would explode (No, I didn't share that idea. He thinks like me.) and realize, to his intense enjoyment, that pulling his fist up and down would cause EVERY SINGLE TRUCKER ON THE INTERSTATE to honk their horn while passing us by.

18. I would NOT have missed a meeting at work due to lack of transportation.

19. I would NOT have had to drive Daredevil back to school, hubby to the house, and then return to the scene of the crime with Paul so I could take advantage of the free towing on his AAA card.

20. Which means I would NOT have had to use up a chunk of my friend's time sitting there waiting for the tow truck.

21. Which, of course, means we would NOT have made plans to create the kind of scene worthy of 6 pm news coverage (I can't divulge our plans but we were going to use his police baton, gun, and my considerable acting skills to great advantage).

22. I would NOT have had to walk into our mechanic's office, inform them of the 9-4's impending arrival, and watch them laugh hysterically because simply entering my name in their computer brings up a list of the 9-4's crimes designed to make every other vehicle look like a saint.

23. I would NOT have foolishly told the mechanic to just take the 9-4 out back and shoot it if it turns out the hole is in the gas tank instead of the hose without first making plans to steal the Ferrari I so richly deserve.

24. Also, I would NOT have been stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home (mind you, this whole thing started at 10:45 a.m.).

25. And, I would NOT have been forced to stop for groceries at the silly hour of 5:00 p.m. because I would already have restocked the essentials: Milk, fruit, lunch materials, and a t-shirt that says "Arsonist Wanted: Experience With Vehicular Fires A Plus".

26. Which means that I would NOT have walked in the door just in time to have the Scientist inform me that if I left RIGHT AWAY, I could make it to his open house in time.

27. So, of course, that means that I would NOT have had to drive back out to the school, over that accursed speed bump, spend an hour and a half hearing how wonderful my son is, only to return to the parking lot and find that the GINORMOUS gasoline puddle I left earlier in the day is STILL THERE.

Definitely a day I'd like to start over.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What He Said

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen” - Frank Lloyd Wright

Who's With Me?

The entry deadline for The Golden Pen contest is Sept 1st.

This is a fantastic contest for writers who want some solid feedback on their entry. Three judges score your entry. At least one is a published author while the others are Golden Heart finalists. Final round judging includes acquiring editors within your genre. Judges are encouraged to mark your manuscript and give you feedback.

You can enter electronically here and use Paypal. All submissions for the first round are electronic so it's fast and easy.

You must be an RWA member in good standing. If you want to join, go here.

I'm entering SHADOWING FATE (its contest debut!) in the paranormal category. =)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Opposites Attract

The Jump Start Your Creativity topic today at Swords & Stilettos is how to use opposites (words, visuals, colors etc.) to create something powerful and unique.

Head over and let your creativity loose!

At Least Your Day Is Better Than Hers

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Read this," she said firmly.

As a writer, you have many tools in your arsenal, not the least of which are the parts of speech. (Hey! Don't knock 'em til you try 'em!) An evocative adjective sets the scene. Deft use of conjunctions weave parts into a whole. Verbs (as long as they aren't passive voice, but that's another post) used well create movement, drama, characterization, tension, and imagery.

Adverbs, though...adverbs are not your friend.

Oh, they pretend to be. They slip into your mind, sneak across your keyboard, and land on your page and you think, "There! That tells the reader what she needs to know!" And you dust off your hands and move on.

The problem is this: adverbs tell. They do not show.

Excellent writing shows, rather than tells.

Ergo, adverbs are not your friend.

Does this mean you can't ever use adverbs in your manuscript? Of course not. But adverbs, like cayenne pepper, must be used sparingly (Look! An adverb!) or they take over the entire thing.

There are better, stronger ways to approach your writing than relying on adverbs. Because an adverb modifies an action, you can use more action to show the reader what is going on.

For example:

"Did you hear about the dead body Sammy Watts found in his tool shed?"

"No," Tess said calmly, though she wanted to scream.


"Did you hear about the dead body Sammy Watts found in his tool shed?"

"No." Tess forced herself to breathe, to untwist her hands and shove them in her pockets, as she bit the inside of her lip to keep from screaming.

See the difference? In both cases, you're giving the reader the information that Tess's words don't match her emotions and something strange is going on under the surface, but when you substitute action for an adverb, you thrust the reader inside Tess's head, force the reader to feel her tension, and leave the reader's emotions just a bit ragged.

An excellent way to strengthen your own manuscript is to go through it, page by page, seeking out the adverbs. Once you find an adverb, see if you can show the reader the same thing using action instead. Sometimes, you can't use action and the adverb usage stands. That's fine. A little cayenne pepper makes the dish interesting. Most of the time, though, you can push yourself beyond what's easy and develop the skill to show rather than tell.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday's List

1. So, I wasn't going to post a Monday update today because I posted the witty and amusing run-down of new blog search terms and then followed that up with a link to my post on S & S.

2. My hubby logged on today and demanded to know where my Monday Update went.

3. When I explained all of #1 to him, he did not care.

4. I started the habit of Monday Updates and so, in his book, I should continue said updates until the day I turn in my stilettos and start fertilizing Venus Fly Traps instead.

5. So I'm posting. For him. And yes, I chose the pic with care.

6. I have nothing lined up to write in this post so you're going to get an assortment of random thoughts that won't have any cohesive element to them other than the fact that they came from me.

7. I really don't like to mop.

8. I am oblivious to flowers, plants, or anything that requires watering but doesn't show the gumption to speak up and tell me it's thirsty.

9. As a child, I had to swallow green beans like pills or I would activate my gag reflex and the result was anything but pretty.

10. As an adult, I simply choose not to eat, smell, or even look at the disgusting things.

11. I like getting unexpected cards in the mail from friends.

12. All I want for Christmas is a Books A Million gift card (new shop that opened in my town...finally!!), and a copy of Get Smart and The Dark Knight.

13. And maybe a trip to a spa.

14. People tell me I should watch Heroes and Supernatural.

15. I don't know when I could find the time to add television watching, the kind that inspires rabid loyalty and the inability to miss an episode, into my life but I acknowledge the worthiness of those two shows.

16. It's supposed to absolutely pour here tomorrow and we need it.

17. I love staying inside and writing on rainy days.

18. I would never actually travel to outer space, even if the whole thing was colonized and they offered me a closet full of shoes for free just to spend a week on the moon.

19. Then again, there is the whole "weighing next to nothing on the moon" to consider.

20. Reader Question: Want me to do another creative writing exercise where you provide the first sentence and I take it from there? If enough of you ask for it, I'll do it. :)

I Am...Who Wants To Know?

Head over to Swords & Stilettos today for a discussion on a simple way to eradicate some self-defeating behaviors and bring yourself that much closer to achieving your dream!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Googled Randomness

Once again, it's time to take a look at how more hapless readers became ensnared by this blog. Here are the latest interesting keyword searches:

1. Trick Up Your Sleeve: Oh yes, my pretty, I have a trick up my sleeve. More than one, actually. And don't you wish you knew what they were.

2. Salivitus: n. The condition of admiring a pair of stilettos to the point of relinquishing control over one's saliva glands.

3. Lifted With Feet Playing Airplane: Listen here. This string of search words doesn't even begin to make sense. Unless this is your convoluted attempt at discovering a way to actually fly while pretending to be an airplane and if that's the case, you've landed at the wrong blog. I barely lift with anything, much less with my feet, and I never, ever, play airplane. I don't need the nightmares.

4. Sentence With Sneered: Here you go. "Sassy sesquipedalian C.J. Redwine slid into her sexy stilettos and sneered at the silly sneakers worn by some." Sneered (used correctly) and alliteration for the price of one. I aim to please.

5. Psych Patient Humiliation Gown Gurney: Bet you didn't expect this post.

And my personal favorite from this batch:

6. We Know What You Ate Last Summer Love: And here I thought I buried the bones so well. Oops.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why I Oughtta

Currently playing in my ipod: "Enough" by Disturbed
Mood: Calm and focused

1. So, apparently The Half-Blood Prince release date has been pushed back from this November to JULY.

2. Why?

3. Because Warner Bros wants a summer blockbuster and apparently they have so little faith in every other project on deck, they need to disappoint thousands of fans.

4. I envision legions of Potter fans dressing up like Voldemort, or worse, Filch and wreaking havoc on certain executives...

5. This week I wrote over 9000 words and since I'm posting this Thursday evening at 9pm (I still have three writing hours ahead of me tonight plus tomorrow during the day), that number will end up between 11k-12k.

6. I'm seriously proud of that, especially since on a closer read-through, I rarely made stupid mistakes or missed a key character or plot arc.

7. This is all new material I'm interjecting in the front half of the book.

8. Next week is all about the ending.

9. Thank God.

10. Why must boys be instructed not to put their shoes on the coffee table? Where did they get the idea that shoes belong on a table? Is it instinctive? Genetic? Part of the brain-warp that happens when they get that testosterone bath in the womb?

11. I'm so used to interrupting my sentences with things like "Hey! What do you think you're wiping on that??" and "Don't throw the cat, she'll come back and kill you in your sleep." or "Continue with your present course of action and no one will hear from you for the next five years." that it barely phases me.

12. People without children give me strange looks but I'm used to that too.

13. My hubby just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series and now impatiently hovers over me, telling me to hurry up and finish SF so he can have new reading material.

14. This will shock you, I know, but I do not respond well to hovering.

15. It brings out the latent Felon in me and I'm really trying to save that for when I'm in my 80s and my Bedazzler isn't giving me enough excitement anymore.

16. One of my Pixies (the name the GH finalist group gave ourselves...long story) went freakin' skydiving today for her daughter's 16th birthday.

17. I'd go skydiving.

18. If I were stuck inside a burning plane which was hurtling toward a mountain and the crew had assured me at least five times that there was, indeed, no chance of a semi-successful landing.

19. Even then, I might require a push.

20. Reader Question: If you could go back in time (just to visit, you don't have to stay), what would be your first destination and why?

In The Mood?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Get Your Vocab On!

We're running a fun contest over at Swords & Stilettos today. We're looking for the best examples of really bad writing you can give us (yes, it needs to be your original creation!).

The contest: Write a sentence using the most adjectives and adverbs you can possibly fit into the sentence while still having it make sense. =)

The prize: All commenters will be put into a drawing for a free book (title to be determined).

Go wild with your vocab and enter the contest! (I've written a gloriously decadent ode to overly-descriptive writing there myself...)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How Many Brain Cells? Let Me Count Them...

Yesterday's stats:

1. Received an email from an author friend telling me she'd taken the liberty to pitch me to her agent and her agent was interested so please send a partial.

2. Sent the partial along with a warm thank you to my friend. Having other authors believe in my work is an unbelievable gift.

3. Spent much of the day writing. Total word count: 6400

4. Yes. That's right. 6400 words in ONE DAY.

5. I think I have about 24 brain cells left.

6. Nope, make that 23.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How To Change The World

Last year (or maybe the year before, I don't keep track of these things), John Mayer came out with a song called "Waiting On The World To Change." It's a discourse on how powerless his generation feels in the face of all they disagree with on the world stage (war, government etc) and so since they think they're powerless, they're just waiting on the world to change, perhaps waiting until the generations above them have all died off or retired and no one is left to run the world but this one dissatisfied generation of waiters.

The lyrics have always rubbed me the wrong way and I'll tell you why. There are many things that need attention in this world--hunger, war, genocide, child slavery, illiteracy, stupid or selfish people maintaining positions of power, disinformation--you can add to the list all you want, the end result is the same: turn your eyes in any direction and you'll see something that needs to be done.

Mr. Mayer says this:

Now we see everything that's going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

It's hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

I believe we have three choices when confronted with something that breaks our heart. One, we can do nothing. Take Mr. Mayer's words to heart and stand around wringing our hands, decrying how helpless we are. Two, we can turn away and pretend we never saw. Or three, we can roll up our sleeves, wade into the fray, and meet the need or stand for the cause that is right in front of us.

Powerlessness, for most of us, is a state of mind. We don't live in huts made of mud and straw. We haven't lost our family to our own government's machine guns. We haven't been abandoned at a bus stop as an infant because we had the gall to be born a woman. We aren't afraid speaking our minds will land us in prison. We can read. We have the basics necessary for survival. We don't choose between feeding our children and feeding ourselves.

We aren't powerless unless we choose to be. We can change the world, one piece at a time, if we do what is right in front of us. If we speak up, stand up, get up, open up--own a vision for the change we want to see and go after it with single-minded dedication.

One of the most inspiring examples of this is 23 year old Lopez Lomong, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. When he was 6, he was kidnapped from his village. He escaped by tunnelling under a wire fence and traveling across Sudan and over the Kenyan border, ending up at refugee camp. Can you imagine doing that at 6?

He lived in hiding at the refugee camp for ten years. One day, after being paid a few shillings to do a landscaping job, he hiked five miles to the home of a man charging an entrance fee to those who wanted to watch the Sydney Olympics on his black and white television.

Lopong was captivated by the sight of Michael Johnson running for gold in the 400 meters. This was his first introduction, not just to the Olympics, but to the idea of running as a sport. That day, Lopong decided he would change his life. He decided he would compete at the Olympics as a runner, under the American flag.

That day, Lopong stopped being a Sudanese refugee and became a future American Olympic athlete. His outside circumstances were the same. It was the inside that was changed. Eight years later, Lopong not only competed at these Beijing Olympics as a runner for America, he carried the American flag in the opening ceremonies.

It gets better.

Lopong is not content to see his own life change without reaching back to save more Sudanese children from growing up in refugee camps as he did. He is part of Team Darfur, a group of athletes using their status to raise awareness of the plight of Sudan.

How did Lopez Lompong go from kidnapped, traumatized 6 year old boy to raising awareness for his country on the most prominent international platform available?

He refused to lament the problems in his government without taking action. He believed he could rise above his present circumstances and be whoever he set his mind to be. He did not stand at a distance, waiting on the world to change. He got in the world's face and said, "Hey! Listen up!"

And we did.

So, with respect to John Mayer's disillusioned generation of powerless future leaders, may I use the shining light of Lopez Lompong's life to say, with conviction, we are only powerless if we choose to be.

Let's stop waiting on the world to change and be the change we want to see.

My vision for change is my passion for adoption--educating others, facilitating the process for others if there's any way I can help, and most of all, completing my own family with as many orphans as God has written on my heart.

What's yours?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Writing Update


Shadowing Fate: Synopsis finished (and I'm really happy with it!). Currently adding five chapters into the middle of the book, two into the last third, and then I just need to finish writing the ending and polish it up.

Short stories (one for ezine, one for Paul): Nothing. Nada. Zip. Let me finish SF and then we'll see.

Poetry Blog: Up and running. Starting slow but I won't be posting more than two a week there. I want an outlet, not a stone around my neck.


Queries sent this week: 2

Total queries sent for SF: 7

Total requests for partials: 6

Total requests for fulls off of partials: 2 (the others are still reading)

Total rejections: 0


Will be entering SF in the Golden Pen by end of August

*If anyone knows of another high-publicity contest that would be a good match for SF (one that is coming up shortly), please let me know. I am woefully out of touch with which contests hold the most weight (beyond Golden Heart, Maggie, and American Title).*

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Owning The Place

Last night, I watched Phelps beat an incredibly competitive field of swimmers in the 100m breast stroke by one one-hundredths of a second to win his 7th gold medal at this Olympic games.

It was absolutely incredible to watch. He passed the leader at the last possible second by simply hurling himself into the wall. Most swimmers take one last stroke and then stretch for the wall. This time, Michael tossed stretching for the wall out the window, took an extra stroke and literally slammed his hand into the wall one one-hundredth of a second faster than the guy next to him.

Stunning. Brilliant. Everything we've come to expect from Michael Phelps.

What I found interesting, though, was his interview directly after the race. The peppy female journalist shoved a mike in his face, congratulated him on yet another win, and then asked the following question: "Did you ever believe, when you first came into these games, that you would be able to dominate all these races and win seven golds?"

Phelps responded with: "I knew if the conditions were right and everything lined up, I could do this."

I rolled my eyes. Not at Phelps. At the woman for asking such a clearly ridiculous question. I mean, has she actually seen Phelps swim?? If so, she should know the answer is undeniably: "Yes."

And not because of his phenomenal natural ability either.

Phelps is a fierce competitor, a dominating force in the water, because he refuses to be anything less. He demands the utmost his body can give him and when he achieves it, he pushes for more. I guarantee he didn't approach these Olympics with the hope that he could win. He walked in the door of the Aquatic Center confident that he owned the place.

There's no doubt that Phelps has incredible natural ability but he doesn't rest his confidence on that. Great athletes are forged out of discipline, persistence, passion, and a willingness to endure what would make a lesser man quit.

Sounds a lot like what it takes to be a published author. Or an acclaimed actor. Or sculptor, painter, poet, singer...the list goes on. Art begins as a spark of natural ability but the artist must fan that spark into a passion that refuses to accept silver when gold is on the table.

Artists who want to forge themselves into a master of their craft must demand what their talent can give them, and then push for more. They must exercise discipline, persistence, passion, and a willingness to endure what would make a another artist quit.

Phelps doesn't just swim. He is swimming because he refuses to be anything less.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ask And It Shall Be Given...Err...Spoken...No...Typed! Yes, typed!

The dust has settled from my whirlwind trip to San Fran and the kids are now back in school so I'm entering into my daily routine again and will resume the series of posts on the Writing Process and the art of living a creative life.

Since (as I've pointed out numerous times) this is my blog, I can (and will!) post on any topic that comes to mind.

However, I'm not writing these just to see my own thoughts on a page. =) So, if you have a question or a topic idea you'd like me to cover, please leave a comment (suggest as many items as you like) and I'll intersperse those with whatever else the Muse dictates.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bring It On, Beauty Queens!

It's time for everyone's favorite post: the What Key Word Search Landed Some Poor, Hapless Fool On C.J.'s Blog post.

Yeah, I know what you want.

Here's the latest:

1. I'll fix your wagon: I certainly will. Really, who googles this? Bet you didn't expect to land on the site of a woman who writes urban fantasy, adores stilettos, and refuses to eat green beans. Serves you right.

2. Murder scene: May I suggest to you that simply googling "murder scene" is perhaps a tad vague? Of course, you probably already realize this since you ended up here, where all murders are of the fictional variety. Or so I want you to believe...

3. Why stay true to an author's writings?: Do you really need someone else's opinion on this? Stay true to your writings because anything less is a cop out. Or because it's tawdry to copy someone else. Or because pandering to what you think the market will love in two years is a really stupid way to start a novel.

4. What would the death eaters think of you?: Avada Kadavra. There. Question answered.

5. Monkey boy: Did he get out again? *grumbles loudly* No matter how many times I say "stay in your cage or PETA will fry me on the six o'clock news", he insists on running to the store for Cheetos and whipped cream. Stupid primate.

6. Star Wars Clone Wars Zero Hut: I knew this was going to happen. As soon as I began typing that post, I knew this would happen. I'm just relieved none of the Kool Aid drinkers set up camp in the comments section. But in case any fans are reading this particular bit, allow me to tell you that Zero Hut sounds like Boss Hog trying to imitate his wife. It's just not scary. Okay, it is scary but in a totally different way than Lucas intended.

And my personal favorite (because I do love a non-sequitur):

7. This isn't the number 23 this is Sparta and kick her down the aisle: My friend, you are either brilliant or completely insane. Welcome home.


1. Daredevil is a lover of words. *wipes away a tear of pride* He reads, journals, and types his own stories on the computer, just like his mom.

2. I never thought his ever-expanding vocabulary would rear its locquacious little head and bite me in the posterior (having an extensive repertoire of words myself) but it did.

3. I lost to Daredevil in Scrabble.

4. I never lose at Scrabble.

5. How did I lose? We established that the definition of a usable word was one that could be used in a book.

6. He whipped out the following word: "Zooweemama" and when I protested, he yanked out his Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and sure enough, there it was.

7. In Scrabble, there's no coming back from a word like Zooweemama.

8. I've been watching the Olympics and find myself totally inspired by our men's swim team. Not just Michael Phelps (who is completely amazing), but the whole team.

9. Watching the finish of the men's 400m relay was absolutely incredible. Jason Lezak just flat out refused to lose. Refused.

10. He closed the distance between himself and Bernard (that Smack Talking Frenchman whose performance couldn't quite match his own predictions) and passed him by 8 hundredths of a second.

11. No one thought he could. The announcers were already forecasting the U.S. team as fighting for the bronze but Jason Lezak didn't show up that day to win the bronze. He wanted gold.

12. He got it.

13. I may have to do a post where I discuss how lessons learned from Olympians apply to writing.

14. Speaking of writing, the synopsis for SF went better than I thought.

15. It also revealed what I'd already suspected: I jumped the gun on my climactic moment and need to go back and insert a few more chapters to flesh it out and make it all work.

16. This week will be spent writing additional scenes and inserting them into the manuscript.

17. I've sent out the last of my requested partials and now just have to finish up the added scenes, polish the ending, and do a thorough reading of the entire manuscript to catch any extra dialogue tags, adverbs, or other mistakes I refuse to allow.

18. Ooooh, I almost forgot. Fun news!! I have some giveaways for the blog: paperbacks I picked up at RWA (mostly paranormal, but a few others) and I'm working on getting some cool cds from my neighbor who works for a distribution center and can get me stuff like Red, Fireflight, Third Day etc.

19. Reader Question: If you were sentenced to three months in an isolation chamber (let's pretend those exist) and could only take 1 book, 1 movie, and 1 cd with you, what would you take?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Help! My I.Q. Has Fallen And It Can't Get Up!

Last night, because we are good parents and we love our children, we took the boys to see a sneak preview of Star Wars: Clone Wars. My hubby's radio station sponsored the showing so we got in free (and came home with posters and activity books...).

I can't really explain how much I was not looking forward to this movie. I mean, it's bad enough that Lucas mutilated his own story with the cinematic travesties that are Episodes 1-3, but now I had to sit through an animated version? Ugh.

However, I've sat through numerous animated flicks since the birth of my children. I'm good at enduring for the sake of motherhood.

We arrived early and stood in line with other families whose children buzzed with excitement ("It's the video game come to life!") and parents who wore an expression eerily similar to soldiers going into battle ("It's the @#%& video game come to life!"). Before long, actors in costume showed up and began marching around the line--clone soldiers in full uniform, Obi Wan, Skywalker, and even a totally realistic, life-sized, remote-controlled R2D2. All pretty entertaining, even if Daredevil did keep trying to challenge every clone soldier to a Fight to the Death.

They demurred because a) he's pint-sized and b) he had no weapon they could see. If only they knew...

We handed our passes over as we entered the theater and were given little tickets with stars cut out of them and told to hang on to them for dear life. No entrance or re-entrance without the ticket, we were told. Must show the security guard the ticket, we were told.

Security guard??

Perhaps the theater didn't realize that this was the animated version of Star Wars? Were they honestly worried about rogue movie-goers suddenly abandoning their plans to see The Dark Knight in favor of a Lucas-scrapes-the-bottom flick?

Apparently so.

The security guard at the entrance to our particular theater glanced at our tickets, lectured us on turning off cell phones and not using cameras (Darn it. Foiled again!), and let us through. We climbed the long hallway leading up to the main theater and lo and behold, another security guard awaited us.

This security guard was seventy if he was a day with thick, coke-bottle glasses distorting his eyes and, I kid you not, a metal detector clutched in his hand.

I settled into my seat, wondering what he could possibly be looking for with his metal detector (braces? stray ink pens?) and then realized he wasn't using it on anyone who came in. Perhaps he couldn't really see anyone who came in. Instead, he kept waving it in front of the metal hand railing to see if it would beep.

It did. Every time. I spared a moment to wonder if the theater management realized their security guard was busy subduing a handrail and little else but then forgot about him as the conversation being held directly behind me caught my attention.

Three twenty-something men sat behind me, alternately critiquing and envying the costumes of the actors who had now filed into the theater with us. I heard statements like "Oh, I like how Obi's belt is cinched to the left. I haven't tried that before." and "Did you see the wig on the Anniken guy? If that isn't an inch too long, I don't know my Anniken."

I risked a quick glance over my shoulder and confirmed what, until that moment, I had deemed impossible. Grown-ups were in the theater. Voluntarily. Without children.

Not just any grown-ups. Grown-ups who were eager to dissect minutia on belt placement and hair-length. I sat in horrified amusement as the three behind me kept a running commentary on all things Star Wars (even, at one point, rehashing the Clone Wars trailer for their favorite parts) while the actors paraded around, brandishing light sabers and saying "May the Force be with you" and the ancient security guard waved his metal detector over the metal hand railing.

Then the real fun started.

The radio station crew had give-aways (hence the posters and the activity books) and initiated an impromptu talent show to earn the giveaways. None of my readers will be surprised that Daredevil and Starshine were the first in line to display their talents. They ran on stage, plopped themselves on their skinny bottoms, and hoisted one leg firmly behind their ear. Everyone clapped for my little contortionists and they ran back with their prizes firmly clutched in their hands. Several other kids paraded across the stage, showcasing ninja moves and Yoda-speak and then I noticed something I never thought I'd see.

Grown ups. In line. Willing to get in front of a theater full of people and do a little show and tell for a poster.

Then the grown ups began filing across the front of the theater and I realized the three behind me, previously labeled Not Quite Right in the recesses of my brain where sarcasm thrives, suddenly appeared Totally Sane.

A man did a not too bad impression of Chewy. Maybe a 4 on the You Might Be Weird scale. What was weird was the chorus of critiques and praise he received from the audience. Families with children all clapped politely. Grown ups without children wondered if perhaps his timbre was a shade too low for a true Chewbacca impression.

Then another man took the stage and gave us his best JarJar imitation. Families with children clapped politely. Grown ups without children booed and hissed. Not because his impression was bad. Because they all hated JarJar.

But it wasn't until a man squatted down (yes, squatted) and informed us that he would give us R2D2's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (does R2D2 even know the Star Spangled Banner??) that I realized I'd somehow slipped my children through a cosmic crack in the face of time and landed us all in an alternate universe. The man squatted, opened his mouth, and proceeded to give us all two minutes of the following: "Boo beeeee da bop bop beeee. Woooweeee bip bip baaa baaa deeee." At the end of it (and yes, my mouth was literally hanging wide open until I remembered that a) that was rude and b) showcasing my thoughts too clearly within this alternate universe might get me run through with a light saber), families with children clapped politely and tried to wrest appropriate expressions of interest over the glassy-eyed shock on their faces.

Grown ups without children cheered mightily.

The final kicker was a woman, resembling a linebacker in a sundress, who took the stage and gave us a female Chewy impression. Before I could find the words to describe the peculiar torture that was listening to that performance, the Scientist turned to me and said, "She sounded like a female wookie giving birth."

I waited for the three behind us to launch a verbal (or light sabered) reprimand for that piece of sacrilege but they laughed instead. Apparently, her timbre was off too.

The movie started and the three behind us instantly hushed the crowd in case we missed any dialogue. I sat through the whole thing, only wishing maybe thirty times that it would end already. And honestly, the kids were highly entertained. They laughed often. So did the three behind us who kept a quiet commentary of "Ooooh, nice line." or "Look at his uniform". I didn't give in to my urge to make any sarcastic remarks to my hubby until Zero Hut (gangster uncle to Jabba the Hut) came on the scene. Zero, a stone-cold killer, opened his mouth and out came Scarlet O'Hara meets Larry The Cable guy.

It's pretty hard to take a unisex redneck seriously.

When the movie ended, the three behind us made eager plans to meet up again for the midnight showing on Thursday and I had to hand it to them. They are dedicated fans. I feel the same sense of dedication to the Pirates franchise, LOTR, and Harry Potter. Still, I can honestly say that if any of those franchises were to suddenly foist an animated flick on the masses, I would not be first in line to grab a ticket.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pink is the New Black

Note to self:

When one accidentally substitutes lip gloss for eye liner, one can be confident that one is in dire need of more sleep.

End Memo.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Big Brother Is Watching

1. Yesterday, I voted in our local election. School board reps, judges, sheriff, and house of reps were on the ballot.

2. I didn't have to stand in line and was told that there were maybe 200 people who showed up at my precinct to vote that day.

3. I'm ashamed of those who didn't bother to come.

4. Men lost their lives to give us the right to vote. Women fought for decades to be given equal voting rights as men. We see people in countries like Sudan, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Iran...the list goes on...who don't have the right to speak up, the right to effect change, the right to have a different opinion and yet we take our own rights for granted and can't take a few minutes out of day to vote.

5. We took the boys to the county fair Tuesday night.

6. The Scientist wanted nothing to do with any of the rides except the bumper cars so I camped out with him at that particular ride and let the others drag their father to the ferris wheel, the kiddie rides, and anywhere else their daring little hearts desired.

7. The man running the bumper cars was a whip-thin carnie missing most of his teeth and, it turned out, a good deal of his common sense.

8. At one point, he asked the Scientist what he wanted to be when he grew up (this was after we'd been on the ride six times in a row...). The Scientist said "I'm going to be in the Army."

9. Whereupon the carnie said, "Oooh, now, you have to watch out fer that there FBI. They know everything."

10. The Scientist politely informed him that he wanted to be in the ARMY, not the FBI, and the carnie nodded sagely and said, "That there FBI knows every little thing about you. They know what kind of car you drive, where you park it at night, and what you had for lunch."

11. At this point, we were able to enter the ride, thus sparing the carnie the stream of words just begging to leave my mouth.

12. I truly, madly, deeply despise writing a synopsis.

13. I don't know why.

14. Maybe it's because I'm a Pantser, not a Plotter, and so the entire exercise is a lot like forcing myself to go to the dentist: you know it has to be done but that doesn't mean you're going to enjoy it.

15. Anyone seen Mummy III yet? Looks like something I'd love.

16. The kids start school on Monday and I have a flurry of last minute shopping to do: one more binder, a pair of shoes, lunch supplies, and possibly a back pack.

17. The first trailer for The Half-Blood Prince is out now. =D

18. I want to re-read the series up to book six before I see the movie.

19. We'll see if I actually find the time to do so.

20. Reader Question: What book would you love to see made into a movie (provided it was done right)?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm Going To Insert My Finger...

I've been to five national conferences in the last eight years, two for RWA and three for the candle business I used to run. I've learned a few things about packing up and hauling myself out to an unfamiliar city, staying in hotels, finding my way around the sites and shops...but nothing I've learned stands out as clearly as this: DO NOT SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IN AN UNFAMILIAR CITY.

Yes, that deserves all caps.

When you need medical attention in your own city, you know exactly what to do. Who to call. Which hospitals to avoid.

You have no idea how crucial those bits of knowledge are until you don't have them.

One memorable conference I attended was in the beautiful city of St. Louis. At the completion of the first day of conference, I wasn't feeling great. At all.

My friends and I returned to our hotel suite and changed for dinner. I was struggling with the clasp of a bracelet when the room went dark and I woke up on the floor with the hotel manager bending over me.

Thankfully, I was fully dressed.

Once I understood that I'd passed out, I tried to get up and go to bed. I just wanted some sleep.

The manager disagreed with my plan of action.

Apparently, if a guest of his hotel does an ungraceful face plant into the carpet, he feels morally and legally obligated to call an ambulance and send that guest to the hospital for a more thorough checking.

I argued.

He argued.

He'd already called the ambulance. The paramedics arrived during our argument and, as a clear sign that I truly did not feel well, I lost that round.

The paramedics strapped me to a stretcher (I argued about that too but I was soon to be grateful for their forethought) and wheeled me down the hall and into the elevator.

If that sounds Not So Bad to you, I should take a moment to set the scene. I was staying at an Embassy Suites. All of the rooms surrounded a huge, open atrium. The atrium was full of conference attendees because it was currently the Manager's Reception which means a free cocktail and snacks. Try keeping hundreds of women away from that.

Not only were there crowds in the atrium, the elevator was glass.

All of that added up to a significant slice of humanity staring in various stages of indecent interest at the poor woman strapped to a gurney and being wheeled through the hotel by paramedics who, sadly, did not see the need to drape a sheet over my face and pretend I was dead, even though I assured them I wouldn't move a muscle.

We exited the hotel's front doors and entered Round Two of Humiliate C.J. The curved drive leading to the hotel's entrance was full of taxis, shuttles, and even the occasional limo, all clogged with more conference attendees, none of whom had the decency to pretend they didn't see me.

The hotel was on a hill overlooking a river. The driveway was steep enough to hurtle unwary tourists, foolish skateboarders, or women on gurneys into traffic and, should they be lucky enough to avoid becoming roadkill, across the road and into the river itself.

Naturally, the ambulance was at the very top of the driveway with the double doors in back facing that long slide into the river. I mentally congratulated my paramedics on the decision to strap me down as they hauled me up that hill toward the ambulance.

I refused to consider the certain death awaiting me should they accidentally let me go. To that end, I became quiet, meek, and docile. I've never heard of paramedics deliberately sending their patients across traffic and into nasty bodies of water because their patient was an irritating loudmouth but I decided not to push my luck.

We reached the back of the ambulance and I received Clue #1 that this city's medical funding is seriously lacking.

The paramedics rammed the gurney against the entrance to the ambulance, presumably because the front legs of the gurney are supposed to collapse inward and allow them to smoothly slide the stretcher into place.

The legs refused to collapse.

They tried again.

Same result.

After the third try, I abandoned my plan to be quiet, meek, and docile and began questioning whether they gained bonus points by making sure every patient arrived with at least one broken bone.

They lifted the gurney into the ambulance instead.

This is not an easy task. I found myself grateful, again, for the straps.

There are locks on the floor of the ambulance for the gurney. I made a joke about "Contents Might Shift During Flight" and the paramedic smiled and then said, "No, this is just in case the door flies open while we're driving. We don't want to lose you out the back."

Since I was pretty sure neither paramedic would be heartbroken to lose me out the back of the ambulance during transit, I assumed he was making a sick joke.

It totally sucked that I was wrong.

The ambulance started, made it down the hill without launching across traffic and into the river, and then began a long journey toward the hospital. I say long because this is a major city and major cities generally have three or four big hospitals to choose from so that medical care is never too far away from its residents.

We drove for nearly twenty minutes. I questioned the paramedic as to our final destination and he gave me a look I couldn't decipher (later, I was to realize it was his I'll Fix Your Wagon, look or maybe his You Don't Know Any Better So You Won't Argue About This look) and said we were going to St. You Might Never Leave Hospital, on the opposite side of the city.

Why were we going to the opposite side of the city? He never gave me an answer. He didn't have to. We were both distracted by the fact that our ambulance hit one bump too many and one half of the backdoor was now flapping in the wind.

That's right. One half of the backdoor flew open while we were driving. Clue #2 that getting sick in this city was a serious miscalculation on my part.

I was very grateful to be locked down and strapped in. I was also sure that if I hadn't needed medical attention before the paramedics got a hold of me, I would certainly need it soon.

The paramedic said something not fit for publication, leaned out to grab the errant door, and then joked to me that the city didn't put enough money into its emergency response team.

You think?

We arrived at St. You Might Never Leave and I was absurdly grateful to be removed from the ambulance. This is, of course, before I encountered the emergency room.

The emergency personnel whisked me into my own little curtained-off room with due haste. At the time, I attributed it to concern for my well-being. Later, I realized it was because I was the only sane person in the building and they couldn't risk me carrying tales of St. You Might Never Leave to outsiders.

I lay in my curtained-off room, listening to the sounds around me, learning the voices of the nurses (there were two), the doctor (one, and he sounded impossibly young), and the other patients (four). It occurred to me to wonder how on earth an emergency department could have so few staff members working and so few patients to work on but what do I know? Perhaps the city was remarkably emergency free. More likely, most of the ambulance riders never survived their trip.

I discovered I was the last in a line of four curtained-off rooms. The person at the far end from me was an elderly woman who kept moaning loudly and explaining to no one in particular that she'd fallen and probably broken most of the bones in her body.

The next room contained a man who'd been beaten by another man.

The room beside me contained a person who kept making the following noise "Aaarrrgh" followed by a loud "Thump".

And right outside my curtain, a woman sat in a wheelchair, her head lolling to the side, her hospital gown collecting copious amounts of drool from her chin.

Clue #3 that I needed to get the heck out of Dodge came when one of the nurses looked up from her charts, noticed the woman in the wheelchair, and yelled to the other nurse "Get someone from Psych ward down here. She's been over-medicated again."

Wait...what? Psych ward? Over-medicated? AGAIN???

I made a hasty mental note to A) not accept medication of any kind from anyone at this hospital and B) do my absolute best to appear completely sane at all times.

An orderly wheeled the woman away and on his heels was a sheriff, in full uniform, gun and baton bulging from his belt, hauling a handcuffed man along the hallway. They went into room #2 and the sheriff asked patient #2 if this was the man who'd assaulted him.

The patient said yes.

A loud argument ensued with many promises of violent death and desecration of the remains from the handcuffed man.

Seriously? What happened to police line-ups? Holding cells? Or just plain NOT bringing violent criminals in close proximity to helpless hospital patients???

Clue #4.

My list was growing. A) Don't accept medication. B) Act sane. C) Don't draw unwanted attention to myself from the violent felon standing just outside my door.

Meanwhile, I was still hearing "Aaaarrrgh - Thump!" from next door and Granny On The End had changed her story from falling against her coffee table to falling into her washing machine and nearly drowning.

I wanted to warn them both that medication and a trip to the Psych ward were in their immediate future but to do so would draw unwanted attention to myself and would therefore violate Mental Note #3.

The sheriff, the felon, and the beaten up man (who turned out to be homeless) argued loudly over Granny's litany of injuries and "Aaaarrrrgh-Thump" man next door until an agreement was reached that Felon would be incarcerated and Homeless Man would get to keep his box of goodies stolen by Felon.

I was relieved when the sheriff hauled Felon out, and not just because the whole situation smacked of Crazy. I had another problem. I needed to use the restroom. Badly.

I've heard that the bladder can expand three times before reaching its true limit and refusing to hold another drop.

I was nearing Expansion #4 and it wasn't going to work.

With great fear and trembling, I pushed the call button for the nurse. I'd been lying in my curtained-off room for over an hour at this point and no one, not the nurse, not the doctor, not the sheriff with another felon in tow, had looked in on me. My initial "Hey, I could be dead and no one would know it" outrage had disappeared with the over-medicated woman on her way to the Psych ward. In its place was a deep-seated aversion to having anyone remember my presence.

I also have a deep-seated aversion to wetting the bed, however, and since my distaste for loss of bodily function control outweighs my fear of felons and Psych wards, I alerted St. You Know You're Never Getting Out of Here to my presence.

The nurse was fairly prompt in answering my summons (perhaps she hoped to find me over-medicated as well so she could dispatch one more unfortunate woman to the Psych ward?) and wheeled me out of my room toward the bathroom. The bathroom was located at the opposite end of the curtained-off rooms (none of which had curtains that fully shut) which means I got a good look at each of the three patients on my way through the hall.

Granny was a tiny woman who opened her eyes every time she moaned, searching eagerly for an audience. Homeless man looked like he'd been hit by a train and was muttering a stream of steady profanity under his breath. Given our present circumstances, I could hardly blame him. "Aaaarrrgh-Thump" was a blind man who was anchored to his bed by blood pressure cuffs on both arms. Every thirty seconds or so, he would struggle to sit up, pulling mightily against the thick cords of the cuffs (hence the "Aaaarrrgh") and when he hit the limit of the cords' elasticity, they would yank him back onto the mattress ("thump").

No one but me found that entire set-up frighteningly callous.

I used the restroom and was wheeled back to my own room where an orderly was waiting for me, an i.v. bag clutched in his hand.

"What is that?" I asked.

"Just a little something to keep you hydrated." He lied.

Oh yes, he lied. I remembered the over-medicated woman in the wheelchair. No way was I allowing anyone in this Cesspool of Medical Travesties to put a needle in my veins.

"If I'm thirsty, I'll just drink something. Preferably something with the seal unbroken by anyone but me." I said.

"Hospital policy is to keep every patient hydrated." He lied. Again.

Oh yes, he lied again. Patients one through three didn't have i.v.'s. Why should I?

"The other patients don't have any i.v.'s." I said.

"I haven't got to them yet."

"How lucky for them."

"If you'll just extend your arm."

I shoved my arms under the blanket.

"Ms. Redwine, I really must--"

"I'll be very clear. I do not want an i.v. I will not accept an i.v. Even if all the signs point to my very near demise due to dehydration, I still refuse to accept an i.v. here."

The orderly looked puzzled and disappointed. Perhaps he wasn't used to patients speaking up for themselves. Given the state of the other inmates, err, patients, I could understand his confusion.

"But, Ms. Redwine, I'm supposed to practice at least ten i.v.'s tonight."


"What are you talking about?" I demanded in a so-not-friendly voice.

"That's my homework for tonight. It's just fluid--"


"Surely the paramedics informed you that St. Stay Here Long Enough And You'll Be Crazy Too is a teaching hospital."

No. No they didn't. And they'd better hope I never saw them again or they were going to need some over-medicating of their own.

"I was unaware. I'm sorry to throw a wrench in your homework assignment but I absolutely refuse an i.v." I said and sent the orderly on his way, no doubt complaining to his fellow students about the difficult diva in room 4.

I couldn't worry about that, though, because bigger problems were heading my way. The doctor, the one I thought sounded impossibly young (turns out because he was impossibly young) had finally deigned to grace the emergency room with his presence and was starting his examinations with Granny.

"What seems to be the problem?" He asked.

Granny abandoned her coffee table/washing machine/kitchen counter theory and produced her most creative effort to date: "I tripped over the back of the couch and fell right onto the porch. I think I broke my arm."

I was ready for the (impossibly young) doctor to say he would send her for x-rays or would be examining her bones or at the very least, ask her to say aaaahh and ignore his efforts to induce vomiting with his wooden popsicle stick.

Instead, he said "Okay. Well. Now I'm going to insert my finger into your rectum."

Say what??

There was a moment of silence, interrupted once with "Aaarrgh-Thump" and then Granny shouted "Oh, Lordy!"

Apparently, that was all the medical information the (impossibly young) doctor required. He left Granny and turned to Homeless Man.

"What seems to be the problem?" He asked.

"That *insert stream of profanity here* beat the *more profanity* out of me." Homeless Man said.

"Okay. Well. Now I'm going to insert my finger into your rectum."

WHAT??? The light began to dawn on me as Homeless Man did a pretty convincing job of threatening the doctor's mother with immediate disembowelment.

The orderly needed to hook up 10 i.v.s.

The doctor needed to explore 10 rectums.

We were nothing but homework assignments, regardless of our symptoms.

I was not at all shocked when the (impossibly young) doctor entered "Aaaarrgh-Thump"'s room and informed him he would be inserting his finger into his rectum.

Then it was my turn. Granny was still chanting "Oh, Lordy" and probably rethinking her medical options. Homeless Man was going hoarse with the virulent stream of profanity aimed at mankind in general and the (impossibly young) doctor in particular. "Aaaarrrgh-Thump" was trying harder than ever to escape his confinement (and who could blame him?).

And I was more than ready.

"What seems to be the problem?"

"Listen here, buddy. Under no circumstances will you be inserting anything into my rectum that you wouldn't want to sit on yourself. I am not old and confused. I'm not beaten up and broken down. And no one here was wise enough to restrain me with blood pressure cuffs or medicate me into oblivion. I don't want treatment. In fact, I refuse treatment. I want to return to my hotel and you would be wise not to get in my way."

The (impossibly young) doctor took one look at my face and didn't argue. He called my hotel manager who came out himself to pick me up and return me to the Embassy Suites, though not before profusely apologizing for the incredible oversight that landed me at St. Go Ahead And Die on his watch.

Now I know better. If I ever do need to seek medical attention in a new city, I will A) find a friendly native of the city to keep me from teaching hospitals and overzealous students and B) Make sure I'm close enough to death to warrant the risk.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

But You HAVE Heard Of Me

On Danielle's blog, she posted her top ten movies of all time and I thought, "Ha! Another great idea to shamelessly pilfer for my own uses!" Her criteria for choosing her movies was this: What would I want to watch over and over again if I was on a deserted island (albeit one with a flat screen tv, surround sound, and a DVD player).

Using that same criteria, I've chosen my top ten movies (in no particular order):

1. Lord of the Rings: While I love the entire trilogy, the first movie is my clear favorite. I adore the Ring Wraiths. And Gandalf's performance. And of course, the chunk of film devoted to the hilarity that is Merry and Pippin.

2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Again, I love the whole series but the latest installment captured me the most. I think it was the whole battle scene in the Department of Mysteries. Plus Harry's inner torment. And of course, the visual banquet that is any Harry Potter flick.

3. The Princess Bride: This may just be the perfect movie. Inconceivable? Not even if you're mostly dead. =)

4. The Dark Knight: Having already devoted an entire post to the brilliance of Ledger's performance, I won't rhapsodize anew. Suffice it to say, it's a 2 1/2 hour movie that I've already seen twice in one week. That's love, people. That's love.

5. Mary Poppins: Again, a perfect movie. Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews doesn't get any better than that.

6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: This is such a refreshingly different visual masterpiece (plus it has a really tough female lead) that I can't get enough.

7. Get Smart: Another flawless comedy. Wit, action, and a plot that holds up.

8. Back to the Future: Okay, I's all very 80's. Still, give me my 1.21 jigawatts over most of the tripe currently produced by Hollywood any day.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: We all know I'd take all three pirate movies in a heartbeat but if I'm forced to pick one, I'd take the first. I can't find a single thing wrong with it.

10. Arsenic and Old Lace: If you haven't seen this hilarious classic, add this to your Netflix list and enjoy. Cary Grant, crazy old ladies, and bodies in the window seat. What more do you need?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Best If Used By

1. The award ceremony was fun, even though I didn't win.

2. I really loved cheering for my friends as their names were called. It's much more exciting when you personally know the winners.

3. Also, I'm pleased to report that I was not personally responsible for any wardrobe malfunctions.

4. How boring is that??

5. Afterwards, Katy and I went to the Top of the Mark bar to meet up with some friends.

6. The Top of the Mark is located on the corner of Pine and California, which is near the top of Nob Hill.

7. Katy's friends told her to have the taxi drop us at Pine and Mason which is one block lower than the interesection needed, though we didn't know that at the time.

8. I should pause to explain that "hill" in San Fran is a euphemism for "steep as a playground slide".

9. The driver dropped us off, realized we were one block short of our intended destination, but was on one of San Fran's numerous one-way streets and couldn't turn around.

10. "We'll walk", we said, because after three days of Conference activities, our brains were no longer capable of logic.

11. So, we walked. "Walk", in this case, is a euphemism for "dug our high heels into uneven concrete, leaned into the wind at a 90 degree angle, and ignored the 'I hate you' messages screaming up at us from our calves".
12. I find it a serious oversight that San Fran doesn't include railings, safety ropes, and climbing guides for tourists attempting Nob Hill.

13. I spent Sunday morning with my parents and came home with a new pair of shoes (do try to contain your surprise) and two new handbags.

14. My first flight took me to Las Vegas. I landed with 30 minutes to spare between one flight and the next.

15. Thankfully, Vegas offered plenty of diversion for those measly 30 minutes.

16. No, I don't mean the copious amount of slot machines littering the airport.

17. I mean the fact that I exited at gate 24 and my next flight left from gate 5.

18. Racing through the airport in heels, dodging travelers, luggage, and the impulsive gamblers who veered suddenly from their path at the sight of a slot machine, heedless of anyone in their path, was not my idea of fun.

19. I spent part of that rapid journey stuck behind two men in their late twenties or early thirties.

20. At one point, one man looked at the other and said, "I can't wait to be back in L.A. where I can just chillax."

21. Chillax.

22. Apparently, this gentleman was unaware that in this context "chill" and "relax" are synonymns and don't gain any additional meaning when combined.

23. They do, however, call into question the intelligence of the user when combined.

24. I'm here to tell you, there's an expiration date on trendy words and men in their thirties have passed that date, no matter how baggy they wear their pants.

25. I arrived home just after 2 am (Paul did not make good on his threat to force me to hitchhike) and am so tired today, I can barely form a sentence.

26. Still, I'll be sending out my partials to requesting agents and doing laundry in between taking naps and spending tons of time with my boys.

27. Reader Question: If Hollywood made a movie of your life, which actor/actress would play you?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Conference Stats

So far:

5 cups of coffee (which is probably 4 1/2 too many)

4 requests from agents for SF

3 sips of champagne

2 requests for my autograph (I quickly recovered from my initial "WHAT??" response to graciously agree to sign my name beneath the pic of me in the program but it definitely felt...weird.)

1 trip to the theater to see The Dark Knight. Again.

Still to come:

The award ceremony, walking in stilettos and a floor length dress without initiating any wardrobe malfunctions, jotting down an acceptance speech in case I need this (yes there are only hours to go and no, I haven't done this), after parties, hanging out in San Fran tomorrow morning with my parents and then it's off to the airport for a truly torturous trip home (arriving in Nashville at 12:50 A.M.).

I'll be working on SF on the plane so that will make up for it a little.

No butterflies about the award's ceremony yet but I am excited. I don't even care if I win (strange, I know, given how competitive I am) because I've used my GH finalist status to network myself into a place of momentum and buzz and I'm good whether or not I cross the stage tonight. Plus, the other writers in my category are talented women. =)

Off to rehearse walking up the stairs without landing on my face.

Week In Review

I survived my flights across the continent. Yes, I realize that statement is self-evident but since I agonize over flying, over sitting in a metal tube crammed full of strangers who may or may not bathe and possess basic social etiquette, I felt the need to state that yes, I survived my flights and the two hour lay-over in Phoenix.

By the way, Phoenix has an interesting idea of what constitutes candy. Apparently, if it comes from a cactus, burns like a jalapeno, or contains an honest-to-God worm, it qualifies as a treat.

On my flight from Phoenix to San Fran, I sat next to a woman who was going to RWA as an author groupie rather than as a writer. I found that fascinating (plus she had a Kindle and I was really curious about it) so we struck up a conversation. I told her my name and she said, "That name is really familiar to me. I know you from somewhere!"

I found that gratifying. I've worked hard to establish a web presence, to get my name out there among authors and readers and here was living proof that my efforts were succeeding.

Since I was positive we'd never met in person, I began running through the other possibilities: my blog, my short on Amazon, my presence on other literary blogs, the newspaper article about my Golden Heart....nothing rang a bell with her. We left the subject alone and moved on, circling through topics until we landed on what my hubby does for a living.

Her eyes lit up. "Redwine! Clint Redwine! That's where I know the name. I'm a huge fan of your husband."

Oh. Well. That's nice too...

Traversing San Fran's airport wasn't nearly as difficult as I anticipated. Taking the complimentary shuttle to the hotel, however, was a different story. I waited outside at the shuttle pick-up curb for nearly an hour, wondering the whole time (as shuttle after shuttle for other hotels came and went) if perhaps the hotel, the website, and the nice lady providing information at the shuttle stop were all lying to me through their teeth.

Perhaps the shuttle didn't exist. Certainly it didn't show up every half an hour as everyone claimed. When finally the bus bearing the Holiday Inn logo on the front rolled to a stop, the driver began questioning my ultimate destination.

"I need to go to the Holiday Inn Express." I said.

"Which one?"

"The one on Airport."

"There's two."


"Umm, are they both Holiday Inn Expresses?"

"No, one is regular Holiday Inn."

"Then I need the Express."

"Are you sure?"

I took a brief moment to wonder if throwing my luggage at someone's head qualifies as a crime in San Fran.

"Yes. The Express."

"What is the address of the one you need?"

Now, at this point, the other passengers on board (the shuttle had two other destinations) are all glaring at me, wondering why I don't know where I'm going. I DO know where I'm going. I just can't convince the driver.

I yank out my notebook, haul out the page with all my pertinent travel information, and tell him I need the Holiday Inn Express and give an address.

"That's what I thought. You need the regular Holiday Inn."

Apparently over-heated red-heads with homicidal glints in their eyes fit the profile for those who choose to stay at the regular Holiday Inn.

"No, I need the Express. I'm positive."

The driver ignored me, motored his way out of the airport, made the rounds, drove right past the Holiday Inn Express and dropped me off at the regular Holiday Inn, insisting all the while that this was where I belonged. I told him forget whatever address I gave him, I knew I was registered at the Express. He did not care.

I entered the lobby of the regular Holiday Inn, expecting to see a mass of over-heated red-heads with murder weapons firmly clutched in their well-manicured hands...something to explain why my driver was so convinced this was my final destination.

The lobby was empty.

Perhaps all the patrons were out committing crimes?

I approached the front desk, gave them my name, and was told I did not have a reservation.

The poor man was lucky I hadn't packed a crowbar.

He called the Holiday Inn Express and sure enough, they had me in their computer.

"I knew it. Stupid shuttle driver. How am I going to get to the Express?" I asked, sweetly and with minimal baring of teeth.

"It's just a couple blocks up the road. You can walk." He answered.

Really lucky I didn't pack a crowbar. Although, come to think of it, I was packing stilettos...

So, I hauled my luggage down the sidewalk for two blocks to the Holiday Inn Express.
They wisely had a room instantly available.

Wednesday Highlights:

1. Not dying on an airplane.

2. Not remembering the stilettos I'd packed until it was too late to use them in the commission of a felony.

3. Meeting Katy in person for the first time and realizing that hanging out with her is perfect.

4. Heading to Pier 39 with Katy and eating clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, drooling over a calendar of fairies only to have my friend buy it for me, and finding some fun souvenirs for my boys.

5. Not dying on an airplane.

Thursday Highlights:

1. Arriving at RWA with 60 friends (my fellow Pixies, the 2008 Golden Heart finalists) waiting for me.

2. Discovering that Conference is tons of fun when you know so many people.

3. Getting 13 new paperbacks for free.

4. Hearing a woman ask a panel of agents what they thought of the "one space or two spaces after a period" controversy and watching the agents justifiably shut her down in 1.3 seconds.

5. Going with Katy and a new friend to see The Dark Knight Thursday evening.

Friday Highlights:

1. Meeting an agent who has requested SF and wanted to meet me in person after her workshop.

2. Enjoying the champagne reception for the Rita and GH finalists without enjoying too much champagne and giving everyone present a crazy woman to include in their next novel.

3. Hanging out with my Pixies at the Cheesecake Factory...Kahlua mocha coffee cheesecake is a wonderful invention.

Now, I'm off to breakfast and then to a pitch appointment with another agent. The rest of my day is full of workshops, practice for tonight's awards ceremony, and then the ceremony itself and several parties/receptions afterwards.

Off to hunt up some coffee.

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