Thursday, July 31, 2008

Breathing Easier

The big project and long hours at the office are behind me and I have some breathing room. Back to giving the manuscript nearly 100% of my non-day job, non-sleeping time.

I'm very close to finishing The Ghost of Granny Apples. Yea! My goal is to leave myself almost 2 weeks to hone and polish or, at the very least, 10 days. I'm definitely on track, as long as there are no more bumps in the road. The ending is coming together nicely and so far I'm pleased with the product.

Yikes, does that mean I'm in denial about its actual quality??!!

And, yes, I really am that neurotic.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's Next?

A murder and an earthquake, all within 24 hrs.

And it's not a plot in a TV show.

What's next? A celebrity drug bust?

Stay tuned!

Too Close For Comfort

Update on this blog: The murdered woman was not working in the building as originally thought, but had been there for an appointment. Several of my co-workers had to leave their cars in the parking structure for the night and get rides/cabs home. For more on this story.

You’d think that writing fiction about murders and murderers would make me a bit jaded about it, but the truth is, I think it makes me more sensitive to the horror.

I arrived at work this morning just before 9:00 a.m. to find the front of my office building covered in news vans. I figured it was a politician making rounds or maybe one of the thousands of attorneys working in the building was involved in a big case. That’s usually what happens.

Not today.

Last night a woman who worked in our building was murdered in the parking structure. She was killed on the 3rd floor around 6:30. I park on the 4th floor and left at 6:20. Even though it seems her attacker knew her, it still makes me shiver and weak in the knees.

They haven’t yet released her name, but Jane Doe or not, a woman lost her life about the time I drove out of the garage on my way home. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? Everyone in my office is in shock and buzzing about it. Some folks even heard the screams. You always think this stuff happens to other people. And even though this didn’t happen to anyone I know, we’re all very spooked about how close it was.

Whoever this woman was, she had family and friends who are now in shock and mourning. My heart goes out to them in their grief. And to all of us who feel a little less safe today.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Isn't It Always the Way?

It seems that every time I am down to the wire on finishing a manuscript, my day job explodes with a big project. This week was no different. Right on the heels of having to finish rewriting those 30 pages from my writing marathon of last weekend, we got hit with a big gotta-do-it project at the law firm, which means longer hours and mental exhaustion, which translates into less to no writing time. I haven't written since Wednesday, except for a paragraph or two and my Inkspot blog posting, and that was with swollen eyes and a foggy brain. (Trust me, it's near impossible to write fiction after spending 8-10 hours looking at Excel spreadsheets.)

Last night I came home and made a feeble attempt to work on The Ghost of Granny Apples with no success. So I did the next best thing. I went to bed. I slept 10 hours (something I rarely do) and this morning I'm back at the keyboard feeling refreshed and ready to go. Two days - just me and my manuscript.

And I have to get a lot done this weekend. You see, I have to be to work very early on Monday so the insanity can happen all over again.

20 days.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seeing Dead People

I'm over at the Inkspot today, talking about seeing dead people and abandoning comfort zones.

Come on by.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Houston, We've Got A Problem

Remember yesterday, when I told you how helpful Detective Martinez of the San Diego County Sheriff's Dept. had been? Well, now I'm not so sure. Last night I was reworking all the wonderful pages in The Ghost of Granny Apples that I'd produced over the weekend to bring them up to snuff with the way things are really done, and discovered that they would all have to be REWRITTEN!!! Yes, all of them. All the witty dialogue, cute scenarios, and snappy lines would have to be totally overhauled in the quest to get it RIGHT. I also picked the brain yesterday of Mark Hardiman, one of the the attorneys at my day job, and he gave me information that also meant additional rewriting.

sigh ...

24 days to go. Thankfully, all this rewriting is near the end of the manuscript! Still, I see another weekend of hiding out ahead of me to make up this time. And I was doing so well!

I think I'm gonna have a coronary.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Out of Hibernation

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was very productive. Got a lot of The Ghost of Granny Apples completed. Rested my injured heel and squeezed in a lot of reading. I even did my part for the environment by not moving my car the whole weekend. In fact, I never even left my apartment after arriving home on Friday night. Every now and then I love to hole up for a few days with just me, the cats, and my writing. But today is Monday and I’m eager to get out into the world.

This morning, instead of writing, I did some more research for Granny. Detective Martinez of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department was kind enough to give me some time on the phone to go over murder procedures in their jurisdiction, specifically a fictional murder in the small, charming town of Julian. Unfortunately, I now have to tweak a few things in the work I did over the weekend, but it pays to get it right. I strongly believe that even if you write humorous mysteries, the procedural information should be accurate, and most law enforcement agencies are thrilled to give you the skinny. I even asked the good detective what he would do if a witness told him a ghost gave her the information. To his credit, he did not laugh, but was very professional in his reply. Yes, it’s going in the book.

Finished up TKO by Tom Schreck this weekend. It’s a HOOT! Definitely add this delightful book to your reading list. It’s funny, irreverent, and well plotted. I promise the adventures of Duffy Dombrowski, Schlitz-drinking, social worker/boxer, and his Muslim basset hound Al will keep you entertained.

Next up on my reading list: Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet.

Friday, July 18, 2008

28 Days!

28 days until The Ghost of Granny Apples hits my editor's desk at Midnight Ink! I'm happy to say it's still moving along on schedule. Unfortunately, I injured the heel of my right foot recently, but the upside is, it caused me to cancel all activities for the weekend. So this entire weekend I'll be home nursing my foot and writing like a madwoman.

On the family side, my niece, who is preggers with her first baby, has a blog detailing her pregnancy and how she feels about it. Don't you just love blogs? It gives you a chance to keep up on folks and see how they're doing and what they're feeling. Visit the blog and you can even vote on whether you think the baby is going to be a "Jack" or a "Megan." Even without a crystal ball, I can see a trip to Massachusetts in my future next year!

Off to work now. As much as I'd like to stay home and write full-time, I gotta say, the day job is a nice change of pace for my overworked brain. Not that I don't use my brain at the office (just in case any of them read Babble 'n Blog), but I use it in a different way. Writing with a day job might be a bit grueling, but it's also like having a well-rounded exercise program. One set of activities for the right side of the brain, one for the left side.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Coming Up for Air

Only 31 days until I must ship The Ghost of Granny Apples off to my publisher. Books are going unread. Favorite blogs unvisited. E-mails ignored. Last night, I took time off to sift through old mail to make sure bills get paid.

31 days. Thirty-one. The big 3-0, plus 1.

This is the time when the pedal hits the metal. Or is that the brain hits the pavement? The book isn't finished, but it's still on target to be done in time to leave me 2 full weeks of editing and polishing. Problem is, as I wind down the last third of the manuscript, it keeps wanting to go off in directions I hadn't anticipated. I mean, a dead body showed up yesterday! A body I hadn't anticipated and planned for, yet a body that gave the manuscript an unexpected and delicious twist.

A few days ago, I wrote about going down the rabbit hole. Well, I'm still there, having tea with the Mad Hatter. And it's a fun ride!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Baby Steps

My friend Felicia Donovan saw this photo posted on the Killer Hobbies blog and wrote me about how great I'm looking because of my recent weight loss.

Okay, what woman doesn't LOVE hearing that?! But, honestly, it made me a bit embarrassed. You see, the truth is, I haven't lost any more weight. I'm still at about 25 lbs lost after 6 months, but I do think the exercise I've been getting has been making a big difference in how I look. Even my clothes are hanging on me.

I really need to focus on getting more weight off so I can get serious about that mud run next June, but right now, with everything on my plate, I have been eating like crazy. But my new stress eating habits are no where near how I used to eat under stress, so that's progress. Big Progress! Gone are boxes of cookies, replaced with a small handful. Microwaved mini bags of popcorn have replaced chips and crackers. And drive-thru burgers are now ordered solo, without fries, and never doubled.

With my Granny Apples deadline looming (35 days!) and work kicked up several notches, I consider it a victory that I haven't eaten the two cats and Jackson, my little neighbor boy.

Baby steps ... they still get you where you want to go. Just a little slower.

Now, I just have to learn to control my bitchiness. Hmmm, be a bitch or eat? It's like choosing between being run through a paper shredder or suffocated in a barrel of cat litter.

(The above photo was taken at the Sassy Sleuths panel this past Saturday. Behind me, l-r, Harley Jane Kozak, Patricia Smiley and Kathryn Lilley.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Woooooooooooo Hooooooooooo!

Late yesterday afternoon another big TV/film agency contacted us about option availability on my books! That makes two in just a few weeks.

Everyone keep those fingers and toes crossed!

Yesterday, I also got a preliminary book cover for the upcoming Booby Trap. It ROCKS! As soon as I get the okay to make it public, I'll post it here and on my website.

Be still my heart ... no time to get excited ... Granny is due in 37 days!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cover Me, I'm Going In

38 days to deadline and just this morning the plot of The Ghost of Granny Apples took an unplanned detour. Thing is, it's a GREAT detour, one that will enhance the story and excitement. But it also means going back through the earlier part of the manuscript and tweaking it to set up the new twist.

What to do? What to do?

Hell, I know what I need to do. I need to go down the rabbit hole the plot just opened up and see where it leads. To not do so might leave a better book unwritten.

But as the March Hare said: "I'm late. I'm late. For a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye. I'm late. I'm late. I'm late."

Or in my case, it's:

It's due. It's due. The manuscript is due. No time to tweak ideas and change. It's due. It's due. It's due!

See you folks at the other end of the rabbit hole!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Who Says Weed(s) Makes You Dumb

While watching the last episode of Weeds for the second time, I took note of something that made me go hmmmmm. No, it wasn’t the idea that I could have a second career as a drug dealer. Though in my case it would be a third career, right after writer and paralegal. Rather, it was an important observation. One that could be important to my personal security.

You see, in the 3rd episode of this season of Weeds, Nancy temporarily switches cars with her drug lord boss, Guillermo, and then is surprised when he tracks her down at her new home by the beach. Simple explanation: her home address was stored in her GPS under “home.”

Okaaaaaaaaay. My home address is stored on my GPS under “home.” And I’ll bet most of yours are, as well.

This means that every time you leave your car with a parking valet, they have access to your home address, complete with driving instructions. It also means that if your car is stolen, the crooks have access to your home address.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Here’s more food for thought. A criminal doesn’t even have to steal the car. He/She only needs to break into cars in long-term parking at the airport. Start up the car to get the GPS going and, bingo, there's your address and, chances are, you’re not home, you’re traveling. If you have a portable GPS, like I do, you don’t even have to start up the car to get the information. Just hit the on button.

Needless to say, my home address is no longer stored under “home.” Nor do I keep my portable GPS in the car when I’m not using it.

And you thought watching a sitcom about drugs was a waste of time … silly wabbit.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Scenes From a Long Weekend

The large print hardback edition of Thugs and Kisses is due out any day now. It's being published by Thorndike Press, an imprint of Gale Publishing. They've even slapped on a new cover for the occasion. Kind of like buying a new dress for a special date. If you, or someone you know, would like a large print copy of Thugs and Kisses, the best place to purchase it is through Amazon.

Had a fun time yesterday at Vroman's in Pasadena. I was on a Sassy Sleuths panel with fun gals Harley Jane Kozak, Patty Smiley and Kathryn Lilley. This was a repeat performance from an earlier event when the power went out at Vroman's due to a fire up the street. After, Kathryn and I joined Diana and Darrell James for a bite to eat at the Green Street Restaurant, where the talk centered on the book biz - what else?

Friday was a lazy day. Instead of going to 4th of July festivities, I stayed home, wrote, read and watched movies on TV. Finished L.A. Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker. (It's an exciting thrill ride!) And started TKO by the delightful Tom Schreck. Another book I finished recently is Mama Does Time by Deborah Sharp. I had the honor of reading a preview copy. It's HYSTERICAL! It's not due out until October, but is available for pre-order.

Today is chock full of house-bound activities. Besides hours of writing, I have a LONG to-do list of chores around the house. I find on days like this, I function best when I write for an hour or so, then do several chores; go back to writing; then a chore or two. When the long day is done, I have a nice stack of finished pages and most of my household jobs are complete. I just finished a few pages on The Ghost of Granny Apples. Next up is laundry and grooming B.

Here kitty, kitty...

Just 40 days until The Ghost of Granny Apples is due at my publisher. YIKES!

Hope you all had a great 4th!

Friday, July 04, 2008

I Want To Be A Cougar

As most everyone on the planet knows, I’m on a health kick. Truthfully, it can be more accurately described as a health kick, stumble, fall, get back up, dust myself off, keep moving towards the light, type of program, but I am committed to getting healthy and fit in 2008 and beyond. Originally, the goal was to lose weight. Then I took on the daunting goal of training for the 2009 Camp Pendleton Mud Run. Now I’ve added another goal (read, dangling carrot) to the end of the finish line: I want to be a COUGAR!

Last week I was channel surfing during dinner and stumbled across a program on one of those inane entertainment channels. The program featured Hollywood cougars. Not the sleek, lethal felines, or the car. Cougar is slang for a sizzling hot older woman. Generally one who prefers dating younger men.

Okay, I’ve dated younger men, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Well, maybe in some respects, it is. But overall, it’s not. I prefer men over 50. Men I don’t have to explain pre-1980 cultural references to. Men who took a moment of nostalgic silence when Bozo the Clown died this week. Men who were alive when Kennedy was shot – both of them. But dating preferences aside, I still want to be a cougar. I want to be considered hot and sexy when ordering from the senior menu. I want to have a deep, vibrating purr and come hither look, even if I have to do it covered in mud next June at Camp Pendleton.

So I've posted here a few of the over- 50 male celebrities that make this cougar-in-training purr like an outboard motor on a summer lake.

Left side: Armand Assante and Alan Rickman (I've been in love with these gentlemen for decades!).

Right side: Jimmy Smits, Denzel Washington and Pierce Brosnan.

Honorable mention: Harrison Ford, Danny Glover and Andy Garcia.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Calling All Animal Lovers!

Tom Schreck, one of my favorite new writers, just posted a blog at Inkspot that is both tragic and triumphant.

If you are an animal lover, it's a must read.

If you love basset hounds, it's required reading.