Monday, September 29, 2008

"I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals."

The above line, delivered by Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is one of my all-time favorite movie lines from my favorite Paul Newman movie. It also sums up nicely Paul Newman's life, which ended Friday. He is an example of a man who lived life to the fullest, taking advantage of his celebrity and gifts to make the world a better place. He made it Newman's Own. We should all be so fortunate and insightful.

I've seen just about all of Newman's films, and it's difficult to choose the best, but Butch Cassidy wins as my favorite, followed by The Verdict, The Sting and Cool Hand Luke. He was also wonderful in the TV mini-series Empire Falls.

Bravo, Mr. Newman, for a life well-lived.

For another Newman-esq ode, check out Mark Combes posting at Inkspot.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's WEHO Time Again!

This Sunday, September 28th, West Hollywood will once again host the West Hollywood Book Fair. This event is in its seventh year and is always a lot of fun. The hours are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and the location is the West Hollywood Park on San Vicente Blvd.

Unlike the monster Los Angeles Times Book Festival, author panels at WEHO do not require tickets and are easy to attend. There is also plenty of FREE parking.

I'll be at the Sisters In Crime/Los Angeles booth signing books from 12-1 and floating between the SinC/LA and MWA-So Cal booths for a bit after. Come on down! This is a fun way to spend a sunny Sunday.

Yesterday, I had a nice surprise at work. Two of the attorneys I've been assisting on a major project sent huge, beautiful floral arrangements to both me and the secretary working with us. Isn't that sweet?! Hmmm, Mike Steele never sends flowers to Odelia Grey. I might have to remedy that in a future book.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Road Trip Report

Now that I've been home a week and have gotten over my hives and feel my spunky self again, I thought it time to report on my trip to Northern California. In spite of the hives, I had a great time. It was fun, productive and relaxing.

My first stop was a hook-up with fellow authors, Sophie Littlefield, Tim Maleeny and Keith Raffel. Keith suggested we meet at the cafe where he writes daily. His hang out turned out to be the lounge at the Palo Alto Marriott. It was beautiful, quiet, and the staff and service fabulous. No longer will I picture Keith slaving over his lap top in a crowded and noisy local dive. It was fun catching up with my writing buds and sharing great news all around. Tim has a new book coming out in December call Greasing the Pinata. He passed around the new cover and it's fabulous! Sophie has a new book coming out next August called A Bad Day for Sorry, which I had the honor of reading and blurbing recently. And Keith recently landed a new agent.

From there I was off to San Carlos where I stayed with my dear friends the Boghossians. I've known John and Paula forever, even before there was a John and Paula, and Paula's family is like family to me. When I arrived, it was so heart warming to see the entire Boghossian/Manougian clan waiting with hugs and dinner. When I wasn't dashing around to book events and book stores, I spent a lot of time relaxing on their patio reading and playing with their dog Max (sorry, B and Raffi).

Both of my speaking events were very successful and I met a lot of wonderful people and got reacquainted with some familiar faces. First, I spoke at the Women In County Government at the Courthouse in Redwood City. The next night I spoke at the annual Hospitality Night for the San Mateo Legal Secretaries Association. I received a warm and enthusiastic welcome at both. Kepler's Book Store handled book sales at both events. Kepler's - you ROCK! (BTW - Kepler's may be the only book store in the Bay Area who has signed copies of my books, so check them out!)

I don't have any book-related events calendared until next year when Booby Trap comes out, so I'll have plenty of time to stick close to home and work on Odelia #5 and Granny #2.

Photos: Top - Tim Maleeny, Sophie Littlefield and Keith Raffel; first right - Boghossian/Manougian family; 2nd left - with Cynthia St. John of Kepler's; bottom right - with Carol Karwatt, who booked me for both speaking engagements. Thanks, Carol!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Elementary, My Dear Starbucks

I had a great time on my trip to northern California, but encountered a bit of a health issue along the way -- hives! A few weeks before I left on my trip a small patch of welts showed up the left side of my neck. Annoying, but not intense. I left on my trip Sunday and by Monday when I arrived at my first speaking engagement, the welts had gotten worse.

Monday night, I slathered myself in cortisone cream and went to bed wondering what could be the problem. I did a mental check list: what lotions, soaps, etc. had I changed in the past few weeks? The only thing that came to my mind as a possible culprit was makeup. I had changed my brand of makeup in the past couple of weeks. That could be it. Maybe.

Tuesday morning the welts were better, but by the time I started to get ready to speak at the San Mateo Legal Secretaries Association, my neck was in full blown hives again, which was difficult to hide in a v-neck dress. The next morning, after a quick cup of coffee with the Boghossians, I left for home feeling slightly ill and still covered with hives. I made a pit stop along the way for breakfast and gas, and another about an hour outside of LA for a pumpkin spice latte.

By the time I reached LA, my face was numb, my lips tingly and I wanted to floss my neck with barbed wire. I was also nauseous as hell. What the #$@& was going on? I went to bed as soon as I got home.

Thursday I felt iffy about going to work, but went in. I only lasted a half day because as the day went on my eyes got redder and puffier, my neck welts (which had quieted down during the night) were in full blown glory. I went home by way of the drug store for some Benedryl. The drugs helped, but I stayed home on Friday. By Friday night the welts were almost gone and my face and mouth were no longer tingly. Yay!

Feeling so much better, I met my friend Miles Holliman for breakfast on Saturday at the Spitfire Grill. We lallygagged on their patio for close to three hours, eating great food, sipping lots of great coffee, and catching up on each other's lives.

Welcome to weltsville! Within an hour or so of leaving the Spirtfire Grill, my neck, eyes, face and lips were itchy, puffy, and swollen worse than ever, and I was back on my sofa swallowing Benedryl.

Okay, now here's the part where my background as a mystery author comes in.

I wrote down everything I remembered eating and drinking since I left for my trip. It had to be a food allergy. I hadn't worn makeup since Tuesday night. And it had to be something I consumed on a fairly regular basis. It boiled down to COFFEE! I don't drink coffee at home. I drink herbal tea at home. But I drink coffee every day at work and when I go out with friends. While on my trip, I drank coffee every day throughout the day, and even slurped down several cups of espresso. Friday, I was home - coffeeless - and the hives improved. Saturday I sucked down at least 4-5 cups of coffee with Miles and had a major breakout. You see a pattern here?

So now I'm trying an experiment. I'm going cold turkey on the coffee. None at work. None in restaurants. Nada. Let's see if the hives improve. If not, it's back to square one and a trip to the doctor, but I'm fairly certain I've narrowed down my problem. I even did some online research and found this to be a fairly common allergy.

The new question is, is it coffee I may be allergic to or caffeine? If it's caffeine, I'm in deep doo doo. After all, chocolate contains a lot of caffeine. Yikes!

Why can't I be allergic to something like nicotine or okra? Something I don't give a rat's ass about.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Road Trip!

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I leave for my first out-of-town book event in quite awhile. I'm heading to Northern California to speak at two events and to visit friends. It's quick trip. More business than pleasure, but it should be fun to get away for a bit.

My first gig is Monday when I'll be speaking at Women in County Government; 12:00, 400 County Center, Hall of Justice, Redwood City, California 94063.

On Tuesday evening, I'm speaking at the San Mateo County Legal Secretaries Association Hospitality Dinner; 6:00, Dominic's at Poplar Creek Restaurant, 1700 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo, CA94401.

See you all back home on Wednesday!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Nuttin' But Talent

Last night they announced the 10 finalists on America's Got Talent. I don't agree with all the choices (i.e, Jonathan Berkin should be in the top 10 in place of a cutie-pie 4 year old), but you have to admire the grit and determination of all the contestants.

Recently, I raved about Neal E. Boyd. While he's still a fav, I'm now rooting for Nuttin' But Stringz to take the top prize. If you haven't seen these two brothers from New York play, you are missing out - big time!

The top line up - as I see it:

Nuttin But Stringz

Neal E. Boyd

Eli Matteson

Queen Emily

I'll be so glad when this is over so I can go back to concentrating on my next book. If you haven't noticed, I have the attention span of a gnat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

Remembering those lost, those hurt, and those who redefined bravery.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wish I'd Said That

Saw two comments at Inkspot this morning that I thought I'd pass along:

"I think with this election we have the choice of either making history, or repeating it. " -- posted by Paul Lamb

"Sarah Palin: Republicans' most popular woman since Monica Lewinsky." -- posted by Jess Lourey

Late in from Maggie Mason: Seen on a bumper sticker - "At least Bush's war on the environment is going well. "

Monday, September 08, 2008

Another Day, Another Rant

I know, I know ... I should be writing Corpse on the Cob. But can I help it if friends send me stuff to read? Stuff that makes my head explode.

Read this article on Sarah Palin posted on Time. But if you don't have time to read Time, let me pull out the portion that made me froth at the mouth and post it here for you.

Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

Banning Books!!!???

Excuse me, I have to get back to writing. Gotta get these books written and published before Palin finds out about them.


Here I am, back at my computer early in the morning, trying to get back on my usual morning writing/exercising schedule. After completing The Ghost of Granny Apples, I granted myself a 2-week mental holiday from writing. Well, that stretched into 3 weeks with some short bursts of writing here and there. But now it's time to focus and stay the course. No time available to fritter away. Odelia book #5, Corpse on the Cob, is due January 15th. My goal is to have 100 pages done and off to my publisher by the end of September. I already have 40.

In the next few months, in addition to writing Corpse on the Cob, I have to read through the Author's Review Copy of Booby Trap and do the final edits on The Ghost of Granny Apples. My publisher loved Granny and had very few suggested changes, but those few changes still have to be done. This is my favorite part of writing. The final hurrah before the book gets prepped for print. The last time I get to go through the book line by line and polish it up like a shiny apple before sending it off into the wild blue yonder. It won't take long, but it will be the most detail oriented of the editing process.

Saturday was a day spent at home doing chores and catching up on the business of writing. People don't realize how much goes into a book outside of the actual writing. My manager and I got the newsletter ready for distribution this week and plotted some new marketing plans. I wrote blogs. Did some research and prepared two speeches for next week when I head up to San Mateo for a couple of days.

Sunday I attended the monthly meeting of Sisters In Crime/Los Angeles. The program featured Gary Phillips, Naomi Hirahara and Gar Anthony Haywood, three of the authors from the edgy new anthology The Darker Mask: Heroes from the Shadows, a collection of short stories in which the crime fighters are superheroes. Jazz muscian Jack Maeby entertained us with a reading from his novel The Thorazine Mirrorball.

Fun's over. Let the fun being. Next!

Above: Time Flies by Chris Young.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Visiting the Book Tarts

When Elaine Viets asked me to guest blog on the Lipstick Chronicles I was so excited. This is one of my favorite blogs. These women, all mystery authors, talk candidly about EVERYTHING. Being considered worthy of a guest gig made me hiccup with excitement.

To read my guest blog, hop on over to the Lipstick Chronicles. And while there stop to read a few of the other posts. You'll become a regular, I guarantee it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ranting My Ass Off

I'm sure a lot of you will not agree with me on this issue, but I just gotta say it out loud.

The choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP scares the piss out of me. Palin as VP will be as disastrous a mistake as George W's second term.

I won't go into details here as to why. That's been bantered around the news and the blogs and Internet groups more than a tennis ball at Wimbledon. And the reasons are piling up by the day. You just have to pay attention and connect the dots. Anyone should be able to do it.

I'm all for breaking the gender/race/religion barrier in our government. But for cripes sakes people be patient, wait for the right (read: qualified) person. Don't vote for McCain because he's got a boner for the cute governor from Alaska. Don't vote for him just because his running mate pees sitting down. Don't vote for him just because you want a woman "a heartbeat away" from the presidency.

And don't NOT vote for Obama because he's black.

Look at these candidates simply as people. Study their backgrounds, education, accomplishments. Weigh their values and vision for the country. Then decide.

Read and understand the issues at stake here, folks. Remember what the last four years were about. Can we sustain another four or maybe even eight years of that kind of leadership again? That's what this election is really about. It's not about gender or race, it's about survival of our country.