Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting My Money's Worth

Whether it be food, clothes or airline tickets, there is nothing I like better than a bargain.

This week I had to replace one of my cats' favorite toys. I remember when I bought it. It was such a hit I even blogged about it ... on October 28, 2007. Yes, you read that right. I blogged about this cool cat toy 2-1/2 years ago. Back then I thought it was the best thing since clumping kitty litter. I've since changed my mind. Now I think it's the best thing since chocolate found its way to America. Well, okay, maybe it's not THAT good, but close.

Over the years my cats have totally demolished the poor little mouse on this gizmo. First he lost his tail. That took all of a few days. Then it was an ear. Then the other ear. In the end the poor little gray thing hardly had any fur left on its golf ball sized body and the metal arm on which he rode was bent until it wouldn't turn smoothly. I'd even straightened it a few times. In the time it has resided in a primo spot on the floor near my computer, this toy has been played with every single day, several times a day. B especially loves it and bats the mouse around the track for large chunks of time. It's the only toy she plays with consistently.

But alas, with so much abuse, the only humane thing to do was to send the battered little stuffed mouse to a happy resting place.

This silly toy cost me $12.99 nearly 3 years ago. Guess what it cost today? Go ahead, guess.


That's right - it's not only the best freaking cat toy in the world but it went down in price instead of up, unlike everything else.

When I brought out the new Cat 'n Mouse, I could have sworn B's eyes lit up and she actually danced a little jig.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

19 Days and Counting (YIKES!)

You know what today is? Today is the day I start digging really, really, really deep for my writing reserve energy. Nineteen days from today, the manuscript for Odelia Grey book #6 is due.

Oh yeah, you read that right - 19 days!!!

And I'm no where close to being finished.

Right now the working title for the book is Body Bingo, but I've learned not to get too attached to book titles. They have a way of changing from the time the manuscript hits my editor's desk to the time the book is returned to me with editorial suggestions. And usually the titles they pick are the best, so I'm not worried.

I've been working hard on the manuscript ever since I returned from my last book trip. And after a stall a few weeks ago, it's now up and singing its heart out like a finalist on American Idol. It's moving quickly. (YAY!!!) But I still have a long way to go. More importantly, I'm really having fun with it and love the direction the book has taken. It's a joy to work on. Which is a good thing, because except for when I'm at the law firm, that's pretty much all I'll be doing between now and July 6th.

Well, I do have dinner plans with Juliet Blackwell, Sophie Littlefield and Pop Culture Nerd this Saturday evening. But a gal's gotta eat, so why not dine surrounded by great, charming and witty company - right?

BTW - Juliet and Sophie will be talking about their new books this Saturday at 3 pm at the Mystery Book Store in Westwood. Come on down and have some fun.

After Body Bingo gets turned it, next up will be vampire book #2 and the first 100 pages of Granny Apples #3. The vampires are getting restless and I have to keep batting them out of my brain while I work on Odelia. They don't share well, but at least they're not showing signs of hunger. The working title for the second vampire mystery is The Blood That Binds. The working title for Granny Apples #3 is Ghost of a Gamble. I have the story line all figured out, but still need to do some research. I want to get that rolling so if my publisher decides to put the first chapter or so in the back of Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini (coming out Feb. 2011), I'll have it ready.

So if you don't see me around the Net for awhile, don't worry, I'm okay. I'm just glued to my computer and my manuscript(s).
19 Days - Shoot me now - Better yet, shoot me on July 7th. I'll have a bit of time then.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Raising a Toast to Abby Sunderland's Parents

Like a lot of folks, I've been following the story of Abby Sunderland, the 16-yr-old from Thousand Oaks, California, who set out this year to be the youngest person to sail around the world solo. If you've been following Abby's journey, you know that she ran into trouble in the past week and her beloved boat, Wild Eyes, was lost. Abby was rescued, is safe, and on her way home. YAY!

I first remember reading about Abby when she started her journey. Since then, every now and then, I'd check in on her website or blog and see what she was up to. I also remember months ago thinking how could her parents allow a 16 yr old girl to travel the world alone on a small boat. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't judge or condemn them for it. In fact, I applaud them. I just didn't understand how they could let her go knowing any number of things might befall her.

I don't have children and I don't pretend to know what parents go through when sending their children out into the world, whether it be on a sailboat or to college. But I am keenly aware of all the horrible things that can happen to young people as they step out on their own. One need only think of Joran Van der Sloot to get cold shivers.

But this I do know:

It takes real guts, knowing the evils that lurk in the world, to let children go. To let them be themselves and pursue their dreams, even if their dreams take them around the world, alone, on a 40-ft water craft. Only in being allowed to spread their wings can young people become the people they are meant to be and fulfill their dreams and goals. It's a fact that dreams need wings to fly.

So here's to you, Abby. You may not have completed your journey, but you have touched my heart with your courage, and I know this is not the last we'll hear of you. Go grab the world by the tail, dear. You deserve it.

And here's to you, Abby's parents, and to your nerves of steel and selflessness in letting your little girl take flight.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Confession Time

I'm over at Inkspot today, confessing to pimping out my characters .

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Feeling Charlie Allnut

It is 4 am Friday night. Correction, Saturday morning. The 6th book in my Odelia Grey series is due in about five weeks.

I’m feeling pretty Charlie Allnut.

For those of you who don’t remember, Charlie Allnut was the character played by Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. He was a gin-guzzling, grubby boat captain henpecked by a missionary, played by the amazing Katharine Hepburn, into attacking a German war ship.

No, I’m not guzzling gin. Nor am I about to ram a boat into a German ship.

Remember the part in the movie where Allnut was in the river, up to his waist in muck, dragging his boat through the swampy reeds with a rope. Okay, THAT’S how I’ve been feeling about this manuscript. Like I’m dragging it to the deadline.

Usually I fly through my manuscripts and have a hellava time doing it. I love writing Odelia. I love writing all three of my series. But for some reason writing Odelia #6 has been a torturous drudge, not unlike dragging an old boat through the mosquito infested swamps of Africa in the heat.

Until last night.

Yesterday, I had a break-through in the manuscript. It came to me while at work at the law firm and for a moment I could have sworn I heard angels singing. I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing (which is how I usually am with books). Problem is, this epiphany would mean restructuring the whole book, removing characters already ingrained in the plot and creating new characters that would take the story in a similar, but new direction.

Basically, with five weeks left to go, I started over.

Now the book is sailing along and I’m having fun, fun, fun. The plot is less bloated. The characters make more sense. Odelia is happier and feistier. Of course, I’m exhausted and about to drop and have to get up in a couple of hours to keep pounding the keyboard with my new-found excitement for the rest of the weekend. But finally, after struggling for months, all is well in my little corner of the writing world.

Insane, yes, but I am very glad I did. My personal rule of thumb is if I don't like the book, my readers will not like the book. If I'm bored writing it, my readers will be bored reading it. Now in five weeks I'll be turning in a book I'm proud of, happy with, and personally enjoy.

Five weeks, my friends. Five weeks …

I’m going to bed now.