Things…and a Sneak Preview.

Well. What has happened in the near-month since I updated? I went to the Golden Crown Literary Conference, and annual writers/readers/publishers four day get-together/energy booster/meet up with friends old and new.  This year the Con was held in Minneapolis, MN. Well, Bloomfield, actually, just near the Mall of America.

What a con it was! My debut novel, Open Water (2011, Bella Books), though nominated in three categories was only shortlisted for one, “Debut Author.”  And…I won! I was one of three winners in that category and, luckily enough, the first award announced that night. Whew! Talk about getting it over with!

Posing with the wonderfully generous Karin Kallmaker. If you squint, you can see my award tucked between us.

The Con overall was great fun and a wonderful chance to reconnect with friends and to meet face-to-face with those I only know through online discussions.

I was so lucky this year to get to go.  Finances are exceptionally tight, but my stepdad gave me his mileage for my flight, and I offset the cost of registration by doing the program for the event.  My biggest cost was the hotel. Well, and the Lego Store at Mall of America. :::sigh:::

Another pic from this event was all of the Bella Authors dressed up for the awards. I love this photo!

We are, from left to right: Erica Abbott, Nat Burns, Jordan Redhawk, KG MacGregor, Dillon Watson, Karin Kallmaker, Mary Griggs, Pol Robinson, Rachel Gold, and Kenna White. Missing: Tracey Richardson, who had to head back to Canada.

When I returned, it was straight back into work on The Project (and I will update that soon).

It’s coming along quite nicely, and should soon be ready for its maiden voyage. Hopefully.

Now, with the success of one book under my belt (using the term “success” loosely here), it’s more than past time to focus on my sophomore effort. I was working on a new Olympic novel, Thin Ice, but have struggled because the story is far weightier than the first book.  For several reasons, chief among them being I want to get the Olympics books back onto the actual Olympics cycle, I have shelved it.

I have two others in the works, and last night finally got the “zing” to work on Celtic Tide, a contemporary romance sent in Ireland, featuring an American musician who, for her own reasons, settles in the town of An Daingean (Dingle, to the non-Gaelic speakers), in County Kerry.

Here is an excerpt:

Grace watched, mesmerized, as Anne’s hand flew along the neck of the fiddle, moving in counterpoint to the bow sizzling across the strings. Quick and bright, and too fast to distinguish one note from another, Anne’s fiddle filled the room with music, accompanied by Sean and Jamie. Eyes closed and foot tapping, Anne didn’t hesitate as Sean finished leading the first round of the tune, allowing Anne to pick up the melody. The music pulled an old man and woman to their feet to dance along. Tourists, American by the look of them, began to clap and laugh as the old gentleman spun his wife in a happy jig.

Tim looked up from the pint he was building and called out to the dancers, “Oh, it’s the O’Shea, is it? Well, boyo, go on then!”

The man smiled back at Tim and gave his wife another spin, pulling her arms down and across in front of her to lead the two of them through the bar, side by side, hands linked together at the waist, feet flying in tandem. Grace watched as the couple kept their eyes on each other and matched their steps together. They’ve done this for years. She laughed with the crowd as the woman gave her husband a saucy wink, ducked under his arm and began a faster step in time with Anne’s speeding fiddle.

The clapping grew louder as Jamie shouted encouragement, giving a yip as he changed key. Anne’s eyes opened and she grinned at him, raising an eyebrow in challenge. The old woman, feet flying and eyes alight, caught the exchange and shouted, “Go on with you, girl!”Anne grinned back and stepped up the tempo as she matched Jamie’s key and his change in tempo. Grace heard the transition from the fast slip jig to an even faster reel and laughed out loud as, impossibly, the two dancers moved to match the musician’s increased speed. Her fingers twitched as Anne’s bow danced across the bridge of the fiddle and Jamie bent low over his guitar, his fingers a blur on the strings.

The dancing couple once again joined together to match steps, waving two others to join them. As had the first two, the new couple easily swung into step, the four of them performing a complicated set.  Feet flashed, skirts whirled, and the music danced with them around the room.  The noise in the pub grew as the music did, ending with a crescendo of music, rousing cheers and laughter of both participants and spectators.

Suffused with the rush and joy she always felt when there was music, good music, around her, Grace happily looked around the room. This was why she’d come here, to Ireland. This…the pub, the people, and most importantly, the music. She had read and studied all of her life, but she had always known she’d have to come here, to live here, to fully grasp what she’d read. It wasn’t just the music, it was the way it was a part of their lives. Grace watched as the four dancers made their breathless way back to their tables, as Tim began building pints again, laughing and joking with customers, most of whom he’d probably known his entire life. All the studying in the world couldn’t teach her as much as one night in a place like this. The music flowing from the instruments was born in the music of the community. To begin to understand it she had to surround herself with it.

And maybe in the surrounding, she could learn to live again.—

Today: Home Depot in Canoga park for three last things. Tonight: Writing.


Buy the Book.

I sure wish we could make money from fanfic, ’cause if that were the case I’d be sitting on a cool million by this point.  One story alone has generated 180-thousand hits.

Alas, there’s that whole copyright infringement, yada, yada, yada.

Open Water from Bella Books.

But, that said, I do have a book published.

I am teaching my students “persuasion” at this point in the semester and the thing I emphasize most (after ‘ethical appeals’) is for them to not forget the “ask.” What is it you want your audience to think, do, or say at the end of their persuasive speech?

Then, in the shower this morning as I was trying to figure out which to pay: mortgage or hospital bills, it came to me.

I forgot the ask!

So, now I am asking.

If you have not done so, please buy my book, Open Water, available here: Bella Books. If you’ve already purchased a copy, consider buying another to give to a friend. Or two and donating one to either a local library or a local gay/lesbian center.

If you’re uncertain, you can read an excerpt on my web page, here: Open Water excerpt.

If you are at all concerned about the “lesbian-ness” of the book, let me assure you that this book is by no means a “how-to” manual.  Believe me, I was absolutely aware that my younger cousins would be reading this (as would be my multitudes of parents). And one such parent, this one a very conservative (“I live in McCain Country,” Florida) step-mom, said, “Wow, this is quite good! I actually couldn’t put it down!” High praise indeed from a Obama-wasn’t-born-here conservative.

Thus, keeping in mind what I have often told my students on the think/do/say plan, I would like you to think about what you can afford, buy the book, and tell others to do the same.

If you buy the e-version, you can get it “Kindle-graphed,” or you can drop me a note via my Facebook page and I will send you a personalized book plate.

‘Nuf said.

For now.

Thank you.


What the Hell is Wrong with NBC?

Shame on you, NBC.

The photo above might have said it all for me. Might have put the final period on my bitching about NBCs male-centric, self-aggrandizing coverage. Might have. You’ll notice that we have one TV, one desktop computer, one laptop, and one iPhone set up.

The point?

We were hoping to catch just ONE women’s event (other than figure skating) during prime-time. All-men, all the time. That should be NBCs new motto. We could tell when the women didn’t make a medal round, that even was simply not shown. Thus the quest for programming with some women’s events.

No luck.

Then…the capper was this morning. The last day of the Olympics. THE day. US/Canada hockey at noon, but at 9 am the coverage was to begin with the last big event, the men’s 50K cross country ski event. Now, I’m not a huge CC ski fan, but I am a fan of the Olympics and the athletes.

Not that NBC gives the least little bit about that.

This morning I was treated to a pre-taped “news conference” featuring 30 minutes of Republican agenda. Following that was Maria Bartelomo’s money report from Washington DC. After that? Access Hollywood. Then? A Monk rerun.

Monk?

A…RERUN? Really?

Really?

What the hell is wrong with you people? Every four years we get to indulge in pure sport for 16 days. Just 16 days. Not to much to ask, really.

The clusterF*** that was NBC’s programming this morning seems to have been a last-minute decision, since the on-air guide showed Olympic programming from 9 am on. As did the much touted and often useless NBC website. In fact, every time we clicked “on now” I was taken to flash pictures of the events I should have been seeing online. Oh, thanks for that, by the way, for spoiling the finish of two events for me that way.

Now it’s 12:03 and it’s nice that NBC managed to break into their scintillating reruns (of a show that will be leaving the air this year) to broadcast live events. Big of you.

Morons.

I stopped watching NBC’s Today Show because I can’t stand Anne Curry’s oh-so-sincere lean-and-touch-your-knee “interview” style of asking a grieving parent/sibling/friend (or 10-year-old) how “do you *feel* about your loved-one’s painful death.

Now I will simply not watch NBC at any time.

Here’s hoping ABC can bid and win the contract for the Olympics in the future. Oh, how I miss Jim McKay and ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Take a lesson NBC, or get back on the porch. Your coverage reflects your network; shabby and unplanned.

Tonight: Olympics if I can manage to find them.

Edit at 10:31 pm: Oh. Really. Cut away for…wait for it…the Marriage Ref? Are you out of your fucking minds? The next sound you hear will be the collective popping sound of the NBC exec’s having their heads pulled out of their asses.

Un. Be. Lieve. Able.


42, Life, the Universe, and…Well, You Know.

Today is the day.

At approximately 7:36 this morning (PST) I achieved my 42nd year on this Earth. And now? I’m waiting for it.

“What?” you ask.

The answer. Or answer(s), if more than one there should be.

42.

That magical number.

Douglas Adams, writer of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, says that 42 is the secret of the universe. Or should that be the Secret of the Universe (note the caps).

Hmm. Could be.

42 was, as we know, Jackie Robinson’s (um, no relation to me, despite the shared last name) number, and we can all appreciate his contributions to sport, especially to baseball, but more importantly, to a generation. Maybe that’s the secret? Breaking through seemingly impossible barriers?

Possible.

Hmmm.

Nope. I got nuthin.’ No choirs of angels, no blinding light…just…Friday.

A Friday filled with an entire day of watching the Olympics, rising to sleeping. YAY! Ideally I should spend that Olympiphile day at the gym, but with the back injury I’m not allowed.

I do have to say that I really appreciate the Winter Games always being scheduled over my birthday. It always feels as if the world has gathered just for me. Or, well…not. But it’s a nice thought.

Other thoughts on the big 4-2…I am, in fact, 17 years past my own expiration date. I had breast cancer at age 25. So, 42’s not so bad, eh?

I’m pretty sure my novel’s been rejected. I mean, no word is not good news, yeah? So perhaps I’ll squeeze in some writing on my lazy all Olympics day. Just when do you get a hint? I was assured a response within 90 days. We’re at 130 days now with no word. I did finally break down and write to ask for an update. Two weeks after that I sent another equally respectful letter asking for an answer, one way or another (but really nicely put). I then contacted the owner of the publishing company to say “thanks for the invite, but since I haven’t heard anything…” and she seemed rather surprised that I hadn’t heard anything at all from the editor. Said she’d follow up.

That was a week ago.

:::sigh:::

Hmm, and on writing. Apparently, per my Org Change prof says I’m a “very talented writer.” Of course, I didn’t write the type of assignment for which he was looking, but…hey. At least somebody thinks I can write.

Tonight: Olympics. Tomorrow: Olympics (and a birthday dinner). Saturday: Olympics. Sunday: What do you think?

And…I’ll keep you posted on that whole answer to the universe thing.


Citius, Altius, Fortius

It’s time, once again, for the Olympics. I’m a huge fan. Huge fan. One of my hobbies is short-track speedskating, which I do at a rink not too far from my home (Santa Clarita Speedskating). Love it. For sixteen days every four years in winter (and again in summer), I am queen of the Tivo. Queen. Did I mention that I love the Olympics?

I do not, however, love the US-centric broadcasting. Nor, truly, the male-centered focus.  I especially resent like hell the fact that, although I am on the west coast of the US, The very same time zone in which the events are happening, I cannot view them real-time. I am, at least as far as NBC is concerned, not bright enough to figure out that, while watching something at 8:30 pm, it’s miraculously sunny and mid-day in Vancouver, B.C.

No problem, I thought. The summer games were covered nearly 24/7. I should be able to put my exceedingly pricey television/dish service to good use and pull the “east coast feeds” (let’s not forget that I am, REALLY on the same coast as the ACTUAL Games, but…whatever). Nope. No access to east coast feeds. I called my “service” provider. Short of a letter from the Pope, I’m out of luck.

In fact, my conversation with the “service” provider (SP) went thus:

SP: Thank you for being a longtime customer. As such, you’re eligible for a sports package upgrade.

Me: Well, that’s handy. I’m calling to see about being able to access the east coast feeds of the Olympics, will the sports package allow this?

SP: (long pause). Er…the winter Olympics?

Me: Yeeess (drawn out in disbelief)

SP: Um, hang on. (Extremely long pause of approx 2 min). Oh, I see you’re getting the NBC channels now, so you should be able to see what is broadcast.

Me: (Deep breath). Yes. However, I live on the west coast of the US and have to wait six or more hours to see things happening in my same time zone. Can I, with my “well earned” sports package upgrade get access to the east coast feeds?

SP: I’ll check. (Hold music, occasional humming) Well, you see, if you were to watch the east coast feeds, you would be seeing commercials for local companies back east. None of that would pertain to you.

Me: Well, that’s okay, I mute all the idiotic commercials anyway. (Pause). Wait. They don’t sell Coke, Dove Soap, Kelloggs, Audi’s or Chrysler’s in New York?

SP: I…I think so. Let me ask a supervisor.

Me: (immediately sensing this is not going my way). No, that’s okay. So…I’m out of luck, right?

SP: Well, you can get the sports package upgrade.

Me: Okay. What will that get me?

SP: Oh, we can get you great coverage of major league baseball, including coverage of the training camps.

Me: How does that help me with the Olympics?

SP: You mean the winter ones?

Me: May I ask, just how old are you?

SP: (confused) I’m sorry, sir? (I guess she forgot the part where she called me Mrs… earlier in our chat, despite my correcting her that it’s “Ms.” Twice)

Me: Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Have a nice day. (hang up).

Sigh. What is the world coming to? Last words on the Olympics for today’s post. First, the Luge. If they’d had that damned wall up on Friday, that young man would most likely be alive today. And, as patriotic as I am, I was crushed (though clearly not as much as she was) that Jenn Heil of Canada was edged out by Hannah Kearney. The pressure that young woman (Heil) was under by the media and her countrymen, and mostly herself, must have been phenomenal. Jenn, I was rooting for you from the get-go and your poise and grace afterward amazed me.

Yes, the doctorate is still happening. I’m plugging along. For some reason (and it’s not just me, my colleagues have mentioned it too), I’m having a helluva time getting my head back into the game this term. I’ve got a huge paper due this week, along with a group project, and I’m…ugh.

Tonight: Olympics while writing my paper.

Update…YAY!!!! Canada has won gold in Men’s mogul!!!