Sunday, July 31, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

This post is dedicated to one of my girlfriends--my best friend, actually.  We've both been having a rough time of it recently, with money and a bright outlook for the future often in short supply. But we're there to support each other as we chase our dreams and that's what matters.  I want her to know that no matter what happens with jobs and money, at least we'll always have each other.  

Here's the kind of friend Yan is:  she willingly agreed to be my date for my ten-year college reunion.  Who else but an amazing friend would subject herself to that kind of torture?

Yan, this one's for you.  

Long-lasting friendships are rare--for me, anyway.  It always seems that misunderstandings over boys, money, and lifestyles get in the way and eventually tear something down that once seemed invincible.  I had one particularly bad split with a former roommate who didn't approve of the guy I was dating (and married), or the fact that I ran off to Vegas to marry him without telling anyone.  While I can definitely understand that she was hurt when I didn't tell her about it, I can honestly say that I didn't even tell my own parents about it ahead of time.  I had to call them after getting back from Vegas and tell them I was *married.*  To a guy they'd met *once.*  In a close-knit family like mine, that call was torture.

I could have been ostracized or yelled at or disowned.  But was I?  No.  My family loves me, and they may not have understood why or how I did what I did, but they rolled with the punches and trusted my judgment. Every grandparent, aunt, uncle, and cousin has accepted Paul into the family with warmth and generosity.  And of my best friends couldn't do the same thing.  That still hurts, to this day.

I don't feel an obligation to live my life as an open book to everyone around me--we all have things we need to work out on the inside, on our own, before sharing them.  Honesty is a good thing and should be valued, but never at the expense of your sense of self.  When it came to marrying Paul, it was this strange but magical moment that just happened.  One moment, in all of life, where only two people exist.  And I took hold of that moment, seizing it for all it was worth.  When it was time to come down from that high, I looked around for a handhold and the people who I'd left behind.  Almost all of them welcomed me back.  Almost.

It takes a special kind of friend to roll with those punches and accept others for who they are--even when they do things you don't like or approve of.  Yan is one of those very special people.

We met when the University of California paired us as roommates.  At first, all we knew about each other was a name and an address.  As we wrote to each other and then finally met on the dorm's move-in day, it became clear to both of us that we were a lot alike.  Both vulnerable, deep thinkers, and self-confessed late bloomers, we went through so many growing pains together during those four years of college.  During and since college, we've had periods where we don't speak.  Sometimes those periods lasted for years.  Even when we weren't speaking, though, I always knew we'd reconnect.  I knew we'd never be out of each other's lives for good.  We were too alike and had been through too much together to throw in the towel.

Essentially, we had to go out and live our lives.  We had to make mistakes.  We had to have opportunities missed, relationships ruined, and tears cried to fully understand where the other was coming from.  But now that we've weathered those storms, I know our friendship is stronger than ever.

That's why I know that even if our dreams don't come true quite the way we want, we'll still be there to help each other through the fallout.  If I never become a published writer, it's okay.  I know she's still got my back.  As long as I want to strive for it, I know Yan is there to tell me she believes in me, 110 percent.  She's my biggest supporter, in fact!  And if her boutique doesn't take off the way she wants it to, it's okay because I've still got her back!  I'll be there to tell her she's still one of the bravest people I know for even trying it.

The great thing about Yan is her ability to grab the bull by the horns (or by the balls, if you've seen Never Been Kissed).  If she wants something, she'll fight for it.  And if it doesn't work out, she'll sit back and analyze the situation to figure out why.  She thinks about things--the causes of things.  She uses what she's learned, about people and situations.  She looks for the positive and the bright side, but she doesn't back down from the darker side of things, either.  She can see your side of the issue even if she doesn't agree with you, but she's not afraid to tell you you're wrong.  

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have Yan in my life.  She's funny, beautiful, smart, insightful, dedicated, and a constant inspiration. There is no one better to have in your corner.  Yan, I love you, girl.  I honestly don't know where I'd be without you.  I miss the days when we'd sit on your balcony in Marin, drinking wine or cocktails, and wondering where the hell our lives were going....after we came back from a shopping spree at Ross or Marshalls, of course.

There's a questionnaire on the last page of every issue of Vanity Fair, called the "Proust Questionnaire." One of the questions asks you when and where you were most happy.  I think those weekends in Marin with you would be my answer.  Shopping, eating, drinking cocktails, analyzing boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, watching Sex and the City...I don't think it could ever get better than that. You, my friend, are when and where I was most happy.

Now, if you've gotten all the way to the end of this post and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please go say  hi to Yan at her boutique!  Tell her I sent you.

Yan's Fashion Sense at 1324 Noriega, between 20th & 21st Avenue
*on Yelp
*on Facebook

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sewing Project #1: Pajamas

I mentioned in the last post that I'd meant to show you guys some of the sewing projects I've been working on. I finally dragged out the camera yesterday, so here goes nothing.

Sewing Project #1: Pink Pajamas

Why on earth would anyone do this?
My Christmas present to myself was a brand-new sewing machine and the promise that I'd teach myself to sew. My mom sews. My sister sews. My grandma sews. It's just something the women in my family seem to do. For the longest time, I didn't see the attraction. I love to shop.  It's almost criminal how much I love to shop. But that's the funny thing about being broke--I'm no longer able to do what I love, at least not without racking up an unreasonable amount of credit card debt.

Plus, the older I get, the more I'm realizing that clothes really do need to fit well to be attractive. And I have a short torso, which makes all the clothes in my size hang wrong. I don't know if I've started shrinking already, or if I just never noticed this before, or if the clothing manufacturers are making things for longer-torsoed people these days. But it seems that everything I try on has straps that are too long, which cause a bad fit, a sloppy look, and way too much cleavage.  So, for the first time in my life, sewing seemed like an answer.  I can make my own clothes, ensure they fit, learn a valuable and vanishing skill, and still acquire new things for the closet.

So how did it go?
Um, yeah.  The first sewing project I tackled was a pair of pajamas.  Unbeknownst to me, this was probably a bad choice for the first project.  For those of you who also sew, I used McCall's M5992 pattern, shown below.

I made the pants first, figuring they'd be easier than the top.  I was only partially right.  My first mistake was sewing the crotch shut.  Paul still can't figure out how my mental faculties failed to alert me that this was a really bad idea and so not what the pattern was telling me to do.  But spatial imagery and I don't always get along.  In fact, we're barely on speaking terms.  Hence the sewn-shut crotch.  (This issue will rear its ugly head again in my next sewing post.)

Once I figured that out, I had to rip out all the seams and start over.  Then, once I got them together a second time, I realized I cut the wrong size.  I could barely get the friggin' things over my hips.  (Vanity, thy name is first-time sewer!)  Apparently, I am a size medium instead of size small.  So then I had to tear out all the seams again and re-do them with the most minimal seam allowance I could.  The third time was a charm, though, and the pants were now complete.

If you're a first-time sewer, like me, the only thing I can tell you about these pants is DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MAKE THE STUPID DRAWSTRING THE WAY THEY TELL YOU TO. It is next to freaking impossible to make a spaghetti-sized tube of fabric and then turn it inside out without wasting hours of your life. It must have taken me three or four hours to do, and involved the following equipment: lacquered chopsticks, safety pins, straight pins, and at least four whiskey shots.  I kid you not.  Save yourself.  Abandon ship. Just use ribbon, like any sensible person would do.

So that was the end of the pants.  Next, I tackled the top.

The first parts of this were surprisingly easy. Pocket? No problem.  Sewing front of top to back of top? No problem.  The collar was where I ran into trouble.  I still have no idea how to put a collar on correctly.  I fudged and did it my own way, which is why I have a random rough edge where a clean seam should be.  I don't think you can see it in this photo, but if you look below the neck of the hanger, you might see what I'm talking about.  I'll get another shot at this one, because I bought flannel, too, for a second pair.

Anyway, the collar lays mostly flat, as you can see. There are a few rough spots, but overall, I was pretty impressed that I got the thing assembled and it looks like...well, a real collar.  I was also pretty impressed that the set-in sleeves worked well.  I only ended up with one pucker on one shoulder.  If I was a perfectionist, I would have torn out the seam and re-sewed it.  But at that point, I was just glad to still be alive.  I left that pucker there.

Next came the buttonholes.  I had been dreading these for quite some time.  (The whole process of making this pajama set happened over weeks, if not months.  It was spring semester, and I could hardly find a few spare hours to work on it what with class and homework and reading assignments and all.)  But when I sat down to do them, they were surprisingly easy.  The buttonhole function of my sewing machine worked quite well.  What took forever was ripping the actual buttonhole.  Before I did it, I had no idea that you created buttonholes by ripping the fabric.  That was kind of disturbing to find out.  There is no real clean or easy way of doing it, unless I'm missing something.  It was a backbreaking hour or two of squinting at the lines of thread and praying I wouldn't rip into them with my seam ripper. In the end, they worked--and even better, they lined up almost perfectly.  Phew!  That had been one of my biggest worries for the project.  What I effed up the buttonholes?  There's no recovering from that mistake.

So I came to the end of my first sewing project, alive and well and with a new pair of pink pajamas.  I'll tackle this pattern one more time.  I bought a turquoise flannel print for another pair that I'll do sometime this fall.  Hopefully this time, I won't sew the crotch shut!

Stay tuned for the next sewing project I'll talk about--flannel boxer shorts.  It doesn't sound super exciting, I know, but this time, the hubby gets in on the action and we both get mystified by the pattern instructions.  Good times!  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Key West

I meant to post about something else entirely today (teaching myself to sew), but first I need to iron the things I've sewn so I can take non-shitty pictures of them, and ironing sucks, and it's hot outside, and no one wants to slave over a hot iron when it's hot outside, so I'll try to get it done later tonight, and oh, hell, I guess I can always tell a really embarrassing story instead of posting something useful or educational...

Here goes nothing.

Paul and I drove out the Keys a few years ago for summer vacation. We stayed in Marathon Key because it was cheaper than staying in Key West. We booked a beautiful little cottage-style room for two nights. Once we got there, one of the first things we noticed about Florida, and southern Florida in particular, is the fact that it has bugs. Bugs the size of small children.

I hate bugs the way Indiana Jones hates snakes.  I hate spiders most of all, but really, my hatred extends to any bugs that can crawl into places I might find them. One time, on choir tour senior year, a cricket flew out of my backpack in New Mexico and I almost fainted.  True story.

So. Marathon Key. We check into our room and prepare to relax. It's nighttime and we've already driven from Hollywood, and all we want is to chill out and get a good night's sleep. Paul goes to take a shower.  But first he has to kill the shower's other inhabitant, an enormous palmetto bug.  That sucker was as thick as a carrot and as long as my pinkie finger (I have really long fingers, people).  It hissed at us.  Paul smashed it with his shoe, but some of the guts stuck to the floor.  Really gross. I tried not to look at the wing remnants as I took my own shower.

Afterward, I put my pajamas and flip-flops on and padded over to the bed.  Suddenly, I heard another hissing noise--the exact same noise that freaking bug made before Paul slapped it upside the head with his Vans.  All I could think was that another bug was somewhere in the room, probably near the bed.

I jumped onto the bed and screeched, "There's another one!  I heard it!"  Panicked, I scanned the room for a crawling insect the size of a mini-golf scoring pencil.  I didn't see anything, but I knew what I'd heard.  Paul made a more thorough investigation.  He lifted up the tiny refrigerator, looked under the bed, and moved the nightstands.  He didn't find anything.

Still wary, I decided to put my feet on terra firma.  I put one foot down on the floor and instantly heard the hissing again.  I shrieked, swore, and jumped back up on the bed.  "You heard that, too, right?" I asked.  Oh, yes, Paul had heard it, too.

He redoubled his efforts and checked even more dark corners of the room.  I started freaking out.  How can I sleep in a room where there's a giant roach waiting to share the bed?  I told Paul what I was afraid of, and he said he'd check the bed sheets if I'd get off it.  That meant touching the floor, which I wasn't happy about at all.  Those fuckers moved fast, and if I felt those tiny bug feet crawling over mine, I knew I'd flip out.  For sanity's sake, it seemed safer for me to stay on the bed.

But my husband's sanity prevailed over mine and I got down off the bed.  Slowly, one foot at a time, I came back down to earth.  But as soon as I took one step away from the bed, I heard it.  That prehistoric shitbird was hissing at me again!  The gall!

I ran over to the single chair in the room and jumped up on it.  Then the bastard hissed again!  It would have been funny if I weren't sure it was looking for a way to tunnel into my suitcase for maximum heart-attack impact the next morning.  While I stood like a demented flamingo on a rickety metal chair, Paul duly took apart the bed, pushing the mattress off the box spring and de-sheeting it.  He looked everywhere.  He looked under the bed, again.  He checked inside our suitcases.  He checked the bathroom.  There was no bug to be found.

"But I can hear it!" I whined.  "It's here somewhere!  We have to find it."

But where else could we look?  Paul had already exhausted pretty much every hiding place the small room offered.  He fixed the bed and then sat down on it.  "Come on," he said.  "Let's just watch some TV and try to relax."

Now, relaxing when there's a Jurassic Park-sized bug on the loose is not in my DNA.  But I tried.  Because it was Paul's vacation and not just mine, I tried.  I got down off the chair...and damned if that bug didn't hiss at me again!  This was too much.  I had never been targeted so fiercely by a roach before.

That's what made me wonder.  How could the fucker know exactly where I was and what I was doing?  Was it Superbug?  Did it have eyes in the back of its head?  If it did, I had to catch it and sell it to scientists and retire to Key West permanently.

I took one step forward.  The bug hissed again.  Was I getting warmer?

I stepped again.  Another hiss.  What the hell was going on here?

Then I figured it out.  The bug only hissed when my feet touched the floor.  It only made noise when I stepped toward it.  One more test confirmed my theory:  I was, in fact, "wearing" the bug.

The hissing noise was apparently some defect in my Old Navy flip-flops.  Brand new and unworn until that day, they apparently made evil hissing bug noises when they were wet and then stepped on.

The moral of the story:
*Florida is full of bugs.
*Old Navy flip flops make evil hissing bug noises when they're wet.    
*It is absolutely essential to marry a man who understands your fear of bugs.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Books vs. Boyfriends: Finding the One

Have you guys ever had a revelation while working out? I had one today.  I went running by the lake, and about five miles in, I finally saw the connection between the books I've written and the boyfriends I've dated.

Here's the context: I've been ridiculously depressed because my thriller manuscript isn't getting any love. I put my heart into it and I love this book with an unhealthy passion. But it's just not working out in terms of getting an agent.  This is what's put me in such a terrible mood.  But today, I can finally see a bit of light.  Writing books and submitting them is no different than dating. Here's the proof:

Boyfriend, A.: We had nothing in common other than being in the same college. He was on the rebound and I'd never dated anyone in my life.  I fell hard and ended up chasing after him for years, allowing myself to fall into an on-again, off-again pattern that was emotionally destructive and no good whatsoever for my self-esteem.

Book, vampire historical: Everyone else was writing about vampires, so why shouldn't I? I thought it would catapult me into some sort of Stephenie Meyer afterglow.  I wrote and rewrote and rewrote for years, in the same kind of on-again, off-again pattern that was so destructive with A. Instead of realizing I could (and should) move on, I stuck with what was familiar instead of branching out into something new.

Boyfriend, R.: A guy who was fun to be with, actually liked me, and had no problem expressing emotion. He was everything A. wasn't and provided the validation I never got in that first relationship.  Of course, this was a mistake, too. You can't date someone just because they're the opposite of someone who hurt you.

Book, lighthearted mystery:  After the historical vampire epic, I went for a lighthearted romp:  fast dialogue, lots of wisecracks, absolutely no historical research required. It was what I needed to convince myself I could write another book without sucking up years of my life.  This book was better than the first one because of what I'd learned writing the first. Still, it didn't quite fit my style--much like R.

Boyfriend, J.: Smart, funny, British, made a good living, had a cat, turned me on to Kate many great things here.  I thought this man had everything and I fell hard, an elevator plunging from the the hundredth floor with no support cable.  We shopped together, we tried new restaurants, and had lovely times strolling through the Haight or the Mission. At one point, he mentioned getting some of his grandmother's jewelry out for me. True love, right? Wrong. He decided to try and go off his antidepressants on his own, bailed on meeting my parents, and decided he was not looking for commitment. He spent the next two years dating a number of girls, including me. I convinced myself that if I hung in there long enough, I'd be the winner. Not so.

Book, female-oriented thriller: This one is breaking my heart right now. Like J., it was supposed to be the one.  J. was supposed to give me a ring and this book was supposed to give me a contract.  I had such high hopes that agents and editors would love it as much as I do.  Everyone says you're supposed to write the book you want to read.  I did that, but it still didn't work.  Much like the British boyfriend, it can't be forced into generating that commitment. It seems unfair that no matter how much effort you put into a relationship or a book, you are unlikely to get the result you want.  But that's how fate works. You don't control it.  It controls you.  And sometimes you don't know realize any of this while you're living it. You have to get through it and get past it to see what was really happening.

Boyfriend, J.: Another J!  This time, it was a short relationship with a co-worker, someone uncomplicated and fun. We bonded over video games, but had little in common.  Still, he seemed blissfully normal after the emotional nuclear aftermath of the previous J.

Book, category romance:  This one didn't last long, much like J.  I wrote it in two weeks and revised it in one.  It's not literary.  It's not going to set the world on fire.  But it was fun, fast, and easy.  I wrote it as I was querying for the thriller. Of course, I didn't know at the time the thriller wouldn't be accepted, but at the same time, after writing a complicated thriller with a mentally ill heroine, it was refreshing to write something fast, fun, and dirty.

Boyfriend, N.: A college friend I reconnected with at a friend's party later in life. He was nice and very upstanding, the sort of person about whom you could say, "He makes me want to be a better person."  He liked some of the same books and some of the same music, but there wasn't enough of an overlap to sustain a real connection.  There was no spark, nothing deeper that would make me pine for him when he was away. The relationship lasted two years because it was comfortable.  But no one marries comfortable. He took a job across the country. I stayed in California and wondered why I'd let two years of my twenties slip away.

Book, literary mystery: I just started writing this one, actually. This is my first attempt at a literary novel. Now I'm wondering if it will end up like this boyfriend, serious and steady but boring...and also not the one.

Boyfriend, P.: We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary on July 1st. It wasn’t a given that this was it, believe me.  I broke up with him a few weeks into the relationship, and he broke up with me six months in.  That break-up was on a Sunday. Friday night, he came back to my apartment and asked me to marry him, to run away to Las Vegas for the weekend.  I packed the only white dress I had in my closet and we hopped in my Mazda for a drive into the desert that lasted a whole day.  We went to a pawn shop where I fell in love with the first ring I saw.  He bought it for me and we went to Chapel of the Bells. That Saturday night, we got married.

Book:  I don't even know what this one will be, since I'm still writing book #5.  Does this mean the universe might smile on me this time?  I guess I won't know until I get there....

Realizing all of this has made me more accepting of the thriller's failure. At the time, I felt so bitter and angry when J. and I didn't end up together. I couldn't understand it. It wasn't fair!  But fairness has nothing to do with it. It's about being ready for something, about finding just the right fit.  I guess this book isn't the right fit, even though I want it to be so badly it hurts.  I wouldn't have been happy married to J.  It had to be P. So I guess I'll have to be patient with the books I write, the same way I was for all the men I dated.  They can't all have stories that end like this:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Cheese Stands Alone

Last week was a surprisingly rough one on the writing front. Combined with a perfect storm of rejections and Category 5 PMS, it landed me in the depths of despair. Everyone, it seemed, had something negative to say.  Even things that should have been positive had their negative sides revealed. Suffice to say, it felt like the universe was kicking me in the teeth.

Then, today, I remembered a line from a song I haven't heard since elementary school:  the cheese stands alone. That is going to be my writing mantra from here on out.

Writing is a solitary pursuit.  It is not meant to be done with others.  It is not meant to be done in anticipation of what others might think or say.  Somehow, I allowed myself to be so swayed by what other people were doing or saying that I lost my focus.  I stopped having fun and enjoying the ride.

The problem, I think, has two causes:

(1) I want to be a published writer so badly it feels like it will literally kill me if it doesn't happen.  Every rejection feels like a nail through the heart...or the head.  I know these thing shouldn't be taken personally, but this is my dream.  This is my everything.  There is no way it won't hurt.  I can't just walk away from this.  I have to keep trying.  In essence, it's a torture that may not end.  Ever.  But, much like the Thorn Birds, still I do it.

(2) I spend a fair amount of time each day reading writer blogs, agent blogs, editor blogs, and reader blogs.  This is not good.  Maybe other people can handle all those voices in their heads, all those agent posts wondering why the perfect query hasn't dropped in their lap yet, but I can't.  In my mind, I've sent them the perfect query and been told no.  I've submitted a book into which I put everything I have to give.  If you read lots of agent posts, they repeatedly tell writers this is all they need to do.  It is not.  What they don't tell you is that certain genres are off-limits unless you're a mega-seller.  But then their blog posts repeatedly claim that if you write what you love and write it with heart and skill, your book will find a home.  I'm still searching, so I have to take this with a grain of salt.  It's part of the game, I know, but I can't then sit back and read posts lecturing writers on no-nos that I haven't committed without some degree of bitterness.  Lots of degrees of bitterness, actually.  This is probably natural for lots of writers, and many of you probably deal with it better than I do.  But because I want this so badly, my blood burns for it.  It makes me crazy to read too much about the industry or other people's successes or failures.  It makes me think about having what they have or wanting what they want instead of shutting the hell up and writing.  I start wondering what each successful person did that I'm not doing.  I go mad with jealousy.  It keeps me from being a happy person.  This makes my husband very angry, and I already burden him with a hefty number of personal oddities.

The cheese must stand alone.

I'm going to try limiting my blog reading to one day a week, where I madly skim what's been going on, either preceded or followed by a shot of whiskey.  Being somewhat bitter about the publishing industry and the difficulty in getting an agent is a huge drawback when all I want is to be accepted by both.  The only thing I can do to help myself, in this case, is focus on my writing instead of knowing everything that's going on in the industry.  And if I write what I love and I do it to the best of my ability and it still doesn't happen for me, well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Britney Spears vs. Charlie Sheen

Okay, that's a really weird title...and a strangely disturbing visual, I know.  But this does relate to writing, I promise.

While I was running in the hundred-degree heat yesterday, my fried brain came up with a weird way of viewing the infamous blank page.  I'm about to start a big new project, so the blank page has been on my mind for the past week, in that oh-crap-I-say-I'm-a-writer-but-now-I-have-to-prove-it kind of way.  I view the blank page as my antagonist, something that's going to kick the crap out of me unless I kick the crap out of it first.  Not a very helpful mindset, right?  Who wants to be at war all the time?  Isn't writing supposed to be fun?  Isn't that why we do this in the first place?

So then I remembered a little Britney Spears gem from the album she made before she married K. Fed and went nuts.  "Me Against the Music" is your typical cheesy dance pop song, but it's the concept I find interesting here:
I'm up against the speaker, tryin' to take on the music
It's like a competition, me against the beat
I wanna get in the zone, I wanna get in the zone
It's as if the song, the music, and the beat are her blank page.  She's trying to kick their ass, but in a way that makes the result greater than the sum of its parts.  By sticking with the beat and not caring who's watching, she finds a place where she can be free.  But she has to frame it in an antagonistic way, like it's a boxing match:  Me vs. the Music,  me in the red corner and music in the blue corner.  That's the way I feel about this new project.  If I can stick with it, twist and bump and grind on the page, not caring who might eventually read it, maybe I can get "in the zone" and feel that free and happy abandon all writers chase.

But Britney's not done.  The song goes on:
So how would you like a friendly competition? Let's take on the song.
It's you and me baby, we're the music, time to party all night long.
We're almost there, I'm feelin' it bad and I can't explain
My soul is bare, my hips are moving at a rapid pace
Baby, feel it burn...from the tips of my toes, runnin' through my veins
Okay, Shakespeare it's not.  But the idea, the feeling, are exactly the same as that writer's high we know and love.  Writing is a "friendly competition" with yourself, with your muse, with the idea that made you turn on the computer in the first place.  So take it on.  Feel it bad and never explain.  Bare your soul on the page and let your body (fingers, people, we're typing here) say what your muse has trouble explaining.  Does it burn?  Sometimes.  Oh, yes, sometimes it burns.  But that's the whole point.  That's how you know you're on fire.

So in the contest of Britney vs. the music, what does "winning" mean?  It means staying with the music, creating a fusion of body and beat.  Something artistic, something of the moment, something greater than the sum of its parts.  Immediately, I compared that  to "winning" in the Charlie Sheen sense: making money, making other people pay for the bad things they did to you (real or imagined), making sure your name always gets top billing.  Is that really "winning"?  Not for a writer.  For a writer, Britney's "win" is the only kind that matters.  So while Hollywood may reward Charlie's antics with a crapload of cash and free press, the muse rewards a looser strategy, a more artistic one.

Just follow that beat.
Stay with it.
Don't let it drop.

Okay, now I have no more reasons to procrastinate starting my new project.  Unless I decide to reorganize my music collection...

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Results Are In...And I Won!

Wow, you guys...something really amazing happened.

I won first place in the 2011 RWA Kiss of Death Chapter's Daphne du Maurier awards for category romantic suspense (unpublished division)!

I wrote the book in January, in about three weeks.  It was basically a mad rush of creativity before school started up again.  I thought the book came out pretty well, but I'd never written romance before.  So I entered the contest to see where I was--you know, gauge myself against the field.  It was a long shot.  I'm not an RWA member, never attended any conferences, don't know anyone in the field, etc.  All I know is what I read and the kinds of things I like to see in a romance novel.  Apparently, it worked!

My book, The Cherbourg Jewels, won first place in its category and its division!  You can bet your britches I'll be writing thank-you notes to the judges!  (Yes, my mom raised me to write thank-you notes.  I hated it as a kid, but it really is a nice touch in this often classless and mannerless thanks, Mom, for turning me into a useful and polite human being!)

I can only find one picture of myself hoisting a beverage...unfortunately, it's probably ten years old and I'm drinking what has to be spiked eggnog (hence the hat) at Christmas time.  In any case, cheers!