Saturday, July 26, 2008

Metabolism and other energy related matters ...

I've been devouring Robert K. Cooper's book, Flip the Switch. It's all about fueling your metabolism and burning fat. I get on my spinner cycle and start pedaling and reading and before I realize it an hour has slipped by. Not bad, killing two birds so to speak, not that I like killing birds or anything. Heck, I even scoop up insects and set them free outdoors ... well some insects, the big scary ones that give me a shudder and a chill up the spine, they get whacked.

The knee is doing fine, but the leg tires when I stand for long periods, or walk around the shopping malls. I know, I know, stop shopping. *grin* But, hey somebody has to fuel our sagging economy. Also, it's almost conference time and I need a couple of new items of clothing. It's rather sad, this shopping thing. I had a bunch of $15 and $25 coupons to use at a major department store and could even use them for on sale items. Yippee! A couple of days ago I drove to the nearest mall, but no such luck. Who is designing these clothes and for whom? If you are a size two with no breasts you might be in luck. But puffed sleeves? Cut me a break. And the colors? Yikes!

I decided on a black pant suit thinking how could I go wrong. It looked perfect on the rack. Dainty little pintucks down the front of the jacket, interesting snap buttons, three quarter sleeves (perfect for summer) and a nice slimming line to the pant. It was awful! On the rack it was great, on me I looked pregnant. The jacket had a flare to it and fell straight from my breasts into something that looked suspiciously like a short maternity smock. Been there, done that, never want to go back.

And speaking of energy, I'd better read that book again. It's Saturday and I realized this morning there have been no business cards printed, must get to that today, because after all I'm going for the networking this year. I'm not doing any appointments with editors or agents. Speaking of which, I don't have a pitch for my latest work. Hmmm. Now I do have two partial manuscripts out with two different literary agencies, and I like and respect both agents and would be thrilled if either one signed me on. But as we all know, having someone "looking" at your work does not a guarantee make. Time to knuckle down and write an elevator pitch. For those non-writer friends and family, that's a short pitch you can do in sixty seconds while in the elevator (thus the name) or standing in a lunch line, or standing in the long, long, long line to use the restroom. It's handy to have when someone asks, "What do you write?" It helps tremendously if you don't answer, "Books." *grin*

Okay, so no shopping today. I'll stick to the tried and true clothes that I already have in the closet. They never get worn in the desert anyway. It's shorts and flip-flops if you go out in this heat, and barely nothing if you stay indoors. And it will be lucky to get to 75 degrees in the middle of the day in San Francisco, so maybe I should check my fall clothing. There's an idea.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fun weekend

So I went up to L.A. on Friday for a friend's book launch. What a lovely event. This was Trish Albright's debut book, Siren's Song. Trish is a Disney Imagineer and travels all over the world for her work. She is always having amazing adventures and when we were in a critique group together there was always an hour of laughter and rapid conversation as we "stay at homes" got swept up and into her latest happenings. It's logical that she would put that same fabulous energy into the written word, and Siren's Song does not disappoint. It's a great pirate adventure set in Morocco in 1787.

The event was held at Big Buddha Baba Productions in L.A. and Trish had a huge number of friends and family come out to support her. It was nice to catch up with a couple of my other writing buddies from LARA as I didn't make the last meeting and won't make the next one either. There was even a man in a pirate costume who read the first chapter of the novel and did a superb job. The food was excellent and plentiful and so was the generous bar. My daughter came with me and we had a fun time. Driving through Hollywood is always a fun time, but with my daughter at the wheel, believe me it's even funner.

We had dinner out, and got sick from eating too much. We had lunch out with my son and his girlfriend and got sick from eating too much. We watched way too much television. We ate way too much chocolate. We drank way too much Pinot Grigio. We laughed way too hard at so many things.

The good thing is my knee survived all of the ordeal, including the two and a bit hours of driving up and back to L.A. Plus I got to wear real clothes and shoes. None of this shorts and tank-tops and flip-flops attire that I live in in the desert during the summer months. It was a dry run for going to the RWA National conference. All I have to say on that topic is I have two weeks in which to (a) further strengthen the knee (b) take off a few pounds (c) buy a few more "real" clothes. The only problem is I have to take off the three pounds I put on with all of the "way too much stuff" before I can go shopping. Guess I'll be doing that the day before leaving. Or not. Do you think flip-flops and tank-tops would work for a national writers conference?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The week from hell...

All I can say is pleeeease, let this one be over soon. I'm tired just thinking about it. It seems everything I touched this week got messed up, and heck, Mercury isn't even retrograde.

The electrical in the wall for the microwave, gas range, and two power points blew a fuse. I of course tried the electrical panel, tripped the breakers several times ... nothing. I called numerous electricians, nobody answered. I kept my fingers crossed that the microwave hadn't gone pffft on me, 'cause I was using it at the time, along with my brand spanking new toaster. That baby must pull a lot of energy.

Finally a friend advised me to call the handyman from our development. I'm kind of funny about electrical stuff. Don't want someone tinkering where they shouldn't be tinkering. But, I was desperate. He came over and tripped those breakers in one second. Guess my wrists are not too strong these days. You'd think they would be with all the typing. Oh well, good news it only cost me the $20 I palmed him.

Then the dog started to yelp every time she scratched near her ear and she walked with a strange tilt to her head. She'd shake her head so violently her ears would flap and you could hear her from a different room in the house. I thought hmmm, is there a bug in her ear? I need all the spare dollars I can get for National conference this month and did not relish the idea of a vet bill. Out came the flashlight, on went the glasses. Couldn't see anything wrong in there but for some odd reason the dog thought I was making it better. Those big dog ear canals are very deep. She'd come and sit next to me and tilt her head all evening. I'd accommodate her by having another look. Still nothing.

Next day, and $208 later, she was diagnosed with an ear infection and I was given the job of instilling antibiotic drops twice a day, and every other day filling her ear with a wax removing liquid. Now, for me with recent knee surgery, getting to the floor is a hard job. But getting down to doggie level, while holding the 100 pound beast's head and trying to placate her, and positioning the bottle of liquid just so, and trying to get it into the ear and not all over me was nigh on impossible.

Last night I walked the dog at 8PM and almost fell over when the toe of my sneaker caught a raised edge of the pavement. I lurched forward, managed to prevent myself from falling and jarred my knee. Last night I didn't sleep. I took Tylenol and iced the knee down but couldn't shake off the pain. Got up and worked on my novel at 2AM for an hour or so. Drank milk. Went back to bed until 6 AM. Had to get up because in these temperatures you have to walk the dog by 7 AM or you're in trouble. So got back home without mishap and realized the dreaded wax treatment was due. I figured, sit in the computer chair and do the treatment, it was the perfect level. I succeeded in getting the oily wax treatment done and she immediately shook her head and sprayed oil over the keyboard, the computer screen, my favorite tank top. Oy!

Finally got out of the house around 10 AM, did all of the beginning of the month chores in 112 degree very humid heat, not at all like our normal dry desert conditions and came home feeling like a wrung out dishrag around noon. Found a gusher in my back yard, and I'm not talking overly chatty neighbor. The valve cap on the irrigation system had burst. Turned off the water, found the culprit, unscrewed it and started calling. Handyman had left for the Fourth of July holiday. Gardener had left for a quick trip to Mexico. It finally occurred to me that nobody would be around this long weekend until at least Monday. I figured okay, no problem, how hard could this be? I turned off the water, unscrewed the thing, figured I'd just go out buy another one and put it on myself.

Home Depot doesn't sell this type of valve. I go to Loews, they don't either. However, the guy at Loews tells me the valve company, Richdel, which is written across the top of the broken valve, has been out of business for years. He tells me his gardener could come over and replace the whole thing for me. I see dollars with wings flying out the window. By this time it's 2 PM, I'm drenched. I look like a mad woman, my knee is aching and swollen. I'm almost in tears. I come back home and think about kicking a few walls but remember the knee just in time. I curse, I walk around like a deranged person saying, "I hate this house. I hate this house."

I sit down and open the yellow pages and begin calling plumbing supply places. Almost everyone has a message machine. It's the eve of a four day weekend!!! I finally get a real live human on the phone. A woman. She keeps telling me she can give me a 2 inch valve. I keep telling her I need a 1 inch valve. Eventually I thank her and hang up. I call Ace Hardware. An elderly man answers. He assures me he has a universal cap that will be perfect. I drive to Palm Desert and sure enough, for less than $10 I have what I need. I rush home and do the repair, turn the water back on and all is fine. So, who needs guys and gardeners and electricians and handymen and ... ooops! better clamp the hand over the mouth, with my luck something else will give out tomorrow.

On the plus side, I've been doing a lot of reading on these hot afternoons. Read Anne Stuart's Fire and Ice for Jenny Crusie's book club. It was a fabulous read. Where Anne, or Krissie as we know her, gets her ideas is beyond me. This is part of a series and this one is set in Tokyo. Her characters are amazingly well-drawn and her hero is gorgeous. I loved him. The quintessential bad boy with the tender heart. The pace is incredible, the cultural aspects giving just enough flavor without bogging the story down. I enjoyed asking her questions and hearing her answers.

Then I read my prior critique partner's debut novel, Siren's Song, by Trish Albright. It's a historical romance, published through Dorchester. What a fast-paced, hang on to your seat swashbuckler adventure story that is. Trish does a great job with a tender family story, a fab romance, adventure on the high seas, and a memorable spunky heroine. I say move over Johnny Depp there's a new swashbuckler in town, and a girl no less.

After the pace of those two books I curled up yesterday with Susan Mallery's new book, Sweet Talk. What a superb story. It was such an easy flowing read, a beautiful narrative voice, nice even pacing and so many tender moments it left me wanting more. I loved all of her carefully crafted characters, and their individual story. It was perfect and a great HEA.