Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fog, Turkey, Pimps and Caption Contest

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Naughty Author

Writing this week was profoundly interrupted by Thanksgiving prep, celebration and recovery. I made progress on some things, but it was a shamefully small number of actual pages. However, I managed to get some things done on the publishing front. Len Richmond’s website is live. His novel, Naked in Paradise, is doing very well and he has some signings coming up next month. For more info and to read his delightful bon mots on just about any topic, click here. The dear man sent Jon and I a lovely present for our holiday d├ęcor. And the little heart even looks like him. The man is an absolute pleasure to work with, and his book is being picked up by bookstores all over the world. Naked in Paradise is in more bookstores than any other title by Sybaritic Press. And I have a feeling that it’s just the beginning for Len.

Pea Soup

There was a lot of fog in and around LA this past week. The fog was something I never knew this city had until I moved here. It’s hardly ever shown on TV shows or films. When the Fog comes, it can be thick and scary. The last time I recall fog as thick was when we were shooting The Privateers. Poor Phil drove us home from the set in Sylmar all the way to Playa del Rey which is next to LAX. The headlights were bouncing off the stuff and reflecting back. Visibility was nil. We were really worried about rear ending a semi that night. Monday was about that bad. We couldn’t see our apartment building until we were in front of it. And given the problem we’ve had with late night motorists running us over, I was very concerned about crossing streets even at crosswalks with traffic lights. Of course, the local media lost its mind. It was the countdown to The Busiest Travel Day of the Year! The fog led to speculations about delays compounded from Monday and the possibility that no one would make it home ever!


Thanksgiving

We’re in a much more intimate space than we were last year (that means small). Thus, I had some concerns over finding the space on the counters to put all the dishes. In fact, I was concerned about having space to put the guests. I don’t think Martha Stewart would approve of dinner guests eating on the bed. It was cramped, and I had to be creative, but all the food was set out and everyone was comfortable enough. Holiday meals have always ended up as odd sorts of Salons. We did discuss some literature. Our Marie has been published in the latest issue of The Los Angeles Review. That makes her quite literary. However, we also discussed Hawaii Five-0 at great length, because I had it on when the guests arrive. Our guests saw The Sunday Torch an episode with what we believe to be the first appearance of a profiler. Unfortunately, they missed the episode run the next day. [Major Digression Begins. Tricks are not Treats was the episode that integrated the series with Blacks and Hispanics en mass – all of them were involved in prostitution. My favorite parts were McGarrett using the term mack and one of his men saying ‘The hos are on the stroll.’ The episode also featured Barney Miller regulars Ron Glass and Gregory Sierra as rival pimps, and Pat Morita as the inexplicably named Phoebe. Classic! End Digression] Our guests also indulged in some racy adult viewing on the computer. That’s right, baby. We watched some raw, bareback Seseme Street. If you’re really opened minded, here’s the clip from Monsterpiece Theatre. A good time was had by all. Oh, and all the frenzied Foodnetwork viewing and prep paid off. I was really happy with how everything turned out.


Yes, It’s the CSI: Miami Rant

While they did not put my favorite character in jeopardy for long, it did have some inanities that made me want to scream. First, their already ultra fast dna tests is now a matter of feeding the sample into a machine which displays the double helix on a color screen that magically brings up a photo of a suspect in seconds. Why not just go to a tricorder and be done with it. The other hugely irritating plot element that came up is one of their favorites where a murder suspect who gets injured during an arrest threatens to file suit against the officer and the department for personal injury. This is during an active investigation. And they take him seriously! And there is much wringing of hands and Internal Affairs is menacing. They can’t seem to figure out any other way to increase the drama, and it drives me nuts. And yes, I’ll keep watching.
Blogs I Like
For those who ask what I read, blog wise, there are some new links along the side of this page.


More Caption Fun!

I’ve sent one of the winners of the last caption contest, a radio personality in Columbus, OH. However, the other winner who used Damnit, girl, how many times have I told you! Not haddock, HALIBUT!, has not come forward. Please e-mail me at: deborahlwarner@gmail.com for your prize.

And now, here is this week’s image. Send a clever caption and win a prize from Sybaritic Press.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

The hedonist in me wishes that the food and wine are good and plentiful for all of you. I hope there are good freinds and family about. And I hope you all stay safe. Remember those less fortunate. And celebrate all that makes you thankful!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

WGA Strike, Frat Boys and New Trailer

Buckle up, this is a strange one

LA Journeys

Our errands took us past a lot of LA oddities. Actually, one LA oddity and one that is probably typical of many college campuses though I’d never witnessed anything quite like it. We saw picket lines in front of Sony Studio’s gates. I didn’t know that picket signs came in child sizes. The pickets were orderly. So orderly that they didn’t block the entrance to the gate unless they had a green light. We didn’t see any actors we recognized. There were a lot of baseball caps and sunglasses obscuring faces. Not that we were looking at hard. We were running errands not star gazing. As I’ve said in previous blogs, most Angelenos aren’t looking for actors, we’re usually trying to get around them to get everyday things done. The strikes trickle down impact is beginning to be felt all over LA. This story about support services was typical. For more details, here’s a link to the LA Times Business Section coverage. Yes, entertainment here is covered by the business section. The TV and film season slowdown or meltdown is viewed with extreme concern over an economic disaster.

The other incident we witnessed on our way home from UCLA. I really wished I had a video camera, it could have been a Youtube classic. A pair of young men with backpacks wearing UCLA hoodies was walking past a frat house. On the staircase to the building where a raucous party was happening, a frat boy was upbraiding the young men for not being as incredibly drunk as he was. “What, you don’t have the balls to party? Where are your balls!” He yelled at them while swaying slightly. His volume increased with the level of profanity as the young men ignored them. I have never seen such indignation over not getting drunk. It may be a reflection upon my age, but the level of partying we see during the week on that street is far beyond my experience. And I haven’t been exactly living like a nun.

Holi-daze Part Deux

The big excitement for me this week was the re-opening of a local supermarket. Yes, that does sound really dull, I suppose. But every artist I know has some sort of quirk – or several sorts of quirks. I readily admit to being food obsessed. This market makes shopping a lot more convenient for us at a time of the year when everyone is a bit food obsessed. I’ve already made my turkey stock for the Big Dinner. All the fixin’s are in the fridge, and my schedule is in motion. But beyond Thanksgiving, there is the huge cookie bake that begins in early December. We’ve added to the repertoire of goodies, and the list has grown to include authors and vendors and film contacts along with family and friends. It will be so many cookies and treats that the list looks like I’m going into a new business. It’s lucky that I really enjoy the process. Cooking and baking have become a therapeutic and meditative process for me. And it’s helped with my writing of the Soldiers novels. I have defined Vincent as a cook, and food looms large in a lot of character exposition.

Writing Updates and New Soldiers Trailer

Speaking of Vincent and company. We received word from our book distributor that unless a title is ready for distribution by the end of next week, they cannot guarantee delivery by the end of the year. Thus, the pressure is off on finishing Soldier’s Fate and the other titles we were working on. I’ll put up another excerpt or two in the meanwhile. I’m actually relieved. I felt that some of the scenes were being rushed, so I’m glad that I’m forced to take more time with the characters. I won’t set a new date for release until after the New Year. I have some December surprises planned for my fans, so stay tuned.

I made a trailer out of the last audio clip Travis Willingham did for A Soldier’s Choice. It’s on Youtube. Click this link. Yes, my trailers are very simple, but when a voice like Travis’ is reading, there is no need for a distracting image. Enjoy the deep, dulcet tones of Colonel Heron.

TV Rant

No, it’s not about CSI: Miami. I’ll likely re-visit that next week as this week’s episode is messing with our favorite character Calleigh Duquesne, or as we call her, spooky girl. This time my rant is about CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the leaving of Sara Sidle. I’m pleased that she left, though it was not in a box as I would have preferred. But it was a ridiculous episode in a show that had managed to become less silly over time. They played fast and loose with the law to bend the plot for maximum melodrama. She was devastated by the suicide of a character she knew had gotten away with one murder years ago, and felt sorry for the sociopathic sibling who had committed the current murder. The one on screen kiss she has with her lover did not involve participation by said character. Gil Grissom has more chemistry with his perserved pig in a jar than with Sara. And their parting reflected that. It was if the whole show shrugged at the departure. Next week, is a funny episode (they do those well). Sara has been deservedly forgotten. I still think it was a waste of a great mystery to have not made her the minature killer. Meahwhile, Criminal Minds has recovered nicely from the loss of Mandy Patinkin. In fact Joe Mantegna, has provided a twist the characters interaction and some badly needed black humor that would be natural in such a unit. But then they mess with one of our favorite characters there. It was silly and completely sloppy for someone in the background like Garcia to get shot especially after two front line agents had been attacked. So disappointed, and she had better not be dead!

Caption Contest

No new caption contest this week. I’ve had no time to go through the files. Since I have a very long weekend next week, look for one then.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Strikes, Hyphenates, Beatles and Vets

Gray Days

It was an unusually gray week in LA. We like it because gray, cool days feel like the Autumns we remember from Philly. It’s supposed to rain soon. That’s not good. All the fire damaged areas will turn to mud that will slide and take the remaining houses elsewhere or clog roads. The other bummer this week in LA is the writer’s strike. It got really nasty very quickly when the studios unexpectedly and inexplicably suspended development deals with production companies forcing them to layoff their staffs. Many of them are what’s called Hyphenates. I never heard the term before last week. Apparently Jon and I are Micro-Hyphenates (director-writer or writer-producer). Anyway the Hyphenates responded to the suspension by walking off their existing shows. Since these were the folks who would have kept shows running into next year, no one can figure out why the studios made such a boneheaded move. This means that many shows will run out of material before the end of the year. We have friends who were working under development deals. It’s a very scary time for them. For once, I do not envy their situation. We have two films that will have to be a WGA signatory, but we're not members yet. I'm not sure what this means if we need re-writes. And no, we still don’t know what we’re shooting or where it will be shot. Though given the flood and explosion at one of the locations, I think one has been eliminated from the running. At least, I hope it has.

The year is running out far quickly than I’d like it to. And my writing is moving more slowly than I’d like. I’m not fighting the pace anymore. My books suffer when I try to force the prose in a particular direction or rush the pace. If I had the time that book advances allow, I could make my deadlines more easily. But writing competes with everything else on my plate (I think I have two or three hyphens in my title), so the pace will be what it will be. Stay tuned for release dates on A Soldier’s Fate.

Much Happiness


A new release, deluxe version of The Beatle's Help is on DVD view the Trailer here. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I know that A Hard Day’s Night is considered the better film, and I loved that as well. But there was a singular silliness to Help that I always loved. I was really disappointed just last week to find I’d missed most of it on cable. I still quote lines now and then. (yes, big dork) But I’m a long time Beatles fan. I have seen one Beatle in concert – George Harrison with Ravi Shankar and met another in Philly when he was visiting an old friend in Philly(John Lennon was visiting Larry Kane and even did the weather report on my local news). Help may be the film we show at the Thanksgiving gathering. Or I’ll just watch it on my own repeatedly.

Movie Night

I watched Twelve O’Clock High for the first time. It was a coincidence that it is also Veteran’s Day weekend. I am not one for war flicks, but Jon insisted that I see it for the relationships between the men. The film is still shown to officer candidates as a lesson about leadership. I found I really enjoyed the film. And for my avid readers who know my bent well, there is a distinctly D/s relationship between commanding officers and their subordinates. There has to be. Gregory Peck should have had a riding crop, but he was still quite effective in the role.

Remembrance

It is Veterans Day or Remembrance Day , depending on the country. While enjoying the holiday off, please take a moment to remember why there is a day off. One in four homeless are Veterans. Those that aren’t homeless, often need more help than is available. Organizations like The Yellow Ribbon Fund are a place that you can support in this effort. And every city and town has Veterans’ organizations that can use a hand.

Caption Contest

I received some terribly funny though often rude responses to the caption. The least rude and most creative were:

Damnit, girl, how many times have I told you! Not haddock, HALIBUT!

And

"Unable to find a knife, Columbus Magician John Hill uses what he can to practice his knife-throwing for his Las Vegas magic act."

The actual caption was:

Get out of sight, you hussy! Seriously.

Our winners will receive an Amazon.com gift certificate courtesy of Sybaritic Press.

New Caption contest next week!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Updates, Surprises and a Contest

Holi-daze

There isn’t much that’s exciting or really strange this week. Well, there was my supervisor’s attire on Wednesday, but that was Halloween and he wasn’t the only one in a different persona in that office. I was Donovan McNabb complete with cornrows and Campbell's Chunky soup. The kids on Frat row partied so hard that we didn’t see anyone out for the rest of the week. I made my first batch of turkey stock for Thanksgiving. It won’t be the huge meals we did in Playa del Rey, but we will have some company, and they expect the same quality. The apartment smells wonderful with all of those herbs bubbling away. I have also begun my prep for the Great Holiday Bake-off. I’ll make the fruitcakes next weekend. We’ll begin the cookie dough production over the Thanksgiving Holiday. We’re adding two cookies to the repertoire – peanut butter and oatmeal. I’m also adding chocolate truffles and bite-sized baklava to the hot cocoa mix with homemade marshmallows. It’s not mixed together, mind you. All the recipes are super easy and making them is relaxing (save for the attack of molten marshmallows that I plan to avoid this year). I’ve found some nice shipping containers that make for a pretty presentation. Now, don’t think I’m that organized with the holiday. I’ll be running around a few days before Christmas like everyone else. Then, I’ll buy a fistful of gift cards.

Actual Writing News

I’m still working on A Soldier’s Fate. I think it will be out by the end of December though I have had some developments in the story that are forcing me to slow down and go places I wasn’t planning. It’s fun when a story gets a life of its own, so I’m going with the flow. I suspect that Rik and Vincent just want to keep my attention on them (it’s statements like that which make my family worry about my mental state, but most writers understand). I had Jon help me with some military minutia for the chapters involving advanced training and the climax of the novel. The Soldiers books are by no means military thrillers, but I do need for the military and the futuristic aspects of the story to make sense and have an internal consistency. The book has developed some unexpected themes (I won’t reveal them here. I don’t want to spoil things), and my characters have continued to surprise me. All of this is occurring despite a detailed outline for the sequel, but that frequently happens when I write. It is impossible for me to plan for everything in an outline. Each twist in the plot reveals something about a character’s personality that I hadn’t considered. Each new reaction from one character produces a new kind of response from other characters. Even in a sequel, I’m covering a lot of new territory. That makes me happy and keeps me sane or sane-ish.

Leaping Limbo

I’m also working though much more causally on the memoir and the D/s treatment. In late November and through December, I’ll either be on a shoot or writing full time during the holiday breaks. I can’t plan anything until that decision is made. Thus, I’m cramming in writing time everyday before and after work and where I can on weekends in case I’m tied up with the shoots until the end of the year. Have I mentioned how much I hate limbo? Since I don’t know where the shoots will be (not our decision), I can’t even make a packing list. Those who know me well know I MUST have a packing list weeks in advance of a trip, or I get really buggy. Not even the promise of fun with cute actors is enough to overcome my intense loathing for travel without proper prep. But I still have no control over these powers that be. The only good news this week about the shoots is that SAG actors are going to work despite WGA strike looming.

Weekly Rant

Needless to say, there were no werewolves on CSI: Miami. There was a wolf (four legged), the return of CSI Wolf and a guy who was taking wolf hormones (they explained why but it made no sense, so I forgot what they said). I’m thwarted from the return of regular episodes of a really good show until April. Battlestar Galactica will return for a two part-er (Razor) this month. But that’s not enough, and I don’t see the sense in postponing the rest of the season until April while running such gems as Dinocroc and Dracula 3000 with Coolio.

The writer’s strike won’t impact weeknight TV for a while, but we will have no Daily Show or Colbert Report for the duration. We’ll also be in for a buttload of Dateline . I support what the issues are fighting for, but geez.

Caption Fun

I see a lot of odd things as I work in the Archive, and I don’t just mean my co-workers. I’ve decided to share some of the fun. To the right is an illustration from a real book, an American novel from the mid 1800s. Give me a caption to go with it. The best one will win a prize from Sybaritic Press.