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, August 28, 2011

Sunsets, Marmosets, and Machinations

To my lovely readers on the East coast, I understand if you pooh pooh me when I say that I have had a wacky week. Wackiness is truly relative. While I have had experience with the Earth shaking and I have been in a hurricane that hit Manhattan (Gloria, 1985), I have not managed both feats within one week. It's been embarrassingly balmy and pleasant weather-wise in Southern California. The ground has been behaving itself and remaining still. Weather-wise, it was a delightful week. Where my life gets wacky is when it collides with the Industry.

Sunset Blvd at Sunset

Most of Los Angeles that isn't part of an actual studio complex goes about its business without talking about movies or TV beyond what any other American talks about around the water cooler. However, there are pockets of the city where the movers and shakers move and shake and where others come to see and be seen. Deals do happen in these places. Sunset Blvd is actually a very dangerous place to talk about any kind of project. There are many, many ears about, and they are always listening. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this on the blog, but the remake of Walking Tall with Dwayne Johnson is Craig's fault. He was blabbing on and on about how that would be a good role for Johnson while in Book Soup, a famous book store on Sunset Blvd. The next thing I know, there is the trailer for said remake. And there has been some thievery of TV projects from other folks I know.No, I can't name names.

Thus, the pretty restaurant on Sunset with the yellow and blue d├ęcor so reminiscent of Provence and the gorgeous and attentive staff was a minefield for creative folks. Many want to be seen and heard doing industry business. If one is perceived to be successful, they attract success. They certainly attract attention, especially when still wearing sunglasses after the sun went down. The tourists passing by riding in open air mini buses sure thought they were photo worthy. Jon and I weren't concerned. We were in that part of town to discuss a documentary on a rare cancer – not something anyone would likely steal. Still, we had to be really careful. Jon and I arrived for our meeting really early, so we would be chatting while people watching. So along with talking about stuff we were editing, not planning and never giving any coherent details about anything, we engaged in a game began during our last trip to the Cannes Film Market. You see, the American Pavilion is another dangerous place to talk about active film projects. Everyone with our party was strongly cautioned against this. Marie came up with a clever alternative. We talked about films involving marmosets. Action movies with marmosets, comedies with marmosets, dramas with marmosets – we talked about them all. It was our hope to instigate a string of such films and then laugh about it. There were ears listening last week. I noticed really reactive listeners. Who knows? Maybe something will come of it this time. Meanwhile, Jon and I had a great time eating dinner and discussing the documentary and a number of surprising things. As soon as I can go into more detail, I will. In fact, there has been a whole lot going on that I wish I could share, but it is verboten until there are signed documents. Fiddlesticks!

We had a blast overall, and I realized that I truly need to get out more.

Writing Update

There is a reason I can't get out as much as I'd like in the next few weeks. I'm still wrestling with this danged book. And then there is the conga line of titles Sybaritic Press will be releasing from now until the end of the year. We hadn't planned on a publishing a full slate of titles. Things just sort of happened. Since none of us are stressing about it, I suppose the time was right for the Press to re-launch.

I am closer to the end of the book, Ensnared, than I was last week. However, I am still struggling with the blocking of the ending. It involves some major action with fights and death, but there must be an appropriate amount of build up to make the action seem inevitable. There also must be the right amount of denouement after the last pivotal action scene to bring the narrative to a close without lingering too long. I strongly feel that once all the character issues are settled, the story has come to an end. However, I don't like loose threads hanging around. Also, romances demand a certain amount of afterglow, so to speak. The book is already a lot longer than I had planned, so there is a strong temptation to just stop already. These machinations have slowed my output to a little less than a page a day of late. It's frustrating, but I trudge onward...ever onward. The new book has an astonishing cover. I'll share that next week when I have a full on discussion about the controversial issues the book raises and the fight I plan to start over them.

This one is short, I know. More to come next week.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blog Delay

I'm taking the week off, blog wise. I have a lot of writing and publishing related things on my plate. I'm having trouble juggling all this stuff. There should be a lot of updates next week.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Craig, High Tea, Yoga and Updates

Today, I visit a long neglected feature of this blog – Conversations with Craig. It's not that I haven't been having conversations with him. We talk a lot. I just haven't detailed them in the blog of late. I need plausible deniability. Of late, we have been talking about Craig being a librarian. To understand the excitement he has with his new gig, one must understand the wondrous experience that was working at Borders Books and Music, Store 93. Craig: So, I had checked in three sets of books when I was told that I needed a break. Me: Had you been shelving? Craig: Nope. Me: Cleaning the shelves? Craig: Nope. Me: So you weren't picking up half cups of ice cream, open cups of coffee or pizza crusts? Craig: We don't have to clean. Me: You don't have to clean the bathrooms? Craig: No. That would be stepping into someone else's job. Me: Wow. You are overworked. Craig: But wait, it gets better. The head Librarian asked me if I had something to read. Me: On your break. Craig: No, at the counter! Me: you were dancing, weren't you? Craig: As soon as I was alone. It was impressive after working at a store where the staff was endless cleaning the wet, drippy or sticky from the shelves. The men's magazines with sticky pages were particularly revolting. And I don't even want to talk about cleaning those bathrooms, and I didn't see nearly as many hairy naked rear ends as Craig has. And no, we weren't allowed to read at the bookstore where we were supposed to be well versed on what was on the shelves and displays. This was really vexing when I worked with new titles in the front end of the store. It was expected that after retreating from demanding and annoying customers that we were supposed to read up on our titles during our break. And that brings me to the biggest thing exciting Craig about his gig. No matter how entitled the library client, there is no deviating from library rules to placate them. The rules are the rules – HA! Thus, most of our conversations begin with 'Deb, you have got to get in on this action!' I am pleased. I'm just not up to being part of a nefarious scheme. Or even knowing about one.

High Tea on Culver Boulevard

One thing I will say for the bizarre hell of working for Borders is that I made friends with some extraordinary people. Aside from Craig, there is my favorite Pikachu, Phil. And then there is the incomparable, Marie. Last week, I got to host a little birthday celebration for her. I decided to let loose my inner five year old and have a tea party. That decision resulted in whiling away far too much time watching youtube videos on the subject. I was astonished that there was one channel on that site that had over sixty episodes on the subject of throwing a proper tea party. I had a blast learning about finger sandwiches and other treats. I also had another go at puff pastry and croissants for the occasion. I didn't have time to get some good Irish butter for the croissants, but I did go crazy and make black berry jam. Two of my Food Network chefs were making easy berry jams the weekend prior to the little party. I thought it was destiny. And I also tried another recipe from my TV chefs. I made a cold hibiscus tea along with a hot black tea. I found bulk dried hibiscus flowers on Amazon for cheap. It was really tasty as well as very healthy. I've become hooked which is good, because I have a big sack of tea. The prep was great fun and wonderful therapy, but it was spending time with Marie that was the real treat. She is witty and funny and very talented. That afternoon reminded me very much of the great times I've spent with my writing circle in grad school. It was a fabulous afternoon.

Deb versus Yoga

The nice lady with the very soothing voice on the yoga DVD keeps making me fall asleep. That must mean that it is very relaxing, but it isn't doing much for stretching my muscles or exercising my joints. Granted, I was viewing while reclining on the sofa. But that isn't because I'm lazy. I like to watch any sort of exercise video all the way through, so I'll know what I'm getting into. I have yet to get through watching the whole thing. So, I finally just went ahead and did the forty-five minute head to toe warm-up. That warm-up even covers the tips of the pinkies. It wasn't strenuous, but it did work a lot of muscles I haven't used in a really long time. Thus, I will be taking my time working my way through the second half of the DVD.I can see how it benefits those with joint pain. The movements are slow and precisely targeted. I'll keep you posted as I get further along.

Updates

We're about to publish a new title by Marie Lecrivain. It's the first of a whole spate of titles coming out between now and the end of the year. I suppose I will thoroughly startle those on the Sybaritic Press blog by actually posting an update. I expect to send out one of mine to the proofreaders next week. Meanwhile, I have meetings about some of our older film projects and the documentary this week.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jenga Piles, Lobster Rolls and Killer Foods

One of the questions that came from the blog of a couple of weeks ago is what sort of art does Jon do? I think they were wondering if he did anything like an art installation. He does a lot of graphic arts like the covers for Sybaritic Press titles and for my web pages. He hasn't done any sculpting since art school save for the things he creates while doing the dishes. Most women I know would do a huge load of dishes in shifts or wash and dry and then do more. Oh no, not my Hubs. He likes to build intricate piles of dishes, pots and pans. As you can see in the photo, some of these masterpieces are so precarious that I worry about a vibration from closing the refrigerator door will bring the thing crashing to the floor. I never put the dishes away. I look at that Jenga pile with great trepidation. I figure I should leave that to the builder. This is Jon's main outlet for sculpting. I think he could sell the dish Jenga as an art installation.

Killer Foods

I really wanted to try the lobster roll at a very famous gourmet food truck here. And on Thursday, the truck was a ten minute bus ride from my house. We have a gathering of such trucks every day at a parking lot across from Sony Pictures. I was so excited. And then I looked up the price of said lobster roll. It was $12! When you factor in the bus fare and a drink, we're getting close to $20, US! A twenty dollar sandwich should come with a good looking nearly naked man. Unfortunately for the truck, lobster tails were on sale for $5 at my local market and I had a recipe. I made it on Saturday along with some tangy slices of fried green tomato. The new development of our local market selling green tomatoes in the summer has filled me with joy. I should whip up some collards and have them sliced up in a bowl as my Dad liked. Very tangy. At any rate, I completely get the appeal of a lobster roll. It was tender and sweet and a little tangy from the lemon and the onion. It had that wonderful, soul satisfying affect on me that only good shellfish has. I was dancing in my seat. There were no photos, alas. I was eating the thing before I could sit down. Next time. And there will be a next time.

For every cooking success, there is a food out there that I believe is trying to kill me. In July, I became convinced that mangoes meant me ill will. No matter how I tried to imitate the allegedly simple way of getting the mango flesh away from the skin and the big ol' seed, I always ended up coming close to slipping with the very sharp knife and injuring myself. I work with very sharp knives. This month, it's a Kabocha, a Japanese pumpkin. That thing was tougher to take apart than a butternut squash. I won't even try to do more than split one of those. I roast those things halved to get at the flesh. That was the first and last time I try to peel and cut a Kabocha. I'm also certain that I can't just fry pieces of that thing like I saw in the video. It's way too hard to be at all tender by the time the outside is golden brown. I'm going to have to par boil or pre-steam it if I'm going to try to fry it. That's on the agenda as part of Sunday dinner. I'm trying to broaden Jon's vegetable palette or actually have him develop a vegetable palette.

Alas, I must make this blog short and sweet. I have a lot to do today in advance of a very busy week. There are some film meetings on the horizon. I have a new doctor to meet. No worries though. This is some stuff and nonsense that my medical insurance requires – though I do plan to give him an earful about my ongoing symptoms from chemo. And, I'm actually entertaining. Yes, I know you all find me entertaining (silly, fake laughing). I mean, I have someone coming by to partake of food and other refreshments. No worries, I shall tell all next week. I'll also have an update on The Secret Cancer blog sometime during the week. I'll post a link on on this blog as well.

Stay tuned.