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, September 25, 2011

Readers Ask About Actors, Food and Craig

It is officially autumn once again. Once again, I sit and ponder the eternal question of why in the hairy heck I think watching football is relaxing??!!! The new neighbors who live to the right of me and above me are likely wondering things like 'Who is cursing like that? It can't be that nice, quiet lady in the apartment just beyond the pool's gate. Maybe she's having some female friends over to watch the game like an angry lady longshoreman or a ticked off girl trucker. I've never heard epithets used like that.' I've had to turn off the game and watch some cooking show recordings. I don't think punching holes in the wall is good for my knuckles.

Reader Questions

I have a number of new readers lately. Hello, new readers! I imagine that jumping into the blog from any random week is like jumping into the deep end of a pool full of piranha wearing clown make-up – scary and confusing. Thus, I have received some questions. Answering them will also provide updates. About Craig. Though we have agreed that I am not his nemesis, he still manages to upend my focus when he calls. This week I've had to talk him out of buying a megaphone, and I've refused to tell him which days I tend to visit my local library. However, I'm not sure if I talked him out of putting a special note in my account file. I suppose I'll find out when I pick up the next book. About the fingerprints, because of the number of pages we turned while working for Internet Archive (archive.org), our fingerprints have rubbed off on certain fingers. Craig found out when he was being printed for the library gig. The print operator said she sees that sort of thing with people who handle pineapples for work (I learned that on the original Hawaii Five-O) and people who handle a whole lot of paper. We averaged three thousand pages a day for three years. Our prints should eventually return. I disagreed that his gave us carte blanche to commit high crimes. I mean, it's only a few fingers that are affected. Besides, I don't care how cool it looks, using a grappling gun will end in disaster at our ages.

Other Answers. I do not cover everything that happens in a week. I tend to focus on the long arcs in my life and career rather than the highs and lows. On any given day, things will look incredibly good or incredibly bad at the beginning or the day and be radically different by the end. That's why I don't post dramatic changes on the social networks unless I'm very certain that the circumstances will remain the same for the foreseeable future. I would make my friends and loved ones crazy on almost a daily basis. I thus stick to the highlights for the week. Yes, my friends and family do get a heads up when I'm going to mention them in the blog. Craig even knows what conversations will land him in the blog. When I mention my actor friends by name, they know it's coming. I don not share most of my interactions with them. Next, I am still learning Japanese – slowly. In fact, I used some during my visit to Mitsuwa market last week. I was mainly apologizing for my unruly shopping cart. And I told my long suffering clerk that I was okay for help. Both he and the elderly lady I spoke to were pleasantly surprised – I think. I do know that I'm understanding more of what I'm hearing on the anime and cooking videos I watch. I have some time before we can consider a trip there, so the learning is going at a good pace. I'm lucky to live in a neighborhood with a significant Japanese population and a major Japanese super market. I haven't even begun to check out Little Tokyo. But I digress. Be warned, I do that a lot, gentle new readers. Last answer for this week: yes, the proofreaders have been sent most of Ensnared. I'm still fiddling with the last 60 or so pages.. It will be published on time.

I have one quick note about the upcoming books. In order to more strongly brand them for the search engines and the social networks, I will have special blogs for the upcoming erotica titles and the yaoi titles. I will still talk about writing in general and my own writing here, but the excerpts and other updates will be on those blogs. It's all about marketing. Hopefully, these moves will result in higher sales.

Kitchen Melange

One of the readers' questions asked if I combined all the styles of cooking that I'm learning or am I cooking French one week and Italian the next, etc. I do both. I make traditional Beef Bourguignon when I crave beef stew, but I also employ the method for other slow cooked beef dishes. My Dad now uses that method to make his beef short ribs. I made them that way when I was last home. I believe he has spread the practice to the southern relatives. I now know how to make Karage fried chicken, but I also use the Japanese seasonings like soy sauce, sake, mirin and ginger in the buttermilk fried chicken I learned to make from my Grandmom. It makes such a flavorful marinade without a lot of extra salt. I use kelp in my stock making because it gives it even better mouth feel and extra nutrition. On the reverse, I made this lovely Japanese chicken dish with grated potatoes as a sauce thickener; however, I browned the chicken along with onion, garlic and carrots like I would with a French dish along with the traditional Japanese seasoning. If I actually make a dish, it is usually because I know I'll use the techniques in more than just that dish.

I must dash. Those last 60 some odd pages won't fix themselves no matter how much I yell at them. I've tried!

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Distractions, Doubts and Other Joys of Writing

My apologies for flaking out a bit last week. I confess to having been super grumpy. I was also really restricting distractions while I finished the last chapters of the book. I was using every possible distraction as an excuse to walk away from wrestling with the ending. I even cleaned the oven, for goodness sake! The oven! I have often said to new writers without the funds or the time to go to a writing program that they don't need a degree to be a writer. I say that with even more vehemence if it happens that I am having a flashback of some pompous dullard reading from an opus about a writer writing about writers writing. Or the endless and allegedly deep discussions on whether or not a writer needs to tell a story – can't they find a way to have a reader not read but sense the story on some subconscious level? Wow, those memories STILL make me want to punch someone in the face twenty years after grad school! Jon is pointing out that I'm still bitter. Ah, well. Where was I?

Deb vs Random Shiny Objects

I was going to make a point about the main thing that the Creative Writing Program gave me – hard deadlines. I knew I had to have a completed story and a chapter of a book finished each week to distribute for feedback. And I knew that at the end of the program, I had to have a completed novel. That really makes for a disciplined – though often freaked out – writer. I have a lot of time on my hands, and I do try to keep my days well structured. But the lack of a hard deadline or an editor to breathe down my neck makes it very easy to get distracted. There are a lot of diversions even in our modest household. There are two cooking channels and more cooking on PBS. There is way too much on the internet that is a distraction. Aside from the feeds on the social networks, there are places where I can watch every episode of Starsky and Hutch or all the episodes of Midsomer Murders  I missed when it stopped airing in the US. This was bad before I discovered the sites where I can catch up on anime I've never seen or manga I haven't read. Bad all bad. Toward the end of the book, I had managed to filter out all of the obvious distractions because they made me feel really guilty. That's when I turned to 'practical' distractions like sorting through the ponderous pile of medical records, putting those crates of photos into albums like I always planned to do, or cleaning the oven. And let's not forget all of the cooking. Only some of that was necessary.

But wait, didn't I turn in a feature script draft from concept to finished draft in a couple of weeks? I had a few people breathing down my neck including a co-producer and an actor. It's hard to ignore them when they can tell you're online...or know where you live...or have keys to your house. That wasn't a good idea. I have an update on that film later in the blog. Maybe I should find an editor like Ailawa-san, my favorite editor in anime. She is known for busting into a writer's home and beating the story out of him.

What's the issue? This is one of my naughty books, after all. How difficult could it be to throw a couple together and let nature take its course over and over for pages on end? Well, I never just throw together anything. Even my fanfiction was some sort of exercise about character arcs or writing styles or genre themes. In this case, the basic problem was that I knew the book would be the first of at least a trilogy. Thus, one of the problems was how to give it a satisfying ending while it was clear that the story of the couple would continue on. There has to be an obstacle for them to overcome at the end that will compel the reader to read the next installment while not leaving them on a cliffhanger. That really ticks me off as a reader of books and a viewer of films. I finally decided to go with what I like doing with romances, the story ends shortly after the couple figures out their relationship. From that point forward, only death will tear them apart. That does not mean that their adventures are over or the incredible danger to them has passed, but as a couple, they are a solid union. There are no spoilers to the story here. In my romances, it is the wild ride the couple takes and whether they survive it that keeps my gentle readers on the edge of their seats not whether or not the couple stays together.

My couple's arc finishes after one final and serious threat to their lives. It is clear that there are still gravely important tasks yet undone. There is still a significant threats to their lives ahead. Thus, I'm fairly certain my readers will want to continue to follow their story. But I hate when there isn't a satisfactory amount of denouement. Aside from the couple, there are some supporting characters who have endured a great deal of suffering. They each need a moment or two to gather themselves for the next ordeal. In other words, I believe the book needs a little time like the end of Star Wars where the characters are being hailed by the rebels as heroes and perhaps wear really bitchin' boots. Okay, I know what I should be writing to wrap this up, but there was still a problem. I had gotten hung up on the book's length. It's the longest book I've written in one fell swoop at over 180,000 words or 375 pages in standard prose format. It took me a while to get over that. I was looking at the competition whose books are considerably shorter. I needed to realize that there are still a number of successful books that aren't sparse in their prose. I'm mean, this is still less than half as long as the later Harry Potter novels. And I don't waste pages describing every piece of furniture in a room or every eyelash on a lid. There is a lot of action in the plot and a whole heaping helping of white hot naughtiness! After slapping myself around, I finished Ensnared. At least, I finished the draft. I have to leave it alone for a few days. Then, I'll adjust some things before sending it to the proofreaders. I'll have excerpts and the incredible cover artwork up in a couple of weeks. Now, I can chase shiny object with less guilt.


Octodemon has been put on a back burner for a while. The original plan for shooting it was to wait for lulls in the schedule at Central City Studio which is owned by one of the producers of the film, Lucy Doty. Well, there have been no real lulls in the schedule there. In fact, the place has been crazy busy. It even had the new Batman there last week. It's fabulous for the studio but not so great for the film. Things will slow down everywhere late in the year. We're going to look at the schedule again in a couple of months and figure out what is doable. There are still plans in the works to do the Demon Under Glass and Blood Oath web series. And a film that I very much wanted to do (and came close to getting green lit more than once) is seeing new life. It's very early, but it looks promising.

Next week – More on the books and films. I'll also discuss why Craig, Jon and I have nearly unreadable fingerprints and why that could be terrifying.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's been a crazy day with working on websites for the new books and some other craziness while making chicken soup and Bolognese sauce. The upshot is that I've just strated the blog. Most likely, I'll be posting sometime tomorrow.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Update on The Secret Cancer Documentary

I've updated the blog on the website for The Secret Cancer. I've also revealed a bit more about my treatment and ongoing interactions with my child like doctors. They are all adorable.Got to:


Stay tuned.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Birthdays, Baguettes, and Some Updates

I had thought that the strangest bit of conversation to pass between Jon and me this past week was 'yes, Michael was wearing the super hero cape and the duct tape when he went to the ER. I don't think he had on the tool belt though.' But then there was: Jon: Sweetie, are you into a new kink that I don't know about? Me: What ARE you talking about? Jon: There's a tray of raw chicken on the bed. Me: Ah, that's where that got to. How my Brother-in-Law ended up at the ER is a long and admittedly entertaining story, but that would be for him or his wife, Judy to share publicly. I'll have more on them later. I can, however, explain the chicken. I was clearing out the fridge to make room for the birthday cake. I had the big, heavy tray of chicken in hand when I realized that I needed to get something from the bedroom while I remembered (a big issue with me anymore). I put the tray down to retrieve the item and left the bedroom. I left the chicken there while I sorted out the fridge and counter situation. That's when Jon came back from the laundry room and got very confused. See? It all makes sense.

Birthday Boy

Speaking of my in-laws, they called yesterday to wish Jon a happy birthday. Actually, it was my brother-in-law that called to say that Judy was sending her every 30 years birthday wishes to Jon. The idea was for the siblings to talk to each other, but that didn't really work out. Judy got distracted searching for a photo similar to Jon's Jenga pile of dishes. She couldn't find it and that mad her sad, so she decided not to get on the phone. Jon had on headphones, so he wasn't even aware of the call until I jabbed him with my elbow. The upshot was that the siblings yelled into the phone from across the room at each other while Michael and I had a very entertaining conversation about our anti-social spouses. The Cunninghams are delightful people Judy is among the loveliest women I know. Their parents are wonderfully social people. They make you feel like you've known them for decades during the first meeting. Their kids are another matter. They are very odd in social situations until they know you well, yet they attract extremely social spouses. And we are always entertained by this phenomenon. I really enjoyed that call and am reminded that we should get home to see all those zany folks soon.

I can't do much in the way of shopping for Jon's birthday. And it's hard to get Jon something fun, because he acquires the things that really interest him on his own. He has become a search engine wizard in his efforts to secure the often obscure things that are parts of his hobby. And I don't want to always give him things like new socks or shirts. Though essential, they aren't fun gifts. So, I decided to cook something special. As my muse, Kim, often says about him 'all he ever wants are noodles and bread.' This is very true. In fact, I usually make him a tuna noodle casserole for his birthday. But I wanted to do something special from the days when we were dating. So, it was a simple linguine with a garlic and olive oil sauce along with French bread and birthday cake. Simple, huh? Well, the ingredients for any given dish and the process was very simple. It was just that everything was hugely labor intensive. Oy, what a long day of cooking. I've linked to The pages at the top of the Blog -- see the Tabs marked BAKING-- to show you some of the process or the results. I've wanted to tackle baguettes forever, so that was a fun form of kitchen therapy. The results were tasty though still a bit off from a bakery baguettes. They were denser than the professionally made ones, but they weren't something that I could knock someone over the head with. Still, Jon finished everything and seemed to enjoy it, so a good time was had by all.

Updates of Sorts

I'm still in the last throes of writing Ensnared, so I don't have much to talk about there this week. I will have a lot to say about the mechanics of writing this bugger, but I can't just now. Mulling on this ordeal may keep me from finishing. I can't wait to share the astonishing artwork for the cover and ads. All of the film stuff is still in flux. I have an update that will go on the blog for The Secret Cancer sometime this week. The rest of the film stuff is still in flux and I can't talk about most of it still anyway.