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!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas, New Year and Questions Answered

I'm thinking of having Jon wait until next weekend to take down the tree and the lights. I have really been enjoying how pretty everything looked in the wee small hours of the morning just before Jon gets up. I'm reminded of how happy I was with the Christmas decorations Jon put up after my first surgery. They are the simplest we've ever had, but somehow they are the prettiest. I had been so surprised to be home for Christmas three years ago that I found Jon's humble decorations magical. I still do. The moments sitting in the room lit only by the twinkling lights while I sip coffee makes me feel so happy and content. I'd love to keep that feeling for just a few more days. There is so much on my plate in the next few weeks, I need some magic. Side Note: it is a very nice bit of magic when up at 4:30 in the morning with another bout of acid reflux. It is very nice, indeed.

Hustle and Bustle

Last year was not a good one for getting Jon presents. He is very difficult to buy for in general. The one option that I had was not in stock when I had the money to get it. I was forced to improvise by making a treat that he was having trouble finding of late. Thus, Deb's Roasty-Toasty Peanuts were born. I make them every few months since last year. Honey roasted nuts are welcome any time of the year. He loved the treats and the new video game when it finally arrived. However, this year, I wanted to get him something really nice. My very own laptop helped me find the gifts at a really great price. I have Google everything on my laptop. Advertisements follow me every where I go when I'm online. Usually that is an annoying and often creepy phenomena. This time, it worked. I did need an office chair for Jon. His was falling apart. So was his windbreaker. Google remembered that I had comparison shopped for these items more than once. It was happy to point out that a deeply discounted office chair was available with free shipping on cyber Monday. Likewise, JCP (JC Penny for us older folks) had a great sale on men's windbreakers with free shipping. Jon was out of the way in short order, but there was still a lot to do.

We're already having a far rainier in Los Angeles than it has in three years. I'd gotten tired of cleaning the rug over and over. I needed to get a welcome mat and an area near the door where we could take off our shoes like Japanese homes have. Jon came up with a great idea of using a desk mat. It fit the area in front of the door perfectly. We now have a pretty good Genkan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genkan and hopefully a much cleaner floor. I also needed to pick up some gift bags for the baked goods we were giving out locally. All of these items meant trips to malls and major shopping districts during the busiest buying season of the year. The retail veteran in me was really dreading this. I was expecting a heavy press of crowds, lots of noise and lots of really unhappy people. I was shocked to find all of the items without any real problems. The crowds weren't bad at all. I found no long lines. I think I was a little resentful that none of the staffs I ran into had that hollow eyed stare that I often had a few days before Christmas. Even my unscheduled trip to Costco was less of a hassle than it would be on a regular week day. I have to say that I enjoyed the mild hustle and bustle along with the Christmas music and children laughing. I was particularly tickled by a young father teaching his toddler daughter how to swing dance while waiting for Santa. It was the first time in many years that I felt like I was part of the holiday season. However, the shopping trips did take a lot out of me physically. I wasn't left with much energy for the rest of my tasks. But fatigue seems to always part of the holidays season, and stuff was getting done.

We used to have an open house at Christmas every year in Philly. The hubs and I had our first hook-up during one 19 years ago. Nineteen!!! We haven't had one since moving into our tiny apartment. And then, there was my illness not making things very festive. I even did the very scary thing of sending out a general invite on Facebook. That could have made life extremely entertaining. In the end, we had pretty much my extended film family in attendance. That was very nice. The food turned out fairly well despite a few minor disasters. I even held up fairly well despite running around and cooking for the open house and for Christmas dinner. That bodes very well for the treatment I'm on to battle the damage done by chemotherapy. I was glad to see Phil and Jack and Sunshine and Ralph and Marguerite and young Mister Shelton. I used to see them routinely for large stretches of time out here. It felt so strange to have drifted. I hope this gathering means that there will be many more to come. We also had a bright spot in our home on Christmas Even and Christmas Day. Sunshine Lliteras was in the house for two days and nights sharing the holiday programs and our favorite Christmas movies. You should know those by now. I harp upon them every year. Really quickly they are Tokyo Godfathers and A Christmas Carol (1952 version with Alistair Sim). We haven't had an overnight guest for any holiday since the days back in Playa del Rey. Happily, Sunshine is a super easy going guest who is a lot of fun to have around. She even put on a Santa hat to delivery cookies with us to the police on duty down the street. And she kept the same odd hours as I do. Good times! View all my Christmas photos here: https://plus.google.com/photos/115054950092873560149/albums/5828120788318857745?authkey=CM3ioNjU8qT9Mw.

Q and A

And now to answer those questions raised in the blog preview.
  • Apparently, those giant car bows seen in TV ads are really expensive. Really. And the dealership is loathe to give them away without a vehicle attached to them. They also really abide by that time is money stance and can be quite short in ending a discussion that doesn't involve driving a car off the lot. Really. I had an old lady shopping cart with me, and I'm pretty sure the bus top I came from was visible through the picture window to anyone paying attention. Odds of my buying a car was remote. And when I can afford one, I'm not going to a place that was so rude.
  • Too many of my male friends are willing to hide in our closets indefinitely for a chance at surprising Jon. I had two such offers to help me out together his new office chair. I considered shoving Craig and an actor friend in their just to see what mayhem would arise. I thought better of it later. Jon enjoyed putting together the chair himself.
  • Apparently, I am attractive enough for dapper elderly gentlemen to speculate about my fidelity in public places. I had on no ring when they started pointing out all the mistletoe hanging about. The situation was more cute than creepy though I think I'll return home for my ring if I forget it again.
  • I'm getting good enough at cooking on the fly that I can whip up an appetizer, main course and dessert in under an hour with a weird set of ingredients. One of my cutie pie guests at the open house had an allergy to olive oil. The next thing I know, I'm whipping up buffet alternatives. My pantry and my skills have come into their own! Can you say Chopped ?
  • I'll tell you more about the question that resulted in a whole lot of work when the details are finalized. But it was fairly amusing and quite exciting.

Year in Review – Briefly

2012 was a very good year overall. I became a published short story author at long last. I also became a published essayist. I directed actors and ran shoots on my own this year. We have a web series well under way. The first interviews for my documentary on Appendix Cancer is in the can. I also came into my own as a manga editor and a spokesperson of sorts for the yaoi industry in the US. Writing and editing have brought some wonderfully creative and fascinating people into my life from around the world. And despite some deeply perplexing and at times horribly disheartening developments in publishing (I won't go into it too deeply here as I have ranted on the topic a few times. In short, two authors writing in arenas where I have made my home over the last 15 years achieved fame, fortune and even critical acclaim in one case while I toil in obscurity. One of them can barely put words into sentences), I have figured out a path for raising my profile as an author and perhaps even following suit. No, it doesn't involve taking anyone out literally or figuratively. I have had a difficult time physically and emotionally from the damage my cancer treatments have caused, but I face 2013 with tremendous gratitude for all the lovely people in my life who have helped make it better. And I am incredibly optimistic that I am on the right path for creative fulfillment and – hopefully – success.

Stay tuned! And Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Madness

As I stood in the kitchen for ten minutes wondering what I was supposed to be doing next, it dawned on me that I should write the blog when my head isn't spinning. Besides, more and more happens to blog about. For instance:

  • Car dealerships are not that interested in selling or giving away those giant car ribbons.
  • Why it isn't a good plan to put together furniture when you aren't good at assembly.
  • Why it's always wise to wear a weeding ring in the season of mistletoe.
  • How an idle question can turn into a whole lot of work.
  • And so much more!
Look for a new blog and our official Seasons Greeting around Tuesday.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hipsters, Cookie Bombs and Star Trek vs Metafiction

We really lucked out when we moved to this neighborhood with it's incredibly convenient shopping that is vast in variety and terrific transit access by bus or car. We find more reasons that this true with almost every errand we run. Last week, it was the reasonably priced, fully equipped garden center. Today, we found an old-timey tailor ad few doors away from a hardware store we've frequented for years. After we realized that he was a tailor, we stopped in to price having new buttons sewn on Jon's great coat. It was a good price. He even told us of a place where we could get a set of matching buttons for the coat. Our neighborhood is full of wonders. Apparently, we aren't the only ones to realize this. Hipsters have infiltrated the neighborhood. They've even seeped into our apartment building. There are far too many pork pie hats and over sized eye glasses. 

We should have expected this to happen. In June, the neighborhood reached saturation point with farmers markets. There are three. We don't just have sushi bars, we have full blown izakayas. This area is the home base of the chef who invented the gourmet food truck in Los Angeles. He has two restaurants here. One of them, the A-Frame,  has even been visited by Anthony Bourdain. I'm so annoyed that I missed that. The A-Frame is steps from my favorite 99 Cents Only store. We even have an ironic cake supply store. Hipsters love all things ironic. Why is the cake supply store ironic? Gloria's Cake and Candy Supply has everything imaginable for light and airy confections covered in pastel roses while it's main sales clerk looks like he came straight from a megadeath heavy metal concert tour. Things have become very hip indeed. We can cope with hipsters. Despite the last episode of the Simpsons, there are far worse things a neighborhood can be. However, if someone sees me in a pork pie hat, slap me.

Baking Frenzy

It is truly that time of year when every spare spot of space in our modest apartment is piled with bags and containers of baked goods. The freezer is nearly bursting with doughs in pre-cookie form. I have introduced three new treats in recent years. Two are brand new this year. I am making two vegan treats though I was not deliberately catering to vegans. The sugar plum (a ball of ground dried fruits, roasted nuts and spices mixed with honey) and mochi (a Japanese candy made of sweet rice flour and flavored with green tea and sugar) just happen to be vegan. The other new treat is a fruitcake cookie. Many of my friends have expressed interest in the fruitcakes I made to ship back east. Alas, I only make one batch of those. It's hard to explain. This year, I got sent a cookie recipe for a fruitcake cookie. It had all the brandy doused dried fruit as the cake I make just in cookie form. I decided to try those for our local cookie gifts. I do give different baked goods to the folks back east than I do the locals. No one gets shortchanged though. The locals get some of the more delicate and elaborate treats that won't ship well. In this way, everyone gets something special. I never want these gifts to be assembly line though there is a bit of that during the packaging and shipping part. The house does smell wonderful for many days, and there are always cookies to check for Quality Assurance. Jon is really good at that. Ideally, everything would ship out tomorrow. We'll have to wait as see if that works out.

My shopping, baking and shipping are a bit off for a couple of reasons. I have long been coping with a great deal of physical pain. I have quite a bit of post chemo nerve damage and thus nerve pain. The meds prescribed by my oncology docs were blunting the pain by less than half. I had been finding it harder and harder to do anything with this pain. Finally, I had a referral with a pain management doc who specialized in post chemo nerve damage. I think the biggest relief was that I was not being a hypochondriac. A treatment was a very close second. The pain doc told me not to be hard on the oncologists. Their options for meds were limited to those that are carried at a public hospital where almost all of their patients fill their prescriptions. Those options there are limited to generics that don't require insurance. Thankfully, I am now covered for most anything. The doc and the pharmacist warned me that the new regimen may slow me down for a while. I did not realize they meant slow as in spontaneous naps or sitting and staring at things for long periods of time. So, I'm not sure when packages will get shipped or even if there will be a dinner on time, but I am feeling a lot better. It all evens out in the end. I just keep in perspective that three years ago I had a belly covered in big surgical staples and was facing a lot of uncertainty. Everything is much better now.

Metafiction vs Star Trek

Metafiction is basically fiction in which the writer reveals the various artifices of writing to the reader. Here is a longer definition that doesn't make me want to hit someone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metafiction I hate this sort of writing with a passion. Metafiction was all the rage when I was in grad school. Thus, I hated grad school. The process of writing is only interesting to people who teach writing. Actual writers find creating stories with compelling characters takes up too much of their time to worry about revealing artifices and otherwise staring at their own navels. Tell me a story or stop wasting my time, is my writing philosophy. As much as I hate metafiction, Craig hates it even more. I distinctly remember him threatening physical violence to visiting authors of such fiction when we worked at Borders.

I was thus shocked when Craig recommended a work of metafiction for me to read. He highly recommended it. He badgered me until I borrowed it from the library. Redshirts by Jonh Scalzi was worth the badgering. It seems that if you mix metafiction with something that looks vaguely like Star Trek and a very twisted sense of humor, something brilliant happens. Here is the synopsis:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

I was enjoying the general hilarity of how absurd Trek away missions and the refreshing change of characters noticing that the absurdity when someone comes out of a bulkhead and cryptically tells Dahl to avoid the narrative. The reader is then taking on a surreal and screamingly funny adventure that breaks the fourth wall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_wall, travels through time and ends up in a Studio Lot in Burbank. The central issue was not how writing impacts a character, but how a writer has a moral obligation to write intelligently and treat their characters fairly. The Intrepid's crew had endured inanities like blood thirsty land worms and ice sharks (?!) and diseases that liquify bones. The last of which did not kill a character from the main cast. Dahl noticed a day later that he didn't look like he'd melted at all. However, said character – the Chekov character, Kerensky – was permanently squirrely because of all the trauma that routinely befell him. Ultimately, Redshirts thoroughly skewers metafiction as much as it skewers badly written sci-fi TV. I loved ever paragraph. 
Admittedly, Redshirts did cause me some introspection about how morally I treated my characters. A review found that I write an awful lot of arrogant men who think I'm not spending enough time writing about them. The one character I thought I wronged was Armans of Ritvala in the Gift of Surrender. I wrote The Price of Surrender to correct that. He's pretty happy though he'd also like another adventure. Yes, I'm aware that sounds insane. I'm a writer.

I am working on Soldier's Destiny at a slow but steady pace. And though I will be a bit distracted with my favorite Christmas gift of the season – Jon is off for a week and a half! We get to hang out for more than just doing chores and running errands. But I'll still be writing.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

On Mom and Cooking and the Holiday Frenzy

Jon and I do a lot of prep for the baking season, including dry runs throughout the year. We like to keep our skills sharp. This kind of prep does not extend to actual Christmas shopping. I am just now compiling a list for Jon to choose from. I found myself very tickled when I finished as almost all of the items involved cooking in some fashion. What was so funny, you might ask. I was thinking about my Mother. I am a lot like her in many ways. I look like her. I certainly have her sense of humor. However, we vastly diverge where my interest in all things cooking. This was especially true where Christmas presents were concerned. It was made very clear, that any present related to household chores would be view with great disdain. There would be consequences for such a gift that could be very uncomfortable. I remember the one year that someone thought it would be a great idea to give Mom a new set of cookware for Christmas since the set we had was damaged. Things were extra frosty until February, and not because of Philly winters. If anyone had purchased the trio of imported sea salts that I adore for her, said gifter would have found themself sleeping on the patio. We didn't have an enclosed patio.

I am very different from Mom in that regard. Not that I don't enjoy girlie gifts. I love jewelry and clothes and all of that. But I really love anything related to cooking from cookbooks to the tiniest gadget. I use my crepe pan every week, because it is the perfect pan to make regular pancakes. I clean it carefully with oil and course salt after use before wrapping it in a special cloth before putting it away. I love that pan! Thus, I have a list of items that I have yet to acquire and really want. It's a very exciting list to me, but I am leaving one item off. I do want a chef's coat. No apron can protect me from getting covered in whatever I”m cooking. However, I want to wait on that item. It's a bit pricey. Mom still wouldn't be impressed. What am I getting for Jon? That's all taken care of. The last one was delivered today. I only chose them on Monday, so that's really impressive of these online shops. Still, I may have to venture into the mall for one or two things for very, very special people. I will choose a weekday and early in the day. That should keep the crazy to a minimum. We'll be doing the garland on the window with the lights again this year. The piney scent is really nice. Soon, the scents of baked goods will be in the air. That will be lovely. The only potential difficulty is our usual problem coming up with an idea for our official Christmas card. Every year I say we should think of something during the summer. Every year we're coming up with something mid-December. Will this be the year that we repeat a card? Who knows!

I am actually working on a book! I have taken up the latest Soldiers book where it left off. It's like coming home if home were filled with hot and frequently naked guys. I'd love to project all the fiction that I plan to do in the weeks that I am between manga assignments, but I will enjoy the moment. Everything else will happen in its own time. Meanwhile, there is a lot of baking and cooking to do.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Stress, Lardons and Japanese at Harley Davidson

This blog has been my most difficult in the last few years. I cannot say that I have ever resented writing it or not enjoyed it. But there have been several things that have happened in the last few months that have made me wonder about the point of doing anything. I have not been in such of state of white hot fury in a very long time. Some of it I'll talk about here. Most of it is something that has to be said in person. And I do have to own some of the reasons why I find myself so vehemently angry in recent days. For far too long, I have ignored slights that were both very big and very, very small. If you are now wondering whether or not you've slighted me, chances are that you haven't. Those prone to these sorts of slight seldom give it any sort of thought. At any rate, one of the changes that cancer patients make is to let things that upset us go. I have found that to be a useful practice in general. However, some people can take that philosophy to mean that I am a doormat or that I will accept being treated shabbily. I suppose the argument could be made that shabby treatment is better than those who've simply disappeared from my life after I fell ill. I view them as the same transgression. I will not tolerate either anymore.

And while I'm in the mood to be snarky, let me say this very clearly. I am an artist. Despite appearances to the contrary, that makes me a sensitive and sometimes fragile soul. To me, being ignored is as bad as being criticized. I know how many people read this blog every week. It's a lot of people. And that does make me happy. But I hardly ever hear from 99% of them. It's the same with my books. I get very few comments, reviews or even 'likes' for my pages. This does not help me sell books which was the original intent of this blog. I don't ask much. I just ask that when I post links to things I'm working on, click on them and then click 'like' or leave a comment. Buying would be great, but it's not necessary. The 'likes' and comments help me make sales. Let's practice. Here is the link to my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/DL-Warner/e/B002BREP2O/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 . Go there and 'like' the page. It would be extra wonderful if you liked a few of the titles as well, but I won't push.

Speaking of things I need to have people pay attention to, Jon and I have launched a fundraiser to make a web series based on Demon Under Glass. We need traffic as much as we need donors. Traffic gets us featured on the entire site, exposing the campaign to millions of people. The link to the Demonspawn Campaign is here: http://igg.me/p/282567/x/126025 . The trailer that we have worked on for months is there for your viewing pleasure. Go and have a look. Seriously.

Holiday Musings

Thanksgiving being so early in the month has really thrown me off. I actually had a mild panic attack over the holiday baking. I was convinced for a short time that I was too far behind schedule to get everything in the mail. Typically, the week after Thanksgiving, this place is full of baking supplies, and we're figuring out the logistics of mailing it all. I was remembering that the week after Thanksgiving last year, I had enough cookies in production to bring goodie bags to Bent-con. It took a while to realize that though the holiday fell on the proper Thursday of the month, the date was a lot earlier than usual. Everything was a week earlier, date wise. I wasn't already behind. That was stress that I didn't need. I have had a very stressful week. I was even forced to buy something decidedly Christmas in the month of November. I hate doing that. The giant, mutant poinsettia I like to have instead of a live tree went on sale really early at Costco this year. I didn't want to buy it so early, but they ran out of them last year. More stress. Costco is a special kind of insane in the days after Thanksgiving.

Luckily there was lots of good food that I could enjoy most of the time. We really enjoyed the Thanksgiving leftovers this year. The turkey was humongous. And unlike most people we know, we actually enjoy the leftovers as they are. There is no need to get all Iron Chef to transmute such a tasty meal. And then there were the turkey sandwiches. They were just sublime. We had enough turkey that Jon had sandwiches for lunch all the next week. However, I had a hankering for something else. I really wanted to back engineer the sublime cream of potato soup Marie and I had at the Crème de la Crepe a few weeks ago. It was very close to vichyssoise which is leek and potatoes. I was fairly sure I could back engineer it. I figured that since the company founders were from more country parts of France, chances were that lardons figured into the soup. It did have bacon as one of the garnishes. So, I sliced two pieces of slab bacon and cooked them until crispy. I cooked the leeks and other veg in the rendered fat. There was also some good, homemade stock on hand. It was really close. I think I needed a smokier cut of bacon to really nail it. Though my effort was quite tasty. I made the croutons by tossing cubed baguette bread with olive oil and toasting them on a sheet pan. I was really stoked. I've never had a back engineering effort work so well.

Deb vs Japanese at Harley Davidson

On Friday, I was heading home from some errands in Marina del Rey when I passed the monolithic Harley Davidson Dealership. AS I got closer to the main entrance, I realized that a mini tour bus full of Japanese men were leaving the showroom to get back on the bus. They had black leather jackets and hats and big smiles. The line was also blocking my path. I was tired, so I didn't mind pausing. The men acknowledged this patient gesture with smiles and demi-bows. I remembered a sentence I had learned a while back that I never thought I'd actually use. So I said as the rain came down with my best accent, 'Good afternoon. The weather is bad, isn't it?' They were very startled. They smiled and really bowed at me. One said something I recognized as 'you are speaking well.' I remembered the reply for that as I practice it a lot. “No, I'm really not good yet.' While that statement is very true, it is also the absolutely best and most polite reply to such a compliment. I got some great bows then. This boosted my confidence. I had been lamenting the slowness of my progress.

My last manga in the pipeline for the year will be done this week. I get back to my novels full-time for several weeks! The baking season begins as do new cooking videos.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful Thoughts, Updates and Indie Promo

It's odd writing a blog today. Usually, I'm getting ready for Thanksgiving madness or recovering from the food coma. I wasn't sure I would have the time to write one, but there are large lulls in cooking. Having two shoots in the apartment in a short time left it fairly clean. Thus, I don't have to run around dusting and what not. Mind, we are going to a friend's for the dinner itself on Thursday. Why clean? I just never know who might turn up at my door that hasn't been following my comings and goings closely or who needs safe harbor despite my plans. They know that I roast one size turkey – huge. And the sides and desserts are plentiful. I'm used to cooking for the family back east who were healthy eaters and liked to have a plate and dessert to take home.

I wrote the paragraph at 9am on Wednesday when I believed everything was going well. I hit a wall not too long afterward struggling with the pie dough discs. I tired a new recipe that proved to be more delicate that the norm. That put me behind schedule. I also didn't have my sous chef, Jon, to do the dishes. I had far more to do by the time Jon got home that I would have normally, and my energy was fading. I never caught up to my original notions of a schedule, but everything got done by the time we left for dinner at Marie's. I was just left with zero time to write the blog. I'm sure that my US readers were busy getting ready for or travel to the holiday feast. The rest of my gentle readers are very patient and forgiving, right?

Being Thankful

It was on Thanksgiving in 2009 that I realized I was in real trouble physically. I was diagnosed with Appendix Cancer a little over a week later. Thus, this time of year has a solemn under tone for me. While this time of year begins a season filled with all manner of stress, it is also the time of year when my perspective on life is at its sharpest. Money could be tight. Finding what I need for the meal may be problematic. Costco could be full of the Walking Dead. I'm not sure that it isn't on a routine basis. None of that really matters when I remember what was happening in 2009. I'm not saying that I don't get peeved anymore, but I usually shake it off after I vent – and not to the person I'm peeved at. I have managed to learn to not sweat the small stuff. Actually, large stuff has to be pretty fricken' terrifying to vex me beyond the initial moment. I am still a world class worrier, but that is mainly about the next batch of test results.

I was extremely fortunate to be diagnosed when I was. Despite the previous misdiagnoses, I was incredibly fortunate. My type of Appendix Cancer is so rare that 99% of doctors go through their careers without seeing one case of it. There was a doc at a community clinic who happened to have trained with the one doc in LA who had treated a case. I was even more fortunate that it was a slow growing cancer. I liked the term lazy tumor. And having such a rare cancer gave me free care at a major teaching hospital, because I was a great teaching tool. All of that good fortune should not be squandered worrying or fuming about small stuff.

I am very thankful for all that good fortune and the chance I was given at life. I am very thankful for all of the wonderful people that are in my life. I have an extraordinary support system here and back east on online. I am finding great creative satisfaction since 2009. In fact, I have found more creative satisfaction than I have since my graduate school days. And my Hubs and I have better prospects creatively than ever before. I can't say that life is perfect. I'd love to be a size 10 again without being the skeleton I was in 2009. But what isn't perfect, can be improved. Overall, I am pleased with my lot and grateful to be here.

We will be posting the teaser for the web series next week. A week after that, I will be posting a sample of the interview with Sean Ferrer Hepburn. I am finally working on fiction though I have no ETA on when the current novels will be in the publishing pipeline.

Stay tuned.

Promotional Message

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grazing, Cooking and a Guest Blogger!

Okay, the cooking maven is surprised that Thanksgiving is a week away. The cooking maven's husband was surprised, but that isn't anything new. He doesn't pay attention to this sort of thing until he's told not to come into work the day before. I should have noticed all the countdown specials on the cooking channels. In my defense, everyone I know thinks it feels too early to be this close to Thanksgiving. The first of the month fell on a Thursday. Thus, it is on the 4th Thursday. It's just that that Thursday is earlier in the month. I haven't been caught entirely flat footed. The arrival of reasonably priced pecans at Costco last month prompted me to ask who wanted pies and what kinds. That launched the compilation of The Shopping List a couple of weeks ago. Just a Samurai sword that has been drawn must draw blood, The Shopping List must be filled once written. I've been picking up items since I compiled the list. I just realized that I have to accelerate the pace now. And I really need to figure out when to pick up the turkey. It needs time to thaw.

Local Grazing

This years shopping has a new and exciting dimension. I've been shopping at the Culver City Farmers Market for many months now. I'm very happy with the wonderful things they have that will make my holiday spread terrific. They have the most delicate baby collard greens. These things look tender. They cook up beautifully. I sent my Dad an image of them, and he approved. He was also very surprised. I told him that collards had become hip at some point. That is annoying, because it's pushed up their price in most places. However, it also means that farmers are growing baby collards. That is awesome. I also was ecstatic to discover that one of my favorite bakery booths carries squaw bread (a slightly sweet dark wheat bread). Turkey sandwiches with squaw bread are divine. I can even call ahead of the Farmers Market to have it sliced. The other exciting discovery that isn't for Thanksgiving, but for any other meal is a grassed fed beef booth. I've been wanted to buy local, grass fed beef since seeing Food Inc. Most avenues for ordering such products were impractical and hideously expensive as they came only in sides of beef. I ordered some really great ground beef yesterday. Jon and I just inhaled the hamburgers. I also ordered soup bones. I'm most excited about this development as I plan to grind my own meat soon. It's great to have some really great meat to start with. Now, I need a similar pork and poultry stand! But I digress. The list gathering is well under way. On Tuesday, I make the pie dough. Then, the epic cooking begins! Que evil laugh here!

Lend an Ear

We recorded a podcast interview of the stars of our webseries, Demonspawn, last week. The interview was for Nosferatu TV's web site. That's a Gothic Horror site for reviews and interviews. It's not up yet, but the outtakes are. So, if you want to hear Jon and me doing way too much laughing, go to this link http://demonspawntales.blogspot.com/2012/11/podcast-outtakes_12.html and follow along. The interview itself is really amazing. It is so amazing and thought provoking for us as filmmakers, I've had to write a detailed blog about it. I will post that when the interview goes live. I will also post a link to the interview itself.

Guest Blogger! (A First of Many)

The following is a guest blog in response to may post last week on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Made in DNA is a marevlously talented writer. Though he describes himself below as a sexploitation writer, he is far more than that. Reading his work and the work he promotes and edits in Full-Metal Orgasm reminds me of the best kind of film noir. It is always worth a look for pure entertainment value, but it often transcends its genre to make blunt and often funny and sometimes poignant commentary on the times we live in and the people we are becoming.

Made in DNA is the author of sexploitation fiction and the editor/publisher of FULL-METAL ORGASM eZine. http://amzn.to/madeindna

It's Nanowrimo month. I could puke. Everyone and their mother is posting word counts to their would-be could-be novels. Literally. There is nothing more I hate on the Internet, with the exception of cat pics. I don't even want to contemplate the idea of cat writing month.

Nanowrimo is pointless. Oh yes, I've heard argument that it inspires, getting would-be novelists started on the right path. But I couldn't disagree more. Folks who have the talent to take the novel inside them
and translate that to medium, don't bother with Nanowrimo. (Yes, there are exceptions, but that's pure marketing. Don't be fooled.)

Authors work. All year. Sometimes for many years. Writing, editing, re-writing, blah, blah, blah. They don't post their word counts because they don't have the energy or the time.

Word count is public masturbation. Since it's not considered polite (or legal) to flash one's junk on the street, I really would prefer people not flash their word counts at me every five minutes.

Am I saying "real" writers don't count words? No. I'm just saying that writers write unconcerned with word count or Nanowrimo.

Now, excuse me... I've got writing to do.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Novel Whining and Some Updates

There was almost no blog today. I was very much in the 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything' frame of mind. I don't want the blog to slip into whiny world. But a call from Craig pulled me out of my gloomy thoughts. I don't even recall what we talked about specifically. All I know was that I laughed so hard and for so long that the serotonin kicked in. Suddenly, I was a lot less grumpy. And this is a good thing, because of the subject of the blog. But first, some news.

My tomato plant is no more. I had a great yield of nearly 20 heirloom tomatoes. And what's more important is that I know what I'm doing with the indoor vegetables. I saw some nice window boxes at the 99cents store that I plan to grab for next spring. I'm going to do tomatoes again and possible green beans. I'll definitely try to grow and herb garden with the ones I use most often. I'm looking forward to that.

November Blues

It's November once again. And while most of us are contemplating the national day of thanks, a slice of our population is thinking about National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. It is a time of year that I have learned to loathe. It's not that I have an issue with an effort to jump start the creative process and take on something that has been intimidating. I even get how having others in the soup with you can be very supporting. That's all fine with me. It's not how I would and did address writing an entire novel, but what ever gets you going. I wouldn't even bother to complain, but the gripes come to me first in my inbox and in almost every writing forum I frequent. This year, the expression of guilt and self-loathing from not meeting a daily word count began far earlier than usual. That means, I get to hear them for longer. I wounldn't mind listening and even consoling if these weren't the same writers who never manage to finish a short story! Well, if I have to listen to those, I will be heard as well. I'm cross-posting this puppy in every place where the gnashing of teeth is the loudest.

Writing fiction is a skill that must be practiced frequently to be proficient. The two year writing program I endured for my Masters Degree was all about making students write. Aside from the pages that had to be turned in to the adviser consulting on the Master's thesis novel, there were workshops during the week that required material. I have never written more in my life. We had to write no matter what the muse may be doing or not doing or how much other work was due that week. I came out of that program with a writing habit. To take on something like writing a novel in a month requires more than even a habit of writing. It takes planning.

Just like it would be very unwise to try to run a marathon with no prep, the same is true for such a writing marathon. When friends prep for marathons, they don't simply work on their speed and endurance. They work on strategies to give them the best at chance at finishing with the best time. They look at the course. They plan to make allowances for the weather. Some run shorter courses in the months before the main event.

Writing a novel is a marathon. It's a long, hard slog. When I sit down to write one, it is after weeks -- if not months -- of developing the characters and working through the plot. The world my characters live in is completely constructed before I write my first sentence. It takes a lot of work before I reach that point in a story where the characters come alive and start acting and speaking on their own. At minimum, I think writers taking on the NaNoWriMo have to have a detailed outline, character studies including arcs and a clear grasp of point of  view before day one. That is not a guarantee of succeeding. The best marathon runners get leg cramps on the big day. But proper prep will give a writer the best shot at succeeding. Take writing a novel seriously as a professional should.

I am off the soap box for this year though I may continue to mutter about it for weeks to come.

A quirk with my latest manga assignment has given me some relatively free time! I will thus carve out some time to make head way with the current novel, A Soldier's Destiny. I don't plan on any running around.  I have an appointment on Tuesday and one at the end of the week. The rest of the time will be spent on the sofa with my feet up either writing or reading. Maybe I'll edit those cooking videos.  My body has made it clear that it is past time for me to slow down. The holiday baking season is coming, and I want to be well rested and ready.

Stay tuned. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

An Unexpected Greenlight for The Secret Cancer

Yes, I know the blog is late. I'm also late on my Yaoi and Demonspawn blogs. It's been that kind of week. The darling Hubs managed to infect me with his cold despite my best efforts of sanitizing and quarantining. I have endured many medical problems with more ease than I deal with a cold. They make me so sluggish and fuzzy headed. Focusing is very difficult. My productivity is reduced by half or more. Still, I had my inbox and an unexpected interview.

I mentioned a long while back that I wanted to do a documentary on Appendix Cancer, The Secret Cancer. Back then, a number of things derailed my plans. The chief issue among many big issues was my own health and stamina. I could not realistically predict when I could get off the sofa and get dressed on any given day, let alone travel across the country with film equipment by myself (Jon's gig does not have allowances for spur of the moment time off). I really couldn't see myself doing that while traveling to Europe for this interview. My physical limitations forced me to slow my roll. This turned out to be a blessing. While I couldn't travel and couldn't afford a crew, I had a camera and editing equipment at home. I decided to learn how to shoot and edit. I could afford a one person crew. Or I would be ready when the opportunity presented itself for Jon and I to go to Europe for the interview. I could be the crew and Jon could direct. I was certain if or when the opportunity would present itself.

Of course, in the middle of the mayhem that my life has become, Sean Hepburn Ferrer came to Los Angeles on business. The cold and the lethargy had to be shoved aside for a while. This was not an opportunity that I could pass up. Ideally, we would have met at a place with a dramatic setting. I'd also have Jon to help with the shoot. None of that worked out. We had daytime when Jon isn't available and our tiny apartment. Alrighty then! The new camera meant I didn't have to fiddle around with lights. We just need to come up with a set that didn't look as bland as our décor, and we needed the right prop or set dressing. I thought about getting the gigantic Breakfast at Tiffany's poster Jon gave me framed to hang on the wall. That would have been either too expensive or too cheesy looking, depending on what route I took. Then, I remembered Sean's book about his mother, Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit. The story of Audrey Hepburn's illness was going to be central to my interview questions. Perfect. We then had to figure out how to place the book so that it was easily visible during the interview. That required some furniture shuffling and some really creative set dressing.

We ended up replacing the office chair that is usually in front of that desk with an old printer stand that we now use as a cabinet. This cabinet is scarred from years of misuse. I found two matching runners I bought at the 99 cent store and made a table cloth. And we had a book stand left over from the West Hollywood Book Fair. Don't forget, the sale items remain on sale until the end of the year. Click the link: http://sybpress.com/bookfairsale.htm. No, I'm not letting that rest.

This how the set looked in frame.

This is how it looked with Sean Hepburn Ferrer in it.

Ironically, we did the interview on the 20th anniversary of Audrey Hepburn's first surgery. I had Sean simply tell me the same story he tells in his book about how his mother came to be diagnosed and what unfolded afterward. I managed to only cry twice. I also did a lot of blinking. What was really striking about her story – and what is central to the documentary – is that so little has changed in the two decades since her diagnosis. Most patients are still diagnosed with PMP and other Appendix cancers when doctors are looking for some other illness. There are treatments that are effective, but many doctors who run into this disease want to use an IV chemo rather than surgery with hot chemo. Sean was appalled that I had the same chemo as his mother. He thought that chemical cocktail was from the dark ages 20 years ago!

The 20 year anniversary is important. Sean is planning a release of Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit next year. Since the story of her passing is central to that book, he wants to coordinate that release with efforts to raise awareness about PMP, including this documentary, a Secret Cancer. Our very intense and often moving encounter ended with plans to talk often and work on this plan. He was very cordial and kind. Here is an interview he did last year to get an idea of what he's like http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Books/video/son-sean-hepburn-ferrers-book-mother-audrey-hepburn-12096109 . I had been fretting about having a nice spread of food and beverages. I was channeling my mother, another elegant spirit, that day. I remembered that Sean had spent many years in LA. Instead of going crazy cooking all sorts of things, I chose an all Trader Joe's buffet, including some red and white Two Buck Chuck . That seemed to amuse him.

Now, I have to edit this interview while Jon is at work. He has first dibs on the editing software any other time. I must get back to chipping away on the inbox of doom. The blog goes back to Wednesday this week.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blog Delayed Due to Shoot

The Blog will be delayed until sometime tomorrow or Friday. I have a very long delayed shoot for The Secret Cancer tomorrow in our humble abode. I am thus running around like a loon and terribly worried about said abode being too humble for our honorable guest. Ah, well. What can you do. I did come up with a scathingly brilliant idea for nibbles. But that's for the blog.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Liotta Again, Actors Galore and Updates

Ray Liotta is back. Craig has reported several sightings. He called me Tuesday night to report finding 'the Liotta' parked in a car eating a frozen yogurt. It was after 10pm and the yogurt shop was closed. That isn't really unusual behavior as far as actors are concerned. I wonder if Craig thinks 'the Liotta' is shadowing him while developing a new bit for his acting. I don't think he is. They are both Jersey raised snack loving organisms. 'veI actually witnessed the man buying snacks on more than one occasion. It would stand to reason that they would cross paths fairly often. That part of town is fairly small and somewhat cut off from the rest of the city. Though I could easily be wrong. I once did an interview with an actor while I was still on the east coast. All the while, he was learning the accent and mannerisms of my writing partner. He had a very serious Philly accent and some peculiar mannerisms. He could mimic them perfectly after a very short while. Craig is a fascinating individual. The Liotta could be observing him. I still think it's a snack thing.

This week has been better than last week on the whole. I've been able to clear out a lot of stuff from the dreaded inbox, and the apartment is back in order from the trip. I need to knock out a couple more things before I can get back to my fiction writing, I think I'll get those done before next week. I hope. It looks good for getting it done at the moment. Why the uncertainty? Things keep coming up that I'm not expecting.

Actor Interactions and Reactions

I am most often asked about my interaction with actors by people on the East Coast. I've detailed encounters with the famous and infamous in my blog. It was routine when Jon and I worked on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. My favorite moment was when Barbara Streisand admired a button I was wearing. It read 'Strip Him, Bath Him and Bring Him to My Tent.' She said that I had the right idea about men. A close second was waiting on Patrick Stewart – twice. I almost jacked up a co-worker to get to him. And I had a really nice chat with James Cameron while helping him shop for non-fiction. He needed reading material when he was 'unemployed' after Titanic. I understand that Ted Danson looked for me for a year after I left Borders Books. Somehow, I became his personal shopper. He was very nice, so I did take the time to pull the books on his lists and ring him up. That service also kept bedlam to a minimum in the store when tourists figured out who he was.

Currently, my encounters are in supermarkets or drug stores when they are usually in my way. It's funny, young actors that I know are from CW shows try to hide who they are. They do that even in areas that tourists rarely go – like the markets in Marina Del Rey near here. This is really an area for locals. But they hide behind their dark sunglasses and hats with big brims. That makes them more noticeable to me. And I don't care who they are as they are usually in my way. I've seen a number of older actors that I recognize from shows I followed in my youth. They make sure that they are seen. I always get a bright smile when I give them that 'hey I know you' smile and nod. Sometimes, I'll make a point to quietly tell them that I always loved their work.

The upshot to all of that yammering is that I am seldom star struck. My reaction when I spot a celebrity is 'Is this person going to inconvenience me? And how badly?' When you factor in the fact that I hire and work with actors, my view of them is vastly different from when I lived in Philly. They are fun and often funny. Even those that aren't leading male or female pretty have very attractive personalities. I'm not unaffected by that. After all, I have to basically fall in love with actors that I cast as a writer and producer. By and large, they are a pleasure to be around. Even the ones that have turned up at our place in the wee small hours of the morning are entertaining in some fashion. I do like how those young, studly men can be out of their pants in an instant. A fine trait, I must admit.

Still doesn't capture the pecs or the biceps!
The actors in my regular orbit are either those who are climbing the ladder to regular gigs or those who've been working steadily and are recognized but fans don't approach them on the street. I find that the actors we remain closest to are also writers and producers. There are exceptions, but that is the typical situation. Yesterday, I had lunch with one such actor. The encounter reflects our creative relationship with industry people out here. Ryohei (ree-oh-hay) is an actor-writer-director-producer. That is a lot of hats, but he's a young man. We got to know Ryohei when he came to work for me on my 'Cook Like a Uke' series. He is adorable which is why I cast him. And he could act and cook. I had such a great experience with him that I was pleased to read a script he wrote. Jon and I thought it was awesome. We gave him notes, and I'm going to teach him how to do a business plan for the film. The lunch yesterday was a send-off/planning session. Ryohei is returning to Japan where he has some really great plans for the script and some great connections to make a production happen. We laid the groundwork for what would happen with that script and made plans for him to continue doing cooking videos for me from there. I'll be putting up the first video we shot in the next couple of weeks. We've forged many creative relationships out here where we've learned as much as we've shared. These ties have really inspired us and kept us moving forward. Ryohei is one of those inspiring people that I sense will have an amazing career with the right break. He is also absolutely adorable! The servers kept fluttering over him during lunch. I couldn't blame them. There are times when I think 'if I were younger,' 'if I was single,' if I weren't so danged ethical.' People close to me that are familiar with how very naughty my writing is are surprised that I'm not consumed by those thought in the face of such temptation. Those thoughts crossed my mind for an instant during lunch. Then, I chuckled at myself and got back to my inbox.


By Monday, I will be clear of all my writing/editing obligations save for my fiction! I don't think I'll know what to do with myself! I have a great deal of new marketing duties for Sybaritic Press and my Titles that we're trying. But that should only take a few hours a week. Sybaritic Press, as I have mentioned, has a Facebook Page. Please, like us and post reviews of our titles. The link is here: https://www.facebook.com/SybariticPress. Much more is upcoming!

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Long Waits, Longer Roads and Updates

I don't like to complain. My friends often fuss at me, because they may not hear that I'm having problems until they are very dire and there is the running and the screaming. Last week was different. I was actually complaining without being en route to thee ER. I had good reason.

Long Road to Long Beach

The convention went well, but the week did not go well for me. I've got some new and tiresome variations on problems from the nerve damage chemo left behind in my feet. It was a very painful week compounded by mix ups and confusion at my Doc's office. Those were no one's fault, but the delays left me with a lot work that needed to be done before the convention and almost no time to finish. Boy howdy, my stress levels were through the roof and headed for orbit. Not going to Long Beach was out of the question. I think the stress the guilt over the loss money and not fulfilling my obligations would have been far worse. I don't think I have been as freaked out in a single week since my last surgery. And still, I had to look the part of the writer/editor/publisher in an environment where I was listed as an industry professional. Somewhere in all of the mayhem that I absolutely had to get a handle on, I had to make enough time to give myself a professional polish. Men have it easy. Jon got a haircut, and he was done. It was the same thing when we went to the Cannes Film Market. A haircut and a tux and a few shirts. He was food for a week for formal events. I needed five gowns and the accessories to go with them. Arrrgh! So, I HAD to find time for a facial and get a hot soak while shaving things. I HAD to make sure I had my hair in shape enough that I could easily style on the road. Oh, and crazy me, also decided to make a Japanese confection I've never made – mochi  – to give to special people. I am out of my mind.

I'd love to say that once I arrived at the hotel, everything became magical and joyful. Not so much. There was a convenient but long and arduous trip to the convention moving over 100 lbs of luggage (It was on wheels. Don yell at me). I got lost once I reached the station on the train. The hotel was across from the stop, but the signage was on the opposite side of the building from the stop. I walked in the other direction for some blocks before flagging a cab who took pity on me. Then there was some unpleasantness at check in that left me so irritated that along with the post visit survey the company was silly enough to send me, there will be an eyebrow singe worthy Yelp Review http://t.co/Fsuk8MdL. I didn't start to relax until after the first panel was over. A lot of really cool stuff happened at Yaoi-con 2012. The full report is here: http://www.sybpressyaoi.com/2012/10/paddles-panels-and-yaoi-con-2012.html. It's huge and full of great photos and stories about my surprising fans. So cool!

One of the best moments of the weekend was getting to catch up with one of our Privateers pals. Back then, we called her Skyia. Now, she is Laura. She is still the amazing woman of incredible height and the most gentle of voices. I was really concerned that we wouldn't be able to find the time to even grab a cup of coffee. As is the way of conventions, time never rolls out the way it is originally planned. And then, there was my energy levels at the end of the day to worry about. Luckily, we were able to carve out an hour on Saturday to grab a beer and a bite. We had almost a decade to get caught up on, but it was a relaxed encounter. Though trained as a Marine Engineer, Laura is currently a massage therapist and quite a gifted healer. She made Jon's knee feel better in five minutes, and it still feels good! I am working toward getting her up here with a massage table or going back to Long Beach to visit hers. I've had a massage or two since this whole medical ordeal began. They've always made me feel better. Given Laura's skill, I'd bet I'll feel awesome. I really want to feel awesome. I'd also like to spend more than an hour with a really neat person that has been missing from my life for far too long.

Inbox Update
The magna pile is dwindling down. I have less than 50 pages on the current book to edit. That leaves one more title in the pipeline. The team has agreed that we are going to get that done and approved before signing up for another one. Jon and I have outlined the script for the web series. I'll start work on that in earnest this weekend. I have a couple of important interviews to tape next week. I'll talk more about those after they happen. I don't want to jinx them.

Sybaritic Press finally has a Facebook page! Join us for updates and announcements.  https://www.facebook.com/SybariticPress?ref=hl

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nuns and Wapners and Lots of Busy

There was a nun in full penguin regalia in the jury pool with me on Tuesday. It never occurred to me that nuns could be called in for jury duty. It really never occurred to me that a nun would own an iphone. I really wanted to get a peek at the game she was playing, but it was awkward trying to get a look. She kept giving me the once over. I could tell from her expression that she knew I'd gone to Catholic school. They can tell, you know. I don't actually mind jury duty. It's usually a great opportunity to read. The only thing that's annoying is getting called for a panel. It usually means a second day of service. I don't mind that either, but I never get picked. There are too many connections to law enforcement in my life (My father was a cop and I worked out of a police district for a few years).

The person giving us our orientation was a Judge Wapner. Really. He is the son of the original Peoples Court judge. Judge Wapner put a new slant on the usual speech about civic duty though he did make sure to mention that Jury service is one of the very few things our government requires of its citizens. Judge Wapner evoked a tried and true TV Crime drama ploy where the DA comes into a conference room, declaring that there is a jury ready to hear a trial. If the defendant wants a deal, he'd better make it there an now. Judge Wapner said writers could never use that were it not for people showing up for jury duty. That got some chuckles. Only in LA would script ideas be used as a good reason for jury duty. I didn't get picked for a panel, so it was just one day. That was a relief. I envisioned having to rush home from downtown to get the suitcases and rush back out to get to Long Beach. A nightmare, I tell you. Fortunately, that's one I get to avoid. There are many more to get past before Friday.

Inbox Again

This week, the inbox is mostly in the background as I get my act together for Yaoi-con. I even more jazzed about this convention than I was last year, because it's practically in my own backyard. Not that going to San Francisco wasn't fun. It was great to know that I could still fly on a plane without real difficulty. However, not flying saves a whole lot of money and time. I'd rather keep the air fare to spend on stuff at the convention itself. Besides, because of the convention schedule, I didn't actually get to see any of San Francisco. Another great perk to being close is that I can see friends there that were unlikely to travel that far to get there specialty geek on. So there will be some extra friendly faces about. Nice!

Convention Time!

I have three panels at this Yaoi-con. Details about each panel and other upcoming excitement can be found at this link: http://www.sybpressyaoi.com/2012/10/yaoi-con-2012-preview.html. I am very pleased to be listed as an Industry Professional for one of the panels. I will be representing the freelancers or localizers from the Digital Manga Guild in a recruitment panel. While I am very pround of being a fangirl, and I don't hesitate to make that known, it's gratifying to be recognized as a professional. I've been working very hard to be thought of as one.

I have to blitz through some editing of the latest manga script before I finish my panel presentations. I'm trying to do them all in Power Point, but this 'easy' program is making me crazy. I always have issues with programs that are supposed to be fool proof. There is never a template that really fits my needs or my themes nor is there a function to really let me do my own thing. I'm going to give the program one more go before I make my own slide show. I have so much that has to be finished by Thursday night.

I will be taking lots of photos, and this time, I may even do some videos.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Book Fair Cometh and Updates!

I had been concerned about keeping up physically during the West Hollywood Book Fair. I had visions of being unable to do anything more than sit while poor Marie was left to scurry about keeping the booth supplied with water and ice or luring potential customers. Though my medical tests are all looking good, my new normal includes a lot of physical challenges. My making any kind of appointment or commitment is still very much a leap of faith on my part. I never know until some time after I've been up and about whether I can actually go anywhere or do anything beyond my sofa. Fortunately, I was doing well – and on very little sleep.

Sybpress in the Park was a successful return to Book 
Fairs. We sold all but one copy of our newest title, Alternate Lanes: An Anthology of Travel Using Alternate Transportation in the City of Angels. We had 30 copies! My books were selling in sets of two or entire collections. I chatted up Indie publishers like the brilliant and eclectic Full Metal Orgasm anthologies and indie events like Bent-con with anyone who paused for more than a second. I have a vast collection of cards from folks with their own causes or authors who think Sybpress looked like a good option for publication. We had not done any sort of Book Fair for years, so I think it was great to find that we still knew how to work a booth and a crowd. However, the day was not without it's challenges. There was Carmaggeddon 2: The Sequel closing major parts of the 405 freeway. And then, to add to the traffic problems, there was a triathlon that closed a lot of city streets during parts of the day making travel on the Westside a real nightmare. We all had a far too entertaining a time getting to the park to set up. And these inexplicably coinciding events likely thinned out the crowd. But what really impacted the turnout and our own experience was the punishing heat. The Book Fair provided large gazebos that had panels on all three sides, but the sunlight filled ours in the morning, thoroughly heating it to the point where bread could bake. Thus, when we were out of the sun, the booth remained sweltering. We went through our water quickly. The cans of cold sodas were ingeniously used to cool down certain body parts (see above). Days like this are why I hate bras. They collect heat and moisture. Jon dislikes them for his own reasons which I won't go into. At any rate, we had to go foraging for an electric fan during one of the ice and water runs. That fan was a godsend. It made the booth bearable for the rest of the day. Despite the heat and traffic madness, it was a good day. It was great to meet all the poets and writers who contributed to Alternate Lanes. It was great to connect with old friends like Phil McNamara who was a rock star in drawing passersby to the booth. And, as always, it was delightful to have Sunshine Lliteras about. She was also very kind to get Jon and I home with all of our paraphernalia, including the electric fan. After this, I believe we are in excellent shape to run a booth at the upcoming Bent-con. We are even considering taking a big step and going for a booth at the LA Times Festival of Books next spring!

Meanwhile, the Book Fair Sales continue through Bent-con in December. For discounts on our titles of up to 30%, including tax and shipping, click here: http://sybpress.com/bookfairsale.htm .

Inbox Update

Even before we packed up for the Book Fair, I had made quite a dent in that danged inbox of doom. By this evening, I'll have submitted the last of the unscheduled manga scripts I took on. The Letterer on my team was working on these books with a different editor. That editor had to leave the project, so I stepped in right on top of the deadline. That was fun. With that out of my hair, there is only the manga already in the pipeline. My plan is to be rid of that by the weekend, so I can focus on the three power point presentations I have to finish for Yaoi-con. I only planned on doing two panels, but strange things happen during web conferences, it seems. Meanwhile, Jon is finally working on editing the Demonspawn web series teaser trailer. In a perfect world, I would like that to go live before we leave for Yaoi-con, but we are most likely losing all day Saturday to some work being done on our apartment complex. Past experience tells us that it is best to get out of the building until the dust settles. So, that is what we'll be doing. After Yaoi-con, I can focus on my fiction once again -- until Bent-con. Just kidding. I'm going to do my panel presentations for that while I'm working on the ones for Yaoi-con. My readers have been patient (HA!), and I need to get back on track. I'm  far happier when I can do even a few pages of writing a day.

I'll detail exactly what I'm doing on this year's Yaoi-con panels as well as update the status on the novels next week.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kitchen Fame and Book Fair Shout Out

I had an interesting thing happen this morning that tickled me. The incident didn't begin as anything amusing at all. I noticed that the tub was a quarter full of water hours after Jon had his shower. I also noticed that there was a lot of metal scraping and a rumbling motor noise coming from the apartment next to ours. The last time that happened, we had a plumbing snake that came through the drain, reached the floor, then headed down our hall! Still, I had a lot of work to do, and couldn't still about idly until the plumber showed up. I had finished shaping a batch of pretzels and moved onto the croissants when there was a knock at the door. It was the plumber. I let him in and turned on the video I was using to make the croissants. I was at the part where the butter is pounded and rolled into an 8 inch square. After I finished, I heard the plumber say, 'It looks like the one on TV.' He'd never seen anything like it. He managed to see me make the basic dough and put it in the fridge. “You should be on the TV,” he said as he left. I was very flattered and quite tickled. But if I were a TV chef, I couldn't do all of that cursing! I was so amused that I didn't mind the really dirty tube he left behind as much as I might have.

Book Fair Beats

Now, I must make with the promoting! At last, the week of the West Hollywood Book Fair is here! We are so incredibly excited, because we all of our books were delivered in time! No waiting and hoping any praying that we might possibly have them by Friday. I almost don't know what to do with myself. Almost. I still have a lot of work to do with creating promo materials and baking goodies for the booth and the raffle. I fell like my life is partially on hold until this is over. I'm doing a Michael Corleone with 'After the Book Fair, all my businesses will be put in order.' I can't edit any of the recent videos. And forget about working on the webseries or any of the other projects. The only thing I can make an exception for is the editing gig for Digital Manga. I signed a contract, so I have to stay on top of all of that.

Sypress in the Park will be at booth C23 at the West Hollywood Book Fair. We are in the poetry section next to the culinary stage (how cool is that placement). We're nearest the West Hollywood Public Library's entrance. The Book Fair opens at 10am and closes at 6pm. We'll be there the whole day though if you're looking for any one of us in particular, you may have to hang out a bit. We're all big ol' book nerds, and we really enjoy shopping there. So, one of us is always manning the booth with the authors while the others do their shopping or check out a panel. Did I mention the panels? They are awesome for readers or writers! Check out the web page for a map of the booths and a full schedule of the panels http://www.westhollywoodbookfair.org/ . But you aren't in Los Angeles and want to get in on the fun? We have just the thing for you! For the duration of the Book Fair and for our convention appearances until the end of the year, there is a sale of selected titles from Sybaritic Press. They will cost what we charge at the Book Fair AND those prices include shipping and sales tax! Just go to this page http://sybpress.com/bookfairsale.htm and go nuts. We accept VISA, Mastercharge, Discover and Paypal. This is also true at the booth where we also accept cash! For those who can't make it, we will have photos and video of all of the fun.

On that note, I must sign off. I have a lot of work to do, and I'm running out of time to do it.

Stay tuned!