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, January 29, 2012

The Intern, Jingle Craig and Updates Galore

I woke up Friday to an early morning serenade by Craig of the jingle for the perfume, Wind Song. That's made by Prince Matchabelli  (a real Prince), don't you know. It seems someone thought it was a good idea to give Craig a DVD compilation of 1000 classic commercials. That was such a bad plan. Craig will be my escort to the longest (and last) diagnostic test I have to do for the six month check-up. I sense there will be much in the way of jingle singing in the car and perhaps the waiting area. I don't know the results of the other tests per se; however, if something were truly amiss, I would have been called in to see my doctor weeks ago. These facts have not stopped me from having anxiety about the whole business. I'll have to wait until almost the end of February for my next appointment. Ah well, it is better than having to go in every other week.

New Title – The Intern!

Long time production partner, Marguerite Lliteras has completely taken leave of her senses and started writing. Her first title is The Intern, an erotic romance set in the tony trenches of Beverly Hills Real Estate. Marguerite hales from that high class yet cutthroat background. Like a wise writer should, she wrote what she what she knew in telling this sexy but sweet tale. To summarize:

In the cutthroat world of Beverly Hills real estate, Lisa is the undisputed queen. She has a network of operatives that would be the envy of the CIA. Though she can see the vaguest signs and portents that will point to a fat commission, Lisa did not see William in her arena until it was too late. Her boss – and former lover – Phil saddled her with an Intern who was all wrong. He was too well put together. He knew too much way too soon. He was way too good looking. And worst of all for Lisa, he seemed to see beyond her mask and into her soul. Who was William? What did he really want? These questions plague Lisa, but the one that troubles her most is the one she asks of herself - Why can't she stop thinking about him?

The Intern is available on all formats at Smashwords . You can also download up to 20 percent of the book as a sample to check it out. It's also available on Kindle HERE It's some really tasty fun, and the first of many, we hope. You should also check out Marguerite's very amusing blog on Romantica @Sybaritic Press. Check it out! Share it with friends!

We are still hanging off the same cliff as last week. The only real drag about that is I still can't talk about what's going on. Everything seems to be on track. The people actually overseeing the process are mellow and fairly confident, so I will just chill until I can blab. It's going to be awesome though.

Ensnared Volume Two will be out this week. If Jon's PC hasn't croaked on me, it should be out tomorrow as an ebook. The paperback will be a week later most likely. I'm dealing with a lot of mental fatigue this week. I didn't manage to make anywhere close to the headway on many of the projects on my plate as I had hoped. I made some, but not very much. It's likely that I'm churning up the stress over the last test and some other things over which I have no control. It'll work out. I'll probably sleep a week after my next appointment with the Docs. Meanwhile, as long as I'm not hallucinating much, it's all good.

My Japanese was put to a field test last week. It was the first time I'd been to Mitsuwa since before Christmas. The young clerk who usually scurries away from me walked up as I was examining produce and wished me a Happy New Year in English. He was very pleased. I responded in English and then asked him where they'd moved the Miso in Japanese. He was surprised and tickled. We didn't go any further as I also learned the phrase 'I don't speak much Japanese.' I also said no thank you in Japanese to another clerk who was offering me a sample of something. That was so cool! My reading is getting better, too.

Thanks to a wonderful gift from an Internet Archive bud (thanks, Carrie!), I found a great recipe for buttermilk fried chicken. We had it last night, and it was awesome. I'm going to try an intriguing recipe from the same magazine for onion bisque. And I continue to struggle with basic southern biscuits. But those stories are for the next blog.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Food Feats, Hat Tricks and Teasing Updates

The Hubs pointed out that I missed something really big in my blog last week. I'm a silly billy. After posting my fried zucchini flowers on the Facebook, I also tweeted a photo to Giada DeLaurentiis via the Twitter. She then re-tweeted it to her followers – that's a big compliment! Yes, I'm on Twitter. I'm on almost every social media that my readers and potential readers use. In Twitter's case, it's also where a lot of my favorite chefs hang out. I have kibitz with many of them. This has been my biggest reaction yet. I was really jazzed. I have no idea why I forgot to put it in the blog last week.

Speaking of cooking, I did a lot of it this week. I don't think I've done this much advanced cooking (that is cooking done in advance of the week as opposed to cooking that requires advanced skills) since April of 2010 prior to my second surgery. There was a lull in my editing gigs that coincided with a streak of cool weather for LA. Those occurrences gave me the opportunity. And then, there were some huge sales on all sorts of meat. Thus, I made vats of chicken and beef stock and slow roasted a lot of meats and even made a big pot of chili. I had really slacked off on the practice which makes life so much easier day to day where getting meals prepared is concerned. Since I cannot predict my energy levels on any given day, being able to defrost a tasty protein is more than half the battle for meals. And not to sound like too much of a carnivore, I also soaked and cooked three kinds of beans! Now I have to package all that food for the freezer. Geez.

Too Many Hats

I was two kinds of editor last week. There was the prose editing of Marguerite Lliteras' book, The Intern and then there was editing manga with Again Tomorrow. They were polar opposites in what they required. Switching between them was challenging. I'll get into more details about the obstacles I had to deal with in the manga in a separate blog. Let's just say that there a whole lot of ways to interpret the word freeloader, and the context is really important. At least with The Intern, I could call the really patient author and ask questions. I also had to do a final set of corrections on Ensnared Volume 2. My head was swimming in words from different eras and cultures. And then I had to wear the screenwriter hat and the producer hat to figure out how to make a change in shooting location for one of the projects on the front burner work. On at least two days last week, I was wearing all of those hats. Everything I needed to accomplish got finished to my satisfaction, but I am really mentally exhausted at this writing. I haven't even been able to think about the ramifications of the film project's progress. That's probably a really good thing. I think I would be really freaking out (from happiness and panic). As I have said before with film 'Oohh, Aahh, that's how all of this starts, but then later there's the running and screaming' – Dr. Ian Malcom Jurassic Park- The lost World.

Some big ones are coming soon. I have to go now. There's more football, and I need to just veg out for a while.

Stay tuned!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Veggie Fun, More on Writing and Scary Updates

I am not a tightwad. I believe we are on this Earth to live as well as we can and enjoy what life has to offer. That said, I am not a spendthrift either. Ever since I received my first paycheck at age 15, I understood how to equate a purchase with the number of hours of work it took to buy it. Eating out on my own was always a matter of considerable thought no matter the restaurant. I look for quality in every establishment from diner to haute cuisine. I was lucky to grow up in a city like Philadelphia where even the dives are considered worthy of national attention. My luck continues in our current neighborhood in LA. Aside from a really groovy diner in a nearby bowling alley, Pepy's Gallery (I am beyond surprised that they have a website ), there are some really good eateries that are garnering a lot of praise foodie set like The Curious Palate and A-Frame. These are walking distance from me. A little further away is Ford's FilingStation which is one of the best restaurants I've run into in a long time. I do enjoy having a fine eating out experience. However, I've never had the extra cash to try dishes I'm not reasonably sure I'll enjoy.

But eating out is expensive compared to eating at home. And the added issue of deciding on whether to go out or not – especially for Jon – is whether the food will be significantly better than what he can get at home. I forgot to mention. Jon is a very proud tightwad. And in some instances like food, I can't blame him. For the price of a check at Ford's, I can get a week's worth of high quality groceries. As I wrote in a blog over the past summer, I had been long curious about lobster rolls. Theoretically, I should love them. They looked awfully tasty on the TV. But I just couldn't bring myself to spend $12 on a sandwich I wasn't certain I'd enjoy. I got to have three for that price when I made it at home. This was the situation with fried zucchini flowers. They always looked so good, but were a very pricey appetizer. I knew I like fried zucchini and vegetable tempura, but I've never actually eaten a flower. Thus, I was reluctant to order them in a restaurant. I decided to have a go at making them at home.

I decided this roughly two years ago. What in blazes took me so long to make it? Mostly, it was laziness. I knew that a couple of stalls sold them at the Sunday Farmer's market near here, but I couldn't get up and over there early enough to get them. The New Year rolled around and with it, the pledge to eat better. Not that we eat badly, I just want to do more to support local growers. This time, I found a Farmer's market with reasonable hours. If I couldn't make a 3pm start, I could consider myself pathetic. But lo, I did get off the sofa and hustle my butt to that market. I found the flowers in the second stall I looked at. I bought six of them and a beautiful cauliflower for well under 5 dollars. I also bought some beets (I've never cooked with those) and some Swiss chard (I've never cooked those on purpose though they tasted great in my pot of collards). It was a great market for a lot of things. The rest of the recipe was simple – a little cream cheese, a little goat cheese and a few spring onions. The batter was plain flour and cold club soda. I was all delicious! And we have a bunch of veg for the rest of the week. All for the cost of the one appetizer in a restaurant. But now, when I next go to eat out, I would order the dish with confidence the next time we eat out.

Slogging Through the Morass

I think the thing I get asked most about is how I keep writing if I have a block or I don't feel like writing. There is this notion about the muse and how creative people are slaves to one. This is not the correct way of looking at being a writer. It would be unwise for a football player to take to the field after weeks without workouts or practices. The same would apply to a dancer. There are creative muscles, if you will, to writing or any other art. The way I can keep writing when I don't really feel like it is that I have practiced a lot over the years. The best thing about Grad School was being compelled to write a lot every week. I had short stories to write for classes and chapters of my thesis novel to write for my Moderator. I also had to write notes on other people's stories and papers on the books we were reading. We were always writing something. That put me in the habit of writing. Post grad school, I wrote spec scripts for TV shows I liked. I started writing fanfiction. I had a demanding readership for my fanfiction that kept me churning out material. Currently, I have an array of books I'm working on in addition to the various blogs I write. The blogs are very much a writing exercise as well as a way to stay in touch with my readers. A prolific TV writer who was an early landlord of ours advised that a writer should write every day and write anything. He wrote fan letters to his favorite performers if he had nothing else to write on a given day. So, when I have a problem with one piece I'm working on, I write something else. Usually, it's a blog. Sometimes, I still write fanfiction (I'll be putting that up on the old NovaD site at some point). There is always a new script in the works. Sometimes, I'm foolish enough to start a different piece of fiction. That's how Ensnared happened. Since it was often the work providing the least resistance, it was finished before the book I was working on. That wasn't a muse issue though. The latest Soldiers book was giving me plot problems that I've only recently resolved. One of my characters, Simon Molinar from Demon Under Glass, was a difficult fit with my soldiers. During my most recent bout of insomnia, I finally figured out how to make him work organically in the Soldier's universe. But I digress. The point is that writers who want to do this professional can't depend on inspiration or a muse to keep them going. Those can certainly get you started, but it takes a lot more than that to write professionally under a deadline. That takes proficiency, and that comes with a lot of practice. So, if you are looking to become a writer – and I haven't actually said that that is a good plan – the best route is to write, write and write some more.

The other thing I'm asked a lot about is how to handle rejection. I must admit that I don't handle it well. There is a lot of bad writing that is published and sells millions of copies. That makes me angry. I get even angrier when my work is rejected over something I think is drivel. Yes, I know that sounds arrogant. You need a bit of that trait to get anywhere in LA. I do think there is a lot to be learned from submitting one's work to publishers. It's always a good thing to know how to write a pithy submission letter or what makes a good book or film presentation package. If you are getting the same feedback from most places you submit to, that particular piece may need to be re-worked keeping the feedback in mind. I also believe strongly in independent production of film, music and books. If a mainstream outlet isn't interested in your work, there are many venues now to get it seen and find an audience. A rejection isn't the end of the world for me. What is worse than rejection to me is a phenomena that is particular to the Entertainment Industry in LA. Because no one wants to be blamed (and then fired) for rejecting a work that goes elsewhere and becomes a hit, they won't actually reject a script. You just never hear from that individual again. A casting director said it started with Star Wars but became routine in the last decade or so. We have a script that went directly from a very A list actor to his reps nearly 15 years ago. We recently learned that they still have it and are still considering it. Infuriating! That's worse than studios paying for a script to squash it in favor of a similar idea (not that I don't hate that). At least, the writer gets some cash, and though it can't count on a resume, because the script was not produced, word will get around that you sold a script to so and so. That will open some doors. The non-rejection does nothing to advance a career or line the pockets. Why do we do this again?

The projects are definitely on the front burner simmering. In a couple of cases, we've gotten farther than we ever have before. I'm getting questions about issues that sound like they will be on a contract. In fact, I'm afraid to go to the bathroom for missing an important call. Usually, I have to find something or someone and get back to our partner immediately. No, I will not take a cell phone there. I'm told I can talk about details once we're in pre-production. I'm getting really excited but trying to to.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blog Delay -- First of the Year!

I'm digging my way out of a lot of editing this weekend. The blog is being written, but it's slow going. I probably won't post it until tomorrow. I think it's worth a little wait.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Missed Update, Big Thanks and Craig's New Thang

I wasn't sure there would be a blog this week. My plan to attempt a fancy crepe dessert (filled with tiramisu cream filling and drizzled with a chocolate and coffee ganache) before today was thwarted along with most of my plans. I was having one of those rough weeks were a task that required more than a keyboard, a remote or anything I could reach from the sofa, didn't get done. The projects in motion beyond those parameters still can't be discussed. I was thwarted even today. Reading Food Rules and the horrifying Tomatoland has made me more determined than ever to support the Farmer's Markets around here. But I am still having trouble with pain and sleep, so an early morning start is not in the cards right now. Truth be told, I never liked an early start on a Sunday. I always made sure that one of the says off during my shoots was Sunday. Fortunately, there is a Farmer's Market a short ride from here that doesn't start until 3pm on Tuesdays. That I can handle.

Deb vs Japanese Update
But my readers came to the rescue with an initial topic. I forgot and update in my epic year end round up. How is my Japanese coming along? The short answer is that it is coming along. I have not been actively practicing since before the holiday craziness began in November before Thanksgiving. However, I have been passively working on it. The manga editing has me doing a lot more reading of Japanese than I ever thought. Though I'm using a script that is translated into basic English, there are things that are untranslated that the Letterer and I have to figure out. Sound FX Like a door slam or a beating heart were often left in Japanese. The symbols for the sounds turn up in all sorts of words I see in the manga or Mitsuwa Marketplace. I can hear and understand more and more as well. Aside from relying less on subtitles when I watch anime, I was really excited when I understood what an elderly Japanese lady was saying. I was in a Ralphs Market  (no, there is no apostrophe, that's a family name) I frequent, I heard the lady ask her son how much some nuts were. That was a really cool breakthrough for me. I really surprised the pair by reacting at all. Then, I threw in a pardon me and have a good day. That was unusual as I am very shy about speaking the language. I desperately don't be another fangirl mangling the accent. Getting the accent right is tougher with Japanese than it was with French, because I don't have an instructor to guide me. Still, it's coming along. I'll be actively studying and practicing again starting this upcoming week.

Big Thanks
Speaking of readers, I send a big thank you to all who commented publicly and privately to the last few blogs. Many of them made me cry and in a happy way! And to those looking for another Soldiers excerpt, I'll post something soon.

As I said above, most of what happened during the past week with the film projects is top secret. All indications are that we're about to be crazy busy. Meanwhile, I seemed to have volunteered to shoot Craig while he commits his latest art project. Yes, I said commits. However, I have so far refused to film him by light of a full moon.

Needless to say, stay tuned.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Geeky Rec' of the Day -- Durarara!!

Happy New Year! I've been sitting on this review for a a couple of weeks waiting to see if Adult Swim  would repeat the entire run of the series. Happily it begins again this Saturday night or actually 1 am Sunday.

Durarara!! (DRRR!!) is a an anime set in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, an area of commercial and entertainment that surrounds a major train station – sort of like the neighborhood surrounding the New York Port Authority. It's the first place that noobs to the big city end up. The story follows Mikado, a teen from the country who just moved to the city to attend a private academy with his long time friend Masaomi who moved there a few years earlier. Their lives are much like any modern teens. They are faced with bullying, stalking, gang violence and the threat of molestation all while trying to desperately to fit in somewhere. This sounds very dark, and sometimes it is. But I don't get drawn in to things that are merely dark. It has to up end the usual teen drama for me to give it even five minutes of time. Did I mention that the title is a mispronunciation of the word Dullahan shouted in a panic. A Dullahan is a headless fairy that is similar to the grim reaper. She is from Irish folklore. In DRRR!!, her name is Celty, and she rides a motorcycle. She has a job as an underworld courier, an apartment and a roommate who is a very strange and somewhat creepy doctor. That only begins to explain how very twisted and surprising this series is.

There is nothing in the helmet.
I've long had a fascination with cobbled together families. I often do that with characters in my work. My bizarre family units are not as stabby or homicidal as the group in DRRR!! But they are a lot of fun to hang out with though a viewer is often fearing for their survival. I won't say anything about the various plot threads. The spoilers are very dangerous. No character is what they seem – not even the young, country boy, Mikado. I will say that dark themes shadow every character, and these threads are not easily tied up. One of the elements of the series that I admire the most is that even with all that mayhem, there is time found to credibly have small, quiet moments with the characters as individuals or groups. It is clear why they are drawn to each other and why their little, strange and faintly psychotic family is worth rooting for. The best example of this is Celty herself. She arrives in Ikebukuro searching for her stolen head. (there is nothing in that motorcycle helmet but black smoke). Somehow, she makes friends and has some very significant relationships. She has some highly amusing fears for a death fairy. She even has crushes. She is incredibly dangerous but somehow manages to be sweet and endearing. Likewise, Celty's best bud, the insanely homicidal former bartender, Shizuo. This is a man with frightening anger issues on the one hand. On the other hand, there is a side to him that creates deep attachment and loyalty amongst his many friends. Even the reason for his choice of bartending attire is incredibly touching. Strangely, he reminds me strongly of Craig (the endearing side, not the rage monster).

I had heard about DRRR!! a long while before it came to the US. Shizuo and his nemesis Izaya are the subjects of a great deal of yaoi fanfiction despite the fact that they literally try to kill each other every time they meet. That speculation even made it into the show as some hilarious fan service both pro and con about the relationship. This image sums the reality up. That is a traffic barrier. Usually Shizuo prefers traffic sign javelins. So take this ride. It is a rip-snoting good time that is never dull. Also, DRRR!! has some of the best opening and closing music I've ever heard in television. I usually don't like rock in a foreign language, but Theatre Brook's Treacherous Sunset (here's the link for their official video) is what rock should always be – hard driving and heart felt. Here is the link to the opening (the Adult Swim version has no subtitles). Likewise, I'm not a huge fan of hippity hop, but I adore Yuya Matsushita's Trust Me. Here's the link to his official video, because he's simply adorable. And here is the link to the series' closing. Anyway, that's my geeky two cents for the day.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011 in Review, Many Updates and New Works

It is New Year's Eve as I write this. Last year at this time, I was on my 10th round of chemo and anxiously taking my temperature every fifteen minutes. I was running a temperature and did not want to spend the evening in the ER. Well, there was no such luck. I had a fever of 102 and was watching the count down to the new year in an exam room while a bed was being prepped for me on the cancer isolation floor. I spent several days there while they fought the fever. I left the hospital with nerve damage in my feet from the chemo. The numbness from that persists to this day though it isn't as bad as it first was. 2011 did not begin well at all. But I learned a great deal about perspective since my diagnosis. As bad as that New Year was, it was far better than the one before when I still faced a major operation just months after the first one. Chemo loomed after that. I began 2011 damaged but cancer free. I've tried to treat each day of this past year as a gift to be appreciated as much as possible. On the whole, I believe I have succeeded. I still have a lot of hurdles to overcome physically, and the spectre of the disease is always lurking in the background. But I feel I've turned a corner and am looking forward to an even better year to come.


Since I still spend a lot of time at home and still have a lot of stress related to recovery, I have the opportunity and motivation to work on my culinary skills. I took on some really crazy things this year. For the most part, the results were good. Some were even great. The baguette still eludes me though on the last pass, the flavor and texture were there. I'm still having trouble getting it to rise properly. There is something I'm missing somewhere. I plan to look at more videos and recipes. Strangely, I thought that either puff pastry or croissants would be more difficult. They are time consuming recipes for sure, but the results were just sublime! The upside to both the croissant and puff pastry is that it freezes perfectly, so there are baked goods for quite some time after whipping up a batch. The other interesting dish that was good though I couldn't call it successful was tiramisu. Incidentally, after searching high and low for lady fingers and ending up at a specialty shop to find them, we've been finding them everywhere. Last week, we found them in a drug store. Jon believes the lady fingers are now mocking us. That could be true. I'm not sure when we'll try the recipe again. It makes such a big tray. We'll need to have an event with lots of people to eat it before making it again. In fact, there is a challenge I'd like to beat next year. There are recipes for souffles and tiramisu that make many servings and do not freeze. I'm searching high and low for recipes that work well for individual servings or that freeze well. I'm open to any suggestions.

Aside from enjoying the food my obsession is producing, I got some recognition that was really exciting. My tiramisu effort was recognized by the authors of the recipe, Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar of The Cooking Channel's Extra Virgin. My Sugar Plums – a new treat I made at the last minute this year – was praised via Twitter by Alton Brown himself! But strangely, it's been the interaction with some Japanese chefs that has most jazzed me. I think it's because I had never cooked anything in that cuisine before. I was very thrilled that my first effort at sushi got a thumbs up viaTwitter from a host of a major cooking show in Japan, Your Japanese Kitchen. That was really cool, but I've been as jazzed by interactions with Japanese chefs who have shows on Youtube. They are widely followed there. I've tried many dishes by Ochikeron . She's been very encouraging, and she's been recognized by the original Iron Chefs! And I was beyond thrilled when the wildly popular host of Cooking with Dog deemed my version of her pumpkin soup delicious.

2011 was a good year in the kitchen for me. In 2012, I see some inevitable things happening. I will try to make my own pasta from scratch. I've had fresh pasta over the years. There was one spot in Philly's  Reading Terminal Market  that sold astonishing ravioli and tortellini. But it hasn't been until recently that I've been convinced that it's a recipe I can pull off. And I can see myself grinding my own meats for burgers and sausages. I was on my way to that practice anyway, because it's difficult to find the kinds of coarse grinds in beef that I like for chili. And I have been profoundly influenced by Michael Pollan's FoodRules . He advocates eating foods that are as little commercially processed as possible. Beyond that, I'm exploring two new cookbooks (Micahel Symon's Live to Cook and Anne Burrell's Cook Like a Rock Star ) that strongly recommend making both homemade pasta sausages for their recipes. I can't wait to report back with all that I am learning!

A Quick note on kitchen disasters. I will try the mango pitting device suggested by a kind reader though I've seen Bobby Flay nearly lose some fingers with one. I am still deeply suspicious of mangoes. And I have yet to poach an egg successfully. I've tried so many 'fool proof' tips. Obviously these chefs have never met me! Still, I will continue to try. There are so many dishes I like which include poached eggs.


The year did not begin that well creatively. I found that doing even the shortest of shoots was beyond my reach physically. Some of the difficulty simply comes from being older. Wearing that many hats in a production was a lot harder in 2011 than it was in 1998. I'm also missing my most trusty production coordinators, Randy and Phil. Not that I'm heaping guilt upon them. Even if they were available, there is the second reason that I have slowed down. In the wake of the two surgeries and ten rounds of chemo, I have changed. My 'new normal' leaves me far slower at many things than I used to be. And I can never predict when I will tire easily or have other, more unpleasant problems. Thus, I had to shelve plans to shoot the web series I had planned. That was a tad depressing. But there was a yin to that yang. I was suddenly writing fiction again. The guys came alive for me in two story lines. I'm still working on one, but the other – Ensnared Volumes 1&2 – is out and well received. My Soldier boys are giving my Vampire a hard time. It's fun to write though a bit odd for me. More on that on http://sybpressyaoi.com . Oh, and a special shout out to my talented cover artist, Adrianna Ferguson. You were the find of the year!

Aside from the books going well, I was challenged creatively by a solicitation for stories by one the edgiest genre writers I've run across in a very long time. He is best known as Made in DNA. His content is way out on the fringe most of the time. Many of the titles are Not Safe For Work. His work seems offensive at first blush. But there is so much more going on than cybersex. Brent has a way of using the sparest of prose to speak volumes. His worlds are often as dark and scary as they are sex-charged. But his fiction is always smart, and it can be wickedly funny. To write for him was quite a challenge as I am not prone toward darkness. I pushed myself in directions I had never gone with my work while adhering to a rigid word count. The results were pieces that I would not have thought of were it not for the challenge in Brent's guidelines. It was an exasperating and exhilarating experience that left me in a different space as a writer. I look forward to pushing myself like that again sometime soon. I'm also very pleased to have found an inspiring and thought provoking writer like Brent.

I found that an awful lot of my creative experiences and opportunities came from the copious amount of times I spent online in 2011. While I was laying the groundwork for networking my next books and indulging in my geeky past times, I was making some important connections. My late night on line discussions and diatribes lead to speaking at two really cool conventions. And those events lead to the suggestion that I try for a freelance position at Digital Manga as an editor. This was a huge step for me, and it is an endlessly fascinating challenge to take someone's work and make it sound like natural English yet still have the author's voice and intent clear in the dialogue. This is done without being able to read Japanese fluently – thus I must rely on the translator – and without ever interacting with the author. Strangely, I am enjoying the process. The conventions also allowed me to meet and have protracted conversations with writers I have long admired like Jane Espenson, Wendy Pini and HamletMachine. Who knows where all these connections will take me creatively, but I can't wait to find out.

Project Updates

The web series (Demon Under Glass and Blood Oath) remain on hold as far as new shoots. Aside from the physical problems I've already mentioned, Jon's availability is now very limited. I haven't figured out how to make that work. I am hoping that the short for Blood Oath will be finished this year. It requires new artwork and a lot of focus. With Jon's limited availability, I'm not sure how that will work either. In far better news, there are four films from our catalog that have become active in recent months. One may actually move to pre-production in January. Our partners in Dragoncor/EarthDraggon have had a year of extraordinary connections as well. Some of them may bear fruit very soon. I can't give details, because we all had to sign agreements to not talk about anything. That's quite exciting,

In the book arena, Ensnared Volume Two will be out in January. There will finally be a third Soldier's book and a third Surrender book. Both of those series will feature a relaunch of the first two in each series and a big advertising and social network push. We will see some new authors in the latest Demonspawn collection along with some favorites. And Sybpress will be launching a new author in the red hot romantica (romance/erotica) genre. Our very own Marguerite Lliteras will debut the very naughty The Intern very soon. You can read all about her history as a writer and the enticing origins of The Intern at http://sybpressromantica.com.

2012 is going to be fantastic in many areas.

Stay tuned!