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!

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

the following is a promotional message about an anthology eMagazine that I really enjoy reading and writing for. Please, give this a read. It needs and deserves support.

Full-Metal Orgasm is a sexy and intelligent adult fiction eMagazine for the digital age. Inspired by a multitude of media and figures such as Heavy Metal magazine, Shirow Masamune, ReiQ, Penthouse Comix, Jun Tsukasa, Demitys, Toshio Maeda, Jin-roh, Pop Chaser and Robot Sex Life, it encapsulates the best of otherworldly sex. From stories featuring gynoids to tentacles, transhumans and aliens alike, FMO calls upon new and veteran writers, artists and other creatives to spawn new worlds and new sexual fantasies, without boundaries all downloadable to your favorite device in DRM-free PDF and mobi formats. Available on the Kindle, and for direct sale from the publisher. More information at http://sexpunk.tumblr.com or search online for Full-Metal Orgasm. Full-Metal Orgasm eMagazine www.facebook.com. Kickstarter here: http://kck.st/TJZTDW GMAIL: sexpunksexfi .

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 d├ęcor, 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.