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, April 28, 2013

Month of Fun 2013 Begins, Cooking Harvests and Critiquing Critics

The window box garden has had its challenges. The plum tomatoes had a fungus. Somehow, the whole lot of them had a gnat infestation. My Dad is really handy for this sort of thing. I wouldn't have thought of matches and a light dusting of plain flower took care of the former and the latter. I've had lots of questions about what I've been doing with the yields from the garden. I've been inspired by having such lovely herbs and fresh tomatoes to make foodstuffs worthy of them. I've been using the thyme in soup stocks. I made herb stuffing for a couple of chickens with the thyme, sage and rosemary. I've used the basil in pasta sauce.

And I've been making pizzas. This has really excited me, because it was the one simple food that eluded me. The doughs seemed too complex to be worth the trouble. I never liked the sauces. I couldn't get the crust thin enough to be like the ones I had in Cannes. This time around, I began with the dough. I decided to try one by a Cooking Channel star who lived in Italy. I figured that an everyday dough by a guy who lived there would be simple. And this one was. It was also delightfully chewy when baked and rolled as thin as I liked. It also kept for days in the fridge for my lunch or dinner needs. I made pizza Margarita. I made pizza cannibal (tomato sauce, cheese, finely ground beef and thinly sliced onions. That was my favorite pizza in Cannes. I also made a type of French onion pizza that is great with soup or a salad.

I've made the tomatoes into pickles along with jalepenos. I plan to make herb butter and flavored oils with them. And then there are salad dressings and marinades. I think I've just begun to figure out what can be done with them. I've been really enjoying the gardening itself. I even bought gardening gloves!

I want to talk about the incredible homemade meals I've been making and share photos on the social networks, but it seems that I make people hungry or fill them with longing or guilt. I certainly don't want to cause that. So I thought I'd share the love here where you expect to be tortured.

Month of Fun 2013

I have a lot of new people following the blog and my other social networks. Many have been confused by the references to the Month of Fun. Because of my challenges in life, I've been celebrating my birthday for an entire month of a number of years now. For that month, I try to follow the philosophy of Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks and give myself a present every day. That present can be as small as a 'damned fine cup of coffee' or as large as a trip to France. The average gift tends to be lunch with a long missed friend or a bottle of bubbly. I am a five minute walk away from a beverage warehouse that contains all manner of wine, beers and liquors that I don't usually run across in the super market. I can get some real French bubbly for under $10. Presents needed be extravagantly priced to be valid for the Month of Fun. There should be no stress during that month. My wish list isn't too crazy. There are some books that I'd love to read, some restaurants I'd love to try. There are some long neglected procedures that I need to have like a mani-pedi and a facial. And there are some trinkets I'd like to have. To keep it simple and ever so modern, I've organized some of them on my Pinterest. Here's the link: http://pinterest.com/deborahlwarner/month-of-fun-2013/ . Most of these little 'pins' have info on the place, so you can check it out if you'd like. It's been a really stressful winter and spring. I look forward to a month of great food, conversation, exploration and revelations!

Critiquing the Critics

On many occasions, I have repeatedly witnessed this situation. Newly published author is over the moon that
the tome they worked on so hard is live. Within a day or two or even a week, they are posting to their supporters that an inexplicable review had popped up on Amazon or Goodreads or where ever. The critic has been generally kind to the story with some reservations and nit picks. Still, they give the title only one star! Now, either the reviewer didn't know that the one star designation that doesn't match the review is devastating to an author. They would expect one star rating if the review was ripped them apart limb from limb. This is different. It seems to the author that the reader liked the book, but because it wasn't perfect they get one star. It seems spiteful and mean. And for writers that are wound really tight to begin with, this sort of mixed signal can derail them from writing for as long as weeks or even months. It's not being melodramatic. A one star review really hurts sales and makes achieving a high overall rating extremely difficult. Don't get me wrong, writers want reviews of our books. We are often desperate for reviews of our books. We are hugely grateful for reviews of books. We just ask that reviewers carefully consider something like a rating system. Make sure the rating matches the review. I also might add, read the book before reviewing or rating. Yes, I'm still bitter about that. How can you review something that has been on sale for TEN minutes??!!! It sure wasn't actually read first. There were no recorded sales, and I hadn't given out advanced copies. Deep breath. And say, you find a book that is really cool but riddled with problems. Contact the author. Sometimes you'll find that the wrong file was uploaded and that the author and publisher are deeply grateful that the error was caught before too many copies were sold. Sometimes, you are so grateful to this kind soul that you have them look over text before uploading as they have a great eye and a fast turn around. Such a kind act could result in a great friendship with a really cool, vastly read person. I'm not giving away any names like Yvonne or anything. I'm just saying to not be so quick to cut down an indie author – if you see something good in their work. If their really bad, let them know that as well. Just be a very thoughtful critic. We really do appreciate it.

There is a lot coming aside from the month of fun.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

PMP Marathon Walk -- Team LA's Report

Each number matches the team member.
One of the most positive things that came out of my illness was finding an amazing group of PMP Cancer patients, caregivers and survivors simply called Pmp Cancer Survivors Group. They are and 800 plus strong group that shares stories, gives support and information to patients and their caregivers. Whenever I have an odd symptom, I find someone in the group who has had it and has a solution. Before this group, I would panic over things that were normal for someone who has had my illness and treatment. They also bolster each other mentally and emotionally. It is beyond wonderful to have a group of people to talk to who have walked in my shoes. They are there for Jon as well. If this wasn't enough, the group has members who've started charities to raise awareness or to help fund research or help patients. One such group is Pseudomyxoma Survivor http://www.pseudomyxomasurvivor.co.uk/ . Today, one of our group will run in the London Marathon to help raise money and awareness for the charity. There is so little in the way of aid for this cancer every little bit truly helps. To help support the group, Jon, Ohio buddy Bruce Kline, the infamous Craig and I have been doming our own marathons to raise money. Every week we log those miles. This past Friday, we passed 53 miles or two marathons. We were hoping that in doing this, Julie wouldn't be running alone.
See all our photos here:  http://dlwarner.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_21.html

I thought of it as running a marathon on the layaway plan. I do at least 3 miles per errand and at lest 4
errands a week. The miles add up quickly. Jon walks two miles per day as part of his commute to work, and then we do 3 or more on the weekends. We decided to finish our second marathon circuit walking from Marina del Rey to Venice Circle on Venice Beach. It was a 4 mile stretch to cap off a week of walking every day. Though it probably wasn't smart for me to do after a week that included planting a community garden. I really wanted to do as much as the rest of the team did last week.

 Bruce Kline does his walking during disc golf  when not relaying traffic reports for his Columbus radio station. He does 3 to 4 miles each course and typically does a couple courses a week. Bruce and I have been friends since the 1980s when we both worked in Manhattan. He was an aspiring musician and radio DJ. I was trying to peddle my writing. Currently, he is a musician in his home town of Columbus, Ohio where he is an on-air radio personality. He also writes music for some of our film ventures.

And then there's Craig. He runs up mountains for fun. He was the only marathon runner. He did his part in big jags. During the second circuit, he nearly got 'swatted' by an  LAPD SWAT team investigating can urgent call at singer Rhianna's estate. And last week, he ran a half marathon run on behalf of the fallen at the Boston Marathon. I've worked with Craig in our day jobs off and on the entire time we've lived in LA. He is a gifted writer whose life seems to be out of any Coen Brothers movie. He's never been an actor, but he is one of the most entertaining people I know. He also looked after me when I was at my sickest by taking me to and from appointments and making my sides split with laughter. What we did wasn't a lot in the face of the terrible toll this cancer takes, but we had to do something. I'm very proud of the team and the team is proud to be part of this incredible effort.
runner among us.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Manic Mondays, Anais Nin and Modern Manners

Saw him on TV while at the Hospital. Wanted to share.
Today, I will actually talk about writing as well as my really crazy life of late. The writing part will cover the  price of pursuing certain genres over others. One part of my musings on reviews will have me drifting into the subject of internet etiquette and the crazy mind field that can sometimes create. And for my long time readers and supporters, I have a major announcement about my books that is three years in the making!

As always, check out this blog's photos here: http://dlwarner.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_15.html .

I never used to be affected by Mondays. I think that may be because I've had so many jobs that ignored calendars and holidays. It was often a treat to have a gig that respected weekends off. The last three Mondays have been really, truly horrible for me. I've found myself so stressed and mournful on those days that I have thought some shockingly dark thoughts. This last one had me absolutely furious at almost every man that I know. I had become really convinced that I had lost the ability to communicate with them entirely. I was also convinced that I didn't want to deal with any of them anymore for any reason. I don't know if anyone of my gentle readers have noticed, but I don't get angry very often. When I do, I get furious on a volcanic level. This past Monday began with a terrible night's sleep. My biopsy left me swollen and in a lot of pain. I called the number given for such instances and was told to report to radiology immediately. That meant a 90 minute to 3 hour trip on public transit – one way. I really didn't want to go, but there was a chance of infection or internal bleeding. Yay! Fortunately, I was seen right away (I thought I'd be there for hours), and there were no serious problems. On the way home, I got to chat with Marie for a lovely while and pick up some duck fat. Cue evil laughter – more on that later.

The Beat Goes On

The two biopsies and the problems I had afterward, put me behind on a number of obligations. I was given lip service about my physical and emotional woes, but the show must go on. I was still expected to meet my various deadlines. It's not really cold blooded. Even the smallest productions can't stop once they got started. Thus, I had the added stress of worrying about my inbox. At this writing, I've finished scheduling a script for a film I can't talk about, and the latest manga is in the final stages before we put it to bed. I'm working on my fiction, a short story for one publication and an essay for another. And the biggest news, all four of my yaoi novels have been picked up by a major distributor. I'm not allowed to talk about the details on that either save to say that I've been working on this company for three years. That more than made up for Monday.

Anais Nin and the Burdens of Erotica

It shouldn't be a surprise that two women who start a publishing concern called Sybaritic Press. She is an inspiration for me and sort of a role model for how I view my career as a fiction writer. Here's the call:

Sybaritic Press (www.sybpress.com) is going to publish an ebook anthology of writing and artwork inspired by/in tribute to Anais Nin, one of the 20th century's greatest writers/diarists/literary icons. It can be a poem, a short story, a photograph, am illustration; something that speaks to the kind of writer she was, what she stood for, or, how she inspired you.

For more details, go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/231796243625493/

I didn't choose to be classified as an erotica writer. That's basically the mantle chosen for me, because of the sexual content in all of my fiction. I'm not sure why I need a label. Sex fuels drama. The quest for it; the obsession with it; or the loss of it is at the heart of nearly any kind of story that happens between or among people. I am more honest about it than most, I suppose. And because of that, and the need to protect tender sensibilities, my work is shunted into a niche. It's easy to be dismissive or derisive of fiction in a niche. It is said that more bad writing turns up in niches. I've read a lot of lit in grad school. I say a lot of bad writing can be found anywhere. And I say I work as hard on my plots and my characters and their arcs as any other writer I know. And I'm pretty good, If I do says so. My fans who are often looking for all things torrid yell at me for making them enjoy hanging out with a circle of elderly ladies discussing local gossip. I make them worry about a houseman when they should be thinking about my beautiful couple doing sweaty things. I tell a whole story even about sexual escapades. My essay will be about the toll of that effort. While it will be a deeply sensual experience, I plan to make a lot of people uncomfortable. This should be fun.

Modern Manners

Facebook is often mocked for being a huge waste of time. I'm sure for some people, that is the case. For me, it has become a way to keep up with many, many people I wouldn't normally have time to chat with on the phone. Everyone has their own busy schedules. It's nice to have a post or two to keep up with friends and family at places other than funerals. My activities on Facebook have really taken my writing career a long way. I've gotten published because of it. I am an editor because of it. The problem with this service and all of the other smart devices we have now to support it is that there is no such thing as being out of communication range for more than a few hours. Now, etiquette is designed to make everyone feel more comfortable. All this personal communication tends to make everyone a lot less formal. It may be because of all the temp jobs I've had during the rise of the internet in which I was taught during orientations that email and later texts can be used as a paper trail in everything from a report to a supervisor to a court case. Our long time attorney taught Jon and I to document all of our meetings in follow up emails that have been very handy in preventing us from getting truly ripped off. I take these forms of communication as seriously as I would a registered letter.

For the past two weeks or more, I have had trouble getting a response to emails, text messages, and even voicemails trying to advance various projects. All of the recipients were different and each is attached to projects that are vastly different from one another. It's shocking that these people would have anything in common at all. But they did. They were all ignoring my attempts to get information to advance these projects. And while they seemed to lack the few seconds of time it would take to respond with a no, not yet, not enough information, not at this time or even get lost, I could see them on Facebook or Twitter posting about all sorts of things. Because this was so pervasive at that time, I got very hurt and then I got really furious. The lack of forward momentum would be blamed on me as I was the public face on these projects. Beyond that, ignoring the messages was just old-fashioned rude like not answering someone at the door when that visitor can clearly see that you are home. Fortunately for the sake of the projects and some friendships, no one dared to say my reaction was silly. No one likes being ignored. I have made it clear that the next time it happens, I'll be posting some embarrassing things on their pages for all of their friends and followers to see. I can do rude when pushed. It's ain't wise to push me.

I've been giving them throughout this blog. I will have a mini-blog later this week about the PMP Cancer Marathon my team and I have been working on for months. Also, the double edged sword of seeking reader reviews of books.

Stay tuned.