Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Page Six, Class, Boredom and Plans

I Survived the Arizona Blizzard of 2013

This will be the first thing I’ve written in almost a week. I’m completely bored with my new book ventures at the moment and every time I sit down to work on them everything I write just feels forced. So I prefer to do anything else because forced fiction is painful and I won’t put out something that feels like I had to write it just to appease people waiting for a sequel. Sorry folks, Guess you’ll just have to wait a little bit longer.

But in the meantime I feel like a complete and utter space filler right now. Kind of the same way baseball started taking over the sports section. One day there was a blurb on page three about how spring training would be starting soon and suddenly today any talk of hockey ends up all the way in the back of the section on page six so baseball can have the first five pages. Sorry hockey, guess I’m the last desert rat who gives a rat’s ass about this sport.

We had a good run though didn’t we? Since February 3, right after the Super Bowl came to a close, the Coyotes were featured on the first couple pages of the (sports section of the) paper every day. Because let’s face it, they’re playing better than the Suns. And you all know my team is the Bruins but if you think it’s tough getting Coyotes info, try getting something about a team that’s on the other side of the country and in a different conference. That’s what NHL Network and Android Apps are for.

But now that the snow has melted off Salt River Field and all of the tobacco chewing, over paid guys are back in town, hockey in the desert will become a fading memory. In the paper at least, I’ll still be watching my four games a week until July when the Cup finals will likely take place.

Oh, speaking of a fading memory, I’m going to regurgitate one right now. How great was Ben Affleck at the Oscars when Argo won best picture? He was so classy in fact he squarely put the attention of the entire audience on his Jennifer and took it off another Jennifer - Lawrence - who wore a dress so bulky it caused her to fall down on her way to pick up her Best Actress statue. Eek.

Of course, she was funny about her fall, which I also found quite classy, but Affleck saying things like ‘there’s no one else I’d rather work with’ to Jennifer Garner, knowing they’ve only made one Hollywood movie together, and seeing Garner’s reaction read ‘oh god honey, I thought we talked about you making speeches off the cuff after the Globes’ made all of that falling down business seem less clumsy. Good for you Ben, you took care of two Jen’s with one awkward speech.

Which brings me to my pet peeve of the Oscar evening. Let me first say that I don’t have an Oscar – the golden statue or a de la Renta – and I’ve never been to the proverbial Super Bowl of Hollywood nights. I don’t personally know anyone who has and I don’t think I’ll be getting an invite anytime soon. But I’d like to think if I did go I could look a little excited to be there.

I get it Hollywood you’re like the baseball players in this situation, taking over everywhere. Or me in my current state in life, bored off your ass. You’ve been to so many stupid award shows over the past couple months, put on so many pairs of constricting Spanx and four inch heels, dresses you have to return the next day, and copious gallons of hair product that you’re just over it.

But that shouldn’t be our problem. We watch the Oscars not because we really care who wins but to see all the other stuff – like who falls down, who has the ugliest dress, or who made a speech so right on we Writers are happy to have him in our corner. What we don’t want is the camera doing the quick cut away into the crowd only to see you practically rolling your eyes then taking a nap in your seat.

You’re freaking actors for goodness sake! Can’t you play the role of the interested and excited person for four bloody hours? I mean we don’t follow you home so feel free to lambaste the person winning later while you toss your Spanx into a corner of your closet and let the true you out. I know it’s constricting to pretend but give it a try and I’m sure you can pull it off.

And if they can’t pull it off, I want to institute new rules. 1) If the camera pans to you and you look bored you don’t get invited next time. 2) If the camera pans to you and the viewing audience can just tell you hate the winner because you’re either a) not clapping or b) giggling with the person next to you instead of paying attention you will be summarily dismissed from the show and someone more deserving of sitting inside the glitzy arena will take over your seat.

I’m willing to volunteer.

Maybe doing something new would help me get past my own sense of boredom.

Which is exactly what I had in mind this week when I started drawing up plans for our house. I needed a shift in creativity, pronto.

In May we’re going to refinance our home loan so we can get rid of mortgage insurance (something I find even more useless than bored actors) and in the process we’ll take a bit of cash. Our plan is to put it right back into the house – all new windows (ours are currently single pane and doing nothing for energy efficiency), new flooring and possibly renovating the kitchen.

Which is why I’m doing up plans and pricing spreadsheets. Finally my Interior Design schooling can come into good use. I’m budgeting down to the penny for this one and if we can’t afford it by even $100 we’re waiting until that $100 is in our hand.

Luckily we’re planning to stick around this time so we won’t be looking at another Labor of Love situation, regardless. Sometimes you learn your lesson. This is one of those times.

Anyway, part of what we’ll be doing is opening up our living room and kitchen to one big great room space and I got the before and after plans drawn up yesterday. What do you think?

Fireplace & corner walls that are freestanding in the middle of the space as well as all upper cabinets and the wall above the stove will come down to open up to a great room concept.
Breakfast bar replaces upper cabinets, countertop extended, pantry cabinets and desk fill the void on the north wall. Open shelving on the south wall. Window on the west wall, north most, will reduce in size to match the other window on the same wall & make way for the laundry coming in from the garage.

If nothing else this bout with creativity in a realm other than words has caused me to get a little spark back inside my brain. Maybe my next murder will take place in a design center or something. I can have Shaw out shopping for a new refrigerator and when she opens it there’s a body inside. She’ll call Agent Harris right away. It could be JJ’s cousin. Then the gang will all be back together and Shaw will be hot on the trail of a murderer, gathering fodder for her next novel.

The good news, it looks like if I keep working on dream plans for our house perhaps you won’t have to wait all that long for a sequel after all. Maybe even by the end of hockey season.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lack of Inspiration Forces this upon Us All, Again

I’ve been wanting to write for a while but for the past few weeks I’ve been pulling my poetry together into a collection as well because I plan to edit a lot of it and expand my original Chapbook into a full-length book.

Now that I’ve collected them all in one place I find there are ninety poems I’ve written from 1989-present. That’s a lot of poetry. Most of it doesn’t need to be edited as I’m happy with the way they read but I’d say the vast majority of anything before 1995 needs a serious overhaul.

But I’m just not in the poetry inspired place right now either. So I’ve been kind of flailing about and just spending a lot of time reading over the past week or so.

When Ginger took one of the meme thingies floating around Facebook and completed it on her blog I could hardly resist asking for my age. I was desperate to blog! Then I promptly let her response sit there for days. Turned out I wasn’t all that enthused to write about myself either. That’s when you know the outlook is pretty bleak.

So today I decided to just sit down and do it. Conveniently the age Ginger gave me is from a time I wrote a lot of poetry and so maybe doing this will help light some kind of spark for editing all that stuff that came out too predictable and rough when I was younger. Enjoy. And if you want an age just tell me in a comment, I’d be happy to spread the meme all over the internet.

My age then: 21

I was dating: A guy who was younger than me. My family thought I was nuts and most of them couldn’t stand him but I was in some kind of love because we stayed together for about five years. Moved in together and everything, though not until a couple years later. He’s one of the reasons I love the song Fighter by Christina Aguilera. I will never forget that he taught me not to trust the wrong people with my heart, to never let anyone spend all my money again, and that sometimes even the most haunting memories can still bring a smile to your face if you choose to see them in the right light.

I lived: In a couple places. Most notably would be at Williams Street with the best roommate ever, Keith. I also spent some time that year living with a very wealthy family in Brookline, Massachusetts as the live-in Nanny of their two kids. That was one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever done in my life and a major factor in why I stopped thinking about having kids of my own.

I worked: Before the Nanny gig I had my first stint in retail hell as a cashier and Assistant Manager at a record store. Sadly it wasn’t at Newbury Comics, that would’ve been cool. Instead I worked at Coconuts. My favorite part of that job was that we had a concert ticket machine in the store and I got some amazing seats for lots of great shows while working there. Not to mention the awesome discount on music and believe me I spent the better part of my check in that store every week. I also loved to close the store because we’d lock the doors, crank up Howard Stern and laugh our asses off as we counted money and swept floors. Come to think of it that place actually was pretty cool.

I drove: A 1974 Buick Apollo. I’ve written all about my love for this car before. In July when I went to Nanny I got a Buick LeSabre. At least I was sticking with the Buick family.

I feared: Nothing that I can remember. Generally speaking I was pretty happy and a go with the flow type of person back then. I just kind of always knew things would work out and they always did.

My goal: To move to southern California.

My age now: 39

I am dating: My husband. Also younger than me. It’s been a life-long trend. Though I must say the dating part of our marriage hasn’t been up to snuff lately. Probably time to change that now that we’re pretty well settled and needing to learn our new area.

I live: In a house we own in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the best things about owning my own home is that I can play drums or music or movies as loud as I want and unlike those days on Williams Street I haven’t seen the cops show up once. Of course we’re all older with jobs and responsibilities now so Happy Hour generally only runs into the wee hours of ten o’clock at night so I guess that could have something to do with it.

I work: as an Author, blogger and Owner of my very own small-press publishing company, Writesy Press.

I drive: A 2006 Toyota Corolla. For the first time in my adult life I’m still driving a car that is fully paid off and I hold the title to without having to take it to the mechanic every other minute. I love this car. I baby this car. I will drive this car until the wheels fall off if I get my way. Even if I become a rich and famous Writer.

I fear: Being stung by a scorpion because even though they all say ‘it’s no big deal’ I’m pretty sure it would be a big deal to me. If I live here the rest of my life and avoid that happening I’ll be a very happy woman.

My goal: To complete two-four more books in the Shaw McLeary series of suspense novels, land an Agent, and sell the series to Hollywood to be optioned into a television series.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I’m Not a Non-Conformist but I Play One on the Internet

For a long while now I’ve been following the blog Chick Lit Is Not Dead. A year or so ago I even sent them a print copy of Ripple the Twine to see if it would be something they’d be interested in reviewing – slash – featuring on their blog. The lovely ladies over there took a pass on my book but I wasn’t disheartened. Can’t please all the people right?

Since then I’ve followed their blog pretty regularly as a subscriber. Delivered right to my inbox, the stories and interviews were easily accessible and in finding out more about the Author and their books I was sure that either my Kindle storage space would shrink or my time at the library would grow. But a funny thing happened, I felt little connection to any of the Authors featured on the site and never downloaded more than one or two books. In a year that’s not a whole lot of material.

A while back CLIND changed their feature format and started a new thing where they asked the Author to give their best ever in a few standard categories – song, movie, book, moment, bit of advice. I thought it was pretty clever. But other than Jen Lancaster I felt like I couldn’t relate to a single one of these people. Because their top five references were far too obscure for me.

I wondered, am I stuck too much in mainstream pop culture? Is it possible that every single Author who writes Chick-Lit or Rom-Com is a hipster? Or whatever the new, trendy title is? Am I actually a conformist? Is that even a bad thing anymore? If I say I love The Goonies, Stephen King and Jason Mraz am I going to sound like a boring follower even though I’ve been reading King & listening to Jason for far longer than it's been a thing?

Then this morning I got around to reading a favorite email subscription, Catherine Caffeinated, and there it was. The answer to my pop culture follower prayers. She had posted a top 100 movies of all-time list and right there in the number one spot was a movie that finally caused me to sigh with relief. She picked Jurassic Park.

Oh happy day! I’m not the only one out there who can appreciate that sometimes mainstream pop culture is fun, that it is fine to appreciate and enjoy and that no one cares if you admit it out loud and proud. Not that it would ever bother me to admit who I am, I just started wondering what I’d have to talk about with Authors I ran into at conferences. All I could visualize was me, outside during lunch, smoking a cigarette in my crappy car while listening to Dave Matthews and they’d all be inside discussing the finer points of the latest Louise Erdrich novel. And I’d be all ‘Um, I just finished downloading Gone Girl and will probably get around to reading that in a year or so.’

In the spirit of proving just how uncultured (read: non-hipster) I really am, I’m going to post the other 99 movies that rank below The Goonies in terms of favorites. These are essentially in no particular order other than the order in which they came to mind while making the list.

Thanks for the idea Catherine. And Jen, if you ever need advice on kick ass eighties hair band metal to rock out to just give me a shout. Preferably with two fingers tossed in the air. I’d be happy to help in that department.

Top 100 Movies (but you already know #1)
  1. The Goonies
  2. Lord of the Rings trilogy (it’s one book, I count it as one movie and it’s not the only trilogy taking up a single spot on this list)
  3. Office Space
  4. The Day After Tomorrow
  5. Death to Smoochy
  6. Rudy
  7. Blue Crush
  8. Reality Bites
  9. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  10. The Breakfast Club
  11. The Ref
  12. Love, Actually (side note - I think you can tell everything you need to know about a person by which is their favorite coupling in this movie)
  13. Armageddon
  14. The Cutting Edge
  15. 200 Cigarettes
  16. Clueless
  17. How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days
  18. Groundhog Day
  19. Die Hard (1-3 but 2 was not as good)
  20. Happy Gilmore
  21. Singles
  22. Fight Club
  23. Almost Famous
  24. The Princess Bride (inconceivable!)
  25. Dogma
  26. X-Men (1-3 mostly but Wolverine was pretty good too)
  27. Team America: World Police
  28. 8 Mile
  29. Fever Pitch
  30. Back to the Future (the trilogy)
  31. Indiana Jones (the original trilogy)
  32. Jerry Maguire
  33. Old School
  34. Grandma’s Boy
  35. Twister (we’re goin’ green!)
  36. Good Will Hunting
  37. The Wedding Singer
  38. Waiting
  39. Girl, Interrupted
  40. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  41. Stand By Me
  42. Pulp Fiction
  43. Legally Blonde
  44. Point Break
  45. Dirty Dancing
  46. Better Off Dead
  47. Honeymoon in Vegas
  48. Can’t Hardly Wait
  49. Rear Window (one of very few psychological thrillers that make the cut)
  50. Say Anything
  51. Tommy Boy
  52. High Fidelity
  53. Forces of Nature (no judgment)
  54. American History X
  55. The Crow
  56. Xanadu
  57. Toy Soldiers
  58. Castaway
  59. Brokeback Mountain
  60. The Fox and the Hound (seriously, I still cry every time)
  61. The Sixth Sense
  62. The Bourne movies (1-3)
  63. Three Men and a Baby
  64. Grease
  65. When Harry Met Sally
  66. Sixteen Candles
  67. Noises Off
  68. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (he og’d!)
  69. Saving Grace
  70. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  71. America’s Sweethearts
  72. 9 to 5
  73. Practical Magic
  74. Dazed and Confused
  75. The Lost Boys
  76. Drop Dead Gorgeous
  77. Just Friends
  78. Lucas
  79. Rock Star (again, no judgment)
  80. So I Married an Axe Murderer
  81. Shawshank Redemption
  82. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
  83. Napoleon Dynamite
  84. The Birdcage
  85. An Affair to Remember
  86. Hot Fuzz (just saw this again recently & still love it, hilariously dark)
  87. It Could Happen to You
  88. Idiocracy
  89. Keeping the Faith
  90. Ocean's trilogy
  91. Sleeping with the Enemy
  92. Pretty Woman
  93. Speed
  94. Ever After
  95. The Lake House
  96. L.A. Confidential
  97. White Water Summer
  98. The Jerk
  99. Empire Records
  100. Steel Magnolias

What movies make the cut on your list? Or are you more a reader, listener, television watcher? I'm sure I'll think of 100 more as soon as I put this list up but sitting around all day thinking of movies isn't on the agenda for this Saturday so there it is.