Sunday, December 31, 2006

Obligatory End of the Year Reflection Post

I can't help it. Every year between Christmas and New Year's Eve, I think about all the stuff that's happened in the year before. Cheesy? Probably. Then again, I've never let a little cheese stop me.

2006 has mostly been pretty damn good. For the first time since high school, I didn't have a steady day job. Although occasionally freak-inducing in terms of finances, it all worked out. Every time I thought I'd have to go back to the day job scene, something completely cool and unexpected happened, allowing me to stay home and work on getting my head and my writing together. Maybe I'm just foolin' myself, maybe it's just a big fat coinkydink, but I really think it was "meant to be." And I'm so grateful it ain't even funny.

I started writing "for really, reals" late February/early March, but only told a few people (as in 3, including my husband) what I was doing. Coyote Radio held Fool's Fest on April Fool's day to mark the opening of our recording studio at The Raven Cafe. A few weeks later, I started the Lazy Artist's Lounge. Sandra was the very first person to comment - how cool is that? Starting a blog was a big step for me. I'm super shy and this was ohmygod hard, but blogging was a great way to make the solitary process of writing a little less lonely and a lot more fun.

In the middle of May, I went to the Lee Child/Cornelia Read book signing in Phoenix. I actually spoke to Cornelia (very cool, and Field of Darkness kicks ass) and then I met the Great Ginsu Tongue, Mindy (M.G. Tarquini) in person. Small freakin' blog-o-world, ain't it? Gotta give props to Sandra, as she totally convinced me to go to the signing, talk with Cornelia, and write an article about the whole dealio. Left to my own devices, I probably would have talked myself out of going to the event at all. Instead, I ended up with a great book by Cornelia, and a very bitchy, picky-ass crit partner (yes, I'm talkin' about you, Mindy), who has helped my writing improve at least 1000%.

The last weekend in May found me running a sound system and recording poets at the Arcosanti Slab City Slam. A big stretch for the uptighty shy lady to go out and have to talk to people, but a great experience. In July, I stepped completely out of my comfort zone and went to ThrillerFest in Phoenix. I got to hang out with Mindy and a lot of other cool folks that I "knew" from blogging (Brett Battles, Stephen Blackmoore and a few others - I hunted down David Terrenoire and had him sign my copy of Beneath a Panamanian Moon. I also met the faboo fellow Arizonan writer, Elizabeth Krecker. When I wasn't feeling like the awkward shy kid on the first day at a new school, I had a pretty good time & learned a lot watching the pros do their thing.

So much has happened, I can't believe it. I completed, submitted, and had my first short story, Big Pussy Gets Whacked, published at Spinetingler. I got three-quarter of the way through a novel before abandoning it, started another novel I'm really excited about, tried (and failed utterly) to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, won a dirty limerick contest, was introduced to a completely new concept of what a Bunion is, had some major writing flip-outs (oh god, oh god, whatever made me think I could write anything more complicated than a grocery list?!), won an old fav cd (thanks to Anne!), placed in the Cozy Noir contest (and won books!), had some fights with friends and family (and made up & moved on), reconnected with old friends, discovered I really love hockey, met amazing creative folks in Prescott & out in blog-land, dyed my hair blurple, gotten completely outraged at rude-o bloggers, and managed to snag an ARC of Bill Cameron's debut, lost dog. Throw in the fact that I'm married to the coolest guy on the planet and have the 2 best dogs ever, and I have to say I'm feeling pretty damn blessed. Like I said, 2006 has mostly been a good 'un for me.

A big thanks to everyone - even the nasty nellies - 'cause you've all helped me grow a little, learn a little, and laugh a lot. That totally rocks. Two times. Here's wishing you all a stupendously wonderful 2007.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Golden Martini

Yeah, baby. That's right! I wrote the bestest dirty limerick over at Canuck Bunion's blog and am now the proud recipient of the Golden Martini award. Hey, it's not every day a girl beats out 3 lovely Bunions and a writer living in Bali for the top prize & bragging rights! So here's my limerick:

There once was a celibate nun,
Who never knew how to have fun.
She bought new silk knickers
And smuggled in liquor
And now she's a nun on the run.

Let's hear it for naughty nuns!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago my husband was busy trying not to forget the words to his wedding vows while I got into the schmancy white dress and drank all the champagne I could get my hands on. Today is our wedding anniversary, and for the first time in several years we get to spend it together. No blogging for me today - I'm gonna enjoy some quality hubster time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Zamboni

Yep. That's Santa. On a Zamboni.

I think I'm pucked. A friend gave the hubster & I some free tix and I went to my first ever hockey game tonight. I am totally hooked. Bizarre, but true. I hate sports. H-A-T-E them. Okay, a baseball game every now and then can be all right, but generally speaking I'm not a sports person. But I flippin' love hockey - and didn't even know it until tonight.

Over in Prescott Valley, the Sundogs (brand new minor league hockey team) are part way through their first season. That's right, a hockey team with their own stadium in...Prescott Valley, AZ. Not Phoenix. Not Tucson. Not even Yuma, but in Prescott Valley - population approx. 35,000. Go figure.

I can't explain it, I don't understand it, but I can't wait to go to the next game. There's something about the combination of speed, grace, and brutality that enchanted me. It's a game that I can grok. The teamwork, the individual talents, the pucks hitting the safety plexi at 75mph...I get it, I love it, I want more! And it's so weird I can hardly believe it.

Vending Machine for Books

Here's a (blurry) photo of the Espresso's debut at the World Bank earlier this summer.

I meant to post about this yesterday, but I got a little distracted by the (short-lived) snow showers and the demise of Flashing in the Gutters. When Sandra sent me an email about this, I couldn't decide whether I should be thrilled or freaked out. Aspiring writer/devoted reader, meet the Espresso Book Machine, a vending machine for books that will be making its U.S. debut in early 2007. The Espresso can print and bind a book up to 550 pages (complete with color covers) in about 7 minutes. Wanna see a boring video that shows it in action? Click here for a Quick time video.


I can't say I'm entirely surprised. When I was finishing up art school, I worked the night shift at a Kinko's that had a forerunner machine to the Espresso. It was a (ginormous) copy machine that could make books with card stock covers - tape or glue binding. It's performance was spotty, at best. Flash forward a little over 10 years, and here comes the Espresso. Betcha they've worked out most of the problems, huh?

Part of me is kinda excited. The bigger part is wondering just how this technology will be integrated into the current infrastructure and how the hell it's going to impact the publishing biz. Frankly, it makes my brain hurt to think about it right now. Sandra's got some interesting stuff to say about it over at In For Questioning, a new blog devoted (mainly) to small press publishing. Check out her post on the Espresso here. As for me, I think I need another medicated mocha - peppermint schnapps & kahlua make nice additions for the girl with the tired brain!

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's Snowing!!!

Okay, not a whole lot - but who the hell cares?! It's better than those pitiful flakes we got a few days back. Before anybody gives me crap about snow excitement, let me just say that I grew up in Mississippi and was snow deprived as a child. So...Yay, Snow!!! Whoo-hoo, bring it, baby!

On less a less happy note, a nasty blog troll managed to piss off Tribe - enough to shut down my favorite flash fiction site, Flashing in the Gutters. These flaming trolls just suck and I am beyond bummed. Thanks for giving so many flash ficcers a place to share their work. Flashing in the Gutters will be missed.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Burning Rudolph

Not everyone is filled with the Christmas spirit in, er, traditional ways. This bit of pyrotechnics is brought to you courtesy of two of my favorite artists, Royce & Juanita over at zenzibar. They seriously need to lay off the 'nog. They're starting to scare me...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Day of the Dead Podcast is Up

Yep, it's finally available for download here. "ALCCA" is a commercial for the After Life Credit Counseling Agency and was the first sketch of the show. For anybody who's interested, I'm the Valley Girl and the super good girl Nancy. So, y'know, enjoy!

Teeny Tiny Snow Flakes

I probably shouldn't say this, but I really, really, really wanna snow day! All we got today were a few measly flakes - and the sun was shining while it snowed. *Sigh* I'm probably just looking for an excuse to stay in my flannel jammies and read when what I need to do is write. Hmmm. I feel the need for a compromise coming on...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Rudeness of Strangers

I've spent entirely too much time reading hooks at Miss Snark's and I really want to know wtf is going on with some of these people posting comments. I'm down for a good joke, and I understand the occasional oh-god-what-were-you-thinking response, but some of these people are just nasty for (what appears to be) the sole pleasure of self-aggrandizement.

I don't get it. Are their egos so fragile that the only way to build them up is to ruthlessly tear down the efforts of others? Because, y'know, we all learn so much from brutal humiliation. An intellectualized version of "this sux, yer lame" is of no use to a writer, or to those reading to learn.

Where are the entries for these intellectual and moralistic superiors? Oh, wait. I guess if you're that damn good, you WON'T POST YOUR WORK for feedback. Which leads to the question...why the hell are you spending time over at Miss Snark's? Shouldn't you be working on the fourth book in your already-sold-for-a-bazillion-dollars book deal? Or could it be that, in spite of your exceptional skills, you remain unagented, unpublished and completely unappreciated? Poor, poor babies. Perhaps a more constructive pastime is in order.

I'm both amused and appalled by the authors who feel compelled to respond to criticism (some of it nasty, much of it constructive). This is not a dissertation committee, and there's no need to "explain" your work, your ideas, or your communication skills to those you believe are too stupid to "get it." No need to get pissy or defensive - but hey, go ahead if that's what you feel you must do.

I've learned a hell of a lot. One of the more important being that some people are far more interested in being an ass than in actual participation. The most important being that I'd be an utter nincompoop to pay any attention to poorly thought-out, intelluctu-babble crap. Fortunately, I am not an utter nincompoop. I'm merely a half-wit who's not planning on throwing in the pen any time soon.

Ahem. End of rant.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Of Hooks and Barbs

Writing a hook is really flippin' hard. Yes, I was a foolhardy soul and squeezed one out of my aching brain for the Crapometer over at Miss Snark's. All in all, the hard part wasn't taking the criticism - I didn't do too badly, and any time an agent is willing to give me feedback you can be damn sure she's got my undivided. The hard part was writing the thing.

I'm not (often) a drama queen, but I spent more than a minute stomping around the house muttering obscenities. I knew what I wanted to say, but putting it in "hook" terms was a bitch and a half. A hook has so little to do with the process and language of writing a novel - it was horrible twisting my brain into super short and snappy mode. Owie, owie, owie! On the other hand, it forced me to get absolutely clear about a few things that will be helpful when I jump back into the story tomorrow.

Truly, though, I've got nothing to complain about - poor Miss Snark still had 479 hooks to go through when she threw in the towel tonight, and the submission window doesn't close for another 7 hours. I wonder what insane-o number it will reach by the end of the Crapometer. Yowchie!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm a Published Writer!!!

That's right, the new Spinetingler is up with my short story in it. I'm so freakin' excited! So get yer cyber-butts over there and check out Big Pussy Gets Whacked.

If you don't want to wear out your eyes reading white print on a black background, you can download the whole shebang as a PDF file and read it at your leisure. Except for my story, which must be read immediately. Cause I'm like excited and stuff. Oh, and, um, there are some other really cool stories, reviews and interviews, too. Y'know, folks like Cozy Noir winner Bill Cameron, and a nifty interview of Duane Swierz-don't-make-me-looki-it-up author of The Wheelman and The Blonde, and a bunch of other decent writer folks.

But read mine first, dammit!

I think this calls for a full-on Snoopy Dance, dontcha think?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Accidental Fireworks

Weird, but very cool thing happened last night. We finally went out to get our Christmas tree and as we were driving by the Courthouse Square, I noticed a bunch of people hanging out. And then I saw the snow. As in snow machines pumping snow onto a large crowd of whirling, giggling kids (the grown-up kind, too). So, that's kinda fun & Christmas-y, but what the hell was going on? No time to stop and investigate - we had a tree to pick out.

On the way back into town we heard the first volley. As we got closer to downtown, we realized the fireworks were coming from the football field of Mile-Hi Middle School. So we did what any right-thinking people with a Christmas tree and a bunch of poinsettas in their truck would do. We got within a block of the school, pulled over and stuck our heads out the windows to watch. It was the best fireworks display I've seen in ages. The finale was incredible. We could hear people all around clapping and whoo-hooing all around us as the bits of paper from the fireworks floated to the ground like confetti. Wow! Not to get all sappy, but it made my little grinch heart expand just a little - not seven whole sizes, but at least one-and-a-half.

Naturally, holiday fireworks and the expanded grinch heart led to the need for more Christmas sappiness. We drove a few blocks to Randy's (technically it's called Showbusiness Video, but everyone calls it Randy's) in search of a Christmas video. We walked out with one of my all time favorites - A Christmas Carol. Not the icky ones, but the 1951 b&w one with Alastair Sim. I LOVE Randy's store - and Randy's a pretty cool dude, too. Anyway, he was the one who filled us in on what the snow machines and fireworks were about. I guess the city decided to mark the official arrival of Santa Claus in Prescott with a bit of an extravaganza. This big kid was really happy with the hoopla.

Here's wishing you all at least one heart-expanding moment this holiday season. I don't care if you're religious or not, I'm just wishing you a bit of extra joy and goodness. We can never get enough of that, can we?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Acker Night

Blurry pic of the Courthouse Square and a (much better) pic of J.T. doing his interview thing during the Pandemonium Steel Drum gig inside Country Bank.

I went with Andrew (the hubster) and J.T. to Acker last night - they were interviewing folks and recording bits of music for their radio show. And I had an amazing time.

What the hell is Acker, you ask? Well, the Acker Musical Showcase is sort of an enormous block party for the town of Prescott where most of the downtown merchants host musical acts in their stores, restaurants, bars, art galleries and even bank lobbies. This was the 18th year for the event, but my first year to attend (I know, I know, how lame is it that it's taken me this long to go?). The Acker organization is especially super cool & groovy because their whole focus is to provide scholarships to area performing arts students - especially those involved in music.

Anyway, from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., people gathered in the Courthouse Square/downtown district and wandered from storefront to storefront to listen to an incredible variety of local music. And when I say variety, I mean it. As in Bluegrass, Native American flute, jazz, string quartets, choirs, Celtic, Blues, rock, the Salvation Army brass band, a tuba duo, banjos, handbells, a jug band, barbershop (an all male group AND and all women group), steel drum band, and good grief I could go on and on and I know I'm missing something cool, but you get the idea. Basically you can choose from something like 80 different places to hear whatever your little heart desires.

And it's all free. That's right, Acker is free. While there are folks running around with donation drums, nobody is required to shell out a single penny if they don't want to. The point of Acker is to promote musical culture in the community. It's stuff like Acker that make me love Prescott. Whatever other stuff I don't like here, the fact that we have things like Tsunami on the Square and Acker Night serves to remind me what a great town I live in.

It was cold last night, but I didn't mind too much. With fresh roasted chestnuts and plenty of hot coffee (okay, I had to pay for that, but sheesh! not complaining!) and the sheer energy of a whole town showing up for a night out what's a little cold? Besides the music, I had fun watching Andrew & J.T. blather on into a microphone & interview people. Also, Andrew has started this bizarre thing (this was his 3rd year to cover Acker for his radio show) where he makes up a musical group and asks everyone if they've seen them. Ahem. For the record, The McGuffins exist in my husband's mind only. But don't tell him I told you. I'll just deny it.

So if you ever find yourself in Prescott, AZ on the second Friday in December, come and discover one of Arizona's coolest holiday events. I'll let ya'll know when the podcast version of Andrew's radio show is available so you can get a little taste of what I'm talking about.

Oh, and forgive the blurry-ass photo of the Courthouse. I didn't bring the tripod, and the photo came out a little on the crappy side.

For anothe view (and better photos) of Acker, check out Granny J's blog. She always has such beautiful photos!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fireside Dreaming

Yep, the dogs are taking full advantage of the woodstove today. The canine life is a tough one, ain't it? I don't really have anything else to say. Just...stay warm & take a nap if you can. If it works for the critters, can't be a bad idea for the bipeds.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Coyote Podcast Trailer & Other Stuff...

The account stuff is finally set up for this year's Day of the Dead t-shirt sales. If you're interested, you can get the details here, any questions email me or Coyote. Just an FYI, but Coyote's website seems to work best on Safari. I know, I know, pain in the ass, Mac-centric, etc., etc. It's a problem I'm not happy about, but just letting you know in advance.

Also, the sound for the show was pretty damn good (thanks to Todd Skaggs!), so we're working on getting the podcasts done. Time is the biggest problem now (as in we ain't got none), but here's a brief trailer of "The War of the Squirrels" show. Full podcast sketches to come soon...

I've been supremely unmotivated to blog lately. Partly it's the writing (moving along at a glacial pace, but moving nonetheless), partly the holiday stuff (I'm painting ceramic cookie jars this year & then spending a couple of days baking to fill 'em up - the hubster helped me, with questionable results, but I'm not gonna gripe), and partly because I just don't have a lot to say.

Maybe it's just the time of year. I love winter. I especially love the month of December. Can't help it, I just adore all the lights, hot drinks, and fires in the wood stove. Basically I go into pseudo-hibernation. My ultimate day is spent writing, reading a bit, and drinking multiple mochas (only half-caff or I'd never sleep), all while still in my p.j.'s. I don't actually get to do that all that often, but that's my idea of a good time. Boring, isn't it?

Finally had the time to finish Neil Gaiman's "Stardust". A fun fairy tale for grown-ups. Now I'm hoping the movie can stand up to the book. Started on "The Wheelman," but the hubster got his paws on it before I got very far. Now I'm stuck with "holy shit, this is freakin' great" and "damn, I thought that character was dead," and...well, you get the picture. Basically, he's really digging it and that says good things about the book. He doesn't read (or like) much in the way of modern crime fic. I haven't seen him this into a book since Ken Bruen's The Guards, so when he says the guy can write, he means it. Fortunately, I've got "The Blonde" to keep me busy. More on that later.

Back to the writing, the reading, the digging out of Christmas decorations. Hope you're all having a fab holiday season.