Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Back to Normal(ish)

After dealing with much stupidness (and heart-stoppingly outrageous expense) with the truck, I hit the local B&N for a much needed break yesterday. I was thrilled to find Kelly Parra's debut, Graffiti Girl on the shelves. I've been waiting for this one to come out & am looking forward to spending some quality time with it in the near future. It's a YA novel (a genre I've been interested in for a while). I'll let ya know what I think when I've had a chance to finish it.

So...I've been busy with stupid stuff and haven't done diddly on the novel. I'm not talking about the weekend shenanigans, which were great and totally worth the time away. I'm talking about the other life stuff that piles up and cannot be ignored (not the dishes, though - the hubster was awesome & took care of the small mountain I left him). Anyway, I'm back on schedule and happy to be. It's gotten to the point where I feel icky if I haven't written in a day and downright bitchy if it's been more than two days. I was fast approaching uber-bitch mode by the end of Tuesday. Fortunately for all concerned, I'm back on track and much, much happier.

I'm taking up the paper plate suggestion. I feel a little bad about it, but not bad enough to not do it. Sorry dear trees, really I am, but the need to write and NOT do the dishes has over-ridden any lingering pangs of guilt. Besides, at least I'm conserving water this way...right? Um, yeah. That's my story and I'm stickin' with it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lost Dog Lands in Phoenix

Here's Bill Cameron grinning like mad as he pulls a copy of his debut novel, Lost Dog, off a Phoenix bookstore shelf. Not that he's excited, or anything!

I had a fab and melt-a-riffic weekend driving all over the Phoenix area with Mindy, "Ginsu Tongue", Tarquini, Sharon (aka Southern Bunion) and, of course, Bill, "lost dog," Cameron. Check out their blogs for other photos - I've still got to tone the group pic I've got & I wanna get this up before I fall asleep again! I lost count, but I think we hit somewhere around 24 bookstores in the space of a day and a half. Poor Bill was very sweet and gracious as we pulled U-turn after U-turn (I teased Mindy mercilessly about this) and we kept nagging him to drink more water.

"How much water have you had? What? That's not enough - Sharon, give him another bottle."
(10 minutes later...)
"Bill, did you finish it? No? Hurry up and drink it. Angie, pass him another water. Wait, I think we just passed the B&N."
(pulls U-turn)
"There's no parking. I'll drop you off - don't forget to tell them who your publisher is and that you've got another book coming out next year. Oh, and tell them about the event B&N is throwing for you in Portland!"
(this last bit hollered as we clamber out of the car & Mindy starts to circle the parking lot.)

But you know what? It was one of those insanely serendipitous adventures. When we got to The Poisoned Pen bookstore, Lee Child was in the middle of giving a talk before his signing for Bad Luck and Trouble. The store was beyond packed with probably 150 people there for the event. Very cool on a number of levels - not least of which is that Mindy and I met for the first time last year when Lee Child and Cornelia Read were signing at The Poisoned Pen. Kind of a bizarre anniversary deal. I had to arm-wrestle Mindy for the last copy of Bad Luck and Trouble (Bill very nicely capitulated without giving me shit!). Anyway, turns out that Lee will be in Portland next week for a signing & Bill will get to see him again - and can get his copy of Lee's book then, dammit. Another coolness - Twist Phelan was there to see Lee and I guess Bill knew her from LCC. Small freakin' world, but what the hell are the odds?! Oh, and the bookseller seemed interested in Bill's book, too!

The other truly serendipitous moment came when we hit a bookstore and Mindy recognized a bookstore employee from her book signing adventures last year with Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath. Well, they chatted (and she pointed out that there's a picture of him with Barry and Joe in Spinetingler here). So...he talked with Bill, was really interested in the book & put in an order while we were still there. Woohoo!

After 18 bookstores on Saturday, Mindy's hubby had a wonderful dinner waiting for us - barbecue ribs (with extra J.D. in the Jack Daniels barbecue sauce - yum!), salad, corn on the cob, and a fresh fruit salad for dessert. And I made some tongue numbing strawberry daquiris (hey, 6 people + half a gallon o' rum + 4 pints of strawberries + fresh orange juice + a few bananas = tasty alcoholic fun!). Sharon was smart and went home around 10pm to catch some z's for Sunday's bookstore extravaganza, but the rest of us stayed up way too late. When I realized Bill had fallen asleep in his chair, we sent him to bed & Mindy and I stayed up talking until around 1am. The view from the guest room balcony was beautiful, and we just had so much to talk about (not that that's unusual, or anything) that neither of us really wanted to call it a night.

Day 2 was slightly more mellow. Because it was Sunday & the stores open later, we were able to get enough coffee in us to be ready for the day. Sharon showed up around 10:30 and we hit the road around 11am. Several stops later, we dropped off a tired and teased-to-death Bill at the airport. All in all, a way successful drive-by marathon.

I'm still worn out - I left for Phx at 6:30am on Saturday and didn't get back home until 7pm Sunday night - but I had a great time. I learned a ton from the whole experience, and came up with some good ideas for how to maximize the pitch and get feedback on effectiveness of presentation. Also, I have a lot of respect for authors running themselves ragged and managing to keep their game face on with this kind of promo stuff - exhausting process, both physically and mentally. Definitely took notes and can't wait to do this again for the next author - are you listening, Mindy? Yeah, hurry up & finish so we can do this for you!

I give the Lost Dog Phoenix book-o-rama two thumbs up. Always good to see the Great Ginsu Tongue, and I got to meet Sharon Bunion and Bill in person. Writers are just the coolest, funniest, most interesting people to hang out with. Though I'm still waiting for Sharon's promised snappy comeback (she was still working on it the last time I talked to her...snicker). Next time Bill comes through AZ we'll have to man the photon harpoons and be on the look out for those pesky favre beans, but it's guaranteed to be a helluva good time!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Still Scribblin'

I'm taking full advantage of the hubster's absence to avoid housework in all of its forms and tippity-tap my wittle fingers off on the novel. It's going well. Never quite as fast 'n furious as I'd like,'s going well. The stack of dirty dishes is rising. I'm ignoring it. If it gets bad enough, I might consider some drastic hammer action. 'Course, I can't really afford to buy new dishes, so I think I'll stick with the la-la-la, my-sink-isn't-really-that-full-of-dirty-dishes delusion for now.

I'll be taking a short break this weekend to visit this psycho in the desert. The plan is to chauffeur Bill "lost dog" Cameron around to various bookstores for some drive-by signings. Forecast says highs will be around 100 in hell, er, Phoenix. Yes, I'm planning on bringing plenty o' bottled water along. And I've been promised muchas margaritas Saturday evening.

See, this crazy convection oven heat is one of the reasons why I live in the mountains. It's always 10 to 15 degrees cooler here. And you can breathe the air without choking on thick yellow smog. And it doesn't take 2 hours to drive across town. And the people aren't nearly as rude. And...well, you get the picture. But I'm totally looking forward to spending time with these two reprobates, so I guess it's worth the drive down to hell, er, Phoenix.

Back to my regularly scheduled typing, writing, hair-pulling, iced coffee guzzling, household task ignoring activities.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Good Stuff - Dope

Yeah, yeah, I'm late to the party. I heard nothing but good stuff about this book last year and dammit, I still put off reading it until a few months ago. Don't you make the same mistake.

I freakin' loved this book. It's been ages since I could honestly say that the story, character, voice and writing were all so good that I couldn't help but simply read the book. I had to make myself go back and really analyze how Gran did it, 'cause I couldn't look at the technical stuff until I had finished the novel. Sheer noir pleasure - no complaints, no quibbles of any kind.

DOPE follows former heroin junkie Josephine Flannigan through the seamier side of post-WWII New York. She's been hired by a wealthy suburban couple to find their daughter, Nadine, a former Barnard college student who is missing and believed to be an addict. Although initially cautious about taking the job, the money is good and Joey knows that she may well be the one person who can find the girl. Then again, nothing and no one is what or who they appear to be. The plot twists and turns are vicious and make perfect sense as the story unfolds.

Make no mistake, this is straight up noir. There is no happy ending waiting for Joey and the journey is both relentless and heartbreaking. I read the last two chapters through a lens of tears - not a typical response for me. Thing is, fab writing aside, I can't this character out of my head. It's been a few months since I finished DOPE, and I still catch myself thinking about Joey. The voice is crystal clear, compelling and fierce. Not a light read, but dear god it's a helluva book.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

General Busy-ness

Made it up to Flagstaff yesterday (finally!) and enjoyed kickin' back at a coffee shop. I looked like a total dork with my big ass stereo headphones, but I figured "what the hell? it's a college town...maybe they'll just think I'm one of them there eccentrics." They had on good music but there were a couple of old guys talking very loudly about fishing in South Africa a few tables away from me. It was kinda interesting, but I had writing to do, so out came the iPod and monster headphones. Go ahead and laugh. I know I did.

Went to Bookman's but didn't have time to shop - the hubster has to go back to Flagstaff next week, so I'll put in some major browse time then. Stared with great envy and lust at all the people with their little laptops glowing both at the coffee house and Bookman's. I can't wait until I get mine in June! It will make writing outside of the house a lot easier. Writing long-hand kinda sucks, plus I can't help but be grumpy about the fact that it's a lot like writing it twice - first on paper and then at the keyboard. Not exactly conducive to writing much when away from the computer.

Anway, I've set a hard deadline for the first draft of the novel. I got some great (and unexpected) feedback on it earlier this week, so that's kinda lit a fire under my writerly butt. Not that I wasn't dedicated to the process before, but now I'm feeling a little more confident and I'm putting that extra energy to use. So...I'll probably go back to posting shorter stuff a few times a week. Especially since I'm cutting back on internet/blog/forum time. Not going away, just pulling back to focus on the novel. 'Cause that's really what it's all about, right? Doing the thing you love. Whether that's writing, or taking photos, or sharing ideas, or whatever. It's all about doing what you love and not getting sucked into to all the other crap-ola that seems to take up so much time and energy. Right? Right!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Reason #642 Why I Love Prescott

Starting at the bottom center is Tom Steele (he was sitting under a skylight, so it's not a good pic of him), Gadget is standing, Nate, Mike and Granny J.

Seated are Steven Ayres (he's got the pony tail!), John Kamin, and Georgene. Georgene is thinking about starting a blog - hope she does, 'cause she seemed like an interesting woman!

...'cause there are so many cool people living here! Saturday we had a "blogfest" for local bloggers at Raven Cafe, with eleven bloggers and several other friends and family members. First off, I gotta give a shout out to Granny J for coming up with the idea, and to the hubster for getting it (sort of) organized and inviting everyone. Without these two, the event wouldn't have happened.

We sat around, drank coffee (and other tasty beverages!) and talked a mile a minute. Andrew jumped on the idea to record some of the bloggers for his Prescott Arts Beat radio show (I think Tom was the one who came up with that suggestion). He didn't have time to get everyone, but hopefully we'll get those we missed on the next go 'round. I'll post when the podcast of the show is up, although the hubster is also considering breaking them up into shorter segments. We'll see what he decides.

So what do Prescott bloggers blog about? Hmm...well first up is the political brigade. Tom Steele calls it likes he sees it on just about anything, but especially when it comes to local politics in Prescott Valley. John Kamin runs the blog for our local paper, The Courier (you have to have a subscription to access his blog - I think that's changing at some point in the future, though). Aaaand in the other corner is Steven Ayres. His blog, Courier Watch casts an eagle eye on what's up with The Courier. So if you're into political stuff (okay, okay, mostly local politics, but it's still pretty interesting), you can check out any of these nifty blogs.

Next up are the (mainly) photo bloggers. I guess Mike B. and Nathan A. aren't technically bloggers, but their sites have awesome photos and do allow comments. So, y'know, bloger-esque. These two dudes are good friends and often go out to shoot together (photos, not guns as far as I know). Their styles are different, but I think they are both quite good (and were a lot of fun to talk to). And the queen (in my opinion, anyway) of local pics, is the fab Granny J.. I love her blog, and have for quite a while. She takes great pics, mainly of Prescott, and her background in journalism shines through in both her photos and her text. Very cool lady, great fun to chat with.

On the more eclectic side is Gadget's Airstream Chronicles. He is a super interesting dude who has currently pulled up his airstream here in Prescott. Definitely check out his blog - he's very techno-savvy (hence the moniker) and has some great photos of Prescott and the surrounding wilds. Seriously, I really dig his blog.

Sadira and Dina are more in the "anything goes" category of blogging. Two super nice ladies with way cool blogs that cover pretty much whatever strikes their fancy. I'm putting them on my regular a.m. blog rotation now. Dina also brought along her niece, who blogs as Little Miss Pink Tink (yes, as in Tinkerbell). LMPT recently moved back to Prescott and her blog is...well, pink. She's actually a really decent writer and I'm totally jealous that she's doing such an awesome job at a relatively young age.

Whew! That's a lot of local bloggers, huh?! The thing is, there were a number of other folks who wanted to come but weren't able to make it. We all had such a good time that we're going to try and make this a regular dealio, so hopefully I'll have a chance to meet even more at the next Prescott Blogfest. I really, really love this town. I get irritated with stuff sometimes, but for the most part, I just love Prescott!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

More Good Stuff - Lost Dog

I've got a stack of books that I've read and enjoyed - we won't talk about the ones I didn't finish, or threw across the room - and my plan is to blog about one book each week. Some of the books are new/debuts, and some of them are ones that are just new to me. We'll see how this works out. I am, after all, the original lazy artist. I'm not making any promises!'s a book I've been meaning to talk about, Bill Cameron's debut novel, Lost Dog. I'll say up front that Bill had promised me an ARC (which I "won" off his blog, only because I knew the origin of a quote that came from the only Woody Allen movie I like). Well, that didn't happen. I guess his publisher had already given out all the ARCs printed to, y'know, actual reviewer types. C'est la vie, no? No. Bill, being the good guy that he is, sent me a copy of Lost Dog when it was published, along with a nifty little plushie black dog. Completely unnecessary, but very sweet and much appreciated. Enough with "isn't Bill the coolest" and on to the book.

Peter McKrall is your average unemployed guy struggling to figure out what the hell to do with his life. Oh, and did I mention that he's a klepto? It's just after Christmas in Portland, OR, and Peter's niece has lost her favorite toy, a worn stuffed dog named Patch. When he heads to the park in search of Patch, Peter finds something much more disturbing. Tucked inside a concrete tube at the playground is the body of a very dead prostitute. What Peter doesn't realize is that the killer has returned to the crime scene and is watching him. When Peter is interviewed by a local television reporter and expresses horror about the crime, the real killer begins to obsess about Peter and how to pin the murder on him.

So...that's the basic set up. Things get complicated quickly with the appearance of the dead woman's daughter, Darla, and an unexpected love interest, local coffee shop owner, Ruby Jane. I'm not going to go into the rest of the plot machinations, 'cause what's the fun is telling the whole story?

While there's a suitably icky killer character, the real strength of the novel is the protagonist, Peter, and one of the cops working the case, Detective "Skin" Kadash. These two characters are the most fully realized and human, and provide a much needed dose of humor in an otherwise grim story. Peter can be wishy-washy, and shows poor judgment in some of his choices, but he's basically a good guy busy being human under extraordinary circumstances. My one issue with Skin comes near the end of the novel (I'm not going into the details, 'cause that's part of the climax of the story). He makes a decision that left me wondering if a detective, even a curmudgeon-y one like Skin, would actually do. While emotionally satisfying, I couldn't help but wonder... But what the hell do I know? I'm not a cop, and it was definitely one of those gray area dealios.

Overall, if you like twisty-turny murder mysteries that combine police procedural with innocent-guy-targeted-by-psycho-killer, you'll dig this book. The character of Peter is believable and unusual enough to take the book to the next level and the supporting cast is far from yawn-worthy. The sarcastic, smart-ass humor is also refreshing and serves as a great counter-balance to the pervasive ick-factor. Lost Dog has definite beach book potential (it's almost that time of year, isn't it?!), and the story will keep you turning the pages.

So, y'know, check it out!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nothing Goes According to Plan

Well, it doesn't. Or not often, anyway. I thought I'd be in Flagstaff today, chillin' at The Campus Coffee Bean, scribbling in a notebook, getting jacked on caffeine. But I'm not. Dammit. Instead I'm cleaning my house (gross - both in the sense that it looks gross and cleaning is gross) and struggling over some minor plot point with the novel. This is not my beautiful life...this is not my beautiful house...of course, I'm my own beautiful wife, but that's not the point.

I had planned on going to a writer's conference this year. That's also not going to happen. Dude, how do people find the freakin' cash for these things?! Sheesh! By the time you add up the registration fee, airfare, hotel, and food, that's easily over $1000. And that's not including the *essential* bar budget or the *essential* book budget. Well, I need a new laptop. Mine is 6 years old, the battery doesn't work anymore, the modem is dial-up only, and did I mention that it has no disk drive and the only way to save/transfer files is to email them to myself using said dial-up connection? So...yeah. I need a new laptop. Laptop, writer's con, laptop, writer's con. Yeah, writing tool trumps schmooze fest any day. I won't have enough saved up for the 'puter until mid-June...did I mention how much I hate that delayed gratification thingie?! *Sigh*

Oh yeah, and the short-list for the Debut Daggers has been released...sort of. They sent 'round the list of titles (and what countries the authors are from), but not the list of authors. Some weird thing about the judging process. Anyway, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a twinge of "ah, man!" to see I wasn't on the list. On the other hand, I do know one of the writers on said list (and no, I'm not tellin' who it is, don't wanna get 'em in trouble) and that made me very, very happy. Also, I learned a ton in the process of getting the submission ready and sent off. All things considered, I'm pretty cool with the whole dealio. Now I've just got my fingers crossed for a certain writer, sending lots of good luck wishes across "the pond."

On the plus side, we're having a little get-together of local bloggers over at the Raven Cafe this Saturday, organized by the ever fab and overworked hubster. (He's working on Coyote's new web page, so don't laugh at the ridiculously stretched photos - new software to learn and all that!) It was really Granny J's idea - let's give credit here! - but I'm looking forward to going to Blogfest. Should be a nice, eclectic bunch o' bloggers, most of them people I've never met in "real life" before. I'll try and remember to get some pics and talk about that on Sunday...or Saturday night, if I'm really ambitious.

Okay, back to my (ir)regularly scheduled toilet scrubbing and refrigerator de-furring. Actually, I'm considering a simple act of defenestration to deal with the 'fridge. It's quite disgusting in there, I'm ashamed to say. Maybe not head-tucked-behind-a-ham disgusting, but pretty damn icky. Ah well, maybe I'll figure out how to pull off a (fictional) meth stash heist while I'm at it. A girl can dream, can't she?!!