So, My Mother Sent Me a Cake…

I know, it sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? Or as Sky said, “It’s a great opening line.” She’s right of course. But the thing is, my mother, queen of birthday surprises, really did send me a cake.

Author Author

Yay! Cake!

We haven’t sliced it yet, but the delivery form says there’s chocolate underneath the buttercream frosting.

Oh! And the flowers from yesterday? They were from my good friend Deb.


I love flowers. I also love celebrating my birthday (mine’s Sunday). I especially love it when people send me flowers to help me celebrate my birthday.

What I don’t love is when I receive such flowers and the florist has no information about who they’re from, and the card has no name.

So…if you’re the person who sent me a delightful bouquet of flowers (daisies and such) with a note that said Happy Happy (Early) Birthday, please know that I’m tickled to death, but there was no name on the card, and the flower delivery guy didn’t have the info either.

They look like this:


First Full Day

So, today in class, MN gave us his pep/fear talk. “There are 50,0000 people writing novels every year. You don’t have to worry about 48,000 of them. You need to give up any ego you have, and do what it takes to be in the 2,000 who actually publish. And sometimes that means your breakout novel is NOT the book you really want to write. But it’s the one that can sell.”

– He had us read a 9-page synopsis and 1-page writing sample from a real author who was beyond help (author’s name withheld).
– He had us pretend to be editors at Knopf and pick it apart, giving it a yay-or-nay and telling why
– He had each of us give a practice pitch: Name, Title, Genre, Comps, Credentials (what you’ve published, or if you have experience that relates to the subject matter), Log Line (Short description). Pitch (Jacket Blurb Nutshell).

Then he picked it apart. Half of us were asked for new titles and more definition, almost all of us were told to define our genre better (many of these ppl walked in saying “I write literary fiction” and left with instructions to get comfortable with their stories really being mainstream, commercial, fantasy, women’s fic, etc.

He liked my concept, but agreed that I need plot help (well, I knew that).

He suggested strongly that I embrace the chick-lit aspects of my idea, and make it quirky, and not fight the funny.

And he asked for a longer title.

Attached is what I came up with after class, when Michelle and I went to the Round Table in the Marina, got Pizza and Beer, and went to work.

It uses most of the elements I wanted, though I think I’m going to have to toss the 70’s part, and set it all in the future, but keeps the elements I most loved.

And he said Universal Blend should be my book of short stories.

And I agree.

Leave me a comment with your email address if you want to see my pitch :) You must be able to read word doc or docx files.

Tired, tired, tired

Arrived SFO yesterday.
Walked to Hyde St. to get muni pass. They were closed.

Brunched with Clay, at Mama’s on Washington Square, where we both had the French Toast sampler, and we split a side of bacon and a side of home fries.

Hung out in the park talking, until a scary old guy decided that 62 degrees was just too damned warm for pants, and dropped trou in the middle of the park.

Bought truffles and salt water taffy for bus money.
Ended up taking cab.

Came back to hotel.
Called Fort Mason to find out where Meet and Greet was … meeting.
Found out venue had changed.

Wandered to Cioppinos on the wharf.
Had Aglio e Olio & lovely chardonnay while meeting and greeting.
Workshop leader reminds me of a fuzzier, warmer, more literary Brent Spiner.

No, really, he does.

Am tired, but looking forward to tomorrow.
Expect this will be most informative.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

The trailer’s been released for the better part of a week, and I’ve seen it on the big screen (in front of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Ironically, even though I KNEW the trailer was on this film, it surprised me.) so I decided that since I’m off to San Francisco in a few hours, for a novel workshop/agent pitch thing, it was a good time to post this.

November can’t come soon enough.
(And those who know me, will understand the irony in that statement.)

Zorro Dog

Zorro is one of those chi/JRT mixes who manages to capture the best parts of both breeds with very little of the bad. One of those traits is his love of vertical take-offs and landings. He can, when inspired, jump higher than my shoulder, and while that may not sound like much since I’m only five feet tall (exactly), he’s only 7.5 INCHES tall.

He likes to jump up and down from our bed, which is fairly high, as we have a thick box spring on the frame, and a pillow-top mattress on top of that. There’s a chest at the foot of the bed that makes a good step, and sometimes we find him curled up on top of it, but he almost never uses it to get up or down.

A couple of days ago, he fell off the bed, and I thought I heard a dog-bone sort of pop, but he didn’t squawk or anything, though he did begin to limp on that leg, a leg where he already has a problem knee. The limping continued, with no signs of pain when I manipulated the leg or hip, and I began to wonder if my dog was just acting out for attention. (He affected a limp when the pet sitter was here last Christmas.) He’s also got a stage six heart murmur, so when limping was accompanied by his dry hacking cough for the past two nights, despite drugging him like crazy, we went to the vet.

Here’s the result:
His heart is marginally worse (it’s enlarged, but it has been for a while). His blood pressure is a little high, but not dangerously slow. He’s at his higher summer weight (9 pounds) because it’s been too hot for walkies (108 today). The cough, the vet thinks, is allergies/cold/irritation, and rather than give us more cough meds, he wants us to try benadryl.

His leg, OTOP (on the other paw) is not so good. He basically blew out the ACL on the side with the bad knee. There’s a surgical fix, of course, but because of Zorro’s heart condition, the vet advises against anything invasive, especially since anesthesia would be required. They are uncertain it is worth the risk putting a 14-year-old dog through that.

So, we have canine narcotics (tramadol – it’s $1 / pill, and we have 15, but that’s a 60 day supply for a dog this small), and we’ve been told to keep him still as much as possible but that there will be a degree of healing, though we should expect that he’ll always run on three legs, even when he begins walking on four again.

The people who were leaving as we came in had one dog in a trauma collar, and had just put down their other, and were in tears.

We got off with drugs and a $140 bill.
We were lucky.

Journey to the Center of the Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

It’s completely geeky to admit it, but I have a thing for Brendan Fraser, even if his website is woefully out of date. It’s even more neglected than this blog has been lately. Dusty, cobwebby, and sort of forgotten, but still nice to visit from time to time. Anyway, true confessions time: He’d totally be on my freebie list. If I had one. Which I don’t.

Needless to say, this summer has been a feast of Fraser at the movies, what with Disney giving us a new version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, which was cute, but a bit too short and not terribly well written (well, I had to see it. I’m a Jules Verne fan too.), and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor which also needed some script help, I thought (the prologue was long enough that for a while I thought it was a short film called “Exposition.”), and Rachel Weisz has been replaced by Maria Bello (who brought a fresh interpretation of Evelyn), which was disappointing at first, but then wasn’t, after all, but it was still a great escapist romp.

We saw Journey…, the same weekend we saw Mamma Mia. The same day, even, and we saw The Mummy last night at Studio Movie Grill, combining it with dinner. (Their turkey burgers with sweet potato fries are really good, btw.) I was surprised that The Dark Knight was still selling out shows, and that Step Brothers was sold out – it’s on my list of “movies I would gouge my eyes out before paying to see,” after all, but I recognize that many people like sophomoric humor. I don’t. I never have. I don’t like slapstick, and I also don’t like animation. A lot. Especially animated slapstick.

In any case, the theaters were full for both Fraser films, and our fellow audience members were into both films. Last night, especially. I like it when a film can make the audience respond with cheers and laughter, when it really is engaging enough to trigger the willful suspense of disbelief and when you find yourself applauding at the end, even though you KNOW it’s a film and no one can hear you.

This isn’t a review, so much as a ramble, and one of the topics I wanted to address is that my affection for Fraser’s work has to do with his finesse at playing against type. We expect someone who looks like him to be a perfect action hero, but he brings just enough silly that his performance becomes, not a pale imitation of folks like Harrison Ford (as Indiana Jones), but an homage to them. He has this great knack of being just a little bit bimbo-esque but with intelligence in his eyes.

And yet, he also has range. Go rent Gods and Monsters or The Quiet American if you don’t believe me.

In any case, I’d recommend Journey to the Center of the Earth for the tween crowd and their parents, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor for pretty much anyone, and I’m not just saying that because I really like the setting of Shanghai in the ’40s, either.