Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or Meme...

PAIGE tormented a few of us - now it's my turn, the day of tricks and treats and the hallowed eve of NaNoWriMo. Seven answers to seven questions...

1. It is your lucky day what are you going to do?Spend a day with all my family and friends at an enoteca in Montepulciano, sipping Brunello and munching on pane et prosciutto et parmiagiana, replete with poetry and prose readings, impromptu singing, and other celebratory outbursts.

2. What was the game you played as a child that you almost always or always did win? Scrabble. It's all in the words.

3. You get to meet anyone from the past or present who will it be? Isaac Asimov. He created characters and worlds I could never imagine. I want to know his thought process. And there's always the science, of course.

4. When you relax what is it that you do? Relax? You must be kidding. Write novels. Poetry. Try to get the damn things published.

5. What is your favorite number? 13. Really.

6. What was the name of your favorite childhood toy? Legos. If I wasn't reading, I was making houses and spaceships and other whirligiggy things.

7. If you could name the next fashion fade/craze what would it be? The Frump look. Casual, comfy, black, with that slight nerd edge. Notebook under arm and pen behind ear de rigeur.

And I tag... HOPE, STEPHEN, MJ, CHRYS, DEBORAH, and GILLIAN. I'll tap another later, gotta head to work...

THE READING... Reading will take second fiddle during November, but next up - BEL CANTO (again) and SNOW. Though I noticed Anita Shreve has a new one out...

THE WRITING... NANOWRIMO, but of course. Commences tomorrow @ 5 AM. Thank goddess I'm still jet-lagging...

Two poems - MONDAY MORNING WHEN THE GARBAGE TRUCK COMES and YELLOW - both placed in the top 100 of the Writer's Digest 77th Annual Writing Competition. BOTH emerged as first drafts in NaPoWriMo this past April which speaks to the possible power of writing under pressure.

On Serendipity aka Persistence... 15 years ago when I was desperately looking for data for my dissertation, it was my convo monologue. My family, friends, colleagues, strangers all heard my plaintive plea - do you have data? It worked - I got my data. Now, marketing BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT, I ask - do you know an agent? So far, so good - two contacts through my Public Health colleagues. Can't hurt...

Happy writing. Reading. Living. Peace, Lind

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Watermelon Mountains...

I am always awed traveling across the country, be it by car or plane or train or motorcycle - I've done versions of all four modes. Flying over the panhandle of Texas as the foothills grow into the New Mexico border always makes me pause. The Sacramento mountains, called the Watermelon Mountains for the way they glow in sunset, swell gentle at first, then pierce upwards in snow-grizzled peaks. Furrows chunnel the slopes holding up mesas, as if the fingers of God raked through the earth.

It is barren here, and magnificent and wild.


I'm pimping Public Health here in San Diego. It's part of my day jb, yet integral to all else in my life. With the economy tanking, our nation will be hard-pressed to make any advances in health; indeed, my biggest fear is we will see the 'system' we now enjoy crumble. Dreams of insurance coverage for all seem as distant now as they did 40 years ago...


Going to conferences has it's upside - food, food, FOOD! San Diego is fabulous. Tonight I went with a friend to Little Italy for the express purpose of going to Extraordinary Desserts. Alas, we detoured to Indigo Grill for some 'light' Native American/Mexican fushion fare. The cup of torilla soup was in a bowl larger than my serving plate at home, and the stacked beet salad was... indescrible. We rolled out and down India Street all the way back to our hotels at the harbor.


THE WRITING... BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT revisions are finito! Just in time for NaNoWriMo. Tomorrow's direct flight back is dedicated to fleshing out the NaNo plan of attack.

READING... SIDE EFFECTS by Allison Bass. The story of scientific fraud behind Prozac and Paxil drug development and marketing. Research for PURE... Reread ATONEMENT and sobbed for 15 minutes last night after finishing the heart-wrenching section about Robbie slogging through france to get to the beach. That last scene... perfetto.

Dad started radiation and chemo this week. Any spare, warm wishes appreciated... Peace, Linda

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mad Monday Miscellany

Mental Health Parity: Buried in the $700 Billion save-the-banks bailout last week. With the economy tanking, we'll all need the same insurance coverage for psychiatric and substance use dsorders as we currently get for peptic ulcers and diabetes and hypertension. Believe me, THE MENTAL HEALTH PARITY ACT was the ONLY sane news last week.

Madness: It's coming in ten wee days - NANOWRIMO. Seems EVERYONE is gonna catharse 50k words in a mere month. Including me. Including cyber writers Cindy and Hope. Buddy me - drwasy.

Make short work of: BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT revisions. Will. Be. Done. Wednesday. Yes.

Mandible flapping: Interviewed by Paula Berinstein of THE WRITING SHOW on BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT'S recent win. What fun! And such a gracious host. The podcast will air November 16 (of course, I'll keep you posted).

Marginal success: An editor of a small press wants to use my query letter in her (agented) book on the publishing business. As a superlative example of the art, ah-hem. (And I'll pre-empt that question brewing in your brain: if the pitch is so damn good, then where's the contract? ANSWER: That's the same question I asked her. Stay tuned...)

MISCELLANEY: Go HERE for Nathan Bransford's take on moving from the small pubs to the big 5. Then, go HERE for a fascinating discussion on self-pubbing your poems. Then, for all you prepubbed writers, go HERE for a parable about the little debut book that could (thanks Moonie). THE TAKE HOME: It's damn hard to get your baby published, and it's gonna be even harder in the new economy. So write hard, write brilliantly, and be persistent like a fly on poop.

Mundane - not: Off to San Diego later this week for the annual AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION meeting. Busy there doing my day job stuf, but my down time will be spent visiting my childhood house in Solona Beach, visiting a few friends, EATING, and prepping for NaNoWriMo in my bayview room. Peace, Linda

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Day in the Life...or Tenure Gets You This?

5:35 am: Coffee machine gurgles. Open eyes. Still dark. Sleep or get up?

5:47 am: Crawl downstairs in dark. Blow nose, etcetera. Flip open laptop. Write novel in dark.

6:49 am: First child awake. Reads to self in armchair in dark beside me.

6:54 am: Hubs stumbles down, flicks on tube to see how EU and Asian markets fared. Boo-yah!

7:17 am: Gotta shower. No, not enough time. Damn. Maybe tomorrow.

7:58 am: Second child wants to bring lunch after assuring me last night he wanted to buy pizza. Whip together Fluffernutter, throw in Sun Chips and a Capri Sun. And to think I used to be macrobiotic.

8:23 am: Policeman with K-9 patrols every car on train. Drugs? Explosives? Who cares? I'm gonna be late for graduate seminar - and I'm the speaker.

9:06 am: Stare longingly at Starbuck's.

9:12 am: Natives restless. Presentation... goes.

10:00 am: Meeting with Dean. In another building. Clouds open. Umbrella buried under books/sports equipment/sweathshirts/what-have-you in car back in metro parking lot.

10:10 am: Drenched. Meeting cancelled.

10:28 am: Free time. Hide with latte in Dental School. What the heck?

11:00 am: Lecture pharmacy students on Prescription Drug Abuse and Diversion. Realize half-way through that slides are from last year. Realize colleague in back row of lecture hall is frowning. Realize said colleague is one of peer teaching evaluators. Gulp.

12:30 pm: Emails replied to, memos written, fires snuffed. Time to sit down and revise manuscript for Psych Services.

12:42 pm: Grad student enters, crying...

1:44 pm: Back to paper.

2:17 pm: Fire alarm. Walk down 12 flighs of stairs. Starts raining - again.

2:43 pm: Back to paper.

3:00 pm: Someone's cloned me - meeting with Gero Psych research team vs. meeting with Department Chair. Hmmm... flip a coin.

4:03 pm: Promotion and tenure packets due tomorrow. Xerox machine: 1, me: 0. There's always Kinko's...

4:23 pm: Back to paper.

4:34 pm: Colleague barges in without knocking, berates me for making her Chair of a committee. I inform her of my new management credo - the squeaky wheel gets the grease - and because she squeaks louder than anyone else. she can be in charge this year. Humph.

5:08 pm: Adrenalated from shouting match. Wander down hall to see Grants Specialist. Shoot bull while inhaling mini Milky Way darks from her bowl.

5:13 pm: Oh my - how did the time get away? Two paragraphs finished on paper... Maybe tomorrow.

8:16 pm: Damn. Forgot to bring stuff to Kinko's. Gulp.


The Writing... Going good. Very good. Er, going well. Very well. Whatever.

Reading... Whipped through LOVE STORY by Erich Segal (yard sale freebie). Clocks in at 131 pages - I see why he's a screen-writer. Into SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS by Marissa Pessl and SIDE EFFECTS by Alison Bass. Good stuff so far.

No wonder I'm so tired... Peace, Linda

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What's that thudding sound?

The damn economy. Also known as my retirement - and yours.

With so much going on in my personal life, I've been a bit absent-minded about the mortgage/financial crisis. Of course, it'll mean hiring freezes (yep, already have one at UMB), flat COLA and merit raises, perhaps even furloughs (yep, we've had those at UMB before, too). Never before has tenure seemed so important, so cross those fingers and toes for me, as my portfolio nears completion and is thrust into that black hole known as the Faculty Affairs Committee.

This economic downturn will certainly impact publishing opportunities. The big houses were already tightening down; the smaller, indy presses are even more vulnerable. Macadam Cage has delayed publishing, and now this from Atlas and Company.

What's a poor prepublished girl to do?

GOOD NEWS!!!!! Moonrat's MISCHIEF FIGHTS CANCER raffle is a huge success, raising nearly $5K for her friend in need.

And I won - again! A book, with a love letter from the Moonrat herself. Yippee!

THE WRITING... Uh, sort of backtracking, but that's okay. It's all good. My interview with Paula Berinstein on BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT, writing, and all that jazz will be happening in the next couple of weeks. The questions are... provocative. The coaching has commenced. I feel blessed.

READING... Just finished THREE JUNES by Julia Glass. Rather, I just finished sobbing over my salad while the kids watched Sponge Bob. This is a 'it's s small world' sort of story, where chance encounters and events pull people together - and apart. I met Ms. Glass at THE MUSE AND THE MARKETPLACE last April in Boston, where she gave a bang-up seminar. Once again, here's a writer who mixes tenses and POVs (by scene/chapter), but does it amazingly well. I loved her Fenno - compelling voice, wry with a touch of melancholy. And Scottish, which adds to his allure. This was a debut novel (2002) - wow.

I leave you with a quote from THREE JUNES: "When it comes to life, we spin our own yarn, and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be."

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Horn tooting

is not something I'm particularly good at. But today deserves a little self-promotion: my first publication in THE SUN, a well-regarded print literary journal out of Chapel Hill, officially hits the newstands today.

And I won a writing contest.

I'd forgotten about the contest, actually. Back in May, I was deep in a flurry of submission activity: conferences, contests, agents, editors. I'm usually pretty organized about keeping track of what went where, so yesterday's email from Paula Berinstein of THE WRITING SHOW was kind of like finding a forgotten twenty tucked in last season's blazer pocket. But oh, so much better.

THE WRITING SHOW is a great resource for writers, lots of podcasts on the entire writing prociess, from idea formulation to editing to publication and marketing. They run several contests; I submitted the first chunk of BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT to the Best First Chapter of an Unpublished Novel contest.

Prizes galore: the glory, of course, perhaps the greatest reward of all in this oft discouraging business; mentoring/coaching from Joe Nassise, a well-regarded fantasy novelist; an upcoming interview; and CASH enough to qualify as a PW "nice deal."

Which leads me to another reason to toot horns... our beloved Moonrattie, editor extraordinaire, anonymous author of EDITORIAL ASSISTANT, and friend to writers everywhere, has a friend in need, someone with stage 4 lymphoma who needs financial help paying for PET scans and other diagnostics. With a father newly-diagnosed with stage 4 head/neck cancer, I have total sympathy for this woman; I cannot fathom how my family would deal with our devastation if we had to worry about money and insurance. I'm investing some of my winnings in a raffle for a chance at Moonie's editorial acumen.

Go HERE ==> MISCHIEF FIGHTS CANCER to find out more. Please, pay your blessings forward.

Peace, Linda