Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Grandma Connection

A couple days ago, my sister called (the fabulous Jeri G., who has her very own day [see previous posts]), looking for a specific cookie recipe.

Now, I haven't done a lot of baking in recent years. I shouldn't be eating a lot of sweets - should anyone? - and I hadn't dug through my old recipe box in ages. But I knew where the box was, and I quickly found the recipe she was asking for.

In the process, I ended up thumbing through stacks of yellowing 3X5 cards, some written in my much-younger scrawl, some in my sister's precise backhand, others typed in an effort to appear more organized than I really am. There were cards from old friends, random acquaintances, even one from a former sister-in-law. (She went away, but I kept the caramel corn recipe!)

And some of those cards were printed at the top with "A Recipe from the Files of Alice Nouguier." Those gave me pause. Alice was my grandmother, who passed away in August. I had my issues with her, as many of us do with our families, but she was my grandma, and those cards reminded me of some of the good things we shared over the years - her favorite recipes among them.

Grandma was 95 when she died, the youngest of four children. Two of her siblings died in the couple years before her, so an entire generation of our family has disappeared in a short while. Suddenly, my mom is the oldest in her generation, as I am in the generation that follows. Now we are the grandmas.

Those yellowing recipe cards are a connection to a generation that exists only in the memories of those who loved them, and I felt an overwhelming urge to dust off the cookie pans, break out the measuring cups, and remember - even for a little while - the connection we all have as daughters, mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers.

As a result, today the people in my office are sharing Orange Caramel Cookies, and Gumdrop Bars, and I have plans to commit Uncooked Fondant this evening. I will pack up a box of goodies to share with my family when we get together on Saturday, and I plan to enjoy the treats my daughter is bringing - she's got some of those cards of her own. The connection continues, each generation carrying forward something from the generation before them.

I hope to leave my children and grandchildren some yellowing 3X5 cards to remember me by. It's one of the little things that makes us family.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Winter Comes to a Small Town

I am sitting in my office, enjoying the return of heat, lights, and the Internet. I have been without all three for a couple days, and I am very grateful to have them back!

For the record: our small coastal town was completely without power for 30+ hours, as a result of severe storms. Winds hit 91 mph on Thursday, and the outer edges lost power as early as 1-2 that afternoon. The entire city was dark by 6 pm. Our power here (a couple blocks from City Hall) returned sometime between 1 and 2 am on Saturday, but I don't know about those further out.

I have heard it was a transmission line - one of those giant ones that marches across mountains through a clear cut - that went down, but without Internet, radio, TV or newspapers, it's kind of hard to know what really happened. Yep, the newspaper delivery trucks couldn't get here, and the cable was out so no TV, even if you had battery or generator power to watch with. Radio is spotty to begin with, and all we could get were local stations, who were in pretty much the same boat we were! Cell phones did work, and we were able to reassure family that we were safe and sound.

The hospital has an emergency generator, as does the casino, and some other places, including the hotel where I work. But we can't power the hotel and restaurant on the generator, just emergency lights and the like. Our desk clerks and reservationists were busy calling people with reservations and advising them to cancel.

This is going to have a severe financial impact on the city. The outlet mall, usually buzzing with Christmas shoppers, has been dark for 2+ days. The grocery stores and restaurants have lost all refrigerated products. At work, we tried to get a refrigerated truck to hold our inventory until the power was restored, but they couldn't get here. The highways were closed from every direction. At various times over the last 2 days they had stretches open, sometimes just one lane. But fallen trees were a huge problem on all the highways.

There was power in another town, 30 miles south, and we drove down yesterday to have a hot meal, buy a new camp stove, and generally get warm. Fortunately, Herbie had a full tank of fuel, so we weren't as bad off as some. I heard two people talking in Fred Meyer, and one was saying they had driven about 50 miles with the gas light on. Can't buy gas when the station doesn't
have power to operate the pumps.

We spent two nights snuggled under blankets on the loveseat, with kitties for additional warmth, reading by candlelight and battery lanterns. Thanks to the wonders of natural gas, I did manage a hot shower - in the dark! Couldn't make coffee, since my coffee grinder is electric, but we made tea with water boiled on the new camp stove about 10 last night. (Set it up on the picnic table in the yard, which meant going out into the cold a couple times, but it was worth it.) Figured we could heat soup or chili or whatever today, but we have power! I am really enjoying the hum of the furnace fan, sending warm air through the house, and the fact that the light switches are working again.

This wasn't as long, as cold, or as bad, as it could have been. We were somewhat prepared - full fuel tank, lots of lights and batteries to power them, adequate supplies of canned goods and a hand-cranked can opener (electric openers are no good when the power's out), extra socks, bottled water, gas water heater. I even boiled water and filled the good old stainless steel thermos, when we anticipated losing power. But that only stays really hot for about 12 hours, and a quart of hot water isn't much. We found out the things we needed, and I hope we've filled in the missing items. And next time I'll make sure to grind some coffee when I think the power's going. *G*

Winter isn't over yet. Not by a long shot!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Reputation Strikes Again

A while back, I talked about how a reputation is the most important thing a writer can have. Today I can give you a concrete example; concrete meaning "money in the bank."

About a week ago, an editor I'd worked with in the past, posted an invitation to "pinch hit" for an anthology that had come in a little short. She needed stories, on a particular theme, and she needed them in a few days. This Tuesday, the check for my story arrived in the mail, and Steve's check arrived the next day.

What does reputation have to do with this? Well, when I wrote back saying I would like to send a story, I was welcomed. And when I produced and submitted the story in the short time limit, I reinforced her trust that I could produce acceptable work in a short time. Will we get a call next time there's an open spot? I'd say the chances are good.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I Wish I Was in Atlanta -- But There Will be Recordings

A few weeks back, I mentioned writing in my hotel room in Reno, while at the RWA National Conference. There wasn't any choice, since I had registered for the conference and paid for a hotel room months in advance, and I truly wanted to go. But I also had a deadline, so I kept running back to my room to steal a few more minutes with Sydney, and Jack, and Vaughn, and all the rest of the team.

The RWA National Conference was held in Atlanta this year, at the end of July, and I wish I was there. I have been to three Nationals: Washington DC, Denver, and Reno, over the past few years. Each time, I have come away energized, excited, and eager to write. This conference offers fantastic educational and networking opportunities for writers at all stages of their careers. It is one of the absolute best places to learn about the business of writing - even if romance isn't your primary genre.

But there are lots of conferences around the country, and sometimes it is difficult to know which one(s) to attend. One of these days I may take a crack at ranting about the good, the bad, and the ugly of writers conferences. But for now, I just want to say that RWA is one of the best.

Of course, the conference itself is a huge financial committment. The registration is somewhere around $350, hotel room are upwards of $120 per night, and there are meals and tips and travel expenses on top of that. But the incredible energy, information, and friendships that come out of it are worth every penny!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Reputation is All We Have

Elisabeth asked about how my Alias books came to be. It's a long story, and not one I even know all the answers to. But the one-word explanation is simple: Reputation.

That sounds so simple, yet it covers so many tiny details of a writer's life. It isn't just your writing ability, though that has to be good, but how you manage the business of writing. Can you meet a deadline? Do you know the subject? Can you produce an outline, and then stick to it (within reason)? Can you take editorial suggestion? Are you willing to rewrite/edit to editor or licensor requirements?

All these things, and more, go into a writer's reputation. And it is that reputation that makes someone offer you a job.

For me, that offer came in the form of an email invitation to pitch ideas for Alias novels. I don't know how I happened to be on that invitation list; someone asked someone else for suggestions, and my name came up. I have a few guesses - editors I had worked with in the past - but I don't know specifically. However it happened, the invitation was extended, with a warning that the books would need to be done quickly.

Now, here's my shameful secret. Up to that point, I had not watched the show. Not because I wasn't interested, but because I ration the number of shows to which I can be addicted at any one time, and my list was pretty full. But I had heard very good things from people whose opinions I trusted, and it sounded like fun. I wrote back immediately, saying I was interested, and ran to the video store. For a solid week, I watched every episode I could get my hands on, read online episode summaries, read the two outlines the editor provided for books already under contract, and basically immeresed myself in the show.

At the end of that week, I knew I had to write for Alias - the character, her family and friends, had me hooked. I had some ideas, some things I thought would be fun and interesting to do with the characters, and I bounced them off the editor. He liked one idea, and I set to work writing an outline. Within a very few days, he had a complete outline on his desk.

So, there's the first parts. I produced an outline, showing that I knew the property, and I did it in a short time frame, showing I could work under deadline. I also committed to write the book in a few weeks, if the outline was approved.

This is where the courtship rituals of tie-in fiction come in. Your outline must be approved by the editor, and then by whomever owns the property - in this case, ABC. For my Star Trek work, it was Paramount; for Mage Knight, it was Wiz Kids. Steve has been through this ritual with Wiz Kids, Marvel, Conan Properties, Paramount - the list is long and varied.

Anyway, there were changes from ABC. I rewrote the outline, it went back through channels, and eventually I had an approved outline for Strategic Reserve -- and 10 weeks to write the complete novel, while working a full-time job, and with the RWA National Conference (a story for a different time) in the middle, along with a long-planned family reunion. I spent nights and weekends in my office, and I wrote while traveling, and I turned the manuscript in on time.

When the inevitable edits came down through channels, I did the rewrite and sent it back. On time, and without being difficult. The result is on bookstore shelves now, and I am proud of what I accomplished.

The second book didn't go quite as smoothly, at first. ABC didn't like the outline the editor passed on, but they liked a minor sub-plot. It took a while, but I managed to take that sub-plot and make it a novel, which will be out in December. once again, I ended up doing the writing in a couple months, still with a day job and the usual distractions. But I did it on time, on target, and I tried very hard to be easy to work with.

Now, with ALIAS off the air, there are no plans for additional books in that series. But I have my reputation, and some time in the future, when an editor is looking for a writer for a project, my name may come up again. And when it does, the editors I have worked with, will have good things to say.

In the end, that reputation is the most important thing we, as writers, have.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Free Books!

Well, not so much. Today I will burst another bubble, I hope. But there's a good surprise at the end of this, I promise.

See, everybody thinks writers have huge stores of their books, which they are happy to pass out to everyone they meet. Sometimes, they are offended that you don't give them a free book.

What part of "I write for a living" do these people not understand?

You see, the publisher pays me for a story, I deliver it, they publish it, and expect to sell books, thereby recovering the money they paid me, paying their expenses, and maybe making a profit. This shouldn't be an obscure concept - it's the same one the grocery store and gas station operate under.

So why would I expect someone to buy a book if I gave it away for free? Frankly, I wouldn't. But I receive a very limited number of copies, and if I gave one to everyone who wanted one, I wouldn't have any left for myself. So I limit my give-aways. My parents always get an autographed copy, and my in-laws (who are some of my biggest fans, and how cool is that?).

Still, I am more generous than many writers. I keep a "loaner" copy at work, so friends can borrow it and read it. I donate copies to fund raisers. I love being able to put a book in someone's hands, and know that they will read it. Unfortunately, I still need to convince my publishers that I'm a good investment, and that people will buy my books, so I can't give them away. And they don't give me that many, anyway.

So, try to understand when your favorite writer expects you to buy his or her book. It's how they pay their bills, and support themselves while they write the next book.

But, just this once, I am going to give away a book. I have a copy of STRATEGIC RESERVE on my shelf that will go to the best comment posted in the next week or so. No strings, nothing to buy, no coupons to redeem, or forms to fill out. Just post a comment, if you want a shot at a free book. At the end of the month, I'll pick my favorite - yeah, it's completely subjective, but we writers have to get a few perks! - and mail you an autographed book.

C'mon, what have you got to lose?

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Waiting Game; or, I Make Stuff Up

Well, the Alias manuscript went off to the editor, and the YA I was revising went off to my agent. Now I get to play The Waiting Game.

Let me admit, right up front, that I should simply be writing something else, and not even thinking about this stuff. And that is pretty much what I am doing. But The Waiting Game is a part of the dirty underbelly of writing, and something we all have to learn to live with.

When a new writer finishes a story, or a novel, or a poem, or whatever, you send it out into the world. You mail your story to an editor or agent. You know that it's going into the slush pile, and it may be months before you hear anything back. But this happens even when you aren't a new writer.

The book I just turned in (see cover below) will be my sixth published novel. Now, that might sound impressive - unless you want to compare it to some of the writers I know, who have 50 or 60 or 80 books to their credit. But comparing careers is apples and oranges (a rant for another time), and I try not to do it.

I suspect most people think once you have an editor, or an agent, that you don't have to wait. Want to know a deep, dark secret? It ain't so! Oh, maybe if your name is Stephen King, or John Grisham. Writers at that level are earning a lot of money for their agents and publishers, and thereby earning fast responses. Writers at my level, well, not so much.

But here's the problem. As a writer, it's my job to make shit up. And when I'm playing The Waiting Game, the temptation sneaks in to make up some shit that explains why I am waiting. Being - like so many writers - terminally insecure, I seem to make up some pretty awful shit.

Like, the editor hates the book, no matter how enthusiastic she was about the proposal. She has decided the book is hopeless, I'm hopeless, and she is looking for someone to fix the horrible mess that landed on her desk.

Like, my agent hates me. She has read my revisions, and thinks I destroyed the promising start she saw in the first draft. She had no hope of selling the steaming pile that this manuscript has become, and she despairs of what to say about it.

Now, because I have been doing this for a few years, I recognize that this is ridiculous. The truth is probably a lot closer to something like: The editor has five other books to put into production this week, six more slots that must be assigned before the first of the month, three rewrites to read. Four licensors have finally released approvals on pending projects, and she has to get them into contracts, her assistant just quit to move to North Dakota, the mail room lost two contracts, and yesterday's lunch sat too long in the delivery cart, and she is now sicker than a dog. (And really, how sick is a dog? What does that actually mean?)

The agent is training a new assistant (her previous one is in North Dakota, waiting for the editor's assistant to join him), her biggest client just got a six-book deal with staggered delivery dates, twenty-four payment dates, and a publicity tour, all of which have to be negotiated before the contract can be signed, another client is months late, and she is doing damage control with the publisher, she agreed to read submissions from eight potential clients, including two who have offers on the table, and her boss is on maternity leave.

See? I just made up all that shit. I have no idea whether any of it is true. But I do know that any one of those items is much more likely than the first bunch. My editor does not hate me. My agent has not given up hope that I will ever write anything salable. (Given that I have six published novels, that one is just plain silly. Doesn't mean it won't cross my mind!) No disasters are looming.

But, because I am a trained professional maker-up-of-shit, this is what I do, when I am playing The Waiting Game.

Now it's time for me to stop griping, and go do some productive making-shit-up. That is, time to get back to writing!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tie-In Novels and the Real World

Here's the cover of the Alias novel that was just releasted. I was really happy with it, and delighted to see it in the stores this month. Then, just a couple days ago, I found this!

Now, is that cool, or what? I mean, a cover with the gorgeous Jennifer Garner and the gorgeous Carl Lumbly? Something for everyone! Well, okay, the first one had JG and Michael Vartan, which definitely doesn't suck, either.

All in all, I can say that I am very pleased with my covers. It's really cool to be able to check Amazon, and see your very own name on a book cover. My name is smaller than J.J. Abrams, and his is the one they're using to shelve it in Borders. But you know what? That's just fine with me. Mr. Abrams (whom I have never met, but I can always hope, can't I?) created a kick-ass series, and a really kick-ass heroine, and he let me play in his sandbox. Besides that, his name, and the Alias series name, are what will sell the book, not mine. So, I don't have a problem with it, if it means people can find the book, and buy it, and read it.

The thing about writing tie-in fiction is, it's really somebody else's world. You get to go visit, and they let you play, and they even pay you for it. But when it comes right down to it, it doesn't belong to you.

Another thing about writing tie-ins. It takes a lot of research. You have to get it all right. I spent the last couple months with Paul Ruditis's book ALIAS: APO, THE OFFICIAL TOP SECRET FILES, on top of my desk. I looked at it, a lot. Thanks, Paul. I would have been lost without you.

But it's not just the stuff from the show. It's all the rest of the world, too. Alias was particularly challenging, because of the diverse and exotic locations.

In STRATEGIC RESERVE, a good portion of the book was set above the Arctic Circle, along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. I have never been about the Arctic Circle, but I know if I messed anything up, I will hear about it from a reader or three. So I spent a lot of time looking at photos on line, studying maps, and reading accounts of people who have been there. I feel like I know nearly as much about Deadhorse, Alaska, as anyone who has been there. I can describe the housing for the drilling crews, and the local wildlife.

A TOUCH OF DEATH was the same way. I found out quite a bit about Vladivostok, and the region of Siberia just north of the Korean border. I learned about train schedules, and lodging (which is pretty primitive by the standards of Yankee tourists), and a million other details. I spent hours with Google Earth (a research gold mine), studying Tokyo Bay. I looked at dozens of pictures of the Floating City in Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong.

Did I get it all right? Probably not. There are things that you simply can't know without being on the ground in a specific location. For that, a writer falls back on his basic skill: he makes it up. And he hopes like hell that nobody notices.

On the other hand, DREAM HOUSE, (scroll down and admire that cover, too!) is set in Eugene, Oregon. I lived in Eugene for many years, and I tried very hard to capture the essence of that city. I used real locations, restaurants and office buildings, right down to the names of the streets, and local nicknames for neighborhoods.

So, yeah, writers tell lies for a living. But we try to layer in enough truth that you believe everything we tell you. That's when the magic happens, and you get lost in the story.

That's what a writer lives for.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Finished! --- For Now

Okay, today I get to crow, at least a little. On Saturday I finished the latest book, ALIAS APO: A TOUCH OF DEATH. Catchy title, that! And on Sunday I checked it over and emailed it to my editor, who got it this morning, and says she's looking forward to reading it.

Then, this afternoon, I was noodling around Amazon on my lunch break, and I found the cover, and a release date (December 26). It will be my second Alias book releaseed in 2006, which pleases me.

I'm glad to have this done, on deadline, though I will miss playing with Sydney and her friends. And I am glad to have a day without a deadline. But very quickly I'll be anxious to get another book under contract.

There are a lot of things I'd like to talk about, and I will, just as soon as I catch up on a little sleep, and go see my husband!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Writing, A Drive-By Signing, and Minor Celebrity

Well, I am still waiting for a contract, but since I'm nearing the halfway mark, I think this is pretty official.

I am writing another Alias book! This one is titled A Touch of Death, and is about a potential pandemic - think avian flu - and isolation, physical and emotional. With the cancellation of the series after this spring's windup, I don't know if there will be any more opportunities, but at least I get to do this one. I am excited about the ideas I'm working with, and writing like mad. (So why am I taking time to post here? Uh, let me think about that ...) The book is due by April 15th, but I am hoping to have a draft by the end of the month.

The first book, Strategic Reserve, just hit the stands. I still need to send out copies to my folks, and my in-laws (Hi, Mott & Jim - I promise to send it soon!), and a copy for a guy my husband knows, who did us a big favor (which I'll get back to in a minute). I didn't know exactly when the book would be in the stores, but I now have a pretty good idea.

See, a couple days ago, I went to the grocery store. Would love to say there were tons o' copies in the Safeway, but there weren't. However, our local indie bookstore (this town is too small for a chain store) is right next door to the grocery. We walked past the book store, and the guy who works there waved at us to come in. When I stepped through the door, he shoved a stack of copies in my hands for me to sign. It was so cool to have someone actually flag me down to sign books - made me feel like a Minor Celebrity. I know I'm not much of a celebrity, but there are some people who make you feel that way.

Steve, and his friend Jeff, are two of those people. When I landed the first Alias book, Steve went looking for a sign that said "Authorized Personnel Only," like the one in the subway on the show. He looked for weeks, and couldn't find anywhere to buy one. This is where Jeff comes in. He has access to a printer that will put images on foamboard. I don't know how it works, but the results are really cool. Steve got to talking to him, and he said he could make a sign. Well, he went all out. It is streaked, just like the one in the series, and there are screws in the corners of the picture. He did it as a favor, and sent it to Steve, who surprised me with it. It's hanging in a place of honor in my office now, reminding me that I can be a Minor Celebrity.

Writing isn't necessarily about being a celebrity. Stephen King, Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham - they didn't get into this field to be famous. They did it because it is work for which they have a deep passion.

Writers write because we want to tell stories, and have people read them. I hope readers will pick up my books, and enjoy spending time with the people in their pages. The rest doesn't matter.

Life Goes On

A couple days ago, a friend of mine said he feels like he is keeping up with my husband and me by reading our blogs. Even when we don't post very often. So now I feel kind of guilty about how long it's been since I was here.

The last month has been a bit turbulent, though I am beginning to think that's just my life, and I'm kidding myself if I think it is ever going to settle down.

After Banzai died, there was some major adjustment, and we are still getting used to the fact he's gone. Our other cat, the mighty Oz, has become a total attention sponge. He missed his playmate, and we really aren't the best substitutes, but we're all he's got. We are thinking about getting him a kitten to train in his evil, cat ways - like climbing into the rafters and playing with Steve's space collectibles - but we aren't doing anything about that quite yet.

A couple weeks back, we did go to a convention in Pasco, Washington. Radcon is a smallish con, that has been slowly growing out there in the Central Washington desert. They are trying to develop a program track for writing, and their efforts are starting to pay off. We had a wonderful time, got to catch up with a lot of old friends, and meet some new ones. This is one we want to go back to next year. Something we don't always say!

Going over, we stayed the night at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, in Hood River, Oregon. It's an historic hotel, famous for their five-course breakfast. I can now attest that breakfast takes at least ninety minutes, and is worth every second. The scenery is gorgeous, and we took pictures of the half-frozen waterfall outside the dining room after we ate.

I did have to spend a few hours each day tucked away in my hotel room, with my laptop, trying not to fall behind on my writing. More about that on the next rock.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Piece of my Heart ...

... is missing. It's about the size and shape of a small, furry object with four legs. And it isn't coming back.
Back before Christmas, our little cat, Banzai, got sick. The vet said a liver problem, and gave us drugs and special food, and lots of advice. Over the weeks, we made frequent trips back to the vet's office, and each time we came home with a few new tricks to try.
He was a young cat; he just appeared on our doorstep about three years ago, a tiny kitten in a nasty storm, and informed us that he lived here now.
Banzai was "the belly that walks like a cat." Except when he got sick. Then he simply stopped eating. Anything. About a year ago, we went through this, and somehow managed to coax him back into eating, but only after he lost more than 50% of his body weight. I don't know many animals, or people, who can recover from that, but he did, and he regained all the weight.
This time, we couldn't coax. Even shrimp, the only food for which he would forget the rules and climb on the kitchen counter, didn't tempt him. We tried every kind of food you could imagine, in myriad combinations. Nothing worked.
Cooperation is not a cat trait. When he refused to eat, we tried hand-feeding him. Not a chance. We finally got kitten nursing bottles, thinned down high-calorie supplements with soy milk, and fed him like a baby. Every day, for the last six weeks or so.
But in the end, it wasn't enough. In the early morning hours on Sunday, he suddenly started crying, the way a kitten cries for its mother. My husband and I ran in, and found him in his bed, still crying. We petted him, tried to comfort him, and he laid down. He never got up again.
My husband, all 6-foot-6 of him, laid on the floor, petting Banzai and talking softly to him, until he was gone. It was the bravest thing I could imagine, laying there with the little guy, knowing what will happen, and not turning away, no matter how heart-breaking it was.
Banzai dropped into a coma, then slowly slipped away. It was quiet, and peaceful, and I hope we made it as easy as we could.
But he took part of us with him.
That little piece of my heart.

You can measure friends a lot of ways. One sure way is by how they react when you are in need. When we needed advice that night, we called our friends Dean and Kris, who have a lot more experience with cats than we do. Even though it was 2:30 in the morning, they talked with us, and asked us to call back and check in.
About thirty minutes later, when Banzai slipped away, we called back. The first words out of Dean's mouth were "I'll be right there." And they were.
They helped us wrap him up, and find a spot for him in the yard, providing help and sympathy when we sorely needed both. There are damned few people who you can count on like that, and as tough as this was, it would have been infinitely worse without their help and friendship to get us through.

I am more grateful than I can hope to express, and I realize how lucky we are to have friends like that.

He was a good cat, and I miss him.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Here we go again!

Just like last summer ---

Just got approval for another book, which means it's time for BICHOK (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard) for a few weeks.

I'd say I'll be a little scarce around here, but that wouldn't be any different than any other month, now would it?

In any case, I will try to check in now and again, and post a progress report.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Another Year? Already?

There is an old kid's TV show, Thunderbirds, that my husband introduced me to. One of the many things for which he will be made to answer someday. It's marionettes, and exceedingly strange. There is a scene where one of the characters is in the hospital, and another one enters. The dialogue meanders along, then the visitor says, "They're moving the Empire State Building." And the patient cries in surprise, "What? Today??" For some reason, that was hilarious. The idea that someone forgot that the Empire State Building was being moved.
But the new year has crept up on me, and I feel that same sense of astonishment that it's here already. I knew it was coming. I had things ready. I even remembered to write 2006 on the check I wrote today. But somehow it still doesn't seem possible that 12 months have passed since the last time we did this.

This New Years Day was a study in dissonance, anyway. There was no Rose Parade on January 1, and that has disrupted my ritual for beginning the year. You see, I grew up near Pasadena, and the Rose Parade has been a big deal for me since I was a kid. One year I went with a neighbor whose husband worked at the Marine Armory near the end of the route, and sat in the grandstands there. Dwight Eisenhower was the Grand Marshall that year, and he walked right past us and into the Armory at the end of the Parade. (Don't look it up, I don't want to know how many year ago that was!) Another year I lived five blocks from Colorado Boulevard. I threw a New Year's Eve party, my friends stayed over, and we walked to the parade that morning (those that weren't too hung over).
So, the Parade has been a big deal for me. When we moved away from Southern California, I always got up on New Years Day and watched the Parade. My husband doesn't care that much about the Parade. He's a great guy, but he has his shortcomings, and he'd rather sleep in. So I get up, make a pot of coffee and maybe some toast, and watch the floats and the bands and the equestrian units, and the Grand Marshall in the antique carriage. I love every hokey minute, including the Rose Queen and her court, things that would normally disgust me. But for that one morning, all the rules go out the window, and everything is magic.
But this year? The Parade is moved to January 2, and my entire year is now out of step. I'm coping, but it's just not right. I took Monday morning off work, and watched, but the whole time I knew I would eventually have to get out of my pajamas and into dress-up clothes, and head to the office. It just didn't feel right. But I am strong, and I will build a bridge and get over it. *grin*

So here I am, back in the "real world" of work and writing, and everyday life. I have writing projects that I hope I can talk about soon, and life news that I am hoping will be very good. The year is beginning with loads of possibilities.

I can't wait to see what all it brings!