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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back in Business...the Otherworldly Kind

The Flu Blahs are gone...well, going. And just in time, too. On Friday I debut at the Otherworld Diner.

Now, I won't be cooking, though I will be cooking up trouble. You see, I'm the Pie Inspector, and I drop in from time to time (but mostly on the last Friday of the month) to make sure the Diner's pastries are up to snuff.

What IS the OD? Ahh, thought you'd never ask.

The OD is the home of cooks, waitresses, bakers, hostesses, and sundry romance writers who love otherworldly things, be they vampirish, ghostly, alien or the like. Can they read minds? Can they jump through wormholes? Do they have faery blood? If the answer is yes, you will most likely find them enjoying a home-cooked meal at the Diner.

Now this doesn't mean I'll start sporting a glitter wand instead of a .9 mm Glock. But I do have other interests, particularly if they're in the area of moving pictures. And I am a bit, well, opinionated. So look for me to spread my wisdom about paranormal and sci fi movies and TV shows.

To kick things off and create a buzz on the street, there's an interview with yours truly. It includes both the superpower I'd give myself if I could, and the one I think my friends and family would bless me with. But you'll have to read the interview to find out what they are.

Hope to see you at the Diner. Drop by, have a piece of pie, and stay a while to shoot the breeze.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009


Sick. Self diagnosis: H1N1.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The End of Gourmet

The last Gourmet Magazine came today, and my husband is so traumatized that he can't even look at it for more than a few pages at a time.

I find this remarkably odd.

He never cooks. When I'm out of town he either eats cereal or toast or just has someone else make him dinner...at a restaurant.

But something about Conde Nast's cancellation of Gourmet has completely unnerved him.

I admit he liked to pour over every issue. It is--was--a pretty magazine. He'd spend time when it came, savoring whatever he savored and that was it. He rarely referred back to it or asked, three weeks later, for that rabbit cassoulet he read about.

Nor does he like to travel. The magazine was a trove of travel ideas, what to see, what to eat, where to go. But he hates to leave his house. In fact, when he does travel, he takes his house with him...his RV is a dear friend.

So I'm at a bit of a loss to understand why the demise of Gourmet has given him such a wallop.

Too much a sign of the times?

Perhaps. But I can't say he's one of those high life kind of guys. His favorite pastime is digging in the dirt. Seriously. One of his proudest (and, secretly, most enjoyable) achievements is the rain trench he dug around the shrub beds in the front and side of the house. When it rains he likes to go out on the porch and make sure those sunken alleyways are doing the job the way they were engineered to do. So it's not like he was managing a hedge fund or drinking Cristal and downing caviar while Rome burned.

But Si Newhouse struck a nerve, I guess.

God, it's a cold cruel world.

This Sunday in the NY Times Magazine, Ruth Reichl, the editor--former editor--of Gourmet did the one-page interview. Asked to predict the fate of another Conde Nast publication, The New Yorker, Ruth predicted that magazine would be around forever. Evidently, Si "loves" that mag.

Not my baby boy. He canceled our subscription to The New Yorker months ago. With Gourmet on the other hand, we had to wait to be dumped.

That's us. Always right in front of the trend.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

The Name Game

Play the Name Game with me on the Grand Central Cafe blog. It's fun. It's fascinating. It's positively fantastic.

And, yes, I am a little over happy today.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Retreat Pics

I promised pictures, and finally someone with a brain in their head who remembered a camera posted theirs. First up: view from the back of the house. Can you see the little valley back there?

It was very foggy out. Made for a dreamy, Wuthering Heights feel:

Here are some shots of the house:

The fireplace was huge and the picture doesn't do the size justice. It was cool up in the "mountains" so we kept the fire going all day.

Here's the Beersheba Springs museum, which chronicles some of the community's past. Among other things there's a room in the back kind of like a kitchen. They've got a table set with what looks like Sunday dinner china, and one of the things on the table is a lantern. Without electricity they'd need light to eat by. I also saw a match holder nailed to the wall by the door. Things we no longer think about...

Finally, there really were people at the retreat.

Below is Alf, our gracious host. Behind him is Marcia, our fearless leader who organized the retreat. The whole gang is gathered, minus Jennie Fields, who took all these lovely photos and kindly shared them.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Treat in Retreating

Had a great time over the past weekend. I went on a knitting retreat.

Yup, that's right. Knitting. Retreat.

Eight women, fabulous house, breathtaking scenery, and knitting needles.

There is really nothing like going away with women. I didn't know half of them when I got there, but I sure do now. We each prepared a meal, and it was all delicious. We knit, showed off some of our finished pieces, exchanged patterns. And talked, talked, talked. Sigh. What could be better?

Now if I was writing a book about the weekend, one of the women would have just been diagnosed with cancer, one's marriage would secretly be crumbling, one would have just lost her job, which was her sole identity. There would be a bitch, and an overly optimistic person. There would be tension and drama and in the end everyone would have learned something.

Thank God my weekend wasn't in that book. The only thing I learned were some new knitting patterns.

The fabulous house is in Beersheba Springs, TN, and was graciously lent to us by its owner. For those of you who aren't native, let me explain that Beersheba is pronounced BURshiba, and you kind of run the syllables together. The house had an incredible view of a picture perfect valley nestled against a foothill of trees that were just beginning to turn gold and red. As usual, I forgot my camera, but some of the other ladies took photos and as soon as they get them posted I'll put some up. In the meantime, here's what those hills looked like from our back porch:

Not bad, huh?

Beersheba Springs (pop. 500 as of 2000) was built up in the mid-nineteenth century by a Louisiana slave trader and later used by others to escape the heat and yellow fever of the low lands. The only hotel was wrecked by irregulars during the Civil War and though it was rebuilt it never achieved its prewar success. It's now part of the Methodist Assembly that seems to be the bread and butter of the town. But the 19th century layout of the town remains the same and there are some beautiful cottage-style houses there.

So for those of you who are stressed out, I recommend de-stressing with friends and strangers who can become friends. Oh, and don't forget the knitting.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Advice Worth Taking

Just a shout out to BookPage, a wide-ranging site that cover reviews and features related to good reads, from A.S. Byatt to, well, me. Every month Tom Robinson does an author forum on the site called Advice Worth Taking. I'm one of the group for October.

This month's question:

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Four writers, four different answers (natch). Together they make for an interesting, and, dare I say it, inspiring column. Frankly, I should take what the other guys say to heart.


Check out what we said here.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stargate Universe, The Review

Saw the new Stargate Universe last night. Since I am a huge sci fi fan, the new series was one I was looking forward to with great anticipation.

It didn't disappoint.

I will say at the outset that I'm not a huge SG-1 or Atlantis fan. Those shows get a C/B in my book. Watchable, but not addictive. I always found the writing too much on the nose. And I prefer my sci fi to be serialized, as Battlestar and Farscape were. That way you get sucked into the fantasy more. It always irked me that there was little emotional consequences from episode to episode in the previous Stargate shows. An enemy was defeated and the clock goes back to zero for the next enemy. The heroes never grew (except maybe Daniel in SG-1) or changed over time (okay, Amanda Tapping's hair changed). Even injuries, when they were sustained, never lasted from episode to episode. These shows were styled to be old-fashioned episodic dramas, like Bonanza.

But hopefully, Stargate U has taken a leaf from Battlestar's success. The pilot certainly hinted at that. The scenes shot in the present, on board the weird, damaged ship in the middle of nowhere, are lit with a lot of shadows and the set is nicely dark. Dr. Ross, one of the main characters, is equally dark and seems to hold a lot of secrets. Same with the commander, played by Louis Ferierra (who btw, plays the serial killer in Durham County with such creepiness you can hardly believe they're the same actor...). The Lieutenant with too much to handle was nicely out of his depth with plenty of room for growth, and he, too, has a secret. And secrets are the bread and butter of great drama.

The writing still has a bit of the Stargate cheesiness to it. There are stupid lines ("You knew, dammit, Dr. Ross!"), out of character speeches (Ross telling Chloe her father's death isn't his fault), and one-dimensional characters (the rep from IOA who challenges Ross's supposed promotion to Leader). Neither Cooper nor Wright have proven themselves to be subtle writers in the past. It will be interesting to see if they can tone themselves down for the rest of the series. Certainly the attack on the base with the whole "the planet is exploding, the planet is exploding" plot reason for the evacuation to an unknown gate address, was rushed and seemed contrived because of it.

BUT--what the hey. I still enjoyed it and can't wait for more.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Me Update

Me, me, me, me, me.

Am I warming up my throat with vocal scales?

Of course not. I'm writing this. And this, after all, is about


So here's the Me update:

Two Lethal Lies is on the editor's desk. I'm wondering what she'll change the title to.

I'm working on 3--count 'em--3 proposals at once. Never done this before. Always...mooched around after finishing a book. Shopped, movied, freecelled.

I have 2 inspirations for the new Me. Close to home, it's my friend Trish Milburn, aka, Tricia Mills. She's always got 2 or 20 projects going at once. She writes in two genres AND she manages to speak all over everywhere while still conducting a political career on the RWA Board.

Less close to home is everyone's wannabe: Nora. The New Yorker did a piece on her (gawd--the New Yorker no less...) and she puts her butt in the chair for, like, 8 hours a day. Can you imagine? Like it's a, well, a job.

Sheesh. Give me a large break.

Okay, okay, so, here I am. Trying to live up to my idols.

Or at least, one of them.

I hope it hasn't gotten past you that I'm blogging, not working on my proposals. The Great and Munificent Nora doesn't blog.

But, hey--Trish does!

Whew. I'm good.

But you there. You, reading this. You have two choices. Ask yourself: WWND? or WWTD?

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

The September Issue

I saw The September Issue yesterday with one of my fashionista friends. What an interesting glimpse into the real "devil" who wears Prada--Anna Wintour--and the real "Mode Magazine"--Vogue.

I'm always fascinated by high-powered women. AW came across as warmer than her movie counterpart, which was interesting. But the power both the fictional and non-fictional women wield is real. The rise of Thakoon (In Style just did a spread on power dressing, profiling Mrs. O, and she was wearing one of his dresses...) which is shown in the movie is a case in point.

But last night I had a nightmare about a photo shoot for which I was responsible and the shoot got completely out of hand with the director taking over and creating ideas that hadn't been discussed with the client beforehand. Thinking back on it, I realize the dream was inspired by the movie--and my former career as writer/producer in advertising.

The section in the film relating to the cover of the September issue really hit my emotional buttons. Especially when Anna, doing her review of the photographers pictures, isn't satisfied with what he shot and wants to know where the rest of it is. There are no photographs from one of the key locations. Turns out the photographer wasn't pleased with anything he got there and didn't keep any to send. I just about fell out of my seat. I can't imagine being the agency producer and having a photographer make that decision. Hence my nightmare.

I haven't mentioned Grace Coddington, the genius stylist behind so much of the amazing photography in Vogue. She occupied much of the movie and provided a tension point, as she and Anna didn't always agree, and Anna had the final say on Grace's work. That, too, felt like advertising, where you can work your butt off only to have the account guy or the client reject it often for no explicable reason.

Anyway--cool movie. All you style gurus and advocates for women in business should see it.

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