A Slice of Orange


Monica Stoner, Member at Large

June 19, 2008 by in category Archives

What we do to ourselves

In the midst of finalizing work for the Saluki National I chaired, someone sent me one of “those” e-mails – the kind you want to send on to all your friends, and also contemplate for yourself. It had to do with what women do the themselves and each other, including fighting over a man (really, are they worth that kind of effort?), gossiping about each other, envying each other.

We’ve all been guilty of this from time to time, and I tell you that little missive had a huge impact on me. Not that I’ve totally stopped bitching (would blow up like a balloon!), but I have become far more aware of what I’m saying, or writing. And also more aware of what others write or say.

The National was most successful, pretty much everyone had a good time, and there was very little complaining until two weeks later. A record for Saluki people, let me tell you. I answered some of the complaints, but when they got to the point of whining for the sake of feeling superior, I stated I had no interest in a mud slinging contest, any constructive comments would be most welcome, but two weeks after the fact was a bit late to be bringing up something that could have been remedied at that time. Amazingly, the complaining stopped.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, there is always someone who writes better than I do, and always someone who will sell long before I do. Someone will always be richer, thinner, more successful than I am. I can either continue to piss and moan or I can get on with my life, congratulate them on their success, start writing and keep writing.

As for those whiners who tried to drag down my show, or who try to drag down our lives, they’ll be the ones found head down in a full porta potty. In a book, of course!

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Writer on the Verge

June 18, 2008 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as ,

Baby Steps – by Kate Carlisle

The moment I received The Call last October was one of the best of my life. It represented the culmination of everything I’d worked for so long to achieve. Just one short phone call changed my life in so many ways.

But in so many other ways, everything stayed the same. I went back to the day job, I did the laundry, cleaned the house. Kept writing.

Life rolls on.

But every so often, I take a baby step forward on the road to publication. I have a deadline to meet, or I get an email or a phone call that reminds me all over again – Hey, I’m a published author!

I signed my first contract. My husband took my picture. It was pretty exciting.

I received my first check. They paid me! I made a color copy of the check before I put it in the bank.

I got my cover copy. Brilliant! I wouldn’t change a word. Hey, there’s my name!

Oh, and I met my first deadline. Whew. I’m home free, now!

Spoke too soon. I got my first set of editor notes. Yikes. Now what?

I made that deadline, too. I rock! Sort of. Now I wait to see if my editor is happy.

Sent in the proposal for Book Two. Woo hoo, accepted!

Then I saw my first book listed on Amazon. Wow. No cover image yet, no description, nothing but the name of my book and an ISBN number – and my name. I’m the Author. It’s not much to get excited about, right? But I cried. And laughed. And told my whole family and my friends – who all immediately pre-ordered five copies each and forced their friends to do the same.

I sent in my author photo. Do I really look like that? I should have used more product on my hair. Can you fix those wrinkles?

Then yesterday, on my birthday, I saw my book cover for the first time. My book cover. It was surreal to see someone else’s notion of what image and design will best sell your book. I stared at that cover for hours. It’s absolutely nothing like I imagined or expected it would be. (A good friend admonished me that from now on, I am never to set expectations of what my book cover will look like. Good advice.)

I love my book cover. It’s beautiful. It’s warm and charming and funny and sinister. It’s colorful and perfect for the market. It makes me happy. It makes me feel like a published author. Somebody pinch me.

That was yesterday.

Today, I’m back at the day job. Must remember to stop at the market after work. And I’ve got to call my mom. Pay some bills. Life rolls on.

But now I’ve got a book cover. And an Amazon page. I can’t wait to take the next step!

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The Write Way (because there is no Right way)….

June 17, 2008 by in category The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as ,

Writing is a business.

Sure, being a stay at home, full time writer is the best job in the world, but it’s still a job. And you have to treat it like one.

Have set hours when you work. Doesn’t matter when they are–morning, afternoon, the middle of the night. But set that time aside and make it sacrosanct. This is work time. However many hours you can give it, once you’re sitting in front of the computer, you’re at work.

Now, this isn’t easy, I know. Some of us have full time day jobs. Some of us have little kids demanding (and rightfully so), your attention. And some of us (like me), have self discipline issues.

But to create a career out of this business, you have to be able to devote yourself to it. You have to want it more than anything. And you have to fight for it. If you’re lucky enough to be able to stay home and write, you’ll no doubt have family members or neighbors saying “Since you’re home, can you…..” Learn to say ‘no’ and mean it when you have to protect your writing time. If you treat this like a job, everyone else will too.

And remember that this job is like any other in that publishers, editors, agents, expect you to fulfill your contractual obligations. A deadline isn’t a guideline. It’s the time when you’ve agreed to turn in that manuscript. Editors make plans for reading books based on the contract you signed. If you’re a month late, then her schedule takes a hit. And she’s not going to love you for it.

Work hard. Be dependable. And dream Big. In this business, the only one who can slow you down is you.

Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 books and novellas in several different genres. At the moment, she’s making changes to her latest and is about to send it to that editor of hers. On time.

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Dad Jokes

June 15, 2008 by in category Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as

by Marianne H. Donley

I collect Dad Jokes. These are not jokes about dads, but are jokes that dads everywhere tell little kids. Dad Jokes have three things in common:

1. They’re G-rated.
2. They’re lame.
3. You laugh anyway, even years later.

My own dad had a good supple of Dad Jokes starting with “What’s black and white and red all over?” His answer varied according to the age of audience, preschool or kindergarten aged kids got “newspaper” and older kids got “sunburned zebra.” Either way gales of laughter would follow, which fascinated me even as a little kid. Let’s face it, that joke is so old most children are probably born knowing it.

But that joke wasn’t the one that cracked me up. My favorite Dad Joke is (and this is really dating me):

“What”s black and blue, lays in the grass and goes ding-dong?”
“A wounded Avon lady.”

My bothers and sisters and I all went to Catholic school so a close second is:

“What’s black and white, black and white, black and white and black and blue?”
“A nun falling down stairs.”

I should note that we were under strict orders from our mom NOT to tell that joke at school. I am fairly certain that was an order my brother Michael just couldn’t follow, that joke spread though St. Anne’s like wild fire. This was well before the days of “zero tolerance” in our schools where every thing a child says is examined for possible homicidal intent, so no one got expelled as a result. However, it has not escaped my notice that there is a more polite version floating around these days, but I can’t think “a penguin falling down stairs” would have the same humor impact on Catholic school children.

My husband has a pretty good supple of Dad Jokes as well. Our sons still laugh at both:

“Why does an elephant paint his toenails red?”
“To hide in a cherry tree.”

“How can you tell if there’s an elephant in the refrigerator?”
“There are footprints in the butter.”

Our daughter’s favorite Dad Joke was told to her by her Uncle Paul. I know if I just mention this joke she, at age 26, will start laughing. So:

“Want to hear a dirty joke?”
“A white horse fell in the mud.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Marianne H. Donley writes quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in California with her supportive husband Dennis and two loveable but bad dogs. Her grown children have respectfully asked her to use a pen name which she declined on the grounds that even if some of their more colorful misdeeds make it into her plots, who would know the books are fiction. Besides they weren’t exactly worried about publicly humiliating her while growing up.

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Eye on Hollywood: Lend Me A Hand(s)

June 13, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,
by Bobbie Cimo

One day while sitting at my desk, doing some boring administration work, I got a call from Murray Neitlich, head photographer of the CBS Photo Department. A nice man, who was known for his relaxed personality and creative talent behind a photo lens. Not only did Murray shoot all the publicity shots for CBS, but he did album covers for Simon And Garfunkel, Sly and The Family Stone, and Neal Diamond, too.

Murray started the conversation with, “Bobbie, can you come down to the Photo Gallery. I have some hand models here that I’m shooting for the Emmy’s, but then I remembered your hands . . . and I want to try something different”

I looked at my hands . . . yep, my nails were polished — and luckily they weren’t chipped, like they usually are. Keep in mind this was before nail salons popped up on every street corner like a Starbucks does today. Most people back then did their own nails. And as a matter of fact, up until about ten years ago, I never had a professional manicure in my life. Also keep in mind, I have a bit of Dennis the Menace in me, as I find it hard not to get in trouble–I’m always into something, using my hands. So to sit still while waiting for my nails to dry is a challenge in itself. And when I do my nails it’s usually very fast, using quick strokes of the brush. I’ve never cut my cuticles, and only use hand lotion when I’m reminded by seeing someone else using it. I know, I’m hanging my head in shame, as I’m writing this.

Knowing I could never compete with professional models I was hesitant, but then realizing it was a way to get out of the office, I jumped at the chance.

The whole session took less than an hour. Most of the time was spent on choosing the right back drop to match my nail polish color and to calibrate the lighting for the right effect. I was given instructions on how to hold the Emmy for several different poses and that was about it. Except I do remember thinking how heavy the little sucker was. After the session wrapped, I happily went back to my office. When I returned to work, I told my boss “these hands” (posing them in the air) were too important to be doing office work today. “Don’t think so,” he replied, as he handed me a stack of stuff that needed to be typed.

Three weeks passed and I heard nothing about the photo shoot. So I just assumed they had decided to go with a professional. After all, it was for the cover of the LA Times’ TV Guide.

The Sunday that the cover came out, I was on my way to Hugh Heftner’s Playboy Mansion for an all day charitable event, benefiting the John Tracy Clinic (named after the deaf son of the late actor Spencer Tracy). On my way to Hef’s place, curious to see my competition‘s photo, I double-parked in front of a news stand in Westwood. The first opportunity I got to open the papers was when I stopped for a red light. Staring back at me was an 8 x 10 color photo of my hands inside the paper, on the cover of the TV Guide. After I got over my shock, I went back to the newsstand and bought five more copies.

Bobbie Cimo is the OCC/RWA Programs Director who has brought us such notable speakers as Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, Jackie Collins and Robert Crais.

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