Friday is the new Monday for me!

Sigh. My Sissy and Stu have gone back to Canada. It was a great visit with lots of laughs and wonderful meals and many adventures! There were bike rides and beach side picnics, and garden tours and dinners with dear friends and wonderful conversations. And now I must get back to work, although I am so sleep deprived as it seems that no matter what time I go to bed, I still wake up at 6, 0r 7.

Alas, I will lock myself into my office and get back to working on my new novel. I have a lot of writing to do in the next month and if all goes well, I shall emerge in July with 150 pages completed. In the meantime when I start to feel trapped I can look at some of the gorgeous places we visited, like the one in the photo posted here. Yup, that is in Pasadena, just 30 minutes away at the spectacular Huntington Gardens...also known for their all you can eat High Tea...but lucky for you, I did not take a picture of that event!

And before I go...Happy Birthday to my Mama!! xo


Long weekends...

...are glorious!! Especially when they are five days long!! Hee hee. Well, my Sissy and Stu are here and I just have no plans to work. I mean, I can and I am...sort of...but this little surprise holiday is all about hanging out together and me worrying about where we should eat next. There have been bike rides on the board walk and farmers markets and movie nights and window shopping and lots of chips and salsa and really long walks in the sunshine and it has been marvelous and I am going to enjoy every minute, because on Friday afternoon, I will lock myself in my office and emerge a week later, when I have 20 pages done.

Of course my characters are not on holiday, and I trust that they will continue to keep working while I am playing and reveal their plans to me when I return to my desk.

Ciao for now!


When rewrites go right!!

If you have been reading this blog, you know that I have been pulling my hair out wondering just how to tell my story in my second novel. Should I tell it from the first person point of view? The third? Should I switch whose story it is? Turn it into a screenplay instead? Learn how to make cupcakes for a living? Oh wait the last one was supposed to be a secret.

Well all that worrying and reworking and writing has paid off. The feedback from my peers is that my rewrites have made my story "150% better" and made them "want to read more!" To quote one of my colleagues, the changes were "well worth the pound of flesh it cost you." Wow. It was really great to hear that. After so much rewriting, I really started to wonder if I hadn't actually made things worse! Sometimes a little distance and some fresh eyes are needed, and I am grateful for both.

I am also grateful for happy accidents. It seems that for some reason I had set my formatting to 1.5 spacing, instead of double. Alas, it turns out that the ol' page count is actually now at page 71. I am right at the end of my first act climax, just where I wanted to be. Heaven. And now I can really enjoy my visit from my Sissy and Stu, who arrive in L.A. today!

Celebrations all around.



Oh today has been one of those days. I went off to Yoga for the first time in over a week, thanks to my almost gone cold, caught up on e-mails and have been doing follow up on submissions and correspondence regarding various projects. But no matter what I do, I have that burning little devil in my chest that just makes me want to scream. And no it's not just because my American Idol favorite, the unbelievably talented Adam Lambert lost night. He is still going to be a superstar! (This girl will take Rocky Road over Vanilla any day.) But it's because all the world right now feels like it is in a wait and see holding pattern.

In writing, in acting, in advertising, everyone I work with is playing the old wait and see how things turn out game. Argh. I am not good at this game. I have tried, for years, and some days I can fake it pretty good, but sooner or later I will have a day like today where I just wanna yell..."Come on already!"

It's days like this I write more, and clean the house, and stay away from coffee.


The earth is moving!

We have had not one but two small earthquakes here in Southern California and it is strange. On Sunday night we were enjoying dinner with friends when all of a sudden our table started to shake from side to side and all the plates rattled. My first thought was that my neighbor downstairs, who is a fabulous set decorator, was renovating again and drilling into the ceiling, "Oh G must've got a new chandelier," Jeff's first thought was, "bloody subway," and only our American friend said, "earthquake," and she said it so calmly. I on the other hand made everyone get under the dining room table, including the dogs. You can't stand in the doorway of an art deco building, it will collapse, I know, I was on "team earthquake" at our old place.

In other worlds, my new novel finally revealed one of its secrets to me...a key to my protagonists past, and a new character emerged. I was thrilled it when I had that little breakthrough, and on that day too...my earth moved.


Offline and on target...

These days I have to fight for focus and there is a lot to distract me! The weather is great, patios are calling, facebook friends are facebooking, and my inbox is full of ads and e-mails all shouting, "summer is here!"

However I am not going on summer vacation. I still have 3 more weeks of an on line writing class to do and then I am jumping into 2 more classes; an advanced novel workshop and a screenwriting course focusing on analyzing structure and drafting an outline of a screenplay. This summer I want to kick it up a notch and get some serious writing done. And as it gets quiet in L.A. for a month or two audition wise, I should have no distractions except some very welcome visitors who will happily let me write and play.

The real distraction is the darn internet and the little indicator that lights up everytime I get a message. And it's not like I can stop myself from checking...I can't! So I gotta just shut it down, turn off the signal and make myself focus. All those distractions will be waiting for me when I am done, and this time I hope to meet them with new pages in hand!

Signing off!


Happy Birthday Jeff....

Today is my husbands birthday, which means that it is a day of work and play! Writing, a matinee, an audition and then dinner downtown to a place that serves the best burgers, Turkey and Veggie in the city! Woohoo! I love birthdays, shopping for goody bags and celebrating with loved ones. And of course, birthday cake.

Time to get back to writing, the deadline looms...and apparently the Starship Enterprise waits for no one...his birthday...his pick!


The Golden Pot...or the Pot of Gold...

I took this picture outside the Centre Pompidou, an amazing museum of modern art in Paris. It's nickname is the "inside out museum" because that is how the museum was designed and built, with the insides showing on the outside, all seams exposed. I loved that museum and I love the concept behind it, the idea of not hiding how something works, but rather celebrating it.

Understanding how something works and is built is a key part of my process right now with this second novel. With my first novel I was able to push way through organically until about the middle, and I knew the end, and I only really got structured at the halfway mark, with plot points and mapping. Don't get me wrong it was a ton of work, but it was somehow different as I always knew what it was going to look like. But this time, I need to do a lot more planning, and research and feel like I am indeed building this novel from the inside out, one page at a time.

As for the golden flower pot, it has arrived at the end of my first act, rather than the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow, and the truth is I have no idea what is in it. I am serious. I have written a big secret, a big mystery for my protagonist and even I am unsure what it is, I just know that it exists and needs to be there. Now the hard part is climbing that giant flower stand to see what's inside. I am sure it is good. But gee that wall is high!


Say it ain't so, I'm sick...

Argh. I am sick! And what my body doesn't realize is that I simply do not have the time this week! I have another 30 pages to write and submit for workshop, okay only 12 more to go there, I have my husbands birthday goodie bag to shop for, my closets to clean out, (it has reached critical mass) two books to read and somewhere in there I am also supposed to be working out to lower my cholesterol. Oh yeah, and auditioning, drumming up freelance, and generally stressing about my novel and if I will be able to get another 100 pages done in the next 6 weeks. I am applying once more for an advanced workshop and have to submit my work and be chosen. Fingers crossed!

Alas... gargle, rinse and repeat...and drink lots of fluids and eat yummy home made fire roasted tomato and chick pea soup. This is my plan.

The good news is that I get to stay in my pajamas all day and hunch in front of my computer like a little mole. And this is different from other days...how? Pajamas, not track pants, big difference...really.

Any good tips for kicking a cold fast...let me know!


Support Group...

This last week I was reminded again, just how important it is to have a great support group and I don't just mean this cute bunch on the left, given to me by friends and family. I mean actual writers out there who can talk you back from the ledge when you declare that you are going to either overhaul your new novel entirely or use it as wallpaper in the padded cell where you'll be shipped off to if you don't have a writing breakthrough soon!

My support came from some wonderful classmates in the UCLA Writers program. I adore the Writers Program at UCLA. A lot of writers, successful published writers, take classes there and it is a great way to keep learning and keep building skills. It is where I met the amazing writer/mentor/friend, Caroline Leavitt, finished my first book and began to build an on line community.

This weekend my fellow writers took the time to discuss with me the pros and cons of changing my story from a first person to a third person point of view. Some were for it, some against it, and my wonderful professor Robert Eversz gave me the terrific advice of trying it all and seeing what I think will sustain the narrative of the story for the long haul. But most importantly he told me "don't be afraid to fail." And with that he hit the nail on the head.

Part of my problem, and a lot of other people's as well, is the desire to do it right. Right, not write. Silly pun, but I'm serious. Part of finding the right way is to just keep writing until it becomes clear how best to tell your story. And so yesterday after 8 hours at my desk, a little window opened, a new character emerged, my protagonist made a pit stop on her road to discovery and I felt a glimmer of hope. Hope and possibility. Thank you everyone.


Cold Sweat, Hot Sweat, It ain't menopause yet...

Wow. Things are getting hot in my brain. Yesterday I did my entire yoga practice with my novel swirling in my head. Every time I caught my mind wandering away, I reminded myself to just breathe, and stay focused on my breath. But my novel would have none of it. No, my novel has been pushing itself into every thought and conversation and demanding that I figure out where it goes next. It taunts me with questions about point of view and changes in time, it tells me that I have to go back and forth between the past and the future, but it doesn't tell me how and when I think I am just going to chuck it, it calls me a phoney. Oh boy, this one is a bugger, make no mistake about it, and I think it could be fabulous, or it could crush me.

The thing is, I think that this novel is bigger and better than I am and even though I have had the idea swirling in my head for years, yup years, I have kept it at a distance. I have ignored it's advances, knowing that this isn't one that I can just date. No, this one I gotta marry. It's a big commitment and I just hope that I can go through with it, and not run away at the altar. Last night I got cold feet. I dreamt about my novel and panicked and woke up in a cold sweat, then a hot sweat and then jumped out of bed thinking, I don't know if I can do this!

Sigh. I think I am going to try and rewrite the entire thing this weekend in 3rd person and see where that takes me. Madness I know. But I have to figure this thing out. One of the things that keeps me going is that a fabulous writer friend of mine, told me once that she had done 11 revisions on her last novel. 11!! She had finished the book, then taken it apart completely, realizing that there were 2 different stories in there, then put it back together again...11 times. Cue the sound of horror film screaming!! Thankfully, I am at page 50, and if any surgery is going to get done, it's now.

What about you? Have you ever written something and then entirely rewritten it once you thought you were done?


I smell burnt toast...

Oh no wait... that is just the smell of my brain burning. Oh boy...why didn't I go to Law School again? Or become a shrink? Lord knows I have been both therapist and patient enough times over the years with friends and loved ones that maybe I should have taken it a little more seriously?

I can solve problems well enough in the real world, but in my fictional world, well, it's a little different. In novel world I am creating problems for my characters and fixing them at the same time, and it is really hard. Insert whining sound track here. I have become grumpy and irritable and don't want to talk about it anymore. I feel like time is running out and yet I just stare at my screen when I do have the time. Sigh. Somethings gotta give, and I am tired of it being me. Come on, novel, show yourself! It's only fair, we've been going steady for months now, and nobody likes a tease.



Back from Ojai, which was wonderful!! The place we stayed at was lovely, the weather was beautiful and the company superb! There were many, many laughs and it was great to get away from L.A. Of course it made me want to move out to the country open a bed and breakfast and just write...a perfect marriage of my lust for real estate and renovations and my love for writing. What also makes it appealing, is that I would have a constant distraction from the worries of writing! Even with the fresh air and the singing birds, I would wake at 6:00am and think..."Where the hell is my novel going?" "What am I actually writing anyway?" "Maybe I should have written this story as a screenplay?!" "What would I call my bed & breakfast?" You see, a great big distraction is comforting, and I would fall back asleep not dreaming of my novel, but of landscaping and paint colors.

But now I am back, and all the questions of my second novel are still right where I left them, dangling on the page, waiting to be answered. Sigh. Oh Ojai, I miss ya already.


Road Trip!

We're off! We are taking a road trip this weekend with a few friends and going to Ojai! We are celebrating a couple of birthdays, and there will be wine tasting, and hiking and dinners outdoors under heated lamps! I am expecting many laughs and much merriment and maybe, maybe even a breakthrough or two on my new novel. You never know what change can be found in a change of scenery, or in a bottle or two... of vino.

Ciao for now!
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