Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007

I just saw “National Treasure” with my parents for the first half of our Goodbye-’07 Blowout Celebration, to be completed with a dinner—at 4:30!!—at the local favorite “Ye Lion’s Den.” I particularly love Ye Lion’s Den. It has waiters dressed in “olde English” costumes, a merry Jokester who comes by at completely the wrong time to do card tricks, and a medley of the same Simon & Garfunkel songs (without words) playing over and over, day in and day out. The best part is that the restaurant is downstairs, so you must go through a building entrance to get to the restaurant, and when you open the door a little animatronic person (dressed as a knight, with a bow and arrow he aims at you) says, “Halt! Who goes there? Be ye friend or foe?” Every, every, every time.

I will put up with a lot of nonsense for good food. If they didn’t have good food, no amount of being able to mock something would make up for it.

So “National Treasure” was fun. There was some pretty crappy dialogue, laden with clichés and tired phrases, but hey, it’s an adventure movie, and a sequel, at that. One senses there was nobody going over the script with a fine-tooth comb. (“Fine-tooth comb”: cliché, or tired phrase? Hmm. I’ll go to One of its definitions: a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox. [Ah ha, "cliché " and "tired phrase" are the same thing. I knew that, didn't I?] So I guess that “fine-tooth comb” isn’t so much a cliché, because it’s not a phrase, it's an object [and what a pleasant object, at that: a comb one uses to remove lice]. Just a boring, overused metaphor. [I do love parentheticals in my blogs. {Parentheticals within parentheticals are even better, though.} Please forgive the overabundance.]) So, back to my point: no one read through the script and said, “Perhaps you can find another way to express that point.” I don’t have the script in front of me, but the thought hit me several times that I would write those phrases in a first draft of a script as “placeholder dialogue,” what I write down because I know that’s the point I need to make, the structure I need to have in place, in order to get to the next point; but it’s not particularly clever or original and I need to go back to change it to make it clever or original, or at least not so placeholder-y. “National Treasure” was laden with placeholder dialogue.

It’s getting time to leave for our 4:30 dinner reservation. I should note that we as a family are not QUITE that boring; we wanted a reservation for 6:30 but were told we could have 4:30 or 9:00. Even I don’t want to go to dinner at 9:00. So my parents and I will have a raucous New Year’s Eve celebration that lasts until, oh, 6:00 and then return home and make it like any other night. I’ll write on my screenplay and probably do some exercise in front of the TV and maybe even give myself permission to end early and read. Whoo! Somebody will call the cops.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nearing the end...of the year. That's boring.

Hee hee, I've figured out how to add images.

I might point out, to those who would consider me less than brilliant, I was following the same procedure when trying to upload my vacation photos. I wasn't doing anything wrong. It just didn't work.

Perhaps a more productive use of my time would be writing the screenplay I determined to finish on my too-short break from work. (I return to New York on Saturday, the 5th.) I’m on page 80 (and can probably stand to cut that by 10), and aiming for a completed screenplay of 120 pages. But I feel compelled to write just a little something.…

I have sent out numerous copies of my book to reviewers across the internet. The exact list is at work, on my Outlook with its zillions of folders (I know, Gmail, you’re superior because you don’t need folders...but guess what, I like them) marked “personal” and “book” and “marketing” and “publicity” and “review requests,” and I don’t have access here. But I found some things. Trying to write the screenplay, of course, means trying to find ways not to write the screenplay. First on my ever-expanding list of ways to waste time (which includes “watch TV,” “mess with my bad haircut,” “pluck my eyebrows,” and “make toast”) is Google. I Googled myself yesterday and found two reviews that I had requested. It was interesting. One review absolutely loved the book. I mean, loved. She gave a summary of the plot and then, I kid you not, said “I couldn’t put it down,” and “the character development is superb” and, this is the best, “Kathryn Maughan is a master storyteller.” Now, maybe she went a bit too far, but I was excited to read that. Who doesn’t want to stumble upon effusive praise of something you’ve worked on for five years? (Off and on, I remind you, off and on.) This review can be found on, under “recent reviews.”

Now, the second review was not so pleased with me. My book, I should say; they’ve never met me. (A bit too difficult to separate the work from the individual, at least in the individual’s mind.) The second reviewer did enjoy the Jennifer part of the story, and mentioned that he/she was really sucked into her grief and depression, but didn’t agree with my style with the Henry part. He/she…was it a she?...said that Henry’s story was fascinating, but the way I/he told it was not. Henry, for those who haven’t read the book, sits Jennifer down to tell her the story of his life, and the way I wrote it was as if he were actually telling it. He sums up a lot. I did put in a lot of dialogue and tried to liven it up by making it more action-oriented, but underneath it all, he’s just telling a story. Hmm.

The reviewer also took issue with Henry’s grammar. I have wondered if anyone would, but this reviewer didn’t like it for a reason I had never thought of. The reviewer said his/her father is an immigrant and has been successful in business, and an excellent command of English is mandatory in the US for that to happen. Henry’s English, since he is completely self-taught (and not that educated to begin with), is… not excellent. I worked very hard on his grammar, and ended up using mostly Spanish grammar imposed on English sentences (e.g. phrases like “more big” rather than “bigger”). I didn’t want people to get offended that Henry couldn’t speak perfectly, but I also wanted to be true to the character. The reviewer felt he would never have become successful speaking like that.

Now, for a bit of history: in 2002, when I was just getting to the “Henry part,” (for the first time, anyway) I met a successful businessman, who had immigrated from Cuba about 40 years ago, whose English was exactly like that. Indirectly, I based Henry on him—a couple of events of Henry’s life, and all of Henry’s grammar and occasional Spanish interjections. This man, in all of our conversations, never once used the word “but.” Each and every time he wanted to say “but,” he would say “pero.” Since I understand Spanish, I got that he was just mixing the two languages. I assumed that, with context, readers too would understand the interjections, especially in very similar words, such as imagínese. Do people not look at that word and see “imagine” in there? But the reviewer said that a little glossary of terms would have been helpful. I suppose it would have. Hmm.

So it was an interesting day on Google. It brings up some larger questions: was I in too much of a hurry to finish? Should I have taken another year to do really extra-thorough research and written Henry’s story differently, maybe even in third person, to have the reader “live” through it like Jennifer’s? Did I not get enough outside opinions? Will most people agree with the MyShelf reviewer, or the other reviewer, or somewhere in between?

All right, I’ll tell you: the less-than-positive review is on CurledUpWithAGoodBook. I think the exact address is I prefer you go to MyShelf, of course, but…trying to be open and forthcoming etc.

No one loves everything, and nothing is loved by everyone. Of course I know that. (Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, one of my favorite books ever, received a total smackdown review, well after it had (1) gotten numerous raves and (2) become a smash success.) You have to believe in your work, believe there’s an audience, believe you’ve done your best and, not only that, but your best is enough. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback, feedback from people I know and trust, and I try to dwell more on that. I know this book has an audience, and I believe I will find it, or my book will find it for me. I know the hard work and tears (literal tears) that went into it, and … hopefully it is enough.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A long time coming

It’s time to update my blog. It’s past time. It’s way, long over time. I almost feel an explanation is necessary. To sum up: I got tired. I had to sleep. I started working in earnest on a new script. Then I had a Christmas party for which I had to make a ton of candy, a holiday tradition that takes a good week and a half of my time—worth it, because I get to keep the leftovers. Worth it even though I burned myself making the fudge.

There is a little bit to report. My grandma loved my book (natch), and started telling people about it. She gave it to a friend to read it, and the friend happens to work at a bookstore called Wisebird Bookery in Ogden, Utah. The friend recommended it to her manager, who asked to meet me. I went there on Friday (oh, yeah, I also flew home and got sick--it was the stale plane air, I’m sure of it--and am recovering from that) and spoke with Jennifer and she now stocks my books at Wisebird. So if you’re a Utahn or, more specifically, an Ogdenite, it is available there under the “Local Author” section. Another local author was in the store promoting her book and offered to trade one of mine for one of hers. The catch: it’s a children’s book. I have no children, I have no nephews or nieces (though this will change in January, this is not soon enough to buy a book without wooden pages), and I didn’t want it. So I didn’t say no, I just turned back to my business with the manager.

I had an interview on the radio the morning after I flew in. I did not want to do it. Not that I didn't want to have an interview, but I was TIRED. Now, we all know that flying has become a uniquely miserable experience for those of us not rich enough to drop $5000 for a cross-country trip. New York to Utah is a particularly child-friendly route, and perhaps someday I will appreciate this, but when you leave at 6:50 am (and the car picked you up at 5:00 am, which means you got up at 4:30 am and still just barely made it through the ONE OPEN LINE in Security) and just want to sleep, you really don’t. Add to this the fact that Delta has installed touch screens on the back of each seat, and no one realizes you can just TOUCH the TOUCH SCREEN in order to get the command through, so you live through this bap bap bap on the back of your head for five hours, and I was not pleased. I had an appointment at 3 pm that afternoon, too, so I didn’t take a nap. At 8 pm I picked up the phone to call my grandma about the Wisebird Bookery appointment, and realized my parents’ phone line was riddled with static. Seriously, there was some big problem somewhere. Mom said, “Oh, that’s been like that for weeks,” and there was nothing they could do. I freaked out. We ended up calling Grandma and I stayed the night there. I awoke at 5:10 am to do the phone interview (scheduled at 5:30) and did some vocalizing in order not to sound like I’d awakened at 5:10 and then snuck downstairs into Grandpa’s office to make the call. I dialed the number—Philadelphia—and got a message that this line does not make long distance calls. Holy crap. I hadn’t thought to ask Grandma if they had long distance, because seriously, who doesn’t have long distance? I tried it again and got the same result. I ran upstairs and grabbed my wallet and tried to make a call on my credit card, but Qwest said they were a local carrier and didn’t even have long distance lines. By this time it was 5:30, the time of my interview. More panic. I’m thinking, do I awaken my 85-year-old grandmother at 5:30 in the morning for this? Argh. I phoned my parents’ home, on the off chance one of them was awake, to see if I could get a calling card number. No answer. I tried desperately to remember the number of the calling card I have lost somewhere—it’s got to be in my bedroom in New York, but I haven’t been able to find it for more than a month—and couldn’t. I am one of the last people in New York over the age of 8 without a cell phone, so I couldn’t go to that. Then the door opened and Grandma stuck her head in, miracle! I said, “Grandma, do you have long distance?” and she got out a printout that was the equivalent of a phone card and I made the call. It was 5:35 by that time, but happily the interview was taped and so it didn’t ruin everything.

So it’s Christmas Eve and the rest of the family is in the other room watching a Brazilian movie for the benefit of my brother’s Brazilian girlfriend. I am pretending to work on my script, which I would like finished (well, the first draft, anyway) by the end of my break. I have just under two weeks. Since we’ve finished the treatment, this should be doable….but only if I actually do it. They have promised me that our next movie will be Jaws, so I had better get to work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I did ask my friend Glen if he’d made his purchases, and he hadn’t. Hmm. I still don’t know if my roommate did her Christmas shopping on Wednesday. She comes from a family of 11, so it may have been all her doing. But other than that...I don’t know. As of today (or right now, anyway) I’m back up, to 60,000. How long I last at 60,000, I don’t know, but I’m grateful to be there now.

Another “push” is underway—this one involving emails to everyone who has a large email list. For the past year or so, every time I got a mass email, I noted whether or not the person was sending it to a ton of people. (“A ton” is hereby defined as “more than twenty.”) For a while I was actually recording all of those addresses, with the thought that I would send out a notification to all of them, but then I realized the line between advertising to friends of friends and spam is very thin indeed, unless I happen to say “I’m also a friend of Andrea’s,” in which case they will write angry notes to Andrea and say, “Why are you giving out my email address to spammers?” (Yes, this is a shout-out to Andrea, my first official fan; by “official” I mean “actually subscribed to my blog!”) So I’m sending requests to these friends and asking them to spam their own friends. Spamming your friends isn’t considered spam, unless you’re sending out a “Send this to 12 people and your entire life will change!” note. That is definitely spam, regardless of the sender.

So I’ve been not-spamming my friends and asking them to not-spam their friends, and one of my alumni lists sent out a notice also. And lo and behold, this might actually be working.

So...thanks to the people who have put me in the five digits! Now let’s shoot for four....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Two Days After Thanksgiving

That happy eating holiday, Thanksgiving, has passed. I had a nice meal at the apartment of some friends with about ten adults and one two-year-old girl, who loudly proclaimed that she liked “THE ROLLS!” (which I brought) best. These are from a recipe passed down from Great Grandma Gammell, and they’re easy and everyone always loves them. Happy to win over the two-year-old too. I also brought an apple pie with a sugary crumb topping, which was fabulous. I have to say, it was better than the store-bought pumpkin pies served with Cool Whip, but there were some traditionalists there who insisted on pumpkin pie (Cool Whip notwithstanding) and they ate that instead. That meant I had a third of an apple pie to take home. I ate it yesterday.

It was sixty degrees in New York that day, which is almost unheard of. I walked to my friends’ apartment with a jacket on, my early-fall jacket, thinking, “I don’t need to be wearing this.” But the temperature dropped that afternoon, and by the time I walked home that evening I wished I had more on. Yesterday was freezing. I expect today is, too, but I have no plans to go outside unless I manage to convince myself to go to the gym.

Book news: none. I’ve done six interviews thus far (and recorded three, so at some point in the not-too-distant future I’ll decide to figure out how to download those recordings and make them available) and the video website is finally up, though it’s not really what I wanted. I wanted a customized site, but as the programmer quit, we don’t get a customized site. Sigh. I’ve been recording friends’ tributes to their angels, but none of this is as easy as I’d like it to be. I’ve been sending out my news to various friends, asking them to send it to all their friends—also all the list serves I’m on for school, etc—and nothing really has impacted sales. On Wednesday my Amazon sales rating skyrocketed, from about 600,000 to 33,000, the very highest it’s ever been. I got excited. First I called my dad, to see if he’d bought books that day; that’s always my immediate question. But he hadn’t, and I thought, “Is it the interviews finally kicking in?” but since Wednesday the ranking has steadily fallen, so I think it was a one-time Christmas gift purchase by one of my friends. I’ll see him tomorrow and ask. Not that I mind, of course; but I’d rather it be strangers deciding to buy it because of the large amount of money I’ve spent on a publicist.

It’s been a productive weekend, so far. I have done all the small, easy things on my to-do list, which seems logical but there are often weekends in which I don’t even get those done. Now it remains to be seen if I’ll actually tackle the new book at all. I want to devote one day just to working on it. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out the trajectory of the new book. I have an inciting incident, and I have characters, and I have a vague idea of what is going to happen. But I don’t know the purpose, and that is bothering me. I don’t know the character arc of the main character, and what happens to her as a consequence of her actions in the first 20 pages. I imagine the consequence is large. But I don’t know…. The good thing about my new book is, I don’t have any happy marriages in it. I had to write a happy marriage in my Angels book, and that stressed me out. I am not even a dater; what do I know about happy marriages? I literally had to sit down with a married friend and ask questions like, “What do you think they would talk about here?” or “What kind of thing would happen when they’re doing x and y?” None of that now. I have had plenty of bad marriage examples flit through my life, so I am writing that this time instead.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for marital unhappiness. A big Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

thank heaven for actual "usable form"

I still don't really know if there is any meaning to this phrase other than the logical first-glance meaning. I assume it means just what we think it means. Which means that my website,, is now in usable form!! We went with the service, and while there are still some things to work out/figure out (specifically, whether or not we can have people write up their stories and post them, which the shy might want to do), but at least I was able to announce, "The site is up and running!" I had my two interviews this morning (and have another tomorrow at noon, on an internet-based show with Judyth Piazza), which I did record. (Let's just see how long it takes me to get them onto my site. Starting now.) They went well. The first one contained a milestone for me: we went to a commercial break and continued on after. Pretty cool. The host seemed at least to have looked at the book. I can't say whether or not he read it, but he did have some information gleaned from something other than a press release. The second host stuck to very basic questions, but that's okay.

The real upshot of this website being up is that I can now start emailing all my friends and family about the book. Please look at the website, upload your videos, get some buzz going, send it to your friends! And maybe even buy some books in the meantime...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No more "Usable Form"

Well, to add a special touch to this experience, yesterday the MyUnexpectedAngels programmer, Justin—who has worked, as far as I know, at least two months on this project—just quit. And he didn’t even call; he sent a text to the designer and said he wasn’t going to do it anymore. That’s it.

The designer is devastated; he feels worse about it than I do. And he is determined to make it right, which ups him in my esteem. (Let me never meet Justin.) He has been looking around for solutions, and quick ones, since I have another two interviews scheduled for next Tuesday. (These I will do from home, so these I will record and post onto the site. Hopefully I won’t be a stammering fool.) He seems to have found something, which might even be a better option than having someone do all that programming and cross-referencing and platforming (I got lost after “programming”). I don’t know the technicalities, but it involves the videos being posted onto my site but hosted on YouTube, even though the user can’t really tell he or she is using YouTube. The only reason I know this is a good thing is that someone at my work, the guy with a master’s in computer science, had told me back in August that we ought to host the videos on YouTube. Hmm. I would have brought that up to Justin, and even fought for it, maybe, if I’d just known what it meant. I still don’t, but the words are the same. I assume that makes it the same thing.

Interestingly, with this new method we’re going with, the site will likely be up in 48 hours. I have no idea how far Justin was from completion, but we are, at this point, 2 months overdue...and now you’re telling me we could have just whipped it together two months ago and had it finished in 48 hours?? Sigh. I am making this the silver lining. We don’t know yet if we’ll be able to have written stories, but...hopefully the videos will catch on. YouTube highlighted the fact that about every third American has a camera phone, right? Its popularity didn’t come out of nowhere.

I got a good review on Amazon yesterday, from a retired work acquaintance who read the book and loved it. She completely made my day that day; she phoned at 1:30 in the afternoon and said she had just finished it, and hadn’t been able to do anything all day long except read the book. She then said, “This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” I related this to my boss, who knows her. My boss said, “You know who your competition is? Carol reads Dickens and Dostoevsky and Melville! You’re up there with the classics!” I was flattered. (Carol emailed me at 6:30 that night and said she couldn’t stop thinking about the book and she almost felt like she was in a trance. I am not making this up.) The practical application to this is that she’s telling a lot of people it’s a great book and now people at work are actually starting to buy it. Yay! (One or two have asked if they could just borrow one of my copies. I have stood firm.) Carol is now emailing me telling me to write more books. I have started one, but I’m not sure where it’s going so it’s not clipping along at any brisk pace. My boss said, “If Carol were here, she’d be giving you deadlines.” Maybe I need her.

I’m also working on another screenplay. I should emphasize this is not scabbing, for anyone following the WGA strike. We are not under contract with any studio; no one is waiting for this to be done. We started in September, long before the strike began. It will not be pitched to anyone until after the strike is over. It will not be finished until long after the strike is over. It’s very interesting and fun to write, but it deals with scientists. I anticipate writing some drafts where the dialogue says, literally, “SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE” until I can actually speak with a scientist who can write that part for me. Science is not the focus of the story—relationships are—but world-renowned physicists and mathematicians aren’t talking about tea parties, you know?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What is "usable form"?

I had my second radio interview yesterday. It was at a station in Iowa called KGLO AM, with Mark Dorenkamp. He was perfectly pleasant, reasonable, and, best of all, interested. This is not to say that other interviewers aren’t...but there is sometimes the sense that they’d, uh, rather be doing other things. But Mark asked about the book, why I wrote the book, what the process was like, and talked a lot about angels and people who have helped his friends and family. Seems there is a lot of car trouble in this country.
We also discussed the website, and he asked me when it would be up. Parroting what I have been told by my designer, I said, “A few days.” Now, the dirty secret is, I’ve been told “a few days” oh so many times...first it was “two weeks,” then “another ten days,” then “in a few days.” I just got an email from my designer that indicates that it’s going to be many, many more days, not a few. I am not techno-savvy enough to know exactly what is going on, but it seems the programmer is a lot more interested in security and “cross referencing” than in, say, getting the site into a “usable form.” It is currently nowhere near a “usable form” and he just can’t figure out how long it will take to put it into “usable form,” at least not any more specifically than “a few days.”
They’re working on it. I know they’re working on it. But I also know that I started this project (the website) back in MAY and I’m wondering why only now in November are we thinking about putting it into “usable form”? I am doing radio interviews. (Barbara’s aired last Friday.) I am telling show hosts, “The website will be up in just a couple of days! Just a few days!” because that is what I have been told. Meanwhile I have no way to gauge if anyone has even visited the site because IT IS NOT IN USABLE FORM. I don’t know if this whole “radio tour” was a stupid, bad idea and colossal waste of money. I don’t know if the website itself was a stupid, bad idea and colossal waste of money, because no one can get to it so I don’t know if anyone has tried to get to it because...say it with is not in usable form.
Meanwhile my stats on Amazon are slipping, slipping, slipping. A week ago I was at 500, I’m at 700,000...and a book called “Fur Trappers” dealing with the mountain men of the 1800s is at roughly the same spot. Sigh. I know my dad hasn’t done his Christmas shopping yet, so that’s one positive, but...sigh.
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and it seems as if the Utah tour will not accompany it. This is fine. I will get some peace and solitude and, if all goes well, some writing done. I have several projects I can work on—just pick one! But it’s getting increasingly difficult to write. I think it’s a phase (I’ve been in them before) and it will pass, but it’s frustrating when it’s happening. The good thing is, at work we get Friday off, too, so I will have a glorious long weekend. I am thrilled. Even if I don’t write, I will sleep...I know it, because I don't have to get up in the morning, and late morning is when I know I can sleep.
Hopefully I will not dream of anything in “unusable form.”

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What are you thankful for?

Yes, it's the day after Halloween, and no, this post isn't going to talk about Halloween. I have no children and don't like to dress up myself (for a Halloween party on Saturday, I wrote "CAT" on a piece of paper and pinned that to my sweater), so Halloween is a non-event for me.

A real event: I had my first radio interview today. (The “first” was scheduled for November 20, as I mentioned in my previous post, but we scheduled a couple of others in the interim. ) If you missed it, fear not! It wasn’t live; it’ll be broadcast on Friday, November 9. In Athens, Georgia. Something tells me all my New York and Utah friends will miss it.

It was an interesting experience. I had drawn up a list of questions I thought she might ask, and equally drawn up what I might say. As I have mentioned before, I am not a part of the world where people can come up with snappy, articulate responses right in the moment they need them. I come up with the responses about 10 minutes later. Great for writing, not so good for a radio interview. “Wait, can I go back to that first question? I just thought of a funnier answer.” The spirit of the stairs. So, happily, I had anticipated most of these questions and had some decent answers. The hostess, Barbara Dooley, was perfectly nice and inquisitive and positive. A good first experience. The interview lasted 10 minutes. I hope they don’t cut it up, because it’s not that long to begin with.

I now have two interviews currently scheduled for November 20 and one on December 3. I believe I will have a few more in the interim, just not presently scheduled. I will have a running list on the “Media” section of my website. (At some point I hope to upload the actual interviews so people can listen to them. We’ll see if the technologically-challenged author actually can figure out how to do that.) I am also floating the idea of a Salt Lake City-based set of interviews, both on radio and television. Ideally this would happen right around Thanksgiving, so I could do a two-in-one trip: get in some local press coverage, and eat turkey with the family for the first time in years.

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I like to eat, of course I do. But think about it: hours and hours of preparation in order to sit down and eat one meal. Maybe, if your host/grandmother is traditional, you’ll all have to say what you’re thankful for first, but really, people, it’s...just...a...meal. Flying five hours, fighting crowds and traffic and getting bumped, to have dinner? Stay two nights on your old bed and then fly another five hours, fighting crowds and traffic and getting bumped?

My mother did not understand the first time I decided not to come home for Thanksgiving. She was hurt, even. I tried to explain my logic to her, and I figured, hey, she’s a practical woman (to a fault)—she’ll understand. She’ll be grateful she doesn’t have to fight the traffic and airport crowds. I was wrong. That year I chose to go to Paris instead of home, and I celebrated Thanksgiving in the Louvre eating quiche Lorraine. (That was a meal for which I was willing to fly hours and hours.) She told me it was stupid. I think she was referring to the expense, but still. Didn’t make me go to Utah the next year. I went my first year of grad school, and had three major projects hanging over my head and instead of the mattress they’ve had since I was 8 I decided to sleep on their “deluxe” bed in the guest room and probably slept a total of 15 hours over 4 nights. I have not gone home for Thanksgiving since. At Christmas, I sleep on the old bed.

If I lived closer to home, I would be willing to go home for it. If I didn’t have to fly, say, or the flight were one or two hours, that would be a different story. But New York to Utah for a piece of turkey no longer computes. On the other hand, New York to Utah for a few interviews and a piece of turkey...that’s another ballgame. That could potentially involve financial gain, and financial gain is something I would not mind at all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let's be Zen about it all

So we’ve had a bit of movement on the book front. I met with my publicist this week, and she’s great. She works for an excellent company that has excellent references, and we are embarking on a nationwide “radio tour” that will begin in November, with a first interview scheduled for November 20. It’s on a station called WQQQ in Hartford, Connecticut, from 8:10 – 8:30 a.m., live.

I am excited enough about this that I will actually wake up and be on time for it. (This is about the time that I should wake up for work every morning. Unfortunately, as a nighttime insomniac, I have had to begin drugging myself thoroughly to override both my night-owl tendencies and my seeming inability to sleep more than four hours at a time. Then I have to break through the drug haze when my alarm goes off in the morning, which is increasingly difficult.) In fact, I will likely wake up seven or eight times during the night to check and see what time it is, and make sure I haven’t yet slept through it. I will have a dream that I missed it entirely, and be awake from about 5 – 6 am worrying about that. Then I will drift into a deep sleep but jump out of bed the moment the alarm rings. It will be a long and tired day at work, and at three-thirty I will get a headache that feels as if long pins are being stuck into the base of my skull. I will be tired but push through it and go to the gym that evening, and then decide I am going to sleep at ten-thirty, no joke; but ten-thirty will come and I won’t be tired, so I’ll procrastinate and do a few extra things and then look at the clock and say, “Twelve-thirty? Again? Wasn’t I tired today?” And I will thoroughly drug myself and have to pry myself out of bed the next morning at eight-something.

Predictable, I am.

It will be worth it, though, because I will happily end up tired if it's for an interview. A good cause. A book cause. (It is not worth it when I’m tired because I’ve been guilted into attending a very boring dinner that lasts until eleven p.m. and I get home at midnight and am unable to sleep for a good two hours after that. Or something likeunto that.)

But...anyway...that’s the big development on the book front. One non-development: my marketing website, (the placeholder site explains it) is not going to be done for another ten days. We started this project back in May. I’m not entirely sure where the fault lies and not too eager to find out, because I’ll just get mad and I can’t really do anything about it, and I don’t want to put up a buggy site, but...argh.

I also finally heard back from iUniverse and their Publishers’ Choice program, and I am no farther along than I was before (having waited about 10 weeks to hear anything at all). They want a ‘detailed marketing plan,’ which I don’t yet have, and when they receive it they will put my book into a Barnes and Noble in four to six weeks. This means I will miss Christmas entirely. Ah well. Again, nothing I can do. Let’s be Zen.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Visual Interest

I am trying my hardest to upload some old vacation photos onto this blog, simply to vary things a little. I am not having success. This is not my fault. I am doing everything the directions say to do, and it's not working. Hmm.

Okay, another post about "Dirty Sexy Money." I watched on Wednesday and was dismayed--nay, aghast--at a plot twist of theirs. It is exactly the same plot twist as I had in my own moneyed-world script. In a panic, I sent an email to my screenwriters' group and asked if I should change the twist, if I ever indeed get back to rewriting that script. (I will. Just not in the coming few months.) Unanimous consensus: No. Plot similarities are the only rule of the writing universe: if you have an idea, odds are good that someone else has that idea too. I learned this the hard way: in my undergraduate years, I took a screenwriting class and took way too long developing an idea into a script. I hadn't quite figured out where the whole plot would go before I started writing, and 'round about page 60, it started going way wrong. I turned it in, because I had to, and abandoned it.

Two years later, "Duplex" comes out. The plot wasn't exactly like mine, but pretty darn close.

Now, I did not say, "They stole my idea!" Odds are good they'd never heard of me or my idea, and with the movie time frame, they were probably already in some stage of production (ie, the script was already written) two years earlier, when I was writing mine. The lesson I took from that was, If I don't write it, someone else will.

I could say the same thing with my Daughters of Fortune script and Dirty Sexy Money. I originally finished the thing in 2002. I sat on it. Fast-forward five years, and I resurrect it...right in time for Dirty Sexy Money to go on the air. Say I rewrite the thing in six months, finish in two, and start shopping it around. Eight months from now, people won't say, "Hey, that's a plot twist that happened with the Darling Family!" And say, through some divine stroke of luck, it gets purchased and, with even more luck, made. The process will take about two years; even more likely that no one will make the connection. So I will keep it as is. The world is full of rich people and their stories, and as the rich get richer, their stories get more entertaining.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Michael Clayton and writing, writing, writing

Hi again.

Nearly two weeks since my last post. I started a blog about two years ago detailing the pathetic state of my life--I won't provide the link--and wrote six or seven posts before quitting. I told exactly one person about it, and she read faithfully and even wrote me to request more posts after I stopped. I explained that writing a blog felt like actually writing (you know, real writing) and it was too easy to blog and not do any real work. I stopped. The blog is probably still out there, but I haven't seen it since my last posting. I lost interest, mainly.

I seem to have slipped into the same pattern. Not that I've lost interest, just...I have other things to do. But that won't stop me this time.

I saw "Michael Clayton" over the weekend. It was a Friday night, but I was still surprised at how full the theater was--I hadn't been expecting that many people. (I really was not expecting someone to come in about 3/4 through the movie and ask to take the seat next to me. I lied, saying "My friend is coming right back." Truthfully, I had laid all my stuff neatly on the seat next to me and didn't want to pull it all into my lap. Courtesy would dictate that I give up the coatholder to the ticket-bearing patron...but I can't imagine this man had bought a ticket.)

"Michael Clayton" is a really good movie. Go see it. This post will be full of spoilers, so if you plan to see it, stop reading now, go to the theater, and come back here when you're ready.

I'll wait.

Now then. The opening scenes quickly and efficiently show us that Michael is not doing very well. He's gambling, he's lost his shirt (and all shirts to come, he's so in debt) to a bad business investment, and there's a certain look in his eyes and on his face that says, "Not tonight. Do not mess with me tonight." He gets called to "fix" a situation in Westchester involving a wealthy man and a hit-and-run, and gives the man the same kind of advice I'd give him: find an attorney, plead guilty. Huh, we think. That's not pulling any strings; that's not fancy. I was expecting movie magic. Then he drives away (and the wealthy man is super-mad).

Meanwhile, there are negotiations going on through the night at his law firm. There's a woman about to melt down in a bathroom stall. Interesting.

Michael stops driving when he sees some horses on a hill, parks his car, and walks up to them. He's staring deep into their eyes ad communing, and as he's having his man-and-nature moment, BAM! his car explodes. Huh.

Supertitle: "Four days earlier."

It's a contrivance. It's a gimmick. But it works. The rest of the movie, we're thinking, "How does he get to this point?"

Forgive me for a little indulgence, but...I did the same thing in my book. I have a "Prologue" where my main character, Jennifer, is haggard and bitter and wandering through a big discount store (not Wal-Mart, whose labor practices I abhor, but a generic big-lot kind of store) looking for pills to kill herself. She sees a man, follows him, and runs into Henry, who will change her life. Cut to chapter one, and Henry starts to tell his story. We're still kind of in present tense, and Jennifer doesn't want to hear his story; she wants to get back to the discount place and get her pills. But he won't let her go and so she start to relive her own story, starting almost seven years ago.

Not quite the same as Michael Clayton, but close. It's a contrivance. It's a gimmick. I want people to say, "How does she get to this point?"

Does it work?

I will let you, dear reader, decide. (The book is available now on Amazon. Did I mention that?)

Meanwhile, I have been reading many different blogs on writing. There are hundreds, I think, maybe thousands; everyone from big-time successful television writers to the "I'm struggling and detailing the process for you" people have been writing blogs. (I fall more into the latter category, so far.) They're fascinating, they're often funny, they're educational.

For my fiction-writing folk, I am posting a link to a list of "amateur manuscript" no-nos. It's a blog by someone named E.E. Knight of the "Vampire Earth" book series. I hope you find it as enlightening as I did. It's interesting to progress as a I read his list I remembered moments when I figured out what he's written down, saw it in my own writing, saw it in others', actually called it out. And one or two made me very nervous. But ah well.

More later--soon.

I'm also posting these random photos, taken by me on various vacations. Just to liven up my text-heavy blog.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Money, money, money

I watched “Dirty Sexy Money” again last night, and enjoyed it just as much as I did the week before. I think this one has staying power. (for the record, though general TV is not the subject of this post, I also really liked “Pushing Daisies”—the aunt’s line, “I can hold my breath for a long time” was classic—and I just can’t get into “Private Practice,” despite being a diehard “Grey’s” fan. Addison without the company I know and love is an Addison I don’t care to follow.) And, to stay a bit more on the general subject of the blog (writing! You probably couldn’t have guessed that, so far), I am learning from it.

You see, long ago I wrote a play about a woman who had the same kind of filthy-rich lifestyle exemplified on this show. The kind of money where helicopter pilots are at your disposal if “traffic is ghastly,” or your staff consists of fifty people who are mostly unseen and unheard, doing all their work in the kitchen or garden. The play I wrote, called “Daughters of Fortune” (I have a problem with titles) centered around a woman who had married into this family, gotten well accustomed to the lifestyle, and was now trying desperately to remake her life—but still had to pay the bills. And when I say “the bills,” I do not refer to Time Warner Cable. I mean taking the Concorde (as I said, “long ago,”) to and from Paris twice a month, staying in hotels ($500-a-night hotels) for two-month stretches because your apartment is being remodeled, and making sure that those hotel rooms are filled—filled—with $300-a-vase floral arrangements. The kind of expenses that require you to take $1000 out of your checking account DAILY, sometimes more than once a day, and still max out your five credit cards each month. I could go on.

Now, this play is on my mind because I recently resurrected it with the intent of turning it into a screenplay. The differences between stage plays and screenplays are many. Stage plays almost always have small casts, budgets being what they are; they are often centered in one physical location, like a living room or a restaurant or an attic, again for practical/budget reasons; and the playwright is allowed to luxuriate in dialogue. (This is a big reason that television is turning into something worth watching again: playwrights are being recruited in droves, and playwrights--an oversimplification, fine, but I'll say it anyway--write killer dialogue.) None of this “The camera pans to her face, which reveals her true feelings of love”—instead you can write what she might say, in a perfect world where people are not tongue-tied, able to speak in beautiful or witty or snappy prose. (I do not inhabit this world. My thoughts come at the speed of my typing, which works great when I am typing and not so great when I’m sputtering out loud.)

So anyway, I am converting my small-cast, one-indoor-location, dialogue-heavy play into a screenplay. I have this family that lives a “Dirty Sexy Money” lifestyle and a character who is trying to get out of it.

The main problem: these people are wretches. Obnoxious, clueless, loathsome people, at least to the average Joe who actually has to work for a living.

So why are we, average Joes ourselves, interested?

In DSM, so far, it’s because our main character is not. Nick is an outsider, a friend of the family but not a member, who (a) has a happy family, (b) is an attorney for poor folk on the side, (c) has a reason to try to be close to the family and their money (trying to figure out how his father died) and, importantly, (d) is taking not only a salary but $10 million a year to give to charity. If that’s not a Way to Ingratiate Your Character To the Audience, I don’t know what is. How can you hate a man who is giving $1m to a nun-founded playground for orphans? How over-the-top this is, I will let you decide.

It is through Nick’s eyes that we watch the Darling family and their excesses—even when Nick is nowhere to be found. We can laugh at them and their self-centeredness and come back, because the show acknowledges how awful these people are. The show laughs at them.

When I showed my DOF script to my writers’ group, they all said the same thing: “These people are all so awful!” One member even suggested I do a send-up of the rich. Hmm. With the advent of DSM, that’s not in the cards; they’re doing it already, and well. But I do have to find a way in. I have to make at least one character sympathetic. Who that will be, and how, I am not yet sure. But...I do have an idea. Good.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Un poquitico en español

I watched "Cane" again last night. I am not like the networks, who pull the plug on disappointing shows after one or two airings. I, on the other hand, just watch them until I get bored.

I heard something interesting to me as they were speaking their difficult-for-me Spanish: a word ending I thought unique to Costa Rica. This is worth mentioning on this blog because one of my two main characters is from Costa Rica, and he liberally sprinkles his English with Costa Rican Spanish. ("Costa Rican" Spanish differs from other countries' Spanish the way British English differs from U.S. English. For example, the word "toalla" is the one taught in Spanish class to mean "towel." But in Costa Rica, you say "paño" for towel, because "toalla" means "maxi pad." Most of us found these out the hard way.)

Now, in Spanish, if you want to emphasize something you can put an ending on a word. An example: "Poco" means "little." If I want to say "Really little," I can say "muy poco," but almost no one says that. Instead they say, "Poquito." If I want to say really, REALLY little, I say "Poquitito." In Costa Rica, they change that -ito ending to -ico--e.g. "Poquitico," and because of that, they are known as Ticos. (Formally they are known as Costarricenses; really, they are called Ticos.) Henry, my 2nd narrator, is a Tico and he occasionally will say "poquitico," and I don't explain it in the book because I don't think that even Henry would take the time to mention this when he is telling the story of his life.

So back to "Cane" -- the (impossibly hot) new head of the family business, Jimmy Smits, was talking with a man who was trying to blackmail him. Jimmy said, "Our family does not pay blackmail. Ni un poquitico." Even with his very accurate consonant-eating accent, I caught "poquitico," which means the -ico ending is not unique to Costa Rica. Does this mean that Ticos are improperly claiming a title that isn't actually theirs? Are there other countries out there that also use -ico, thereby making this ending ho-hum and common? Is this little bit of specialness ... just a fraud? ay ay ay.

Ah me. I shouldn't be watching television anyway; I have three, count 'em, three projects I should work on instead. Only one of them has a due date attached, though (an indirect way of saying, "They're all on spec," or, more plainly, "I'm working for free") so it is very easy to flip on the television and/or just go to the gym and watch a Yankees game while on the elliptical machine, thinking, "I'll write tomorrow. Or maybe Thursday. Actually, this weekend is good." And then be surprised nothing is actually done.

But I am watching "Dirty Sexy Money" tonight. I'll keep my script in my lap while I watch and make it feel like I'm multitasking. Because self-delusion keeps us sane.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Spoke too soon

As predicted/feared/expected, I spoke *way* too soon about the 75,000 mark. As of right now, I am at 305,000. That is a spectacular the wrong direction. But I can't complain, at this point; I have done absolutely zero publicity, and my Angels site isn't even up yet. Complaining about slipping on Amazon, with what we've actually *done* so far, is akin to eating pizza for a month and wandering on a treadmill for 10 minutes and wondering why you're not losing weight. (Yes, I speak from experience.)

So I will try to hold off on looking at my Amazon ranking for a while, at least until we've done some radio shows. I do not know when this will be. I do not know when I will be in my local Barnes and Noble. I do not know when I am headed to Salt Lake for regional publicity. I do not know...most things.

But I do like some of the new fall shows, for an abrupt and random change of subject. "Dirty Sexy Money" is just good trashy fun. "Desperate Housewives," despite the fact that it long ago got tiresome, is still my Sunday-night staple, preferably watched while eating delivered sushi. (Missed that part tonight. Drat.) "Grey's Anatomy" looks like it's going to pull the plug on the cringe-inducingly awkward George-Callie relationship, which is a step in the right direction....but hooking up with Izzie is one step too far. "Cane" looks like it's taking on a little too much to handle--drugs! betrayal! military serving sons! late-in-life pregnancy! mysterious Cuban gang members (whom we are to infer are *the most deadly people alive*)! terminal illness! and a man who married his stepsister and engendered permanent jealousy and hatred from his stepbrother!--I'm not making any of this up), and taking itself a bit too seriously. Come on, dudes, throw someone into the pool or something. Maybe drinks thrown into faces? They make rum, for heaven's sake. (I do like listening to the Cuban-accented Spanish, though, all vowels and no consonants. "What did she just say? 'Quehao'? What does that mean? Oh, wait, it's two words and she's missing a g" ) "Brothers and Sisters" also appears to be taking itself too seriously. It's on in the background right now, and that's about as much attention as I can pay to it. Ah, wise Uncle Saul, tell us what to do.

Really, I should work on my other projects. But an English major can only read so much in a day about chemistry and physics. I am not kidding.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Facts and figures

I’ve broken the 100,000 mark.

I shouldn’t phrase it that way, because that makes it sound like I have sold 100,000 copies. This would be phenomenal.

This is not the case.

Instead, I am saying “broken the 100,000 mark” in that I am now *under* 100,000...on It may change by the time I post this entry, but the last time I checked (yesterday, Friday) I was at 75,000 on Amazon. Not so great, you might say, but considering that I have been hovering around 110,000 (and once when I checked, I was at 299,000) 75,000 does not sound bad at all. This is going in the right direction. Maybe it was the lovely woman at work yesterday who put me over the edge? I was totally hard-nosed about it, making her order online. At this point I far prefer getting the number (and the, oh, $2 profit) than getting $14 in cash. It doesn’t seem terribly logical...except that I need numbers!

Friday, September 28, 2007

books and blogs

I am trying to sign up for a service that will direct more traffic to my blog. Unfortunately, I seem to be incapable of doing this. For a few minutes I blamed myself--a natural response to a Luddite attempting something technically oriented--but I am happy to figure out (I think) it is not my fault. They are having technical difficulties, and it's not that I can't figure out what code I'm supposed to paste where, it's that they haven't provided me with the code. Happy day.

No news about the book, but that's all right. A woman at work asked me if she could buy a copy. She seemed to know all about the content. Since it's a woman I almost never talk to or even see, this is a positive sign. I do not have books on me, however; I referred her to Amazon. This helps my numbers anyway.

There is a janitor at work who's become friendly with me; he likes finding people to speak Spanish with. He speaks English almost perfectly, which is why I felt bad when he said, "Did you write a book? Oh, my condolences."

Now, if this were a previously published author offering a knowing joke, I would say, "Yeah, it's tough" and we would hit each others' shoulders and give that fake "you can do it/we're trying" smile. But the janitor, so far as I know, had no tough stories and publishing weariness to base his condolences on. So was he just feeling sad for someone so deluded she would try to self-publish her own book? I gave him a foggy look, and he said, "Your husband died, right?" Ah ha. I smiled and said, "No, it's fiction," and he said he was relieved. He said, "I saw the picture on the cover and I thought, 'that's the lady who works on 21! Oh, I didn't know whe was a widow!'" So he did read the back of the book enough to know the protagonist is a widow, but not enough to know that her name is not Kathryn. But it was nice to be recognized, even if just at work.

I spoke too soon about not getting my sandal-shod feet stomped. Yesterday as I was getting on the bus, a woman in sneakers stepped backward and right on to the edges of my toes. She did apologize, but she wasn't exactly, I don't know, distraught about it. Ah well. Today *I* am wearing the sneakers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sunshine and sensations

It is a beautiful day in New York City. This is another cause for celebration, because New York City is allotted, oh, five beautiful days a year. (One of them is usually a random 70-degree day in December.) Our winters are brutishly cold. You see these poor saps walking in long down coats, scarves, gloves, boots, and immense, usually not-very-stylish hats, desperately unfashionable in the fashion capital of the world. (or is it about myself that I’m speaking?) Winter begins with a vengeance at the end of October and lasts usually through the end of April. We’ll get one or two nice days in April, where people emerge from tall office buildings and hesitantly remove their coats and say, “A foreign yellow object in the sky from which heat radiates...could that be the sun, about which I have heard so much?” And then two days later summer slams into us, with 90-degree days and 90-percent humidity. I come from Utah, where a 90-degree summer day is the norm, but there is a giant difference between dry heat and humid heat. One is, it gets cool at night. Another is, in Utah, you get into your air-conditioned car and your biggest discomfort is the hot steering wheel that you have to grip through a random fast-food napkin you didn’t remember to clean out of your car. But in New York, going out the door in summer is like walking into warm pudding. And it’s pudding weather until we get two and a half nice autumn days and then it’s officially freezing again.

This blog is officially about my book. Perhaps I should dwell on that.

There hasn’t been much to report, so far. I have the copies at my desk at work, and I am officially listed on Amazon. Several very kind friends have bought it already, without me begging, which is nice. (Some even kinder friends have bought multiple copies.) I see people at church on Sunday and tell them about it, and on Sunday my Amazon ranking hovers around 100,000. Over the course of the week I drift to about 300,000, then back to 100,000 on Sunday again. At this level, I think the difference between the two levels is about 8 sales. Sigh.

I spoke with my publicist yesterday, and we agreed on a plan of action. I sent her copies of the book and she is going to send them to various radio stations to do a “tour”— interviews on 15-20 (knock wood) radio shows. The good thing about radio is that you get to do it by phone, so there’s no lengthy travel or dealing with airlines/delays/people/screaming babies. We’re then going to focus on a local market, Salt Lake City. I have family in Utah, so it made sense to make it a home base of sorts. The rationale on focusing on one smaller market (smaller than NYC, that is) is that it’s easier to break out and become some kind of “sensation” there, and becoming a “sensation” in one market often leads to other markets paying attention, thus increasing your odds of becoming a “sensation” there, too. So here’s to a “sensational” few months....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cause for celebration

This is a momentous occasion, a cause for parties and revelry and all kinds of bacchanal.

It is now fall, and I have gotten through a whole summer without getting my feet stomped on the subway. Summer is sandal weather, after all, and each and every summer for, oh, ten years now, at some point, just when I thought I was safe, I got stomped. Bare toes against a stiletto heel or stuffy businessman’s shoe...bare toes lose. I’ve never had any toes broken, but there’s always that distinct possibility. And yet I continue to wear sandals on the subway. That’s what I call living wild.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One small thing --

My websites are up!!

Visit: kathrynmaughan dot com. (Do not put in the www. It doesn't seem to work.)

Many thanks to John Hawkins Gordon, my fabulous designer. And, soon, his programmer Justin, who is busily working the kinks out of the companion website. Explanation provided on the page.

Visit! Read! Enjoy! And...tell *everyone you know.*

Did I mention I will miss Kitchenette?

My roommate brought home free cake given out by the lovely ladies of Kitchenette; it's Friday, it's closing time, they liked my blog, and they're being evicted by the greedy landlord. One slice of lemon, one of chocolate. This just will not work with knitted creations. Even if they were free, I would not be delighted.

Actual details about, you know, the book

So since this blog is directly connected with my new book, I suppose I should actually write about the book. It’s official, it’s real, it’s done. I got my free copies from the publisher last week, and I thought that would make it real, but what actually DID make it real, incontrovertible, hard-and-fast, was finding it on Amazon two days ago. I typed in my last name and started wading through a long list. Somerset Maugham’s works came up first, despite my having typed “Maughan”—and I assumed I wasn’t on yet. Yet as I scrolled, up I came. Interesting that Amazon would choose a typo over my actual name.

Apparently there are several Maughan authors. Undoubtedly they are distant relatives of mine. Check them out if you are interested in health and fitness. As you can see from my previous post, I’m...not so much. That’s another post.

The book is called Did I Expect Angels?—hence the name of the blog. All the information about the book will be found on my website. More on that ... now.

My website will be up in two days—the personal one, anyway. Kathrynmaughan dot com. I’ve been thinking of things to put on there to (a) make it interesting and (b) maximize its Googlability. Hopefully I’ve done both. The site that has infinitely more potential is my companion site, myunexpectedangel dot com. (Not to infer that kathrynmaughan—the site—doesn’t have potential [what about the individual? Ooh, don’t go there] but that myunexpectedangel could go far and wide.

Myunexpectedangel is my video sharing site where people can upload video (or written) tribute to people who have popped into their lives and helped them out at unexpected times. I already have two different tributes I’m going to do. I even have a digital video camera. I just have to figure out how to use it. (I’ve had it since Christmas.) I revel in my Luddite-ness. But one tribute will be to a woman I barely knew who invited me to dinner on my first Sunday in New York—not knowing quite how freaked out I was. She just invited me anyway, and even if she doesn’t remember it, it meant a lot. The second tribute is to three people who, not even knowing each other or what the others were doing, acted in complementary ways (no, that’s not a misspelling) to help me turn my life around. That’s not an exaggeration. I’ll wait to tell the details on the site.

Meanwhile I am trying to figure out how best (and when) to get word out. Almost everything is in place: it’s available online on and Amazon’ I have “pass-along cards” for people to advertise; I have secured a publicist; I am emailing blogs and chat rooms and the occasional bookstore; and all I am waiting for is the launch of the sites. Yikes.

All for now. It’s a bad day at work.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An auspicious beginning

I thought about beginning the blog with a big post about the "journey" that the publishing of my book has been...but, bleah. Instead I will begin with a note that will be of interest to the smallest of groups: a subset of Manhattanites, the Upper West Siders. I am informed that "Homemade by Kitchenette," an amazing bakery, is closing because the landlord wants to rent out the store space to his relatives. The other store belonging to his relatives, next door, houses exquisitely ugly knitted creations. I imagine the new store, which will occupy space previously housing chocolate/vanilla-cream-filled cupcakes, lemon meringue pielets, chocolate mousses, and gigantic cakes of carrot or red velvet or German chocolate and all other manner of baked goodness, will now showcase something like your great-aunt makes, something at which you smile and say, "oh, my, look at that" because you can't think of anything kind.

I have a thing for sugar. Forgive me.

Unfortunately this knitted-awfulness store follows a trend that is growing on the Upper West Side: Food places being replaced by Stores Selling Uselessness. Now, I have nothing against the occasional nail salon, cell phone store, or niche "we sell only hats and umbrellas!" places. But I resent having to walk ten blocks to pick up an emergency frozen pizza, when I used to walk two, and have to walk beside these windows advertising Nothing We Need.

Rents are high in Manhattan. I get that. Landlords want to capitalize on this and get as much as they can. New business owners, flush with the dream of no longer working for The Man [thus becoming The Man themselves--well, plural, The Men...making it politically correct, and all-inclusive, The (Wo)Men] are eager to shell out whatever they have to in order to make dreams into reality. They're still covered by the small business loan, so it'll be fine! No, people. This is what got us into the subprime mortgage mess. It needs to stop. We need stores that sell things we need. Food. Maybe more laundromats. No more cell phone stores, no more "it looks homemade but really it's mass produced so your necklace will be the exact same as your coworker's" jewelry stores, no more sky-high-price clothing stores whose clothes are really not that cute or well-made, certainly not enough to justify a $200 tag on a blouse I could make at home on a borrowed sewing machine with skills learned in 7th grade Home Ec. (actually, maybe I couldn't. Seems to me I had to have a friend help me on all my projects... and when I say "help," I mean "do it for me." Thanks, Gayle!)

I digress. A long post to mourn the closing of a small store. Kitchenette, we will miss you.