I made the WFAA-TV newscast tonight!!

I told you I was gonna be on TV. My ESP said so. I thought it was gonna be via the big game show on CBS (and it still COULD–I did make a video, albeit lame), but I got on Channel 8 News here in the D/FW area for ten seconds or more.

Tonight was the “Coffee with the City Council” night here in Canyon Creek, when our homeowners association meets at the country club to hear from the city council. I went tonight, along with probably 150 of my neighbors, because a SOB (Sexually Oriented Business) has brought suit in Federal court to be allowed to locate here in town, and it looks as if we’ll be stuck with them despite legal action. Feh! It’s not on our side of the freeway–it’s over where the original Collins Radio red brick building used to be, where I worked when I got my first job out of college at Rockwell Collins–but hey, it’s not that far away. So of course all the neighbors were livid.

ANYhow, Channel 8 sent a cameraman to cover the meeting. I sat in the front row at first, and the first glimpse you get of me is of my hand (with wedding ring) shielding my eye from the can light that’s pointing down at it. Originally they didn’t have the ceiling fans on, but about ten minutes into the presentation they turned them on. If you have any visual infirmities, you are probably sensitive to the “flashing” effect that the interruption of the downlight by the fan blades gives you. Within about ten more minutes I stood up and moved to the back of the room. I was looking at the map and rehearsing my little spiel that I was going to make when the guy panned the camera across the room. I’m looking down, and my earring–a hoop that’s hanging with pink stones–looks like a red spot on my cheek. And you can’t see my hair, as I have it pulled into a ponytail. But by Zeus, there I am, on camera for a good ten to fifteen seconds! Amazing!

So God says, “All right, your family fell out at the thought of you going to NYC to be on TV. So I have you walk three blocks to the country club, and I send the TV to YOU, and I put you on TV when you don’t even know you are being taped. What more do you want?”

“Lord, I appreciate it! But I wanted to be Steve Allen! Or at least get to sing ‘Danke Schoen’!”

The Channel 8 guy packed up about ten minutes later and left. It was 8:45, and they had to drive all the way down to Victory Park downtown to edit the tape and make the show. I watched the news thinking they’d have very brief coverage, and wow! A fun thing for the day. Something for my resume (not!)

WFAA used to be at Young and Record streets. I was on WFAA twice before, when I was on the National Spelling Bee at the regional level. The first time it was on my birthday and I was speller #1. I would have won, too, but my dad got nervous and as I watched he clutched his chest and faded back and left the room. I panicked, thinking he was dying (he was a heart patient already at that time) and got all rattled and misspelled “pursuant.” I spelled it “PERsuant” [sic]. Hell! Call for time machine! The second year I was in it (at that time, I was at the top of the eligibility age, around 13 or thereabouts–this would have been 1973 or so), I misspelled “affiliated” by doubling the L. That time, I had no excuse . . . I swear I had seen it spelled that way on the TV ads for Buddies, the grocery store, whose jingle went, “Affiliated food stores, helping you at home.” The second time, the staff got me a tape recorder instead of the radio that was the standard gift for all us losers . . . they knew I was there the second year in a row. I still have that cassette recorder, and it still works fine.

Mama watched me on TV. I can’t pry hubby off of WoW to go watch it (I retro-TiVoed the segment. You know you can do that, right? You set up a manual recording that starts right before the segment you want to capture, tell it that it’s OK that the segment is in progress, start the recording, and then just manually stop it after the bit you want to capture is over. Works well.) I think he’s jealous. I begged him to come, but he couldn’t be bothered. Pfau!

Fifteen minutes of fame . . . no, out of my fifteen minutes, I’ve now only used up fifteen seconds. Still time to pimp a few books, if I had the need to.

You couldn’t make this stuff up

(Oh, yes, you COULD . . . fiction writer.)

I missed Saturday’s ConDFW events; I probably could’ve come, but I was bummed and wanted to be available to my family, so I got all dressed up and then didn’t go. There was a rockin’ sandstorm that turned the sky pink with red West Texas sand, worthy of Abilene or Marfa, right in the middle of the afternoon. I hope the con attendees were up on higher floors looking out the windows to see that, because it was pretty cool. My car is covered with that dust, though, and man, the wind was rockin’ that 2-ton Windstar. And we got pelted with sticks more than once driving along. Whew.

Anyhow. My aunt is still in the hospital. She has been having episodes of racing heartbeat, and for a while they thought it could be fibrillation, but then said it wasn’t–they are still figuring out why, and she’s still having spells occasionally. She did get coherent and come to herself, though, when they got her off all the post-surgical drugs and started her on steroids. The theory now is that the steroids are making the problem go away. She has a mild case of multiple sclerosis, and they believe that the bodily trauma/disturbance of the surgery and perhaps of the anaesthesia and morphine caused an attack.

She’s been very lucky not to have had more lasting effects from some of the attacks she has had in the past. The hospital had told my uncle that he should get his kids there because of the heart problem, though, so on Friday night my cousins converged and stayed at the hospital through Saturday. My mother decided she was too nervous to actually drive up there, but I ended up driving her around town most of the afternoon anyway on trivial errands as she talked to her sister and brother on the cell phone. (The aunt who’s in the hospital is my uncle’s wife and not a blood relation–but my mom and her sister got the chance to hash over the possibilities of what my two cousins may inherit from The Other Side Of The Family.)

And my other cousin’s wife–the one who had the gastric bypass two years ago and has had constant surgery and problems, including breast cancer last year that they just got finished saying she’s clear of–now has cancer in both lungs (!!) already and is starting chemo today. *gloom* This is Not Good and far worse than simply a Revolting Development, as everyone I’ve ever known whose stuff returned that quickly . . . well, it’s Not Good. *sigh* She’s a good person and has tried so HARD to get all fixed up so they could enjoy their early retirement. Well, anyway, let’s not think about that *la la la I absolutely canNOT hear you*

And my mom’s glasses snapped at the nosepiece this morning. We couldn’t get them nerd-taped together, so we went off to get her some new glasses. Bifocals. In only one hour!

Of course I have to have NEW STUFF TOO, so here I sit with new glasses with “prisms” for seeing the confuser-screen better. They don’t seem to be making me dizzy the way new glasses usually do, so that’s nice. They are also, people tell me, Modern. Unlike my usual swoopy-templed Tootsie frames and my See-Thru RoundFace Harry Potter Oversized ones, all of which have scratched-up lenses by now and the antiglare coatings are peeling off of the glass and so forth. So anyway, I’ll get over the feeling that I have two sets of eyebrows with these. Eventually.

Should put my hair in pigtails or that Japanese thing where the pigtails are tied in knots and wear a corduroy jumper and go out to see how many people would faint or point.

Anyway, although I did get dressed up and drive around a bit yestiddy, I never got motivated to go schmooze or whatever. I don’t like to wander around a hotel by myself kind of floating and looking for someone to talk to between panels, anyway. *Some* people admitted that they were SITTING A COUPLE OF ROWS BEHIND ME and *STILL DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING TO ME* *pout* but I am pretty sure that I would have talked longer to Kathy (Turski) if she hadn’t needed to run off to the next panel. I did see several acquaintances at the con and got to chat for a moment before they rushed off to their next activities, and the dealers room was nice. It’s a small, cozy convention that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to come visit us up here next year.

I still wanna go somewhere fun. Immediately. Maybe I’ll just run back over to Penneys in a bit. (Big woo. Confetti. “Laugh-In” spiral finger motion meaning “Whoopee!”)

Post containing discussion of content of panels coming up later. Now I need to go find out what that HUGE box is that the UPS man left at the door. Hope it’s books . . . or money!! Yeah, money!!

ConDFW–Con Report Coming

I’ve spent the afternoon at DFWCon, a science fiction/fantasy fandom convention that’s being held practically down/across the street from me. Just got back from a panel headed up by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, with a special guest speaker who is the creator of “Jimmy Neutron,” made here in Dallas–and who announced at the panel that he’s turning Heinlein’s juvie _Star Beast_ into a screenplay for Warner Brothers (live action film!) Woo!

They discussed why films are usually not terribly similar to the books they’re “based” on, how studios choose “properties,” and so forth. I wanted to point out that readers bring quite a bit to books, as we create that vivid, continuous dream for ourselves as we read, while viewers of films are led along with the visuals and usually only get to see what’s *there* without having time to construct as much as a reader does. But then Will Shetterly started talking about _Door Into Summer_ (just as I had been thinking about that novel and how I’d like to see it made into the next Heinlein flick) and saying that when he re-read it, it wasn’t the same book that he had imagined it was when he read it as a youth. I read it when I was about eleven, and I remembered it quite differently, too; I got a copy a couple of years ago and re-read it, and I agree that it was a different experience. The opening few pages are numinous and they’re what took me through the book. I can see how a filmmaker could really use the book to create a kicky movie, though.

I also heard readings by Linda Donahue (my best friend from college at SMU, BTW) and Melanie Miller Fletcher (whom I know from the D/FW meet-ups for NaNo WriMo last year).

Tomorrow I may or may not make it back to the con. My aunt finally had her surgery on Thursday (to clean out that artery on the side of her neck) and had a few minor complications. She’s reacting to the morphine by acting crazy, shouting and flailing, and they want to get her off of it and out of the ICU as soon as they can. We came back home because we were just in the way, but Mama wants to go back up there this weekend and cook some stuff for my uncle so he won’t subsist on beer nuts and Coke. If I do attend other events, I’ll do a full con report later.

It’s all misty and rainy and gloomy. Yesterday it was 80 degrees. Now that all the visitors are here for the con, it’s showing off how wintry it can be.

LJ Idol: Round 5

LJ Idol Entry: Round 5

What do you like best about where you live right now?
What do you miss the most about a place you’ve left behind?

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” (Robert Frost, “The Death of the Hired Man”)

“You can’t go home again.” (Title of a novel by Thomas Wolfe–not Tom Wolfe of the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but the North Carolina guy who was so tall he stood up and wrote longhand with a pad on top of the icebox–probably an actual icebox, back then.)

“There’s no place like home.” This magic phrase (along with the ruby slippers) took Dorothy Gale back home from Oz after a long journey commencing with, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more.”

I envy the turtle, in a way. He wears his home on his back, and never has to leave it behind. On the other hand, he’s got to haul it around anywhere he goes. He doesn’t get the option of calling the off-duty firemen moving company to pack up all those CDs, books, and essential ephemera.

We say that our dream is to move to the Place Of Wonder. Up in the mountains, at a resort, out by the beach. But it’s tough to start over in a new place, where we have to prove our worth all over again and where it could be difficult to fit in and be accepted. After all, most of those people already have all the friends they need. Why should they take you in?

But then maybe you don’t fit in where you are now. Or you don’t want to fit in. Are those with mansions who still don’t feel at home in their hearts better off than a homeless person who feels secure all in himself, with nothing to wrap around him except his sense of self and a tattered quilt? What constitutes home?

Our family has a pretty good home.

In Money Magazine’s 2006 evaluation of cities across the USA, our little town won a spot on the top list. Richardson, Texas, our lilypad, ranked 15th in Money Magazine’s 2006 survey of the “Top 100 Best Cities to Live,” published this summer. Of all Texas cities, Richardson ranked third. Some of the criteria used for the rankings included housing costs, educational attributes, quality of life, leisure activities, weather, healthcare and job growth. (Population is listed at 102,911 now–can that be right?!)

But I don’t know about all that.

We moved here because of my dad changing jobs when I was seven and had just finished first grade in Houston, where I loved Rummel Creek Elementary and all my neighborhood friends. On the way up here in the Dodge Dart, the radio played Dean Martin’s current hit, “Houston.” “Goin’ back to Houston” was my refrain.

On July 4th, 1967, we drove up to this very house. I sat outside on the roof of the station wagon and gazed across the country club to watch the fireworks in the open fields that would soon become UT/Dallas campus (at the time, it was just opening as a graduate research institute.) For years, whenever we’d invite people from Dallas proper out to the house, they’d often stop at Spring Valley Road and call, because they were “running out of Richardson.” We told them to get back on the road and continue north. Now we’re near the center of the northern sprawl.

We watched as the city came out and engulfed us. Yankees started invading in the 1970s (the kids didn’t want to come and spent all of junior high complaining how they wanted to go back to New York, Michigan, Colorado, wherever.) They filled Plano and expanded into Frisco, McKinney, Allen, and all those little bitty towns. Pollution came with all the cars. Still, it’s not as bad as in most “big” cities.

Our little enclave is quiet. Lots of retirees have sold their houses, and the new owners have torn down the old houses on the large lots and built McMansions. Some have done sensitive update/remodelings, though, and we still have mature trees, two parks, and three creeks.

I wouldn’t leave the doors unlocked, but it’s quiet and we know all our neighbors. Still a good quality of life here. Until I get my vacation home in Carmel/Monterey, I’m probably here to stay.

A place I have left behind . . . is my childhood. What I miss most about it is the sense of wonder, the sense of discovery, how much there was to learn every day. Houston remains mystical in my mind becuase it was where my magical childhood took place. The city now isn’t much like it was in the early 1960s, but I still feel nostalgia for it. I’ll always prefer (and lust after) Midcentury Modern homes, Eichler-style designs with courtyards and center atrium courts, because I grew up in one and we were so happy there. I’ll always think of being close to the beach as the perfect location. And the little aquamarine wading pool in my mind’s eye beats just about any water park.

I miss the security of childhood. Your parents and teachers could fix just about anything. Now I’m the grown-up. Although I get to drive (at first that was all YAY, but now it’s kind of tiring to point that two-ton rig down the road every day), and I get to have my own money and buy a new CD if I want to or pick out a new dress that doesn’t please my parents and refuse to eat Brussels sprouts and
not wear ugly shoes . . . there are drawbacks. The other day, my sister-in-law (being bombarded with wails and whines of “Mom! Mo-o-o-m!”) stood in the middle of my kitchen and announced, “I don’t want to be ‘Mom’ any more. One of you take over!”

It sucks sometimes to be the grown-up.

So home and “previous home” is actually where the heart is–and where the mind is. And there’s still plenty to look forward to. I can’t wait for my second childhood!

“I got to keep movin’ on.”–every blues singer

Facing up to it

Got the rejection from the Delacorte contest today. The form letter said that they got more than 400 entries and did not comment on any manuscripts. They had the _chutzpah_ to include entry info for next year’s contest and also to basically ask us to buy the winner’s book (as if!)

Dam’ devil cards were right.

So now that one goes back on the rounds of agents who take YA urban fantasy. I took a little break from that after I did those changes for SuperAgent and then sent the book to this contest. That’s partly because I don’t know any more agents who take YA. There are two new agencies opening up, but when I asked them about e-querying, I didn’t get an answer, so I’ll have to wait until they do some kind of announcement of their street addresses.

I should take a hint and give up on this. That book is good enough to sell (and so said the SuperAgent, in fact) and it deserves a chance, but there isn’t one marked for us. Talent doesn’t matter. Great writing doesn’t matter. Engaging characters don’t matter. All that matters is whether the PLOT is judged to be something that will keep readers turning pages. This is direct from the mare’s mouth the other day. I’ve always tended to prefer characters who generate a story, so I’m stuck at a disadvantage, the same way I am with musicians who sight-read while I mostly play by ear. We do it differently.

But I’m still working on the new mystery while polishing up the first half of the Pundit book to be sent to Kensington. I mean, what else would I do?

Spent the day getting yelled at. At full volume. First I mentioned to my mother that an appraiser would come by tomorrow morning to do the appraisal for our refinance, and she blew a gasket. “Don’t let anyone come here! You haven’t gotten that board fixed on the side of the gutters, you haven’t done this, you haven’t done that! And you have all this JUNK in here that you need to get rid of!* He won’t appraise it for full value!”

All the shouting brought hubby out of his “sickroom” (he had a stomachache today)–actually, I think it was because he ran out of diet drinks and came in to get a couple more. She started asking him if he really wanted to start over on the thirty years–and he had already been all over me about that. In addition, they changed the terms. They originally offered us 6.5%, but then after the underwriter in Texas looked everything over, they hiked that up to 7-something after I had faxed in our signed documents, and we never signed the new documents. Hubby said at that point he was backing out, but I kept coaxing him, as this would pay off our little home equity loan and make it all one (lower) payment. So today he countered (again) that the home equity thing was a ten-year loan, and we’re already in year four of that, and we’d be spreading that over 30 years–which he didn’t want to do. He also said that we can take the interest off of both the loans off our taxes, etc. Between the two of them, you’d have thought I was caught committing some kind of immoral crime. I told them that we’d lose the $500 application fee, and they zapped me over that and both had to take stomach pills and blood pressure pills. I then told them that I could pay that back out of whatever I happened to earn. (HA!) Anyhow, I ended up calling the appraiser and the loan officer to tell them he wasn’t going to sign on the dotted line.

The loan officer tried EVERY tactic. She told me how dumb it was to lose the application fee. I told her that I was sorry they’d changed the percentage, and that she was preaching to the choir, as I was still in favor of doing this and saving us a few hundred dollars a month. I could have gotten new carpet and bought the paint I need with that “extra” money. I suppose she hated to lose her commission.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe this isn’t meant to be.

It sure seemed like a good idea. But the opportunity is bye-bye now.

Then they both got after me for spending time on the computer when I “should” be doing all this other stuff. (They didn’t agree on what the other stuff IS that I should be doing, though.) The only time they get along is when they unite against the common enemy. (grin) My dog looked miserable this entire time, because he hates it when they shout. The postman was too cowed to knock on the door (I’m sure he heard them shouting about the way that the S*Bs in the guv-mint listen in on your cell phone calls–yes, they are conspiracy theorists, but they work opposite sides of the street, and no, I don’t remember how the heck they got onto that subject, but you would have thought we’d found listening devices in the ice cubes from hearing them rant) and left my package on the doorstep very quietly. Dog and I found it when I took him out to tinkle.

It was my new stretch jeans. In the new size down. A little snug in the hips, but that’s good. They’ll last longer.

At least it wasn’t a manuscript coming back. That’s because I don’t have anything out–at least I don’t THINK I do–except the stuff that was submitted electronically.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m worried about what exactly I’m going to have to lift later on. Is Atlas retiring any time soon?

MARKET RESEARCH/SNEAKINESS: Reading the editor’s other authors

Saturday comes, and I’m doing a bit of research.

Basically, I’ve got the opportunity to send my new PunditShow romantic comedy to Kensington editor Kate Duffy. She created the Brava line and other lines at the company and has 25 years of experience. I need to research what she likes, because if you’re going to sell somebody an igloo, it’s good to know whether they even like ice, isn’t it?

So. Her authors include Lori Foster. I went to Borders today (*they are closing the Richardson location next week! Waaah!*) and got three of Lori Foster’s latest novels. They seem to ME to have a voice similar to _The Pundit’s Take_ (formerly _In the Gypsy’s Wagon_, but that was a working title, as is this), and I see that the romance starts along with the action on the first page–which is what I do with this book. I think this is a good sign. I also got two other books from Kensington for comparison (I think they probably are also her authors.)

And I picked up the hardcover reissue of Jennifer Crusie’s _Manhunting_ (which is one of her old Harlequin Blazes) because I love that one, although not as much as I love _Charlie All Night_. (I’m going to study Crusie and Janet Evanovich as well, to try to analyze their appeal to their audiences, but that’s for later.)

So. Tonight when I settle down for the evening with “Prairie Home Companion” and the Pit Pom, I’ll read one or more of the Foster books and make note of the following: whether she has the hero and heroine think about one another’s appearance and traits while doing other activities (I’m doing this already); whether she talks about what they’re wearing (I don’t usually do that, but I did it in this book, and I just need to see if Lori F. does it, because if she doesn’t, my descriptions could be seen as “taking inventory”); whether she uses a lot of real brand names (I don’t); whether she allows any introspection or if she doesn’t have ANY (some people consider it “backstory/narrative/junk to avoid.”) I’ll also observe the general tone (light-hearted, I hope, from the looks of these) and voice. If I think my Pundit book is similar enough, it’ll be the one I’ll send.

There’s an additional problem with it, though. I ended up feeling comfy with my heroine being named “Kate.” Well . . . that’s the editor’s name. Will this be a problem? I know it would be a problem for me to read about a character with my first name or my middle name. It has even bugged me when there are characters named the same as hubby or Mama. *SIGH* It’s not that I couldn’t change the character’s name, but heck. I suppose I could let her be . . . Kerry. That might fit all right. Or do you think that wouldn’t matter?

The person I should ask that of is her assistant. I don’t want to do that, though. I guess when I call to say the manuscript is in the mail, I could ask what she thinks and plan for a global search/replace if she thinks it’s a no-no, but there’s danger in confiding in someone like that. You don’t want to become “that weirdo.” And they might just say, “Oh, no, of course it’s OK,” because it seems silly to ask, but then maybe it’ll turn out that subconsciously it bugs the editor and ruins the book for her.

I need one of the editor’s authors to answer this. But I don’t know any of them as Close Personal Friends. They have websites, but they usually get fanmail at those e-mail addresses, and not questions like this. (!) Hurdles, hurdles. I need better jumping shoes.

Chinese New Year begins tomorrow. All of hubby’s co-workers have taken next week off. You’re not supposed to clean house over the New Year, or your family’s luck gets swept out with the dust. I will try this reasoning on the family, but I’ll bet it doesn’t wash.

Oh, and I got voice mail on my cell phone from Monica at CBS-TV (!!!) telling me, “We got your photo and application by e-mail, and we are very impressed. I’ve e-mailed you the instructions to make your audition tape.” But both Mama and hubby are vehemently against my making a tape. They are afraid there’ll be an emergency at home while I am gone (for five days, to New York, I think, instead of L. A.) and that we can’t afford to fly me home, and I’m not supposed to fly because of an ear drainage problem anyhow (the doctor wrote a note that they have filed up where I used to work, and Don has the same note on file: if we fly, we’ll lose part of our hearing permanently each time. Ack!! Mine is from that surgery, but his was apparently from birth that way.) So I could not “rush” home on a train or bus. They seem determined to block my making of any tape. I’m really flattered that they would call me . . . the family can’t even let me enjoy being chosen to get the call. And there’s no guarantee that they’d pick me to be a contestant, even if I could send a tape. Rats. Rats. Rats.

Anyhow, it is flattering to be asked. I’m going to figure out some sneaky way to make a tape and send it anyhow, nyah. I suspect they want to keep me in the “box” and don’t want me to change–what I mean is, they have me here as “nothing” and they don’t want me to become something that they can’t control. Even if it means they get money out of it. Does that make any sense? Unfortunately, I’ll bet some of you understand what I am saying here.

I told them that if they didn’t trust God (they claim to be religious) to not zap me during the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go be on TV in a game show, then they weren’t very confident. They replied that this could be the Devil’s work. No, I really mean it–hubby DID say that. I think he was only halfway joking. My mother, of course, is operating from a position of fear and terror. She’s taking her oxygen right now and has a lung infection. I know there would be arrangements to make, but heck, I think it would be fun, even if I got up there and miffed the first question and farted and fell on my face. We’re talking fame–doesn’t everyone get her fifteen minutes? That would be a “gas.” (Ouch, sorry for the pun.) But anyway . . . think of the song “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” “Even if I fail, it’s me and not you!”

Surely God/the Universe would be willing to do King’s X and not cause any crises for a few days while I went off to do this. But anyhow, I’ll keep you posted. I’m going to see if our CVS has one of those digital disposable vidcams (thanks for telling me about those!) The quality might not be the greatest hoo-ha, but it’s a way.

I told you I was sneaky.