Remember the smell? Remember the brightness? Remember the joy of popping open a new box of 64 BRILLIANT COLORS on the first day of school (or whenever you wangled one)?


Well, OK, then. But some of us still feel drawn to it all. (One of the arts, all of the arts.) (Ars gratia artis.)

Here, go look at all the crayon names. Some of them have changed since we Ancient Ones were pups. They’ve added a few and renamed others, I’m pretty sure, and some have have gone the way of all flesh. But anyhow, we’ve got colors.

And we’re gonna play.


Shakespeare’s 444th, Mama’s 78th BIRTHDAY

Went to Black-Eyed Pea restaurant for Mama’s birthday. She decided on take-out so we could sit in the park and sneeze under the native elms and watch three little kids fight over the swings. How restful! But we also dropped by the mall to pay Sears for that lovely dishwasher and Macy’s for all those skirts that are too tight across my a** to wear at the moment *sob*. To make up for it, I picked up a white stretch denim skirt one size larger *bawl* that covers said anatomical feature properly, but which Mama said increased its apparent size by around double. *wah* Don’t care . . . will wear with tunics not-tucked-in for the moment. Back to Sekrit Starvation Plan #3 ASAP. Mama tried on 17 pairs of shoes, all of which didn’t fit. *wail* Most of them were on sale, too. The ones at WallyWorld the other day were too wide for her and gaped open, so she wouldn’t get those, either. So I got her two lottery tickets instead.

I wish one of our neighbors would go on vacation for a while so I could watch their house and see if I can kick in the pool. The physical therapy man always said I should try to do a bit in the pool *if* I could get in and out of it, and now that I can walk up and down stairs somewhat (surely those pool steps would be OK), I want to try. Maybe we can go to a motel and stay overnight so I can try out the pool. It’s plenty warm enough on many days, but too early for any public pools to be open. O’course the water’s gonna be *COLD*!

On the agent/submissions front: no news is good news.
Silence is golden.

Hope the feast was peaceful and inspirational–and here’s some prose

For those who celebrated Passover (Pesach) last night, peace from our house to yours. We hope it was peaceful and inspirational. I had a mind to do a form of the feast for us here at home, in a way, but the plans went bye-bye for a number of reasons.

Hubby had a problem on Friday at cardiac rehab and had to call me to come get him, so our Friday was spent worrying (but he just seems to have a cold and serious sinus impaction, which caused the vertigo and stumbling-dizziness; they monitored him at the hospital where he has rehab for about an hour and said his vitals were fine, although he started out on the bicycle at level 5 instead of 4 as he’s supposed to and his BP went up over 230 . . . they think maybe that is what started him getting dizzy!) Then yesterday my aunt went to the hospital in Sherman briefly to be checked out for a similar dizzy spell (but SHE has an artificial heart valve and a pacemaker-like cardiac device that is out of whack and can’t be re-synched until two weeks from now, because they have to schedule her in . . . aarghh!) and we worked in the yard, but my HEART was with those who were at a Seder. I never have believed that Christ told us to abandon all the ancient feasts! But let’s not get into that with all its arguing . . . let’s just do it next year. And maybe make up a good one, like Shal’s Un-Birthday, and have that around midsummer with an orgy a feast and Maypole dancing. ‘kay.


Via , doing ‘s meme of posting an evocative favorite paragraph or two from my go-to books.

This is cool, but especially point-ful (that’s not even a word, but you know what I mean) today because yesterday I wandered two bookstores in the late evening and mourned that I didn’t seem to like ANYthing I picked up and just didn’t want to read any more. This is alarming, as it has been part of my basic “is” and “be” ever since I can remember. (I was precocious and one of those early readers. An only child back then was not only lonely, but without the Internet and computer games and videogames and other pursuits that keep you from being so singular. I used to play Monopoly and other board games with my stuffed animals. Was tough to do strategy for both me and Pooh. Many hours were spent fantasizing a life for the stuffed animals, as well as for Dream-House-And-Convertible-Owning Barbie, Midge, and those little rugrat cousins of hers . . . Skipper and Toody, or whatever the little-bitty one was named.) As I backed out of the parking place at the last bookstore, I mused that I couldn’t think of one thing I’d like to read . . . except maybe I could re-read Gatsby again, or To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Secret History, or The Boyfriend School (which has, over the years, revealed a few flaws, but is still a guilty pleasure), or Hamlet, or Macbeth. I pulled out Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare and his Guide to the Bible as well, and browsed for a while until I felt better.

From Gatsby (also in my icon):

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning —

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

(Do you know TGG only has NINE chapters? Wow.)

From Tale of Two Cities (also the ending):

(Sydney Carton, as he is about to be executed while posing as Charles Darnay)
But somebody will weep for me now. And that knowledge redeems a worthless life. Worthless but for this final moment, which makes it all worthwhile. It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest I go to, than I have ever known.

From Hamlet (the dirty part):

Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap? [Lying down at Ophelia’s feet.]
Ophelia: No, my lord.
Hamlet: I mean, my head upon your lap?
Ophelia: Aye, my lord. [then blushing]
Hamlet: Do you think I meant country matters?
Ophelia: I think nothing, my lord.
Hamlet: That’s a fair thought, to lie between maids’ legs.
(Hamlet, Act III, Scene ii)

Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
(Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii)

From To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

Calpurnia (their housekeeper/cook): “Don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house, they are company and don’t let me catch you remarking on their ways like you were so high and mighty.”


“That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? And if you can’t act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen.”

Sounds like MY grandma.

Fractured Fairy Tales “does” Hansel and Gretel

I’ll bet Jay Ward *did* make “Hansel and Gretel” as a Fractured Fairy Tale. I’ll bet I even saw it as a kid! Wish they were still running “Bullwinkle.” But they aren’t, at least not on the evil empire of Time Warner cable, so I had to make up my own version. Blame my early exposure to “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and to Steve Allen’s _Bop Fables_ as read aloud by Allen Ginsberg. Or was that Louis Nye? Don Knotts??

As it turned out, my absurdist version (which I wrote in a day and polished over the next day or so, so don’t get too carried away with expectations, although it IS an ABSURDIST TALE) did NOT in fact get sent to the author/judge who’s writing the counterpoint story . . . I got a rejection from the editor, Sonya, the day she sent the stories over. So I didn’t get a personalized rejection from after all. Heck!! And of course this story is so ridiculous/absurdist that it wouldn’t sell anywhere. Dennis suggested I send it to Seth MacFarlane at “Family Guy” and get him to make it into one of those crazy mini-flashback segments starring Chris and Meg (the kids in the series) as H. and G., and of course the dad as the Wicked Witch! That would be hilarious, but anyhow, I don’t even know where you’d send it, and they probably wouldn’t use it. So what do I do with this?

Inflict it on my poor, innocent readership.

Of course, I’ll put most of it behind an LJ-cut. But unless you page down IMMEDIATELY, you’ll accidentally see part of it as your eyes sweep the page. Watch out! Here it comes. . . .


A Bop-Be Fable
Retold by Shalanna Collins

So, like, everyone has this story totally wrong, and I want to set the record straight.

Yes, once upon a time there actually were these creepy little twins named Hansel and Gretel–you know they’re wack when you hear THOSE names, dog, because normal names are like Typhani and Eethan–and they lived way out in the woods of Tennessee somewhere, or Appalachia, or wherever (what am I, a map?) Anyhow, it was some grotty place where nobody had any shoes and they all married their sisters or cousins and had outhouses and no Wii gaming systems, if you can believe that.

So out there where there was practically no civilization, there’s this widowed woodchopper with two kids who remarries some crazy woman so he can get a little now and then, if you know what I mean, but things weren’t working out too well. For one thing, there was a recession going on and the Fed had just chopped the prime rate like the lumberjacks can split a log, but it hadn’t done any good. And the new wife just had a gastric bypass and she’s starving but she couldn’t eat and she wouldn’t keep any food in the house except protein powder. Her hormones were in quite a state, as you might imagine.

One morning the kids woke up to the sound of chaos and shrieking downstairs in their cabin.
Food! Food!

HONORABLE MENTION for LR over at BookEnds contest!

_LITTLE RITUALS_ is one of agent Jessica Faust’s honorable mentions in the BookEnds agency blog opening-lines contest!

I think this might mean I could send her a “requested” query. Of course that one is already sitting with dream agent/angel Holly Root (pray! In a positive sense, I mean–you know God doesn’t approve of or listen to prayers that someone be hurt or zapped, and I know this from childhood experiences of praying that type of thing; it only leads to the Universe spanking YOU, so just ignore this if you hate me.) Wow!

Hate to be such a fangirl. But if all those pubbed types can talk about their sales and their editors, then I can talk about this and send you over there. Want to see? They didn’t carry on about it, but the lady did say she likes the voice. Of course the book isn’t ABOUT OCD at all–that’s just a part of Daphne’s mind–but it is kind of what sets her and it apart. It really used to set the book apart, as it was originally written about six years ago, before “Monk” was on TV. (The fact that the book was written before “Monk” can be confirmed by Holly Root, in fact, as she remembers reading it back in 2004 when she worked for Trident Media.) Maybe “Monk” was groundbreaking in getting people to accept a character with a neurosis or a “disorder” that people look down upon, though, so I thank them for that. I should really watch an episode of that sometime.

BUT _Little Rituals_ is really not about that. It’s about Daphne’s journey towards worthiness (in her mind, as it starts out), her changing from someone who blames fate and luck for everything that can possibly go wrong to someone who accepts that she can’t control everything, but that she must change the things she can. (That sound like a familiar life theme to you? *hee*) She’s more of a control freak than an OCD-ist at all. But if they request more than the first 100 words, they’ll discover that. Anyhow, it’s good encouragement.

LR book has been very patient as far as being LIKED. As far as getting NOTICED, some readers of this journal will remember that editor Chris Keeslar called to tell me he laughed out loud at many of the lines in the partial he got, but that he wanted to see something impossible happen in the first ten pages to highlight the type of story it is (not about shoes and shopping, which is what he said the voice and tone of the book implied it was going to be, which is wrong), and so I made the dwarf disappear . . . and I have him to thank for this improvement in the book. A year before it made it to Mr. Keeslar, lovely agent Dan Lazar said that he liked the voice but couldn’t spend 400 pages with someone as nasty as Daphne (she needed to Save The Cat, and indeed in the version he read, she had lots more snarky thoughts that really didn’t suit her and that were modified–so I have him to thank for THAT!) Writer (and former editor) Melissa Senate suggested that I move the Patrick-zaps-Daph scene up front (that was also great help) and dream agent Natasha Kern emphasized that I must show Daphne moving towards her heart’s desire (when she said in e-mail that she saw great potential and that she ALMOST decided to take me/it on, but wanted me to rethink Daphne’s inner journey before I rewrote and re-sent . . . that was way back, at least six years ago.) So all of you who are thinking you should be able to crank out a book in a year and sell it . . . *grin* good luck with that, seriously. It CAN happen. But, as you can see, a book can make a life’s journey with many “mentors by the side of the road who don’t even realize they’re helping you that much by their offhand remarks,” just as a person can. (“And we never knew they were angels.”)

You can see the BookEnds blog with mention of my book at

Maybe Daphne finally found that magic, after all. (This is an allusion to the last line of LR, the novel, as Dennis knows.)

*BUT I probably shouldn’t even post this, as it might jinx it. Oh, well, too late*


Whoa! Long time no post! I didn’t mean to cause concern about my continued all-right-ness. Just had to take care of a snowball of paperwork. Whew.

I just found out that some of my cousins are reading me (hi, Sabra and Jason!), so now I can’t say those awful things about my family any more. If I slip, y’all e-mail me right quick so I can take it down before they see it. *grin*

I don’t have time to do that novelists meme right now, but I probably will. And I *am* going to post about the conference.

I just saw that the Robert Benchley Society contest entries are up! The judging will take place sometime in May, so they’ll probably be up for perusal between now and then. There are around 69 of them. Mine is E044. It’s fun to have an entry up.

More on this when I come up for air. (It was too cold to go swimming today. And I was going to see whether my knee would let me kick in the water!)
# # #
I am, after all, an internet construct partly of your own making.–

CON REPORT: Didn’t Dream It–Dallas is Delightful RWA


I survived the RWA “Dreamin’ in Dallas” 2008 Writers’ Convention! Man, I must be really out of shape. Running through the hallways recognizing people and going across the ENTIRE HOTEL trying to find a working Diet Coke vending machine took it out of me. But I emerged with good news.

Agents panel: Candy Havens (author, moderator), Pam Strickland (agent), Holly Root (agent), Liz Trupin-Pulli (agent), Elaine English (agent). Beautiful!

Agent Holly Root is allowing me to send partials of the Marfa Lights mystery *and* of _Little Rituals_. Perhaps she was simply overwhelmed by my fast-talking sales pitch. It must have been like being overcome by a perky Amway distributor! *grin* But I took a different tactic with my pitch this time–talking about what makes my mystery different and how I set my scenes in interesting places so that it wasn’t all “she gets a cell phone call, she drives to so-and-so, she interviews suspect X” as I had seen so many times in various books (and had done before in my earliest tries at mysteries!)–and I think I got the essence of the book across MUCH better. I told you I’d let you know how my new approach went, and I have to say that it made me FAR more relaxed than trying to describe the plot and making the book sound like just more birdcage liner.

Of course, now the book has to live up to all my hype! I think it *does*, but of course we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed.

The real surprise came in the last couple of minutes of our eight-minute interview (only eight minutes! Good grief!), when I mentioned that I also have _Little Rituals_, my magical chicklitty literary novel. I had prepared a short blurb-like synopsis on paper, and when I handed it to her, she said, “Oh! I remember liking this when I read it before when I worked for Jenny.”


Whoa! I knew that I recognized her name, but I hadn’t realized it was from my stack of lovely “no thanks” anti-acceptance letters. My brain flew around the room as she confirmed that yes, indeed, she used to work with Jenny Bent at Trident (that was not in my Googled-up information–it only mentioned Trident), and that she recalled _Little Rituals_ from the time it was being considered by Jenny. *squeee* This was a couple of years ago, and that agency went so far as to request that I fax in a waiver that they required at that time (I dunno whether they still do) saying that I held them blameless if something I wrote caused the end of the world as we know it, etc. But after my fax buzzed down the wires, chick lit cratered, and the agency pretty much decided to refuse all chicklitty stuff. At the time, I was billing Daphne’s story as chick lit because of the voice, although it is actually a literary novel (in my opinion) or commercial women’s fiction. So it came winging back with a standard rejection attached, and I had a good cry. And then a mad fit where I lay on the floor kicking around in a circle and beating my fists on the buffed hardwood. But! BUT! And again, BUT!!

Isn’t that awesome, that she remembered my story all this time, when she reads 100 manuscripts a week? (Or thereabouts.) *glee* I am really excited, because I have done revisions since then in response to Chris Keeslar’s suggestions during his rejection-phonecall (I have had several of those, which is pretty wild in itself) and to a couple of other people’s comments on the book. It’s the new-and-improved Daphne’s life on steroids.

I learned SO much from the workshops I attended. It would’ve been so nice to be able to attend some of the others that were scheduled against the ones I sat in on, because one was about how to set your book at the CIA (!), another about the new direction in paranormals, and a third about profiling criminals and bad guys. Over the next few days, I’ll report on the pattern that agent Pam Strickland recommends your query letter should follow (she has preferences that are NOT the same as those of the Agents Who Blog, for the most part, about how you open your query!), what various houses are looking for, how to make your men sound different from your women (LOL), and what Lori Foster’s Secret Word is.

(Okay, there’s no Secret Word. But I have pulled a U-turn in my beliefs about Lori Foster. Previously, I was completely jealous-hate-O-rama towards her because during that critique phone call I won from editor Kate Duffy last year, I kept hearing, “Read Lori Foster and see how I like things done!” I picked up one of her books and it just didn’t send me (wrong genre–too much explicit sex), so I said, “Phooey! *jealous fit* Not for me!” So then I’m sitting at the keynote luncheon wondering what she’ll say, and . . . she said things that clicked totally with me! She said things like, “Don’t talk out your book–write it first. Have a special friend or two to brainstorm with and then WRITE IT. I’m a seat-of-pants writer who doesn’t know how to analyze and can’t tell you how to write a book, so if you don’t outline in detail, GOOD. Don’t revise for an agent unless you are signed with that agent–and don’t get locked into a contract; always have it book-by-book or have that thirty-day bailout clause, as relationships can change. Don’t listen to the negativity that’s on the ‘net–spend your time working, not carrying on about how some woman plagiarized stuff about a ferret. If critiquers want you to change your essential voice, hang up the phone. I don’t think crit groups where you bring 10 pages every two weeks and everybody picks over the little details but has forgotten what they read last time are so great–you need people who’ll read over the entire book after it’s finished.” [I PARAPHRASE HERE, but that’s the general drift of her remarks.] She was so charming and down-to-earth. *Bad, wicked me* for having had the green-eyed monster. I ended up totally in love with her and EVEN IF I don’t buy ALL of her books right away, I am now a fan and will check out her new dark urban fantasy line, written under the name “L. L. Foster.” All is forgiven! **GRIN**)

Much more to come as I transcribe my conference notes over the next week or so. And from now on, I promise, it’ll be under an LJ-cut so the non-writers among you don’t have to read all that woo and see the pictures.

No, really.