Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I have the suit laid out for tomorrow; grey pants (taken in so they fit their best), black short-sleeved belted jacket, and melon rib-knit sweater. A beautiful big flower brooch, aluminum I think, or tin - it was my grandmother's, and this will be the first time I wear it. Tiny silver earrings, single beaten-band ring, watch. My nails are done, a nice copper pearl to echo but deepen the color of the sweater. The I Santi Italian leather bag, the Charles David shoes (a pretty good match with the bag actually; and it is a great bag - my s-i-l even commented on it when I was visiting). No necklace, no scarf. Simple, clean, and impeccable. The lint roller is at the ready.

Everything's set. I have my glasses in my bag instead of at the desk. I have my cell turned off already (nobody ever uses it anyway, but since they got the time of my interview wrong - 2:30 instead of 1:30 - there would be the possibility of a mom call at a bad moment). I cannot wait.

This will be my first in-person since the layoff. I had my first interview back in January, and one in March - the DAY before it happened. Wow, so the 30th actually; three months today.

Well, the third time's the charm, or so they say.

I plan to charm.

Let's see if they interest me.

It's time. I'm ready. I want to be working again!

Firing Up

When getting the computer up and running for the day's job slog and writing work, it is a Good Thing to have the Commodores funking along with "Too Hot Ta Trot", a VERY good thing indeed.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Codgerly Rant A-Comin'


Twice this week I have heard of people making hires of twenty-somethings who, respectively 1) showed up late every day their first - and last - week on the job; and 2) never showed up at all.

Hey. Employers who fire people like me because we cost too much.

How's that getting-rid-of-all-the-experienced-people-to-save-money thing working out for y'all? (I'm looking at YOU, most recent former employer - who ditched fully ten percent of your entire workforce on this "logic".)

They're cheaper for a reason, some of 'em, guys. The entitled, got-a-smiley-for-showing-up ones, who think they needn't bother TRYING in this life. Nor, apparently (astoundingly!) in this economy.


Okay, Okay - Yes - I'm a Vidiot

BUT ... The vidiocity is actually beside the point. It is, in fact, only the jumping-off point.

Most of the time since I have been unemployed, if the TV gets turned on during the day at all (before the news), it's been to play DVDs, often in the background as I do some things around the house, work on the computer, what-have-you. Daytime TV generally horrifies me. But today, after seeing that mind-bending moment of Randy Quaid's cinematic glory (heh), and turning off the set altogether to go run some errands, I came back and thought I'd try again. Usually This network plays nothing but Annette Funicello movies all day - which even I, with my unbelievably low standards of filmic consumption, really just cannot handle. But sometimes, you try things. (This is the method by which I have had the joy and excitement of catching "Scream, Blackula, Scream!", some old roller-disco movie with Linda Blair, and the like.)

Being a vidiot, I'm not above broadcast lottery, is what I'm sayin'. (Won't it be great for the world when I get my Nielsen diaries ...)

Okay, so. Today's special is "The Heavenly Kid."

I remember watching this as a teenager myself, it's contemporary with my sweaty-palm/dreamy years. Lewis Smith, the "Kid" himself, was the subject of one of my squillions and squillions of adolescent crushes. (For that matter, way to age, Lew. Nice job.)

For years, James Franco has really struck me for some reason I could never figure out. It made my paltry little brain itchy and twitchy and stuff. (Franco is too young for me to find attractive; at least that is what I insist upon to my inner self.)

But two minutes of Mr. Smith on the screen, and I finally had the brain-itch scratched. Franco looks very much like Smith did in years past. The chipped-flint cheekbones and the curled up mouth.

Frankly, I wouldn't mind getting either one of 'em for Christmas. Both of them have that smile like (a) they have a wonderfully warped, deep sense of humor, and (b) they are definitely up to something. Or up FOR it. (Franco has certainly borne this out, most recently in a wildly funny turn on 30 Rock.)


One more little brain-itch scratched for this lifetime. Stupid stuff like that makes me grin like a dork.


The interview is scheduled for 1:30 Thursday. Excellent.

Wiki'ing is Believing

Yep. It is true.

I was just flipping channels, and it WAS a biopic about LBJ, starring Randy Quaid and Patti Lupone I just saw on "This" ...


*Blink, blink*

Monday, June 28, 2010

Well, Now This Is Irritating

I've tried every edit view, and can't find a way to correct the gobbledygook Blogger has made out of the headlines on my pages. Gah.

I Am Naked

I've published two excerpt pages. Eep.

Breaking Again

And now it's the sun cracking through the big grey sky. It has that glaringly bright, yet claustrophobic quality of after-a-storm, and I hope this is because it's only coming out between bouts of rain - that there will be more rain. We need it.

The thunder rolls. I can see lighting above me, even though the sun is so close by it's almost here too. Vying lights in the sky ...

I really am trying hard not to get all mystical and excited here, but even if just for the fact of rain: I am excited anyway. It feels good.

It's been too long since I felt excitement.

And the Sky Burst Forth

And it is raining. A wonderful, windy, stormy, pelty grey rain, dizzying and slanting, welcome and beautifully dark. Twenty minutes ago, it was sunny. I hope it won't be so once again as quickly as that - the drought is too much. And we need this too much.

As the sky opened up, I was sending my very last query from the list in Writers Market. It is the 24th query I've done, the last of the electronics (from this source). Now will begin the real work, of course - of researching MORE agencies and agents who handle my genre; information beyond the book, not handed over with deets and an easy list.

As for those hard copies still pending ... well. Still pending, until I get a good capacity printer!

This day doesn't necessarily feel portentious, but I would be happy to take the sky wetting us down at last as a good sign. The interview change this morning. The last query being a particularly interesting one.

I can close my big fat book for a while (until getting a printer!), and embark on new work.

Maybe even work I can get paid for.

May today be a good day. Full of signs and hopeful changes.


I've seen a lot of writers' blogs over the course of the query researching, and it's caused me to ask a question I've wondered about many times - to excerpt, or not to excerpt? I don't feel the blog in any useful way reflects the voice of my writing - not because the subtler structure of language use is any different, but because the overarching imperatives of plot, setting, and character oh so SLIGHTLY affect the way usage comes across. A blog is so removed from the venue of a barbarian king in Late Antiquity (or the early medieval era, if you prefer - or even the dawn of the "Dark Ages" if you're that sort), nobody looking at me as a writer can possibly gain any sense of my authorial work from this form.

So - many writers excerpt.

The habit of excerpting regularly, in posts, doesn't impress me. It seems a very WIP thing to do, and if that works for some, great - but I prefer to keep my WIP in the custody of personally trusted readers, and I also really can't stand the whiff of "showing off" constant public editing seems to entail. More to the point, the first novel isn't properly "in progress" anymore (kids: WIP means work in progress), so ... yeah, but no. And finally, I don't favor the position of regretting throwing my supposed-work around if and when it doesn't work out for whatever reason. Yeep!

But I have been considering placing one static exemplar on its own page, lately. It's very hard to consider a scene to use - out of context, again, so much of my work doesn't lend itself well without footnotes and explanation as it were. Heh. But an idea has occurred to me; one of the very first scenes I wrote, actually, if not the very first one I put down. I know it was the formative core of my first concept of the novel (much changed, though this item did survive - with enormous editing done to it!).

We shall see.

But feedback on the point is welcome, too. The current idea under consideration is to put another page over there by "the author's bio" and "images" - to include one short scene, enough to give a sense, but not more than a couple minutes' read. Comments encouraged (and appreciated)!


Aww. I went outside to get the Lolly, and this is the face I found to greet me.

Now, THIS: is your classic Despondent Puppy Face.
Keeping cool in the dirt in the camellia shade.


The prospect has canceled two of three of my phone interviews, in order to have me come in person instead. This is preferable to me, and NOT (just) because it gives me the chance to actually physically do something and get dressed like a civilized person. Meeting the people and seeing the site vastly improves the "read" you can get on a situation, so I'm very pleased. I also hope it means they're cutting out an extra step ... possibly even because they don't see the need for it.

Either way, excellent.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


For my writer friends. When it's time to start querying, either bookmark these sites, or search "agencyname, this keyword" using these terms:

  • publishers market place
  • querytracker
  • absolute write

Absolute Write is invaluable for providing feedback and information about QUERYING agencies, from and between writers.

Query Tracker shows tabs from each agent/agency searched which summarizes the genres they accept, and authors under representation with links to their amazon pages. This latter is extraordinarily helpful in researching an agency's catalogue, and whether they're right for your work.

Publishers Marketplace provides a truly deluxe presentation of recent sales, clients under representation and (often) specifics of an agency's catalogue, and specifics regarding querying (email, websites).

Never. Ever. EVER. Fail to look carefully at an agency's website for submission guidelines and sale, catalogue, author information. Most of the agents you really want to work with will highlight the heck out of these things, and pay close attention to sales in particular - you want an agent whose presence in publishing is still alive, is vital enough to provide you representation with a pulse. Consider how hard it is to navigate a site, and how a relationship with the people who built it might resemble the workings of the site itself. Think about what is most heavily emphasized and featured, and how well that suits you. Listen to what people say, outside the site itself. Think for yourself. Querying isn't about being desperately grateful for any and all attention; it is like job hunting: you're screening AGENTS as much as they're screening YOU. Remember that.

And send out acres of lovingly crafted queries - per EVERY single particular stipulated by each individual agent. They all want different things, and it's a pain in the behind, and it's an organizational nightmare. You have dozens of queries to work with - wah - it's so HARD to do each and every one individually, differently, hewing to every last picky requirement.

Do it anyway. Agencies have HUNDREDS, even THOUSANDS to read through; there are individual agents fielding upward of eight thousand queries in a year, kids. People who don't follow the guidelines they request to make that process easier and more navigable for themselves just provide agents reasons to delete, reject, or *resent* their queries. Don't do that.

For an administrative professional, it's funny - querying is an ideal project. The varying demands, the infinitessimal details, the checking and rechecking, the qeueing-up, the firing out, the following UP. It's all an organizational process, a project management challenge.

Writers: you are your own secretaries.

Be good at it. It makes life easier for the agents you're hoping to impress - and they LIKE that - and it makes life easier for YOU, in the end. And that's worth the work. Even if it is unpaid work - it might pay off when you do things right, and impress that perfect person, who will passionately advocate for you with the right houses.

Get to it, kids. Follow the bullets above, too, and it'll be a little easier.

Hot In the Kitchen

Some days, even when it's 106 out according to the car-mometer ... even when there's no job to take the leftovers to, to keep yourself from eating too many ... you just have to make chocolate chip cookies.

My gracious, the house smells amazing. Mmm-mm.

DINK Divorce

The split with me and Beloved Ex was not happy-fun-times for either one of us, but once done niether of us has stooped to hate the other one. Even at the time, though there were recriminations and ugliness, the fact that we respected each other was part of the problem, some days. It made divorcing each other the more hurtful, not less; and I think was central to the length of time the process finally took. We weren't speed demons about it.

Yesterday was the seventeenth anniversary of the day we married each other. As we have since re-establishing contact several years after the dissolution, and becoming friends, we called each other to mark the occasion.

B.E. is, strangely or not, one of the people I can depend upon in this world above most others. He is supportive, sympathetic, and available in ways sometimes even my best friends can't provide. Being a man, he has been kind to me on the "men" front more times and in more ways than women generally have the perspective to be, too. He thinks I'm worth a lot, and he's accepting of my choices, in ways a lot of people who think they love me best don't.

B.E. occupies, this all is to say, a unique place in my life, and certainly in my cranky old heart. One of the reasons I married him in the first place was that he is a good man - he always was - and those are hardly thick on the ground.

My stepfather wonders why, then, we are divorced. Heh. I suspect sometimes my mom's in sympathy with that questioning, herself.

It would have been so much easier if I had committed fully to B.E. It certainly would have made sense.

Apparently, I am not a sensible lady.

But I am grateful, if little else. For his respect. For his presence, even at 500 miles away - heh. For the friendship we have now, that I never thought to forge with him when we were actually *together*.

Happy seventeenth, Sweetness. Be well.

Friday, June 25, 2010


... and still no rejections, for almost a week and a half. C'mon, people. Get to reading.


The change in the employment market is definite right now, at least locally. The number of listings overall is up, and today I got a call from a recruiter, who'd viewed my resume online. I haven't been getting response from my Monster nor LinkedIn profiles (the three or so people who have emailed me with "opportunities" to sell insurance or financial services - gah - do not count, frankly), so this is an interesting indicator.

I have scarcely considered contract work, to be honest. I see the names Ajilon, Spherion, or the words "Company Confidential" and I scroll on. I spent too much of my youth temping, and it feels at best like being a rent girl, which isn't a pleasure of any sort for me. I've had contacts, over the years, with people who were very excited to "put me on the books" and never speak with me again; I tend to be polite to this sort of recruiter, but entirely disinterested. Even the friend of a friend of mine I only spoke with in order to mollify my friend; and when I did (both times) I have to say I was dumbstruck by her ignorance of the field she claims to have such knowledge of, spanning so-and-so many years. The second one this friend referred me to also never contacted me once.

So, my response to contract procurers (ahem - and, yes, "hah") tends to be polite, but my expectations: nil.

Still, this woman was professional, which is unusual in itself; and she copped instantly to the fact that the position she was thinking of for me was one I was probably overqualified for. Which I was, unquestionably. She asked me to refer anyone I might know (I shared her contact info with that friend of mine who seems to collect recruiters), and assured me we would talk again.

I expect that will not happen.

But if it does, at least she apparently won't be dumb enough to be trying to interest me in entry-level stuff.

And there's that phrase again: So it goes.

Motivation, Intent, and Tone

Here we have a very interesting post indeed, considering my own recent thoughts about horror and violence. Something of a gamer's eye view of the same things I was on about, with a more big-picture perspective, which is good to see too.

It's not so much the violence. The violence is a symptom. It's the blatant fear of ideas in the face of financial risk.
--a perfectly-stated point from the post's comments section

My old barbarian - a warrior king, after all; and a historical one, yet - fits in the category of a mindless sociopath, but his perspective on the requirement of violence is unfamiliar to my mind, my context, my ability to personally justify. It was easy enough to see the reasons the *character* would and could do as he did; yet to spool it out, to produce the words describing it (in first-person, no less), to get all the scenes of murder and battle out, was a trial for me nonetheless. I put off writing certain of my battle scenes literally for YEARS, out of dread of having to do them.

I hate battle scenes, as we know; as I chide myself for committing to in the way I have and did. The ones I've created were more than a necessary evil; they were a story actually important to tell.

This really makes me wonder, then, how they read. I invested myself in the character - and in the first-person - with honesty. I have re-read these scenes perhaps more than others, because I'm aware I need the most editing and scrutiny in these things I have such a hard time writing in the first place. I put a lot of work into ... I don't know what the word is to use here. Verissimilitude seems best, though it dissatisfies me. Satisfaction, in its way, is better actually. The violence is "satisfactory" in the sense that it doesn't read as if a forty-two year old wimp of a hausfrau in modern Virginia was filtering through all the shock, yuck, and goo to produce them.

I produced them, let it be said, in a fairly workmanlike way - and, once I'd had useful feedback on a false start early on in the going, with pretty decent first-go results on the products themselves. I tucked my head down, took deep breaths, plunged in, and got the job(s) done.

Reading my own violence, as I've said, I have little visceral response, though emotionally I do follow pretty well, and I think the "read" works authentically in terms of what it is meant to evoke in a reader. But even with the control one has over reading, as opposed to other art forms - the way we can slow down (or perhaps rush) through certain passages, and manage our experience of them - they pack the punch they need to.

Video games can't be as easily modulated as books, slowing down or speeding up the pace of our reading; lingering or skimming, even physically holding the body - or the book - in some particular way. Sure, there are pause buttons, but play determines its speed, and immersive experience is the best way to do best, so "backing off" mentally is less of an option for the gamer ... or, at least, so I believe from my experience of gamers. My experience of actual play is nonexistent. But I know how much willing suspension of disbeief it takes just to watch a movie. And I know that it takes even more than WSD to participate in a game. A lot more.

So I segue from thinking of the effect my own violence has, on those whose responses to it I can guess, on those I can identify in one way or another, to the universal and popular question of "what media does to us" - and of course the answers always seem to make me queasy.

I justify my own contributions. I justify my own consumption. But I still find the whole a less enjoyable part of the culture than real storytelling, real human interaction, real *entertainment* (by, admittedly, my own definition of the term), real enjoyment of life. I question whether what I've done is art, or merely creativity designed to sell to a sick(-ish ... ?) society.

I tuck my head. And write the next scene of sudden gore.

As Vonnegut says. So it goes.


"And Here's Chet, With the Weather"

102 degrees yesterday - obviously, a record high. It's been so hot this week, I don't even have to mow the grass today. Nothing has grown, and we haven't seen rain worthy of the name in quite a long time now.

Today is breezy, and at 92 - I'm not being facetious here - it feels balmy. Lolly stayed out for hours today, and when she came in, she didn't even fall over panting. Having kept her on a TIMER through this heat, not allowing her out for more than fifteen minutes at a time, she seems quite happy to have sat outside enjoying her camellia shade. She seems quite happy now, sleeping on the tile floor of my office, too. Dear old thing.

I think I want to get out a bit tonight, see some friends, maybe even dance and try to find something to laugh about. Even if the laugh is sardonic or sarcastic. I think it will be a nice night, too, if the breeze stays with us, if the warmth leads to one of those June nights my dad used to call "soft". I used to use those nights to go out with TEO, opening every window in the car, turning up the radio, and singing whatever was on with verve and some irony. "Teenagering", we called it.

I could do with a bit of teenagering right now.

Happy Birthday, Zuba!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


The subject line here is meant to be read with some humor of course, but I really am pretty much shaking my head in disbelief at men right now - well, the ones like the ones I just met at Arby's. One is trying to take my hand so he can TELL HIS WIFE about my nail polish. Um.

And the other one is staring so obviously at my chest (not a constant occurrence for me, frankly, but nonetheless irksome) I would not be able to identify his face in a lineup, because it was so resolutely pointed downward.

I mean, good grief. I'm not a twenty year old twinkie in hot pants here. And these guys were definitely not youngsters themselves.

Isn't there some point at which restraint, or at least its facsimile, becomes a necessary learned trait?

Good. Grief.

Cake, or Death?

I have the choice right now, to either succumb to a headache because I've been too stupid to get around to eating dinner (stupid blood sugar), to go out and get something to eat, and try to avoid said headache, to sit here and get sucked further into query researching (seems a bad idea, what with the incipient barnstormer in my brainpan), or to sit here at a total loss as to what to do with myself, trying to subsist on excitement about the call for interviews I got this morning.

Maybe food is the way to go.

If only I could think of a direction to go, to get some.


I have not read nearly enough Roger Ebert recently. The Robin Hood thing prompted me to look back, and I'm going through some of his reviews.

Man, he is an amazing writer. I hardly ever agree with him, but don't I adore just to read him.


Did the newest "Robin Hood" bomb in a huge way or something? I just took at look at the beautiful second-run movie theater here, and it's already playing there. It cannot have been three months since that flick came out, I can't believe that. Did it just tank so completely it's already in $1.99 theaters??


Not that I would have liked it, to be honest. It sounded like little better than "Gladiator Beats Up Kevin Costner, But Is Every Bit As Much of a Jerkweed", for my money.


Time for a liquid lunch.

I mean a SLURPEE.

There may be a sandwich of some sort in the offing as well. But all I can think about is freezy, freezy, freezy goodness. Mmm.


One friend has real estate emergencies with a baby on the way. Another has terrifying personal news. Another just told me she had to put her sweet dachsund down on Sunday. Great Zot, I should count myself fortunate I'm merely unemployed and stressing about a flippin' novel.

If it comes in threes, can it STOP COMING NOW please ... ?

Thanks. That'd be great. Yeesh.


So every night, my laptop seems to want to have some "a program is open preventing your computer from shutting down" momentary interlude before then obeying and shutting itself down after all, but it's irritating me, because I do close everything before shutting down - so what the heck is going on? One gets antsy with stuff like this.

Technology is grand stuff when it works like it's supposed to. Which is to say, like a good and non-talkative little slave. I can't say I like insubordination a lot more than the President does.



Yes, I am aware that last post ended with dangling prepositions. Little known fact: certain grammar rules of "English" were imported to our tongue in the middle ages by monks, the main literate force in the populaton. The preposition rule is actually a Latin re-engineering. It isn't native to English's mechanical operation.

Dangling prepositions may be something up with which we will not put ... but they aren't actually inappropriate to our language, kiddies.

The sentence fragment I will leave for your scathing judgments, though. It has no justification but rhythm and the fact that this is my blog. So there.


I grew up convinced that I was a scaredy cat, or at the very least, so completely disinterested in violence and horror that I thought I couldn't handle them. Horror movies, in particular, held a very clear revulsion for me, to the point of dismissal without examination of course.

It was in the 90s, when Anne Rice's work became such a marketing juggernaut even among some of my friends, that I first began to have an inkling I might have more tolerance than I would have imagined. I remember so distinctly the time TEO said to me that she was scared by one of Rice's books. The concept was genuinely surprising, even alien, to me.

I got that Rice wrote about monsters, sure. But it was WRITING, for one thing. Just pages in one's hand. I was no more afraid of the words of violence than I was emotionally engaged by the passages where the characters got sexy, or angry--or afraid in their own right.

I grew up in one of the Cities of Poe; but he's never ever scared me. His lyricism, and the culture's romanticism of "gothic" horror, are too engaging in other ways for me to really feel much "boo" even when one gets into the ghastly descriptions of death.

I figured out, apparently, I have a strong stomach for *conjured* images of fear. Maybe because I'm a writer myself; or perhaps I am just made of sterner stuff than I'd realized.

In film, I have certainly been able to consume some awfully visceral stuff. But I refuse to consume it more than once. "Natural Born Killers", "Pulp Fiction", "Sin City" - I've seen and even enjoyed these films, and some even more violent and hard (see also, "Blood and Sand" - yowch), but their relentless effect means once is enough. I will never watch these films again, and never have. Sin City in particular I found to be an astoundingly great movie I warned at least one friend - guess who ... - just not to see at all, but with fulsome praise for how good it really was.

Violence in film maintains a powerful effect upon me, a distinct and physical response I do not ever want to feel blunted. I accept the validity of violence in art and creative works (for a great piece exemplifying this, watch "A History of Violence" by Cronenberg - what an excellent production, wow), but don't want to ever accustom myself to its extremest expressions. I may never buy the DVDs of "Blood and Sand" for this reason, much as I enjoyed it.


All this gets me thinking about the violence I have myself produced. My old barbarian is NOT a nice fellow, and at times perpetrates acts of quite shocking brutality. I wrote that, I did it.

Typical of my symptoms as a writer, of my inability to connect myself in certain ways to my own work, I find that I don't feel any more fear or recoil reading my own battle scenes or executions than I did reading Anne Rice's scenes of monsters killing puny humans. I am deeply emotional about my work, and I respond to its stimuli very acutely. But the violence doesn't get to me at all. It was necessary stuff, it had to be written, I was the one who had to write it.

All I can do with it now is warn my friends and family THEY DON'T HAVE TO READ IT.

If I am made of sterner stuff than I thought when I was younger: my writing is pretty strong medicine itself. One doesn't have to take it, and I'm not offering spoonfuls of sugar. I offer just this: freedom from having to consume it. There are several people I love, who've been so immensely supportive of me in the work I have done, whom I have told in no uncertain terms; this probably isn't for you. You don't have to go there just because we are family, or friends, or what have you. I've certainly told a number of folks to keep their kids from reading this, too. I wouldn't have my nieces, even the elder one, worrying about Aunt Diane's novel for some time to come, frankly. Those are NOT written to the standard this blog is. They're uncensored, as it were, and not appropriate for all.

I'm proud of what I've done. But nothing in the work demands the attention of those who accidentaly (or even by choice!) happen to share my life in one way or another. My accomplishment isn't gauged by how many people I can make pass out, or stand the hairs up on the backs of their necks.

(It actually may have me unintentionally snubbing people. I'm so stuck on "you really, seriously don't HAVE to read my book" that I haven't offered it to anyone, even those who might like it. With those who have asked me, I have joyously been happy to share bits or even drafts of the work as it has progressed. But I haven't poked at anyone to pester them to "lookit! lookit!")


Anyway, so horror and violence. Interesting things to study one's own reactions to. And relationships with.


It does look like the approaching end of the fiscal year may be changing things on the job market. I'm definitely seeing more listings right now. Perhaps some of the current market and employment news is exciting employers as much as the rest of us want to hope for. It does seem that there is more to bid for, whatever the reasons.

At least something isn't doomful and bad. That's helpful. Since nothing else is.


Last Thursday, for the first time since I've been looking for a job (which is to say, since January - not only since the layoff itself), one of the places I've been checking every single day finally yielded the very first listing I've seen yet. I applied for it instantly, of course.

Five days later, in fact in the evening after I'd spent the day helping a friend with moving some things in the heat of the day (and a very short game of phone tag), the first "A" from HR called me for a phone screen. We did it on the spot, and she said they'd be in touch as soon as they knew what next steps were going to be.

Today, one week after the listing initially went up, a second woman by the same name of "A" called, and we set three telephone interviews, to speak with those the position will report to. Next week. A2, too, amused the dickens out of me by being enthusiastic and delightfully personable, as well as getting our job done with a minimum of waste. To quote her: "awesome."


I have to say, if speed equals efficiency here, I'm wildly impressed already, and eager for these interviews and to LEARN MORE. This place has a pretty impeccable reputation, of course, and I had an interview there once so many years ago that even efficient little documentation-keeping me has lost record of exactly the job it was for, and who with. Even without surviving record, the meeting obviously left its mark in my soft little brain, so the employer has always been on my radar.

It's extraordinarily hard for me not to get all excited, what with these people MOVING the way they do.

I definitely can't wait to hear more.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Is my brain really broken, or does Blogger NOT have its own tagroll gadget? That seems really weird, and though I want to add that I really don't want to go importing gadgets from other sources.



In reaching the R's in my (first) list of queries, I've paused a little bit again in my progress, as going back to do the hard copy editions is still impossible due to continued absence of a printer with which to do them. *Bleah*

There will be further inquiries to make, of course; Writer's Market is not the only, nor final, word - and it shouldn't be. It doesn't know everything, and I've actually made one error in "query for so-and-so" choosing, because WM indicated a certain agent was with a certain agency, and the agency she's actually gone with (a) gave no indication of her presence, and was in fact (b) itself confusingly renamed and unexplained and the information as to what's actually what only appeared before me by accident when I was reading up on someone ELSE (the agent-in-question's new agency) several weeks later. Gah.

I'm hot and tired, and thinking of other things, not least of which is some personal stuff which is emotionally compelling. There is one iron in the fire, job-wise, which possibly may be heating up - but again, it is hard to get very excited about that. The heat's staying at three digits these days, and it's still only June. And there are people in the world who think it revolves around them. When I've spent as much time lately as I have ministering to the urgent and immediate needs of those I care about most, it's hard to offer much attention to other people demanding still more of it. If I even DO get a job soon, I'll be starting it in a state of exhaustion and stress that a lot of people who "envy" my "vacation" time do not understand (good lord, if one more person jokes about how jealous they are about how much sleep I must be getting ...). And on top of all that is going on, come the problems I've had with the former employer even living up to their severance agreement.

It's one thing after another.

And, after the R's, it'll be a good chunk of the rest of the list, and then another short breather.

I'm still not getting rejections, even from those agencies I received confirmations of one sort or another from on receipt of my queries.

Unemployment, and the state of being un-agented, are wearing periods to endure.

It would be nice for something good to happen soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Top Finds and Tangents

Over the course of querying, I've found the agents for Jean Auel (queried today) and Sharon Kay Penman (WOW - and queried on the 14th). There are a lot of agents I've queried who have particularly amazing reputations, whose responsiveness indicates a level of service which is just as important to me as genre matching has been. The partial request I got last week came from a woman whose buzz is that she is a remarkable and generous agent, and certainly if the attention she gives even rejectees is any indication, the work she must do for her chosen clients must be phenomenal.

There's more to consider in the querying game than just "do they have authors like me?", and this whole process has been a great learning experience. I'm appreciating it for far more than taking my mind off of unemployment, and I have to say - of all the "constructive things" I might have been doing in between working for actual paychecks, this one is tops in the discipline department. Research is one of those things that can bend your brain and wear you out, but it DOES force you to organization, to awareness, to essential connectedness. I am not getting dressed and going out every single workday, and talking to actual human people, but I am reaching out perhaps even more "actual" work would have me doing. I'm grateful for what this is doing for me.

Research itself is a funny thing, and at times I have considered blogging about that, too. In any attempt to educate oneself, it is extraordinary what you can find once you start looking. It's easy to go on a tangent - so even the discipline of HOW to do research insists itself upon you.

Reading for the novel, I might stray from my point of studying brick-making in Late Antiquity, into larger points of architecture, and maybe even off into daydream-swinging, reference by reference, into art, or - DANGER! - other periods of history, or finer technical points and mechanics. Likewise, reading up on an agent, it's seductive to get too into a catalogue of works, to start Amazon-hunting those works themselves, and even then ones like them, to fantasize about filling up my bookshelves with rich, creamery Other People's Books. I've learned the best sites to look at, the best ways to deal with particularly extensive client lists, the very way people are named, to fine tune the directions I follow, the links I take online. It's all a fascinating process.

I hated, when I was young and student-ing by obligation, having to learn things. But as a quasi-grownup, I've found that learning new stuff, ferreting, rummaging - RESEARCHING - is one of my best things. I worked on a project with a manager once, researching our own city for the benefit of "marketing" it to prospective recruitees to our company. Learned the most amazing things about this town. I've researched an ancient barbarian king, and his whole world. I've researched potential employers, different software packages and their respective bags of tricks, the relationships which prove the most daily use at a corporation I'm new to ... I'll study the directions to a new destination I'm driving to, in order to set it up inside my wee little brain.

I used to work with a girl whose "thing" was looking up stuff. She was the unofficial researcher in chief; we called her Digger.

I sometimes laugh, thinking I've taken up the same skill, and to the scope and degree I have no less. Not what I might have expected of myself.


This is actually a good day in terms of querying progress. I got three out in what passes for quick succession earlier today, and have now run into a short streak of eliminations, agencies and agents I prefer not to query. It feels like a good ratio of enthusiasm to tempering reality, so my mood is somewhat improving after a weekend of generalized dissatisfaction.

Still poking away, of course. But I've done the job slog (now with acutal applications submitted!), a bit of laundry, some planning for a day of moving things with TEO tomorrow, set up my sewing machine for a quick job, and reprogrammed my boiler. All small stuff, but all crossed off my list. If the agents won't scratch themselves off my list, I've got other lists, so at least something is getting done around here.

Almost 3:00 and no calls from potential employers. Still no improvement in my feelings about THAT. *Meh*

It May Sound Strange

... but I am feeling dissatisfied that I'm not getting any rejections on my queries.

I know that sounds intuitively incorrect, but every rejection is another post-it off the monitor, another cross-off for the list. Every cross-off is progress, every "no" is another step forward. If I weren't seeking them, I wouldn't be querying.

It's a little odd. (Yes, and I can HEAR you snickering out there.)


Hmm, it turns out my sister-in-law's friend back home has a husband in HR at one of the most interesting prospects I've got going. How nice.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hagen - Five

On a 100-plus degree day, you feel the heat in a very particular way. I am grateful it wasn't humid today, but the heat was prodigious nonetheless.

Thus it was, when I went to the ice cream aisle in the grocery store: I wanted something minty. Nothing creamy, nothing even overly sweet. I wanted mint. Cool, frozen mint.

A month or two ago, I tried Hagen Dasz dark chocolate mint, and it was amazing. That was the perfect thing for today: nice quality cocoa flavor, not very sweet, not very strong, but a nice mintiness. Sadly, today - no luck.

I went for Hagen Dasz Five's mint flavor instead. It wasn't chocolate, but I think HD does a good 'scream, so I was up for a try.

The mint, in the end, was actually a hair too minimal for what I meant to be looking for.

But what I found instead was the closest thing I've ever tasted to my dad's homemade ice cream.

Sitting on that block-thick bench we had, out under the oak in the center of the backyard. Cranking, cranking. He'd put us on in shifts, each of us pumping at the old wooden ice cream maker, the steel hardware, the wooden handle smooth against the palm. I suppose he probably didn't leave us on the job all that long individually, but as the ice cream freezes the pumping gets harder to manage. Five minutes of pushing those wooden paddles through the stiffening custard, down inside its canister, down inside the ice and salt in the bucket: it gets to be a long time, in summertime. Particularly when you just want the ice cream. Or, for that matter: the CUSTARD we made it from.

My lawd, that homemade custard. Who needs ice cream ... ?

Well: dad.

Dad LOVED ice cream. The only job he ever wasn't good at was working at an ice cream counter, heh. Custard was fine to be served with mom's homemade blackberry cobbler, after a day when we went out to the farm and stopped on the way home from seeing family, and picked and picked and picked. Virginia blackberries. Mmm.

Oh, but custard - dad's ideal custard - was for pouring into the canister. Paddling. Freezing. Churning.

Father's Day, seven years after his death. Eight years since my last Father's Day with a living dad of my own. I ate ice cream (made with five ingredients - hence the name - milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and - in this case - a touch of mint), and it tasted a bit like daddy used to make. It even melted like that ice cream used to.

I miss you, dad. You were the very, very best.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I just received a package from my sister-in-law. In it were paintings from both of my nieces, two things from the post-yard-sale freebies s-i-l and I had fun exploring one evening (a small glass pitcher; I’ve put it in the “porthole” window where the AC unit used to be ... and a huge package of potpourri, heh - hey, it still smells nice!). And finally, a second piece of artwork from Elder Niece: the JetBlue earphones case I said needed to be dressed up, and left there when I returned home.

Both of elder niece's works are definitely reflective of her “Jackson Pollack missed out not metallic using purple” period.

My family are pretty much totally awesome.

Is that a sprout I see before me ... ?


Next-door neighbor and I were walking our dogs together yesterday evening, and came across a grocery bag full of free irises, sitting at the corner of someone's lot. She took a few, I took a few. I figure several can grace the fenceline we share, and pretty up my side, which is bare (hers is much more cared for!). I also put two tiny little ones out at the vestigial old fence behind my house, which the neighbor landlord has let go pretty ... rustic ... through my tenure here. I've obliterated some portion of the rustiness with fast-growing, hardy, and obliging forsythia, which makes a lush screen. These little flowers can fill in the stump still sticking out at a loose end, and add a little more color.

What color these are, we have no idea, but who even cares? Free flowers. We offer our thanks, invisible neighbors!

(In any case, the next door neighbor will undoubtedly know them in no time. She's got a talent for that.)

Out in the sun, poking little holes in my indifferent yard, and thinking "where should I put these" I thought of my mom, my brother, my grandma. I didn't inherit grandma's affinity for the earth, but my mother and brother both love digging and planting. My brother would appreciate, too, the "recycling" nature of my neighbor's and my find, too. He has much respect for finding (re-)uses for things, and a remarkable talent for finding things to use. Scavenger and gardener; he gets a lot out of the earth.

Compared to others of my blood, I'm a watered-down dirt lover. But I do love the distinctive smells of real food, real earth. When it's dry, the way the dirt doesn't resist, but the roots of the grass do. When its' wet, the cool sight and smell of soil. The acrid promises of tomatoes. Even just lawn cuttings. I may not put myself very close to it, but I recognize and respect the fact that I have a little patch of land to tend to. Some of what it means.

I planted something today. It was given to me, one of the little concrete blessings life has to offer sometimes.

Here's hoping I've planted some other things, less tangible. There was one job at that Place I've been looking at every day, never seeing anything to apply for (until now ...). There still may be hope with that foundation job I saw over the holiday. There is the book, too. Something could be growing.

I just haven't seen the sprouts yet.

Will water again this evening, and will try to be good to these little gifts. Someday we'll see what color. In the meantime: really, they're flowers. Who cares what shade they are?

This Day ...

... in history:

June 17, 1994: O.J. Simpson drove his Ford Bronco across Los Angeles with police in pursuit and millions of people watching live on television. After the slow speed chase ended Simpson was arrested and charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

I remember this distinctly. I was packing to leave Beloved Ex. We did get back together for a period of time after this, back here in my home state, but the first separation was memorable for the LA traffic copter soundtrack. It was just before our first anniversary.

We ate the cake topper as we divided our little lives. Strangely, it wasn't as sad as it sounds like it should've been. Many of you probably know the dynamic: once the decision is made to split, there can be a strange sort of post-marital peace.

Which, actually, is quite heartrendingly sad.

I'm still sorry, Sweetness. You're as good as a man gets.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just Like Diamond David Lee Roth

I am CRAZY from the heat.

Okay, actually no - and it's nowhere near as bad as it was three days ago, actually. But the humidity is up, and it's still hot enough outside (even at eight o'clock at night), that I don't even want to take a walk in clothing I'd like to relax in for the balance of my evening. It's just too funky out there, and not in a hilariously danceable George Michael kind of way, either (this link has sound/track #17).

And so now instead of going to work all day and dressing like a civilized/artificial human lady being, then coming home to my comfy dog walking clothes and winding down for the evening, I'm sitting at home all day in one casual pair of pants, changing for the walk, and usually waiting for the heat to subside, then changing back before final bath and bed. It's a thorough waste of laundry, and, worse, it's all just junky stupid boring clothes at that. Boo.

I have SUCH a great interview suit, seriously. Even for this weather: the jacket is a short-sleever (I know, edgy right!? but I am a rebel Dottie). Can I please have an interview to wear it to now? OKTKSBYE

*Eye roll and sigh at my own self on that*

Good or Bad?

Well, 5:01 Wednesday, and it's two weeks and one day since the job I'd like to allow myself to be most excited about got my resume.

Wonder whether it's time to write myself off there yet.

Two weeks is usually about the window for expecting to get a call. There was a holiday in there ... but time is growing a little long on this one. And I just got the boot from my own father's university.

One assumes it's probably late to hope a weaker tie than that has swayed the other potential employer.

But then, I am the very definition of "hope springs eternal" - and I am a stubborn cuss, at that. We'll see. I'm not pretending I have perfect focus yet.


Of course, there can be no insubstantial but happy-making moments without some sort of smackdown to follow, and I've gotten mine already. The University at which my dad was a prof for about a GENERATION, and where I myself spent summers and winter breaks working during college, and for which my skill set was a perfect match, has just rejected my application for a job I was extremely well qualified for.

It's almost impressive, how amazingly un-bright a move that is on their part. But then, the place ain't what it was before it turned into more of a corporation anyway. So sour grapes from me, all the way. Bleah.

At least my dog got some good playing time in with me before they shot me down.


Because I'm Obsessive and Dorky

I checked my list. This is my second request for a partial (counting that one from the Conference last year), and I've only done seventeen queries at this point.

See? I told y'all I was good.

*Bopping to "Do You Love Me?" because KISS is excellent dorking music, and Slacker Radio is making me laugh*


I got my first request for a partial! Neat.

Oh, for them as aren't writer nerds: this is to say, an agent has responded to my query by saying she'd like to read 50 or so pages of the manuscript.

So, rock.

(*Laughing a little at myself for writing such an articulate, intriguing post* Hee.)

Yes, the Profile Pic is Schmoopy

I picked it on purpose, as it is a bit "dreamy" and may capture one of the many aspects of my persona as an author which could be useful in selling the book. Medieval geeks have a way about us, okay?

Also: totally vain. And this is my "am I pretty yet?" photo.



I wonder sometimes how bad a tool this blog is, considering how impossible it is to import the voice of my work into something so mundane. This thing is, I think, an extraordinarily poor indication of my creative ability, really.

One more reason it would be good for me to get a full time JOB, and not have so much time for this inanity.

No Work. So: Writing?

Every day so far this week, all the jobs I've found of any interest are jobs I've applied for already. Maybe my neighbor's hope that the fiscal year will make a difference is worthwhile - but of course, that's still two weeks away.

So, job slog done for the day, it's already time to work on querying.

I'm not particularly precious about my writing. One of the things I seek in an agency relationship is the sort of person who'll not only sell my work, but who can say "you need to cut down or change or do this" with what's down already. I think it's a VERY good book - I've been completely absorbed in it myself. But here's the thing: there are significant portions of this baby I simply do not recognize. They were either written so long ago they're fresh all over again, or they've had so little "work done" to edit them, they're close to untrodden territory. And it's funny, but these areas are fitting in really well. The flow, to my eye, doesn't seem jerky or uneven. The whole holds up. It's a damned good read, frankly.

But the fact that I don't recognize bits of it is symptomatic of what may be one of my best traits as a writer. I am NOT particularly precious about my work being my baby. I will not defend it from change, correction - least of all from reduction. If someone who knows their business has taken me on - if someone I've trusted enough to SIGN with - says "cut it": baby gets cut. Slash, slash, slash, alter, change. I've had readers I had to sort of pry critique out of in the past. I've had a couple who came up with fundamental suggestions. Guess who's been most useful to me. The ones afraid to "hurt my feelings" (a) don't know me very well, apparently, and (b) don't trust the process of someone ASKING for criticism.

When I ask, I'm open to change. There are sellability concerns, for one, but at the end of the day, you need a product that works OUTSIDE your own head. I love this thing.

That's just not enough.

I have no shortage of confidence in the work I have done. This doesn't translate to a refusal to believe it could be made more marketable, nor for that matter just BETTER. That I know it is good doesn't mean I think there's no possibility for improvement.

It's easy to spot the agents who will work on a piece with you, who'll work YOU a bit. I've queried several whose catalogues are varied enough to think I might fit in, and I hope my pride in the work shows, along with my willingness to work with someone more experienced than I am.

My experience gains daily, through this process. "No" isn't hurting my feelings; it's all another step in the process. I want more no's. But I've only been at this (business end, anyway) less than a year now.

If I can't find a dadgum job as fast as I would like, at least I am on the trail of finding a partner for another kind of work.

Hah. And as I type, Hanzel und Gretyl's "Hallelujah" plays. Perfectly awesome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Laws of Diminishing Returns

On the eleventh: six queries.
On the thirteenth: four.
Yesterday: three (but including Sharon Kay Penman's agency, so a BIG three).
Today, so far, I've eliminated all the agencies but one. One query today.

I'm tired.

That'll do, pig.


Monday, June 14, 2010


Having found three agencies I needed to query this morning and afternoon, I've reached a blessed clump of eliminations - agencies to cross off the list for one reason or another. The last one was a positive pleasure to scratch out, a house entirely serving romance novels.

It's almost pleasant finding a few dead ends.

Tangentiality Indeed

One of the hardest things about researching for queries is the amazing store of great books you find along the way ... and would really like to stop, purchase, read, and enjoy - rather than continuing working. For no pay.

Le sigh.

Most Excellent

Okay, so no jobs to apply for today (all the interesting listings, I've already submitted for), but I signed up for my annual writing Conference today. In researching the agents who will be present, I had an instinct to put the one with the least specifics at the top of my wanna-meet list.

Good choice.

She works for the agency who represents Sharon Kay Penman, who's no wee spuds when it comes to historical fiction, and also Sheri Holman, a fascinatingly varied historical fiction writer herself.

I've queried already.

Very, VERY exciting.

Hey, Cool!

No new rejections from agents this morning! Rock!


I continue to be genuinely (quite negatively) impressed by how unbelievably poor CareerBuilder's "Excellent Match!" algorithms are. This week's highly-pushed feature, for me: Management opportunities at Starbucks.

Considering that in my LIFE I have not worked so much as five minutes in any kind of retail situation - and I'd think my resume indicates this - this is fairly surprising.

Out of an email it takes several minutes to scroll through, listing dozens and dozens of possible job leads, today's message included precisely ONE single administrative position. And it is one I applied for some weeks ago.

*Sigh* How exactly perfect.

*Eye roll*

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Other Kinds of Sellin'

I've talked a lot about the work I've been doing selling my resume, and selling my book, but another sort of venture has crossed my mind just a little bit lately. For a good chunk of months, especially during the holiday season, I was having to sell things on eBay in a weak attempt to make enough money to keep paying my bills. I'm not much of a spender, but my last employer wasn't a believer in overpaying people (nor in fact continuously employing them, at that), and winter's oil prices were through the roof. When the bills hit seven and eight hundred dollars a pop, you start looking for things other people might guy on eBay.

I was fortunate enough to be found by one particular buyer. "Pansy" was an effusively friendly thing who bought a dress from me, came back, and then came back a whole lot more. Easily eighty percent of what I listed, Pansy bought.

Pansy's mailing address included a man's name. And Pansy wears shoes in my size. It seemed to me fairly clear, I was selling to a baby drag queen. And I was as happy with Pansy as Pansy was with me. (The name I'm using, of course, is not even the actual buyer's ID; but, like "Pansy", that ID was a sort of slang for a girlie boy, so this is a lateral move.)

Given that Pansy was as exciteable as she was, and given that Pansy wears shoes in my size, my guess has been that Pansy is a very YOUNG person, probably still in the teen years. I confess, I took on an almost maternal attitude to Pansy, even the internet version of affection. I made a couple trips to the department store specifically to find things for Pansy. Eventually, I told all this to my mom, who quite hilariously helped me be the personal shopper for my dear little drag queen. I would email Pansy sometimes, asking "do you have any shoes in X color?" etc., and she would email back, "yes, but what I want is purses" - and I'd make a trip to find some of those (some of which I'd have loved to have been able to keep!), and she'd snap up several of them.

Make no mistake I missed any of the irony or opportunities for humor in my being a forty-two year old housefrau with tastes (and clothing/shoe sizes) perfect for a teenage drag queen.

But the point is, beyond being grateful to have a great customer, I liked what I got to know about Pansy. She's sweet, and a very open person (for all I sensed a bit of a closet situation; not least in the fact that, along with the presumption of youth, the shipping address was also at a UPS store). She seemed to me to be cute, and fun.

I haven't heard from Pansy since before I lost my job now. It's been a long time, and though I know this was hardly a "relationship" and my emotional investment can hardly be called deep, I do find I hope Pansy is okay. That the only reason I'm not hearing from her is just financial.

Life does funny things sometimes, and I am enough of a hippie dippie liberal kneejerk bleeding heart goop that I sort of treasured my part in keeping Pansy safe. Doing the shopping for cute things, for someone who clearly couldn't go out in public and do it for herself. And being a safe place for Pansy to "go", even if only to buy wildly inappropriate shoes.

I hope she is still safe. And still a sweetie pie.

Four More

Eight queries last week, and two passes within about twelve or so hours of the last batch. The passes aren't from the agencies I was most excited about, so it's not depressing seeing them; just a couple more baby steps en route to getting this thing published and out into the world. It's like a job hunt. Sometimes you go for things which look more like "maybe's" than great fits, because they *might* be "no's" - but if you don't try they're definitely no's.

Tonight, four more queries are done. I'm not yet halfway through the alphabet yet at this point, so it's encouraging. At least one of the agencies in this group do look interesting; one if only for its personalization and style of rejections. Heh. Lots of things are still oddly worth doing.

I haven't found much to apply for actual job-wise this past week. Several maybe's, but no new really exciting openings lately. In the world of those, though, I'm wondering if hope might be possible. I saw recently that someone who's one of my references looked at my resume online last Thursday. This isn't a person with acres of free time for just browsing that sort of thing, and one specific job prospect, the one I could easily get most excited about, did in fact request references. So fingers crossed.

In the meantime, since the job slog can be quick, I'm bogging myself down nicely in agent query stuff.

Just the ticket.

Though a paycheck wouldn't go amiss.

Friday, June 11, 2010


One query on the 7th, one on the 10th. Six today, and several hard copy prospects lined up on my spreadsheet. Being less than halfway though the Writer's Market, I should end up with a healthy list of submissions once it is complete.

It seems, once started, familiarity breeds confidence, as with so many things. Like job hunting, you start wondering how well that first query comes off - but so it goes. The first try isn't one I expect to get me the best result, and in any case this is just the query stage anyway. After query comes sharing the actual manusript, then hopefully signing a representation contract, THEN it's time to sell to actual publishers.


Like so much else in my life: the waiting game.


Crossword puzzles have long been a group activity in my family, and since my dad died my mom and I have taken to doing them together over the phone. It's been a while since we did one, so tonight was a fun time, basically just playing in place of conversation. Sometimes, playing can be more fun.

I read mom my bio the other day; she not only appeared to actually like it, but she seemed to like being called a genuine steel magnolia. Hoorah!

Seven down, five letters, starts with H: genuine steel magnolia.

"Mom" doesn't fit, but she's the answer anyway.

Hard Friday

Today I had two major appointments in one go, and before I left for them it was on my mind to get OUT some of those queries I'd had qeued up. I finished four, in fact - yet another testament to the tenet my dad used to offer, that the FIRST step is the hard one; the final work on any project can be the easiest or the fastest part. This evening I shot off a fifth - and of course there was the job slog to be done too, and the grass to mow.

I've gotten it all done, even qeueing up a sixth submission to polish off. It's been a long day, and it's a beautiful night. I miss E, but it's quiet and I have a good dog to sit here with and talk politics.

Good week, this one. Let's see how interesting the weekend can get.


So, Tar-jhay had $5 DVDs the other day, and I considered "Blazing Saddles" but ended up buying "Interview With the Vampire". Based on a recent conversation with E: comedy is just no fun to watch alone, mostly, and I've got my Big Bang Theory DVDs when I need that anyway, so I went with the excessive choice. Anyway, I haven’t seen Interview in years, but no self-respecting nerd of my stripe(s) really ought to be without it, so impulse purchase inducement: successful.

It’s not a bad little flick - even enough to give one a dose of long-forgotten goodwill for Tom Cruise. I’m not religious about Rice, so as a thing unto itself, the movie’s good for an hour or two diversion. Brad Pitt’s and Tom’s problems enunciating around their teeth, in some scenes, is still distracting, but Pitt’s attempts to use speech at all in some of his performances kind of is distracting, so there ya go. He is a very hit-or-miss actor, and this one may qualify as a miss apart from the fact that, visually, he is PERFECTLY cast here. And that's actually of key importance, all aspects considered.

What I had forgotten about is how genuinely impressive Kirsten Dunst was in this movie. She’s directed impeccably, of course, but her own presence remains delightfully creepy. There's more than shock value to the memorable moments she amassed in this production, and the shocks she gets to deliver have aged better than the rest of the piece.

As to that - well, it's hard to consume anything Ricean without some awareness of her overwhelming presence. At the time the film was released, of course, she was famously obstreperous about casting Cruise as Lestat, and then all over again famously fulsome in her praise once she'd seen his work. But beyond that is the Rice machine itself. Her writing at that period was wildly marketable, and in some ways it's surprising she hasn't been adapted more than she has. Her commercial works (not that titillating stuff she did under her nom de plume) was going like hotcakes, and she was shuttling between vampires and Taltos monsters and the seemingly endless supply of seductive redheads she was coming up with at an almost alarming pace.

Then she remembered she was Catholic, and there was a to-do about that too.

Where Anne Rice goeth, so goeth flap (and a bit of smoke too). So any outlet from her universe carries with it viewing lens impossible to ignore. Vampire teenagers are the thing today, but the chic Lestat and company created was of a different order. Elitist, self-conscious, self-indulgent to the Nth degree, and to the point of view of many people, utterly ridiculous, the angst-ridden beauties she was churning out were more than books, they were models in a way the new Mormon vampire will never be, for all their hooplah. Yes, girls (and, um, grannies - ew) want to "be" whatzername from Twilight, sure. But Ricean vamp lovers were living a wide spectrum of dreams, and having a high time of it. Corset sales went through the roof in the nineties. These fans weren't kidding, nor merely identifying. They were bidding for actual participation.

Even if only in affordable taffeta.

So Interview, even though I talk above about taking it as its own entity, can't ever be independent of the excitement around the characters, the fashion at the time, the pre-9/11 state of pop culture, the reaction against grunge, the kinds of fantasy that were current and aren't anymore. It's a cinematic mullet, this film, in some ways, and I take it that way too - with some affection, and perhaps the same measure of down-the-nose peering that once, people who were way too "into" this stuff once looked at those with factory-made lacies. Like so many of the subcultures I've witnessed, I was never a real member of this group. But like so many people, too, I did read the books (admitted), I did kind of allow for the excesses, I suspended disbelief and let this Decadent World of these ghoulies engulf me.

All this said, with Dunst at the top of the heap: I think Banderas may actually be my new favorite part of the movie. His wig remains execrably awful - almost inexplicable really - but his own jump-in-the-deep-end commitment (and, yeah, acknowledged personal adorableness; the guy's too endearing, though I didn't know it back then) and resemblance to Peedah are impossible (for me) to fault. Aw.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

One More

Synopsis done. Bio done.

Another day, another query. That makes two now.

Must Be a Flamin' Demmycrat

Love this quote - from a friend of a friend ...

Do not seize the day. Seize the building. I find that if you seize the building, the day sort of takes care of itself.


Today I took a good deal more time than usual on the job slog - unfortunately not because there were so many great things to apply for, but in this case because I wanted to check in on all my existing accounts with potential employers. I made a couple of updates, and created new and improved cover letters and such at various profiles. Everything is shipshape.

Closing in on two and a half months unemployed, and I am frustrated and healthily fearful. It's not distracting me to the point of tears, but one must have some respect for the state of not making a living, after all. Severance is a many splendored thing, but I wasn't endowed with tons and tons of it, and what-comes-next makes it imperative not to just use it all up. And so: I am in a state of heightened alert.

There are two irons in the fire, in particular, I'd like to see heat up. I re-read my cover letters for each one today, and am satisfied they're strong. With the recent holiday, I know the period of time for reviewing candidates might be a little longer. For one position, I applied on May 26. For the other, June 1. It's not time to write off my hopes at this point. But it is time to hope to HEAR from these prospects. Much longer, and the only thing one is likely to hear is "thank you, but" ...

I'm charging my cell phone. I'm working, I really am.

I just do wish I could get paid for the effort.


Other People's Nightmares

Try to have a real estate closing, and you will get a story to tell about your particular closing. There's always something - like any major event, like anything we care about or on which much of our invested energy is riding, there'll be some omission, some hitch, some catastrophe, some frustration to the point of outrage.

This is not my story.

Last night, I had a ticket to go see a band I really enjoy. I'd missed them in October, after a day of such portent and event I simply omitted to go to the show, though I'd bought a ticket. Yesterday had been a beautiful day, I'd done my "homework" on the bio, I was in a good mood, I was ready for the show.

Just as I went upstairs, the phone rang (it rarely does this; and what's more, it was my cell - unheard of!). My friend T was in tears, distraught, and she and her wee beasties were homeless.

What do you do? You forget about going out, you tell your friend of course to come over, you'll put the dog out of sight of the homeless kitty, and you put away your dancin' shoes after quickly checking in on the guest room.

You order pizza.

And you vilify the frustrating parties, and coo at the guest pets until they calm down a little, and it's time to go to bed.

Oh - and the nightmare story itself? Well, that is not mine to blabber about. But I will say this much. It's enough to make me want to write love notes to my former in-laws.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


In working on queries, it becomes necessary to write perhaps the hardest piece of homework I have ever had to do: my bio. What can I possibly find to say, to justify my presumption in writing a book at all? What about me is relevant or interesting to an agent, to the publishing industry itself?

I can think of all sorts of ways I could be used in marketing. I have no shortage of confidence in my work, my subject. And, as we all know, I am vain as a veiny thing that's sitting on a weathervane.

But good grief. What on earth is there to put in a bio ... ???

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Working "It"

I've allowed this blog enough of a connection to my real life identity that the original mindset, of writing it in such a way that it could be read by even my nieces without any issue, has evolved a little bit over time. Since I'm looking for a job, I conduct my online life in such a way that any web search for my name won't turn up anything inappropriate: I expect occasional employers to find this, and conduct myself (mostly) accordingly.

It's not a constraint, considering the potential audience here. The page was conceived in the first place as a first foray into public life, as an author using my own name rather than a pen name. (This is as opposed to "foray into fame", which I don't particularly expect to gain much of - but which I'll have more of, once my work is published, than I do now certainly.)

So the content here, if not self-consciously authorial or specifically directed, is at least considered in the sense of overall tone. I'm not afraid for people holding my resume to know I'm a huge nerd, or even to have former coworkers laughing at my passions about mascara. It isn't relevant stuff, nor illuminating in itself, but at least I don't have reason to apologize for any of it. The more philosophical stuff shouldn't prohibit my professional viability - and, if anyone thinks it does, just as well for me not to go work for them. Even the posts about faith and relationships: if I'm okay with the concept of my mom finding my words here, I'm not going to go all pearl-clutchy about anyone else reading it.

I figured going in this would be a backwater, and as far as I'm aware, I still have fewer than a dozen readers. That's fine and dandy, and even if I don't turn the place into a coffee klatch per se, at least I can keep it safe and still maintain a somewhat intimate voice online.

Beyond my small core audience, I know over time things will change. I mean to be welcoming, even maintaining my non-blockbuster expectations, whatever happens in terms of publishing/name value. It's early days yet. Hopefully no days will become regrettable or difficult here. As much as family-transparency, that is the raison d'etre, and I expect it to remain so.

So, yes. I'm aware that when I'm linked on a fellow geek's site I may get some particular sorts of readers. I'm aware that when I throw my name around online, scrabbling for a job, HR people might find me. It affects my posting; that's obvious to the world. But I don't think, so far, that's a detriment to the content. In some ways, it stimulates me to write here in the first place.

And in other ways - important ones - it keeps me honest and aware. Not bad, those two things. For a hopeful job candidate, AND for a writer.


Running errands after lunch today, I saw a guy sitting in the shade of one of the trees outside the big retail box I was headed for to pick up some things. "Food" was all his sign said. I was still full from lunch, and had half my (big!) club sandwich, and some of my fries, left. Untouched.

I hope it wasn't a tacky regifting, to share it with him instead of taking it home. But he did disappear after I gave him the box. I'd seen someone give him some money, but once he had actual food he took it off, alone. I hope he liked it as much as I did; the fries were good ones.

I haven't been giving much since I lost my job - not even blood. I haven't given blood in a good while, actually, because my platelet count is high enough the Blood Service actually flagged me. I have a note from my doc saying it's normal for me. I should take that note to the center and re-up my eligibility. I should take my dog to the vet. I should take *myself* to the doc, at that, to have a few things looked into. There's no excuse not to. But I keep finding other ways to use my time. Job hunting, agent-shilling. Even actual reading and writing.



Anyway, so I had a good lunch and shared it with someone who seemed to be glad to have it.

I got outside, and soaked up some photons.

I have some queries organized and in qeue to get sent today.

Surely, I can do these important things tomorrow ...


My employer-before-last was the firm I spent the longest time working for, at five and a half years/four different jobs. I've always been fortunate to work with (if not always directly *for*) people I respect and also like, but at this firm the quotient was exceptionally high on that scale.

The place has diffused into my blood to some extent. When I talk with the people I knew there, it's always a pleasure. The culture of that employer was completely borne out in the personalities of its people, especially its executives. Intelligent, ethical, and often funny, I'm privileged that many of them remember me, and kindly at that. It's been tempting sometimes to just name the place outright; there's nothing I'd say damaging to them or to my relationship with them - but discretion is always the default.

Today - lunch with one of my particular favorite people. We talked about the job sitch a bit, but also family, dogs, whatever amusements came up. He was as excited as I am to hear about one of the irons I've got on the fire, and hopes that one will heat up for me. I told him I'd take HIM to lunch if I get a job out of it.

There's a nice little list of people I want to celebrate with, come to think of it. I won't forget a one of them, either. I'm very much blessed in the people who are kind enough to think well of me. And supremely grateful.

Monday, June 7, 2010


It gets easier and easier to eliminate agencies to whom to submit one's work when there is time to go online and look at the ones with sites. I just found one which thinks it represents a variety of work, 65% of which turns out to be romance. And a good 40% of their titles not listed specifically in that category have words like "wicked" and "kiss" in their titles anyway. Um, eek. I think I might not be well represented by this gang.

Then I found the most amazing one of all. They apparently handle "Left Behind", Hulk Hogan, and Sarah Palin.

Varied as that sample may be, I still think I might manage to be the odd author out with those guys too.

Continuing ...

Not Very Superstitious

Heh. Okay, so I don't buy into birds-in-the-house luck and broken mirrors or whatever.

But is it so wrong that I figure painting my nails a fairly inappropriate shade of purple really ought to be bringing on calls from HR people? Come ON, people. This is never going to go with an interview suit. Now's the time for me to need to don one!

That, and I'm sick of dog-walking pants. Even if they are "bedazzled".

Especially because they're "bedazzled" ... Ahem.


Three apps with the city today. These seem to go into a black hole, as every government job application I've ever submitted or even heard of seems to, but at least its job hunting activity of some sort.

I think, too, it is finally time to really get into some manuscript hawking activity as well. Even if I don't have a printer right now.

Electronic submission it is, then ...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

... And, As Naturally Would Happen ...

I have Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" running through my head, as it always does when I encounter one.

Excellent song - even for a brainworm. But still; I want to get ready for bed un-mentally serenaded.

*Eye roll*

Oh, Man. SuperDUPERstitious

Okay, so bird-brain ended up being in the box of stuff I brought home from my last job. Bad employment luck? Or the little tiny brown bluebird of happiness ... ?


Good thing I don't buy granny's pronouncements on luck (any more than she did). Sheesh.

For the Birds (or the Love of Pete ...)

I had problems a few years ago, finding grackles inside my house. There was a problem with the facing behind my gutters, and more than once I had to practice search-and-rescue inside my bedroom (etc.).

About a year ago, the situation was remediated, but apparently there has been either a new breach or one particularly enterprising little wren has found a REALLY good hiding place for her eggs.


So, yeah. One bird yesterday, then another this morning - in weather this hot, even opening bedroom windows for a few minutes at a time is exhaustingly wilting, to wrangle tiny wild avians after church. So having to do it not FIFTEEN MINUTES after the first one kindly landed in a pot - and then watching the dang little thing go UNDER the bedroom door (closed) to end up peeping downstairs, in a violent faceoff with a huskabull, was not "in my happy place" to sneer at a phrase.

The best part is, after today's first chicklet obliged me so nicely (I held the plant out the window, it flew away happily), the second one is STILL somewhere in the house. I never could catch the thing - and Siddy La, somehow, apparently remains none the wiser (the bird, overall, is remaining *fairly* quiet). It's somewhere in my office, but has refused to be caught, and - four-day-old headache still in force - I just can't stand to find it by dint of killing the poor thing.

This means it will possibly simply starve to death in situ. Wherever situ turns out to be.

As long as Sid doesn't repeat the performance she gave my mom before I came home, wherein mom found the remains of a bird when she went to pick up after the dog ... (Um. Ew.)

I am a kindhearted woman, and take spiders - and birds - outside when they get in. But they have to work with me a *little*, or I can't bear to scare them right to death.


It's supposed to be bad luck when birds get in the house. Granny said so.

I have far more experience with in-house birds, other than cute little yellow ones, than seems superstitiously prudent.



The focus on job hunting and considering employment options (and hopes) has has me thinking a bit about my fairly fortunate past career. I've had some lulus when it comes to management, but I've also been blessed with some pretty great bosses in my day. The one who comes to mind most often, though, isn't the super generous, collegial gent from my position-before-last, or the one from my last insurance gig (both of whom I was so deeply grateful for), nor even the one from my most recent position, who said such kind things after the layoff. The one who sticks with me most is the woman from the job I had before I began to hit a more executive level. I actually worked, during my tenure at job-before-last, with another woman who had been under this woman's tutelage overlapping my own time there; we both remembered her with admiration and a good deal of respect.

The reason this woman, this manager, sticks out isn't completely unique. Her distinguishing trait was the ability to identify what people were good at doing, wanted to be doing, and liked doing - and finding ways to get them to do these things more than others. With me, she saw my interest in writing, and she had me write holiday poems for laughs for our group. Then she gave me the job of creating a newsletter for our firm ... editing an estate planning book (never published) by the firm's lawyer ... sometimes even working on or looking over marketing pieces and PR. She saw some capacity for tech, and made me an informal second banana to our IT guy when he or the interns we might not always have in-house weren't available. She recognized my ability to provide customer service, and put me in charge of the clients who were between formally assigned agents for whatever reason.

This woman exploited me more than any other manager I have ever seen - and I mean that in the most positive sense. She used my talents for the benefit of our firm, AND she also pushed me to developing them. I came in a typing machine with some sense of how to deal with people, and I left that place ready to provide a lot more value. What she did was the best possible thing for herself, for me, and for our employers. Simple as can be. But she was genuinely amazing.

I've had other managers, of course, who could plainly identify my strengths and play to them. I've learned, too, to express my interests, to leverage my talents, to put those in the fore even before I take on a new position. I'm no more a dummy than she was, back when I was so much less professionally mature.

Frankly, I'm grateful for her. She helped me to learn discipline, and she also demonstrated a savvy set of abilities I've rarely seen quite matched. I've been lucky to work for some of the best and biggest in financial services. But nobody has ever been BETTER. And nobody but nobody has ever given me so much.

I had a teacher, in first grade, who cultivated my tendency to daydream and live in my own private world. It was good for my heart, but it made for a hard row to hoe when it came to the next twelve (well, sixteen) years of schooling. Gaining authority over myself was a hard job, and took me a very, very long time.

This woman was key in this phase of my professional development, and, in a way, to some maturity beyond the office. She gave me a gift with that - and at a time in my life when, personally, I was craving structure, discipline, and growth. I owe a debt to her.

Thank you, C******. You are as good as it gets, and people know it. J*** and I both did.

Friday, June 4, 2010


With the heat being what it is, and my head still not free of the headache that started two days ago in Chicago, I swear even without a job, if one of the neighborhood kids came and asked for money to mow my grass, I would give it to 'em.

As it stands, I'm certainly not even thinking of trying before at least six-thirty. This sun's got to shove off before I go bake myself in it.

Eyebrow Up, Foot Tapping

Monster appears to have had a redesign.

HATE it.

Dream Job

Heh. I had a dream that I got a call from Buzz Aldrin's assistant about a job with him. That might be kind of interesting, but I really *am* curious where my brain came up with this one. Talk about out of the blue!

Things You Learn at 12:30 a.m. When You Have Jet Lag

Apparently, the Psychic Friends Network still exists.

How dispiriting.

(Heh. Sorry - I didn't see that pun until I'd typed it - and then I decided to be cruel and leave it there.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ogg Dog

My welcome home yesterday wasn't fulsome, and I can confess to not loving up on the dog all that much - though I missed her - because I was sick and exhausted. Even today, if only with the heat of the day, there hasn't been any markedly heavy affection going on.

But she is staying nearby. Quiet. Napping. And nearby.

Good old T'ing.

Sweet, Sweet Luggage

The loveliest part of unpacking: the scent of real lavendar sachets, and the wonderful peppermint and lavendar soaps from Simply Life Farm I brought back as gifts.

Gorgeous. I should have bought more.

Skin Care Advice:

Live in the Pacific NW. One week there has done wonders!

Family Music

In keeping with my apparent obsession today with music, I'll post one of the best stories from vacation. My brother, nieces, and I had spent the day at a museum and a candy shop, and were almost home from a slightly long drive after the events of the day. On the radio, blocks from the house, music began which I joked sounded like the perfect indie-flick soundtrack to our journey, where the voiceover would begin, talking about "the day, the family, the heartfelt Lessons We Had Learned along our way."

Being incredibly funny, my bro naturally came up with exactly the right monologue, and we all got in a couple punches at lines to be included.

"When I got home from the museum that day ... I realized that what really mattered was that we were together; that we were family; that, at the end of the day, it's not about the exhibits or the cafe' or the candy store - or even the drive - but the fact that we were all together ..." etc. and so on. Heh.

Having watched "Napoleon Dynamite" together a couple days before really didn't hurt in parodizing this sort of moment, so we kept on coming up with ideas long after the drive was over.

I think my bro MIGHT be almost as funny as his kids, too. And that's pretty funny.


My Slacker Radio station is doing a superlative job of helping me out today. We started mellow, but now "Suffragette City" is doing its darndest for my poor little neurons.

I usually seem to find music distracting when I'm trying to work, but after half a dozen or so sites today, I felt it was too quiet. Music has been the RIGHT choice today (though I do seem to be stopping to blog about it too much).

Bowie has long been a staple in my musical diet. I saw him live when I was sixteen. Sure, it was the Serious Moonlight tour (elder hipsters are welcome to insert sneers here) - but I saw Bowie live, which kids today aren't getting the opportunity to do, to speak of. To quote one of the better bumper stickers I saw this past week: "I may be old, but I saw all the cool bands."

Which is true. My very first concert ever was The Clash. And, no, kiddies: that is not punk rock. Yes, I know Joe Strummer had a mohawk. Heck, I had half a one once - hairstyles do NOT a punk make (most of the ones I knew didn't have anything particularly special going on with their follicles - be warned of such assumptions).

Ah, and now Foo Fighters. Man, today is GOOD for my crazy little self-programmed madness of an internet station. I'll even go so far as to geek-say: RAWCK!

"Come Fly Away"

... by Benny Benassi is about as good a possible soundtrack to my today as it would be possible to imagine. It is a light, occasionally soaring bit of electronic danceability, and has just the right indie-movie feel to it to seranade my jet lagged mood.

I left my family yesterday, and arrived home last night. It was a punishing trip, even for me with the issues I've described with motion sickness. Add to all that the bonus of a migraine, and imagine the joy.

Hard day.

But I got to spend almost a whole week with my family. Whom I am blessed to love and be loved by. What could be better.

When I've finished today's edition of the job slog, I will probably find things to rhapsodize about (and, we can all hope, coherently). For now, I'm flying away on the last little bit of Benassi. Perfect.

Ah, and now Isaac's "Wicked Game". Not a bad segue, as they go ...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In 25 Hours ...

I will be home again from vacation. Travel for most people is a matter of dislike and inconveniecne, the process being a necessary evil to the ends of whatever lies abroad. For me, it is a physical hell. Motion sickness is, for those of us who experience it, a genuine suffering. Descent is what gets me. The lurch of deceleration, the loss of power to the plane's AC just when your body begins to overheat, the extremity of inescapable, hideous nausea. I'm not entirely joking when I say to people I would rather break a bone than endure the incomparable nature of descent airsickness. It is a source of real dread, a deeply awful sensation in every way. And it LASTS such a terribly long time.

On the flight from Cleveland to the Pacific Northwest, a five-hour run, we spent fully one hour of that in descent mode. I sat on the plane, nothing on but a summer camisole top, my hair tied as high on my head as I could get it (the lower it is, the more heat it builds up just at the back of the neck - ugh), fanning myself with the emergency card. The poor old couple next to me surely thought me a drama queen. But I'd rather draw knit-browed attention from strangers than actually barf in front of them. And it has come to that, more than once, for me.

So travel isn't something I go for happily - and connections (I have THREE legs on the way home ... and three descents to look forward to - whoopie) are worse than an irksome necessity. It takes a serious draw for me to endure all this ... and that guy on the first plane, with the unfettered gastrointestinal distress - who, apparently, had been eating cotton candy and corpses for breakfast ...


My family are a pretty serious draw, is what I am getting at here.

My nieces are twelve and five, and have always entranced me. The elder one is brilliant, poised, hilarious, energetic, wonderfully dorky, and wonderfully self-conscious. I love that girl in a way I love no other person on this earth. She is deep in my blood, I admire her, she draws affection out of me as if I were merely a spool filled with an endless line of it. I think she's one of the neatest people I've ever met, and one of the loveliest of the lot I am related to.

The younger is vivid, effusive, endlessly inventive. I can never get over the font of amazing things her brain comes up with, nor the incredible ways she is so absolutely her own. What a unique creature! What a darling one.

I didn't expect Little Bit to remember me, actually. It's been two years since she saw me, after all - and that is a long time.

So. When I got out of daddy's truck, and she clung to me, it was lovely. Amazing.

When I discovered she was weeping, to see ME, it was perfectly unbelievable.

I'm an affectionate person, highly so. My attachments are almost indelible, and I treasure those I love in a very definite way. Physical expressions of my affection are incredibly important. I miss this, now the girls live thousands of miles away. All I have is my mom and my dog. It isn't the same, and life is less without affection.

That hug from my youngest niece is a ranking moment in my life.

It lies already next to the similarly emotional moment when I said goodbye to the elder niece, when they moved. She held me a long time, ten back then - and speechlessly wept as we said goodbye. It was acute, it was sad and beautiful. It is among those signal moments which I never will forget, and which perfectly reflect the relationships I've been blessed with. My niece's tears, now twice, are the unforgettable measure of my love of them.

And, amazingly, of their love of me.

Nieces are the best invention, EVER.

I didn't think she would remember me.

Now I can hardly imagine leaving here. And not having that little head right here, to scoop up and love on. Not having the elder to roll her eyes and then fall into a natural embrace, walking along, nothing necessary to say.