Monday, January 31, 2011

Thank you, Skype!

Ok, we are empty-nesters and Skype is one of my favorite inventions in recent history. Having a daughter living away from home, I am so thrilled to grab 15 or 20 minutes to video chat and SEE and HEAR MY CHILD!

We have lost several friends recently through illness and unfortunate circumstances and it made me appreciate this internet tool even more. We should all stop and take the time to make phone calls, write cards/emails/Facebook and Skype with loved ones regularly. If you are thinking of someone, contact them now.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Church Clothes

We went to mass this morning and I was thinking about an article I read about a priest who felt parishioners should dress up for church. I have always had mixed feelings about dressing up for the sake of appearing the way others would expect a church goer to dress.

As a Catholic, I have always viewed my faith as a personal relationship with God and while I give to Caesar what is Caesar's by dressing up for work during the week day, I feel that dressing casual for church is more about being comfortable with God.

God the Father wants his children to come home to their church community and feel welcome in their surroundings. I would feel like a phony dressing up like I was going to a party when I go to mass. God knows me well. He knows I love him and when I come to visit his house, I come in a fashion that he is familiar with.

And, he knows you and if you dress up, then that is the right thing for you to do. We should worry less about what others wear and just be happy to enjoy time together in prayer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writer's Digest Pitch Slam

I haven't been to a writer's conference in many years and I decided to go to Writer's Digest Conference in New York Jan 21 -23 when I got an opted-in email in November.

The weather was bitter cold. I didn't pay attention to the exact temperatures, however being a Floridian, any city that has snow piled up on the sidewalks is a foreign land. I borrowed a winter coat and real gloves from my sister-in-law, bought some cheap mittens and knit hats at Target in December for layers and being a scarfaholic, I was as prepared for a fashionable freeze.

The main reason I went was for the "Pitch Slam" featuring about 55 literary agents who are looking for new talent and titles. I figured this was a great opportunity to see how agents would view my latest novel. You had 90 seconds to pitch and 90 seconds to answer questions before a bell would ring and you'd have to move on.

I have heard of speed dating and this speed pitching is like selling. So I thought of this as presenting and a positive response would be a close of sorts. Though I know in publishing the deal takes forever!

Anyway, the crowd wasn't as loud and ego-driven as the sales conventions I have attended. And I was surprised to see so many people in charcoal and black attire. I felt like I didn't get the memo. I was wearing a lime green three quarter length knit top with jeans and exercise sneakers and everyone else looked like they were going to a job interview. But hey, someone's got to stand out and why not the heavy blonde Florida author.

I don't know why, but I just couldn't seem to bond with the attendees. We talked polite, but I would soon regret hearing one man's intergalatic pitch. I didn't want to know about the imperial force and the fall of the dynasty and such. I just wanted to hear the guest speakers and meet the agents

The good news: 4 out of 5 agents liked my pitch. The bad news: they liked the latter half of the book more than beginning. Not sure how that's going to work in the scheme of things.

I also learned the term "steampunk." Just Google the term steampunk, its the opposite of cyberpunk and both are futuristic young adult themes but one with Victorian steam powered periods and the other with more advanced technology.

So in my spare time, I am now trying to get my writer/platform building/time-crunched mind in gear. Thank you to my nephew Erik Williams, horror author (see his blogspot) and Writer's Digest for inspiring me!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bridging the Gap

Well I got this brainstorm that I am going to try a lot of new things this year and I saw this "Learn to play bridge" ad in the local paper and thought, why not? I would really like to have a retro party with friends dressed 50's style and set up the card tables and have martinis and play bridge...

Well, I called and got the specifics and they finished with "you get an instruction book, as well." And I'm thinking, no way. I don't want to read about bridge, I just want to learn to play by trial and error. This sounds like work. It's not like I'm not looking to be in the "World Series of Bridge." I just want to have fun. I had also emailed a bunch of people I thought might want to learn, too and nothing.

So I gave the guy my number and just told him to let me know when they are doing a summer session so I can drag the husband along. I don't mind going alone, but he's more likely to read the book and then he can tell me about it. I hate instruction manuals and such, reading is for pleasure, so I'm just going to put bridge down lower on the list.

But it reminded me of the time I cold-called this woman who owns an Oriental mart and restaurant and I wanted to buy the Mahjong game she had in stock if I could find a place to learn how to play, to which she told me that I should go online to learn. Which is my next least favorite thing, online and video games! She said her group would never tolerate a beginner. She was irritated at the thought of a newcomer trying to join a serious pack of Mahjong-ers.

Whatever happened to the simple phrase, "I'll teach you."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Reaching your inner-diva

I took my mother Saturday to Kohl's so she could spend her Kohl's Kash before it expired. We used the wheelchair this time, which meant we would get around the WHOLE store and she could push the wheelchair when she wanted to walk and stretch her legs.

Now my mother knows how to tap into her inner-diva, I don't mean diva as in prima donna, but a woman of distinguished taste. She doesn't look distinguished as she lives on a tight fixed income and wears her favorite Wal-mart blue denim skirt with assorted blouses and comfortable corduroy black loafer slippers everywhere, but she could if the financial resources presented themselves.

This is a woman who has and does subscribe to Vanity Fair, Vogue, Elle, People, Southern Living, Guideposts and more. She could be a reporter for just about any media organization as she has a vast cross-section of fashion, Hollywood and current political knowledge. Politics concern her, but fashion and Hollywood are her passion. She raised us on Rona Barrett's Hollywood, Silver Screen, and got my older brother hooked on Famous Monster's From Filmland at 10 and she has never been west of Louisiana. She is currently obsessed with Craig Ferguson and her bucket list includes going to his show and shaking his hand on the same day.

During our shopping adventure she was very interested in all things Vera Wang. She wanted to look at what the women's wear line looked like. She bought herself a $40 hot pink bag (her signature color) with her gift cards and managed to find some equally pink and pink-patterned knit tops and was totally disappointed that Kohl's didn't stock skirts. I did concur.

There must be a market for retail skirts. She doesn't shop online, so it's always disappointing that we can't find stores where she can look and touch and try on the patterns she likes. I may attempt to make one for her.

Anyway, she inspires me with her outlook on quality. She has always said it is better to have a finely made garment than several cheap ones. As a young woman, she looked like Grace Kelley and she hasn't mentally aged past 50. She refuses to do what "old people" do. She would much rather talk about Lady Gaga than Lawrence Welk. In fact, she likes Lady Gaga quite a bit. She told me that Lady Gaga was a good person, because she cares about her dad.

So I find myself borrowing her fashion magazines, tabloids and random gourmet publications to view the world from her eyes and I like what I see. I feel her inner-Holly-Go-Lightly as I thumb through the bold designer ads and society pages and I can see her having Breakfast At Tiffany's.