You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.
It sorta started last Wednesday night. I took the train into NY. Arrived at Grand Central and cabbed it over to my friend’s Chelsea digs. I was cat sitting for a couple days before I flew to LA. Well, to be honest his cat is a cat with a dog’s soul (greets you at the door, cuddles in bed with you). So I did some shopping and caught up with a friend who happened to be in the city at the same time.
Then I got up horribly early Saturday AM and went to JFK for a flight to LA. Saturday I hung out with my dear friend J who I’ve known 12 years now. Sunday, we drove up to Napa. And today we are wine touring and tasting in Napa.
We’ll spend the next 2 days driving back down the coast to LA. Thursday, I meet the awesome August McLaughlin whose been a blog buddy for months. We’re going for lunch!
Ill explore my hotel for the SCBWI LA Conference. Then my terrific writing buddy and dear friend, Kat Bender arrives.
And we conference for 4 days. Then I fly back to NY next Tuesday and train back to CT Wednesday August 8th.
During this time, I probably won’t be commenting much on people’s blogs. Please forgive my absence. It’s my only official vacation this year. And I’m conferencing for 1/3 of it!
This post on friendships ending is from back in March 2010. Before I grasped how to insert pictures in my blog posts. Yup, there was a tech un-savvy time to my blog. I think the post still applies today. Friendships end. It stinks. But at some point letting go is the better choice. Hopefully before it reaches the bitter point.
The night I finished John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, I sat on my bed crying. For Hazel and Augustus. For the friend I lost to cancer years ago. For the people I was afraid to love. For those I never realized I’d lose.
John Green doesn’t just evoke emotion. Over the past few days, he took me on an odyssey of emotions. He’s made me look inside myself. Questions things. And THINK. Think differently, think obsessively, think openly.
I can’t quite explain all the reasons I was crying, but it’s definitely because of his beautiful prose, his disarmingly lovable characters, and his vivid storytelling.
But this book didn’t just make me cry. It made me laugh out loud and smile like I haven’t since college. The characters are brilliantly witty and their dark humor in the face of oblivion is oddly uplifting.
Some of my favorite lines:
“Depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost anything is, really.)”
“And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
“Ma’am, your daughter’s car has just been deservedly egged by a blind man. Please close the door and go back inside or we’ll be forced to call the police.”
If I could only read one book for the rest of my days, this is the book I’d choose to read.
I’m reading this book that makes me feel utterly alive. That is so vivid and so brilliant, I cannot stop smiling.
And it makes me think about what I will leave behind when I die.
What my legacy will be.
Not that we get to choose. I mean it’s decided after we’re gone so I’m not sure we really get to weigh in on it.
But if I did…
I don’t think I’ll discover something scientifically essential.
I don’t plan to leave children behind.
I don’t expect to be remembered for the way my smile leaps into my eyes.
All that I can leave are my words. My characters. My stories.
And hope that they live on in the imaginations of others.
That was my response to reading about vineyards in my home state. I spent two years in California. Went wine tasting along the central coast and discovered amazing wines–a pear flavored dessert wine where I could taste the pears. And I hardly ever taste anything they tell me I should.
Anyway, it was July 4th week and Mom had commissioned me to find fun tasks in our state. Daily staycations.
That’s when I found out about the Connecticut Wine Trail. There are about 20 vineyards around the state with tasting rooms and even tours. I found some amazing places in Stonington, but dad vetoed them. A 1.5 hour drive was not part of his staycation itinerary.
There were two in Litchfield which was about 30 minutes from our home base. We took Aunt C for our rollicking adventures in the farmlands of CT.
The first winery,
Hopkins Vineyard didn’t have tours, but they had a nice tasting room and adorable souvenir store. Both were air-conditioned and provided a comfy place to wine taste.
The tasting was $6.50 per person for 8 wines.
Dad, Aunt C and I lined up at the counter. Mom’s not a drinker so she hung out with us and sniffed our wines. We all have different wine tastes. I prefer sweet, Dad prefers red and dry, Aunt C falls somewhere in between but closer to Dad’s tastes.
What I loved was when the wine pourer told us that you could taste the oak in the wine. Aunt C remarked how oak was not in her taste memory. She planned to remedy that by biting into a tree later that day.
We were advised to take 3 sips of each sample. The third sip would give us the true taste of the wine.
Dad and Aunt C appreciated the Red Barn Red and the Cabernet Franc. I leaned toward the Westwind Riesling.
The neat thing was that I actually tasted some of the things the pourer mentioned. The Cabernet Franc has a currant flavor and a black pepperness to it. Very cool.
They had many award winning wines…
We each found a wine or two we liked and made purchases before leaving.
We headed off to the Haight-Brown Vineyard next.
It’s adorable outside and really nice inside, but there was no a/c which made it a lot less comfy considering it was on the second floor and heat rises.
They also offer a basic tasting of their 8 wines for $9. I opted to add chocolate and was charged $12.
The majority of their wines were whites. Dad ended up pouring most of his tastings into the spittoon. He’s not a fan of whites.
For me, the chocolate took away the sweetness of the wines and I didn’t really fall in love with any of them. We did end up purchasing a Strawberry Bliss because Dad and Aunt C assured me it was super sweet and strawberry tasting. I figured Grandma H and I could split it. She loves sweet wine and strawberries and pink. Which it was.
They had a cool wine called Honey Nut Apple which tasted like apple pie. It was made completely from apples!
Dad got the Picnic Red which we had at Aunt C’s the following weekend for at a delicious BBQ.
So yes, Virginia, there is wine tasting in CT and it is a pretty fun experience.
I cannot stand bad customer service! Especially in a bad economy. You charge people $5-$10 to dry clean an item and them you nickel and dime them when you destroy it?!
I dropped off a White House Black Market sweater to Sea Breeze Cleaners and Tailors in Wolcott, CT. A $100 dollar black sweater that went with all my writing conference outfits. The perfect black sweater.
It had a pin with a lace bow that I removed before taking it to the cleaners. It had 8 adorable gemstone buttons that closed the cardigan.
It was a beautiful sweater.
Until Sea Breeze got ahold of it.
They returned it to me with the gemstones missing from all 8 buttons. Just empty silver metal prongs. Seriously?!
I did not ask that they replace the sweater. I am a reasonable person. I asked that they fix their mistake. That they replace the gemstones or simply put on 8 plain black buttons. The guy at the register thought this sounded reasonable and told me the owner would call me Saturday.
The owner however was all about blaming me and the sweater. Yes, the sweater, for losing its gemstones. AMAZING. I’d spent hundreds of dollars on drycleaning at this place of “business.”
He even blamed me for bringing in the sweater, despite the dry clean written on the inner label. Evidently the buttons are considered “adornments” and there are signs all over the store that they are not responsible for adornments if there is a manufacturer defect. Um, since when are buttons adornments? And how do they determine a defect? If they ruin it, it’s “defective”?
Clearly his business is doing so well he can afford to treat his customers like crap. He tells me I have to bring in the gemstones (the ones he lost) and then he will have them put back into the buttons for me.
I just have to pick up the sweater from him, hunt down the proper size gemstones, purchase them, and then he will have his people glue them back in. Sounds like a ton of work for me when I DID NOT RUIN THE SWEATER.
He has the sweater. It would take his “tailor” an hour or two to track down the right gemstones and then another hour to replace them. It’s called MAKING THINGS RIGHT.
But the owner is so busy saying it’s not his fault, he can’t bother with fixing the problem. That’s on me. TO FIX HIS MISTAKE.
That is profoundly bad customer service. That is why he lost a customer.
Shame on you, Sea Breeze Cleaners!
Here’s a reblog of something I posted in 2011 about writer fear. Thought it might be useful to hear what happens inside my head in that moment.
I fell in love with this show last year. It’s so awkward and so high school. And so many of those moments we never quite forget. I loved watching Jenna survive her accidental suicide and grow into herself in season 1.
Season 2 promises awkwarder moments as she accidentally falls into a love triangle between two best friends, Matty and Jake. Except Jake has no idea she was ever with Matty and Matty realizes too late how much she means to him. Awkwardest.
Part of the pull is memories of being that awkward. Er and still having those kind of moments even now. Also, Jenna owns her awkwardness and you come to really root for her. She reminds me of who I wished I’d been in high school.
It’s a definite must watch this summer!
The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke is an insightful look at what agents and editors are truly looking for in the first 50 pages of a novel. The information is provided by an author/editor in an easy-to-understand manner.
I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Gerke speak at the Writer’s Digest Conference in January and I immediately jumped in line to get a copy of his book signed. He was a terrific speaker who provided lots of examples and explanations. His workshop was one of the best at the conference.
The first part of the book is dedicated to explaining the submission process. Some important points he raised are that your opening lines must hook the reader. He clarifies that starting with action isn’t about blowing stuff up or having someone’s life at risk. IT SIMPLY MEANS IT MUST BE INTERESTING TO THE READER.
He also talks of the three bombs: POV, show vs. tell, and character creation. A problem with any of these can blow up a book and not in an Oprah knocking on your door sort of way.
The rest of the book focuses on what your first 50 pages must do. And it’s a lot. A lot a lot. In this section he touches on how to engage your reader, introduce your main character, establish the main character’s normal, establish the story world’s normal, start the inner journey, and follow the Three Act structure.
As I read this book, I analyzed my two finished manuscripts and tried to think of where I’d missed the mark. Where I needed to work further on them. What was not working in their first 50 pages.
This is one of my favorite craft books because Jeff Gerke’s conversational presentation style is captured perfectly in these pages. I felt like he was talking right to me and sharing his personal experiences. He used lots of movies as examples which made concepts much easier to grasp and apply later to my own work.
This is a must read for any writer submitting their work to agents and editors.