Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

I survived the week and am alive.  ALIVE!!!  Picture Dr. Frankenstein standing over me screaming, “It’s alive!” and you have the right idea.  It’s Friday and while I have a busy day at work, it’s an unpacking/sorting/organizing sort of day, which is just the thing when you don’t want to have to think too hard.  We also have a massage therapist coming today as a treat for the team and I have a half hour massage after all of this lugging/sorting/etc.  Sweet!

And today, of course, is my favorite holiday, Halloween.  And tonight our friends Aldyth, Brad and Maureen are coming over to watch scary movies (well, Zombie Strippers may not be scary, but it should be entertaining and hey…zombies!) and hand out candy if we have any trick-or-treaters.  I’m making jack-o-lantern shaped pasta and we have Zombie Zinfandel to serve with it.  Works for me!

We don’t get a lot of trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, which is a shame. It’s mainly families so I would think they’d be out and about, but for whatever reason our street is devoid of them.  Bums me out because I love looking at all the adorable little rugrats in their costumes.  Nothing cuter than a butterball toddler bundled up in a furry lion or ladybug costume.  My brain melts when I see them, just the same way it melts when I look at kittens. 

In Glendale, Brian and I used to have mobs of trick-or-treaters.  We’d decorate the front porch, Brian would wear costumes and lurk in the shadows to give the kids a good scare (the teenagers trying to be tough cracked me up; hard to be tough after you’ve screamed like a five year old girl), and we’d play Night of the Living Dead loudly in the living room.  My new Halloweens in San Francisco are different and it took me a while to reconcile myself to the changes, but this year promises to be a good one. 

My favorite Halloween, though, was the year Beezle showed up.  Halloween of 1996.  Brian finished carving the jack-o-lantern into a grinning cat face, set it out on the porch and lit the candle.  I heard a loud ‘Doh!!’ and went outside to see what happened.  Brian pointed to the bottom of the porch stairs.  I looked and saw the tips of little black ears, then big gold eyes followed by nose, whiskers and the rest of a tiny black kitten.  The brain melting commenced as the kitten crawled up the steps straight to my feet.  I scooped him up and Brian said, ‘well, hey there, little Beelzebuddy!’  He started purring and that is how Beezle came into my life.  I have a pictures somewhere of him sitting in the jack-o-lantern after we took the candle out looking as cute as any Halloween card kitten; I wish I had it to post here today.

Beezle is now a grumpy 12 year old alpha male, but still his mother’s little darling. And still the best Halloween present a gal could ask for.  And because I got such a good present for Halloween, I’m gonna share one with you as well – as part of the Fatal Foodies Halloween Trick-or-Treat event, if you leave a comment at my blog from today through November 8th, you will be entered to win a copy of Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon.  Be sure to go to Fatal Foodies as well as other members are doing the same thing!  You’ll find links to their blogs at Fatal Foodies, which is a very cool blog all on its own!  Also be sure to go to my friend Marvin’s blog and check out his Halloween story, based on five silly elements I gave him.  I’ll let you go over there to check out what I did to him.  Heh.  AND check out Make Mine Mystery for Free for all Friday fun!

Happy Halloween from me and Beezle! 

Next Week

Next week is going to be a bit intense at my day job – overtime will be the norm, not the exception for at least three days.  One day will be 8am to 8pm, then the next will be 6am till 8pm, then up to be at work by 7am the following day.  I will be spending one night at a hotel up the street from work to save the commute time.  This weekend was supposed to be an intensive writing weekend, but today has been so far spent at the vet’s with three sick kittens, one in critical condition.  We’re hoping the little guy will pull through, but it’s time intensive.  We’re also bottle feeding one of the other babies ’cause his nose was so stuffed up he couldn’t find his mom’s milk dispenser via smell.

So I’m taking a break next week from blogging other than my Monday post at Fatal Foodies and a short post at my new group blog Make Mine Mystery, started by Morgan Mandal.  I post at Fatal Foodies every Mondayand will be posting at Make Mine Mystery every 1st and third Sunday (tbc).  Look for the Den to be back in action next weekend!

Note:  Since writing this, we lost our little sick boy…  he fought a brave fight, but his lungs weren’t strong enough and he slipped away in his sleep a while ago.  I can definitively say I lack the necessary detachment to be a truly effective foster parent.  This just hurts so badly…

Number Six!

Okay, ONE more bookish factoid left.

But first, let me just grebble (a word Brian and I used to apply to our godson Colin when he was a baby and would express his displeasure in a particularly burbly toddler-esque way) a bit about my schedule so you won’t all think I’m a total slacker for this gap between posts.

I work for a VC (Venture Capital, not Viet Cong) firm (one that invests in green/sustainable technology/products and is committed to health and wellness, which is kind of cool) and we have our big bi-annual meeting next week.  Or series of meetings.  This means overtime in order to get done what has to be done every day, as well as prepare for the meetings.  I also have my Ravenous Romance and What Women Really Want in Bed deadlines to keep.  So…work work work and write write write.  Wheeee!!!!

Okay, done grebbling.

I regularly go to the childrens section in the library and check out books I loved as a child and pre-teen.  I have a slowly growing collection of books I’ve found on Ebay, used bookstores and, for those reprinted, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  I used to think I’d pass them on to my kid, but I am at the age where I realize the only children I will ever have are furry, four-legged and would rather watch TV (and attack the moving images) than read.

Maud Hart Lovelace.  Betsy, Tacy and Tib.  Anyone else read those books?  Set at the turn of the century in Minnesota, this series followed the adventures of best friends Betsy and Tacy (and in book 2, Tib) and their friends and family from the age of 7 onward. There was much singing around the piano, making of fudge, amateur theatrics and innocent romance.  My mom introduced me to these books and were one of the rather unusual things me and Maureen had in common that led to our best friendship and subsequent partnership in MURDER FOR HIRE.

The Space Cat series.  There are four of them.  Space Cat, Space Cat Visits Mars, Space Cat Visits Venus and Space Cat and the Kittens.  I collected all four of them (not easily – they are highly collectible and I was on a budget) and now have them on display in one of my living room bookcases.

The Chronicles of Narnia.  We didn’t have Harry Potter back in the day, but we had C.S. Lewis, Aslan, and lots of cool magical, mystical characters and critters.

Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Series.  Loved them.  The Black Cauldren was eventually made into a movie.

Henry Winterfield’s Star Girl.  The tale of a girl who falls to earth and is befriended by four German children, who help her journey to the meeting point where her father will pick her up.  LOVED that book.  It costs a friggin’ fortune, but I found a paperback used for an affordable price.

There are so many more…  but time to get going on my current Ravenous Romance. I have a kitten stretched out across my arms (he’s drooling on me, actually) and two hours of writing ahead of me.  Here I go!

Passion’s Purple Prose or Bookish Factoid #5

It’s Thursday morning and I’m riding the L Muni car into work.  Sitting about five rows in front of me is a teenage boy with headphones on, the volume on his music pumped so high I can hear it from where I’m sitting.  I am fighting a nearly unbearable urge to go up to him, lift one side of the headset and yell, “CAN YOU HEAR ME? BECAUSE YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO IN A FEW YEARS, YOU IDIOT!”  But that would involve getting out of my seat and having to stand the rest of the long, crowded ride to Embarcadero Station, so I’ll continue to resist the urge.  But jeez Louise, isn’t the point of headsets, iPods and Mp3s so you can enjoy whatever you’re listening to without inflicting it on other people?  And wait a sec…nope, teenage boy with headset, I impugned you falsely.  It’s actually a pre-teen girl with an iPod, her earplugs dangling off her shoulders so she can share her music with her friend.  And the rest of us.  Now I’m thinking more along the lines of earplugs as garrote.  Does this make me a bad person?  No, just the antithesis of a morning person who resents having to listen to crappy music before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. It takes my nerve endings a while to crawl back into their sheathes in the mornings.  I don’t wake up bright and chipper when I’m forced to leave my bed at the command of an alarm clock.  And while I’m not what I’d consider homicidal as a rule, infringing on my personal space (and yes, this includes auditory assault) makes me think bad things.  The voices tell me it’s a GOOD thing.

And boy, am I off track for my post today!  Yes, it’s Bookish Factoid #5 time!

When thinking of ideas for stories and books for Ravenous Romance, I went through a suitcase full of my old writing.  We’re talking stories and partial novels from grade school (including my epic one paragraph short story THE END OF THE SUN) through my ’20, back when everything was either handwritten or typed on my handy IBM Selectric.  I used to stay after work at the IRS (yes, I worked at the IRS back in the day) and type up our Murder for Hire scripts, short stories, and whatever else Maureen and I were trying to sell/produce, including two spec Moonlighting scripts.  As a side note, we didn’t sell the Moonlighting scripts, but we did get invited to the wrap party.  We had good food and drink and were treated to the sight of a young, drunk Bruce Willis boogying on the dance floor and periodically pumping his fist in the air, shouting “Fuckin’ A!”

Maureen and I also had a bunch of outlines for original TV series, movies of the week, and other projects. I have all of them, including a completed script for a romantic comedy heavily influenced by Romancing the Stone and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  We originally wrote this for an independent producer in San Diego who wanted to make an erotic romance with a decent script.  Not quite porn, but certainly not the light headed fluff we turned out.  He wasn’t interested in the script, so Maureen and I came up with the bright idea of filming it ourselves. One video camera, no lights, and a group of gung-ho actors later, we actually filmed a decent portion of the script, filling up three 6-hour videotapes. We even went on location, spending a day at the Strawberry Creek Inn (thank you, Jim and Diane!), which was owned by my ex parents-in-law.

I don’t remember why we stopped filming, but it’s probably just as well.  The results were about as amateurish as you’d expect given our ‘let’s put on a show’ mentality.  I have a camera!  We can use your barn…’

But as embarrassing as it is to watch some of this (I cringe whenever I’m on screen), I’m still proud of the moxy it took to fill those three tapes and the fact we had actors willing to give us their time because they liked our script and enjoyed (I hope) working with us.  Plus we fed them lots of home baked chocolate chip cookies.

I still have these tapes and I still have the script.  And when I got an email from Ravenous saying they were looking for serialized novels, I pulled out the script, scanned and sent them the first 25 pages with explanation, and received a positive response. So it looks like it’s going to finally fulfill its original purpose as a more adult romantic comedy.  And I’ll have a chance to take out some of the truly sophomoric jokes originally we originally put in that now make us wince, especially when we think of how funny we thought they were at the time.

Bookish Factoid #4

When we were 13 or so, my friend Cindi and I were both enamored with Richard Lester’s Three and Four Musketeers (movies he made in order to get the backing to make Superman, btw).  Cindi had a crush on Michael York’s D’artagnan, later transferring her affections to Richard Chamberlain’s suave Aramis (Richard was still in the closet as far as we were concerned), while I had the hots for Rochefort, Cardinal Richelieu’s wicked one-eyed henchman (played by a 50-something Christopher Lee, better known for his portrayal of Dracula in several Hammer horror films and as Bond villain Scaramanga, the Man with the Golden Gun).  We started our own musketeer fan fiction, creating our own characters and inserting them into the world of 17th Century France.  My character was Constance Du Vallon (bet you didn’t know Porthos had a sister, did you?) and Cindi’s was Roxanne Du Bois, wealthy young heiress and the object of desire amongst most of the young men of her acquaintance.  Of course Constance knew how to swordfight and Roxanne was happy-go-lucky and flirtatious.  As we grew older and matured, so did the little vignettes we would write for our own and each other’s characters.   Let’s just say that reading many bodice ripper romances influenced the direction our writing would take, although sans explicit descriptions.

I spent New Year’s Eve at Cindi’s house one year.  Her parents were out at their own party (or having one at the house; I can’t remember which) so we commandeered their mobile home parked in front of their house in Point Loma. We had alcohol.  I don’t remember how we got it, although I do believe we snuck it out of the house.  We had fudge and other food not meant to mix with booze. When the new year rolled around, Cindi was in the bathroom throwing up and I was happily stuffing my face with fudge.  I remember yelling “Happy New Year!” and Cindi responding with something along the lines of “Bleargh.” I don’t think I even had a hangover.  Ah, for the metabolism of my youth…

Cindi reminded me of this incident recently when we got together for a book meeting.  Cindi is the author of several books, including Red Hot Tantra, What Men Really Want in Bed and The Bedside Orgasm Book.  We are co-writing the sequel to What Men Really Want in Bed, not surprisingly named ‘What Women Really Want in Bed.”  Somehow it seems fitting that our little bodice ripperlettes have led us to this point.

Introducing Butterscotch and her family

This is Butterscotch and her newborn kittens.  We got a call yesterday for emergency feline fostering.  If they couldn’t find fosters, this lovely baby and her kittens, plus others, would be euthanized.  We agreed to take Butterscotch (my name for her) and the babies, figuring Momma Cat would do all the work.  No bottle feeding every three hours, just feed Momma and make sure things are kept clean and neat.  No bottle feeding means less chance of the uber bonding that always happens when I feed the babies every few hours and they look at me as their mom.   Butterscotch, on the other hand, is about as sweet and loving as a rescue cat could be.  We have them in a warm, cozy cage in the garage (the warmest room in our house).  It’s kept shut so Butterscotch won’t up and move the kittens to some nook or cranny where we can’t get to them.  But I’ve already let her out to roam a few times (supervised) and it’s so cute to watch – she’ll come out and let me pet her, then go back into the kittens.  Then back out again for pets and a little exploration…then back in.  She went to the far end of the garage for a bit; I called to her and she came trotting back, tail and ears perked up, straight to me.


We have them until the kittens are old enough to adopt (two months).  Then they go up for adoption via the cat rescue organization involved.  They are supposed to pay for all vet bills in the interim.  My only caveat is if the cats are supposed to go into a shelter environment during the adoption procedure.  I can’t stand the thought of giving them love and a comfy place and a place to play (we’ll be moving them when the kittens are old enough to start playing and need more room) only to back into steel cages full time.  So we’ll see.

But in the meantime, all of the fun of watching kittens and none of the work of bottle-feeding!

Third Bookish Factoid

I just like saying ‘bookish factoid.’

But that’s not number three.

When I was in grade school, third grade or thereabouts, I wrote a little book of poetry about animals, illustrated each poem and sent it off to a publisher after stapling it in the center into what I thought was proper book binding.   I don’t remember how I chose said publisher, but I DO remember the reply, which was ‘We’d be happy to publish your book for $$$.’

Yes, my first try at publishing, I managed to pick a vanity press.

I sort of remember one of the poems:

“The lion is a kingly beast, but should you chance to tease him,

He’ll likely have you for his feast before you can appease him”

No surprise I gave up writing poetry for prose.

Another beloved childhood book was LITTLE WOMEN and yes, my favorite character was Jo, although I’m sure my sister thought of me more as the Amy type.  I’m watching the Katherine Hepburn version even as I type.

More Muni Musings and Second Bookish Factoid

Today while the L train didn’t pull magically up to greet me, an N-Judah train did.  In the game of Muni Roulette, today this means riding the N to the end of the line, which is the Great Highway, and walking home on the beach.  Sweet!  Especially since it’s a beautiful day, another ‘can’t quite decide between summer and autumn’ day.  The only down side is two noisy teenage boys just got on the train and sat behind me.  I confess to homicidal urges.  Or at least access to their volume switches.

So.  Another book related thing about me you may not know.  I read when I walk.  I have pretty much perfected the art of reading while walking, be it inside, outside on city streets, park paths or more rugged terrain. Lack of enough time to read forced me to hone this skill and I won’t say I didn’t walk headfirst into lamp posts or low hanging branches a few times. But you’d be surprised how easy it is to develop peripheral vision and awareness while engrossed in a book.  I used to walk Boska in Griffith Park while drinking coffee and reading at the same time.  This was back in the day I could trust her off leash and know she wouldn’t run away, unless a squirrel was involved.  Even then she’d come back when I used the Voice to call her name.  Paul Atreides had nothing on me.

My preferred reading while walking book is your basic paperback.  Compact, fairly light, easy to hold in one hand and flip the pages while manipulating leash or coffee cup in the other.  Trade paperbacks are a little more problematic, but still manageable.  Harry Potter hardbacks are nearly impossible, but I’ve done it.  No way I was gonna put it down without finishing and I needed my exercise!

Another Day, Another Muni Ride, Another Tag


One of my favorite things in the world is stepping off the down escalator at the Muni station and seeing an L train pull up to greet me. Yes, in my Danacentric world the L train is there just for me and the serendipitous timing occurs to make my day a happier one.  It always makes me smile, no matter how crabby I am.  Cheers me right up.  So my Monday workday has ended on a good note ’cause I just strolled onto my train (yes, MY train) and got my favorite seat without waiting or jockeying for position. If you think little old ladies in grocery stores are scary, wait till you’ve experienced a gaggle of Cantonese grandmas, all determined to board ahead of you even if you were the first in line. I’ll give up my seat to someone who needs it, but don’t shove me in line, fer crissake!

So. Monday so far is a good day. Several irritating financial issues have been resolved favorably. I made it through work on the first day of a detox program without attacking a co-worker for their food or snapping at anyone.  I’m going home to exercise, make a yummy detox approved dinner (tilapia, roasted potatoes and green beans) and then work on CHAMPAGNE.  What’s not to be happy about?

Tomorrow I start answering six writer/book related things about myself you might not know about.  Oh heck, I’ll give you one right now:

The first book I remember making an impression on me and started me on my path as an avid reader is THE SILVER CHAIR by C.S. Lewis.  I hadn’t a clue about the Christian subtext, btw.  I liked it ’cause it had the doorway to another world thing going for it and giants who wanted to eat the hero and heroine.  Evil witches, enchanted princes, and a giant lion.  I was totally into it.

I read the rest of the series in short order and then discovered Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series (The Black Cauldron, for example), E. Nesbit’s works (5 Children and It and the Enchanted Castle, for example), the Oz books…the Point Loma public library was my favorite place in the world.

I was tagged, btw, by that Devil Woman Morgan Mandel!  I’m holding off tagging till tomorrow.  I am officially stymied on who to tag who won’t kill me.

And one more thing you don’t know about me…

I’m legally blind.  Or at least I was until I had Lasik done Thursday evening.

Seriously, my left eye was 4.5 and my right 3.25.  Glasses off I could read up close.  Glasses on I could see far away, but anything too close was a blur.  Contact lenses at night, forget it.  I tried to read a map in the light of a dome light in the car and it was a big nothing.  That was five years ago and things deteriorated a bit every year.  My eye doctor told me Lasik was the best option, so…I finally bit the bullet (why does one bite a bullet, btw?) when I found out my insurance would cover part of it and I got to the point where I couldn’t see anything at night other than blurred images.

I went to Dr. Scott Hyver, who has made a name for himself in the Bay Area correcting the vision of the San Francisco 49ers.  The office staff and other doctors were courteous, friendly and efficient.  The procedure was explained in detail.  There were stuffed animals in the procedure room for those nervous patients needing something to hold.  I clutched a Beanie Tiger and a Beanie Rainbow bear to my chest during the entire thing.  It was weird, freaky and my eyes were held open with tape and metal holders that made me think of CLOCKWORK ORANGE during the procedure.  But it was also very quick and Dr. Hyver kept up a calm, running commentary during the entire procedure.  It was over in less than 10 minutes, possibly five.

I had to keep my eyes shut as much as possible for four hours after the surgery.  Dave set me up on the futon in the living room and put on A MIGHTY WIND and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN.  It hurt.  It felt like someone was going over my eyes with a cheesegrater for a couple of hours.  My eyes kept watering and my sinuses filled up.  I got a migraine.  But the next morning when I opened my eyes, I could see…well, I could see everything clearly.  I saw the trees outside the bedroom window, the leaves, a raven on one limb.  I could see which cat was perched on top of my jewelry box (bad cat!).  I had my follow up appointment that morning and could see distance with 20/20 vision.  I could read the smallest print closeup.  And my eyes are supposed to only improve for the next month.