What If…

I just posted on my Ravenous Romance author blog…would you all be sweethearts and go check it out here?  I swear I will write something completely different for this blog tomorrow.  I’m trying not to cross post too much…but I do have to work on What Women Really Want in Bed tonight, so I had to choose my posting forum.

If you do meander over to check out the RR post, do please leave comments!  They’re half the fun!

Sometimes the Outcome is Actually BETTER Than We Expect

Dave and I took Zhadi (my beloved Saturn SL2) into one of the last remaining Saturn dealerships in the Bay Area this morning.  Her (yes, she’s a ‘she’) Service Engine light (and why can’t I get one of those?) flashed on yesterday during one of the infrequent occasions I drove into work and the engine started chugging like the moment in A Little Engine That Could when the reader is REALLY worried the Little Engine can’t.   I made it to work and then on my work related errand later that morning, and then home again, although I had some serious doubts for a while as she lurched and coughed her way up an incline on the 280.

Sadly my beloved Saturn of Colma, an easy 15 minute drive (or tow, if necessary) shut its doors permanently and without warning a few months ago. Research turned up two remaining Saturn dealerships: one in San Jose and the other in Santa Rosa, both about 60 miles from San Francisco.  We chose Santa Rosa because it’s just a much prettier drive going north on the 101 and also because it’s smack in the middle of Wine Country.  The biggest issue was simply whether or not Zhadi would make it another 60 miles.

Well, Zhadi was the Little Saturn That Could and we did indeed arrive safely at the dealership where Dave and I spent about three hours working on our respective writing projects (a car dealership is, btw, a GREAT place to focus ’cause there is just nothing else to do there) and waiting for the news.  I was pretty much expecting the worst. Blown engine, dying transmission.  Upwards of $3,000 juggled somehow on low interest credit cards.  I’d already had my panic attack, so now it was just a matter of ‘how bad is it?’

Jen, the service manager, poked her head around the corner of our little computer cubicles around 11:15 with a big smile. “It’s not bad at all,” she said. “You need new spark plugs and the engine filter is dirty. Oh yeah, one of your brake lights is out and needs replacing.”

All in all, less than $300.  Not a drop in the bucket, mind you, but comparatively speaking, SO much less than I expected!  Happy dances were performed and we were out of there by 12:30, in time to have lunch and do a wee bit of wine tasting before driving the very happy Zhadi home again.  All this and a productive writing day too!

And as a postscript, please go check out my current blog post at Ravenous Romance. It’s PG rated! :-) http://tinyurl.com/cf9zp9 

Living a Hobby

This is actually a ‘reprint’ of a post I wrote a year ago for my first blog book tour.  Since I hadn’t ‘met’ a lot of my readers back then, I wanted to repost it ’cause I’m particularly fond of it.  Also, it goes hand in hand with an interview the lovely Jean Henry Mead did with me for her new blog Mysterious People.  Please check it out!  And now…on with the post!

To quote Wikipedia:


“An important determinant of what is considered a hobby, as distinct from a profession (beyond the lack of remuneration), is probably how easy it is to make a living at the activity. Almost no one can make a living at cigarette card or stamp collecting, but many people find it enjoyable; so it is commonly regarded as a hobby.”

According to Wikipedia, my entire adult life has been spent in the pursuit of hobbies strung together with a series of short-term temp jobs the financial glue holding my life together.   I’ve been, in my 20 or so years of supposed adulthood, an actress, singer, writer, percussionist, volunteer keeper/docent at an exotic feline breeding facility, and stuntwoman specializing in sword fighting.   I have not made enough money at any of the above to quit my day job(s), but I have enjoyed myself immensely and am rich in eclectic life experiences.

I have spent a fair amount of time wondering why I never settled on a profession that brings in a serious salary, at a level that would support such habits as purchasing real estate and traveling to far and distant climes every year.   Any one of my hobbies has the potential for raking in major bucks, but the odds are somewhere up there with winning a big lottery jackpot.  And when it comes to anything involving animals, trust me when I say there is no one out there waiting to pay a person for bottle-feeding motherless kittens or raking up leopard poop.

My current day job (or paying hobby, as one co-worker put it) is at a venture capital firm, so I work with and meet a lot of people who earn great flipping wodges of cash.  An pricey dinner is a drop in a very deep bucket to them, whereas to someone like me it’s the difference between covering my bills and keeping my cats in expensive no-carb kibble or being harassed by collection agencies and feeding my little darlings Purina cat chow.

If asked, however, if I’d trade my life experiences for a career path that involved 4-8 years of college, a high-powered job requiring 24/7 attention to a Treo and no time for a social life, my answer would be no.  For one thing, I haven’t given up the dream of someday making one of my hobbies pay off on the material level.   Also, I’ve found I can live vicariously through the characters in my writing.  In MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon, for instance, my heroine Connie and her best friend and business partner Daphne make their living running a theatrical murder mystery troupe.  True, they have a theater-struck landlady who gives them dirt-cheap rent for a Victorian style house in the seaside community of Emerald Cove (a thinly veiled pseudonym for La Jolla, a very ritzy neighborhood in San Diego County), but even still they rake in enough income to keep them in nice clothes, chocolate chip cookies and cocoa, with an occasional splurge for a decent bottle of single malt scotch.

My best friend Maureen and I really did run a company called Murder for Hire based in San Diego and most of our gigs were in La Jolla, but neither of us lived there and we both had other jobs to subsidize our baking and hot chocolate addiction (baking was another of our hobbies – both the creation of the goodies and subsequent consumption thereof).    We had lots of good ideas, enough drive to implement some of them, but not the financial wherewithal or time to turn our theatrical hobby into a full time, lucrative career.

I eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and theatrical combat while Maureen stayed in San Diego and fulfilled one of our goals by moving to La Jolla.   I worked on, acted in and wrote some movies of questionable value to society (B movies a bit further along the alphabet, but nothing X-rated, thank you very much!), still have a few scripts I’m quite proud of under option, but haven’t yet cracked the magic ‘no longer a hobby’ barrier.   And that’s okay.  I can live out this dream (hopefully to someday be my reality) of making my living as a writer and in the meantime, Connie and Daphne will continue to make their livings as writers/actors/directors/producers of the fictional version of Murder for Hire.

Best. Female. Character. EVER!

Ripley

Just saying…

I want to grow up to be Ellen Ripley.  Except without all the gooey aliens always popping up.  Y’know, the kind of person who, despite personal fear, does the right thing.  Hijacks the transport from the gormless officer and barrels through a wall to save the Marines. Goes after the little girl against all odds that the little squirt’s even still alive. Looks good without makeup and covered with grime.  Thinks on her feet.

Yup, I wanna be Ellen Ripley when I grow up.

GRRRRRRRR…

I just spent 20 minutes writing a post and, because of our wonky ‘net connection (curse you, AT&T!), I lost it when I used the spellcheck function.  I am tired and cranky and not inclined to try and recreate it right now.  I have a four month old kitten on one arm and he keeps farting.  I fear nerve gas induced brain damage.

I wrote two other posts today, one for my Ravenous Romance Inara LaVey author blog (I actually have four posts up there) and the other for Make Mine Mystery.  If you’re so inclined to read ’em, it would go a long way to alleviate my crankiness if you left comments on those blogs.  It won’t do anything to stop Sunbear from farting, but a little Tiger Balm under my nostrils should help that…

And as a P.S., I got my first review for Succubusted on a site other than Ravenous!  Check it out at the Romance Bureau.  I love this site, and not just because they gave me a good review.  It’s got a really clever set-up!  Make sure to check out the ‘agents’ photo page.

Happy, Happy, Happy….

I have been tagged by fellow writer, Bryn Greenwood (one of the funniest and darkest writers I’ve ever read) to list six things that make me happy.  Coming from Bryn, this is kinda funny in itself.  I would have expect ‘Six Things That Make Your Skin Crawl’ (TONGUE blood, Bryn!) or ‘Six Things That Make You Want to Stab Someone’s Eyes Out.’  This happy thing…it was a surprise. Bryn’s own post on the subject was a delight to read, btw, and I highly recommend it.  So follow my links, people!

Okay.  Six things that make me happy.

1. Cats.  If you’ve followed my blog at all, this will not come as a surprise to you. I love watching them, fostering them, curling up in bed and having all my babies vie for my attention and ‘real-estate’ (I am prime real estate to these felines). I love watching them play and do all the silly, graceful and totally feline things cats do. They have kept me sane during some very dark times in my life.

2. Chocolate (’cause Bryn forgot to mention it).  Yes, I am a Chocoholic and while I don’t need to consume huge quantities at a sitting, I need my square or two of dark chocolate and/or my mocha on a daily basis.

3. Walking on the beach during almost any weather.  I don’t know if it’s the negative ions the sea air is supposed to put out there, but I am rarely happier than when strolling along the beach, scavanging for beach glass, driftwood, shells and the occasional shark tooth or animal bone.  I love watching the waves, especially the huge combers with the ‘ghost waves’ of foam breaking on top of the wave itself.  Watching surfers (and surfing myself when I can) is a joy – the casual ease of the accomplished surfer when he/she drops down into the wave…it’s like watching a Greek god.  Watch BIG WEDNESDAY for that last surfing sequence and you’ll see what I mean.

4. Bad movies.  Oh, you knew this was coming.  The badder, the better.  Not indifferent bad.  Not boring.  But gloriously, hideously, over the top horrible.  SHOWGIRLS, I love you!  Even better, though, FEMALE MERCENARIES ON ZOMBIE ISLAND.  There is nothing worse out there.

5. Reading. Anywhere, anytime.  I keep books in the bathroom at work and home.  I read when I walk anywhere, including down the hall at work to get a glass of water.  Even when I’m busting my ass to meet a writing deadline, you can be sure I’ll tuck a book or two into the schedule in those spare moments I’m not at my computer.

6. Those rare moments in life when I’m filled with such pure joy, I can barely stand it. I never know what will spark this sensation. But there are just times when I’m suffused with such happiness, I am positive everything is right with the world.

7. OMG, the fake trailers in TROPIC THUNDER.  Bwahahahahah!!!!!

7. tagging someone else!  HAHAHAHA!  I tag Marvin, Jean and Morgan! Bwahahahahah!!!!

Author Blog for Ravenous Romance Now Up!

Okay, I’m excited.  Just got my new Inara LaVey author blog page at Ravenous Romance and wrote my first post.  Actually I wrote it twice – my first one, a longer, funnier and infinitely more thought out post, died when the site timed out.  No composing online!  BAD Dana! 

Anyway, this gives me yet another blog to post for in addition to Make Mine Mystery, Fatal Foodies and my own author website blog.  So I’m gonna be a very busy writer.  I’ve got the deadline for my half of What Women Really Want in Bed (co-written with the lovely and talented Cynthia Gentry, who also has a great story up on Ravenous called Just Friends) coming up on President’s Day, so I’ll be running home from work every day and hitting the laptop.  Which is better than hitting the sauce, I suppose! 

Rather than being stressed about this, I’m revved up and excited.  Which is a very nice change from last year’s ‘oh my god, oh my god, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die!’ mentality.  2009 is going to be a great year for writing, even if it’s just satisfaction with my own productivity and creative output.  But hell, let’s go for some nice royalty checks too. :-)

So please go over to Ravenous, check out my new author page blog and leave comments there! 

Da Da Done!

I just finished RIPPING THE BODICE, my WIP for Ravenous Romance. I am SO happy to have met my deadline and extremely proud of myself.  Plus I feel like I’ve regained a long lost skill from long ago; the ability to write scenes in my head and lose myself in a world of my creation. I used to spend hours doing this when I was young; it was as vivid as waking dreams and my writing productivity was kick ass too.

Can I just say I had one day this week where I wrote 5,000 words?  Good words too. In the right order and everything.

So look for Ripping the Bodice on the Ravenous Romance website sometime in February under my pen name Inara LaVey!

I am going to drink a glass of Tobin James Fat Boy Zinfandel and celebrate.

Contest to Win Free Copy of MURDER FOR HIRE

Hey, all!  My cyberpal Adele is having a contest to win a free copy of my book, MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon (for those of you who still don’t know the title) on her lovely book review blog UNBOUND.  Go check it out and give Adele (otherwise known as Hagelrat- you’ll have to ask her why) some love!   And while you’re there, check out the links to her other blogs.  If you’re a reader or a writer, I guarantee you will be glad you did!