A Writer By Any Other Name, Part II – I’ve been tagged!

Wicked wicked Dani ! She tagged me with another meme, this one as a creative way of searching for a possible pen name. Actually I shouldn’t call Dani wicked for doing this because it gave me a ‘freebie’ as far as post topics. I’m having a blast doing this August blog challenge, but it can be…er…challenging to come up with fresh topics, especially when I’m trying to focus on a novel deadline. And I have a post due at Fatal Foodies for tomorrow, so by tagging me with this meme, Dani has actually done me a huge favor.

Thank you, Dani!

She’s still kind of wicked, though… 🙂

So without further ado, playing with names! Oh yeah, a bit of further ado: make sure to check and see if you’ve been tagged!!

1. Your real name: Dana

2. Your Gangsta name:(first 3 letters of real name plus izzle) Danizzle (hey, Dani and I are Gangsta twins!)

3. Your Detective name:(fave color and fave animal) Blue Jaguar (that’s my favorite color and animal today. Ask me tomorrow and it could be Green Tiger)
4. Your Soap Opera name:(your middle name and street you live on) Carol 44th (I guess this is a futuristic soap opera and I’m a clone?…)

5. Your Star Wars name:(the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name) Fredda (Iskoo EETA, Solo… heh heh heh…)
6. Your Superhero name:(your 2ND favorite color, and favorite drink) Redwine (The costume design possibilities are endless – a different label for every mood!)

7. Your Iraqi name:(2ND letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, 1st letter of your middle name, 2ND letter of your moms maiden name, 3rd letter of your dads middle name, 1st letter of a siblings first name, and last letter of your moms middle name) – Aecrlll (I feel like there should be a warning label of the side effects possibly caused if you take me for depression…)

8. Your Witness Protection name:(parents middle names) Delano Carol

9. Your Goth name:(black, and the name of one of your pets) Black Raven, Black Vootie, Black Beezle, Black Bug Bear, Black Foster, Black Maddie, Black Ling Ling, Black Mononoke, Black Scaramouche, Black Taz, Black Tsavo – what? You didn’t think I could choose just ONE of my cats, did you?

And I…Tag…

Helen, Marvin (hah!!! Gotcha again!) and Joanna

Sunday Writing Prep

Today has already been a very good day.  I very rarely sleep the whole night through, but the last two nights I’ve fallen asleep around 10:30 and slept till 6:30, waking up slowly and naturally around 7:00.  Okay, yesterday morning Bug Bear helped me wake up by chewing on my chin, but there were no 1:00 am trips to the bathroom, no darkest before the dawn fits of insomnia as my brain chewed over everything I’m worried about, no panic attacks…just peaceful, dream-filled sleep.  I love dreaming and will lie in bed an extra hour just to let my mind sift through the images and emotions that played through my sleep.  I often dream of piranhas since we got Bug Bear, but that’s beside the point!

Up at 7:00 this morning, fed the beasties, and then Dave and I went for a long walk on the beach.  We didn’t take a watch because I didn’t want to obsess about time.  There are enough days when life has to be run on the clock, everything scheduled as to not miss my train, to get this project done on time, not be late to work, whatever.  Today for instance, I want to have all my posting and emailing done by noon so I can get back to work on my novel.  But I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the pleasure of my morning walk and part of that pleasure is turning back when I feel like it, not because the Watch Tells Me It’s Time.

There’s an expression ‘White man’s time’ that I’ve heard, referring to the tendency to be goal/time oriented, always racing to the next activity or event rather than enjoying the process and living in the moment.  I’ve found when I can zen out about my projects and my day, time stretches out like taffy.  One hour magically lasts for half a day and I get so much more accomplished because I’m not worrying about it.  Our walk felt like hours, yet was only two and when we got home, I still had plenty of time to meet my self-imposed start time for working on the novel.  I am not thinking about the fact tomorrow is Monday and I have to be back at my day job.  I will not say or even think ‘I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.’  It’s not tomorrow yet, is it?  So why waste a second of my lovely long weekend by worrying about it?

Writer’s Meme

Which is not the same thing as Writer’s Block.  In fact, it’s the opposite because now I don’t have to come up with a topic for Day 8 of the August Blogging Challenge put forth by Dani of Blogbooktours.   Dani is like a shark when it comes to researching useful and interesing networking tools online – she never stops.  If she did, I suspect she’d sink to the bottom of the cybersea and drown.   

Here’s a modifed writers meme for members of the August Blog Challenge, three of whom get tagged at the end. These are my answers:

1) Computer, longhand, or other?
Computer or my beloved Alphasmart when I’m on the Muni.  I’ll sometimes take notes longhand if I’m out and about and remember to take a notebook with me, but this is sometimes counterproductive because my handwriting is so awful I can’t always decipher what I’ve written!

2) Coffee or tea?
Er…what about wine? 

I have a mocha first thing in the morning and will sometimes make a pot of coffee.  If writing at night, I have a glass or two of wine and sip on it while I work.  I like tea in the afternoons (I’m getting addicted to Peet’s Jasmine Downy Pearls green tea) with a couple of cookies as a treat. 

3) Day or night?
I prefer to write in the day, but because I work full time most of my writing is down between 6 and 9pm.  On weekends set aside for writing, both!  I tend to fall asleep early, though. 

4) Favorite genre to write?
Mysteries (humorous cozies), although I’m liking the paranormal/horror as well.  Main thing for me is humor in whatever I write. 

5) Pencil or pen to edit?
Pen! 

6) Unusual writing quirk or trait?
I invariably work with at least one cat on my lap.

7) Writing from home or writing in a cozy café?
I am a big time homebody.  I like to set my ‘office’ up, light candles, put on music, and tune out the world.  I don’t think I could tune out the conversations going around me and I’d be bound to find myself writing ‘Can you hear me?…Yeah, I’m at STARbucks…’ when some loud idiot gets on his or her cell…

8) Music or silence while your write?
Music! I love film scores.  I wrote MURDER FOR HIRE while listening to The Witches of Eastwick, which is a John Williams score. 

9) Favorite motivational writing quote?
Writing equals ass plus chair. 

10) Favorite bookmark?
Sigh.  I’m so bad about using bookmarks.  I’m an evil corner of the page folder downer (if they’re my books; I don’t do it with books I borrow) or if it has a book jacket, I use the front flap. I have dozens of bookmarks from my own promotional stockpile and from other writers.  I love pretty bookmarks in theory, though… 

11) Favorite fictional character of all time?
Oh jeez louise…  that’s just mean.  I will only answer this with the caveat that this changes with my mood.  So at 8:55 am on 8/8/08, my favorite fictional character of all time is Scarlett O’Hara. 

12) Most admired living writer today?
Another answer that will change depending on my mood.  Today it’s Stephen King for his succinct and dead-on descriptions.  His plots sometimes leave me cold, but when it comes to the actual craft of writing, he’s my man. 

I am tagging:

 Elysabeth, Marvin and Michelle.  

Muni Woes

Lately I’ve been doing a lot thinking and writing on the Muni (using my handy dandy Alphasmart!).  I do my Artist’s Way endorsed morning pages, work on outlines, posts, notes…whatever needs doing.  I usually read on the Muni, but given the two deadlines I have (200 page novel due 1/1/09 and non-fiction co-written book on female sexuality due 2/1/08), I’ve been really upping the writing discipline.  My brain is wearing thigh high black leather boots and a corset, cracking a whip whenever I open a book (unless I’m in the bathroom or walking.  Can’t write while walking), telling me to get with the program.  Or else.  CRACK!!  And Muni time is a good 40 minutes there and 40 minutes home.

Oops…wait a sec…I have a kitten chewing on my chin and purring…

Okay, he’s finished now.

On a good day, the Muni is a wonderful place to work.  On a bad day, not so much.  A good day is:

1.  when the person who sits next to me is relatively slender and aware they’re not alone.  My rear is generous enough to take up exactly one Muni seat, no less, no more.  I don’t enjoy sharing my half of the seat with someone else’s butt, elbows or any other body part.  It’s even more fun when my seat mate falls asleep on me.  And yes, it’s happened more than once.

2. The person next to me is not a male who can’t sit without spreading his legs as wide as possible.  See above re: sharing my space.  Keep your legs together, guys.  Or does your package really need that much fresh air?

3. The person next to me practices good hygiene.  This also goes for anyone standing in my immediate vicinity.  Wash, people!  Use deodorant!  And leave the heavy perfumes at home; think before poisoning your fellow passengers with a noxious cloud of cloying scent.

4.  The person next to or near me doesn’t have an iPod or MP3 player turned up enough to where I’m forced to share their musical tastes without being able to actually hear it clearly.  It’s irritating white noise and I can only think the person connected to the headphones is going to be deaf in a very short time and then turn their damn music up even louder.

5.  The person next to me has good cell-phone etiquette and keeps the volume down and the conversation short.

6.  The person next to me or near me is not a crazy CHUD.

A bad Muni day is when any combination of the above occurs.  It makes writing a challenge.  Sometimes I overcome the irritation and forge ahead; other times I have to restrain myself from beating someone over the head with my Alpha.

Today started out as a bad day on the ride home.  A group of half dozen teens trooped on board and sat two rows in front of me.  Loud, hyper teens.  They weren’t mean, they didn’t swear, but oh, they were loud.  I tried to write for a few more minutes, but finally gave up and pulled out a book.  I had a bit more success focusing on reading, but not a lot.  I was working up to a really fine irritation when one of the kids stood up to let an older woman sit down.  The train lurched and she fell heavily into the seat.  Immediately all the kids asked if she was okay, sincerely concerned.  My irritation melted away and I smiled.  Five minutes later they began a rousing rendition of LION SLEEPS TONIGHT.  My smile wavered, but lasted through all the choruses of ‘Weemawep aweemawep’ and beyond.  I did not, however, get any writing done.

An Author By Any Other Name…

I need a pseudonym.

I recently had a short story accepted for publication by Ravenous Romances and just received a contract to expand the story into a 200 page novel. The story is erotica (in my pretentious moments, of which I have a few, I refer to it as ‘literary erotica’) and while I’ve got no problems or shame attached with writing genre erotica (Laurel Hamilton does is all the time and she’s considered mainstream), ‘Dana Fredsti’ is not a name that conjures up the right image. At least not to me. And since I’ve already published MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon under my real name, I think it’s better to reserve it for further mysteries. That being said, Fredsti is a unique name and you don’t get a lot of options when you google it. On the other hand, my dad would flip if he found out. On the OTHER hand, my dad doesn’t use Google.com or much else on the computer. Oh, the quandary…

Trying to come up with a suitable nom de plume (there’s one of my pretentious moments for you!) is causing my brain to spit out all sorts of silly names, like: Kiki Dupont; Angelique DuVallon (I like the ‘Du’ prefix, for some reason. You could say I’m ‘du-prefixated.’… BWAHAHAHAH!); Constance Melons; Forest Hill (okay, my Muni train just pulled up into the Forest Hill station); Flame Winthrop (don’t ask). What my brain is NOT doing is giving me anything useful.

I asked a friend at work and she thought I should dig into my family history and use a family related name. Can’t use my mom’s maiden name – it’s already been snagged by another family member as THEIR pen name – and HER mom’s maiden name was Butte. Yeah, that’d make for a great erotica pen name. Dana Butte. Fanny Butte. Dana Fanny?

Sigh.

You can see my plight here.

So I’m soliciting opinions and suggestions here. How many of you think I should use a pen name for my new projects? And for those of you giving a resounding ‘yes’ to that question, what do YOU think a good pen name would be for me?

I have to send my contracts off in the mail tomorrow, so any expedited suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Even the silly ones!

Wombathon Part II: Retrieving Judy or How Many Clowns can you Fit on a Ferry?

Picking up Judi on Saturday was much less of a Three Stooges routine. For one thing, it was daytime and much easier to distinguish faces without the glare of headlines coming up behind and next to me. Second, Judi had checked baggage so she had to go out on the Arrivals level – no chance for misunderstanding or misdirection from SFO’s bad signage. She called as soon as her plane landed and Lisa and immediately took off to go retrieve the next Wombat ‘package.’

The Queen and I had already been for a nice long walk up to West Portal and it was an unusually warm and sunny day for summer in San Francisco. We were pretty much ready for the Wombathon and now just had to make sure we got Judi checked into her hotel and then all of us down to the ferry in time for the 4;45 departure.

We didn’t see Judi when we reached Frontier’s Arrivals, so Lisa went to go look for her in the baggage claim area and I cruised around the terminals a couple of times. Traffic was light and so was representation by law enforcement officials. My third loop around, Lisa and Judi were waiting curbside, Judi looking exactly like she does in her icon. She greeted me with a big smile and while these might not have been her VERY first words when she got in the car, they were close: “I am ready for that glass of champagne!” My kind of woman. Judi was remarkably fresh and bubbly in appearance and spirits for someone who’d been on a plane as long as she had. I meant to ask for her secret, but got distracted by the need to pay attention to traffic.

We stopped at the Ocean Park Motel, a cute little retro motel four blocks from my house and also the oldest hotel in San Francisco (according to Lisa, who’s stayed there before). If you’re ever vacationing in the City and want a cute, inexpensive place to stay that’s near the beach, the zoo and a Muni line that’ll connect you to any possible public transportation you might need to get around SF, this is a good one.

Okay, promo for neighborhood hotel over.

Judi checked in while Lisa and I waited, studying Judi’s shoes in fascination. Pink suede with what had to have been 4 inch brown heels and a rounded toe, they were the perfect Barbie shoes. I told Judi this and she said, “What do you think one of my nicknames is?” And yes, fellow Wombats, Judi walked in ‘em like a pro. None of the ungainly, weight tipped slightly forward stride for her. She had heels and knew how to use ‘em. Lisa and I both favor flats or lower heels (I’ll go as high as 3 inch heels on very special occasions) watching Judi’s ability to navigate the terrain was akin to a non-dancer watching professional choreography. This was, of course, before the champagne…

(insert ominous music)

We stopped at my house to retrieve Dave and made it to the Ferry Building with 40 minutes to spare, bought our tickets at the kiosk out back by the docks and roamed around the shops inside to kill time. Well, I waited in line for the bathroom for 10 minutes while Lisa, Judi and Dave went exploring. I tracked them down at Book Passage, a more or less ‘literary’ bookstore which did not have a romance section. Judi was understandably not impressed.

We went out to get in line for the ferry. A long line snaked around the grounds and we eyed it in dismay. I went up to the last person in line and asked if this was the line for Sausalito. Happily, it was the line for Larkspur. The line for our ferry was over to the left and had about 15 people in it. We wondered aloud why so many people were going to Larkspur and why not Sausalito. A cute girl with short blonde hair streaked in front with shocking pink explained Larkspur was the hub for most of the ferry lines and all the tourists tooling around the city on rented bikes were now headed back to their cars.

Our ferry, scheduled to leave at 4:45, was late. We weren’t exactly on a deadline, but we knew John and the rest of the ‘bats would be at the Sausalito Yacht Club drinking without us. We also knew we could get beer and wine on the ferry and we were anxious to catch up with the rest of the gang. Judi’s feet hurt, no surprise. Mine hurt too and I was wearing flats. We wanted to sit down and have a drink, dagnabbit!

The ferry finally pulled up around 5:00. People with bikes began dismembarking. Then more. And more…and more…

“I think there’s a black hole i there” said Lisa. “Bicycles are being sucked through from another dimension.”

I swear, it was like a clown car. How many bicycles can fit on a ferry? This went on for 20 minutes. In the meantime, our line grew louder and the crowd more unruly. A group of older Southern women, Sex in the City’d out for the day, were the most vocal. “They’d better give us all free beers after this bullshit,” growled the Kim Cattrell wannabe.

“I think they’re just cycling people around the back for another round,” said Lisa.

Our blonde friend turned out to be a regular fount of knowledge about all things ferry related and entertained us during our wait. Then the topic of tornadoes and their attraction to trailer parks came up; she said it was because they were flat and there wasn’t as much resistance and something else to do with wind and mathematics. I dubbed her ‘Wiki’ for her great store of trivia and facts.

More people with bikes came down the ramp. A young couple looked to be the last ones and everyone cheered as they cleared the walkway. Then another bicycle appeared from the back doorway and everyone groaned. But that was the last and finally we were allowed to board.

The four of us made straight for the bow and scored five prime seats (four for us, one for our new friend Wiki). Dave and Lisa took drink orders and headed to the bar while Judi and I relaxed and took in the gorgeous view of San Francisco Bay. Within five minutes the ferry left the dock and we were on our way to Sausalito and the Wombathon.

(I was going to make my Wombathon story a two-parter, but I’m being called by an outline that needs finishing, so…ONE more day!).

Gelato

I actually have several book reviews in progress, but haven’t had the time to sit down and flesh them out (and make sure I have things right, like the characters’ names or the spelling of the author’s name, little details like that!) as I’ve been busily working on an outline/synopsis for a novel.  I’ve had a story accepted for publication and the editor wants me to expand said story into a novel, hence the outline.  I suck at outlining, so it was a bit of a trauma getting it written.  Outlines have always made me feel hemmed in creatively and I either have a huge block towards them or lack the ability to plot without starting at chapter one and laboriously following my characters through the story.  Either way, I did get a short and VERY basic outline finished and sent off.  Yay me!

 What, you ask, does this have to do with gelato?  I just finished a cup of dark chocolate and Tahitian vanilla bean goodness before writing this post.  It was on my mind, doncha know.   And OH so very very very decadent and yummy…  For those of you not in the know, I will quote from the Caffe Gelato website here: 

Gelato is Italy’s version of ice cream, with three major differences.

First, gelato has significantly less butterfat than ice cream’s typical 18 and 26 percent. Tests conducted by Delaware’s Department of Agriculture confirmed Caffé Gelato’s vanilla and chocolate gelato both have less than 10 percent butterfat.

However, less fat does not mean less taste. With the lower butterfat content, gelato is less solidly frozen than ice cream and melts in the mouth faster.Therefore, the customer will taste gelato’s full flavor immediately.

 

 

Second, gelato has a much higher density than ice cream. Ice cream is produced by mixing cream, milk and sugar, then adding air. Manufacturers add air to ice cream because it nearly doubles the quantity of their product. But, it cuts their quality in half. No air is added to gelato. The result is a higher quality dessert with a richer, creamier taste.

Third, gelato is served slightly warmer than ice cream. While both gelato and ice cream are served well below the freezing temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, gelato is served 10 to 15 degrees warmer than ice cream. Because it is less solidly frozen, gelato’s taste is further enhanced as it melts in the mouth.

I will be reviewing a book this weekend,  as well as posting on Fatal Foodies.  Do check out that blog (there are five of us currently posting each week) if you’re into mysteries and food!  Or just food.  It’s a very droolable read! 

Catching Up

I am continually impressed by bloggers who post every day and always have something pithy/witty/introspective/insightful/entertaining to say.  Doesn’t matter if they have anything major going on in their lives; trivial incidents or thoughts are transformed into fun-to-read vignettes, whereas I have trouble writing about major events in my life.  I haven’t finished writing about Left Coast Crime, which happened back in March, and while I’ve thought about my book tour and stuff that would make good blog fodder, I just can’t get inspired enough to work on it.  Now to give myself a break, I busted my ass working on a ghost writing project with Dave for a friend of ours.  Major deadline, lots of work to be done.  We did it and I’m still a bit burned out.  Plus I will be doing a bit more of the ghost writing and have to rev back up for that.  But other people seem to be veritable writing machines. 

So I guess this post is more about the reasons I’m not caught up than actually catching up.  I’m cranky.  It shouldn’t be PMS, too soon.  Can a gal have pre-PMS?  PPMS?  Right now I just feel like ripping someone’s head off.  I think this is called a burn-out.  Anyway, I’m gonna sip some wine and work on MFH: The Big Snooze for a bit.   The ghost writing will wait till tomorrow night when I’m not so tired nor so grumpy.  

Back from the Thelma and Louise Tour…

…and working on a writing deadline (tomorrow, June 1st!) AND still recovering from road weariness.  So this is gonna be a shorty.  I just wanted to share reviews of my book and Jess’s that I found on Seattle Press Online:

Dana Fredsti & Jess Lourey Book Signings

Hide details…

Dana Fredsti’s “Murder for Hire” centers on a semi-fictional theatrical group that is best known for murder mystery role-playing … until one night, when the line between acting and real life becomes blurred.

The novel is a well-executed throwback to the era of film noir dramas of the late 1940’s: fedora, trenchcoats, stylish heroines and all.

“August Moon” is the fourth novel in the successful “Murder-by-Month” series by Jess Lourey. Readers will enjoy the events that ripple through the seemingly tranquil town of Battle Lake, Minnesota. A refreshingly strong heroine steps into the role of detective in this scorching summer mystery.

Nifty!

Tour Schedule for Dana and Jess

I am going to be joining fellow mystery writer Jess Lourey on a Northwest Coast tour in May. Jess is the author of the humorous soft-boiled cozy Murder by the Month series, must read books for anyone who appreciates good plotting, solid writing with laugh out loud humor, and engaging, likeable and believable protaganists. Go ye and read, says Dana!

Blog Tour Schedule prior to the road trip:

Tuesday, April 22nd:
– Dana interviews Jess Lourey on Pointless Drivel
– Jess interviews Dana at Inkspot.com

Friday, May 1st:
– Jess reviews PERUVIAN PIGEON at GM Malliet’s blog on Amazon.
– Saturday, May 2nd: Jess at Cozy Chicks
– Dana & Jess at Dot Dead Diary

Sunday, May 3rd:
– Jess at Killer Hobbies
– Thursday, May 7th, Dana’s review of AUGUST MOON @ Mysterious Musings
– Saturday, May 10th, Dana at Cozy Chicks

Sunday, May 11th:
– Dana at Killer Hobbies

Coast Tour Dates:

Stay tuned for more additions to their tour schedule!