The Decline of Western Civilization is part of history… my history

This past weekend I went to LACMA to see an Academy screening of Penelope Spheeris’ Decline of the Western Civilization I and III. This wasn’t my first time; I saw both films when they opened to very limited release. The documentaries captured a music scene and culture that some feared or didn’t understand, but others found accepting. The music resonated with teens who didn’t conform to what society dictated as normal or acceptable behavior, look and attitude.

As a teen of the ’80s, the film took me back to those years — and the screening to some old punker friends (and an ex). While today I am coming from a different place (a few decades older, and hopefully wiser), the film was just as exciting. And the music… the music and lyrics were just as powerful as they were so many years ago… though some of the topics were a little less relevant.I could barely contain my energy listening and watching Fear, Circle Jerks and X.

Thanks to Penelope Spheeris for capturing a scene and culture that embraced those just “the other side of normal.”


Happy 18th

Happy 18th


Geeking Out at the LA Times Festival of Books

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Geeking it at the LA Times Book Festival

I am a book nerd, an author geek, a voracious reader, a genuine fan of the written word. I’m in awe of authors who have published novels, especially good ones.

“Why do you get so excited when you meet authors? You act like they’re celebrities,” my son asked as we walked away from the signing tent at the LA Times #bookfest with personalized (to my son) autographed books from John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) and Ransom Riggs (Hollow City).

I realized that I was a bit of a blubbering idiot talking to them. Rambling. In awe.

I’ve meet numerous celebrities and have never been fazed. But when I met Judy Blume, I acted like a giggly 16 year old (I was 19).  Not exactly celebrities, but I think authors deserve great respect — and maybe they’ll tolerate a little geeking out from a fellow writer and fan.

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Ransom Riggs and my son


Thank you for your query

A cool black parchment type envelope with a crisp query letter to a cool San Diego-based agent who is part of a prestigious agency — a big first step…. and it felt good. Really good.

And when a familiar self-addressed envelope arrived at my house, that felt oddly okay. I knew it wasn’t a sure thing — his focus is on children’s books — but I had to try.

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for your query.

After careful consideration, Mr. X didn’t find your work was the right fit for him at this time time. I should add that he’s not actively seeking new clients, so that played a large part in his thinking.

We wish you the very best…. etc.

Dear Mr. X,

I am still thrilled to have heard from you, even a rejection. It is posted above my computer, encouraging me to push on. I shall charge on….



Award-winning, one small step…

Goal: Enter a contest in the unpublished category. That’s it. Just a goal, a milestone. Keep working. Edit number, I don’t know, 10 perhaps? Almost done…. almost ready to send to an editor. Then it is time to put it out there.

But before the month is out, I discover that I won the 2013 Southern California Book Festival contest! What?

Or more accurately, now what? Keep editing and writing. Build on this…. Take another step.

Feels good!

A great way to spend a Friday night.

A great way to spend a Friday night.

What, a cover?!

What? I need a cover! A book needs a cover?! Yes, hello. Does anyone click on those mysterious cutouts with the alfalfa hair on the various dating web sites? NO! No image, no interest.

No cover, no interest! But wait, I was ready to send my “finished” book out. I have to do more than just write it and somehow magically publish it on my own at some portals of consumer madness.


Book cover. I am on it. So on it. Thankfully I have a modicum of skill and background in that world, and have a few super close friends that do this for a living.

Editor. Yes, I am going to hire one. I know I make tipos pu teh but. Even though I have had several friends read — including a published author. I need to pay someone.

HTML. I have spent several years happy to ignore this. Now I have to figure out coding and what not. May need to hire for that.

Promotion/Marketing/PR. Well, i can do this all day for others…. I should be able to do for myself. Gulp. Cringe. Can’t i just write. I started this blog. Does that count? Not much I thinks!

Tune back soon to see the cover.

And btw, I found this amazing post from what I know believe is my new favorite blog. I am truly humbled. Terribleminds you are amazing!

Power and Control Issues

The power of the pen, or keyboard, can shape a being, change the course of one’s life, or erase the past and create a new one. That is a lot of power and control, and I have to admit, I am having issues with it. As I sit ready to continue Frida’s life, on page 2, I feel such a sense of responsibility. What has she done these past few years (5 have passed) and what does this year hold in store for her?

This is a bit like giving birth to an adult. I am guiding her through life, helping her make decisions that I hope will be wise, and am there for her in her time of need. And of course, not judging her when she screws up.

Is she fictional? Yes and no. She has come to life for me. I see her face, know she has feelings and desires. So to me, she is very real. So I feel a great deal of responsibility to Frida.

The Other Side of Normal. A bit from Chapter 2.

Here is a bit of a bite from Chapter 2 of The Other Side of Normal.

I met a guy on one of those trips to LA. Nothing to really write home about. Just a guy in a punk band and we dated for several months. He had his own apartment with his older brother, which I thought was very grown up. We went to a lot of shows, drank too much, and smoked a lot of pot. There was a lot of lying to my mom at the time: Just going over to this and that girlfriend’s house for the night. When I turned 18, he showed up at a small party some friends gave to help me celebrate. But that was it. No card. No present. Just a cigarette in his mouth and ripped jeans.

First Crushes

What does it say about you if your first crush was an animated character? Yes. I had two.

First there was Mighty Mouse. Who wouldn’t love him. He saved the day! Big ears for listening. Cape for flying. Beefy chess. That’s hot.

And then there was Underdog. There’s no need to fear, Underdog is hear. Cute, loveable and goofy. The Ultimate Nerd.  That’s hot too!

Mighty Mouse in Ralph Bakshi's adaptation

Mighty Mouse in Ralph Bakshi’s adaptation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m okay admitting it. I’m confident in my love for the dog and the mouse!

50 years. Long lost, but still true. Near and very dear.

You know a friend is true when you can go 14+ years and pick up like it was yesterday. So happy to have celebrated a friend’s 50th birthday after way-too long an absence.

You know love is true and powerful when 50 years later they are still laughing together and holding hands. So happy to have celebrated P&S’s anniversary, and to be part of the family.