Wednesday, July 29, 2009

May Every Single One of Your Sweet Dreams Come True

How many times has the artistic side of you rumbled with the logical side? Who usually wins out? For many years, I struggled with this, and often times the logical side won out. Why? Because it's easier, more logical, more socially acceptable. But the real story lies deeper still, for living a life of authenticity and intention is not a matter of right vs wrong or good vs evil - it's a matter of life vs mere survival.

So, what's a poor artist to do? It has taken me years to perceive not only in my head, but in my heart, that living anything other than an authentic life is meaningless, useless, petty, and perfectly uninspiring. For me, an inauthentic, unintentional life equals mere survival - not a particularly tasty choice. Instead, the life I choose involves a breathtaking explosion of creativity, self-expression, intentionality, and vulnerability.

Vulnerability, you ask? Why? Because we artists who tirelessly listen for the voices in the wind that rap upon our doors, and express those voices as genuinely, deeply, and beautifully as possible, expose ourselves. And exposure equals vulnerability. If you're clear about your personal vision, harsh words or form rejections mean nothing. If you're not, or feel the art is you, rather than is a part of you, you may fall prey to the critical words of others. If you allow it, words can slice you like a knife, cutting so deeply that you become paralyzed. But only if you allow it! Realizing you have the power to determine your success or failure gives you infinite freedom and ultimate success.

The greatest gift we artists can give ourselves and each other is permission to explore our talents fully, authentically, and intentionally, and to applaud and support each other in this ever-evolving endeavor.

So, to all my artsy friends out there - may your expressions be real, may your inspiration be bountiful, and may every single one of your sweet dreams come true.

Namaste! (I bow to you.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead! Which Old Witch? The Palin Witch!

Well, well, well. My dearest friend, Sarah Palin, who's a legend in her own mind, has stepped down from her high perch as Governor of the Great State of Alaska. Thank God she'll still be able to see Russia from her house! I'm sure that's a relief to the Soviets, and to the national security of our country.

According to Norah O'Donnell of MSNBC news, she used her Twitter account to let more than 100,000 of her favorite folks know she'll be taking a road trip with a camper full of kids and coffee. Wink, wink, you betcha! Man, that's interesting news.

Why did she leave? You ask. How will Alaska survive? These are VERY good questions, and ones I feel more than qualified to answer.

1) Why did she leave? DUH! That's a no-brainer. She left because she's got ethics investigations hanging over her head and big media was out to get her! And, oh yeah, there's that little six-figure book deal (damn her!) and high-dollar speaking engagement offers looming in the distance. And, anyway, being elected to run a state's no big deal. Heck, there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 of 'em in this country alone! After all, she finished over half of her term. That's pretty good, right? You betcha! Plus, she's a certifiable MAVERICK so golly gee willikers she'll get by just fine out there in her gas-guzzling RV.

2) How will Alaska survive? That's tougher. I mean easier. They probably won't notice a thing, except for the attention on their state, once again, disappearing. into thin air. (Alaska? Where's that? Somewhere in Africa? Exactly!)

So, to all you hockey moms and Joe Six Packs and Joe the Plumbers out there - no tears for you! Uh, uh. You're tough, you've got guns, you can handle it. Plus there's always Ann "Big Neck" Coulter and Rush "I'm a Drug-Addicted, Big Fat Asshole" Limbaugh to worship. Those two geniuses will catapult us into the 21st century with their wit, wisdom, and bonafide bigotry. Einstein and da Vinci ain't got nothing on them! Only problem is, if they decide to make alien babies together, then the galaxies will be destroyed and none of this patter will matter. (My poetic talent knows no bounds.)

To Sarah Palin I say, may all God's creature go scurrying for cover when they see your family's guns pointed in their direction, may your family cease from procreating, may you enjoy your bear skin rug, and if you wink at me one more time, I'm going to shove one of your rifles straight up your ass.

And, although I'm not the religious type, I've got a prayer to mark the auspicious occasion of this fearless leader's departure:

Dear God,

May this be the last we see of this beauty pageant freak. Keep her hidden from the world so she no longer makes us Americans look like the biggest bunch of jackasses
on Earth. And, please, oh please, save her from evil witchcraft! SCARY!!!

And while I've got your ear, a gentle reminder - remember that two-door, baby blue Mercedes we discussed? I'm ready whenever you are. Amen.

I couldn't end what I hope will be my last post on the illustrious ex-Governor of the Great State of Alaska without including my all-time favorite Palin-inspired cartoon. Once again, enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

All Business Up Front, Party in the Back!

Just to clarify, this picture is of my brother-in-law, so there's no shared DNA. I've got seven bro-in-laws, so I won't say which one. Hint: His initials are "DS" just like mine!

In this amazing picture of himself, he added the gorgeous locks in back through the magic of and titled the pic, "All Business Up Front, Party in the Back!" then had the nerve, I mean brilliant insight, to post it on his FaceBook page. Like I said, no shared DNA...

I cracked up big time when I saw it, and it got me thinking. What is it we show the world "up front" and what do we hide in "the back." Now, don't go getting all obscene on me. I mean this as a deep, philosophical question - a sort of existential glimpse into the psyche of the human mind. (OMG - did you read that last sentence? Hilarious!)

Here are a few of my "up fronts" vs "in the backs". Don't worry, only one of them is "real." Okay, maybe two.

1) I know, I totally agree. Ann Coulter's a goddess! vs. What? You like Ann Coulter? Are you insane? She's the anitchrist, you nasty, bigoted, right-wing Republican SOB!

2) That's fascinating! vs. If you don't stop opening your mouth and having sound come out NOW, one of us is going to die.

3) What? Dream Agent SoAndSo asked you for a full? Awesome! vs. If you get an agent before I do, I'll sic my cat on your dog and swallow all the Lunesta in my bottle in one, big gulp.

4) Thanks, for tucking my tag in in the back. Damn tags! vs. If you touch me again, I'm calling the cops.

5) OMG - Your hair looks amazing! vs. Holy Mary, Mother of God, have you LOOKED in the mirror?

6) Oh, I'm so, so sorry! vs. You didn't win the lottery like you thought? Bwahaha!

7) Sure, I'd love to come for dinner next weekend! vs. Please, God, send me the flu on Saturday.

8) I'd love to follow you on FaceBook! vs. Dying to see goofy pictures of you so I can make fun of them on my blog.

9) Have a great weekend, y'all! vs. Have a REALLY great weekend, y'all!

Also, I'm part of Blog Hop '09. Check it out and join the party! (And, don't forget your poodle skirt and saddle shoes!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE Gets a Tan! Plus, Chelsea Handler Naked?

WARNING: Pictures of sizzling hot women appear in this post. If you're the kind of (moron) who's offended by that type of thing, walk away NOW!

My book's in Acapulco, Mexico. It's true, my parents, sister and brother-in-law are sitting on a beach in Acapulco reading MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE. Mind you, they're doing this while I sit in my room on the computer 24/7 sending them final edits as fast as my small fingers and even smaller mind will allow. It's fun to think my book is traveling the globe even as I slave away like some sort of 18th century beer-swilling wench. Come to think of it, a nice, cold beer might make this whole endeavor much less stressful...

I'm excited I'll be sending off my full soon! I've kinda sorta been promising for like more than a month that I'd send it... BUT, I've been staying in communication, which is key. I've also got three partials out to uber-fantastic agents, and I've started querying others as well. I'm LOVING this book, and am hoping someone who can help make my literary dreams come true will share my gooey sentiments.

Plus, I really, really, really want to get started on MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE. (Don't you hate it when people overuse the word really?) Like I said, I wrote the first page, but I've forced myself not to look at it again until MTC is out the door.

Speaking of looking, here's a little eye candy for you. We got tickets to see Chelsea Handler, Goddess of Comedy (and clearly the hottest comic in America!), in Atlantic City over Labor Day Weekend. As my niece, Arissa would say, how awesomely awesome is that? Sadly, for my husband and all the other men (and, probably some women) in the audience, she won't be appearing in "all her glory." We'll also be staying at the same B&B we stayed in for our anniversary. What a PERFECT end to a work-filled summer.

For those of you who love Katy Perry or want to be turned on by a drop-dead gorgeous rising pop star, check out my new article on the sizzling hot songstress.

And, I've given in to peer pressure and am now on Twitter. Follow me if you wish. I promise not to tweet about doing laundry or what I'm eating.;-)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Caution! Funny Cat Pics Ahead!

Do I like cats? Yeah, I'm kind of freakish that way. When asked how many cats I have I answer, "only six." I don't go to pet stores, because for me, there's no such thing as "window shopping." If I walk into a pet store and there's a cute kitten there, that kitten goes home with me. Therefore, I avoid pet stores at all costs.

On that note, I've been wanting to do a blog post featuring some of my favorite funny cat pics for a while. So, here goes...

The first two pictures are of my baby, Emma. She loves the shower, loves when sprinkles rain down from the heavens. Of course, she hides under the stool so she doesn't get the full brunt of the storm.

Besides Emma, here are some more I hope you'll enjoy. I've saved my favorites for the end. Of course, they pertain to writing.

Laugh! It's good for the soul.;-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Speeding Train, Broken Promises, Near-Death Experiences & Swinging

I promised myself I'd take a one to two week break after editing MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE before starting the follow-up, MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE. I'm close to done with my edits on MTC, within a week I believe, so that should mean I'd get next week and possibly the week after that to enjoy life outside my bedroom, right? I mean, it is summer and I do have a pool in my backyard. I've also got a stack of books on my night stand I'd love to read at some point before my 90th birthday. Let me preface this next part by saying I'm SO not a morning person...

So, what did I do this morning at 5AM? I broke my promise. Yup. I got up and started writing MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE. Just the first page, but still... As all of you writers know, once you've got that first page down, you're screwed. You're on a speeding train, and not AMTRAK, which means it won't be crashing or slowing down anytime soon. So much for my summer...

BTW: I got another request for a partial. YIPPEE!!!!

Did I mention we've got six cats PLUS a rabbit? No? Well, we do, and our little bunny, Butterscotch, had a massive tumor on her side. I won't go into the gory details, and yes, you should thank me for that. Suffice it to say, it was gory. The good news is the tumor was benign. The bad news is she had to have surgery.

Here she is hiding under a beach towel with her Howard Hughes toenails before surgery. She doesn't look too happy, does she? POOR BABY!!!

You'll be glad to know the surgery was a success, her nails are clipped, and she's got a whole new lease on life. In fact, she just signed up for tennis lessons. She's always had a crush on Andre Agassi, well before he shaved his hair, and it's just something she's always wanted to do. But you know how it is... Before you have that near-death experience, the motivation's often not there. I'll try and post some pics of her on the court in her tennis dress and racket. Until then, happy swinging! (Feel free to interpret that any way you wish.) ;-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Still No Video, But...

We just got back from another successful gig at the Diving Cat. Markels, the owner, had a beautiful spread of food, the crowd was consistent throughout the night, and the weather was beautiful right until we finished hauling all the equipment back into our car - then we got a massive downpour with the most spectacular lightening storm we've ever seen!

We also added a few songs to set list including "Air that I Breathe" by The Hollies, "Seasons of Wither" by Aerosmith, "Races are Run" by Stevie Nicks (from Buckingham Nicks) and "Man on the Moon" by REM.

Here's a picture of Markels creating a glass bead. She's SUCH an amazing artist!!! (This shot was taken through a glass window. Pretty cool, huh?)

Sorry, still no video, but here are a few more pics from the show:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Diving Back In

It's true, the beautiful Markels (that's her with Chuck and I at our last gig) owner of the Diving Cat Studio and Gallery has lost her mind. The evidence? She's asked us to perform there again in honor of her buying the building the gallery's located in. Since we're idiots, we agreed. Why are we idiots some of you who are newer to this blog, and therefore, understandably more naive, may ask? Because I've not come up for air long enough to eat or take a shower in the past month due to insane editing, and Chuck's been crazy busy at his work as well. Therefore, no time to rehearse. When I mentioned this to my son, Ethan, he said, "What do you mean you have no time to rehearse? You guys have been practicing together for over 25 years!" Good point. From the mouths of babes, or in this case, a 17-year old genius. (Unbiased opinion from the genius's mom.)

So, here we go again, folks! Saturday night in downtown Phoenixville, PA, the one and only KARMA CHAIN will perform live at the Diving Cat Studio and Gallery. Come one, come all, and remember - the more you drink, the better we sound.;-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon...

My fingers are wearing thin... I'm editing MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE like a wild maniac. I thought this would be a breeze, just read through my shiny new manuscript, make a few quick changes, and presto-chango - I'm done. NOT!!!!

My writer friend from Ohio (who prefers to rename anonymous for fear of associating with lowlifes like me) and my husband have both read through my entire ms and given me wonderful editing ideas. My sisters and mom are waiting in the wings for my fully edited version so they can then suggest even more edits.

I've already sent off my first six chapters to one awesome agent, and another fantabulous agent is patiently awaiting my refined full. I thought I'd have it done by now but - as happens once in a blue moon - I was wrong. (Stop laughing, I can hear you with my supercharged and freakishly large blogosphere ears.)

So here I sit typing away on my laptop wearing my once perfectly polished fingernails, along with the rest of my fingers, to the bone. And, although I'd love to, I can't complain since I'm loving every minute of it. I just wish I was done so I could send off my requested full and touch up my query and start sending it out as well. I get such a rush when I send out queries! It's like a whole new world of spectacular possibilities opens up. Plus, I'll be able to start my next book, MURDER ON SONGBIRD LANE!

The gal I wrote about in my 6.22 post (There's a Girl I Know...) is doing GREAT! Her dad has not had a drink since the day of the incident, and he's going into rehab. She's thrilled at the prospect of her family healing. I'm happy for her and am cautiously optimistic that this will be a beautiful new beginning for her and her family. Thanks to everyone for your good wishes and prayers on her behalf.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Murder in the 'Burbs

That's Agatha Christie, Queen of Crime. If I had to write books like that, on a typewriter without my 'delete' and 'find/replace' keys, there would be one more death to talk about; not murder, but suicide.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records (not to be confused with the beer company), she is the best selling author of all time. Only the Bible is known to have sold more than Agatha's four BILLION copies.

According to Wikipedia,
almost all of Agatha Christie’s books are whodunits, focusing on the English middle and upper classes. Usually, the detective either stumbles across the murder or is called upon by an old acquaintance, who is somehow involved. Gradually, the detective interrogates each suspect, examines the scene of the crime and makes a note of each clue, so readers can analyze it and be allowed a fair chance of solving the mystery themselves. Then, about halfway through, or sometimes even during the final act, one of the suspects usually dies, often because they have inadvertently deduced the killer's identity and need silencing. In a few of her novels, including Death Comes as the End and Ten Little Indians, there are multiple victims. Finally, the detective organizes a meeting of all the suspects and slowly denounces the guilty party, exposing several unrelated secrets along the way, sometimes over the course of thirty or so pages. The murders are often extremely ingenious, involving some convoluted piece of deception. Christie’s stories are also known for their taut atmosphere and strong psychological suspense, developed from the deliberately slow pace of her prose.

Twice, the murderer surprisingly turns out to be the narrator of the story, and in four stories, Christie allows the murderer to escape justice (and in the case of the last three, implicitly almost approves of their crimes); these are The Witness for the Prosection, Murder on the Orient Express, Curtain, and The Unexpected Guest.

My latest, MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE, is the first in a series of cozy mysteries with an edge. It's a whodunit with no gore and, hopefully, lots of laughs. It's set in upscale suburbia with uppity neighbors and characters from a Catholic church at its core. Here is the first paragraph from the query:

Mapleton Falls is a perfect town where perfect families lead perfect lives. At least, that’s what newcomer Jenny Sampson thinks when she first moves in. But, when Jenny’s next-door-neighbor, Amanda Brennan, a beautiful, caring, doctor’s wife and mother of two, turns up dead in the entryway of her Georgian-style McMansion, Jenny finds herself muddled in the middle of a murder.


I've never done this before, but that makes it all the more exciting. Here's the first page to my new novel. I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Chapter One, Page One
I looked out and saw the assistant DA drive her old, beat-up Volvo into my long driveway. Finally! I ran out and gave her a hug. "Oh, god, Bree. I'm so glad you're here! I can't believe Amanda's gone. I just saw her yesterday. How could this have happened"

The picture I'd e-mailed her this morning showed five smiling women holding up champagne glasses, happily toasting the New Year. Standing on the end to my left, Amanda's sparkling blue eyes conveyed hope for the upcoming year. What could have gone so terribly wrong in only three, short months?

Bree put her arm around me and walked me back into the house. "Calm down, Jen. You need to tell me everything, so take a deep breath and get your thoughts together. "

"I know, you're right. I'm sorry. I've been a major mess since I got the news. Do you want a cup of tea? I made your favorite - chai with extra cinnamon."

"That's your favorite."

"I know, but you'll drink it, won't you?"

"Don't I always?"

I handed her a cup of tea in her favorite mug depicting Sally, Dick and Jane from kindergarten primers. "JANE KNOWS SALLY, SHE DOESN'T CARE TO KNOW DICK." I loved reminding her of her expansive sexual preferences.

"Okay," she said, pulling out a pad and paper. "Let's start from the beginning."

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