"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The recap so far.

I've been plugging my whirlwind life recently. I'd feel bad about this, in that "what kind of narcissist are you?" way, except that I've been plugging the events that I think other people would enjoy attending. 

It's not exactly my fault that I'm going to them, too.

So how did everything go, you may ask. Seriously. You have my permission to ask that.


As usual, this was a fun weekend of talking about writing, learning about writing, and laughing about everything. I seemed to have picked up a bad habit - the day of the conference, I came down with a cold. In San Diego, I did the same thing. Each time, I sounded worse than I felt, but sounding worse meant that I practically lost my voice.

Helpful hint: Losing your voice when you have to teach a workshop or two is not a good way to spend a weekend.

My most vivid memory of San Diego is having to teach public speaking at the very last workshop of the very last day. Dearest woman Laura Taylor bustled into the workshop with a tray of herbal tea with lots of lemon and honey. It was like pulling the thorn from my paw. I will adore her forever.

At Irvine, my survival instinct took over, which meant I did not get to close down the bar with my tribe every night. But I did get to spend a little time, here and there, with some of my pals. My workshops went very well. At least, the participants told me they liked it. I hope they're not privately emailing (SCWC director) Michael Steven Gregory and saying, "Please stop her."

I sat in a couple of workshops that taught me a lot. Both were about leaving the worry about plotting behind and Just. Writing. Suzanne Redfearn taught "Pantsers: Keep the Creativity Flowing" and I loved her exhortation to not worry so much about where you think the story HAS to go, and let your characters take you where they NEED to go. We did some writing exercises in her class that were fun and freeing.

Then I was pleasantly surprised in Jeff Michael's class, "Write from the Heart." He discussed The Muse and Her role in our writing. I've always struggled with the middle of my books, and as he spoke, I realized that my Muse tends to feed me inspiration for the first part of my book, and the last part. I see the scenes setting up the story, as well as the end. But in the middle, She seems to abandon me to go shoe shopping.

"Oooh, pretty, shiny," said Whimsie, Gayle's Muse

I have to say, I admire her style.

So I asked Jeff to discuss it, and he had a lot of helpful things to say in class. Afterward, we sat down to lunch and discussed it further. We were joined by his wife, Jill, of course, and our good friend and ultra-entrepreneur, Garrett Miller. Jeff had some excellent suggestions for making certain that my second act is true and necessary and worth the read. 

As always, I told him how thankful I was for his kindness, as well as to Jill and Garrett for their indulgence. Take note, folks. Always show gratitude. It costs nothing and its value is priceless. 

And in case you want to get in on the fun, the San Diego conference is in February. Go here to learn more - http://writersconference.com/sd/

On to...


The good news is that it was a rousing success. We had a room full of people who met new authors and heard about Sisters in Crime. Our panels were smokin' - these women were funny, insightful, intelligent writers. And our guest speakers could not have been more engaging. 

Catriona McPherson had everyone laughing with her story of how she came to writing. I love her easy, down-to-earth personality. She's won numerous awards, and she deserves them all, and more. Honestly, her Scottish (working class, she says) accent is so entrancing, I would listen to her read the phone book. 

Carol Higgins Clark was equally charming, discussing how her mother's novels led her to her author's life. It turns out, in her teens, she typed up one of her mother's manuscripts for her. The experience was a deep memory for her, and started her on her path. She was also funny, describing how we all think she's super-famous, and yet people can't even get her name right. We may think she's super-famous, but we know she's super-fabulous.

The not-the-best news is that the event was tremendous work for all involved. I'm writing this after two glasses of wine and about five naps. Ask me more about it after another week of sleep and more wine.


What's next is an interview with Garrett Miller on his popular and fun Rated G Radio show (click here to find it - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/garrettmiller). I've been interviewed on his show before and I'm always excited and a little nervous, only because I want to be a good guest. Garrett is The Perfect Interviewer and should have his own talk show. He actually listens to your answers and asks questions from there, very much like my interview-idol, Dick Cavett. 

So tune in at 7 pm, PST, and listen to me talk about humor and books and...

My launch party at Tri-City Park on October 10th! It's the Placentia Heritage Festival, and I'll be selling my three new collections of humor columns, to honor my 10 years as a humor columnist for the Placentia News-Times. 

Come on out to the park and find my booth - I don't know where I'll be, but my canopy is bright yellow. The park festivities open around 10 a.m., but I won't be there until I've ridden in the parade. I think we get to the park around 11 or so. 

Once I get there, we will have prizes and treats and a generally fun time!

Hope to see you this Saturday!

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