Monday, March 29, 2010

Home Again Home Again!


I just returned home from my sixteenth cruise a few days ago. Unfortunately, my head is still spinning from jet-lag so I have no pictures to post just yet. I promise to have some in the near future...

...right after I finish my galley-proofs, which arrived a couple of days before I left and are due back to my copyeditor on Friday. ACK!!!

Meanwhile, I have a blog post up at Casablanca Authors today (just click on the title of this post to take you there) listing my Top Ten Things About Returning Home. Yes, Dorothy was right, there really is no place like it!

What has everyone been up to while I was gone? Yer olde Aunty would love to know!

P.S. Less than 100 days until The Wild Irish Sea is on the shelves!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Watts Towers

I have a post up today at Romance Bandits (just click on the title of this post to go there) that's about different kinds of creativity. But it also includes a few cool facts and a picture of the Watts Towers (here's another one).

If you've never heard of or seen pictures of these fabulous works of art, get thee to Google!

I'd never heard of them either until the DH took me to see them about a dozen years ago. They were all hand built by Simon Rodia, a former tile-setter, over a period of about thirty years. Some of his neighbors were less than thrilled with his construction project, but many of the neighborhood kids would bring him broken bottles and plates to use in the fantastic mosaic designs he put all over the towers.

A few years ago there was talk within the city government of Los Angeles that the Towers were a "safety hazard" and should be torn down. Thank goodness someone recognized them for the unique and beautiful works of art they are. Okay, that's MY opinion!

So what do you think? Have you seen unusual pieces of art like this? Are they art or eyesore? Not in my neighborhood?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ode to Daylight Savings Time


Can it be true? Daylight savings time starts this weekend?

I really HATE the "spring forward" portion of DST, where you lose an hour in the middle of the night. I feel like I have jet-lag, but I haven't been anywhere. Talk about unfair, and yes, it makes me even more cranky than usual.

Back in the days when Aunty still slaved away at her Dreaded Day Job, one of my co-workers (who quickly became a good friend thanks to his skewed sense of humor) used to send us poems he'd written for 'special' occasions. These could be anything from obtaining a car from the State Garage (sometimes an ordeal unto itself), the end of the current Legislative session (and the rush of bills requiring analysis) or actual "holidays" like Ground Hog Day or St. Patrick's Day.

One of my favorites was his poem about Daylight Savings Time. It is too good not to share, so with grateful thanks to my friend James Q. here it is:

Ode to Daylight Savings Time

by James Q.

Spring forward, fall back,

They robbed me of an hour in the sack.

Spring forward, fall behind,

I guess they thought I wouldn't mind.

Fall backward, spring ahead.

But I'd rather still be sleeping in my bed.

Care to share you thoughts about Daylight Savings Time?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Wild Irish Sea on Amazon!


My cover for The Wild Irish Sea is now up on Amazon! (just click on the title of this post to go there) Also the back cover copy is up in place of the previous blurb that didn't mention my heroine's name. (Thank you to my dear editor for facilitating this change!)

I must admit that even after all this time, the Amazon "rankings" are still a mystery to me. I only know that the lower they are, the better, and as soon as the cover was posted The Wild Irish Sea's ranking went from 4 million and something to 150,000. I guess that's pretty good for a book that won't be released for another four months... All right, four months as of YESTERDAY.

That does feel like an incredibly long time to wait, and I'm very grateful to everyone who has already pre-ordered it. Also, please pass a little of your patience my way! I know, I know... I picked THE WRONG BUSINESS to be in if I had no patience (and I know I don't). Everything in publishing is hurry up and wait! It's worse than the grocery store, where I inevitably pick the slowest line. It's even worse than the security screening line at the airport!

So PLEASE, help yer olde Aunty out! Give me some suggestions or share some of your secrets. What do you do to help pass the time when you must wait? How can I cultivate my patience?

Meanwhile, for those who are more like moi, you can actually read some exclusive excerpts from The Wild Irish Sea right now! Just click on the Yahoo Groups button on the sidebar of this blog and join my newsletter group.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

No Cussing Week

The California Legislature, in its infinite wisdom and because it had nothing better to do (read HEAVY sarcasm here) has passed a resolution to make this "No Cussing Week." So what happens to violators? Will they incur a fine everytime they say a cuss word? Can we start by policing the legislators themselves?

Okay, as far as I'm concerned, there's a BIG DIFFERENCE between cuss/swear words and cursing. Cuss words generally involve body parts or bodily functions that we keep private (and for good reason). To me, it doesn't take a lot of creativity to repeat the same three or four words over and over, and they do tend to lose any shock value they may have had after the tenth repeat.

And alas, saying them very easily becomes a habit. I heard very few swear words growing up and, with one rare exception, never said any until I went to college. The things you learn while seeking a higher education! However, I will say (from personal experience) that NOTHING gets you to clean up your language faster than having a toddler follow you around repeating everything you say!

Now back to that difference... While cuss words are the same things repeated over and over, usually with increasing volume, CURSING is creative. Basically you find a way to heap insults, cast aspersions on another person's character or lineage, or just generally hope ugly things happen to them, but without necessarily resorting to the same four or five swear words.

Culturally, some groups seem more proficient at creative cursing. I'm proud to say this seems to be the case with the Irish. Not that they can't toss about their share of swear words, they can! But there's something almost lyrical in some of their cursing, and I've tried to use that with my own Irish characters.

Here are a couple of examples: May she still be alive 'til everyone's sick of the sight of her.

May you be afflicted with the itch and have no nails to scratch with.

And the Irish seem especially fond about invoking the devil: The devil swallow you sideways!

May the devil take him by the heels and shake him.

May the devil cut the head off you and make a day's work of your neck.

So much more creative and fun than simply shouting the F-word!

Do you have some creative cursing to share on this "No Cussing" week?