Archive for August, 2014


The reasons why I still haven’t heard from the agent who’s looking at my novel, Charity MacCay and the Almighty Dollar.

waiting

  1. It’s August and sweltering and most of the population of New York City has skipped town for the month.

  2. The agent is still in her office but her assistant is on vacation and left her email account in lockdown.

  3. A virus created by evil Russian hackers has destroyed the agent’s computer system and all contact information for me.

  4. The NSA intercepted my email because its attached pdf manuscript revealed too many national security secrets.

  5. The agent loved my novel and is about to send me a contract in the mail.

  6. The contract was already mailed but a mugger stole the postman’s mail bag.

  1. The IT person at my job decided I shouldn’t be sending personal emails from work so he’s been intercepting and deleting them.

  2. My manuscript is so brilliant that the agent is reading it very, very slowly so that she can savor every word.

  3. My manuscript stinks and the agent doesn’t have the heart to tell me she can’t reject it fast enough.

  4. I am suffering from hallucinations because in reality no one anywhere is looking at my manuscript.

Personally, I think the answer is #10.  Do you have any additions to the list?

Today I finished polishing my second Charity book, Charity MacCay and the Saintly Wives. It feels so good! Sure, I still have a few sentences to add in a couple places, but that’s it. I’m DONE!

What struck me about the final chapters was how I make Charity suffer through some pretty rotten luck.  I don’t feel bad about it because she’s had a comfortable life.  She was born into an upper class family, she’s never known hunger, she’s beautiful and buxom and so very smart, and underneath her impulsiveness and selfishness beats a generous heart.   So I figure readers won’t mind if I inflict her with some bad karma, especially since it adds to the plot twists and humor.

V fair cover

Anyway, it’s ironic that over breakfast I read an article about a woman who in most ways had the opposite early life of Charity, but now Karma seems to loves her to pieces.

She’s on the cover of Vanity Fair this month, her name is Natalia, and she’s a supermodel (those rare one-name creatures I haven’t paid heed to in years).  She looks like she’s eighteen but is 32.  And she has three beautiful children.  And a doting, gorgeous, wealthy husband.  And two homes in France.  And she was in a bikini on the swimsuit cover of Sports Illustrated, never mind that she’s had three kids so she should have stretch marks and blobs of fat on her hips.

You know why I forgive her even though she make me want to slit my wrists?

Turns out she had a grim childhood in her native Russia.  Badass dads who came and went.  A severely handicapped sister.  A mother who struggled to sell fruit on the streets while paying off the local Mob to let her work.  Soon Natalia was also on the street selling fruit.  What a tough childhood compared to my Charity character.

Flash forward to Natalia at 22:  She’s a supermodel, has bought her mother a house, and has founded a major charity foundation that has built over a hundred playgrounds for children in Russia.

You know, if any of us wrote a novel about someone with such a fantastical life, we’d be laughed out of the business.  But here’s what a friend said about Natalia, and you tell me if it doesn’t sound like a solid background for an exciting lead character:

Earl karma

She is a fighter.  In Russia… she had to survive.  The qualities she needed—the constant awareness, the readiness to fight, the sixth sense about danger—these things are in her blood…  She is like a combination of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.”

This kind of reminds me of the old TV series My Name is Earl.  I liked its humor and how Earl was trying to atone for his past bad actions so that he could straighten out his Karma.  Do good stuff and Karma will do right by you, Earl preached.  That rule never seems to work for Charity MacCay, however, because for her no good deed she does goes unpunished.  But then, that’s why my book is fiction and funny.

How about you? Any wild Karma stories you’ve written or lived through? Known people who seem to  experience extremes of good or bad luck?

Have you ever dug up a novel or short story you wrote a long time ago, a piece of writing you eventually gave up on, and thought—can I do something with this?  Maybe rewrite or edit it.

Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis star in Moonlighting.A lot of writers have lingering hopes for their old, abandoned stories.  But me?  Never.  Once I give up on a story, it’s dead and buried.   Oh, I’ll keep a copy somewhere, but that’s just for sentimental reasons.

So guess who dug up an old manuscript and now wants to do something with it.

And I mean, I had to dig.  It was in my storage unit in the basement and I had to go through several musty boxes until I found those 95 pages titled….

My Favorite Zombie.

Don’t laugh.

See, the title is supposed to be funny because it was a spec script for the late 1980′s TV show Moonlighting.  The one that made Bruce Willis a star.

That right, the late 80′s, which tells you how old I am.  And how old the script is because I had to type it out on a Selectric II typewriter.  Remember typewriters?  They’re what I worked with just before I finally got a personal computer.  Which had DOS programming because Windows hadn’t been invented yet.

Damn, I’m old.

typewriter

This script reminds me that I almost got my foot in the proverbial Hollywood door.  You see, after writing it I contacted about two million agents in the general Los Angeles area, and at long last one of them said he’d take a look at it.  Well, he read it, loved it, told me flat out it was “excellent!” and tried to get in through the door at the production offices of Moonlighting.  But no one at the show would look at it, never mind if they publicly stated that they accepted spec scripts.  By the end of that show’s run, the producers had in fact never bought ANY spec scripts.

I really was kind of brokenhearted.  

Anyway, flash forward many years, and I find myself wanting to write a screenplay much like the screwball comedies of the 1930′s, which I adore.  (Yes I know, I’m supposed to be working on my ghost screenplay, and I am.  But I get easily distracted.)

So I read through my old script and thought… This isn’t half bad.  I’m even getting good ideas on how to change it into a full length screenplay.

Will anything come of my effort?  I doubt it.  I’ll probably just spend a few weekends seeing how fast I can whip it out before getting distracted yet again.  But it’ll also be fun.

And what about you, my darling fellow writers?  If you’ve got any rewriting-old-manuscript experiences, I’d love to hear about them.

Take care, and have a great week.

So the weekend is over and this is what I did:

1)   Got in a couple very good workouts.

2)  Went swimming.

swimming

3)  Ran several errands.

4)  Went grocery shopping.

5)  Fell asleep on the sofa in the middle of the afternoon.

6)  Got my hair done.

7)  Trimmed the vines away from my dining room windows.

8)  Was tortured by Nikolai in yet another painful sports massage/therapy session.

9)  Took my cat to the vet to get her nails trimmed because she won’t let me trim them even though it’s summer and I’m wearing shorts and she likes to jump up into my lap by using her nails ’cause she’s an old cat and needs all the climbing help she can get.

cat claws

10) Four loads of laundry.

11) An hour of ironing while watching TV.

SO NO I DIDN’T GET ANY WRITING/ EDITING DONE!

Sigh.

But I’ll be taking a couple days off this week and hope to finishing editing my second Charity book, Charity MacCay and the Saintly Wives.  No, not hope; I PLAN to finish editing it.

BTW, I also finished reading James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird, which as you may know won the National Book Award.  It deserved the award and more.  The story is set in the same period as my Charity books, so besides enjoying the read it counts as research for me.  Here are a few sentences in which McBride is describing the great Harriet Tubman.  They took my breath away.

She moved toward the front of the room like the wind, quick, silent, smooth, taut as rope, and them fellers parted and slid their benches out the way to let her pass.  There was something fearful ’bout that woman, silent, terrible, and strong…

Them eyes was staring down at me.  I can’t say they were kind eyes.  Rather they was tight as balled fists.  Full.  Firm.  Stirred.  The wind seemed to live in that woman’s face.  Looking at her was like staring at a hurricane.

I hope you had a more productive literary weekend than I did.  Got any literary ambitions for the weeks to come?