Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I am the Liberty Bell

I went to a Capitol Crimes (Sisters in Crime, Sacramento Chapter) meeting this Saturday as the guest speaker. Dave went with me, in a combination of pack horse (he lugged the book boxes), actor and moral support. My sister Lisa also joined us as she was up from Venice Beach for her birthday. We drove separate cars from our house to Sacramento as Lisa has a sometimes cranky back and my Saturn, which would have fit all three of us and our gear, is not necessarily the best car for that. She has a Mini, a cute little red and white one, and although it’s comfy and adorable, it does not have the trunk space we needed for the trip.

We rendezvoused at Perko’s Grill and Cafe in Rancho Cordova where the Sacto Sisters have lunch before their meetings. They were just a delightful group of women, some professional writers themselves, some aspiring authors, all of them voracious readers and so nice! Dave was an honorary Sister for the day and handled himself well as the only male in a group of around 20 women. No huge shock, that. And they didn’t seem to mind the extra shot of testosterone he brought to the mix. Lisa had just gotten her own literary agent (yay, Lisa!), so she fit right in the conversation and had some good advice to share.

The meeting itself was at the Rancho Cordova Library. Now I’d mapped out the journey weeks in advance, using Google Maps. Oh, foul Google Maps! Assuring the helpful Sisters I knew how to get to the library, we set off following the directions I’d googled (as did Lisa, who had the same directions as us) and ended up on the correct street, but going in the wrong direction. We figured this out as the addresses went up in number instead of down to the 9000 block, where the library was. D’oh!!! So we flipped a U (and I mentally flipped off Google Maps) and drove as fast as the traffic would allow down Folsom, a busy street with many stoplights and more Sunday drivers than should be legal on a Saturday.

I will admit to being a little (a lot!) stressed. I hate being late and every minute the clocked ticked closer to 1:00, the higher my blood pressure rose and the more vociferous my swearing became. When poor Dave tried to calm me down, I’d snarl “I. Just. Have. To Get. This OUT OF MY SYSTEM!”

Now in my defense we’d received some very bad news Friday in the late afternoon and we were already dealing with a huge amount of stress. I like to think I’d have been a little calmer had things been different, but I’m sure there would have at least been some mild cursing. As I said, I hate being late. I knew in the back of my mind the Sisters had business to take care of before my presentation and my being 5-10 minutes late wouldn’t hold up the meeting, but the rational part of my brain was obviously being held at gunpoint by my inner White Rabbit ’cause common sense never made it past the ‘omigod, I’m LATE!!’

We finally made it to the library, which is located about three blocks away from Perko’s. Sigh. Got the books, the presentation board with all the old MFH material, the boombox and noir cds, and ourselves inside and all was well. Two of our Brackmann cousins, Jill and Sammie, were there. Jill was dolled up for a wedding she was attending right after the presentation and Sammie was noired out to the hilt in green and black satin and velvet, with four inch green satin heels, and a little black torque perched on the back of curly auburn hair. They both looked quite smashing. My cousin Lindy also showed up a bit later even though she was not feeling well. So a special thanks to all three cousins and Lisa for going out of their way to come see me do my schtick.

Dave started out the presentation with a short monologue (backed by appropriately noirish music) from The Peruvian Pigeon (which, for those of you not familiar with the history of my mystery…heh…that rhymes…was the first script Maureen and I wrote for Murder for Hire many years ago), which was much appreciated by the audience. I think it was both the effectiveness of his performance and the fact he looks cute in a fedora and trenchcoat). The monologue ends with “…and SHE walked in.” A great cue for me to start my presentation if I do say so myself.

I’ve done this presentation a few times now and get more comfortable with it with each new appearance. I basically talk about the history of Murder for Hire, both the theatrical troupe and the novel, going off on tangents about chocolate, supermodels, show anecdotes, screenplays, whatever happens to come up during the talk. I love fielding questions from the audience and this group was the best yet in terms of having plenty of questions to throw at me. After the presentation, I sold and signed books. I seem to be incapable of just signing my name; I feel obliged to write a mini-novel for each inscription. I’ve been told by more seasoned authors I’ll get over that the first time I do a really big signing. Heh.

The Capitol Crimes group also sold and signed books; CAPITAL CRIMES, an anthology of short stories written by members of their group. Dave and I bought one and I’m looking forward to reading it. Capital Crimes Cover

What, you might ask, does this all have to do with the Liberty Bell? Well, I’d brought my camera to the event and Dave took pictures of me as I was giving my talk. I saw the pictures yesterday, showing me in my slinky black top, red flowing skirt made out of Saree fabric, and black boots and for all the world, the shots all made me look bell shaped and much heavier than I’d like to think I appear in real life. I told Dave I looked like a big fat bell and he said I was cracked. Hence the Liberty Bell.

And you didn’t think I’d ever come to the point, did you?

The pictures had one positive affect (after reducing my slowly building self-esteem to rubble) - my motivation to exercise has revved up to high gear, I’ve started taking calorie counting seriously (did you know if you order a goat cheese, strawberry and spinach salad with candied walnuts and raspberry dressing you can reduce it from 880 calories to 280 by switching the dressing to a vinaigrette and cutting out the walnuts?) and I’m going to remember to stand up straighter when I give my talks! More yoga!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008


I’ve spent a large portion of my life collecting items and ideas with the goal of realizing their potential. This is why I’ve spent my adult life carting around and storing boxes, bins and tins of fabric, shells, beach glass, pieces of driftwood, battered picture frames, old jewelry bits, beads, pieces of furniture on the very shabby side of chic, news articles, pictures torn out of magazines, scraps of paper with one line notes scribbled down on them, stories with one paragraph written… the list goes on. When I actually buckle down and spend time on one of these projects, be it craft oriented or writing, I’m usually pleased with the results; I think I have a knack for visualizing the finished product. It’s the buckling down part that gets in the way.

There’s a quote about genius being 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration (I may have the percentages wrong, but you get my drift) and it’s very true. I get inspired a lot, but getting off my butt to act upon that inspiration…well, let’s just say I do most of my perspiring in yoga class. And yes, I know this is figurative perspiration. Or would it be more apt to say metaphorical sweat? Either way, I’m trying to get myself on a schedule of sorts to allow for the time and energy to achieve potential instead of just dreaming about it. To clear out some of those boxes of bits and turn them into something else. And most importantly, to stop talking about my ‘next writing project’ and just write the damn thing.

(Please note my new blog address is www.danafredsti.com/blog)

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I've got to get through that door...

I don't know about you, but when I get home from work, I can't relax until all the chores that need to be done are completed. I'm like a shark - if I don't keep moving, I'll sink into a sea of apathy and exhaustion. Nothing will get done. It doesn't matter how late I work, how exhausted I am. 10 cats and one dog need feeding, floors need sweeping (10 cats generate a lot of pine litter dust), litter boxes need cleaning...there are usually dishes to be washed, laundry to be folded. And if I'm REALLY lucky, one of the kids will have upchucked his/her breakfast and there will be cat vomit to be cleaned up.


I'm tired all over again. Tonight included all of the above, btw. And let's not forget the recycle and garbage.

By the time I'm finished with all of these things, I'm wiped. My brain is mush, my body exhausted and conjuring up creative energy is a challenge. But part of being a writer is...well...actually WRITING. Working on something. Not just resting on my laurels (and my butt) and thinking about writing. But dang, there are days when I wish I could put corks in my little darlings. I won't say which end. I'm sure you get the idea.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Post Birthday Post

I ate too much cake. It was a triple chocolate mousse cake with a small layer of actual cake at the bottom (the part with the forbidden wheat in it) and I had a HUGE slab of it with coffee after a bountiful lamb dinner (cooked by Rick - thank you, Rick!) and much tasty wine. Jen had pina coladas (gack!) instead of wine. Did I mention we were celebrating her birthday and mine (with pina coladas and tasty wine)? Channeling Dr. Seuss here... Anyway, too much cake on top of the wine led to an eruption of Vesuvian proportions. Watching SKYSCRAPER back to back with MANOS, HANDS OF FATE may have also contributed to the resulting nausea.

Oh well. I still had fun. It was just a very Roman way of indulging. But I think next time I'll back off the cake and avoid the vomitorium.

I slept in this morning, happily headache and nausea free thanks to Zomig, decongestants and Dramamine, plus lots and lots of water. The cats were thrilled and took advantage of the situation by piling on top of me. Great way to stay warm, that. It was storming when I woke up too, wind, rain and even some hail. Something so lovely and cozy about a storm outside when I'm snuggled in bed under warm covers and felines. The storm blew through around 10:00, so Boska got her walk on the beach. Now it's writing time, so I'm researching the flora around Lake Merced for the first scene in LILITH, my supernatural urban fantasy/thriller/mystery/romance/horror novel (how many genres can I cover in one book?) in hopes it will help my descriptive powers, which are a bit atrophied these days. go beyond 'See Spot Run!'

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