Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shorter than short stories. Srsly.

My friend and fellow writer, Rachel, recently posted this on her blog about the effects of Facebook on one's life, especially as it relates to writing. I agree 100% with her and it really depresses me.

As she notes, before Facebook, I would sit down and compose a well-thought out (well, partially thought out) entry about writing or life or something involving the number 4. I would attempt to enlighten or entertain readers and myself in some way. I might add some hyperlinks to other sources or a photo or 2 if they were appropriate and I could find them for free and the result would be a mini-story, a glimpse into a portion of my life or brain or celebrity sighting.

But now, with my reliance on Facebook, everything becomes a sound byte. Rather than an entire essay, it's only 140 characters - usually less cuz, ya know, that's a lot of characters. I often use LOL or srsly or some other acronym to make my entry even less literary.

And what does that mean for my writing? Well, for one thing, I skip around a lot. I don't develop things the way I should. Facebook relies on people knowing a shorthand of sorts, whether it's current events, music lyrics, or an agreed-upon history. I don't have to tell the whole story because my Facebook friends know the backstory already.

I'm between drafts of a book right now, which usually means it's time to write a short story. I'm finding, however, that as I develop the outline, I'm trying to rush to the end without spending any time in the middle, with the stuff that actually happens. And I realized that this is the Facebook Effect: just get to the end.

Rachel says she's going on a FB diet. Maybe I should try that too. Srsly.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Where were you when...

I don't want to remember where I was when Michael Jackson died.

I prefer to remember where I was when I first saw him moonwalk on the Motown 25th anniversary special. I was at my friend Kim's house, sitting on her floor, when we were mesmerized by how he seemed to defy gravity with his dance moves. Sharp, sassy...I thought the single white glove was an ironic touch, a clever commentary on the white man's place in the music industry and how much of Motown's original talent had been co-opted by executives.

I prefer to remember where I was when I bought his "Thriller"album (a K-Mart store in Connecticut that closed many years ago). I listened to it over and over and over again. It took me weeks to get that album; it had been sold out in every place my mother and I went. I felt like I was the last person alive to own it.

I prefer to remember where I was when I watched the Jackson Five cartoons. When I was a kid, I lived in a subdivision in Fairfield, Connecticut and my parents had friends whose children were about the ages of me and my brother. We all thought those were pretty awesome cartoons and "baby" Michael was amazing, even in animated form.

I prefer to remember Michael Jackson's fantastic videos, his dancing, his vast library of music. He was truly a larger-than-life personality who lived in a world the majority of us will never understand. Without ignoring the darker side of his life, and perhaps the stress of that life that may have contributed to his death, there is no denying the influence he had on the entire music industry, on dancers and choreographers and filmmakers, on the millions of fans around the world and across several generations.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Autograph update...

So they're still at it. Writers, singers, performers of all kinds, have you received this one yet? It had the subject line, "Question from a Fan":

Dear Madams and Sirs.

Please send me two autographed photos of C. Leigh Purtill. That would be great. I will be very happy if you could fulfil my wish. Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
My address: Joerg Weber / Poststrasse 2 a / 56743 Mendig / Germany


Joerg Weber

Of course, it goes right into the spam folder to be deleted by Gmail (thanks, Gmail!).

Friday, June 19, 2009


Come one, come all to the LAYAPALOOZA at Vroman's on Saturday, June 20 at 2PM!

Tomorrow, a tremendously awesome group of Los Angeles Young Adult authors (we call ourselves the LAYAs) will be hosting a huge party at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, CA. There will be books and contests and pizza and lots of smart people doing silly things and it's all free!

The event is called LAYAPALOOZA and all you have to be is a fan of great writing to have a good time!

Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tel: 626-449-5320

Starts at 2PM
Free!!! (But please RSVP to Vroman's so they'll know how much pizza to buy)

Authors participating are Amy Koss, Sasha Watson, Anna Hays, Alexa Young, Sally Nemeth, Cherry Cheva, Heather Tomlinson, Ben Esch, Jordanna Frailberg, Sonya Sones, Mark London Williams, Michael Reisman, Jonathan Bernstein, Cecil Castelucci, Kerry Madden, and Lisa Yee!

Wow, what a terrific group!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Things I Miss About NYC

1. The subway system

2. The little Korean markets on every corner of every street of every borough

3. Coffee in "Greek" paper cups

4. People on the streets 24/7

5. The NYPL

6. Seeing the Statue of Liberty from the F train from Manhattan to Brooklyn

7. Walking up Fifth Avenue from the Empire State Building to Central Park

8. Columbus Circle before it was developed

9. So many dance studios! Classes all the time!

10. Fresh bread from the bakery in my Italian neighborhood in Williamsburg

Monday, June 15, 2009

Celebrity Sighting AND High Culture!

Yes, I DID use this title before (see also Mindy Kaling at LACMA). This time, HH and I were attending the thee-ah-tah in Downey: a performance of "42nd Street" by the Downey Civic Light Opera.

The show, btw, was a blast! LOTS of great numbers and you know I love seeing dancers work. Put 'em all to work - give 'em all jobs - dancing everywhere all the time! Love it.

Okay, so who was in the audience but opera singer Richard Fredericks? You may not know him unless you follow opera, but he did guest star on The Odd Couple as himself, a character who knew Oscar Madison from his days as an athlete (whether Mr. Fredericks truly was an athlete before he was an opera singer remains a mystery). HH was thrilled as he was and always will be a major Odd Couple fan.

And my reason for being in Downey in the first place? My friend and student, Heather, was performing as Lorraine. She was gorgeous, fantastic, and she kicked serious butt as both a dancer and singer! I was so impressed - she worked so hard to get there. Kudos, Heather!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Just one...

I'm not a basketball fan but when the Lakers are in the playoffs (or whatever they're called in the NBA) the whole city succumbs to b-ball fever so I admit I've watched the last few minutes of the games between LA and the Orlando Magic this week.

And honestly, those are the best minutes of the game!

So I was talking to HH and we realized that this year, both teams in the final games have a Disney theme park in their home cities (LA has Disneyland and Orlando has Disney World) AND the games are being broadcast by Disney-owned ABC.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How did that resolve work for ya?

At the beginning of the year, back when we all had optimism we could make resolutions and stick to them THIS TIME! I made what I thought were relatively easy-to-accomplish ones. Six months into 2009, how did I do?

1. I resolve to shake out the laundry before putting it in the dryer.

UPDATE: Nope. I still never do this. Must be a genetic anomaly.

2. I resolve to have one less cup of coffee in the morning - and one more in the late afternoon.

UPDATE: Nope. I think I actually added a cup to the morning and took away one from the late afternoon - and then added another one at night before bed.

3. I resolve to use the gift certificates people gave me last year.

UPDATE: Nada. Those gift certificates are still unused AND I added two more: another spa and Target.

4. I resolve to put away the Christmas lights before the end of January.

UPDATE: Complete. Whoo-hoo! Still have my Memorial Day candles up, though, and since they're flag candles, I think I'll keep them for July 4th too.

5. I resolve to use lists more often and to number all the things I need to do.

UPDATE: Kinda yes but I only go up to the number 4.

6. I resolve to keep my cell phone and iPod charged.

UPDATE: Cell phone yes, iPod - sadly - no.

Wow. Those were perhaps the easiest frakkin' resolutions I have ever made for myself and I STILL couldn't handle them. How did you all do?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

4 Tips to Git 'Er Done

You have the great idea. You even have an outline. Now it's time to crack the whip and get it finished. Here are a few things I do. Maybe they'll help you.

1. Set a daily word count - and stick to it. Mine is 2K, 5 days a week. When I really want to kick butt, I'll up it to 2500/day. Don't finish until you've hit that mark but conversely...

2. End in the middle of a scene. Whenever possible, stop before you've exhausted yourself and if you can manage it, stop before you've finished a scene. It gives you a running start for the next day.

3. Keep your document open on your desktop. You're working on other things, answering emails, or just doing chores around the house - doesn't mean your brain isn't working on that last scene! Keep the document open and go back to it throughout the day. You'll be surprised at how the bits add up.

4. Resist rewriting until the entire draft is complete. Little bits here and there, okay, like you decided to change a character's name or hair color, but for the big stuff, just take notes in a separate document and then go back after the draft is done. It will prevent you from getting stuck in rewrite mode and you'll never finish.

Remember, the goal is to JUST FINISH IT. You can't edit a book that isn't written.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Only in LA

You're driving north on Fairfax. You pass Third Street. You glance over at the Farmer's Market, now celebrating its 75th year in business. Behind it is The Grove, the hip outdoor shopping mall with lots of upscale stylish stores like Abercrombie and Nordstrom's and Crate & Barrel.

You see several groups of people on the sidewalk between The Grove and CBS on Beverly Boulevard. Each group is dressed identically, in garishly-colored t-shirts with funny slogans, family names or simply photos of Drew Carey.

Who are they, you wonder, tourists? Visitors who don't want to lose track of each other while they get on and off the tour bus?

Come on down!

And then you remember, "The Price is Right" films at the CBS lot. These are all families and friends who are vying for the big bucks, to get chosen to "Come on down!" and guess the price of a Segway scooter or a Kenmore Upright Washing Machine.

You silently wish them luck when they finish their lunch break and return to the studio where they will cheer for hours.

Only a select few will get lucky enough to chat with Drew.

Only in LA...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can you stand the gore?

Not me, not usually with Clive Barker, but this time I managed to make it through the entire movie peeking through my fingers only occasionally. The story is great, though, based as it was on one of Barker's shorts from Books of Blood. Story is about a photogrpaher who follows a serial killer who is killing people on empty subway trains in a city very much like NYC but obviously not, since they filmed in a much cheaper locale.

And if it seems like movies based on shorts are often more successful than those based on novels, that's true. To film a novel as written is usually very, very long. Most times filmmakers have to cut out things the reader feels are very important and much nuance gets lost.

Anyway, if you can stand it, check out Midnight Meat Train, directed by Ryuhei Kitamura and starring Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb and - Brooke Shields! It's really quite well-done for a horror film. Beautifully shot and edited, amazing sound design and effects, but yeah, quite gruesome. [shudder]

And if you can't (and I respect that), rent yourself Eagle Eye starring Shia Labeouf and Michelle Monaghan and directed by DJ Caruso. It's fast-paced and action-packed and not entirely that far-fetched. Labeouf is a regular Joe who is contacted by a mysterious voice after his twin brother dies and directed to do all sorts of crazy things with this woman, who has also been contacted by the strange voice. Big conspiracy abounds.