Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I got back from my wonderful trip to the Hudson River Valley and Connecticut to find one of my favorite blogs, MISS SNARK, ended.

Miss Snark, a New York City literary agent, has been blogging for a couple of years, dispensing valuable information, extraordinary assistance and incredible wit and wisdom to the clueless. Her snarkisms have entered our vocabulary: Dear Dog! Rabbitania, the clue gun, nitwits, not to mention the delights of her poodle, Killer Yap, and Grandmother Snark's wisdom. Miss Snark's infatuation with George Clooney and gin in pails gave us hours of speculation and amusement.

The archives will stay up for a while and be an invaluable resource tool for all writers. Be sure to check them out. But Miss Snark's daily dose of urbane wit and stiletto-heeled advice will be sorely missed.

I have wondered idly who this funny and intelligent woman might be – the mystery of anonymity on the internet can be intriguing. It would be both wonderful and terrifying to have Miss Snark as your agent: wonderful because she only takes on projects she thinks she can sell and terrifying because her standards are high and her advice acerbic.

I know the net can burn you out. I am glad Miss Snark is taking a well-deserved rest. I just hope she comes back once in a while to jolt us out of our clueless states. I raise my glass to you, Miss Snark: thanks so much for all you have given.

But don't weep, writers. We still have EVIL EDITOR. He too is an anonymous literary professional who dispenses wit, wisdom and genuine laugh-out-loud funny. He invites writers to submit their query letters to be skewered, shredded and put back together. He also invites us all – his evil minions – to write "continuations" to other writers' first paragraphs, make delicious fun of their titles with his "Guess the Plot" and participate in writing exercises and contests designed to make you laugh until you cry. He has even produced books of these efforts, perfect stocking-stuffers for those writers on your list. (I confess to being a contributor.)


Coming home. I had a great vacation, but what can beat coming home? The pets were so happy to see us.

The kangaroo paws out front grew three feet while I was gone and burst into bloom. They are yellow and orange-red and the shorter ones are a brilliant purple-red.

That dinner at the CIA. (The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Yes, I have eaten in the cafeteria at the *other* CIA, but that's a different thing altogether.) I had roast chicken with wild mushrooms at the American Bounty restaurant. My waiter, Paul, was nervous, but did well – his instructors were watching!

Monday, May 07, 2007


I live in California, in the Los Angeles/Orange County part. (No one calls it "The O.C." here – except a couple of news & traffic reporters from New York)

Now, there are many folks who think just living in the heartland of sun and fun, right next to the mean noir streets of L.A., with all that film history, the beaches, Disneyland, Hollywood, and other interesting stuff should count as a sort of permanent vacation. And for me it does in so many ways. I have a 1954 mid-century modern house with patios plural and a spa. We have fruit trees, with something always ready to pick (okay, mostly lemons.) It's the good life in spite of property taxes being more than a regular mortgage anywhere else.

So why would I want to go anywhere else to write?

Because somewhere other than your home – no matter where you live – is going to yield different thoughts, different adventures, different sights, sounds, smells and characters.

And I need a vacation. I haven't taken any time off work for a year (being terribly sick over Christmas doesn't count.) I need to have some time in an exotic locale, with a bunch of my rowdy-aesthete friends. I need to see and smell and hear odd things (well, odd to me, anyway.)

One year it was The Spiral Jetty and the Sun Tunnels with a trip to Wendover, Nevada.

One year it was Marfa and Big Bend National Park. Many times it has been Death Valley.

Once it has been Ferndale and the Redwoods. Twice it has been Italy (just me & the DH on these trips.)

This time it's the Hudson River Valley – just north of the 212 (New York City for those of you who haven't been introduced to the Divine Miss Snark.)

My rowdy-aesthete friends (bird watchers, photographers, architects, librarians, art critics all) and I are going to spend a week eating, sailing, touring gardens, castles, museums, architectural wonders and at least one hot cemetery. We're going to such fabulous places as the Village of Sleepy Hollow, Hyde Park and New Canaan, Connecticut. We're going to stay in lovely bed-and-breakfasts, except for the night in the modern conference center in Catskill. It's going to be such fun.

I am going to take notes. I think it's time to start a new story, and a creepy mystery set in Connecticut is percolating through the coffee grounds of my brain.

So next week I'll be on the road – well, on the river to be more precise. I'll be missing home after the second day, especially my little doggies and the 3 cats and the garden and the house. My amiable sister-in-law will be minding the place while we're gone, so I needn't worry, but I really do like being home as much as I like traveling and seeing the sights. I hope to get some writing time in, too. I'll take the laptop and see what happens.

What about you? Do you ever do "research" in exotic locales?


The back landscaping. It's been a long time, but it's almost done. So nice to look out the window and see order and plants instead of the rubbish that has been out there for a year.

A package arrived from my friend Nancy – she sent me 2 bird watching books. They are beautiful. I'll turn into a birdwatcher yet.

The indoors. It's cool and peaceful and quiet in the morning. This is a picture of Sunday morning. (Before the back landscaping – it looks *much* better out those windows now!)