Monday, November 26, 2007


Chapter Two – Find Yourself a Place

Remember Jessica Fletcher? She wrote all those murder mysteries – presumably cozies – in the comfort of her turn-of-the-century, meticulously-restored virtual mansion in the mythic and friendly New England village of Cabot Cove. In reality, it was a California coastal exterior and a rather nice studio interior, and of course, she wrote nothing as she was a fictional character herself, although the fiction persists and there is a whole mystery series written by "Jessica Fletcher" and available today.

As a well-off widow with means, she had the time to be a busybody and the money to pursue not only the murderers, but also a life of ease when it came to tapping out her tomes on that gorgeous old typewriter.

Okay, that's fiction. What do we do in real life?

In real life, we work at other jobs, take care of the house and kids, and deplore the lack of space, time, money and machines. We write in the kitchen, the dining room, a corner of the bedroom or the garage. We write at Starbuck's or in the park, or on the bus or at work. We use a pen or pencil, a big work station, a laptop, or even a typewriter.

We write cozies, hard-boiled noir, police procedurals, character studies, science fiction, film scripts, short stories, memoirs, journals, magazine articles and blogs. We write for money, for fun, for everything in between, and for our readers and ourselves.

I have been absent from the blog for almost a month – and guess what I've been doing: what, writing, you say? How about procrastinating and looking for a place to write that feels as good as the one I had back when I was working and had little time and a lot more discipline.

I needed to find myself a place, the way the dog turns around countless times on that old blanket, or the cat scratches that worn out chair pad to ribbons before settling in with a sigh.

It's got to feel right and not get in the way of writing. Pleasant, but neutral, no big distractions to block out, no spectacular views or the sound of running water (a hundred trips to the bathroom taught me this one) or the distracting smells of bread baking, dirty diapers or an incipient electrical fire.

Gotta admit, I found it – it's not to so much just the place, but the combination of the right time and a good place. For me, it's mornings in my old corner of the guest room office, with the diffused light behind me and the comforting distant sounds of the dryer and the trash guys picking up the garbage.

So try to find yours – it's half the battle.


CHAIR CUSHIONS Okay, here's the promised photo of the new cushions on the Danish chairs. In fact, here's a before and after shot, with just the edge of the old, worn out brown cushion visible – the new mid-mod pattern is beautiful, no?

WEIGHT LOSS And one more beautiful thing: my blood sugar seems to be in the normal ranges and I have lost 15 pounds.

The "before" picture is me 15 pounds ago, but the "after" picture – one of me last weekend taking pictures at an old Joseph Lautner-designed motel in Palm Desert – is a work in progress. I am determined to lose all the weight I gained a few years ago when I had the stroke. I know, it's a tiny image and I need to get a better one, but I want to lose another 10 pounds before I take a "real" picture of myself.

A Truly Beautiful Thing: Thanksgiving Dinner with my friend Nancy's family. We have had Thanksgiving with them many times over the years – and have lived through the loss of parents, in-laws and friends. But this Thanksgiving we celebrated the marriage of one of the nephews and the whole cycle of renewal and thanks.
Hope your Thanksgiving was memorable and happy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Chapter One – Find Yourself Some Ilk

Okay, I tell myself – enough slacking off! The dishes/housework/gardening/basket weaving/doctor's appointment/video game/TV show is done. Now write. Awww, do I hafta? I don't wanna!

Back when I was working the day job from dark dawn to darker dusk, I managed to cram in a minute here and a minute there, eagerly budgeting my limited time to do something I really felt compelled to do. But there's nothing like a block of free time to make you want to do something – anything – but write.

So I broke down and did something yesterday that I haven't done for nearly a year: I attended a Sisters in Crime L.A. Chapter meeting. "Hello, my name is Kate and I'm a writer."

Okay, it was more like "Whoa, look, it's Kate – I wondered whatever happened to her!" and "Hey! I remember you!" (peers at name tag) "Oh, uh, maybe not…"

The speakers were great (check out the website for the program – the slides were grisly, but Mr. Nicholson was the nicest guy in the world) and the camaraderie was even greater. Afters, Sue Ann Jaffarian and I went out to dinner and brainstormed about short stories, novels and ideas for stories. The latter ranged from the ridiculous to the truly sublime. I came away eager to write and back on track.

So maybe what we solitary time-wasters really need is the occasional personal interaction with others of our ilk. This is great if the ilk is local. But if all your ilk are too far away for you to get to, then perhaps email and internet contact can help too.

Sue Ann's witty banter was terrific – but what really helped me was to sit there and tell her my story. "Well, there's this woman who's on vacation…" By the time I got to the guy in the Toyota with the Glock, she had all kinds of questions and suggestions. And by the time she told me about a Young Adult book she was thinking of, I was excitedly interrupting with, "Yeah, and maybe she could have an interest, like Ancient Egypt or dinosaurs or statistics or something…"

So today's blog is a bit short because I am eager to get on with my story. After all, there's got to be a connection between the guy with the gun and the lost puppy…


Gary Hamilton's party last Friday night. He's the best party host I have ever met and a genuinely nice guy.

The puppies and kitties all sleeping together in the kennel this morning. The weather has turned chilly with the loss of Daylight Savings time. The season has changed from Summer to Holiday.

I picked out the kookiest mid-century modern fabric for the new cushions on my Danish modern chairs – I'll photo them when they're done. The place is a real Jetson's house!