Happy Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m feeling pretty good today. It was a good week. But typing that makes me nervous. I don’t want to jinx it. You’ll notice I still didn’t say, “I’m happy.” In my experience, that’s just asking for trouble, an invitation for emotional ruin.

Except I am mostly happy, and one of the things I’m working on is how to celebrate the good moments instead of disbelieving them, or feeling like I don’t deserve them, or waiting for the horrible thing to rain down and punish me for my small moment of joy. And I’m learning that the small moments–the pretty clouds in a blue sky, or a sweet gesture from W, a nice unexpected email from a friend–these are worth noting and remembering and absorbing.IMG_20130518_173402

I’m also learning that there can be light and dark–that they can coexist within my heart and mind–and to be less afraid. If I allow the good sink in and become a part of me, even if the bad thing comes, and the jaded part of me says it always will, it still can’t steal my big smile or little heart flutter or whatever tiny blip of happiness I experienced. That is mine if I want it , and I’ve finally decided that I want it more than I want to be prepared for the other shoe to drop.

So here I am, celebrating, validating this feeling of optimistic contentment.

This week, I was asked to judge a prominent literary competition, and I found out I am a semifinalist for a book competition that could seriously boost my career–one of 10-15 out of five hundred entries. I read a new book by a good friend that I loved.

Last month I married a man I love and we are better than ever.  After eleven years together we still spend so much time talking to each other when we’re both home that it’s hard to get our work done. We are going to spend today, our first married Valentine’s Day, outside since it’s supposed to be in the mid-80s here in LA, barbecuing with good friends and playing croquet in their beautiful yard. Flowers never stop blooming here. Southern California winter is the best summer.

Sometimes I’m still in awe that I live in this place. The weather is part of why we moved here, but LA has been good to me, to us, and I feel like there is more to come. Optimism, people. It’s like a face lift.

So, anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you spend it with people you love who make you laugh. And I hope you too can take a minute to absorb the good, capture it so you can keep it with you no matter what.

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Three More Things This Thursday

1. Top Chef Redemption!! Josie *finally* went home and Kristen beat the giant jackass CJ in Last Chance Kitchen. Yay! I hope Kristen makes it back in for the finale and that Brooke and Stephan last, too. I love Stephan. Top Chef is a show full of attractive bald men. Well, at least two of them.

2. Migraines are horrible. I don’t get them as often as I used to, but man, they kick my ass.

3. Today I had a wonderful call with my new publicist from Plume, the imprint of Penguin that will be releasing my paperback. (It comes out March 26! You can preorder here!) She had so many great ideas and she made me excited about the paperback again. I can’t wait to share with you the new final, final cover and more about the new bonus material. Stay tuned!

Three Things on Thursday

1. Why is it such a hassle to request official transcripts? Especially if you went to more than one college. Grr.

2. I still can’t believe Kristen had to pack her knives and we have to watch obnoxious Chef Josie for another week. Grr.

3. This is a funny and sad and, unfortunately, true look at what being a non-famous author is like. Check it out: Hell is My Own Book Tour. Big sigh.

“There are a number of reasons authors such as myself go on book tours, all of them basically stupid.The publishing industry stopped having new ideas out of respect for the untimely death of Ernest Hemingway in 1961, and has been doing everything the same way ever since….A lot can go wrong on a book tour. For instance – stop me if I’m getting too technical here –nobody shows up to the reading. When this happens, you’re forced to spend about 20 minutes with an apologetic, pitying bookstore employee, attempting to strike the right blend of self-deprecation, cavalier disregard, and passive-aggression toward the bookstore for failing to promote the event in any way except by placing posters in the bathroom of the store itself.

…This, however, is not even close to the worst thing than can happen. Far, far worse is when one to four people show up, speckling the 30 folding chairs the bookstore has arranged before the microphone and podium like survivors of some horrible plague.

You can’t not read for them. You’re grateful they came. One lady got there a full hour early, and has three pre-purchased copies of your book stacked on the empty chair beside her. Another guy – 50-ish, balding, ponytailed – is clutching a printout of an interview you did with a now-defunct website, and will ask you to sign it for him, as if the purpose of this tour was to promote this ancient, obscure drivel rather than your new novel. If you’re really lucky, he may also request your signature on an Advance Reading Copy of your previous novel, which has the words NOT FOR SALE on the cover and “25 cents” written in pencil on the title page. Another attendee is a nursery school friend of your mother’s who heard about the reading on Facebook. She’s beaming with pride and taking lots of pictures, as if your mom doesn’t know what an empty room looks like.”

 

A Rambling Post About Gloom and the Election and Writing that Eventually Leads to Nancy Drew

I’ve been feeling glum lately. The changing weather makes for gray skies and gloomy days—the kind when it’s hard to tell what time it is and all day it feels like it could be either late morning or early evening without the sun to help mark the passage of time.

Plus, I was sick for weeks—still am, a bit—with the cold that comes and goes, sometimes accompanied by a fever and body aches and gets better but never seems to really go away. I felt horrible as I watched news of super-storm Sandy and all the devastation on the east coast; worried for friends who were without power. The election brought out so much hate and lies and fear and stubbornness, people bashing others and refusing to listen to dissenting opinions, blaming and yelling and name-calling…I had to get off social media for a few days.

And then along with the outpouring of relief and celebration and disappointment after the voting, there was also an unbelievable number of folks who went crazy. Regardless of your political opinions, in no way was the election a “tragedy” rigged by “terrorists.” I was honestly scared by so many of the comments I saw on the internet. The lack of interest in truth, the complete absence of critical thinking or applied logic, the hate-speak—it’s terrifying to think that there are so many people who are unwilling to even listen to opposing views and desperately cling to their delusions. One of my biggest fears is people who are able to hang onto a belief that has been proven false. Progress is impossible if you refuse to admit there’s a problem, obfuscate the issues with smoke screens to ignore real dialogue. Healthy debates—real debates—are good for solving problems; I’m not saying we should all just get along. But disagreeing requires a back and forth, which is what we need. Disagreement would be a step in the right direction, as all there seems to be right now is people screaming at each other and that means no one can hear a thing.

Whoa, sorry. That got away from me a bit there. I basically wanted to say that all of this along with a few personal issues and a general feeling of failure and career worries have gotten me into sort of a funk. I want to hunker down beside a fire and get swept up in a good story and ignore the world. But there is so much to be done. Isn’t that always the way?

I have also been feeling unable to write, hence the dry spell here on the blog. I don’t know how much of my feeling blue is caused by or is causing my inability to write, but whichever was the chicken or the egg doesn’t matter because my mood and my word count have remained low. It’s become a cycle, and since I’m all about trying to break those (have you read my book?), here I am, writing, and hoping that I get a boost.

If you’re still reading, thanks! As a reward for following me through to the end of this ramble, which came out of a post that was just meant to say something like, “Hey Guys! I’ve been feeling glum so I’m not writing much, but here are some words of wisdom from Nancy Drew’s Guide to Life,” here’s the payoff: some words of wisdom from Nancy Drew, one of my first literary influences, the strawberry-blond queen of sleuthing.

On Etiquette:
“It’s a bit gratuitous to quote passages from Shakespeare on a daily basis.” –The Clue of the Dancing Puppet

“Never interrupt a voodoo doctor.” –The Haunted Showboat

On Dating:
“A young lady with some judo skills can take care of unwanted advances in short order.” –The Whispering Statue

“After receiving an electrical shock to the system, find as many men as possible to vigorously massage you.” –Mystery of the Glowing Eye

On Braving the Wilderness:
“Don’t try to ford rocky streams in an old jalopy.” –The Message in the Hollow Oak

“It’s a good idea to arm yourself when in the wilderness because you just might have to kill a large lynx.” –The Secret at Shadow Ranch

And one final word of advice from Nancy for your holiday weekend:

“Cover your face immediately when confronted with an explosion. Obviously, it is good to avoid explosions in general.” –The Mystery of the Fire Dragon