Monday, November 29, 2010

One Potato...

As a child, when I was first set the task of peeling a potato, I developed a technique which I still employ to this day. (it is neither spectacular nor original, I’m sure) Step One is to peel a path around the potato until I have an imperfect 1-2” circle of peeled potato running the short way around the midsection of the spud. That was harder to describe than it is to do. Perhaps a visual? I always feel a small thrill of victory as I complete this step. It’s just nice sometimes to feel like you’ve finished something! (It also always make me think of the Panama Canal. The Panama Potato Canal... I can’t explain these weird links and leaps in my brain, but at least they amuse me.) (I should totally make a note of this stuff in case I ever decide to seek therapy.) (Potato-related therapy.)

As I finished the first draft of ROMEO FAILS yesterday, I thought of that partially peeled spud. Yes, Step One aka The First Draft is now done (woo hoo!) and it is a dramatic change from the 100% Unpeeled Potato and/or the blank page. But there’s so much work still to be accomplished! Lots more peeling, not to mention gouging out the odd eye. So now the second draft is in progress.

ROMEO FAILS is the third novel for which I’ve completed a first draft. It’s still quite a thrill for me to cross that finish line which is also a starting line. (and a huge relief! WHEW.) There were many times when I thought I never would finish that first novel - but I did! And then another. And now another. I hope I’m getting better. I know I’m getting faster!

So here’s to my literary spud. Still 75% peel, looking a little crazy and nowhere near ready for the table, but a spud I am proud of and looking forward to improving.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An Open Invitation To Robin Williams

Is there anything more fun than going to see and hear an author read her work? I hope not. And I hope one of these days I will be reading my work somewhere (out loud and on purpose) and that people will be there (of their own free will) to listen.

Many years ago I went to hear John Irving read from his then about-to-be-published book A Prayer For Owen Meany. I certainly enjoyed hearing the author speak that night and I did buy his book which I’ve read several times, but (sorry, John) this ends Mr. Irving’s involvement in this particular story. At the end of the reading that night - I believe it was at the San Francisco Opera House, a very large and grand venue - I was the first to leave the upper seating section and step out into the hall. As I opened the door, I saw a man leaning against the wall not five feet away. Our eyes met. It was Robin Williams. I was surprised and failed to say, “Well, hello there, Robin Williams!” (Let the record show he also failed to say “Hey, Amy!”) As soon as he realized people were coming out, he immediately turned and walked down the hall and around a corner. My friend was right behind me. I said, “Look, that’s Robin Williams!” She looked, but all she saw was the back of a guy in a trench coat and a beret heading down an empty hallway. As we watched, he opened a door at the very end, went in and disappeared. My friend looked at me with disillusion. “Yeah, right,” she said or some such words.

(In case you’re wondering why he was there, you may recall that he starred in the movie version of The World According To Garp. In which the author had a bit part as a wrestling referee.)

(Hmmm, I wonder what bit part I could play in the hypothetical movie adaptation of SHADOW POINT? How about the waitress at the Mexican restaurant? I knew those long-lost waitressing skills would come in handy someday!)

(And it seems like a line from another Irving book, The Cider House Rules, would be a good segue into the next bit here: “Many people who drink at all drink too much.”)

(I sometimes get lost in my own parenthetical mazes...)

Anyway, about a month later, that same friend and two others were back in town and we went to a comedy club. I told the other two about our, well, my encounter with Robin, but they, too, seemed skeptical. But It’s True! I righteously declared. Yeah, right, Amy.

After a beverage or five at the comedy club, I visited the restroom. At the back of the club, talking on the pay phone was Robin Williams. Zowie! I went back to the table and excitedly told my friends I had seen him AGAIN! But AGAIN with the skepticism. They finally (and only) believed me when he jumped on stage to do an unannounced set.

A few weeks later, I was back in San Francisco with another acquaintance. We were walking along on a Saturday night on our way to a nightclub. There, on the sidewalk in front of us, talking to the bouncer, was Robin Williams. My acquaintance, recently arrived from out of state, freaked out.

“I know,” I said. “He’s everywhere.”

Well, I actually haven’t seen him since. (Did you miss me, Robin?) But if and when I’m doing a book reading sometime soon, you are certainly invited, Mr. Robin Williams! Heck, everyone’s invited - bring Pam Dawber, too! And you too, Dear Reader - I especially hope you’ll be there!

Saturday Quote-O-Rama!

"The clock is laughing in my face."

Billie Joe Armstrong

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Lest you think SHADOW POINT is my only contribution to society, let me share with you another proud creation - an alternative (and highly useful) meaning for the word bullfrog.

So, you're talking with your friend. Or enemy or coworker or some stranger on the street. The other person is babbling on and something he or she says suddenly reminds you of SOMETHING INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT YOU TOTALLY WANT TO TALK ABOUT RIGHT THEN AND THERE!!! But you can't, because FrenemyWorkStranger won't shut up. And it would be rude to interrupt, right? Right. But if you don't say something, you'll forget about the INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT THINGY THAT WILL IN ALL LIKELIHOOD CHANGE THE WORLD IF THEY WOULD JUST SHUT UP FOR A SEC. (IITTWIALCTWITWJSUFAS)

But you can't get in a word edgewise! What you need is a Verbal Bookmark, a Conversational Placeholder, so to speak. Some key word that will (a) alert the other person to your IITTWIALCTWITWJSUFAS and (b) serve as a mnemonic for you to then retrieve your brilliance once the other person pauses for breath.

Here's what you say, Gentle Reader: "Bullfrog."

Now, admittedly, this works best when both you and the other person know about the key word and its alternative meaning. If both of you do, then a quick gleam of understanding will pass between you while the other individual finishes his or her story. Then, it's your turn!

Of course, if the other person doesn't know about The Bullfrog Manifesto, then - at best - you will appear odd and socially awkward. At worst, you will realize that the other person apparently suffers from some sort of amphibian phobia and he or she will leap into the air, shrieking "Bullfrog?! Where? Where?"

Which is as good a way as any to terminate a boring conversation.

Now, go forth and spread The Bullfrogginess, good people! It may sound stupid, but try it - it works! You'll love it. You'll wonder how you ever held a conversation without it. I guarantee it.

And if you were here to argue the point with me now, I would say: Bullfrog.

Saturday Quote-O-Rama!

"One forgotten birthday, I'm all but cooked."

Alanis Morissette