Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas is coming

With Christmas only days away I find myself wondering can it be real? Can it be that some intelligent being created the whole Universe and fit all the pieces together so intricately so that everything works so amazingly? And then that same great intelligence humbled himself to be a small, vulnerable child in a dirty manger? Can it be that all the power and greatness of the Universe can be summed up in the miracle of a lowly birth? It is beyond my comprehension and yet so intriguing. It's not so much that I know it is true as I want it to be true. I believe the way a child believes in Santa. I want so to understand the universe and yet it is all so beyond me, but a baby in a manger, I can comprehend that. One little miracle.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Surf and Steve

Talked with Steve today about Good (or Great) News Town as we were sitting on the balcony watching the surf. When I wrote the book in 2001, I decided to set it in 2001 instead of 1984 when the serial murders that inspired it happened. Police procedure had changed a lot but since it isn't a police procedural, I just tried to update the newpaper business computer layout instead of going to the backshop for layout. When the book hadn't sold by 2007, I updated the procedures and all the dates to 2007 -- everyone had cell phones and cameras were digital. Now if I publish in 2011, do I update to today's iffy newspaper era, where posting on the internet supersedes the paper publication or do I return to 1984, the good ol' small town newspaper era? I was leaning toward going back to 1984, but Steve suggested keeping it in 2007 and then letting the sequels deal with the problems newspapers are facing now... so many losing their jobs, twitter and internet...... an interesting idea to ponder. I am listening to the surf and Steve.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Next Chapter

Steve and I are getting settled into our Florida condo for the next 3 months. The surf is roaring just outside my slider. I can watch it from my desk. It just keeps coming. You'd think with all that water rushing into the shore that it would run out eventually, but every wave into the sand just gets sucked up and feeds the next wave. There's a lesson there somewhere. I've been rushing to get "Laughing for a Living" published before Christmas and now, I suppose you could say, it is crashing to the shore, not with a bestseller big bang, but selling nevertheless. This isn't the end of the journey, however. The enthusiasm of this accomplishment only feeds my desire to publish another book and that will be my goal for this time in Florida, to prepare Great News Town for publication, and work on the sequel, One Shoe Off. Just keep whispering in my ear, surf. I'm listening.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Beginning to look like Christmas

Lights are popping up everywhere -- wrapped around trees, drapped along fences, outlining windows and roofs. It looks nice but for some reason I'm not sorry to be leaving it all behind and heading to Florida in a few days. I'm not putting up any decorations and I don't miss it like I thought I would. I've been procrastinating about packing so I've really got a lot to do in the next few days, so that's all I'm thinking about now. And starting on this new adventure with Steve.

I got to see Maria and Rafael tonight. That was good. It's been so long since I've seen them. Rafael must have grown a foot. Nice folks.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Writer's remorse

I guess I'll never learn. The day after a night of reviewing I wake up thinking about the review, wanting to reword something, worrying that I mispelled something, blaming myself for failing to mention someone. But when you're typing that review and the little clock in the corner of the screen says 11:16 and your deadline is 11:15, you just finish the sentence and send it on and beat yourself up the next morning.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snow Job

Well, it is the first of December. But when I awoke to snow on the deck this morning, I had just one thought. My book signing. I wouldn't get in a car on a snowy evening to go to a book signing, not even for a friend. And my friends didn't either. Except Kym. She was there, even though she had to drive round the block several times to find a spot that wouldn't cost $7.50. We sold exactly four books -- mostly to employees of Civic Theatre which will receive the proceeds of all books sold at the theater. Before I left, I signed the rest of the books, leaving them a supply that should last until I return from Florida next spring. Other authors told me that book signings are not the way to sell books, but I thought I had figured a good angle ... a book about theater, to benefit the theater and offered in a theater to a theater audience. But I figured wrong. Even with a nice radio spot and a nice story in The Press. People didn't even stop to get a piece of candy. Perhaps I needed to speak up more, call people over, hand out bookmarks, hawk the books. The one lady who purchased a book said she had read about it in the paper. My kind of lady. She'll enjoy the book.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Just so you don't think I spend every day laughing and interviewing famous folks, today I spent a full day working for Habitat for Humanity. I don't have many building skills, but they always find something for me to do. Today we were working on rehabing an older home and I spent the morning scrapping away some excess foam insulation installed by the previous day's volunteers. Then as additional windows were installed, I got my turn at pumping in some yellow foam that tomorrow's crew will need to cut down to size. Boy, that stuff just explodes sometimes! I also did some caulking. The donated caulk was old,thick and hard to apply. I had balance the caulk gun on my shoulder and use two hands to pull the trigger. Sometimes it's good for me to spend a day really working instead of just laughing in an aisle seat!

All afternoon I pulled nails from some oak trim that was original to the house and will be reinstalled after the new wallboard is up. Talk about hard work. I was working in a cellar with two other women, Tracy and Angela, volunteers from Americorps. Some of those nails were so stubborn that we would exclaim Amen when one would finally come out. We had a regular Amen chorus going there. And we would laugh. Guess I just can't help it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Funny furry friend

I'll never lack for reason to laugh as long as Cloudy is around. He likes to attack the carpets and then "hide" in the space underneath.
It's a good thing I can find humor at home. I went to see a movie today that wasn't very funny: Inside Job. It's a documentary about the 2008 financial crash. What I hated about the movie is it really doesn't offer many options. The banks are crooked. Wall Street is crooked. But they control everything. We changed presidents but the Federal Reserve and Secretary of the Treasury are part of the some crowd that got us in this mess. Even the professors are on the take. Money really is the root of all evil. Good thing I don't have much.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Laughing missionaries

I have it easy. I laugh because someone...usually lots of trying very hard to be funny. They have witty lines. They've practiced comic timing. And they put enthusiasm into it. So I don't have to think about it. I just laugh.

But did you know there are people who've made laughing a mission? Not comedians, but people like The Levity Project that go into crowded places like Grand Central Station and just start laughing, counting on the sheer contagion...and maybe a sign or two... to get everybody else laughing. And it works! A whole different meaning of Laughing for a Living.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Finding a rhythm

Taking a break in between Thanksgiving yesterday in St. Louis with my Mom and family and a repeat performance tomorrow at Ryan and Angy's house. It will be their first time hosting the event. The first of many, I hope.

Driving back today, I've been listening to Anna Quinlen's "Blessings," an interesting story but agonizingly slow in the telling. Every other sentence is a flashback. I spoke to Quinlen a few years back when she wrote "Black and Blue," a book about domestic violence. That book takes place in Florida and one of the most interesting things I gleaned from talking to Quinlen is that she simply fantasized the details about the location. Although she had been a reporter for the New York Times, she didn't feel any need to visit Florida in order to write about Florida. The approach seemed to work fine in "Black and Blue" because it was more about the people than the place. "Blessings" takes place in upstate New York, an area Quinlen is familiar with. The people and the class structure the story explores are very interesting, even though I find her style on this particular book frustrating. I'm more action oriented.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Still laughing

There's something sorta poetic about the fact that my last post was at the end of February when we were getting ready to leave Florida and return to the north and now I reconnect with my blog just two weeks before we are to return to Florida for another winter. So much has changed. The book I was working on last year, has come to be. In fact I just received a shipment today for next week's book signing at Civic Theatre. But I'm still making a living laughing. Last night I was covering "Legally Blonde" which may be in legal limits for hair color but it's way over the speed limit -- what an energetic show. And fun too. I got my share of laughs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Througn a glass darkly

It's so foggy outside I can barely see the Gulf of Mexico just outside my window. I'm nearing the end of a month in Florida. It's been glorious. Some days of sunhine; some cold like today. Lots of walks on the beach. Plenty of time to write, though I haven't done much. I should be working on the memoir right now but I don't want to. If I'm not interested in writing it, who will want to read it? Steve and I have had a good time exploring our life together. Stepping lightly, trying not to irritate each other and actually growing in respect for each other. I'm seeing a vague image of the future. Perhaps I do need to be more open minded.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What I do

Sorry folks, I've been too busy doing what I do to do this too! Guess it's a good thing I don't have any followers left hanging. Tuesday I covered "Cirque Dreams Illumination," and though ooos and ahhhs were the most frequent reaction of the night, along with OMG, I laughed so hard at clown Martin Lamberti who was able to express himself in complete sentences by the way he tooted his whistle. I mean, he could read the riot act to the audience members he was directing and they cowered at every word.. I mean beep. Then Thursday night I covered "Mr. Marmalade" and to my surprise I enjoyed it considerably and laughed a lot. I know it's pretty alarming. It's about a 4-year girl with frighteningly real fantasies about the world we live in, but it was too funny to be disturbing. So, now, I'm off for Florida where all my laughing will be on my own time....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another week, another post

It's Monday and packing for Florida has officially begun. I only have half a bed because the suitcase is on the other half. All bets are off when Steve comes Thursday. I can't believe how excited I am about this trip. I went to China and the Mediterranean without getting this psyched. I think it is because I really need to run away, I mean get away from all the serious stuff in life... the economy, the health care debacle, the unending war. What happened to laughing for a living????

Friday, January 22, 2010

Where'd the week go?

Trying to post daily is a lot harder than I thought! Maybe because I've been too busy doing to write about it!
Wednesday I had to finish reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett so I would be prepared for book club that afternoon. Great book. Funny and poignant at the same time. A good example for want-to-be novelists like myself.
Thursday I was indeed laughing at Max MacLean who made a masterful devil in a dramatic reading based on C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters." Lewis sets the bar high, not only for good writing but also for good living, if we are to avoid the devil. I've studied that book several times and never get enough. Great lessons there, and a delightful serving by MacLean.
Today, the highlight was interviewing Estelle Parsons who is starring in the tour of "August: Osage County" which is coming to Lansing next month. What an enthusiastic lady. I felt rejuvenated just talking to her.And she's 82! What wonderful lessons life has taught her.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Learning to Forgive

Spent an inspiring hour listening to Immaculee Hibagiza at the Calvin College January Series.A survivor of the Rwanda genocide, this woman has forgiven the people who killed her family and friends. She hid in a 3X4 foot bathroom for 91 days with seven other women and was barely a skeleton when she came out, and yet she can tell a story that is funny and inspiring. This is truly a woman who is listening to God,and I believe God listened to her prayer so that the hostile army didn't find them. What an amazing story! She left us with the thought -- when being kind conflicts with being right, be kind. I know she's on to something. Get right with God and everything else will start to make sense.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Holiday? What Holiday?

I was late before I got out of bed this morning. I had three theater advances due at 6 a.m. I sent off two before I went to bed, along with a promise that the third would be coming at noon. Then I received a reminder from my editor about a fourth story I had forgotten about, even though it's right there in the task list I never look at. I finished story number three -- the upcoming Grand Rapids' Got Talent competition -- just a little later than promised because I decided to get some comments from the martial artist who was set up for the photo. Glad I did because she's a 16-year-old girl with four world championships in fighting with sticks, a Crouching-Tiger-in-waiting. I thought the fourth story -- Circle Presents "Seussical" -- would be a snap, but I didn't get any answer to phone calls or emails to Circle Theater. Impatiently I called Theatreworks in New York, the touring company bringing the show. I pushed 0 for operator, as instructed, and let it ring for five minutes. Must be a busy operator, I thought. Then I realized. It's Martin Luther King Day!