----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: January 2008

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bragging Rights

Over the weekend, I attended a writers' conference put on by San Diego State University's extended studies program. I didn't know what to expect, but it was totally worth the money. I have returned refreshed, exhilarated and re-committed to my novel.

When I signed up for the conference back in February, I had the option of paying extra for an advance reading appointment with a book editor. I decided to take advantage, and I submitted the first 10 pages of my novel, as instructed. I am so glad I did. Because I was her last appointment of the day, and because she was running a little behind, the editor spent extra time with me. At first, she asked a lot of questions, and I was worried that she didn't like my writing. But then she said that my writing was bright, crisp and well-paced and that my main character was totally real. She also asked me to send her my manuscript! She even said that she knew some young agents who might be interested in my work. And this was no editor from some tiny little publishing house. This was an editor at HarperCollins!

The next day, winners of the "Editor's Choice" awards were announced. Editors who had participated in the advance reading appointments were able to select one writer whom they thought had the best submission. And the editor who read my work chose me! I got called up to the front of the ballroom in front of everyone and I got a special blue ribbon to wear on my nametag, and everyone clapped and people congratulated me all day. It was wonderful!

I realize that this post has a lot of exclamation marks in it, but this was a very exciting event for me! Now, enough blogging...time to work on the novel!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Corporate Double-Talk

You know what phrase I hate? "Right-sizing." I hate it more than "thinking outside the box," "digging down into it," "getting on the same page," and "huddling up." I hate it because it's a terrible and callous euphemism for laying off workers. It implies that the workers were somehow "wrong."

In a desperate bid to save itself from its own poor decision-making, my company "right-sized" 2,400 people out of jobs today. I, however, am still employed. For the time being.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Bad Country Song

Somehow, stealthily and not on purpose, my family has acquired all the characteristics of a bad country song. We have:

  • A beat-up truck (the water truck with the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo on it that we acquired as a piece of kitsch in homage to the Pater Familias's career.)
  • Guns (for the brothers and the Pater to shoot at clay pigeons. An aside: In idle conversation, we told a young and impressionable hostess at a restaurant about the plan to shoot clay pigeons. "Really?" she said. "Can you eat them?" We had to explain that they were, in fact, made out of clay.)
  • Moonshine (the grappa that the Pater makes in an antique copper still, using the grape skins left over after our wine is pressed.)
And now...

  • A three-legged dog.
Yes, our beloved Golden retriever, Rex, now has only three legs. He had bone cancer, and rather than put him to sleep, we decided that we should just get rid of the bad leg. Some people will think it's cruel, I'm sure, but he is an otherwise happy and loving dog, and we weren't ready to let him go. Now he won't be in pain, and the vet says that dogs can easily walk on three legs. Besides, if he were a person and had cancer, we wouldn't call up Dr. Kevorkian. We'd do anything we could to keep him alive.

So, there you have it. We've got all the country song cliches. Well, except for heartbreak. And let's keep it that way.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's/Its--It's Not That Difficult!

Now that I have started the new year on a positive note (see post below), I feel entitled to get a little cranky once more.

What is it about it's/its that befuddles so many people? It's is a contraction for "it is." Its is the possessive. "The geriatric cat still had all of its teeth. It's my cat." See how easy that is?

But apparently, the its/it's conundrum is even difficult for the seasoned reporters at the Los Angeles Times. How else to explain this headline?

If we spell out the contraction, the headline reads, "USC claims it is 23rd Rose Bowl Title." Clearly, that makes no sense at all.

Maybe the headline was written by actual USC graduates. That would explain a lot. (Yes, I'm bitter about the UCLA football season. But at least we've got basketball. And USC lost to Cal. Go Bruins!)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Dear readers, I hope that you all had a festive holiday season. I certainly did. It was so festive that I almost managed to forget about my distressing work situation. There were holiday parties, dinners out, tree trimmings, wine tastings in Napa, present openings, fondue dinners (or fondue fiascoes, as the case may be...let's just say that when your fondue pot cracks down the middle, things haven't gone according to plan!), more dinners out, more wine tastings, and finally, New Year's Eve aboard John Wayne's yacht in the Newport Harbor. Not a bad way to ring in 2008. And on New Year's Day, we ate black-eyed peas to bring us good luck for the coming year. Mr. Pink and I did it last year, and we went from being jobless and living with my parents to having well-paying jobs (and he actually enjoys his!) and living in a lovely apartment in Dana Point. I hope the black-eyed peas will bring me extra-special good luck this year. Here's what I hope to accomplish:

1. Find a more fulfilling career, or at least one that does not cause me to curse the very daylight at the start of each new workday.

2. Finish my novel (sooner, rather than later).

3. Find an agent and a publisher for said novel.

4. Travel the country (the world?) promoting my novel.

5. Sell the film rights to my novel.

6. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

7. Take up a new physical activity...perhaps ballroom dancing, even if Mr. Pink won't do it with me.

8. Pay off credit card debt and stick to a budget.

9. Be fabulous.

So, I have to find a way to reconcile #8 and #9, but being fabulous does not have to involve spending money. And #3, #4, and #5 may be long shots, but why not dream big, right? After all, I have the support of my loving husband, my family, and my friends. I just need to stay motivated and believe in myself.

All in all, 2007 was a year of positive changes. I just hope that 2008 will be truly great!