Saturday, November 26, 2005

My Grown Up Christmas List

We now have less than a month until Christmas. When I was a child I could write several pages listing all of the toys, clothes, accessories and trinkets I wanted to unwrap on Christmas morning. Now the things I want can’t be wrapped and put under a Christmas tree.

I know it’s all been said before, and with much more eloquence and impact. But, I want an end to the war in Iraq. But more than just an end to the war, I wish for a peaceful and equitable resolution that dissolves religious intolerance and claims to ethnic superiority.

Take the concept of peace and wrap it around the globe where other nations strut and pose before each other, hurling insults and waving fists at perceived slights and disrespect. The global sand box is getting crowded, but if we learn to play together, we’ll find there’s plenty of fun for everyone. Wrap me up a global hug.

Do you have a “grown up Christmas list”? Click on COMMENTS and tell us about it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Memoirs of a Turkey Queen

My Butterball turkey sits in my kitchen sink awaiting the special touches that will transform it from a naked carcass to our family’s Thanksgiving feast. I remember how surprised my mother was the first time she tasted a turkey I’d cooked. That the turkey was moist and tender and tasted as good as hers amazed her, while also filling her with pride. By that time she was tired of being the turkey queen of the family and anxious to hand me the crown.

I don’t know why she was so surprised at my success in the kitchen. Well, perhaps she recalled my incessant teenage mantra, “I’m not the domestic type” and believed it. She never realized how much I watched her, even thought I wasn’t interested. I was like that then and still am—I absorb things around me without realizing how much is getting in. Like pulling out the giblets from the turkey cavity. I watched her do that and thought, “Ewww, I’ll never do that.” Of course, like everything else to which we’ve sang that refrain, my hand goes into the turkey carcass and pulls out the bag with a flourish.

So in a few minutes I’ll tie on my apron and wave my scepter over the Butterball. I’ll drench it in hope, spice it with joy, and bake it with love. I’ll remember my mom who’s no longer here to share in earthly feasts and thank her for passing me a crown so well appreciated.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Niagara in the Fall

There are places on earth that defy description. Niagara Falls is one of them. Today our group from the 2005 SITE Conference were treated by the Niagara Falls Tourism Visitors and Convention Bureau to a day of wonderous exploration of the Niagara region.

1st photo: Niagara Falls from the air.

We left Toronto about 9:30 a.m. and drove through the splendorous fall landscape to arrive in Niagara about 11 a.m. The Hilton Fallsview hotel treated us to a reception where I got my first imaging view of the falls. The "ahh" effect from Hilton's falls view bar was audible. After a short tour of the Hilton, we moved on to explore the tunnels behind the falls at Journey Behind the Falls. The legendary Maid of the Mist boats had been pulled for the season only last week and we were disappointed to have missed that voyage.

The Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, operated by the Canadian government, hosted us for lunch in grand tradition. Unlike casino resorts in the US, the Fallsview casino is separated from the main entry. You don't have to trudge through the bling and ding of the casino to get anywhere in the resort. Great feature for families bringing children along.

2nd photo: Splendorous fall foilage on the road to Niagara Falls.

Knowing the disappointment of not getting wet on the Maid of the Mist, the Niagara tour directors took us up for a bird's eye view in a ride with Niagara Helicopter Tours. Considering that I am married to a professional helicopter pilot, that I've never before lifted off in a helo is somewhat remarkable. To say I enjoyed the ride is an understatment.

3rd photo: The Niagara falls behind us: Denise Dornfeld, Madelyn Marusa, moi, Charmaine Peterson.

Moving along, our group headed downriver for a fabulous progressive dinner hosted by four of the Niagara winemaking region's most commercial wineries. We enjoyed canapes and sparkling wine at Jackson-Triggs; soup entree with a sparkling brut, a mild white and a fruity rose at Hillebrand Estates Winery; venison tenderloin with Yorkshire pudding and a rich red wine at Peller Estates, and concluded with dessert canapes and sparkling ice wine at Inniskillin. The sparkling ice wine was the most delightful taste of the evening and well-chosen for our international group.

4th photo: The wine aging cellar at Jackson-Triggs winery.

We rolled into our hotel at about 10:30 p.m. A couple of our group headed over to the casino to try their luck in Canadian gaming. That report is still outstanding. My room on the 24th floor of the Sheraton Fallsview hotel is incredible. It's very distracting to have one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world right outside my window. This report may have been more eloquent and descriptive, but like I said earlier--Niagara Falls defies description. You just have to see it for yourself.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Blog Explosion

Someone recently likened the explosion of blogs to the revolutionary invention of the printing press. There is no doubt that blogs are a powerful medium, to compare their impact to the revolution in human thought, politics, art and endeavor made by Gutenberg’s moveable type press would be like saying Technicolor revolutionized life. Technicolor certainly made television more vivid and life-like, but the transmission of moving pictures into people’s homes is what revolutionized our culture.

So a blog is only a tool on the internet. If anything could be compared with the printing press, it would have to be the internet itself. Not even the personal computer has made such an impact. Without the ability to link computer to computer, PCs would be glorified typewriters, calculators, and art studios. The personal computer is the vendor or paper delivery boy, but the medium itself is the internet.

We’ve become that Global Village which the late Marshall McLuhan forecast in the 1960s. McLuhan coined the term media to describe the means of communication that were developing at break-neck pace in the mid 20th century. I’ve often wondered what he’d say about the Internet and how it has linked cities to villages, effectively shrinking the globe to a single village with many voices.

What blogs and the instantaneous methods of online publishing have done is send people around the world with the click of a mouse. While email is transmitted almost instantaneously, it must travel through a network of servers and filters before reaching its destination. There are known lags in transmission times with email. Once a website is updated, it’s immediately accessible. I can publish this page at 8:00 California time and my friend in England can read it at 8:01.

I’m giving a class at the 2005 SITE International Conference in Toronto called “Blogging for Business.” I’ve enjoyed researching the blog explosion and am looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned with others. Leave me a comment if you have any questions about blogs.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Sad Passing

Over the weekend we found a tiny grey tabby kitten on our front porch. Despite my nursing it with Pedialyte and “kitty formula,” I got up this morning to find little kitty dead. I wasn’t really looking for a new cat (we have two already), but hoped to foster it until a local cat shelter could place it into a home. My son, however, had already named the little male “Omie.”

I questioned my neighbors on Saturday to see if anyone had a kitten wander away, but no one had a clue (or would admit one). We live in a semi-rural area of large horse properties, which seems to be a magnet for deadbeats who dump animals off here, thinking they’ll all find good homes among the animal-loving people here.

Several well-heeled people in our neighborhood turn around kittens from their unaltered cats every season. I can’t imagine why these apparently literate people don’t have their cats spayed or neutered. Can’t be a money thing; surely people who drive SUVs can afford $25 to neuter a cat. It’s ignorance.

I made a few calls to local cat rescue organizations and found how willing they are in helping provide inexpensive neuter and spaying for unwanted pets. Ovations to all of the animal rescue organizations who step in when people step out.

Angels fold their wings...

Cheers for the Angels, those mighty winged sluggers, tossers, sliders and catchers. Thank you for a great season. Here's to next year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Go, Angels!

I grew up in the shadow of the Big A. Angel Stadium of Anaheim, the colossal ballpark whose name has changed as often as its home team, has hosted everything from Boy Scout Jamborees to Supercross, to the Rolling Stones, to Billy Graham Crusades. Visible from major California freeways and poised just down the street from Disneyland, the Big A is a California landmark and home to the Angels.

Orange County is proud of their Angels. The name change this season left many fans grumbling, and why not? The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? Doesn’t Los Angeles have a professional baseball team? Despite the clunky name, the team is on a roll toward baseball glory.

Last night’s win over the Chicago White Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series propels the Angels one game closer to a repeat win in the World Series. While I’m not a fanatical baseball follower through the regular season, there’s something so American about the World Series. Here’s rooting for the home team. Go, Angels!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Beware of Spammed Comments

Ovations has been discovered. By spammers. I've just gone back to delete several posts from spammers entering a "cool blog" comment and then saying "check out my website" and listing a link to some unknown website. Of course, I have no clue to what the website contains. And therefore I have no intention of clicking. I hope you won't either.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Supporting Katrina Relief Efforts

There are many ways to give toward Katrina relief. Fellow author Tony Hellman is pulling out his checkbook with a promise that for every comment posted in his Katrina post, he'll donate money to Red Cross Katrina Relief in the following increments: $1 for each comment, $2 for a comment left by a literary agent, editor, or publisher.

As of this morning, he's generated more than 3,000 hits; a minimum of $3,000 and probably higher. What a brilliant incentive. He's created a way for people to give, without giving, while increasing traffic to his blog, which lifts his blog into new demographic heights, while also pitching the sale of his novel to publishing industry professionals and others. He's even had corporations coming aside him with offers to match gifts. If his novel is as good as his marketing savvy, it may be a bestseller.

Tony confesses the idea wasn't his. He read about other bloggers doing this and he recognized it as a good idea. So how about popping on over to Tony's blog and taking a look at what he has to say and leave a comment. So I've modified the rules a bit and am offering you a challenge.

While the Red Cross is a fabulous organization, I've tabbed Habitat for Humanity on the receiving end of my financial donations. If anyone else would like to donate to Habitat for Humanity Katrina Relief you can do it easily from their website. And if you donate through the website and have them send me (Carolyn Bass) a Gift Card, I will donate $1 for every Gift Card that I receive from them during the next 48 hours. Please send the Gift Card to my blog email at: throughts @ (Be sure to remove the spaces on each side of the @ sign.) I'll keep this challenge open for 48 hours (closing at 12 noon PDT, 17 September 2005). At the end of the 48 hours, I will tally all of the Gift Cards I've received from Habitat From Humanity and will submit another $1 for each card and will display my receipt to show how much WE contributed. And if you decide to join me in this effort, why not leave a comment to encourage others to follow. Just click on the COMMENTS link below.

Even if you can't donate cash, Habitat for Humanity will need skilled laborers to donate time and talent in the rebuilding efforts throughout that region. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that brings out the best in people.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


So much has gone on since hurricane Katrina did what Americans thought would never happen here. The proud city of New Orleans and surrounding areas have been turned into a cesspool of third world proportions. Never mind the arrogance that gambled whether or not a class 4 or higher hurricane would dare threaten the New Orleans levees. Forget the fact that the city was built below sea level anyway. The city is devastated—flooded, plundered, stinking, and dispirited. The people remaining—or should I call them survivors—are now being forcibly evacuated. For decades now distaster pundits have made predictions and the media has reported warnings of what see see today. Americans consider themselves the eagles of the proud and the free, but events such as this reveal the eagle as an ostrich with its head in the sand.

I’m still trying to grip what has happened here. I saw the images of winds blowing the roofs from buildings, water crashing through the levees, cars bobbing down the streets, and people—people—clinging to trees, exiled on rooftops, and floating bloated in the aftermath. A recent news report wrenched my heart even further: Twenty-five elderly patients were found drowned in a nursing home. Add that to this wrencher: Twenty-two people tied themselves together to keep from being separated in the wind and rising waters, and all 22 drowned together. The stories of survivors bring back memories of the World Trade Centers post 9/11. One death toll estimate I read gave a staggering 25,000.

Blogs and the internet have proven to be the single most valuable tool for getting the word out when the traditional means of communications failed. Blogs list missing family members, survivor stories, neighborhood updates, encouragement to victims, plus record the response of everyday people pierced through the heart by this tragedy.

What can we do? Giving money to relief organizations is just the beginning. Many people are opening their homes to the displaced. Others are volunteering services: doctors, nurses, construction workers, search and rescue teams, just about anyone with a skill that is needed in a disaster zone. The need is so great, but the response of everyday Americans is greater.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Changing Routines

I just got back from taking my son to his first day of school for the new term. I love the lazy days of summer, but by the time September 1st rolls around, I am so ready for school to resume. He begins his junior year of high school and is on the varsity football team and a student council leader. I am very proud of him, yet having just graduated our firstborn last June, I know how quickly these last two years of high school pass.

The change in routines this morning was most evident when my daughter didn't get up and spend her hour in the bathroom before her brother. She leaves for university in a couple of weeks. I am very grateful that right after we move her into her dorm room I leave for a conference in Chicago. Something busy and full of possibilities and away from the emptiness of her bedroom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Summer Sands Remember

dropping moment by moment to the base
of the hourglass. This last summer
both of my children en residence.

Joys of summers now buried.
Little hands dig moats to
protect sandcastles we built.
Friends and foes strut and snub
on the shore in front of Jack's.
Cookouts around the firepit
hotdogs crunchy from sandy fingers.
Marshmallows black
drop in the sand, but there's always another.
Brown and soft and melting sweet.

Sands below sing of youth
“There’s a new kid in town...”
Boz Scaggs
Fleetwood Mac, Boston and Foreigner.
Drive music for crossing the valley to the beach.
No books, only sand and surf
Summer without obligation.

Deeper still the sands remember
a white '59 Cadillac convertible, big fins shooting jets of flame
Red interior with those cool electric windows.
My daddy at the wheel,
My mama with a headscarf ala Doris Day
She sings "Fly Me to the Moon"
Three sisters giggle in the backseat
No seatbelts hold us down
We are the Coppertone girls.

© 2005 by Carolyn Burns Bass

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Vision of The Good Life

A recent discussion of "The Good Life" in my online writer's group piqued my interest. I posted a couple of paragraphs there, but the concept wouldn't let go of me. What is The Good Life and how do we know when we have it?
I think The Good Life is a metaphorical aspiration enjoyed by millions, but rarely recognized when achieved. I can remember many times when I’ve lived the good life, but always had dreams or other hopes to make it even better.

I had The Good Life back when I was single, writing freelance, and living in a studio apartment overlooking Laguna Beach. Life was good, but it would have been bliss if I had someone special with which to share it.

Newlywed, awed in love with my heroic husband, we left Laguna and traveled to Japan, where we had a fifth-floor apartment overlooking the Inland Sea from one room and the Monzen River delta from another room. We had our first baby. This would have been The Good Life if I hadn’t missed my family so much.

Back in the USA we bought our first home with the big yard, the swimming pool, added two delightful dogs, and the kids flourished in private school. I began my graphic communications business. Life would’ve been So Good if I had enough clients to keep busy until the kids got home from school.

The kids are nearly grown now; the business keeps me busy beyond the school day, but so what? They’re involved with their activities, they have wheels to drive themselves around, and heroic hubby now flies his PD bird on the nightshift. Now I wish I had more time to write.

But looking back, I see a pattern. Laying aside the material possessions that provide temporary delight, The Good Life contains a few simple ingredients: love, family, creative endeavor, and fulfilled ambition. And dogs. Gotta have a dog curled up at my feet to write.
What is your vision of The Good Life? Click on the COMMENTS link below and share with us.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

When Lightning Strikes

One of the most powerful effects of the internet and blogs in particular is how they can touch people’s lives in time of need. I learned through my online writing group that Marianne Mancusi, author of A Connecticut Fashionista in King Author’s Court), returned from the Romance Writers of America conference last weekend to find her home had been struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Marianne lost virtually everything but what she carried with her to the conference. A single woman, Marianne didn’t have renter’s insurance and is facing enormous costs for everything that needs replaced. A group of writers from Literary Chicks is spearheading an effort to raise funds to help Marianne. An online auction is being set up with books signed by authors, manuscripts evaluated by authors and agents, and other objects of literary value. A gift certificate to one of the nationwide chain stores would be appreciated for immediate assistance. Visit Literary Chicks to see how you may help Marianne rebuild her life.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Online Grief Group and Memorials

I recently read an interview with author John Irving where he said that all of his books feature death in some way, a phenomena he attributed to the ecstasy of becoming a parent and the fear of losing that beloved child. When I read that passage, something inside me clicked. I’ve been a parent for 18 years now and looking back, I can see the same phenomena in my writing. “Death is a Bitch,” a submission to an online writing group short story competition, was an attempt to connect to my father in his loss two years ago of my mother. Unfortunately, I buried the heart of the story between a glib opening and closing.

The theme for that short story competition was to create a story around people from an internet group meeting for the first time at a conference. I chose a grief support group as the setting for “Death is a Bitch,” knowing there must certainly be an online support group for mourning, but not having participated in one. Today, while researching topics for another project, lo and behold, I discovered GriefNet. GriefNet offers space for people to write memorials for their loved ones at GriefNet Memorials. Many of these memorials are therapeutic expressions of people’s anguish in loss, but several of them provide insightful glimpses into human mortality. While I can’t say it’s inspiring, it sure does give you a peek behind the curtain of death.

Care to comment about dying, death, or grief? Click COMMENTS below and share your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An Agent's Debut Sale

Publishing sages commonly advise unpublished authors to choose their literary agents with the same care they would in picking a mate. One of the most common bits of advice is "examine their sales record," implying that a good agent makes frequent sales. (In terms of choosing a mate, would the advice be "examine their annual salary"?) This is wise advice in most cases. But I didn't follow it. I signed with my agent when she didn't have a single sale. Nephele Tempest, an associate agent with The Knight Agency, had fielded my manuscript, THE NEXUS, after I'd made the initial query. She wrote me encouraging notes during the process from evaluation to offer. I could tell that this woman understood my book. And I could tell she was a go-getter.

When Nephele opened up the West Coast office of The Knight Agency last January she offered me representation. I was her first client. I'd like to say I was her first sale also, but that honor went this week to Nalini Singh for her novel SLAVE TO SENSATION. Nephele is on the way to being one of those agents that publishing sages prefer to refer: An agent with frequent sales. I hope THE NEXUS is next.

Applause for Nephele's first sale would be incomplete without congratulations to Nalini, whose novel sold at auction and garnered her a two-book deal. SLAVE TO SENSATION is about a young woman born to a race without emotions and her encounter with a group of sensual changelings. Cindy Hwang at Berkley won the auction. Nalini is author of four novels published by Silhouette.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Dear Zoe: A Novel by Philip Beard

Several thousand people died on September 11, 2001. The date alone grabs one’s attention and screams REMEMBER THIS DAY. We see the burning tower and the second airliner crashing into the tower’s twin. News reports of the Pentagon and Pennsylvania tragedies spread new shockwaves, while images of the towers collapsing upon the thousands of souls inside sear our sorrow. Philip Beard frames his poignant YA novel Dear Zoe around that day. But not as one would expect.

It was an ordinary day for 15-year-old Tess DeNunzio—ordinary in as much as she’d missed the bus to school yet again and was biding time until her mother would drive her to school. The day became extraordinary when news of the Twin Towers exploded in her life. Of the thousands of people who died that day one of them would impact Tess and her family with the same gripping grief, but played out in a Pittsburgh emergency room.

In the confusion of those moments, when the eyes of the world were on the Twin Towers, Tess’s three-year-old sister Zoe was hit by a car. That Zoe died that infamous day haunts Tess as much as losing her all together. It drives Tess through an adolescence already complicated by enigmatic feelings for her successful stepfather; her doting, but low-life father; her mother’s descent into depression; blended-family issues informed by these dynamics, and finally her emerging sexuality.

While the world still shivers from the terror of 9/11, Tess stretches to understand and eventually seek her own redemption by writing letters to Zoe. In these letters we glimpse the intimate details of Tess’s life, from her obsessive make-up ritual in the mornings, to her lack-luster performance at school, to her first boyfriend and where that predictably goes. Tess’s letters to Zoe dig at the scab covering Zoe’s death, picking and peeling until Tess confronts the awful truth about Zoe’s death.

As important as the story of Dear Zoe is the story behind its publishing. Dear Zoe was Philip Beard’s second novel. Despite the championing of a good literary agent, his first novel was turned down by twenty-seven publishing houses. Dear Zoe, which Philip wrote in part to reach out to his own stepdaughter, had great personal as well as professional significance to him. After the first several rejections of Dear Zoe rolled in with suggestions that the epistolary style be changed to a traditional POV, he caved and revised to first person. The next round of twenty-eight rejections on the revised-to-first-person version crashed his faith in commercial publishing.

Determined to see Dear Zoe in print, Beard established his own publishing house with the intention of self-publishing. During the months of preparation to self-publishing, Beard had given permission for a Penguin sales rep he’d met through a mutual acquaintance to submit the original epistolary version on his behalf. Only days away from writing the check for his first print run, the president of Viking Penguin called Beard with an offer to publish Dear Zoe in Philip’s original epistolary form.

Beard’s ambitions for Dear Zoe were eventually met through traditional publishing. But had the circumstances found the novel released under Beard’s publishing imprint, it wouldn’t have changed the significance of its impact. Growing up is hard. Add some grief and wrap it in guilt for an even harder journey. Dear Zoe could have been just another coming of age novel filled with adolescent angst. Thankfully, it’s not. Beard’s astonishing ability to write in the voice of a teenage girl and his insightful commentary on the age has created a compelling elegy for the post-9/11 generation.

This review of Dear Zoe was commissioned by NimbleSpirit, the Spiritual Literary Review. Read more about Philip Beard and his publishing triumphs.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Birthday America!

Disneyland always puts on a great Independence Day fireworks show. Photo copyright 2005 by Carolyn Burns Bass

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ovations to Communications and More

When I began my creative communications business there were days when the only creative expression I made was with crayons. I am a WAHM—a Work At Home Mom—who nurtured two passions under one roof: my family and my business. In those days my office was a desk with a computer in the corner of the playroom. Through the years my children have grown, my business has flourished and my business now travels with me.

During the infancy of my business, I recognized how important integrated communications would be. As a WAHM I often juggle client meetings with orthodontist appointments; project deadlines with sports practices; business research with homework research. One of the ways I keep linked with business and family activities is through my computer planner. Microsoft Outlook provides a link between my business and my family. I enter all family appointments into my Outlook Calendar and link them to my HP iPAQ PDA for portable accessibility. Each family member gets a color code and every Monday I print out the weekly calendar and hang it in the kitchen. Outlook Contact Manager allows me to track client communications and assures that projects remain on schedule. The new spam-blocking feature in Outlook 2003, along with sophisticated rules usage, makes opening email a joy once again.

On September 11, 2001, one of my clients needed to reschedule a seminar planned for the next day because of the logistics that stalled travel during that tenuous time. As I sat at my daughter’s tennis practice I wrote emails on my notebook computer, accessing all the seminar attendee information from an Excel spreadsheet. I saved the emails in my Outlook drafts folder and when I got home I plugged in my notebook and sent the emails. (Four years later I now have wireless communication which would have sped that up even more.)

Two years ago the convenience of portability and the elegance of integrated systems took me out of my home office and into the hospital room of my terminally ill mother. For two months I set up my notebook computer at her bedside and quietly operated my business while caring for my mother in her final days. I journaled my personal reactions to my mother’s situation, while also documenting her care. Without leaving the hospital room, I emailed invoices; registered attendees for a seminar; set-up name badges for the attendees; designed two business newsletters from copy I downloaded from clients; created a travel poster for an incentive sales trip; kept in touch with my clients through email, and above all kept profitability in the black. I did all this using the phone line from my mother’s hospital room and my laptop computer. The doctor even joked with me about the hospital charging me office rent. After my mother passed, I worked out some of my grief by creating for her memorial service an eight-page printed program with color photos and a 48-slide PowerPoint tribute to my mother’s life. Never have I felt more value for my skills than the day I watched the tribute to my mother’s life bring tears to the eyes of our whole family.

An even more product specific version of this post earned me an honorable mention in a recent Microsoft business solutions writing contest. While the contest was designed to spotlight particular Microsoft Office components, I've edited them out here to reveal the heart of my story. Today is the two-year anniversary of my mother's passing.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Writers are strange birds. We all begin as ducklings before the metaphorical transformation to swans. We love words. Some of us love the spoken word as much as the written word. The emergence of the internet and the plethora of online groups that grew from that first collection of interest-based bulletin boards have created virtual taverns where simulated spirits are downed with cyber conversation. On my way back from Britain, I stopped over in New York City for the Backspace Writer’s Conference and a visit to Book Expo America, the USA’s premier publishing marketplace and conference.

Where BEA was overwhelming in size and scope, the Backspace Writer’s Conference was cozy and competent in providing a physical setting for a virtual tavern where professional advice is poured as generously as idle chatter. The conference brought together several of publishing’s top literary agents, editors, established authors and rising stars—some of whom are not yet published.

Most of the weblationships I’ve built through the years have been through writer’s groups. I never was a pen-pal kind of girl who sought friends among strangers. Looking back, I think a pen pal might have been a good thing during the awkward years of adolescence when my peers were turning into swans and I was still a duckling. In the fiction world I’m still something of a duckling. The promise of the transformation is visible—my neck is lengthening, my feathers are turning—but they’re just not quite there. The online peers who’ve made the transformation—some of whom have molted dozens of times with books of magnificent achievement—dole out encouragement as much as those still itching from the knobby feather buds prickling their skin.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Ghosts on the Windswept Moors

Everyone has ghosts in their past. Love affairs never resolved, unrealized dreams, failed competitions, family secrets. I planned a two-day excursion to the Yorkshire town of Haworth in search of the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine, two of literature’s most tortured lovers. The novel I’m currently writing is set in the moors, where three Victorian-era women of diverse backgrounds in the same great house are reading Wuthering Heights, the dark, brooding novel by a new author called Ellis Bell (Emily Bronte's original penname). How could I write with conviction about the stark beauty of the Yorkshire countryside without feeling the wind whipping across the moors, walking a craggy-path up a heather-strewn hillside, sleeping in a cottage built from Yorkshire stone, viewing the late evening sunset over the cobblestone village of Haworth?

My visit to Yorkshire drew ghosts from my own life—both past and present. I’ve been a member of an internet writing group for several years. Futurist author Marshall McLuhan was spot-on when he claimed the world would become a global village within my generation. The World Wide Web made that happen. I’ve built weblationships with people through careful participation in various internet bulletin boards. Ian is one of them. A writer from Manchester with whom I’ve traded critiques through the years, Ian met me at the train station in Keighley and drove me into Haworth where I had lodging at the charming Aitches Guest House. Meeting a person whom one’s known only by their words and an occasional posted photograph puts flesh on an internet ghost. Ian and I talked about our current novels, he brought me a copy of the UK computer magazine for which he is an editor, and together we toured the Bronte Museum. Ian’s no longer an internet ghost from a cyber community; he’s a flesh and blood friend.

The spirit of my mother accompanied me on this trip. Visiting England was an unrealized dream for her and one of the things I regretted not being able to do with her. Through the years my mother had developed friendships with several English women—pen pals not unlike my internet weblationships. These women were related to a pastor we had known for many years as I was growing up. Brother Miles had been killed tragically in an auto accident in 1979 and following his death, my mother corresponded with his mother, Mollie, and his daughter, Ruth. Mollie passed away two years before my mother, but still my mother kept her correspondence with Ruth, who is a year younger than me. I had heard about Ruth from her father while he was alive, and then from my mother in the next twenty or so years. When I looked at my itinerary and saw that Ruth lived only a handful of miles from Haworth, I knew I had to look her up. I wasn’t sure how she’d respond to this person who’d known her father more than she had, but I wanted to do it for my mother.

I dug up Ruth’s address from my mother’s address book, but there was no phone number recorded. One of the haunting things about the internet is the easy access to personal data. With Ruth and her husband Philip’s address in hand, I googled their phone number within minutes. Then I called. It was rather scary, calling across oceans for someone from the past. Of course, it was probably spookier for Ruth to be the receiving end of such a ghostly phone call. Ruth answered the phone and after I explained myself, she was eager to meet with me. In all her years, Ruth had never met anyone who knew her father in California. And so I took the spirit of her father back to Yorkshire.

This is where my tears still build as I recall the moment. Ruth and her husband Philip arrived at Aitches exactly on time; Ruth clutching a photo album. We hugged as if we’d known each other forever, and in a sense, we had. I’d known all about her through my mother, but I had no idea that she knew so much about me. She opened her photo album to display pictures of her father surrounded by members of my family—including a shot of me at about 14 years old. I had seen these same photos in my mother’s albums for years, but seeing them here in England transcended expectations.

Ruth’s father had always been something of a specter throughout her life. He felt called to the Christian mission field shortly after Ruth was born and for reasons only God knows, he left his toddling daughter with his wife in Yorkshire while he evangelized America. Ruth grew up trusting her father in doing “God’s work,” but like any child, longed for a daddy. Brother Miles planted himself in Southern California, where he became an itinerant evangelist holding Bible Studies in people’s homes. And that’s where he entered my life. My parents held a Friday night Bible study in our dining room while I hid out in my bedroom until all the preaching was over. And Brother Miles was okay with that. He never badgered me to attend, never preached at me, never cornered me with condemnation. But he did tell me about his daughter my age back in England, and her name was Ruth.

After we shared our memories and poured over photos, Ruth and her wonderful husband, Philip took me in their Land Rover on a tour throughout Yorkshire. Both native to Yorkshire, Ruth and Philip shared a wealth of information about the geography, the climate, the culture, the architecture, and the history. Ruth amused me with tales of how she and her cousins played in the countryside, running through the moors calling “Heathcliff!” and “Cathy!” I shot dozens of photos: a stone house vision of Wuthering Heights rising from a hilltop contrasts with a courtly manor reminiscent of Thrushcross Grange; Yorkshire sheep stopping traffic as they meander down the road; aged stone bridges where automobiles now cross; sacred graveyards surrounding ancient church ruins; heathered hillsides budded in wait of summer’s purple bloom. I saw no ghostly phantoms haunting the moors, but specters of history in legend, in love, and in life haunt my imagination. And so I write.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

London--The Most Livable City

It was drizzling in London when my flight touched down at Heathrow. After a short hop on the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, I passed the huge line of travelers waiting in the taxi queue and stepped into the London drizzle. This is why I purchased a raincoat before leaving California—not that we don’t have rain in California, Lord knows we had rain this last winter, but Californians don’t live outside their cars, houses, offices and shopping malls where they need a raincoat.

I packed light for this trip—only one rolling suitcase and my carry-on office on wheels. They stacked nicely together, giving me a free hand to throw upwards to hail a taxi outside Paddington. Adjacent to Paddington is a Hilton where I hovered, knowing it would be only a matter of minutes before a taxi would drop off a Hilton guest and need to pick up a new fare. The Hilton doorman, splendid in his top hat and traditional livery, winked and stepped out to hail for me. I dug into my change pocket and pulled him a tip of a pound coin; equal at the day’s exchange rate of about two American dollars. He tipped his hat and closed the taxi door.

London is the most livable big city I’ve ever visited. Perhaps it was the idyllic time of year to visit—mild mornings with gentle breezes, warm afternoons of blue-sky sunshine, crisp evenings perfect for a light sweater—for I found myself charmed from every angle. Convenient and clean city transit, along with well-marked street names and neighborhoods, make London the easiest city to navigate. Victoria Station was a quick walk from my host’s flat in Westminister. From Victoria I could hop on a bus or the Tube (the underground rail system that snakes throughout London) and go anywhere in a matter of minutes. Despite the London drizzle, I took the big red bus tour on the day I arrived, taking in all of the historic sites so familiar to me from history, literature and art.

The Chelsea Flower Show

England is to flowers and gardens what Los Angeles is to beaches and hillside homes. The Chelsea Flower Show, the granddame of gardening expos, had just opened in London when my colleague at The NoteWorthy Group generously handed me a ticket. Buzz about the show was the top design award going to the Royal Hospital Chelsea's garden commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

A tribute to a soldier’s dream of his home in Britain, this picturesque garden, complete with flowering meadow, duck pond, victory vegetable garden, and thatch-roof pub, is the vision that inspired British soldiers of World War II. Living history completed the garden scene with the presence of several Chelsea Pensioners wearing with pride the red dress uniform of their station.

The Dorchester Hotel: Accommodations in Grand British Style

Tradition meets tomorrow at London’s Dorchester Hotel where I enjoyed a room larger than my first apartment in Laguna Beach. I met for tea with Victoria Batten, the hotel’s senior sales manager, in the hotel’s Promenade, where Victoria told me that only last night Rod Stewart had been spotted. Renovations to meet exacting standards for tomorrow’s travelers are underway at this venerable London property. I just missed the mid-June opening of The Park Lane Suite, a high-tech banqueting/meeting suite in deco-style. Other renovations include China Tang, a sophisticated new restaurant which will serve extensive cocktails and dim sum from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; a champagne bar in the Promenade; a complete redesign of The Dorchester Bar (thank goodness, as I found the current bar to be stuffy and dank with the stench of rancid tobacco), and finally a restoration of the hotel’s celebrated Grill Room. From its setting on Park Lane, across from Hyde Park and near Piccadilly, The Dorchester tops my list for luxury, tradition, and convenience. Read the complete history of this London landmark hotel here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bound for Britain

One week from today I will embark on my first ever trip to Europe. This trip is exciting for me on several levels. In April I agreed to represent NoteWorthy Events, a travel services and destination management company that specializes in luxury travel. Along with another travel professional, Christy Campbell, we are opening up the US incentive travel market for this distinctive British company. While I’ve had a research trip to Britain in mind for a couple of years, my association with NoteWorthy Events led me to put the trip on the calendar and learn everything I could about the nation and company I now represent.

I will spend several days in London, one of them working in the NoteWorthy Events office and getting to know the staff, the operations, and the business culture that has made this company one of the top in its class. While in London, I’ll stay one fabulous night at the famous Dorchester Hotel, a five-star property where NWE often books its groups. How can I promote such service until I’ve enjoyed it myself? The remaining days in London will find me sightseeing and researching for The Muse, the sequel to my novel The Nexus.

The Nexus is set in the twelfth century in a fictional setting on the Kent coast. Having not been to England when I wrote The Nexus, I relied on travel videos, books and online research for the setting. Even though it’s a fictional burgh set eight hundred years ago, the geography, weather, history and culture must ring true. I would love to spend weeks on the coast, exploring from the New Forest up to the Thames Estuary, alas, I have only two days.

Bronte Country is next on my itinerary. The novel I’m currently writing, Whispering Nights, is set in the Yorkshire Dales, where Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights was set. I’ll be touring around the moors, visiting with residents and learning more about the history of that rich area.

Of course, I hope for some side trips to the home of Shakespeare, the haunts of Dickens, the Bath of Jane Austen, and the Oxford community of CS Lewis.

As I’ve planned this trip, I’m reminded of my mother’s dream of visiting England. She had corresponded with several English women for more than 35 years, sharing stories of their children, then their grandchildren. Over the last three years each of these ladies has passed; my mother’s been gone two years now and the remaining friend only a month ago. For years, my mother and I had talked about visiting England together. I may be traveling by myself, but I know I won’t be alone.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Where No Man--or Woman--Has Gone Before

The final episode of the final Star Trek series (so far) ends tonight. Star Trek: Enterprise will be decommissioned and sent to TV drydock, possibly to appear in syndicated reruns like its predecessors. I’ve grown up with Gene Roddenberry's view of the future, wishing that humanity could evolve into benign, peace-loving explorers like Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway. Some of my favorite television moments as a child were watching the good ship Enterprise gallop across the galaxy, discovering new worlds and going where no man—or woman—had gone before. Roddenberry’s world enriched my imagination with ideas and opportunities beyond what my white, poor-folk, under-achieving upbringing had yet to offer.

My family didn’t have a color TV in those days. On Friday nights we’d drive in our old International Scout to the home of my parent’s best friends to watch Star Trek on their color TV. They didn’t have kids and they treated us to home delivery foods from “Pizza Man: He Delivers” and “Want chicken tonight? Call Chicken Delight.” While my mama and Jane played canasta, my stepdad and Jim wrestled with the world’s problems in deep, existential debates that I loved to eavesdrop into. They were both latent beatniks, with brilliant minds, but lackluster motivation. Sometimes they played Joan Baez records, which swept me away in rich balladic episodes that nourished something deep inside I’ve yet to discover. But I regress.

Star Trek was broadcast on Friday nights in my viewing area. Running prior to Star Trek were those quintessential 1970s sitcoms, The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. The middle of three sisters, it’s no surprise that I found The Brady Bunch about as exciting as a baloney sandwich. Was I jealous of Marcia and did I find my identity with poor middle sister Jan? In truth, while The Brady Bunch amused me in those hours before Star Trek, the posh world of the Bradys was so far from my reality that I could not suspend my disbelief to appreciate it. My mother was divorced, not widowed. I had a stepfather, but no fun and frisky brothers. We lived in a stucco cubicle with old cars and hand-me-down clothes. I was short and brunette and cursed with a warped body image. It’s not hard to see why the leap to Roddenberry’s universe where women could wear a mini-skirt, achieve success, find love, and still be respected, appealed to me. And they didn’t have to look like Marcia Brady.

The original Star Trek episodes that I adored as a child became cult classics in college. I thought Captain Kirk was a fairly desirable leading man and heroic leader until The Next Generation emerged. While Patrick Stewart's brilliant acting empowered the new captain of the new Enterprise, it was the character of Jean Luc Picard that enchanted me. He was the ideal champion, a warrior poet who could quote Shakespeare as easily as he could vanquish an enemy. It took several episodes of the first season with Next Generation for me to get past my prejudices in favor of classic Trek, but I grew to appreciate New Generation's fresh vision and stellar writing. I found subsequent Star Trek spin-offs spiraling down to inter-galactic soap operas which were entertaining in a grand scheme, but lacking the imaginative wonder of classic Trek and Roddenberry’s revisionary Next Generation.

The truth is, I never could get into Star Trek: Enterprise. The characters were all too wooden to me. The concept of filling in the years between the emergence of space travel and where classic Trek began was fraught with problematic errors in Federation and Star Fleet history. Still, I’m sorry Star Trek producers haven't come up with another brilliant concept to keep the Roddenberry universe alive.

I’d love to read anyone’s Star Trek raves, reviews, or rants. What were your favorite Trek episodes from any series? Click on the blue COMMENT link below and share with us.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ovations to Mothers

My mother has been gone for nearly two years now. Never a day passes that I don't think of her in some way. A piece of music recalls my mother sitting at the piano playing and singing in her glorious soprano. I cook one of her recipes, meat and bean burritos, my favorite of all her delicious multi-cultural concoctions. Her face at about 55 years smiles at me from its frame next to my computer. She is an icon in my life, ever-present in spirit.

I was blessed with a mother who loved and nurtured me. She had her dark days, her battles with self-esteem, two failed marriages when divorce was a social no-no. But she knew how to love, to cuddle and stroke, and in that Midwest farm-style way to dish out love on a plate.

Yet I know many people who didn't have loving mothers. Their mothers were self-absorbed socialites, or neglectful harridans addicted to whatever substance gave them release, or pushy stage moms who lived vicariously through their children. Some of you were adopted and have never known your womb mother. If you had one of those mothers, I grieve for you. Your life may be the only good gift your mother gave you. Yet I know in this age of choice, you are here because she chose to give you life. Where you go with your life is your choice.

Click on the blue comment link below and give your mother an ovation.

Photo, design & verse copyright 2005 by Carolyn Burns Bass

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Happiest Homecoming on Earth

May 5, 2005

It's all about a father's dream. The father was Walt Disney and the dream was a place he could take his two little girls and just have a good, clean day of family fun. While watching his two daughters ride the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Walt Disney had one of his ideas. The idea circled his imagination like those carousel horses, spinning into shapes familiar to fans of his animated films. His alter ego, Mickey Mouse, jumped onto one of those horses and gave substance to Walt's dream. The dream was born on July 17, 1955 and the place is Disneyland.

Michael Eisner, the outgoing CEO of the Disney Corp., told spectators at the Happiest Homecoming on Earth celebration that the next 18 months of festivities are a commemorative of "where Walt's dreams have taken us and where we've taken Walt's dreams." Walt's dream is as vibrant today as it was 50 years ago.

Disneyland opened it's public celebration today amidst crowds of people of all ages, all of them wanting to be a part of Disneyland history. Take a peek at some of the activites the past three days held in this photo tribute. (All photos are exclusive images of this author, except where noted.)

Disneyland Gallery 2005: The Happiest Homecoming on Earth

May 4, 2005

It's called the Happiest Homecoming on Earth--the 50 year anniversary celebration beginning tomorrow. To get ready for the public celebration, Disneyland was closed to the public today. Does that mean the Magic Kingdom was empty? The Happiest Place on Earth was closer to the most crowded place in town as Disneyland's special guests, VIPs, and media crowded the streets, shops, rides and attractions.
Many guests were ordinary people, families who won tickets in radio, TV or other giveaways. They're here from all over the country, on dream vacations they would never achieve without this ticket. Their attendance is a memory to them, but it's now a part of history on a day when cameras of the world are pointed here.

Media teams are everywhere, pointing huge clunky cameras and camcorders at the fortunate public guests, celebrities, Disney legends (an insider Disney term for people who've contributed to the Disney legacy: illustrators, animators, voice talent, even former cast members [another Disney insider term for employee]). Many of the invited guests are Disney fans, who have accepted with grace the shortened term fan from its original etymology of fanatic. They're buying up all of the Disney anniversary memorabilia at alarming rates; some to keep, but it's not hard to figure out why the word e-bay is buzzing everywhere.

From inside Disneyland, one would think that this is the biggest event since the Prince Charles and Diana Royal Wedding. Perhaps to Disney enthusiasts it is. Afterall, there's love and romance from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty danced on their float with their prince. Mickey and Minnie looked down from a castle parapet creeping down Main Street, waving and blowing kisses at their subjects.

Where is the Ovation in all of this? There are smiles everywhere. Even amidst the many inconveniences--closed off areas for the media circus, celebrity golden carpets, unaccessible bathrooms--people are celebrating. Celebrating because it feels good. Celebrating in the way Walt Disney may have imagined.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Falling Stars and Other Ovations

The Hyperion Theater at Disneyland’s California Adventure was full of media and special guests tonight as Disneyland kicked off its 50th Anniversary Celebration. The celebrity host of the event was Kelsey Grammer, known to Disney film fans as the voice of the Prospector in Toy Story 2, but is probably known best for his television character Dr. Frasier Crane on Frasier.
Grammer took stage and opened his talk with a few laughs before he stepped right off the three-foot stage and almost collapsed. Most of us in the audience thought at first it was a rehearsed act, so smooth he was in landing on his feet. But shortly after pulling himself upright he says, “Oh shit! That hurt.” When people began running out from backstage to assist, the crowd went from stunned silence to murmurs. Cameras flashed, the audience buzzed with wonder, but Grammer held his dignity. In years past one might have attributed his stumble to green room imbibing, but in all honesty, the stage itself contributed. Imagine the stage edge with large stars cut all about it, creating voids where the points of stars jutted out from the main section of the stage. It looked awkward and created an awkward setting.

After a few tense moments. Grammer apologized for his language, rubbed his thigh, then nodded to the audience and resumed the stage to thundering applause like one hears at a soccer game when the kid on the ground gets back into the game. It was amazing to watch Grammer work through what could have been the end of the show for an artist of lesser panache. Grammer deserves a standing ovation for his composure and professionalism in a very embarrassing and tense situation.

I’m sure this was probably not his most embarrassing moment, but it makes me wonder what others have done when the cameras were pointed at them. Has anything embarrassing, humiliating, or nervewracking ever happened to you in front of a big crowd? And what did you do when the eyes were trained on you?

Disneyland knows how to throw a party. Watch for tomorrow’s update on the May 4 press and VIP day extravaganza. Disneyland’s Block Party opens to the public tomorrow May 5 (my birthday!) and runs throughout the rest of the 50th anniversary celebration year.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Applause for Sale of Debut Novels

Selling a debut novel is as much a partnership between the author and the agent. Congratulations to both Becky Motew and her agent Kristin Nelson. The sale of Motew's COUPON GIRL was reported Wednesday, April 27, 2005 in's daily deals. Becky is a fellow author at Backspace: The Writer's Place. Here's the PM blurb:

Debut chick lit author Becky Motew's COUPON GIRL, about a thirty-something woman who strives to win her company's sales contest and find love by getting "close to business," and auditions for the unusual local production of The Sound of Music, to Kate Seaver for Dorchester, in a nice deal, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (NA).

Friday, April 29, 2005

From the Mouths of Babes

We’re talking about education over dinner tonight when my 15-year-old son says, “You spend the first half of your life gaining all this knowledge and then you spend the last half of it losing it.” I just about spit my coffee across the table.

My son has always had a witty way with language. For the longest time he swore he could see out my belly button when he was in my womb, often describing events that happened before he was born. He’s the one who at four-years-old determined that women weren’t human. Men were humans. Women were ladies. Then there was the time he came running into the kitchen, his face fraught with fear, “Mommy, did you know John Wayne Bobbitt's wife cut of his penis?” A row of question marks followed by exclamation points chased his expression. He was certain that OJ didn’t kill Nicole, because, “A football player would never do that.” And of course, he thought we could get rich just by talking to Larry H. Parker. “Just call him mom, ‘he can get us 1.5 million, cause he fights for you.”

I was lusting for a brownie during one of my ongoing diets when he told me, “Just eat it and then call 1-800-JENNY.” That was when he was about three. When he was about nine or ten he had an epiphany after viewing yet another diet pill commercial promising quick weight loss. “Mom, if losing weight were as easy as taking a pill, the world would be full of skinny people.”

My son, witty with words, is a child of the media. He learned to use a mouse before he could hold a pencil. He grew up with Maria and Luis and all of the Sesame Street friends, had lunch every day with Mr. Rodgers and cut his teeth on Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael. Not the Renaissance artists; those slimy green reptiles, aka Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While I’d like to think I formed in him a love for literature when I read aloud all of the Little House on the Prairie books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Madeline L’Engle's Wrinkle in Time series, he still buries himself in computer games. He became a Rollercoaster Tychoon, lived wild Sims lives, raised NeoPets, conquered known and mythical worlds in Age of Empires, and is now a RuneScape warrior. But he still loves words.

Last week on the way home from our Las Vegas adventure, he began writing a movie treatment. At first I thought he just wanted to mess around on my laptop to wile away the hours, while lamenting his forgetting to bring the DVDs to watch. He fiddled around for more than an hour, when he began asking me questions. Intelligent questions about characterization and backstory, and plot and structure. By the time we got home he had sketched the characters and created a scenario to save the world.

Ovations to my son for his youthful way with words. I hope he stores up enough knowledge and wittiness to carry him past the half-way mark in life.

What witty remarks have you caught the wonderful children in your life saying? Click the COMMENT button below and let us laugh with you.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Where is the Nexus?

It took nine months to write THE NEXUS. My daughter graduated eighth grade the day I put the last period on the final sentence. She's a HS senior now, graduating in June and THE NEXUS is still in The Well of Lost Plots (tipping my hat to Jasper Fforde). I began querying literary agents to represent me after my second draft and in three years of queries, revised up to draft number nine. I queried a few agents after each revision; agents I felt were interested in my kind of book. The declines became more encouraging with each pass, often with comments that I took into the next revision. While still querying for THE NEXUS and in between revisions, I began writing book number two. I suppose some authors might have tabled novel number one after the third or forth draft. But I believed in my story and wanted to improve it after each pass.

I believe something mysical happens when you just let go of the anxiety about the future. I hadn't queried any literary agents in several months when I first queried my agency. I had been busy caring for my mother in her last days and then working through the grief of the loss when I finally resumed the agent search. I sent two queries. One to an agency who'd been recommended by a friend, and another to an agency that I'd read was considered one of the top "up and coming" agencies. This agency had become one of my top picks for a number of reasons. It was small, it was family oriented, it was run by women, and it had a track history of sales in my genre. In the age of email, that is was not located in NYC made little difference. The agency my friend recommended turned me down, but the up-and-coming agency opened a dialog over my manuscript that would take nearly a year to finalize. My agent called me to ask about representation and queried me about several career issues. But I had questions of my own. After a lively discussion about the industry, genres, revisions, and the like, I realized that my agent got my novel. I mean she got it. She was as enthusiastic about it as I was.

THE NEXUS is out of my hands now. That’s why we get literary agents. Because the road to publishing in the traditional marketplace is riddled with rules. THE NEXUS us still on submission, a term used in this industry to say the agent’s sent the manuscript around to selected publishing house editors for evaluation. There’s a chain of acceptance that manuscripts must undergo before an offer is made, and it can take a few months. THE NEXUS went out in mid-March. We’re nearing six weeks now. Three passes have come in. Like every debut author who has gone through the submission process, I have to realize that this novel may not sell. Many authors of household name have experienced that reality. But I know it's a good book and I believe when the time is right, it will be published. And it might not be until after my next book, or my next one after that. But I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ovation to the Earth

Photo, verse, and design by Carolyn Burns Bass.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Welcome to Ovations

Well-earned praise is a strong motivator. When people feel good about themselves they perform better in work, enjoy life, and are more satisfied in love. Individuals are threads on a cosmic loom, each one contributing to a glorious tapestry yet to be revealed. Ovations is your chance to crow, to shine, to receive applause. And to offer applause without reservation to everyone else.

Send me stories of people you know who’ve done something remarkable, interesting or just plain funny. Tell us about everyday heroes in your community. Talk about great books, new movies, favorite songs. Ovations is a cyber auditorium for extolling praise as well, as a virtual café with an open mic. Click on "Comments" below each topic to join the conversation. Come on in and give everyone a hand.


Month at a Glance

This is a new blog. It doesn't have months of posts to draw you inside and keep you reading. Until you post your stories, the best I can offer in leading ovations is a look back at the month of April. Below are some highlights from my life, from those around me, and from the world.

A Tribute
The world lost a formidable leader and compassionate man of faith with the passing of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005. Born Karol Józef Wojtyłaon May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland, Pope John Paul II saw himself as a man of faith with a mission of peace. In addition to heading the powerful Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II was a diplomat, a visionary, an evangelist, an activist, and a poet. Read more about about John Paul II in this PBS Frontline retrospective on his life.

Over This, Your White Grave
By Pope John Paul II, Krakow, Spring 1939

Over this, your white grave
the flowers of life in white--
so many years without you--
how many have passed out of sight?
Over this your white grave
covered for years, there is a stir
in the air, something uplifting
and, like death, beyond comprehension.
Over this your white grave
oh, mother, can such loving cease?
for all his filial adoration
a prayer:
Give her eternal peace.

Charity Begins With Me

I am grateful for the grace of charity. This month I had the opportunity to donate skills to two exceptional non-profit organizations. On April 14 I attended a fundraiser for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society held at Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood. The month previous to the event I'd worked with the Society to publish the sponsor's journal that was given to each attendee. I'd accepted the gig because my grandmother died of lymphoma 15 years ago. The world is full of irony, however, as a week after I began putting the journal together, my father-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia. The reality of blood cancers hit home again.

Last week I attended a wine-tasting fundraiser thrown by the Jordan Property Group, a major real estate and mortgage corporation in Orange County, CA. Beneficiaries of the event were Outreach to Africa and Fields of Life, two non-profit organizations dedicated to building schools, providing shelter, food and AIDS education in Africa. Eric Rigler, the piper of Braveheart, Titanic and Million Dollar Baby regaled the attendees on the Irish pipes. My friend and colleague, Kathi Winter of Global Incentives, invited me to the event, anxious to share her passion for AIDS/HIV education. Attending events like these are grounding experiences. Not everyone can work the mission field, live on a non-profit's salary, or produce charity events. But we can donate our time, our talents, and even a buck or twenty. And it feels so good when you do.

Ovations for Academic Achievement

Good parents love to talk about their children. No different am I. While I never gushed over their drool, I've dabbed my eyes a few times over their accomplishments. My firstborn, a daughter, is 17 and about to graduate HS. Last week she had two opportunities to shine.

On Tuesday she took third place in the Bank America Achievement Awards, Liberal Arts. She spun her essay around Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallott, which she had to compose on the spot from a blind theme.

Friday was Renaissance day when the high school throws a pep-rally for academic achievement. Although she'd been gunning for the big V since kindergarten, last semester she got a B in AP Calculus. With a 4.45 GPA she tied for salutatorian. She’s entering a University of California school in the fall. Ovations to our firstborn!

The Long Way to Vegas

Last weekend my hubby ran a leg of the notorious Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay. It's a footrace through Death Valley, 120 miles of desert sun, biting wind, midnight chill and final finishes. The annual event breaks the 120 miles into 20 legs, kicking off at 3 p.m. with the speediest teams finishing around 6:30 a.m. the following morning. Sponsored by and for law enforcement agencies, the race draws teams from around the world. My hubby's team came in 19th in their division this year, earning them one of the giant beer mug trophies. Of course, after the awards were handed out, they had "mug shots" taken.