Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Finally a quiet moment... and some squees

I’ve put on my favorite iTunes playlist, my cat and dog are sleeping on each side of me, the husby and son are out, and the sun is setting. This is my favorite time of day.

The last couple of weeks my husby and I have done some travel driving. Two weeks ago we drove to Scottsdale and last weekend we drove to Las Vegas. I often listen to audio books while I’m driving, so I thought it would be fun to load up my iPod with something that we both would like. I enjoy literary and up-market commercial fiction, Bassman likes thrillers, espionage, crime noir and police procedurals. After several hours of sampling through, I downloaded Carl Hiaasen’s SKINNY DIP.

Part noir, part thriller, all humor, Bassman and I laughed our way across two deserts while listening to SKINNY DIP. I’d heard Hiaasen’s name praised among writer friends, but had never explored his catalog of work. This summer we’re flying to Orlando, renting a car and driving up to Chesapeake Bay, then driving back to down to North Carolina and flying home from Raleigh/Durham. You can be sure we’ll dish up some Carl Hiaasen on the road.

It’s been a while since I gave some squees...

For my husby, Bassman: At 48 he’s still got it. Last weekend was the annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay, an annual footrace made of law enforcement teams from all over the country. He really didn’t want to run a leg of the 120-mile relay through the desert, but his team had someone drop out and they begged him to run. He had less than a week to train for the 6.5 mile section of the relay, but he keeps himself in great shape. It wasn’t a cakewalk, for sure, but he did pass six other team runners and helped his team look good. Bravo, Bassman.

For my friend, Susan Henderson: Susan sold her first novel TAP ROOT a few weeks ago—without an agent. I have followed her writing progress on this novel for several months through her blog, LitPark, and empathized her pangs of writing, revising, finishing, submitting. Hearing of its quick sale is like being a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. TAP ROOT is a coming-of-age novel set in the 1970s, about a girl who believes her mother has gone missing. After finding her mother living in a secret room in the basement, the nine-year-old girl must come to terms with their irrevocably changed relationship. Now that’s intense. I can’t wait to read it.

For my son, Jonathan: He’s not off to see the wizard, he IS the wizard. Jonathan’s in the final weeks of practice for his high school musical production of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Tomorrow we’re going out costume shopping and I’m going to have fun making his turban for the scene when he’s Professor Marvel.

For Southern California Book Lovers: This weekend is the LA Times Festival of Books. I’ll be working a shift on Saturday at the California Writers Club booth (12-2) and then enjoying myself for the rest of the day. This is an amazing two days of author signings, lectures, readings, panels, and exhibits. If you’re there, stop by the CWC and say hello.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

When words fail: Virginia Tech 2007

Click on the image above to view a memorial slideshow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Do you love what you do?

I’m sitting on the most comfortable hotel chair in the world. At least it feels that way to me. Traveling and staying in nice hotels is one of the best perks in my life. I say life, rather than job, because I love what I do.

The shingle above my business website says I do travel marketing, meeting planning, and business communications. My author's website says I’m a fiction writer. This blog is my attempt to synthesize both of these vocations into meaningful praise for the amazing people, places, and things that make this a wonderous world.

Last week I was looking out at the Pacific Ocean from Huntington Beach, California and today I’m watching the shadows fall across the rugged desert peaks surrounding Scottsdale, Arizona. We just checked into an amazing property—Hotel Valley Ho, a Scottsdale landmark and hip urban oasis since the late 1950s. This is our room.

Yes, that is an oversized bathtub in the middle of the room. When I said it was romantic; my husby didn’t argue. Ever pragmatic, he did voice a concern that I might get up in the middle of the night and fall into it. Our room has a separate glass-door shower and lush, Red Flower spa amenities for bathing.

Look closely at the shot to the right. See the 32-inch flat screen TV aimed at the bathtub? That’s a long, wall-length counter of luxury accessories like crystal wine glasses, a martini shaker and glasses, a magnifying make-up mirror. See the black bullet thing? It’s a pod expresso maker. Inside those cabinets are a fully-stocked mini-bar and quirky selection of gourmet snacks like Lucy’s “Predic-a-Mints,” Cracker Jacks, and chips and salsa.

You can’t see it in the picture, but I’m using it now: complimentary wireless internet in every room. Throughout the hotel, in fact. I can sit in a cabana next to the pool and work on THE SWORD SWALLOWER’S DAUGHTER.

Hotel Valley Ho is the kind of place this sword swallower’s daughter never would have stayed in as a child. She’s pinching herself right now, making sure she’s really here. I write about travel, beautiful places, and gracious people. I believe much of my travel writing is to a create permanent record of where I’ve been—not in a look-at-me-living-it-up way, but in gratitude--a reflection of how far I’ve come.

Now if they only sold this chair.

Do you love what you do? Click the COMMENT link below and tell us why or why not.
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Special thanks to Jesse Thompson and Hotel Valley Ho for donating a stay at their fabu property to the SITE-SoCal Holiday Charity Auction. I bought the package and happy I did.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Between business and pleasure

I’m writing this morning from the glorious Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach, California. Although this hotel is only about an hour from my home, I’ve come to love this property for a number of reasons. The smartest reason is that the Waterfront has discovered that perfect blend between business and pleasure. I am here for business, but pleasure is what I’m getting right now as I sit in my room watching the famous Surf City waves peak and crest in the early morning ocean mist.

I arrived last night just after sunset and stepped out of my car to the scent of wood smoke, savory hotdogs, and crusty marshmallows rising from the firepits lining the beach. I couldn’t really distinguish the hot dogs and marshmallows, but having sat around those fire pits many times through the years, my memory filled in the details.

Poised on Pacific Coast Highway, along the Orange County Riviera, The Waterfront offers views of the wide sand and rolling waves from almost every room in the house. The first thing I do when checking into a hotel room is open the curtains (okay, this after tipping the bellboy). The lights along the famous Huntington Beach Pier had just lit, reflecting in the teal-blue ocean below.

This pier is one of my favorite childhood memories. My mother once dreamed she was standing on that pier watching me struggling in the water below, sucked under and swept out before her eyes. I don’t think I ever told her how that dream haunted me for years. Looking back, I think the dream was symbolic. She watched me go through some pretty rough times, unable to reach me from her motherly perch. The ocean of life threw me back, coughing and sputtering on the sandy shores of adulthood.

I want to thank J.D. Shafer and the fabulous Hilton Waterfront staff for making my stay in their house so fabulous. After my SITE-SoCal meeting today I’ll drive north on PCH a few miles to Seal Beach, where I spent many wild and carefree days as a child, and where my character Sheila’s daddy lives in my novel, THE SWORD SWALLOWER’S DAUGHTER.

Where did you spend your summers or your wild and carefree days of youth? Click the comments link below.