Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Once in a while, other authors' characters become family.

I'm a huge fan of certain book and TV characters but not usually one to care much about the writers' and actors' lives. As a writer with a Hollywood and theatrical past, I know the difference between characters and those who write or portray them and have always kept the two separate in my mind. I get a little sad when I hear of a writer or actor dying, especially if I enjoyed their work.

A few years ago, an author, whose books helped me through some tough times and still have special meaning to me, passed away. I'm talking about David Eddings. He was one of my favorite fantasy authors. His wife, Leigh, collaborated on the books and she died a couple of years before he did. From what I've read of them, they were very close, so it doesn't surprise me that he didn't live very many years after she passed.

I recently came across an old article about his death that made me remember those beloved books, all of which still sit on my bookshelf. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the books down, and read the entire series (The Belgariad) in a matter of days, then I moved to the second series (The Malloreon) that continued where the first series left off. The author published 3 more books related to this world and I read those when they came out.

Over the years, I've reread the books or my favorite passages from them. Like the characters I create for my own books, these are family to me. Maybe a beloved aunt or uncle, but still family. It isn't very often other writers' characters touch me so much that I dream about them. But Aunt Pol, Garion, Grandfather and others from Eddings' world did, and still do once in a while. When I'm working through a tough problem, one of them might show up in a dream to help me out. Or someone here in the real world might say something that reminds me of one of those characters and makes me smile.

I hope my characters will mean something special to a reader, perhaps help them out when they're having a tough time and need an escape, become like family to them so that they want to keep and reread my books. That's why I write - so others can have an escape, a release, and just forget about the real world, even if it's only for a short while. That's my ultimate goal as a writer, and always has been. I don't care about teaching lessons or creating a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre. I just want people to get lost in my worlds and enjoy the ride, the way I still do with Eddings' books.

The world will always miss you David and Leigh, but know that you made a profound impression on at least one reader, and I'm sure many, many more. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Just for fun! You know you're a short woman when...

Yeah, I'm short. Just thought I'd have a little fun today. Enjoy!

You know you're a short woman when...

1.       You have a step stool in your kitchen so you can reach the cabinets above the counters.
2.       You can’t reach the top kitchen shelves with your step stool so you climb onto the countertops.
3.       You get to a parade the day before so you can get in the first row, otherwise you won’t see anything.
4.       You have a step stool beside your bed because the new mattress set needs those “deep pocket” sheets.
5.       You have to extend the pull chains on all the ceiling fans.
6.       You had no idea the top of the fridge got dusty because you never see it.
7.       You have to climb onto the countertop to clean the top of the fridge.
8.       Foods go bad on the top shelf of the fridge because you’re too lazy to get the step ladder and see what’s there.
9.       You hate shoe sales because your smaller size is always sold out – to those elementary and middle school girls who want to look grown-up.
10.   You always factor in tailoring costs when buying clothes not listed as petite.
11.   When you don’t feel like visiting the tailor, you just buy regular Capri pants because they reach your ankles just fine.
12.   When you’re with your taller friends, it takes a while for people to notice you.
13.   At least once in your adult life, you’ve been mistaken for someone’s kid.
14.   You get carded long after age 21.
15.   Others get cool nicknames like Rocky – Yours include, elf, short stuff, mini-me, little bit, Short Round…
16.   Five pounds on your tall friends is negligible. Five pounds on you means you have to go up another pants size.
17.   You learned that getting patted on the head was just some tall person’s reflexes at work. They just can’t help it.
18.   When someone tells you to watch your head, you just ignore them and walk right under whatever is hanging down.
19.   You visit an elementary school and all the 5th graders can look you in the eye.

20.   You love when screen actresses are short. Finally, you have a Hollywood mentor!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

20th Anniversary of the Northridge Quake

Tomorrow will be 20 years since the Northridge quake hit the Los Angeles area. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Hubby and I got tossed out of bed at 4:31 in the morning (I managed to get a look at my alarm clock) and stumbled downstairs, trying not to fall as our townhome shook. We did our best to calm our freaked out pets and not panic ourselves. And we weren't even near the epicenter. I've been through several quakes in my lifetime but that one was the longest and scariest. 

Of course, right afterwards I turned to my husband like a good Angelino and said, "Ooh, what do you think? 6.5 at least, right?" (It was actually a larger magnitude)

"Yeah. At least." He nodded and smiled as we braced for the aftershocks. 

Luckily, we only had minor damage to our place. A crack or two in the drywall and a few things fell off shelves. My cousin-in-law lived near Griffith Observatory and her apartment looked like a tornado hit. No structural damage, thank goodness, but what a mess. 

I was doing a production in Burbank at the time and one of our cast members lived near the epicenter. After the inspector cleared her home as still livable, she decided to have a cast party so we could see the damage first hand. Every chimney in her neighborhood, and I mean EVERY chimney, was on the ground with yellow caution tape around it. Her home had huge cracks in every corner where the drywall had separated. It had been cleaned up by this time but she said the place looked like a disaster area after the quake. The good news is that she wasn't hurt.

Others weren't so lucky and several people lost their lives. Mainly because an apartment building that wasn't built to code (on purpose) collapsed and crushed them. I hope that builder is still having nightmares. Sections of our freeways also collapsed. Not as badly as what hit San Francisco but bad enough. Many buildings were damaged, natural gas leaks and fires broke out all over the place. A real nightmare for those involved.

I woke up at 4:31 every single morning for six months after that quake and even a little bump makes me sit up and pay attention today. We can never be prepared enough here on the West Coast and sometimes we get too complacent about earthquakes. People from other areas think we're nuts to live here but our quality of life, fabulous weather and beaches have us in their grasp. But then, we think those who live in tornado, hurricane and blizzard states are a bit off.

Anyway, we've got our emergency kit packed and ready. I just hope we never have to use it.If you're too young to remember the Northridge quake, here are some photos.

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