Archive for January, 2008

Winners and Stuff

This just in on the winners of a free copy of Murder For Hire, The Peruvian Pigeon, from Dana’s blog tour.  You may notice there are four names and there were supposed to be only three, according to Dana: “we have four ’cause two slips of paper stuck together on the way out of the fedora and it seemd the right thing not to toss either back…”  What’s not to love about that kind of honesty?  If your name is on this list you need to send your mailing address to Dana at zhadi@aol.com .  Congratulations to the winners!

Zoggirl
Shelli
Diesel
Steven Prosapio

Have you heard about that new dating service in Massachusetts?  It has the same questionionnaires about likes and dislikes as all the other dating services, but bases compatibility on how one person SMELLS to another.  Eric Holzle’s ScientificMatch.com tests each person’s “major histocompatibilty complex”. 

How do you suppose they go about gathering samples for this kind of matching.  Quite frankly, this grosses me out and makes me wonder how in the heck we all managed to pair up before “personality studies”. 

January 29, 2008 at 5:49 pm 12 comments

When Only Dark Will Do

This weekend was one of those rare and unusual couple of days when I couldn’t find anything to do.  Not true, there is always something to do around here.  There was nothing I wanted to do.  As restless as a four year old at a political rally, I was just about as pouty as a preschooler too.  Pap was refing basketball tournament games, my kids and friends were all up to their own business, things were even slow here in blog world.  Just to make everything a little more frustrating, I did something to my answering machine and now it answers in Spanish.  By Saturday night I was sick to death of my own company so I went to the movies. 

We have a new theater, always lots of movies to choose from, and I haven’t been to the movies in a while so everything was new to me.  Considering my grumpy, restless mood, I probably should have picked a comedy orsweeney-todd.jpg romance movie.  But I love Johnny Depp.  Johnny Depp with Helena Bonham Carter and Professor Snape plus Wormtail from Harry Potter and directed by Tim Burton?  That certainly left no choice for me but Sweeney Todd, a dark, tragic, musical.  If you haven’t seen this movie, but plan to, here’s your fair warning:  lots of blood, bugs, rats, murder, mayhem, cannablism, deceit, and the singing isn’t great.  I loved it anyway. 

Something that struck me on the drive home was the difference between American actors and actresses and, in this case, England’s.  We focus so much on astounding beauty here, whether there is talent or not.  Timothy Spall, who plays Beadle Bamford in this movie, borders on pure ugly.  He’s chunky, homely and so talented I was completely sucked in by his character.  I wish Hollywood would take a walk down any street that isn’t in California, and remember what real people look like.  Then they need to call every agent in the country and say “bring us your talent, even if they aren’t a size 2”. 

January 28, 2008 at 7:33 am 20 comments

Same Name

I use google alert to let me know when articles are posted about various things.  Usually something I’m researching, book tours or news items I’m following.  After Pap and I had our identity theft discussion, I stuck my own name in there.  At first what came up for Kat Campbell were usually my blog posts or things about people named Kat or people named Campbell.  Today my name twin made an appearance.  I followed the link, to Belfast, Ireland and the MySpace page of Kat Campbell, the girl that is not me.

It’s weird enough to stumble across somebody with your name.  What makes it weirder, is her friends list could pass for my family’s emergency calling tree.  Same names all over the place – and not the common ones.  But that is where the similarities end.  No doppelganger for me over there in Ireland, just a very young, pretty girl that has mastered the art of “party”.  If it ever comes down to arm wrestling for the rights of our name, I think I could take her.  Especially if its after midnight on any weekend.

Are you following Dana’s blog book tour?  If you’ve missed a day, no worries!  Follow the tour from the schedule in my sidebar and catch up.  Remember if you leave a comment within 3 days of her posting, you get you name in the drawing for a free book. 

The real Kat Campbell….out.

January 24, 2008 at 8:39 pm 21 comments

MFH An Interview with Dana, Screenplay and Novel Writing

Finally, it’s my turn to host Dana Fredsti, author of Murder For Hire, The Peruvian Pigeon.  You didn’t actually think I’d let somebody guest post and not get my two cents in did you?   This is part 2 of an interview by Dani Greer.   If this is your first stop on the tour, go back and see what you’ve missed!  Click here for Part One of Dana’s interview, Click here to read an excerpt from the book.  Don’t forget to leave a comment while you’re there so you can get your name in the hat for one of the three FREE copies of the book Dana will be giving away at the end of the tour. 

Enough from me, fetch yourself a big cup of tea, coffee, whatever, and meet Dana Fredsti:

What about writing screenplays? dana.jpg Do you do much of that?
 
Over the last 10-15 years, I’ve written or co-written over a half dozen screenplays, two of which have been produced, three optioned, and one currently optioned.  I haven’t made a lot of money from screenwriting (or any writing), but I enjoy it, I’ve met some interesting people and gotten to work with directors and actors I admire, and there’s always the possibility one day I WILL get the big pay-off.  Or at least enough to pay off my credit cards.  

It’s a little harder to be taken seriously by agents and producers when you don’t live in Los Angeles, but not impossible.  Since I moved up here to SF, I’ve written a script for a first time director; done two sets of rewrites on WHERE THE CHILL WAITS (co-written with T. Chris Martindale, who wrote the novel of the same name on which the script is based), which is the script currently in option with Grateful Productions (name-dropping here – one of the partners, Mark Mathis, is the producer of BRICK); and as soon as I finish my posts for this blog tour, I’m diving into my next novel!  
 
What made you decide to write a novel anyway?
 
Well, without going into TOO much detail and giving away the contents of my post for Pointless-Drivel, it was for the sake of literary vengeance.  Someone needed to die and writing about it seemed a more productive way of doing it than committing murder and going to jail.  

How different was it from writing a screenplay?

It takes longer!  So much more detail is needed in a novel.  Screenplays, you want to keep the description to a minimum, just enough to give the reader a clear picture so he/she can follow the story.  Dialogue is equally important in both in terms of keeping it natural and believable, but you can get away with more in novel writing ‘cause generally the dialogue’s not going to be read aloud.  Unless you do a book on tape and boy, do I pity some of the readers doing those when they get the clunky dialogue.  If you have a bad script and a good actor, the bad script generally comes out on top.  Although I’ve seen and heard some valiant efforts! 

You also have more leeway in a novel in terms of structure, although the three-act structure of a screenplay isn’t a bad template to follow when writing genre fiction.  I’m not saying it’s necessary, mind you, just that it can help shape the story structure more clearly for the writer.  That all being said, I can’t outline for shit.   The one time I outlined a project was, ironically enough, MURDER FOR HIRE, and the character that was supposed to be the murderer refused to cooperate.  I think the subsequent reshuffling created more red herrings, so I can’t really complain. 

In other words, what is your novel-writing process?

Oh dear.  That’s not an easy question to answer.  I’ve only finished one (MFH) and the original draft was actually co-written with Maureen and we alternated chapters and character POVs (Connie and Daphne).   As with most of our writing project, we wrote the first draft very quickly (I think it was three months) and all of it was written in longhand.  After the first round of rejections, Maureen decided she didn’t want to write on it any more, so I took it over.  Or, more accurately, I put it in a box and forgot about it for a few years.  I did a total overhaul on it, changed the narrative to Connie’s POV for the whole book, changed character relations, added a few characters and did many rewrites based on feedback from potential agents and publishers.   The rewrites were a lot harder and took much more time than that first draft. 

I’ve got several works in progress, one that I started several years ago when I was working at home.  I used to write two hours every day, usually at the same time (9am-11am was my chosen time slot) because if I didn’t make myself keep to the schedule, I would find every excuse in the world not to write.   I had a very tough time after moving from L.A. to San Francisco – too many life changes to assimilate quickly or easily, so the second novel got put aside in favor of easier projects, including my blog.   Several months ago– okay, this sounds hokey, but it’s true – I started taking yoga twice a week and doing some of the breathing exercises and poses at home – and my focus and creative energy have improved radically.   Anyway, I’ll give you an update on my novel writing process in…say, a month? 

January 22, 2008 at 4:09 pm 17 comments

Somethin’ To Talk About

Pap and I had some alone time this weekend, a rare and unusual experience.  It was so cold even the grandgirls didn’t want to come out of their own houses to visit mine.  So there we were…just the two of us…a ticking clock the only thing disturbing the deafening silence. 

We’ve been married for 26 years. I couldn’t believe with all that shared experience we didn’t have something to talk about!   We’ve always had talking going on, what have we been yakking about all these years?  So I asked him that.  Pap is a contemplative kind of guy, so while he was formulating his answer I mentally edited the first three chapters of the book I’m writing. 

“Kids”.  He finally said.  “We’ve always talked about kids, what kids are doing, where kids are,  what kids need…” 

Well that’s just pathetic.  We both have very active, complicated lives!  We have jobs, committees…lots of grown-up stuff.  We have tons of friends, obviously we both have something to say.  I told him that and while he thought of a response I mentally paid all the bills and reformulated the budget because I really, really need a new couch. 

“There’s this new program at work…” he finally began.  I did my best to listen attentively, but the fact that my eyes were glassing over must have showed because he interrupted his own tirade about man hours versus cuban peppers or something with:  “What did YOU do last week?”  He apparently finds my work no more interesting than I find his, because I actually saw him nodding off in the middle of my “turning over the accounts” story. 

He’ll be retiring soon!  Home all the time, hanging out with only me to talk to.  Medical technology being what it is, we could be stuck together for another 20 years!  Something attracted us to each other in the first place and we didn’t spend ALL of our alone time these first 26 years making kids.  I told him that.  While he thought about an answer, I mentally fretted over the long stretch of yawning, blank, silent time ahead. 

“If someone stole my identity, that would probably be a good thing.  I wonder how long it would even take us to notice it?”  He finally said.  Now that’s something to talk about. 

**************************** 

Don’t forget the Murder For Hire blog book tour!  The schedule with links is in my sidebar, and tomorrow Dana will be guest posting here!  Luckily, she really does have something to talk about.  Leave a comment and your name will go into the hat for a chance at a free copy. 

January 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm 19 comments

Reality Shows

Princess is a reality show junkie.  She watches them all from MTVs Real World, to Survivor to The Biggest Loser and then she degenerates into the really pathetic ones starring washed up singers and actors letting camera’s follow them around at their homes.  How desperate for the limelight do you have to be to actually let a camera crew record your every waking moment?  No doubt they do it for the money as well as the exposure, but it really creeps me out.  I could have lived forever without knowing how burned out Ozzy ended up being and Gene Simmons is much more appealing behind his KISS make-up.

The Dana Fredsti’s Murder For Hire blog book tour begins tomorrow.  You may have noticed that my blog didn’t disappear, and the tour information actually made it to my side bar with hyper links….no thanks to me.  Big thanks to clever Quilldancer, however, who had pity on my pitiful self and sent me the code to make that happen.  Thank you Quilly!  If you aren’t already reading one of Quilly’s blogs, scoot over there and hunt around until you find her stories called The Grownups Wanted Us Dead…hysterical, and if you happen to be a 35 to 50-something, you’ll start looking at your own parents a little differently. 

January 20, 2008 at 3:15 am 12 comments

News and A Blog Tour

Did you hear the news about the latest software to hit the market?  It translates your dog’s barks into language.  Please, I don’t want to know that my dog is just talking back to me like everyone else around this joint.

 In better news… We’re just days away from Dana Fredsti’s mfhcoverjpg.jpgblog tour and guest post here in my neighborhood.  Author of Murder For Hire, The Peruvian Pigeon, Dana promises to be a lively and entertaining guest.   The book?  Imagine the feeling of a long lunch with the younger, prettier, more successful, sister you love to live vicariously through…that’s it.  Even jaded old me laughed out loud in several places.  But don’t take my word for it, if you follow Dana’s tour you have a chance to win a free copy!  Here’s where she’ll be and more details:

Date: Sunday, January 20th
Blog: Elysabeth’s Emerald City
Topic: Excerpt from MFH and author bio

Date:  Monday, January 21st
Blog: Blogbooktours.com
Topic: An interview with questions by Dani Greer

Date: Tuesday, January 22nd
Blog: Kat’s Random Thoughts
Topic: To Be Announced – Is there something you want to know?

Date:  Wednesday, January 23rd
Blog:   Chrysalis Stage
Topic:  Is it Real or Memorex – The pluses and minuses of using aspects of real life in fiction writing

Date:      Thursday, January 24th
Blog:        Blaize Clement
Topic:      To Be Announced

Date:  Friday, January 25th
Blog:  Pointless Drivel
Topic: How the desire to kill resulted in a published novel

Date:  Saturday, January 26th
Blog:  Redzilla Attacks!
Topic: To Be Announced

Too darn much fun!  If you follow the tour and leave a comment within three days of the post by Dana at each of these blogs, your name goes in the fedora and three people will be randomly selected for free copies.  In the meantime, go check out these other host blogs, I bet you’ll find something you like. 

If I can figure out how to do it, I’ll move this information over into my sidebar.  If you’ve been hanging out with me for any length of time you know that the possibility exists that attempting this technical exercise will probably result in this blog disappearing altogether, so cross your fingers.

January 18, 2008 at 8:13 pm 13 comments

Dreams and Other Monday Stuff

Pap has fallen into the habit of leaving the radio on when he goes to bed.  It drives me crazy, but if I turn it off when I lay down, he startles awake. With his wonky heart, that scares the hell out of me.  So I’ve learned to sleep with a constant stream of 60’s, 70’s and a smattering of 50’s music in the background.  The worst part isn’t that the music doesn’t rank in my top ten of play choices.  The worst part is that this old music makes me dream of childhood.  Some nights I get to relive the good times – best vacations, birthday parties, accomplishments.  Most nights I hover over my younger self watching the failures,  aching to scream at her “NO, take that other path!”  We’ve played the “would you do it all over again” game for years in my family.  I’ve always said no, I wouldn’t, even if I could go back knowing what I know now.  There were too many bad choices that eventually led to good consequences to take the risk of changing anything. 

If I owned a book store, I would always have an author roaming around pitching their book.  But I don’t, I have a blog.  Luckily, that’s very nearly as good in this day and age so next week, on Tuesday,  Author Dana Fredsti  will be here guest blogging in celebration of the publication of her book:  Murder For Hire, The Peruvian Pigeon.   More about this and links later this week. 

The table in my home office is stacked with the classified sections of this weekends newspapers, my resume has been overhauled (again) and I actually remembered to buy stamps.  In between finishing up work at the day job, editing, writing and preparing for my writer’s meeting next week – I’ll continue my hunt for a new soul sucking day job.  I really need to adjust my attitude. 

Princess has gone back to college and managed to draw the toughest, most critical professor of English for her composition class.  We got an A on our first paper.  Pffftt… on reputations. 

January 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm 16 comments

The Writer’s Strike

As news keeps rolling in about the writer’s strike I have more and more trouble remaining open to listening to both sides of the story. 

The writer in me says “You aren’t happy doing my dream job?  Get out of the way then!  I’ll take your place.” 

The accountant in me counters with “Without writers there are no plots, just a bunch of characters standing around emoting.  That deserves a piece of the giant pie.” 

In a nutshell, they’re striking for residuals from DVD sales of programs they wrote, animated shows, reality shows and “new” media as yet unproven.  The percentages are what’s tangling everything up from what I can see.  Nobody can agree on what is fair for the writer.   The writer in me is cheering on the writer’s unions – without plot there is no DVD, cartoon  or internet series. 

The accountant in me is weeping for the people losing their income as a result of this strike.  The lady that supplies the fresh flowers for soap opera and movie sets.  She once employed 12 people.  Now there’s just her, and she’s struggling to make ends meet.  The caterers who once fed the cast and crew of dozens of TV shows.  The cameramen, wardrobers, junior producers… all those supporting positions that don’t make millions of dollars.

What do you think?  How do you feel about the writers strike?

January 11, 2008 at 2:08 am 18 comments

Still Got It

My youngest grandgirl, Ayla, lives a charmed life.  2007-aylas-day-with-nana-1.jpgHer parents are both teachers and went to great extremes to achieve their dream of having a baby.  My daughter nearly died of toxemia in the process and poor little Ayla had everything from colic to acid reflux. Despite all these problems, she drew the super mom card, my daughter is an amazing mother. Because of these early difficulties, they haven’t asked me to watch her much in these first nine months…until recently.  Sweet little thing wasn’t really sure SHE wanted to be left alone with Nana.  She couldn’t find her comfy white crib with the ballerinas around the edge at my house. 

Once Mom actually walked away and theaylas-day-with-nana-2.jpg door clicked shut.  Ayla was SURE she didn’t want to stay with Nana.  I reassured her that I was perfectly qualified to watch her for one afternoon.  Reminded her that all her cousins had survived a day (week, or month) at my house.  She wasn’t impressed.  She didn’t care how many toys I could drag out of the box.  The stuffed pink poodle was not a suitable replacement for her big black cat at home. 

It was touch and go for quite awhile.  I tried everything.  Rocking her, walking her, making funny faces, Peek-a-boo, Itsy Bitsy spider…  nothing was working.  Ayla has this mournful, non-shrill, heartbreaking kind of cry.  There’s no hysteria in it, every howl says “I’m afraid, I’m abandoned, My life is over.”aylas-day-with-nana-5.jpg  She can sustain this sobbing for considerable lengths of time.  I was fetching her mother’s cell phone number when in desperation I tried my last trick – cookies and pretzels.  What girl can resist a handful of snack foods tossed on a table?  I should have tried new shoes, or poker cards from the look of this picture…but I’m a little rusty. 

Disaster averted, we had a nice afternoon that stretched into evening and on into bedtime.  Now if she’ll just grow some hair…

aylas-day-with-nana-4.jpg

January 10, 2008 at 5:16 pm 10 comments

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The free-lance writer is the person who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. (Robert Benchley)

Welcome to My Neighborhood!

Shortly after I learned to use a spoon, I learned to use a pencil. Crippled by shyness as a child, I found that the things I couldn't say out loud, I could say with a pen, and then a typewriter. The shyness was overcome with education and age...but the need to write has never left me.

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Compiled and edited by Peach, this book includes a story by Kat Campbell, as well as 105 other great writers from across the internet. Proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the War Child Fund. Great reading for you, help for some deserving kids. Order by clicking on LuLu in my links.

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