Archive for the ‘South Pasadena’ Tag

Mind Numbing Days – Ebook Formatting   8 comments

I think my ankles are swollen—probably because I haven’t stood up in five hours—calves are a bit sore, thighs a bit numb.

But—Oye Vey & Hallelujah—I’ve managed to upload my first novel Amy’s Own as an ebook on Smashwords.

I began 6 days ago by printing out their 75-page style guide because I best absorb information holding something tangible (printed material) and while sitting and reading out in my petite patio.

Note: the guide states that some people can format and upload their manuscripts in 2 hours. I understood immediately that I would not be a member of the “some” club.

It was evening in lovely South Pasadena, California. I turned on the Christmas lights that are tacked to the worn wood enclosing my patio and gave a nod to my Chinese warrior statue (an imitation of the famous Terracotta Army) that I use in place of a buddha. I sat in my much-loved, soon-to-trash old camping chair, the material having stretched and aged to the point that the seat has lowered to the perfect height for my short (not petite) legs. I read the guide with my yellow highlighter sliding along line after line, page after page. When I went to bed around 2 a.m., I was semi-understanding the dumbed-down language for non-techie beings like me and felt as though I was making progress (though with my brain being so tired by this influx and overdose of new info, I couldn’t be quite sure).

Mind-numbing Day 2: I opted for the Nuclear Method (evaporating all previous formatting from a manuscript) from the get-go as I knew I had made simple indents and centered things via the icon on the Word doc and that was repeatedly, emphatically stated in the guide as a no-no-NO! I was forced to learn about paragraph styles in detail, hyperlinks, appropriate copyright and licensing statements, “front matter,” and the typography term pilcrow. A slight PITA, but I’m happy to know this now, since I’m typing up my new work Keeping Sane, and Other Aspirations.

Mind-numbing Day 3: Downloading Adobe Digital Editions and going through the whole manuscript of Amy’s Own page by page, looking for mistakes. The hardest part was not going through the pages too quickly. I just wanted to glance and say, “That looks great! Moving on!” But I found a place where a line of dialogue jumped up to the line above. That screeched me to a halt, and I started looking at every single paragraph. I found three other times where the same thing happened (I’m assuming as a result of the Nuclear Method), so I’m glad I slowed down, even though I had to continually squash my impatience.

Mind-numbing Day 4: Bleary-eyed, stiff, and tired, I quadruple-checked everything out of absolutely heart pumping paranoid-anxious-doubtful-tense-amped up uncertainty. Then—with a deep breath, fingers crossed, swollen ankles crossed, and an excited flutter in my stomach—I clicked “publish.”

It may only be noon, but I hear a celebratory cocktail calling my name.

Note: Amy’s Own is free for download until July 13, 2012 at Smashwords. It’s a commercial drama with comedic and romantic elements. Visit Smashwords for a complete story description and access to multiple download formats. Feedback welcome (no holds barred!).

Thank you, Hollywood; Hello, South Pasadena   11 comments

Hectic Hollywood

What a difference 24 minutes makes (and 15.46 miles). From procrastination to proliferation; from unfocused to driven; from stuck to inspired—thank you South Pasadena.

After eleven years of living in the Hollywood flats (south of Sunset Boulevard), I felt claustrophobic in the mishmash of my neighborhood. Initially, I loved being in the thick of it. Going through a divorce with an 8-month-old baby in my care, the apartment I found was affordable and in a building with great neighbors (mostly Latinas, every one of them generous and friendly). I like that I was raising my daughter in the “real” world of haves and have-nots, with all colors and cultures. She was also exposed to the world of the homeless who talk with themselves, shout out to the ethos, huddle in doorways, sleep in boxes, or stop to say “Hello” as we sat eating outside at Baja Fresh. She could see that they were different, some even scary, but also that they were people; people without homes, without comfy beds that had sheets, blankets and pillows, without their own bathroom, kitchen and a sofa for lounging (everything that she had).

Initially, this world spurred on my writing. Late at night as I looked out my window, the city lights reflecting off the low clouds creating a yellow-green hue to my world, I wrote diligently. But years and years of police sirens, ambulances, car horns, loud drunks and party-goers were wringing out my last nerve—my hand had to constantly hold the t.v. clicker so I could raise or lower the volume depending on how expressive the neighborhood was feeling. I began to feel bland and uncreative; too many hours spent like dead weight on the couch. Down to a cellular level, I was aching for something else.

Pasadena Garden by Diggers Garden Club

Artist Jennifer Frank introduced me to a woman who had raised her kids in South Pas. They had attended SPHS (after paying tuition for the Sequoyah School for eight years, I was doggedly looking for a free high school). I met her while walking in the Arroyo. That very afternoon, she called me up and told me of an apartment for rent right across the street from her house. I wheedled and charmed the landlords (had to; bad credit) and got just what I needed—a bigger apartment that doesn’t share a single wall—finally a quiet night’s sleep versus my neighbor washing his dishes at midnight, dumpster divers right outside my window, or tenacious helicopters with search lights. Best of all, a tub length shower versus an upright, coffin-sized stall shower and a 10 minute drive to my daughter’s school! I suddenly had an extra two hours on my hands five days a week. Divine.

With my time, I have edited my friend Lori Bertazzon’s self-help workbook Where Are You Stuck? (very little money, but an absolutely thrilling endeavor); have a local professional copyediting my novel Amy’s Own and have started this blog loosely based on my current novel Keeping Sane, and Other Aspirations.

The biggest ego-boost has been meeting (again through Jennifer Frank) and being hired by Colleen Bates of Prospect Park Media, a small publishing company in Pasadena. Colleen authored the outstanding guidebook Hometown Pasadena. She created a website of the same name and, after doing a few freebie posts, I was hired to write about local events, kid-focused fun, new shops, charity fundraisers and do monthly interviews. I get to go to businesses, use my photography skills and write up stories. I get to read books, be introduced to someone’s artwork or music, formulate questions and conduct interviews. I am having the time of my life.

I stay up until two in the morning, sleep five hours and awaken with the alarm to get my girl ready for school and don’t miss a beat. One day when she was off on a Sequoyah School camping trip, I stayed up all night, not going to bed until 1 p.m. the next day—I was so amped with ideas, I couldn’t wait to put them all down on paper. I was walking on air. Well actually, I was walking on Oxley Street. My new street lined with California Craftsman bungalows and endless trees—where I can walk in the quiet (even at midnight), and let ideas germinate, words gush and adrenalin pump.

Thank you, Hollywood; you did me well, but I have to let you go.

Now, my spirit is excited, my mind humming, my writing hand aching, and my composition books are filling up. Hello, San Gabriel Valley.

*Thank you to Petrea Burchard and her blog Pasadena Daily Photo for inviting me to guest blog this piece; she’s a wonderful photographer with an intriguing eye. I recommend checking out her work.