Saturday, November 1, 2008

Theme Day: Books

Dianne Emley is not a book. You can probably tell from the picture.

Emley writes books, though, and I was honored when she agreed to be my theme day photo. Despite her decidedly ungritty appearance, she's the author of "gritty, intense and hard-edged" detective novels: the best-selling The First Cut, first published in 2006 and due out in paperback December 30th; Cut to the Quick, a paperback original on sale January 27th, and The Deepest Cut, the hardcover conclusion to "the Nan Vining trilogy," in stores February 24th. Together they're a thrillogy centered on detective Nan Vining of the Pasadena Police Department.

Like her heroine, Emley lives in Pasadena. I wanted to meet her because of that and because it's inspiring to meet a fellow writer who's achieved success. Plus I read the first chapter of The First Cut on Dianne's website, and it wowed me. Without a single wasted syllable, she makes every word move the story forward. The ability to do that is something many writers envy. Warning: this is not namby-pamby stuff. (Can we still say "namby-pamby" in the 21st Century?)

As Dianne and I walked in the Arroyo she told me she likens the work of a writer to that of an Olympic athlete. You have good days and bad, but you have to work every day. When you're defeated you get back to it. When you win, you know it's the work you've put in that gives you your power. "Writing is an obsession," she says, "and you have to bring a level of obsession to it to make the stories come alive."

Dianne gave me a copy of The First Cut (yay!). I'm not finished with it yet but I will be soon - I can't put it down, and I won't have to wait long for the next two. I've already marked my calendar for the launch of The Deepest Cut at Vroman's on February 25th.

Pasadena boasts many published authors. Nonfiction writer Weston Dewalt recently made headlines when he helped LAPD detectives crack a child serial murder case. Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen creates wonderful books for kids. Katherine Shirek Doughtie writes about men, midlife and motherhood in her essay collection Aphrodite in Jeans. There are more. I hope to meet them all.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants in the City Daily Photo Blogs theme day!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Pumpkin God

There may be spookier decorations than those in the Orange Heights historic district, but no All Hallows' Eve display has ever captured my imagination like the Pumpkin God on Jackson Street.

That may not be his name, but surely he's some sort of pagan deity. In the darkness at the end of the road, he looms above his yard in all his ragged splendor.

Tonight, after the little ones have gotten their candy, I recommend a stroll down Jackson Street to give yourself a thrill.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last Plug for Now

Tomorrow's Halloween, so I should post something on that topic, or at least something scary. Saturday's City Daily Photo blog theme day (the theme for November is "books"). So today's my last day before opening night (Saturday) to invite you to come see The Mystery Plays at the Stillspeaking Theatre. We've been working hard to bring you a thought-provoking evening of theatre, so I hope you'll come see it.

Those of you who don't live in Pasadena can go a long way toward enhancing your life and the life of your community by supporting local theatre. Don't have a local theatre? You've got local artists, sure you do. Support them, even if it's only with encouragement. Maybe you're an artist. Express yourself!

Sometimes, especially when money's tight, art may seem frivolous. But I think the toughest times are when we need art the most.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, GinaB

GinaB comes by here every once in a while to say hello and post a comment. She can't come every day because she's got a lot on her plate, but I'm always glad to hear from her.

A few things about GinaB: she's a businesswoman with a frivolous streak, an artist, a generous and loving wife, friend to every kid she meets and somewhat of a genius in her career as a technical writer. Technical writing's like speaking a different language, and it brings her language count to four: English, Techspeak, Spanish and French.

GinaB is also a supportive big sister who goes to such extremes as having margarita parties when her little sister speaks a word or two on an obscure TV show--even when her sister's lines may or may not be cut. (At least you still get to have the party!) Speaking of which, GinaB's genius extends to her parties, and her annual cookie party is famous in the north Dallas suburbs.

Evidence of GinaB's frivolous streak is her extensive Barbie collection. She's got at least a hundred of them, all in their original boxes. She's already seen this photo. I took it in South Pasadena before Laurie started her Glimpses of South Pasadena blog, so for this special occasion I'm hoping Laurie will forgive me for treading on her turf. Some months ago, this display was in a shop across Mission Avenue from Buster's.

Happy Birthday, Gina.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Autumn Days

When I moved to the Los Angeles area twenty years ago, it seemed like we had summer here all year 'round. I was from Chicago, where the seasons are as clearly defined as the crunch of a boot in a pile of dry leaves, or the pang of a tailbone when it hits a patch of ice.

But we have all four unique seasons in southern California. Our winters bring gray skies and, hopefully, rain. Spring is green in the hills and valleys; the scrub reasserts itself and the air smells of sage. Summer is lazy, funky fun at the beach, glory in the mountains, hot treachery in the desert. And though our autumn may not have the colors of, say, New England, we still experience fall's bittersweet turn of light, its feel of simultaneous endings and beginnings.

Our autumn days are warm. They're shorter now, too. Good days for long walks...or long sits.

(Speaking of days, if I haven't been cut I'll be on Days of Our Lives today as the oncologist, Dr. Knapp. Since the weather's so nice and the scene is short, if you want to watch it I suggest recording it. How did you like my segue?)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Zen Monday: #22

On Zen Monday you experience the photo and tell me what it's about, rather than me telling you what to experience from viewing it.
There's no question or answer, no right or wrong.
If the photo evokes something in you, that's all it is.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Just a corner. Any corner, anywhere.

Look how much the same we all are.