Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, September 12, 2008


I'm a big believer in Fate. If something is meant to happen, it'll happen--like getting a certain someone to propose to you, or getting hired for the job of your dreams, or getting a book published ...

And so it was that as luck, or Fate would have it, I ran into Susan McCombs of Tricycle Press at the Book Passage Children's Writers' Conference in July. Those of you who have read my previous blogs might remember that Tricycle has been sitting on one of my picture book manuscripts for quite awhile (a year and a half as a matter of fact, by the time I fortuitously bumped into Susan at the conference). I had received no word from Susan since October of 2007 when I sent her my revisions, and after not getting any responses to follow up e-mails, a phone call, and a letter, I had written the manuscript off as a lost cause with Tricycle Press.

I had already signed up for the conference when the week before I left, I found out that Susan was a last minute addition to the faculty. So, it was with great anticipation, and more than a little trepidation, that I prepared myself for a literary showdown of sorts (something akin to the Gunfight at the OK Corral, but with paper, pen, great wit, and barbed tongue). Okay, so this was merely played out in my head. In reality, I was readying for the inevitable, "Sorry, your revisions sucked, and we just discovered that you can't write to save your Life".

Thursday evening and all day Friday, there was no Susan sightings. Of course, not knowing what she looked like made the prospect of finding her a little more challenging. However, at lunch on Friday, I sat at a table with a woman who works in an office next to Ten Speed Press (Tricycle's parent company), and she said she knew Susan and would introduce her to me. Aaah--the Sixth Degree of Separation theory coming into play. So, at Saturday lunch, I looked for this woman without success. And then Fate stepped in.

A very friendly woman approached and asked if she could sit at my lunch table. I looked at her name tag, and lo and behold--Susan McCombs in the flesh! I quickly introduced myself, but before I could even blurt out the name of my manuscript, she said, "You're the one who sent me Go Dil Lok and the Three Chans! I want to talk to you."

So, to make a long story short:

• Susan is a lovely woman, not the cool, aloof editor with the "you're-just-a-lowly-writer" attitude I had expected.
• The manuscript was given to a young editor, Jo, at Tricycle who really wanted to work on it, but had to leave on emergency maternity leave, and the ball got dropped.
• Susan and I had a very productive chat about the story. She gave me a lot of encouraging feedback and helped me brainstorm and line edit the manuscript.
• She told me that they were still very interested in the manuscript and wanted me to send it to her directly when I was done with revisions.
• She will try and get it on the fast track when she receives it.

I'm happy to say that Go Dil Lok and the Three Chans hasn't died a slow, agonizing death underneath a mound of slush on some editor's desk. I'm currently working on revisions and hope to get the manuscript back to Susan by the end of this month or early November. By that time, Tricycle Press would have had this story for two years! Two years--sigh!--and still no contract. The good news is, they haven't rejected it yet either. 

So, it's back to revising ... perservering ... and hoping ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I'm going to Hollywood! Okay, so Fire Rose Productions is located in Hollywood, and this may be the closest I'll ever get to the big 'H' professionally, but still it's exciting. Elevator 
has been selected as one of 16 plays to be produced for Fire Rose Production's ACToberfest ten-minute play festival. Yay! It's the first time one of my plays has been performed and produced outside of Mendocino County.

In previous years, the plays were performed at the Secret Rose Theater in Hollywood, but this 60-seat venue sold out every year, and they've decided to move the performances to the Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica for 2008. Which is great, because my brother, Jason, Creative Director of Trigger lives there, so I can visit him--and get him to throw me a pre-play party. Hint, hint, Jase.

Elevator will be performed on Oct. 16 - 19. 

Monday, June 30, 2008


This year's 24 hour play festival at the Ukiah Players Theatre was a blast! My co-writer from last year and fellow Ukiah Writers' Salon member, Paul Kubin, was unavailable this time due to the fact that he had to meet a long lost cousin or some such thing (... yeah, yeah, yeah ... and the dog ate his script ...) But fortunately, I was able to convince Terena Scott, a friend and playwright (she penned the play Choices for the New Plays Festival) to join me. Terena is the publisher of the small press Medusa's Muse, and a talented writer in her own right. 

Since Terena is a member of the writing group, The Vaguerants, our team became The Vaguerant Salon. We rounded up a great cast of actors: Tommy McFadden, Brittani Ray, Jason Briseno, and Jan Michele. I had worked with all of them before except Jan, with whom I was quite impressed after seeing her performance at the New Plays Festival. Doug Hundley signed on as the director. Unfortunately, Doug had to pull out two days before the event because his house was in the path of a forest fire and he had to ready himself for evacuation. After a mad (unsuccesful) scramble to find a replacement, in which I briefly (and nervously--because that meant I had to stay up for 24 hours) considered directing myself, Tommy bravely stepped forward to save the day!

We met at UPT at 6:30 pm. on June 27 (which happened to be my birthday) for drinks and appetizers, generously provided by Applebee's. Then the teams (7 in all) gathered in the theater for instructions and rules, one theme from each team was thrown into a hat, and a theme was drawn at random. This year's theme was: Death. The teams dispersed at 8:00 pm. and writers were left at the mercies of their imaginations for the next 12 hours.

Terena was great to collaborate with. It's hard, sometimes, to figure out what role each person plays in a collaboration. But we seemed to find the right groove. We had a subject matter that fit the theme: vampires (I always wanted to do a vampire spoof), and by 9 pm., had completed the first 3 pages. By midnight--Death Sucks! was born--and the final draft completed by 3 am. (which was a lot better than last year--I could at least sneak in a few hours sleep before returning to UPT to deliver the script to the director and actors).

The performances on Sat., June 28, were a riot! It's amazing what derangement can come out of the brains of writers pumped full of caffeine and pure adrenaline.

There are 24 hour play festivals cropping up all over the nation, with variations in rules. Here are a few:


If you haven't yet participated in a 24 hour play festival, I highly recommend it. It's an experience like no other. Besides, what have you got to lose? 

Except a little sleep, of course.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Who had an affair with whom and what is the belly button thing? For those of you who missed seeing my play, Elevator (and the answers to these questions), live on stage, click on the link. It was part of a great line-up of ten-minute plays in Mendocino College's 6th Annual New Plays Festival on May 9 & 10. This is my third involvement in this festival and it's always such a fun event. I loved my cast! They were wonderful to work with and very talented. Also, many thanks to my director, Maria Monti, who has such a great creative eye and truly has a knack for comedic timing. Plus, she gets my humor! The response from the audience was gratifying, and after some disappointments in the book world (see my blog, "Into the Black Hole"), it's nice to have my ego stroked a little.

For those of you who have been thinking of or are writing a ten-minute play, check out these resources:

What do you do after you've written a ten-minute play? The increasing popularity of the ten-minute play format (cheap to produce because of minimal sets, lighting etc., gives the audience a sample of several plays in one night) has seen ten-minute play festivals crop up all over the world.

Here are a few:


Here's another great writing site that is chock full of useful information and resources:


Look under play submissions, and you'll find a list of places that publish plays, contests, festivals, plus submission guidelines.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My new ten minute play, "Elevator" has been chosen to be part of this year's New Plays Festival at Mendocino Community College. I've always loved this event and the close collaboration of the play production process. The director is Maria Monti, who directed my first play, "Flavor of the Month" in 2004.

Here's the synopsis: Amy just found out that her husband, Rob, had a one night stand. When they are stuck in an elevator with a divorce attorney, a marriage and family therapist, a forty-something divorcee, and a blonde bimbo, their marital woes become an open book and EVERYONE has an opinion on the subject! Will the attorney get a new client? Will the therapist save Amy and Rob’s marriage? What do the middle-aged divorcee and the blonde bimbo have in common? And what the hell is the belly-button thing? You’ll find out in this fun comedy about betrayal, forgiveness and the art of seduction.

It's always fun to go to auditions and get a first look at the actors who might inhabit the characters in my creation, and I'm very excited about the cast this year. We have a great group of actors who, I'm sure, will be wonderful in this play. I'm truly looking forward to rehearsals -- there's something magical about seeing the people you've created in your head come to Life on stage.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Somewhere earlier in my blogging career, I excitedly mentioned that an editor at Tricycle Press had taken one of my picture book manuscripts to an editorial meeting, and expressed interest and enthusiasm for the story. She asked for revisions which I then submitted to her. She then said she'd get back to me after meeting her deadlines. That was October of 2007. I have not heard from her, or anyone else at Tricycle Press since then. My e-mails, to which this editor responded fairly quickly in the beginning of our correspondence, have gone unanswered and there has been no response to my follow-up letter of enquiry regarding the status of my manuscript. The latter, it seems, has been sucked into publishing's Black Hole.

This is the maddeningly frustrating thing about navigating the publishing world, especially without an agent. Actually, this is the first time this has happened to me when an editor initiated communication then dropped off the face of the earth. Usually, I get a yay or nay, but total avoidance?

So, it's back to the drawing board -- agonizing research on which publishing houses I should submit to, plus a couple of agents (why not? I've decided that there are definite advantages to having one). A friend of mine attended a writing conference, where one of the keynote speakers mentioned that she had received 150 rejection letters on one manuscript. Depending on whether you tend to see the glass as half full or half empty, that can be completely disheartening or entirely uplifting. In either case, Tricycle Press makes it the 4th or 5th rejection for this manuscript, so I have 145 to go before I should label this manuscript a lost cause and abandon it.

So, my writer friends, keep writing, keep submitting, and May the Muse Be with You.

Friday, February 15, 2008


The SCBWI-sponsored writer's retreat at Green Gulch Farm in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, on Feb. 1 - 3 was just what I needed. A whole weekend of writing -- with NO interruptions. Heavenly! Set amidst a grove of Eucalyptus trees, a mere 20 min. walk from Muir Beach, the tranquility of this Zen retreat was the place to nurse your muse. The price of the retreat included healthy vegetarian meals served in the main dining hall. Most of the writers' rooms were housed in an octagonal building with a common kitchen and sitting area, perfect for commiserating with your fellow writers. The simplicity of the rooms (one bed, a writng desk and a corner chair), offered little distraction from our tasks at hand--writing--except for a large window opening onto the lush, untamed beauty of Green Gulch farm. If it wasn't for the raging storm that descended upon us that weekend, I might have been sorely tempted to commune with Nature instead of my Muse.

During the retreat, I got to re-connect with a couple of writers I had met previously at other writers' conferences and workshops (Anne Marie Turner and Elizabeth Shreeve), and met new ones. Informal evening critique groups, delicious vegetarian meals, water-cooler conversations in the kitchen on all things writing, and infinite supplies of coffee and snacks -- who could ask for anything more?

All day Saturday, slashing rain pelted the windows of my little room, and winds whipped the Eucalyptus trees into a frenzied hula dance. Nothing to do really, but write. And write I did! There's something so freeing about letting the words flow, and immersing yourself in something creative for hours at a time. Ahhh ... this is what it feels like to be a full time writer.

I didn't walk away from the retreat with the Great American Novel, but I did completely revise a picture book manuscript, crafted a skeletal outline of a 10 min. play I'm planning on submitting to the New Plays Festival at Mendocino College, and with my writing soul completely refreshed.

I am soooo coming back next year!