Tuesday, 22 April 2014

It's a work in progress, but aren't we all?


I've been lucky enough to get involved with a top-notch group of fiction writers in my new state, California. We get together every two weeks (or so, depending on holidays) to read and critique each others' work. The atmosphere is friendly, and the rule is that you can be critical of someone's work but you can't be rude about it. As you can imagine, I've met several wonderful people and even enjoyed talking with them afterwards over lunch or bumping into them at other writer events I've attended in LA. Many of them have mastered all kinds of writing, PR, and technical skills too. It's a forum for us to share all that we know with each other and develop our writing skills together.

There is an upcoming opportunity for me to have up to 200 pages of a book reviewed by four or five of these esteemed colleagues and as you can imagine, I am over the moon! I've been working on this story for over 6 years. After all, this blog started out as a way to vent about all the stuff going wrong with my life, but then after a while I realized that I could make it into a pretty interesting story.

Here's where you come in: I would like to ask for a favor from you, the reader. Please read through the excerpts I've written this month, along with the ones I'll be posting in the future if you want to see more, and give me feedback on them. The rules of this website and Facebook should be the same as the group: you can be critical of my work but you can't be rude about it.

April 23 is not only Shakespeare's birthday, it's also the day of the Grand Cardinal Cross. In astrological terms, this is a significant event. But perhaps most significant is that it's the sixth anniversary of a life-changing dream I had that led me to tell this story. (See the previous post for the link to it.) And this year, it will be the day that the woman who's writing the story of Jane Q. Phoenix reveals her stories to her mass of friends on Facebook!

As they used to say in the Bartles and Jaymes commercials, we thank you for your support.

Your friend,
Jane Q. Phoenix

P.S. Here is a new book excerpt for your reading pleasure. It takes place when I (Jane) befriend a guy in the neighborhood and we go to pick up lunch together. It never really happened, although the odd situation at the end DID happen in the course of knowing someone else in recent years.

  He drove us to the nearby Chinese food restaurant in his shiny new Honda sedan. It had a medium-blue exterior and gray interior that still held the new car smell.
  “Nice car! How’d you get it?”
  “You know about my crash, right? Insurance. When I replaced that car, I wanted a brighter color so that the trees would see me coming and get out of the way, but this was what they had.”
  “When you drive, you’re not supposed to hit anything,” I told him. “Isn’t that like the first rule of driving?”
  “Ha ha, very funny.”
  “You really should be more careful.”
  “I make no promises.”
  “Well, you’re a dumbass,” I replied. I hadn’t actually considered him as a potential beau, but this conversation made me unable to recommend him to any other single woman either.  “So, how’s life treating you?” I asked, hoping to change the subject.
  “Not bad,” he replied. “We had layoffs at work, but I’m safe for now. I can plan on having that job for at least six more months, so that’s good news.”
  “Good for you,” I said. “Well, too bad for the people who were laid off. Was it a lot?”
  “Yeah. Every day looks like we’re working as a skeleton crew now. Some stuff has been automated, other stuff has fallen by the wayside, and those of us left inherited a bunch of stuff. Still, it’s good to be busy.”
  “Do you think you’ll stay with working for newspapers? It’s kind of a dying industry.”
  “I don’t know. I’ve thought about teaching, but that would require more school. I might do that if I get laid off or something.”
  “Well, that’s as good a plan as any. You’d obviously have to move.”
  “And there would be so much to miss here,” he added.
  “I hope you don’t cry too much when that time comes.”
  “I’m pretty sure I’ll be all right.”
  By then, we’d arrived at the restaurant. We placed our orders individually, but he insisted on paying for both. I sighed and agreed to it, all the while wondering if this would get me on the hook for something.
  “Jane, would you do something for me?” he asked after we’d started eating our steaming lunches.
  “What is it?” I asked.
  “Well, I’m trying to get this woman to notice me, and she’s on Facebook a lot, so I was hoping…”
  “Well, I posted some pictures of myself.  Would you comment on them? Maybe then they’d appear in her feed.”
  “Oh sure, that’s fine,” I said, glad to know what the ulterior motive was.
  “Whatever happened to that skinny blonde you were with? I used to see her around.”
  “The skinny one? She was psycho. Tried to kick in my door at one point.”
  “I heard her. Are you sure you didn’t do anything to provoke her?”
  “Of course not.”
  “Rebel without a cause. That’s your line, huh?”
  “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, rolling his eyes.
  That’s the reason for the parade of women who want to fix him, I thought. I’m not sure why they can’t figure out that he’s a dumbass with a drinking problem and leave him alone, though. It’s sad about what happens to single people here. They will cling to anything with a pulse rather than be alone.
  When I went home and logged in, I had a treat waiting for me.  He’d added various pictures to Facebook of himself, shirtless.  These were the pictures he wanted me to comment on?  Oh boy.  How could I refrain from lusting over that Keith-Richards-at-the-beach physique?
  The first one I saw was of him standing next to a smoking barbecue grill with a red plastic cup in one hand and a metal spatula in the other.  He was smiling but had that angsty quality in his eyes.  His boxer-briefs were poking out of his shorts.
  I recalled a rhyme from my childhood for the occasion. I see London, I see France! I see TW’s underpants! I wrote as a comment.
  Another featured TW, shirtless again of course, with extremely pointed nipples. Have you taken up making stained glass? I commented. Because you could cut glass with those things! They need you at the community center for art night!

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