This blog is the continuing dialog between two faces of rilla (most of the time!) Rant and rave with us. Leave a comment. Click on the 'nickname' button if you don't have a Google ID already.
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My Pic Of The Day

My Pic Of The Day
San Francisco Cable Car

Thursday, May 31, 2007

13 -- Little Comfort

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

Rilla: Where are you?
rilla: Here.
Rilla: You’re in bed? What’re you doing in bed?
rilla: Reading.
Rilla: Aren’t you supposed to be writing…? Isn’t that your job?
rilla: Oh, reading’s part of the job too. Got to read at least as much as I write, but ideally way more.
Rilla: Why? So you can steal ideas from other authors?
rilla: The term is ‘be inspired’.
Rilla: Ah! What’s that?
rilla: What?
Rilla: There’s a lump beside you.
rilla: Oh, that’s just Sha-do.
Rilla: Sha-do? But I don’t see him.
rilla: He likes to crawl under the comforter.
Rilla: Good grief! How does he breathe?
rilla: I don’t know. He just does. I guess he thinks if we’re under the comforter he can be there too.
Rilla: We don’t cover our heads…
rilla: Will you give it up already.
Rilla: OK. What’re you reading?
rilla: I’m reading about Marina Lewycka.
Rilla: Who?
rilla: She’s a Ukranian writer who lives in the UK. Her books have just become widely successful.
Rilla: How nice for her.
rilla: It took her forty years of trying. She was fifty-eight when her first book was published.
Rilla: WHAT!
rilla: Yeah…listen to this, this is what she has to say – “Lots of very good writers never get published, and that could easily have happened to me. People think that good writers will always come out in the end, but I don't believe that."
Rilla: Oh how nice and depressing…
rilla: It’s the last day of May. Another month gone by.
Rilla: Yeah. I know. I love months with thirty-one days. Don’t you? It just feels like you’ve got more for your money, more bang for your buck, when a month gives you thirty-one full days. Not like that miserly February. I hate February. And what's with that twenty-ninth day, now you see it, now you don't...Wait a minute, why are you sighing. You look…I get it. The depressing article…the inability to get out of bed… Something’s happened.
rilla: Umm…yeah. You could say that. I got another rejection from an agent.
Rilla: Ah! And you can’t face the world.
rilla: Not today.
Rilla: And that’s why you have the cat all cuddled up for comfort.
rilla: He came on his own. Isn’t it amazing, how they just know when you’re not feeling that upbeat? He’s been all purring and lovey-dovey. Oh, and here comes the other one. That’s the great thing about cats…they just know when you’re down…here Fog-gi.

Sha-do: Hey, Fog-gi. Come here. Look where I am.
Fog-gi: Where? I can’t see you.
Sha-do: Look for me you idiot. Bet you’ll never find me. All these days I’ve been wondering…and look what I discovered. This is wild! Try to find me, dolt.
Fog-gi: Where ARE you? Oh! I see you now. What’re you doing there? She’s going to KILL you…!
Sha-do: I KNOW…isn’t that cool?

rilla: OK. Time to get out of my doldrums, I guess. Come on Sha-do, let’s get you a snack. Thanks for being there for me, for knowing…Sha-do? Sha-do!
Rilla: What’s wrong?
rilla: I don’t know where he is.
Rilla: What do you mean? He’s right there beside you underneath the comforter.
rilla: Only he isn’t. Look! I’m lifting the comforter and…OH MY GOD! Will you look at that.
Rilla: What? What?
rilla: He’s not under the comforter…HE’S INSIDE IT! He’s crawled through the button flaps of the duvet cover there at my feet and wriggled his way up through it.
Rilla: How on earth?
rilla: And what’s…NO, NO! Sha-do STOP THAT! He’s chewing the feathers out of the quilt…Get down, naughty boy. And here I thought you were trying to comfort me.
Rilla: At least he got you out of bed…and in the future, if you’re looking for comfort, stick to the comforter…it doesn’t bite.

Better Late Than Never - Read How Marina Finally Had Her Dream Come True!

Monday, May 28, 2007

12 -- Memorial Day

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: Memorial Day.
Rilla: Brings back memories.
rilla: Memories?
Rilla: Yeah. Of all the people who have died in war.
rilla: And are still dying.
Rilla: You can’t remember them. Memory is about the past.
rilla: I see. So no thoughts on all the death and carnage currently taking place around the world on Memorial Day.
Rilla: Something like that.
rilla: Been looking at the news lately?
Rilla: Parts of it. One Israeli dead.
rilla: How many Palestinians?
Rilla: No idea. Two more American GI’s killed.
rilla: Oh. How many Iraqis?
Rilla: No idea. The American death toll in Iraq for the month of May so far is 103. That’s one less than April. The total American death toll is around 3455.
rilla: Hmm. That’s way more than the number who died on September 11. How many Iraqis have died?
Rilla: I TOLD YOU I HAVE NO IDEA! Why do you go on and on harping about someone else’s death toll when Memorial Day is meant to remember OUR dead?
rilla: What’s the difference?
Rilla: Huh?
rilla: Their dead, our dead…what’s the difference? Shouldn’t we use this day to remember how dreadful war is and how many innocent people suffer because of it.
Rilla: Six hundred and fifty-five thousand.
rilla: Huh?
Rilla: That’s how many Iraqis are estimated to have died since the coalition invaded.
rilla: You…
Rilla: Yeah. While you were yadda yaddaing about all this memorial stuff I went and checked on that number. 655,000.
rilla: Staggering!
Rilla: Oh no. Don’t tell me you’re blubbering again. Doesn’t take much to set you off does it?
rilla: No wonder people don’t talk about the death toll on the other side. It defeats imagination. American deaths, Israeli deaths, British deaths. That’s all we talk about, because the numbers are so small.
Rilla: Here, here, calm down. Let’s use Memorial Day to celebrate summer and have a nice picnic and see who won the Indy 500.
rilla: I thought we believed in equality.
Rilla: Oh no. That’s the French. Equality, Brotherhood and Justice for all.
rilla: Ah! I guess we believe we’re just a little more equal than the rest of the world.
Rilla: Equal? No, no. We are the victims.
rilla: Reminds me of Star Wars.
Rilla: Star Wars? You mean the amazing new defense system that will protect us forever from everything, that only costs…
rilla: NO! I mean the movie.
Rilla: Oh! Luke and his hooded mentor and his princess with the permanent headphones and the jumpy pilot friend with the broken down spacecraft and the carpet-covered friend who chews gum all the…
rilla: Whatever. Yeah. That’s the one. We have a penchant for cheering on the underdog. Go Luke, go. Get that evil empire. Win the world with a colored tube-light sword. A bit of neon to the rescue of the universe.
Rilla: What’s your point?
rilla: What do you do when you’re no longer the underdog, the Cinderella team? Who do you cheer for when you have become the bully? What do you do when you have turned into the evil empire and everyone wants a piece of you?

Rilla: Run for cover? Hide... behind the flag?
rilla: What do you do when Luke Skywalker’s fighting against you? And being cheered on by the rest of the world? What do you call him then?
Rilla: A terrorist? Hey...wait a minute. Now I'm totally confused. If we're the Empire...who's Darth Vader?

Mark Twains' War Prayer

Thursday, May 24, 2007

11 -- Out of Focus

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: I’m so excited!
Rilla: Now what’s got you chattering?
rilla: S got promoted! How about that! I’m so proud.
Rilla: Yup.
rilla: Time to celebrate. Bring on the bubbly.
Rilla: Yup.
rilla: What’s the matter? Aren’t you thrilled?
Rilla: Of course I am. Very, very proud.
rilla: Uh…then why are you frowning?
Rilla: Just wish I could be as proud of you.
rilla: Huh?
Rilla: Well, that’s what happens when you stick to something…persevere…do a steady, great job. You get rewarded and recognized. It pays off.
rilla: Ah!
Rilla: Now if you could stick to one thing…
rilla: Instead of running around trying to find myself…
Rilla: Find yourself…what is that, anyway? When did you get lost?
rilla: Look, some of us don’t reach the ripe old age of THREE and KNOW what we want to do with our lives.
Rilla: Why not? And by the way, you're a long, long way from three, you know…exactly when is the ball going to drop? When are you going to settle down, stop trying out new things?
rilla: The ball HAS dropped. I’m a writer. Remember? But as for trying out new things…I’m never going to stop. I’m a ‘Renaissance Woman’.
Rilla: Huh! That’s just a euphemism for dilettante, quitter…Focus, that’s what you need.
rilla: You sound like Mom.
Rilla: Mom! I’m nothing like Mom. I promised I would never turn into Mom, and I keep my promises. Even if they make me miserable the rest of my life. It’s a matter of principle, duty. No one knows what that means anymore…
rilla: Yup! More and more like her.
rilla: This whole deal about principle. Sounds more like an inability to admit your mistakes. And what about my rights?
Rilla: Rights?
rilla: The right to pursue happiness.
Rilla: How long you going to keep up the pursuit? Catch up, already.
rilla: Hey! Just because my happiness took a while to find...doesn’t fall neatly into a category defined as normal…doesn’t bring in the steady income…doesn’t run 9 – 5…
Rilla: There you go…an excuse for everything… trying to justify your incessant mistakes.
rilla: And you? On and on about what a failure I am. Never changes…
Rilla: Yes! I'm consistent. It’s a matter of principle, dear, but what would you know about that?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

10 -- Serial Blooper

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: To err is human.
Rilla: Have I heard that before somewhere? Sounds familiar.
rilla: Oh. It’s nothing. Just a play I’m reading.
Rilla: Hmm. I have heard that.
rilla: What?
Rilla: That erring bit, that’s just a fancy way of saying making mistakes, yeah? Well, I have heard that making mistakes is part of the human condition.
rilla: Uh-huh. Well, my friend’s really upset right now. Life’s pretty bad and she’s down. Thinks her life is a sequence of mistakes. She wants to know if you can be a serial mistake-maker.
Rilla: Not necessarily.
rilla: Oh? I thought you just said that erring is part of being human?
Rilla: There is a way to get rid of making mistakes.
rilla: What’s that?
Rilla: Get rid of choice. Choice is the culprit. If you have no choice, you make no mistakes. Simple!
rilla: Hmm. Interesting hypothesis. I kind of like that. Takes the uncertainty out of things. That’s nice.
Rilla: Yes! If you didn’t have any choice, you would never have given up your first job and lost that comforting salary. That was a MISTAKE!
rilla: But then, I’d never have gone to art school.
Rilla: Yeah, but if you didn’t have any other options, you would have stuck to art school and not gone off to learn how to make video games…that was a DISASTER.
rilla: But then, I’d never have gone to Australia.
Rilla: Yeah, but if you couldn’t choose what you did with your life, you’d never have given up your web-design job in Sydney…another loss of comfortable earnings, another HUGE MISTAKE.
rilla: But then, I’d never have started writing…YIKES! That would have been awful. That’s unthinkable. That would have been the biggest disaster of all!
Rilla: I wouldn’t have minded in the least.
rilla: NO!
Rilla: Well then, stop complaining about making mistakes. If you don’t want to make the choices in your life, someone else will make them for you.
rilla: But that someone else can make mistakes too?
Rilla: Only if they’re human.
rilla: Which would be the case.
Rilla: Then you'd just be stuck with the mistakes someone else makes for you.
rilla: Scary! No way to get out of those mistakes, huh? No second chance, or third or fourth?
Rilla: Nope. You’d live with the serial mistakes of somebody else. At least that way, you can blame someone else for your lousy life. No regrets of your own.
rilla: But you’d be stuck in someone else’s doo-doo.
Rilla: I believe the word is poop.
rilla: Doesn’t sound very attractive whichever word you choose. Umm…do you make mistakes, errors of judgment, blunders, slip-ups, bloopers…a mistake by any other name…?
Rilla: Me! Ahem! How ridiculous! I’m perfect.
rilla: I guess I’m perfect too.
Rilla: Yeah? How so?
rilla: I’m perfectly human.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

9 -- Sweating It

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: I have to confess, my writing’s been suffering a little lately.
Rilla: Has it caught a virus?
rilla: Shh!
Rilla: What’s wrong?
rilla: We’re on a computer…don’t use the ‘v’ word. No, my writing’s just a little lonely and unloved right now. I’ve fallen prey to an addiction.
Rilla: Typical! Here we are, depending on your writing for our bread and butter, and you’re off getting high…
rilla: …on blogs. Now that I have my own, I can’t stop reading everyone else’s too.
Rilla: Anything interesting?
rilla: Yeah, I’ve been discoing with the Mermaids.
Rilla: Dancing? With Mermaids?
rilla: Mojitos and multi-million dollar deals…
Rilla: I like the sound of that…
rilla: Scribbling with Katia about ancient artifacts and foreign films and wondering who we are anyway…
Rilla: That’s stupid. I know perfectly well who I am…you…now that’s a different question.
rilla: Autumn, alter-egos, recklessness, deadlines and illustrator step-moms
Rilla: This is getting totally out of control. You stopped making sense four blogs ago.
rilla: …and sweat.
Rilla: Sweat?
rilla: Uh-huh. Just read a piece on sweat by an American writer living in Italy. People from around the world weighed in on the topic. Makes you think.
Rilla: You mean stink…
rilla: That too. But, seriously, it’s something that hits home, touches a chord, after all, it’s something everyone has in common…
Rilla: …and wishes they didn’t. Why on earth would you want to talk about it, or think about it, or blog about it or…
rilla: It just kind of occurred to me that if we spent our time discussing things we all had in common instead of…
Rilla: Common? How about poop?
rilla: Poop’s great. Sweat and poop. Makes us all need water. Good clean water to keep us healthy…
Rilla: Healthy? For that we need healthcare too…
rilla: Yes. Water, healthcare, food, shelter…
Rilla: I get it. Back to the basics.
rilla: Yeah. If we all discussed the things we have in common…
Rilla: Like sweat.
rilla: Sweat. Uh-huh. Instead of focusing on how we’re different…
Rilla: And poop.
rilla: We could save the world with blogs and sweat.
Rilla: And poop.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

8 -- The Art of Farce

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: It was Art’s Day at Crafton College. You know, the place I take the acting classes.
Rilla: Yeah? Did you participate, get involved, become part of the community yadda, yadda, yadda?
rilla: Actually, I did.
Rilla: Oh? What did you do?
rilla: Well, the topic of the festival was boundaries. I was put into a wire mesh cage along with two other actors. I did a monologue on the true story of a woman who ran away from home to escape female circumcision and all it entails.
Rilla: Female circumcision? That sounds painful.
rilla: That’s because it is, and not just physically. The emotional scars are lifelong, and yet millions of women suffer this inhumane, unjust treatment.
Rilla: So, what was the point?
rilla: The point?
Rilla: Of your cute little spiel? Were you trying to freak people out, you know, the shock factor?
rilla: Shock, yes. Shock people out of apathy and into taking action against the inhumanity and injustice in the world, to speak out against oppression, discrimination, slavery, torture…
Rilla: My, my, what high-minded ideals. All just a waste of breath, but you already knew that. So I guess what you were doing was getting in some acting practice, huh?
rilla: Acting practice? No, no, no. This is a college. These are young people, impressionable, idealistic, looking for a cause, energetic, fresh-minded…
Rilla: Tears, I’ve got tears in my eyes.
rilla: Wow! I didn’t expect to move you quite that much.
Rilla: Move? No, no, the tears are from laughter. All the nonsense you spout, really. When was the last time you met energetic, idealistic youth… the sixties? High-paying jobs, fake bodies, dropping bombs, lowering taxes and gas prices, blaming someone else when life goes wrong, taking as much from the environment as you can, while there’s still something left to be had, that’s what’s real.
rilla: It doesn’t have to be.
Rilla: Well, it is. You're the artist. Surely you recognize art in the politics of today. Maximizing wealth at the expense of anyone who gets in your way, censoring people who say or write something you don’t like, reducing civil liberties to ensure the wrong people aren’t seen or heard, buying off the press so the real news is never heard, putting your buddies in offices of power and justice so that you can never be accused of breaking the law, taking money out of the environment, education and health benefits and dumping it into arms production and oil so that those who are in these industries get even richer and there’s no one left to oppose you because nobody’s educated enough to realize just how badly they’re being had, calling anyone who does oppose you unpatriotic and whipping it into a battle cry, making sure women have babies they don’t want and stay home where they belong… family values, patriotism, democracy, that's what it's all about.
rilla: And fear…
Rilla: Yes! The fear of God. This should be a Christian country
rilla: Art is right. The Art of Farce. Those aren’t Christian values. Lowering taxes, censorship, cronyism, name-calling, bomb dropping? Last I heard, Christianity is about ‘turning the other cheek’, ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’, ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, ‘let he who has not sinned throw the first stone’ …
Rilla: What’s all that mumbo jumbo?
rilla: I’m paraphrasing…from the Bible? The things you mentioned…they have nothing to do with Christianity.
Rilla: Oh? How would you know? I thought all artists were atheists.

Faith-Based Fraud -- Slate

Sunday, May 13, 2007

c2 -- Catnip

Sha-Do: What’s she doing?

Fog-Gi: I don’t know, she’s lying there on the bed, mumbling.

Sha-Do: What’s she saying?

Fog-Gi: Let me see…all…ranted…out…All ranted out!

Sha-Do: She’s been doing that for a while.

Fog-Gi: I know. What should we do? Should we wake her up?

Sha-Do: What does it mean? All ranted out?

Fog-Gi: No idea.

Sha-Do: Why’s your tail flapping?

Fog-Gi: My tail? That’s your tail.

Sha-Do: My tail? No, my tail’s up here. That’s your tail…

Fog-Gi: Liar.

Sha-Do: You’re the liar.

Fog-Gi: Go away.

Sha-Do: You go away.

Fog-Gi: I came first.

Sha-Do: First in, first out.

Fog-Gi: What does that mean?

Sha-Do: I don’t know. I heard one of them talking on the phone say it.

Fog-Gi: You can’t say it if you don’t know what it means.

Sha-Do: Can too. Get off of my butt.

Fog-Gi: Can NOT. Stop strangling me.

Sha-Do: Can too. Stop biting my tail.

Fog-Gi: Can NOT. Take your claws out of my eyes.

Sha-Do: Mrrroow

Fog-Gi: Meeeeoooooow.

Rilla: OUCH!
rilla: Don’t yell at them, they’re just playing.
Rilla: Just playing? They’ve gouged a chunk of flesh out of my leg.
rilla: They didn’t see you.
Rilla: Huh! They did it on purpose. Out, out you go. There, I’ve locked them out of the bedroom.
rilla: You know that’s useless.
Rilla: Whatever.

Sha-Do: Good. She’s gone back to sleep.

Fog-Gi: OK. Do your trick.

Sha-Do: Got it! Now back to the bed.

Fog-Gi: Shall we wish her Happy Mother’s Day?

Sha-Do: It’s only 3 in the morning…yawwwwwwwn.

Fog-Gi: Technically, that makes it Mother’s…yaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwn.

Sha-Do: Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Fog-Gi: Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Hope you had a peaceful Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

7 -- Two's a Crowd

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: …
Rilla: Hello?
rilla: …
Rilla: Hello, is anyone there?
rilla: …
Rilla: Hello..oh! hello…oh! Wake uh..up!
rilla: Go away.
Rilla: Huh?
rilla: GO AWAY!
Rilla: You… want me… to go away?
rilla: That’s what I said, isn’t it?
Rilla: Umm…that’s a little difficult given the circumstances?
rilla: All right then, SHUT UP!
Rilla: Have I done something?
rilla: Can’t you see?
Rilla: See what? You’ve got your hands together over your heart, your feet are touching at the soles, you’re in a reclining chair, but your eyes are wide open… Frankly, you had me terribly worried. I thought you’d gone into some kind of coma or something…thought I was doing you a favor getting you out of that horrible condition …
rilla: I’m trying to meditate!
Rilla: Oh!... Looks kind of painful. That contorted expression you have on your face…
rilla: …is one of rage because I’M TRYING TO MEDITATE.
Rilla: OK. I’m sorry. You go right ahead. Meditate, or whatever. I’ll just sit here twiddling my thumbs…
rilla: Thank you!
Rilla: …
rilla: …
Rilla: mm…you’re breathing very deeply, is everything all right?
rilla: Yes…
Rilla: …
rilla: …
Rilla: You know that brown spot on the lawn? It’s getting browner. The sprinklers really need to be reset for every day now that it’s getting so hot…
rilla: …
Rilla: Hey, I went for a walk around the side of the yard, and you know that flower bed by the west fence…it’s FULL of weeds. That’s the place that was missed last time you weeded.
rilla: …
Rilla: Gosh, I was looking at the car…it’s FILTHY. Hasn’t been washed in a month. It looks awful.
rilla: …
Rilla: Oh no! You remember we got the cats their shots and they were supposed to go back for boosters…? That was a week ago…
rilla: “I had this strange little thought, well, maybe it’s not so strange. Anyway…I would wonder, sometimes, what might keep me here, what might be worth staying for…”*
Rilla: WHAT? Tell me that’s a meditation mantra or something. Talk to me…you’re not thinking of going anywhere are you? Talk to me!
rilla: Stop slapping my face. I’m fine. It’s no mantra. I gave up trying to meditate long ago. It’s for my class. I’ve finals in a week. Thought I might as well get something constructive done since only the truly enlightened could meditate to the tune of you twiddling your thumbs …
Rilla: What class?
rilla: Why acting class, of course. I have to know my lines by Monday.
Rilla: Acting class? I thought you were a writer? Now I’m really confused.
rilla: You know, I would recommend every writer take a theater arts class.
Rilla: Why’s that?
rilla: The things I have learned about dialog and scene-setting are invaluable to my writing.
Rilla: But still, should you really be wasting time with all this hoo haa when you really should be writing?
Rilla: You’re taking a class on how to ACT? What you really need is a class on how to BEHAVE…
rilla: You’re telling ME how to behave? Here I am going crazy and all you can talk about is every little thing that needs to be done, the car, the cats, the lawn, the…
Rilla: Stressed…that’s what you are. There, there. Calm down. Too much anxiety in your life.
rilla: I KNOW THAT!
Rilla: What you really need is to take a class in stress reduction.
Rilla: I know what’ll help…
rilla: What?
Rilla: It’s an age-old method, certain to calm you down and get rid of all those niggling thoughts that keep bothering you and bogging you down in the nitty-gritty of the everyday. This method is proven to improve your health and your quality of life …
rilla: Well, WHAT IS IT?
Rilla: Why meditation, of course. You should try it sometime. Do you a world of good.

* Quote taken from the play 'night Mother by Marsha Norman
Read a Review of the Play

Related Links
Meditation Handbook
Meditation for Stress Relief
Notes on Meditation
Meditation as Alternative Medicine
Four Basic Elements of Meditation
Meditation and Health
Meditation to Prevent Memory Loss

If you're interested in a great theatre arts program and live in the inland empire, Crafton Hills has the best teacher in the world...Tom Bryant. Tell him rilla sent you're in trouble...
Crafton Hills College Theatre Arts Department

Sunday, May 6, 2007

6 -- Smooth Sailing With Agents

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

Written after attending the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators SCBWI Agent's Day at Newport Beach, CA on Saturday, May 5, 2007

Rilla: So, how was the cruise?
rilla: The what?
Rilla: The boat ride with the agents…
rilla: It wasn’t a boat ride. It was at a marina in Newport Beach.
Rilla: Whatever. One of those fancy places you writers feel the need to congregate at. HOW WAS IT?
rilla: The SCBWI OC Agent’s Day was fabulous!
Rilla: And…
rilla: And, there were three wonderful agents there; Laura Rennert, Senior Agent at the Andrea Brown Agency, Nephele Tempest from the Knight Agency and Kelly Sonnack from the Sandra Dijkstra Agency, all on the west coast. Who said you had to be from New York to be a great agent?
Rilla: Yeah, who said that?
rilla: Never mind. It was a valuable experience. First of all, I got to see Marlene and Lori again. They were co-chairs of the event. And I met Nancy the third co-chair…what a job they did. They didn’t give the agents a minute of rest…put them through the wringer! We got more than our money’s worth, all right. Each agent had to speak individually, answer questions on two separate panels and rotate between five smaller groups, talking to each of them for fifteen whole minutes. Gosh, add that all up, that’s a marathon…
Rilla: Speaking of getting your money’s worth, which agent took you on?
rilla: Come again?
Rilla: You went to Agent’s Day to get an agent, yeah?
rilla: I had the first ten pages of my YA manuscript critiqued…
Rilla: I take it, still no agent…
rilla: It was a good critique. “What you have is written well, with good rhythm.” “You do a great job setting the scene, with good descriptions that blend seamlessly with the action.” I like that. Oh, and “This is an interesting idea, and I like the different cultural influences that you’ve woven into the background.” She mentioned that, “Kalpa seems a strong, stubborn protagonist…” Boy, she is that. I have real trouble keeping her out of mischief.
Rilla: Yadda, yadda, yadda, get to the point.
rilla: There were two writers on the faculty as well. Both of them clients of Laura Rennert’s and both of them came to Laura as unpublished writers. In fact, Jay Asher’s book, Thirteen Reasons Why, will only be out later this year, in October. It's his 'first debut book.'
Rilla: As opposed to his second? How many debuts does this guy get to have?
rilla: Forget it. You had to be there...Debra Garfinkle has several books by now, but her first was Storky, about a fourteen year-old boy. The writers had such inspirational stories to tell and they both LOVE their agent. “Laura’s a goddess!” they said.
Rilla: Well, wouldn’t you call somebody who got you a six figure deal on your first book a goddess?
rilla: Lighten up! Laura Rennert was unbelievably helpful. Her talk was full of information, tips and pointers and as she got to go first, she covered half the stuff the other agents were going to say. So they added to what Laura Rennert had said and then opened the discussion up to questions and all-in-all, we learned a lot.
Rilla: Guess your latest book will be “All you Wanted to Know about a Literary Agent but Were Afraid to Ask”.
rilla: Funny.
Rilla: So what did the writers have to say for themselves?
rilla: Debra Garfinkle related how before she made her first book-sale, everything went wrong…they had their house on the market and their three-year-old flushed something down the toilet and…
Rilla: What?
rilla: Hm?
Rilla: What did the three-year-old flush down the toilet?
rilla: Oh. She didn’t say.
Rilla: It would be good to know…
Rilla: Bet it was a dirty diaper…
rilla: Anyway, the whole house flooded and they had to take it off the market and ended up spending something like $11,000 to fix the problem! And they had huge, industrial fans going to dry the place and yet Debby did her one hour of writing everyday and it was the only thing that kept her sane through the whole thing and soon after, her first book was sold…
Rilla: Very touching.
rilla: Yeah, I had tears in my eyes.
Rilla: Baby! Hm, the baby. What if...I know! The baby got into a bag of his mother's sanitary napkins and started flushing them down one after the other like a slot machine...pop, flush, pop, flush, kaching!
rilla: Is there some way I can GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE TOILET and tell you Jay Asher's story? It was equally moving. He works at a public library and went out on lunch break when he checked his voicemail. There was a message from Laura Rennert. “She even said her last name, like I didn’t know who it was by now…” laughed Jay. And the message said that an offer had been made on his YA novel, his book had sold! Then there was another message from Laura. A second offer had been made on his book, even higher! So, Jay went back to work full of excitement, but he didn't want to say anything to his co-workers until he’d told his wife …so when they asked him, “How was lunch?”, he kind of looked at them funny and said, “OK”. And then proceeded to sit on the information for four hours.
Rilla: How many times did he go to the toilet…?
rilla: After work, he takes his wife to the spot on the beach where they were married and finally tells her he sold his first book. And she cries and cries.
Rilla: Yuck! There you go again. You’re blubbering.
rilla: So was he.
Rilla: I thought it was his wife who was blubbering.
rilla: Jay cried as he told the story… Twelve whole years, he said, of hopes and dreams and disappointments, of trying to get published and then wondering if it would ever happen and if the process was even worth it.
Rilla: Twelve years! Don’t tell me I have another ten years to wait before you get published!
rilla: Well, technically, I did first write my mg novel almost eight years ago…
Rilla: What, you call that writing? That first draft was horrendous! You made every mistake possible and then some…
rilla: Thought you didn’t read fantasy.
Rilla: You couldn’t call that first draft fantasy…only fantastical to think anyone would want to read it in that form. It’s been less than two years since you REALLY began to write …
rilla: Seems like forever.
Rilla: Hey! You’re not supposed to be depressed…I thought these events are meant to motivate you, inspire you, energize you…
rilla: Yeah, of course they do. But then again, I just couldn’t help looking at Debby and Jay sitting up there on either side of their wonderful agent and wondering if that would ever be me… ever?

Rilla: Hold on a minute. You thinking of quitting? Throwing in the towel? After all…
rilla: That’s the problem.
: How’s that?
rilla: I can’t. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. This IS what I do. I HAVE to write, whether anyone else wants to read it or not.
Rilla: There, there! Don’t go all mushy. You’re not alone. Of course other people want to read your work…
rilla: Who?
Rilla: Well for starters, how about this? I solemnly promise to read everything you write… There, that should make you feel better.

Some Reasons Why You Need an Agent:
Agents take care of the boring business of checking contracts, chasing royalties, handling permissions and leave you,the author, to take care of the business of writing.
Agents think strategically for you and with a view to your career as a whole.
Agents make it easier for you to find the best fit of editor for your book.
Not to mention that an agent will probably land you a sweeter deal than you could have on your own.
Debby Garfinkle has pointed out other reasons as well, see her comment below...Thanks Debby!

If you have more reasons I can add to this list, please let me know.

Useful links:
Debra Garfinkle's Website
Disco Mermaids -- Jay Asher's Blog
Read Jay's story
Barry Eisler's Tips for Writers Barry Eisler-writer -- Laura Rennert's husband.
Andrea Brown Literary Agents
Knight Agency Submission Guidelines
Sandra Dijkstra Agency

Lunch was Good! -- Joe's Crab Shack

Thursday, May 3, 2007

5 -- The Case of the Missing Doctor

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: So, someone I know is approaching menopause, and…
Rilla: That’s a bad word.
rilla: What is?
Rilla: Menopause.
rilla: Just because you’re scared stiff of the idea doesn’t make it a bad word.
Rilla: This doesn’t sound like a children’s story.
rilla: It isn’t.
Rilla: Oh! Well it doesn’t sound like it has a happy ending either and I tend to like happy endings.
rilla: You know, if you don’t stop blabbering, and take a breather once in a while, people will think we have A.D.D. I would appreciate it if you would zip up until I’ve finished the story. Good. So, this lady’s blood count dropped to fatally low levels because she was losing blood and she was advised she needed surgery. However, and here’s the clincher…ready?...You listening? Oh, you’ve got your lips pursed, I get it…very cute. Well, her surgery, despite her fatally low blood-count, is labeled ‘non-urgent’ and she is made to wait two whole months to have it, losing blood all the while! How scary is that!
Rilla: Can I speak now? Yes? OK. That’s nothing. I read in this health magazine about a man who suffered from a brain-injury in a car-accident but no nearby hospitals had a neurosurgeon! The result? He had to be airlifted to another hospital, but there was a storm, and he only got treated six hours later. He was lucky to be alive, and he lost all his memory, everything, wife, children, previous life, nada. The worst is, it could have been prevented if his local hospital were not so understaffed.
rilla: OK, here’s a funny one.
Rilla: That was supposed to be really frightening.
rilla: It was. I thought I’d lighten the mood a bit. So, there are two patients, and both limp into their doctor’s offices. The first is examined within the hour, his hip is x-rayed and hip-replacement surgery is scheduled for the next day. Within two days, he is home recuperating. The second waits a week to see his family doctor, waits eight weeks to see a specialist, gets an x-ray which is reviewed two weeks later and finally has hip-replacement surgery scheduled for two months later. What is the difference between the two patients?
Rilla: Oh, I didn’t realize it was a riddle…
rilla: The first is a golden-retriever, the second a senior-(human)-citizen!
Rilla: I thought it was supposed to be funny. That is just plain depressing. Where did you get that story?
rilla: It was in a chain-email sent by a friend.
Rilla: You read those things? I only read real stories, like the one I told you about in the magazine.
rilla: Which magazine?
Rilla: Prevention. According to the article, 30 million Americans already live in areas where doctors are in short supply. Not only that, a full third of doctors today are over 55 and getting ready to retire while at the same time, a large proportion of our population is going into the senior citizen bracket and will require more health care.
rilla: So what’s going on? Why aren’t there new doctors coming onto the scene?
Rilla: It’s all a conspiracy.
rilla: OK, now you’ve done it. Back to your conspiracy theories again. I thought you had something serious to offer for a change. To think you actually had me listening to you…
Rilla: How about this then…the number of students entering medical school per 100,000 population declines every year. By the year 2020, the country could be short 200,000 doctors!
rilla: Where’s the conspiracy in that? There must be a valid reason.
Rilla: The valid reason is that Congress passed a law that ensured the decline in the number of doctors. A 1997 Act cut funding to teaching-hospitals on the recommendation of the American Medial Association which forecast that there would be an excess of doctors to the tune of 165,000 by the year 2000! Talk about getting your numbers wrong!
rilla: Well, I bet now that they’ve realized their grotesque mistake, the laws will be reversed.
Rilla: No such luck. The only way to get any action taken is to get involved… petition your legislators.
rilla: What, me? Write to a legislator?
Rilla: I thought you were a writer…
rilla: But…
Rilla: Don’t be ridiculous, it’s easy. The magazine even offered a link to a website you can use, and given the amount of time you spend on the computer…the sooner the better, it can take up to 14 years for a new doctor to enter practice from the time he or she started out as a student. Do you want to wait 43 days to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon even if you are in pain? That’s the average in LA already. Think what will happen if we don’t make changes now.
rilla: I don’t like signing things…I’m always in pain anyway. Have you done it?
Rilla: Of course I have.
rilla: Oh! Well then why do I have to…
Rilla: The more signatures the better.
rilla: But…oh, never mind.

Get involved, sign a petition to stop the doctor shortage from worsening.
Go to: to read more on what you can do.

Maybe someday it will be as easy and affordable for you to see a doctor as it is for us! Ha ha!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

c1 -- Sneak Preview

So this is where she's been hanging out all this time!

I guess I should introduce myself....I'm Sha-do. Yes, go figure, she had to spell my name you know how difficult that is to explain over the phone?

Well, anyway, I'd been wondering where she'd disappeared to all these days. Now I see she's been consorting with the likes of you. I read all the other stuff on this site, the schizo bits? Trust me, she's just like that -- TOTALLY INSANE!

I guess I have only myself to blame though. As a matter of fact, I adopted them. Well, that evening when I first entered their yard, they looked perfectly normal. But then, anything will look normal to a starved cat who's just been kicked out of his home and told to fend for himself.

The worst part is, I did all this work, found a couple of nuts who would take me in and then what happens? My brother shows and wants to be adopted too, and, well, I told you they were insane...THEY TOOK HIM IN!

Yeah, here he is now. Butting in as he always does....grrrrrrrrrrrr.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

4 -- Retreat from Writing

NOTE: This blog is a continuing dialog between the two faces of rilla. The identity crisis is explained (if such a thing is possible) in the first edition. Click here to read: 1 -- Introduction

rilla: Went to a wine retreat on the South Coast.
Rilla: Wine retreat? I didn’t know we could afford to indulge...
rilla: No, no, a writer’s retreat at a winery and spa resort.
Rilla: Wine makes the muse flow does it?
rilla: We didn’t drink a lot of wine.
Rilla: Then what’s the point of a wine retreat?
rilla: That’s the point.
Rilla: What is?
rilla: It was a writer’s retreat, hosted by Squibby.
Rilla: Oh, that degenerate group.
rilla: Huh? No! Squibby is the SCBWI -- The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Rilla: It gets on my nerves how seriously you take this stuff. I mean really…stay at home in your pajamas all day staring at a computer screen. When you do go out it’s to a winery…call that a job?
rilla: The retreat was very professional, beautifully organized. Francesca and Q did a fabulous job. Got to meet so many writers, and of course the faculty…
Rilla: Faculty? You need a professor to teach you how to drink?
rilla: I got a detailed critique of my mg novel from an editor at HarperCollins, and…
Rilla: You write about cars? I thought you said you wrote stuff for children. Well, I guess children like cars…there was that cutesy love bug thing…had a car in it somewhere…mg’s are cute…why are you tapping your foot?
Rilla: Oh! As in B grade books, I get it, I didn’t realize they rated books the same way they do movies. So… what… does it not go into bookstores or something, only released directly to libraries? No wonder you can’t make a living out of…
rilla: Oh, what’s the point? If I told you middle grade means kids between the ages of 8 and 12, it wouldn’t make any difference would it…
Rilla: Tosh! There now. Pep up …can’t see you getting down like that…
rilla: It doesn’t really matter, does it?
Rilla: Tell me more about the retreat.
rilla: The retreat…I’ve forgotten.
Rilla: No, no, you were saying, you got critiqued…
rilla: Oh, yeah.
Rilla: And?
rilla: And it was really good. The editor put so much work into it and said some wonderful things like my characters are ‘distinct’ and ‘memorable’ and have ‘great narrative voices’!
Rilla: That supposed to mean something?
rilla: Oh, you’re hopeless. Anyway, she wanted to see a partial so I sent it off.
Rilla: Partial?
rilla: Partial manuscript -- the first fifty pages. Don’t you know anything? Where are you when I’m doing these things?
Rilla: So that means she’s going to publish it? Hooray, let’s break out the champagne. Money at last!
rilla: What champagne? She hasn’t agreed to do anything. IF she likes the first fifty pages, she’ll write and ask for the full manuscript. Then…
Rilla: And if she doesn’t?
rilla: She’ll send back my fifty pages in the SASE I sent her. Oh no, don’t tell me you don’t know SASE stands for self-addressed stamped envelope.
Rilla: Wait a minute… let me get this straight… you PAY for her to reject you…?! Of all the convoluted…
rilla: Phooey.
Rilla: What a raw deal, what a ridiculous way to do business, what…
rilla: So, as I was saying, I met some great people. I got to sit at Marlene Perez’s lunch table and her round-table critique group!
Rilla: Marlene Perez? I’ve heard of her…she writes about boo…
rilla: SHUT UP!
Rilla: Well she does, doesn’t she? See I have been paying attention to the things you do…don’t roll your eyes, oh for heaven’s sake, not the eyes.
rilla: That’s what I love about this job.
Rilla: There she goes calling it a job again.
rilla: Everyone is so helpful. Those who have made it in the field remember how difficult it is and bend over backwards to help those who are new and struggling.
Rilla: Helped you did she?
rilla: Who?
Rilla: Well now who’s dense…Marlene Perez?
rilla: Oh yeah, she had a lot of good pointers in her speech, and she really liked what I read from my YA novel and recommended I send it to her agent!
Rilla: I can’t even begin to imagine what…
rilla: Young Adult – 13 and older.
Rilla: Oh.
rilla: So I did and he asked for a partial!
Rilla: Groan, that’s another paid-for rejection I take it?
rilla: I can really feel it…
Rilla: Feel what?
rilla: Sooner or later, I will get an agent.
Rilla: Somehow, I’m thinking ‘later’ is a keyword here…
rilla: I’m going to an Agent’s Day…four well known agents will be attending!
Rilla: Urgh, more retreats, more fancy places …
rilla: No, no – no fancy resort. This time we’re going down to the Newport Beach Sailing Club!
Rilla: Yippee…

Written after after attending the SCBWI Winery Writer's Retreat in March 2007.
Some useful links: Marlene Perez's Website , SCBWI Southern California

Katia talks about the SCBWI Summer 2006 Conference and How She and I Met

Had two of the best Roomies!

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