Thursday, August 18, 2011

Evocatively Moldering

After reading about writer Ransom Riggs's blog Strange Geographies, with its fascinating photos of forgotten places, I googled "detroit photo abandoned" to find again a photo essay I'd seen awhile back of shots of abandoned buildings in Detroit.

Turns out a couple of French photographers, Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, shot the photos, which were picked up by Time Magazine, which called the subsequent photo essay Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline.

The photos really are remarkable:

They evoke strange, twisted feelings and longings and half-stirred stories inside me.  You can almost feel the ghosts brushing past you.

I tried to write a short story in college called "Evocatively Moldering" after I took Art History and was taken with that phrase, uttered by my professor, to describe how the Romantic painters of the 19th century liked their buildings.  They liked ruins clutched in vines, rotting, empty, suggesting a semi-forgotten past now merging with encroaching nature.

Looks like our own cities are now becoming something the Romantics would like to look at. Not to live in, of course. They had cozy homes stuffed with trinkets for that.

What is it about the sight of decay that inspires stories?   Do you want to tell us how that empire declined?  Is it nostalgia?  Or perhaps it's knowing that one day we too will be gone, and probably forgotten, just as the people who once dwelled in these ruins are.  By making up their stories, we can pretend we are also preserving ourselves for just a little bit longer.

Editors Rock

I have long known that the folks involve in writing for kids are wonderful.  As soon as I joined SCBWI, I found myself in the company of many generous, kind, funny, smart, supportive people.  I've heard that it's different in adult publishing - more cutthroat.  I don't know.  But in kid lit, most people are just, well, nice. My agent, Tamar Rydzinski, more than proved it in all of her dealings with me - so fair, kind, perceptive, and intelligent.

This whole appreciation for the niceness/wonderfulness/general awesomeness of KidLitters rose to a new height this week after my first chat with my editor, Alicia.  Not only was she Queen of Nice, she really really GOT my book.

Those of you who write alone in the dark, wondering if you're insane to try to be a writer will have a glimmer of understanding of just how wonderful this is.  While you're typing/scribbling away, you secretly fear that no one will ever truly understand what you're going for on paper.  And you secretly dream that at least one person will read it one day and go - aha!

The dream part of all that happened to me this week while talking to Alicia.  She understood the whole subliminal body image issue I tried to sneak into my book.  She loved that a group of friends plays a crucial role in the story.  She "grokked" my world building, big time.

Can I just say - this is the way to my heart?  Read my stuff, love it, get it, tell me all about it, and I'll love you forever.  I'm easy like that.

Sure, she had notes.  She'll have more.  What notes she did have were so on the money it was scary.  I can't wait to see her line edits.  Seriously!  There's nothing like taking a manuscript you love and  making it  better.  It satisfies something way down deep in my soul.

So, future novelists/writer - I want you to know that editors rock.  Yes yes, self publishing/epublishing are flourishing and more power to those self-propelled successes.  But, for one, am so damned glad I have an editor.  I want my book to be as good I can make it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

I Love Los Angeles

People who've never lived in LA love to diss it. I've had very good friends and relatives look at me like I was nuts when I said I loved living here. They talk about the traffic and the smog and the earthquakes and the supposed lack of culture. They look down their noses at folks who live here. I hope it makes them feel good.

Because they're wrong.

I grew up in paradise - Honolulu, Hawaii, that is. I know a great place to live when I see one. Hawaii is a great place to live.

So is Los Angeles.

Yes, LA has some traffic issues. Hell, I was here for the gigantor Northridge Quake in '94. I know it's not perfect here. Nowhere is perfect. I'm not going to go into how San Francisco also has traffic and quakes, or how Hawaii has vog (volcano smog) and higher expenses, or how NYC is way too pricey or Chicago has winters that can freeze your lungs with one breath. Every place has good things and bad things. I'll cop to traffic and earthquakes, with occasional side dishes of wildfires.

But those who love to try new things or just want to find like-minded people to hang with, LA is a wonderland. I was just talking about this at lunch today with fellow denizen Amy, and she pointed out that she ran across a group in Long Beach that gets together to sing sea shanties.

You can do anything in LA.

Want world class art? Try the Getty or LACMA or MOCA. Want to play hockey, eat Ukrainian food, then hit a jazz club? Come to LA. Hit the ski slopes (in winter) in the morning, then have dinner by the beach. Watch an old movie on the big screen at the Egyptian Theater, then have dinner down the street where Thai Elvis sings. Watch people from every walk of life take the metro or get their photo taken with Spiderman on Hollywood Boulevard. Or take yoga from a world class teacher on Montana Ave, then ride the ferris wheel on Santa Monica pier. Take a lesson in trapeze while you're at it.

You can be anything, watch anything, eat anything, try anything. It's a rich life in Los Angeles, even if you don't make a lot of money. And the weather? Let's just say it's August, and on the westside it's about 75 degrees at Noon.

And it's beautiful here. Yield to the loveliness of LA. Watch the video below.

LA Light from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wednesday - Embarrrassing or Not? Confession

I had a huge crush on Captain Kirk from Star Trek.  Particularly the season one Captain Kirk, still trim, young, and manly.

I watched the show obsessively (it was in reruns), and even at that age I could see the difference between the Kirks of season 1 and season 3.

Season 1:

Season 3:

Not that I would've kicked Season 3 Kirk out of bed for eating Fig Newtons. By the time we got to the movies, the feeling had waned. But I was watching a few moments of Season 1's "Conscience of the King" with my Dad last night, and he actually said, "William Shatner was a handsome man."

And yes, my Dad is straight. He's just secure enough to make offhand remarks like this. And I agreed with him. I told him now, as I couldn't as a teenager, that I'd had a crush on the young Captain Kirk.

Amazing how there was NO WAY I ever would've said that to my Dad when I was 13. You can't talk to your fricking Dad at that age about anything to do with boys.

But now - why not? He's my friend as well as my Dad. Lucky me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


My brilliant writer buddy and critique partner Elisa Nader took this screenshot of the announcement of my book deal in Publisher's Marketplace.  (It's a bit small here. You can click on it if you actually want to be able to read it.) The site requires a subscription to see stuff, so a screenshot is the only way for the outside world to see proof.

As my friend Diane said, they published that I'm going to be published.

Which means it's all real.


Monday, August 01, 2011

I Have a Book Deal!

I can now officially announce the BIG NEWS.

I have a two-book deal with Kensington Books with their K Teen imprint.  Let the dancing commence!

The books are part 1 and part 2 of a YA paranormal series. The title of Book 1 is currently OTHERKIN (subject to publisher approval), and it'll be out August or November next year.

All hail my agent, Tamar Rydzinski at Laura Dail Literary!

All hail Kensington Books' K Teen imprint for saying they love my book!

Still so much to do. But I had to share.  Life is sweet.