Monthly Archives: April 2015

Book Excerpt: Roll with the Punches

Standard

Here’s an excerpt of Roll with the Punches:

I was just getting ready to call Marian’s copyright lawyer, Jack Pruitt, at lunchtime when my cell phone rang.

“Rhonda? Is that you?” said an older female voice.

“Yep. This is my cell phone.”

“It’s Arlene, honey. You don’t happen to know where your dad is, do you?”

Alarm bell. “No. He should be in Anaheim, at home.”

Polite Arlene minced words. “Well, Corliss Greene was with him this morning, but your father, well, maybe … kind of yelled at her or something. Your mother told her to make cereal for his breakfast, but Harold insisted on making eggs and bacon. I think it may have ended in kind of a … well, a food fight. Then he wanted to go see your mother right away, but Corliss was still cleaning up the kitchen. He got real impatient, I believe he swore some, and he took off, she thought for a walk. That was about 9:30 or so. She called me at my job an hour later when she realized he’d taken the car. She said she couldn’t work for a man with a mouth like that. She quit.”

Stomach sinking, I said, “So did he go see my mother?”

“He never showed up there. Nobody knows where he went. I got some neighbors to look in the neighborhood, but no luck. Your mother told me not to bother you, but it’s been almost three hours, and I’m really worried.”

Oh boy. Orange County was a giant place, and Dad was loose in it.

“I’m coming. Try the local donut shops, okay?”

Stooped, gray Marla in her stout librarian’s shoes was deeply unhappy at my leaving work early on a Friday, but I finally got a hall pass and flew back to Anaheim in my little Honda, like Boudicca in her chariot, ready to save her royal ancestor. On the way, I stopped at my condo for some fresh ice packs.

The Santa Ana winds had intensified overnight to produce a hot, dry, hazy October day. During my drive, my head filled with a blast of acrid wood smoke blowing in from wild fires in the hills near Silverado and Modjeska Canyons. My eyes watered and my nose ran. It was the type of day we Southern Californians used as an excuse for arson, murder, and bad hair.

When I pulled up at the curb outside the folks’ house, I had already peeled off my green linen jacket. I ran inside. A quick tour of the suffocating house revealed no sign of Music Man, not even the old blue Chevy in its normal mooring place. In the middle of the family room, I slammed my bag on the brown shag carpet, shed all my clothes except my underwear, and screamed loudly. Then I flipped on the cranky old air conditioning, crouched low under the kitchen window and Arlene’s visual radar, and slapped together a peanut butter sandwich at the kitchen countertop, all the while trying to read Dad’s mind.

Where are you, you old coot?

But my sports bra and underpants were soaked with sweat. So I popped them in the microwave and found a chunk of ice to rub on my stomach and chest and stood in front of the family room air vent feeling quite free in an odd sort of way. The hall mirror showed me a slightly rounded Roman statue of Pomona, goddess of fruit, come to life. Me. Au naturel. I posed a second for the glass. Not bad, except for the dorky sandals.

Then, just like my karate-loving brothers at age five, running around with weenies flapping at bath time, my lack of clothes freed the real Pomona inside me. I stretched like a cat, working out muscle stiffness, and danced a swirly, twirly dance around the room. As I did, my goddess energy shifted more toward Athena in battle, throwing air punches at the mirror and striking defensive stances. I snatched a pot lid for my shield and lashed out with a stirring spoon, my spear, then whirled and stuck the butcher knife deep into my imaginary opponent’s invisible heart. A high kick at his compadres with my magic sandal finished the job.

Which was when Dal walked in the garage door and got a comprehensive view of everything I had to offer. Faster than a speeding bullet, I was down the hall, leaving the spoon and butcher knife suspended in mid-air like in Tom and Jerry cartoons. Then silence. For long minutes.

“Could you throw me my bra? It’s in the microwave,” I finally yelled.

Pause. It sailed down the hall.

I waited. “And my underwear?”

It came after another pause, with elastic now as limp as old celery.

“You nuke elastic?” he said.

“Never,” I yelled. “Clothes?”

“Why?” He laughed.

When I came out in Mom’s robe, he was rooting in the fridge. “This house has unexpected and wondrous views.” he murmured to the lettuce.

“Mm-hmm,” I agreed, appreciating my view of a tightly muscled rear end and some long, sleek, brown legs disguised in old cut-offs and Nikes. Not bad. “Forget what you saw or you die.” I bit into my sandwich.

He closed the fridge and turned, imperious with all that startling nose. A smile quirked his lips. “Not sure it’s possible,” he said, then laughed.

*           *           *

After I’d changed, I found him out on the driveway, unloading his over-stuffed silver Toyota. “Have you seen my dad?” I asked, holding a cold Coke to my forehead. It was still mercilessly hot out.

He was arranging an armload of long metal pipes, two-by-fours, saws, and other tools, including some evil-looking axes, on and around the workbench in the garage, ponytail wagging as he bent and lifted.

“No, I just got here. Your car was here and the garage door was open. So I …” He stacked a giant plastic bin full of scrap metal on top of a pile next to the workbench.

I said, “Listen, Music Man took off in the car three hours ago. No one knows where he is.” A little frantic note crept into my voice.

He stopped and looked at me. “Music Man?”

“Dad. Harold Hamilton, Harold Hill. He was in the school play.”

“He’s not at the hospital?”

“Never went there. He’s been gone for hours.”

“And your little naked dance in there was aimed at getting him home fast?” He frowned.

“I was nuking my underwear. I couldn’t call the police naked.” I pulled out my phone and dialed the police as I spoke, and got put on hold.

“Why not? People do it all the time.”

“Not me.”

He gave me a measuring look. “You seem relieved.”

“Huh?”

He shrugged. “He’s wandered off. Pardon my bluntness, but isn’t that a perfect excuse to put him in assisted living and not have to deal with him anymore?”

“What the—! Who asked you? See, I work for a living. I can’t be here every minute. And I didn’t lose him. He took off.” The police operator finally picked up, and I barked out all the pertinent information into my phone, including Dad’s driver’s license and license plate number. I’d memorized them long ago.

Dal’s eyes were unreadable. “Was he alone this morning?”

Hanging up, I turned on him, blood in my eye. “You mean did I leave him alone just to give him the chance to wander off so I’d have an excuse to commit him? Boy, are you a snake.” I stomped into the house to get my purse and an apple.

He was waiting in the yard, an eyebrow raised, when I got back outside.

I burst out, “Look, everyone says he’s fine. The doctor said he should stay home, and he agrees. So we’re trying that. He doesn’t want a keeper, but he takes off when he’s left alone. At least in one of those assisted living places, we could locate him. But why am I talking to you? According to you, whatever I do with him is wrong.” I got in my car and slammed the door. My butt bruises screamed. I’d forgotten to bring an ice pack.

He stood impassive in the yard, arms crossed.

I wrestled with my seat belt, still grumbling. “He was so obnoxious that his companion left today. But I’m the one to blame! The doctor assured me—” The seat belt would not unroll. “—all Dad needed was a normal life.” Tug. “At home to get past the stress—” Tug. “—of Mom’s surgery and my sister’s moving.” I looked up and he was gone. I fought the damn thing for several minutes and got as manic as my sister on prom day.

Then suddenly he appeared at the driver’s side window and shoved three more cold Cokes at me. “Move over. I’ll drive.”

“This is my car, and someone needs to be at the house in case he comes home.”

“The neighbor’s right next door, and you’re too mad to drive.”

“A minute ago you blamed me for leaving him alone,” I complained, scooting over painfully. I hated women who always handed over the steering wheel whenever a Y chromosome entered a car. But I was too hot and frustrated for more protest.

The seat belt worked like silk for him, and he swung the car into the street. “Is there somewhere we should check, some favorite place where he might spend three hours?”

I held a Coke to my rib cage, then took a swig.

He said, “Some restaurant? A library? A bar? The beach?”

“That’s it!” I said. “The beach. He loves the beach. There are only a few thousand miles of that to search.”

 

Adventures on Twitter with Janet E.

Standard

Twitter and I are not intuitively linked in any way, shape or form. I prefer Facebook. Or a phone conversation. Or face-to-face chats. Old school communication. Talk to me. I hate symbols. I write long. I write books with 120,000 words. Short stories with 10,000 words are just barely adequate for me. Flash fiction at 250 words? I suck at it. 140 characters is not enough to characterize a sneeze for me, much less meaningful communication.

But I have been talked into tweeting by the self-publishing wizards I’ve met on Facebook. I made a few crappy attempts at promoting my work to my 15 followers, not quite understanding the uses of # and @, and generally failing at leaving promo posts on Facebook that were supposed to be easily re-tweetable.

So I stepped back, away from Tweet-land. Then on Facebook one day, a friend said there was a thing going on about #WomenWriteFunny. I went on Twitter and tried a while and finally found the thread. I thought, this is a free-for-all. Go for it. So I tweeted, “@janetevanovich is the Queen of #WomenWriteFunny.” I mean she is. She really is. She blows up a car in every book, and her characters eat donuts without apology. What’s not to like? Then I went off and did things I feel much more comfortable with. Like dishes and dog-petting.

So today, I went back on Twitter, just for kicks. Well, not exactly. It was because I got duped by a fake story of Prince William and Kate having their baby and announcing it on Twitter. Riiiiiiiiight. Silly me. Anyway, I followed 100 people and then I checked my notifications. Janet Evanovich, my favorite funny writer, my go-to when stressed, had favorited my silly #WomenWriteFunny tweet!

I’m featured on Therese Gilardi’s blog today!

Standard

My wonderful friend Therese, who has a long and wonderful relationship with Paris and France, is hosting my book Roll With The Punches today! Thanks, Therese!

See the post at https://theresegilardi.wordpress.com/

Thanks for following!

Alice in Monologue Land Excerpt

Standard

Alice cover 1

Alice shoved the scripts at Maya like she was sending a salad with a caterpillar back to the chef. She owed Maya something in return for the lunch, but reading one of these scripts? Aloud? On stage? No. Her whole body constricted at the thought.

Maya shuffled through them. “No, not ‘Venus Interrupted.’ It’s about the killing of innocent women all over the world. You know, like those awful honor killings and dowry deaths in Asia, the maquiladora killings in northern Mexico, and female infanticide in places like China.”

A chill went up Alice’s spine, and she heard Kali giggle from her shelf.

“Too depressing for you,” Maya said. “Ah, here. Try ‘Venus Nipples.’ Start here.” She shoved the whole script pile back at Alice, pointing to the top one with her long, slim index finger, so tan and refined next to the graffitied cast below it. “Aloud.”

Alice obeyed out of old habit. “I am Venus’s rosy, erect n-n-nipple, open and tamarind sweet, full and ripe and waiting, pulsing to nourish the world. My dark au-au-aureole, its rich coffee halo roots taste of warm bergamot, yearns and blooms, aches a saxophone echo of my plummy, t-tart Venus l-l-labia, q-q-quivers the sweet, tender—”

“Going to lunch with us, Maya?” came a tenor voice from the doorway.

“Ahh!” Alice lurched upright, clutching the scripts to her chest.

A shaggy male head in a worn-out baseball cap appeared at the office doorway. “Oh. You have company.” She saw worn brown corduroy pants on a medium, stocky build. His Birkenstocks stepped inside the doorway.

Alice saw a chance to bolt.

Maya said, “Hi, Joe. Lunchtime already? Alice, this is Joe Dancy from art history. He and I eat with a group of colleagues on Fridays.”

Alice stood and took a step, but her long, flowered skirt caught on her chair leg. Rip. Pulled off balance, she grabbed Maya’s desk, and the bundle of scripts fell through her grasp like pornographic confetti.

“Whoops!”

Private female words danced around the office floor like a bunch of naughty four-year-olds. Alice dove at the scripts, ripping her skirt farther.

But Joe, Boy Scout-quick, was already kneeling and chuckling at the top script. “Nipples? Lick me, suck, me, and drag me howling to your famished depths? Whoa, momma!”

Maya grabbed the script. “Joe, Alice here teaches ESL part time.”

In her mad scramble after pages, Alice mumbled hello.

Maya said, “Alice, what was your last name again? I’m sorry. My memory plays more tricks than Kali and Shiva together.”

“Hey, don’t call in your demons, Maya,” Joe grumbled. “I’ve got enough trouble this week, thank you.”

Alice finally looked up to see a wild sandy beard and sandy eyebrows to rival Groucho’s. Joe’s gray eyes lit up as he glanced at another script. “A climactic, pulsing, reverberating sunrise of glossy, moist, pink vibrations?”

Alice wrenched the whole paper mess from his hand. “Hi. I’m Alice.”

“Alice …?” he said expectantly.

“Chalmers.” Three … two … one. Alice evened the stack of papers and checked that her cell phone was on in case one of her kids barfed at school or her house caught fire. The best thing about her ESL students and city folks in general was that they didn’t blink at her famous name brand.

Joe nabbed three more scripts from the floor. “Oh, Nora Rohmer mentioned you.” Nora Rohmer was ESL department head. “She and I just served on the technology committee together. She likes your enthusiasm for the new classroom computers. They were her idea, you know.”

What a relief not to have to discuss her name further. “Always glad to be in good with the full-timers.” Alice performed her I-love-this-job-so-much-couldn’t-I-just-have-an-office-and-tenure-with-a-side-of-benefits? smile.

A wiry young woman with low-slung cargo pants, tiny tank top, four-inch platform clogs and Coke-bottle glasses slouched in. She reeked of cigarette smoke and fresh nail polish. “Lunch time, Maya. Get a move on! I f-messed up my toenail. Gotta get to a nail place. Now.”

“Go ahead, Lila,” Maya said. “I’ll lock up if we’re long.” She frowned. “Wait. Alice Chalmers. Isn’t that a famous actress?”

Joe fingered his beard. “No, I’m thinking a porn star.”

“Joe,” Maya laughed. “No sexual harassment. Please!”

Lila clomped back to her desk, shaking her head.

Then the corner of Joe’s mouth went up. “Oh. Allis Chalmers.” His eyes twinkled like a sandy Surfer Santa on a Laguna Beach Christmas card. “Listen, I’ve got car trouble. Do you rent out for towing? Or even better, for spring planting? My garden really needs work.”

“It’s not easy being green,” Alice sang. “Eight cylinders. Always towing a wide load, sowing seeds of knowledge, spreading around loads of sh—manure.”

Maya said. “Seeds? Manure? Are you a gardener, Alice? But a green toe? Isn’t it a green thumb?”

Joe cocked an eyebrow. “Alice will tell us over lunch. Won’t you?”

Buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Monologue-Land-Amy-Gettinger-ebook/dp/B00VVK8NFM

Spotlight on Amy Gettinger – Author of “Roll With The Punches”

Standard

Look what my good friend and great admirer Paul De Lancey (Captain of Paul’s Fighting Flying Squirrel Squadron) did! He highlighted my book on his blog! Check it out for a fun excerpt from Roll With The Punches!!

Spotlight on Amy Gettinger – Author of “Roll With The Punches”.

I’m getting book reviews, good ones!

Standard

On March 24, I published my first novel, Roll With The Punches. It took 10 years to write and rewrite and rewrite and slice back and reconfigure and rewrite. Finally, this month, I got the courage to release it to the wild, sort of like those red-tailed hawks and Cooper’s hawks and kestrels and barn owls and great horned owls we released back into the wild after months of rehab with the OC Bird of Prey Center this week. Then I got crazy and released my second book, Alice in Monologue Land. It had taken 12 years to accomplish to my satisfaction. Twelve years of writing–learning to write, getting the words just so, so they tell the story I want and flow and are funny. Problem with my books is they have never flown before like those raptors, and I now feel like a true Helicopter Mom, trying to get them to fly and then teach them how to stay aloft.

I got a wonderful book review right out of the gate from my long-time best friend, Lenore, who had read the book a while back and enjoyed it. Then many dry days went by until my sister read the book and wrote quite a glowing review, which I really had not expected. (Thank you, Mary!) Yay! 2 great reviews! I was happy. But according to the Powers Of Book Promotion, 2 is not enough. I must find more, many more. All wonderful, all valid reviews. So I’ve begged and pleaded for days for more reviews. I’ve walked the streets of Orange County, hawking books and begging tourists and passing fat men for reviews. (LOL, no. I’ve learned to tweet and pimp out the book something outrageous on Facebook–which is just as bad. And I must say tweeting is for the birds and liking for like’s sake is just weird.)

So yesterday, I checked my FB as usual, which is now taking all day long, with all the writers’ sites I’ve joined. I had requested a review from a top-500 Amazon reviewer, Dianne at Tome Tender Blog. And there it was!! My review!! My big, fat, awesome book review!!! I was thrilled! I am thrilled! Here is a link to my big, fat awesome book review

http://tometender.blogspot.com/2015/04/roll-with-punches-story-of-roller-derby.html?zx=cd2c7253e6ccc176

 

for my big, fat awesome book!!

http://www.amazon.com/Roll-Punches-Roller-Alzheimers-Plagiarism-ebook/dp/B00V5B3W12