APRIL 14, 2014


Okay. So usually I fill you in on my news day, but I’m not in the mood to share details. I will say this: Two possible serial killers are off the streets after (allegedly) killing four, maybe more, prostitutes in Southern California.

See why I don’t want to expand? Let’s instead move on to the 100 Happy Days project, the thing that saves me when the weight of it all makes me sigh.

Unless you’ve been living under rock, most of you know that I write (and not just this blog). My first novel, MOTOR DOLLS, went into print last September after ten long years filled with rejections and frustrations.

One of the toughest hurdles to overcome when trying to get published is getting an agent. I got lucky with Motor Dolls and actually found one passionate enough about the project to sign me. But getting an agent is only one step. The agent must then get an editor on board, who must then get it through the editorial board at their publishing house. It’s a grueling process, one only a small percentage survive. Motor Dolls made it farther than most, but ultimately didn’t make the cut.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down the path again with my other novels, but on a whim about a year ago, I sent my latest manuscript, CALIFORNIA COTTON, to an agent. She liked the pitch and asked to read it. Over the last year, a couple emails went back and forth, the manuscript got passed around the agency for different parties to read, and finally–a year later–I have their notes in my hands. They’d like me to rework a few places and send the manuscript back. If you’re not in the writing world, you probably have no idea how rare it is to get feedback like this. I’m giddy about it. My 100 Happy Day moment came the second I opened the envelope.

On top of that great news? I also found out today that CALIFORNIA COTTON made it through to the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest!

SO… I’m setting aside the Motor Dolls sequel (for now), and diving back into California Cotton.

Right this very minute.

Until tomorrow…

Later gators!

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APRIL 13, 2014


I love adventures, always have, but it seems the older I get, the more I’m interested in those adventures being of the crowd free kind. Since taxes got in the way of our motorcycle adventure yesterday, we vowed to get out today, so this morning Brian went on the web to find a fun route, and found instead a listing for a small Pioneertown house for an impossibly low price. Just in case it wasn’t a mistake, we threw on some clothes, hopped in the Ram, and headed to the desert with every intention of buying the place if the listed price turned out to be true. Well… it kinda was/kinda wasn’t. It’s up for auction with the super low starting bid. Let’s just say for now, we’re going to investigate further. It’s not much to look at on the outside, but the inside has potential and the land! OH… the land. So very pretty, ideal for a 100 Happy Days post, right?

While we were out there, we went by a few other homesteader cabins for sale. In the fifties, the government gave out five acre parcels as long as you agreed to build a 400 square foot house on it. Many of them have rotted away, but quite a few still have potential, and since we’re looking at this as a weekend getaway/writing hideout, small isn’t an issue.

This one in North Joshua Tree, while not on the prettiest lot, had a fascinating house, like someone just walked away many years ago and left everything behind. The roof recently came off in part, so I imagine it won’t look like this much longer. What a trip, huh? Weirdly that dresser is the EXACT match for the vanity Brian bought me in Winslow. Bizarre man.

We found some treasures in the shed, like this lock, and this Nash visor mirror, but as much as we wanted to rescue them, we chose to be good humans and left them behind.

Because SO MANY images made me happy today, I made a collage for the official post, but here are my favorites, full size.

And certainly, one of our favorite moments of the day was when this dog leaped over his fence and ran along beside us on the dirt road, clocked at 20mph, bounding over bushes and desert junk. He was so stinkin’ cool.

Until tomorrow…

Later gators!

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APRIL 12, 2014


I fell asleep around nine with a stinking headache, and woke up at quarter to twelve remembering I never posted my 100 Happy Days picture!! WHEW!! I’d feel rotten if I failed just eleven days in. We’d planned on taking a little motorcycle ride, so that was going to be my picture, but then we realized we needed to do taxes. Ew. No happy picture there!!

I did enjoy seeing a couple fun things today, like our shop neighbor Brock’s 1931 VLD. It was nice to see one complete to get some ideas for our own VLD project.

 

It was also fun seeing this Ferrari our shop neighbor Chris had been working on loaded onto a flatbed.

 

But oh man… bed time felt especially good. And what made me happiest?? Remembering in the nick of time to post!!! and WOO HOO! Taxes are done! Nighty night!

Until tomorrow…

Later gators!

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APRIL 11, 2014


Another busy day, and I’m beat, so this will be a short one so I can go hop in the bathtub. Yee haw!! Baths make me SUPER happy, but since I’m not ready to post a nekked picture of myself on the web, I’d say bathing will not be included in the 100 Happy Days project. Just know what a significant place the tub holds in my heart.

First assignment of the day took me to Santa Ana, where the District Attorney holds an annual Victim’s Rights March and Rally.  I didn’t snap any stills of it since I was busy shooting video, but I did grab a shot of the old courthouse, which I really like…

 

I must have been in a cool building mood, because I also snapped this one while grabbing a cup of tea before the event, the old water building, one of my favorites in Santa Ana. I’m very happy it is now in process to become a restaurant. Someone needs to do something with this incredible place!

Just as I finished shipping in the video from the rally, I got my next assignment, to meet a reporter near LAX to interview friends and family of some of the kids involved in the horrific bus crash north of Sacramento. I’m not going to share details of the crash because I’m not in the mood to write sad stuff, and this is beyond sad.

SO… moving back to happy.

I passed Randy’s Donuts on my way to our first interview, a favorite for the spectacular giant donut, something that ALWAYS makes me happy. (Plus they really do have good donuts…)

The happy moment of the day, though, has to go to this tree. We weren’t parked in this neighborhood long, just enough to interview a mentor of one of the kids–a very bright, interesting guy–but I tell ya. This tree made me feel peaceful and content and happy and like I wanted to toss out a blanket and lay underneath of it for hours. I love the elegant sweep of the branches, and the wide canopy of leaves. Plus, it makes my beast of a newsvan look quite petite, don’t you think?

Okay. So not one of my better posts, but the bathtub is calling!!!!

Until tomorrow…

Later gators!

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APRIL 10, 2014


Woo wee! Today was one of those adrenaline fueled news days, the kind where you don’t even get a chance to… well… you know… Pee. Eww. Sorry to get so personal, but it really is an issue for news people stuck on a story. Not only could I not do–that–I certainly didn’t have time to look for my 100 Happy Days moment! Good thing it found me.

So why was I so busy? Because there was a suspect on the loose with a sawed-off shotgun, a guy who had shot at Tustin police and then ran off. For five hours, there were SWAT teams, and helicopters, and PD everywhere looking for this guy. The coolest part of the day? When the helicopter landed in the middle of the street, loaded two swat officers on either side, and took off again. So super cool! Their takeoff made for a great opening shot to our story.

 

So why didn’t I chose that picture as my 1oo Happy Days moment? Well… I don’t know. I still find it hard to call a news story like this where shots were fired at an officer and in a neighborhood where there are innocent bystanders, “happy.” Visually amazing? Yeah. Exciting? Hell yes! Awesome to feel the power of the helicopter blades? For sure. Not many people get to see the kinds of things I get to see up close. But happy? Can’t quite go there.

What made me SUPER happy today, was this:

Yes. That is a very sloppy almond butter and jelly sandwich, one I threw together at the last minute before leaving for work. I try to take my lunch every day knowing I could be in situations like this, but don’t always manage. Man, was I ever happy I had, since I was tied to the newsvan with no opportunity to go get something to eat. Around one o’clock, when I was starved out of my tree, I was SO SO happy to remember this little guy existed. It’s the simple things, remember?

That’s the face of a happy girl.

Oh! And they did end up catching the shooter after a resident saw him running through an apartment complex. The helicopter guys kept him in their sights as the ground swat moved in. He surrendered. Dude had quite the long rap sheet.

 

And now… I’m ready for some real food, so I’m going to call it a night.

Until tomorrow…

Later gators!

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APRIL 09, 2014


My feller can attest to the fact that I didn’t wake up with rainbows shooting out my ears this morning. Since January, I’ve had this lingering bug that keeps coming back, and seems to be especially bad in the mornings, this morning in particular. It didn’t help that I had a 7 AM call to be in court by 8:30. Ew. So yeah. I was pretty grouchy. It was going to be a challenge to find the happy for my 100 Happy Days.

For the most part, I’m a naturally happy person, but we all have our moments. That’s when this challenge comes in handy, a useful tool to get our minds going in the right direction even when everything in us wants to hold onto the grouchies. Here’s the thing though: negativity breeds negativity. You have to break the spell or it will compound and you’ll only get more unhappy. Not good.

Determined to not let it get the best of me, I kept my eyes open and found two things this morning that certainly made me smile. The first was this Cadillac I saw on my way to court. Wow! What a beauty, right? Classic cars always make me giddy, and honestly, I’m amazed I’ve made it an entire week without including one in my Happy Day posts.

 

In court, I was the pool camera, a common practice to minimize the number of people clogging the room. Basically, one person shoots, and then shares the video with everyone else–this time, an arraignment of a 28-year-old female math teacher accused of being sexually inappropriate with her thirteen to fifteen year old male students. Her father looked at me like I was scum for photographing his daughter’s shame, which is never fun, and didn’t help my mood. Okay. I needed MORE happy. PRONTO.

My solution? A treat. I know we shouldn’t placate with food, but sometimes a little sugar helps in an emergency. I’m not above using an aid like that. I popped into a new bakery in Fullerton called Layer Cake. Those who know me, know I have a thing for cake. The minute I walked in the doors, I felt happier, and not just because of the amazing pastry case. Aesthetically, the place totally worked for me. Old exposed brick walls, high ceilings, concrete floors. Maybe it’s been done to death, but it’s a look I really like.

 

I chose a chocolate almond croissant because it seriously looked like a PERFECT croissant. Most people’s taste buds have been ruined with Starbucks croissants and grocery store croissants, that are often chewy and flavorless with a bread-like texture. Not this one. It melted in my mouth. The almond paste gave a perfect crispness around the edges, and it had the ideal amount of dark chocolate inside. It quite simply was one of the best croissants I’ve had. Yes. It made me happy.

 

Sadly, about 20 seconds after I sat down with this beautiful piece of happiness, I got a text for my next assignment, so had to pack it up and hightail it out of there instead of savoring every moment. But it was an easy assignment. Just some exterior shots of a school district. No biggie. It didn’t set back my mood again.

So… do I feel happier now as the end of the day approaches? I’m still not feeling too hot, but I don’t feel grouchy anymore. How can I be grouchy looking at this two-fer post I did today? Pretty much can’t go wrong with cars or food in my world.

Until tomorrow…

Later gator!

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APRIL 08, 2014


The day began with a fire at an apartment construction site. A big one (both the fire and the complex). Granted, by the time I got there to cover it, the firemen were in the mop-up phase. Although fires are immensely interesting to shoot, I can’t call this my 100 Happy Days picture because there’s nothing happy about a property loss in the millions.

Just for humor sake, check out what happened to my 2002 Olympic souvenir boots after I got stuck in the mud covering the fire. Ha! The perils of the news biz: had to wear flip-flops the rest of the day.

 

Definitely one of the happiest moments of the day came after watching a story I shot last week about a guy teaching At Risk Youth how to compost. Usually, we edit our own work, but due to logistics and time, I had to ship my video in for someone else to edit–which didn’t thrill me. But I got lucky. Our chief photographer Sean Browning cut the story and did a phenomenal job. Many thanks to Sean for his editing, Tena for her writing, Keith for setting it up, and Conan for giving the story a voice.

But the 100 Happy Days picture has to be Ryan’s art.

 

A watercolor painting done by my truck loving Utah pal, Ryan Hadding. I first saw it on Instragram this morning and fell in love. Throughout the day, I kept going back to look at, and every time I did it made me smile. Now if I can convince him to paint the cover for one of my novels! I’m keeping my finger’s crossed.

Until tomorrow’s happy moment…

Later gators!

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APRIL 7, 2014


Unlike other days, I didn’t have a million options for my 100 Happy Days picture. I spent the morning in a Santa Ana courtroom shooting the opening statements on a very odd case about a man who hit his wit’s end with a bank after five years of trying to get answers to what happened to the contents of his safe deposit box. In frustration, the man in his fifties walked into the bank with a sawed off shotgun and pipe bombs, took the bank manager hostage, and demanded for her to call the bank’s VP so he could at last get answers, after which, he said he would kill himself. According to his defense attorney, he had no intention of hurting anyone other than himself. He just wanted answers. Not a lot of “happy” opportunities there, and even if there were, we’re not allowed to use camera phones in court.

From there, I dashed to another courtroom, this time in Westminster for an arraignment on a guy accused of evading police, crashing into a van and killing a passenger, a twelve year old girl, then fleeing the scene. Ew. There is NOTHING happy about that.

Days like this are exactly why I decided to take on the 100 Happy Days challenge, to remind myself how even when I’m bombarded with yuck, there is still an opportunity to find happiness.

Like this afternoon when I looked in the mirror and remembered what shirt I had put on: my Bentley Rules shirt. Yes, I fell for one of those Facebook mass ads to everyone named Bentley, and actually bought one. I wore this shirt for you today, Daddy, and thoughts of you always make me happy, as does being a proud BENTLEY.

Until tomorrow’s happy moment…

Later gators!

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APRIL 6, 2014


Okay. So I didn’t have a whole lot of interesting stuff happen today for my 100 Happy Days. Doing laundry is more of a necessity than something that makes me happy. Lounging in bed longer than I should have was nice, but it didn’t feel like an appropriate picture to post. The moment that really gave me the most happiness, was a pretty small one, but I’ve always been a believer in the little things.

After my shower, I sat out on the patio to let my hair dry in the sun. Yep. That’s it. Told you it was small, but dang, did it feel awesome.

So here it is. My Day Five Happy Picture.

Until tomorrow…

Later gators!

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APRIL 5, 2014


I had a nice plan for my Saturday 100 Happy Days picture. I was going to see some of my oldest (and best) friends at a bat mitzvah, something that made me super happy, but no. My stinking immune system of late failed, and I got sick AGAIN. Third time this year. Instead of going to the party and having fun, I had to stay home. On top of that, since feller now had a free day, he hopped on a Harley-Davidson Slim he’s been trying out and took off for a super fun motorcycle adventure, ditching my sick ass at home. Boo!

But wait. This blog is supposed to be about happy, so let’s just ignore all of that stuff I just wrote. I did in fact, find my happy. Instead of wallowing in sadness, I took the free, uninterrupted time, made a nice pot of that home-roasted coffee I love, and set up in our breakfast nook overlooking the kitchen patio to work on the Motor Dolls sequel. I wrote nearly all day and got tons accomplished, making me feel, not only happy, but mighty productive–even if I did have way too much gunk coming out of my head.

Happy4

Writing Time: Canon 7D, 70-200 lens.

Plus, those two mugs on the table, the skull and the cow–both gifts from my pal Jenny–really make me smile.

Until tomorrow…

Later gators!

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