Thursday, July 27, 2017

Time for a change

I grayed prematurely, and when I was thirty-eight I decided to stop coloring my hair. My agent thought it was a mistake, saying casting directors would think I was older. I didn’t care how old they thought I was, as long as I worked. That agent dropped me, but I kept on working. I went from the bride to the mother of the bride overnight, and I was right: those checks cashed just the same.

From Brides Magazine

Thursday, June 1, 2017

New wave nursing

My very first paying job in L.A. was for a music video for a song called "A Little TLC" on the Saturday the morning cartoon, Kidd Video in 1984. I'm on the right, cast as a new wave nurse by the director, Bud Schaetzle, who later cast me in several other videos. He made me a waltzing mannequin, a zombie, and directed my first on-screen kiss. It was always a pleasure to work for Bud, but I was particularly grateful for this first Hollywood gig.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A late start, a long shot

I started modeling at 23 in Charlotte, NC, and was told because I was already so old, my career would be short. It only lasted a few decades.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The start of something ...

This was an outtake from my first print job in Los Angeles. The client was Parachute. Steven Arnold was the photographer, and Paul Starr, the makeup artist. Sadly, both are now gone. I wrote about this in a book that may or may not be published one day:

“When I look at it, I see a young, na├»ve girl, hidden behind thick false eyelashes and dark brown lipstick, waiting for her life to happen, and not even realizing what an amazing moment has been captured—the start of her life in L.A.”

Friday, December 23, 2016

In my past life ...

When I lived in Hollywood, my long relationship with Elvira began when I was hired to be her photo double in her first film. Working on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark changed my life. Click here for a little video that previews interviews for the upcoming Blu-ray version of the DVD.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Postcards from Phoenix: Saluting a writingy town in the writingest state

Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, September 15, 2016

I didn't start writing until I was 49. Two years later I moved back to North Carolina after living 27 years in California, not even realizing I had chosen to reside in the writingest state.

While in Tryon, I immersed myself in writeriness, embracing my writerhood, and was happily amazed that Tryon embraced it as well.

I knew very little about Tryon when I moved there, but I quickly learned that it wraps its arms around the arts in a big way.

I knew I had a lot to learn about writing and the world around it, so the first thing I did was join the North Carolina Writers Network and attend one of their fall conferences. I signed up for workshops and watched panel discussions and met writers and editors I'm still friends with today. Let's face it, I could sit and talk to writers about writing all day long. In fact, I used to do just that at Openroad whenever I could.

After I moved to Phoenix, I started looking for groups to join. I found a great workshop I wanted to take at a conference, but when I went to register online for the class, I learned it was for women writers in Arizona who are Mormon. Um ... back to Google for me. I am trying, honestly.

I did join the Phoenix Writers Club, and just entered one of their writing contests. I also received an invitation to join a neighborhood book club through a friend of a Facebook friend, and am looking forward to meeting a new group of book-loving women. (Now I can stop bugging Mary Ann Claud by emailing and asking what our Tryon book club is reading these days--other than her wonderful books, naturally.)

Of course, I'll continue my quest for ultimate writerization here in Arizona, but I have no doubt I'll always keep a corner of my keyboard in Tryon's literary affairs.

Technically, I suppose I'm no longer on the steering committee of Tryon Writers, but I still watch their Facebook feed with great interest, and I occasionally add to it.

Imagine my delight when I saw today there will be a Mystery Day at Lanier Library on October 15! This caused me to jump up from my desk and do the traditional writers' workshop celebration dance, finally feeling the anticipation every female Mormon writer in Arizona knows.

Yes, that's right, Mystery Day will include a mystery writing workshop! North Carolina author Mark de Castrique will be teaching the workshop for writers of all levels with a focus on "character, setting, theme and plot." Mark is the author of 16 mystery novels, 11 of which are set in Asheville or a fictional North Carolina mountain town. Who knows, you just might make an impression on him and find yourself murdered in his next book!

I didn't think anything could make me love Lanier Library more, but I was wrong. Mystery Day, people!

There is a limit to the number of writers who can take the class, though, so grab your seat while you can.

If you just can't wait until October 15 to get your fill of literary fun, I have another idea for you. Mark your calendars for October 6 at 4 p.m. That's when North Carolina author Danny Johnson will be stopping by The Book Shelf for a reading and signing of his debut novel, The Last Road Home. One renowned author called it "gripping, beautifully written, and satisfying." Actually that was me, but he's also gotten amazing reviews from real superstar North Carolina authors as well as his quickly amassing following of devoted readers. (Note to self: email Mary Ann with this book club rec.)

In full disclosure, I must tell you that Danny Johnson is one of the writers I met at the North Carolina Writers Network conference way back when I was a new writer and a renewed North Carolinian. I'm so proud of his book, set on a North Carolina tobacco farm in the 60s.

I've promised Danny that Tryon loves writers and good books, and that people will come to his Book Shelf signing in droves, so don't make me look bad. I'm hoping he'll be so happy with the turnout that he'll write me into his next novel. I'll be the smart sultry white-haired, yet still youngish, tobacco farmer that saves the town and possibly the world. Sounds like a bestseller to me.

I also see on Facebook that Tryon now has one of those mini free lending libraries. So if October is a month you don't have money to spare for writing workshops or books, look no further than St. Luke's Plaza. Take a book and leave one for the next person. (But make sure you're supporting Tryon's bookshops when you can!)

The Facebook photo of our new Little Free Library (Yes, it's a thing. Look it up!) showed a cute little pot belly stove full of books, just waiting for eager readers to plunder it. Tryon mystery writer extraordinaire Mark Schweitzer built the structure with the same talented hands that penned his super popular liturgical mystery series. (Hey, Mark: The Columnist Wore Culottes. Now get to work!)

If it sounds like I'm just sitting here in Phoenix, crying over my laptop while I scroll through Tryon Facebook pages, well ... okay, I kind of am. Don't feel bad for me though! Get out there and enjoy Tryon. Read and write and explore. You live in a writey spot. Enjoy it.

Click here to buy this book!

Click here to buy this book!


Click here to buy this book!
Click here to buy this book!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Postcards from Phoenix: Trying and failing to own my new home

Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, September 1, 2016

It's been over a year now since I moved from my fairytale life in Tryon to Phoenix. I wish I could say I love it here. It's not that I don't like the city or my life; I just don't own it.

I have Facebook friends from all over the world. If I want to know something about New York, I ask a New Yorker. Curious about Oslo? Ask my Norwegian friend. But if you want to know about Phoenix, don't ask me. It's not mine.

When I babysat for my nephew once when he was a toddler, he sobbed when I dropped him off at home. We'd had such a fun day together, when I put him in his father's arms and walked away, he cried out, "Don't leave me here! This is not my building!"

Of course it was his home, but that feeling--that he wished to be somewhere else--was so heartfelt, adorable, and funny, even. Like many phrases and words children in my family have coined, "It's not my building" came to be part of our language.

And I'm here to tell you: This is not my building.

Making new friends in Tryon was effortless. When I moved from California to Tryon, I told my mother I was sad to leave all my L.A. friends behind, and she said, "You'll make new friends." I almost laughed. After living in L.A. and collecting friends for 27 years, I just couldn't imagine how I'd make new ones so easily anywhere else.

But they don't call Tryon the friendliest town in the South for nothing. In my first week there, I'd walk into a shop or restaurant and get asked, "Who are you? Where do you live? When did you get here?" I go into a store here in Phoenix and get bupkis. I could volunteer personal information to the cashier or salesperson, but somehow I don't think I'd get the same result I got in Tryon.

I know I do need to make more of an effort to meet people here, but it's hard to go out when it's 800 degrees every day. By the time I dash to my car in the driveway, I'm drenched in sweat, and no longer desirable as anyone's new chum. And I don't even want to think what a haboob could do to my hair.

I live beside a beautiful park, but can't walk my dogs because their paws would melt. I tried walking them in the early part of the morning when it's only 102 outside, but I nearly passed out from the exertion. When I let my Chihuahuas out into the back yard to do their business, I have to carry them like footballs as I dash from one shady corner of the yard to another.

I joined Nextdoor, a phone app that connects neighbors to each other, and while it has been helpful in getting information, it's just not as fun as drinking wine on the front porch at our house in Tryon, which was a sure way to meet the neighbors there.

I sit in my air conditioned home here and read on Nextdoor about stolen bicycles, burglaries, shady characters spotted on the street, and think maybe it's best to just stay inside anyway. I'd forgotten about big city crime after living in a safe small town for four years. It's enough to make a person paranoid. Or at least more homesick.

I posted a question on Nextdoor, asking if people here recommended buying generators for their homes. We've lost power 5 times in a year, always on a day with record-breaking highs, and of course, when Paul's out of town and all I can do is sit in the dark hot house and hope the dogs and I don't spontaneously combust.

One nice lady sent me her phone number, probably sensing I was pitifully lonely. I promised to call her, and maybe we could take a walk in the park together. In October.

I'll stop complaining now. After all, I am fortunate to get to live in my nice little Phoenix house with corners of shade in the yard. We have pretty potted plants on the patio we only have to water twice a day, and a couple of them are still alive.

Paul loves his job here, and I get to write as much as I want. And thank goodness for Facebook and email and FaceTime. I can keep up with my favorite town and all the friends it was so easy to make there and so hard to leave behind.

So think of me when your weather turns cool, and you greet friends as you stroll down Trade Street. On Fridays, tell everyone in Shelly's I miss them. Order the strawberry cake at Nana's that used to have my name on it. Take your dogs to Harmon Field and smell the green grass, listen to the babbling creek, watch the kids play worry-free.

I'll be back for a visit soon, eager and ready for my Tryon fix.
Colorful pots and whimsical garden art can turn any house into a home.