Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memory of Dr. Jagdish C. Dhawan

Last Wednesday evening, May 25, 2011, I received a text message from Roopa, one of my best friends:

My Dad died today. Suddenly.

It's all just been a blur since then. At the funeral service family and friends were invited to speak words of remembrance and to celebrate the life of Dr. Jagdish Dhawan. I wanted to speak, but was in no state to control my emotions long enough to get what I wanted to say out. Had I been stronger, this is what I would have liked to say to celebrate the life of my Uncle:

I first met Uncle in 1998 or 1999 and the first things that struck me were his infectious smile and his ability to make other people laugh. He and Auntie treated me like their daughter from day one, and their son Rinku has always treated me like like his younger sister. And Roopa and I have had a typical sister-like relationship, we laugh, we disagree, we agree, we cry together and then laugh again. The Dhawans are family. There are so many memories that I would like to share, but a few always come to the forefront of my mind when I think of Uncle.

Back around 1999 or 2000, I was over at Roopa's apartment and Uncle and Auntie were visiting. Uncle was baking salmon in the oven. I never knew he was such a great chef. He taught me how to prepare the fish and surround the fillet with onions and tomatoes. And rather than twiddling our thumbs while we waited for the fish to bake for almost forty five minutes, he kept us entertained by asking us about school and making us laugh. Together we would check on the fish periodically and when we finally sat down at the dinner table, I can say that was the best salmon I had ever eaten. About a year or two ago, I told Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) that I wanted to make salmon "Uncle Style." S.D. was game, so we gave it a go. It came out ok. Waiting out the bake time was almost torture, and I realized it was because we were missing Uncle's entertainment, and when we at the fish it was yummy but not as delectable as that day back in 2000. I think the cooking was missing the main ingredient: Uncle's love.

This past December Roopa and Rishi were married in Miami. Uncle, was beaming the entire weekend, the happiest Father of the Bride EVER. Two days before the wedding, Uncle took Roopa and her friends out to eat at this amazing Greek restaurant. Roopa had just had bridal mendhi applied to her hands, arms, feet and legs, so she wasn't able to touch anything for fear of smearing the mendhi. We all watched Uncle lovingly feed his daughter with his own hands. Then once our stomachs were full we (including Uncle and Auntie) started dancing on top of the tables, in between the tables, and we were throwing napkins in the air, screaming Ooopa!!  I found this video clip this morning. I don't even remember filming it, but I think it shows how much of a fun loving person Uncle was and how much he loved his wife:

Uncle, you left us before we were ready to let you go. I would have loved to see your smiling face at my own wedding or watch you bounce your first grandchild on your knee. But, I guess God needed you more.

Here is a link to the obituary. Dr. Dhawan was an esteemed professor at the University of South Alabama and a scholarship has been set up in his memory.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Dr. Jagdish C. Dhawan Memorial Endowed Book Award. Contributions to this fund should be directed to the USA Development Office; TRP III, Ste. 2150; Mobile, AL 36688.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Winner of Possession ARC!!

Drum roll please. Turn in a circle three times then remove your blindfold.



When Ru isn't fawning over her coveted stain glass window she thwarts government mind control by being super boring. Hope you can handle reading Possession, Ru, because it is anything short of boring. Please e-mail me at productofanillusion at gmail dot com so that you may claim your prize.

For those of you who couldn't come up with more ingenious ways to triumph over government mind control or make me laugh, you can still purchase a copy of Possession when it debuts on June 7th, and learn tips from Vi and Jag.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Memory of Mrs. Marianne Dotson, 1926-2011

Mrs. Dotson was my first skating coach and passed away on May 22, 2011. She instructed me between the ages of about twelve and fifteen. The relationship between a figure skating coach and student is unique and far more personal than in some other sports. I saw Mrs. Dotson five days a week, and even if I didn't have a lesson scheduled with her everyday, she always had her eye on me, and was molding me into a better person.

I can still hear her saying to me in her German accent, "One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. Leg through and Jump," when she taught me how to do my first axel. 

I remember how for the life of me I couldn't do a camel spin in front of her because I would get so nervous. So she would turn her back to me and watch me spin in the reflection of the glass. It would make her laugh every time.

I remember how much she liked my backward outside pivot and always found a place for them in my programs.

I remember how proud she was when I did well in competition and how she encouraged me to never stop trying when I fell.

I remember how she encouraged me to eat healthy. "If the hips get too wide you can not rotate." As a teen, I rarely, if ever, ate french fries, potato chips, etc... I wish I had the will power to eat that healthy now. Oh, Mrs. Dotson, if you could only see my hips now.

When she told me that I should become an ice dancer, even though I didn't take her advice for almost five years, she was right. She always had her student's best interest at heart.

Mrs. Dotson taught me more than skating, she taught me life lessons such as the importance of punctuality, responsibility, and perseverance. I still remember the day she taught me responsibility. I had left my skating music in my locker at school and she was livid with me. And she had every right to be angry. How were we supposed to train my program without my music? And since that day, which was about fifteen or sixteen years ago, I have never once stepped onto the ice with out my music if I was training a program.

When my family didn't have enough money to pay for my training, Mrs. Dotson allowed me to assist her when she taught classes in lieu for ice time and helped me get a scholarship to help with skating expenses. I will never forget that opportunity she gave me.

And as the years went by, whether I would run into her at a test session, competition, or just a casual passing in the lobby of the skating rink, she always greeted me with a smile and called out, "Anita!" in her signature accent. She always asked about school and was proud of the fact that I kept testing and skating throughout college and graduate school. I remember one time she said, "There isn't a test session that Anita isn't skating at."

And lastly, in her passing, she taught me the importance of humility. Growing up, I think I knew that she was Miss Belgium in 1952, but I honestly can't remember. It's not something that she ever brought up. But, it wasn't until she passed that I learned she was a competitor in the 1952 Miss Universe Pageant or that she starred in movies in Hollywood and Belgium under the name of Myriam Lynn. Before the funeral service I was able to glimpse for a few minutes the many stunning beautiful pictures of her. I wish I could have stayed longer to see them all.

Mrs. Dotson you made a positive mark not only on my life, but the lives of all of your students, family, and friends. My only regret is that I didn't come see you this past December at the ice show in Huntsville. I had work to do and couldn't make the trip. I would have loved to have seen you smile and hear you say my name in that way that you only could.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Dotson.

Donations can be made in her honor to the Marianne Dotson Scholarship Fund at Municipal Ice Complex, Attn: Friends of Recreational Ice Activities 3185 Leeman Ferry Rd, Huntsville, Al 35801.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ken Jeong, aka Dr. Chang

Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) texted this to me yesterday:
 Professor Chang is a real life doctor.

Actor Ken Jeong is not only the villain from Hangover that shared his Bojangles with the entire world, but he also plays the character Professor Chang on NBC's hilarious sitcom Community, amongst other well known roles the past couple of years.

So, when I see Ken Jeong who is not only licensed to practice internal medicine in the state of California, but also in the past four years has had a meteoric rise into movie stardom, I can't help but be inspired by that.

According to wikipedia, Mr. Jeong began developing his stand up comedy while he was doing his residency in New Orleans. Does this remind you of anyone? You perhaps? Working a full time job, but still trying to pursue your dreams as a writer on the side?

Ken Jeong didn't give up, and neither should you.

Don't forget to enter to win a free copy of Possession by Elana Johnson here. Contest ends midnight on 5/25/11.

Monday, May 23, 2011


It makes me all sorts of happy to see that my blog now has one hundred followers. It frequently astounds me that there are people out there that take time out of their busy lives to read what I have to say. So I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who reads, comments, or has clicked that on the FOLLOW button. Thank you! Thank you!

I also wanted to remind everyone of the Possession ARC Book Give Away Contest that ends midnight on May 25, 2011. The author of Possession, Elana Johnson, wrote a really cool post today on Jemi Fraser's blog about world building. Check it out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Characters That Stay With You

A few weeks back one of my critique partners mentioned that while she was doing the dishes she found herself thinking about Maya and Fabian, two of the main characters in my novel, Shift. She said that they were the kind of characters that stayed with you long after you finished reading.

This was probably one of the best compliments I had ever received about my writing because I totally get what she means.

After I finished reading the Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare, I thought about Jace, Clary, Simon, Isabelle, Alec, Luke, etc... for days. I think I even dreamed about certain scenes from the book. I felt the same way about the character's in Maggie Stiefvater's books Shiver and Linger. And also *cough* Edward *cough* and Bella *cough**cough.* Excuse me. Allergy season is horrid down here in Alabama right now.

So today being May 20th, the release date of Pirates of the Carribean 4, I don't think you can even comprehend how excited I am about seeing this guy again:
Jack Sparrow is the epitome of one of those characters that you'll never forget. I thought about him and his antics for days after I finished watching Pirates 1, 2, and 3.

I want to remind everyone of the Possession ARC give away. Go to this post to enter and for contest details. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Possession ARC GIVE AWAY!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading Elana Johnson's soon to be published Possession, set to debut on June 7, 2011. And I want to share the fun.

Step 1: Leave a comment on this post in which you do one of the following:
  • Share what your greatest possession is. Please don't list people because we all know that our loved ones are the most important things in our lives.
  • Tell me how you would thwart governmental mind control.
  • Make me laugh.
Step 2: If you aren't already, become a follower.

Contest is open for entries from today until midnight of May 25, 2011. The comment I find most intriguing will be the winner. Contest is open to U.S. Residents only.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day One

You know how sometimes people say, I wish I had time to pick the roses?

Well, that's what I did with my new found time. Much to my surprise, the knock-out rose bushes on the side of my house had grown so tall that the flowers were touching the roof. I promise I didn't give them any mutant plant food or genetically modify them.

I cut the ones I liked and the photo on the left depicts my shoddy attempt at flower arranging.

And as always I must find a way to tie this into writing or skating or laughter, because someone might say that the banner of this blog is misleading in it's ideals.

So here goes...

I think it's important to be happy and to have free time to do whimsical things such as cut mutant roses from your garden. Because these little things are part of life, and the more of life we experience, the richer our writing will become.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I have a poster in my home office of Mr. Walt Disney standing on a bleak stretch of empty land. Behind him is a faded dream-like image of the ever-famous castle that we all know as the icon of Disney motion pictures and the Magic Kingdom itself. Beneath the photo is the word VISION in big white letters and then there is a quote under it from Mr. Walt Disney:

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

I love this poster because it inspires me. I've recently made some drastic decisions in my life that I think are for the better (aka more time to clean my oven, be happy, cut that second toe nail that keeps digging into the skin of my big toe, play with my kitties more, catching up on weeks of unwatched episodes of Dancing with the Stars, continue crying a little for James Durbin getting kicked off of Idol yesterday, and most importantly write the best book that I can). I hope the outcome of these decisions will allow me to reach my vision, my dream for my life.

Happy writing!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

To all the writers and authors out there that are mothers, and to all the mothers that aren't writers or authors: Happy Mother's Day!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Nearing the End...

I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel despite the fact that this past weekend I had to gut and rebuild the walls of the metaphorical tunnel that is my manuscript.

You know how last week I said the middle of a story is murky? Yeah, well the middle is nothing compared to the last chunk. The last chunk is riddled with pot holes and little demons that chant you suck, this story sucks, and you have bad hair. And I can't tell you how much better it made me feel when awesome author, Libba Bray, confessed to struggling with the very same.

But talking things out with my shrinks (aka critique partners) helped dig me out of some of these pot holes, which are really like chasms full of quick sand.

So I may be a bit incommunicado for the week as I try finishing up this first draft. Happy writing and have a happy week!