Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Is A Rose Still A Rose?

“Tonight, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Los Angeles Dodgers extend a warm welcome to Elisha and Miranda* visiting from Zermatt, Switzerland.”

As the PA announcement blared through the stadium, our eyes darted to the giant message board above left field. Sure enough, our scheme had worked. Clearly, it was the exotic birthplace that had secured a screen all to ourselves.

Mindy and I dissolved in girlish giggles--an ironic contrast to the sophistication and glamour we’d borrowed from a fabricated name and birthplace.

As the years went by, Mindy became Melinda with a lifestyle befitting the name, but me? I’m still plain old Randy.

So, as I consider using a pen name, Miranda comes instantly to mind. (‘Randy’ gets mistaken for a guy’s name, and my surname doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Not great for a romance author.) Could I legitimately become Miranda at last?

Hell. Tonight, it dawned on me that I’m no more Miranda now than I was at seventeen.

Can anyone picture Randy Jean on a book cover?? Or, does the middle-name-as-last-name suck? Keep in mind, we’re talking mostly romantic comedy and snarky chick-lit.

Hm. Maybe.


*We used our real last names.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Just Do It

Yesterday’s post is embarrassing given the news I’ve been watching this evening.

Do you have a place to sleep tonight?
Do you have food and water?
Are you connected to the Internet using electrical power?
Do you have TV and radio?
Are you able to dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency?
Do you have a job to go to tomorrow?
Do you have a way to get there?
Can you expect a paycheck next week? Next month?

Good. Then you’re in a position to donate to the Red Cross. Either send a check tomorrow, or better yet click here and do it tonight.

AMERICANS need your help.

It takes less than two minutes.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Space Aliens Have Invaded My Body...


At least, I hope they have. Either that, or I’m pregnant.


Did that get your attention? (Don’t worry. It’d have to be the longest gestation period in history...or the result of immaculate conception.)


So, sigh. It’s back to the gym. As much as I detest exercise of any kind. As much as it depresses me (nope, the miraculous endorphin rush eludes me). And as much as I’d rather spend my time writing.

Four times a week. Minimum.

That’s what it’s gonna have to be. ‘Cuz for whatever reason, dieting sure as hell ain’t working, and I wanna look in the mirror and see myself again. Not that space alien.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

He Said, She Thought

What he said: You’re so beautiful.

What I thought: You’d score a lot more points by complimenting my brain.

What he said: You look sexy when you smoke.

What I thought: Who am I, Betty Davis in an old movie?

What he said: I split up with my wife of seventeen years two months ago.

What I thought: Funny. How come I’ve been seeing you in here for the past three years?

What he said: I think we’re both attracted to each other. We should go out some time.

What I thought: You’re 6’8; you’d probably smother me in bed.

What he said: No, really. You’re so sexy when you smoke.

What I thought: Like I’m gonna fall for that line from a nonsmoker?

What he said: I’m so glad we met.

What I thought: We’ve met before. You just don’t remember (and by the way, who gave you permission to touch me?).

What he said: Why don’t you give me your phone number.

What I thought: Guess I’ll be screening my calls tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Secrets

Love to hear them. Hate to keep them.

Especially when I feel manipulated by them.

Women know the score with secrets. They know if they tell a girlfriend something, she’s probably gonna tell someone else—she just has to. It’s practically the law. So when you disclose something to your best friend, you trust she’ll tell someone who doesn’t have a stake in the matter or, better yet, doesn’t know the people involved.

Thank God, most men don’t attempt to enter the world of secrets because they suck at the process.

First, they forget to swear you to secrecy until AFTER they’ve imparted the information. Or, and this is even worse, they give you hearsay info, then expect you to keep the confidence, which means you can’t even investigate the truth.

Of all the people they could pick to share a secret with, they tell the person who will 1) be hurt the most; 2) be most likely to tell the person who will be hurt; and/or 3) be most honor bound to reveal the secret, and in so doing achieve the result the man wanted in the first place.

Let’s not even discuss the man who divulges stuff to his girlfriend’s best friends (which is the cardinal sin of secret keeping, by the way). That man does not deserve to walk the earth.

By the way…let’s all meet in the quad at lunch and make fun of the new chemistry teacher, okay?



Thursday, August 25, 2005

Blog Block



Lately I’ve been at a loss for what to blog about. (Gee, have ya noticed?) So, I decided to filch an idea from another blogger and describe to you what’s on my desk. That’s when it came to me that perhaps my desk is the source of my blog block. It’s so cluttered with crap, no wonder I can’t put coherent sentences together. Oh, well. Here goes. Try not to yawn too audibly. Let’s play “What’s On Randy’s Desk?”

1. Unopened mail. My motto: why open mail today that can be opened tomorrow? Better yet, next week? It’s all junk anyway. Presumably.

2. The mystery stack. This consists of files, memos, a phone book, and assorted other BS I’m either too lazy to file or don’t know what to do with. Currently, it’s about a foot high.

3. Vendor giveaway clock with a place for pictures. People keep asking me who those Asian children are and I have to explain they came included.

4. Box of small binder clips. Ostensibly purchased for Bemco’s use, but I steal them for my manuscript submissions and contest entries.

5. Bottle of ibuprofen. I never take anything for a headache, but my brother can’t take them anymore so he foisted them off on me. No doubt they’ll sit there for as long as…

6. The three bottles of vitamins. Pushed off to the side, they probably expired years ago. I don’t even know what kind they are.

7. A dinner bell from Jamaica. On top of the dinner bell is a bunny hand puppet.

8. Assorted CD’s. Some of them even in their jewel case. Playing right now: Eva Cassidy.

9. A computer camera. I don’t know what else to call it. It’s one of those thingies that allow people to view you over the internet and came free with something my dad ordered off the TV. No, it’s not on.

10. A picture of my dad from WWII next to the P-38 he flew.

11. A picture of my dad with my late dog, Kody. (Please note, there are other photos on my desk, but they’ve slipped and slid to the point where they are now buried under debris. But, I’m sure there are pix of my great nieces and nephews. Somewhere.)

12. Empty videocassette case.

13. Empty cup of coffee.

14. Copy of Atkins diet book. Oh, wow. Make that two copies.

15. CD changer from the car I haven’t sold yet.

16. Stacks of diskettes. Some even labeled.

17. Something round, black, plastic and about 1-1/2” in diameter. Have no clue what it is.

18. Two staplers, one of which actually contains staples.

19. Scotch tape dispenser (including tape).

20. Three highlighters and two regular pens, one with ink.

21. About a dozen scratch pads. Flipping through them is like reading my diary. Mostly they contain notes on flights and hotels at various fantasy destinations.

22. Receipt from Home Depot for money I owe our shop foreman.

23. Two nearly empty diet soda cans.

24. Recipe for apple pudding cake. (And no, I’ve never made it but the picture looks yummy.)

25. This weeks’ shop payroll and time sheets.

26. Office Depot receipt and change for the petty cash I dispensed.

27. Desk calendar opened to July 13.

28. Ah, finally. Something of immense value. A Federal Express envelope with one front row ticket to see Luis Miguel at the Universal Amphitheater (birthday present to myself purchased on Ebay)

So there ya have it.

And that’s about two minutes of your life you’ll never get back.





Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Monday, August 22, 2005

Palm Springs Weekend

(Wasn’t that a movie in the 60’s with Troy Donahue and Connie Stevens?)

So, here’s a random observation.

I’m taking a break from the noise at Melvyn’s, a well-known Palm Springs drinking establishment, when a handsome young man joins me. My flirtation devices activate automatically, but the guy turns out to be gay. Duh. I said he was handsome, didn’t I? I said he was young, didn’t I? This is Palm Springs, for God’s sake.

When I go back inside, I notice a couple sitting by the piano. She’s social security age and frumpy but must have an attractive bank account. I conclude this based on her companion, a Johnny Cochran lookalike doing his best imitation of an aging James Bond, complete with white dinner jacket.

Meanwhile, two young girls are all over each other at the bar.

Then a woman passes me on her way to the ladies’ room. She’s 80 if she’s a day. I know this because she moves with the precision of a person whose joints ache. Otherwise, she’s dressed, coifed, and stretched (wink, wink) much younger. Clearly, she’s on the prowl. But who’s her prey? Not the gay guys, not the gay women, not the gigolo who’s already spoken for.

Basically, the cast of characters in Palm Springs consists mainly of 1) ultraconservative old-money widows, and 2) young gays and lesbians. I can’t help but wonder if mixing ‘em all together doesn’t get a bit confusing at times.

Reminds me of a bad game of Scrabble. You know, like when you’ve got a rack of nothing but vowels? Or, you’ve got the Q but no U?

Somebody needs to gather all the pieces and shake again.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

Ah, Friday. The last day of the weekly grind.

At Bemco, (where I work) the day is just beginning. The mud disguised as coffee is brewing, the computers are humming to life, and at the flick of a switch, cool air is beginning to spew through the overhead vents. Out in the factory, the press brake makes a ba-boom noise as it bends its first piece of sheet metal.

Employees wander in, one at a time, and rehash the overnight news and the latest episode of Big Brother.

Only one thing is missing.

Me!

I’m home getting ready for Palm Springs!

If anything blogworthy happens (and how could it NOT) I’ll check in. Otherwise, see y’all Monday!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Meet a Sucky Heroine

Let’s get one thing straight up front. I should be shot for what I did last night, and I know it.

Yep, put me in the category of those heroines you hate because they’re too stupid to live. And yes, I’d probably follow the serial killer into the basement saying, “who’s there?” too.

Okay, so it’s about 8:30p.m. I’ve got a potato boiling on the stove, the T.V.’s blaring, and I’m in a negligee. Typical Wednesday evening.

The doorbell rings. Not so typical.

First of all, no one ever “shows up” at my door. So, I flip on the outside light, and yell: “Who is it?”

“(unintelligible) your neighbor.”

My neighbors don’t show up at my door either.

Thoughts flit through my head. I should probably go upstairs for a robe, but no, I’m too lazy. I should probably ask what he wants through the door, but no, I feel too silly.

I open the door a crack and peek around it.

I’ve never seen this person before.

Lucky for me, the guy turns out to be a former neighbor (one I’d never met) who’d rented a room from the psycho who sold and moved out last year. I believe him because he mentions having had a boat, which I do in fact remember. He says he fell in love with the neighborhood, is looking for a place to lease, and did I know of any?

That he missed the “for lease” sign in front of the first townhouse he passed gives me some concern, but I quickly chalk it up to figuring he’s really looking for another room to rent, not an entire unit. Oh, God. He wants to rent a room from me?

He seems to doubt I’m the same person he saw going in and out during his tenure across the street, but I confirm I drive a Mercedes, and he rambles on about how he’s German, like that means we have something in common. He keeps motioning toward his pocket, asking if I’ll take his name and cell number in case I hear of anything, and I wait for him to produce a business card but eventually realize that’s where his cell phone is, not the business card.

I have to leave the door to get a pen and paper, and when I return he isn't there. For a moment, I panic—did he come inside the house? Why don’t I just invite him in to rape me and be done with it, for God's sakes? Whew, no. A moment later, he reappears out of the darkness and I dutifully take down his info.

We shake hands, he mentions he’s a retired fire fighter (oh, now I’m relieved because everyone knows all fire fighters are upstanding, honorable, non-rapists), I promise to let him know if I hear anything, and he leaves.

Half an hour later, I check my back slider and sure enough it’s unlocked. Probably been that way for months.

I’ve lived in my townhouse for 23 years, and believe me when I say it’s in one of the safest neighborhoods in the nation. Still…there’s no excuse for my negligent behavior.

Like I say, you’d hate me if I were a heroine in a book you were reading.



Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Where Have I Been?

As a public service to my non-California readers, I thought I should mention some terminology with which I, for one, was unfamiliar.

It comes to us courtesy of one Gigi Goyette, a masseuse based out of Ohio, now living in Malibu. According to Ms. Goyette, once a year, over the past twenty, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger has partaken of her services to relieve stress. Now, I know being Arnold probably entails a lot of mental anguish, but I’m a bit surprised to learn he had to go all the way to Ohio to obtain the proper therapy.

At least, I was surprised...then I heard Ms. Goyette offers something I hadn’t heard of before (whether to all her clients, or merely Mr. S I’m not sure).

It’s called outercourse.

At first, I thought “outercourse” was something she made up, but no. It’s right there in the Wikipedia:

“Outercourse is sexual activity that does not involve penetration. No bodily fluids are intended to be exchanged, and outercourse is therefore often considered a practice of safer sex as well as of birth control.”

"Some practices of outercourse include oral sex, sexual roleplaying, heavy petting, clothed frotteurism, and mutual masturbation."

Frotteurism? Jesus, who knew? (Look it up yourself like I had to.) Then there’s axillary intercourse which involves putting the penis in someone’s armpit. Yep, you read that right. Armpit. Can't you just picture Arnold's...oh, never mind.

Anyway, Ms. Goyette claims she and Arnold only indulged in outercourse (much to Maria’s relief, I’m sure).

All I wanna know now is this: How come this word wasn't around when President Clinton was in office?

Can't you picture him saying: “I did not have outercourse with that woman”?


Monday, August 15, 2005

Dating

Click here to check out Susan McBride’s August 14th post on The Lipstick Chronicles (including input by yours truly on the subject of dating).

Speaking of which…I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve already exhausted my allotment for the current century. I mean, it’s been two, er, years. Two and a half, to be precise, but who’s counting….

Okay, let's be honest; I’m a bit picky. Here’s what a guy has to have:

1. His teeth (preferably the original ones)

2. A job that doesn’t require the Karen Silkwood scrubdown when he gets home from work

3. Relatives that he actually speaks to and sees on occasion

4. Working knowledge of the female anatomy (and I’m not talking about readily visible parts, like boobs)

5. Modern transportation (don’t laugh; a friend of mine dated a guy who road a bike—as in bicycle) and while we’re at it, the description of said modern transportation should in no way incorporate the words “muscle,” “cherry,” or “souped up”

6. Suitable living accommodations; (no boarding houses, no “in between situations, can I crash at your place for awhile”)

7. The absence of psycho bitch leftovers who haven’t gotten over the way the bastard dumped them

8. Clothes purchased this millennium and from somewhere other than Target

9. Hands-on experience with plumbing, electricity, automobiles, carpentry, wallpapering, tiling, electronics, and cosmetic surgery

10. A vocabulary that contains phrases like: “Oh no, let me pay,” “you look so much younger/thinner/prettier than your friends,” and “I’m really into monogamy”

See? Not so demanding, after all. Makes me wonder why I haven’t found anyone lately.


Saturday, August 13, 2005

Bars In The 'Burbs

Note: I wrote this yesterday but didn’t get around to posting it until today. You’ll know why in a minute.

Putting more than two polysyllabic words next to each other while including proper punctuation might cause my head to explode. Oh, shit. See? I was right. Pardon me while I clean up the mess.

Just kidding.

(I’m crackin’ myself up here.)

Anyway, it’s all Penny’s fault. She’s the one who suggested we needed a girls’ night out. Well, four bars, countless cocktails, not enough food later…I’m convinced today (Friday) will never end.

So, Penny’s whining about how much blogspace I’ve given to the topic of writing lately. (Are you liking this post so far, Penny? How about if I blog about the rest of our conversation? Uh-huh. Didn’t think so.) She says I should write a soap opera here, which seemed like a good idea last night but today not so much.

We started with Chapter 8, the new spot in town. I swear, this place is so hip and groovy I could die. At ten o’clock it morphs from a steakhouse to a nightclub, complete with caged go-go dancers (yes, the 60’s are back). But why, oh why, must it be overrun by 20-somethings? And, how the hell do these kids pay $34 for a steak? Had a $9 glass of wine then walked up the rode to the Adobe.

The Adobe is a laid back casual kinda place (although yummy lobster quesedillas are on the menu). Drank margaritas and picked at our dinners before moving on to stop number three, The Martini Bar. More drinks, more conversation, blah, blah, blah and on to the fourth bar.

Right about now Penny’s reading this, thinking: “Four bars? Four bars? But there were only three.” Sorry, dear. After you left, Ann and I decided to hit the Buddha Bar.

So, when did this bedroom community become a magnet for the kinda nightlife one normally has to go through two zip codes to reach? Before you know it, we’ll get an honest-to-goodness concert venue. Oh yeah, forgot. The Canyon Club--where we saw Melissa Manchester a couple weeks ago, and the only bar within walking distance we didn’t make it to last night.

Thank God...I’m pretty sure we’d already killed our quota of brain cells for the evening--as evidenced by this post.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Reading Can Be Hazardous...

…to a writer’s mental health.

I’m serious. Since jetting back from Reno, I’ve read two of the conference freebies. First was Lani Diane Rich’s “Time Off For Good Behavior,” and second was Eileen Rendahl’s “Do Me, Do My Roots.” Both are chick-lit.

Lani’s is quirky, poignant, and wonderful. I mean, tell me how it’s possible to write a book about an abused woman that makes a person laugh out loud?

Eileen’s is funny, poignant, and wonderful. I mean, tell me how it’s possible to write a book about a young widow that makes a person laugh out loud?

I think I hate them both. The authors, that is—not their books.

Okay, just kidding. I WILL NOT succumb to author envy. But it’s hard not to question whether you’ve ever written something compelling enough to pass the bathtub test (you know what I mean—when you find yourself lying in a bone-dry tub, the water drained away, because you can’t put the damn book down long enough to climb out--and, yes…both books passed with flying colors.)

Have I mastered the knack of keeping my reader glued to the page? Dunno. The jury’s still out. Yes, I open with a hook. Likewise, I open and end each scene with one. And it goes without saying my chapters end the same way, but what about in between?

Alas, Grasshopper, that’s the hard part. For just like many books suffer from a “sagging middle,” so can any scene.

And, as much as it pains me to read a really good book that makes my writing pale in comparison, I’ll continue to do so and hope to God these authors I admire will osmose (oh hush, it should be a word) some of their talent to me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I got this personality test from Manic Mom's blog

Check it out...can you predict which one I chose? Which one is you?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Boom! Boom!

Two welcome sounds split the silence of Southern California just before dawn.

Some wonder if we’ve had an earthquake as their windows continue to rattle.


Others believe they’ve heard gunshots and brace themselves for accompanying sirens.

Not me. I breathe a sigh of relief as I instantly recognize the familiar sound the shuttle makes as it passes overhead.

Two minutes later, Discovery glides to a perfect landing on a darkened runway in the Mojave Desert.

Glad to have you back, gang!

Monday, August 08, 2005

From The Better-Late-Than-Never File...

We pre-published writers are a tenacious group. Either that, or we’re just plain stupid. We devote hours and hours to a goal that may never be achieved and for which the benefits along the way are few and far between.

Oh, sure…there’s the occasional contest placement or win. Then there’s the one in ten queries that come back with a request for a partial or full. After awhile, even a glowing critique has to suffice as validation.

Yet, we keep plugging away.

Maybe that’s why I’m playing a CD by Ibrahim Ferrer on my computer today. Not familiar? I’m not surprised.

Senor Ferrer was born in Cuba in the 1920’s and gained local fame as one of the originators of “son,” a pre-revolutionary Cuban music melding African and Spanish sounds which later morphed into salsa. Remember the black-and-white movies set in Cuba during the ‘40’s? The ones full of exotic romance and sultry music? Of seductive hips moving to rhythmic beats under swaying palms?

Unfortunately, the music scene deteriorated with the advent of the Castro era, and Senor Ferrer faded into obscurity before he could gain recognition beyond his homeland. He spent the ensuing years singing very little while supporting himself shining shoes and selling lottery tickets.

But about thirty years later, that all changed. It was then that American musician Ry Cooder and Cuban bandleader Juan de Marco Gonzalez persuaded Ferrer to join a group they’d organized of “Afro-Cuban All Stars” and the rest, as they say, is history. At the 2000 Latin Grammys, Ferrer won “Best New Artist.” He was 73 years old.

He comes to mind because I happened across his obituary this morning. Mr. Ferrer died in Havana on Saturday at the age of 78, but not before spending the last five years of his life touring the world and exposing his music to fans everywhere.

It’s nice to know your dream can happen when you least expect it.



Friday, August 05, 2005

With Apologies to Shakespeare

To blog, or not to blog: that is the question;
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of cyber fortune,
Or to post against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.

Ha…as if my little blog could make matters worse.

First, I was at the ceremony so I know whereof I speak with regard to its content. Second, I’ve read all the posts—the accusations, the apologies, the excuses, the rants, and the raves. People reading this blog who have a stake in the matter know what I’m talking about; people who aren’t involved in the romance industry—well, you’ll have to read between the lines, because I don’t want to be accused of making the issue any more public than it is.

Yes, the video montage and accompanying music was inappropriate. Did I think that at the time? No, I thought it merely boring and poorly executed.

Did I think it was politicized? Yes, but not in the way the opposite sides have characterized. “Blue state” people thought it favored the red. “Red state” people thought it favored the blue.

What the ….?

Red states and blue???

How did the RWA get divided into red and blue?

I’ll tell you how, and this is the crux of the matter. It’s not about the ceremony; it’s not about the board’s decision making or lack thereof; it all comes down to the graphic standards issue. The reaction to the awards ceremony is like the tumor finally breaking through the skin to form an ugly melanoma.

It’s erotica vs. family values
It’s the older generation vs. younger
And, yes…in a way, it’s the red states vs. the blue.

Which really sucks since I’m conservative on some things and liberal on others, and hate being lumped into a stereotype.

All I know is, that although I don’t read or write erotica, I’ll defend anyone who does it well and gets the romance part right. Can’t there be an in-between position…say, magenta? (I looked it up--that’s what red and blue make and it’s a lovely color.)

All in favor, say “Aye” and wear a magenta ribbon in Atlanta.



Thursday, August 04, 2005

Priorities

All I can say is, holy crap--when did things get so complicated?

Back when I started writing three years ago, setting priorities was easy.

1. Write.

2. Write more.

3. Keep writing.

So, here’s what’s on the current plate:

Put finishing touches on Stealing Amy partial.
Put pizzazz into Stealing Amy synopsis.
Send both to agent who requested.

Put finishing touches on Fit For Love packet (for unsolicited submission). Do same for Stealing Amy.

Do another round of queries (this time snail mail) for Stealing Amy. (Side note: Why not Fit For Love, too? It’s not like I’ve even BEGUN to exhaust the avenues.)

Work on first draft of LEFTOVERS (the chick lit) and submit to editor who requested.

Do crits for loop partners (approximately 10 chapters in the queue).

As I say, holy crap.

What, you ask, have I done in the four days since the conference? Can I say crap for a third time?

The answer is basically nada…zip…zilch. The damn day job (and my social life) keeps getting in the way. Thank God, I don’t have a husband and kids—uh-oh, did I really just say that?

Gee, talk about getting your priorities straight....

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Conflicting Stories....

Aha! Betcha thought I was gonna address the broohaha (sp?) over the RWA GH/Rita Awards Ceremony, but nah….maybe I will at a later date. Right now, I’m too chicken to enter the fray.

I’m talking about the contradictory advice flying around the workshops, speeches, and editor/agent appointments. Here are just a few (keep in mind, not all are firsthand):

Agent: I like to see contest wins in an unpubbed author’s credits.
Editor: Forget contests. No one cares about contests. Let your writing speak for itself.

Author: There’s no such thing as the breakout novel.
Pubbed Author: I took my writing to a new level after reading Donald Maass' "Writing the Breakout Novel". (Okay, to tell you the truth, the second statement came from a different conference.)

Author: Never, ever use a prologue to begin your book.
First page of book contained in “goody bag”: Prologue

Author: Never, ever use flashbacks.
Second page of book contained in “goody bag”: Flashback

Agent: Age your protagonist to about 48.
Editor: 32 is perfect.

Agent: I prefer books heavy on external conflict.
Agent: Internal conflict is paramount.

Author: The query letter was the worst thing ever invented. Same with the synopsis. Send chapters.
Editor: Send only query letters.
Editor: If you’re not agented, don’t send anything.

Author: Persistence is key. Never give up. You can do it.
Author, Editor, Keynote Speaker: Not all of you are gonna get published.

Editor: No POV switches.
Author: Change POV when you want, as long as you do it well.

Author: Write the book of your heart.
Author: Write the book of your heart but be willing to tweak it when you’re done in order to find a market for it.

Author: Lists of questions to ask your characters are useless.
Author: Here’s a list of questions to ask your characters.

Author: Forget about using charts.
Author: Now, you can see by looking at this chart….


Bear in mind, I hardly went to any workshops or spotlights. Now, you know why!

My advice: Go with your GUT. Period.










Monday, August 01, 2005

Conference Sidebar

I guess I’ve just about had it with conference workshops. Reno was my fourth and, outside of a nugget here and there, the new info was scarce.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Observe, that’s what.

So, there I was, all buckled into my seat, ready to depart Reno for Burbank. After profiling the foreigner next to me (and checking for protruding wires from his shoes), I shifted my attention to the tarmac where one last guy, wearing one of those silly neon vests, tossed (and I do mean TOSSED) luggage onto a conveyor belt.

Talk about profiling. The writer in me made up a life for this big brawny male I dubbed "Chuck." I pictured him at night, haunting the local pool hall, dressed in faded jeans, a wife-beater t-shirt, and an expression that broadcast how much he hated his life. He’d chain smoke Marlboro reds, slug back Coors from a bottle, and call women “babe,” “sugar,” and “sweetheart.” He’d growl more often than he’d smile, and on the rare occasion he lost a round of pool, the bar would grow ominously silent.

Yep, I had Chuck all figured out, I decided.

Then, something strange happened. A cluster of pigeons collected around Chuck’s feet and I thought, what the hell? What would attract birds to the middle of the tarmac on a hot Reno day?

No, no...say it ain’t so, Chuck.

His hand dipped in his pocket, then scattered something on the ground, and even from my odd vantage point from inside the plane, I could almost hear the pigeons coo with glee.

Yep, my rough, tough, mad-at-the-world Chuck was feeding pigeons.

And because of the life I’d created for him, the action was extraordinarily touching.

So, there I was, courtesy of Southwest Airlines (and Chuck), learning a writing tip. Somewhere, sometime, I’m gonna create a character who has no visible redeeming qualities...with the exception that he's always got a pocketful of birdseed for his feathered friends.

Appointment Number Two...Or, Does It Ever Get Any Easier???

I’m waiting for my conference impressions to unscramble before I post them, so you’ll have to bear with me. (Good luck to us all, by the way.)

In the meantime, here’s the update on my second appointment.

NO HEAD SHAKING! I’M GETTING BETTER AT IT!

Ha…either that, or I’m less intimidated by being face-to-face with an EDITOR young enough to be my daughter. (If I had one, that is). (And, just so you know, when I say FACE, I mean FACE. Literally, the physical space between us was about three feet…hmm…do I smell an evil RWA psychologist at work?) Without naming names, let’s just say this editor was not in the market for ST (which I discovered about a week before the conference—not my fault, I trusted the area-of-interest grid). Nonetheless, I arrived armed with Plan B, my unfinished chick-lit, for which she expressed an interest. (Waiting for applause to die down.)

Not that she gushed or anything. I’m just not the kind of “pitcher” to inspire visible enthusiasm (sigh.) But she did use the words “sounds like a fresh approach” and asked me (gave me permission?) to submit when it’s completed. Ah…there’s an incentive I’ve never had while writing a book!

Oh, and this was just adorable—she mentioned they’re looking for “older” protagonists and I responded with, “Mine’s thirty-two.” “Perfect,” she said, nodding innocently.

Older??? Older????

Okay. I know. I’m over it.

But wait. Putting aside whether 32 is (cough) older, for my money, chick-lit has never been solely about 22-year olds. Case in point: on Saturday night, Lani Diane Rich won a Rita for “Time Off For Good Behavior” which she wrote in 2002 and which bears a 2004 copyright. Heroine’s age? Thirty-two. Chick-lit? Definitely.

By the way, I discussed my chick-lit WIP with an agent on the previous day and she suggested I “age” my protagonist to 48.

Yeah, I could do that, but…………I’m not MENTALLY old enough to write what everyone calls HEN-LIT. You DO understand, don’t you?

P.S. My self-designed business card garnered some eye twinkles. Too bad I didn’t shove it in more faces. (Or down more throats.)