Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 Round Up

With all the talk of setting goals and making New Year's resolutions, one of my critique partners kinda put something in perspective for me (thanks, Carol!). What good is all that stuff if you never go back to see how you did?? Maybe we should focus more on what we've accomplished THIS year instead of already worrying about the NEXT.

Anyway, so I went a-hunting through the archives for any mention of 2006 goals and, well...apparently I was my usual cynical self last year because this is all I found. Kind of the "anti-goals" thang. (Oh, except for where I casually included the usual weight-loss goal, and DAMN...somehow, I accidentally succeeded at that one!)

What did I accomplish in the writing vein? Hm. Not much, as it turns out. See, I keep an Excel sheet to track my submissions, and 2006 looks pretty skimpy. A total of about five agent submissions, three editors. Oh, and two contest entries. Big deal.

On the other hand, I sold a book this year, so 2006 wasn't a total loss. And I got accepted for PAN (Published Author Network) membership. And started a web site. And wrote a bunch. And learned about self-promotion.

The aforementioned Carol has a list of accomplishments that make me look like a slacker. {shrinks off in shame}But then, she actually set goals last year (imagine that).

With that in mind, I turn you to my earlier post here. Hey, they're better than last year's.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bemco's Christmas Party

Well, we started out on the patio...after all, it was a warm, sunny day in Simi Valley, California. But then...well, it was Simi Valley after all, so the winds kicked up, forcing us inside...to the BAR.







Maybe that's why it turned out to be one of the BEST Bemco Xmas parties EVER. Well, that and because so many of our OLD FRIENDS (and I mean OLD) turned up. I think my favorite quote came from Ali: "You know, when I left Bemco, my son hadn't been born yet. Now he's in pre-med at UCLA." (Eeek, talk about a way to AGE someone.)

Then there was Loui, who started with Bemco when he was 24 and left when he was about 35...he's turning FIFTY this year. And he brought along a grown son whose finger I accidentally bit when he was a baby (long, unfortunate story).

Anyway, I suck at being able to put captions next to photos on blogger, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. (And, yes...Elvis is IN the building--that's ex-draftsman turned mortgage mogul, Loui) (The blonde with glasses is ex-assistant Kari; the other blonde is sister-in-law Polly; the two cute brunettes are twins Joey (current assistant) and Jacqui (ex-assistant) and the young guy with the Santa hat is stockroom guy Jeremiah (their brother)...oh, and (cough) grey-haired guy pictured with them is their dad, John--he holds the current record for longest employment with Bemco at 30 plus years.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Small Writing Epiphany

So I've been laboring over what I thought was the final chapter of Leftovers. (Operative word: thought--turns out, it's NOT the final chapter.) Now, as y'all might remember, during NaNovember, I was cranking out 5 - 10 pages a day on another story. Then came December...and...yep, the output ratcheted down to anywhere from a paragraph to ONE page a day.

What is it about NaNo that unleashes the, je ne sais quoi, unbridled creativity...?...writer's fear....?

Anyway, so I'm writing this crappy scene, pretty sure the whole book must be crappy, and it's stalling me out. Totally. (Fer sure, and gag me with a spoon.) In the midst of all this crap, I had to trudge back into the middle of the story to find a character's name or some other factoid, and I started reading. And kept reading. I couldn't stop reading.

Hey, good sign, right?

So, small lesson. Just because the scene you're writing doesn't feel like it's working; don't let yourself fall under the misconception that the entire story sucks.

And that concludes today's public service announcement for writers. You may all return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Evolution Of A Dream

Did I not mention in a recent post that I felt old and decrepit? Here's more proof:

I’ve always dreamt in the past. Not the present. Not the future. Just the past. “Home” is my parents house, “work” is the building we moved out of in 1991, and my parents look and act like they did twenty years ago.

For three decades I had a recurring nightmare of the past—the one where I stood in front of my high school locker totally clueless about the combination. Or where I walked into Biology and realized I hadn’t opened the book since the first day of school.

Sound familiar?

Only, with me there was a bit of a twist. See, in my recurring nightmare, after that fleeting uh-oh moment, I relaxed...because I remembered I was beyond high school, and that I was only standing in front of that locker or walking into that biology class because of some recently discovered administrative snafu (kinda like marriages that aren’t legit because the minister wasn’t legal). Yep, me and my whole graduating class had to go back and serve out one year—didn’t matter how old we were.

Usually, this realization hit when I recalled I had a Master’s Degree. As in…who cares about an old biology exam? I’ve got a Master’s Degree! From that point on, the nightmare turned into a dream where high school was all about the social, and nothing about the angst. (After all, teens worry most about the future, and I already know what the future holds!)

Anyway, so throughout my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, I had that same dream…until last night. The new version had me standing around talking to friends, saying: “Hey, remember when we all had to go back and do one more year of high school? I wonder why we had to do that.”

See the difference?

Now I not only dream about the past. I dream about past dreams.

Weird.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've Been Tagged

Blogreader John tagged me over on his cyberhome, so here goes:


Four jobs I’ve had:

1. Hostess at a show for a car prototype--yeah, those were the Kelly Girl days...
2. Beauty Pageant Coordinator--for teenagers, no less...how humiliating
3. National Advertising Manager for The Richard Simmon Show--can we spell arrogant pain-in-the-ass?
4. Associate Producer of Television documentaries--almost a "do-good" job

Four Places I’ve lived:

1. Santa Ana, CA--first college apartment...not a safe place to live anymore
2. Irvine--second college apartment
3. Newport Beach--third college apartment
4. Van Nuys, CA--first apartment after college and also not a safe place to live anymore

Four favorite foods

1. Tortilla chips with melted jack/cheddar cheese--not Nachos, JUST cheese...the rest of the stuff (guacamole, refried beans, etc. creates an unnecessary mess)
2. Thanksgiving Dinner--turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green bean
casserole...mmmmmmmm...
3. French fries and Ranch dressing--don't even need a sandwich to go with 'em
4. Lobster...more mmmmmmmmm....

Four movies I could watch over and over:

1. Love Actually--Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and Alan Rafkin all in the same movie??? DUH
2. Bridget Jones's Diary--ditto the Hugh Grant, Colin Firth comment
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's--I SO wanted to be Audrey Hepburn...or was it Holly Golightly I wanted be...? Guess that explains my lifelong identity crisis
4. Hmmm...to be honest, that's about it. I don't generally watch movies "over and over"

Four TV shows I enjoy:

1. Reality Shows: Americon Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, Amazing Race--not necessarily in that order
2. Sitcoms: Seinfeld, Friends, Will and Grace
3. News, news, news--MSNBC over CNN
4. Right now I'm enjoying the hell out of Deal Or No Deal

Four places I’ve traveled:

1. Mexico--Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Acapulco, Ixtapa, Baja--all are muy bueno, but PV is the sentimental favorite
2. Club Med--Playa Blanca, Ixtapa, Sonora Bay, Huatulco...and...uh-oh...memory fails, but I think there's another one in there somewhere
3. Cruises--Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska
4. Europe--London and Norway

Four places I’d like to visit:

Ack...now, I'm gonna get depressed

1. Paris--because I started taking French in 6th grade and it's one of those unfulfilled life goals, not because I still have a burning desire to go there
2. The Greek Islands--because I LOVE the architecture and have lots of pictures of them hung on my walls
3. French Riviera--because I'm pretty sure I'll run into James Bond there
4. New England, the Grand Tetons, the southeast coast

Four websites I go to (almost) daily:

1. The Drudge Report--hey no one breaks news faster than the Mattster
2. Miss Snark--lots of good stuff to learn there, plus always good for a few chuckles
3. Manic Mommy--don't ask me why; she can be funny, touching, and gross...often all at the same time
4. Diana's Diversions--home of author Diana Peterfreund--she always has good writing tips

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When Were You Born?

Go HERE to learn stuff about yourself. The best thing I discovered is that I was probably conceived on Christmas Eve in 1952, which will probably make for some interesting dinner conversation next Sunday night.

Monday, December 18, 2006

TG for Document Recovery...

...otherwise, the world would have missed out on this scintillating post.


It occurred to me this morning that you can tell a lot about your friends from scoping out the reading material in their guest bathroom.

Take Nancy and John, for example. Definitely not the People Magazine types. Nor Vogue or Cosmo. But if you’re in the mood for National Geographic, or something on fishing or mountain climbing, theirs is the bathroom you wanna be stuck in.

Kathleen, on the other hand, leans toward the more esoteric stuff. Yes, you might find a fashion magazine, but it’ll be Marie Claire, not Vogue. Once I think I even picked up Caroline Kennedy’s book about privacy. Definitely not your average bathroom reading.

Then there’s Blog Reader Joe who offers NOTHING to read. This is the situation that forces you to grab a can of Glade and make anagrams from the advertising slogan.

So what do I have? A quick review of the years reveals an evolution of sorts. At one time I had a decorative waste paper basket containing rolled up copies of Conde Nast’s Traveler Magazine. On the back of the toilet, for my guest’s brief amusement, I had something called, “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Elbow.” (Oh, and for further hilarity, I hung my Bachelors and Masters degree above the commode.) Then, when I remodeled, I dunno…maybe I matured? Well, at minimum, I color-coordinated. A lovely book on lighthouses replaced the elbow tome, and the Travelers went in the trash. Now, on the countertop, I have one of those women’s magazines circa 1957—the kind with useful tips on how to keep a husband and which brand of tissue the smart wife buys.

So what's in YOUR guest bathroom?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

And The Brain Cells Go "Whirrrrrr"

Morning dawns with tons of possibilities.

I’ll drive down to Malibu, I think. Do some Christmas shopping in the cute little mall where I’m sure to find uniquely wonderful gifts. Then maybe up the coast to the Paradise Cove Beach CafĂ© for a solitary lunch overlooking the ocean.

Yes, this is what I’ll do.

Or…maybe, I’ll go see a movie. Those free coupons expire on December 31st, so I’d better use them up. Today would be perfect.

Or…I’ll just run over to that boutique and pick up something new to wear to the holiday party tonight.

Oh, wait. Crap. I hear the rain pounding on my roof. And wouldn’t you know…I need a new windshield wiper blade.

I can’t go ANYWHERE. Not shopping, not to the movies, not even to the holiday party. Unless I kinda shrink down in the driver’s seat and find that one spot that miraculously wipes clean. But then I might muss my hair, so that option’s kinda out.

Nope. I’m housebound. Doomed to stay inside until the California rain passes.

And then…

It occurs to me…

I COULD go to one of those auto supply stores and probably BUY a new blade. MAYBE even put it on myself.

I mean, just because I’m blonde and female…doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Full Disclosure

Okay, so maybe it's unfair of me to tell stories on other people while keeping my own embarrassments to myself. Granted. (And thank God, Anna Margarita hasn't figured out how to leave a comment!!)

To make up for this little indiscretion, today I offer a pink-hued moment that happened to me this week.

I'm at the hair salon getting a cut and weave. My stylist stands with clippers poised.

"Would you mind if I trim your eyebrows?" she asks politely.

"Huh?"

"I notice you have some that are getting kinda bushy."

Shit. They're probably grey, too.
Visions of my late-great-aunt with her rogue hairs flash before me.

I am officially old.

And decrepit.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Yep…10 years ago today, Senor de la Cruz escorted the lovely Anna Margarita to dinner on their first date. If modern lore is to be believed, the evening went so well, the Senor never returned to his abode. If modern lore is further to be believed, there was some sort of health club tour during the date and a subsequent sigh-up…but likewise, the Senor never returned there either.

Anyway, it wouldn’t be an anniversary without a roadtrip, right?

So off we went this weekend.

On Saturday, the scheduled pick-up time was set for ten a.m. At about eight-thirty I got the first call. “Um, it’ll be more like eleven,” Senor de la Cruz tells me.

Okay, so I took my time.

At about eleven, I got the second call. “Um, we’re leaving in five minutes. And, er…if we wanna do a swing through Jack-In-The-Box, will it make the blog?”

“Yes,” I told him emphatically.

At noon, the Denali pulled into my driveway, and we set out on our journey. Suspiciously, we drove straight through to the McDonalds Bistro in Del Mar. (Ha, the Senor and Senora obviously believe they’re dealing with a rookie here if they think I don’t know they stopped to eat on the way to my house.)

So there we were, a half hour later, driving down this winding canyon road with sheer drops on either side, and the Senor is cramming Cheetos in his mouth at a rapid rate.

“Both hands on the wheel,” the lovely wife commanded. (Which I silently applauded ‘cuz, y’know…I really didn’t want my obituary to read: She died in a tragic Cheetos accident.)

As darkness fell, we arrived at Sycuan, a lovely casino about 15 miles east of El Cajon. The sign greeting us at the entrance sent my spirits plummeting: No one under age 18. This is Indianspeak for “No alcohol here, babe.” Sure enough, no bars, no alcohol. I could see our minutes here were numbered. Especially when our foray to the Texas Hold ‘em Table was less than stellar (with the exception of moi, I might point out—and, as a matter of fact, this was to be the last moment I was ahead the entire trip).

Next stop: Barona. This is the casino you see Kenny Rogers advertise all the time. Another treacherous road, this time west of El Cajon. Another “no one under age 18” sign, and I knew our stay here wouldn’t be long, either.

Next stop: Viejas, up the road a piece. Now, at both Sycuan and Barona, we were told that the booze restriction was because of the dangerous roads. This time, we only traveled a mile off the freeway which was a good sign. Sure enough, yep. This place had bars, entertainment, and a TON of floorspace. Enough to keep us occupied until…approximately two-thirty a.m.

Hey, did you notice, we haven’t checked into a hotel yet? Yeah, that’s because we didn’t make reservations anywhere. So, there we were, traveling up the 15 at 3 in the morning (in the rain) looking for a place to stay. Luckily, our second try resulted in vacancies and by four a.m. we were snug in our Best Western beds with a 1 o’clock check-out.


The next morning, after breakfast/lunch at Keith’s, we continued North? West? East?—as many times as I’ve been there, I couldn’t tell you…past Pala, to Harrah’s where we (BONUS) got rooms for free!

Which was as close to winning as I got all weekend.

Long, sad, story short…Senora de la Cruz and I spent about seven hours at the Texas Hold-‘Em table and it would’ve been a helluva lot easier if I’d just written her a check. Cuz what I lost, she won.

Yes, I awoke the next morning making a solemn vow: MY GAMBLING DAYS ARE OVER…well, at least until three weeks from now when I’ll be hitting the tables in Vegas.

Please. Someone just shoot me.

Friday, December 08, 2006

2007 (EEK!) Writing Goals

Since author friend Jax CAJOLED me into setting some writing goals for next year, I decided I might as well use 'em for today's blog post. So, for your viewing pleasure (revised/edited for public consumption) I give you:


Leftovers – finish writing by December 31.
Craft Query letter by January 15th
Send queries out by January 31 (Shhh...don't tell anyone I plan to simultaneously submit)
Month of January; begin revisions/rewrites

Untitled Nano – finish first draft by March 1
Craft Query letter by March 15
Send queries by March 31 (Shhh...don't tell anyone I plan to simultaneously submit)
Month of March begin revisions/rewrites

Sign up for agent/editor appointments at National for Leftovers/Untitled?

Apply for PAN
Apply for Stealing Amy copyright when Trisk gives me ISBN number

Stealing Amy Promo:
December, January, February, March – run contests for Stealing Amy
December, January, February--ongoing – participate in on-line chats to promote Stealing Amy
December 31 – create banner for Stealing Amy – look into buying time on review sites for banner
Host author day on Trisk sometime in February

Devise contingency plan for Fit For Love

If all goes according to schedule, start another book in April!

Attend RWA in July

Miscellaneous--start "good news" blog
Write article I've always wanted to write...about what we can learn from applying theories of organizational conflict to GMC
Judge GH, Daphne, and maybe Great Expectations

Read lots of good books, watch a lot of reality-based TV programming, and lose another ten pounds (okay that last one was to see if anyone was paying attention)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And Now For Some Good News....

Every time the world inches in a positive direction, I have to rub my eyes. Am I seeing things? Surely, the news can't be true?

But, yes. It can.

Another country has vowed to enact guidelines/legislation/something to counterract the western world's preoccupation with uber-thin women. Italy's the latest and, arguably, the most influential of the three who have thus far decided enough is enough. Or rather too little is, well...too little. Even fatal.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the initial salvo in the war against figures-to-die-from was launched by Brazil when celebrated model Ana Carolino Resto succumbed to anorexia-related causes. (Sidenote: when Blogreader Joe and I were in Argentina seven years ago, he raved about how the women there could eat like horses late into the evening yet maintain such fabulous bodies; when we got back to the room one night, I hauled out the Buenos Aires version of the Yellow Pages, turned to the "C's" and found a zillion "Clinica Anorexia" listings. "There," I told him. "There's your explanation.")

In September, Milan jumped on the bandwagon, barring models beneath a certain weight from the catwalks. And now, Italy is whipping up something similar.

Kinda makes you believe there's hope for western civilization after all!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

No Sooner Were The Words Typed...

..final chapter? Hm. Maybe not.

Doncha hate when that happens? Suddenly, what I call "interstitial scenes" (and, no I'm not talkin' anything medical here) seem to pop up and get in the way. Not only that, but they pop up in the wrong order.

Yeah, last night, I spent more time in the bathtub than I did in front of the computer. (Long time blogreaders know what that meant--the rest of you, get your minds out of the gutter--or wherever they are).

Anyway, I'm still marching ahead toward the finish line. Two steps forward, one step back, yada, yada...you know the drill.

Stay tuned for snoopy dancing IF and when I type "the end."

In other writing news, one of my critique mates challenged me to set out my 2007 goals. On a friggin' CALENDAR, no less.

Doesn't she know I'm still trying to figure out the ones for 2006?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Final Chapter

Endings have a way of evoking an array of emotions.

They can leave you happy or sad. Uplifted or bitter. Full of hope or full of despair. A sense of fulfillment--or one of loss.

I started writing Leftovers so long ago I've forgotten now just how long ago. But if I checked the blog, I'd probably discover that I considered pitching it in Reno. Hell, come to think of it, I DID pitch it in Reno (August 2005!!!). At the time, I think I'd completed three chapters and I threw it out there when I discovered the editor I was pitching to had changed the parameters of what she was looking for. I remember her brows raised with interest when I summed up my storyline in one sentence. Her house didn't accept unfinished manuscripts (which I knew beforehand, but hey--like I said, she was supposed to be looking for romantic suspense) however, she gave me her card and invited me to send the manuscript when it was done.

I kept that card on my mirror for months and months...while I slogged away ever-so-slowly on this WIP. So long, in fact, that this particular editor no longer works for that house.

Voila. One wasted pitch and invitation.

Yeah, opportunity knocked...

At least she's still alive, which is more than can be said for chick lit--the genre for which Leftovers was originally intended. Ha.

So over the weekend, after the month-long NaNo frenzy, I re-visited Leftovers and found myself starting the last chapter. This is by far the "heaviest" book I've ever written, so bringing the story to a close is even harder than usual. There's this weighty sense of responsibility toward the characters--like, I wanna do RIGHT by them, y'know?

There's more of me in the heroine (Rose) than in any other character I've ever created. Which is a good thing, I suppose, but also dangerous because she's so UNlike me, too. If this book ever sees the light of day, I'm gonna have lots of 'splaining to do...starting with the dedication which will be to my very own step-mother with the strong caveat that Rose's stepmom is NOTHING like my own.

But, I digress...which is also a way of saying that as long as I keep blogging, I can avoid writing that final chapter. Avoid the array of emotions.

Then I remind myself that sometimes endings bring relief.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sorry State of Affairs

1. I have a cold. Complete with sore throat and the overwhelming urge to sneeze every few seconds. I'm suppose to give a dinner party at my house tomorrow night for 10 old high school chums.

2. Yesterday, without warning, the phone company shut off the service to my business. Turns out they misapplied a payment. Meanwhile, for hours yesterday afternoon and this morning, our customers heard: "We're sorry, this number has been disconnected and is no longer in service."

3. It's like a blizzard outside without the snow.

4. The heater in my house has been disconnected.

5. My mechanic just announced that my old car--the '91 Mercedes 500SL I never got around to selling--now has a blown head gasket, making it virtually worthless.

6. I went straight to bed last night, without writing 15 pages.

7. I'm not gonna "win" NaNoWriMo.

Boo Hoo.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

9,000 And Counting **See Updates Below

I feel like I wrote a sh*tload already tonight but as you can see, I've got 9,000 words to go. By 11:59 Thursday night.

Man, I'm tempted to give in. I mean, it's not like anything bad'll happen if I don't make it. Hell, nothing good's gonna happen if I DO.

Ugh. Doncha hate intrinsic rewards? 'Cuz that's all this is about. A few moments of clapping myself on the back. Is it worth the mental torment? Is it worth pushing myself the extra mile (or two, or three...or 9,000)?????

Okay. Deep breaths and let's break it down into do-able parts.

9,000 words equals roughly 36 pages. (Please note and REMEMBER that on a good day, non-Nano time, I eke out TWO, THREE, or sometimes FOUR pages). At my recent Nano clip however, I've been known to scribble (okay, TYPE) upwards of ten.

So.

If I write three more pages tonight, and then fifteen tomorrow and fifteen on Thursday, voila. (Update #1: See? I can't even do math properly anymore. I have to write SIX more pages tonight...and that sound you hear is me sobbing inconsolably.) (Update #2: Yee haw! Up to 43,000...and I must've done the math incorrectly again (too tired to figure out where I went wrong)...7,000 left to go, two days to do it in, 3500 per day, FOURTEEN pages (not FIFTEEN) per day!)

Then I upload that sucker to the NaNoWriMo boys and get some sort of flag icon to put on my blog saying I "won" NaNoWriMo 2006.

Oh, hell. I'm going for it.

Peace out.


...And Puppy Dog Tails

The newleyweds add a "child" to the mix--his name is Toby



Toby learns to climb steps





















Uncle Jake on the left; Uncle Zac below

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock

...and the minutes left in NaNoWriMo keep dwindling.

As you can see, I fell off the pace considerably over the 4-day weekend. All that driving...all that ka-ching ka-chinging...really took its toll, y'know?

Ten thousand eight hundred and seventy-five words to write before 11:59 Thursday.

Eek.

Oh...and let's add about another 3,500 to account for the differential between computer wordcount and the 25/250 method.

Double eek.

Do I have it in me anymore?? Ah, 'tis the question and I don't know the answer.

Right now, I'm leaning toward.....a big NOPE--even though I hate to have come this far without trying really, really, hard to continue toward SUCCEEDING. But at the risk of writing pure drivel? 'Cuz, trust me. The quality of writing is dwindling along with the minutes. And the prospect of editing this mishmash of dropped clues, red herrings that lead nowhere, and excessively passive sentence construction fills me with dread.


Not to mention that the end of NaNo doesn't mean the end of the book. Hell, no. Come December 1, there's another 25,000 or so little buggers to crank out after the 50,000.

Why did I think this would be a real hoot?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sideways X 2

Clever title, really.

With virtually everyone out of town (sob, sigh, whimper) I had to do SOMETHING, right? So on Friday, I popped into the car and headed north to...you guessed it...the Chumash Casino. My reason was twofold. Oh sure, the casino at the end was reward in itself, but it was also a GORGEOUS Fall day here in Southern Cal.

So, first...I went here....


Then I continued up through Santa Barbara and cut through on the San Marcos Pass. After you go over that bridge I posted a while back, you emerge on one of those "views that goes on forever" and it includes Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez Valley.

God, these pix look horrible, don't they? Must be something to do with the way I re-sized them so I wouldn't have to wait forever while they uploaded.

Anyway...this, folks...is "Sideways" country...yep, the route the guys take to end up with Virginia Madsen and that Oh lady--the one on Grey's Anatomy.

Of course, I didn't have any "Sideways" experiences...

Oh, and the "x 2" in the title?

Yesterday, I did it all again.

Okay, so y'all don't think I have a gambling problem...on day two, I went to meet a girlfriend.

And in case you're keeping score: the first day I won $100; the second I lost about $150...which puts me $50 in the hole for the weekend...but...well, you have to agree those views are priceless, right?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

I hope you and yours are safe and warm in your beds, patting your overstuffed stomachs.

And I hope you took a moment out to appreciate what you're thankful for.

I may even write a memo to the L.A. Times 'cuz I woke up thankful for the good taste they had to put four (count 'em four!) "good news" articles in the paper today. Must be the new editorial staff.

I also found myself being extremely thankful that my niece's husband, Jon, was HERE spending Thanksgiving with US, instead of in Iraq. (Enough said about that.)

Then...right before I left the family fold, my nephew slipped in a video from....er....Christmas 1983!! Ouch! Talk about people with funky clothing and younger faces! Oddly, I didn't appear in any scenes--there's a theory out there that I was taking the video, but I sure don't remember doing so--anyway, take it from me: no matter how annoying that family member is who insists on recording every last stupid antic on holidays, you'll be glad he/she did twenty years from now.

Or not.

Remember, I didn't have to see myself.

Something else to be thankful for.......

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Brand Names

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I go to the supply cabinet at work looking for paper clips, Scotch tape, or rubber bands, all I see are staples. "Why have we got so many boxes of staples?" I demand.

Oh.

It's the name on the boxes of paper clips, Scotch tape, and rubber bands 'cuz that's where we buy that stuff. Staples.

Maybe I'll switch to Office Depot to clear up the confusion.

Just a thought on this Thanksgiving Eve.

Monday, November 20, 2006

War Of The Words

Notice the new addition to the sidebar...yep folks, the race is on. I'm neck-and-neck (but still lagging behind) writer friend, Jax (a.k.a. Ms. Let's-Do-30,000-By-Sunday and now newly morphed into Ms. I'm-Gonna-Get-To-35,000-By-Thanksgiving.)

She'd have left me in the proverbial dust today if it hadn't been for a sudden spurt of inspiration (and new ideas) on my drive home tonight.

And, get this: I read over the entire manuscript, and it's not half as bad as I thought. Definitely not ready for the crap heap...yet. (Let's face facts--it could still deterioriate into the worst piece of crud ever written.)

If only I could think of a title. Somehow, calling it "My NaNo Project" doesn't reek of "best seller."

NaNo Gone Bad

You may have noticed I, er, didn't hit the 30,000-word target by Sunday night like I was aiming for. Yeah, you're not half as disappointed as I....

See, here's the deal. Remember, I'm writing this thing on the fly. I have a premise and that's about it. Around day four, I figured out the first turning point, and wrote toward that.

Now, I'm there, and I don't have a clue where to go next. Ah, the drawbacks to not having a plan. Especially when your goal is to write as much and as fast as you can.

Kinda hard when you have nothing to write.

The idea is to forge ahead anyway, with the hope that somehow you'll stumble out of the abyss and discover a new treasure trove of ideas. The danger there, in my opinion, is the possibility (probability?) that you waste a whole lot of time either a) writing yourself into a corner from which it's impossible to recover, or b) creating a whole lotta crap. I live in fear that I'll doom a reasonably good start by making such a mess I'll just wanna chuck the whole thing (see NaNoWriMo project circa 2003).

That evil wench, Jax, who continues to rack up the words with abandon, gave me a couple of ideas to put the ball back in motion.

If you see that bar start creeping toward the right again, you'll know one of 'em worked.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Stealing Amy Teaser

Okay, I tried to create a "royalty-free" video for Stealing Amy...then I read the "fine print"...so until I decide I'm totally ripping musicians off and the Internet Police are knocking at my door...here it is....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Half-Way Home

Did ya see? Did ya see? Woo Hoo! I passed the 25,000-word mark! Yippee! And if I really get into the spirit tomorrow...and allow myself to write PURE crap...I should be able to get to 30,000.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Getting There

Hope y'all are keeping track of my NaNo progress on the sidebar. It's killing me to keep lagging behind. BUT. Writing buddy Jax has issued a challenge: meet her at 30,000 by Sunday. (Can you hear the engines revving?)

Here's the problem. At the halfway mark (25,000 words), in the non-NaNo world, I've got roughly 56,000 more words to go, which translates to roughly 224 manuscript pages. Now, most people average about 3 pages per scene, three scenes to a chapter. That means...argggghhhh...74 (SEVENTY-FOUR) scenes to go....74 (SEVENTY-FOUR) riveting, essential, conflict-filled scenes to go.

Kinda daunting when I don't even know what happens next after scene 30.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Disturbing News

The palm trees of southern California are disappearing. Some are dying of old age--after all, they'be been around a hundred years. Others are falling victim to a fungus that debuted about ten years ago and apparently defies eradication efforts. In Santa Monica, an ordinance was passed requiring tree trimmers to use special equipment and precise cleaning methods in order to reduce the spread.

Still, the palm trees of southern California are disappearing.

And thanks to the Vegas casino construction boom, municipalities can't afford to replace them. So instead we'll be seeing cheaper, indigienous trees like oak and sycamore lining our streets and creating our skyline.

I don't know about you, but the prospect really bums me out.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fun, Fun, Fun

...and today it was. Writing, that is. Yep...note the word count in the sidebar, if you please. Pretty damn cool, huh? Okay, so I'm still a little over two days behind. I can make that up by cranking out an extra 500 words on four days. Give or take. 'Course that also means I have to keep up the 1666 per day pace for the remaining 16 (?) days...which, y'know, could be difficult while I'm INGESTING ALL THAT TURKEY, STUFFING, MASH POTATOS (?Dan Quayle, where are you when I need you?), AND GRAVY.

Speaking of which...had a chat with my Jenny counselor today (yes, I have one of those but I don't go to an office; I do it over the phone). They actually have turkey day recipes and menus on their web site to help us over the holiday. HA! Right. Like I'll be checking THOSE out.

As a matter of fact, I committed a MAJOR cheat over the past two days. Hey, what's a blog for, if not confessing? On Sunday, I partook (is that the proper past tense?) in one of my fave past times (is that one word? And can you tell I've been writing my a** off and am too lazy to look this stuff up?). I bought a big ol' bag of tortilla chips, a package of cheddar/jack cheese, my favorite salsa...and, of course, the current issue of People Magazine. Ah, bliss!!

Took me two days to finish it all so, like I say, it was a two-day cheat. And the best part is: I'm not even feeling guilty! Well, maybe a bit.

I didn't even get on the scale today, and Tuesday is my weigh-in. Last week I hit ten pounds (or, was it the week before?) and I was scared (oh, let's face it, I'm SURE) I inched up a tad.

But, I digress. This was supposed to be about the writing, not the eating.

Page count is at 77 new pages...added to the 9 I originally wrote back in May (?) that brings us to...well, you can do the math: 86. Time for a major turning point by my calculcations. And, don't worry! This "panster" has one in mind!

I'm a little clueless about what happens afterward but, oh well. That's what NaNoWriMo's all about, right?

Winging it.

And having FUN.

Which I am. (Wish I could put a little smiley face here, but I don't know how so you'll just have to picture it in your mind.)

Anyone curious yet about the premise?? Here's a hint: blogging is involved.

Shhhh. That's all I'm saying.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Another Road Trip

So, on Saturday I meet Senor de la Cruz and his lovely wife Anna Margarita in the Ralph's parking lot around 2 o'clock. And because it wouldn't be a road trip without an emergency stop at McDonalds, we swing back off the freeway minutes later for rations. Me, I have a diet Coke.

Next, we slide into the parking lot of Ross Dress For Less in the Valley around 2:30 to wait for Tony Hemmingway (yes, these are all aliases). About 3:15 (still no Tony), Anna Margarita needs to use the restroom so she treks into the store. Upon her return, as she's climbing into the Denali, she exclaims, "What a sh*t-hole."

The Senor and I chime in. "The whole VALLEY's a sh*t-hole," we say.

Suddenly we notice a woman pausing near the car. "Excuse me," she says. "Is it really horrible in there?"

Anna Margarita describes how half the merchandise is on the floor and the checkout lines are a mile long.

"Thank you," the stranger says. "I was wondering."

And with that she turns around, strides back to her car, gets in and leaves.

Which makes me wonder about the serendipity of it all. I mean, was she driving along, intending to do some shopping, but fretting about the shape the store would be in? Was she hoping to get a report before stepping foot inside? Was it merely luck that brought this woman and Anna Margarita to the same place at the same time?

Or was it random providence?

Anyway, Tony finally arrives after making us wait an hour. We console ourselves that when one of us hits a huge jackpot at the San Manuel Casino in San Bernardino, we'll feel less put upon by his timing.

Um. This doesn't happen.

However...we drag ourselves out of the casino and get back on the road about 1:15 a.m. As we're traveling through Hollywood, we come upon the first traffic accident. Then, as we descend through the pass, we see the second...with a third about a half mile ahead.

Who knows? Maybe timing was working for us after all.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Getting Back On The Horse

Despite the earlier post, I whipped off a couple hundred words just now and went back to MY method of counting them, thankyouverymuch. Still behind and will lag even further behind by tomorrow, but I'll make it up.

Somewhere.

Bad Timing

So, here I am, typing my little fingers off, exhausting my brain with the unrelenting effort to figure out the next avenue--the next scene--and, what happens??

Yes, ladies and you other people: the greatest motivator of all...the publisher who had Fit For Love for THIRTEEN MONTHS finally got around to sending me a rejection letter.

Since I've never named the publisher, I feel safe about ranting a little.

Let's recap, shall we? In August of 2005, I sent three chapters and a synopsis. They apparently liked what they saw enough to request the rest of the manuscript, which I then busted my you-know-what to pare down to the appropriate wordcount, and submitted. Flash forward (ha) to thirteen months later, and yesterday (mailed in my original SASE with its OLD 37 cent stamp!) I received a one-page letter, 90% of which they spent apologizing for taking so long. Then in one sentence they summed up why they were passing: "we don't publish romantic suspense." Um, hello? Didn't they read the synopsis??

Oh, well. My feeling about rejection letters is that it's useless to parse them. They coulda meant "your writing SUX"...although they, in fact, said "your writing is great."

The bottom line is (and I know I'm not alone, here) when you get these things, you sorta have a hard time continuing to bust your you-know-what on the current project.

Which makes it a good thing I'm really writing it for my own enjoyment.

On the other hand, I read a post on the chick lit loop this morning from an author who said she used the "pantsing" method for ten years before giving it up and forcing herself to become a plotter. Thirty-two published books later, she still hates the process, but likes selling better than not selling.

And since I've posted here before that, despite my preference for pantsing, I believe the probability of writing a great book soars exponentially when you plot and plan...I'm probably wasting my time doing NaNo.

Oh, well. It's not like I had anything else to do...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Evil Word Count

Well, now I've really got things screwed up. NaNo kindly provides a method by which you can upload your manuscript for a kinda stamp-of-approval word count. I wasn't gonna bother with it, but I've been so curious about that widget thingy in my sidebar.

Meanwhile, I've been teetering back and forth between which method to use: computer word count, or the 25 lines per page = 250 words deal.

Trust me, sometimes there's a huge difference. From what I understand, the variation has something to do with whitespace. So if, for example, you have lots of dialogue on a page, the actual (physical) word count is gonna be less when calculated by the computer. Conversely, a page heavy with narrative may turn out to be more.

Whatever. Something like that.

Right now, if I go by 25 lines per page = 250, I've racked up almost 15,000 words. Sadly, if I make Microsoft count, it turns into more like 12,000. Eeek. Quel difference.

So, like I said, I uploaded a .txt version of the file to NaNo for official ruling and it came back with the figure you see in the widget thingy.

Which is why, since the last time you visited, I may have gone backward (sob).

I still can't explain why it seems to think I'm ahead of the game.

'Cuz I'm definitely not.

NaNo Week Two

Okay, clearly, the NaNo guys aren't mathematicians, 'cuz that widget thingy I imported ain't working right. Here I was merrily typing along, admittedly smug, and relying on the widget thingy for accuracy--I thought I was staying ahead of the game. But, nooooooo. If you do the calculations, I'm apparently consistently BEHIND.

Permit me to do it for you:

I need to average 1666 words a day to reach 50,000 in thirty days. Today is the ninth day so by tonight I should be at 14,994 if I wanna stay on track. But it already shows me in the plus column! Which, like I say, ain't right. In fact, I have to write roughly 2774 words to catch up.

Yikes. You know how many manuscript pages that translates to??? Well, I'll tell ya. It translates to roughly eleven. CURSE the guy (or girl) who came up with whatever formula's behind that widget thingy.

In other NaNo news, today I'd like to discuss the main drawback to performing this exercise. See, for my money, balls-out writing fosters lazy writing. And man, I'm doing a ton of it. In some cases, I don't worry--like if I'm rolling along and run into a blank for a good metaphor, I just type a long underline and move on. Or, say I encounter a new character and need a name--I grab the first one that comes to mind. That's the kind of stuff that's easy to fill in or change later. But other stuff--like all those "was" sentences...they make me nervous. Once I write something, I have a helluva time imagining it written another way. Well, that's not entirely true. I can re-work it, re-structure it--but in doing so, I run the risk of forcing it into something awkward. Hate when that happens. If you'll remember a post from a couple weeks ago, I can spend an hour on one sentence, so the prospect of of spending an hour on each sentence of the manuscript makes me queasy as hell.

Still...it's nice to think that at the end of the month, I'll have a pretty good grasp of the story. Not the entire book of course, because even after 50,000 words, there will still be about another 30,000 to write. (How depressing is that?)

I keep reminding myself that, according to legend, Lani Diane Rich wrote a NaNo novel, spent a year editing it, then voila: "Time Off For Good Behavior" and a Rita Award.

Yep, it could happen to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006














On election day, MSNBC knows which news is really important to viewers.

Hint: Be sure to read the crawl carefully.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Letters...I Get Letters...

Geesh. I received a complaint via email that uploading two photos did not a blog make.

Hey--what about my progress with the Nano project? Isn’t 9,000 words in 6 days enough writing without having to string together crap for my blog??

Here’s the deal. It turns out that three social obligations in a row (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) are NOT conducive to creativity. So, even though I had all of Sunday to bang out the great American novel, my fingers literally froze in their tracks (much like my brain cells).

In fact, I nearly threw in the proverbial towel.

Suddenly the premise sucked, I hated the characters, and I didn’t know why I ever though I could just “pants” my way through this.

Ah, but experience kicked in. I decided to wait until Monday—see if I could rev up the creative juices with a clear head, and get back in the groove.

Thank God, I did.

Well, and thank God for Internet glitches. Lemme tell ya, the fact I didn’t have Internet access last night is directly correlated to my output. Another lesson.

TEN PAGES. The last time I wrote ten pages in a day was…well…the last time I successfully completed NaNoWriMo (forget the year—2001, maybe). I even reached the point where the writing doesn't seem like drek, although there’s still a huge possibility that it is.

There are about as many writing processes as there are writers, and I’ve studied (not to mention experimented with) a ton of them (the processes, not the writers). On one hand you have the “panters” who claim that knowing too much about the story spoils the joy of writing. On the other, you have the “plotters” who use spreadsheets, color-coded index cards, full-blown synopses, and character interviews before typing a word.

I haven’t “pantsed” since my experience with Nano Year One. Even Fit For Love, my first serious stab at writing for publication, involved a rudimentary scene-by-scene plotting sheet. Then, with Stealing Amy, I concocted a table for about the first half of the book—detailing the hero and heroine’s goal, motivation, and conflict for each scene. For Leftovers, I wrote a pretty detailed synopsis—ha—a lot of good THAT did me.

So it feels good to try something new again. Even though, at this very moment, I have absolutely no idea what the next scene will be about, let alone the next chapter, the first turning point, or the “black moment.”

There’s something to be said for spontaneity...as long as your brain cells are willing to go along for the ride...and your Internet service provider continues to be on the blink.

P.S. Breaking News: I just read that Brittney has filed for divorce from K-Fed. On top of Reese and Ryan...kinda shakes your belief in the whole institution of marriage, doesn't it??

Kidding.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Hanging" with the "Stars"














Average mom Tysonia Sichinga, with her professional partner Christian Perry at the Pacific Dancesport Competition Friday night. Sorry...can't reveal here how she did--you'll have to tune into this week's Dancing With The Stars Result Show to find out.

Bemco Phones RIP



Farewell, phone system...thanks for the memories...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Public Humiliation

Amazing how putting that stupid NaNoWriMo graphic tube thingy on my blog has inspired me. I HATE to see that minus sign...and it's not fair, because I pretty much (well, so far for two days) get my total in right before midnight which means...almost moments after I do it, I'm already behind!

Still...I'm proud of my achievement so far. Yeah, two days worth!

Really, folks. First, I got up early again this morning and banged out 500 words, then tonight I rushed home after work (late, because our CPA was there) banged out about another 500, then went to a girls' night out affair (so FUN!), got home at 11:45, and thought: Dammit, I'm not letting fun interfere with progress!

So...I wrote and wrote and wrote...stopping about every ten minutes to check my wordcount, and finally reached the goal for the day. Okay, so it's not the most scintillating scene ever written...and, in truth, when I go back to edit, the scene probably won't even make the cut...still...I learned about my character, strengthened my whole notion of who she is, and

MET MY GOAL.

For those of you dropping by who are doing NaNo, you GET IT, right??

Now it's 12:32 a.m., I have to be up...well, early...and tomorrow I have to zip home, gussy up, and get to the Westin at LAX for the Pacific Dancesport Championships (er, no...I'm not performing, I'm a spectator). WHEN am I going to squeeze in tomorrow's 1666 words?

All donations gladly accepted. Leave your contributions in the comment section.

Ha.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tick Tick

I woke up late this morning. Not just five minutes late, but about twenty. And it was cold. I was not happy.

I dragged myself out of bed, skipped the shower, went with two-day old hair, and cursed myself for staying up until midnight. About to walk out the door, I glanced at the clock one more time to gauge how late I'd be getting to work.

It was two minutes to seven.

Um, I don't have to be work until eight.

Damn time change.

I remembered a conversation in the car on Saturday night.

Marty: It takes about a week for your body to adjust.
Me: Not mine.

Yeah, right. I mean, my CLOCKS were correct so it must've been the daylight that fooled me.

Grrrrrr.

The good news is, I used the extra time to start NaNo, and I wrote 350 words! Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Full Speed Ahead...Splat

So, last night, I really got on a roll again with Leftovers. For you newbies, that's my current WIP--work-in-progress. I wrote a couple pages, retired to the bathtub (where my Muse--whoever/whatever he/she is seems to reside) and realized...whoa....I could wrap this baby up in two scenes. TWO.

You may wonder how come I hadn't figured this out already.

Well...I guess because I was thinking in terms of loose ends. In my mind, I had about five loose ends to tie up--five story threads to knit or weave (whichever sewing reference you prefer) together. But then it dawned on me (ever vigilant where writing less to gain more is concerned) that I could really combine that stuff...into TWO SCENES.

Man...I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

B-b-b-but....tomorrow NaNoWriMo starts. Not that I'm a stickler for rules--after all, this whole NaNo shenanigan thing is nothing but an artificial boundary we set for ourselves--but you're supposed to write something new...and besides, I'm not sure I wanna apply the NaNo state-of-mind kinda writing to the finale of Leftovers.

So...sigh...we'll see what happens. My idea for the NaNo project is ephemeral at best. It would take a real miracle (and getting that Muse entity out of the bathtub) to approach anything nearing success. Still....it could happen.

Naturally, I'll be letting y'all know how it works out.

In the meantime, geez...I've gotten myself bogged down in yet another pop culture phenomenon. Seems I need to have a presence on myspace.com with all the youngsters. I don't even know the real URL for it but if you click here, you'll see what I'm talkin' about.

NaNo Nano for now.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Random Halloween Pix--Brought to You by "White Trash"












































































































































Me and random guy at bar--I looked much thinner in person. No, really.

And a good time was had by all....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Stealing Amy Teaser!

Oops...bare with me...this thing is probably gonna screw up the whole sidebar until I post enough to move it down the page....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Magical Mayhem!

Over on the Triskelion loops, there's a scavenger hunt going on and my blog is one of the stops contestants have to visit in order to pick up an item.

So..............WAVING TO ALL YOU TRISK READERS...........Scroll down and click on Randy's Blurbs to find your answer!

25 Other Letters--Pick One

Years ago, back in another lifetime, I worked for the company that syndicated The Richard Simmons Show (yes, darlings--it was my big brush with, er, "celebrity").

Anyway, I handled the 10 million dollars worth of advertising placed with us, and we retained 2-1/2 minutes of of commercial time, so that meant placing 5 spots somewhere in the show each day, five days a week, for the period of the buy which was 3 months. Simple, right? Except our biggest account was General Foods, and their contract stipulated a specific requirement: no bumping up next to other ads that would make the consumer go, "euw"...

In other words, no scheduling our Preparation H commercials to lead into Cheerios.

Which got me to thinking yesterday...here in California we have something on the ballot called Propostion H. Now, without even knowing what it's about, I'm not sure I can vote for something called Proposition H. I mean, couldn't they have picked another letter? Every time an ad comes on for it, I start laughing and I miss what the issue is.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Me and My Aching Back

It was first grade and I was about to bring home my first report card.

"I'll give you a dollar for every 'A'," my dad told me.

Not that I even had a clue about money in those days (er, still don't) but I figured this sounded like a pretty good deal. Only, when I brought home straight A's, guess what? He reneged. I think I'm gonna have to call him up and ask him about that today.

Anyway, I exaggerate. Not quite all A's. One A MINUS...in, of all things, posture. (The minuses in cleanliness--messy desk!--came later.) But I remember thinking, huh? Geez, if the teacher singled out that one area for markdown, I must've been slouching off to Bethlehem, all right. (Obscure reference to Joan Didion there.) As a result, I overcompensated--I trained myself to sit up so straight I think I incurred permanent damage.

Flash forward to the computer years. The hours and hours spent sitting at a desk hovered over a keyboard. My newest obsessions (making book trailers and--shhhhh--creating a website) have left me practically crippled. All because I sit up too straight (damn first grade teacher!). Literally, when I get up in the morning, I am unable to slump. If I could only snap my lower backbone in two, it seems, all would be good.

Either that, or I need to give up this new addiction to the web. Man, I mean, did you ever stop to think about how many fonts exist in the world? Who knew that there are people out there whose sole purpose in life is to sit around creating new ones. And that they were available for me to download for free! 'Course first I had to learn how to unzip 'em...then I had to discover that you can't just throw them up on the web 'cuz not everyone'll have 'em on their computer (resulting in my cool script turning into some boring default)...then I had to learn to make 'em more interesting by painting a picture behind 'em and turning the whole thing into an image by saving it as a jpeg.

Oh, and did I mention, I'm not good with color??

Yeah, so multiply by ten, the times it takes me to come up with anything decent.

This isn't the final result, but...I'm getting there.

That is, unless, my back gives out entirely.

And, yes...upon further review, I screwed the bars up toward the right-hand side! Back to the drawing, er, painting board....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Nano Nano

I started writing this post about a week ago, saved it under drafts, and am just getting back to it. Goes to show ya--there's a whole lot more to writing than...er...writing. Well, and then there's the dreaded day job. Don't get me started on that....

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Nano Nano.

I suppose I wrote roughly the same blog this time last year. To Nano or not to Nano. Ah, that is the question.

NaNoWriMo...National Novel Writing Month...starts November 1st and goes...(appropriately)...for thirty days. . Longtime blog readers will remember that an L.A.. Times article on NaNoWriMo sent me down the writing path in the first place.

Briefly, it's a month where writers all over the world commit to "writing a 50,000-word novel" in thirty days. Take it from me, to do this, ya gotta turn off the "internal editor" and spew, spew, spew. In fact, the guy who started the whole deal has a motto: No plot? No problem.

The first year I "signed up" (it's all just a formality--there aren't any rules; you don't win a prize) I did it--I wrote 50,000 words in thirty days. In fact, I did it in less 'cuz I went to Puerto Vallarta at the beginning of week four. Since I started writing for real, the same production takes about six months. Euw. This is progress? Okay, granted...what I churn out in six months is (hopefully) better crafted than what I achieved in thirty days...still...there's something to be said for taking a month off...to just write.

So, should I? Or, shouldn't I?

There's an idea brewing in my head for a new story. I'm thinking of putting it on the NaNo burner.

Stay tuned for decisions...and to see what I spent the whole weekend working on. (Doncha love a secret?)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Video Games

Hey, you parents out there--yeah, you--the ones who don't let their kids play video games. Listen up! I heard about a study that says they might not be so bad after all. Of course I didn't listen to the ENTIRE story--after all, I don't have kids so what do I care? (Kidding--I care about the planet, blah blah blah.)

Anyway, like I say, I quickly tuned out and started reminiscing about the time I fell in love with Super Mario Brothers. Oh. My. God. I was addicted (which, come to think of it, may be a precursor to my falling in love with video slots, but I digress).

For those of you not familiar (and, geez, where were YOU in the 80's?) Mario Brothers came with Ninentdo and involved this little guy you had to maneuver through four worlds (each consisting of four levels) to save the princess. Co-worker John's son Jeremiah (who was young at the time--now HE'S a co-worker) introduced me to it. After thirty minutes, I HAD TO HAVE THIS GAME, so I ran out and got my own.

Here's what I learned...pretty much in the order I learned it.

1. Hand/eye coordination. Duh, that one's self-explanatory.

2. Daunting tasks can be broken down into smaller, doable components.

See, it took me forever to get past the first level of the first world. But once I mastered it, I began to feel more confident in my skills and realized I had to look at the game piece by piece.

3. Seemingly impossible tasks can be mastered with practice.

See, each time I got to a new level (with its associated rise in required skill), I thought: "Man, I'll NEVER be able to do this." Well, endless hours later, I always graduated to the next level.

4. Think outside the box.

See, in the first level, you learn that by jumping high and hitting stuff, you release hidden coins that do something (I forget what). So, naturally, I fell into a pattern of jumping high and hitting coins. Then, for example, one day I looked at the screen and realized just because the brick wall framed the picture, didn't mean I couldn't send my guy up there. Sure enough, I jumped really, really, high and was able to run across the entire level, avoiding all the obstacles.

5. It's the journey, not the destination.

When I finally saved the princess, it was kind of a letdown. I never played again.

Still...look how much I learned about life. Definitely worth staying up to the wee small hours. Definitely worth the muscle relaxants I had to take to ease the ache in my back from sitting hunched over and my thumbs from staying frozen to the console for too long.

So, folks. Don't come down too hard on your kids for playing video games. Unless they have titles like Megadeath or Debby Does Duluth. Although come to think of it, there's probably plenty to learn from that second one, too.....





Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Suckiest Part About Revisions

Revisions via your editor come in many forms. Anything from "make your heroine more sympathetic in this scene" down to "vary the sentence structure in paragraph two on page 119." In the two passes thus far between my editor and me, the changes have been mostly grammatical and minor.

But see, here's the thing.

I'm down to the stuff that makes me tear my hair out because...well, the truth is...there's a reason, what's left has problems because if it were easy to write, I'd have done it correctly the first time.

I mean, we're talking cases in which it's only one sentence--sometimes one word--where there's an issuse. Yet I can spend an hour trying to fix it with no luck.

I don't know what it is...am I being too anal? Am I looking at the trees instead of the forest? Shouldn't this be the easy part?

One hour. One word.

You do the math.

Meanwhile, Leftovers sits in limbo...and so much for that vow I made here to have it finished by mid-October.

Grrrrr. I really need to brush up on my multi-tasking. Or editing.

Or both.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Here's a good article

Click here to see why I'm not that unusual (right after you click on what I did yesterday).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Look What I Did Today!

Okay, so it's a work-in-progress...and probably illegal as hell. Still, it's pretty cool.

Turn up your speakers and check it out by clicking here.

(Ain't technology grand? Thank you, google-guys!)

Friday, October 13, 2006

365 Days

...a.k.a. ONE YEAR. As of TODAY.

That's how long ago I sent the requested full of Fit For Love to a New York publisher. Regular blog readers will remember the senior editor recalled it as "currently under consideration" back at RWA National in late July.

Not that I'm holding my breath, mind you, but no day has passed without the same thought blipping on my radar: "maybe today will be the day."

Eventually, I added the tag line: "yay or nay. Something. Please."

First-time writers have to be taught the concept of starting a new book while jumping through the hoops to sell the first one. Well, I did...and...I did. Wrote and sold, albeit to an epublisher. Now I'm finishing my third. See the way this works?

And you thought waiting for the next installment of the Sopranos was hard....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

;) ;) ;)

...that's three more winks, in case anyone's keeping track.

Oh, I know my blog title is "Randy Writes Romance" and, strictly speaking, we're s'posed to be talkin' romance writing here, but...well...the search for romance kinda applies, doesn't it?

So, as you might have figured out, I got three more nibbles at that line I threw out on match.com. At least this time all three are in California. One is actually good looking. The other two, not bad. One appears to be very sweet, but a tad on the old side for me and...well...he says he's a social drinker but has never been drunk in his life! (Okay, Blogreader John, I'm sure that probably applies to you, too--no comments necessary!) But isn't the point of this to be as honest and realistic as possible? So, ixnay on the ocialsay inkerdray.

And you know what? Ditto for the other two. Cuz here's the deal: All three say they're nonsmokers but they'll accept someone who smokes occasionally or is trying to quit.

Uh-uh. Been there, done that. The guy says it's okay at the beginning, then he turns into Simon Legree around date four. Don't get me started.

So what, you may ask, are the qualities I might wink back at?

Ha. I'll let you know when I see 'em.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ann Flips the Lid on Pandora's Box

It's Saturday night. I'm doing what any self-respecting single woman does on Saturday night--in other words, I'm on the computer. The phone rings. It's Anna Margarita de la Cruz.

"I just came from a wedding next door," she gushes. "The bride and groom met on Match.com four months ago. You gotta do it."

(Indistinguishable comments in the background from Senor de la Cruz result in an argument. They're not making Match.com look like a fruitful endeavor.)

But I hang up and think, what the hell? I could use a diversion from editing. So I click on over.

(Oh, sure. Let ME be your ginea pig.)

First, I browse. For you long-time blog readers, you may remember a similar experince months ago on the Yahoo personals. I quickly insert the smoking filter (yeah, yeah--I know) to whittle down the possibilities. Ha, the field goes from five pages of guys to four guys total, two with pictures, two without. It scares me to think what the two non-pictured might look like since the two sporting photos are scary enough.

These candidates quickly bore me so I decide to play with the profile questionnaire. Twenty minutes later, I've answered all the stupid questions and...I dunno...I guess because I CAN, I upload my own image.

Then it asks for money. Well, of course, I knew such a stellar service wouldn't be free, but somehow I hadn't expected to get this far. I peruse the three payment options, lose interest, and point my browser homeward.

So much for match.com.

A couple days go by. I get to thinking (dangerous, to be sure). It occurs to me that I've established a username, a password, a profile--hell, I've even uploaded photos--all under an email account I barely use.

I start to get a little nervous as I surf on over to the account.

Uh-oh. Three men have winked at me. Which is kinda concerning because I really didn't fill out that questionnaire as though someone would actually read it.

Turns out that although I can't contact match.com members, they can contact me, then I can look up their profile.

First wink lives on Whidbey Island, Washington. Seems like a nice enough guy--and who wouldn't love to visit Whidbey Island--but, um, kinda geographically undesirable, doncha think?

Second wink lives in New Zealand. Double ditto.

Third wink lives twenty minutes away but forgot to pay attention to my profile. Under smoking he put: NO WAY. He shoulda added Jose.

Now, along with these wink notifications, match.com kindly advises that it's polite to respond, even if you're not interested. Uh, no...not fallin' for it. I'm not starting up a dialogue with strangers who live frequent flyer miles away.

Still...my profile's up there...it'd be a shame to waste all that time I spent creating it...let's see what kinda fish the net drags in over the next couple of weeks, shall we?