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 Café 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.