Thursday, August 30, 2007

Public Service Announcement

See? This is why I like having a blog--so I can pass along important information when it comes my way. Today's critical lesson is the following:

It turns out that when inadvertently placed near a curling iron, reading glasses will, in fact, melt.

Case in point:Folks, don't try this at home.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Love Trouble!

Especially when she comes with 12 million $$$$$$$$

So, prepare yourself for posts on gourmet doggie treats and solid gold pooper scoopers, 'cuz I'm goin' a-courtin' as soon as the check clears.'ll be a life rich with walks in Central Park...hanging around fire hydrants, sniffing out the rich and famous...I can't wait.

Man, talk about a fortune "going to the dogs."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I FOUND It ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

If you haven't read the earlier post, go read it first, then come back here to discover that...I FOUND IT!!! I FOUND my PASSPORT!

You may have guessed by now that I'd become obsessively CONSUMED by this predicament. Not because I couldn't go and get another one (although, geez...what a hassle), but because I KNEW it had to be here SOMEWHERE.

Well, after getting home and actually (euw) pawing through the debris in my garage...and after the tenth time of going through the junk in my nightstand...I gave up ONCE AGAIN and decided (get this!) to do some laundry. (I know. On a TUESDAY. What are the odds?)

And while the water began filling the tub...what do I spy on my dryer??? The BAG for my VIDEOCAM. (That's not where you keep YOURS?). Of course, I say, slapping my head. I'd checked my travel purse, I'd checked the briefcase I carry my laptop in...but NOT the camera bag!!

And there the little sucker was. Lying all safe and secure, with all its irreplaceable stamps intact.

Now, see? A more anal person would have already started proceedings to get another one. (Yeah, yeah...I hear ya. A more anal person wouldn't have lost it in the first place.)

The important thing is, I can go on living now. (Oh, and that hypothetical I posed below?? I'm ready! Now all I have to do is find the MAN.........)

I Feel So NAKED...

...without my passport.

I mean, what if...WHAT IF...I were to meet some man who wanted to whisk me away to Paris for Labor Day Weekend? Where would I be then, huh? Sorry, about Bakersfield instead?

Yeah, dilemma with a capital D.

Looks like I'm gonna have to break down and get another one (oh, the humanity). Turns out this may not be as easy as it seems. First, I have to report the original one lost or stolen, and guess what they wanna know? Yeah. The number...

New search.

See, here's the thing. I can put my grubby little hands on a zillion travel records, going back to the airline ticket receipts from my trip to Norway in 2001 and the one to Argentina in 1999...and all the cruises in between where I used my passport for identification. Not one document bears the number.

Okay, square one. Birth certificate. Hm...used to have two copies...somewhere.

No birth certificate, either.

Maybe I'm not supposed to go anywhere in October. (Ya think??)

The sad part of this whole debacle is that I KNOW WHERE THE PASSPORT'S SUPPOSED TO BE. It just isn't there.

I must have (gulp) tossed it in the trash at some point. It's the only answer. (Which would be totally out of character since...y' implies I was actually cleaning...)

So, I'm off to re-establish my identity...because, like Tiger Woods on a Sunday afternoon in Augusta, it's a sure bet I'll find this crap as soon as I order the new stuff.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday In Santa Monica

In my late thirties, my social life consisted pretty much of the following:

On Fridays, I'd drive in to the Valley to Andi's house. She'd whip up a fabulous meal and we'd sit on her patio smoking cigarettes, drinking champagne, and solving the world's problems. (Okay, I'm sure the subject of men came up on occasion, but not as often as you'd expect).

On Saturdays, I'd catch up with Kathleen, my singles buddy. Since she lived in Santa Monica, I'd drive up the coast to her, she'd drive down the coast to me, or we'd meet somewhere in the middle, like Malibu.

All that changed on January 14, 1994.

Yep, that's the day the earth shook.

I didn't know it at the time, but lots of stuff was about to change, including my social life.

Andi's house in Woodland Hills was a shambles...and, more importantly, an asbestos trap. She promptly moved in with her boyfriend (later her husband) down in Santa Monica. There went the Friday night dinners.

St. John's Hospital, where Kathy worked as a respiratory therapist, closed indefinitely and employees were told they'd have to reapply for their jobs when it re-opened. The hell with that, Kathy thought. She bought a condo in Laguna Niguel and moved away.

There went my singles buddy.

So yesterday, as I drove down the coast to Andi's for a reunion of sorts, I felt like I was "driving down the route of my thirties" and here I am, now in my fifties. Eeek. A long time has passed. And, how pathetic is this?? It's August, I live 20 minutes from the beach, and this is the first time I've seen the ocean all season.

A lot has changed on PCH. The two bars we used to frequent have been shut for ages, but it appears something's in the work to take their place. These days, the "in people" frequent the "Polaroid House" which I was dying to swing by, but...well, I feared there may be some sort of invisible age barrier...y'know, like those things they put up to keep dogs in their place? Ha.

As I made my way through the beach traffic I half-expected a pack of paparazzi (paps, as they're now called) to come speeding around a corner, but it was a slow day for celebrities. (Oh, and I'll bet motorists on PCH are basking in a sense of security now that La Lohan is tucked safely away in a Utah rehab center.)

Anyway, I met Kathy at Gladstone's where I took this picture.

Later we met up with old college-era friends at Andi

and Scott's cool, cool, house. And I just can't figure out how to make sense of the way Blogger wants to arrange these pictures, so I'll just end the commentary here except to explain that the photo of the woman with the head chopped off is meant to demonstrate that it's possible for old ladies like us to wear four-inch heels. (Okay, I confess. They were MY shoes, and she was using them to impress her the way, it worked.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Upside To Spring Cleaning

Sometimes you run across stuff to make you smile. (By the way, no sign of the passport...yet.) Anyway, thought I'd share. All together now: AAAAWWWWWWW.

The late great Kody-boy in his festive bow tie.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Story Premise

Back in my twenties, I'd get an idea for a romance novel, write the first thirty pages, and then stick it in a random drawer someplace. Out of sight, out of mind. A zillion unfinished stories.

Flash forward a couple decades. I took a community class, taught by a Silhouette author, about writing romance novels.

Light bulb.

Those ideas I had? They weren't STORY IDEAS, they were CUTE MEETS. As in, what brings the hero and heroine together in the beginning. Turns out that's the fun part for me. Full of sexual tension, misunderstandings, misinterpretations--lots of energy. It's what comes next that's the hard part. Fleshing out the cute meet into four hundred pages takes, uh, more effort.

Which is why, as I flitted back and forth between my WIP and the beginning of a short story last night, I found the latter easier and more satisfying to write. Since I'm a pantser, I have no idea who this couple is yet. Don't know their backstory, their wounds, or what will make them fall in love with each other. All those answers will come in the space of about 25 pages. So far, in the eight I've sold to True Romance (one to True Experience), a STORY has always evolved from the process.

Not so with all of the long stuff I've written. Sometimes, the initial foundation isn't strong enough to hold a full-fledged book. Unfortunately, you don't find this out before investing months and months of writing time.

Depending on how you count, my current WIP is approximately (?) my fourth (fifth?) "real" manuscript. I've got about 80 pages to go and I'm happy to report that apparently I've learned to lay the proper foundation. There's plenty goin' on in this book.

And it's certainly about more than the "cute meet."

Yes, I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (gee, how long ago did we here at the old blog remember seeing the dim light ahead for Leftovers??) . Anyway, I know because I'm getting antsy about being able to pitch it. Always a great motivator for me.

Now if only I could come up with the KILLER title.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Drastic Measures

Yes, it's finally come to this: I may actually have to clean my room.

See, here's the deal. Ever since embarking on the so-called writing career, I've accumulated a slew of books and associated paper paraphernalia from all the conferences I've attended. Not being the organized sort, I've been storing this crap in (relatively) neat piles in all four corners of my bedroom. Well, if I'm honest, I have to admit we've gone way past using only the corners.

Anyway, I went to look for my passport last night.


I was so CERTAIN it was buried somewhere in the stack next to my bed...until I pawed through it and found zilch, nada, nothing. Oh, except for that cute little pink index card on which I wrote my five goals during the Reno conference in 2005. That was good for a hoot. Then there were the miscellaneous rejection letters I haven't been able to part with (nor file).

But no passport.

Doncha hate when you KNOW where something is...but you don't know where it is?

Sigh. Spring cleaning in August. It's just not right.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Hits Just Keep on Comin'

Another contract in the mail today from Dorchester! Woo Hoo!

Tentatively scheduled for November, "For The Love Of Dog" is about a man and woman thrust into joint custody of a manipulative pooch owned by their late friend.

I had a blast writing it!

Friday, August 17, 2007

On Stands Now

Be sure to grab your copy of the September issue of True Romance Magazine. I picked one up yesterday and was delighted to see a very cute (and colorful!) cover page for my story, Lucky Strike. Yes, it's about a singles bowling league, and YES, I once bowled in one. Hey, when you get to be my age while remaining single, you've tried everything...which is how come I get frustrated by these "youngsters" with publishing deals. Hell, the pipsqueaks haven't LIVED yet!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why It Pays To Write The Short Stuff

…and I’m not just talking about the “mailbox money” I’m earning from writing for “the Trues.”

1. Keeps your writing muscles exercised.

2. Allows you to more easily grasp an entire story arc since the writing process is truncated.

3. Can actually increase your productivity. Writing 10 pages in a day is MUCH easier when you can type THE END at, er, THE END.

4. Is a great distraction from working on your novel-length story. Meaning, when you’re stalled on the WIP, you can get a fresh perspective from writing something different without totally switching gears for a long period of time.

5. Rinse, lather, repeat. When you write a bunch of these in succession, you start to get the rhythm of what a story—of any length—really boils down to.

6. Psychological success. In between waiting for hell to freeze over while your manuscript claws its way to the top of the slush, it’s nice to get a little positive reinforcement. (Item 6 is also known as the You Love Me, You Really Love Me factor).

7. Keeps you legal. While waiting for “the call,” having income to report on your tax return keeps the IRS from laughing hysterically at your deductions.

8. Makes you a hit at cocktail parties. Okay, so they’d be more impressed if you introduced yourself as J.K. Rowling. Still…some people are fascinated to hear you write for “those magazines.”

9. Makes you a hit at cocktail parties, part 2. Hey, these stories are true, right? Try telling people all those lurid tales really happened to someone “you know.”

10. Hey, sometimes in life, there are only NINE.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Practice What You Preach Updated*

... or, at least pay attention to your own blog posts.

That's what I'm trying to do tonight. Yes, it's back to the WIP, the infamous NaNo whirl WIP. 52,000 (*updated 53,500--woo friggin hoo) words and stalled for months. I finally finished the chapter I started in...oh...I dunno...April? Take it from me: when this happens, do something, ANYTHING, to move forward. Write a scene out of order., hell...just write.

And I did.

I know what comes next now. Kinda.

But, in the meantime, that Michael Hague workshop (see previous post) is reverberating in my head like a school teacher drumming in times tables.

Unhealed wound. Unhealed wound.

I've been waiting for Daphne to reveal it to me, but far, she's keeping her secrets close to the vest. Oh, I've seen some hints here and there, but not enough to hang her entire character arc on.

She'd better hurry up.

I DO have a bit of a fall-back position. Something I brainstormed months ago. But if the idea were so brilliant, wouldn't it have folded its way into her character by now?

Nope. Not happening.


Meanwhile, I was searching for an earlier passage--one I knew planted a seed for the direction the next chapter should/may/will take. When I found it, I read several scenes.

Man, I like this book. Always have.

But I need to do it justice.

I need to find the unhealed wound.

Friday, August 10, 2007

How Cool Is This?

Got a fax this morning at the day job. At first I almost tossed it, mistakenly sizing it up for spam.

But, wait. Legal mumbo jumbo. I read further, and...


Check it out: We've been identified as plaintiffs in a class action suit against one of those outfits that clog up your fax machine with unsolicited bullshit. Yay! And get this: the "defendant has agreed to allow a judgment to be entered against it in the amount of..." (are you ready???) EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS. (I spelled it out 'cuz all those zeros get confusing).

It goes on to set an upper limit of $500 per plaintiff, and God knows we'll probably never even see a dollar, but still.

Just the thought...

By the way, we get bombarded with crap by a zillion companies, and I can't determine which one this lawsuit pertains to. I'm kinda hoping it's the one about the trip we've won to Bermuda. Over the years, that one's wasted a whole lot of paper.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

R-r-r-ockin' and R-r-rollin'

12:58 a.m.

The TV's still on, but I'm dozing.

When...suddenly, I'm jolted to full consciousness. EARTHQUAKE! And not one of those measly 3.0'ers, either.

With my heart in my throat, I freeze--wondering if it's gonna be a glass-shattering event (where the best bet is to drag your lazy ass to a door frame). Just as I decide it's time to do this very thing, it tapers off. Still...I wait for the second wave--the one that, contrary to popular opinion, never comes.

Whew! Silence. Stillness.

I shift into customary post-earthquake mode, grabbing the remote to see which local news station will be the first to "go live." At the same time, I tune in an AM talk radio station, which is the best way to tell if you've just survived "the big one" or if, in fact, there's nothing to worry about. When I hear a listener from West Hollywood describe it as a rolling motion and one from Santa Clarita do the same, I pin-point the epicenter somewhere in the Valley. Good news. (See, here's how it works: if you feel a JOLT, but the epicenter's somewhere near, say, San Diego, you know San Diego's in BIG trouble. On the other hand, if you feel a JOLT, and you ARE the epicenter, all is well. At least until the next one.)

Anyway, for thirty minutes, I flipped through the channels, waiting for a human. I mean, where were the charts? Where was the "go-to" stock footage of "what to do in case of an earthquake"? Where was that Lucy chick from JPL? In this day and age of 24-hour news stations, I couldn't believe it.

Not one live anchor person. The best they could do was: the local CBS affiliate ran a crawl stating a 4.5 magnitude quake hit at 12:58a.m. 4-1/2 miles north of Chatsworth. Full details forthcoming on the 5a.m. news. Huh? Five friggin a.m.??? I want details NOW. Channel 9 (or was it 11) tossed up a map and let it go at that.

I was extremely disappointed, and here's my theory: in the old days, reporters would have been down the street knocking back Jack Daniels at some sleazy bar. Hightailing it back to the studio at midnight was a snap. But in this era of (snort) healthy southern California living, I guess they all go home after their on-air stints. Too far to come back just to tell us the 7-Eleven in Tarzana has some spilled wine on the floor.

Geez, I miss the good old days.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lazy Blogging

I came across this on my computer last night and figured, what the hell...might as well toss it up on my blog. It's a short piece I wrote for a an ezine (is that they're called?? an on-line magazine?) that was (sniff) rejected. Not sure what I'd ever do with, here for your reading pleasure, a memory of my friend Nancy's wedding day. (The formatting's a bit wonky, but oh well.)


Knocking back endless bottles of champagne with the bride-to-be until 6 a.m. the night before the nuptials is not a smart move.

Trust me on this.

Unfortunately, I didn’t figure it out until the wedding coordinator gave me the cue to start my trek down the aisle. At that precise moment, every nerve ending in my body snapped to attention. Every Cheerio I’d forced down at breakfast threatened to reverse course and make a return appearance.

Not a good feeling when two hundred guests swiveled around to fasten two hundred pairs of eyes on…oh, God…me.

To say my smile wobbled is to imply my lips even formed one. To say my bouquet shook like a 4.5 on the Richter Scale, is to downgrade earthquakes everywhere. I searched out familiar faces, hopeful that eye contact with old friends would put me at ease.

Um, no. The church was one big blur.

Somehow, I made it to the assigned spot at the altar. At least I wasn't the center of attention any longer.

Which made it easier to focus on the panic attack setting in.

. In…out…in…out…

Yeah, right. Like that helped.

I became aware of the bride standing to my right. She appeared calm, cool, and collected−obviously unaware of the potential disaster to her left.

Rather than follow along with the ceremony, I held a fierce internal debate. Here’s how the pros and cons shook out:

A. I could simply excuse myself.
Okay, let me point out a major drawback to Plan A. To wit: I’d have to actually open my mouth and cause words−words that made sense−to issue therefrom. Not a slam dunk at this point, which brings us to:

B. I could take a chance on staying vertical. So what if I gambled and lost−forever branding myself as the bridesmaid who fainted dead away at her best friend’s wedding.

I had to try.

For the longest half-hour of my life, I teetered on the brink of consciousness, ignoring visions of my crumpled body on the altar steps surrounded by concerned guests.

At last, the magic words: “I now pronounce you man and wife.”

Like the veil lifted back from the bride, my anxiety evaporated.

But you can bet I was first in line for the bar at the reception.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Sign Of My Time

Those of you who've been with me for awhile will recall that the run-up to a vacation involves the usual commitment to lose 5, 10, whatever, pounds prior to The Date.

Well, guess what?

These days, I've got bigger fish to fry. I don't want a new body by October, I want a new face. Especially new eyes.

Don't laugh.

When I get up in the morning, they're mere SLITS. Hardly able to perform the function they're designed for--mainly, SEEING. In fact, if I worked it right, I might be able to get insurance to cover it as a medical necessity. Hey, worth a shot, right?

Yeah, I've been doing all the research. Checking websites, consulting friends. You know the drill. The problem with referrals is that you end up insulting the friend if you don't go with their doctor. What? You're not using Dr. Made-My-Face-Perfect? How could you be so stupid? Are you saying I don't look fabulous?

No, no, no. I'm not saying that at all (well, not in most cases). Maybe he's geographically undesirable. Maybe he's too old. Maybe he leaves me cold.

Maybe I just really don't wanna do this!

Ya think I could get away with wearing glasses 24-7 from now on? Oh, and thick, heavy scarves for my neck?

Yeah, that should work well for the Caribbean.

I'm so screwed.

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Brain Asleep

Keep in mind, the following is from the dream I had last night:

Marty, Ann, and I have landed somewhere north of San Francisco. We're waiting for the rental car and chatting with an upper crust type woman.

"Where are you staying?" she asks.

Somewhere in the City, I say to myself. Somewhere really nice.

Marty says: "Probably a Motel 6, or something. Along the way."

Dismay floods through me.

I picture the coastline leading to San Francisco. For some reason, I know it intimately, but I can't remember why. I must have spent time here, I think. Like on a job assignment, or something. Except I've never traveled for my job.

WHY, I keep thinking, is the area so familiar?

Then it comes to me. Sometime in the past, I must have dreamed about being here. Living here. But no...this is a dream, isn't it? Can a person dream about a dream?

Then I woke up.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cure For The Editing Blues

So, the never-ending saga of Randy hacks at Leftovers continues. I swear, because I'm so wishy-washy (and for various other reasons) I could easily find a reason to change every last sentence in the manuscript. What KILLS me is when I come across a rather convoluted sentence and realize I have the clauses backwards. Like, modifiers are in the wrong place, or something. Why didn't I write it properly in the first place??

Speaking of IT. I've got lots of its and thats. Another place to look for ways to strengthen a sentence, not to mention make it grammatically correct.

I've been tearing my hair out. NO MORE, I say. Next time, I'm editing as I go. (Oh, wait--didn't I already say that yesterday?)

Then something cool happened. I took a break, climbed into the bath tub (where all my writing epiphanies occur) and finished a book I'd been reading. This debut had quite the buzz when it released and for good reason. Funny, great characterization, rising stakes, the whole kit and kaboodle (hey, what's a kaboodle, anyway?). HOWEVER, I discovered I hadn't removed my editing hat, and guess what? In the ten or so pages I read, I found plenty of instances in this buzz book where I felt stuff had slipped.

First, a continuity problem. In the space of three paragraphs, the heroine squeezed her eyes shut twice. Aside from the fact they hadn't opened in between, the repeated usage bothered me. If my heroine's gonna close her eyes twice on a page, I'm gonna 1) look for a different way to say it in order to 2) raise the tension with the second occasion. That's just me.

Guess what else? Lots of THATs and ITs. Maybe the chick lit voice forgives all the THATS and ITS. I dunno. I'd like to learn the difference between the ones that are okay and the ones that aren't. (Put differently: I'd like to learn the difference between those which are okay and those which aren't. Put differently still: I'd like to learn when a sentence needs a THAT and when it doesn't. See what I'm up against here??) Do you have any idea how many more ways I could write what I just wrote? (Yes, I had to backspace and rewrite the preceding sentence to avoid another THAT--omigod, and I had to do it AGAIN in THAT sentence.)

Ack. Kill me now. Put me out of my misery.

Anyway, back to editing Leftovers. Buzz book finished, I returned to the computer and gave myself a break. I didn't agonize over every friggin sentence...and I reached


Whew. Now to print it out and re-read this weekend (note to self: two "ITs" in THAT sentence).

Am I going insane??

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Things That Have Gone By The Wayside...

...since I started writing five years ago.

1. Gym Membership...Found myself skipping the after-office workout routine in order to race home to write.
2. Weight...Okay, the truth? Up ten pounds (see Item 1 above).
3. All My Children...As in the soap, which I'd been watching since 1971. The extra hour goes to writing.
4. Television in general...Down from the entire prime time schedule to one hour a night while I eat dinner.
4. Reading...An official no-no when you're trying to write, but I can't help it. I'd rather write than read.
5. The purportedly indestructible plants on my patio...Now, this may also be due in part to the fact I've hardly stepped foot out the door since a coyote snatched my beloved doggie five years ago.
6. Sleep...Down from 8 hours a night to 6-1/2.
7. Second Bedroom...At one time always clean, this area is now a pig sty full of books, scattered manuscript pages, and discarded computer paraphernalia
8. Garage...One can always find something better to do than clean one's garage. Even non-writers.
9. Muscle tone...See item one above.
10. Hm. Number ten...number ten...*strokes chin*...lists never stop at nine, do they? Guess I'll have to get back to you on this. Probably will have something to do with my love life, although I'm not sure I can blame it on the writing gig.