Monday, June 30, 2008

The Cost of Cool

Okay, remember the whole A/C debacle? Get this: the new one "works" but I still have (gasp) a leak. Somewhere. Somewhere in a line that runs from the top of my two-story condo down through my kitchen cabinets. The fix? Oh simple, really. Merely OPEN THE ENTIRE WALL FROM THE ROOF DOWN.

Yeah, I can hardly keep from passing out at the thought.

Of course the alternative is to run the line on the OUTSIDE (disguising things with some sort of rain gutter). You just KNOW the homeowners association ain't gonna go for that one, right? (Unless I hire a team of special agents, cloaked in black, to do their dirty work in the middle of the night, or something.)

And let's not discuss that I just paid a fortune in special assessment dues for the exterior paint project.

I'm thinking I need to buy a Lotto ticket this week.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Shh--Don't Tell Anyone

For complicated reasons, I was gonna keep this a secret. Well, not a secret exactly. Just unconnected. Oh, hell...forget the explanations. Here's the deal:

Lights! Camera! Love! is my latest manuscript. (I know. I still hate the title. What do you think of Daphne In TVland? Or, how about Wag the Blog?) Oh, wait. Maybe I should be more clear on what it's about.

*Clears throat*

Waiting for her big break, aspiring sitcom writer Daphne Smith is bored. So bored, in fact, she's taken to blogging as fictional seductress, Sexy Sascha, a woman out to woo a famous movie mogul. Yes! That Sexy Sascha--the one at www.sexysascha.blogspot.com! Hey, it's seemingly harmless and a great way for Daphne to live out fantasies about her boss, the dreamy but oh-so-unattainable Josh Swenson. So what if "Sascha's" tales of lust have become the talk of Tinsletown? Daphne's a mere peon at JRT Studios, and more like Ugly Betty than Sexy Sascha, so who's gonna connect the dots?

But someone does. Someone with a grudge. Anonymous threats appear on Sascha's blog, and a series of "accidents" seem designed to make Daphne look suicidal, psycho, or both.

Just as the man of her dreams offers her the TV job of a lifetime, is Daphne doomed to be cancelled...permanently?


Okay, did y'all notice that blog address??? That's the BIG SECRET! I've started blogging as Sexy Sascha...y'know...to help promote the manuscript.

So check it out...and remember, our lips are sealed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Crisis At Randy Central

This is serious, folks.

Not one, but TWO televisions DOWN! I mean, y'all can understand the urgency, right? Remember when I almost climbed through the phone to throttle the cable lady?

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

It started about a week ago when the downstairs Sony went letterbox. Yep. Everything squished into an oblong. (Okay, so there's an upside when America's top models look short and fat--but try watching a Lakers-Celtic final that way.) I coped as best I could.

Last night, I settled into bed for my customary eleven o'clock Friends episode--the one that usually lulls me to sleep--and noticed something odd. A light seemed to be coming from the bathroom. Strange, I thought...why had I never noticed this before? I even got up to investigate.

Everything appeared normal.

Slid back into bed and that's when it hit me. Joey was carrying about something inane--as Joey is wont to do--but there was no friggin' picture!

Panic set in. I mean, I'll freely admit it: I'm an addict when it comes to falling asleep with the television on. In fact, the situation was so desperate, I got out of bed for a SECOND time...and fiddled with the whosis and the whatnot on the controls.

Still no picture.

Audio, loud and clear, thank you very much, but no picture.

Then I relaxed a bit. After all, I don't actually WATCH the tube at night. I merely listen with my eyes closed.

I can live like this...for the time being. One set for watching (albeit with a squint), and the other for listening.

That economic stimulus check arrived just in time.




Monday, June 23, 2008

It Pays To Pay

My new mantra!!

Understand, please...that I'm a baby boomer, raised by Depression-era parents who instilled in me the opposite. As in, never pay for what you can do yourself.

Well, guess what? I've discovered that living by that credo gets me nothing but a backyard full of leaves and a boatload of guilt.

So here's my shiny new epiphany: If someone can do something better, faster, and with less physical discomfort, I'm gonna hire them for the job.

Hm. Maybe it's not too late to get a pitch appointment at National. Who's up for a paycheck?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Meet Gus


Isn't he the cutest little thing you ever did see? Check out the misshapen ear...the missing eye...oh, and there's a leg gone, too. And aside from that tuft of hair on his head, he's a pretty good candidate for Rogaine.

Ah, but every dog has his day, right?

Even Gus.

For he won the Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair this weekend.

GO Gus!! You're my hero!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hell Freezes Over, Part II

I don't know what's come over me, y'all. First the new air conditioner and now (gulp) I've actually got two honey-dew guys* coming over tomorrow for:

Cleaning up the patio
Changing out the light switch in the kitchen
Swapping beds between rooms
Changing light bulbs (hey, don't sneer--the ceilings are uber-high)

Sadly, I'm saving the garage for another day.

But, MAN. I wish I knew what got me off the dime so I could tap into it more often...y'know, like when I'm trying to write a book.

**honey-dew guy (for the uninitiated): Honey, do this...honey, do that...

And yes, I'm going out with the girls tonight, so come eight o'clock tomorrow morning, when my honey dews show up, I'll be lolling on a chaise lounge, issuing orders while the aspirin kicks in.

P.S. The new air conditioner is sublime!! Now, if I could only figure out how to turn it off...that ticking noise you hear is the sound of my meter soaring through the stratosphere.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An Interview With Jacqui Jacoby


Tired of hearing me whine about bumps in the road to publication? Cool. Let's take a break and interview a fellow author. Today's guest is Jacqui Jacoby who I met four years ago at the Desert Rose conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. When not toiling over her novels, Jacqui conducts workshops and writes articles for RWA's Romance Writers Report. Although we couldn't be more different in terms of what we write, we share a love of Mai Tai's which, after all, takes precedence, no?

So, without further ado (hold your applause till the end, please), let's welcome Jacqui to Randy Writes Romance.

Jacqui: Hey Randy, thanks for letting me to come and chat on your blog! I’ve been reading it for years, and even though you revealed my infamous toe-nail secret at the Dallas 2007 RWA Conference –complete with photos-- Randy Writes Romance is one of my favorite blogs, so it’s an honor to be here.

Randy: Great suck-up, Jacqui. Let's get down to business. I understand you have an affinity for writing kick-ass heroines. Tell us how you create characters who are larger-than-life yet multi-dimensional and emotionally appealing.

Jacqui: I do generally write about tough chicks. There's just something about a heroine who rides in to save the day that makes me all warm and fuzzy!! I mean, don't get me wrong, I love a good hero to stand beside her, and I do know that it takes an extremely self-assured man to be there for a tough chick, but to me that just makes him all the more lovable.

I create them the same way I create any lead character in a book. I get to know them. I spend months and months with them in my head, hearing their voices, seeing them in the situations they get themselves into. At some point, usually right before I start a new book, I'll fill out a detailed bio-sheet that covers everything from what kind of key chain they carry and what their handwriting looks like to whether they've ever been in love. When I'm done, I know them better than I know my dearest friends.

It’s about this point that I toss them into a story and see what happens!! Since my poor unsuspecting characters have no idea what's in store for them, seeing how they react is a lot of fun.

Randy: So, you're more of a pantser than a plotter, I gather. What sparks the initial idea for your books? A title? A character? A premise?

Jacqui: I think it was Stephen King who said in his book On Writing that he liked hanging out with other writers because they never asked him where he got his ideas. *g* Like a lot of writers, I don’t really know where I get mine. I think usually I see a person who sticks in my brain. I let them hang out in my head for awhile – maybe a few months, maybe a few years – and then I start to get to know them and they start to tell me a story. I never feel as if I am writing a book, but rather reporting on what these characters are doing. It’s their story and they are telling me where to go and what to do.

Randy: Geez. I wish my characters would do that. So, okay. You've got the characters and an initial idea--how do you translate that into a book?

Jacqui: One page at a time. Like any long term project, it is one small step at a time. Once my characters start arguing back, I know they're ready to be tossed into whatever situation awaits them. I usually have a general idea of what a story is going to be like, so I know where the character's starting point is and then I just work with them, one day at a time, one page at a time, moving forward until we both get to our destination.

Randy: Hey, quit making it sound so easy, dammit. Plus, I happen to know you’re an active mom and wife, a student of martial arts, you're taking TWO foreign languages at a time--in short, you're a HUGE multi-tasker. How do you make time in your schedule for writing? Describe a typical day in the life of Jacqui Jacobi.

Jacqui: Writing is my job. Like any active mom who works full time, I have to plan accordingly. I start each day knowing what needs to be done on my writing – in today’s case, I'm working on the first draft of a paranormal – and I work the rest of the day's events or crises around that. And there will be crises. There are always crises – LOL. I took a Franklin Covey class years ago where they had me keep track of all my time for two weeks. During those two weeks I discovered that there was about two hours a day of unscheduled events --places I had to run to, kids who needed to go someplace, something that had to be picked up that wasn’t planned for. By starting each day already knowing to plan for those lost two hours, I'm able to get to the end of the day without that wiped out feeling of “Oh my God, where did the day go?”

Randy: Gee, what you need is a course in "Randy's Ways to Procastinate" but we'll save that topic for another time. Last question since I know you're probably busy getting ready to go kick someone's ass. Anyway, complete this sentence: At this point in my writing career, the one thing I wish I’d known in the beginning is: ...

Jacqui: I wish I had known it wasn’t going to be an overnight ride. I don’t regret that it has taken me so long to achieve what I set out to achieve, but I did have to learn the hard way that this was the trip I would be on. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains and yelled in joy from the top; but I’ve also fallen into quite a few holes and maybe a few pits that made me just want to cry. Each experience has made me grow, both as a writer and a person and I wouldn’t trade them out at this point in my life for anything. However, I do wish someone would have warned me how hard a ride this was going to be ... and then ... maybe ...just maybe I would have believed them. Though it’s doubtful!!

Randy: Amen to the overnight ride bit. And ditto on the holes and pits--I've visited a few myself.

Well, thanks for stopping by today, Jacqui. And folks--go check out Jacqui's website here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Time Is It?

It's SQUEE time! That's right, folks. Sold another short story to True Romance Magazine. I hadn't submitted anything in awhile--don't know why except maybe I've been pre-occupied with novelly stuff. Anyway, my title for this one is "My Latin Lover"--ooh, sounds exotic, huh? I wasn't sure a multicultural story set outside the US would fly, but SURPRISE. Guess they do.

In other non-writing-related news...TA-DA! By the time I get home, hell will have frozen over. Well, perhaps I exaggerate. Let's just say it'll be ARCTIC chez moi for the first time in 3 (or is it FOUR???) years.

The downside? No more whining about how I can't write when it's 110 upstairs and I'm dripping on the keyboard.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

Me: The first one's for my dad. He's a former World War II pilot and my hero.

Tim: What's his name?

Me: Bruck.

Tim scrawls a personal message from one dad to another on the inside cover of Big Russ and Me, a memoir involving the relationship between a father and son.

Me: The second one's for my ex-boyfriend. I don't care how you sign it.

Tim (pausing to think): To a guy with poor judgment....

This exchange occurred approximately five years ago to the day. I know that because the book was a gift for my dad on Father's Day.

Rest in peace, Tim

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Attack Of The Killer Ice Cubes

So I open the freezer door last night and just like the title says, an avalanche of murderous ice cubes launches forth in an attempt to dismember and maim.

I'm not exaggerating.

Mutant ice forms everywhere. On the floor, hanging from the shelves, stacked high in the bin. Flummoxed, I grab a handful and toss it in the sink. I do this several times. Quickly, the level in the sink rises halfway, and I haven't made a dent in the overproduction sitting inside the freezer.

I survey the situation.

My own personal icebergs dot the kitchen floor. Menacing. Potential foot slicers all.

I kick a few aside and attack the freezer again, this time with the biggest serving bowl I can find to cut down on trips to the sink. Over and over, I scoop until the metal thingy that tells the gizmo when to make ice and when to take a breather finally appears. A few more handfuls, and I'm able to release it.

I shut the door, breathing a sigh of relief. Crisis over.

Then I notice the door isn't shut all the way. I give it some hip action. It's still not shut all the way.

Turns out so much ice has fallen behind the bin, it's pushing the sucker forward. More scooping. Somehow I manage to cut my toe on a piece of ice so pointy it's like a shard of glass. Visions of the newspaper report (they found her lying in a pool of blood and a lot of frigid water) pass through my mind.

Folks, the strangest things can happen in the deceptive safety of your own home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Help! I'm Blogless!

Truly.

Can't think of anything to write about (which tells ya right there how the noveling's going) except maybe to say that I'm a bona fide slot-slut and a non-going gym slacker.

Yes, ladies and gents, I'm on a serious gambling tear. Oh, don't schedule the intervention...yet. But, geez. I can't seem to lose lately. Big time. (That sound you hear is me knocking on wood, er, possibly wood veneer.)

As for the gym...well, here's the deal. For five business days in a row, I've dutifully packed my gym bag and remembered to put it in the car. Then...come five o'clock, dread fills me like the silicone in Pam Anderson's boobs. (Was that a metaphor, or what?) And I think, hey--no one's forcing you. If you don't wanna go, then don't.

Yeah, I'm astute that way.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sex And The City

Yep. Saw it last night.

But since I believe ANY info on an unseen movie is too much, I'll keep my comments here pretty general to avoid spoilers.

So, the verdict? Um...yeah...I enjoyed it. I guess. (A ringing endorsement, huh?) I admit I had my writer's hat on so I overly-analyzed to the max. Couldn't help it. Call it an occupational hazard. But when there's NO CONFLICT whatsoever in the first thirty minutes, ya tend to notice. And when the eventual conflict is revealed and winds up being based on an extremely flimsy premise, ya get a little pissed. (Really. It was one of those geez, a simple conversation could probably clear this up.)

Don't get me wrong--the writers also got a whole lot right. (Again, I'm gonna have to lay off the specifics so as not to give too much away.) Suffice to say, on average I chuckled every couple minutes, guffawed about every twenty, and had one or two episodes where I threw back my head in laughter.

I kinda expected more.

The rest of my party LOVED the movie--including the lone male (eek! a male!) who reportedly teared up in spots. Which goes to show that a movie or book CAN work without all the so-called proper elements.

Still...I see a lost opportunity here. I didn't want the movie to merely work--I wanted it to be great. Something I'd wanna watch again (especially since I promised two more groups of friends I'd see it with them).

Am I wrong? Am I missing the boat?

You be the judge.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

They Reached Out and Annoyed

R-r-r-ring.

I pick up the phone.

"Hello...this is Ace Carpet Cleaning with--"

Beep!

I click over.

"Hello...this is ABC Mortgage Company and you--"

"Funny," I say. "I just put one telemarketer on hold for another. What're the odds?"

Click.

Later, I'm watching the third of the political speeches tonight--which makes it the Obama speech.

R-r-ring.

I pick up the phone.

"Hello...this is Amy calling from the Republican Party, and I'm doing a poll. If the election were held tonight, do you know who you'd vote for?"

"Well Amy," I say, "since Obama's in the middle of his speech right now, I can't really say I've decided."

"Really?" she gushes. "They're on TV right now? Which station? Is it a regular channel or is it one of the cable ones?"


"Actually, it's on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC."


"Do you think it'll be on the other channels later tonight?"

Wait...did she call to get the TV schedule?