Sunday, August 31, 2008

What Happens In Vegas...





















...stays in Vegas. And when NOTHING happens in Vegas, you upload a picture.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Paging Dr. Kildare!

On Thursday night, I ended up slaving away at work until 11 p.m. (I know! Shocking!) Naturally, I hadn't packed for Vegas yet, so I finally hit the sack around 1 or so...and, suddenly, from across the room, I hear a b-r-r-ring (y'know, like when a text message arrives?). Hm, I think. WHO could be texting me at this ungodly hour??

So I get up to check.

And here is what I found:
















Yep. And the caption read: "Marty in ER."

Furious texting ensued. Bottom line: we're politely referring to this episode as a "gastrointestinal problem."

And he's fine. Outta the ER by 3 a.m. and in Vegas by 2 that afternoon.

Which is where I'm posting this from. (Hey, you thought a little eight-hour trip to the ER was gonna interfere with a gambling soujourn? Think again.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stop! Thief!

As a public service, I offer this ALL POINTS BULLETIN:

Description: Long, lazy days
Wearing: Mild afternoons and cool nights
Alias: Goes by the name of Summer
Last seen around the middle of June

Anyone with information on where Summer's gone should contact local authorities.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cheap Humor, Cheap Shots

I wish I had the time to explore this topic in a cogent, enlightening, way...but, hey--I'm here at the day job, and it pays the bills, so I'm doing this on the fly. And the only reason I bring it up is because a) I finished reading my manuscript "Lights! Camera! Love!" last night, and b) well, it's a political year, ain't it?

Lots of humor on TV relies on sarcasm. For instance, when's the last time an adolescent on a sitcom was portrayed as anything but a snarky brat, quick with the snappy one-liners designed to thoroughly ridicule his/her mom or dad? Nice. Such a sure-fire mechanism to draw the yucks. And we wonder why kids grow up without learning the first thing about respect.

Which brings me to the current state of politics. Isn't there any other way to drive home a point than to use sarcasm? Are we as a nation so desensitized, that the only way we "get" something is if it's couched in sarcasm? And I'm not just talking politicians, although gee--wouldn't it be cool if they led by example? And I'm not talking one party vs. the other--they're both guilty.

But when it's the anchormen engaging in tit-for-tat...geez, I'm getting so bored.

The same holds true in romance writing. Bickering doesn't equal conflict--at least to me--and, it's not amusing. After reading my manuscript last night, I'm supremely satisfied that the conflict and humor derive from clever turns of phrases and unusual word usage--not from two people trying to verbally lay each other low.

Hm. For a post on humor, this ain't too funny, eh? I guess for additional entertainment, I could point you to the youtube videos that prompted this post, but then I'd be contributing to precisely what I wish would go away.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Last One, I Promise!















Can't help it. One more....the proud parents, Brian and Julie-Ann, plus their new little one, Paige.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Golden Freebie


If you read between the lines of my posts regarding the giveaways at National, you probably "get" that I'm usually a little less-than-thrilled. Don't get me wrong. It's not anyone's fault that most of the books just aren't a genre I care about, and I'm sure they each have merit. Still, in the last couple years, I've been disappointed by the contemporary offerings.

Until San Francisco.

Yippee! At the second lunch, we scored a copy of Skinny Dipping by Connie Brockway, and I finished reading it this week. LOVED IT.

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I admit the setting gripped me from the start. I mean, hello! A lake in Minnesota--cousin Lindsay, are you paying attention?? And the heroine wasn't some mindless 23-year old, she was a mature 41. The bonus? She was of Norwegian descent, just like me!

I instantly fell in love with the supporting cast of characters, and who wouldn't? There's the brainy-but-awkward Prescott who also happens to be the hero's adult son. There's the hero himself--a guy whose backstory Brockway handles with such finesse, she left me in awe. Even the three adopted canines had more character depth than I see in a lot of books.

Funny and poignant--Skinny Dipping weaves together an intricate web of plot threads designed to remind us how enriched our lives are when we preserve fragile familial links from generation to generation.

At least that's what it meant to me.

Okay, stop reading blogs and go pick up a copy of Skinny Dipping by Connie Brockway.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Nugget From National

Now it can be told. The secret is out.

According to bestselling author Joan Johnston, one of the ways to write an unputdownable novel is to...(wait for it)...write short chapters!

Well...gee...I've been doing that all along, haven't I?? Even in the face of countless blogs and how-to books that said chapters *should* consist of approximately 3 scenes and be about 15 pages.

Not mine, I thought rebelliously. 'Cuz when it comes to my own reading experience, how often do I flip to the end of a chapter to see how many pages are left? (Translation: do I keep going? Or do I go ahead and put the book down mid-chapter? Well, you see where that leads...long chapters = a tendency to put the book aside before you've gotten to the hook that'll keep you reading.)

And let's face it, between cable TV, video games, surfing the web--oh, and (for some) feeding the rugrats--who needs a saga which appears to require huge chunks of time? Breaking it down into smaller doses is much less daunting.

I don't have my notes in front of me, but Joan spoke of books with (eek)
upwards of eighty--ninety chapters. Okay, for me that's going a teensy bit too far.

Still...I'm lovin' the new-found freedom of writing whatever damn-length chapters I choose. Y'know, now that I've got the seal of approval from the likes of Joan Johnston.

Monday, August 18, 2008

From The Vaults

In typical true schizo fashion, I'm having a helluva time starting a new book. As in, writing one, of course. First, it turns out that having a great title doesn't necessarily spark an idea from an ember to a full-fledged fire, er, book. Second, having a great premise...well, ditto. As my nephew would say: "Frat boys find themselves holed up in ocean front mansion...high-jinx ensue." It's the high jinx ensue part that has me stymied on both story ideas.

Meanwhile, I was browsing around my computer and stumbled on a file from a couple years ago. Guess what? It's 150 pages worth of not bad. Great title, great premise...and, hey! Promising high-jinx!

Hence the latest plan. Complete unfinished book from--what? 3? 4 years ago??--while still mentally plotting other options to get ready for NaNo in November.

Let the high jinx begin!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Color Me Californian

So last night, upstairs in my bedroom, I'm watching women's gymnastics "live" (yeah, right--thanks, NBC), and I see a flash of light outside the window.

Damn neighbors, I think.

They're always tinkering with boats, motorcycles, cars--you name it--and at all hours of the night. Must be doing test drives, hanging U-eys in the middle of the cul-de-sac.

I continue watching amazing feats on the uneven bars.

Over the next hour, I see the flash of light several more times. Finally, I decide it's NOT the neighbors--it's the street lamp with a short. I even get up to peek out the window for investigation. Hm. Strong, steady, beam.

At one-twenty, I switch off the TV, exhausted from my contribution--clenched jaw, taut muscles, adrenaline-laced heart--to winning the all-around gold. (Yay, me!)

Another flash of light.

And um...what's that....? THUNDER?

Oh.

I get it now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Must-See Blog Reading

First thing in the morning, after my computer powers up, I have a ritual. All of you probably do. Mine is:

1) Check stock prices on homepage
2) Check headlines to the right on homepage
3) Go to webmail; check personal email
4) Go to company webmail, delete all the spam, then click on Outlook Express to open mail for real.
5) While mail is downloading, check The Drudge Report
6) And finally, my must-read blogs:

In no particular order (and for various reasons!):

Author Diana Peterfreund
Author Kwana Jackson
Agent Kristin Nelson
Agent Janet Reid
Agent Nathan Bransford
Agent Janet Reid's Query Shark
Bookends Literary
Not Yet A Wino
Manic Mommy
Reagan 'Round the World

Now some of those are easy to explain--the writerly ones, if you will. Then there's Not Yet A Wino--I just love the way this chick expresses herself. Quirky, honest, and so ME back when I was in my thirties (hell, maybe even now). Which, you might note is quite the opposite when it comes to Manic Mommy--I mean, we have NOTHING in common, but she cracks me up all the same. That last one--Reagan 'Round the World--is the blog of my cousin's daughter, and she's literally doing a whirlwind gig this summer as part of her law school studies.

Anyway, LONG story SHORT, I have a new AUTO read! Yes folks, I now turn your attention to my latest discovery (and I wish I could give credit where it's due, but I don't know who led me to this little nugget).......CAKEWRECKS! Ahhhh, don't you just LOVE the blogosphere? Totally useless information at your fingertips! This particular site is maintained by a witty writer whose public service is to provide insight into professional cake decorating screw-ups. Who KNEW there'd be enough material for daily postings?? But, yes! Turns out there is!

So, go check it out...and if you're too lazy, the next time you order that cake from Costco and it comes back with something like "Happy Birthday Randy In Green And Yellow" written on it, don't say I didn't warn you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Confessions of a Slot Slut

Oooh! Sounds like a good title for a True Romance story, doesn't it? Speaking of True Romance (hey, what a segue), check it out.

On Saturday, I was up at my stomping grounds (better known as the Chumash Casino) where I spent some quality time with the True Romance slot machine (pictured above). Yes folks, instead of cherries and bars, what you want here are lots of roses and half-naked lovers (well, who doesn't?) Slipping into master spy mode, I snapped these pix with my cell phone.

I always spend a little quality time with this machine, thinking Fate has something in store for me...alas, so far, no big win.

A more lucrative stop happened later at the 3-card poker table where I hit a straight flush. Cha-ching!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Saving The Best For Last

It’s a tradition.

Find a tall building in the conference city—one with a lounge and killer views. This year, our very own hotel filled the order, maximizing our ooh-and-ah experience on numerous occasions. I only hope the photos do justice to the awesomeness known as “The View” on the 39th floor of the downtown San Francisco Marriott.


















































































































































Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cool Party!

As the interview coordinator for Romance Junkies, my friend Brooke received an invitation to the Bantam-Dell soiree, held this year at The Water Bar--an uber-chic place to "hang" in San Francisco!














Okay, prepare yourself. You're about to O.D. on Bay Bridge photos. Forgive me. I couldn't help it. At least I'll spare you the artsy one I took of it reflecting back from the window...



Anyway, we had a blast talking to old conference friends like agent Lucienne Diver and author Larissa Ione. Plus we made the acquaintance of agent Laurie McLean who gave us a thrill when she dashed to her car for business cards! And we met Lucienne's fascinating client, author Sarah Hoyt.

Alas, the party came to an end. Picture Brooke and I standing at the curb, taxis whizzing past. Brooke turns to a group behind us and (only half-joking) says: "Any of you from New York?" A woman breaks from the pack, steps into the street, and hails us a cab. As we climb in, one of the pack yells, "Hey, did you know a literary agent just got you a taxi?"

Okay. A literary agent got us a taxi...it's a start, huh? Next, a contract!

If only we knew the identity of our mysterious benefactor!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More Pics and Fun Times

I have to admit that in my old age, I've developed anti-photo-itis. Meaning, I'm not quick to act when it comes to pictures in which I might have to appear. Consequently, I forget to take pix of others as well. However, I did manage to click a couple here and there. Here are Jacqui Jacoby and Ann Marie Becker.














Next we have the mysterious disappearance of fabulous author and all-around great friend, Janet Mullaney. Those long signings are hell on the bladder, eh Janet?














Oh! She's back! Cool!













Here's the annual group photo of the "Acme Girls" with an honorary member or two. From L to R: TWO-TIME Golden Heart Finalist Kelly Ann Riley, Brooke Wills, Stacy (?), Jacqui Jacoby, ME, and Anna (?). Geez, I really should get better about last names, huh?














And finally, authors Dawn McClure and Maureen Child who asked me to take this picture since they didn't have a working camera! (And yes, I kept myself organized enough to find Dawn's business card stuffed in my purse, so I've already dutifully sent this off.)














See? That's it for the people pictures. Oh, sure I took SEVERAL at the Chick Lit chapter party, but alas I screwed up a camera setting and they all came out blurry. Oh, wait. Maybe blurry is accurate! There was a lot of free-flowing wine and, um, those pomegranite martinis...well...

Tomorrow some FABU photos of scenery taken at the Bantam-Dell Party.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The City




Ah...San Francisco...how could I have forgotten its charm? Over 20 years have passed since I last viewed the Golden Gate...the Bay Bridge...Simply tragic!













And let's not even DISCUSS the weather! I mean, who walks around in 60 degrees worth of heaven during the Summer?? (Answer: San Franciscans, of course.)















We joined them on Wednesday. Took a leisurely stroll down Market all the way to the Ferry Building (pictured below).













Then made our way down to Pier 39 where we enjoyed lunch and cocktails overlooking the bay...














and contemplated coming back as sea lions in our next life.

Monday, August 04, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering...

...what the RWA literacy signing is like, here's a snippet.

Conference Critique—The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

The shuttle from the airport worked out well, except I had a hard time finding it, but once I did, it was cool. They had my reservation and even though I’d arrived several hours after “my appointment,” I got on one right away. As usual, several other passengers were headed for the Marriott, so I immediately slipped into conference mode. Strangely, I find that those new faces you meet on the shuttle somehow never again show up during your conference experience! Weird.

Hotel check-in was quick, easy, and painless. The room was nice except unlike other conference hotels, I didn’t have any view whatsoever. And the desk was kinda too high. I would have blogged more from the conference, but typing on my laptop was a pain.

The Marriott’s location was superior! Just steps in any direction, you could find a Rite-Aid to replace the glasses you somehow lost at the Chick Lit party, or a cafe to grab a quick meal. And, of course, BART was just a convenient block away, so you could get lots of places from there (including the Indian casino across the bay in Richmond, FYI).

My only gripe about the hotel involves aspects of its layout. First, the lobby bar was kinda dark and closed-in (as opposed to, say, the open, spacious bar in Dallas). The workshop areas were spread out over several floors, and MANY rooms were too small. I had to walk out of a couple “must-sees” on my list because I didn’t wanna stand (or sit on the floor) for two hours. And because of the aforementioned several floors thing, there was less opportunity for running into people for a quick chat. Then there was the problem of chairs being attached to each other. I understand that makes for a more orderly appearance, but people were WAY too squished together.

Speaking of the workshops…okay, I KNOW a lot of authors, agents, and editors aren’t professional speakers, but…well, let’s just say, it’s truly hit or miss on the workshops. I thoroughly enjoyed Blake Snyder, and a couple of others, but let’s leave it at that.

Oh, wait. One more gripe about the hotel. Oops. Make it two. Out of the seven conferences I’ve been to, the food at this one had to be the worst. And, geez…the price of drinks??? The tab for one round of two vodka tonics varied from $20 to $25. Ouch.











Now, the bar on the 39th floor had the extra added attraction of its incomparable view. Worth the price of drinks, as a matter of fact. But often very crowded and noisy (they really didn’t need to pipe in the booming nightclub music).

As far as organization-type issues, RWA nailed it this year. Registration went quickly, and most events seemed seamlessly smooth. As y’all know, I didn’t pitch, so I have no idea how that worked out, but I didn’t hear any complaints. The awards show was a hoot, and Suzanne Brockmann was a GREAT emcee.

A new wrinkle in the schedule. The AGM was in the morning, followed by the PAN and PRO retreats and other workshops in the afternoon. Have to say I prefer the reverse cuz it kinda leaves an afternoon free. Also, there was no welcome reception. I wouldn’t have thought I’d miss it, but I didand I spoke to several others who echoed the same sentiment. After all, it’s the one time you can truly mix and mingle in a relaxed setting.

I’m sure I’ll think of other stuff to say about the conferencey’know, as my brain clearsbut for now, I think I’ve hit the highlights. Tomorrow I'll post some pictures.

All in all, it was a great conference in a gorgeous city, and I can’t wait for D.C.!!!!!!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

FYI

Here are the freebies we got in our registration bags and at lunch.

The Undead Next Door by Kerrelyn Sparks
Slave by Cheryl Brooks (from teh Cat Star Chronicles)
No One Heard Her Scream by Jordan Dane
Silent In the Sanctuary--A Lady Julia Gray Mystery--by Deanna Raybourn
What a Lady Wants by Victoria Alexander (Keynote Speaker)
A Little Bit Wicked by Victoria Alexander
Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole
Night Keepers by Jessica Anderson
Skinny Dipping by Connie Brockway

Are you gettin' the picture here??? Only one in the sub-genre I write in.

Yikes.

Friday, August 01, 2008

What, me worry?



As promised, this is the anti-pitch conference, and lemme tell ya, I don't miss it a bit! That's why I had this photo taken of me in front of the sign that would normally send shivers down my spine. All morning long, I watched attendees lining up nearby, apprehensively waiting for that signal that their ten minutes was about to begin. But pas moi! No stress here! This is the anti-pitch zone!

And yes, it's a horrible, horrible picture...my eyes are slits, and is it my imagination or does it look like I'm missing a tooth?? Suffice to say, the blame lies entirely on my cell phone camera. I'm confident I look MUCH better in person.

At least that's what I keep telling myself...