Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Don't Be Fooled

Cruising ain’t always relaxing. Here was the schedule Sunday night—mind you this was JUST Sunday night:

6:00p.m. Back at the miniscule room (this was RCL not Carnival!), I shower, change, fluff and fold myself into evening attire.
7:00p.m. Meet Marty and Ann at Schooner Bar
7:15p.m. Slide into seats for the Farewell Show which consists of two comedians and a song and dance number by the usual flora dora girls
8:30p.m. Dinner--I opt for shrimp bisque, tossed salad, peppered steak with béarnaise sauce, mashed potatoes (I substitute them for the potatoes Lyonnaise), baked Alaska, and for refreshments: one cabernet, one B-52, one decaf
9:30p.m. Dueling pianos
10:30p.m. Latin dancing
12:00 While Marty and Ann take in the X-rated late show, I return to the casino to recoup a little of my losses
3:00’ish a.m. They shut down the crap table so I drag myself back to the room to pack
4:00 a.m. I go to bed
7:00 a.m. Just a tad groggy, I rise and somehow make myself presentable
8:00 a.m. Meet friends on deck and wait for our “debarkation number” to be called
8:30 a.m. We get called early, and exit the ship relatively quickly
9:30 a.m. Marty’s car breaks down on the 405 freeway
9:35 a.m. I use my dwindling cell phone battery in an attempt to reach the friends who left the ship after us; I get nothing but Spanish....?
10:00 a.m. Charley, the tow truck driver from El Salvador, arrives and tows us 55 miles to where we drop off Marty’s car at the mechanic; Charley obligingly then takes us to Marty and Ann’s house
11:00 a.m. We dig into chips, salsa, and a couple of B-52’s
Noon until 6 a.m. this morning: I sleep and sleep and sleep

Just a note of comparison for anyone interested...In March I did the 3-day cruise on Carnival’s Paradise. For a change of pace, this time I tried Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas.

Paradise Pros:

Steak and lobster on formal night (and, by the way, as much of it as you want!)
Much larger staterooms with bigger windows
Much larger elevators (ah, you think the size of an elevator’s not important? Think again)
More diversity in bars and entertainment
Meals more appetizingly described on menu

Monarch of the Seas Pros:

Better layout of nightlife area—access to decks from nightspots (big plus!) Not sure, but this may be due to Monarch’s age
Better lunch
Bigger pools but less of them (nothing but kids in pool and jacuzzi’s—yuck!)
Nicer deck chairs
Debarkation a breeze vs. 40 minutes spent waiting in a long hallway on Paradise
Better TV selections; 3 recent release movie channels plus a channel running nothing but sitcoms

Differences (no value judgment here)

Paradise has wooden decks throughout; Monarch has some sort of blue Astroturf stuff



L to R: Ann, Marty, Randy

I've Been Tagged!

Not sure how these things work, but Christine
tagged me with instructions to visit her blog for my assignment.

Here are my answers:

Currently reading: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Books waiting on my coffee table: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner and Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews

Five books that meant a lot to me...
Hmmm....wracking brain here....have to reach way back in my memory...

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand...
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...Betty Smith
Valley of the Dolls...Jacqueline Susann (hey, I was only 14 and it made a pretty big impression!)
Sis Boom Bah by Jane Heller because it was fun and inspired me to give writing another whirl
Trinity by Leon Uris (or just about anything by him)

I'm tagging:


Friday, May 27, 2005

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I'm outta here!

Leaving my office to head for the San Pedro Pier and a 3-day cruise with four girlfriends and a married couple. Whee!!! Party time!!!

Doubt I'll be blogging from the ship...but you can bet next week's blog will be full of tales from the sea!

Everyone, be safe, 'kay?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Dreaded Day Job

Christa asked about my day job…well, today it kicked my you-know-what.

When I started blogging back in March, I vowed not to steal from my “real” writing time to create these silly posts. Which means, er, I use “work” time to do it. Usually, I start in the morning, add things over the course of the day, and post just before I blast out of my office. Today...well, the best plaid plans and all that.

I work full time for a company my dad started 54 years ago. He’s retired now, leaving my brother and I to run things. We make environmental test chambers which is another way of saying we make “boxes” that are anywhere from 1-1/2 cubic feet to room-size for testing stuff that needs to be subjected to specific conditions before it’s sent off into the real world.

Picture the Canadian postal system’s mail being delivered to the hinterlands where the weather’s pretty nasty. Wanna make sure the glue on the postage stamp stays stuck in 30 below, right? Ah, test it in a Bemco chamber!

Now, picture the Mars rover deploying those funny-looking balloon thingies to slow its decent to the surface. Wanna make sure the mechanism that fires said balloon thingies works in whatever the hell that atmosphere is like, right? You get the gist.

Anyway, that’s what we do. We simulate environments. Temperature, altitude, humidity, salt/fog, vacuum…blah, blah, blah. It’s not particularly high-tech and it sure ain’t interesting (so now you know why I started writing). (If you just have to know more--insert hysterical laughter here--visit our website, but be forewarned: it hasn’t been updated in ages.) Bemco Inc.

The question is, would I get more writing in if I didn’t work a day job? I don’t think so. There’s only so many minutes and hours I can sit in front of the computer with that famous vein open, trying to get the words to leak out.

I’m also lucky that for the most part, my job is pretty stress-free so I still have a little creative juice left over when I get home. (A vendor I happened to be on the phone with today asked to speak to my boss. “Speaking,” I said sweetly.) But if I had hungry little mouths to feed (eek) or (cough) a husband to attend to, I’d probably never write a word.

That said, one thing I know for sure. If you truly wanna write, you’ll find the time. I’m on a zillion loops with women (both published and unpublished) proving it everyday. They crack me up with stories of hauling their alphasmarts to soccer games, doctors’ appointments, and ballet lessons. They inspire me by rising before their families, just to squeeze in some writing in the morning. They amaze me by juggling jobs, families, illnesses and tragedies while continuing to pursue their dream..

Sometimes I feel like such a slacker.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Too Many Cooks...Yada, Yada

Continuing with yesterday’s lame analogy, too much attention to craft can really mess with your head.

Armed with tools gained at the plotting workshop, I made a stab at writing a new opening for Stealing Amy last night. I did this for several reasons:

1. Judging the Golden Heart and The Daphne contests (my first foray into the judging arena) gave me a new perspective on the lives of editors and agents. Mainly, I learned that “well-written” ain’t gonna cut it. Because between the two contests, I probably sampled 16 different manuscripts, and guess what? They were all pretty damned good! In fact, only one was a genuine clunker. And yet, none of the entries I judged even made it to the finals.

Ouch. There’s a lot of great competition out there. You have to stand out from the pack. It’s not enough to have a great premise, compelling characters, a well-described setting, and error-free prose. Somehow, you have to dazzle.

2. The plotting workshop reminded me of the Donald Maass mantra…what could make the situation facing my character worse?

Okay, so I’d already rewritten the first chapter of Stealing Amy once. The original version opened with Amy discovering (by viewing her credit card statement online) that her identity thief is in Mexico, living high off the hog. Bam! She takes off on the chase.

Somewhere along the line (probably when the Donald Maass workbook arrived) I realized I hadn’t taken it far enough. So I wrote a new scene for which the opening line is: “You’re under arrest.”

Hm. Having my heroine mistakenly arrested in front of her next door neighbor starts the book off with a much better bang, but could I make things even worse?

Along came the plotting workshop.

I’d forgotten an article I read a long time ago on Stephanie Bond’s website (I’d insert the address here, but my work computer doesn’t seem to do that very well—maybe later, when I get home). Anyway, the plotting lady jogged my memory…it’s called the list of twenty. (Anyone familiar?) In a nutshell, the theory is that when you force yourself to list twenty options, by the time you get to fifteen, creativity starts to kick in. So, that’s what I did. Stephanie's site here--click on item 38

Around option thirteen, I started getting excited. Spent the next two hours writing a new 5-page opening which puts Amy at a la-de-da fundraiser attended by her mother and all the bigwigs in town. In the first sentence, we discover her car’s being towed, then on page two the credit card her mother’s borrowed from Amy’s purse doesn’t go through, and we culminate with her getting arrested in front of the Mayor, the head of the fundraiser, and of course, Mom.



I wasn’t that thrilled when I read it over at the end of the night because something seemed to be missing. Today, I think I realize what it is.

We (the reader) don’t care about Amy yet. Sure, we can empathize with her plight, but we don’t know anything about her. Maybe she’s a whiny bitch who deserves a crappy day.

So, I guess that’s tonight’s task…how to simultaneously jump into the action while making Amy sympathetic without slowing down the pace.

Hm. I predict another list of twenty.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Plotting, Part 2

I have a theory about the path to publication, and it goes something like this:

The probability of getting “the call” rises in direct proportion to the amount of plotting you do before writing the book. I’ll even go so far as to predict that the more unsold manuscripts you write, the closer you’ll get to agreeing with me.

Okay, maybe I’m generalizing. Sure, some authors spew out their books with GMC firmly intact, aha moments right where they’re supposed to be, stakes appropriately raised, and so on and so forth. But not even pubbed authors smack the ball out of the park 100% of the time.

Case in point: Carolyn Green, who gave the workshop I attended on Saturday. As a multi-pubbed author, she has the luxury (?) of “selling on proposal”…unlike the rest of us plebians who have to prove we can finish a manuscript. And, yet…some of her proposals were rejected. How can that be? She’s a published author—she must know her stuff, right?

But after some analysis, she figured out that the books that sold had something the rejected ones lacked…and it all boiled down to elements derived from careful plotting.

Now, I have no data to back it up, but I suspect the newer you are at this (and that includes me) the less enamored you are with doing a whole lot of work beforehand. I mean personally, once I have an idea and a couple of characters, I can’t WAIT to start committing my sagas to paper. But when I look at all the contest winners who never publish…when I look at all the people I know on line who never complete a manuscript…

I think, at some point, you have to buckle down and pay your dues.

Learn your lessons.

Not that you can’t do it all backwards if it happens to work for you…but think of it like cooking: isn’t it a lot easier to have the ingredients on hand than to have to dash to the store while the pot is simmering? Or, worse…to have to figure out what’s missing just before you serve it? (Okay, so now I’ve revealed how badly I cook, too.)

All I know is that next time around, I’m gonna (gulp) do an outline. Or, maybe even (gasp) a synopsis.

Monday, May 23, 2005

On Pansters, On Plotters, On Cupid and Vixen…

For the most part, I’m a pantser—meaning, I write by the seat-of-my-pants. With Fit For Love (FFL), it started with the germ of a premise—what would happen if my heroine, a couch potato, found herself trapped at a boot camp for fitness freaks? My second, Stealing Amy (SA), started with: what would happen if my heroine (who’s the victim of identity theft) turned the tables and assumed the thief’s identity in order to lay a trap?

With those thoughts in mind, I started writing.

In FFL, what drove me from chapter to chapter was what I call “writing to the hook.” I figured out a nice cliffhanger then create the scenes that led up to it. For example, in chapter three, just as my heroine realizes she’s landed amid a tribe of gung ho health enthusiasts, Aurora, an 80-year-old woman, knocks on her door and asks if she’s got a cigarette. As I began writing chapter four, I had to figure out who this woman was, what she was doing in the story, and how it would impact the entire plot. At another point, the hero ends up having a teenage daughter who’s into goth. Not planned, not plotted. In fact, the only thing I knew about the story was that my heroine would end up saving her life because of something she’d learned at the resort.

Of the industry professionals (editors and agents) who have seen any or all of FFL, two (an agent and an editor) offered similar criticism: “didn’t keep me riveted to the page.”

Luckily, by the time I got that feedback, I’d taken Donald Maass’ workshop and read his book, Writing The Breakout Novel, so I knew what they were talking about.

So, for Stealing Amy, I took a somewhat different approach. This time, I “plotted” the first third of the book insofar as I constructed a table consisting of the goal, motivation and conflict for each character, scene-by-scene. In essence, I figured this would ensure that each scene was essential to the plot…and, hopefully, that each page would inherently contain “tension.”

The only problem is, after I wrote the first third of the book, I came to a standstill. In fact, I took the entire month of November off to write something else. At the end of the day, it took me over a year to write the damn thing, and I’m still editing.


Hence…my attendance at the plotting workshop on Saturday…which I will write about in part two of this post tomorrow (I know…you’re all waiting with baited breath, right?)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

She's So Shy

You’d think I’d be used to attending workshops by myself. That I’d stroll in, wave at familiar faces, engage in conversation, and have plenty of people to eat lunch with during the break.

Ha! You’d be wrong!

On Saturday, I went to an all-day plotting workshop hosted by LARA (Los Angeles Romance Authors). I arrived late (ooops—you can never predict how long a 35 mile drive is going to be) so I missed the socializing (not to mention the stale pastries and lukewarm coffee—okay, I know, I know—I’m making an assumption about that).

As we broke at noon, I tried to rev up the courage to invite the newbie at my left to lunch. From the questions she asked during the workshop, I knew I could clear a lot of things up for her, but....well....I kept my mouth shut.

By the time I reached the street to peruse the local dining options, she’d found a pal and they were heading off for lunch, chattering like magpies.

Okay. Here comes another one, I thought. I fell in step beside her, we reached the corner, and waited for the light to change.

“Looking for a place to have lunch?” I asked.

Turned out she was from the area and clued me in on what was available. Then I noticed her nametag.

MaryAnn. Association of Notary Publics.

Oh. She was attending a different function at the same hotel. I laughed and pointed to my nametag and she asked what LARA stood for. I explained I wasn’t a member (not sure why I thought she needed to know) but that we were all romance writers. Was it my imagination, or did she drift away quite suddenly?

As I walked along the street, I self-consciously removed my nametag and stuck it on my purse.

Anyway, I ended up sitting at a bar eating garlic fries, drinking a beer, and reading People. Halfway through the fries, I realized they probably weren’t a prudent choice for someone about to spend four more hours in close proximity with other human beings. As I paid my bill, I thoughtfully stole a handful of red-and-white striped peppermint candies from a bowl at the register.

Back at the workshop (the specifics of which I'll deal with in a later post), I reapplied my nametag and took my seat again. Newbie had returned and was conversing with a multi-pubbed author behind me. As I was about to join in, Newbie unwittingly insulted Multi-pub so I ducked and stayed out.

Afterward, driving over to my parents for dinner, I remembered my nametag and looked down to remove it.

Lily. Association of Notary Publics.


When did I become Lily?

How long had that been there?

Was everyone laughing behind my back?

See? I shouldn’t be allowed out by myself.

Friday, May 20, 2005

So, the week ended on an up-tick. Shoved this baby out the door (along with a second truckload) and took in some decent orders. Now, anyone out there know anything about thermal dynamics? Sizing refrigeration systems? We're looking!!!

Buh-bye! Hope you make it to Kansas City safely!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Romance Writer" No More

Nah, I’m not hanging up the keyboard. Just re-thinking what I call myself.

Look, I’m no prude. But romance writers had enough of an image problem before the unabashed love affair with erotica took off.

Some of the covers say it all, and if you don’t believe me, click on
Worst Covers
and scroll down to "Rumor Has It" which depicts...well, you tell me.

From bodice rippers to blow jobs. Yeah, we’ve come a long way, baby.

From now on, I write women’s fiction.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Editing: Then and Now

Years ago (with the OJ pursuit blaring from the TV in the background) I typed THE END to my first romance novel, Logan’s Daughter. Off went the query letter, and to my somewhat smug delight, I was asked to submit the full along with a synopsis.

Synopsis? Hm. How do you write a synopsis? I didn’t have a clue, but I gave it my best shot and sent the package off.

Wait a minute, you say. What about editing?


That’s right, I didn’t do any. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. Just mailed the sucker out, naked off the printer. Gee, are you surprised I received my first rejection letter in response?

To me, that rejection letter meant I didn’t have what it took to be a writer. I quit writing right then and there. Goes to show you how mature I was, huh?

Flash forward. Back to the drawing board. I completed my second romance novel, Fit For Love, last year. This time I submitted each chapter to a critique group as I wrote it. When I typed THE END, I reviewed all the feedback and made changes where I thought they were warranted. Ah, so simple, I thought, while congratulating myself.

Wrong again, probably, since I haven’t sold it. (Not to say there hasn’t been some interest, but so far…no go.)

Which brings us to Stealing Amy. I typed THE END over a month ago and I’m still editing/revising. Now I know why I avoided the process before—bikini waxes are a hoot, comparatively speaking.

I started by doing a complete read through of the hard copy while noting a range of gems like: do a search on “jerk” (my characters can’t seem to merely swivel or turn their heads)…explain bartender’s earlier suspicion at end…switch older brother to younger brother on page 220…change restaurant name to El Rayo Verde and explain significance to give ending a rockem’, sockem’, pow…and blah, blah, blah. All in all, over 150 items. Yikes, what would happen if I performed a similar exorcism on Fit For Love? I haven’t even begun to go back and ratchet up the vocabulary yet. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to have the book ready to pitch at National.

And yet…and yet…each seemingly insurmountable barrier, gives me a glimmer of hope. Why? Because it means (please, please) the story is more complex—the characters harder to handle and thus deeper, richer.

At least, that’s the plan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Yesterday's Post Explained

Okay, so my storytelling abilities SUCK. Here’s what I meant to convey:

It’s two days before the election, and amid all the photo ops at Black churches and cultural events, Mayor Hahn shows up at the Sagebrush Cantina. What, I wondered, could his target audience be? Since, on any given sunny Sunday, this joint attracts more silicone per square foot than the red carpet on Oscar night, I decided hmmmm…

Hence the imaginary strategy session where the decision was made to target female voters with big ol’ fake breasts. What better place than the Sagebrush Cantina?

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Campaign Stop at the Sagebrush Cantina

I can picture how this must have happened:

L.A. Mayor James Hahn, speaking in a late night strategy session to his staff:
“The election’s on Tuesday, and my numbers are in the toilet. What are we gonna do?”

Enthusiastic statistics guy in white collar and horn-rimmed glasses speaks up from the back: “Uh, I think I have the answer sir.”

A collective sigh of relief permeates the room which is dripping with the humidity of human sweat.

Mayor Hahn: “Out with it, young man.”

Geeky guy: “Well, sir, based on my research, I’ve discovered a group of constituents both parties have heretofore ignored. We’re talking big numbers, sir. Huge numbers, as a matter of fact. If we can get their vote, we’re a shoe-in.”

Mayor Hahn, clapping hands together eagerly: “Excellent work! We’ll schedule a campaign appearance immediately. I’ll give a speech to this neglected group. So, tell me. Who are they? Downtrodden farm workers? Illegal aliens? Oops. Sorry. Politically incorrect. Illegal immigrants. ”

Geeky guy: “Er, no. Neither one.”

Mayor Hahn: “No, no. Of course, not. Villaraigosa’s got them both in his back pocket. Who, then?”

Geeky guy, a flush of pride staining his cheeks: “Women with surgically altered breasts.”

Mayor Hahn, cocking his head: “Excuse me? I must have misunderstood. Thought you said something about women with big hooters.”

Excitement buzzes through the room. Staff members high five each other and do little jigs.

Mayor Hahn slaps his head: “Of course! You’ve nailed it! This is Southern California, after all! The silicone capital of the world! Cancel my appearances at those black churches and somebody get Bob McCord on the horn…tell him to warm up the stage…I’m coming to the Sagebrush Cantina!”


Okay. Totally inside joke. You had to be there to appreciate it. But as Mayor Hahn took the stage to address an assortment of bikers, babes and boozers, I had to ask myself: Why the Sagebrush Cantina? Did he think he’d find Mexicans at a Mexican restaurant??

Maybe I Should've Stayed in Bed

Greeted at work with news the police found our front door wide open at 10 o’clock Saturday night. Apprehended an ex-employee and confiscated bolt cutters. Could this be a mistake?? He seemed like such a nice guy…!?

Computer guru guy is on vacation for three weeks; the moment we turn on the computers, nothing seems to work right, including the entire accounting system.

Download email and receive over a 100 in German. One of the repeated subject lines: "The Whore Lived Like A German." Lovely. Run virus scan. (Later, discover it’s some right-wing German worm thing.)

Sales Manager announces his intention to retire on June 10. Grrr. He’s been with us for 30 years. How do we replace him….?

And I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


The Late Great Kody-boy seen here with Santa, circa Christmas 2003. (Yes, Santa is woman, hear her roar)

Another Blogging Milestone

Today, boys and girls, Randy learned how to post a picture of herself to her profile. For those of you dying to know the secret, it's really quite simple. You send a photo to your blog like normal (through the free Hello software); pretend like your editing the post, click on "edit HTML," copy the jpeg url, then paste it into the spot it's asked for on your profile. Save the changes and voila! Now go back and delete the previous post.

There. Now John will no longer mistake me for Victoria (inside joke) and anonymous lurkers can place a face to the blogger.

Ain't life grand?

Ouch...I had to go back to edit this post to offer a WARNING. Apparently, after you've added your picture to your profile, it insists on coming up when you comment on yours and other people's blogs. Not sure I want that necessarily. Will have to ponder.

Oh....an update on the doggie front: Foster mommy hasn't replied to my email. Guess it wasn't meant to be.

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Gal's Best Friend

It’s been awhile since I’ve had either a dog or a man in my life. As I pondered rectifying the situation (at least where the dog is concerned), I got to comparing male human qualities with canine ones. Guess who came out on top?

Man: “Putting on a little weight, aren’t you honey? Maybe you should skip the treats.”
Dog: “You gained five pounds? No way. Um, got any treats you wanna share?”

Man: “What’re we having for dinner tonight? And, please. Not leftovers again.”
Dog: “Mmmm. Was that the sound of the can opener? (Pant, pant) Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Treats!”

Man, thinking to himself, at a social gathering: “Wow, look at the rack on that babe. Wonder what she’s like in bed?”
Dog, thinking to himself, at a social gathering: “Goody, goody, goody, I’m with my master, I’m with my master. I’ve got the BEST master in the park. Wonder if she brought along some treats?”

Man: “Touch that remote and you’re dead. We’re watching the O’Reilly Factor.”
Dog: “Remote? What’s a remote? Think I’ll just curl up next to you and watch that Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks flick. Hey! Thanks for the popcorn. Pretty good catch, huh? Got any more treats?”

Man: “Bad day, honey? Well, let me tell you about mine.”
Dog: “I have no existence other than when I’m in your presence. Is that a pig’s ear your’re hiding behind your back?”

Man: “I hate all your girlfriends.”
Dog: “Can Kathy and Juli come over and bring Hunter and Buddi? I promise to play nicely and share my treats.”

Man, in bed, poking from behind: “Hey, honey…I’m in the mood.”
Dog, in bed, curled up next to you: “Ah, this is bliss. You’re the only treat I need.”

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Do I dare??? This little guy is looking for a home...is he looking for mine?? Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Some Say To Write What You Know…

…others argue that imagination is good enough. After all, just because you haven’t strangled prostitutes and tossed them in a river doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to create a character who has.

Then you read a memoir like Running With Scissors by Augesten Burroughs.

Omigod. I know it’s clichĂ©, but look up ‘dysfunctional family background’ in the dictionary, and I’ll lay odds this guy’s photo is there.

If you haven’t read the book, take a failed female poet with dubious mental faculties, stir in an absent alcoholic father, then mix it all up with a shrink who's crazier than everyone combined and throw poor Augesten into the middle, and what have you got?

A writer with unlimited fodder for stories that grip and entertain.

So, how’s a white bread WASP like myself supposed to compete?

Seriously, I could use some compassion here.

My parents are my best friends.
My inner child and I are on speaking terms.
I work in a family business and we all get along.
I asked for (and got) a horse for Christmas one year.

Yep. No doubt about it. My writing career is doomed.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ladies, Start Your Engines...

Yep, that’s what it was like at 7 a.m. California time this morning. Today was the day Pro members of RWA (That’s me! That’s me!) got their crack at signing up for editor and agent appointments at this year’s conference in Reno.

Whew! This exercise is not for the faint-hearted!

I got on-line about ten minutes early and kept hitting refresh. Finally, voila! The link appeared!

Click, click, click….sh*t, why doesn’t the thing load?

Click, click, click…sh*t, I’m never gonna get in.

Won’t bore you (any more than you already are) with the details, but the process ended up taking an hour. AN HOUR! Needless to say, I cruised into work a tad late this morning.

Anyway, Reno must not be the destination of choice for the NY elite, because not many editors (outside of category) signed up for appointments. And of those that did, my personal faves were already taken (by people with more status than I)….oh, well. Nevertheless, I’m pretty pleased with what I got—an appointment with an agent who liked my first effort enough to request the full, and an editor looking for chick-lit. As far as the agent goes, I’ll pitch my new book…as for the editor, we’ll see how far I get on my next WIP, The Ladies Outta Luck Club.

So, now that I’ve squared away my appointments, I can start breathing again.

Oh wait. You say I have to actually SHOW UP?? You say I have to VERBALIZE my pitch? In SENTENCES? Out LOUD? Without passing out???


Saturday, May 07, 2005


“An editor once told me that if I didn't keep my vocabulary to 500 words I'd never make the best-seller list."—Dean Koontz in an interview with the Wall St. Journal (courtesy of literary agent Jennifer Jackson’s blog.)

“I think the stats were something like: average total vocabulary of a human adult 1200 words, average conversational vocabulary (day to day usage) 300-400 words; avg African Grey Parrot vocab maximum capacity 700 words.” –Comment from Jeff on same blog.

Hell, I should shoot right to the top then.

Cuz vocabulary ain’t my strong point. Oh, can you tell?

People that know me in the real world think my dance with the English language is fab...but then, what do they know?

I read over my new manuscript, from beginning to end, the other night. One thing was instantly clear—I need to ratchet up the language. Now, I’m not alone in this. Many authors get the rough draft done, then haul out the Thesaurus and spend hours replacing “raced” with “exploded”...”said softly” with “whispered”...and so on and so forth.

One of my favorite how-to books is Word Painting, which taught me the art of free associating to come up with more creative ways of saying things.

Example: you’ve got a situation in which your heroine is supposed to show surprise. The tried and true way of saying this is: Amy’s jaw dropped. Well, ol’ Amy’s jaw can only drop so many times in one book, right? So, let’s free associate, shall we?

Beak (hmm)
Bird (double hmmm)

So my scene takes place on the beach with a bunch of seagulls swirling overhead. I ended up with the hero saying: “Close your mouth before a seagull mistakes you for one of its young and drops a worm down your throat.”

Okay, the prose needs a little tightening, but I thought it was better than saying Amy’s jaw dropped.

Oh, wait. This was about vocabulary....Ha, and I guess I just proved my point, right?
Sometimes, it’s not the words...it's what you do with them.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Wasn't feeling bloggy today so thought I'd post a couple pix. This is Ann (of Ann and Marty) on board the Orphan Annie. Moments before, she was struttin' her stuff to "Stop In The Name Of Love." Posted by Hello

Oops. Too bad I didn't catch the SPLASH on camera!Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Beatles Ruined My Life

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little. Hear me out:

In the summer of 1964, I went to Lompoc, California to spend a week with my friend Julie (before the ‘e’ in her name went missing). We spent hours listening to a record album (before vinyl went missing) called “Meet the Beatles” and together, we stared at the front and back cover, falling in love. (With the moptops, not each other.)

For me, it was George (only because I mismatched the picture on the front to the name on the back—it was really Paul I fell in love with, but I didn’t learn that until much later). Sure, I’d seen them on the Ed Sullivan Show, but it took that special kinda “girlfriend time,” sharing our undying pledges of love, to really cement my first crush.

When A Hard Days Night came out, followed by Help!, I sat in a darkened movie theater crawling inside their lives, wishing desperately to meet them, to know them, to be loved by them.

I think it was the following summer that the rumor started buzzing around my neighborhood. Radio Station KRLA, the hippest station in town, was bringing the Beatles to L.A. for a concert, and Bob Eubanks, the hottest jock in town, was letting them stay at his house. Be still my fluttering heart! Too young for concerts, but not for stalking! Hell, you could see Bob’s house from my best friend’s bedroom window!

Diane’s mom was a trouper. On Saturday evening, she loaded us up in the station wagon and we camped out just down the street from Eubanks’ home. Soon, one of his next door neighbors wandered out, and we recognized a classmate, Kenny. We leapt from the car, demanding to know if he’d met the Beatles.

“Oh sure,” he tells us. “I swam with all four of them this afternoon.”

Omigod, omigod, omigod.

We ply him with questions. Which one is the nicest? Do they look as cute in person? What time do you think they’ll arrive tonight?

He flings the answers casually—as though swimming with the Beatles is the most natural thing in the world.

We, being ten and stupid, believe him.

The rumor has spread and more cars arrive. I don’t remember, but I think the police eventually put in an appearance. Anyway, Mr. Newlywed Game himself finally emerges to inform us the rumors are false. No Beatles tonight.

Desolate, we trudge back to the station wagon and allow ourselves to be driven home.

But, we stay up all night, peering from the window, knowing “older” girls stayed. Around midnight, we swear we hear a scream, and our hearts break. The Beatles must surely be there…without us.

My point is: HELLO unrequited love.

The Beatles taught me all about it. For years afterward, loving someone out of reach seemed entirely natural—almost inevitable. There was the high school senior who didn’t even know my name…the guy at the beach whose gaze I was content to meet day after day without ever speaking…the professor in college (oh, wait…that’s when I discovered the difference between unrequited love and REquited lust.)

Alas, I eventually stopped having crushes which is, after all, what they were. Or, maybe I just got too old.

And yet…and yet…there’s this fixation I have with Mandy Patinkin (I know, I know, my taste runs to the obscure)…and, oh geez, how about ANY ONE of those guys on LOST…?

What? You say I must be dreaming?

Sigh. Some things never change, I guess.

All You Need Is Love….

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Have Fun!

Quit wasting your time on this lame blog and go here Guess-a-google

for some constructive fun. Think: internet SAT test.

Just so you know, my high score is 255.

OOOPS! Thanks to Erin for letting me know I screwed up the link. Hopefully, it's right now (off to check) Shoot, I've reverted back to techno-flunky. Until I figure it out, you'll just have to copy and paste. Or type. Geesh.

OKAY, I THINK IT WORKS NOW. Who knew my computer at home seems to have something my computer at work doesn't?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Good News/Bad News Kinda Day

First of all, when did signing in at a medical clinic get so complicated? I mean, I have a frickin’ master’s degree and I managed to screw it up. Okay, so I understand the new system that prevents every yahoo in the place from seeing who’s got an appointment, but one small glitch in the system (er, failure to follow instructions) and….kablooie. You end up waiting an hour.

So that’s what I did. As the minutes ticked by, I bonded with miscellaneous women filtering through, feeling like the undesirable left off the team each time a new arrival got called ahead of me. Since I don’t wear a watch (and, God forbid, I should turn my cell phone back on to check the time when no less than five prominently displayed flyers instructed us to turn them OFF), I finally discovered I’d been there an hour. Not that I was having so much fun that the hour flew by, but I guess I’d just switched over to autopilot or something. Anyway, I went to the window and asked if there was a problem.

“Do you have an appointment?” the clerk asks.

“At nine,” I say. “I’ve been here an hour.”

She glares at me. “Did you sign in?”

Duh. BUT, and this is where I made a critical error, I misinterpreted the instruction about tearing something off and keeping a number. Turns out I was supposed to tear it off and GIVE it to someone. Hell, there were SIX lines of instructions—I got bored and stopped reading after three.

“I missed your name,” she says, taking some of the blame.

They get me in next, but I’m taken to a business office. I’m guessing nothing important is likely to happen here…except maybe getting the billing straight.

Finally, I’m escorted to another waiting room where the temperature hovers around thirty below. Does this mean I won’t be here long?

No. It does not.

I wait and wait while more players get picked for the team.

Finally, a white-coated woman stops by and says, “What are you doing here?”

Exactly what I’m thinking.

“I’ve been waiting for you in the ultrasound room, but you need another mammogram first. Follow me, and I’ll see what happened.”

She drops me off in what I think of as the “possibly pissed room.” It’s another smaller waiting room with a television to keep the truly aggravated from throwing hissy fits.

I wait another ten minutes, and am about to announce a haughty departure, when white-coated lady collects me for the mammogram room. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.
It is precisely two hours since I first arrived.

The technician does the mammogram, apparently targeting some area they’re interested in based on my exam from two weeks ago, then takes me in for the ultrasound.

In the darkened room, I suck up my trepidation and watch the screen as the technician does her thing. Hmmm. What’s that dark area she seems to be focusing on? What are those colors? I know blue is supposed to be good, and I’m not sure I’m real happy to see that little red mark. When she’s finished, she tells me to dress but not leave.

I don’t like the sound of that at all. What news am I waiting for? My sister-in-law has breast cancer, and I’m 100% positive I don’t wanna have it, too.

The technician comes back and says, “The radiologist isn’t too concerned.”

At first blush, I find these words a huge relief. I don’t even wanna voice or type the words she COULD have said. Then she hands me a form letter that I barely look at and tells me to come back for another exam in six months. I’m so relieved I don’t even ask any questions.

When I get to my car, I look at the piece of paper. On it are several options with little boxes. I scan down to the one the Radiologist put an X next to: “Probably benign.” Gulp. PROBABLY benign? What the hell does that mean? WHAT’S probably benign? Now I have questions. Like, could someone please tell me if this is what they saw four years ago when they did the other ultrasound?

Still and all…at least no one rushed me anywhere for a biopsy. No one shook their head and clucked their tongue looking at my reports. Life is good!

Oh, and the bad news? Kristen Nelson (the agent who’d requested a partial) emailed me a “no thanks” today. Oh well. No biggie…in the overall scheme of things.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Time Tip

Am I the only one who mistakes the ideas that pop into my head at four in the morning for pure brilliance?

I must have been blogging in my sleep ‘cuz I woke up with today’s topic practically writing itself. Perfect, I thought. Fascinating, I assured myself. I’ll write about…my alarm clock??

Somehow at two in the afternoon the idea has lost some of its luster. Sorta like that plan I came up with on Friday to fly to Chile for my birthday.

Oh, well. See, here’s the deal. I have this really, really, cool alarm clock. Picture this: it’s the middle of the night, you’re snoozing away, and suddenly a loud noise awakes you. What’s the first thing you do? Answer: you yank the clock off your nightstand, shove it in front of your face, and stare stupidly at numbers that make no sense without your glasses, right? Well, not me. Nosiree. I simply open my eyes and look at the ceiling. How cool is that, huh? No unnecessary expenditure of energy! Just let the eyelids drift open…voila! You see, my clock emits a steady stream of infrared light depicting the current time anywhere I want it to. (I could get the weather too, but I’m too cheap, and besides, that’s a little TMI for the wee small hours.)

If you’re interested, click here http://www.atomic-clocks.com and select “atomic projection clocks.” But remember: if you’re a slacker—the type to sleep past daybreak—the red numbers disappear once the sun comes up. In that case, you have to read the clock the old-fashioned way.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Techo Wiz Part Deux

Back in 1981, I moved into an apartment with my friend, Kathleen. Once we were settled, I watched in awe as she unearthed a hammer and nails and set about hanging pictures. Hammer? Nails? I’d never even possessed such objects, let alone tried to use them! Wasn’t that a man’s job?? But, no! There she was, proving me wrong!

I learned an important lesson that day. That maybe I could do stuff that I’d originally thought should be left up to men.

Which is why I’m proud of the following.

Since my cable boxes were circa 1990, Adelphia sent me a letter saying I had to replace them by May 9...or else run the risk of no cable. Ack! NO CABLE?!? How would I survive? Despite a sense of trepidation—what if I couldn’t get them hooked back up?—I crawled around through cobwebs, moved heavy furniture, squeezed my eyes shut and yanked all the cords and cables. Don’t get me wrong; I installed both in the first place, but sometimes success isn’t repeatable.

Anyway, I lugged them to the office, exchanged them for new ones that didn’t look much different, and got them all reinstalled. Upon instruction, I then called an 800 service number so they could walk me through programming the remotes. Long story short, I’ve got cable on both TV’s but the remote for one doesn’t work. Service rep said I’ll have to take it back in. Sigh. (If you’re wondering why I didn’t have them come out—sure, right. “And we can be there sometime between 9 and never.” No thanks.)

So the upshot of the new boxes and remotes is that I now have “On Demand.” Big deal. Didn’t I have IN Demand before? What the hell’s the difference?

OH! And another techno note...what’s up with the post office? I seem to have single-handedly delayed the announcement of the Daphne Du Maurier Contest finals. Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t. They haven’t received the hard copy of my scores yet and apparently, the finalists were supposed to be announced today. I told my assistant to take them to the post office...but, what if she didn’t? What if she threw them in the mailbox? What if they’re stuck in USPS ozone somewhere? Or, worse...being subjected to bomb sniffing dogs on a remote island?? Ack. It wouldn’t be so bad if I’d scored everyone low, but I gave two high scores and I’m guessing either one or both is involved in what the coordinator says is such a close race that they need the hard copies before announcing.

So, somewhere out there...a bunch of authors are chewing nails....and it’s all my fault! Sorry, ladies!