Friday, July 29, 2005

Another Quickie

Well, as you can see, I'm still alive. Just barely.

Got through the agent appointment with a minimum of head tremors (note: the operative word here is minimum--it DID shake and I thought about my faithful blog readers and how they'd be shaking their own heads with a sympathetic smile). More details later, but she DID request a partial.

One down, one to go. Tomorrow's appointment is at 9 friggin' a.m. so you can be sure whatever comes out of my mouth will be brilliant. Not.

Big news of the day: I won another $85 at video poker.

Off to dinner with an assortment of fellow unpubbed authors.....

Quick Notes from The RWA Conference

At the moment, I'm sitting in my room (well, duh). But an hour from now, I'll be shaking the hand of the agent I have an appointment with and hoping my palms aren't sweaty.

I pray I won't draw a blank if she asks something like: "Tell me about the conflict between your hero and heroine."

Ack....I'll tell you one thing. I will NEVER schedule appointments again. EVER. Not that I don't think I'll survive and do fine, but just having these moments lurking on the horizon like black clouds over an outdoor wedding...well, you get my drift...sorta takes away from the overall conference experience.

So far, one impression from this conference (my fourth) sticks out in my mind. Usually, this is a four-day pep rally...with a lot of "You Can Do It" kinda motivational speeches. But for the first time, several speakers have candidly admitted, "Not all of you are gonna be published." Hm. Not exactly breaking news, but I've never heard publishing professionals and fellow authors say it aloud before.

Is RWA trying to thin out the ranks?

Are editors and agents in cahoots with them?

Just a thought. One I plan to bring up in conversation at lunch today.

In other news...two critique partners WON their categories in the DAPHNE. This is HUGE for them....the bad news is, neither of these people have actually written the book......?!?!? (Isn't that a no-no?)

On the gambling front, I'm happy to report there's more cash in my wallet than when I arrived. A good sign, right?

Thunderstorms knocked out the hotel cable yesterday. Bummer. I was enjoying a channel that carried a NASA feed.

Okay...I've put it off long enough. Time to don my conference I.D. tag and make my way to the appointment area.


More later when I start taking in oxygen again...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

After A Brief Delay

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re experiencing a maintenance issue.”

Hm. Not the words you like to hear while sitting on an airplane. I look out the window and see a blue pick-up with ‘for sale’ signs in its windows drive up and park under the wing. On the door is a sign that reads “Burbank Airport Service.” The guy that gets out is, apparently, our mechanic. He looks about a week shy of retirement, sports a walrus moustache and has one of those nifty little red tool boxes that don’t carry anything more sophisticated than a Phillips head screwdriver. Well, I guess this isn’t the space shuttle.

Anyway, I name him Fred.

Fred disappears from view and is presumably checking on our maintenance issue. I see the flaps go back and forth (or is it up and down?) and envision Fred, from the innards of the plane, yelling, “Try ‘er now, Captain!”

A woman sitting a couple rows behind me decides driving to her meeting might be quicker. She asks to be let off the plane. As I watch her make her way down the aisle, I think, what an idiot. We’ll probably be on our way in minutes. But, then maybe she hasn’t noticed that Fred is on the case. Or, maybe she’s lost all confidence in the plane.


The pilot announces that Fred has found the problem and is waiting for hydraulic fluid. (Does this mean a trip to Home Depot?)

I see someone (not Fred) attempting to start Fred’s car. Stop thief! But, no...he’s just moving it out of the way. It concerns me that Fred isn’t familiar with the parking strategy.

Nonetheless, what the hell. The Captain announces we’re a “go” so I guess the dipstick registers full.

Off to Reno (via San Jose).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Back To The Future

Wheeeeee! America returns to space!

How well I remember an evening back in (gulp) 1958 (I was a wee child, mind you) sitting on my aunt and uncle’s porch gazing at the Minnesota sky. The grownups kept pointing to a tiny blip of light inching past the millions of stationery ones.

“Sputnik,” they said, their voices full of awe.

So, yes. I grew up in the sixties—a decade that began with Frankie and Annette but ended with Jimi and Janis. A decade that began with innocence and ended with sociopolitical upheaval.

But, in the midst of the turmoil, there was always the wonder of space: Alan Shepard’s first flight…John Glenn’s trip around the earth...the trio who circled the moon. And, of course, the day Neil Armstrong uttered those infamous words (which, unfortunately, also coincided with my first hangover, so that’s a memorable day for a couple of reasons, but oh, I digress).

A lot of people sniff at space exploration. They feel it’s a waste of money. But every time you power up your computer, you can thank the aerospace industry whose need for it fostered the explosion of Information Technology. Every time you face an MRI, you can thank the aerospace industry for lending its knowledge to other applications. And, of course, it goes without saying that every time you crack those eggs into a Teflon pan…or Velcro-up those sneakers…

Enough about space, I’m off to pack for Reno.....

Monday, July 25, 2005


I know you've all been waiting with baited (bated?) breath (what the hell do either of those mean, anyway) for news on the radio front.

Well, I'm declaring VICTORY! I have sound once again! Hallelujah!!!

Got the code around 6 a.m. this morning, punched it in, hit the SC button (only because, through past experimentation, it seemed to play some sort of role) and yippi-yi-yay, the digital display for FM radio appeared!

Whew. This little episode goes under the category of "you don't know how much you care about something until it's gone."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Still Waiting....

No magical code yet. And nothing but eerie silence in the car. It's scary to hear the odd assortment of noises your car makes when you don't have Talk Radio to drown them out.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

And So I Wait

Yesterday I had a friend replace the battery in my car and since it wasn't even totally dead yet, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Hell, I’ve had the car for two years and haven’t even had it serviced. (I know, I know. I hear you men out there shrieking in dismay, but see, I have this theory about the automobile industry—I think all that servicing is a diabolical plot to wear cars out faster.)

Anyway, so I happily drove away in my fully charged car only to discover that the radio now wants a code.

A CODE! I don’t HAVE the friggin’ code! I don’t have the MANUAL (long story).

I called my brother who promised to get on the case (by contacting his friend, the wholesaler, from whom I purchased the thing) but, well...if you knew my brother, you’d understand I don’t wanna wait until next year to hear the dulcet tones of Melissa Manchester on my CD player.

So, where else do I go for answers but the Internet.

I Googled “Mercedes Radio Code” and found several resources (aha! this is a common problem!). Tried to find one for free but gave up.

The most promising website was which had a place to click on for getting the code and one for using the code. First, I had to research whether my radio had to be removed in order to obtain the serial number. Didn’t look like it, but just to be sure, I did more research to figure out whether the number I got off it was in fact the serial number. Hmm. Couldn’t tell.

Finally, I decided the hell with it. Let’s just start entering stuff and see what happens.

Clicked on Mercedes and entered the year, make, model, and VID number. Hmmm...didn’t even ASK for a radio serial number. Things were looking up.

Paid $48 (yes, forty-eight dollars) through PayPal and, voila! Supposedly, my code number is winging its way through the Internet and will arrive in 30 minutes to 24 hours. At this point, I was high-fiving mid-air and clapping myself on the back.

Only one thing. AFTER I paid the $48, PayPal sent me back to the radio site and there was this little message that said something like: Because Mercedes vary, we will be unable to assist you with the unlocking process.

Perfect. Wish they'd told me that BEFOE I paid the $48.

So, now I’m waiting for an all-important email which, once received, I probably won’t be able to do a damn thing with.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Flaws In The Ointment

Okay, bad pun. I’m talking about character flaws. Those traits with which you imbue your hero and heroine to make them human.

In my first two manuscripts (both traditional romantic comedy/suspense) my characters have flaws all right. But they’re the kind that endear you to them, not turn you off (hopefully).

In Fit For Love, Ava is a couch potato whose idea of working out involves beating fellow shoppers to the cashmere sweaters at the day-after-Thanksgiving sales.

In Stealing Amy, Nick is absentminded to the point that he places little sticky notes on his laptop to remind him which tie to wear with which suit when he travels. (Aw, sorta sweet, huh?)

Not that the characters in these books didn’t have deeper, emotional flaws…but they were flaws that made the characters heroic. Chinks in their armor with which the reader could easily sympathize.

But now I’m writing chick-lit and without even meaning to, I’ve created characters whose flaws are deeper and less likeable. Rose, for example, is possessive and clingy, both traits I abhor in women. The trick, I’m finding, is to show the reader enough motivation behind the behavior to make the character sympathetic.

Duh. It all makes such sense when you think about it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pitching At National

Okay, I’m gonna tell a story on myself just to convince y’all how terrified I am of public speaking.

Date and Time: 7 p.m. on a Monday night, circa 1975
The Setting: A classroom at UC Irvine
The Characters: 50 students (mostly older adults--many at the graduate level) plus the professor (on whom I had an enormous crush)
The plot: I am to present a year’s worth of research on my particular topic (something about public policy, the media, and minorities)

Now, I was one of those students who carefully scrutinized the course syllabus on the first day of the semester. If there was even a hint of a future oral presentation, I said sayonara. Unfortunately, this time, I screwed up. It was a 3-semester course and by the time I learned of the requirement, I couldn’t very well quit.

That’s how I found myself on a Monday in 1975, awaiting my turn to make a presentation.

Hip to my Achilles’ heel, I’d made a stab at solving the problem. To wit, I’d worn a dress (yes—I wore dresses in college!) with pockets so I’d have somewhere to stick my trembling hands. Truly, I figured that as long as no one could see how badly my hands were shaking, I’d be fine.

Ah, to still be that naïve.

When the professor called my name, I advanced to the front of the class and stood before a table and chair that faced the audience.

I sat.

I put my hands in my pockets.

I began my rehearsed speech.

My hands, trapped in their prisons, remained remarkably still.

So…instead…my head started shaking. I mean visibly. I mean uncontrollably.

I stopped mid-sentence and shot a look at my professor, silently beseeching him to rescue me from this nightmare. Head bowed, the coward kept his eyes averted and let me suffer.

As dead silence spread like a poisonous vapor, I briefly considered running from the room. Luckily, I had the good sense to realize flight would make me look even worse.

Oh, the humanity.

At last, I did the only thing I could do. I propped my elbows on the table and used my hands like a vice to steady my spazzy head. And gave the remainder of my speech that way.

(Just recounting this story has bugs doing the tarantella in my stomach.)

Anyway, the story doesn’t end that badly. I did get an A, I did date the professor, and the very next year I taught a class at the junior college level (it took about three weeks to get over my nerves).

Still…the prospect of sitting across the desk from a publishing professional who’s waiting to hear my pitch brings back nasty memories.

Here’s my plan: I’ve heard that picturing your audience naked really helps. Bwaahahaaa. Nope. Not gonna do that. But, maybe I’ll leave my reading glasses on so they get real blurry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Out For A Stroll

So, this evening I’m walking through my neighborhood (mentally hashing out the next scene of my WIP--which went well thankyouverymuch) when I notice a van sort of hovering at a stop sign. The driver is consulting a paper with what I assume are directions. As I pass by, I expect him to ask for help, but he doesn’t, so I turn left and keep walking.

He makes the turn, too.

Again, I wait to hear a question since he’s moving slowly but no, he continues past me and drives into a cul-de-sac.

By the time I reach said cul-de-sac, he’s already swung around and is back at the intersection. Waiting?

He’s still consulting the paper, and this time I’m sure he’ll ask for directions, but of course, he doesn’t because (well, duh) he’s a man.

At this point, I decide to get a good look at him and it registers that he could be on the no-fly list. Not that I’m prone to profiling—the thought just pops into my head. And since my sense of social propriety tends to outweigh my common sense, I know that if called upon, I will stop and try to help. I begin to wonder what I will do if this turns into a dangerous situation.

Running isn’t an option since a 3-year-old can flatten me in the 50-yard dash.

Screaming is out too, since this is the kind of neighborhood where people (cough) keep to themselves a bit.

And the closest thing I’ve got to a weapon is a pair of white plastic sunglasses.

At the last second, I’m saved from making a decision. He puts the van in gear and roars back onto the main street at full speed, seemingly no longer uncertain of his destination.

I decide that from now on I’ll carry something worthy of getting confiscated at an airline security checkpoint.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Blogworthy News

…that I couldn’t let pass without commenting on.

We’ll start with the oldest one (which you may have heard about already). Last week it was reported that a man in Washington State died of injuries incurred while having sex with a horse. Without pondering the evidence (no, let’s not go there) let’s focus on the consequent investigation. Apparently, hospital cameras got the license plate of the car that dropped him off and authorities tracked the incident to a particular farm. Now, it turns out, bestiality is not illegal in Washington, however the farm’s being investigated for possible crimes committed against smaller, weaker, animals. Like chickens and pigs.

My question is this: Is it okay to screw a horse because we can assume by virtue of its size and strength it’s got a say in the matter? And, that a chicken does not?

So are you enjoying the visual yet? Consensual sex between a man and a horse. What a delightful concept.

I guess, by definition, sex with a chicken is always rape. Good to know.

Okay, second news item. In California, you can now sue your employer for sexual harassment without ever being touched, taunted, or leered at.

Wait. Do I hear the sound of a thousand lawyers rubbing their hands together?

Yep. If that bitch in the next cubicle is sleeping with your boss you may have grounds for sexual harassment. (Wouldn’t that be nonsexual sexual harassment?) Anyway, let’s call it the no muss/no fuss route to a frivolous lawsuit, shall we?

This decision comes from the California Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that “widespread favoritism based upon consensual sexual affairs may imbue the workplace with an atmosphere that is demeaning to women because a message is conveyed that managers view women as ‘sexual playthings.’” (Imagine a man viewing a woman as a sexual plaything—what’s the world coming to?)

Next thing you know, we'll elect a governor who gropes.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Preparing For National...

…as in the annual Romance Writers of America conference—this year in bone-dry Reno, Nevada. Only ten more days!

Here are some tips for first-timers….

1. Clothes– According to my on-line loops, pre-conference shopping carries an extremely high priority. Maybe I’m aberrant (to me shopping is an excruciating activity). Don’t you people own clothes already? Who are you out to impress? (Shrug)

2. Finish the manuscript—a mental exercise really. No one physically totes their book to the conference, or at least, they shouldn’t. Must I remind you that no editor or agent wants to cart your overweight drivel back to her office?

3. Practice the pitch—(Take deep breaths while your heart resumes a healthier pace.) Time to hone those 400 pages down to one succinct sentence that perfectly encapsulates the essence of your book.

Okay, say it out loud without sounding rehearsed.

Hm. Can you try that again? This time, ditch the uhs, ums, and ers.

All right. We’ll work on that during the flight.

4. Practice packing—pack, unpack, repack. Do this several times until you’re at least 20 lbs. under the airline weight allowance ‘cuz that’s how much the freebies are gonna add to your luggage.

5. Create/buy business cards—Done! Mine arrived today and they’re so cute I wanna hand them out to everyone I see. (It’s sorta funny that I chose them before I started my latest WIP because they ended up very chick-litty…makes me believe I’m going in the right direction. Note to self: don’t forget to bring plenty!)

6. Coordinate schedules/obtain cell phone numbers—Ack. So many people, so little time. Especially when you don’t know someone by sight. I recommend rendez-vous-ing early-on so you don’t end up realizing that the person you’ve been sitting next to at all the workshops is your on-line critique partner. (Scrutinizing nametags isn’t as simple as it sounds, trust me.)

7. Sleep!—Get lots of sleep before you arrive because those 8 o’clock meetings, workshops and appointments are a real bitch when you’ve stayed up half the night gambling, carousing, and schmoozing.

8. DO Attend the Awards Ceremony—no matter how tempted you are to skip it, I promise that watching an unpubbed author win a Golden Heart is truly inspiring!!!

9. Have fun, fun, fun! At every turn—from the woman standing next to you at the bar, to the one sneaking a cigarette, to the one holding the elevator—she has something uniquely in common with you, so savor the connection and strike up a conversation. There are NO STRANGERS at National!

10. Get free stuff!—Be sure to visit the publisher signings. You get lots of free books signed by your favorite authors.

11. Don’t be shy!—Romance authors are some of the most generous people around. If you happen to share an elevator with Jayne Ann Krentz, Patricia Gaffney, Jenny Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or Nora Roberts (the list is endless), be sure to smile and say hello.

You are one of them.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Face In The Crowd

It seemed like an okay plan. Kathleen and her boyfriend Erik were driving up from Laguna Niguel for the Pasadena Jazz Festival and wanted me to meet them. Being wishy-washy, I didn’t commit right away, and we decided to hook-up via cell phone on Saturday.

Well, Saturday came and I missed her call, but no problem, right? That’s what cell phones are for. Kath said she’d leave hers on.

Around three o’clock I checked Yahoo for directions and current traffic conditions and figure it’d take me about an hour. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking—trusting Yahoo was dumb. The directions were fine, but a two-car fender bender lengthened my journey to an hour-and-a-half.

Anyway, being a whiz at following directions (didn’t even write ‘em down!) I found the place (near the Rose Bowl), parked, paid my forty bucks to enter and called Kath.

Uh-oh. Straight to voicemail. Right about then, misgivings set in.

Nevertheless, she’d said she keep checking, right? So, I figured it was just a matter of time before she’d discover I was there.

Time for plan B.

Okay, so how hard could it be to find one of the twenty or so white faces among thousands of black ones? And, if I kept moving, wouldn’t she see me?

Turns out the answer is no.

I bought a beer, hiked around the place for almost two hours, and never found her. By that time, I was exhausted so I located my car and drove home.

Lesson: Always have your cell phone on vibrate.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Chick Lit Voice

More and more, I’m noticing that a lot of chick-lit authors come from legal and corporate backgrounds. Makes me wonder, how the hell do these ladies, who’ve schooled themselves in writing the driest of the dry, switch to the “anything goes” style that is the trademark of chick-lit?

Speaking for myself, after umpteen college papers (including graduate level) plus a lifetime of business documents, it’s not easy to, shall we say, de-formalize my style.

Add to that three years of studying what’s “required” of traditional romance, and my brain is starting to schiz-ify. (See…the “old” me would have written “I’m starting to feel schizophrenic.)

To demonstrate even more clearly, here’s my first pass at the opening paragraph of the synopsis I’m working on for my new WIP.

Rose Thornton is fed up with getting the fuzzy end of the Popsicle stick.

Starting with the day of her ninth birthday, which should have consisted of pony rides, presents, and cake with butter cream frosting, and instead is spent moving into a strange house, with strange new siblings, and a strange woman insisting she be called Mom, Life has not gone according to plan.

I’ve since decided to write this novel as a straight chick-lit. Here’s the new opener:

Now here this. I, Rose Thornton, under penalty of perjury and an eternity of bad hair days, do solemnly swear on the heads of my future children, that I am finished with getting the fuzzy end of the Popsicle stick.

A bit dramatic you say? Well, you try existing like a footnote in the term paper of your family’s life.

Me here again. Do you know how difficult it was to “let go” and write that second version?

Feels good though. And it’s a lot more fun to write than corporate BS.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

HEADLINE: Mariah Carey's Clothes Fall Off

Apparently, the pop diva experienced a wardrobe malfunction in Germany the other day, and it must be true because I saw it on the Drudge Report.

So what’s up with female celebrities and their faulty clothes? Tara, Janet, and now Mariah—don’t they have stylists? Don’t they have wardrobe assistants? Don’t they have duct tape? And how come it’s always their boobs that are getting exposed? (Come to think of it, thank God.) Ladies, please take a lesson from a pro: Remember J.Lo’s green Grammy dress? Nary a nipple!

I searched my memory and couldn’t come up with a single public incident in which I inadvertently exposed myself (and, as y’all know, I’ve made some fashion mistakes). But not one episode where a strap slipped, a bustier got ripped, or—as in Ms. Carey’s case—my clothes fell off.

At least the current debacle occurred in Germany—I don’t think America could take another national ta-ta exhibition. In fact, I’m proposing a new comprehensive insurance program for female celebrities. Oh, not to protect them or their careers. I’m talking about protecting us from additional censorship. I say, let’s call it the National Insurance Pact (NIP for short). Each year, we all contribute $1 to an interest bearing escrow account. Then, whenever a female celebrity slips the TV viewing public more skin than it can stand, in exchange for leering the other way, Michael Powell (or whoever runs the FCC at the moment) gets to use the cash for an all-expenses paid, year-long vacation to the Club Med of his choice.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Weekend News

Started off by driving all over town looking for my missing wallet—only to find it lying on my bed.

Avoided certain disaster when I realized in the nick of time that the tube of facial cleanser I was about to use was instead “metal cleaner” left behind by my maid. (Truly, it would have been an honest mistake—almost identical packaging!)

Saw 70’s pop star Melissa Manchester perform at a local venue. She sounds better than ever and has a lot more talent and style than she’s given credit for. Even the tried-and-true “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “Midnight Blue” sounded up-to-date with jazz/blues nuances. Had the opportunity to meet her afterward—nice lady!

Watched CNN coverage of Hurricane Dennis and marveled once again at the monotony of California weather.

Watched a new reality (?) show called “The Princes of Malibu.” Hm. What to say about this program? Entertaining in an odd “don’t hate us ‘cuz we’re good-looking, rich, and clueless” sort of way. Brody Jenner (stepson of David Foster and birth son of Bruce Jenner) is undeniably one of the most handsome men on the planet—at the ripe young age of 21 no less.

Here’s what I’d planned to get done on the writing front this weekend:

1. Work on Stealing Amy synopsis
2. Edit chapters two and three for entering Golden Gateway Contest
3. Write opening scene of new WIP
4. Upload critiques for writing partners

Here’s what I accomplished:

1. Uploaded one critique

So during the mad dash around town in search of the wallet, I began mentally composing the first scene of my new WIP. Geez, it sounded so good as the dialogue bounced around my brain! Yet, when I put fingers to keyboard, something happened. I wrote a half page and hated every sentence. Something about the voice is completely wrong. I had decided to try first person present (which isn’t everyone’s favorite, but whatever). Now must re-think. Or, maybe I’m just opening the book at the wrong moment. New writers tend to make that mistake. All I know is my heroine comes off like a sniveling whiner—not what I’d intended or expected at all. Hope she shapes up before I decide to dump her entire story.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


I was checking out Annie Rayburn's blog and discovered a link to her very first interview as a published author. How cool is that?

Then I sobered. How come nobody ever interviews unpublished authors? I mean, where is the fairness in that?

So, without further ado, here is mine:

Interviewer: Hi, Randy. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Me: Well, I just ruined my streak of 950 consecutive Free Cell wins, so I’m taking a break.

Interviewer: All unpubbed authors dream of the day they’ll get “the call.” Can you tell us what getting “the call” would mean to you?

Me: The call? There’s a call? Like on the phone? Excuse me, gotta go check my messages. (Pause) Okay, where were we?

Interviewer: Er, let’s move on. Do you have an agent?

Me: Sure, doesn’t everyone? Mine’s with Mercury Casualty.

Interviewer: I was referring to—well, never mind. Why don’t you tell us about the project you’re currently working on.

Me: Hey, thanks for asking! I’ve pretty much given up on romantic suspense, historicals (all eras), single title contemporary, category, and westerns so that leaves me with fantasy, sci-fi, and chick-lit. My new novel is titled “Cinderstellar” and it’s about this editorial assistant at Vogue who goes from planet to planet searching for the lost mate to her favorite pair of Pradas.

Interviewer: Um, sure you don't mean Manalo's?

Me: Whatever.

Interviwer: Sounds fascinating.

Me: Yeah, I can’t wait to start querying.

Interviewer: Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Me: Neither. Personally, I find it much easier to plagiarize. Takes all the stress out.

Interviewer: I think that’s about all the time we have for today. Thanks again for speaking with us.

Me: My pleasure. By the way, who do I make the check out to?

Friday, July 08, 2005


You gotta hand it to the British. Along with that stiff upper lip, they rock when it comes to gentility. Part of it’s the accent, of course. Even the least educated UK citizen sounds like a Harvard grad to my ears. But it’s more than that. It’s the words.

Here are two memorable examples from yesterday’s news coverage of the tragedy.

Since three of the blasts occurred in trains (subways?), a lot of eyewitness accounts came from passengers. They began by identifying which "carriage” they were in. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “carriage” I think “Central Park” and “horse drawn”, not an overcrowded, smelly tube whisking me through the bowels of Central London.

Next, toward the end of the workday, I saw a London official (maybe the Mayor?) addressing the logistics of getting workers from their jobs in the city to their homes in the suburbs. He kept referring to their “journey”…as in, “tonight, citizens will need to practice patience in their journey homeward.” Again, I don’t know about you, but when I leave work it’s a "commute"…as in, please commute my sentence, release me from prison, and let me get the hell home. The British make it sound like leaving work is a life affirming experience. Well, maybe yesterday it was.

So, do the British use language as a way of putting a smiley face on the ugly stuff?

Hm. Whatta concept.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Very Truly Yours, Anonymous

You know the worst part about blogging?

You’re driving along with your mind doing its customary random iterations…suddenly, you hit on a great topic for your blog. You start mentally composing it, marveling at your brilliance and how it will make people laugh out loud. Your typing fingers begin to itch.

You arrive at your destination, race to the computer, and screech to a halt.

What about that guy, girl, friend, colleague, business associate, relative, store clerk, random stranger you gave your blog address to? The one you’re about to piss off?

Your shoulders deflate in frustration.

So, here now…if I had the time and—well, let’s be honest, the energy—to create an alternative blog to which I would never, ever reveal the address…the first topics I would cover:

Male sexuality—the myths I’ve witnessed firsthand

Co-workers I would like to send on permanent business trips

Friends I secretly think are too stupid too live

My opinion on the war in Iraq, abortion, illegal immigration and Paris Hilton’s Burger King commercial

How the query process is going with my second book

The skeletons in my family closet

Stories about myself that are a hundred times more embarrassing than the shoe fiasco

Skanks I know personally

Anything anyone ever said to me that was prefaced with: “Psst... swear to God you won't tell anyone?”

Ahhhhh...that last one...I could devote a year's worth of blogs to that one alone.

If only I'd stayed anonymous.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Blog Fun and Queries

...or how to distract yourself when you really should be writing.

Last night I was browsing some of my favorite blogs and dropped in on literary agent Nadia Cornier's. Nadia represents YA (Young Adult) authors and also happens to be very down to earth. Would love to have her as my agent (well, I'd love to have anyone as my agent--within reason) but, like I say, she's into YA and I'm not.

Anyway, she invited blog droppees to submit truly terrible query letters and the winner gets a 3-chapter critique from her.

After reading the 45 already posted, I just had to try my hand, so here's what I wrote (keep in mind, I ommitted some of the obvious stuff that other people had already used).

Dear Deirdre,

Ever wonder what would happen if a teenage space alien girl with weight issues got involved with a lying sack of shit mortal male who slept with all her friends?

Me too, since I haven’t actually finished writing the book. But the idea’s got “high concept” written all over it, doncha think?

And here’s the best part: the heroine’s name is Leai Jones and she’s honest-to-goodness space age royalty so...yep, you guessed it: the title’s The Princess Jones’ Diaries. It’s a no-brainer when you think about it.

Like I say, I haven’t quite gotten around to finishing it, but I’ve got three really, really, well-polished chapters...because. after all, if you and the 1000 other agents on my A-list turn it down, what’s the use of actually writing the book? From what I hear, my contest wins are ample proof for the IRS that this whole writing gig is more than a hobby.

By the way, I’ve run it by my fifteen on-line critique groups and they hardly had any corrections to make so I know it’s really good. (Well, I’m fibbing a bit—several thought I needed more leather and lace—if you know what I mean—but I’m saving that stuff for my other pen name, Feather La Flame.)

I’ll be following this query up with a phone call so we can set a date to meet and discuss all the publishing houses you’d like to submit to. And let me just assure you, I’m no literary snob. Big house, little house, epub, vanity press—I don’t really care as long as I get published.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Love And Lust

Way back in college, in between studying everything from microeconomics to microorganisms, I still managed to squeeze in a romance here and there.

Then one day I picked up Fear Of Flying by Erica Jong.

Ohmigod. Finished it in one sitting, I think. Her character’s “zipless f*ck” philosophy was both tantalizing and scary to a twenty-year-old.

But the truth is that fantasy rarely lives up to reality, does it?

For me, it’s still about love, not lust. That’s why I write romance instead of erotica. And, believe me, getting two characters into bed is a whole lot easier than getting them to fall in love.

Sorta like life.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth Of July, Boys

While we're all drinking beer and eating hot dogs...let's not forget what this holiday is about. Today, I salute my nephew-in-law, Jon, who is a surgeon in the U.S. Air Force. Stationed at Travis AFB where he lives with my niece Jamie and their three children, Ashley, Jake, and Zak, Jon is currently just south of Baghdad in Iraq. Here, he and his fellow surgeon buddies are taking a "cigar break." Jon's fourth from the left in the rear.

Not exactly Cedars-Sinai conditions

A well deserved rest....Note Jon is the one who's apparently fallen asleep with a cup in his hand.

Friday, July 01, 2005

What I Learned On Wednesday

Guess what? I’m not exactly a go-to gal in an emergency.

So, here’s what happened. First, you have to understand that drafting people are a strange breed and they always have been. In the old days they were frustrated artists; these days they’re computer geeks. Our draftsman Bruce is no exception.

So, I’m walking down the hall from my office, heading for the reception area, when a strange noise draws my attention to Bruce who’s about ten feet away. He’s slumped over the side of his chair, bucking wildly, and making inhuman sounds. Swear to God, at first I thought it was a case of Bruce being Bruce.

Nonetheless, I decide the prudent course of action is to make sure. “Bruce!” I yell. “Are you okay?” After all, he’s diabetic, has already had a minor stroke, and eats like I imagine John Candy did. In other words, he’s not the poster child for healthy living.

No response. More bucking. More gasping.

Do I run into his office? No, I do not. I run for the next available human being. “Rolly, something’s wrong with Bruce. Go check it out.”

Then I run in the opposite direction and tell Kari to dial 911.

By the time I return to Bruce’s office, two guys have managed to move him from the chair to the floor. Jovanna (an ex-lifeguard who’s been taking disaster preparedness courses) is assessing the situation.

His lips are blue, his tongue is bleeding, and his eyes are open but they’re not tracking.

Where are the paramedics??? Where’s the fire department???

My brother goes outside and hears sirens, but they keep passing by. Eventually, the paramedics arrive but sirens continue to wail as the firemen apparently search for us.

By the time the paramedics reach Bruce, his breathing has steadied and he’s able to give one-word answers to their queries. After rigging up an IV and checking vitals, they load him on a gurney and cart him off to the hospital.

The doctors still can’t say what happened. They haven’t ruled out heart attack, stroke or seizure. When I spoke to Bruce yesterday, he apologized for missing work but figured he’d be back after the holiday. That’s why you gotta love the guy—he may be odd and annoying, but he’s also a real team player.

Shame on me for running from him, not to him.