Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Happy Birthday!

L to R: Kayla, Trevor & Travis

In honor of blog-reader Joe's birthday, I decided to post a picture of his grandchildren.

Trust me. They're a lot better looking than he is. Happy birthday, Jeddo.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Do I Have Good Instincts, Or What???

Okay, long-time blog readers, remember that guy I told you about with the suck-y come-on line? The one who leaned over real close and said, “I’d sure like to sweat all over you”??

What I didn’t mention at the time was that this Casanova is a well-known actor. Oh, not a good-looking lead, or anything, but you’d know him. I didn’t “out” him ‘cuz he was reading my blog at the time.

I also didn’t mention that he eventually kinda sorta asked me out on a real date. Yeah, he was smooth on that score, too. It came in the form of an email, asking me to join him on his boat that afternoon (which happened to be the Fourth of July). I didn’t appreciate the late invitation (smirk, smirk) so I pretended I didn’t see the email until after-the-fact.

Nice guy and everything, but I j-u-u-u-s-s-s-t-t-t didn’t feel like ours was a match made in heaven, know what I mean?

Anyway, guess who got ENGAGED in November?

Yep, saw it in the news.

To a woman he’d been dating SIX MONTHS. So, not only a whirlwind courtship, but hmmm…let’s do the math…doesn’t that take us back, um, June????

Better yet, get this: the story said he left his wife (of many, many years) LAST JANUARY to marry some other broad WHO DUMPED him FOUR days before the wedding to marry a bazillionaire. Guess he rebounds pretty quick, huh? (And, has excellent judgment when it comes to women.)

Ladies, ALWAYS trust your instincts.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I used to think writing was all about, well…writing. You know: sit down, apply fingers to keyboard…type out that best seller rolling around in your head.

Now, almost four years along in the journey, I know better. I know that sometimes it’s not about the writing at all. Sometimes you have to do the stuff that’s not even (gasp) fun.

Like participating in on-line critique groups, for instance. In the beginning, you spend a lot of time critiquing other people’s work and getting feedback on your own. But there comes a point when, to tell you truth, they feel like a big drain on your writing time. Necessary, yes. Worthwhile, yes. But, still...if I were critiquing at the same level I did three years ago, I'd never finish a book of my own.

Then, there’s the multi-book dilemma. When you’re writing your first, there’s never a question of what to work on. Duh. You’ve only got one book. But when you bring a second one into the mix, you start having to make choices about revising the old one vs. writing the new one.

Plus, now you have to pitch the first one. That means time you could spend writing the new one gets hijacked in favor of researching agents, devising killer query letters, copying parts of your manuscript, and driving to the post office. Or vice versa. You let the marketing side of book one slide, because that part isn’t fun. You’d rather be writing book two.

Oh, and let’s not forget entering contests. Contests are another way of getting your stuff in front of an acquiring agent or editor, so there’s more researching, copying, and mailing.

So you send out a batch of queries and enter a slew of contests. By now you’re well-schooled on the waiting game, so you figure it’s safe to dust off book number two and resume where you left off.

Yeah, right.

Just about the time you slide back into the rhythm…get reacquainted with your characters and their story…a request arrives for book number one.

All hell breaks lose.

Suddenly, that book that was absolutely, positively, one hundred percent polished and finished, looks like a rough draft. Book number two slinks off to the back burner, awaiting its turn.

Have I mentioned I’m on book three? Guess how many combinations and permutations go along with three?

And, I haven’t even reached the stage of dealing with what happens when you actually SELL one of the suckers.

Yep, it’s all about multi-tasking.

And juggling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Contest Judging

Man, talk about heavy-duty responsibility. I mean, people pay hard-earned bucks to enter contests, and they (rightly) expect insightful, constructive feedback…not to mention scores high enough to push them to the next round where their labor of love gets an audience with royalty, er, an editor or agent.

That’s why I strongly encourage anyone ENTERING contests to spend some time JUDGING them. Number one, you gain a sense of how good (or bad, but mostly good) the competition is, and how hard it is to stand out from the pack. Number two, you see how subjective the ratings game is. That’s why I AGONIZE over giving someone’s voice a 4 or a 5 because one measly point may stand in the way of her reaching the next rung. And when a writer’s “fate” hangs in the balance, dammit, you’d better think long and hard before making that decision!

Personally, I prefer judging contests that require the inclusion of a synopsis (although I hate entering them, ‘cuz mine always suck). I wanna know the author hasn’t blown her creative wad (so to speak) on the opening three chapters. Sadly, lots of writers enter contests without having finished the book, and guess what? Writing the first three chapters is probably the easiest writing any of us do. (Does?) I need to know there’s some THERE there…that the contest entry supports a fully fleshed out plot, theme and HEA (happily-ever-after). Trust me. Sometimes they don’t.

One caution: don’t go overboard. Too many fingers in the judging pot rob you of your own writing time. The contest I’m involved with right now has already cost me about six hours, and I’ve got another waiting in the wings and a third on its way.

It’s one thing to be a contest slut (definition: a writer who enters way too many contests); it’s another to be a judging slut. Let’s just say the rate of return diminishes more quickly with the latter.

Besides, being any kind of slut probably isn’t a good thing. Unless you’re Paris Hilton, of course. Then you can make a career out of it.



(Trap was sprung, but empty. Currently revising estimated size, and updating species (species?) from mouse to rat)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Welcome To My Morning

…and, all I can say is: Euw. Yuck. Gross.

No, wait. I can say more: Barf. Blecch. Vomit.

Okay, that’s better. Gettting closer.

So, here’s what happened: I walk into my office about 8 a.m. and…what, you may ask, draws my attention right off the bat?

Well, how about the pile of shredded paper on the floor next to my desk, for starters?

My gaze travels upward to the left-side drawer which, crammed full of crap, doesn’t close all the way, so there’s about a four inch opening. In one corner of the crap, right in front, is a hollowed-out hole.

Euw, euw, euw.

A mouse (a rat?) has been there!!

And either he’s been reading up on identity theft, or he’s makin’ a nest, ‘cuz that part of the desk looks like the Vegas Strip after New Year’s.

My first thought is to get one of the factory guys to come get the drawer and dump it. Better yet, burn it. Who needs decades worth of pay stubs and bank statements?

But, on further inspection, and with a sinking heart, I realize instant disposal ain’t the answer. For instance, staring at me from it’s gnawed off envelope, is the pink slip to one of my cars. Probably wouldn’t wanna throw that away.

Huge sigh. Nope. I’m gonna have to sift through every piece of Hanta virus-stained paper myself.

Bring on the plastic gloves.

An hour later, there are three stacks on my desk: 1) banks statements, tainted or not, to be placed in a box, 2) a zillion pay stubs for the shredder, and 3) interesting stuff to make decisions about. You know, like scores from the singles bowling league I belonged to circa 1990—hey, my average was 142!—not bad…birthday cards from Joe—did you really mean those things you said??

…and blah, blah, blah.

Have I mentioned that neither of my assistants showed up this morning, so when the phone rings, I have to whip off the gloves so as not to leave rat residue on the keypad??


So, little guy. I hate to break it to you, but your days (hours!!!) are so numbered. Do you see those little wood squares with metal springs sitting on my desk? How do you feel about peanut butter? Ya hungry? Huh?


Monday, January 23, 2006

Talk About Random

Here’s some useless info for ya.

On the way to work this morning, I got to ruminating (weird word, huh? sounds like some sort of disease) about a word I never use. Then I added two more, making (one plus two equals) three words I never use.

The first one is AWESOME. I hate that word. People should be arrested for overusing it. Let’s get one thing straight: the Grand Canyon is awesome. Brad Pitt’s butt is not.

The second is SUPER. Markets can be super, but your availability to meet me in front of the theater at seven thirty is not.

The third one is girlfriend. Girlfriends are nouns, not proper names, unless you happen to be Afro-American. White women should never address pals as girlfriend.

So, there ya have it. Something I needed to get off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Friday, January 20, 2006

New Year's Resolution Part Deux

So, like I promised yesterday, here’s my new exercise schedule (well, at least this is how it shook out this week)

Monday: Hour of Hi/low aerobics
Tuesday: 40 minutes on the treadmill at home
Wednesday: Hour of weight training and a mile on the treadmill
Thursday: Hour of step aerobics

Last night I left my office thinking, nuh-uh. No way. I have ZERO interest and/or energy for the gym tonight. Not going.


Then I thought about how proud of myself I’d be. (And, more importantly, how friggin’ boring the treadmill is, and how I’d have NO excuse for not getting on it when I got home.) So, off I went to the gym.

Okay, maybe I didn’t feel a rush of pride in the end, but I didn’t feel like a lazy slug, either.

Plus, I swear I didn’t imagine it this morning. That roll around my stomach is just the teeniest bit smaller.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

‘Tis That Time Of Year

Yep, time to trot out the ever-present goal to take off what I staunchly define as menopausal gainage. (See, that’s the problem with having a blog. I can pretty much click on any month in the archive and find a post about dieting and/or exercise. And the commitment to do both.)

Blogs suck sometimes.

Oh, well. So here we are again. THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT!!!!

This time, SCREW the diet experts.

FORGET counting carbs.

It’s so simple, really. And so mathematically clean. A pound equals 3500 calories. The average woman (and, trust me, I’m SO VERY average) who burns more than 500 calories than she consumes each day will lose a pound a week. To arrive at that 500 calorie deficit, you starve yourself and/or go through the torture routine at the gym.

Okay, so I GET all that, and here’s my plan:

I cut out breakfast.

How’s that for thumbing my nose at the experts? Everyone “KNOWS” breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Everyone “KNOWS” that when you go without eating, your metabolism slows down and gets all f’d up.

You “KNOW” what? I don’t care.

I’ve never liked eating first thing in the morning. Number one, because things like cereal and eggs don’t bear any resemblance to tortilla chips. Number two, because once I eat, I figure why not continue the pleasant experience ALL DAY LONG? And, number three, I hate knowing I’ve already wasted valuable calories on food I don’t even like.

Nope. I’m saving those stupid breakfast calories for dinnertime. A Diet Coke at 9 a.m. suits me just fine, thankyouverymuch.

For lunch, it’s still a Lean Cuisine…but, here’s a news flash: They have these new things called Pannini’s. Mmmmmmm….YUM! Just like a nice, hot, sandwich at Denny’s. A real score!

Dinner is where I get my treats. No matter what I have—salad, sandwich, whatever—I accompany it with those cool, new 100-calorie packages of Cheese-Its. There are others (potato chips, snack mix, etc.) but the Cheese-Its are my favorites. So what if you only get about 20 in a package? I NEED my salty snacks!! And, as the experts will tell you, any successful diet’s gotta have stuff you love.

So, there you have it: the food part of my dieting equation.

Tomorrow, I’ll reveal my exercise plan. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Forest And Those Damn Trees

Sometimes ya gotta take a step back, let time pass, and re-evaluate.

That’s what I did with Leftovers, my current WIP (Work-In-Process). Until last night, I hadn’t written a single new word since early December. Yikes.

You see, as an aspiring writer, sometimes a little information (well, a whole lot of information—namely, some new craft books and “systems” I studied) isn’t such a good thing. The more you learn, the more the doubts filter in. You start second-guessing yourself--asking questions like, “How do I skip past the mistakes I made in the last manuscript?” “How do I do it right this time so I don’t have to spend all those hours in revision hell?” In short, how do I write the perfect manuscript on the first pass?

Well, duh. You don’t. Or, at least, I don’t.

So, last night, for the first time in a long time, I re-read all 100 existing pages of Leftovers.

Guess what? I LOVED IT. I REALLY LOVED IT. (Sally Fields has nothing on me.) No, really. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

And, all those pesky little doubts I had about the plot and the annoying secondary characters? They’re groundless. Well, almost groundless anyway. Certainly the damn thing requires a lot less tweaking than I kept torturing myself with in December.

Now, I can’t wait to get back to writing. And finishing. And polishing.

And, of course, querying. Can’t wait to get this one ready-for-primetime.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sometimes the day job really gets in the way, yanno?

Today's the 12th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake and since I wasn't blogging this time last year, I was gonna write about my memories of that earth-shaking day (pardon the pun). At the time, I was seeing a guy (yes! I was actually dating someone!) who travelled back and forth between LA and Chicago. Naturally, he was in Chicago when it happened. Anyway, I wrote him a detailed letter that was more for my benefit than his, and I've kept it on my computer (in Symphony format!) all these years.

So, I was gonna extract from that and let y'all in on my own personal experience of 12 years ago, but...geez, I'd have to do all that re-typing.

Besides, wouldn't you rather hear about the REQUEST I got this morning??

(Waiting for the applause to die down.)

Yep, that's right. Probably thanks to some of you guys who commented on my query letter, I revamped and got a request. Geez...all those names I'm gonna have to add to the "thank you" page when it gets published. Ha.

So, you'll just have to fill in the blanks yourself on that earthquake story. Envision sparks in the night, the sound of shattering glass, and an unseen force knocking you to the ground--that pretty much sums up the initial thirty seconds. What's more interesting perhaps, are the lifelong changes that followed which seemed inconsequential at the time.

Hmm. Maybe more on that later. As soon as I can get the pesky day job to simmer down.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Google Glitch

I love Google (couldn’t live without it) but, um, guys? Gotta small problem to report.

See, like any other narcissist, I Google myself on occasion. Today I did it because last night my dad asked me how I “got my name in Google.” I related my understanding of how it works—how I didn’t do ANYTHING to get my name in Google. (Meanwhile, once again, I wondered if he’d discovered my blog.)

Anyway, so I type in my name and the usual stuff comes up. Some quotes in a couple of on-line articles…a contest final…yada, yada.

But, wait. Something new.

Something about a boy…a virgin…huh?? I click and…

It leads straight to an ad for porn.

Peachy. This is the kinda thing you really want to show up when you Google yourself.

Or your dad does.

My guess is that some enterprising tech geek has tapped into a bunch of us romance writers who have our blogs listed at romancingtheblog.

Lucky us.

Google, are you listening?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

In Case Y'all Don't Read The Comments...

Anonymous wrote: "I thought Nick's problems would be more psychological."

Sigh. See how hard it is to cram everything into a query letter? Yes, Nick's issues are psychological--they form his internal motivation and conflict. Without giving too much away here (cuz y'all will just have to buy the book, ha ha), Nick's desire to salvage his career is tied in with his internal desire to regain the self-respect he lost when he "let" his best friend/partner walk away with his company. This time, he vows, he's a solo act whose success or failure will be his and his alone. But then...blah, blah, blah, stuff happens...and he finds himself in a position where with Amy's help he's almost guaranteed the job; without her help he's almost gauranteed to lose it. Throw in the fact that his competition is the ex-partner, and he now faces a real dilemma. Does he let Amy help (in order to "beat" the ex-partner)? Or, does he stick to his guns and go it alone?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Query Letter Take Two

See, ya never know what you're gonna get when you post to your blog. Wait, strike that. I knew John would come through with comments 'cuz he always does. And Joe will tell me where I've gone wrong when I see him.

But what you don't know is that two of my critique partners read yesterday's blog entry and posted comments to our critique group board. They were very helpful as well.

Mercy pointed out that there's something missing. Namely, how the hero and heroine's problems weave together. Well, rest assured they do, but I thought that part was too cumbersome for the query letter. Now I'm convinced it's critical. And while explaining in my post to Mercy how the plot works, I (ding, ding, ding) got it straight in my own mind.

See, Amy's identity thief is the son of Nick's prospective boss. There's the intersection. In the end, if Amy gets what she wants (exposing the thief and reclaiming her life), then Nick loses what he wants (reclaiming his career). And vice versa--if Nick wins, Amy loses.

That's the part of the conflict that's missing in the query letter.

Next problem: Vicki claims the query's way too long. 'Course, Vicki's a MASTER at drilling down to the bare facts when all I wanna do is drone on and on and on, but still...I dunno. The agent I sent the query to offers a sample on her website and it wasn't the lean, mean, query machine you hear about. I've seen similar examples on other websites.

Still...it's true we writers keep getting hit over the head with statistics like: you have about three seconds to grab an agent's attention in an e-query...so, it IS best to be as brief and succinct as possible.


I guess it's called practice.

And perserverance. I'll just keep at it 'til I get it right.

Some day!

Monday, January 09, 2006

R-R-R-R-inging in the New Year

...with my first rejection of 2006. Yay me.

Before you start shedding tears, this was NOT the big one (also known as the longshot-full-requested-by-an-unnamed-publishing-house). No...that bad news is yet to come. I know. I know. Sending positive vibes to the stratosphere is probably a more productive strategy. I promise to start trying that.

Anyway, today's rejection was in response to my "new and improved" query letter for Stealing Amy. The agent who said ix-nay on this project requested the first chapter on the last one so I was hoping for a repeat performance, but naaaah.

I keep thinking Stealing Amy may be the bastard child in my repertoire of finished manuscripts. And then I think, but wait--won't that make a good story when it's the one that sells? Ha. (See? I CAN think positive...or, maybe fantasize is the more accurate word.)

Well, I hauled out (read: clicked on File Open) my chart of submissions, and guess what? Unless I forgot to record them all (which, with my disorganized nature is ENTIRELY possible) I've only queried FOUR agents for Amy. Now, that's just pathetic. Anyone will tell you the odds of getting a favorable result are pretty meager on just four submissions.

Hm. I smell a New Year's Resolution coming on.

In the meantime, since I'm feeling adventurous (not to mention mildly nauseous and dizzy from this weekend's tour of flu-ville) I thought I'd post, for your entertainment, the meat of the new query letter. See what you think.
Sometimes you have to lose something in order to appreciate its value.

Tell that to AMY HARRINGTON who can’t believe her pathetic life’s been hijacked by an identity thief. Not that she’s necessarily anxious to reclaim her sorry existence, but getting arrested for crimes she didn’t commit turns into a major inconvenience, so she adopts the thief’s name and follows her to Mexico.

Along the way, Amy meets architect NICK CAVENAUGH who’s got identity issues of his own. Seems some friend (some friend!) stole his company and his fiancee. Now Nick's headed for a swank Mexican resort to secure a lucrative contract to jumpstart his new firm, only his assistant misses the trip and absentminded Nick’s not so reliable on his own.

Far be it from Amy to jeopardize the man’s second chance at success, but when she discovers her quarry has moved on to the same swank resort--which she can’t (
ahem) currently afford--who can blame her for wangling a temporary job with the guy? So what if she doesn’t exactly come clean about her real name, who she’s after, or why she’s really in Mexico? What Nick doesn’t know can’t hurt him...can it?

In the end, when Nick succeeds in Stealing Amy’s heart, she learns that if you love someone—especially yourself--no one can steal what you’re not willing to give.

O-bla-di, O-bla-da and blah, blah, blah.

Okay, that last part (not the o-bla-di nonsense, but the paragraph before) needs some work. What I wanna say, without it becoming cumbersome, is: a) no one can steal who you are at the core, and b) that love is about giving away that core willingly.

Do I have any volunteers? First prize is a mention in the thank you's when it sells. Hahahahahahahaa.

(Go for it, John.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pass The Chicken Soup, Please

Oh, man. I’d forgotten what hell felt like until this weekend.

It started with a sore throat on Wednesday. Foolishly, I decided I must have scorched my throat with some overheated coffee. Then I started feeling a little achy but chalked it up to a tweaked back (which, somehow, I seem to aggravate every year around Christmastime—must be lugging all those packages around).

On Friday afternoon, I looked at the clock an hour before closing and knew I couldn’t possibly stay until five. Couldn’t quite put my finger on WHY exactly, just knew I had to get home and get a nap before meeting friends at the local watering hole.

Can you spell d-e-n-i-a-l??

Hey, hadn’t I faithfully taken that Airborne stuff every day of my trip to Vegas in order to ward off all those cooties floating through the airports and casinos? I couldn’t possibly be SICK, could I??

Then, I got home and took my temperature. 102 degrees. Shoot.

Now, you gotta remember, I’m a single, childless, woman. I’m lucky if I own a bottle of aspirin. So, I dug through the medicine cabinet, and found the aspirin and two lonely antibiotics (the expiration date for which I wasn’t feeling picky enough to check).

And, some Zicam. Ah, Zicam. I truly believe it’s the wonder drug.

Got on the phone, cancelled all my plans, and settled in for a night of chills, sweat, and unearthly moaning.

For entertainment (besides constant TV) I spent the long night debating the pros and cons of being sick and single. The cons are obvious: No TLC, no soup brought on a tray to my bed, and no back rubs. Oh, wait. All that stuff comes with having a mother, not a boyfriend. Not even the back rubs are a given. Trust me. I have experience. (Okay, Joe. I know you’re reading this, and I WILL give you credit for the TLC and meals, just not the back rubs.)

So, now the pros. And, yes...hard to believe, but there are some. Or, at least, I talked myself into it while under the influence of the 102 degree temperature.

First, you can moan and groan all you like without feeling silly or melodramatic. Try it. Turns out moaning and groaning actually make you feel better.

Second, you don’t have to eat soup if you don’t want. Nope—anything in the kitchen’s fair game (assuming you actually HAVE food in the kitchen). So, for example, around 2 a.m. I dragged myself downstairs for a popsickle and some pistachio nuts. Mmmm, perfect. Really hit the spot.

Third, you can look as bad as you feel. Come on, ladies, ‘fess up. Some of you sneak a brush through your hair and dab on some makeup even when you feel like hell. Well, not me. In fact, when I opened the door to the telephone repair guy Saturday morning, the look in his eyes confirmed it.

Fourth, you can watch whatever you want on TV. The Brady Bunch at 3:30 in the morning? Who’s gonna know?

Anyway, the fever finally broke around 2 in the afternoon on Saturday, and I started feeling reasonably human. Woozy, but human.

Maybe there’s something to that Airborne stuff after all.

Friday, January 06, 2006

One False Move

...that's all it takes to turn your computer from a loving, safe, environment to a hostile, living hell.

(Why, why, why did I let it use that strange program to play a CD this morning??)

Note: I started writing this post on Friday before the gugandu set in (see Sunday's post).

It all started so harmlessly. I'd googled an old friend and noticed she had a site for downloading some songs she recorded. Up popped a message asking if I'd like Musicmatch to play the download for me. How nice of you to ask, I thought. Thank you, and sure.

The download played and I went about my business for the day.

This morning, I inserted a disk into my CD-Rom drive and that Musicmatch bastard automatically began playing it. So far, so good.

But not for long.

Although the music played (geez, it wasn't even a GOOD CD--it was a mediocre Alanis Morrisette), everything else froze. Naturally, I hit 'control alt delete.'


I hit it again.

Nada again.

So, I hit the reset button. The computer restarted but, uh-oh, what's this??? Something about the registry being askew? But, wait. Windows assures me it's on the job fixing whatever needs to be fixed. I relax.

Only...when all was said and done, nothing about my computer was the same. New wallpaper, new icon size, new color scheme--it wasn't home. Worse, my email accounts were gone, my printer stuff was gone, and...oh, no...my Instant Messenger--GONE!!

My on-site guru quickly figured out that my computer had reverted to using some ancient version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (who knew it was so interconnected to stuff you'd never dream of?--oh, yeah--that's what the brouhaha was about several years ago). Anyway, luckily for me, with some tweaking, guru got it back and set everything right.

I think.

Lesson here: go with your instincts. Until yesterday, I'd always said "NO" to that Musicmatch thingy, always opting to go with the CD player in my accessories. I don't know whether it's a legit program or not, but MY computer didn't like it.

Maybe yours won't either.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Year's P.S.

How could I have forgotten Funniest Gambling Moment?? Well, thanks to Marty who reminded me, here it is:

There's a new table version of Texas Hold 'Em where you play against the dealer instead of each other. For those of you who haven't caught a regular Poker Tournament on TV--by the way, where the hell ya been?--you make your hand by using the 5 best cards of the two you're dealt plus the 5 "communal" cards lying face up on the board.

So, there's Ann, in her inimitable way, as the dealer swipes Ann's money off the table: "Excuuuuuse me. EXCUUUUUUSE ME. I have three pairs here. Pay me!"

Right, Ann. And that two-card straight you had was a real winner, too.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year's 2005

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

First clue: blackjack dealers at the Rio dressed like Victoria Secret Models complete with bikini tops and butt floss (I’m SO not kidding).

Ah, Viva Las Vegas! The skin capital of the world! Where jackets are superfluous ‘cuz they keep the temperature hot, hot, hot in order to show more skin, skin, skin!

I confess my initial reluctance at spending New Year’s in a town that draws 300,000 people for the holiday, but guess what? I’d do it all again and probably will.

Here’s a glimpse of why:

Welcome to Las Vegas Moment: Cathi wins $60 at the airport before we even collect our luggage

Best Feature of Hotel Room: An entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows with an incredible view of the mountains

Other Best Feature of Hotel Room: Unbelievably comfortable beds with the softest sheets imaginable

Was-I-In-The-Right-Place-At-The-Right-Time-Or-What Moment: Getting pulled out of line (as I’m waiting to meet Dodi and Cathi at the Voodoo Lounge) by a Diamond Status member who whisks me to the front saying, “you shouldn’t be standing in line alone” then getting to forego the $20 cover when his status gets us in free

Magical Moment: Standing on the terrace of the Voodoo Lounge overlooking the glittering Strip from 51 floors up and realizing it might be worth trying to find a guy to share this with in the future

Most Expensive Meal: Ann’s $72 lobster at The Palm, New Year’s Eve.

Least Expensive Meal: The patty melt Ann and I shared after watching a report on CNN about how the portion sizes of American meals have increased 60% since the 60’s leading to our country’s obesity crisis

Favorite Overheard Quote on New Year’s Eve: “He wasn’t good looking, but did I kiss him, or what?

Favorite Celebrity Sighting: Nicki Hilton, hosting a $200 per ticket party at Caesar’s nightclub Pure, turning her back on the crowd to count down the New Year with us, the poor schleps standing below her, just outside the casino door

Most Millenium-like Moment: Watching in awe as hotels along the strip put on a synchronized fireworks extravaganza

Most Touching Moment: Tears streaming down Dodi’s face during the fireworks

Pop Culture Moment: Noticing everyone on their cell phones calling loved ones shortly after midnight

Harrowing Moment: Finding ourselves in the middle of the melee on the Strip, trying to make our way to transportation

Exhilarating Moment: Finding ourselves in the middle of the melee on the Strip, trying to make our way to transportation amidst thousands of jubilant people

Gleeful Moment: When (after slogging along for a mile in 3-inch heels, trying to reach streets open to traffic) Ann solicits a stranger in a civilian car to take us back to the Rio for $30. (Thanks, Ivan—we’re indebted to you forever!)

Frustrating Moment: The two hours Cathi and Dodi spent waiting for a taxi back at Caesar’s

Favorite Gambling Moment: Sandy’s $500 jackpot at Wheel of Fortune

Most Intrusive Reminder of the Outside World: Bomb sniffing dogs checking each and every car that arrived at the Wynn

Most Memorable New Word: “Cocktress!”

Final Stroke Of Good Luck Not Having To Do With Wagering Money: Hearing my name called on the stand-by list for the 2:00 flight, then learning later that my 3:30 flight got delayed until 7 p.m.!

Final Stroke of Good Luck Having To Do With Wagering Money: Getting home and realizing that all in all, considering $100 meals, $20 breakfasts, $10 cocktails, $20 cabs, $30 airport parking, and gambling for four days, I'm only out $300

Woo Frickin’ Hoo and Happy New Year!

New Year's

Hey, you know what they say:

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Ha. Kidding.

Only, I'll need some time to write it all up. In case you can't wait though, the Rio came through with my room, so I wasn't shunted off to hinterlands like an annoying relative.