Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Full Speed Ahead...Splat

So, last night, I really got on a roll again with Leftovers. For you newbies, that's my current WIP--work-in-progress. I wrote a couple pages, retired to the bathtub (where my Muse--whoever/whatever he/she is seems to reside) and realized...whoa....I could wrap this baby up in two scenes. TWO.

You may wonder how come I hadn't figured this out already.

Well...I guess because I was thinking in terms of loose ends. In my mind, I had about five loose ends to tie up--five story threads to knit or weave (whichever sewing reference you prefer) together. But then it dawned on me (ever vigilant where writing less to gain more is concerned) that I could really combine that stuff...into TWO SCENES.

Man...I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

B-b-b-but....tomorrow NaNoWriMo starts. Not that I'm a stickler for rules--after all, this whole NaNo shenanigan thing is nothing but an artificial boundary we set for ourselves--but you're supposed to write something new...and besides, I'm not sure I wanna apply the NaNo state-of-mind kinda writing to the finale of Leftovers.

So...sigh...we'll see what happens. My idea for the NaNo project is ephemeral at best. It would take a real miracle (and getting that Muse entity out of the bathtub) to approach anything nearing success. Still....it could happen.

Naturally, I'll be letting y'all know how it works out.

In the meantime, geez...I've gotten myself bogged down in yet another pop culture phenomenon. Seems I need to have a presence on myspace.com with all the youngsters. I don't even know the real URL for it but if you click here, you'll see what I'm talkin' about.

NaNo Nano for now.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Random Halloween Pix--Brought to You by "White Trash"

Me and random guy at bar--I looked much thinner in person. No, really.

And a good time was had by all....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Stealing Amy Teaser!

Oops...bare with me...this thing is probably gonna screw up the whole sidebar until I post enough to move it down the page....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Magical Mayhem!

Over on the Triskelion loops, there's a scavenger hunt going on and my blog is one of the stops contestants have to visit in order to pick up an item.

So..............WAVING TO ALL YOU TRISK READERS...........Scroll down and click on Randy's Blurbs to find your answer!

25 Other Letters--Pick One

Years ago, back in another lifetime, I worked for the company that syndicated The Richard Simmons Show (yes, darlings--it was my big brush with, er, "celebrity").

Anyway, I handled the 10 million dollars worth of advertising placed with us, and we retained 2-1/2 minutes of of commercial time, so that meant placing 5 spots somewhere in the show each day, five days a week, for the period of the buy which was 3 months. Simple, right? Except our biggest account was General Foods, and their contract stipulated a specific requirement: no bumping up next to other ads that would make the consumer go, "euw"...

In other words, no scheduling our Preparation H commercials to lead into Cheerios.

Which got me to thinking yesterday...here in California we have something on the ballot called Propostion H. Now, without even knowing what it's about, I'm not sure I can vote for something called Proposition H. I mean, couldn't they have picked another letter? Every time an ad comes on for it, I start laughing and I miss what the issue is.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Me and My Aching Back

It was first grade and I was about to bring home my first report card.

"I'll give you a dollar for every 'A'," my dad told me.

Not that I even had a clue about money in those days (er, still don't) but I figured this sounded like a pretty good deal. Only, when I brought home straight A's, guess what? He reneged. I think I'm gonna have to call him up and ask him about that today.

Anyway, I exaggerate. Not quite all A's. One A MINUS...in, of all things, posture. (The minuses in cleanliness--messy desk!--came later.) But I remember thinking, huh? Geez, if the teacher singled out that one area for markdown, I must've been slouching off to Bethlehem, all right. (Obscure reference to Joan Didion there.) As a result, I overcompensated--I trained myself to sit up so straight I think I incurred permanent damage.

Flash forward to the computer years. The hours and hours spent sitting at a desk hovered over a keyboard. My newest obsessions (making book trailers and--shhhhh--creating a website) have left me practically crippled. All because I sit up too straight (damn first grade teacher!). Literally, when I get up in the morning, I am unable to slump. If I could only snap my lower backbone in two, it seems, all would be good.

Either that, or I need to give up this new addiction to the web. Man, I mean, did you ever stop to think about how many fonts exist in the world? Who knew that there are people out there whose sole purpose in life is to sit around creating new ones. And that they were available for me to download for free! 'Course first I had to learn how to unzip 'em...then I had to discover that you can't just throw them up on the web 'cuz not everyone'll have 'em on their computer (resulting in my cool script turning into some boring default)...then I had to learn to make 'em more interesting by painting a picture behind 'em and turning the whole thing into an image by saving it as a jpeg.

Oh, and did I mention, I'm not good with color??

Yeah, so multiply by ten, the times it takes me to come up with anything decent.

This isn't the final result, but...I'm getting there.

That is, unless, my back gives out entirely.

And, yes...upon further review, I screwed the bars up toward the right-hand side! Back to the drawing, er, painting board....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Nano Nano

I started writing this post about a week ago, saved it under drafts, and am just getting back to it. Goes to show ya--there's a whole lot more to writing than...er...writing. Well, and then there's the dreaded day job. Don't get me started on that....

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Nano Nano.

I suppose I wrote roughly the same blog this time last year. To Nano or not to Nano. Ah, that is the question.

NaNoWriMo...National Novel Writing Month...starts November 1st and goes...(appropriately)...for thirty days. . Longtime blog readers will remember that an L.A.. Times article on NaNoWriMo sent me down the writing path in the first place.

Briefly, it's a month where writers all over the world commit to "writing a 50,000-word novel" in thirty days. Take it from me, to do this, ya gotta turn off the "internal editor" and spew, spew, spew. In fact, the guy who started the whole deal has a motto: No plot? No problem.

The first year I "signed up" (it's all just a formality--there aren't any rules; you don't win a prize) I did it--I wrote 50,000 words in thirty days. In fact, I did it in less 'cuz I went to Puerto Vallarta at the beginning of week four. Since I started writing for real, the same production takes about six months. Euw. This is progress? Okay, granted...what I churn out in six months is (hopefully) better crafted than what I achieved in thirty days...still...there's something to be said for taking a month off...to just write.

So, should I? Or, shouldn't I?

There's an idea brewing in my head for a new story. I'm thinking of putting it on the NaNo burner.

Stay tuned for decisions...and to see what I spent the whole weekend working on. (Doncha love a secret?)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Video Games

Hey, you parents out there--yeah, you--the ones who don't let their kids play video games. Listen up! I heard about a study that says they might not be so bad after all. Of course I didn't listen to the ENTIRE story--after all, I don't have kids so what do I care? (Kidding--I care about the planet, blah blah blah.)

Anyway, like I say, I quickly tuned out and started reminiscing about the time I fell in love with Super Mario Brothers. Oh. My. God. I was addicted (which, come to think of it, may be a precursor to my falling in love with video slots, but I digress).

For those of you not familiar (and, geez, where were YOU in the 80's?) Mario Brothers came with Ninentdo and involved this little guy you had to maneuver through four worlds (each consisting of four levels) to save the princess. Co-worker John's son Jeremiah (who was young at the time--now HE'S a co-worker) introduced me to it. After thirty minutes, I HAD TO HAVE THIS GAME, so I ran out and got my own.

Here's what I learned...pretty much in the order I learned it.

1. Hand/eye coordination. Duh, that one's self-explanatory.

2. Daunting tasks can be broken down into smaller, doable components.

See, it took me forever to get past the first level of the first world. But once I mastered it, I began to feel more confident in my skills and realized I had to look at the game piece by piece.

3. Seemingly impossible tasks can be mastered with practice.

See, each time I got to a new level (with its associated rise in required skill), I thought: "Man, I'll NEVER be able to do this." Well, endless hours later, I always graduated to the next level.

4. Think outside the box.

See, in the first level, you learn that by jumping high and hitting stuff, you release hidden coins that do something (I forget what). So, naturally, I fell into a pattern of jumping high and hitting coins. Then, for example, one day I looked at the screen and realized just because the brick wall framed the picture, didn't mean I couldn't send my guy up there. Sure enough, I jumped really, really, high and was able to run across the entire level, avoiding all the obstacles.

5. It's the journey, not the destination.

When I finally saved the princess, it was kind of a letdown. I never played again.

Still...look how much I learned about life. Definitely worth staying up to the wee small hours. Definitely worth the muscle relaxants I had to take to ease the ache in my back from sitting hunched over and my thumbs from staying frozen to the console for too long.

So, folks. Don't come down too hard on your kids for playing video games. Unless they have titles like Megadeath or Debby Does Duluth. Although come to think of it, there's probably plenty to learn from that second one, too.....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Suckiest Part About Revisions

Revisions via your editor come in many forms. Anything from "make your heroine more sympathetic in this scene" down to "vary the sentence structure in paragraph two on page 119." In the two passes thus far between my editor and me, the changes have been mostly grammatical and minor.

But see, here's the thing.

I'm down to the stuff that makes me tear my hair out because...well, the truth is...there's a reason, what's left has problems because if it were easy to write, I'd have done it correctly the first time.

I mean, we're talking cases in which it's only one sentence--sometimes one word--where there's an issuse. Yet I can spend an hour trying to fix it with no luck.

I don't know what it is...am I being too anal? Am I looking at the trees instead of the forest? Shouldn't this be the easy part?

One hour. One word.

You do the math.

Meanwhile, Leftovers sits in limbo...and so much for that vow I made here to have it finished by mid-October.

Grrrrr. I really need to brush up on my multi-tasking. Or editing.

Or both.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Here's a good article

Click here to see why I'm not that unusual (right after you click on what I did yesterday).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Look What I Did Today!

Okay, so it's a work-in-progress...and probably illegal as hell. Still, it's pretty cool.

Turn up your speakers and check it out by clicking here.

(Ain't technology grand? Thank you, google-guys!)

Friday, October 13, 2006

365 Days

...a.k.a. ONE YEAR. As of TODAY.

That's how long ago I sent the requested full of Fit For Love to a New York publisher. Regular blog readers will remember the senior editor recalled it as "currently under consideration" back at RWA National in late July.

Not that I'm holding my breath, mind you, but no day has passed without the same thought blipping on my radar: "maybe today will be the day."

Eventually, I added the tag line: "yay or nay. Something. Please."

First-time writers have to be taught the concept of starting a new book while jumping through the hoops to sell the first one. Well, I did...and...I did. Wrote and sold, albeit to an epublisher. Now I'm finishing my third. See the way this works?

And you thought waiting for the next installment of the Sopranos was hard....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

;) ;) ;)

...that's three more winks, in case anyone's keeping track.

Oh, I know my blog title is "Randy Writes Romance" and, strictly speaking, we're s'posed to be talkin' romance writing here, but...well...the search for romance kinda applies, doesn't it?

So, as you might have figured out, I got three more nibbles at that line I threw out on match.com. At least this time all three are in California. One is actually good looking. The other two, not bad. One appears to be very sweet, but a tad on the old side for me and...well...he says he's a social drinker but has never been drunk in his life! (Okay, Blogreader John, I'm sure that probably applies to you, too--no comments necessary!) But isn't the point of this to be as honest and realistic as possible? So, ixnay on the ocialsay inkerdray.

And you know what? Ditto for the other two. Cuz here's the deal: All three say they're nonsmokers but they'll accept someone who smokes occasionally or is trying to quit.

Uh-uh. Been there, done that. The guy says it's okay at the beginning, then he turns into Simon Legree around date four. Don't get me started.

So what, you may ask, are the qualities I might wink back at?

Ha. I'll let you know when I see 'em.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ann Flips the Lid on Pandora's Box

It's Saturday night. I'm doing what any self-respecting single woman does on Saturday night--in other words, I'm on the computer. The phone rings. It's Anna Margarita de la Cruz.

"I just came from a wedding next door," she gushes. "The bride and groom met on Match.com four months ago. You gotta do it."

(Indistinguishable comments in the background from Senor de la Cruz result in an argument. They're not making Match.com look like a fruitful endeavor.)

But I hang up and think, what the hell? I could use a diversion from editing. So I click on over.

(Oh, sure. Let ME be your ginea pig.)

First, I browse. For you long-time blog readers, you may remember a similar experince months ago on the Yahoo personals. I quickly insert the smoking filter (yeah, yeah--I know) to whittle down the possibilities. Ha, the field goes from five pages of guys to four guys total, two with pictures, two without. It scares me to think what the two non-pictured might look like since the two sporting photos are scary enough.

These candidates quickly bore me so I decide to play with the profile questionnaire. Twenty minutes later, I've answered all the stupid questions and...I dunno...I guess because I CAN, I upload my own image.

Then it asks for money. Well, of course, I knew such a stellar service wouldn't be free, but somehow I hadn't expected to get this far. I peruse the three payment options, lose interest, and point my browser homeward.

So much for match.com.

A couple days go by. I get to thinking (dangerous, to be sure). It occurs to me that I've established a username, a password, a profile--hell, I've even uploaded photos--all under an email account I barely use.

I start to get a little nervous as I surf on over to the account.

Uh-oh. Three men have winked at me. Which is kinda concerning because I really didn't fill out that questionnaire as though someone would actually read it.

Turns out that although I can't contact match.com members, they can contact me, then I can look up their profile.

First wink lives on Whidbey Island, Washington. Seems like a nice enough guy--and who wouldn't love to visit Whidbey Island--but, um, kinda geographically undesirable, doncha think?

Second wink lives in New Zealand. Double ditto.

Third wink lives twenty minutes away but forgot to pay attention to my profile. Under smoking he put: NO WAY. He shoulda added Jose.

Now, along with these wink notifications, match.com kindly advises that it's polite to respond, even if you're not interested. Uh, no...not fallin' for it. I'm not starting up a dialogue with strangers who live frequent flyer miles away.

Still...my profile's up there...it'd be a shame to waste all that time I spent creating it...let's see what kinda fish the net drags in over the next couple of weeks, shall we?

Saturday, October 07, 2006


First, the bad news. Not ONE celebrity saw fit to dine at Nobu Malibu last night. Well, except for yours truly, of course. (Y’know, the famous romance novelist.) I did see several social X-rays though (hat’s off to Tom Wolfe for the label). Wish I could have seen what they ordered. Or didn’t.

So, back to me and Blogreader Joe. Talk about a couple of rookies. During the week, we’d both perused the on-line menu (studying up, as it were) and we both had a hankering for the salmon. Only one problem. No salmon on the real, in-person menu. Chilean sea bass, yes. Salmon, no. Guess we were looking at the menu of Chef Nobu Matsushita’s sister restaurants.

When the waiter asked if we had questions, Joe said: “If I were a salmon, where would I be?”

“You’d be sashimi, sushi, or the artic char.”

Huh? I checked my menu. Sure enough, something called artic char−not to be confused with ARCTIC char (as I kept pointing out to Blogreader Joe.) Well, I just googled it and, apparently, the typo’s on them ‘cuz google gave me one of those “DID YOU MEAN ARCTIC CHAR?” comments. Anyway, arctic char is some relation to the salmon family and that was close enough for me. Blogreader Joe inquired about the whole fish and when told it was snapper figured that was good enough for him.

Meanwhile, we munched on endemame and thank God I knew enough not to pop the whole pod in my mouth−and this is pretty much where my Japanese food-eating hipness ended…because, minutes later a plate arrived looking much like a salad. Except we hadn’t ordered a salad; we’d ordered yellow-tail sushi. Okay, maybe the sushi comes after salad, we thought.

Now, I’m no food critic−and I’m even less a cook−so please forgive me for the lame descriptions I’m about to impart. But, Oh. My. God. Whatever this green stuff was−um−I hadn’t tasted anything like it before. I saw Blogreader Joe digging around beneath it, unearthing what I naively presumed was some sort of garlic bread (uh, HELLO−we’re in a Japanese restaurant!) and what did he discover? My salmon. We’re eating my entrée, not a salad.

Ah. Guess that’s what they meant by ‘family style dining.’ Anyway, now my memory kicked in−the salmon was served on a bed of pan-fried crispy spinach (eek! E.coli!) but that description doesn’t begin to do it justice. What can I say? You’ll just have to go there and try it yourself.

Next the whole fish arrived. (Where’s that sushi?) Now, Blogreader Joe LOVES whole fish−y’know, head and all−and usually they arrive as big ol’ ugly things lying limp on a plate…or even a platter. Not this one. First, it was relatively small−maybe 9” in length−and it was all primped and posed kinda like in mid-flip. Blogreader Joe had warned me he was hungry so I knew right away I wouldn’t be getting much of HIS entrée. I contented myself with stealing all the vegetables surrounding it and man, where they good. Again. I know. Lame. I need my friend Andi, the caterer, to go there, taste the food, and tell me what the spices are.

About ten minutes later, the only thing on Blogreader Joe’s plate was a very sad-looking skeleton. I was dying to take a picture of it, but good manners kept the camera in my purse.

That’s when the sushi arrived. Turns out the Japanese eat it last−after the hot stuff. Who knew?

We wrapped things up with caramel cheesecake. Again. Oh. My. God. Cheesecake with a thick layer of caramel on top. What could be better than that???

So it’s back to the Jenny Craig menu today…and not an artic char or caramel cheesecake in sight.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Please don't tell the paparazzi I'll be at Nobu tonight. You KNOW I detest all those flashbulbs going off when I leave a restaurant. I'm sure Jen and Jude felt the same way when these pix were shot (on separate occasions, folks--don't wanna start any rumors!)

(Yes. I ripped these right off the old Internet And, yes--in case you didn't get it--Blogreader Joe is taking me to Nobu for my birthday dinner! Cross your fingers for celebrity sightings!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ounce by Ounce

Ever notice how wearing something new kinda puts a spring in your step? Even though you know the same dress will seem like just another rag in the closet a year from now?

Today I'm all springy because that recent spree for cleavage-free wedding attire resulted in a net gain of three frocks for the office. Since y'all know how much I detest sojourns to the mall for ANY reason (apparently, when they were handing out the shopping gene, I was off picking up the one for gambling), I was quite pleased with the treasure trove I came home with.

And, judging by the comments, it appears my co-workers were tired of seeing the same old same old, for they fell all over themselves with compliments.

Then, I realized (somewhat triumphantly). It’s not the new dresses; it’s the weight loss!

Okay, so I had to kinda help them along with this notion, but they’re learning. One guy even called me ‘skinny’ today! (Yes, it’s true I sign his paycheck, but I’ve been doing so for nearly six years, so I’m pretty sure that’s not it.)

The fact is…although I’ve kept pretty mum about it, Jenny Craig and I have been going steady now since late July. Yes, even with all the little sidetrips, the birthday bashes, and weddings (TWO, count ‘em TWO pieces of cake on Sunday!), I’ve continue to whittle away at the goal. (Actually, I HAVE no real goal in mind, but that’s another issue.)

And for the first time in three years, I sense a bit of the old me returning. Well, actually, a bit LESS of the old me.

For those of you who’ve never had to diet (I hate you, please go away) it must be hard to imagine what a little success will do for your motivation. Especially after going through weeks and weeks with only a couple pounds to show for your efforts. A couple pounds doesn’t get you into a different section of your closet. A couple pounds doesn’t get you into a different size at the mall—all it gets you is frustrated with how long the process takes.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a baby boomer--for me, the concept of delayed gratification went bye-bye with the advent of mass consumerism. I want it all, and I want it now.

But like I’ve said before: life, like writing, is all about baby steps.

Which translate to ounces…which translate to pounds….

Ah, yes. Life is good today!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Triskelion Contest Question

Okay, you non-Triskelion readers/authors--move along, today. There's nothing here for you. :) But, come back tomorrow. I'll rustle up something special for y'all then. Promise.

In the meantime...anyone visiting from the Inspired Sunset Event on Triskelion, please drop your answer in the comment section to qualify for the silver bracelet pictured in the sidebar.

* * * * What kind of food is Amy always in the mood for? * * * * *

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Showtime on the Net

Tomorrow's my first foray into the wild world of promotion. (Yeah, I know. Turns out writing the book is only the prologue--if you will--to publishing. Geesh.).

So far, I'm not the poster child for this stuff.

First, you join about a million on-line loops (readers groups, writers groups, review sites, etc.). Then, er, you're supposed to jump in and start participating...make friends...get your name out there...establish a presence. Only, it's a bit like walking into a new school on the first day--everyone's an upperclassperson, everyone knows their way around, and you (okay, I) feel like an idiot.

Sure, your fellow "students" are nice. Yes, they welcome you with open arms. And, most are willing to share their lunch...


It's hard being the new kid on the block.


At 53.

Or, maybe there's just a whole lot of truth in the old axiom about teaching an old dog new tricks.

Speaking of which, I learned one today in preparing for the on-line soiree tomorrow. Among other things, I'll be posting excerpts from Stealing Amy. So tonight I scouted my manuscript for two-page scenes that a) represent the plot, b) show off the characterization, c) start with a hook, d) end with a hook, and e) entertain.

Turns out, this is not as easy as it seems!

Which got me to thinking…what if I wrote every scene as though it were destined to show up somewhere as a teaser? What if I put every scene to the “a through e” test as I was writing it?

Yep, that's why the writing biz learning curve is....er...exactly, what shape would that be? Steep? Long? Flat?

This is why I'm a writer, not an engineer.