Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Plus Ca Change...Plus C'est Le Meme Chose...?

The more things change, the more they stay the same? Nuh-uhhhhh!

On Sunday, I dropped in on a Travel Expo and wandered by the Club Med booth. Standing there were two young boys (by young, I mean young-as in early twenties). No doubt they'd heard stories from their parents about the vacation spot known as "the antidote for civilization."

Sadly (sniff, sniff) I overheard the travel agent correct their misperceptions. Club Med is NO LONGER the place for singles. Nope. From what I gather, it answered the call of the aging boomers and ruined everything.

Okay, in case you've never been, let me paint a picture of my first visit. (This is back in 1981 when I was, er, about 28.) I shopped for DAYS prior to the trip, envisioning myself as one of those Vogue models with the Jackie O glasses and the casually chic clothes. After all, this was my first ADULT vacation (y'know, minus the parental units) and I was preparing to attract MEN.

Imagine my dismay when I arrived clad in tailored, belted, walking shorts with matching top, high-heeled sandals, and a floppy straw hat, to find a bunch of half-naked Club Med employees greeting us with some kinda welcome routine that bordered on childish. What had I stumbled into...a camp for overgrown adolescents?

And what was this...? You expect me to carry my own luggage...where? How far?

Cutting to the chase, within days, I was a convert. During the following week, I never once wore shoes. In fact, I hardly wore anything but a bathing suit.

It was all about experiencing the antithesis of real life.

No locks on the doors. No TV's or radio's in the rooms. No newspapers. No telephones. No MONEY, for God sakes! (You stashed your money in the central office at the beginning of your stay, then purchased plastic snap beads to use for buying drinks and other assorted amenities.)

Flash forward to 2007. Plasma screen TV's. CD players. Wireless Internet access.

I tell ya. It's enough to break your heart.

Monday, January 29, 2007

More On Writing (Yawn)

One of my good friends recently confessed she sort of gave up reading my blog when I started talking a lot about writing. (Shrug) I try to mix it up--and I try to make the writing parts interesting to non-writers, but...well, you can't please everyone, yada, yada. Judging by how often my best friends don't have a clue what I've been up to, I guess I'm succeeding more with the writer-readers, than the others. Again, shrug.

Having said that, guess what today's topic is? Yeah, writing (so, move along, friends).

It's been awhile since I judged a contest. Last year some time, I guess. So I've got five entries in the Single Title category (okay, friends...just go with me, here) and I'm struck with how things have changed. Used to be, you pretty much got traditional romance in these submissions. With a touch of suspense, comedy, and/or drama thrown in. This time around, only two of the five can be described that way; the others are paranormal...y'know, with werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, and the rest of your average non-human types.

So when did these books stop having their own category? (okay, I know, I know--some contests still DO make paranormal a separate category, but not this one). Have otherworldly stories really overtaken traditional romance?

I had to put on my best non-judgmental judge's hat for this which, as you might guess, isn't easy. I mean, I don't normally read the stuff so, for example, in answer to the question does the author use a unique twist in her story, I had to be careful, because...hell, yeah. Unique to me! But is it unique to paranormal? Maybe not.

I avoided showing favoritism to the traditional entries--and at the same time refrained from judging them to a higher standard. After all, a story is a story is a story. I concentrated on the qualities shared by good writing, no matter the sub-genre.

Besides, in the end, no matter what, you know in your gut when you're reading a winner. In the case of this particular set of contest entries, I read maybe one that I deemed publishable. Not that the rest weren't well-written, and full of good characterization and well-constructed scenes, still...they just didn't grab me, y'know?

Which takes me back to my own current personal task: editing Leftovers. How do I think it stacks up against the contest entries I'm judging?

Definitely a winner.

But then I'm a little impartial.

Friday, January 26, 2007

About That Recap....

I remember when we used to talk about men and sex...instead of droopy eyelids.

I remember when we used to talk about potential jobs...instead of retirement.

I remember when we used to talk about weddings...instead of funerals.

But some things never change. We still laugh and giggle about our shortcomings. We still stay up all night and wonder how four empty champagne bottles got into the trash can.

We still hug each other when we part.

Here are a few pictures and a little commentary from last weekend.

See what I mean? This is what happens
when three old ladies get together. They
compare ugly feet. (BTW, mine is the best looking one.)

Here's Nancy and Kathleen suffering the effects of muy de alcohol...but, hey...it's a good kinda suffering.

Next up is my cool present from Nancy
BIRTHDAY!!) And yes, I'm not fond of the
way my face looks in this picture. That's what
computer editing utilities are for.

This is a pic of the harbor where we ate lunch on Saturday after the Fourth Mouseketeer (Juli) joined us. And this is the neat little owl guy we saw (isn't he supposed to be sleeping, or something?)

Next we went hotel hopping--my FAVE thing to do. First stop: The Montage, a 5-star resort in Laguna Beach. Okay, I have to admit the place is gorgeous, but $17 chardonnay? Not so much. AND, I could have done without all the strategically placed "suits with earpieces." You just KNEW that any minute, one of 'em was gonna come up and say: "Excuse me. Unless you can provide satisfactory tax returns for the past ten years, we're going to have to ask you to leave." In other words, not so friendly.

The St. Regis, on the other hand, is equally beautiful, equally 5-star (although a bit further from the ocean), but...well...shall we say, friendlier? And with exquisite artwork, to boot.

Okay, this is getting tedious. You folks have NO IDEA how difficult it is to get these damn pictures, words, and videos to settle into their proper place. Anyway, I took this video to record the music. We were back at "our bar" at the Laguna Cliffs, and the performer's name is Kevin Danzig. I don't know if it was the atmosphere, the cocktails, or WHAT, but I bought THREE of his CD's. And I told him I was putting this on Youtube, and he gave me permission, so I'm not ripping him off or anything. Hopefully, I'll come up with a gig for him chez Randy, 'cuz I truly enjoyed his music.

I'd post more here, but, well...gotta get to the day job work. Thought I'd leave you with one last pic, though...and this is what happens when the ladies start the cocktail hour early on a Sunday. I'm tellin' ya...I've always looked best in black and white.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


You know that old saying: There's no such thing as BAD publicity? Well, let's hope it's true, 'kay?

'Cuz if you wander over to Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels and scroll down to Monday, guess what you'll find? Right. Stealing Amy's cover.

Hey, I laugh out loud at the spot-on snark and no-holds-barred reviews on this site...only...um...I never thought I'd find myself on the receiving end of 'em.

Okay, so it's just my cover. But I kinda LIKED my cover. More importantly, my PARENTS liked my cover. So WHAT if they kinda confused the model with me (ooh, her nails are nice and her hair's a pretty shade of blonde!). So WHAT if guys on Myspace draw the same conclusion and hit on me?

It's all good.

Isn't it?

Monday, January 22, 2007


L to R: Nancy, Randy, Juli, Kathleen

Which is kinda like GNO (girls' night out) except it happens over a weekend. Hell, all my weekends are GWO's. Ha.

Anyway, here's a sneak peek of "the girls" at play. I'll post more pictures and a narrative when I get some extra time...or new brain cells...whichever happens first.

Suffice to say: Oh. My. God. We had SUCH a blast. Although I believe I noticed the genesis of a new phrase: What happens with the girls stays...off Randy's blog.

Tsk. Some people are NO fun at all.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Happy Holidays

Those are supposed to be Christmas lights. Why Christmas lights? Hey, thanks for asking.

Well, this weekend is the annual girls-get-together-to-celebrate-Christmas-and-birthdays weekend. In fact, I've been told we're specifically celebrating MY birthday. Yes, y'all may remember that happened in September, but...well...sometimes it's hard to get four girls together in a timely fashion, y'know? And so what if Kathleen's came after mine? So what if Juli's is closest (next month) and Nancy's right after that?

This weekend, it's all about me.

Or, at least, that's what I'll be telling myself.

Nancy got the ball rolling. She reserved something for us at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott...I can only imagine how beautiful it's gonna be. (Not to mention cold--hey, it snowed in Malibu this week so building snowmen in Laguna Beach ain't out of the question.) Our first plan of attack is drinks at the Montage (go on--take a peek at the picture on their web site--unbelievable!) I figure after incurring the national debt for a glass of wine, we'll move on to cheaper joints. In fact, Kath suggested (only half-jokingly) we eat at Mickey D's...to which Nancy (where have you BEEN, girl?) innocently asked, "Oh? Where's that?"

Suffice to say, we won't be eating under the golden arches.

Anyway, so the blog'll be dark for a couple days while I temporarily live the life of the rich and famous. Stay tuned for pictures!

P.S. Okay, I came back to post a picture in case you're too lazy to click...this is the Montage (sigh). I just wanna move in (totally possible since there are "residences at Montage"...but something tells me I need more than my current bank balance...and none of the Yahoo Winkers--hmm...appropriately named, eh?--are gonna be able to foot the bill.........)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Something Cool To Try--Do Any Of These People Really Look Like Me...?



So after typing THE END the other night, I thought about my next plan of attack. Most authors like to set a manuscript aside for awhile before they start revising. Me? I'm eager to dive in, but alas, I see the wisdom in waiting...so what, I asked myself, should I work on in the meantime?

Go back to the nameless NaNo project?

Advertise my Stealing Amy contest?

Hm...but I really wanna get to the next phase with Leftovers. Besides, that timetable of goals I posted in December included having the query letter drafted and mailed out by January 15th. And yet...euw. Query letters. HATE writing query letters. Distilling the gist of your book into one pithy page can be a real killer.

So I browsed through my documents file on the off-chance that somewhere along the line I might have spent a few odd minutes (hours?) on a query letter.

Lo and behold...BINGO!

For whatever reason--a contest?--a Miss Snark crap-o-meter?--just for the helluvit...? I'd written an entire query letter...and a rather good one, if I do say so myself! Whew! It was like cleaning up after Christmas and finding an undiscovered present under the tree!

Now all I have to do is figure out who to send it to....

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The End! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

I DID IT! ! ! ! ! ! !

I typed the Six Best Letters in the WHOLE WORLD....THE END! I swear, I've never been through childbirth, but this was the literary equivalent. Now, the last scene needs a smidgen--oh hell, a BOATLOAD--of work, but still...it's THERE.

And there's the re-writing I need to do at the beginning...

And...oh...um....there's all the tightening I need to do...plus the fill-in-the-blank stuff I left for later....

But....I'm so jazzed, I think I'll go lie down...or is it lay down? I'm pretty sure it's lie down.

Brain frazzle!


No wonder I've been having trouble finishing Leftovers. Turns out it's been taken over by space aliens or something. No, really. It started out as the story of a woman who always gets the leftovers in life...and now it's morphed into (eek) a tale about mothers and daughters.

Which would be fine except...I don't have a typical mother/daughter relationship with my (step)mom. Worse, I don't have kids, let alone daughters.

The good news is that I AM heading for the finish. AGAIN. And yes, that 'one or two scenes' I needed to write to get to the end have morphed into four or five. But it's all good. I finally figured out the problem: I lacked a BIG BANG for the ending. Hey, there's a new story step for ya, huh? You got your inciting incident, your turning points, your stakes raising, your black moment, your climax...and now you got your BIG BANG.

See, I went back to the whole character arc issue that I mentioned the other day. I had to ask myself: What has Rose learned? How is she different at the end of the story? What does she do NOW that she wouldn't have been able to do at the beginning?

Which got me to thinking about her step-sister, Angie. I needed to finish her character arc, too.

And that's when I knew how to end the book...with something that will demonstrate the change in both characters...and, as a bonus, create the BIG BANG.

The only problem? It all ties back into the theme of mothers and daughters. Easy to conceive, more difficult to execute.

But then that's why we authors get paid the big bucks. Kidding.

Friday, January 12, 2007

It's The Writing, Stupid

...or not.

Maybe it's everything BUT the writing.

That's how I feel these days as I figure out how to run a contest from my web site, join even MORE Yahoo groups, and...well...exhaust every method available to pimp myself, er, my upcoming book release.

Take last night, for example. Another couple hours spent learning more about the wonderful world of Myspace. For you old fogies out there, Myspace is the equivalent to the party line when we were kids. I guess. Anyway, it's how (cough) younger folks "network" these days. Gotta have a Myspace page.

As it turns out, it's also a hip new way to market books, too. That is, if anyone's reading anymore.

Once you have your site set up, one idea is to search the database for members who list "reading romance novels" among their interests. Then you send them an "invite" to be your "friend." If they accept, their little avatar icon doo-hinkey shows up on your site and your "linked" forever. Now, anytime you send a bulletin (for example, announcing the release of your book), it automatically goes out to all those romance reading "friends" you've hooked up. I know of one author who accumulated 7,000 potential readers that way. Talk about casting a wide net, huh?

So, last night I worked on "pimping" my site again--yep, that's the lingo. When I first created it, I went wacko with this complicated scrolling background consisting of puffy white clouds. That's gone. I've gone the more austere route, albeit with a kinda shocking pink text. Oh, and I added a Lara Fabian song. Bonus! (When you're finished with this post, go check it out HERE...and, by all means, if you're a Myspace member, be sure to invite me to be your friend--I promise never to gossip behind your back or ask to borrow money.)

Okay, that's it for now. I'm off to troll for more friends.

Yep, it's all about the writing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Write Your Stories Down

Everyone's a writer...in some form or fashion.

Oh, maybe not on a par with Shakespeare, say...or Nora Roberts (yes, I just put them in the same sentence, so sue me). But we all have stories to tell.

I often dispute this fact with my critique partners. I whine about not being one of those authors with a million stories screaming to get out of her head, and it's true. I'm not. But even I have stories to tell.

And so do you.

Maybe not stories the whole world is clamoring to read...but someone, someday, will. Mainly, your children...and their children...and, hopefully, even their children.

One of the greatest gifts ever given to me was a story written by my Aunt Bonnie. About fifteen years before she passed away, she sent me ten handwritten pages recounting the brief span of time in which she knew my mother who died at the age of 41. I still smile as I remember this part of what she wrote:

"When your older brother was born, your mother constantly hovered over his crib, clapping her hands to make sure he hadn't gotten the Gorder family's poor hearing."

I never would have had that glimpse into my mother's life if Aunt Bonnie hadn't written it down.

Yesterday, I wanted to add intelligent narrative to the pictures of my dad and his P-38, but the details I know about my dad's war time experiences are sketchy. I know he was stationed in Foggia, Italy...I know he arrived there on a boat...I know he flew over Yugoslavia...but that's about it.

I'm gonna ask him to write the stories down...for me, and for my niece's kids.

What stories should YOU be writing down?

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Don't Want What I Can't Have

(That’s a song title, by the way. Sung by Sinead O’Connor.)

Romance novels (especially category ones of the Harlequin variety) get a bad rap for being formulaic. Yet, as any author knows, all good stories, (from Star Wars to The Wizard of Oz) have at their core the internal and external goal of the hero(ine).

Part of the “formula” involves creating a storyline in which the hero(ine) confronts the obstacle preventing him/her from achieving the external goal and overcoming it because he/she is not the same person at the end of the book that he/she was at the beginning. That’s called character arc.

Well, I discovered something this weekend.

In most stories, the way in which the hero(ine) changes or what the character LEARNS is what gives them the ability to achieve their goal in the end.

Guess what? Not in my stories.

Nope. In my stories, the character figures out she had the wrong goal in the first place, thereby removing the necessity to achieve anything.

Hm. Too close a parallel to my own life perhaps…?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Unconstructive Day, or Not? You Be The Judge

I don' t know what it is about lying in bed on Saturday morning, but I wake up with the BEST plans for the day...and then what happens? Seemingly, not much. Maybe if I wrote down a list or something.

Here are the things I DIDN'T do today:

Bring all my lovely Christmas gifts in from the garage. (New Year's Resolution: Upon shutting off the car, gather up all the "stuff" and take it directly inside the house. Even if you don't know where to put it once it gets there.)

Go see a movie. There are tons of movies out there I wanna see. Somehow I didn't get around to actually figuring out the whens and wheres until about 6 o'clock and then I ran the risk of running into date night at the movies (shudder) so I postponed movies once again. Sidenote: About six months ago, I received two free passes that were due to expire on 12/31. I ended up giving them to the bartender at the Bob Hope Airport as I was leaving for Vegas on New Years.

Visit my parents and take them dinner. Ditto the above. Suddenly, 6 o'clock rolled around and I knew it was too late for that plan.

Finish Leftovers. Okay, here I can report a partial victory. I wrote about a page.

So what did I do instead? Well...I tweaked my Myspace page (yeah, that's a noteworthy achievement). And I also revamped my web site to include a contest (complete with new uploaded pictures).

I didn't even take a nap until 4 o'clock.


Not a very productive day, was it? Hell, I didn't even wash my face or brush my hair, but don't tell anyone.

It's 9:23 on a Saturday night and I think I'll go to bed. Geez...don't spread that around, either. I don't wanna ruin my reputation as the party girl.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Edging Closer

I know you're all waiting for an update on my progress toward ending the long national nightmare known as "finishing Leftovers." Well, good news. I wrote another two pages. And, I SWEAR, I'm on the second-to-last-scene. Okay, maybe third-to-last. Oh, hell...who knows...? Another chapter could always pop up.

To distract myself, I perused the beginning of the Nano Project last night. Geez, until that WIP has a name...anyway, that one's looking better and better (if I do say so myself--and I do). Recall for a moment this is the story begun during the November frenzy. I wrote about 150 pages "on the wing" and lately (after a flurry of brainstorming in my critique group and reading Miss Snark's Hook-o-meter--or whatever she called it) I convinced myself it was a piece of crap. (Ha, something new, huh?) Mainly, I figured I'd woefully underplanned the heroine's external goal...as in...she didn't have one.

Imagine my surprise and glee when I discovered in reading the first ten pages, she does INDEED have a goal. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the study of craft for five years pays off after all! Not only that, but (I say in all modesty) the thing has REAL energy and pacing. Granted I only read the first 25 pages, but still...that's saying something.

Now if only I could wind up the Old...and find a title for the New.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year's 2006

Maybe…just maybe…I’ve replenished enough brain cells to recount the 2nd Annual New Years Weekend in Las Vegas. It started on Friday when Cathi and I met Marty and Ann (aka Senor and Senora de La Cruz) at the Burbank Airport. Oops. ‘Scuze me. The Bob Hope Airport. We worked our way through the usual pandemonium (learning about zip-lock bags for lip gloss in the process) and got ourselves through security (please…someone tell me…WHY had I thought to wear BOOTS???) in time for pre-boarding cocktails.

Landed in Vegas to find a crisp and clear Winter’s day (and a new no smoking rule in the airport…I mean, what’re they gonna do with those little smoking rooms NOW??). Marty had rented a car which was nice and all, but, er…not conducive to four people with luggage. We ended up with half of it lying across our laps.

Checked in without fanfare, unpacked, and met back in the Star Wars lounge. Or something like that. Anyway, outer space was involved. There, we toasted the beginning of the trip, and lost our first few bucks in the poker slots.

Eventually, we moved on to other gaming (this part is kind of a blur but I think Texas Hold ‘Em may have been involved—all I know for sure is that this is where my downhill slide began)…then later returned to our rooms…to change? Yeah, I think we changed clothes.

That night, we had dinner (along with Ann’s sister and brother-in-law) at the Hilton Steak House. Oh. My. God. The petit fillet…yummmmmmm (not to mention the expertly prepared baked potato…heaven). The only drawback? How about sixteen dollars for a glass of wine. Yikes.

More gambling ensued following dinner…and more sliding. Too depressing to recount. I should mention here that I normally go solo, but this year I decided to be less anal, so I shared a room with Cathi. Turns out we’re pretty good roommates—both news junkies who love having the TV on 24/7. And on a weekend with Saddam, James Brown, and Gerald Ford all on the menu, we were happy campers on that score. The only problem—each night, Cathi (prudently, I might add) went to bed earlier than I…meaning she also awakened (woke up?) earlier, and hey—if there’s someone to talk to, who am I to continue sleeping? Bottom line: I got VERY FEW ZZZZZZ’s. (Oh, well…that’s what 2007 is for, right?)

The next day, we…er…gambled some more. I think. Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. At night, we drove downtown and…er…gambled some more. Oh, and ate dinner at the Golden Nugget. The good news is that I recouped a bit of my losses during a rousing game of Texas Hold ‘Em.

Later, we did more of the same back at the Hilton.
On Sunday, Cathi and I tried to get off premises, but the Monorail wasn’t working, so we…well, we did the usual…we gambled a bit, and (yay) took naps. Around five, we grabbed a taxi, and got ourselves over to the Forum Shops to The Palm Restaurant before the traffic around The Strip got too crazy. Then we hung out at Caesars so that we could step out on their conveniently located patio (just above the street and just below the nightclub PURE) for the fireworks display. Last year, Nicki Hilton hosted Pure’s party and when it came time, she turned to us peons below, and counted down to midnight. This year, Brittney Spears had the job, but she never even noticed us (sob). Anyway, much hoopla ensued (see video in last post) then we crossed the strip over to the Flamingo, caught the Monorail (with tickets we’d purchased earlier in the day)…what a PARTY! Hey, if I ever go again, I think I’ll just ride the Monorail all night. It was the MOST FUN! And how convenient! It dropped us off at a station almost inside our hotel. (After last year’s debacle—walking for hours to find a cab and finally paying a stranger $30 to give us a ride—man, we have this thing DOWN!)

Back at the hotel, Cathi snagged the only available seat at a Texas Hold ‘Em table (ignoring our warnings about the raised minimum) and promptly played three hands at full steam (which ends up amounting to $75 a hand!) and WON $250…in about five minutes. At that point, Ann grabbed Cathi’s chips off the able and physically walked her to the cashier to cash out (way to go, Ann). We did a little more meandering, wasted a little bit more money on stupid slots, then reconvened at Texas Hold ‘Em at 2 a.m. when the minimum was back down to $10 (which means, at full bore, you have $50 on the table). Between 2 and 4, I recouped $250, so I went to bed a happy camper.

A LATE camper, however (Cathi was already in bed again).

We rose at 8 the next morning (albeit, slowly) got our acts together, had breakfast, and made it to the airport for our 3 o’clock flight….which probably would have passed uneventfully if not for the T-shirt Cathi was wearing. Now, please note, this is a BRAND name—sold in many upscale places—but Cathi’s shirt read: “Too Busy To FCUK.” (No, that’s not a typo—that’s what it says.) Well, half-way through the flight, the flight attendant stop and whispers: “Ma’am, could you please put your jacket back on? We’ve had a complaint from someone who finds your shirt offensive.”
Okay…I’m not blaming anyone for being offended…and, I wouldn’t blame the flight attendant for “keeping the peace,” but…um…not one passenger could SEE the t-shirt (except for Cathi’s seatmates who expressed amusement over the whole matter) so it had to be the FLIGHT ATTENDANT’s sensibility who’d been injured, and she should have owned up to it. Anyway, Cathi knows enough to see the wisdom of not creating a scene on an airplane, so she obediently re-donned the jacket. But don’t think she won’t be writing a letter!

A fitting end to an amusing weekend…next year PARIS….as in the CITY, not the Las Vegas hotel.