Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Unanswered Questions

A couple weeks ago, on one of my writing loops, best selling author Allison Brennan gave tips on everything form pacing to plotting. The one issue she addressed that really resonated with me was the idea of constantly leaving your reader with questions. Oh, not to the point of total confusion, of course, but CURIOUS…curious enough to keep reading to find the answers.

So last night, I was reading this book, and I noticed a little conversation I was having with myself.

Who could have put the sleeping pills in Daphne’s bag, and why?
Did someone really mean to poison the dog, or was Daphne the target?
Why did Taylor suddenly lose interest in discovering Sascha’s identity?
Is Ronald merely a troubled teen, or a more sinister character?
Peter’s past is a shady one—can he be trusted now?
Tamika seems to show up in every scene—coincidence, or manipulation?
Did Daphne really fall from the ledge, or was she pushed? And, if so, why? And by whom?
Why would anyone want to make it look like Daphne’s trying to kill herself?

Sounds pretty interesting, huh? The good news is, it’s the book I’m writing. The bad news is, I don’t know the answers.

Okay, I know SOME.

This is the project I began back in November during the NaNo frenzy--the one I haven't read a word of in MONTHS. Which is kinda cool, actually, 'cuz the I felt like an honest-to-goodness reader when I reviewed it last night. I mean, I was HOOKED.

Now if only I could remember what I intended when I created the questions.

Note to self: start taking, er, notes.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Breaking Up Is...

Hell on the computer user.

Yes, folks. It’s true. My video camera refuses to speak to my computer and vice versa. I’m so clueless, I wasn’t even aware they were fighting. Apparently, they don’t see eye to eye these days, and nothing I say or do appears to make a difference.

Stubborn bastards.

I tried dazzling them with a Dazzle connection, but did either one of them budge? No.

I tried a standard USB connection, which only pissed the computer off more because it began taunting me with connection wizards that went nowhere. I mean, what’s the use of asking permission to search the Internet for software if it’s not even gonna bother to look when I say okay? Huh?

I even, God forbid, tried to find order in the disorder that is my office−y’know, like unearthing CD-roms that had fallen behind the desk, the chair, the bed…


Where, oh where, has all the software gone?

Gone to nook and cranny graveyards, everyone.

Sigh. Crossing fingers there’s something useable at work…otherwise, I may have to break down and get another video camera. They come with software, don’t they?

Oh, in case you’re wondering what you’re missing out on, I was gonna post a video of last night’s Oscar party (sniff).

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Call-let

As in the mini-call...well, the mini-mail.

(For you non-writers, "the call" is when an editor or agent phones you with an offer. Okay, so this isn't nearly as momentous, still...)

Here's the deal: I got home on Friday afternoon, collected the mail, and saw a letter from a publishing house. Now, since I'd submitted Fit For Love to said publishing house, I figured here was my latest rejection (see archives about how MAIL is not your friend when it comes to this phase of the submission process). Anyway, I slit the flap open, and the first thing I noticed was several blocks of lines--y'know, the kind for filling stuff out.


Then I realized...ahhhh...said publishing house was also where I submitted a short story Monday night via email. And...omigod...this is the contract for it!

Double huh!

Yep. I sold a short story to True Romance, tentatively the May issue.


Flashback to December. Several of my critique partners have made sales in this area, so I picked up one of the magazines and took it with me to Vegas for New Years (yep, it made really good bathtub reading material). I thought--hey, maybe I could do this. They're just short romances, right?

To tell the truth, I wasn't that cavalier about it. As y'all may recall, I have enough trouble figuring out how to get my characters to fall in love in a novel-length book, so I wasn't so sure of my capacity to do it in 20-30 pages.

But, apparently, I did! Woo hoo!

Not without the help, I must stress, of my critique partners over at Rebelromance writers. (That means Carol, Vonda, and Terry!) They held my hand, answered my questions, and streamlined the whole learning curve for me. And others in that group critted the submission (thanks to Judy, Tammy, and Pam!) Although, I have to admit, since you get paid by the word, I'm now cursing them for helping me tighten the damn thing, thereby reducing my income.

See, this is how it is in the writing business. You savor even the smallest successes. And I mean, SAVOR.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Authors Can Learn From American Idol

1. You’ve seen the audition process, right? It starts out with camera shots of stadiums in cities across the nation, filled with thousands of hopefuls, all vying for a spot on the show. Some have talent, some don’t. A few will make it, most won’t.

Now, think about RWA (Romance Writers of America). It alone boasts about 10,000 members, some published, some not. All vying for the limited number of book contracts awarded in any given year. Some have talent, some don’t. A few will make it, most won’t.

2. From those thousands of aspiring contestants in the stadiums, somehow hundreds (?) make it to the audition room to do their thing for Simon, Randy, and Paula. Some have talent, some don’t. A few will make it to Hollywood, most won’t.

Every week, zillions of pitches flood the mailboxes (both virtual and real) of agents and editors from authors all over the country. Some demonstrate talent, most don’t. A few will result in a request for pages, most won’t.

3. Finally, with auditions over, 24 young men and women perform in front of millions of viewers all over the world. Arguably, all 24 have at least a modicum of talent to have reached the TV show. But so many, in an effort to showcase their strengths, choose a song that at the same time unmasks their weaknesses. One after the other, they start off bland, sometimes off-key, barely able to reach down for the low notes−figuring the strong finish will be enough. And it’s true, most sing passably well. They vamp to the camera, they swish their hips, they sing a nice tune. Then, suddenly, ONE contestant walks on stage, and from the moment she opens her mouth, you realize the rest were a sham. Pleasant, but a sham. THIS ONE, as Simon puts it, is in a whole other league.

An editor or agent settles in to read the pages she’s requested. The writing is good but, eager to throw everything at the reader at once, the author has begun the story in the wrong place and with too much backstory. The writer has talent, but the editor or agent hits ‘send’ on that generic “not quite for me” rejection letter and goes onto the next. Same thing. Again and again…until…suddenly, ONE author hits it out of the park right from the get-go. THIS ONE is in a whole other league.

Conclusion: It’s not enough to hit the high notes. It’s not enough to write well.

It’s not enough to be better than some; you have to be the best.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who I'd Like To Be When I Grow Up

That girl. The one right there.

(I DO have an edge, by the way, 'cuz we're related...the trouble is she's more than half my age.)

Seriously, folks. Do yourself a favor and click on over to the blog of my cousin's daughter. First, because she writes CIRCLES around me (which, y'know, REALLY kind of BUGS me), and second, because it's all about her current experiences attending school abroad in...CAIRO. Yes, THAT Cairo. The one in Egypt.

To enjoy properly, you oughta go back to the January archive and begin at the beginning...otherwise you'll miss A LOT. (There's some brilliant prose, huh? Maybe I should've done my junior year somewhere other than Irvine.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ghosts of the Past

This is what it looks like when seven chicks from high school get together 35 years later.

The most interesting part of the evening? Had to be Wendy's claim that a guy who got killed in a car accident right after graduation hadn't died at all. (Insert eerie music here.) According to Wendy, her son came home from school one day and said his friend was the son of said dead person--and that said dead person's parents had fabricated his death to get him away from the bad crowd he hung with.

Cut to me yelling for Sally ('cuz Sally's the go-to girl when it comes to high school tragedies--she's got a scrapbook full of them.)

"But I went to the funeral," she protested after hearing Wendy's story. "He'd better be dead, 'cuz if he's not, I'm gonna kill him for putting me through that."

As you can imagine, the possibilities tossed us into a frenzy. Could a kid's parents really go to such lengths to protect their progeny from the wrong crowd? (Hey--should someone get a-hold of Britney's mom??)

"My son's friend even knew the nicknames we used," Wendy told us.

Spookier and spookier.

"Wait a minute. What about the other guys in the accident?" Sally pointed out.

"Maybe the accident really happened. He just didn't really die." (That was my contribution.)

I mean, I think we all wanted to believe the guy had come back from the dead. But Martha was off in the corner, clicking away on a computer, and there it was: the official death record.

Surely, his parents couldn't have faked THAT, could they?

Wendy called her son who now says his mom had the name wrong. But wait...someone's still saying that their parents faked their death in high school, right? What about that secret nickname?

No matter what, I'm filing this one away for future use in a story!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oops! She Did It Again

In a tragic attempt to swipe some of the press that bitch Anna Nicole's been getting, Britney did this:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Life Imitates Art!

Last night I got a message through my Myspace inbox from none other than...Amy Harrington!

That must happen a lot, huh? Authors getting contacted by real people with real names that, er, happen to be the what the author used? Fortunately, this chick seems to have a good sense of humor--even asked me how to buy the book. Hey, from now on, I'm naming all my charactes Ashley Smith and John Jones.

In a related note, my dad pointed me to a feature article in the Daily News yesterday about an outfit called Book By You. Imagine this: for a small price, you answer a questionnaire, provide your name and that of your significant other, and...voila. One of eight stock romance novels starring YOU and personalized with your nicknames, your hobbies, and so forth.

Man, why don't I ever come up with these ideas??

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Stealing Amy's First Review!

...Not to mention my first review EVER. You can see it by clicking here at The Romance Studio. But I can't help but give a sneak preview, right?

Brenda Talley says: "Ms. Randy Jeanne has written an exciting, fast-paced read about the pitfalls of stolen identity and the drawbacks of falling in love. She uses her imagination and her sense of adventure to show many difficulties in their budding romance and the interruptions of both his unwanted exes; she was constantly pressured by the appearance of her mother. The wittiness is incredible!

I thoroughly enjoyed this light-hearted romance. There was a little bit of sex, a little humor, a little nosiness, some responsibility to others, and, of course, some danger--­all the wonderful aspects of any novel. I wholeheartedly recommend this book!"

And she summed it all up by giving Stealing Amy 4-1/2 hearts out of 5.

Cool, huh?

Now if only so many people didn't run into trouble making the actual purchase through Triskelion's website here. Try it at your own risk, and if it comes to the point where you're threatening permanent harm to your computer, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sonoma--Part Two

People who live in northern California seem unfazed by that stuff falling from the sky they call rain. Unless you count the umbrellas, the special water-resistant coats…geez, what a hassle! Me, I threw on a sweatshirt and was good-to-go. Which may explain why I looked like a drowned rat the entire trip.

Anyway, we didn’t have much time before the birthday festivities, but managed to take in a couple wineries nonetheless. (Note to self: schedule pre-Xmas shopping trip to Napa/Sonoma next year—the gift shops are KILLER--and the wine ain’t too shabby, either). So while we tasted and learned, the woman helping us noticed the stenciling on my sweatshirt: “Careful Or I’ll Put You In One Of My Novels.” I guess this was my public debut wearing it, and apparently I wasn’t prepared for the comments it would generate.

Wine Lady: “Does that mean you’re a novelist?”
Me: “Um, yeah.”
Wine Lady: “What do you write?”

Me (cringing): “Um, romance.”
Wine Lady (kinda embarrassed): “Oh, that’s all I read. What have you written…what’s your name?”
Me: (Majorly embarrassed): “Um, I write under Randy Jeanne and I have a book available for download on the internet right now.”
Wine Lady (with eyes glazed over): “Oh. I’ll have to get your card or something.”
Me: “Hm. I don’t think I have one with me.”

Obviously, my hand selling skills could use some work.

Since wine tasting translates directly to hunger, our next stop was “Girl And A Fig” for THE MOST delicious grilled cheese sandwiches EVER. Which accounts for why Mindy and David look so happy here…well, that and maybe because they’re in LOVE.

Later, we drove back to Vacaville to niece Jamie’s for the birthday party, the highlight of which was Karoake. Hey, until you’ve heard a bunch of little kids sing “Eye Of The Tiger” four times in a row, you haven’t lived. I took some video and threatened to put it on my blog, but on further reflection, I figure my readers don’t deserve that kind of torture.

The next day, I managed to find my way back to the airport, returned the rental car, and made my flight back to Burbank. When I got home, I heard vicious rumors about this stuff that had been falling from the sky, but I didn’t believe them.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sonoma Weekend--Take One

I start profiling as soon as I get in the security line. Mostly I conclude that no one looks like me, so each of this rag-tag throng of people are fair game as suspects. I’m particularly enamored of the passengers who haven’t got the news about liquids in your carryon. I mean, come on, people. Where have you been?

The TSA clerk and I exchange smirks as the person in front of me gets detoured so that his entire bag—with its shampoos, crème rinses, and shaving gels—can be thoroughly searched and the “illegal substances” disposed of.

Me, I sail through, with barely a momentary pause to slip my shoes back on.

At the bar, I grab a glass of wine and settle in front of a wall of TV monitors. Most are tuned to ESPN, but a few are carrying the Anna Nicole news conference. Unfortunately, the sound is coming from the ESPN channel, so I’m forced to read the transcript on Anna Nicole. The latest is that Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband is claiming paternity which, I imagine, must piss her off, although at 90, maybe she’s got more important stuff on her mind. Like breathing.

My flight gets called, and I line up to board. I just LOVE the Burbank airport. Not many places left where you don’t enter the plane by walking down a long, windy, tube. Nope. Here, no matter what the weather, you step outside into the exhaust-filled air, traipse across the tarmac, and climb a flight of stairs—either to the front, or the back, your choice. LOVE that! Makes me feel like a glamorous movie star from the forties.

One uneventful flight later, I land in Sacramento, greeted by wet stuff falling from the sky. We don’t have that in Southern California, so I ask and find out it’s called rain. I become quite familiar with this RAIN thing during my stay.

On the way to get my rental car, I pass a CD store and stock up for the drive—Shakira, Norah Jones, and Nellie Furtado. Once I pick up my Buick LaCross, I slide Shakira in and like her so much, she takes up residence for the entire weekend. I become a HUGE Shakira fan.

So, my drive to Sonoma was to be non-stop, but I get an emergency request to swing by niece Jamie’s in Vacaville to pick up her Golden Retriever so I can bring it with me to niece Mindy’s. (There’s a rhyme and reason here, but you don’t need the details.) Anyway, I pick up Brandy (who’s not thrilled to be riding in a strange car with an even stranger person) so she maneuvers herself onto the console between the two front seats. Yep, this is what I need. Rain, approaching darkness, and a nervous canine slobbering on me.

All I need now is a little fog.

Which I encounter about an hour later as I’m tooling down a two-lane highway with vineyards on either side. I know the scenery must be gorgeous—too bad it’s now invisible. I pretty much “feel my way” toward my destination, with intermittent cell phone calls from my niece for assistance. Here’s a sample conversation:

Mindy: “What street are you on?”
Me: “Beats the hell out of me.”
Mindy: “Give me a landmark.”
Me: “I would if I could see anything.”

Nonetheless, with only one major faux pas that sends me in an entire circle (and with a dog so bored it gives up hovering and manages to make its way into the front passenger seat for a nap) I arrive chez Mindy. Yippee!

Uncork the wine!!!

(More tomorrow)

Friday, February 09, 2007

An Old (Very Old) Photo

As I head off to northern California for my niece Mindy's 40th birthday party, I leave you with a version of her birthday present. Ever-prepared, I only thought of it this morning, but thanks to things like scanners and printers, well...technology makes procastination much less inconvenient these days. Anyway, these are my parents (Mindy's paternal grandparents) on their wedding day in Davenport, North Dakota on May 27th, 1945. I think my dad's got a little Conan O'Brien thing going on, don't you? (Although, of course, he's 100% Norwegian, not Irish.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

RIP, Anna

Talk about prophecy. When I wrote in yesterday’s post that the media’s obsession with Lisa Marie Nowak would last only as long as it took for the next juicy tale to splash across the wires, I didn’t foresee it would involve Anna Nicole Smith.

Although, if I’d given it much thought, her death could have made my top twenty.

Sure enough, Lisa Marie was only a blip on the radar by this afternoon’s news cycle. And I’ll bet a lot of people out there are thinking, what the hell? Why should this two-bit, drug-crazed, golddigger’s premature passing command so much coverage?

Well…I have a couple theories. First, there are the usual culprits−fame, fortune, beauty, and dying young. You can hardly beat that combination, really, for public fascination. Then, there’s the mysterious death of her son, the muddied parentage of her new daughter, not to mention the legal challenge that’s reached the highest court in the land.

Still…why should we care?

Okay, you may hate me for my answer, but here it is in its unvarnished state: I think we all feel, deep down, a little glee. Oh, not that we believe anyone deserves to die−I think we’d all agree she was a pretty harmless human being who probably didn’t hurt anyone (unless reports of her daughter being born a methadone addict are true).

But isn’t there just the smallest part of us that says, see? All that fame, fortune and beauty…? Look what happened to Elvis! Look what happened to Marilyn! (And yes, I just equated Anna Nicole with two people arguably much more talented, but it’s all the same in the end.) Demons clashing with too much. Too much of everything.

We peons sit back, smug in our average lives, and congratulate ourselves that what happened with Anna will never happen to us, because we’re comfortably ordinary.

And we remember that once upon a time, Anna Nicole Smith−excuse me, Vickie Lynn Hogan−was ordinary, too. Just like us.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That **Updated

Stop over at author Vonda Sinclair's blog to read an interview with MOI (my first, so be kind).

In other news, the Triskelion web site seems to be back on the mend after its recent debillitating illness, so it's now safe to make a run at buying Stealing Amy. Not that I mean to force it down your throat or anything...

And, geez...I couldn't be a romance writer and NOT comment on the Astronaughty debacle (sure to be showing up as a made-for-TV movie in about an hour), could I? After all, there's nothing juicier than a brilliant woman pushed over the edge by a psychotic obsession. Okay, okay. I hear ya. Innocent till proved guilty. Plus, I guess I should be more empathetic and understanding.

But, I can't. Sorry.

We all do stupid things in the name of unrequited love, but...um...what was the tubing for?? And...and...wigs and trench coats? If I didn't know this woman had better things to do, I'd figure she watched too many Lifetime movies. Or maybe the Sopranos, even. Very, very sad. Especially for her kids. I'm sure the cable news networks will cover this ad nauseum--or, at least until the next sensational story hits--so I'm gearing up for interviews with everyone from her third grade teacher to her dog walker.

Paula Zahn: Tell us, Mr. Smith. What kind of person is Lisa Marie Nowak?

Mr. Smith: Kind, considerate, always friendly to puppies.

Paula Zahn: And how long have you known her?

Mr. Smith: Oh, I met her once at her mother's best friend's piano teacher's birthday party.

Paula Zahn (nods knowingly): Ahhh. Then you're practically related.

Just a thought--and by the time you read this, it'll probably have been touched on elsewhere--but how ironic is it that this chick's name is NO-WAK?

P.S. How long ya figure before she goes into rehab?? 'Cuz isn't that our "go-to" source of redemption after "inappropriate behavior" these days? (That religion dude who, after three weeks in rehab, came out 100% hetero...that Donald Trump beauty-queen chick who's now the poster-girl for AA...the Mayor of San Francisco who admitted hitting the sheets with the wife of his campaign manager...?)

Yep, no doubt it's that demon rum at work again.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

So Your Teenager Wants to be a Writer....

Click HERE for the best advice he or she could ever get.

(Lots of gems for the adult writer, too.)

Seriously. This is a great article.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Is It Just Me?

I don't know about you, but I'm suffering from the dreaded "Post-Superbowl-Partied-Too-Much-But-Didn't-Get-Enough-Guacamole" Blues.

Either that, or it's the Monday thing.

And it's 83 degrees out which means we should all be at the beach or sitting under a shady oak, sipping margaritas. Anything but WORKING.

On the Amy front, apparently the techies are still working on cyber glitches. Personally, I take it as a good sign that maybe, just maybe, the Internet is NOT the answer to everything.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

While You're Waiting To Buy Stealing Amy...

...go vote for my friend, Adrienne, who's got an entry up at the Gather contest. You have to register, but hey--you weren't doing anything important anyway, right?

Click here, read her piece, then give her a big TEN!


Ah...don't you love technology? And the word SNAFU (coined during Vietnam, I think?--situation normal, all f****d up...?)

So fitting today.

I've received several e-mails from people trying to buy my book...with no luck.

Yes, ladies and gents, the cyber gremlins are against me. Bastards.

Alas, we shall prevail, shan't we? So, although I know you've all been glued to you computers for the past 24-hours, incessantly hitting buy, buy, buy...go ahead and get some rest. Take a break. I'll post something here once the problem is straightened out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Stealing Amy Launches! ! ! ! ! !

Wow...it seems like eons ago I signed that contract, huh? I know you've all been waiting with baited breath--or is it itchy fingers? Y'know...'cuz it's not like you can march over to B&N or Borders and wrap your sweaty palms around something physical like, um...a book.

No, in case you missed something, Stealing Amy is an e-book. Which means, for the uninitiated, that it's available as an electronic download in four formats. Personally, I don't understand how anyone can enjoy a book this way (don't tell that to my publisher) yet I run into folks who do it all the time. Y'know, like on their PDA, or their whosis, or their whatsis. Oh, yeah...and some people actually sit in front of a computer monitor and read the things. (Gag)

Anyway, so I've been busy updating my website (oh, don't ask--what a nightmare, and please think twice before you ever decide to create your own)...you may wanna go check it out, but then again, you may not because I've probably screwed it up again. Oh, hell. Go ahead...see if you can find the excerpts; there are two. Enjoy.

So, the first email of the morning? Fathom this: a message from Lynne Marshall, a fellow Triskelion co-writer saying she'd tried to purchase my book this morning but it wasn't available yet. Imagine that! Isn't she cool to try to be the first on her block? Go see her website, too...'cuz she's about my bestest friend at the moment. (Oops, update: Lynn reports that she purchased the book, but was unable to download it--QC alert!)

Well, since I was up until 1 a.m. last night, tweaking the friggin' website, I'm too tired to write about my impressions of the first day of school, er, the first day of publishingdom.

More tomorrow.

Oh, wait. Meanwhile, disregard what I said about glitches in downloading, go buy the book here.