Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Vegas Weekend

Ah, the Bellagio...could there be a more beautiful hotel?

Yep, it was another foray to Sin City...this time with "the girls." (L to R: Dodi, Lucille, Cathi) And this time it wasn't about the gambling.

Okay, it was a LITTLE about the gambling. But on Saturday night, we also took in the Barry Manilow show at the Hilton. As rumored, Barry puts on an outstanding show, and dammit...I'd post pictures but SOME PEOPLE follow the rules, so I don't have any.

L to R: Lucille, Dodi, Randy

And, yes...that purse I'm carrying was a little heavy...what with all the CASH I won!! (Big shout-out to my peeps at the Planet Hollywood crap table who kept me company till 6 a.m.!)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Now Here This

I don’t have ONE fashion bone in my body…which will not come as a news flash to anyone who knows me.

But if I were made Queen of All Fashion (and, I believe this is something the world should seriously consider), here are a few of the laws I would enact to which all fashionistas would have to adhere:

1. Thou shalt pick ONE hemline and be done with it. Personally, I prefer a couple inches above the knee, so as Queen of All Fashion, that’s what we’re going with.

2. Thou shalt pick one heel and one toe for shoes. Personally, I prefer about three inches, spiked, with a moderately pointed toe. Absolutely, positively, under no circumstances, should one more pair of platform shoes EVER be manufactured.

3. Thou shalt decide once and for all: skinny, straight-legged jeans or wide, bell-bottomed jeans. Being a reasonable person, I shall allow this one to be decided by American Idol voters. While, we’re at it, let’s figure out the waistline—hip-hugger or high-rise.

4. Thou shalt settle on one size purse—either gargantuan or small.

5. Thou shalt spend 80% of design time and 95% of advertising dollars on fashions for middle-aged women with post-pubescent bodies. (Make that waaaaay post-pubescent.)

6. Men, I haven’t forgotten you, although I’m really not that interested in your attire. I figure if what you’re wearing is CLEAN, we’re all ahead of the game. But just to demonstrate my evenhandedness, I proclaim that within one year of my ascendancy to the throne, all ties and lapels shall be narrow (whether aesthetically pleasing or not, we’re going for what’s easiest to remember, here).

7. Exceptions. Yes, there will be exceptions. The one I have in mind relates to hair. Some women have curly hair, some have board-straight. I propose that for the first six months of the year, we go with the former, and the second six months, the latter. Give everyone equal time to feel like crap about themselves.

In addition, seasonal variations will be observed; however it should be noted that people who stick to summer attire without regard to geographical location shall be considered "fashion-forward."

Finally, this list is not all-inclusive and may be added to at any time by decree at the capricious whim of the Fashion Queen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

American Idol

Okay, folks. The joke's over. You've had your fun, now it's time to get serious.

Sanjaya has GOT TO GO next week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm Feeling A Bit Bi-Polar...

During the query process, it's nice to have friends who are selling, 'cuz I'm tellin' ya, otherwise, the writing biz is looking awfully bleak.

First, the good news.

CP Vonda Sinclair sold a novella to Red Sage! Woo hoo, Vonda!! Way to go!

And CP Terry Spear's been selling so much I can't even keep track of it all, so check out her blog to see what she's been up to.

Meanwhile (sigh) after a couple of quick e-queries (result: two No's and a nonresponse) I'm putting together a comprehensive list of likely targets. Here's what's got me down: I keep coming across agents who are closed to submissions.

Yep. Simply shut.

Oh, most list exceptions. Like if you've met them at a conference. Or you have a deal on the table--in which case they'd be happy to take you on--gee, ya think?

Then there are the publishing houses. Some of them are closed, too. Unless, you've met an editor at a conference, have an agent, yada yada. One said it's temporarily closed but IS accepting anthology submissions with the following themes: 1) dragons, 2) hot and spicy "strangers in the night," and 3) same sex.

Um, guess what? I don't write anything REMOTELY matching those requirements.

So, far awhile the other night, I got a little testy. I mean, talk about a Catch-22. Agents aren't taking submissions, publishers aren't taking them without agents...how do they expect us to ever get anywhere?

Then I realized my anger was mis-directed. The truth is there are too many f*ing writers out there. With everyone and her sister trying to become the next Nora Roberts/JK Rowling/fill-in-the-bestselling-name-here, it's no wonder the other side of the equation (the business side) has more than they can handle.

Especially when you consider that NO ONE READS ANYMORE.

So there you have it. A zillion writers on the supply side versus fewer and fewer readers on the demand side.

Who can blame agents and editors for turning off the faucet that only serves to mess up their workday?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy You-Know-What!

Did I go out and tie one on in honor of the Irish? Hell, no. I stayed home and tended to a cold. Grrrrrrrrr.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is Blogging Over With?

Today I noticed an extremely popular blogger is going out of business. Burned out, she said. Brings to mind another blogger I used to read daily who closed her doors awhile back. Same thing. The more widely read the blog, the more it apparently eats into that person's life and, presumably, the activities that, er, actually pay the bills.

Personally, my readership has dwindled to about half what it used to be. Have I become boring (not that I was ever that exciting to begin with, but...)...or have people just become blase about blogs?

Come to think of it, I used to faithfully surf about 20 blogs a day, and hey, what a coinky-dinky, I probably hit about 10 of them now. Half.

Between blogs, websites, and Myspace pages, have we exposed ourselves to the point of saturation?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Going From Stale To Fresh...

In one quick, easy, lesson.


So, I caught a new drama on the FX channel last night called The Riches. As I watched, I thought about how much more I appreciated its quality now that I know a tiny bit about crafting a story. Much like I guess I’d appreciate the Mona Lisa more if I knew the first damn thing about art.

Anyway, in a nutshell, The Riches is a fish-out-of-water story—the old plotline in which characters are tossed into a totally foreign situation (think Private Benjamin or The Beverly Hillbillies, for instance). But if that’s all it was, we wouldn’t be watching it at 10:00 on Monday nights. Like the publishing industry, TV execs demand a twist, a hook. A new take on an old storyline. (How many times have we heard publishing professionals tell us they’re looking for something fresh?)

So, here’s how I picture the brainstorming session that resulted in The Riches.

It starts off with the aforementioned fish-out-of-water story…in this case, a poor Southern family is suddenly thrust into country-club living. Fine. Lots of fodder for what happens next.

But how did they suddenly become rich? Did they hit the lotto?

Nope. Too pedestrian.

Did they inherit from a long-lost relative?

Done a million times. But how about this: what if they assumed the identity of the rich people?

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. But how could they do that? They couldn't just waltz in and take over two strangers' lives.

What if they were involved with the strangers’ deaths?

Euw. We’d hate them, wouldn’t we?

What if it was an accident…like a car accident, maybe. And our hero and heroine tried to save their lives, but failed.

Okay, but is it realistic to believe a man and woman could then step into another couple’s shoes? After all, most people wouldn’t know the first thing about assuming someone else’s identity.

Let’s make them con artists. People comfortable with pulling scams.

Hold on. Con artists aren’t sympathetic characters. If we’re gonna watch a TV show about these people week after week, we have to care about them, don’t we?

Okay, we'll give them a family…say…three kids.

KIDS? How’re you gonna incorporate kids into the scheme of things? Won’t the kids blow their country club cover?

Not if we make them Irish Travelers.

Ah…Irish Travelers…fascinating. Still…the viewing public’s not gonna go for a family of thieves, is it?

What if we make them defect from the clan?

Why would they do that?

Because the clan leader is trying to force their daughter into an arranged marriage with someone they detest.

Okay. That works. But what about ongoing conflict? You gotta give me more than watching this family learn the difference between a salad fork and a dessert fork.

How about, when they defect from the clan, they take all its money?

Ah…so people are after them. Sounds good. What else?

How about if the wife’s just been released from prison so when they run away, she’s violated her parole?

Even better. Anything else? What kind of relationship do the husband and wife have?

What if she’s bitter because she took the rap for her husband? So bitter, she's incurred a heroin addiction in prison? And, what if her loyalties still lie with the clan, even though her husband's don't?

Ah. You got me.

Hooked that is.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Can She Go Two For Two?

So I submitted my second short story to True Romance last night. Aside from an itty bitty desire to verify whether the first sale was a fluke, I actually enjoy writing these things. For tons of reasons, but today I’ll focus on just one.

It’s a whole lot easier to edit twenty-five pages than it is to wade through 400. Trust me.

And you’d think, what with the brevity and all, I could do it without help, right? Wrong.

I passed this latest one through two crit groups, collecting roughly 6 critiques. And, guess what? I missed a lot of stuff. Mostly minor, yes, but still…embarrassing stuff. Like, how about the time I accidentally called the hero NICK (Stealing Amy creeping in)? Or how about the time the 20-year reunion switched to a 25-year reunion? Yep, these are the things your trusty writing buddies find and point out for you.

Mind you, when I uploaded the story to my groups, I thought it was polished to a sheen. So you can imagine what shape Leftovers is in.

Lots of writers eschew critique groups, and sure, there are reasons not to use them. Mainly, when you’re in a bad one. But, ahhhhh….when you’re fortunate enough to land in a GOOD one (or two!) it’s magic, and the feedback you get is worth its weight in gold (I know, there’s a cliché for you, but it’s Sunday so that part of my brain has the day off).

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Latest submission. It’s about a high school reunion cruise, and I’ll keep y’all posted if I hear anything.

P.S. On the subject of CPs (critique partners) another advantage to GOOD ones is that they do nice things for you. Check out what Carol did for me.

P.P.S. SEE?!?!?!!!! I just noticed a typo in the boredom poem I posted the other day. The last line should have been: To overcome MY boredom, not BY boredom. Geesh.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ho Hum...Pant, Pant

I’m afraid I have an undiagnosed condition. Syndrome. Whatever.

Actually, it’s a problem the medical profession hasn’t discovered yet. Kinda like back in the days when that kid in the corner of the classroom was just dumb instead of having Attention Deficit Disorder.

To give my illness a sense of cache, I looked up some Latin and came up with the word acedia. Right. So, I have acedia phobia. Before you head off to Googleland, let me help you. According to this site, the Christian church “has traditionally named boredom-under the Latin title acedia-as one of the seven deadly sins. Frederick Buechner describes it as a voluntary form of death. Boredom is an absence of feeling, emotional flatness, passivity to life, lack of interest in anything.”

Okay, wait. I don’t have that.

No, what I have is a FEAR of boredom.

Back to Google.

Ah…what I have is THAASOPHOBIA. Who knew they had a term for fear of boredom? I feel so blessed to have found it. Much like the elation those who suffer from fibromyalgia must feel when a study comes out saying it’s a real disease.

Before you scoff at my so-called illness, let me show you how it manifests itself.

One time I was at a company Christmas party and the guy that wrote our technical manuals launched into a dissertation on the history of the stapler. I started getting short of breath and my head threatened to quiver off my shoulders. My natural defense against boredom in full operation.

But don’t think this thaasophobia thing only rears its ugly head in social situations. Oh, no. It permeates my entire life.

That blanket of leaves on my patio isn’t there because I’m lazy. Nope. Chalk it up to Thaasophobia.

All that junk in my garage screaming for a dumpster? Again, Thaasophobia.

Uh-oh…do I feel a bout of it coming on right this second?

Before I go, I’ll leave you with this poem I wrote in Junior High.

Upon a misty morn I came
With no one to disturb the flame
That kindered my spirit deep within
Which had no name and could not win
To overcome my boredom.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Must Have Been The Hair Color

Setting: Chumash Casino, $1 slot machines
Present: Me and Anna Margarita de la Cruz
Situation: We've just collectively lost $40

Anna Maria: "Damn, we didn't even get to spin."

Me: "Totally sucks."

Handsome young stranger sitting next to us, thrusting hundred dolloar bill in front of me: "Here. Keep trying."

Conclusion: Sometimes it pays to be blonde.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Memo To Jenny Craig

Dear Jenny,

Love the food.

Love the broccoli and cheddar baked potato.

But, um...maybe you should re-think that sneaky way of getting minerals into my diet...

'Cuz, y'know...c-c-c-runch...clink is not a comforting sound.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Patience Smatience

Waiting forever sucks.

And the writing biz is all about the waiting. Oh sure, you hear of authors whose trip to publication between query to sale took all of a week. But man, those are the exceptions. HUGE exceptions.

Now before anyone concludes I've blanketed the world of editors and agents with simultaneous submissions, let's get one thing straight. I haven't. What I'm about to refer to involves several projects and both editors and agents (two very separate entities).

So at the present time, I have x amount of queries out. Two via snail mail in November went to publishing houses. The first, as requested on their website, is just a measly one-page letter. According to RWA's "market update" this publisher responds to queries within two weeks. Uh, it's been nearly four months. Re-send??

The second snail mail submission in November consisted of three chapters. Their response time is six to eight months. Okay (tapping fingernails against the desk). Still waiting.

Sent out another couple equeries in late January. Still waiting.

All of which is to say, if you're an instant gratification kinda gal, forget the writing biz. (Even that magazine sale I reported the other day is apparently an anomaly--their guidelines say to give them a YEAR to get back to you.)

And if you think DEATH can't happen just before someone gets published, think again. It happens.

Too bad it's not like a cruise where you can buy trip insurance. Y'know, like...you submit to Publisher X in 2006 and they get back to you with a "no" in 2007, but because you've got "rejection insurance" you get to go to the top of the slush pile with your next project.

Hm. Obviously, I'm on to something here.