Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Big Accomplishment This Past Sunday

So, I bought new tennis shoes.

Sadly, a humbling experience. See, the last time I procured footwear for the purpose of exercise, the year began with a one instead of a two.

Anyway, I go to the mall, I find the directory, and immediately locate Lady Foot Locker--figuring at least I won't mistake the men's shoes for the women's. Then I trot on down there (well, no...I walk since, y'know, I'm not wearing tennis shoes), and survey the display on the wall.

A zillion models of various shapes and colors are stacked in columns, all basically looking the same.

I decide to go with what's recognized the world over--the Nike swoosh. Now, you have to understand that to me, there's no such thing as a "cute" tennis shoe; nevertheless, I pick two of the cute-est and solicit the assistance of a clerk.

"Can I see these in an 8-1/2?"

"If we still have them in that size," she says, regarding me doubtfully.

While she disappears to the back, I contemplate whether it's the size she doubts, or my choice.

She returns with an apologetic smile. "Sorry. We only have them in a six or a nine." Again, the doubtful look. "You're a runner?"

"Uh, no."

Relief. "Those are for hard-core runners. What'll you be using them for?"

For taking up space in my closet. "Uh, aerobics. Y'know. Working out at the gym." And if I can't even tell the difference between a running shoe and an aerobics shoe, I'm obviously a sham. I wanna slink out of the store.

But I persevere. Swallowing my slacker shame, I allow her to choose a couple styles, I try them on, and in the space of ten minutes, I'm outta there, carrying my new workout shoes plus a brand new gym bag.

The hard part is over, right? I mean, 90% of fitness is just getting off your butt to get the appropriate shoes, doncha think?

Monday, November 26, 2007


You never know from whence inspiration will spring, do ya? In my case, it comes from the fabulous news that writing friend Brooke made the finals of RWA's New England Chapter's First Kiss contest. Her glee reminds me of the scattered moments I myself have enjoyed during this arduous writing process--the ones that made me feel like, hey, maybe I CAN write!

Somehow (and this is really kinda cool), her excitement was contagious 'cuz it sent me re-visiting the WIP I haven't worked on in...oh...let's just say a WHILE. I mean, how can I continue to write (and sell!) story after to story to TR (by the way, sold a 2-parter this month--part 1 appears in February, part 2 in March), but have so much trouble cranking out the novel-length crap?

I'll tell ya why. (Even though you didn't really ask--it's okay; I can HEAR you wondering.)

The answer is (drum roll, please)'s the story, stupid (thanks, Bill and Hillary). Trust me on this. Thirty pages versus four-hundred is...sigh...need I explain?

Particularly for a pantser/quasi-plotter. (Oh, who'm I kidding? Almost TOTAL pantser.) So tonight, I did what I should have done...maybe eons ago...certainly months. I took the time (ah, so boring) to enter onto a spreadsheet, chapter-by-chapter summaries of the action thus far. 'Cuz here's the deal: I've written 258 pages of a 360 page book. It was time to see how the plot hangs together, whether the turning points (if any!) are in the right place...what we're building up to and where the big bang(s) should be.

And when I was finished...well, it'd be really cool if I were to write: DING DING DING! Epiphanies galore!

Didn't happen.

When I was finished...I faced the same dilemma that probably made me pause in the first place. I don't know whether to proceed in a linear fashion...or (I'm shivering as I type this) to play around with re-ordering some of the scenes. Okay, I know big-time authors do it constantly. I KNOW editors (who tend to see more clearly) suggest this kinda thing all the time. Definitely a skill to learn no matter what.

Doesn't mean the thought doesn't scare me sh*tless.

It's hard enough to write a book from A to Z. Now I'm considering rearranging Q R S T so that it's more like STQR...which, understandably, will screw up U, V, and possibly N or maybe L. Frightening.

And obviously, why I decided it was time to blog tonight, huh? Trust me, if I hadn't already checked in on every website I monitor, I'd be doing that, too.

Hm. Did I ever solve that last game of Free Cell?

Postscript: Just did the math. I've written 12 short stories this year, averaging 30 pages a piece. Yep. 360 total pages. Enough for a whole BOOK.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Contrary To The Lyrics...

Shari and I are sitting at the bar chatting with a man we haven't seen in quite some time, when I notice the telltale signs in his eyes. A stranger is approaching.

The woman stands between us, her attention on the man. "Is your name Tony?"

"Excuse me?"

"Sorry. I thought you were someone I knew. Tony."

"No." He shakes his head with a smile. "Not Tony."

She disappears.

"I get that all the time," the man tells us.

"I'm surprised more people don't mistake you for someone they used to hang out with at a bar," I say.

"Oh, I get that, too."

I ponder what it's like to walk into a bar where everybody should know your name, but doesn't...and then Shari went to dance with the star.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reasons To Query Widely, Query Often

1. Partial sent to Publisher X November 2006.

- A year later, no word.

2. Query sent to Publisher Y November 2006.

- A year later, no word.

3. Query sent to Agent X March 2006.

- 8 months later, no word.

4. Full sent to Agent Y August 2006.

- Three months later, no word.

5. Full sent to Publisher Z took 13 months to get the Ix-nay.

Okay, there ARE exceptions. Email queries usually get a pretty quick response. Partials and fulls, understandably, take awhile...but a year's kinda hard to stomach, ain't it? (Oh, and let's be clear: none of the entities referenced are in the camp who don't respond if they're not interested.)

The GOOD news is that by the time anyone reads my stuff, my genre may be back in action.

Ha. One can hope.

P.S. These "stats" are for different manuscripts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving...

and all through the house....oh, wait. Wrong holiday.

Anyway, was contemplating the upcoming evening, feeling odd about not having plans. Must be a hangover from college days when this was a night to celebrate--the end of mid-terms and a long drive home to family I hadn't seen in months.

Instead, this year, the highlight of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will consist of a stop at the market for old lady spinster food (Lean Cuisines) and a spot in front of the TV for Project Runway.

Geez. Is my life circling the toilet, or what?


So, Shoot Me

How rude. My computer died, taking with it, all but the title of my original post. Now I'm too bored with the topic to resurrect it. Trust me, though. It was full of original thought, persuasively presented, and charmingly flip.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why, Why, Why...

…do I get so, so, so, much pleasure from eating the wrong food? I mean, it’s some sort of curse, right? Or, maybe I’m one of those people who went AWOL while God was handing out the nutritious eating gene.


So, last night I’m sitting next to my step-brother (not the one from Peru/Chile, but the one from Santa Fe, New Mexico who I haven’t seen for eight years, and oh yes—he’s a health nut), and he asks me if I like asparagus.

The question causes me much soul searching.

How do you tell someone like him that the only vegetable you’re likely to consume comes in the potato variety, preferably French fried?

“I don’t eat fruits and vegetables,” I mumble pathetically. Then I add, kinda desperately, so he’ll know I’m not an idiot: “I’m gonna die young.” But just to take the edge off my comment—maybe fool him a little—I eat two spears of asparagus along with the chicken and salad.

Then I follow it all up with chocolate pecan pie and frozen yogurt. And for good measure I continue nibbling on crackers and salmon/cream cheese pate.


Wait...uh-oh...did someone just open a bag of Fritos in the front office???

Watch me lay rubber down the hallway...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It Kinda Works

When NaNoWriMo first kicked off this month, they didn't quite have their act together on the stuff fondly known as widgets. Well, the one I picked isn't the one I remember from last year, but it'll have to do. I mean, to my mind, the optimum would be a bar thingy showing progress toward the goal, and this one just makes it look like writer friend Jacqui Jacoby has finished, when in fact, she's just beating the hell out of me...which, I guess, may be the point.

Off to get my ass in gear....stay tuned.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Oh, wait. I think that was what Gerald Ford said about Watergate.

Maybe I shouldn't equate it with the Triskelion debacle. Anyway, here's the deal: An epublisher named Siren bought the Triskelion contracts at auction for $1500, and in a gesture of good will, anounced its intention to release all rights back to the authors.

Now, I'm not sure if I need to do the Snoopy dance or what, cuz on Exhibit A in all the legal mumbo jumbo, there was a release date across from my name, so I think I was already "safe." Still...I'm thrilled to pieces for authors who had multiple works tied up in this mess. No doubt, they will find new cyberhomes for their books.

As for me, I'm done with the epub route. Finito. Finished. Not my thing. No offense to those of you making a career from it, but when you write straight contemporary nonerotic romance, epubbing isn't the place to be.

Did I gain anything from the experience? Uh, no Not really. It was a huge drain on my time with very, very little return--monetarily or otherwise.

Would I do it again? Uh, no. See previous paragraphs.

Am I sorry I did it? Uh, yes. At the time I signed the contract, I had a request for the manuscript from Dorchester. Knowing they take at least a year to read and respond--and that even then, the chances were slim of an acceptance--I went with the epub. For the instant gratification, you might say--always a questionable basis on which to make a decision.

Worse, though, is that I moved from Pro status to PAN status in RWA's eyes...which means, I can no longer compete in all the contests for unpublished authors...which, in turn, means I cut off one of the few avenues to editors and agents that exist.

Plus, ya think a New York publisher would touch an epubbed book even though it had only been on the market for a couple months? Uh, no. Probably not. So Stealing Amy basically goes in the trash heap.

Ah, well. Live and learn. Er, or not.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tell Me...

Why, why, WHY do they do it?

I’m talking about bull shitters. (And let’s be clear—there’s no such thing as a bull shit artist, because if he were an artist you wouldn’t know he was bull shitting. Um…did you follow that??)

Anyway, last night, the lovely Anna Margarita de la Cruz and I are sitting in a fine dining establishment, enjoying the first cocktails of the evening, when a man recognizes me from across the room and drops by to say hello.

Now, I’ve known this guy for years—okay, as well as anyone can know a bar acquaintance--I see him a couple times a month, I’ve met his wife, I know his friends—hell, I even dated one of them way back when.

So, why, why, WHY does he proceed to spend the next twenty minutes boring us with what he does, what he owns, where he travels, and what a hot shot he is? Permit me to pick a few words and phrases at random to paint the picture: my driver…my limo…I’m the guy they call…Vegas for four days…and (my personal favorite, said no less than five times) I’ll be out of the country.

I mean, what’s wrong with saying I’ll be traveling? I’ll be going out of town? And, trust me…this guy has NO limo, NO driver.

Oh, wait. The best part? Supposedly, he’s dropped by the restaurant because he’s “bringing some bands in” (although he’s, um, basically an insurance agent)…and he’s “consulting” with the owners, “helping them figure a way to rearrange the layout so that music in the bar area doesn't bother guests in the dining area.”

And, get this: when a policeman or firefighter goes down, this guy’s the first person they call.


Wow…talk about a jack-of-all-trades.

Except that I know the truth. Speaking of jack, a friend of his once told me this guy has jack to his name (big surprise).

Grrr. It seemed he’d never leave. Our wine glasses sat empty, the waitress too polite to interrupt. Then he left, and she appeared instantly. Anna Margarita, never having met the subject of this rant before, questioned her about the guy’s relationship to the restaurant.

“None,” she confirmed. “No offense if he’s a friend of yours, but I don’t like him.”

Later, we got the same response from the bartender.

So, again…sigh…I ask, what for?? Why the need to impress—especially, when he must KNOW I KNOW the truth?


It’s creepy, that’s what it is.

Pathological and creepy.

And, yes. A bit sad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where Have I Been?

14. Justin Timberlake - He may be bringing sexy back but so far, from what I can tell, it hasn't shown up yet.

13. Will Yun Lee - Who?

12. Adrian Grenier - Granted, he's got bedroom eyes and the tousled hair, but if we're going Entourage, I pick Jeremy Piven

11. Ben Affleck - Tired. Really. Just tired.

10. Shemar Moore - Who?

9. Javier Bardim - Who?

8. Will Smith - Okay, this choice makes sense

7. Dave Annable - Who?

6. Johnny Depp - I'll give ya sexy, but are we sure he bathes?

5. James McAvoy - Who?

4. Brad Pitt - Again, tired. Very, very, tired. And I've never been able to see past the chipmunk jowls.

3. Ryan Reynolds - Who?

2. Patrick Dempsey - Okay, I get it. Grey's Anatomy, which I don't watch. McDreamy, right? Can a man truly be sexy with such a stupid nickname?

And now...drum roll, please...this year's sexiest men

1. Matt Damon - HUH? Come on, People. I don't THINK so. I mean, nice guy and all. Loved him in The Talented Mr. Ripley...but sexy? Here's my new litmus test: if I can't picture a guy in a romantic comedy, he's not leading man material.

Now, it's entirely possible I'm either old or out-of-touch, probably both ...'cuz this year's list baffles me. I've never even HEARD of half of them, and the rest don't do a THING for me (with the exception of Will Smith). I mean, whaddya think, ladies?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No, No, NaNo

Some of you may have noticed the NaNoWriMo logo I added awhile back. You're probably wondering about my progress.

Well, let's just say...I suck.

See, here's the deal. I'd planned to use vacation downtime to do some plottin' and plannin'. Y' during airport layovers...while sunning on deck...time when I could let the muse work her magic.

Except things didn't turn out that way. I spent the airport layovers in bars chatting with strangers. I spent the time on deck comparing war stories with my young pal, Ali.

It seems the muse went on vacation, too.

Oh, don't get me wrong. In a moment of clarity the morning we hit St. Maarten, I wrote a 1200-word story for submission to Cup of Comfort for their next Christmas book, so the cruise wasn't a total lost cause in the writing arena.

But I came home with nothing, nada, zilch in the way of what to write for Nano. Then, the night before, I suddenly remembered an idea I'd had for a series. Kind of a Stephanie Plum meets Elle Wood meets Desperate Housewives thing. Even came up with a cool opening.

So, on the first day of November, I cranked out 2,000 words in true Nano fashion. The next day, I hit a wall. I kept writing, but I quickly lost enthusiasm for the idea. It just wasn't working.

That's the problem with doing Nano for the fifth time. Veteran blog readers may remember my first foray into crash-and-burn writing. Spit out 50,000 words (that's 200 manuscript pages) in 3 weeks. return to the "ignorance is bliss" era. 'Course the output was out-and-out crap, but still...last year, I managed 36,000 words of a book I'm still trying to finish. on day three of NaNo, I decided screw it. I'll use the time to work on short stories for True Romance. By NaNo standards, I should be able to spew out five or six.

Or, two.

Bottom line--it's day 13 of the novel writing frenzy month, and my total is currently about 8,500 words--far short of the 21,658 I should be at. Writing buddies keep saying things like, "hey--that's 8,500 words you hadn't written before," to which I say: "But I probably wrote 8,500 words in the same period of time last month."

In short, NaNo is a bust.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Homage to the M's and A's

Kathy Griffin may have "her gays", but I've got my M&A' set on the West Coast, the other on the East. Today's post pays tribute to them.

To the A's:

Thank you for not having a jealous bone in your bodies and for knowing romance isn't about the amount of time spent alone with your guy

Thank you for not getting upset when I accidentally know more about upcoming plans than you do

To the M's:

Thank you for lifting my heavy luggage and handling the taxi drivers

Thank you for not rolling your eyes when subjected to all the "girly" conversation

To all four of you:

Thank you for not adhering to society's rules that people oughta come in couples

Thank you for never making me feel like a third wheel

Thank you for never pressuring me to round out a threesome into a foursome

Thank you for sharing your zest for adventure and making it possible for me to experience mine

I feel blessed to have y'all in my life!

Marty and Ann

Marty and Ali

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

We Now Return You... our regularly scheduled program. AKA Randy's normal life.

So, let's see how many of you are seasoned readers, shall we? Let's pretend we're back in college and it's SAT (GRE/LSAT/GMAT whatever) time, and your score depends on the proper answer to one--and only one--multiple choice question.

Here goes:

A. Randy got home from her cruise, went to bed, and unpacked the next day after work.

B. Randy got home from her cruise, unpacked and did laundry, then went to bed.

C. Randy got home from her cruise, unpacked what she needed for the next day, then completed the process when she had time over the following week.

D. Eight days after her cruise, Randy's open suitcase is blocking the front door, with clothes spilling out all over the foyer, and shards of broken mirror sparkling on the tile.

Okay, show of hands. Who picked A, B, or C...?


Longtime blog readers know D is the correct answer.

And, for extra credit, the essay question: WHEN and HOW will the situation described in option D change?

Ding Ding DING!

Right. The maid comes tomorrow.

Which means Randy will rise three minutes early, stuff all the crap back into the suitcase and throw it in the closet.

Class dismissed. (Gold stars for those who answered the essay question correctly.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Don't Try This With Dial-Up

More cruise highlights. And if I could figure out what happened to the utility I had that allowed me to capture video from my videocam, this would be Oscar-worthy.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cruise Shots

See, here's the thing. I really should have taken notes each night, because I've already forgotten the details of yesterday, let alone last week. So, let's rely on the pictures, shall we?

Oh, and I just uploaded them in reverse order. Geesh. And now what I've written isn't where it's supposed to be. Ack. Bear with me on the spacing.

Anyway, Ali and Marty on our first formal night. We were (where else?) at the casino bar just before dinner.

Next is a shot of some of our Boston friends. I believe that's Claudia on the left, then Sandy, Margaret, and Jimbo. If I were ever stranded on a desert island, these are the three I'd choose for partners, and here's why: Sandy would supply the food and the box of wine, Margaret would keep us in shape with line dancing, and Jimbo would entertain us by singing Red Beans and Rice!

Then there's me...trying out the self-timer in my stateroom. Trust me, it took several shots to get a good one. My cabin guy (who I met only once--guess the fawning service went out with the advent of prepaid tips) was a little towel animal-challenged. They all looked like elephants.

Sunset, first night out of Ft. Lauderdale. Not sure I saw another one the whole cruise, but I always like sunRISES better anyway. And, yes...despite the late nights, I got a bunch of good ones, particularly coming into St. Maarten and St. Lucia. More on those later.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Frog legs (yep...just like chicken)

Rueben sandwich (omigod, y'all...why didn' t anyone tell me about these???)

Missed a formal night

Accessed the internet at sea

Conversed with a cross-dresser (and maybe got hit on???)

First time on St. Lucia

First time I didn't visit the photo gallery to see pictures (especially after the sour look on a new friend's face who reported coming across one of me and Ali)

First time I didn't purchase ONE souvenir on the ship

First time I didn't eat ONE breakfast (okay, that's a lie--but a spoonful of scrambled eggs hardly counts, does it? Oh, and unless you count pina coladas as breakfast--which, as a matter of fact, I do)

First time sailing through a storm that had a name (Noel--figures it'd be a guy)

And, now...for your viewing pleasure...Miss Ali on board the Carnival Miracle, accompanied by Larry The Piano Player with assistance by Buster.