Thursday, May 28, 2009

In A Funk

Man. I suppose you've been tuning into the old blog and thinking, what the funk? Where's Randy?

I know. Me, too.

Can't figure it out. Is it summertime, or something? Maybe the rising mercury zaps language processing abilities. God knows, I've got topics to spew on. Last weekend's trip to Harrah's Rincon (btw, I think I'm over gambling)...but then, no. Nothing really special to report there (apologies to my travel partners, but seriously. Can you think of a memorable moment?)

A fascinating internet contact...but maybe too personal to go into now. Will save for later, when I'm more certain the contactee won't mind her story splashed around the globe.

We're kinda in between reality shows, so nothing to vent about on that score (except, wowser--that cougar on the New Jersey housewives--simply amazing).

Deaths. Oh, yeah. A few of those to comment on, but not-so-entertaining, y'know?

Finally, what about my so-called writing career? Yeah baby, now there's a short post!

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes having nothing going on worth blogging suits me just fine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two R's and a Y

Two, count 'em, TWO rejections from Women's World in one weeklong-stretch. Sigh. But on a happier note, a contract from True Romance for a story tentatively titled, "Three Strikes And You're In." Yep, a baseball theme--suitable for August, no?

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's In Randy's In-box?

I don't know about you guys, but I have way too many email addresses, starting with the day job where I monitor eight of the little suckers. When I hit send/receive first thing in the morning, the computer audibly groans.

Over time, it seems, all good email addresses morph into spam-filled monsters riddled with useless incoming crap. That's when you abandon them for fresh new.

Not me, though. I can't bear to give up old email addresses cuz I'm afraid of missing a customer. Instead, I hop on over to webmail, peruse the sender and subject list, then do a mass delete of nearly 99% of what's there before it ever hits my inbox. Otherwise, I'd be wading through the following:

Shape the Future of Technology with TechSay

Test & Measurement World
TMW Featured White Paper: Limited Access Testing on the Agilent i3070

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STW #502: Commanding the Atlantic

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GPS Tools for Measuring, Estimating and Delivery on Property, gives Services an Edge with Go

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FDAnews Management Reports
Spreadsheet Validation: New Compliance Methods in 2009

Design News
Sign up for eNewsletters

Procurement Technology Bulletin
Includes: How to Drive Contract Labor Cost Savings - Free Webinar
4 More Days of "Extra 30% off EVERYTHING" + The Control Suit that doesn't LOOK like a Control Suit

Victoria's Secret
Ends Monday! Up to 65% Off Swim, 150+ Styles. Plus, Free Shipping Offer. Details Inside.

KMWorld NewsLinks
KM Bulletin: Enhance SharePoint People Search

Jarrod N. McKee
Canadian Rx Medications No Doc Needed

Aviation Today
Weekly Poll- Complete and enter for a chance to win an Amazon gift card

KMWorld NewsLinks
KM Bulletin: Enhance SharePoint People Search

Priority Club News
Stay any 2 Nights, then get 1 Free. Register now.

Purchasing Information Alert
Exclusive steel-bar report on prices and demand

FDAnews Webinar
Patent Up Your Biologics to Protect Yourself From Generic Competition

Boston Proper
Summer Dresses! Fun, Sexy & Easy to Wear.
spam Summary 05/22/2009

SME Daily Executive Briefing
May 22: Philadelphia-Area Manufacturing Contraction Slows

NAGC Publications
How-To Guides for Government Contractors

MSC Service to USA

MSC Service to USA

Sunday Special Sale
Memorial Day Sale Starts Now: Netbook w/ Windows XP $199.99, Plasma Ball $9.99, 4GB microSDHC Card $6.99,..

Brooks Reports
European Airports

Brooks Reports
European Airports

Drug Daily Bulletin
Court Documents Reveal AstraZeneca's Marketing Techniques for Seroquel

Device Daily Bulletin
FDA Submits Reporting Data on Emergency Devices

InformationWeek Daily
YouTube Launches U.S. Government Portal

Frederick's of Hollywood
Low prices. Free shipping. It’s Superstar Sale.

Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa
Poolside Island Music This Weekend
Tunics & Leggings are from $10 + extra 30% off EVERYTHING + buy flips flops, get a pair FREE!
San Gabriel Valley Tech CEO Round Table on 6/5

Live Nation
Southern California Concert Update

Design News Golden Mousetrap
LAST CHANCE: Best Product Contest

T&MW's Test Industry News
USB 3.0 Demonstration; IEEE Call to Help Earthquake Victims; May Challenge; More

Design News Materials & Fastening
Johns Hopkins Issues Warning about PVC Medical Systems
Hurry! VIP Dress Event SALE ends at midnight + extra 30% OFF EVERYTHING!

The ECN Daily
Sony Slashes Suppliers

Profiles International
Last Chance To Download New Study: 5 Escapable Warning Signals of Manager Derailment

Profiles International
Last Chance To Download New Study: 5 Escapable Warning Signals of Manager Derailment

Avionics and Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum Conference & Expo
Last Week to Pre-Register for FREE Expo Pass to the Biggest Event Ever

Laboratory Equipment
Toxic Cocktails for Marine Brains; Junk DNA Finds Meaning; Eco-Friendly Wood Pulping; New Products

Purchasing Magazine
The Smart Sourcing Summit: Managing Risk in Uncertain Times

FDAnews Clinical Trials
Adverse Event at Your Clinical Trial? Get the Latest Facts Here

4:15: Dinner for 4. Under$15.

Duncan Aviation
1995 Falcon 900B-151 Major Price Reduction

Caesars Windsor
Oops! A Clarification About Your 4X Multiplier on May 23
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Please Update Your Information

Aviation Today
Just Posted Jobs from GE, NASA, FAA and More

Avionics Intelligence
E-newsletter: Cockpit Displays

R&D Magazine
Transistor theory flaw; 5-D discs to store terabytes and more; Imaging clouds with CT

Test & Measurement World
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Test & Measurement World
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FDAnews Webinar
Analysis of the FDA's China Office's Recent Enforcement Actions

The Editors of Blue Tops
Blue Tops Daily Email

GlobalMarket Product Alert
Auto Parts and Accessories - Product Alert from Globalmarket

GlobalMarket Product Alert
Auto Parts and Accessories - Product Alert from Globalmarket

EDN Webcast Round-up
Upcoming and Available Now Webcasts from EDN

EDN Webcast Round-up
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Compliance Boot Camp: FDA Insiders Train You
AdForum's Top 5 Ads This Week

World Aerospace Dat

Yep, and that's just this morning's mail. Can you spot the ONE I didn't delete?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

And This, My Friends, Is The Way It Works

...or doesn't.

November 2007 (yes, that 2007): Send electronic query letter on Project C to Agent A.

December 2007: Receive request for partial.

December 2007: Mail requested material.

August 2008: Receive request for full manuscript.

August 2008: Mail requested material.

May 2009: Receive rejection.

Like clockwork, huh?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hubba Hubba Hubbell

Don't they look like jewels of the universe? These are images photographed from that indefatigable workhorse, the Hubbell Space Telescope. (Go, astronauts! Fix the little guy all up, will ya?)

(*Collage of images shamelessly ripped off The Drudge Report--no clue where he got it himself.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Tough Nut To Crack

Yesterday's mail brought my 3rd (4th? 5th?) rejection from Women's World. (Sorry, it's so easy to lose track of submissions. Guess I could check my handy dandy spreadsheet, but who really cares anyway?)

For those not in the know, Women's World can be found at your local grocery store's checkout stand. It's a weekly magazine loaded with pieces on health, beauty, family...yada, yada, yada...and two items of fiction: an 800-word romance and a 500 (?)-word mystery. I don't know about the mysteries, but the pay for romance is $800. (Up until recently, they required 1,000 words for--yep!--$1,000. One thousand words translates to about 4 manuscript pages, so the moola is nothing at which to achoo.)

Anyway, so yeah. I've been trying my hand, but so far, no luck. Yesterday, for the first time, the form rejection included writer guidelines. (Ha. I'm thinking they said: "Geesh. Get a clue. Here, study up.") After reading them, the light bulb went on. Y'see, I've been writing these sweet little stories with nice 'ahas!' at the end, 'relationship dilemma.' (Hm. Just re-read the story I posted below--it's not ENTIRELY devoid of relationship dilemma. Oh, well.)

What the hell...enjoy. (And excuse the funky formatting.)

My family meant well when they surprised me with a two-month old cocker spaniel for my birthday, but I had reservations. “Who’s gonna take care of this little guy all day?”

“You’ve got a safe backyard,” my mother pointed out, “and a nice park up the street where you can walk in him the evenings after work.” She patted my arm. “The exercise will do you good.”

I groaned, but the fluffy ball of fur with the lopsided ears enchanted me. Without warning, he jumped into my lap, his forlorn eyes begging for approval. Beside me, my sister Molly laughed. “See? A match made in heaven, Ellie.”

I knew what they were up to. Mom longed for another grandchild and Molly yearned to become an aunt. Since I’d squelched their schemes to find me a man, they’d resorted to man’s best friend. Peering into soft velvet puppy eyes, I could hardly fault their reasoning.

Two days later, Max made his official debut at the local doggie park. At first, I stood on the sidelines as a handful of fellow owners performed an assortment of tasks with their pets. One woman jogged around the track, her sleek black lab preceding her with a stately gait. In the center of the park, a teenage boy tossed a Frisbee while his black-and-white mutt repeatedly lunged after it.

Suddenly, Max growled.

“What is it, boy?”

From seemingly nowhere, a dog off its leash−and no owner in sight−bounded toward us, teeth bared. With my heart in my throat, I scrambled to grab Max.

“Brutus!” A man emerged from behind a hedge, cradling his own small dog. “Brutus, stay,” he warned.

“He’s yours?” I asked, my voice quivering.

“No, but I’m familiar with the way his owner flaunts the rules. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen his dog off-lead.”

The menacing animal sniffed at the air, then trotted away, presumably in search of more interesting prey. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks for the rescue.”

“No problem. The name’s Michael, by the way. And this is Buster.”

“Hi. I’m Ellie, and this wriggly mass of fear is Max.”

He tousled Max’s right ear, chuckling. “Cocker spaniel?”

“Yes, and yours?”

“Same,” he said, beaming. “I see we have something in common.”

As we discovered over the next couple of weeks, Max and Buster’s breed wasn’t the only thing Michael and I shared in common. Foreign movies, popcorn with real butter, and roaring logs in the fireplace made the list as well. One day I suggested we get together for all three, but he instantly stiffened, yanking unnecessarily on Buster’s leash. “Maybe,” he said. “I’ll have to let you know.”

The vague response set off mental alarm bells. “Michael, are you married?”

His eyes widened. “No, of course not.” We continued walking in silence, then he paused. “I was married,” he said, his jaw twitching. “Sally and I divorced five years ago.”

Instinctively, I touched his sleeve. “I’m sorry. Any kids involved?”

“No. My ex didn’t want children.”

My heart ached for Michael. Especially since I could tell by the way he handled Buster, he’d make a fabulous father.
He smiled wistfully. “Sometimes you have to accept what Fate has in store for you. Becoming a parent wasn’t in the cards.”

“Nonsense. You’re young. You’ll fall in love again.”

The next afternoon, Michael and Buster didn’t show up for our daily walk. Sadly, Max and I trudged through our usual routine, but our hearts weren’t in it. “Sorry boy,” I told my canine companion, “guess I scared him off.”

An entire week passed, then suddenly there they were−waiting for us as though no time had elapsed. Michael wore a wide grin and even Buster seemed to harbor a secret. I didn’t hold back. “We missed you,” I said as the two dogs exchanged slurpy greetings.

“Same here,” Michael said. “A lot.”

I lifted my chin. “I guess you were busy?”

“Uh-huh. With obedience school. I should have told you but it slipped my mind.” A twinkle rose to his eye. “You’ll never guess who we ran into.”

Clueless, I shrugged.

“A dog breeder by the name of Bob Turner.”

“Sorry. I don’t think I know him.”

“No, but your mother does. When I mentioned you and Max, Bob remembered selling a puppy from Buster’s litter to a woman for her daughter’s birthday.”

I blinked. “You mean...?”

Michael nodded, his smile stretching from ear to ear. “Buster and Max are brothers. Which makes you Mom...”

“...and you Dad,” I finished, matching his grin. “We’re parents.”

“Must be Fate,” he said.

And a perfect beginning.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Has It Already Been A Year??

Long-time blog readers are painfully familiar with my take on pitch appointments at RWA's national conference. Been there, done that--got the damaged heart tissue to prove it. (Kidding. At least, so far as I know.)

Seriously. As you'll recall, last year I concluded that nothing--certainly not my health, nor my happiness--is worth the agonizing torture of a ten-minute period wherein I'm to hawk my manuscript (and perhaps myself) to an industry professional such as an editor or agent. The looming event hovers over my entire conference experience like a huge shroud of doom.

So yeah, sayonara pitching.

But then an idea hatched. First, my reasoning was that if (IF, mind you) I were to entertain the notion (merely the NOTION, mind you), of signing up for an appointment, I'd go for an editor because, after all, the majority of editors are unapproachable in any other way without an agent. So, there. Perfect justification for choosing an editor appointment over an agent appointment (or for electing to make an appointment at all).

Next (ah, and here's the genius), I decided to sign up for a group appointment. Y'know, something about safety in numbers and all.

Once I decided to go after an appointment, I felt a small sense of elation. Hey, every little conference benny grabbed helps justify the big bucks I'm shelling out to attend.

Anyway, this is all MOOT because I couldn't even log-on to the RWA site this morning. Yes, as usual, the whole process apparently went haywire, and by the time I could view the list of participating editors still available, forget it. The ones seeking the stuff I write were already snapped up.

Okay, so maybe this was God's way of looking out for me....?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Is That A Rat I Smell?


You just KNEW the whole trip-to-Mexico-cancellation debacle was gonna turn into ongoing blog fodder, didn't you?

Ding ding ding. You get the gold star.

So, today I receive an email from Travelocity with a subject line saying: "How Did We Do?"

Well. (See, I'm figuring it's one of those automatically-generated messages--you know the kind--"Dear Randy, we hope you enjoyed your recent trip to blah, blah, blah..." Followed by: "We hope you'll turn to Travelocity for ALL your future travel needs, yada, yada." So, I'm rubbing my hands together in glee, ready to TELL THEM EXACTLY HOW IT WENT.)

Only one problem. Apparently, they had a different (more diabolical, I'm sure!) reason for dropping a note, cuz this is what the email said:

Dear Randy,

You were recently contacted by the ProCC team at Travelocity because of a swine flu update associated with your trip. We value your opinion and invite you to share your feedback by answering the following short survey that should take less than 3 minutes to complete.

Huh? Exactly WHEN I was contacted by the ProCC team (whatever THAT is), and by what means did they supposedly contact me? Inquiring minds wanna know. (Oh, you mean the email that was a RESPONSE to MY email? That one?) Funny, how reading the above doesn't imply what truly transpired, isn't it?

Even funnier--when I clicked on the so-called "survey"? Only one question! That's it! And here's what it said (paraphrasing):

"Do you remember receiving an email from Travelocity warning you about potential problems with your scheduled trip to Mexico?" (Like I say, this is from memory because the link to the survey no longer works.) Honestly, I clicked on "no" because I truly didn't believe I had...until I went back and re-reread THEIR RESPONSE to my QUESTION. Now I'm thinking they're gonna use that to protect themselves from something. Especially cuz, what an ODD question, huh--"do you remember...?" Maybe if I'd read their emails with an Indian accent...?

Anyway, interesting. All I know is that I spent hours and hours on the phone, trying to reschedule, and finally gave up.

THAT part is CRYSTAL CLEAR in my memory.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Brenda Novak's OnLine Auction For Diabetes Research

NY Times bestselling romantic suspense author Brenda Novak is holding her annual auction for diabetes research the entire month of May. Since this is her fifth year, she's really got the whole auction thing down to a science--both in the way it's organized and in the quality of the items up for grabs.

There's something for everyone, of course, but in particular, she's rounded up some really special treats for writers and readers. Like, who wouldn't wanna have lunch with Janet Evanovich? Or, how about a night at Nora Roberts' Inn?

There are fabulous getaways (hello!!! African safari!!!) on down to autrographed books. Like I said, something for everyone. Check out the whole auction here. Oh, and bring your digital checkbook and prepare to drop some serious coin 'cuz it's for a great cause.

P.S. And, yep. Jacqui Jacoby talked me into donating here to see what it is. I'm so stoked that EIGHT bids have been made!!!!

Monday, May 04, 2009

So, It Wasn't Mexico... was the good ol' U S of A--Long Beach, to be precise--but rest assured--Kath and I crammed four nights of partying into one.

What can I say? It's a gift.See, remember, we were SUPPOSED to be in Puerto Vallarta (sob, sob) but the world went crazy and everything shut down. Restaurants, bars, and businesses (oh, my). Not conducive for a fun-in-the-sun vacation.

Still...we decided to soldier through the sad experience by meeting in downtown Long Beach for one night. I arrived at the hotel, dropped my stuff and headed back to the bar in time for "My Old Kentucky Home," whereupon I made an imaginary bet guessed it, the horse that won. (Sidenote: did you know this horse showed such little potential, that he'd already been gelded?? I mean, if I'm not mistaken, that means no stud farm for him, right? Yikes. Talk about a missed opportunity.)

Kath showed up soon thereafter and we made our first bar stop. Um, not sure of the name, which kinda tells you how the rest of the night went. It's where E joined us, that much I remember. And we sat outside. And I drank a Vodka tonic. Or two.
Then, E pointed out the Sky Room--a joint I've read about forever but had never been to, so YAY! Something to cross off the 'to-do' list, y'know? It's one of those old, old, old, landmarks above what I guess used to be a hotel but E says are now condos (hey, big surprise there, huh?).

On the way to the elevator, we stumbled upon a wedding chapel and, um, we took pictures which Kath and E would kill me for posting, so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was all pretty funny. At least to us. At the time.
Here's the guy that escorts you to the top of the building on the elevator. Quaint, huh? Note I'm already looking a little the worse for wear and the sun hasn't even set yet. Eek.

As you can see, the ladies room offered more photo ops. Again, I'm self-censoring!From the Sky Room, we headed back up the street for dinner to a place called Allegro. (Yay! A momentary return of my memory!) Mmm, mmm, good. On your next visit, get the pasta. I promise you won't be disappointed--and, oh yeah--the bottle of Sangria went down pretty easy, too.

Finally, after dinner, we wound up at some random nightspot (names? who remembers names?) boasting live Latin music which, y'know, sold me right there. I even made E dance. (Oh, wait. Did I make Kath dance, too? I mean, with me???) More picture taking ensued but the results are kinda blurry (go figure).
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Don't ask me what time it was, cuz I wouldn't know. Don't ask about the walk back to the hotel, because it's a hazy memory.
Yep. These two girls should definitely call it a night.