Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year!

First of all, I have to send a HUUUUUUGE happy birthday wish to Head Honcho, who is indeed a Leap Year baby! In all the time I have known him, we have only celebrated his actual birthday a handful of times. And this one is (shhhh...) a biggie.

Second of all, I want to remind you all that this is the LAST day to enter the February contest to win a signed galley of my new book, ALL ABOUT VEE. This book won't be out until April so here's your chance to get a jump on all your friends!

Thirdly (is that a word?), I was sooo disappointed America voted Alexandrea off Idol last night. I thought she was a true original. However, she is young and she has plenty of years ahead of her for success.

Fourthly (definitely NOT a word), LOST was so effin' amazing last night, I could barely sit still in my chair. I kept getting up and pointing at the television. I mean, I love Desmond stories and I think Des/Penny is a beautiful love story so this was just amazing for me. All the time travel stuff and how it relates back to Faraday on the island...fascinating! I was totally confused - the producers were on the money when they said the first 8 episodes of this season would bring more questions than answers but HH insists he knows what's going on. I was too tired to ask him for specifics, though, because we....

Lastly, played the LOST videogame! Whoo-hoo! An early b-day present for HH. He plays and I watch cuz I am miserable when it comes to working the XBox controller. So far, it's very cool and you get to interact with the real characters. It definitely helps to know the backstory of the show because there are certain things you have to do that you might not know if you weren't a fan. But no need to be a psycho fan to play the game.

Man, do I need a is this possible when I feel like I haven't done anything???

Thursday, February 28, 2008

One More Contest Reminder!

Hello All!

Just a friendly reminder that you can still enter to win a copy of my new novel, ALL ABOUT VEE, which I will sign for you and everything, over at, which is one of the books being offered in their February contest. Since it's Leap Year, you actually get TWO more days to enter!! So hurry! 'Cuz I really want to give one away!!

The Girls' Turn, Turn, Turn

So the phrase of the evening was, "Wrong song choice."

Did every one of the female Idol contestants get it wrong? All except Brooke White, whom HH adores but who I think is just okay. She's another one who sort of hides behind the guitar. It's really hard to choose the best or the worst from last night. Although I thought Carly sounded terrific, vocally, the judges were right: Heart was not the right song for her. And Amanda? Oh my dear...I LOVE her but what was that outfit and that hair and that song? Kansas? Seriously?

Just have to say this one thing: with all of the wonderful female singers from the 70s, why did so many of the girls last night pick songs written for men? I wish someone had told Carly and Amanda about Grace Slick. I know they are both too young to know her, but come on, their voices would have been perfect for her songs!

Big sigh here...I think Kristy Lee was better than last week. I disagreed with Simon about Kady who looked cute and very 70s with her Farrah Fawcett 'do. I wanted Ramiele and Asia'h to do better than they did - the former underestimated her voice and the latter overestimated hers.

I really, gosh, have no idea what will happen tonight. Maybe it really is a boy's year - well, one boy. Let's say it: it's David Archulea's year. Let's cut to the chase and give it to him.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another Round of Boys on Idol

Does this contest need to continue? Seriously? I think after two weeks, it should be pretty much evident to everyone that David Archuleta is the clear winner among the boys. I'll reserve judgment when we go co-ed and we can see him go up against Carly and the girls but if I were one of the boys last night, I would be planning my flight home.

Personally, I love Jason Castro and can see him having a career a la John Mayer, although maybe a little quirkier. I also think Chikezie did a great job - full of energy, great voice - and I'm not sure why the judges aren't more supportive of him. Maybe he doesn't fit their image of a pop star but honestly? Has anyone who's ever won looked like a pop idol? Each one had to be molded slightly - and then each one sort of did his/her own thing anyway!

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening except for those darn interviews! The only guy who came off looking cool was Robbie. He looked like a total rocker in that drag racing car and then when he sang, he might as well have been saying to us, "I only look like I'm a rocker. Really, I'm a boy band singer."

In the bottom 3 on Thursday? Hmmmm...Luke, Jason Y, and Michael (I'm a fan but that perf last night was a bit...let's say it, pitchy, dawg.).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

6 Weeks 'Til the New Book!!

Holy cats! My new novel, ALL ABOUT VEE, will be out in 6 weeks! How did this sneak up on me? Last year, when my first book was coming out, I knew exactly how many days and hours until the official release yet somehow, it's almost like I forgot VEE!

I wonder if big-time authors who've published ten or twenty or fifty books become blase about the whole thing. Is it just another book to them? Are they so involved in their next book that they don't even notice the new one is out?

Meg Cabot, in her blog diary, noted that she forgot her new book was out! In her February 8 entry, she wrote about her first middle grade novel: It turns out I have a new book out in stores.

Whoa! How do you forget a thing like that? Now, here is a woman who has had so many novels published in different genres, for different audiences, and she's so busy with other things, like appearances and emails and contests, that it's no wonder she forgot.

Btw, I get overwhelmed just reading Meg's blog and website! I can't begin to imagine what it's like to actually be her...

So I have to begin planning some VEE stuff. Ninja Webmaster and I are totally psyched to add some new stuff to the website. And I definitely want to get out and see the people who are so lovely and buying my books so we'll probably do some events here and on the east coast this spring and summer. If anyone out there in the blogosphere wants me to come do a visit at their school or local library, email me!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Post Oscar, Posthaste

I saw two movies that were nominated for Oscars this year: "Ratatouille" and "No Country for Old Men." Both won. Gosh, I wish I had been in an Oscar pool!

All I have to say about last night's show is this:

1. I am so psyched Diablo Cody won for writing "Juno." She is the ultimate in outsider: a blogger who worked as a stripper to make money and gain life experience and I loved her speech. She looked like she had practiced that speech a million times, never expecting to actually use it and then when she did, she had nothing left to say and looked like she was going to puke on her way off the stage. That's the person you want to win.

2. I wish Cate Blanchett had won for either of the roles she was nominated for, as Dylan or Queen Elizabeth. She is one of my very favorite actresses (although I love Tilda Swinton too and am glad for her as well). I believe Cate was robbed of her gold statuette years ago when Gwyneth Paltrow took it for "Shakespeare in Love."

3. Jon Stewart is a funny guy but he ain't no Billy Crystal or Ellen DeGeneres. I would love to see Ellen back again. She is quick on her feet, clever, incisive without being offensive and very, very funny.

4. Yay, Daniel Day-Lewis!

and finally...

5. I wish the writers had ended their strike just a tad bit earlier so they could have gone to work on the Oscar show a little sooner. With so little time to put it all together, the jokes were kind of underdeveloped, the banter between the presenters undererhearsed and the producers relied on wayyyyy too many montages and vocal performances. In all, it was a pretty forgettable show.

For the complete list of winners, go here.

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Music is none of my business..."

I often feel like that quote from Marge Simpson. I'm not hugely into bands although I love listening to the radio and discovering new songs and music but I'm not one of those people who are always fiddling with their iPods.

I have a Nano but the battery is always dying on me and man, does that suck.

And before you say it's just cuz I'm old and I didn't grow up with a pair of buds in my ear, let me disabuse you of that thought right now. I came of age during

(cue drum roll and crashing cymbals)

The Walkman Era!

This was the time of mix tapes for every occasion -your best friend's bf just dumped her, you've got a new bf yourself, you're feeling sad or lonely or happy or whatever - we bought cassettes by the dozen and made them every weekend.

I remember when my brother borrowed my first tape player and one of his lame buddies thought it would be funny to glue it shut. Until I could afford to replace the thing, I had to use it with a rubber band holding it shut and when the rubber band started to loosen, the tape would come unhinged and unravel so I was constantly replacing the band. Now that I think of it, I don't know that my bro ever replaced it for me...dude, that's uncool.

Anyway, I'm in front of my computer a lot these days and I really like to listen to music as I work, mostly classical with no lyrics but as a break, I enjoy contemporary stuff but until recently, my video card was trashed so I couldn't listen to iTunes or YouTube but now it's fixed, thanks to my Ninja Webmaster so this morning I have been treating myself to all sorts of fun stuff!

So far I've listened to the new Foo Fighters song about ten times. Let's make it 11.

Friday, February 22, 2008

End of Week Thoughts

Over at Sarah Dessen's blog, she ends every week with what she calls the "Friday Five." Five things she's thinking about at the end of her week. It's such a great idea and five is the perfect number and I would love to steal it except that would be so uncool. Maybe I can borrow it every once in a while? Or maybe I wouldn't use all five, maybe just three...three is a good number too. Not as good as five but still good.

Anyway, my friday three then are:

1. I'm still shocked that Colton Berry was kicked off Idol last night. (Leif) Garrett and Amy, yes, definitely, they were on my list and much as I love Joanne, I kind of knew she didn't perform that well on Wednesday so none of those were surprises but Colton? After all the praise he's gotten from the judges? Shocker! And then to hear Simon trash the boy's hopes for a future in music...ouch! We just have to remember back to what Simon told him when he was chosen over Kyle: he was in a huge disagreement with Paula and Randy. Maybe he was thinking if he had his way, Kyle would have been there and competing. Oh well, on to next week!

2. How awesome was LOST last night? I have to say one thing: I KNEW IT WAS AARON! I just knew it. When Kate told Sawyer she wasn't pregnant, we knew her "son" in the flash forward couldn't be his. Then when Jack refused to visit the kid, we knew it wasn't his (no way on earth would Jack not be a good dad). Then, just as we were walking into the bedroom, I thought, "What if it's Aaron? What if something happened to Claire?" And bam! Blond hair, little bit older than a baby...ha! Now, question: does this mean Aaron is the 6th of the Oceanic 6? So many more questions were brought up in this episode, like why does Miles think Ben can get so much money when he's stuck on an island? And why such an odd number? And why haven't Desmond and Sayid reached the ship yet?

3. I have to admit I still have not seen the nominees for the Oscar this year, except "No Country for Old Men," which I thought was superb. I will probably watch the show but not too closely. I really don't feel like I care that much this year and that makes it a lot less fun to watch.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

AI Girls: Who's Going Home?

Let's just say right at the outset: what was Simon's deal? He kept saying he "didn't get it." He didn't get what? The performance? The love from the audience?

And what was up with the song choices? I know none of these girls were even born during the time period these songs were popular but didn't anyone tell them how they were supposed to be performed, who performed them to begin with...did they not get them on iTunes and hear them?

Overall I would have to agree with Simon on most of the ladies' performances: they were uneven at best. A few definitely stood out, namely Amanda, Carly, Asia'h, Syesha, and Ramiele. The others were forgettable which is exactly what you don't want to be.

I felt bad for Kristy Lee Cook who sold her horse to audition. I really don't think she will be getting her horse back anytime soon. I think she's on a shortlist tonight. Amy Davis also had a bad night; pretty as she is, I don't think her voice is terribly strong. I think Kady Malloy and Joanna Borgella are about evenly matched in terms of strength and range and one of them will likely be in the bottom three tonight.

The top 5, if we're thinking that far ahead, might include Carly, David A, Amanda, Colton, and Syesha. It might. Who knows what the future will hold and what songs they will have to sing?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

AI Boys: Who Will Go Home?

Let's start with the positive stuff about last night's Idol: the top 3 boys clearly are David A, Jason and Michael, if you listen to Simon. Randy and Paula were wishy washy about most of the others without condemning them outright to the bottom three. David A (whom HH thinks is being insincere about his awkwardness - you knew he was on Star Search, yes?) is a hot young pop star that will - and did - make the girls scream. He's got the smile, the hair, the voice and the cute personality. He will go very far. Jason gets the alt vote from all those people who watch the show but pretend they don't. And Michael (once he gets over his Jim Morrison impersonation and lets himself be himself) is the only real manly man out there and will get the votes from all the middleaged men and women.

Now the bottom three...sorry Luke, you're cute and you have a nice smile but seriously, what was up with that jacket and that high pitched song? He looked like he just stepped off the street and onto the stage. Garrett was okay but really needed to cut his hair or do something to sweep it off his face and he needed to do something unusual with his song to make it stand out. As for number 3, that's a toughy: I liked Chikezie and Jason both but of the two, Jason - although polished and pleasant - seemed to have too little energy for this show. I say it will be Luke, Garrett and Jason in the bottom 3 on Thursday night.

So far I don't see the appeal of Colton, whom the judges seem to like. He's cute and he could do well in a group, like a boy band, but on his own, he doesn't seem strong enough.

And the others blended into the woodwork - neither pleasant nor un-.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Hoax: Underrated, Underrappreciated?

I know I'm supposed to be watching the Oscar nominees, since I've only seen one so far ("No Country for Old Men") and I am really dying to see "Juno" and "Atonement," the latter since it was based on a novel by Ian McEwan who I think is really amazing, but I keep getting distracted. That darn Netflix brought us another really cool movie that no one we know ever saw: "The Hoax," starring Richard Gere and Al Molina and directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

It's the story of the man who faked the Howard Hughes biography in the 70s, a man with huge, um, ego, named Clifford Irving. He pretended to know Hughes, to have been contacted by the reclusive eccentric, and parlayed that into a million dollar payday for himself and his friend and researcher, Dick Suskind. Of course, the publishing world went nuts over it, although there was always a doubt in their minds that any of this was real. They had handwriting experts check out the Hughes memos, had a journalist listen to the tapes purportedly made by Irving and Hughes, but eventually it all came apart when Hughes himself spoke up at a press conference, remotely, and said he had never heard of Irving let alone contacted him about his memoirs.

A fascinating story! And much of it was based on the truth. This man really attempted this and he really served time for fraud and the book was really printed before they figured ut out. I would LOVE to read this! I wonder if they really did burn all of the copies or if there are a few out there.

Richard Gere and the rest of the cast were pitch perfect. This was an excellent role for Gere and I wish he had been nominated for something for it. Roles like this don't come around a lot. From what we saw on the DVD, Hallstrom is a very easygoing director who keeps a lighthearted set and allows his cast to improvise in character. I believe this encouraged the on-screen chemistry between Gere and Molina, who seemed like they really were best friends.

So maybe this was an under-seen movie. That's what Netflix is for! Check it out - when you're not busy watching the Oscar films...sheesh! So many to watch before Sunday!

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Celebrity Sighting!

On Friday night, HH and I attended the patron reception for the grand opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum here in LA. It’s an amazing new showcase at LACMA down on Wilshire and Fairfax. Filled with fabulous and expensive artwork from Jeff Koons and Robert Rauschenberg and Cindy Sherman and Damien Hirst and many others, the building itself is also a work of art, with a fabulous glass elevator leading everyone from floor to floor and winding red trimmed staircases around the sand-colored edifice. It’s really a lovely new home for some wonderful modern art and it cost $56 million! Wowsa! I don’t know if that includes the art inside.

Anyway, at this gala opening, where everyone wears anything and everything (something I truly love about LA!), we saw a major television and sometime-movie star coming out of the jazz-filled tent with a friend on her arm (daughter? Fellow thespian?). She looked gorgeous in layers of light clothing, her strawberry blonde hair soft around her face. And best of all, she seemed to be having a great time.

Here’s your hint: Soap.

Here’s another hint: she was in one of my very favorite Terry Gilliam movies, “Brazil.”

Yet a third hint (a little more recent): Everybody Loves Raymond.

Okay? Now, if you think you know, get over to my website for confirmation where the new listing is posted in Lite Snacks.

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Karen Carpenter Remembered

This past week was the 25th anniversary of Karen Carpenter’s death from anorexia nervosa. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut, which was only a few miles from where I went to high school but as a young teen, she moved to California with her family to be closer to the music industry in Los Angeles. Her older brother Richard was interested in music first as a pianist and composer but Karen soon demonstrated herself to be an amazingly gifted drummer. It was only after she began drumming with her brother that she discovered her exceptional singing ability. Once she started singing, she stopped drumming which was too bad because a) there weren’t a lot of female drummers in the 70s and b) she was extremely talented.
There are as many reasons that people develop anorexia as there are people with the disease but it’s widely believed that Karen felt like she had very little control over her career. Whether this could be blamed on her brother, who was clearly the leader of the duo, who’s to say? People with the disease interpret reality in vastly different ways than the average person might. Regardless, this was something Karen struggled with for years. After being in and out of the hospital in the early 80s, she finally died in winter of 1983 and the world lost one of the loveliest voices ever born.

Karen Carpenter - and her death - had a huge influence over so many girls and teens, including me. I was in high school at the time and knew some people who were struggling with anorexia but until Karen died from it, we had nothing to call it and no way to identify it as an illness. That was probably the only good to come from her death: the light that was shone on this disease.

Friday, February 15, 2008

LOST For Words

Was last night the BEST epsiode ever??? Honestly, LOST kept building and building with amazing scene after amazing scene - including some fantastically tease-worthy flash forward scenes to Sayid's future - until the undeniably mind-boggling final scene: Ben - in the future, off the island, in some animal shelter - pulling a bullet out of Sayid's shoulder.

Holy Dharma van, Batman!

Unanswered questions (which Carlton Cuse promised us would happen for the first 8 epsiodes of this short season):
--The discovery of Ben's secret passageway in his barracks room filled with passports and foreign currency: is there a portal Ben steps through to get off the island? Is this the "magic box" that he told Locke about when he brought his father to the island?
--Daniel's experiment shows a 30 minute lag time for an object sent from the freighter to the island: is the island in another dimension? He later tells the pilot to be extremely careful and follow the exact flight path: does this mean the helicopter has to fly through a rip in the space-time continuum in order to get home?
--The bracelet Sayid takes from Naomi is the same bracelet Ilsa wears in the future: are they both working for the same person, the man who is on Future Ben's "to-die" list?
--Sayid is the 4th of the Oceanic 6 (who are the other 2?) and apparently he inspires fear in the hearts of many: who was the terrified man he shot on the golf course?

But the biggest question of all:
--Are Ben and Sayid allies in the future? Obviously Sayid is reluctantly doing Ben's dirty work but Ben tells Sayid he's doing this for his friends...where are his friends? Are they still on the island? Or is he talking about the other members of the Oceanic 6?

So many unanswered questions, so many fascinating plot twists. I can't wait for next week!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fallen Idol

Ya know, I'm not sure how I feel about this new cast of Idol. Of the 3 faves I listed yesterday, only 2 made it through to the final 24. And the one who didn't was SUCH a disappointment: Josiah, the young kid who lives in his car. You want to tell me that Colton, the final blond boy-band singer, was better than this very original singer-songwriter? No offense to Colton who seems fine enough and nice and sweet but seriously, Josiah has a very remarkable musical gift and it's a shame to see him thrown back into the masses. (HH senses bad things befalling this sensitive young man with no visible support system if he stays in Hollywood.) Maybe his hubris in dismissing the band during his audition was the thing that kept him out.

But couldn't his unique voice and talent for arrangement been recognized and encouraged, as Simon did with Kyle - another truly unusual individual who did not make the cut? Much as it's nice to hear Paula tell you how wonderful and daring you are, it's Simon's voice that counts the most.

Now, I know the odds of anyone making it are so very slim and someone HAS to be cut - each and every week, that will continue to happen. After all, there were 70,000 auditioners and we are now down to a scant two dozen. The people who came this far, including Josiah and Kyle, should be immensely proud of themselves. And I would hate to be in the judges' shoes, trying to winnow the field to a small handful of very talented singers. Honestly, all the people who were cut last night could have made it to the final 24 in any other less-talent-filled year, don't you think?

Josiah was HH's favorite and he declared the show off-limits if the guy didn't make it through so I don't know if I'll be watching faithfully this season. Maybe a little here and there to see the Aussie and the Rocker Nurse and to cheer on the plus-size model with the plus-size voice.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Random Wednesday Stuff

First of all, thanks so much to all who came to the Durant library yesterday to hear me expound on writing and publishing. Let me amend that: thanks to everyone for talking with me about writing because it became a really nice, informal round table with pizza and sodas!

A super special thanks to Al Rice and Hannah Kramer for setting the event up and providing the pizza! We had such a blast - talked about writing and Meg and I got to meet a real life Meg fan (Laura, who wrote a book report on it for school!) and raffled off a free copy (congrats to Jack!). I'll post pictures on my website very soon (thanks HH!).

Second, yay to the WGA for making a deal and getting back to work for the enjoyment of all of us. They say we could have new episodes of comedies in about 3 to 4 weeks and dramas in 6-8 weeks. As for LOST, Carlton Cuse has said possibly 5 additional episodes but they were meeting with ABC to figure out exactly how many and also to restructure whatever they would be doing so it would have a satisfying season conclusion. I'll take whatever I can get, altho I wouldn't mind going into the summer with new eps!

Finally, how awesome was Idol last night? The first Hollywood week cuts were deep but difficult. 164 contestants to 50 and tonight, down to 24. Wow! These singers are GOOD! I mean, professional level good. I have heard Simon Cowell say this is the most talented group of all so far and I can see what he means. My secret faves: Josiah, who writes his own music, sings like a Brit and lives out of his car; the handsome Aussie who not only sang the Doors but also Queen (!); and the Janis Joplin-esque nurse with the tats and black hair who has a great attitude on life. What a great season to look forward to! I'm almost afraid to see who makes the cut tonight. Yikes!

Your Hollywood connection trying to get back into the swing of things after some recent disappointments,

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Free Pizza!

That got your attention, huh?

As I have mentioned many times, I will be doing a short talk today at the Durant Public Library at 7140 W. Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood at 4:30PM. I’ll be raffling off a copy of LOVE, MEG but even better, the library staff will have free pizza and refreshments for all! So come on down and grab a slice and let’s talk about writing!

See you there!

Monday, February 11, 2008

First Vee Review!

Imagine my surprise when I found this lovely review of my new book, ALL ABOUT VEE, which will be in bookstores in April:


Vee is hard to like at first. She is a typical teen in that her world revolves around her. Her dad raised her after her mom died. Her dad didn’t want to talk about her mom and used food as a substitute. That becomes a theme in Vee’s life. When things don’t go well or she is sad or any other emotion, Vee eats. When her dad decides to marry his long time fiancée, Vee feels like she is being replaced. May, the fiancée really loves Vee and her dad but Vee is too wrapped up in herself to see it. So Vee decides to go to California to be an actress, the one thing she is passionate about. One of her friends went out there before graduation so Vee moves in with her to learn the ropes of Hollywood. Vee gets more of an education than she bargained for and is forced to finally grow up.

This book made me a little uncomfortable, mostly because it made me remember how selfish I was as a teen. Ms. Purtill is able to evoke all the uncertainty and awkwardness that comes with growing up. Vee grows up over the course of this book and at the same time, she grew on me. She learns about true friendship, strength, self worth, and love. There were some sexual references in this book so I would recommend this for older teens. I expect to see more good stories from this author.

Thanks, Leslee! I appreciate hearing that the book made the reviewer a little uncomfortable because then I know I've touched them in some way - for good or bad. If I have to win over my audience one reader at a time, then I'll do it!

Leslee, btw, gave me 3 hearts which the website categorizes as a "great read."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Fish Out of Water

I have always felt like a fish out of water, like someone who didn't belong to whatever group she was trying to join. I suppose this is partially due to moving around a lot as a kid and then later as an adult but mostly, that's just who I am.

I love stories about characters who are new to a thing: new to a place or a school or a group of people. On a macrocosmic level, I enjoy science fiction for the new perspective it gives us of a culture that is so familiar to us, whether it's Douglas Adams peering at Earth through the lens of aliens ready to bulldoze our planet for a new intergalactic highway or Gene Roddenberry's vision of a peaceful human society. In college, I adored the courses I took for my anthropology major because I loved reading about new cultures around the world and I loved comparing them to my own.

But on a microcosmic level, I love personal stories too. I love discovering a new town and new people with writers I trust and characters I identify with - those traveling from place to place, either willingly or not.

I guess this is why I write what I do: about people (girls) being thrust into new situations, usually in a new town and state and school, and having to discover their own paths. It's what interests me because it IS my life.

Write what you know.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

WGA Strike Over?

By now, you all know the WGA strike could be over as soon as Monday (yay!) so what will that mean for us television freaks? Will LOST go right back into production? How about Heroes or Journeyman or The Office?

Honestly, I have no idea. For many shows, tho, it's unlikely. Production takes a long time to get going and besides, it's now been over three months so a lot of those people, except the actors, could be onto other projects. And this is pilot season, a time of year when the networks are typically involved in developing new shows for next fall, so they're not exactly thinking about the old shows. We may have to wait until the fall for the return of our faves.

The most immediate effect of the strike ending will be the resumption of Oscar activities. All those people involved in the Academy Awards will breathe a huge sigh of relief that they can go back to one of the biggest money-makers of the year. Movie scripts, which had been put on hold, will go back on the market and writers will return to working on projects that were in production or development when the strike began.

But there will be fallout. Not everything will return. Not every movie project will continue. Not every studio deal will be honored. Hopefully the cream will rise to the top.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

On Getting Reviewed

Let me preface this by saying I have gotten some wonderful, insightful reviews of LOVE, MEG and for that I am very appreciative. I love when a reader has understood the book - and by extension, me - and can articulate that to other readers. And I hope that they are able to influence others who might not have understood.

That being said, it's very tough being on the receiving end of a review. Last year before my book came out, I thought for sure everyone would love it! After all, my agent and editor loved it, right? So did my mom, right? As Jerry Seinfeld's mom said about him, "What's not to love?"

There's also an assumption on the part of a first-time novelist that the book will be reviewed by Publishers Weekly and The New York Times and heck, why not People magazine and USA Today! In truth, those reviewers are absolutely swamped with material and will never get around to the book even if it was delivered with a giant chocolate bar.

(Would that work, do you think? I can make amazing double chocolate brownies!)

So much for getting on Oprah.

Whether it's a well-regarded critical outlet like School Library Journal or just someone talking about your book on their MySpace page, there's a cringe factor involved when you read about your own work. If I see someone has included my book on their shelf on a MySpace or Facebook page, I tell myself, "don't look, don't look!" But I have to! I have to know what they think! These are my readers, I want to know! So I click on it while averting my eyes, kind of like how I watch slasher flicks.

So far, I am happy to say I have never read a post that crushed my book entirely but I have read many in which the blogger gave it only a semi-thumbs up. But those are not fun to get, believe me. No one wants to hear someone thought their book was "goodish."

In a couple of months, my second novel, ALL ABOUT VEE, will be out and I hope that more people will read it because they may have seen my first novel on the bookshelf of their local library or bookstore - or maybe just because they liked LOVE, MEG. But this also means more people will review it! I think I am a little wiser than I was last year, a little less vulnerable to harsh words. I know to take reviews with a grain of salt - and to not place all of my ego in their hands.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fear of a Blank Page

I. I am a good outliner. A very good outliner.

A. I learned how to outline way back in high school for thesis papers and speech class and it's a skill that has come in handy for college and grad school and as a writer of screenplays and now, as a writer of novels.

B. I truly believe outlining is a key to avoiding writer's block. If you have an outline, you always have a place to go. This is not to say you have to go there; simply that if you get stuck, you can consult your outline as if it were a map.

B. 1. Hmmm....this fork A seems to go the Mountains of Melodrama. Not sure I'm ready for that right now.

B. 2. Perhaps I should travel to fork B first which is the Funny Freeway and then return to the Mountains of Melodrama.

II. Another writer - someone far better than I - once advised writers not to write until they are exhausted of ideas. In other words, save a little for later.

A. This gives you some incentive to return to your work the next day, since you won't be afraid of that blank page. You'll know that you have material to at least begin your day's work.

B. I think this writer was Hemingway but I can't be sure. So many sayings have been attributed to him, most of them after his death so really, who can verify that?

III. My own personal experience: to avoid writer's block, don't tell other people your story.

A. Once you've told another person, you don't feel the burning need to write it down. It's out there; it's done.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Congratulations, Amanda!

Gotta give a big shout-out to Amanda Perron of Illinois who won a copy of LOVE, MEG in the January contest. Yay, Amanda! I'm putting it in the mail today - all signed and everything!

Amanda, I'd love to hear from you after you've read it so drop me a line at leigh at leighpurtill dot com, okay, and tell me what you think!

**You too can win a copy of LOVE, MEG if you come to my reading at the Durant Public Library here in Hollywood next Tuesday. I'll be raffling off a copy and I'll sign that one too!

**And keep checking for more great contests. Enter during the month of February to win a galley copy of my new book, ALL ABOUT VEE! It won't be out until April so now is your chance to get it before anyone else! A galley copy looks just like a softcover version of the book and it's what libraries and booksellers and reviewers read before the book comes out.

Congrats again, Amanda! And happy contest-entering to everyone else!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Commercials

Here in the C Leigh/HH household, the Super Bowl is on solely to watch the commercials and maybe the half-time show if no one takes their clothes off - or HH might say, only IF someone takes their clothes off. The football part? Not so much.

It's not as if I don't know about the game. I was a cheerleader (Go CHS Rams!) back in high school and had to learn how it's played so I'd know when to lead defensive cheers ("Push 'em back, push 'em back, waaay back!") or offensive ones ("Kick, kick, kick! Gooo, Rams!").

And just in case my old friend Mark is reading this, I freely admit to asking him why there was no goalie in football. He gave me a lame answer at the time and frankly, I still think it's a good idea.

Anyway...for seven years, I was the commercial clearance person at The WB and The CW which meant that I watched television commercials that would run on our air before they aired. I would have to clear them and make sure they were appropriate for our audience and shows. This also meant that I saw many of the super-duper Super Bowl commercials long before the game, sometimes as early as October or November. It was fun seeing them before anyone else but also, it took the surprise out of the game.

So this year, I will be a part of the regular audience again, clueless about the commercials, waiting to see what and GoDaddy have up their sleeves. And that's probably for the best. Otherwise, why watch the game at all? Unless I have a bet on it.

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Tale of Two Netflix

Let me preface this post by saying that Head Honcho handles the queue and he's the one who gets the emails from Netflix that alert him to what's coming in the mail so every little red envelope is a total mystery to me. Little surprises in my mailbox!

I Love Netflix! what I find interesting is what three discs we have at any given time. Sometimes they're three in the same series, like a whole bunch of Sopranos or LOST. But other times, it's random documentaries like "No End in Sight" (excellent!) and an animated kids flick like "Ratatouille" (overrated!). So this week, we had "Mr. Brooks" and "Disturbia." Both are thrillers, kind of similar in that you don't really know what's going on, who's the bad guy, who's the not-quite-bad guy, and both had fantastically promising casts.

I have to place "Mr. Brooks" in the "What a Waste of Talent" category of films and give it an honorable mention for "Screenplay That Could Have Gone to Many Cool Places But Went To None." Oh, how I wanted to like this movie! I love Costner and Hurt and I kind of wanted to see Dane Cook get smacked in the face. What happened, Bruce A. Evans, Mr. Director? There were so many opportunities to make this a cool serial killer movie - the "killing gene" that gets passed down from father to daughter, the cop who would be a killer herself if she wasn't a cop, the killer who takes on a protege. All of those are great ideas, don't you think? None of them were fleshed out.

"Disturbia," though, gets placed in the "Next John Cusack" category and gets an exceptional mention for the delicate balance it maintains between sweet teen love story and Hitchcockian thriller. Yes, this movie steals from the late master and director of "Rear Window" but it also takes a bit from John Hughes. And the talent! First of all, you should know I have an unrequited crush on David Morse who is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood and in my fantasy life, I AM Carrie Anne Moss, so that's how high my expectations were for this film. Still, I was not disappointed. Shia LaBoeuf is poised to be another Cusack, easily, and I am really looking forward to seeing him in the next Indy.

And now we have the Super Bowl to plan for. More accurately, we have the Super Bowl commercials to prepare for because we really don't watch the game.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, February 1, 2008

Welcome Back, Losties!

At the end of this first new episode, the group has been split in two: those who are following Jack presumably off the island and those who are staying on the island with Locke. But based on the flash forward, we see that this distinction isn't as important as it seems because Hurley, who stayed with Locke because of his loyalty to Charlie, ends up being rescued - and going crazy again!

(Btw, everyone has been positing who the Oceanic 6 are based on the new season's poster and we know now who at least three of them are: Hurley, Kate and Jack. Who are the other 3? Would Sawyer have stayed? Sun and Jin? Claire and her baby?)

But oh! That flash forward! It's Hurley's story and we find him in a mental institution after leading LA cops on a wild chase and crashing his Camaro. He apparently got spooked when he saw Charlie in a convenience store and took off. Then later, after having been visited in the group home by someone who claimed to be from Oceanic Airlines (and who wanted to know if there was anyone left alive on the island - who asks that? Someone from DHARMA?), he sees Charlie! Charlie tells him yes, he is dead but he is also here with Hurley. Wha?? He looked cleaned up and distinctly undead with his fancy sunglasses and cool rocker clothes and he was apparently visible to at least one other mental patient. But then when Hurley "makes" him disappear, he does.

Was that a reveal or not? Was that meant to indicate Charlie is in another dimension, an alternate world where Oceanic 815 did NOT crash? Or that it did and they were not rescued? He tells Hurley that he has to "help them." Does that mean the people left on the island?

Meanwhile, back on the island in 2004, Jack has arranged for the freighter to find them and rescue them. Yay! That's great, right? Until Desmond returns and tells Sayid, Sawyer, et al down on the beach that Charlie's dying message was that the boat was not Penny's. These people who are coming are not who they say they are. Well, since Locke killed Naomi, they can't exactly confront her about that, can they?

(A minor quibble: why did Hurley throw the walkie into the water? A poor choice to deliberately prevent communication between the two groups. Wasn't there a better way to do that?)

After the groups split and go their separate ways - which obviously don't stay separate if at least one of them from Locke's group ends up off the island - a man parachutes into the jungle from a helicopter and meets with Jack and Kate. Is he there to rescue them? According to stoic Ben, everyone will be killed when these people arrive but he won't say why or how that will happen. Curse you and your taciturn ways, Ben!

(I love how he asks permission from Jack to go with Locke's group. I'm sure Jack was thinking, "Go ahead, I'm just gonna beat you up again if I have the chance.")

(And ooh! What about Jack pulling the trigger on Locke's gun? Thank god it was empty! I couldn't believe he would actually kill him!)

Okay...I have read that the writers designed the first 8 episodes of this season to open up a whole bunch of new questions and then the second 8 would answer some of them but alas, we will only be getting the question-raising episodes due to the strike. These next two months promise to be a most frustrating time for LOST fans.

But hey, at least we have a few weeks of brain-teasing fun.

Your Hollywood connection,