Thursday, July 30, 2009


You tell me.

Alexa Young's Awesome Blog

A couple of years ago, I got this review from a teen reviewer for VOYA and it definitely left a lasting impression on me. So much so that when Alexa Young (author of the sunny, funny YA novels Frenemies and Faketastic - both titles which I love) launched her blog, WORST REVIEW EVER, I had to search it out.

Alexa has asked her fellow author friends to come forward with some of their very worst reviews, from professional reviewers as well as Amazon and Goodreads readers. And some are really horrible. They make mine look like a gushing fan fest.

But each of us has our threshold for pain. At the time I had gotten this VOYA review, it was just a couple of months after my first novel had been released so I was particularly sensitive to negative reviews, especially ones from teen reviewers since that was the audience I was trying to reach. Other people might think this was nothing; still others might collapse from its weight. Does anyone like reading that they are "annoying"?

So you be the judge. Check out the review at Alexa's blog and vote. If you have any comments, go ahead and leave them there and I'll respond if necessary. And for sure, that's the only place I will be posting the review; you certainly won't be seeing it on my website!

Thanks to Alexa for giving me the space on her blog to get that off my chest!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More to Love premiere

Did everyone watch this brand new show last night on FOX? Normally I don't like dating shows because they feel so contrived and inevitably, I end up saying about each contestant or bachelor/ette, "Really? You couldn't get a date?" I mean, come on, most of the men and women on these shows are in perfect shape with perfect teeth and hair and tiny waists.

But these 20 women and 1 man come from different circumstances. Many of the women claim never to have had a boyfriend. One had never been on a second date. And most said the problem was related to weight. It hurt me to hear so many of them worry about being alone for the rest of their lives, despite the happy faces they put on and the confidence they try to project.

Who among us hasn't felt that? Regardless of our size, we have all worried about loneliness, about what would happen if that certain someone never comes along. Even if we are happy in our other pursuits, loving and being loved often trump riches and success.

This is why I think the majority of the television audience can actually identify with these women as opposed to the women on traditional dating shows, which producers of "More to Love" claim are size 2's while the average American woman is size 14.

Cheers - finally - for a reality show! I hope the overnight numbers were good enough to encourage producers to do more.

Remember: MORE TO LOVE, Tuesdays on FOX, 9PM

Monday, July 27, 2009

Influential books

Sometimes you read a book that so impresses you as both writer and reader that you hang your head in your hands and wail, "Why can't I write like this?"

Many of the classics do this for me - I feel particularly humbled by John Steinbeck and Edith Wharton - as do newer genre writers like Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. Then there are my contemporary favorites who never fail to amaze me: Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Berg, Michael Chabon, Alice Hoffman, and many, many more.

When I read YA, I read mostly for research: to see what's out there and why it's getting attention. But recently, I've been doing some pleasure YA reading that my friend Laura recommended. Number one on her list since I met her almost 2 years ago has been "War for the Oaks" by Emma Bull. It's urban fantasy about human-faerie interaction and a war and the rock music scene and really not my normal cup of tea.

I finally read it, finishing it this weekend, and I loved it. It's a book that all other books in the genre are based on. Having read a fair number of urban fantasy novels like it, I was gratified to read the original. Smart characters, clever dialogue, a plot that moves...and the romance wasn't abrupt or grating. No wonder so many authors were influenced by the book.

I have longed to write a novel that would be influential to other writers (heck, I'd love to write one that is influential to readers too!), something like Orwell's "1984" or Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451." I haven't come up with anything so far that has the monumental scope either of those do but books like Emma Bull's renew my desire to find that one thing that will make my own work stand out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More to Love...coming soon!

FOX has a new reality show that I can't wait to see! More to Love is a version of The Bachelor (single guy looking for life partner) but with a twist: the women are all plus-size. I first read about this show last weekend in the LA Times and thought it was a fantastic idea. I loved that the guy, Luke Conley, saw a posting on Craigslist and responded to it and that the show sort of developed from there.

From the Facebook page for the show:
Executive-produced by Mike Fleiss (“The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette”), the unscripted series follows a single average guy with a big waist and an even bigger heart as he romances several confident and secure plus-size women. Each week, the husky hunk will wine and dine a group of curvy women to determine if they have more love to give or if they are truly more than he can handle. When the size of competition narrows, he will have to decide if one full-figured lady will become his true love.

The show premieres on July 28th at 9PM, after Hell's Kitchen, my other favorite reality show.

Confident and Veronica May! My protag from ALL ABOUT VEE! She and her Vees, Ginny and Val would adore this show. I imagine they would watch together and chat on their cell phones from their houses in Arizona and LA. Val would definitely have opinions on all of the girls and their clothes. Ginny would critique the writing and editing while grudgingly admitting it's a step in the right direction. And Veronica would imagine herself on the show, fingers crossed that real love happens.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

1A. My ultimate dream vacation, if someone else is footing the bill or I suddenly become Bill Gates-wealthy, is a tour of Japan, China and Korea. I have always wanted to see Tokyo, although it was recently named the most expensive city in the world!

1B. My ultimate dream vacation, if I have to pay for it myself and I'm the same level of poor as I am now, is a west coast drive from SoCal to Seattle, stopping for the beaches of Malibu and Santa Barbara, the cities of San Francisco and Portland, and classes with the ballet companies of SF and Pacific Northwest along the way.

1C. My actual dream vacation this summer will be a few days in Arizona with my brother and his family. I can't wait to see my nieces!!

2. My friend Liz Thurmond has her very first published short story in Everyday Fiction! It's called "Modern Love." I love it! I never knew she had such a romantic side to her - amazing what you can learn about people when you read their material. Congrats, Liz!!

3. I don't really like research for writing. I like to make everything up as I go along. Besides, with the internet, you can spend/waste hours of your precious brain time.

4. I'm a little bit nerdy when it comes to Harry Potter. I can't wait for the new movie. In the meantime, I saw "Moon" which was AMAZING! Very thought-provoking; I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My old friend's new book!

HUGE congrats to my former co-worker, Michael Ferrari, who used to sit next to me in our cubes at The WB in Burbank when we were both standards editors. His new book, BORN TO FLY, is in stores now! Check it out:

I read a very early draft of the book years ago when we were trading material. Michael read the first draft of my very first novel too. It was called FAT GIRLS IN LA and eventually became ALL ABOUT VEE. He was the one who read it and pronounced me a real writer which gave me a huge boost of self-confidence.

Eventually, Michael left the network, moved back to Ohio with his lovely family and entered the manuscript in the Delacorte Yearling prize for middle grade books and won! I was so thrilled for him! And now, it's published! Yay!

Here's Michael's very cool website - love the design of his book cover! So retro and yet still very modern. He's gotten some great reviews from Booklist and Kirkus - yes, Kirkus likes him! And who wouldn't? The story's hero is an 11 year old girl named Bird McGill and it takes place during World War II. I love that his hero is a girl - that's awesome! I'm sure both girls and boys are gonna love it.

Many, many good wishes to you, Michael!! Wish I could be in Ohio for your first signing but I'm sure it will be just the first of many!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Major celebrity sighting in Weho!

That's West Hollywood, for the uninitiated...

HH and I were up on Sunset, taking a late afternoon walk up to the former Virgin Music complex. There used to be a Buzz coffee which is now a Starbucks, of course, and a guitar store which is now a Trader Joe's (always good to have a TJ's nearby). Still have the Sunset 5 theaters, which is home to some great indie films, and there's a Burke Williams spa too.

And a CB2, which is apparently a new Crate & Barrel store.

And celebrity magnet.

Can you say...ahem...I mean, can you sing major music star! Like, huge musical legend known all over the world? Beloved by generations of fans???

Stevie Wonder!

Like, holy pianissimo! HH and I were checking out the sterile office furniture, the bland bedding, the uncomfortable love seats when HH leans over and whispers, "Stevie Wonder is here." Sure enough, I see everyone around us - very cautiously, very casually, very coolly- check him out. No craning of necks in this sophisticated neighborhood. No snapping of cell phone cameras. But oh yes, we all noticed him. He was with a couple of other people in line - IN LINE! - for customer service, and no one bothered him, no one asked for his autograph, no paparazzi flashed their cameras.

[Personally, I think taking a photo of a blind person when they are unaware of it is kind of rude. I mean, seriously, if you're going to take a picture of someone like Stevie Wonder, you should ask first.]

He was dressed in a black suit with his hair in long braids, his signature black wraparound shades on. And btw, it was frakkin hot in Weho this weekend so I was doubly impressed by his cool demeanor. He smiled, he chatted, he waited patiently.

As for HH and me, we came, we saw, we left. We were awestruck for the first time in a long time. This was definitely a big one.

When you believe in things,
That you don't understand,
Then you suffer,

Superstition ain't the way...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Funny guys in the Netflix queue

Lately, HH and I have been watching DVDs of stand-up comedians--

[word of advice #1: periodically review your Netflix queue so you can re-arrange the order in which the DVDs come. What happens is you go in to put "Ghost Town" on your queue (um, don't bother) and the next thing you know, you've added every episode of "The Office" and all of Greg Kinnear's oeuvre because Netflix keeps suggesting them based on your preferences.]

1. Lewis Black - "Black on Broadway"/"Red, White & Screwed" - often political but never politically-correct, each of his shows should be titled, "Lewis Black Hates Everyone" or even, "Lewis Black Hates Everything." I love that his parents are in his audience.

2. Dana Gould - "Let Me Put My Thoughts In You" - writer for the Simpsons, brilliantly smart, conceptually clever, lets loose in a very R+ rated way. He's the kind of comedian who uses the word "bete noir" unironically.

[word of advice #2: Black and Gould are absolutely hysterically funny and smarter than most guys in the room, but their routines do have a lot of profanity - very rarely are they vulgar, merely foul-mouthed.]

3. Brian Regan - "Standing Up" - far cleaner than most comedians out there, he is just plain funny. Sort of a cross between Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell and Jim Gaffigan (three of my very fave funny guys!).

Monday, July 6, 2009

After the draft

1. Relief

"It's done! I can't believe I finally finished it. It's got a beginning, middle and end. Oh my gosh, it's really done! Whew...time to relax."

2. Elation

"This is really good. Wow, I'm impressed with myself. I, I KNOW this is the best thing I've ever written. This will totally knock everyone's socks off!"

3. Doubt

"My agent'll like this. I think. Yeah, sure, sure. I mean, I'm pretty sure she will. We talked about something like this and maybe it's not exactly like that...uh-oh. She's gonna hate this."

4. Despair

"Why oh why did I send it already? Can I get it back? Can the post office un-deliver it? Maybe I should email her and tell her not to read it. Damn, I should never have written the thing in the first place."