Monday, July 30, 2007

Support Your Local Dancer

See Hairspray!

I did not expect to like this movie (or to even see it in a theater) because I figured, why remake something that was so great, so iconic in its original form? But "Hairspray," which is actually based on the Broadway show which itself was based on John Waters' original movie, is so much fun, I have to post.

Plus, I just have to promote anything that features dancers. We have to support them! Life is really tough for dancers: they get injured, they don't make much money, they get passed over because they're too tall or short. I feel like I have to watch and talk up any movie or show or Gap commercial that hires them.

From the opening song young Tracy Turnblad sings, "Good morning, Baltimore," I felt like dancing. The choreography by the director Adam Shankman is totally fun, completely engaging. The filmmakers took a cue from "Grease" and shot the dancing scenes brilliantly; the flatness of the stage show was opened up for the big screen so well.

Forget the story...seriously, the dialogue was not nearly as witty or ironic as the songs' lyrics. Just enjoy the music and the dancing. And the cast! Wowsa! Nikki Blonsky is my new favorite actress (and if you know anything about my new book, ALL ABOUT VEE, you'll understand why). Love Zac Efron and Amanda Bynes and James Marsden (awesome!) and of course, the always talented and amazing Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah.

My precription for a hot summer day: take yourself to the movies and see "Hairspray."

Your Hollywood/Cheshire connection,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Easy As A-B-C

My visit to the Alphabet Garden yesterday was an elementary success!

For those of you following the news, my hometown of Cheshire, Connecticut suffered a horrific tragedy earlier in the week. The local mood was somber and all talk was of the despicable crime. I'd like to believe that the reading we held on Saturday lightened some people's thoughts. Certainly I wore my pink capris and pink sandals with that intention!

Shannon Becker at the Cheshire Herald, the weekly paper, did a very cool interview with me. Come check it out! And check out the size of that picture of me - wowsa! What a head I've got. (I do like the hair, though.) Many people who came to the reading came because of that article. How awesome is that! Even a couple of people named Shanley! One girl from Southington spelled hers Shanly.

Hey, I just realized that at the Book Soup event, I signed books for 2 people named Meg and this time it was 2 people named Shanley. I wonder what the next book signing will hold: 2 people named Lonnie? 2 named Holland? If it's 2 people named Alma, I will buy them both coffee!

(And bonus points for those of you who can tell me what movie has both an Alma and a Lonnie in it! Hint: it's an oldie with one of our most beloved - and sexiest - actors...)

My fab webmaster will get some pictures up on the site soon so everyone can see how awesome the event was.

Thank you to everyone who came!

Your Connecticut connection,

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Coming Home

Always a tricky thing to do...

So we're here and we're excited and we're very very tired but we're here and we're excited!

On Saturday at 11AM, I have my SECOND reading of ALL TIME at The Alphabet Garden in Cheshire, CT where the folks live and where I went to high school.

(Gotta say...I think I've been in LA too long. I heard it might rain on Saturday and I freaked out! OMG - rain! What will we do? Where will we go?

Oh wait...let me get into proper LA mode...

Like, ohmygod, rain! Like, what will we do? Where will we like, go?)

I am hugely thrilled to be there. The store has the display with all my books and some signs in the window and we'll have refreshments and there's an actual plan if it rains and and and -

Hey - I'm in the paper! There's an article about me in the Cheshire Herald on page 6, how awesome is that? And you might say, well, page 6 isn't so fantastic, what are you going on about, Leigh, but let me tell you, it's an excellent place to be especially considering the recent turn of events in town. Shannon Becker from the Herald staff called me last week and then filed it for this week's edition and seriously, I could not be happier! And there's a picture and everything. Check it out on-line! Yay! Thanks, Shannon!

So we're here and we're excited and we're still very very tired...

...but we're here and we're like, excited. :)

Your Cheshire connection,

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vroman's - A little big indie

Wow, what a store!

Vroman's is a huge bookstore in Pasadena, as famous there as Book Soup is here in West Hollywood. I'm honored to be in both of them. On Sunday, we drove to South Pas to visit and sign stock, a/k/a drive-by signings. That's when you're in the area, you stop at bookstores and see if they're carrying your book and then offer to sign them. If you're lucky, they say "Sure! Come sit over here and let me get you a Sharpie and a cappuccino and we'll round up our official store photographer for a portrait session..."

(Silly. There's no cappuccino.)

At Vroman's, they had a HUGE display of my book in their amazingly well-stocked YA fiction section. I mean, everyone was represented there: Maureen and Megan and Sarah and Steve and Joan and Judy and my friend CG Watson's book, QUAD (which you MUST read if you haven't already -very timely, about a school shooting) was featured too so I was thrilled. I had to tear myself away from the books to ask about signing their stock.

Which I eventually did and this super nice woman, Amanda, who was the assistant manager and handled the YA section, helped me to a chair and gathered the books and I just signed, signed, signed while MY official photographer took pictures.

(Again, let me stress...there were no cappuccinos. I don't want you to get the wrong idea about book signing. Unless your name is something beginning with JK.)

So after I signed the books, Amanda and I chatted about YA fiction and specifically, about books being banned. She told me how Vroman's often puts up a section with banned books and more importantly, the reasons why they are banned. We all know why Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (and Harry Potter!) have been banned but what about The Higher Power of Lucky and The Bermudez Triangle?

I would have talked with her for much longer but alas, there was the whole working thing involved and people attempting to actually purchase books, unlike me who was simply there to deface them. So if you get to Vroman's check out my cool display and get yourself a signed copy! It'll be like I signed it just for you! Which I did! Honest! Even though I don't know your name I was thinking about you when I did it. We'll get some pix of Amanda and the store up on the site very soon so you can see what I'm talking about and that I didn't make it up. This time.

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Best reading ever!

The first reading and signing event at Book Soup yesterday went amazingly well. The turnout was fantastic and everyone seemed to enjoy it - despite my less-than-stellar acting skills. I practiced every single day and was STILL nervous. It helped to have friends smiling at me in the audience - you know who you smilers are! Thanks!

I even got to meet a real-life Meg! She says she will be using the book for a report she has to do this summer for a class. I love it! I told her to feel free to email me if she needs any questions answered - and that goes for anyone who can convince a teacher to read the book for school. I’m happy to answer any questions at all about the book if you send me an email.

There were delicious cookies and cold drinks and air-conditioning - all of which are super important on a hot day in LA. No one fainted or fell asleep; no one asked for their money back (it was free! Ha!).

And all of the Book Soup staff - Tyson and Charles in particular - were so helpful and friendly to everyone. This was in the face of their 2AM close the night before because of Harry Potter. Their eyes may have been a little sleepy but they were absolutely wonderful to me. I can’t wait to go back for the next book - that’s in May 08! It’s a date!

So for everyone who came, THANK YOU! Thank you for making it the most special day of my life and helping me feel like a real author and everything. I hope to get photos up on the website soon (thank you Taggart!)! Keep your eyes peeled!

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why I Love Writing: Reason #1

One of the coolest things about writing fiction is that I get to make everything up. I can give my character a love of chocolate which would lead to her opening a candy shop which in turn would lead to her passions infusing the truffles she made and everyone eating them would turn passionate as well and a handsome stranger would ride into town and fall in love with her and…

…that’s not actually my book. That’s Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

Well, you get the idea. You start with one thing, add a detail, which becomes another and another and soon you have a character that feels as real as your next door neighbor. You put her in some situations and watch what happens.

And if you don’t like what happens, you change it. That, seriously, is an awesome power. You can always change things if you don’t like them. When and where else can you do that?

The personality of Meg Shanley, my character, did not change from the first time I set my fingers to the keyboard and typed her name, but what happened to her did. In the first draft of the novel, which was written about a year and a half before I sold it, and a full three years before it will be published, Meg took a train with Reggie to New York. Lucie and Reggie’s mother met them in Chicago and Reggie left and Meg continued on alone. Lots of stuff happened on that train. There was a guy and a kiss and some startling revelations, all of which took close to fifty pages.

Now, look at the final version of the book: Meg flies solo, ­off-screen. There is only the barest of references to her trip, insofar as her paying Lonnie back for the ticket.

And speaking of Lonnie, in the original draft, he was a not-so-good guy, very selfish, manipulative, not terribly supportive of Meg’s efforts in Queens. But in the final draft, Lonnie is a great guy and becomes Meg’s ally, not her enemy. That’s a pretty drastic difference in character, wouldn’t you think?

So why did these things change? Why leave out a whole portion of Meg’s trip? Why change Lonnie at all? Because, ultimately, they didn’t serve Meg’s story. You find, after you write a story, that you haven’t actually written a story. Sometimes you write around a story and sometimes extra stories - other characters’ stories - muddy things up for the main character. So, with my editor Kristen’s help, I had to focus on Meg’s story alone. I had to find her story within all the material that I had written, then I had to strip away all the stuff that didn’t pertain to her story.

In the end, Reggie and the train slowed down Meg’s journey and Lonnie being a bad guy was his story, not Meg’s. Neither served Meg and her story, as funny or poignant or clever those adventures might have been (and they were very funny, poignant and clever, if I do say so myself).

But nothing is ever wasted and I may find myself using a train, a kiss and some starting revelations in a future book.

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, July 5, 2007

It's finally M-Day - Love, Meg Day!

I can't believe it's here...the day LOVE, MEG is released into the general populace. Wow!

Do you suppose there will be a lot of LOVE, MEG traffic this morning? Will the streets be clogged with people rushing to their local bookstores to get their copies? Will they be lined up around the block like at a rock concert or a new Starbucks?

Not that you will notice, seeing as how you probably have your head buried in the book, desperate to be the first to finish it and post your comments all over the web.


But seriously, I do hope that when you finish it, you'll drop me a line at or post a comment here, okay? I want to know what each and every one of you thinks about it. I want to know what moved you or made you angry, what made you laugh or cry, what you took away from the book for your own life - and if not, I'd like to know that too.

And come take a peek at an interview Little Willow did with me on her blog, I'm thrilled to be there!

So Happy Release Day!

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Four More Years! I mean, Four More Days!

Finally, my book is coming out in four short days.

People who don't know me, who have never heard my name or even know how to pronounce it, will at some point in the near future, I hope, be reading LOVE, MEG (and by the way, check out the Multimedia section of my website for tips on saying my last name...

((I assume most people know how to pronounce my first name since it's the same as the last name of a very famous actress but you know, that's actually not true because, ever since I moved to California, more people have called me by the wrong first name than anyone ever has in all of my life...they call me Leah or Lay which is just not right. I mean this is the land of Vivien Leigh, one of the most beautiful and famous actresses in one of the grandest and Technicolor-iest movies of all time - GWTW, people! Atlanta burns! I will never go hungry again! Frankly, Scarlett, etc., etc...

(((What? You've never seen GONE WITH THE WIND? Get this movie! Put it on your Netflix queue! Watch it on TNT! This is, I must admit, one instance where "read the book instead" is not a better option. I know, I know...blasphemy from a writer but trust me, reading Margaret Mitchell's tome is not nearly as good as seeing Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable tussle and flirt...

((((I put Mario Puzo's THE GODFATHER in the same category. Book is fun but pulpy. Coppola's movies - brilliant! Okay, so that's the second instance. These are both very rare circumstances. IMNSHO, most books are way better than the movies that come from them. Richer, deeper, more three dimensional. JMO...))))

So, yes, my book will be out very soon and I hope everyone who reads it likes it. If you do, please drop me a line to let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Dreams, dreams always dreams with you, never common sense.

Your Hollywood connection,