Thursday, January 31, 2008

Today is the Day to…

--Check out my interview at Come take a look!

--Leave a review of LOVE, MEG at Amazon!

--Friend me at MySpace!

--Set your Tivo to tape LOST at 9 o’clock! You know you’re gonna want to go back and watch it over and over and over again. You won’t? I will!

Your Hollywood connection counting the hours,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Two More Days…

‘Til LOST is back!

Tonight ABC reminds us of what’s come before on the past three seasons of this groundbreaking show during a 2-hour special. And tomorrow, in the hour slot before the very first new episode, there will be yet another clip show. You cannot escape LOST - and frankly, why would you want to?

‘Til the LOVE, MEG contest is over!

You have until January 31 to enter the contest at to win an autographed copy of LOVE, MEG. I will personally inscribe it to whomever you choose (nothing naughty, please!) and sign it with my very own pen in my very own hand and then send it to you!

Your other option to win a free signed copy is to come to the reading I will be holding at the Durant library here in Hollywood on February 12th at 4:30PM. Check my website for more info. I’ll be holding a raffle there too.

(Did I mention LOST returns tomorrow night? I did? Okay, just checking…)

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Return of the Harlem Globetrotters

Out here in LA, we had the State of the Union address at 6PM so by 8 o'clock, we're looking for some serious entertainment and by serious, I mean, not at all meaningful, kind of cheesy, and requiring the intelligence of a snail.

Welcome to the New Harlem Globetrotters! HH and I discovered this was on a channel we had never heard of - My TV? I think it's the leftovers of when UPN broke apart and some stations were left to fend for themselves. FOX swooped in and scooped them up and created this mini-mini-network called My TV. Aside from the Secrets of Street Magicians specials they have, which is HH's guiltiest pleasure, we never watch this network.

When I was a kid, I thought the Harlem Globetrotters were the very best basketball players in the world and that's why they all played on the same team. Imagine my surprise when Head Honcho tells me these guys, while skilled with a ball and slick with the comedy, couldn't hold a candle to Kobe or Shaq. Last night, for the very first time in my life, I saw how the Washington Generals, that team that travels with the Globetrotters, basically stands around and watches them shoot hoops, make ear-splitting slam dunks, and toss confetti on the crowds.

The Generals were not a real team? They let the Globetrotters beat them? Shocking!! I never noticed that before! I am being completely honest. Admittedly the last time I saw them play, I was probably ten years old and easily convinced of a lot of things.

My brother and I used to attempt all those cool Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal moves: spinning the ball on our fingers, dribbling between our legs, sliding on the floor and dribbling at the same time. You remember that, Jay? Yeah, good times.

While I was sad to see the image of the Globetrotters destroyed before my eyes (damn you, My TV and your rule-breaking specials!), it was a lot of fun to reminisce. And I still think they could beat a real team! Come on, Lakers, give it a try!

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mid-Season Reality

Aside from AG, there really isn’t much to write about in terms of the reality shows on television. I do have an odd fascination with Celebrity Apprentice and I can’t pinpoint exactly why that is. I occasionally enjoy the real Apprentice show but it often bugs me to the point of annoyance. I find most of the contestants cruel and rude and not particularly bright. Frankly, Ivanka Trump is the smartest person on that show, in my opinion. But I think, as many shows do, it encourages bad behavior among the contestants. They talk all over each other in the board room, they put each other down in front of and behind each other’s backs. They can be nasty and ruthless but without any brains behind their attacks.

But for some reason, the celebrity version attracts me. And I really do NOT like any of the celebrities. They’re all kind of C list lame. They’re not getting any money or a job out of this. They do earn cash for their favorite charities but seriously, it’s not big money that they’re giving away - not when you consider what NBC is making on the show.

Maybe it’s Stephen Baldwin. He was in Celebirty Mole years ago, if you remember that show, and he always vies for these reality shows. I gotta admit, he is one helluva go-getter. He’s energetic, bordering on manic, and he has to be in the middle of everything. He has to direct. He has to be in the meetings. He has to have his say. I can’t imagine what it must have been like growing up in the Baldwin family with all of those overachievers.

I know! Let's put Stephen Baldwin in the Gladiator ring! I'd tune in to that.

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Countdown to LOST

Here in my household, HH and I began the countdown to new LOST episodes last May. But we can officially say now there are only 5 days until LOST returns to the air, even for just 8 short weeks.

I know we have no hope of the show returning full time because even if the strike ended tomorrow, the production company has to get everyone back to the set and building things and the actors have to come back from wherever they are and the writers have to, you know, write the scripts.

I think the general public assumes writers are home working on scripts for shows and movies but they aren’t doing any work at all - that’s the whole point of the strike! Just like autoworkers when they’re on strike, the writers are on the picket lines - not working.

The hope that we could return to a season of our favorite shows has long since passed.

But we do have 8 weeks of LOST! And as many Mediums as they have completed and a few Aliens in America. I’ll take whatever I can get!

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, January 25, 2008

The AI Auditions

NB: Whenever I read or hear “AI” I always think of the Spielberg movie which was based on notes made by the late great filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick. It starred Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law and could have been excellent except for the ending.

And may I just add to that…I used to (and still do) complain about endings to movies and books all the time but now that I am writing books, I realize they are wicked hard to end. It’s like, you have these characters and this world and you don’t want it to go away forever so you kind of write an open ending in case you want to do a sequel. In my successful books (and I count those as ones someone other than me has read and enjoyed), I know going into the book what the ending is - and it doesn’t change, regardless of how much changes in the middle. In my unsuccessful books (the ones I cringe at having written and shove back under the bed before the bad vibes can escape), I don’t know the ending and so I meander through different pathways trying to find the ending or at least make it not terrible but in the words of Hud from “Cloverfield,” “That’s something else, also terrible.”

So you know what’s not terrible? These Idol auditions. I had dinner with a fellow Idol fan this week and we both commiserated over the lack of interesting characters in this new season. On Tuesday night, in San Diego, there were some very good singers - and some singers whom Simon decreed to be excellent but whose talent escaped me. That must be the difference between hearing it on television and being in the same room with the person.

Right now, I am not hugely impressed by the talent pool but then, who am I? I couldn’t carry a note if it was wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

There Will Be Oscars

But Will Anybody Come?

Okay, so the only nominated movie I have seen is “No Country for Old Men,” which was fantastic and confusing and well-acted and brilliantly-written and awesomely-directed - and bloody. The bloody part didn’t bother me but the confusing part did. When you see this movie, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now for the noms…where is Will Smith in all of this? No, no, I joke, I know he wouldn’t get nominated based on the field of actors this time around plus, as I blogged before when I reviewed “I Am Legend,” the fact that the movie switched genres suddenly in the third act meant no matter how talented Will had demonstrated himself to be for the first 2/3 of the movie, he wasn’t going to be nominated based on the final third. Sorry but that’s the way it is. If they had stuck to the original story…

And where is Josh Brolin’s nom for “No Country”? He was fantastic! I mean, yes, Javier Bardem was superb also but this was just an amazing role for Brolin. He hasn’t had a role like this in his entire career.

Pretty much all of the noms were predictable. Everyone knew the Paul Thomas Anderson movie, “There Will Be Blood,” would be at the top of the list as would the Coen brothers’ film and “Atonement,” which was based on the Ian McEwen novel. And since “Juno” came out and everyone heard about Diablo Cody’s checkered past, that film has had major buzz around it. I don’t know much about “Michael Clayton” but it was a George Clooney film and Oscar loves George. He/it won’t win but he/it will be nommed whenever he/it is in the race.

Biggest surprise: no nomination for “The Simpsons Movie” in the animated film category. I laughed my butt off in that movie - and saw it twice!

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

American Gladiators Redux

Who watched this show in its original incarnation? Come on, lift those hands. I know you did. This is a safe haven - you can admit here that you watched AG and no one will judge you.

That’s better. Now, doesn’t it feel good to get that off your chest? I thought so.

I never watched the show. Honest to god, I never did. In fact, I know so little about this show that when I finally did watch an episode last night, I was surprised that regular schmoes participate in the events. I thought for sure it was just big hunking lugs from Venice Beach.

To me, it was kind of like the Olympics or the Super Bowl: a sporting event that I never ever watch and know very little about but which is made interesting to me by the inclusion of background stories, those vignettes about the contestants’ home lives that make their win or loss more meaningful to us at home. Frankly, if I don’t know anything about the participants, I have very little interest. Who cares if someone can knock some muscle-bound guy or gal off a pedestal with a giant Q-tip? But if it’s a girl with a mom at home who needs major surgery, then I am right there with ya.

Pass the popcorn.

Your Hollywood connection desperate for the writers to get back to work,

Monday, January 21, 2008

Carrie got Quick Pick’d!

I have to give a big shout-out to my good friend CG Watson whose debut novel, “Quad,” was named a 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers by the American Library Association (ALA).

This puts her in mighty fine company: the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Twisted” and Sara Zarr’s “Story of a Girl” (both of which I highly recommend along with “Quad”) were also Quick Picks so you can see how fantastic this is for Carrie.

If you haven’t already done so, please check out “Quad.” If it’s not in your local store or library, just ask. Those booksellers and librarians are super nice people and they would just love to get it for you. And if you ask for it, you’ll be giving other people the chance to read it too.

So, kudos to Carrie! Congrats! Felicitations! However you want to say it, it means we are so proud of you.

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Remember when JJ Abrams created Felicity? It was before my time at The WB but what a splash he made. He has a knack for hitting all the right notes, whether it's a teen drama with Keri Russell or the next installment of MI or as producer of a monster movie. And let's not forget my favorite TV show of all time, Lost.

"Cloverfield" is a classic monster movie, paying homage to the original "Godzilla" movies (not the unspeakable remake with Matthew Broderick and Godzilla babies) from post WW II era when Japan was afraid of foreign invaders, much as America is now afraid of foreign invaders. Because the movie takes place on the island of Manhattan (does Abrams have a thing for islands?), the images it evokes of 9/11 destruction are no mere coincidence. There are some very specific scenes that are lifted almost directly from that day's footage.

This is so close to a masterpiece for this genre. The only thing that prevents it from rising to instant classic status is the ending. For the entire movie, we are seeing all events unfold through the lens of a handheld camera which is recording the last night of Hud the cameraman's best friend, Rob, before Rob leaves for Japan (nice touch). The effect of this cannot be overstated: it puts us smack in the center of the action. We are IN the monster movie.

I can just imagine the pitch to the studio (and why was this at Paramount and not Universal which has traditionally been the studio for monster movies?): "Ever watch a Godzilla movie and wonder what it would be like to be one of those fleeing Japanese people?"

And that's just brilliant. The camera's framing is often a hair off from where you want it to be, so you never quite see the monster in its entirety. You're given a bit here and a bit there and your brain puts it all together. It also makes you more involved in the story; rather than being given all of the details, you become one of the group with Hud and Rob, searching them out on your own. Great idea, truly great. I have much admiration for the director Matt Reeves, the writer Drew Goddard, and Abrams.

The cast is terrific: a bunch of unknown actors who feel real and whose anonymity, to paraphrase the review in yesterday's LA Times, means you don't know who's going to get picked off first. No stars means no pecking order. Overall, I'd give it an 8 - I take off a point and a half for the ending and another half-point for the marketing campaign which, although intriguing, promised too much. Nothing could live up to that mystery.

Bonus: a trailer for the next "Star Trek" movie being produced and directed by Abrams. It looks awesome! But won't be in theaters until next winter. Will I lose interest by then? I better have some Lost episodes to make up for it.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hard Cold Truth (Softened a little bit)

When I posted the other day that people should only write because they love it and with the assumption that they will never be published, that was based on the sheer volume of submissions made to agencies and publishers and the acknowledgment by editors and agents that most of those submissions are…not good.

Back in college, I asked one of my dance teachers about my odds of dancing in a company. I wondered if I was too old (the majority of ballet companies have incredibly young dancers who join while they are still in junior high and retire by thirty). She told me that if I wanted to dance in a company, there was one out there for me. I just had to be willing to go out and find it.

Similarly, I tell writers who truly do love writing, who love to read and tell stories, and who would probably make up their own tales even if they had no paper on which to write them, to go for it. Continue on in your quest because you will find an outlet for your work somewhere somehow. It may not be the blockbuster NY Times Bestseller you always dreamed about but it may be a short story in a magazine. Or perhaps your venue will be somewhere on-line - in an e-zine that has yet to be created. Or maybe YOU will create one!

Although my focus later turned to teaching dance, I have since found many opportunities to perform and even danced with a small company years after this conversation with my teacher. I continue to believe what she told me.

Your Hollywood connection thinking positively,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mother of All Reality Shows

The steamroller that is American Idol has returned, beginning in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. And oh brother, was there some love for the show there! Did you see those shots of the people waiting outside? Omg, it was the entire population of a small country or maybe Rhode Island in one parking lot. I often wonder why there are so many people who aren't from the city in which they are auditioning - and not just a nearby city in the same state but another part of the country entirely. Amazing what lengths people will go to.

There were some hilarious characters in the opening two hours. How about the guy with the cape whose chest hair was so offensive to Paula that she asked him to get rid of it (which we saw!! gross! It was like the scene with Steve Carell in "40 Year Old Virgin"!) and then he came back and sang one note and was gone.

There were 2 guys who made up their own songs: one was a creepy older social worker who sang about "No Sex Allowed" and the other was a creepy younger guy who sang to Paula rhyming everything with "stalker." The latter was very funny but I think Simon got fed up and didn't see the humor. Obviously the guy wasn't a stalker but maybe he didn't want to encourage people to do things like that.

As for the women, there was one young wedding band singer who has a young daughter with medical issues who is clearly the favorite in our household. HH and I are totally rooting for her and hope she will get the money she needs to help the little girl.

No one had a super freak-out yet but I'm sure there will be plenty in the very near future. That's what makes the show fun, right? Well, not for me and HH - we prefer people who sing badly but who acknowledge it and we prefer Simon's nasty comments when the people deserve them because he makes us pay attention that much more when he says something encouraging.

Ah, old friend. You've brightened a dull unscripted season of television. And do not get me started on the unintentionally hilarious dialogue of The Sarah Conner Chronicles. I swear those scripts were written during the strike. They are laughably bad.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hard Cold Truth

Over the years I have frequented many writers' boards without ever commenting, even though I have dearly wanted to. Everywhere, on every site, people are obsessed with getting an agent. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to post something to the effect of: "don’t worry about that now, trust me, you are not ready."

The majority of people asking for advice want to know how many queries other writers sent out before they got an agent asking to see their book. And then how many of those were requested before an offer of representation was made. And then how many editors were queried. How many of them responded. How many this, how many that, how long did it take you?

Don’t ask those questions. Seriously. Don’t. First of all, there is no formula. You cannot devise an algorithm that will be true for all writers at all times. That’s like trying to come up with a unified field theory based on Wikipedia articles.

Many writers are concerned about time because they want to know how soon they can quit their crappy day jobs. They see writing a book and selling it as an escape from regular work and it can be if your last name begins with a K or a Rowl and ends with an -ing. For the rest of us…I’m not saying it won’t happen for you but what did I just say about asking questions like that? Seriously. Don’t.

Write knowing that more likely than not, your book will not get you an agent, will not sell, will not take you away from your crappy day job. The odds are vast and they are against us. Write only because you love it.

Why do I feel the need to say this? Because most people who post on those boards truly do not feel that way. They may say they write for pleasure or because “they have to,” but let’s be honest. That ain’t true. When you forgo friendships at work or at home, when you put off having a family or a pet for years and years, when you arise early to write every single day (not only when the muse is visiting), then you can say you “have to write.” But until then, it’s merely an enjoyable, frustrating hobby that allows you to daydream about not working at your crappy day job.

P.S. Even Kafka worked a day job his entire life.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lurking Among the Blogs

I’m a born lurker. I can’t help it. My mother was a lurker, my father was a lurker and so my brother and I are both lurkers on the world wide internet. I love to read posts at websites like Wordplay, Literary Rejections, Ward Six and Maureen Johnson but I rarely (read: never) post replies. Not that I don’t want to. I do have opinions most of the time and I sometimes tell them to my computer but for every time I actually post something, there are about a hundred where I delete the post seconds after I’ve composed it.

And what does this do but deprive the blogging universe of my supremely amusing and clever insights into scrapbook making and the pros and cons of veganism?

So another of my resolutions this year is to post more frequently on others’ blogs. Not that I’m gonna be one of those people who post on everyone’s boards and then write up multiple and lengthy posts on their own sites. My repetitive stress tendonitis is flaring up just thinking about all that typing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Last Word on the Globes

Today is a gorgeous day in Southern California. Low 70s, warm sunshine, people wearing flip-flops in January. I love it. Today would be a great day to be over at the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton, trying to peer through the crowds of paparazzi at the arriving stars, dressed in their finest. Alas, there will be nothing outside the hotel today but cars trying to get to the movies in Westwood.

I read a great op-ed piece in the LA Times the other day. SharonWaxman outlines the need to revamp the Globes - from the journalists who are members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to the perks they receive that have in the past unduly influenced them. It's a fascinating insight into the inner workings of that organization - one that the general public assumes is not only upstanding but much larger than it actually is. Check out her essay here.

Now that the DGA has begun talks with the AMPTP, does that mean the producers will finally settle with the WGA? Everyone in Tinseltown sure hopes so. Hold fast, writers! Don't cave on the issues that are important to you - to all of us who hope to one day be in the guild!

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More Great Books to Read

Update: Leigh's hunger for reading material continues unabated. Although she has already consumed far more books in the last week than she did in the past three months, still she is not satisfied. She must have more, More MORE!

Yes, that's right. The more books I read, the more books I must read. I feel like I can't possibly catch up with all the books I need to finish, let alone want to finish. In fact, much to my dismay, I haven't even cracked the latter list, which is basically all of the sequels to some of the books I'm reading now! Plus more new and wonderful authors appear on the scene every day and I want to give them a chance too.

This week I finished Cecil Castellucci's "The Queen of Cool," Rachel Cohn's "Pop Princess," and David Levithan's "Boy Meets Boy." All three were fantastic for very different reasons. And again, I recommend all three without reservation to both teens and adults, especially David's book which opened my eyes as I don't believe they had been opened before. I loved this book! And I want to know where in the heck Paul's town is! Clearly it's an easy train ride into Manhattan which means Connecticut or upstate NY but really, is it possible such a liberal town exists? As Fox Mulder says, I want to believe.

I was hoping to finish 3 more books this weekend before I start back on the project I was taking a break from but that's unlikely as I actually have other things I need to do. Darn it! I want to just curl up with a cup of coffee and read, read, read.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Memories of the Golden Globes

HH and I live within an easy drive of the Beverly Hilton, which is where the Globes are traditionally held. Several years ago, we headed over there to see what we could see and ta-da, who did we see but…

…oh, sorry! Gotta check out the celebrity sighting flashback at my website for the rest of the story. But don’t worry, it’s just a short hop over there. I’ll give you the link here.

Enjoy my memory as we (sadly) don’t celebrate the Golden Globes.

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Next Event News!

I will be reading and discussing LOVE, MEG at The Will & Ariel Durant branch of the Los Angeles Public Library on Tuesday, February 12th at 4:30PM. It's located at 7140 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Here it is in linkage form: Durant Library. See? There I am, halfway down the page.

If you can believe it, I have had this event scheduled since last October! This was the first slot they were able to scoot me in. It's a lovely library with great staff, easy parking, and lots of books! I'll be talking about writing in general, not just LOVE, MEG, so if you haven't read the book, no worries! You can always ask me questions about other things, like where I get my hair done and what color nail polish I wear.

NOTE: For those of you who have read the book, you'll recognize this branch right away. It's where Meg meets Marty when she's typing up notes from Aaron's show. I am all about synergy with our fine city of Hollywood.

Hope you can make it! And don't worry, I'll remind you about this next month!

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Rejecting the Rejections

January is all about cleaning house and I have long needed to clean out the bookshelf in my bedroom which holds dozens of copies of my manuscripts in various drafts. Finally, I trashed a huge load of the boxes, recycled some others, and stored only a handful of the remaining ones.

Among the papers I found some interesting folders filled with emails and letters I hadn’t seen in years. One folder was a collection of my rejection letters from agents, before I found the fabulous Faye Bender. The majority of the letters began, “Dear Author…” And followed with a highly impersonal, “Thank you for your query letter but we don’t want to read your book” sort of note. One agent even had a series of check boxes for why she wouldn’t read more. I think the box checked off on my letter was, “Premise did not suitably interest us” or something like that. A few requested some pages but those few were followed quickly with a, “Gee, we thought we’d like it but we didn’t” note.

There is a great (depending on whether you’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of these) blog called Literary Rejections on Display, which posts rejection letters from publishers, agents and magazine editors. I think most writers understand logically that not every agent is for every writer, just as not every book is for every reader. But when you get that impersonal “Dear Author” letter, you just want to scream, “Recognize me as an individual!” Sadly, the volume of query letters agents get prevents them from doing so. They just get so darn many of them, especially now that it’s easy-peasy to send off an email to a whole bunch of agents at one time. Imagine what you do multiplied by thousands.

Believe me, I know how it feels when you collect a number of these things. I was never so masochistic as to paper my walls with the rejection letters as other writers have done but I certainly did save them. I once imagined myself telling off these clueless agents once I found an agent of my own and sold a book but it never happened. I guess I had better things to do - like write.

And you know what? You will too.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No Globes but Snow Globes

Sadly, the Golden Globes are not to be this year which is a real shame

(shame on you, producers!)

because they are so much fun. The audience is usually filled with actors and directors and writers from both television and film and they mingle during the commercials and drink and eat and it's so much less formal than the Oscars. And everyone remembers the year Christine Lahti was in the ladies room when her name was called and she had to rush on stage out of breath! Things like that don't happen at the Oscars or Emmys.


Instead there will be a press conference covered by NBC and a Dateline special that will include some clips, although I don't know how they will be able to do that since the WGA did not agree to clips for the Globes. Gorgeous George suggested the writers and producers be locked in a room together and not come out until they made a deal. Didn't they try that already? It was called negotiations and they broke down horribly just before the holidays. I think the WGA has to continue what it's doing and go the divide-and-conquer route by making deals with different studios and production companies individually, as it did with United Artists and Worldwide Pants.

We need to get our quality entertainment back on the air! These bad reality shows and cast-off mid-season replacements are driving me to Netflix and the Internet!

And for a hearty belly laugh, you absolutely must check out "Ask a Ninja's" rant on the strike:

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, January 7, 2008

Me Want More Books!

One of the things I can’t do when I’m writing original material is read novels. I can read nonfiction and memoirs but nothing fictional. One reason is that I will get bogged down in reading, which is what I much prefer to do instead of writing. And another reason is that I will get depressed: there are just so many great books and great writers out there that an inevitable comparison to my own stuff leaves me in the dust. Part of me feels inspired while a greater part feels like I could never accomplish what these other, better writers have accomplished.

But when I’m between books, or rewriting, I have at it! On Saturday, I read two books in the afternoon - two! Sheesh! Was I hungry or what? I read “Story of a Girl” by Sara Zarr and “Pretty Little Liars” by Sara Shepard. I loved both of these books and I totally recommend them to both teen and adult readers. Although they are vastly different in tone and character, I thought their stories were similarly about secrets: the secrets we share with others that bind us to them for good or bad and the secrets we keep to ourselves which make us do crazy things.

And then yesterday, I read “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides (and last night while HH was engaged in American Gladiators). This was a dense, sprawling, epic kind of book, the sort that is told by one family member who has - you guessed it - a secret and slowly divulges all of her relatives’ secrets in order to explain her own. I read this over the course of the weekend and let me tell you, when I was done, I was DONE. It took a lot out of me. Parts of it I felt were overwritten, parts were a tad too clever. A comparison has been made to “Tristam Shandy,” which is a wonderful, bizarre, odd sort of thing that was made into a great movie, btw. “Middlesex,” although good, is not as weird and so, is not as successful on that level.

I have a new Elizabeth Berg novel to read, “Dream When You’re Feeling Blue,” and then I’m headed back to the library for more books. I need to devour more and more this week while I’m between projects; I need to gain strength to go back to my work.

On a TV note: how awesome was The Simpsons last night? Loved the presidential primary parody. And note to Patricia Arquette fans, Medium is back tonight 10P! Whoo-hoo!

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Living on Rice and Ramen

Ran into someone I hadn't seen in a couple of years. She asked me what I'd been up to. With a big smile, I told her my novel had been published.

She smiled back, happy for me, and said, "So you're no longer a starving artist?"

Big laughs.

"I'm still starving," I said. "I just have a book published."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Year, New Book!

I am HUGELY excited about my new book coming out in April - Amazon says the 3rd but B&N says the 10th and I tend to go with the big A. They actually sent a few copies of MEG out earlier than expected last summer.

So the new book is called ALL ABOUT VEE and it's the story of Veronica May, an actress who leaves her small town in Arizona for the bright lights of Hollywood to seek fame and fortune and maybe a cute boyfriend. The only difference between Vee and the rest of the hopefuls is that she's plus-sized. In Hollywood, she encounters prejudice from people in the entertainment business but worse, she gets it from her best friend.

I love Veronica. She's funny and sweet and smart. She longs to follow in the footsteps of her late mother, who also pursued acting when she was Veronica's age but left for reasons Veronica never knew. In fact, I love this character so much that the first draft of her story was 800 pages long! It's much shorter than that now, don't panic.

In coming weeks and months, I will be gradually segueing into VEE-land here and on the website so look for some brand new stuff!

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, January 4, 2008


You may see me occasionally with my eyes closed when I should be working.

I am.

You may think I take exceptionally long showers some days when I should be working.

I am.

You may wonder why I’m walking all the way down to La Brea when I should be working.

I am.

I call it “pre-viz” and it’s similar to the early boards artists do on animated films or CG wizards do for stunts or effects. They draft up early images on the computer to get an idea of how things will look, whether something will work or not, and just how much time and effort and resources will need to go into it in order for it to look really cool.

I do the same kind of thing. I close my eyes or stand under the shower or take a walk and imagine the next group of scenes in my head. I will play out key pieces of dialogue and responses from my characters, then switch it up and try something different - all before I put one finger to the keyboard. For me, the act of typing is not simply a means of transcribing what’s in my head onto the screen; I use it to feel the rhythm of the dialogue, the flow of the words in a sentence and paragraph.

And this pre-viz stuff works especially well for problematic scenes, for sticky story points that I thought I had worked out in the outline but when it came time to see them on the page, they fell apart - or I went in a direction that made that point moot and now I have to do something different. And heck, sometimes my characters just do things I hadn’t planned on so I have to play with scenes to see how they will react.

So sometimes when I look like I’m sleeping, I’m actually working. Then again, sometimes I actually am sleeping. In that case, don’t wake me up.

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Late Night Returns - Sort Of

A bushy beard and a kick line - that's how Letterman made his comeback to the late night air. His monologue was brisk and punchy, although not what I expected from a group of writers who had been out of work for 2 months. Funny yes, but I was sort of hoping for scathing, for smart digs at the producers. Haven't there been lots of things they've been wanting to say about the strike? While they have had the fortune to work on a show that made a deal, the rest of the writers in the guild have not and are still on strike. It is incumbent upon these writers to make the others' voices heard too and not just relax back into a job. Benefit of the doubt: maybe they will in coming days and didn't want to bite the hand that rehired them so quickly.

As for Leno, he started to tell a classic bar joke and then stopped. "We don't know how it ends because there's a writers strike on!" I feel for Leno, I do. He's torn: he's a member of the WGA too yet he didn't want to see so many people out of work - people that he feels responsible for. I'm down with that. What I'm not down with is that Huckabee dude who crossed the picket line and then claimed to believe the writers had made a deal for all the shows. Uh, no. What does that say about a potential president?

I fervently hope the AMPTP had "end strike" on their list of New Year's resolutions.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Leno & Letterman Return

I am very excited, nervous and intrigued about the return of the late night shows tonight. Jay's bosses at NBC have not made a deal with the WGA so he will be back sans writers (as will Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel) but Dave's Worldwide Pants did so he and Colin Ferguson will have theirs.

Part of me wants to watch Dave, not just because I love him and his snarky NYC 'tude, but to hear what the writers will say about the strike - cuz you know they will put some jokes in his monologue about that.

On the other hand, I want to see Jay because I can't imagine what his show will be like without writers. And since he is a WGA member, he can't write anything either. Will he just wing it? Will he go down in flames? Should I tape it so I can watch it over and over again?

Today's research: "Rock Band," the videogame. Duuuuuude!

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sayonara 2007! Cheers 2008!

How many of today's blog entries start with the three words, Happy New Year? Thousands? Millions? Just the fact that there are millions of blogs sorta freaks me out.

Of all the traditions that are celebrated on this day around the world, I think the Polar Bear Club's annual dip into freezing cold water on January 1 has to be tops. (Lest you think this is a phenomenon confined to the Northern states, we do have one here in LA. The Pacific Ocean is still pretty darn cold here!) What a brilliant idea: inaugurating the new year with a cleansing swim in very very cold water!

It's similar in concept to the Spanish tradition of tossing a pan of water out the back door of one's house at the stroke of midnight. In other words, throwing out the previous year in order to start fresh with a new one.

There is another Spanish tradition that HH and I usually follow, although we didn't this year because we were at a friend's house playing "Rock Band" (oh yeah, you ain't seen nothing 'til you see a bunch of adults rockin' out to their oldie faves). At midnight we would eat twelve grapes and throw a 13th grape out the window while making a wish. Why the grapes? Why the wish on a commonly-regarded "unlucky" number? And why do we keep throwing things outside? I have no idea. It's one of those things that came with HH and since he never questioned his parents, he has no idea of its origins either.

One of my favorite definitions of a new year's resolution comes from Wikipedia, naturally. Here it is. Whoever contributed to this entry noted the inclusion of responsibility when making the resolution. It's a time when individuals take personal responsibility for changes: losing weight, quitting smoking, being a better person (again, what does that mean???). I know millions of people - perhaps many of those people blogging and writing Happy New Year in the post titles right now - will ultimately fail to follow through on their resolutions and many of them will feel bad for having done so. But they shouldn't: they should just get back up and try again - on another new day, regardless of the date. The fact that they want to make the change is important and eventually, if they keep picking themselves back up and trying again, they will.

This New Year's I am making a resolution (among others) to stop being superstitious.

Your Hollywood connection,