Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

If you haven't watched HBO's original series The Pacific, you should. Everything about the 10 part mini-series was outstanding. Great acting, great cinematography, and a seemingly seamless integration of the stories of 3 real life marines who served in the Pacific theater during WW II.

One of the best parts of the series was seeing the real life clips of the men whose lives were portrayed in the series and listening to their voice overs, so stoic sometimes, other times their voices drenched with emotion, fighting back tears as they recalled events that happened 60 some years ago.

In every multi-protagonist story there's always one person who stands out. For me, it was Eugene Sledge (Sledgehammer). A doctor's son from Mobile, Alabama, he enlisted as a starry-eyed young boy and came back from the war a conflicted man. Beautifully portrayed by actor Joe Mazello (remember the kid from Jurassic Park? Man, do I feel old!)
And in case you're wondering, yes, I did cry during almost each episode, none more so than the last one where they wrapped up all the stories. I think my favorite scene in that last episode was the closing. The war has been over for a bit and Eugene is sitting out in the yard of his family home in Mobile, lost in thought and emotion, contemplating nothing or maybe everything, and his mother tells him that he needs to get over his mulling and get his life "in order." His father gently leads Eugene's mother away and tells her to leave him alone. "You don't know what he's been through." Then there's a fade out and that's it. Poignantly simple and beautifully done.

Friday, May 28, 2010

So you think you can dance!

Best show on TV by a mile. And the new season started last night! Of course, it's the audition segment that they do similar to AI style, going city to city, giving you a tease of the best dancers and doing those awful clips of the people who can only be there as a joke.

There was no Sex last night (if you're a fan of the show, you'll know who I'm referring to). Yes, they promised us last season that it was Sex's last season to audition, but really? As awful and corny as he is, I really hope they were joking because what would a SYTYCD season be without Sex? And without Nigel with his electric teeth turning to Mary (who was conspicuously absent last night) and asking her how Sex was for her this year. I heard a rumor that Mary was leaving the show and that Mia was taking over for her on a permanent basis. I really hope that's not true. I love Mary! I love her obnoxious laugh and her Hot Tamale train scream. I love Mia as a choreographer, but hate her as a judge. Her beady blue/green eyes give me the willies.

Oh, and it took less than an hour for Adam to cry, or at least get his eyes watery. Don't get me wrong. I adore Adam. Love him love him love him. He is a genius and I want to go out partying with him. But if one more gay dancer gets on stage and talks about how his dad never accepted him... well, let's just say we need to move on!

One thing that has me concerned about this season. Supposedly only 10 dancers will make it out of Vegas as opposed to the regular 20. How are they gonna do that? I guess I'll have to stay tuned. But that won't be a problem.

Add on: I've just been told that the 10 finalists will be paired up with favorite dancers from other seasons. Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My summer project: I'm going to make a Book Trailer

Never mind that my techno knowledge borders on the ridiculously inept. Hey, 8 years ago while driving in my car I decided I was going to write a book. It wasn't easy, and my first attempts were awful. I mean really really awful (Just ask my first crit partners). But I had an intense drive and once I found my niche and my voice, got really lucky and got an agent, everything fell into place. So if I can write a book and get published I can make a 60 second book trailer. Right? I am woman. Hear me roar.

What made me decide to do a trailer? First off, I'm an extremely visual person. There's nothing like actually seeing something with your own two eyes to drive home a point, which makes book trailers a great marketing tool to hook someone like me. I've bought books that I never thought I'd be interested in after watching a trailer. Plus, I had a trailer for my first book Bunco Babes Tell All and I think it helped generate some good buzz. Thank you Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe!

Now, since my marketing budget is extremely tight, I'll be making this little gem on a shoestring budget. Like as close to free as possible. And since I have no idea where to start I'll be surfing the Internet for help trying to get an idea of what works and what doesn't. Check out Whitney Moore's blog Book Trailers Love or Hate? I agree with what she says. A book trailer should not be a movie trailer. It shouldn't strip the reader of their imagination.

Stay tuned as I fumble my way through the creation and production of what I hope will be an awesome trailer that will have readers salivating to read my upcoming December release, The Boyfriend of the Month Club.

And in case you missed it, here's the trailer for my first book.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Popcorn Dialogues!

I've been a huge fan of Jennifer Crusie ever since I heard her speak at the RWA conference in New York some, oh, I don't know, 7 or 8 years ago. My friend Rhoda and I had just started writing and it was our first conference and JC absolutely wow'd me. Welcome to Temptation and Faking It and Bet Me are among some of my favorite books. So add JC to another favorite of mine (romantic comedy movies) and you have a winning recipe.

Jenny and her partner in crime, Lucy March (better known to most as Lani Diane Rich) have started a new blog called The Popcorn Dialogues. The purpose of the blog is to analyze and discuss romantic comedies. There will be a podcast involved, some twittering, and lots of good ol' back and forth discussion. Think of it as film class with Jenny Crusie.

Every Friday starting June 4, they will take one movie (all voted on already on Jenny's blog ARGH INK) and slice, dice, and dissect it to see what works and what doesn't. The movies start in chronological order from the 30's to present. Let me tell you, this is so up my alley. There is nothing I like better than taking something apart to see why it works or why it doesn't (just ask Mel.)

Coming June 4, It Happened One Night with Clark Cable and Claudette Colbert. The hallmark film of romantic comedies. I can't wait!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why you should never get your 100 lb senile dog in the shower

Grrr... The Powers that be, The Man, Big Brother, whatever you want to call him, has apparently decreed that The Office clip showing Ryan talking about Woof! had to come down. I just hate that. Don't they know that any publicity is good publicity? I guess not. I guess they want to keep their funny clips to themselves. Oh, well, that's not exactly what I meant to blog about.

Note to everyone out there: NEVER put your 100 lb plus dog who is 12 years old (which means he's a zillion years old in human years) and slightly senile into your shower. I usually wait for Mike Geraci to come home before bathing Charlie. A professional groomer has been out of the question for the past 3 years because...well, let's just say Charlie gets too jittery around strangers now so we do it ourselves. He has horrible dermatitis and is on steroids. You get the picture. Poor baby has to have a bath.

But I can't lift him in the tub and he can't get in there himself, so I thought the shower was a most excellent option. Until that is... poor Charlie lost his um... bowels. In a most liquid way all over the place while he was still lathered up. Which meant not only was my barefooted, already wet self swimming in it, I had to stay in it longer to rinse him off. All while my 10 lb Daschund, Truffles, stood on the other side of the shower door howling her lungs off convinced Charlie and I were having too much "special time." I am on my 3rd bleaching of the shower stall. And Mike Geraci is still laughing. Next time, it's his turn to wash the dog.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Social networking 101

In my day (yeah, I know...) social networking meant talking to someone. As in face-to-face. Or picking up the phone and calling them. I remember the first time I heard the phrase, just like the first time I heard the phrase foodie which left me kind of clueless until someone filled me in (as in social networked with me). So a foodie is someone who likes to eat? Yeah, count me in. Of course the term means a little more than that, but you catch my drift.

So everyone is doing it these days (get your mind out of the gutter I'm still talking about social networking) and it seems that each day, I hear about more ways to network. There's websites of course, and blogging, and Facebook (which I love a little too much, I think), Twitter, Tumblr, and lots of others.

As an author, it's also a great way to hook up with people who are interested in your work. I have a Facebook account that I started when I wanted to connect with old friends and it's awesome. I love seeing my friend's kids' prom pictures and the anniversary trip to Hawaii, etc... but I started getting a lot of requests from people I don't know, people who want to connect with me as a writer. So I saw the wisdom in starting a Fan page, where people can "like" me. It's so Sally Field-ish of me, but I have to admit to really digging that term. I've also tried Twittering, and while I do enjoy it on occasion, it's brevity leaves me cold and I hate the "am clipping my toenails" kind of twitters.

So apparently, there's a new social network website out there called Woof! (he he) If you're an Office fan (or even if you're not) check it out.

I'm now off to do some commercial networking at Target...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sex and the Austen Girl

Having just finished the revisions on The Boyfriend of the Month Club (yay! I cannot tell you how relieved I am) I am now in the mood to celebrate. This will involve reading, relaxing, and a bit of housework thrown in for good measure only because my house is so damn dirty right now it cannot be put off a second longer. But I digress...

If you haven't read Lauie Viera Rigler's novels- Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, then you're really missing something. I read both books in one sitting. Loved them. And now, Babelgum has produced a web series based on the books, titled Sex and The Austen Girl. Follow this link to watch it. It's just a few minutes long and funny as all out. Thanks, Marilyn Brant for turning me on to Laurie's books!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Best Acceptance Speech ever

Has it really been 15 years since Emma Thompson's fabulous Golden Globe acceptance speech for her screenplay adaption of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility? I remember watching this on t.v. and thinking "I want to be Emma Thompson!" Or at least, as clever as Emma Thompson.

Today is the monthly meeting of the Florida Panhandle Romance Writers and I'll be leading an interactive dialogue workshop, so in preparation I've been thinking a lot about dialogue. It made me dig up this awesome little gem of a speech. It's absolutely perfect.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Travel Insurance, good idea or not?

The jury is still out on this one. I have never in my life bought travel insurance on a domestic airline ticket. Mainly because the price of most airfares seem pretty reasonable and it seems silly to spend an extra 25 bucks or so on a ticket that you're trying to skimp on. So why a couple of months ago I bought travel insurance on an airline ticket from Tallahassee to Nashville, I really can't say. I think mostly it was due to the fact that the ticket cost me almost $500. Yeah. Traveling anywhere from Tallahassee sucks. But I still wouldn't want to live anywhere else, so that's that. I bought my ticket and pretty much ignored the email that came along with it from Access America (my new corporate BFF or enemy- verdict to be determined in 7-14 days).

Then, the rains came. And Nashville and the Grand Opryland Hotel were flooded and suddenly the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference I was scheduled to attend there in late July was cancelled. I waited, along with a couple thousand other writers to see where the conference would be moved to. Orlando! Wow. Okay. My second home town (I grew up in Melbourne). I cringed (just a bit) when I heard that the conference would be held at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel at Disney World (not that it's not a lovely hotel and conference center) but as a native Floridian, I tend to get tired when all people associate Florida with is Mickey Mouse. But hey, the rat has been good to Florida tourism (as opposed to say, BP oil) so I'm not harping on Mickey and his friends. The hotel is lovely, the conference will be awesome and as long as a hurricane doesn't come along, we'll be in business:) It's a bit early in Hurricane season, so we should be fine. Okay, back to the travel insurance. Now that the conference will be in Orlando, I don't need an airline ticket. I can drive to Orlando faster than it takes to get through airport security. So I go into my saved email and find the Access America post and actually start to read my policy. And somewhere between the pages I begin to think that I have pretty solid grounds to get all my money back and believe me, an extra $500 sounds pretty good to me right now. So I put in my claim, forward all the information they ask for and wait my 7 days to see if I'm approved. I even spoke to a very helpful agent on the phone who aided me with the process.

So, yesterday the 7 days were up. I got on the Internet to see the status of my claim and of course, I couldn't tell what it was from the information provided, so I called the 1-800 number and spoke to another helpful agent on the phone who was also very polite and helpful in telling me that my claim has been pushed forward another 7-14 days. Humph. Okay, I'm not in a hurry, but I'm beginning to get suspicious. Being the patient person I am, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Newest Emily Giffin comes out today

And according to the email I rec'd last night from Amazon, my copy is on the way. I can't wait to dig in and start reading!

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie---a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance---and even, to some degree, friendships---believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.
Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spending money on a good cause

I've always loved the semi-oxymoronic (if that's not a real word, then it is now) thought behind spending money to save money. Especially if in the process the money you've spent to save, helps a good cause.

Every year, NY Times best selling author Brenda Novak holds a month long online auction with proceeds benefiting Diabetes research, a cause that's near and dear to her heart (her son has juvenile onset diabetes). I've always sort of watched the auction from afar, but this year I've decided to throw my hat in the ring. There's a terrific AuthorBuzz package worth over a thousand bucks that I plan to bid on (don't go bidding against me now!) as well as a few other things I have my eye on.

If you're a writer or a reader there are scads of deliciously lovely things (like editor and agent critiques, autographed books, etc ) to bid on. Go check it out.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

First, I'll be here.

Then, I'll be here. Yum!

And lastly, I'll be here.

Have a Happy Mothers Day, everyone!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I'm stalking Emily Giffin

Seriously. I love that she has a blog on her new website and that she's giving out so much scoop on the Something Borrowed movie. It's got an awesome cast. With Kate Hudson as Darcy (how perfect is that?) Ginnifer Goodwin as good girl Rachel and John Krasinski as Ethan (love love love that!) it promises to do the book justice. I'm thinking they must be combining both Something Borrowed and Something Blue for the movie, since Darcy and Rachel's story isn't finished in the first book.

Now, if only Sophie Kinsella would blog more frequently, I'd stalk her too. But apparently she just had another baby, so I can't give her any grief there. I just finished her latest novel, Twenties Girl. I absolutely loved it. I laughed, I cried, and I was so sorry when it was over. I really think this is Kinsella's best novel and that's saying a lot for me because I've loved them all.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Me

One year ago today my debut novel Bunco Babes Tell All hit the shelves. It's been a whirlwind year, full of ups and downs and lots of in-betweens. As cliched as it sounds, I wish I knew then what I know now. Ah, well. If I could go back in time I would tell myself the following things:

1. The sales numbers at change hourly. And daily (somewhere around 6:30 am) for Barnes and Noble (although the sales number at B&N do occasionally fluctuate through out the day- not sure why it does this sometimes). No amount of mental telepathy can lower your figures. Trust me, The Great Maria has tried this and failed.

2. Learn to take compliments well and ignore the snide remarks. You have no idea how hard it is for me to take a compliment but I'm learning.

Reader/fan/friend: "I loved your book!"
Old Maria of a year ago (and of course you know I don't mean old literally): "Really? I think the scene on page 242 could have been a little tighter, though. Don't you think?"
Reader/fan/friend: Blank stare.
New and Improved Maria: "Thank you! I love my book too!"

Reader/fan/"friend": "Wow, there sure is a lot of sex in your book!"
Old Maria: cringe
New and Improved Maria: "I know, isn't it great?"

3. Don't sweat the small stuff (I didn't make this one up). I repeat: Don't sweat the small stuff.

And there you have it. I can only hope this time next year I'll be even smarter.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How beautiful is this?

Will someone please make this and serve it to me in bed on Mother's Day? Tomorrow morning will be fine too.
I ripped this saliva inducing pic off Pioneer Woman (who else?) Although the recipe is actually from Savory Sweet Life and can also be found here at Tasty Kitchen. The demo pics are almost as delicious as I'm sure the French Toast is.
Give me a choice of any breakfast food and I'll almost always go for the French Toast. I think it stems back to my Girl Scout days (5th and 6th grade were the best "girl" days of my life). I can remember going camping and making French Toast, not this version, of course, but a pretty damn good one for an open camp fire. Good times :)

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