Monday, July 25, 2005

The Twins of TriBeCa, Rachel Pine

As soon as I heard about this novel, I knew I had to read it. The Twins of TriBeCa has all the elements of a great novel- a juicy plot, fun characters, a behind the scenes look at fame and fortune plus gossipy Hollywood details. The only thing that could be better is if each novel came with a free pair of Manolo's.

I hung out with Rachel to discuss the novel a while ago, and I promised not to divulge how crazy we got when we went shopping in Los Angeles. We fought over the perfect pair of Prada heels and an imported purse from Italy. That Rachel can be vicious, but she has excellent taste in fashion and she promised to share.

Rachel, congratulations on the success with The Twins of Tribeca. It's getting awesome reviews and I'm dying to read it. How does it feel to have a book people are gushing about? It's a must read on everyones list.You're famous!

I'm very happy with the response from people who've read the book. A lot of readers have gone out of their way to find my site,, and send me an email to tell me how much they liked it. I'm so grateful that people take the time to do that. MediaBistro just had this fantastic party for me in L.A., at GeishaHouse, which Ashton Kutcher owns. I told someone that I felt like the Olsen Twins, but I didn't know which one. I can't tell those monkeys apart, but it was the one that eats.

Did you wrap the book in pashmina and sleep with it when you got your first copy? What does it feel like to be a published novelist? It must surreal and exciting.

Strangely enough, what really made me tingly was when I got the first typeset galleys of the book, in order to make any last changes and give it another once-over. Obviously, my name was at the top of everyother page, and it just threw me for a loop. I had a very hard time concentrating because I'd turn a page and it would say, "Rachel Pine," my stomach would flip over, and I'd lose my place. Turn page, stomach flip, lose place -- over and over. It was just as startling on the first page as on the last one. The other big gasping moment was when I saw the cover for the first time. The illustrator had gotten it exactly right -- the cover so conveys what the book is about. I love that the red carpet on the cover is really closer to the color of blood, and that the stripes on the curb remind one of a warning sign. By the time I got my first copy of the book, luckily I had calmed down a bit. But talk about psychotic -- when I heard it had arrived in stores, I wouldn't go near a bookstore for 2 days, because I was afraid of what my (over) reaction might be! Then I finally went in and it was very, very weird to just see my book for sale. I wanted topoke people and say, "See that purple book over there? I wrote it." But in New York you can't do that because everyone's blogging or calling Page Six and I would have definitely gotten busted.

Gwenyth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Tom and Nicole …you personally know all the big names in Hollywood. How different are those stars in real life compared to their public persona, and what do you think the biggest misconception is about celebrities?

I've met many of them because we would host press junkets for nearly every film that opened. While I was at Miramax they were releasing as many as 48 films a year!But for a rundown -- George Clooney is as handsome and charming as he seems. Maybe even more. He is very kind and respectful of everyone else and the job they have to do. I once sat in a room with him for an entire day while he did 80 four-minute interviews with junket press. He was as polite and thoughtful for the first interviewer as he was for the eightieth. The questions were almost all the same, and yet he would pause, think for a second, smile (THAT SMILE) and then answer the person, and genuinely thank them at the end of each interview.

Ben and Matt are real guys' guys. I met them at the junket for "Good Will Hunting," so they weren't tremendously well-known, just kind ofon the verge of stardom, and they were both really excited that the early reaction to the film was so fantastic. Gwyneth Paltrow is extremely professional and takes her job very seriously - she does everything -- the acting, the media, the appearances -- everything, with a sense of understanding about how important her participation is to a film, and she seems to have a lot of respect for the people with whom she works. A lot of women are very jealous of her. In some ways, well, who wouldn't be? She's gorgeous and talented, and dated some highly desirable men before marrying a rock star, and picked up a Best Actress Oscar on the way. It's enough to make even the most level-headed woman want to scream,"ENOUGH - LEAVE SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE!" I think she handled it by holding herself to a higher standard and demonstrating how serious she was -- and treating the people around her very, very well. She really never gave the gossip columns much to write about it. Lindsay Lohan and some of that set could really learn a lot from Gwyneth's example.

The biggest misconception is nearly always the same -- that the celebs are wildly demanding, that they have to have all these things or they're going to have a tantrum, the stuff you read in the tabloids. Except in a few isolated cases, my advice is not to believe it. Every actor has "people," agents, managers, publicists, assistants and it always seems that before a media event you hear from every one of them about what "MS. X HAS TO HAVE." So you order the special flowers from Bali and the candles from Kaui and the figs from a very specific farmer's market booth in Santa Barbara, and then the celeb arrives and more often than not says, "What IS all this?" And they're fine and flexible and they're doing media because they want their project to be successful and being famous is much more fun than not being famous. This is an industry completely fraught with insecurity and subjectivity, and people need to have a good reputation, work-wise. They can be jerks or divas or whatever on their own time, but they are generally on their best behavior for studio business.

The book must have been a blast to write. I can only imagine all the experiences from working at Miramax and William Morris you were able to pull from. Is there a sequel planned? Talk of a movie deal perhaps? Who would be in the movie?

I'm working on a new project now, a book called "You Could Go Blonde From That," about women in New York City who have re-invented themselves, and are keeping secrets about who they used to be. It's darker, and a couple of the characters are really mean, but don't you know a few people who are hiding something?I've recently begun to think about a sequel because I want to knowwhat happens to Karen, and to Robert, and my experience has been that most people who work in entertainment want to continue in that industry. I'm not sure if Karen does, but maybe we'll find out. I doubt it will be a movie, but what I've heard from my agent is that there's strong interest from several parties for television. For Karen I think Jamie Lynn DiScala, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or AmberTamblyn -- all of them have had on-screen personas who were kind, and had a lot of backbone. But there are lots of talented actresses around who I'm sure would be terrific.

I was in Beverly Hills and saw a guy in an Armani suit walking around with a shiny folder from William Morris in his manicured hands. He was wearing an ear piece and looking official and serious. What's the atmosphere like in a place like that? I imagine very cold air, designer clad men and women, modern furniture and lots of big egos. Am I close?

You've hit the nail squarely on the head, for L.A. I worked atWilliam Morris in New York, which is very different from the L.A. office. At WMA in Los Angeles, agents had interior decorators design their offices and there is a whole hierarchy about where the valet parks your car in the company garage and how many times a month they wash it for you and other perks that don't mean very much on the EastCoast. Not to mention the whole code of what the different cars mean. And everyone was very fashionable and stylish all the time, and people always ate/wore/worked out/therapied according to what the trend of the second was. The assistants have to be ahead of the curve so that their bosses are always in the right cardio-funk-judo class and only drinking grapefruit juice from hydroponic orchards, and then a week later it's something else. In New York we'd just laugh about it.

In The Twins of TriBeCa I was trying to show the really marked difference between the Hollywood studios and an indie studio in NewYork. Miramax had a very different ethic. People there cared much more about what was in your head than what you drove or wore. Not that people weren't fashionable there; many were, but people were very proud of their individual sense of style. Most of the people I encountered at Miramax were extremely smart and talented, as well as being highly competitive. One thing I was always curious about was if there was some correlation between everyone being so difficult all the time, and how great the movies were. Because they seemed to be completely intertwined. There was a shocking lack of civility at Miramax, but there was also a status quo that no one wanted to disturb.

There's a part of the book where Karen describes the open plan office as being so jam-packed that 30 people were close enough tosay "Bless you," if you sneezed, but no one ever would. And she wasn'tkidding!

I heard a rumor about a certain young starlet being offered a trip on the casting couch from a slobbery studio head with drooling trout lips…Im sure you know who I am talking about but we won't name names. Tell me, from what you have seen in your experiences, does the notion of a casting couch really exist?

Honestly, honestly, honestly -- I never heard the rumors you describe, but think about the person(s) to whom you are referring. Could anyone want to be in a film that badly? SHUDDER! The whole world of filmmaking has become so corporate that I'm not even sure who you'd need to sleep with to get ahead. The entire Board of Directors? The reclusive foreign investor? There is so much money on the line these days that it doesn't seem likely that sleeping with any one particular person can do too much for your career. That said, I'm sure people on both sides of the game try to convince each other that it might still work!

The character in the book is loosely based on you. How would you describe her and how is she much different than yourself?

Karen is based on me a bit, but not as much as people think. I'm older than she is, so I like to say that Karen knows then what I know now -- she's the beneficiary of 20/20 hindsight! She's far more independent than I was at that age, and she's also more strategically-minded and far less emotional. Most importantly, Karen is at Glorious Pictures for exactly one year. I worked at Miramax for three and a half years, during which time I heard tons of stories about things that had happened before I was there. Then there were the five years in between my leaving Miramax and writing the book, and I heard plenty about that time, so Karen's got about 15 years worth of stuff going on drawn from things that happened at Miramax and a tremendous amount that's made up, too.

When I'm writing, I actually laugh out loud and talk to myself, am I crazy? Also, I need many cups of espresso-infused coffee to keep the momentum up, what helps you stay motivated?

You're not crazy! I used to sit in my office and literally talk to my brain! How's that? I decided that if my mind and I could be partners in this, it would be less lonely. And I'd look up and say, "Have you got anything for me today? Will you please do your job?" I had also sold the first three chapters of the book, along with an outline, so I had a deadline to make, which is pretty motivating. The thing I did that kept me moving forward was having a list of tasks that needed to be done that didn't necessarily involve writing on a blank page. The list would have things like, "name such and such character," or "find out what that pose in yoga is called," or "decide on what the furniture in Robert's apartment looks like." In that way, I always felt that I was doing something, and invariably doing those things would provide both a little break and an inspiration -- when you give a character a name, all of a sudden, they've got some more personality traits that come with it. When you decide what a room looks like, it gives you more details about the person who lives in it. Before you know it, you're right back into your story, and you've crossed something off your list.

What are your plans now? How do you top what you have already done- a huge hit novel!

I am the director of marketing and communications for a new magazine called "Justice." Think of it as People Magazine meets Law & Order and that's pretty close. It's got celebrity cases and gossip, as well as stories of regular people who are trying to get justice for themselves or their families. It has great writers, including Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, Marcia Clark, and Lisa Scottoline, and working on Justice takes up most of my time.

Additionally, Lauren Baratz-Logsted asked me to contribute to an anthology that she's putting together. It sounds like a lot of fun and the story I'm going to write for that will be a piece of "You Could Go Blonde From That." Depending on how that goes, I'll see when I can finish a second book. As far as topping what I've done -- I'm not really looking at it like that. I'd love to write another book, and have one that people enjoy and challenges me to do something new. A lot of people have said that they think I can only write about an experience close to my own, but I know that's not true -- now I've just got to go and do it!

I have a free book to give away- be the first person to email me and you could win this fabulous book! (if you've already won, please refrain from emailing me! I know its hard)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Leslie Schnur, The Dog Walker

I heard about this book a while ago and became interested in reading it. Reese Witherspoon's production company optioned The Dog Walker for a movie which is my dream- I mean, who wouldn't want their book turned into a major film with big talent attached? The premise of the book is that a dog walker falls in love with a guy whose dog she walks. She snoops, peeks and looks into his life, believing she is falling in love.

The book has been described as cute, humorous, and delightful. Leslie Schnur is a very kind and funny lady and we love to gossip and drink wine together. Recently we sat down over a lovely snack of vodka tonics and caviar to chat while Anna Wintour chased her dog and tried to hog all the doggie pate.

Personally, I would never snoop through someone’s things...okay maybe I would peek. Nina, the main character in The Dog Walker, is a snooper. If I invited you over for filet mignon with a red wine garlic reduction and truffles with a raspberry coulis for dessert, would you be tempted to take a look in my medicine cabinet?

Would there be wine with dinner? Because with a couple of glasses of wine in me, you never know. Seriously, I haven't snooped in anyone's apartment since I was a babysitter when I was 15 years old. And that was about, oh, a long time ago. But I sure would be tempted. And I would study whatever you have out--your books, shampoo, art and cd's -- and come to some ridiculous conclusions as to what they say about you.

How long did it take you to write the book? Are you the kind of writer to do an outline or just sit down and write whatever comes into your head?

It took me about 18 months from start to finish, but the first few months were spent trying hard to get the tone and characters and opening right. Once I got that stuff settled, I was able to write the rest of the book pretty quickly. I am working on my second novel now, and I'm doing the same thing, so I guess that's how I work. I work from a very vague outline, and then let my mind run rampant. So, often the outline changes along the way.

One day you get a call from Reese Witherspoon’s production office and they want to make The Dog Walker into a movie. What was your reaction and can you tell me about how a book gets optioned to be a movie? You must have been so excited. I wouldn’t be able to eat or sleep if that happened to me.

Oh boy, was I thrilled when I heard she was interested! But it didn't happen so simply as getting a call and that's that. My movie option was orchestrated by my New York literary agent working in conjunction with my LA movie agent. Together, they strategized and sent the manuscript to a very limited number of people. First, a successful independent producer signed on. Then the producer got the screenwriting team who wrote How To Lose A Guy In Ten Day to read the book. They liked it and immediately suggested changing it for the movie, which initially bothered me, but many writer friends told me that when it comes to Hollywood, they inevitably change the book. They formulated a "pitch" to take to actors and studios.

Then they pitched Reese and her producing partner who liked it and took it to Universal, where Reese has a production deal. Universal gave it a thumbs up and only then, after months, the deal was in place. But I haven't let myself get too excited. I know that hundreds of projects get optioned every year and only a small few make it to the big screen.

The book takes place in New York City which is the best place for just about everything. Do you take your dogs for walks in Central Park or do you employ a dog walker? If you had one day to stroll around the city with unlimited funds, what would you do?

I walk my dog in Central Park every day--several times a day. It's a great place to be--lots of dogs, a beautiful pond near our apartment and excellent trails. I used to employ a dog walker when I was an editor working in an office outside my apartment. But now I do the dog walking duty during the day and my husband does it at night. Strangers stop me all the time to talk about my dog or really, about anything. New Yorkers are like that.

They are friendly and opinionated and curious and very open. So if I could stroll the city with unlimited funds? I think I'd go to Soho and shop the sidewalk vendors who sell amazing things from artwork to jewelry to used books and clothes. Then I'd walk to Chinatown and eat at our favorite dumpling house. Then walk to Tribeca for dessert and a drink at Pastis, a hip, and fun, noisy Bistro. I live uptown so walking downtown is exotic and fascinating.

Your new book, not due out until 2006, sounds hysterical. Sterling Behavior touches on the things that annoy us. I can’t stand long toe nails, people who don’t give a “thank you wave” when driving, and men who go shirtless in public. What bothers you?

I hate those things you hate too! Can I use them in my book? I also can't stand people who talk loudly on cell phones in public enclosed places. Why should I have to listen to their "private" conversations? I hate people at the gym when they stay on machines too long and try to hide it by covering their timer with a magazine. I hate people who talk in movies! And people who cut in lines! And people who don't say "thank you" when you hold a door open for them. Stop me--I'll keep going and going and....

Do you prefer working with authors or being an author?

Though I loved working with authors, nothing is better for me than being a writer. I get to use my imagination, think about stories and characters, and spend my day doing something that is challenging and fun and horrible and hard and wonderful. And then I get paid for it! I am grateful every single day that I am able to have this new career, you have no idea.

When The Dog Walker premieres, what will you wear? A strapless Dolce & Gabbana or a seductive Versace? Perhaps a lovely Betsey Johnson with your hair in braids? I would have to pop a Xanax every five minutes. How will you keep your composure?

Listen, being the mom of nine-year-old twins, I'd be happy to go in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt. But no braids, thank you very much. And as to composure, I'd come to your house, drink a couple of glasses of wine with you, do a good long snoop of your drawers and cabinets...and then hit the red carpet.

OF COURSE I have some free books to give away as well as a charm bracelet! Email me at for your chance to win!

(If you have won before please refrain from sending an email so others can have a chance to win. Thanks, gorgeous readers!)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Bitch Posse, Martha O'Connor

The Bitch Posse isn't a feel good, laugh a minute novel, full of rainbows and unicorns. It is a tough, gritty, haunting, powerful, touching book of friendship and emotion. I read it late into the night and then woke up early to finish it. After I closed the book the only word I could use to describe it was: "Wow!"

Martha, do you have your own Bitch Posse and do you think I could belong ?

Hon, if you have to ask...Seriously, of course you can be a member! But I'm just warning you, my Bitch Posse these days mainly shoots the shit on things like milk cartons that need to be painted certain colors for school artprojects, end-of-the-year teacher gifts, whether God has a grandpa, and why Pluto and Goofy are both dogs but Goofy can talk and Pluto can't. (Yeah, what the fuck's with that? And while we're at it, why doesn't Goofy ever BARK?) Anyway, I guess we've all grown up. In some ways. You know those cute little kids' shirts that say things like "Anarchy in the Pre-K" and "Rock 'N Roll Grade School"? That about sums it up.

The opening scene in the book…were you nervous writing it and wondering how well it would be received?

The opening scene is a sex scene, and convention has it that you don't open with a sex scene. BUT... when I wrote this book, I believed it would never be published. (See below.) So I turned off ALL the censors and didn't care one bit what anyone might think. When it began to look like the novel MIGHT be published (my agent told me she was planning to send it out for auction), I got a little nervous, but figured that scene would be like a litmus test for the novel. If you couldn't make it through THAT scene you probably wouldn't care for The Bitch Posse at all. In that case, you'd need to close the book, back away from it slowly, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. The reactions to the scene have been really interesting. Some people have told me they think it's either a) the saddest scene in the book or b) the funniest scene in the book or c) both. And some people have been absolutely outraged by the scene. Ah, well. It is what it is and if people don't like it, they can skip it. Or burn it. Whatever.

Tell me how the book came to be written?

Back in February 2003, I was extremely discouraged and ready to throwin the towel on this whole writing thing forever. A few months before, I'd finally landed an agent for Unpublished Novel Number Four (count 'em, 4). Four was a light, sweet, almost chick-lit mystery...think Bridget Jones meets Miss Marple. In fact, that was how I pitched it. I had written it t to satisfy what I believed were the needs of the marketplace. I had carefully crafted it to SELL. And I found an agent who thought so too. Until the rejections started pouring in. They were kind rejections, at least. Some praised the writing and found the story lacking. Some gave kudos to the story, but found the narrator too prickly. Some found the narrator delightful, but weren't so sure about the writing... You get the picture. By February my then-agent informed me we were running out of options. Though I pouted for awhile, I ended up doing what I always do to distract myself: start something new. To my surprise, what came out wasn't a mystery, nor was it chick-lit. It wasn't very friendly at all! It was dark, edgy, risky, and different. This novel resided in the country of Mary Gaitskill, Joyce Carol Oates, and AM Homes... my favorite writers. My favorite writers.

It finally clicked: Of course... WRITE WHAT YOU LIKE TO READ. Duh! Why hadn't I figured THAT out? I zoomed through the first fifty pages, firing on six cylinders. Then, I decided I wanted some feedback. The first person I asked was my husband, also a novelist and my very best reader. He read the pages in one sitting and said:"You have to finish this book. It's the best thing you've ever done." I didn't believe him, though. No, I decided I needed some insider feedback... from my agent, who was my advocate, right? Who knew what was best for my career, right? I sent her my pages and crossed my fingers. When I opened her email, I was sure she'd say SOMETHING encouraging. Here's what I read instead: "I'm so sorry, Martha. I'll never sell this. It's too dark, too depressing. It's not my thing at all and I can't imagine who the audience would be. You need to put this away for good, and write another mystery with the same detective."

Wow. Somehow, I hadn't expected that reaction to something I knew full well far surpassed anything I'd ever done before. But, but, but, she was my AGENT. She knew the INDUSTRY. She was right, wasn't she? It took a lot of support from family and friends, but in the end I got the encouragement I needed to break ties with this agent and finish the novel on my own. Because I'd been told it would never bepublished, I turned off ALL the censors, and that's how I got the nerve to write the opening scene you mentioned... and many of the scenes in the novel. And boy, was I ready to write it. The first draft poured out of me in six short weeks. I took several months to revise it and then sent it to several agents, landing a new one within two weeks. She worked with me on the novel for another few months and then promptly sold it at auction four days after she submitted it. I'm still debating whether to send that old agent a signed copy. Maybe when the paperback comes out...

What do you like to do for fun?

I spend time with my husband, Phil, and our 8-year-old boy/girl twins. After all my wild days, I've become a regular homebody. We love visiting the beach (there is something so healing about the ocean), parks, the pool, and hanging out with friends. I read several books a week, also, and fill my head with writer gossip. Clicking back and forth among Readerville, Maud Newton, Beatrice, Sarah Weinman, and all the other addictables I've linked on my own blog, I think I've patched together the E! Channel for writers.

Finish the sentence: If I were a high paid celebrity I would

Become a spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and try to raise funds to help cure Type 1 Diabetes, which my son developed exactly one year ago (dx date: 7/14/04). Type 1 Diabetes affects millions of children and adults and strikes suddenly, usually with no family history. It is the leading cause of adult blindness and nontraumatic amputations and is a leading cause of stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, sexual impotence and many other complications. The average lifespan of someone with Type 1 Diabetesis shortened by 15 years. People with Type 1 Diabetes require frequent blood sugar tests (8-10 times per day) and insulin shots (4-5 shots per day) just to stay alive. By the time my son is 18, he will have pricked his finger approximately 40,150 times for blood tests and will have administered nearly 20,075 insulin shots. Is this the way for a child to grow up?

My hat is off to actress Mary Tyler Moore, Olympic Gold Medalistswimmer Gary Hall Jr., and former Miss America Nicole Johnson, all very outspoken celebrities who manage Type 1 Diabetes every day, as well as to the countless children I know with this disease (some as young as 10 months old), and their families. So, if I am ever a high-paid celebrity, my efforts will continue to go toward finding a cure for this devastating, life-threatening disease. No one can shut me up about it now, but if I'm ever famous, I'll have a bigger stage! (Cindy if you could link the following, I would bevery appreciative) To find out more and to donate please visit: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and StemPAC, the political action committtee for stem cell research

I have a theory that generally speaking, kids who had a rough time in high school make great writers. What do you think?

I think anyone who steps back and watches human interaction is a great observer and would make a great writer or artist. Sometimes we do this by choice, sometimes by necessity, sometimes by a combination ofthe two. Being different in any way allows us to look closely at what makes us human and how it feels to be an outsider. The girls in my novel are outsiders. I was an outsider, myself. For a while, I desperatelywanted to fit into the "It Crowd." (My audition for 8th grade cheerleader had to be the gawkiest, baby-gazelle like performance evermade, and would make excellent blackmail material should it exist on tape anywhere).

But the "It Crowd" wouldn't have me. Then, by choice, I became a black-clad, Smiths-quoting, black-lipstick wearing, smoking, leave-me-the-fuck-alone goth girl. The It Crowd stayed away from me, and I liked things that way. But no matter which face I showed on the outside, I was always, always scrawling my thoughts and observations in journals and poetry books. Being quiet and holding back gives you tremendous freedom to analyze, to take apart and put together people's behaviors, to play the writer's games of What If and Why D'you S'pse. So I imagine you're right... many if not most writers were outsiders in high school.

To win a free copy of The Bitch Posse, please send the url of this blog to five people and email me at with BITCH POSSE in the subject line.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the type of chick you would find shooting pool and throwing back beers, smooth and confident and able to play tough with the boys. Then suddenly, without warning, she will shift gears and debate politics and the role of women in literature without skipping a beat from her cool persona. Lauren is brainy and pretty, bold and smart, all packaged into a teeny little person with a big talent for writing.

She has three published novels, The Thin Pink Line, Crossing the Line and A Little Change of Face, and if you are inspired to google her name, you are bound to find some her of writings on the web as Lauren is quite prolific. Join me for a martini as we chat.

Tell me about Jane, your beloved pregnancy faker from The Thin Pink Line and Crossing The Line- she was a fun character for readers because she was so flawed and yet endearing. How would you describe her?

Readers who open the books thinking they’ll encounter The Girl Next Door are in for a shock since most people wouldn’t want to live next door to Jane Taylor! Jane is a charming sociopath who has two saving graces:

1) for someone so wrongheaded about so many things, many readers find her to be refreshingly self-aware, meaning that she says things right upfront like, “If what follows smacks of being something of an apologia, I think it only fair to point out that most people never see their own tragic flaws. For my part, I am fully aware of what my shortcomings are. Does that mean I should be instantly forgiven them? Hardly. But at least I’m willing to be honest about who I am, and if who I am is a fairly small-minded person who wastes most of her days in silly-minded pursuits, nothing about who I am has ever been quite so bad as to add up to Jack the Ripper”

2) whether it’s with best-friend David, love-interest Tolkien, or baby Emma, I think most readers can readily see that when Jane does love, she loves fiercely, and while she may not always be the ideal person – not even close – she would lay down her life for those she does love.

Right in the beginning of A Little Change of Face, we learn Scarlett has great breasts. Was this little nugget of information based on yourself?

Oh, you’re sneaky, Cindy! First, you ask me an easy writing question, and now this??? OK, I’ll fess up: Scarlett and I share the same breast size, which I’m told is the most common in America: 36C. But as for “great,” hers are great, while I am now a middle-aged mommy, so you can draw your own gravity-based conclusions.

Who would you like to see play Scarlett on the big screen? I think the book would make a fun movie. I love the idea of a reverse Ugly Duckling.

I do too. After all, haven’t we all read the book about the woman who loses 15 or 50 pounds and gets the man? I wanted to write about an attractive woman who sabotages her looks and – sort of, since I don’t want to spoil the ending – gets the man. As for your big-screen question: Me. I think I should play Scarlett Jane Stein. Oh, and I should play Jane Taylor in The Thin Pink Line too. Really, I should play all my heroines, since I can do a great British accent for Jane and I’m willing to get my breasts done to play Scarlett. But – heavy sigh – since I’m thinking Hollywood will not want me in this way, I’d like to see an actress who is slightly older than Scarlett, like Sela Ward, get the part, because if I’m not going to be a star, I might as well fight ageism from the sidelines.

I read about your agent ordeal on BookAngst101. As writers we must face tons of negative responses, issues with agents, bad reviews…why do we do this to ourselves? It’s a career filled with disappointments and rejection yet we keep plugging along- why? It's not like we get free Prada and Marc Jacobs for writing books.

I’ve heard from many people who found it refreshing, if disturbing, to read an honest accounting of how difficult this business can be. Why do we do this to ourselves? I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I do it because I love writing. The great short-story writer Lorrie Moore once wrote something to the effect that the only reason to be a writer is if you can’t not be a writer. Every time I cite that, I get flak from some person who gets disturbed at the notion of the writer as “tortured artiste.”

Well, I’m here to say that I’m not a tortured artiste, but I’d never be doing what I’m doing if I wasn’t driven to do it. There are a lot of careers I could do that, based on IQ and temperament, would be easier for me by comparison: lawyer, stock broker, politician all come to mind. And I don’t think that with any of those professions I’d work nearly as hard as I work now. I work seven days a week. When I’m not writing, I’m revising, promoting, helping other writers find their way in this business, doing interviews like this thoroughly enjoyable interview with you; the list goes on. I do it all, and do it proudly and gladly, because I love writing and if I can make enough money at it to keep doing it for a living and still sock away enough to someday put my five-year-old through college, it’s all good.

I'm sassy, fun and silly. Three words to describe yourself?

Short, 36C, resilient.

In five years, I want to be smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee on the banks of the Siene while scribbling my life story- where do you see yourself?

A: Still writing, still living in Danbury. My daughter will be 10 by then; my niece, who now lives with us, will be 20. I’ll be helping them make their way in the world, I’ll still be shooting pool whenever I can, and, with a little luck, in addition to the chick-friendly books I’m known for now, I’ll be publishing a wider variety of material as well.

What magazines do you like to read? Favorite books? Please say junky tabloids and fashion mags!

Does TV Guide count? I’m afraid that between writing and reading obsessively, I don’t read many magazines, but my husband does like to laugh at how I read TV Guide every week. As for favorite books, in terms of all-time greats, I love Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, Love in the Time of Cholera, Ahab’s Wife, Memoirs of Cleopatra. In terms of things I’ve loved so far this year, Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Queen of the South is wonderful – I love how he writes women – and both of Emily Giffin’s books, Something Borrowed and Something Blue, are enviably good. I’ve been on an insane mission this year to read a book a day – previously I’ve read 100-250 books a year – that I did an essay on a few months back that’s archived over here.

What is your take on the celebrity obsession so many people have? (myself included, ahem!)

That’s an easier question than the breast question! We’re obsessed for two reasons: one, because when something’s going great for a star, we get to live vicariously (“Oh, I wish I were Tom Cruise!”), and, two, because when a star starts to tarnish a bit, we get to comfort ourselves by saying things like, “Well, at least I’m not Tom Cruise!” Really, it’s all about the vicarious kick.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Washingtonienne, Jessica Cutler

She has a novel which hit the bookstores in May and is the writer of an explosive blog revealing some very personal information about her exploits as a mailroom clerk in Washington DC. Jessica Cutler has been described as “vain”, “trashy” and a “strumpet” with dirty secrets, but she is proving there is more to her than being a blogger with a fascinating sex life.

The smart, hip chick scored a major deal with a big advance and is busy working on a new book. The Washingtonienne is getting fabulous reviews and I’m excited to be her new best friend and confidant. I could spill lots of secrets but I won't because girls like me know how to keep things on the down low. But I can reveal our discussion which took place last week over vodka and tequila shooters.

Jessica, out of everything I have read about you, my favorite is this: "That is, I could not care less about government or politics, but working or a Senator looks good on my resume. And these marble hallways are such great places for meeting boys and showing off my outfits!"

With that being said, what are you wearing? And I don’t mean that in a creepy, I- hope- you- are- naked- wearing- stilettos way. I mean it in an are- you- wearing a Hollister- tee- shirt- and flip flops- with- darling accessories- or a Stella McCartney slip-dress with pigtails and nipple clips?

I’m wearing some very old cropped Chloe jeans, silver Jack Rogers sandals, and a grey Syracuse basketball t-shirt. Clothes to walk the dog in. I'm going to change before dinner tonight. I'll probably wear a blue sundress I bought on Prince Street yesterday.

I love the color blue, shopping for clothes, coffee and leather furniture. What do you like?

I like the color green, Lil’ Kim’s first CD, free stuff, and making out with someone for the first time.

I think being a beard for a gay actor is a great gig. I mean you get lots of money, get to travel, wear great clothes, meet celebrities and get all the colonics a girl could wish for. What could be better?

Being a beard for a gay fashion designer.

Britney Spears likes Cheetos and greasy thugs with mullets. Would you trade places with her? Can you even imagine all the jerky you would have to consume if you were Mrs. Federline. But admit it, the manpris, the puffy unlaced shoes...Kev’s hot. Kind of.

Britney’s got her money, she’s got her baby, and she doesn’t give a damn what people like us think. I admire her for that, but I wouldn’t trade places with her. She’s too famous. It doesn’t happen often, but I hate whenever someone recognizes me and watches what I do. It is the worst feeling. Kevin is a little too “rough trade” for my taste, but he probably has a huge penis or something.

Jessica, you posed for Playboy, (you have great boobs, darling!) had lots of sex and then got published by a company owned by Disney. Ironic, no?

But I had no boobs! I couldn’t keep any weight on last summer because of all the stress, and my tits just disappeared. But thanks, and I’m happy to report that they are back in full effect. Disney also owns ABC, home of “Desperate Housewives,” so they aren’t ignorant to the fact that sex sells. It’s a business.

Did you sip on Mad Dog or Cristal to loosen up for the Playboy shoot? Did you get to take a dip in the grotto and check out all the implants? Did you get to try on Hef’s robe? Was Robin Leach there? I hear he's very horny.

They didn’t have alcohol at any of the shoots, but we’d all go out to dinner and get wasted afterwards. I didn’t need to get drunk to pose nude. It’s not much different from taking vacation photos on Miami Beach. I have not been to the Mansion, so I don’t know about any of that other stuff.

You got offered $20K from the National Enquirer but turned it down. Let's see, that money could have bought lots of fun things like distressed jeans with a frayed hem, Lip Venom and a trip to Capri. Why did you say no?

They actually offered $50K, and I should have just taken the money because they published a fabricated interview with me anyway. I said no because they wanted me to name names and I didn’t feel comfortable with that. Also, it’s the Enquirer. Pluh!

You were a blogger, I am blogger. Except you’re now rich and famous and I’m… not. What do I need to do? Having random sex is out of the question because I’m already taken.

It’s not like you set out to write a tell-all fiction account of your experiences in Washington. But here you are. Are you happy with how things turned out?

When has being “taken” ever stopped anybody from having sex in the history of the world? Never! But that’s only part of my secret to success. I never asked anyone to read my blog, nor was I writing for a mass audience. People read it for their own reasons, and the fact that so many other bloggers felt the need to write about it helped, too. It showed that there was an audience with a high level of interest in my story. That’s what makes someone marketable. Coming forward and taking responsibility for what I wrote felt like the right thing to do. If I tried to lie about it, I would have looked even stupider. I took a risk, but it paid off. Damn right, I'm happy.

If we were to meet up for drinks, I’d have a cosmopolitan followed by a vodka tonic and then maybe a shot of something strong. What about you?

And I’m pretty sure if we met up for those drinks, we would end up chatting about clothes and boys and then go to the bathroom together and brush each others hair and share lipstick. It’s just like high school but better because we have more money!

Exactly! Like Patsy and Eddy in “Absolutely Fabulous.” I like to start with a shot before I leave the house. Then I order some kind of hard liquor on the rocks when I get to the bar. Repeat until I puke. That’s how we stay thin.

My days are filled with colonics, tanning and lying by my pool while drinking vodkatinis. Tell me about a typical day in the life of Jessica Cutler.

It varies, but I usually wake up around 10am. I take my dog to the park for an hour while I stare into space with my sunglasses on, trying to wake up. I go home and check e-mails. Then I try to work until “Law & Order” comes on at 3pm. More e-mailing, then I do some errands when my stories are over. I take the dog out again, nap for an hour, and get dressed before someone takes me out to dinner, usually around 10pm. I don’t like to go out until after midnight, because that’s when all the corny people have gone home early because they have jobs to go to. I don’t go out on Fridays or Saturdays anymore at all. Too many people from out of town, it’s for amateurs. In New York, Wednesday is the new Friday.

I want to be rich, a little famous, travel to Paris and drive an Infiniti with buttery leather seats. What do you want out of life?

Right now, I want someone who will pay the rent but won’t want to live with me. When I’m old (sitting in a rocking chair, drinking brandy all day), I want to feel satisfied that I lived my life and didn’t miss out on anything. I can't wait to get old. What a relief it would be to say, "Okay, I'm done now!"

Thanks to Jessica who is very humorous, straightforward, and fun to chat with. She is offering a free signed copy of her novel to one of my readers. Send an email to me at, be the tenth person to reply and you will win what Amazon calls one of the best beach reads this summer! That's Hot!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

An interview with MJ Rose

Several years ago, my mother brought to my attention a writer who self-published her book. Self-published? What’s that? The writer was MJ Rose and the novel was Lip Service. I had no idea that at some point in my future, I would get to know MJ Rose. Let me tell- you this woman is brilliant. She is knows a lot about publishing and writes well enough to claim status as an International Best Selling Novelist. MJ has a thought- provoking blog and consistently keeps up tabs on the world of publishing, book selling and marketing. I had the opportunity to interview her, I feel honored! Grab a vodkatini and have a read.

Tell me about your history as a novelist? Getting published was an adventure for me. I self-published my first novel Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn't know how to position it or market it since it didn't fit into any one genre. Too commercial to be literary, too literary to be commercial. Too erotic not to be erotica but not erotic enough to really be erotica. A little bit suspenseful, but not enough of a mystery to call it a mystery ... you get the idea. Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for the book despite it not being easy to classify, I set up a web site where readers could download the book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

I wanted to find out if people who didn't care about labels would actually like it or not and give that info to my agent so maybe she use it when she talked to publishers with my next book. And then a little baby miracle happened. It started to get buzz and I got mainstream offers for it. After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

I've since had four more novels published traditionally. But because of my unusual start I've a been called the "poster girl" of e-publishing by Time magazine and have been profiled in Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek, Poets & Writers and other publications, both in the U.S. and abroad. I've also appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, and The Jim Lehrer NewsHour.

My latest novel is The Halo Effect. About a New York City sex therapist who gets involved in the hunt for a serial killer when one of her patients goes missing. To get a little taste of The Halo Effect click here.

Why do you think actors are paid such enormous salaries while writers, even successful ones, often have to work a full time job to keep themselves financially secure? Well, I wouldn't say that. From what I understand the percentage of actors who make huge salaries is pretty much the same as the percentage of authors who make huge salaries. That said, even though the second richest woman in England is an author not an actor there are probably more actors who make more money than there are writers who make that much money. The simplest reason is that more people watch more movies at home and at the theaters and more television shows than they read books. There's just more money to be made in that media. Stars are what draw the crowds. As for the second half of your question. Pretty much the same percentage of actors have a second jobs as authors.

I think I've read that less than 10% of all actors made a living at it which is very close to the stat for authors. Why so many?There are a lot of novels published a year. Over 15,000. That's almost 300 a week. Of that number many are "good" books but a "good" book isn't enough. A book really has to be special in one way or another to stand out. Even if they all were really extraordinary, there just aren't enough readers to make that many books profitable for all of those authors to sell enough copies to make a living writing a book a year, or a book every two years.

Do you think writers should be paid more by the publishing companies? I'd never turn down a bigger check. Heavens, there is a lovely little house by the water I'd love to buy. But I really don't think publishers underpay. Publishing a book is a gamble and the risk is all on the publisher's part not on the authors.The realities of the business dictate what we get paid. If a publisher gives you $15,000 for a novel and the book only sells enough copies to bring in $7000 in royalties, you, the author, don't have to pay the difference back. And if the book does better than expected, you, the author, get royalties. The author isn't the one taking a chance. The publisher is. So I don't think the problem is that the payment scale is off. The frustration is that it so few books sell well. So on the high end, there are authors who get several million dollars a book. On the low end there are authors who get $5000 a book. And in between is every thing you can imagine.

How come writers are not on par as celebrities when the goal of both actors and writers are to entertain? I think our society is more focused on actors than authors because actors are visible. They entertain us with their voices, their faces, the way they move. We watch their art.But it's an author's written words that entertain. We are aren't what matters to the public, our stories are. Think about Dan Brown. He has sold over 12 million copies of his novel in the last two years and made about 80 million dollars. As much as any actor has made in the last two years. But no one knows much about him or his wife or their house or their dog if they even have one. Nor do any of us care. No one covets his smile or his muscles. It's what he's written that matters, not who he is.

Authors' aren't movie stars. It's not about our looks. Our bodies and faces are not our fame. Our brains are. And our brains don't get us TV gigs. Being smart and creative on paper doesn't guarantee you can sit next to Jon Stewart and quip cleverly. Ever go to an author reading? Most of us are as exciting to meet in person as a turtle. It's our thought process, our imagination, our wordsmithing that makes us successful. With an actor it's the opposite. Their thought process is unimportant. It's how they look, how they charm, how they read their lines and strut in the limelight. It's how much we lust after them, or want to look like them, or be them. Aren't we all so screwed up:)

Please talk to me a bit about commercial novels versus literary? Do I have to? A lot of writers get their hackles up over this question because all it does is serve to set up a competition between all of us. Readers, generally are not even aware of the two terms. Most of them just want to read good books. Some want fast paced books. Some want books that really make them think. Others want love stories. Others want suspense. But, as is true with any industry, the people inside of it are the ones who want to qualify and quantify what they do. But to answer you question, generally a commercial book focuses on the plot - or the story. A literary book generally focuses on the character and the quality of the writing. In some writer/publisher circles there's an attitude that commercial equals crap while literary equals brilliance. In other writer/publisher circles there's an attitude that literary equals boring and commercial equals fast paced entertaining. You say potato, I say potato.

I think there are commercial books that are brilliantly written with characters drawn as well as any literary book out there. And I think there are literary novels with plots that take your breath away.I wish we could just talk about good books, fun books, great books, brilliant books. But I'm a hopeless idealist. (A hopeless romantic too, but that has nothing to do with the answer to your question.)

We both know many excellent writers who have not received the acclaim they deserve. Do you attribute that to a lax marketing from the publishing companies, lack of reviews in major magazines, or something else entirely? A lot of things happened at the same time to create this situation. Ten years ago most of us did not have 100 channel cable TV, cell phones, Netfilix, iPods, nor were we all connected to the internet. But now most of us do have all those things and are all on line. And all that is head to head competition for books. Ten years ago, the average reader read 6 -10 books a year. Now that same reader reads 3 or less. Also, in the last 3 to 5 years, newspapers and magazines have been cutting the amount of attention they give to books. (features and reviews). The book review pages weren't drawing enough ad dollars - advertisers wanted to be on more exciting pages.Also because of the internet, cell phones, and cable TV, we all now see about 3000 -5000 marketing messages a day as compared to the 2000 we saw ten years ago. That means it is more than 40-50% more complicated to get a message through to us - about say - a terrific book. At the same time, the number of books being published a year has gone up. It's almost doubled in the last ten years.

Why you may wonder? Well, for one thing there are thousands of superstores now and a superstores can stock over 175,000 books at a time. Its sort of like "If you build it we will fill it" mentality. And when there are more books in the store, each one is less visible, each one gets that much more competition. More people reading less, plus more entertainment options, plus more books, plus it's harder to convey a message for a reasonable amount of marketing dollars makes it harder for a book to break out and all too easy for a terrific author to get lost in the shuffle.

What can we as writers, do to encourage people to read more? There are too many wonderful books filling the book stores and not enough people taking time to turn the television off and pick up a novel. What do you think? Well, its not having more celebrities write novels. And its not having more novelists become celebrities. Or maybe it is. (I just hope it's not.) Or maybe we all need to start being more outrageous and getting in the news more. Maybe we could get big television shows to show more characters reading books. (When Carmella Soprano was seen reading Memoirs of A Geisha a few years ago sales of the book went through the roof.)

One thing for sure. We need more Oprahs. What she proved was if someone who you trusted told you they loved a book, you bought it. We need more people who have influence talking about books and suggesting books and getting books attention. We do have a great challenge set out for us -- to get better at figuring out how to harness word of mouth. We also need to get into the 21st century when it comes to marketing books. For the most part, we're just not being creative. Not making books look or sound as exciting as they could. We still package and promote a book the same way we did 25, 35 years ago. I also think that audio books - which let you multitask - might save storytelling. Since the internet boom, we've gotten really good at multitasking.

Right now I have the news on and the computer on my lap and I'm writing you and checking my email. And if the phone rang, depending on who it was, I'd still be able to write you and talk.When you pick up a book you need to focus and do one thing - read the book. But audio books allow you to listen while you are walking the dog, commuting, exercising, etc. And sites like allow you to download a book and put it on your iPod and take it with you. The industry has to come up with a better message to the consumer than "get caught reading" which is the only outreach advertising there is. As if we need to make reading any more covert than it already is.

What is it that drives you as a writer, to keep writing? Are you looking for fame and money, or are you content to see your books on the shelves? At first the goal was just to get the story out of me and onto the page. Then to do it better. Then do it well enough to get an agent. Then I got an agent and thought that was the pinnacle. Then I wanted the book to be published and on the shelf. That, I was sure, would be enough. Then it was published and on the shelf and I found I cared about getting people to read it. And not just read but love what they were reading. And then when people started writing and telling me they loved my books and that they were really different and they couldn't put them down, I thought that was enough. Except then I realized I wanted more. I wanted to make a living at this amazing thing. And so it goes. But I know how lucky I am. I get to do what I want to be doing. I get to write about characters I'm in love with, whose lives fascinate me, who get caught up in suspenseful situations and erotic entanglements, who sometimes have to do the wrong thing even though it's for the right reason.

And lastly, when you are not writing or writing about writing, or blogging. What do you like to do? Take very long walks with my totally spoiled dog, Winka. Read, watch movies, spend at least a day a week in Manhattan and go to museums and art galleries and just so you don't think I'm a cultural snob - I adore shopping especially for shoes even its just window shopping. In the spring and summer I garden a little. And most days I enjoy cooking. (On the days I don't take- out does just fine.)


First of all, I'm so excited my colon is twisty and my hands are sweaty. I have some great interviews coming up. If you are a writer and want to be interviewed, email me at

Second, I want to tell everyone how much I enjoyed The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Even though she neglected to reply to my email, I still loved her book and thought it should be on everybody's must read list.

I'm in the midst of sending query letters out. For those of you who don't know, a query is a letter to an agent which basically begs them to take an interest in your book. In the letter, I try not to stress how cute and fun I am or how funny I can be or how pretty my golden hair is. I wrote this book, see, and am ready to be launched into the mighty world of publishing. And I want to do a book tour wearing sexy Jimmy Choo shoes, that to me is real success. Fancy high heels that cost upwards of $500.

Soooooo...stay tuned. I have MJ Rose coming up tomorrow, Lauren Baratz-Logsted and then a special controversial guest who I can't wait to interview.

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 01, 2005

An Interview With Jane!

I'm practically busting out of my Lucky jeans because I'm so excited to bring you this exclusive interview with best selling author Jane Heller! To me, reading a good book is on par with buying a new pair of shoes or running into Brad Pitt at Starbucks.

I began reading Jane’s fabulous books several years ago. Once I read the first one, I was thrilled to find an author who had written several witty, entertaining books. Each novel is different yet each is written with a sense of humor and fun. I cannot wait to dig into her newest one, An Ex To Grind.

A lucky reader is going to be winning a signed copy of An Ex To Grind which is hot off the press. All you need to do is email me and tell me why you should win the book. I will be choosing a winner next week when I have another best selling author and another contest! I am thrilled to share you my interview with Jane~

Living in Southern California, you must see your fair share of interesting characters. Have you ever viewed a mini- dog wearing a cashmere blended sweater? And how many of your characters are based on people you see or know?

Actually, moving to Southern California wasn't that big a shock afterliving in South Florida for seven years. Whenever there's a crazy headline,it either comes from California or Florida, doesn't it? Well, maybe Texas should be included too. I've never seen a mini-dog in a cashmere sweaterhere in LA, but I did see a mini-dog - a "purse puppy" - being carted aroundin a teeny weeny Mercedes convertible! No, my characters aren't based on people I know. Honest. They spring from my head, fully formed. I love my friends and family, but they're not nearly as interesting as the people I make up. What I do base my characters on are the universal emotions we all feel - love, hate, jealousy. The juicy stuff.

The first book of yours I ever read was The Secret Ingredient. I was hooked on your style of writing from then on. What was the first book you wrote and which is your favorite?

The first book I wrote was Cha Cha Cha, which was published in 1994. I was living in Connecticut and the stock market crashed, and all of a suddeneveryone was going broke. I thought, What would happen if you were thistotal suburban princess and your husband lost all your money in the stockmarket and then dumped you? How would you support yourself in your big McMansion? Especially if your only "skill" was being a neat freak? I came up with this story about just such a woman, who, without telling her snobby friends, answers an ad and becomes a maid. She puts her Pledge, her Windex and her Fantastik into her Porsche and goes to work cleaning houses - only to have her new employer get murdered. Loved that story and still do. But my favorite book of mine is The Secret Ingredient, which is about a wife who looks at her husband while he's stretched out on the couch stuffing his faceand watching TV, and goes, "Who IS this guy and what happened to the prince I married?" She heads for this herb guru in Beverly Hills and buys a potion, gives it to her husband, and freaks out when he becomes just a little TOO perfect. That book was a lot of fun to write. So many women relate to the heroine's problem with her husband.

Tell me the best and worst things that have happened in your career?

The best thing that happened in my career was getting booked on the Today show when Cha Cha Cha came out. I was so psyched, because I'd spent a decade working at NY publishing houses promoting authors and getting THEM on theToday show. So now it was my turn. The worst thing that happened in my career was getting booked on the Today show for Cha Cha Cha! Turns out it's much easier to promote someone else's novel than sell your own on nationalTV. I was a nervous wreck! When I got to the studio, the producer took one look at me and said, "Uh-oh. I don't know about that blue dress. Katie's wearing blue today and I think you're gonna clash." I was so upset that I reached into my bag and popped a Xanax. A few minutes later, I was in the makeup chair when the makeup lady's beeper went off. She left me there to go and work on somebody else. I had one side of my face done and the other side not, and I thought I'd be going on the air like that, looking like somethingfrom Phantom of the Opera. I was so upset that I popped another Xanax. Eventually I went onto the set. Katie Couric's first question to me was:"So, Jane, how does it feel going from being a promoter of writers to being a writer?" I felt my eyes roll back in my head and I said, "I don't know. I'm heavily sedated." True story. The good news is that I've gotten so cool with live TV that I can do these shows cold turkey now!

What are the most challenging parts of writing?

The most challenging part of writing is having the focus and discipline to do it. Every day. On holidays too. No excuses. I work from 9 in the morning until 6 at night with a quick break for lunch and mini-breaks to answer e-mail. I don't sit around waiting for the Muse to strike. I stay at the computer until I put in a full day. I write humorous books, and there are plenty of days when I don't feel funny. But sometimes those are the best writing days. You just never know what'll come out once your fingers hit the keyboard.

Like me, you are originally an east coast girl. Ever consider moving back?

I grew up in the New York area and my mother and sister are still there, so I try to visit as often as I can. But I would never move back. I'm a warm weather person and those winters in the Northeast are too harsh!

Who would you like to see play the characters in a movie based on your latest novel?

My latest novel, An Ex to Grind, is making the rounds in Hollywood as we speak, and I hope we'll have a movie deal for it very soon. I'd love to see Julia Roberts as my heroine. Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston would be great too. It's the story of a successful career woman who gets stuck having to pay her ex-husband alimony. She really resents writing those checks because he's such a "bumbo" (a term I coined for a male bimbo who won't geta job). So she hires a professional matchmaker to secretly fix him up with a woman, hoping he'll live with her for 90 days and void the terms of theirdivorce agreement, which would get her off the hook for the alimony. An Ex to Grind is a battle of the sexes comedy, and I'd love to see an actress in it who's likable but also tough talking.

What’s next on your agenda?

Next on my agenda is finishing the novel that'll come out in 2006. It doesn't have a title, but it's set in LA and is about a writer for a celebrity magazine. She gets assigned to interview this hunky but difficult actor who'll only do the interview in his Cessna. Trouble is, she's phobic about flying and can't make herself get on his plane. She gets fired, goes home to Missouri to lick her wounds, and volunteers at her local hospital -only to have this actor show up as a patient. Lots of complications in this story.

Do you indulge in reading saucy tabloids? What do you do for fun? I read People magazine religiously, so I can keep up with who's supposedto be dating/marrying/breaking up with whom. And I watch baseball. Coming from NY as I do, I'm a passionate Yankees fan and I never miss a game. I've been posting entries on this sports blog and everyone on it assumes I'm aguy! It's been very interesting.

I want to encourage everyone to check out Jane's website and enter the contest to win a free signed copy of An Ex To Grind. A big thank you to Jane for taking the time to talk to me! I wish her best luck and continued success!