Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hurray! Another Festival of Books!


Yesterday I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I'm sure you want to know all the details. The day began looking rather dark and overcast and I thought it was going to start raining thus ruining my coif but it was all okay. The sun broke through those clouds and being on campus felt like a scene from a movie. You know the one where the small town blonde girl goes to the big school? Right.

I was unable to get tickets ahead of time so had to feverishly light candles and pray that we would manage to score some standby tix. Luck was on my side, my friend and I got the panels I was hoping to see. I felt like it was nearly impossible to get into Frank McCourt In Conversation With Mitch Albom so I didn't even try. Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes was one of the best I've ever read, and Tuesdays With Morrie- gah! Is there anyone out there that hasn't shed a tear after reading it?

I sat in on the panel called, Until It Hurts: Satirical Fiction. I stood up and asked if anyone ever read my gossip blog because it very satirical. No I didn't. The panelists were Seth Greenland and Alan Zweibel- and yes they were both quite funny. The moderator was a woman who wore a gigantic hat complete with pins and flowers named Patt Morrison.

Next we (my friend Trina and I) wandered around and were amazed at the size of the festival. People everywhere, all shapes and sizes and colors, with and without children, holding coffee cups and oversized bags of kettle corn. I almost choked on my power-bar when we stumbled upon a Dianetics tent. Tom Cruise should have been there handing out pamphlets. Anyone with a weak brain and a lust for alien life could have been hooked up to an emeter. There were hundreds of booths set up with vendors and author book signings, I'm so sorry I didn't get to see Dita von Teese.

We scooted to the next panel which was called Fiction: Reinventing the Family. I got a ticket to this one by standing on line at the on-site Ticketmaster, in case you were wondering. I'm sure you were, this is riveting. Trina was able to get her grubby hands on a standby ticket so we were all set, seated front and off-center but perfect view to analyze Ayelet Waldman's red hair clipped back in what I think was a bunch of bobby pins.

There were three lovely authors all of whom were featured at one time or another in People Magazine's book review section. Karin Stabiner who reminded me of Gloria Steinem, moderated the conversation. The authors were truly interesting. Karen Fisher just wrote a big fat historical novel called A Sudden Country. Marti Leimbach's book is called Daniel Isn't Talking and lastly, Ayelet Waldman was there talking about Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. I cannot express to you how very giving those in the writing community are. Most authors are willing to talk and share their experiences, the authors on this panel were no different.

We spent a little more time with our mouths wide open gaping at the millions of book lovers on the UCLA campus: it was a Woodstockian book lovers orgy minus the nudity and patchouli. I said hello to Hillary Carlip at the Book Soup booth where Joyce Carol Oates was perched signing books for a line of people a mile long. Joyce totally needs to consume carbs. She looked rather frail and teeny. I KNOW she is amazingly prolific, but still. A girl needs her challah, you know?

It was a great day, even if my car did get hit in the parking garage by a reckless driver in a rush to get to her colonic appointment. I met two other fabulous bloggers for lunch at Jerry's Deli (tabloid whore and popbytes) and strolled around Urban Outfitters wishing I had money. Books and shopping and food, is there a better combination? I think not.


Give It Up!




Imagine for one second giving up something every month in order to gain more clarity, not clutter in your life. Do you really need those manicures and take-out meals? The cable television and the newspaper? The vodka tonics after work with friends? That is the premise behind author Mary Carlomagno's book. Each month for one year she gave up a costly item or hobby (gourmet coffee, taxis, videos) and documented her trip to simplicityville.

I enjoyed the book and in theory love the idea of not throwing money away by purchasing Starbucks coffees, fancy cosmetics and fashion magazines. What I do need is a Personal Life Coach to help me implement the idea of living with less. To live with less is to ultimately find new things that make you happy. Oh my gosh! Listen to me spouting off like a modern day Confucious.

I dream of growing my own strawberries and making blueberry muffins for my kids before school and not throwing money away on yet another cool tee shirt and jeans that make my butt look like two firm peaches under denim. Maybe I need to reread the book.


The Same Sweet Girls




Recently I received Cassandra King's novel The Same Sweet Girls. I love the title. If I chose the title for my current state of mind it would be The Same Crazy Bitch. Since I didn't do a review about this book immediately after reading it, my memory fails me. So I'm copying the information from the publisher and hope you will forgive me. Just this once.

On an island every summer and in the mountains every fall, the Same Sweet Girls come together to share their stories. When one of the group faces the most difficult challenge of her life, the novel builds to an almost unbearably powerful conclusion, one of the most memorable in current fiction. Without a touch of sentimentality, Cassandra King writes of the way close friends can help each other through even the most cataclysmic life events. Both heartbreaking and hilarious, The Same Sweet Girls will touch, move, and inspire readers to cherish their own lifelong friendships. -hyperion


Thursday, April 27, 2006

PETA



As you may or may not know I like to give my support to a few charities and one group I like to work with is PETA. Currently PETA is running a poll for the World's Sexiest Vegetarian.
Ladies like Natalie Portman, Pamela Anderson and Anne Hathaway are just a few of the women on the poll while Joaquin Phoenix and Jared Leto are two of the guys you can vote for.

My question is…where are the hot authors on the list? You know, writers are a sexy breed. Click here to vote!


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

From book to the big screen


Jada scares me as much as this book!

Will Smith will be starring in a new action movie called I Am Legend based on the scary novel by the same name.

Here is what Amazon.com has to say about the book by Richard Matheson:

"One of the most influential vampire novels of the 20th century, I Am Legend regularly appears on the "10 Best" lists of numerous critical studies of the horror genre. As Richard Matheson's third novel, it was first marketed as science fiction (for although written in 1954, the story takes place in a future 1976). A terrible plague has decimated the world, and those who were unfortunate enough to survive have been transformed into blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Except, that is, for Robert Neville. He alone appears to be immune to this disease, but the grim irony is that now he is the outsider. He is the legendary monster who must be destroyed because he is different from everyone else."

You should know that I am not a fan of this kind of book or movie. Vampires and science fiction combined with horror? No. Basically you would have to pay me to sit through something like this and even then I would not sit in my seat. Since Will Smith is on board with the project you know it's going to be a blockbuster film. Jada Pinkett Smith should totally be cast as one of the vampires, check out that picture above!


Flashback: The Outsiders



To me, reading a book is much more exciting than seeing a movie. Reading enables us to delve into our imaginations and paint pictures in our mind of what the characters look like and talk like.

Long long ago when I was a pre-teen, I read The Outsiders, then continued to read every book S. E. Hinton wrote. Eventually I saw the movies too. Hinton was the bomb! Matt Dillon was cast in a few of those films and I thought he was the bomb too.

I think The Outsiders is still popular with kids today. Gah! That makes me sound super old. Kids today. This is somewhat a classic novel and somewhere in my house is a copy, probably a first run edition with yellowed pages and a well worn cover. This novel goes down in my personal history as one of my favorites.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Palm Springs Festival of Books



These are the windmills of Palm Springs rising from the dust like scary aliens. It's quite a sight to behold and one that never fails to freak me out. I was on my way to the Palm Springs Festival of Books and I shuddered as I passed these landmarks.

It was a lovely spring day on Saturday, perfect for the festival. Low humidity yet high winds which blew the fluffiness right out of my hair. However, the day wasn't about having a good coif, it was about meeting authors. I get all nervous around writers and feel that I come off like a meek little mouse with a blog. I simply need to get business cards printed up, especially before next weeks Los Angeles Times Book Festival which should be mass chaos and wall to wall people who love to read. A literary mecca, if you will. I can hand out business cards with abandon and hopefully drive some more traffic to this site.

I feel really honored to have met some fantastic writers! The day began with meeting Charles Phoenix who creates awesome coffee table books full of glossy photos of Americana in the 50's and 60's. Next I got to meet Christopher Lawford, son of Peter Lawford and a member of the famous Kennedy family. I marched right up and introduced myself only intimidated by the fact that both of his uncles had an affair with my favorite actress of all time, Marilyn Monroe. I was also a bit nervous someone might notice my chipped nail polish and dry hands.

Director George Englund was there with Cloris Leachman and she was a hoot. I chatted a little with her and couldn't help but be just a wee bit starstruck. Okay, really starstuck.

I was thrilled to meet Ted Allen from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame. If anyone would notice my poor manicure, it was him. Somehow I dont think he cared though which was a relief. He was at the festival to talk about his cookbook (more on this in a few days). Ted was awesome and cute and funny. It's always cool to meet public personalities who are down to earth.

Hillary Carlip was the last author I met that day and what can I say about Hillary? She exudes warmth. Her book is hilarious and I will be interviewing her this week. Her book is a must read!

I'm so in awe of creative people who are accomplished and successful and are willing to take the time to talk and share their experiences. Each author I encountered was polite and it was a great experience. With the exception of the fact that the bathroom ran out of toilet paper and I was guzzling coffee all morning. I so did not want to use a Porta-Potty! Next week is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books which I will be attending in all my glory with business cards in hand for encounters with other writers/authors/ Kennedy family members. Stay tuned for interviews coming soon....


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Notes From My Travels




I was strolling through Barnes and Noble a few months ago and found this book wedged in between two other, fatter, and more noticeable books. The name ANGELINA JOLIE on the spine stood out like Paris Hilton in church.

Naturally I had to get my grubby mitts on it. I took it home and put it on my book shelf where it remained for several months. I do not know why I didn't read it right away. Probably because it was not a tell-all about her personal life. Just kidding! It had more to do with the fact that I already feel helpless when I read about how terrible conditions are in other countries. When I think about it, I know I'm lucky to have change in my pocket and a surplus of things like toilet paper and soap, not to mention a pantry full of food. I just read that if you have more than one outfit in your closet and a running car and a warm bed, you are automatically wealthier than something like 75% of the world.

I was on vacation when I read Notes from My Travels, how ironic that I was lounging in the Caribbean while reading about poor refugees, sick children, and landmind victims. This is Angelina’s actual diaryfrom her humanitarian trips. She is very humble and grateful for the opportunities to help others, mainly assisting refugees from the poorest places in the world. After reading, I was inspired to do something, not sit out in the sun sipping a cocktail. I wanted (want) to meet the people she writes about. I want to shake the hands of those workers who dedicate their lives in helping the poor and displaced yet get little compensation for their tough work. I felt very privileged and very guilty for having so much while many others have so little.

Angelina talks about visiting Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Ecuador, she speaks fondly of the people and their hope and wishes for peace. These people who don't have their most basic of needs met, are grateful for the help. They are loving and giving in return for the attention to their plight.

The journals are detailed, informative and worth your time to read. Angelina works with the UNHCR; I encourage you to start here if you too have the desire to pitch in, even in the smallest of ways. How wonderful it would be to be to make a difference in this world.


Monday, April 17, 2006

From book to the big screen

Nip/Tuck writer Jennifer Salt will bring the book Angus to the big screen. I never heard of this book and it was a best seller. How did it slip through the cracks? My superior mental ability tells me the dog is named Angus. Or else the book about the lead singer (oops I mean the guitarist, the one with the school boy outfit) of AC/DC or perhaps the story of Angus beef. Tell me the story about the slab of tbone please.

The novel is about a Jack Russell terrier. I would love it if Mariah Carey’s Jack Russell wrote a tell- all. Bring that to the big screen!

According to the Hollywood Reporter, "the film will examine a year in the life of a young married couple seen through the eyes of their newly adopted young dog". Ms. Salt says of the project "It's about a couple going through a difficult time and how the dog's fearlessness after a near-death fight with a coyote inspires them and heals them."


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Marley and Me




My husband and I, when we were just newly married purchased a pure-bred Bichon Frise who we named Leo. Leo was a horrible puppy. Why did we complicate our lives with this white cotton ball of a dog? He peed under the couch, pooped by the bedroom door if it was closed, chewed his way through a baby gate, humped everything in sight especially corduroy clad legs and enjoyed eating many of my shoes. He took off running like a wild stallion through the neighborhood while I chased after him, barefoot, pregnant and livid. We called him Houdini for his ability to get through our homemade barricades of coffee tables, chairs, rope, and laundry baskets. He would climb, bite, twist and contort his little body in order to get free.


Leo happily settled into middle age, thank goodness, as a much calmer, sweeter dog who was content to be alone and nap all day with tiny bouts of playfulness. In other words, he was perfect!

Last fall an eight week old Great Dane puppy came into our lives, how could we refuse a helpless pup who needed a home? He was even smaller than our Leo. Surely having this dog would be easier than the hell that was Leo when he was a puppy. Plus, since we had been through it once before, wouldn’t the second time be easier? And Leo would be like a father to this puppy! He could help us teach her. And Lola was so small, surely she would not become one of those beastly, enormous Great Danes the size of a donkey. Right!

Of course Lola had other plans none of them involved peeing outside, listening, or not chewing things that did not belong to her. In no time, Lola had driven me to the brink of insanity prompting me to proclaim, “Really, this time I mean it, no more puppies…ever!” That has become my daily mantra.

At seven months old she has more than quadrupled her body size and weight, she has chewed slippers and shoes, finds it a great fun to run from me when she has stolen a toy or game piece or napkin or her beloved dryer sheets from a stack of fresh laundry. Lola has bitten the end of our wooden banister to a nub and enjoys putting her paws on the counter and leaning into the sink for a treat of dirty dishes piled high enough for her snout to reach. Bathtub water, especially with bubbles, is a delicacy that rivals Snausages. In other words, I have a Marley too.

I got my hands on a copy of Marley and Me, finishing it in record time hoping for some pointers dealing with my own troublesome dog. Last night, I knocked the da Vinci Code (which I have still yet to read) out of my husband's hands, thrusted the book at him said, “You have to read this! It's so good!” And he replied, “If it’s so good, why are you crying?” It is a book that will make you laugh and sob, especially if you have lived with a naughty canine, one filled with equal parts mischievousness and love.


By the end of the book I felt like I knew Marley personally. I highly recommend this best seller if you are a dog lover or not. It's nice to know I'm not alone with a pet who stirs up trouble while at the same time, looking so darn cute.

The author has a great website with photos of Marley as well as an interview. Check it out.


Friday, April 14, 2006

From book to the big screen


The Nanny Diaries enjoyed a long stint on bestseller lists everywhere. People were talking about this book for months after it arrived in stores and Julia Roberts was such a fan, she recorded the audio version. I enjoyed this book a lot, partly because I'm from New Jersey and could identify with the rich parents and their friends- people who give their children ridiculous names and parade them around in clothes from places that make Baby Gap look like Pick N' Save. Think well dressed women in gigantic SUV's spending money like it was nothing while the beleagured nanny raises little Appleton or Orion, racing them to ballet, Junior Tai Bo and French Country cooking classes.

Now the novel is coming to the big screen with Scarlett Johansson playing the lead. Scarlett will take on the role of a working class girl from New Jersey who gets a job working for a wealthy family in New York City. Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti will co-star. With a cast this talented, the movie version might even be better than the book.


Lisa Tucker, Once Upon A Day



I have enjoyed Lisa Tucker's books since her debut novel, The Song Reader. She is an amazingly talented writer whose books are must- reads.

In last weeks issue of People Magazine, Once Upon a Day was featured, garnering a great review. On Amazon, it is a four star book. I'm so proud of Lisa! As well as a terrific writer, she is also a nice person and deserves all the accolades for her work.

Once Upon a Day would make a good movie: there's a love story, intrigue, passion, pain...all tied into an unforgettable story.



Does anyone confuse you with the Lisa Tucker who just got voted off American Idol?

Yes! Apparently she removed her website when this season of Idol started and so everyone who wants to write to her comes to my site, lisatucker.com. Most realize it isn’t the right place, but some don’t seem to get that. Here are two of the funniest emails I got:

comments = lisa tucker is an american idol. You are not black.

comments = Hi this is the official website for lisa tucker but cant find any of her photos or videos...only the author pics, or lisa manager photo is featured on the main page of http://www.lisatucker.com/

I hope u guys get her pics and bio up sooon LOVE U LISA... U STILL AN IDOL IN MY BOOKS GIRL!


In this book, music doesn't play as big of a role as in the Song Reader and Shout Down The Moon. Why not?

I don’t know. The characters always tell me what happens, so you’ll have to ask them. The role that music does play here is connected to the other books, though. Lucy is a jazz singer, like Patty in Shout Down the Moon and Dorothea finds that music is a trigger to memory, as in The Song Reader. I always have to have a little music somewhere since I’m such a music freak. That hasn’t changed.

Like an intricate spider web, the story is weaved so beautifully that the reader cant help but pulled into it, getting deeply involved with the emotions of characters. It's a talent that not every writer has. Are aware of how you do this?

I’m not sure, but thanks. I love books that are emotionally engaging. I’m really glad you felt that way about mine.

Was it your intention to make Charles a sort of a villain? Did you want the reader to come away feeling pity for him or understanding his motives?

I’ve heard from readers who hate Charles more than they’ve ever hated any of my other characters, even Rick, the “bad guy” in Shout Down the Moon who shot and killed someone. Other readers love him and forgive him everything and anything he does. He’s definitely turning out to be the most controversial character I’ve ever created.

I don’t set out to make any of my characters villains, but apparently it happens anyway. One thing I’ve definitely learned: you can’t control how your novels are interpreted. When the book is published, it belongs to the readers. I have my own feelings about Charles, of course, but I’ve expressed those in the book.

If the story had been written differently, would Lucy and Charles have gotten back together?

I’ve been asked this several times, and a few readers have come right out and said they wanted them to get back together. I think I always knew this couldn’t happen, given what he’d done. (Which I’d rather not say here, so people who haven’t read it still get that surprise.) I was very happy that I could get them in the same room together though. I felt like they needed that closure.

Did you have any alternate endings planned?

I never plan my books. Sometimes I wish I could, but every plan I try gets scrapped when the characters start involving me in their messy lives. My plans are so straight forward. Too bad they never work out.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Post Secret




Not too long ago I became hooked on this blog. It' decribed as a community project where people can send in their secrets on a postcard (most are decorated with sketches or cartoons or some kind of colorful background) and anonymously share their deepest, darkest thoughts with the rest of the world.

I loved the idea and was excited to get the book. The concept is totally simple and it's got the "Why didn't I think of that!" thing going on. I wish I had thought of it. Brilliant.

Some of the things people send in are funny, some are sad. There are shocking secrets and ones that make you tear up a bit. Somehow putting these thoughts down on a tiny postcard and mailing them to a PO box in Maryland is comforting and liberating.

Reading the secrets is cathartic, and in a way lets you know that you are not alone and whatever crazy, depressed, innermost secret you protect closely, chances are there is someone else holding the very same thing inside too. Frank Warren is the guy who began the blog and to read more about him and the Post Secret blog, click here.


WISH LIST

I'm always on the look out for good books that I can really sink my bleached teeth into.
Recently I read about these and can't wait to get my hands on them:

We Are All Welcome Here Elizabeth Berg, I've read almost every book Elizabeth has written and they are all good.

Bitter is the New Black Jen Lancaster. Jen is a writer on the hilarious blog, Snarkywood. I hope this book is as funny as her blog.

Straight Up and Dirty Stephanie Klein. Another blogger turned novelist.

Anybody Out There? Marian Keyes, one of my favorite writers. All her books are delicious!


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