Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Author Stephanie Laurens Eco House!

I'd love to have a home on this land!

I've always wanted a spiral staircase. I really like the modern touches.

I can easily imagine myself dramatically draped over this chair.

When my husband tells me our curren home is the house we will stay in forever, I have to disagree. I love my comfortable refuge but I have big plans for our future residence. My ideal home would be completely eco friendly like author Stephanie Laurens' home in the above photos.Recycled everything, solar panels, modern and cool, that's my dream home. I would decorate in neutral, soft colors with pops of orange and red. You'd walk into my house and feel completely relaxed because it would be arranged with the art of feng shui. Stones and glass and water, maybe an indoor waterfall with recycled water, why not?

Stephanie's house looks pretty incredible doesn't it? Let me play like a broken record and remind you again to make small changes like replacing light bulbs with the energy conserving bulbs, recycle bottles and cans and paper. Learn more here.

This gorgeous eco house will be featured on the Discovery Channel and HGTV. You can learn more about the authors house by clicking here.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Books to Movies and Movies

I am so excited to see the movie version of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman. I learned today that Jennifer Lopez is starring in the film. I wonder if Jennifer and Ayelet will become BFFs? Imagine being buddies with a diva like Jennifer?

If you haven't read the book, go out and do so. This way you will be fully prepared when the movie comes out. I read an interview with Jennifer from a year ago and she said, "I think I'm gonna do this movie with Don Roos. It's something that he wrote. It's called Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. I'm very excited."

J.Lo, lets get one thing straight. Don Roos may have penned the screenplay but the book was written by Ayelet Waldman. Let's give the novelist credit where credit is due. Books turning into movies are happening all the time right now and I want to be sure to mention the novelists name. After all, that's where the idea came from. The creative seed was born in the writers mind.

Here is a link to learn more about the book. As soon as the trailer is up, I'll post it. I think we have another year to wait which gives you plenty of time to read that novel first!

And talking about movies, I went and saw Baby Mama this weekend. I don't know if you are a casual reader or have been following my every post, goal and dream but I long to be a successful screenwriter and Baby Mama is the kind of film I'd like to write, something humorous and fun and happy with a nice ending.

It was a cute movie, suitable for all ages (except people, please don't bring your infants and kids under 13 to a PG-13 movie) and didn't have a lot of profanity. No nudity either. I adore the comedic coupling of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Hit with inspiration, I now know exactly who I want to play Barrett and Kat in the movie version of A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss!
Enjoy this clip of Baby Mama!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Sound of Meat

I want to introduce a book to you that has been released by my publisher, Ephemera Bound Publishing. Randy Radic got in touch with me years ago, when I first began this site. He wrote a book and was sending out query letters. I offered to help with his letter because as you might know, the query is essential in getting an agent's attention. Fast forward to the present when Randy's book, The Sound Of Meat is available. The title may lead you to think the book is about a butcher, a Sweeney Todd of a memoir but Randy was the pastor of a church and well, you need to click this link to read the full scoop.

Randy's story is intriguing (pastor, embezzlement, church, prison and a pricey BMW) and I think it would make an excellent movie, a dark film with sinister undertones. You know how I'm all into books becoming films. Well, here's a juicy one. I'm not giving all the information away, you have to click here to read the synopsis. I wish Randy the best with The Sound of Meat.

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Contest at Hello Dollface, don't miss out!

I don't know how many of you venture over to my other site, Hello Dollface, but I have been running several reader giveaway contests recently and don't want my book loving friends to miss out. Two things I love: reading and beauty. I also write about other things, it's a fun site to write and I want you to see it.

This week I am giving away a pair of Tummy Tuck Jeans and YES Skincare Duo. Please click here to enter. I also feature the Daily Dollfaces so if you remember my gossip site and those days of sarcasm and snark, you might be interested in seeing recent pictures of our favorite actresses and their clothes and shoes (I'm talking to you Gwyneth Paltrow with your bizarre designer heels!).


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ten Years Thinner

I received Ten Years Thinner months ago and have had it sitting next to my stationary bike ever since. I have been constantly refering to it and doing the exercises almost daily. The program is so simple and doesn't take a lot of time to complete. All you need is a step stool, a set of light hand weights (even soup cans will do), a mat and a pillow. You can do this routine anywhere in your house, yard, while you are on vacation. For someone like me who dreads any kind of cardio, this program is ideal.

I keep picking the book up again and again to reread certain chapters. It has a perpetual bookmark where the exercises are featured. Your heart rate gets up, don't be fooled by the simplicity of the movements!

The exercise program features lots of squats and lunges. These two exercises help tone the thighs and buttocks- perfect for the all too quickly approaching summer season. Bathing suits...yuck! Unfortunately for me, I have lower back problems stemming from wonky hips so I have to stay away from lunges but I can easily do everything else.

I am not a fan of going to the gym- I always felt compelled to primp and dress nicely to work out (remember spandex?) this is why I love books like Ten Years Thinner. The exercises are tailored for the busy person who is pressed for time or someone like me who can't (or doesn't want to) get to a gym. Spend twenty to thirty minutes a day on this exercise routine and your body will shape up quickly especially if you follow Christine's eating program which includes so many healthy foods, you won't be lacking in tasty meals.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Department of Lost and Found

In case you missed The Department of Lost and Found by Allison Winn Scotch the first time around in hardback, tomorrow is the release of the paperback version. You must not miss this debut novel by one of my favorite writers. Allison is not only an uber successful freelance writer but is a smart and savvy novelist too. I wanted to include the cover for her next book too because its so pretty. I am anxiously awaiting the release but it wont be out until the fall. Something to look forward to!
Allison's blog is one that I read on a daily basis. She is so prolific and willing to share all her knowledge of writing and publishing which makes me completely adore her. Here is a link to her website, blog and Amazon.com link so you can buy the paperback. Happy reading!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jennifer Weiner, Certain Girls

I read Jennifer Weiner's first novel Good In Bed back in 2002 along with the rest of the world. After GIB she became a household name and followed up with one of my all time favorites, In Her Shoes (the only book I've read twice). Jennifer is an author we all adore and wait for her books with high expectations. She updates her SnarkSpot regularly and here and there we learn about her life, both personal and professional. She is not only funny but intelligent. I've seen her on television, in magazines and of course on all the best seller lists. Her's is the kind of career I wish for myself. And here is where I start to drool:

Best-selling novelist Jennifer Weiner has inked a two-year overall deal with ABC Studios. Under the seven-figure pact, she will create and executive produce series projects for the studio. Several of Weiner's books have made the transition to the big screen. "In Her Shoes" was made into a 2005 feature starring Cameron Diaz. "Little Earthquakes" is in development at Universal, while her short story "The Guy Not Taken" is in the works at DreamWorks.

She is living my dream! Congratulations on the success, Jennifer. Or can I call you Jen?

Certain Girls catches up with Cannie, the heroine of Good In Bed. Cannie is mother to Joy, a fiesty hearing impaired teen. The book alternates between Cannie and Joy so we can understand both points of view and sympathize with them. Joy discovers a novel written years ago by Cannie which may or may not be based on real life events. It's quite a steamy, emotional read. Joy tries to put the pieces together and figure out who her mother really is at the same time she struggles with her own identity. Oh, the joys of being a teenager. Joy and Cannie are at odds on planning Joy's Bat-Mitzvah and the center of their squabbles is a sexy ( for a thirteen year old) designer dress. Seriously, mothers and daughters will fight over anything and everything. And in Certain Girls, they do.

Cannie is dealing with her own crisis of whether or not to hire a surrogate to carry a baby for her and her husband Peter. Of course just when we think Cannie has it all under control, life unravels like a cheaply knitted sweater. I know this book is going to sell millions of copies and everyone will be carrying a copy of Certain Girls no matter where I go. To be honest, that will be a nice change from seeing people toting around A New Earth. Fans of Jennifer Weiner's will love Certain Girls. I bet its only a matter of time before Dakota Fanning is cast as Joy and we see an A- lister play Cannie. But who will play Nifkin?

Which of all your characters is your favorite?

You can’t ask me to pick! It’s like asking a mother to tell you which kid she likes best!
That being said, though, I do like writing some of the supporting characters, like Mrs. Lefkowitz in IN HER SHOES, or Janie in GOODNIGHT NOBODY, or Samantha in CERTAIN GIRLS.

Are any of Cannie's experiences based on your own life?

Let’s see: I’m not married to a doctor, don’t have a thirteen-year-old, still have a uterus (not that I’ll be doing anything with it anytime soon), have not lived through my kid’s bat mitzvah (but oh, it’s coming) and have not hired a surrogate to have my baby. I’d say that Cannie’s voice is a lot like mine, and the general contours of her life have things in common with the general contours of mine, but as far as specifics, she’s her own girl.

I think I'll be okay if I never see the word Nifkin again. What made you name the dog after that particular part of a man's anatomy?

Basically, I have the sense of humor of an eight-year-old, and I am endlessly amused by fart jokes, anatomical references, and menstruation humor (there’s a whole riff on that in CERTAIN GIRLS, when Cannie’s asked if she wants to be the spokesperson for a new brand of tampons, and she keeps asking, “Does this offer come with strings attached?”)

So where did Nifkin come from? A long time ago, I heard my brother Jake say the word, and I was so taken by the sound of it that I basically tortured him until he told me what it meant…and by then I was so in love with it as the name of a fictional dog that I was kind of stuck. But (spoiler alert!) Nifkin dies in CERTAIN GIRLS….so you won’t have to worry about that word ever again.

How have you changed since Good in Bed was published?

Girl, I’m old! Old, old, old! When I wrote that book I was twenty-eight, single, and broken-hearted. Now I’m thirty-eight, married, and exhausted. (Well, not always, but my four-month-old only sleeps through the night about half of the time, so I am pretty tired these days). I just did a podcast with my editor when we were reminiscing about the good old days when we first met, and when we colored our hair because we wanted to, not because we had to!

But essentially, I don’t think I’ve changed too much at all. I still live in the same neighborhood as I did when I wrote GOOD IN BED (although now I’m in a house, not an apartment), I have the same friends, go to the same restaurants, do a lot of the same things. I still get frantically jealous of big-deal literary authors and all of the publicity they receive, and I go around gnashing my teeth at the unfairness of the attention lavished on someone like Charles Bock. Then my husband reminds me that my books sell okay, too, and that’s even without me having tattooed their first sentences anywhere on my person. Then I eat a cupcake, and everything’s okay again.

What is the last book you read?

I tend to read a bunch of books at a time, so, recently, I’ve finished THE JEW OF HOME DEPOT, a short-story collection by Max Apple, ATTACK OF THE THEATER PEOPLE by Marc Acito (madcap coming-of-age-in-1980’s-New-York story), and SO THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE FOR, which is a breast-feeding guide.

Currently working on the new Jonathan Kellerman and the new Jhumpa Lahiri, with new Suzanne Finnamore on deck. Happy happy!

Do you think the publishing industry is more open towards male writers? In other words, do you believe women have a harder time breaking into the industry?

Breaking into the industry? Not so much. Women still read the vast majority of fiction in this country, so I don’t think it’s harder for a woman to get published than it would be for a man. However, I do believe that women have a much harder time becoming critics’ darlings, or seen as the next big new thing on the literary horizon. Those slots are still mostly reserved for the Jonathans.

I write a beauty website too so I am compelled to ask about beauty products! What are some of your favorites?

Just promise me that if you ever got one of the Jonathans to answer your questions, you’d ask him this, too! Right now, I’d have to say that the Shu Uemura hair-care line is genius. I have really fine hair that basically lies there doing nothing (it is the follicular equivalent of a drunk guy on a couch), so I need a lot of product to coax it into any semblance of style, and their stuff is great.

I finally splurged on a BaByliss blow dryer and a ceramic straightening iron, both of which have improved my life and appearance immeasurably. Also, now that I am old, it’s all about the Laura Mercier concealer.

Once you write a book, do you go back and obsess over it? Are there things that you would change in Certain Girls if you could?

I am definitely the obsessive type, so I try not to even read my finished books. I’m certain that if I did I’d find a few hundred things I’d want to re-do so, in general, I stay away (if you come to one of my readings, you’ll probably notice that the passage I read is from the advanced reader’s copy, not the finished product).

What do you remember most about being Joy's age? The teenage years were the absolute worst. I looked like Ugly Betty!

I was actually looking at my own bat mitzvah pictures not too long ago. Thirteen was so tragic. I had the short, feathered hair – with bangs, of course, because what short, feathered ‘do isn’t improved by bangs? I also boasted the double-thick helping of braces, and my boobs and nose had both attained their adult proportions while the rest of me had not. It was not good. I have vivid memories of begging my parents for a subscription to Seventeen, thinking that if I used all of the products and did all of the things the advice columns said to do, I could be magically transformed into one of those girls. Which didn’t happen…and now it’s probably too late to get my money back.

What are some movies that you would watch over and over again?

“Working Girl” is one of my all-time favorites (Harrison Ford never looked better). Lately, every time “Primary Colors” or “Trading Places” comes on TV, I’m like, “Oh, I’ll give it five minutes,” and end up watching until the end.

As an outsider looking in, your life is pretty spectacular. Is there anything else that could possibly top all of your success?

I have to say, things are pretty good. I’ve got two healthy, funny, sweet girls, a wonderful husband, great friends and a great neighborhood, and I get to spend my working days making stuff up. I’d have a hard time imagining how things could get much better. Hmm…maybe I could host a game show?

What's next for you?

Immediately next is my daughter Phoebe’s baby naming. The ceremony will be at our synagogue, then we’re having about 70 people back at the house for a party with a bouncy castle for the five-year-old set.

Work-wise, I’m playing around with a few different things, fiction and non-fiction. I’ll see what shakes out in the next month or so.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

On Saturday night I went to dinner with a friend at a restaurant called BJs. I had an Italian Margarita- regular margarita with Amaretto- delicious!- and a chopped BBQ Chicken salad. I know you would spend the day wondering what I ate if I didn't tell you. We also shared a spinach dip which can be tricky because that green spinach has a tendency to get lodged in the teeth. After dinner, we decided to see a movie, we were in the mood for a light, sweet film. The only one that fit the bill was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. I read reviews in magazines and online and all the critics had lovely things to say about the movie so I was game.

I was not disappointed. Amy Adams, fresh from her role in Enchanted, is very twinkly and cute with her red hair and round eyes and impish smile. Frances McDormand, who I loved in Fargo, is terrific as a dowdy, down-on-her-luck Miss Pettigrew. The film takes place in the 1940's and the music and costumes are wonderful, a visual treat to behold! The movie itself is exactly what I had hoped for with funny scenes and emotional scenes and moments that are touching and sweet. The ending is happy and satisfying.

I didn't know that it was based on a novel by Winifred Watson back in 1938. See, the best films come from good books! Here is a quote from Winifred to her publisher, regarding Miss Pettigrew:
Miss Pettigrew was always rather a pet of mine but my publishers were horrified when they first read it. I had written two rather strong dramas before it so when they received a book that was fun they wouldn't accept it. I can remember to this day looking up at him and saying, "You're wrong: Miss Pettigrew is a winner." But he just looked stubborn. I wrote another straight novel and then, when they did publish Miss Pettigrew, I was proved right and they were proved wrong.
Her quote gives great hope to those of us who get a little down with our own pursuits of literary success. I can't wait to read the book, I'm sure it's wonderful. Enjoy the trailer below.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Then She Found Me

This is a picture of the sheff where I keep my books. As you can see, there are tons. I'm running out of room and my sloppy nature is partly to blame. I keep stacking books on top of books on top of other stuff. How nice it would be to have some kind of modern IKEA-esque shelving in my teeny tiny office. I get emails from authors and PR people all the time asking if they can send books to review. I say yes, of course but they might end up in the black hole of the office. I try to read everything but sometimes a book will catch my interest and I will drop everything, run to the library and borrow it.

I know people who don't use this fantastic resource. GO. Check out books for FREE. I love the books both old and new filling the shelves, so much information available to everyone. When I was younger, I would go to the library and look at random books- cookbooks, biographies, travel. I sat in the lounge chairs and paged through magazines. All the librarians knew me by name. It was a home away from home.

You can find your local branch of the library online and reserve what you want. I check out what's new on Amazon and then place holds on books at my library. If the library doesn't have the book I want, then I buy it. I may end up donating the book so others can enjoy it. It's not fair to keep a good book to yourself. I loan books, give them away, donate.

I just finished reading Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman. I LOVED the book so I am recommending it to you. Helen Hunt took the novel and fashioned it into a screenplay. Then she directed and starred in the film. I think she's one of my new heroes. Bette Midler will play her mother. You have to read TSFM in order to appreciate this casting. No one else but Bette could play the role of Bernice. The screenplay didn't follow the book exactly but I'll forgive. The film is based on a book and I love that. Read it, then see it when it opens on April 25th.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The English American by Alison Larkin

I loved this book from page one and zipped right through it. I know you are going to enjoy it too. The English American is perfect mix of excellent writing, a fun story line, and a dose of humor. And it's sweet too, with characters that are flawed yet likeable, you know- like real life. Alison Larkin's writing style reminds me a little bit of Sophie Kinsella, the popular author of the Shopaholic books.

When British reared Pippa finds out her birth mother is from the southern region of the United States, she feels a pull towards discovering the woman who gave her up twenty eight years earlier. This tale follows Pippa to the south where she develops a relationship with Billie, a creative and flaky soul who gave Pippa up for adoption and her father, a business man in Washington DC. Imagine you are born and raised in England with your very proper parents who enjoy Scottish dancing and gardening when suddenly you are in Georgia, coming face to face with the woman who gave you up for adoption, a woman who is crazy and undependable and artistic. Yes, this makes for a culture clash!

You can read more about author Alison Larkin on her website. Alison has worked on television, in theater, she's done comedy shows and a variety of voices for animation. How cool is she? I want to meet this lady!

I have to ask about the hyper-focus, self sabotage and messy characteristics of someone like Billie. Did you research the tendencies of highly creative people because I identify with all of it!

I didn't need to do any research, because, like you, Billie and my heroine Pippa Dunn, I identify personally with all of that too.

I loved your book, I thought it was wonderful. How long did it take you to write?

I'm thrilled you loved my book. It took me about a year writing four hours a day, five days a week to actually write and re-write it before it was ready to send out to publishers.

How much of the book is based on your own experiences?

Although The English American is definitely fiction, my heroine Pippa's emotional journey mirrors my own. Like Pippa, I was adopted at birth into a very happy English family, who were as neat and practical as I am untidy and impulsive. Like Pippa at the beginning of the book, in my early - mid twenties, I was afraid every time I fell in love that 'he' would leave me, and everything became about trying to make sure that didn't happen. It was not wanting to live – or love – like this for the rest of my life that spurred me to seek out my own birth mother. As Pippa says in the book "Maybe if I found out that my mother gave me up for adoption because she had to, and not because she took one look at me and went 'yuck' – I'd no longer have a fear of rejection. And then I might finally be able to fall in love totally. Absolutely. Maybe even honestly. Like normal people."

Like Pippa, when I found my birth parents, it answered key questions about my identity – both personal and cultural - and ultimately brought me even closer to my adoptive family. Like Pippa, I am eternally amused by the very real differences between England and America, which I write about throughout the novel and which are embodied in the differences between Pippa's English and American parents.

However, unlike Pippa, I am definitely not a cabaret singer, my birth mother doesn't run a company called "Art Buddies", she doesn't live in Georgia and my birth father isn't a neo-conservative, enigmatic, politically involved businessman. The mysterious Nick who seduces Pippa by email didn't exist in my life, although he may have existed in my dreams. My Dad isn't Scottish, my Mum isn't blonde. I don't have a non-adopted sister, a dog called Boris or a penchant for fig newtons. Sure, we both prefer overalls to any other kind of clothing, and spill things on a daily basis, but Pippa has long red hair and is achingly beautifull while I have blonde hair and can look quite cute on a good day. The list goes on and on. In other words, it's fiction.

What is the major difference between English women and American women?

American women will tell you they hate at least one thing about the way they look. English woman will feel just as insecure about it, but won't admit it to anyone. You have to go to India or China to find a woman who is genuinely content with the way she looks – perhaps because she lives in a culture that values the wisdom that comes with age far more than weight gain or wrinkles.

What do you watch on tv?

Not much, because I get up really early in the morning, so I go to bed early. Occasionally I'll watch Bill Maher or Chris Matthews .

I had a British friend growing up. We would head to Ridgewood (small town in New Jersey) to visit Best of the British where we'd buy Turkish Delight and Weetabix. What are your favorite British foods?

My husband's the owner of http://www.britishgiftbaskets.com/, thus we have all the great British delicacies in our basement (and, alas, my tummy.) Maltesers, marmite., marmalade, Horlicks, Reddy Brek, McVities Chocolate Digestives, and - tell your Ridgewood pal - Weetabix and Turkish Delight,

What would I find you doing on a Friday night?

Hanging out at home playing with my husband and kids..

Your idea of a good time is...

Camping, roasting marshmallows over an outdoor fire, swimming across a lake or a river, singing songs from musicals around the piano with friends, writing, hiking, skiing, and, of course, eating chocolate.

What's next for you?

In March, April and May I'm continuing the book tour I've just started, speaking and reading in Portland Oregon, San Francisco, LA, Denver, New Jersey, Cambridge Mass, Connecticut and New York. (For details go to the appearances page at http://www.alisonlarkin.com/.) After that I'm hoping to sit down at my laptop and find out what happens to Pippa next! I feel a sequel coming on.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

No Country For Old Men

Yea, sure now you're all smiles Javier! After you scared me to death in No Country for Old Men!

You know I am a big fan of books that are turned into movies. I read all the glorious reviews of No Country for Old Men which is based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy. This weekened we rented the movie. Honestly, I don't think I have the patience for the novel which is why the film suited me just fine.

I heard that it was completely gory and violent so I was prepared. The landscape of the film is very dry, think sweeping views of old towns and desert regions. Tommy Lee Jones is a crusty old sheriff (Bell) who is searching for the person who committed a trail of murders using some kind of cattle prod. Josh Brolin (Moss) is the twangy son of a gun who stumbles upon millions of dollars in a suitcase along with a group of dead Mexicans and rusty pickup trucks. Do you see where this is headed? Javier, (Anton) with a psychopathic glimmer in his eye and a very bad coif, is after Josh who is running away with the money. Too late in the movie Moss realizes the money has a tracker on it which is how Anton is followng him. Ooops! Note to self- if I find a suitcase full of cash, must check for tracking device!

Bell is after them both- to arrest Anton and help Moss. Woody Harrelson shows up and I wanted him to live because, hello! It's Woody Harrelson (minus the hemp and weed). You will be on the edge of your seat during the entire film. Because I am of a delicate constitution, I covered my eyes anytime I thought the movie might get bloody. It worked well for me.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Book Clubbing

As I mentioned in my previous post, I chose Julie & Julia for my book club. Now choosing the right book is difficult. You can't just pick a random book and tell everyone to read it. I mean, of course you can, but I don't roll that way. I think about it, mull over it, read reviews on Amazon then make my choice. I wanted to pick a book that had some kind of univeral appeal. We are all women and we all have to cook for our families so at least that was a relatable platform.

I'm almost done with the book and I am happy to report, it's wonderful. Now, I would never make many of the French foods that Julie attempts to master. Eggs in aspic? Calves feet? Bone Marrow? No. But I like reading about it. The potato soup especially sounds delicious.

Julie was a bored secretary when she came up with this brilliant idea (and it is brilliant because Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are starring in the movie version of the book!) to blog about her experiences cooking her way through Julia Childs' book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Slowly but surely people began to take notice of her blog and the rest is history.

I recommend this book to you, my lovely readers. It's a few years old but that's okay. A good, entertaining story will stand the test of time. I have to say, all the time Julie spent writing about being secretary in a job she didn't like, I can't help but think...didn't you know you were such a talented writer?

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