Monday, September 29, 2008

Stolen Innocence

When I find a subject that interests me and I will read a bunch of books in a short amount of time on that subject. In this case, its all of the FLDS polygamous sect stories. I just read Escape by Carolyn Jessop and wanted to learn a little more.

I finished Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall this weekend. It was quite a stunning read. At age fourteen, Elissa was forced to marry her twenty year old cousin. As if that's not bad enough, she was told to submit to him "mind, body and soul." Despite her begging and pleading to the men responsible for this union, she was made to go through with this and there was little anyone could do to help. If her mother or sisters spoke out on her behalf, they would be in deep trouble. Everything has to go through the father or husband. Women must submit and not speak out in disagreement. These women live in fear and are made to "keep sweet" in other words, don't cause any trouble.

This teenage girl never learned about sex or how babies were made so she went into this marriage completely ignorant of her own body. This is just the beginning of Elissa's struggles. The belief system of the FLDS seems so crazy to us in the outside world. What they are taught, the way to salvation, is beyond what we can imagine. Warren Jeffs took an already strange religion and made it unbearable. You must read the book to gain an understanding of this sect.

From the publisher:
In September 2007, a packed courtroom in St. George, Utah, sat hushed as Elissa Wall, the star witness against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, gave captivating testimony of how Jeffs forced her to marry her first cousin at age fourteen. This harrowing and vivid account proved to be the most compelling evidence against Jeffs, showing the harsh realities of this closed community and the lengths to which Jeffs went in order to control the sect's women.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Congrats to author Julie Buxbaum

Anne Hathaway has signed on to star in 20th Century Fox’s "The Opposite of Love" – based on the bestselling debut novel by Julie Buxbaum.

Variety reports the movie will be produced by Tapestry Films ("Wedding Crashers"). Fox picked up the screen rights to the book in June and has signed Kara Holden to pen the script.
Hathaway will handle the role of a commitment-phobic attorney who turns down her boyfriend’s marriage proposal as her life starts to fall apart. source

Congrats to Julie who must be beyond thrilled with Anne Hathaway in the lead role! I am so excited for my author friends whose books are being turned into movies. Way to go writers!!


A must read...coming soon

Did you read The Friday Night Knitting Club? If you didn't, then get to the bookstore and buy a copy. I read it in a day. Maybe not one day but close. I know I stayed up late in bed reading, using the sheets as a tissue as tears streamed down my face. It was so good.

And now Kate Jacobs is coming out with a sequel! This thrills me to no end. When I find an author I enjoy reading, I want to get my hands on every thing this person has ever written.

Knit Two returns to the Manhattan knitting store Walker and Daughter five years after the death of its owner, Georgia Walker. Georgia's daughter Dakota is now an eighteen-year-old freshman at NYU, running the store part-time with the help of the members of the Friday Night Knitting Club. Drawn together by their love for Dakota and the sense of family the club provides, all the knitters are struggling with new challenges.

I will post an excerpt from the first chapter soon so check back!


Revolutionary Road

I'd love to know the scoop behind this book- to- screen adaptation. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates was published in 1961 and is now a movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo diCaprio. Its their first on screen pairing since that little movie ten years ago...something about a small boat sinking?

Here's a synopsis taken from
April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy.

I'd like to read the book and see the movie. Here's a trailer from the film. Even though its set in the 50's, the story of being unsatisfied in marriage, work and life will surely resonate with today's audience.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Five Minutes with Maggie

The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story

Marian Henley's memoir, The Shiniest Jewel, captures the true depth of love within a family. The memoir traces Henley's own journey of trying to adopt a baby from a Russian orphanage. That central storyline is placed within the context of the growth of her own romantic relationship and of her aging father's illness. However, Henley's book is different from any other that I've read. Instead of a straightforward memoir, the book is actually illustrated, just like a comic strip in the Sunday paper. Unlike a comic strip, though, the book is almost 200 pages long and the story is incredibly eloquent.

The illustrations that accompany the story add a compelling visual element that strengthens the writing. Because of the story's format, the book is a very fast read; I read the book cover-to-cover in a couple hours. The message of strength and love within a family, though, sticks with you long after you've finished the book.


Thursday, September 18, 2008


I've been to a few lukewarm writers events in the past but this sounds well worth your time if you are an aspiring writer. Publishers Weekly is awesome and Wally Lamb, what I wouldn't give to hear words of wisdom from him. Did you read She's Come Undone? A must read for all book loving women (and some men). Its in New York....Washington Square...oh I miss the city.

In a full-day seminar, experts from Publishers Weekly will guide aspiring writers through everything they need to know about the business of getting their books published. With the help of top agents, authors, editors and marketing professionals, PW will show writers the way to get published. The seminar will take place on Monday, September 22nd at the NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012 from 9 AM to 6 PM.

The seminar's keynote speaker is Wally Lamb, the New York Times bestselling author and two-time Oprah Book Club pick, whose work includes I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE, SHE'S COME UNDONE and THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED (Harper, November 11, 2008). Each attendee will receive a complimentary copy of I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE.

The program includes:
-Continental breakfast
-Welcome remarks from Sara Nelson, editor-in-chief of PW and Andrea Chambers, director of the Center for Publishing, NYU
-Keynote address from Wally Lamb
-The Nuts and Bolts of Publishing panel
-Lunch and networking
-Agent/Author/Editor Relationship panel

Attendees will also attend two breakout sessions in the afternoon for more interactive discussions; each track will be repeated twice. Breakout session topics include:-Alternative Publishing-Marketing & Publicity-Writing for the Children's and Young Adult Market

The day will conclude with an on-site Cocktail Reception

More information on the panelists, breakout sessions and details on cost and registration can be found online at:
NYU students can receive a 50% discount.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The most interesting news of your day

Not for nothing but I've been at this writing thing for a long, long time. I wrote my first children's book when I was a teenager and kept a notebook full of short stories from the time I could hold a pencil in my hand. My first non-paying job was writing book reviews at the local library; I was six.

So when I read the following news of Lauren Conrad's book deal (via Publishers Lunch), well, I couldn't help but feel a wee bit of what-- envy? jealousy? disbelief? If only I had made it on to Survivor (the only reality show I've ever tried out for and my husband nearly fell over imagining me in the wilderness, without a blowdryer) ... if only I had the chance to be on a reality show, then perhaps I'd be a famous author now. Here's the news on her deal:

Star of MTV's reality show The Hills, Lauren Conrad has a three-book YA series LA CANDY, loosely inspired by her own transformation from ordinary teen to reality TV darling and fashion designer, about a girl who moves to LA and unexpectedly stars in a reality show, finding wealth, famous friends, fabulous clothes, and romance -- as well as the darker realization that everyone wants something from her, and nothing is what it appears to be.

Just wondering if there will be characters in the book named Speidi and Hencer? You might also be interested- and if you're not, just keep reading anyway- to learn that Candace Bushnell is coming out with a book about Carrie Bradshaw's highschool years. I think it was called Square Pegs? According to US Weekly: "I've always been interested in exploring Carrie's teenage years," Bushnell said in a statement. "Carrie in high school did not follow the crowd - she led it. It was there that she began observing and commenting on the social scene." The novel, part of a two-book deal, is due for global publication in fall 2010.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Made in the USA

I was introduced to Billie Letts by Oprah many years ago. Not formally introduced of course, wouldn't that be something? But I read Where The Heart Is and watched the author on Oprah. And I saw the movie because I not only loved the book but liked the pairing of Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman on the big screen. Here is a link to the trailer in case you never saw the film or need your memory refreshed.

Since then I've read all of Billie's novels which have been few and far between. Some authors bust out a book every year like clockwork. Not Billie. Since Where The Heart Is back in '96, she's written The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, Shoot the Moon and now Made in the USA.

Here is the premise of Made in the USA: Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father. While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind. source

I thought the book was fast paced, easy to read and enjoyable. Made in the USA provided me with a decent story, characters to root for an a happy ending. I kept imagining the book as a movie which will probably happen. Is Dakota Fanning available?

Robert Reece, Screenwriter

I'm so excited- soon I will have a new name for my website, a new look to it and more information for you to peruse. My new goal is to continue writing about books and interviewing authors but I wanted a new name that would encompass my love and passion for screenwriting and movies based on books.

Screenwriters are a hard breed to pin down for an interview. Whereas novelists seem willing and ready to send a book, do an interview, call in for a book group, screenwriters are a bit tricky. That's been my experience. I'd love to be able to feature some screenwriters and learn a bit more on what makes these creative minds tick. I don't know how much luck I will have with that endeavor but we'll see.

Do not fear, there will still be books galore! Reading is my passion, my hobby and it's in my blood. If you love books, you know what I mean. Never a day goes by with out reading a few chapters.

Robert Reece is a screenwriter who I am in regular contact with. At the time I was doubting my writing career, (I love writing novels but really the agent search was getting me down) I was looking into taking classes to become a certified yoga teacher. A friend of mine told me about a screenwriting class taught by Robert and I signed up, letting yoga fall by the wayside. So interested and excited by the class, I began mapping out a screenplay and I found myself consumed with the whole process. The challenge of constructing a scene, building dialogue...its what I dreamed of my whole life, truly. Thanks to Robert, my screenwriting journey began when it did.

Robert Reece's most recent piece of work is the Disney movie, Little Mermaid, Ariel's Beginning. Imagine creating the animated world of Ariel and her cohorts, not to mention the prestige of being a writer for Disney. Here is a wonderful interview with him I wanted to share it. Let his words inspire and encourage you.

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Here's a comedy that looks like it might be worth the price of admission and an extra large bucket of popcorn with butter. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is based on the book by Toby Young and stars Simon Pegg who you might know from Hot Fuzz.

The official synopsis reads:
In this hilariously funny fish-out-of-water tale, "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" tracks the outrageous escapades of Sidney Young (Simon Pegg), a smalltime, bumbling, British celebrity journalist who is hired by an upscale magazine in New York City. In spectacular fashion Sidney enters high society and burns bridges with bosses, peers and superstars.

and you can take a look at the trailer here:
If you rather read the book, here's the amazon link.

Books are almost always better than films because there is more detail, more action, and character descriptions. A screenwriter cannot possibly include everything in the movie version. But some people don't like to read- I can't even imagine that- and will see the movie rather than read the book. Either way, books being turned into movies are really big right now and I hope to feature as many as I possibly can.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Escape by Carolyn Jessop

Merril Jessop surrounded by his wives. He went on to marry several more women and father many children.
I picked up Escape by Carolyn Jessop not sure of what to expect. I didn't know anything about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints before reading this harrowing story of a life marked by repeated abuse, violence and fear. A while back I read that Katherine Heigl had optioned the book for film, intending to play Carolyn Jessop. I love when books are made into movies and if done right, this could be an Oscar winner.

I began reading Escape and within a day I was so wrapped up in Carolyn's memoir that I didn't want it to end. Thank goodness I knew the outcome or I would have had to read the ending halfway through the book. How anyone could live through what Carolyn did is nothing short of amazing and shows how tough the human spirit can be.

Born into a polygamous family, eighteen year old Carolyn was married off to Merril Jessop, a man thirty two years her senior already married to three women. For the next seventeen years Carolyn endured Merril's abuse and abuse from his wife Barbara. Having eight children in fifteen years, Carolyn often would use sex as a way to receive preferential treatment from Merril. He frequently lorded his power over his wives and children and if Carolyn or the other wives dared to have a thought of their own that wasn't in accordance with Merril, they were accused of being rebellious and would receive a punishment. Believe me when I tell you there is much more to this way of life than what I can describe here.

The life that Carolyn led was nothing short of unbelievable. If you're born into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints brought up on their doctrines, then you know no differently. My heart breaks for the emotionally abused women who will never know freedom of choice, who won't fall in love or get a good education.

After years of fear and intimidation, living without happiness, joy or affection, Carolyn fled with her children and after quite a battle, ultimately won custody of her children. But the road to her freedom was long, tough and scary.

I highly recommend this book. I was sad to see it end but thrilled that Carolyn is living a life where she can exercise her own free will and afford her children every comfort we often take for granted.

Next on my list of books to read is Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall. And then I am on to some happy stories! Click here to read a piece of Carolyn's book and below is a youtube clip of her.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Book Titles

Do you ever chose books based on their titles? Every time I begin a writing project, I try to think of a catchy title. It's more difficult than you might think. A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss, my own book, is not about being paid for sex or kisses, its referencing a Marilyn Monroe quote. But people have their own idea of what the book is about and sometimes I think I should have given the novel a different title, but what?

Amy Bloom's short story collection titled A Blind Man Could See How Much I Love You is such an attention grabber, dramatic and fierce. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner evokes a sadness of maybe lost love, a life filled with regret? And Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro just sounds like its going to unfold like an intense love story. Broken for You came out years ago and I've been wanting to read it ever since I saw a woman in the airport with it, based soley on the title. She's Come Undone- another great title, intriguing. Who is she and why has she come undone? Wonder When You'll Miss Me, a must read novel and a fabulous title.

I am anxious to read this book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but keep forgetting the title because its so long and I don't know how exactly to pronounce Guernsey. My friend Gayle Brandeis wrote a book titled The Book of Dead Birds. It is not necessarily about dead birds. Its about a mother and a daughter but the title leads you to believe otherwise. Book titles can draw us in, they can lead us to imagine where the pages inside will bring us and they can trick the mind with a play on words. They can be poetic or short, descriptive or blunt. As you wouldn't judge a book by its cover, we shouldn't judge a book by its title either.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Books to read this fall...and a movie

There are so many good books to read. I really want to get into watching Gossip Girl because I hear so many positive reviews of the show but that would take up my precious reading time! I love to read at night, its my way to unwind. If I dont get at least an hour of reading in per day, I feel like something is missing. At this moment, I am reading about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. Its one of the best restaurants in the country and this woman is someone I'd love to meet. If you havent heard of her, google her name and read all about her.

The books I want to read include the above, Walking The Rainbow. Its about AIDS so I know it won't be a happy book about unicorns and rainbows, but an emotional read.

Others on my shelf include:

The Tsar's Dwarf
Interred With Their Bones
A Summer Affair
The Triumph of Deborah
Cathedral of the Sea

And if you havent read Nights in Rodanthe, get to your library or bookstore and pick it up. I generally avoid Nicholas Sparks because he makes me cry, I mean his stories make me cry, but the movie is coming out soon and I plan on seeing it. Nothing like a good chick flick with Diane Lane to make me sit with a buttery bowl of popcorn and shed a few tears.

And that love song that plays? Its called Love Remains by Gavin Rossdale, from his great album, Wanderlust.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A note from Stephenie Meyer...

I just read this on my newsletter from Publisher's Marketplace. I know there are jillions of Stephenie Meyer and Twilight fans out there so you will want to read it. Shame on the people who ruined Midnight Sun for the rest of us!

Stephenie Meyer Abandons Final Twilight Book after Internet Leak
Author of this year's biggest release Stephenie Meyer surprised her fans by posting on her web site that her "partial draft of Midnight Sun was illegally posted on the Internet and has since been virally distributed without my knowledge or permission or the knowledge or permission of my publisher"--and as a result, she has put the new manuscript "on hold indefinitely."

Meyer writes: "My first feeling was that there was no way to continue. Writing isn't like math; in math, two plus two always equals four no matter what your mood is like. With writing, the way you feel changes everything. If I tried to write Midnight Sun now, in my current frame of mind, James would probably win and all the Cullens would die, which wouldn't dovetail too well with the original story. In any case, I feel too sad about what has happened to continue working on Midnight Sun, and so it is on hold indefinitely."Saying "I'd rather my fans not read this version of Midnight Sun" and noting that it was "only an incomplete draft; the writing is messy and flawed and full of mistakes," Meyer decided to post what she has written on her site. "This way, my readers don't have to feel they have to make a sacrifice to stay honest. I hope this fragment gives you further insight into Edward's head and adds a new dimension to the Twilight story. That's what inspired me to write it in the first place."

Meyer tells fans "I have a good idea of how the leak happened as there were very few copies of Midnight Sun that left my possession and each was unique." While underscoring that it "the manuscript that was illegally distributed on the Internet was given to trusted individuals for a good purpose" she still "believe[s] that there was no malicious intent with the initial distribution."

But she emphasizes: "I think it is important for everybody to understand that what happened was a huge violation of my rights as an author, not to mention me as a human being. As the author of the Twilight Saga, I control the copyright and it is up to the owner of the copyright to decide when the books should be made public; this is the same for musicians and filmmakers. Just because someone buys a book or movie or song, or gets a download off the Internet, doesn't mean that they own the right to reproduce and distribute it. Unfortunately, with the Internet, it is easy for people to obtain and share items that do not legally belong to them. No matter how this is done, it is still dishonest. This has been a very upsetting experience for me, but I hope it will at least leave my fans with a better understanding of copyright and the importance of artistic control."

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