Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meet Michelle Richmond!





Introducing my blog readers to Michelle Richmond may be like preaching to the choir, as I know many of you are already fans of her exquisite fiction. But in case you're not familiar with her novel, Dream of the Blue Room, here's a synopsis:

On a warm night in July, 32-year-old Jenny finds herself sitting on the deck of a Chinese cruise ship next to a charming but secretive stranger. In Jenny's lap is a tin containing the ashes of her best friend, Amanda Ruth, mysteriously murdered fourteen years earlier in a small Alabama town.

In this foreign landscape, filled with ancient cities that will soon be inundated by the rising waters of the Yangtze River, Jenny must confront her haunted past and decide the direction of her future. As the ship moves slowly upriver, from one abandoned village to another, Jenny journeys deeper into her own guilt and eroticism.

Dream of the Blue Room explores the nature of friendship and the intimacy that exists between young girls as they struggle toward adulthood. Set alternately against the impressive landscape of the Yangtze and in a small river town in Alabama, this stunning novel reflects on the human desire to control and tame what is ultimately untamable.



I have chills, okay? This sounds like a novel I'm going to do backflips over. Of course, the critics have been turning cartwheels since it first came out:

"A dreamy, haunting work with a deeply personal feel. Any time a work of fiction raises our sights to higher truths, as this one does, the writer has done her job." - Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Some childhood relationships are so fulfilling they shape our lives and leave us wondering why they didn't last longer. Richmond captures, explores, and intertwines these bonds so elegantly, you might even think the relationships are your own." - USA Today

"With the slow build-up of a mystery, the exquisite pain of a coming-of-age novel, the masterful images of a travel writer, and a darkness that is true to the Southern Gothic, Dream of a Blue Room is a work of wonderfully chimeric form." - Joanna Pearson, Small Spiral Notebook

"Intelligent, original, complex." - The San Francisco Chronicle

"A complex and nimbly fashioned first novel." - Kirkus Reviews

"The book is finely crafted and compelling, and its emotions resonate true and clear." - Booklist

Dream of the Blue Room, now available in paperback, can be purchased at your local chain or independent bookstore, or online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

80,000 words!

A milestone! Today I reached 80,000 words on The Smart One. This makes me HAPPY. I'm shooting for 100,000 at most, so I'm at least eight-tenths of the way there. That's four-fifths, for you mathletes.

(Hey, look at me! I can do math.)

In other publishing news, ARCs of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA are on their way to some big name authors for possible blurbs. If some of them come through, I'll be sure to post it here once I finish screaming with joy.

Also, I don't think I've mentioned here that Applewood now has a film agent. His name is Joel Gotler, so if any of the thousands of Hollywood types who read this blog are eager to throw money my way for the movie rights, Joel is your go-to guy, baby.

Before I don sunglasses and head out for a collagen treatment, there's one more piece of news I'm sitting on. Alas I can't tell you yet because it's not quite 100% official, but it has to do with a certain brilliantly-talented mega-watt celebrity having agreed to read the audio version of the book. Stay tuned for updates.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tagged again!

I just found out that these blogger tagging things are called "memes." If someone could tell me how that's pronounced, I'd appreciate it.

So okay, this tag game is called 7 Things, and it was passed along to me by the glorious and wonderful Myfanwy Collins. I'll try to go through it fast and write down whatever pops into my head first:

Seven things to do before I die:
1. Spend some time alone with my husband
2. Write a couple of best sellers
3. See each of my kids settled, happy and self-sufficient
4. A couple of grandkids, at least
5. Sit in a cafe in the Piazza San Marco with my husband, sipping capuccino
6. Get skinny again
7. Say to George Clooney, "I'm sorry, the answer is still no. I'm in love with my husband."

Seven things I cannot do:
1. push-ups
2. play the sax
3. see without glasses
4. ski
5. read Hebrew
6. raise the dead
7. vote Republican

Seven things that attract me to my mate:
1. His kiss
2. The fact that he has an IQ of about a million
3. He makes me laugh
4. He gets my jokes
5. His hands, his smile, his tush (yes, that's three; I'm cheating here)
6. His integrity
7. The way he looks at me

Seven things I say:
1. Don't eat in the den
2. No hitting
3. Take a shower
4. Pick that up off the floor
5. Let the machine get it
6. I'm in the bathroom
7. I love you to the end of the universe and back again

Seven books I love:
1. Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger
2. Empire Falls, Richard Russo
3. Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
4. I Know This Much is True, Wally Lamb
5. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, Elisabeth Robinson
6. A Widow for One Year, John Irving
7. The Inn at Lake Devine, Elinor Lipman

Seven movies that I've loved:
1. Annie Hall
2. The Producers (original)
3. Dr. Strangelove
4. The Big Chill
5. Moonstruck
6. Casablanca
7. All the early Marx Brothers'

Seven people to tag:
1. Don Capone
2. Susan DiPlacido
3. Dave Clapper
4. Tess Gerritsen
5. Marcus Grimm
6. Dennis Mahagin
7. Lori Young

My curmudgeonly thought for the day

I'm sorry, I know this doesn't pertain to any of my blog readers, most of whom are probably better spellers than I am. But this has been driving me crazy and I have to get it out:

There is no "a" in the word "definitely"! The root is "finite," get it?

Phew. I feel better. You have no idea who many writers misspell that word.

And in case you're wondering, "curmudgeonly" is an adjective.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programs ...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Beware of Ticketmaster!!!!

Sleazebags! If you order tickets online through Ticketmaster, watch your credit card bill VERY CAREFULLY. They will automatically sign you up for an "Entertainment Rewards" program and charge your credit card $9 every month. I called American Express about it and they were well aware of the scam. Apparently, they get calls about it constantly.

I called the Entertainment Rewards people and was able to figure out how to trick their voicemail into letting me through to a live person, so that I could cancel the program and request a refund, but I AM FURIOUS!!!

Naturally, I did an internet search and found out there are hundreds of stories out there like mine. How do these people get away with it without going to jail???

If you are planning on buying tickets online, DO NOT USE TICKETMASTER. Caveat emptor, my friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

ARCS!



What an exciting day! My ARCS arrived!

In case you don't know what an ARC is, it stands for Advance Review Copy (or Advance Reading Copy, depending on who you ask). Basically, it's the uncorrected proofs bound in paperback, and is typically done months in advance of the book's publication date, so it can be sent out for reviews.

Isn't it purdy? I'm giddy with delight!

Meet Julie Kenner!



Julie Kenner is a wonder! Go to her website at juliekenner.com and you'll see what I mean. Twenty-one books published since 2000! Twenty-one! (For the record, I've written less than two books in that amount of time.)

But wait. It gets better. Until just a couple of years ago, she was doing all this writing while working as an attorney.

Friends, I'm in awe. Especially since she's able to do all this and get great responses from readers and critics alike. In fact, she tends to awards for her writing. Can you stand it?

Now check out a bit of what's been said:

"Julie Kenner is one of my favorite writers. Funny and sassy, her books are a cherished delight." - New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon

"Kenner's star is definitely on the ascent!" - Publishers Weekly

"Kenner [has a] flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations!" - Publishers Weekly

Her latest book, The Manolo Matrix, is hot off the presses and already getting raves like this:

"Readers who like their suspense novels with a sexy edge and a wicked sense of humor will find Kenner's latest irresistible." - John Charles, Booklist

I hope you'll pick up a copy for yourself!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!




A day of love! A day of heartfelt expressions! A day we pledge our undying devotion! What better time to share a song from the Marx Brothers' movie, Horse Feathers?

Everyone Says I Love You
Written by Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby

Everyone says "I love you"
The cop on the corner
And the burglar too
The preacher in the pulpit
And the man in the pew
Says "I love you."
Everyone, no matter who,
The folks over eighty,
And the kid of two,
The captain, and the sailor,
And the rest of the crew
Says "I love you."
There are only eight little letters
On the phrase
You'll find.
But they mean a lot
More than all the other words combined!
Everywhere, the whole world through,
The king in the palace,
And the peasant too
The tiger in the jungle,
And the monkey in the zoo
Says "I love you."
The preacher in the pulpit
And the man in the man in the pew
Says "I love you."
The captain, and the sailor,
And the rest of the crew
Says "I love you."
Oooooh!
Aaaaah!
Everywhere, the whole world through,
The king in the palace
And the peasant too
The tiger in the jungle
And the monkey in the zoo
Says "I love you."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Digging out



Here's my husband making some headway this morning. Alas, we're still getting about an inch an hour, so by this afternoon it'll look like he never even shoveled.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Are you in my book?

Friends, it has come to my attention that my Long Island town is abuzz with rumors that SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA is about actual members of our local Parent Teacher Association.

Consider this an open letter of assurance to my townsfolk that nothing could be further from the truth. As gorgeous, fascinating, entertaining, talented, lovable, unique and worthy of volumes of adoring prose as you are, I did NOT put you in my book. Remember, this is a novel, and as such, a work of fiction. That means it’s nothing but a twisted product of my warped imagination.

But if you need further convincing that your life didn’t fuel my inspiration, take this simple quiz in the privacy of your own home, by answering True or False to each of the following statements:

1. I’m on a PTA committee responsible for getting a George Clooney movie filmed in our schoolyard. T F

2. I’m married to a brain-damaged man who asks strange women to fuck him. T F

3. Invited to be secret reader to a classroom full of kindergarteners, I showed up in a miniskirt with no underpants. T F

4. I sing like the gates of heaven have opened, but am afraid to let anyone hear my voice. T F

5. My mother is an alcoholic eccentric, prone to removing her clothes for anyone who asks. T F

6. I had an affair with a Catholic widower who’s a senior ranking officer of the school board. T F

7. I wrote a song on the guitar about this lover. T F

8. I broke my ankle and got so drunk at a wedding I sawed off my cast. T F

9. Once, in a fit of rage, I painted every surface in my kitchen—including walls, cabinets, ceiling and floor--a bright, high gloss yellow. T F

10. After being accused of stealing a jar of pine nuts, I hurled the contents at the president of the PTA. T F

11. I told my best friend that my secret fantasy is to rappel into George Clooney’s bedroom dressed like Catwoman. T F

12. I am a fictional character. T F

If you answered FALSE to two or more of the above questions, sleep easy. You are not in this book.

Tune in next week when I answer the question, “Is this book autobiographical?”

Meanwhile, here’s a peek at what the book is really about:

Behind the vinyl-sided veneer of Applewood, Long Island, live three women with more humor, heartache and sexuality than one PTA can hold.

With her husband’s affection waning, Maddie Schein is hungry for recognition and wishes she could impress the PTA elite. But you can’t drive a law degree, or slip your IQ over your shoulders and tie it into a jaunty knot. Brash, lusty and rich, Ruth Moss has it all except for one thing: her husband was left brain-damaged, impotent and sexually-uninhibited from a stroke. Talented but timid, Lisa Slotnick wants nothing more than to fade into the scenery, but is thrust before the spotlight by her out-of-control, alcoholic mother.

Together, these women form the publicity committee of the North Applewood Elementary PTA. When they learn that they’re responsible for the most exciting project their town has ever seen--bringing George Clooney and a movie crew to their own backyard--each thinks it will fill a void in her life and make her an Applewood hero.

What they discover in the end is that it’s their friendship--together with a little luck, a lot of honesty, and some newfound trust--that just might help them pull off a Hollywood ending of their own.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Meet Melissa Senate!


Of course, since she's already published three very popular novels (See Jane Date, The Solomon Sisters Wise Up, Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?) and has more devoted fans than most writers dream of, you may already know the wonderful writing of Melissa Senate. But if you're slow on the uptake like me, consider this a happy introduction.

I'm totally jazzed to read her latest, The Breakup Club, which is told from four different points of view. Check out what critics and writers are saying:

“Senate’s prose is fresh and lively.”—Boston Globe

"Melissa Senate is definitely one of my favorite chick-lit writers. Her books are always feel-good, fast-paced and hilariously funny!" --Sarah Mlynowski, bestselling author

"One of the many gifts Senate brings to the writing table is her ability to establish equally compelling stories for four fascinating characters. That she does so with humor and insight adds to the pleasures of this novel." 4stars, RT Bookclub magazine

"I loved this novel and how it explored so many angles of heartbreak and moving on. Despite there being four characters and four viewpoints, Melissa Senate managed to give them all enough time so their stories were well-developed. Having a male character in there was also fascinating. This novel was funny, touching and down-to-earth all at once. --Rian Montgomery, ChickLitBooks.com

And oh, get this. Her first book, See Jane Date, has already been made into a movie, which will air next Sunday, February 12, at 6 pm on ABC Family.

The Breakup Club can, of course, be found at any bookstore. To order online, visit amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. For more information, check out Melissa's fun website, melissasenate.com.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Citibank update

The other day I posted an angry tirade about being kept on hold for a Citibank representative, and wanted to update you on this little episode.

First, know this about me: nothing pisses me off like being mistreated by corporate giants. I matter, damnit, and I WILL BE HEARD! Once, Geico rejected my husband and me for an umbrella policy for the lamest reason, and I wrote a letter to the person who rejected us, being sure to cc their boss, their boss's boss, and Warren Buffett, who owns the company that owns the company that owns Geico. Ha! I'm pleased to say that not only did we get offered the policy, but I got a personal phone call and an apology. But back to Citibank ...

I was positively rabid yesterday. In addition to being unable to reach anyone by the phone number I was given, I sent several email messages via their online form. (That means you don't get an actual email address--you just hit a button and your message disappears into some mysterious cyber void.) No one responded to my emails either, fueling my fire.

So I decided to crank it up a notch. I went to Citibank's website and found a list of the names of their senior corporate management. Of course, there were no email addresses provided, so I dug and dug until I found out the "pattern" of Citibank's email address system. Then I went down the list of corporate exectives and sent the following email to every one whose title suggested he or she might be even remotely involved with my issue:

As of this writing, I have been on hold with Citibank's customer service phone number for 81 minutes. Yesterday I waited on hold for 66 minutes before hanging up, and earlier in the day for 95 minutes before hanging up. Further, I emailed customer service about this problem yesterday, and have not heard back. Not by phone or email.

I am trying to reach your company in regard to a letter I believe I erroneously received regarding my home equity line of credit.

Clearly, there is no one answering the phones there. Your phone recording assures me that calls are answered in the order they are received. But is it possible there were callers holding on for MORE than 95 minutes who were helped before me? I think not.

Do you think there are any standards by which this is acceptable customer service? Do you think I would be within my rights to cancel all my Citibank accounts? Do you think I would be within my rights to blog about this treatment to let others know the kind of service they can expect from Citibank? Do you think I would be within my rights to report you to to the FDIC, Better Business Bureau and Department of Consumer Affairs?

Please have someone from the home equity department contact me as soon as possible.


The upshot? I got a personal phone call from one of the head honchos there. And then another. They were as polite and apologetic as could be--really tripping all over themselves to express their dismay over my experience. They promised to investigate what had happened with the phone system as well as why I received the letter.

Today, head honcho #1 called me back to explain in detail the technological error that routed my phone call to neverland. He also explained that the letter I received regarding my account was a mistake and shouldn't have been sent.

I was compensated for my trouble, and received such sincere apologies I was practically embarrassed by own fury. But not fully, because it served a purpose.

So okay ... Citibank made good. Seems they have some heads-up folks over there who really do care about customer service, and I thought you should know.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

300 Pages!



I reached a milestone today! I hit page 300 in the first draft of The Smart One. This feels like a very big deal to me. I'm aiming for about 400 pages, so I'm in the home stretch. Yahooooooooooo!

Your February Horoscope

A couple of months ago I started posting a monthly link to Sue Miller's Astrology Zone, and plan to continue because, for me at least, she is so on the money. Consider this first paragraph:

Your career has been demanding a great deal of your attention lately, but at the same time, it's suddenly occurred to you that you'd feel much happier if you could also get your home into better shape. To Scorpio, one of the most private signs, having a haven you can come back to at the end of the day is very important for your well being. If your home isn't comfortable or quite right, it may be hard to fully relax.

Wow. She nailed me! To see if yours is accurate too, click here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

CITIBANK CITIBANK CITIBANK

On the off chance that the CITIBANK CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVES who aren't answering the phones are wasting time by surfing the net and wind up here, WILL YOU PLEASE ANSWER THE FREAKING PHONE? I've been on hold ALL DAY!!!!!!!!

I am OUT OF PATIENCE!

I am CANCELLING MY ACCOUNTS!

BLOWING OFF STEAM HERE IS NOT HELPING ME FEEL ANY BETTER!!