Wednesday, January 31, 2007

TATTOO by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I love doing these young adult "GCC does Hollywood" blog entries because I learn just how much pop culture is passing me by. (Amber Tamblyn, you say? I have no idea who that is, yet every day I get about 50 blog hits from people searching for an image of her.) Seriously, it's humbling.

Anyway, today's featured book is Tattoo, by the very talented, very popular and very young Jennifer Lynne Barnes (dig this from her bio: Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science in May of 2006. I think I have shoes older than she is. And this is her second book. Can you say prodigy? She's also drop dead gorgeous, but we'll leave that alone for now.)

So here's how Jen would pitch her book to our fictional movie producer:

Four teenage girls acquire supernatural powers when they put on a set of temporary tattoos they bought at the mall. The girls must use their powers--and their friendship--to take down an ancient evil hellbent on destroying the world. Think "Buffy" meets "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants."

I love it! Here are her creative casting choices:

As Delia, the fashionista with the power of transmogrification (the ability to turn one object into another at will): Lucy Hale.

As Zo, the resident tomboy, who'd fight to the death despite the fact that her power of premonition doesn't exactly arm her against the bad guys: Hayden Panettiere.

As quiet Annabelle, the mind-reader who takes charge at the most unlikely moments: Willa Holland

As Bailey Morgan, the somewhat accident-prone firestarter and the heart of their group: Emma Roberts

As for the older "we're making a teen movie but want to cast hot twenty-somethings to elevate our appeal to that demographic" cast, it would go a little something like this: Delia: Sophia Bush

Zo: Kristen Bell

Annabelle: Alexis Bledel

Bailey: Shannon Lucio

This book sounds so "filmic" I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood actually snatched it up. Meanwhile, you can buy Tattoo wherever books are sold. For more information, visit Jen's website at

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman

Talk about eclectic. I just finished reading Alice Hoffman's gorgeous Skylight Confessions, and now I'm reading You're Lucky You're Funny, a memoir by Phil Rosenthal, the writer/creator of Everybody Loves Raymond. But more on that another day. Today I want to talk about the novel.

This is classic Alice Hoffman. By that I mean that she manages to create an otherworldly reality that feels completely grounded. As always, her characters got right under my skin and stayed there. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone, but I'll say that this book has an unusual structure in that the protagonist changes somewhere in the middle, and it works. It is, more anything, a story that explores the idea of destiny, and asks questions about love along the way. Of course, Hoffman pulls all of this off with language so precise and beautiful my heart melted in my chest.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Book Clubs

I'm finally getting my tush in gear in regard to book club appearances. I did my first one the other day with the greatest bunch of women and had an absolute blast. They were smart and funny and down-to-earth, and I can't wait to do it again. I have a few more local ones lined up, and just want to put it out there that I'm available to do phone-in appearances for non-local ones.

So whether you're in the Long Island area or not, if your book club reads Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA and you'd like me around for the discussion, drop me an email and we'll work it out.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Avon FanLit

The folks over at HarperCollins asked me if I would contribute a blog entry for their Avon FanLit site on the topic of favorite TV show or movie. I played fast and loose with the theme and wrote a bit about "Desperate Housewives" they're calling On the Sisterhood of Housewives. I hope you'll pop on over and check it out ... maybe even leave a comment, if you're so inspired: Avon FanLit blog

Sunday, January 21, 2007

LOVE YOU TO DEATH by Melissa Senate

I'm posting this GCC does Hollywood entry a little late partly because my schedule got completely away from me last week, and partly because when I finally did find the time to post, Blogger decided to crap out on me and not let me post photographs. That was pretty irritating. More irritating is that Blogger makes you jump through 40 hoops of guessing and clicking before they give you a link to report the bug.

But no more whining; I have a smart, fun and exciting book to blog about today. It's Love You to Death, the latest by the very popular Melissa Senate, and it's available in trade paperback and as an e-book. Here's how Melissa would pitch the story to our fictional producer:

Abby Foote’s worst ex-boyfriends (the ones who broke her heart in the worst ways) are on someone’s hit list. A very hot Portland Police Detective thinks that someone is Abby herself. Is someone framing her? Trying to do her a warped favor? With the detective on her trail, she intends to find out!

And here's how Melissa would cast it:

Abby would be played by my favorite actress, Mary Louise Parker, even though Abby is only 28. Mary Louise manages to look 28, don’t you think? I LOVE MLP. Always have, since Fried Green Tomatoes. I once might have said Katie Holmes for the part of Abby (she looks exactly like I imagine Abby to look), but now I just don’t know about her! (Not that there's anything wrong with TC!)

Detective Benjamin Orr would be played by the delicious David Boreanaz, who I think is the best looking guy on television.

Abby’s sisters: Olivia would be played by Anne Heche, who does frazzled to perfection, and Opal would be played by, of course, Paris Hilton, her idol.

You can buy Love You to Death at your favorite bookstore or from any online bookseller. For more information, visit Melissa's website at

Friday, January 19, 2007

A favorite blog

If you're not reading Lee Goldberg's blog, you're missing one of my favorite treats. Lee is a novelist and TV writer who blogs about publishing, television and writing in general, and is often so funny I can barely keep my Diet Coke from splattering all over my monitor. Check it out: A Writer's Life

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Posing with Alice Hoffman

And lookee what she's reading. Ha!.

The other day I went to Book Revue in Huntington (the place where I had my book launch back in August) to hear Alice Hoffman read from her achingly beautiful new novel, Skylight Confessions. This picture was taken after the reading when I asked Alice Hoffman to sign her book for me. (Naturally, I gave her a signed copy of mine while I was at it.) That's my friend Carol Hoenig (author of Without Grace) on the left. Alice Hoffman is in the middle, and yours truly is on the right. The photo was taken by my friend Debbi Honoroff (writer for Long Island Woman, among many other things).

For me, the reading was a smashing success. The pages Alice Hoffman read made me weep, and when she took questions from the audience afterward I was utterly charmed by her wit and candor. So now I'm an even bigger fan than I was before. And by the way, I'm nearly finished reading Skylight Confessions and highly recommend it. It takes my breath away.

Monday, January 15, 2007

With apologies to Dorothy Parker

Sometime in the mid-90s, I used a famous Dorothy Parker poem as a template and wrote the piece below. It was published in the Metropolitan Diary section of The New York Times, where it was spotted by an editor from Readers Digest. She contacted me and asked if she could print it on a bookmark. I agreed, and made a hundred bucks. It was the first piece of creative writing I ever got paid for.

"Resume Redone"
By Ellen Meister

TV bores you;
The web is a fright;
Your spouse ignores you;
And hobbies are trite.
Films are offensive;
Gardens weed;
Shopping's expensive;
You might as well read.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Celebrate National Delurking Week!

Are you one of the visitors who reads this blog but never posts a comment? Reveal yourself, anonymous visitor--it's liberating! C'mon, I know you're out there. I see you on my sitemeter, checking in day after day. Click on the COMMENTS link and say hello.

Shout out to my talented friend Susan DiPlacido for alerting me to National Delurking Week.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Applewood Down Under

"Most filling treat since Eats, Shoots and Leaves."
--Michiko Wiggles

Thanks to Kristie Cutter for the photo.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What I'm reading

The (very) astute among you will notice that I recently added a "What I'm reading" feature to my sidebar. I like this idea and plan to keep it; the only problem is that the sidebar stuff doesn't show up in a normal blog search. So if someone is looking for information on, say, whether or not Richard Lewis's latest novel is worth reading, they won't find my glowing recommendation. So from now on I'll post each one here in the main section before I move it to the sidebar.

Today, however, I'm going to post all of them. (By the way, if it seems like I love everything I read, it's because I won't post about the books I don't like. Besides the fact that I don't need the bad karma, I just don't believe anyone really needs me to tell them what not to read. I'll leave that to cranky book critics.) Here goes:

WILD FIRE by Nelson DeMille
How could I not love a thriller about a group of right wing maniacs who plan to save civilization by nuking several million of their enemies (and, by default, a few hundred thousand of their allies)? Especially when it contains hilarious paragraphs like this:
Kate and I made it down to breakfast on Sunday morning, and our fellow guests turned out to be no big surprise: the usual collection of cool oenophiles from Manhattan--in this case, three couples of indeterminate gender who took everything very seriously, like they were auditioning for National Public Radio. I couldn't tell if they knew one another, or who was with whom, or if they'd recently all met at an anti-testicle rally.

THE KILLING SEA by Richard Lewis
Because it's by Richard Lewis, this gripping young adult novel about the tsunami is so much more than a heart-thumping page-turner. It's about family, culture, religion, redemption, love and God. I'm eager for my children to read it, and recommend it to all adults, as well.

THE MEPHISTO CLUB by Tess Gerritsen
I'm not ordinarily drawn to mysteries, but Tess Gerritsen is one of the only blockbuster authors who blogs about the publishing business--offering smart and generous insights--so I wanted to see what she was about. I read VANISH, which I liked very much, and now I'm about halfway through THE MEPHISTO CLUB, which is riveting. And it's more than just a clever plot. The writing is as tight as it is elegant, and characters are so well developed. No wonder her books sell in the bazillions. She's that good.

In addition to reading novels, I usually have a book of short stories going. To me it's like leaving a box of chocolates out so that I can indulge myself now and then. Tom Saunders's gorgeous collection, BROTHER, WHAT STRANGE PLACE IS THIS?, is like the finest, most nuanced truffles. Each story has its own flavor and delights me in a different way. My favorite so far is "His Mother's Voice." If you're a short story fan, please rush to pick this one up--it's about to go out of print.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Did you make any resolutions?

Happy New Year, friends. We went out to a wild party last night and didn't get home until sunrise. Now, of course, I'm hung over from all the sex, drugs, rock and roll.

Oh for God's sake, take it easy. I'm kidding. We stayed in and watched TV. Couple episodes of Seinfeld, couple of Twilight Zone and some kind of countdown on TV's most popular catchphrases. Woo-hoo! Par-tay!

I noticed that there were a lot of commercials for some kind of abdominal crunching machine, which I guess was targeted to people sitting on a couch resolving to get more exercise. I would have made my own list of resolutions but it just seemed like so much work.

Anyway, the ab crunching machine reminded me of a story I wrote a while back, so I figured I'd post it here today for anyone considering investing in one of those things. The story originally appeared in Yankee Pot Roast.


Ellen Meister

Use the Ab Cruncher 3000 Three Times a Week
and See a Whole New You!

Week 1, Day 1

My Ab Cruncher 3000 came today. Sandy says you're supposed to keep a diary and write down exactly how many crunches you do a day. Sandy lives next door and recently lost 50 pounds. She thinks Paul Winston, who's 41 years old and lives across the street with his mother, is going to be attracted to her now. Sandy needs to have her head examined.

I thought my Ab Cruncher was going to arrive yesterday, which would have been great because Colin was home and could have put the darn thing together. I tried to do it myself but can't tell which pole is A and which is D. They should mark these things.

Week 1, Day 2

Colin promised he would try to come home early from work today and assemble my Ab Cruncher 3000. Sandy thinks I should demand that Colin spend more time at home. I told her he's a foreman for god's sake, and has to work when he has to work.

Sandy has her own version of reality. She thinks Paul Winston is going to want to go out with her. Look at the way he walks, I tell her. You're not his type.

Week 1, Day 3

Ab Cruncher 3000 still in pieces on the floor. Colin had to work late again yesterday. Sandy said no one has to work late that often, honey. I said just because he wasn't in his office when I called doesn't mean he's fooling around. He's a foreman. He doesn't just sit at his desk all day. He has responsibilities.

I think it drives Sandy crazy that I have a good marriage and she could never make hers work.

Week 2, Day 1

My Ab Cruncher 3000 is together! I couldn't really get the hang of it, though, and only did three crunches today. Sandy says she did fifty. I'm not sure I believe her. She also said Paul Winston was flirting with her when she stopped by his florist shop yesterday. He was probably just trying to get her to buy a more expensive arrangement.

Week 2, Day 2

I did it! I got on the Ab Cruncher this morning and did 157 crunches before Colin even woke up! Colin says he's real proud of me, and thinks I'll be skinny in no time.

I got on the scale after he left and saw that I gained three pounds. I threw away the leftover cake and the Fritos. I'll weigh myself again next week.

Week 2, Day 3

Too sore to get back on the Ab Cruncher 3000 today. Will try again tomorrow.

Colin worked late again last night and I wound up eating a whole chicken myself. Sandy says that's not bad because it's protein.

Week 3, Day 1

Sandy claims Paul asked her out on a date. They're going bowling on Friday. I said watch the way he throws the ball. If his back leg goes up, you'll know.

I did 17 crunches today and feel great!

Week 3, Day 2

I got on the scale today and gained another pound. If Colin would come for dinner more often I know I wouldn't eat as much. But I think I'm getting my period and likely it's just water weight.

Too crampy to do crunches today.

Week 3, Day 3

Sandy had her date with Paul last night. She said he didn't kiss her good-night and I said, see? And she said I should pay more attention to my own relationship. And I said what is that supposed to mean? And she said I should take my head out of the sand is what it means.

I did 35 crunches today even though I have my period.

Week 4, Day 1

Colin came home late again last night, so I called Sandy to see if she wanted to come over for dinner. She said she was going out with Paul again. I said why didn't she tell me? She said if she thought I would be happy for her she would have told me. I said how could I be happy for her when she was barking up the wrong tree? She said I should worry more about what tree Colin is barking up. I said, does she know something I don't? She said I should keep my eyes open is all.

I didn't eat any dinner last night. Today I did 50 crunches, I think. I lost count.

Week 4, Day 2

Lost two pounds! I called Colin at the office and asked if he could come home early so we could celebrate. He said of course. I'm going to take a shower before he gets here, just in case. It's been a while for us.

I called Sandy and told her about Colin. She said sometimes men act really nice to their wives when they're feeling guilty. I said what does she know about making a marriage work?

I did 78 crunches today.

Week 4, Day 3

Colin brought me flowers last night, which was awfully sweet. I asked him did he get them from Paul's shop and did he think Paul could possibly be interested in Sandy. He said Paul is as queer as a three-dollar bill.

I thought maybe Colin would want to have sex last night since we had such a nice dinner together and he didn't have to get up early the next day, but he was too tired.

I did 22 crunches today.

Week 5, day 1

Sandy called to say she slept with Paul last night. I wanted to ask did he do it from behind, but I didn't have the nerve. I just said great, I guess he's not gay then. And she said no, he is definitely not. I told her Colin brought me flowers, and she said okay, honey, but be smart.

She's very suspicious, that Sandy. If she were still married, she'd probably think it would mean something if her husband sometimes stopped for a drink on his way home from work.

I think my Ab Cruncher 3000 might be broken. I couldn't get it adjusted right today.

Week 5, Day 2

Ab Cruncher still not working. I called the 800 number but got put on hold for twenty minutes and finally hung up. Nibbled away almost a whole pound of cheese while I waited.

Sandy called to ask if she could come over, she has something to tell me. If she and Paul are getting engaged or something I will laugh my head off. Anyway, Colin is working late again tonight so I told her fine, come over if you like.

Week 5, Day 3

Everything I said about Sandy is right. She is so suspicious; it could ruin a woman's life if she'd let it. Just because she saw Colin talking to some big-assed blonde in a bar near the factory doesn't mean he's having an affair. I asked Colin about it when he got home and he said she was just one of the girls from the back office who was asking questions about work. And when I asked how come he was at a bar when he said he was working late, he said he did work late and just stopped at the bar for a quick pop.

Called the 800 number again for the Ab Cruncher 3000 and held on all morning while I made the beds and did the laundry. Hung up when my neck started to hurt and ate three slices of cold pizza.

Week 6, Day 1

Sandy called today to say she never uses her Ab Cruncher 3000 anymore and did I want hers since mine is broken. I said why would I want something from someone who is hell-bent on causing trouble in my life? Sandy said honey, I'm just looking out for your best interests, that's what friends are for. And I said with friends like that, and hung up the phone.

I called the 800 number right away and am still on hold. I'm not hanging up this time.