Wednesday, December 26, 2007

With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe

Here's something I feel compelled to post every year after the holidays ...

"The Raving"
A Mother's Chilling Post-Holiday Tale

By Ellen Meister

Once upon an evening dreary, while I toiled, weak and weary
Over many a desperate dirty dishrag and forgotten chore,
While I leaned down limply lugging toys from off the carpet
Suddenly there came a tugging, tugging at the skirt I wore.
"'Tis some little kid," I muttered, smoothing out the skirt I wore,
"Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
Action dolls not yet dismembered lay across the playroom floor.
Each new toy was still unbroken, yet the child still was pokin'
And the only word there spoken was the whining more, "S'more."
This he whispered then his sister murmured back the word,
Only this they did implore.

Then the silly, sad, incessant clangor of the season's presents
Chilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now to still the beating of my heart I stood repeating,
"Darling children, I am pleading, let's return some to the store--
Darling children, I'm entreating, let us give some to the poor."
Still they said, "We want s'more."

"You still want more?" I blurted feeling slightly dizzy, my head
"Get thee back into the playroom where your playthings line the
Go before I need to yank you! Go before I want to spank you!
Leave my kitchen and I'll thank you not to ask for any more.
Take thy sighs from out my sight and thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the child, "I want more."

And the child, so demanding, still is standing, still is standing
Near a portion of my pantry just beside the kitchen door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
Sights of toys and trinkets gleaming on the shelves of every store.
Unaffected with respect to his demands for even more,
Quoth I, the mother, "Never more!"

Monday, December 17, 2007


By Allison Winn Scotch

Inspired by a personal story, this sometimes humorous and always moving debut novel takes a courageous look at cancer and captures the amazing strength of the human spirit.

Today I'm thrilled to be blogging about a book by a talented new member of the Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit, Allison Winn Scotch. This is Allison's debut, and the buzz has been nothing short of extraordinary. Trust me, not every new novel gets reviewed in Cosmopolitan and picked as an Editors' Choice from Redbook. So you know this is something special.

Allison was a good sport and agreed to play along with my GCC Does Hollywood posting, and here's how she would pitch THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND to our fictional producer:

The Department of Lost and Found is about a headstrong 30-year old woman who is diagnosed with cancer. But it’s really about so much more than that. Did I say cancer? No, what I meant was, the book is about an ambitious 30-year old who discovers that the ideals she once deemed important might not be so important after all, and by tracing through her past – her former loves and her former life – she realizes that though she’s been stripped of her career, her boyfriend and yes, her health, she’s still able to persevere. And that her disease was just a catalyst for putting her on a path to self-discovery.

When you read this book (and I hope you will) feel free to picture the actors Allison would cast in the lead roles ...

Oh trust me, I’ve batted this around in my mind for ages. For Natalie, I’d think that Jen Garner or Keri Russell would be aces. There was a while when we thought that Reese Witherspoon might be interested, and of course, she’d also rock the role, but everyone seems to want a piece of Reese these days (ha! Reese’s pieces), and certainly, think that there are others who would be similarly fabulous.

I also love me some Anne Hathaway.

For Zach, I pretty much say in the book that Patrick Dempsey would be the embodiment of my dream come true, though I think Mark Ruffalo would be a fine choice as well. And since I’m naming names, I’ll also throw in Michael Vartan, because, well, I’ll watch him in anything.

And for Jake? Unquestionably Scott Speedman, who should be getting a lot more work than he does these days. Didn’t anyone out there watch Felicity???

I think that Catherine Keener would make an awesome Senator Dupris, and Judy Greer would kick ass as Sally. Not a bad cast, right?

Not bad at all, Allison!

To buy THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND, visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any cyber bookseller. For more information, check out Allison's website,

Monday, December 03, 2007

The turtle on my desk

The muse propelling me forward on my current novel crept into my dream last night to make sure I don't lose momentum ...

I dreamt I called my agent to talk to her about the new novel I'm working on, and she gave me this whole pep talk about how I shouldn't worry about what she thought or how marketable it was or any of that. I should concentrate on writing it and forget about her. Then she joked, "In fact, this is a wrong number. Forget you even called me. Get back to work." I laughed and said good-bye, delighted and surprised by her attitude.

Then I went into my office to discover that the giant turtle we have as a pet was sitting in the middle of my desk, where my computer usually is. (In real life we have no such pet, but in the dream he was like a fixture in the house we largely ignored.) I wanted to just lift him off and put him on the floor where he belonged so I could get to work, but he had crawled out of his shell and I found him too icky to move. So I called for my husband to get him off the desk for me.

That's it. Don't think I need Sigmund Freud to interpret this one.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Taking inventory

As I write this, my parents are on a plane heading back to Florida. We had a lovely visit, only I'm now left wondering what do with the items they left in my pantry. Herewith a brief inventory:

* America's Choice Bran Flakes

* Post Bran Flakes

* Kellogg's All-Bran

* Kellogg's All-Bran Complete Oat Flakes

* Sunsweet Pitted Bite Size Prunes

* Metamucil Orange smooth texture/sugar-free

I'm not saying I sense a pattern or anything, but I wonder if I've shirked my patriotic responsibilities by not having warned the pilot.

Anyway, I guess it could be worse ...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And tomorrow is Thursday

For the purposes of this blog, my parents will be referred to as Helen and Morty. All other facts are accurate and precise. Dialogue appears exactly as it was spoken.

INT. KITCHEN. DAY. Helen and Morty Meister are staying with their novelist/professional wiseass daughter, Ellen, and her family. It is 8:00 a.m., and Helen is seated at the kitchen table eating her breakfast of black coffee and 22 carefully-measured calories of bran flakes. She is slightly thinner than Nancy Reagan.

Her husband, MORTY, shuffles in from the guest bedroom, wearing his new slippers, which he insists are suitable for indoor wear and occasional trips to Starbucks. He stops at the doorway, waiting for his wife to look up. When she does, he speaks.

MORTY: Today is Wednesday.

HELEN: I know today is Wednesday.

MORTY: Yesterday you said it was Wednesday.

HELEN: Yesterday I said it was Tuesday.

MORTY: I said, 'Is today Wednesday?' and you said, 'Yes.'

HELEN: You said, 'Is today Tuesday?'

MORTY: Wednesday. I said, 'Is today Wednesday?'


MORTY: Yes, you told me yesterday was Wednesday.

HELEN: Why would I say that? Yesterday was Tuesday.

MORTY: Then how come I took Wednesday's medicine?

HELEN: I don't know. Yesterday was Tuesday.

ELLEN: Can you guys talk a little slower?


ELLEN: I'm taking notes for my blog.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Blog alert

My parents are coming tomorrow, and will stay with us for a week. This means my blog will write itself. Seriously, all I have to do is transcribe some of their conversations and voila--instant amusement. Think Helen and Morty Seinfeld, only smarter. And better looking. But the whole Del Boca Vista? Dead on. That's exactly where my parents live.

Anyway, I guess I'm ready for their arrival. I got an email from Dad today with the subject line URGENT! I opened it in a panic, only to discover that he needed to know if I still had that thermal coffee cup he uses when he's here. He wasn't being ironic. The thought of having to drink coffee that's not still bubbling as it goes down his throat sends Dad into an anxious frenzy.

Fortunately, I found the cup. The other thing I did to prepare for their arrival was buy a flat of tissue boxes from a discount warehouse. I have to leave a box every four feet throughout the house, as Dad needs to have tissues within arm's reach at all times.

Mom's a bit easier. Two extra space heaters, a pile of blankets on the den couch, a roaring log fire and she's as good as gold. Now if only I had a fireplace ...

Monday, November 12, 2007


By Jackie Kessler

I'm happy to be inaugurating my new blog design with a GCC Does Hollywood post for the extraordinary Jackie Kessler. Jackie's one of the only Girlfriends Cyber Circuit authors I had the pleasure of meeting in person (thanks to the author who actually brought me into the group, Melanie Lynne Hauser). We met before her first book, HELL'S BELLES, came out, and she made such an impression on me that I just knew she was a wonderful writer who'd have a brilliant career.

Sure enough, her first book took off like a rocket, enthralling readers and critics alike. And now she's launching the second book in the Hell on Earth series, THE ROAD TO HELL.

I asked Jackie if she would come up with a Hollywood-style pitch for each book and here's what she said:

HELL'S BELLES is about a succubus who runs away from Hell, hides on Earth as an exotic dancer, and learns the hard way about true love. Sex, strippers,demons -- what's not to like?

In THE ROAD TO HELL, a former succubus must return to Hell to save the lives of those she loves. If she'd known love was this tough, she never would have turned her back on Lust...

I hope that whets your appetite enough to read the series that Publishers Weekly calls "sizzling paranormal." And while you do, you can feel free to picture the actors Jackie would cast in the starring roles ...

Ooh. Matt Damon as Paul, the love interest.

Ben Affleck as Roman, the slimyclub owner.

And for Jezebel...hmm. Maybe Eva Longoria. As long as she can dance.

You can buy HELL'S BELLES and THE ROAD TO HELL at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any cyber bookseller. For more information, or to view a really cool trailer for the new book, visit Jackie's website,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


By Jana DeLeon

For weeks I've been trying to clear the decks to blog about this wonderful book, but one emergency or another kept popping up. I thought I finally had time this weekend but couldn't manage it with my trip to Baltimore. So here at last is my tribute to a wonderful author and her newest delight, UNLUCKY.

Fortunately, Jana agreed to participate in my GCC Does Hollywood post, but first I want to share with you a quote from a recent review:

“Grab a box of Kleenexes for the laughter, sit back and enjoy. Absolutely one of the best romantic suspense novels I have ever read.” – Romance Reader at Heart


So okay, here's how Jana would pitch the book to our fictional producer:

A chronically unlucky woman takes a job as a card "cooler" at a poker tournament of criminals, upsetting the plans of a sexy undercover FBI agent who needs his target to stick around long enough to bust him for money laundering.

That's a seriously filmic plot, so I expect to see this book snatched up soon. Meanwhile, here's Jana's dream leads for the movie version:

I would love someone like Eva Mendes to play the heroine. I think she's sexy in a fun way and could totally pull of a Cajun girl.

For the hero, I'm thinking David Duchovny because I always loved him in the X-Files.

To buy UNLUCKY, visit your local chain or independent bookstore. To purchase online, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Jana's website at

Before I sign off today, a special shout-out to the folks at LiteracyWorks, Inc. for the great work they do and the amazing job they did with the Baltimore Book Bash this weekend. Thanks so much for inviting me. I had a blast!

Also want to send kisses to the wonderful cousins who let me crash at their beautiful home, and their amazing, accomplished daughters, one of whom blogs at

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Baltimore Book Bash

I'm heading down to Baltimore for the big Book Bash sponsored by Literacy Works, Inc. I'll be among 50 authors signing books, and if you're there, I hope you'll stop by and say hi. It's at the Tremont Grand today, 11/4, from 6pm - 9pm. Click here for more information.

Monday, October 29, 2007


By Renee Rosen

It's not every day that a debut novel is welcomed with the kind of praise Renee Rosen's EVERY CROOKED POT received. So I'm thrilled to be blogging about this very special book, and even more thrilled that Renee agreed to participate in my GCC Does Hollywood program.

Before I get into it, though, here's a small sample of the extraordinary buzz ...

“… a beautifully nuanced tale about an extraordinary family and an even more extraordinary young woman. Not since Myla Goldberg's Bee Season has a first novel so deftly captured the complexities, joys, and frustrations of daughters and their families. It's hard to believe this is a debut – Rosen's voice is already as good as it gets. Keep an eye out for this rising star." -- Sara Gruen, New York Times #1 bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“In a debut novel that could easily have been published as a…memoir, Rosen looks back at the life of Nina Goldman, whose growing up is tied to two pillars: a port-wine stain around her eye and her inimitable father, Artie. The birthmark, she hates; her father, she loves. Both shape her in ways that merit Rosen's minute investigation....” -- Booklist (starred review)

“Quirky and heartfelt, Renee Rosen's Every Crooked Pot tells a familiar story of self-acceptance and familial love.” -- Chicago Tribune

“Every Crooked Pot by Renee Rosen is one of the top books I've read this year … A perfect balance of scenes that make you laugh and ones that make you cry.” -- The Chicago Contingent

“Told with wit, wisdom, and characters so realistically drawn that they breathe, this poignant story of angst and redemption will touch the heart of anyone who ever longed to be “normal” enough to be loved.” -- Sandra Kring, author of Carry Me Home and The Book of Bright Ideas

"Realistic, sharp and funny, Renee Rosen perfectly captures what it's like to be stuck on the outside longing to get in. A beautiful, poignant, and impressive debut -- I didn't want it to end." -- Alyson Noel, author of Fly Me to the Moon and Kiss & Blog

See what I mean? Everyone who reads this book wants to shout about it.

So okay. Here now is how Renee would pitch the story to our fictional Hollywood producer:

A lovable misfit born with a disfiguring birthmark covering in her eye struggles to come to terms with her own flaws and those of her quirky family while discovering in the end that perfection is not a prerequisite for love.

And here's how she would cast it:

If it were up to me, I'd just cast Patrick Dempsey in all roles.

But seriously, I think Sandra could be Reese Witherspoon or maybe Hilary Swank ...

Adrien Brody would make a fine Artie.

Nina, the narrator, is really tricky. What I really need is a young Natalie Portman ala Beautiful Girls.

I hope you'll be interested in checking out this book the next time you visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To order online, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Renee's website at

Sunday, October 21, 2007

They hate me, they hate me not ...

When a reviewer expects to hate your book and then has to admit to admit that maybe it wasn't that bad, it's particularly gratifying. And it's even better when the plot summary makes it clear that the reviewer has given the book a very careful read. Here's one such critique I just found. It's from the Midwest Book Review, where it was listed under "Reviewer's Choice":

Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA
Ellen Meister
Avon c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 100229780060824815 $13.95 800-242-7737

Through a quirky series of circumstances, Applewood, Long Island, appears to be in contention as the site of an upcoming movie currently in the planning stages, to star George Clooney, the secret [or not-so-secret] fantasy of many a female PTA member. Most of the action centers around three good friends, Maddie Shein, Ruth Moss, and Lisa Slotnick, who, along with another woman who joins the buddy circle, Beryl Berman, find themselves plotting against the head of the PTA, a bitchy type who wants to achieve her own coup by taking credit for getting the event for their town. [As an added bonus, doing the film at the local high school would also bring a much-needed stadium to the school grounds.] Each woman has her back story, of course, and the reader is given the details on each one.

I had frankly expected this book to be a bubble-headed exercise, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the women [and the men in their lives] were quite recognizable, and the story engrossing. The milieu in which they live their lives were very realistically portrayed, given that this is fiction after all and one doesn't really expect George Clooney to appear in a real-life finale [no spoiler here, the tantalizing and broad hint is given in a brief prologue -- although it's not technically designated as such]. I found the novel thoroughly enjoyable.

Another review like this recently appeared in TQR, a literary ezine:

by Steve Hansen

The first hundred pages of Ellen Meister’s “Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA” were hard to get through. But, it’s chick lit, so seeing that this reviewer is somewhat un-chick, you may chalk that up to reason. There’s a lot of inner dialogue about so-and-so’s choice of shoes and descriptions of clothing. The fawning over the insufferable Hollywood blowhard George Clooney was also something of a snooze.

But ... the sex was good.

And if the sex is good, as anybody with a libido can tell you, a lot can be forgiven. The only thing is, there isn’t enough of it. Oh sure, maybe if you’re past the age of 65 and can’t afford Viagra, but otherwise it’s like, excuse me, but give me more, baby! Give me more!

Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the threesome, which is the novel meandered its way into a soul.

The failed attempt between Maddie and Frank to have an affair becomes particularly poignant when you get deeper into the novel and discover some of Applewood’s secrets (which aren’t really anything to do with the PTA, but the tie-in with the title is close enough). This plotline is the strongest of the book, followed closely by the Mommy Dearest-type relationship between Lisa and her mother Nancy, which, of course, by the end of the novel has come to an equitably satisfying resolution.

Secret Confessions sneaks up on you. Amid all the girl-talk and fashion mongering and sex, Meister manages to create characters to whose problems you can relate. And it happens almost imperceptibly. As I rushed through the final one hundred pages of the novel tears came to my eyes three times and streamed down my face one time, at least that is all I am willing to admit to.

Friday, October 12, 2007


By Judy Merrill Larsen

“Judy Merrill Larsen’s All the Numbers is sure to join Judy Guest’s novel Ordinary People, and Jacqueline Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean as one of the most talked-about books of its time. This powerful story of tragedy, grief, and redemptive love haunted me long after I read the final uplifting yet heartbreaking words.”
—Cassandra King, author of The Sunday Wife

Oh. My. God. When was the last time you saw a blurb like that?

Friends, today I'm thrilled to be blogging today about ALL THE NUMBERS, a brilliant debut book by GCC author Judy Merrill Larsen

I cannot wait to get my hands on this novel, because I just know I'm going to do backflips over it. Check out the description blurb from the publisher:

Judy Merrill Larson, a Midwest mother of five and a high school English teacher makes her publishing debut with All the Numbers (A Readers Circle Trade Paperback; $13.95; July 25, 2006), an emotional novel that explores how one mother recovers after the sudden loss of her son.

Recently divorced and navigating the uncharted territory of single parenthood, Ellen Banks is a tough but loving teacher and a devoted mother to her two sons, Daniel and James. When they take their summer trip from their home in Madison, Wisconsin to their best friends’ lake house for weekend, she has no idea that her life is about to irrevocably change. While Ellen sits on a nearby dock, a teen on a jet ski shatters their perfect day when he hits James. Suddenly Ellen is faced with decisions that are every parent’s worst nightmare. Life support, organ donation. And then, a funeral. A grieving sibling who blames himself for the death of his brother. A distant ex-husband, friends and family who don’t know what to say or how to help, lawyers, judges and policemen—none who can make the hurt go away. Healing the empty space in Ellen’s heart and soul is almost too much to bear. But she is determined to see justice done for her son, and to heal the deep wounds in her family. All the Numbers culminates in a highly charged trial which, in an unexpected turn, leads Ellen and Daniel to a new beginning.

Here's a bit about Judy herself:

Judy Merrill Larsen teaches high school English in St. Louis, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and their five children. She says that the novel came about because of her fascination with how ordinary people recover from extraordinary events and how love makes us vulnerable, and how very isolating yet very human, the desire for revenge can be. Whether she has seen something in the news or in fiction, she has always wondered about the lives of people in the aftermath. The choices they make. The holes they fall into and then how—or if—they claw themselves out. From the medical details to the intricacies of Wisconsin law, and courtroom procedures, Larson says the research was as challenging as the writing. As she says of her main character, “none of us is a super hero, but we can all choose to be heroes in our own lives. Ellen Banks, in All the Numbers, ultimately makes just that choice, by choosing to live on.” Larsen holds a Master’s Degree from Washington University. She is currently working on her second novel.

I'm happy that Judy agreed to participate in my weird little GCC Does Hollywood blog. So here now is her pitch to our fictional movie producer:

ALL THE NUMBERS traces a year in the life of a family that begins with the death of a child--it's raw and painful, but ultimately redemptive. It's about learning how to forgive and live a life you never thought you'd have to.

And here's who Judy would cast:

I think Reese Witherspoon would make a good Ellen.

And for Bob, the attorney, I'd have to go with Dennis Quaid because if I've got so much pull with the director I'd be able to cast myself as the kiss (stunt) double.

ALL THE NUMBERS is in bookstores now. To find it at an independent store, visit To buy online, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target or any cyber bookseller. For more information, hop over to Judy's website,

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Who is the #1 HarperCollins author?

Me! Today, anyway. My HarperCollins website got so many clicks yesterday I landed in the number 1 slot on the their homepage ... above Jenna Bush and Joyce Carol Oates!

I'm stoked about this, because HarperCollins just launched this brand new website program for authors, and I was lucky enough to be one of the beta testers. It's an amazing tool and I applaud all the folks who worked so hard on it. To see my page, go to

To see proof that I'm really in the #1 slot, go to

To see the great-looking pages of other authors who are part of the new website launch, click below:
Victoria Alexander
Jo Barrett
Toni Blake
Elizabeth Boyle
Gayle Callen
Anna Campbell
Dixie Cash
Kathryn Caskie
Mary Castillo
Jacquie D'Alessandro’Alessandro
Delilah Devlin
Suzanne Enoch
Elaine Fox
Jeaniene Frost
Terri Garey
Laura Lee Guhrke
Kim Harrison
Lorraine Heath
Myla Jackson
Eloisa James
Beverly Jenkins
Sophie Jordan
Cindy Kirk
Lynn LaFleur
Stephanie Laurens
Julie Anne Long
Margo Maguire
Anne Mallory
Cathy Maxwell
Teresa Medeiros
Ellen Meister
Janet Mullany
Sophia Nash
Hailey North
Kayla Perrin
Jenna Petersen
Julia Quinn
Lynsay Sands
Kathryn Smith
Kerrelyn Sparks
Melody Thomas

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy reviews

In terms of book reviews, paperback reprints tend to be largely ignored by the media. So I'm thrilled that the paperback reprint of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA got some very positive attention in the blogosphere.

Just yesterday I discovered two new reviews. One is a five star rave from Love Romances that says, among other things, "After reading SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA, one would think Ms. Meister had been writing forever, but that’s not so; this is her debut novel. And let me tell you it was incredible." (Full review is here.)

The other is from Romance Reader at Heart, and while it's not quite as effusive, it's also overwhelmingly positive, with lines like, "SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA is a warm, witty look at life, love and friendship in the suburbs of Long Island." (Full review is here.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Scene of the crime

My next appearance is in Jericho, the Long Island town many believe Applewood is based on. Is it true? Join me and find out ...

Book Discussion
Friday, October 5, 10:30 am
Jericho Public Library
Jericho, NY

It should be a lot of fun, especially when we get to the Q&A, so I hope you can come.

Last weekend I signed books at the Syosset Street Fair with Carol Hoenig, author of the brilliant and beautiful Without Grace. Big shout out and thanks to the folks at Syosset Borders for inviting us ... and for snapping this shot. (That's me on your left, Carol hiding under the sunhat.) They were also kind enough to agree to send a representative to the forthcoming Jericho Library event so there could be copies of my book available for purchase.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jodi Foster

Can someone please tell me how she manages to look 26, while other Hollywood women who try to turn back the clock wind up looking like Martians?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day

By Toni McGee Causey

Usually, when I do these Girlfriends Cyber Circuit posts, I start with the book's summary. But Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey got such outstanding reviews that I'm too excited to wait. I just have to share them with you. Check it out ...

“Causey doesn't miss a beat in this wonderful, wacky celebration of Southern eccentricity.”
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This hyperpaced, screwball action/adventure with one unforgettable heroine and two sexy heroes is side-splittingly hilarious. Causey, a Cajun and a Louisiana native, reveals a flair for comedy in this uproarious debut novel.”
--Library Journal (starred review)

“Move over Stephanie and Bubbles you've got major competition tracking north from the Deep South. Bobby Faye might have had a very bad day but Toni McGee Causey is going to have a very good year. With Causey's debut novel (A Griffin Trade Paperback Original), Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day, Bobbie Faye Sumrall is out to capture both the hearts of spunky women everywhere and the minds of men ready for a challenge.”
-- Deadly Pleasures

“It's about time women had an Amazon to look up to… Bobbie Faye is a hurricane-force heroine who makes this novel the perfect adventure yarn.”
-- The Tampa Tribune

“This is an action comedy novel that will delight fans of the Ya Ya/Sweet Potato Queens genre. The pacing of the book will take your breath away.”
-- The Advocate

“If you like Janet Evanovich, if you’re looking for a lot of unlikely action (when is the last time someone you know escaped a burning boat by lassoing an oil rig?), or if you’re simply having a bad day, go out and find Bobbie Faye. She’s an outrageous hoot.”
-- The Times Picayune

“There are many things to love about this book --- the plot, the pacing, the dialogue --- but my own favorite element is the characterization… But if you want a short description of this great novel, think Die Hard in the swamp. And Bobbie Faye? She's a titanium magnolia.”

Did you notice that the book got starred reviewed from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal? Let me tell you, that's not an easy thing to do. It's like a winning the Oscar for best screenplay and best direction for the same film.

So okay, if the reviews didn't convince you to pick up a copy of this book, I bet the summary will ...

Bobbie Faye Sumrall is a dead-broke Cajun living in a broken-down trailer in Lake Charles, Louisiana. When criminals demand Bobbie Faye's Contraband Queen tiara-- the only thing of her mama's she inherited-- in exchange for her good-for-nothing brother, Bobbie Faye has to outwit the police, organized crime, former boyfriends, and a hostage she never intended to take (but who turns out to be damn sexy), in order to rescue her brother, keep custody of her niece, and get back in time to take her place as Queen in the Lake Charles Contraband Festival (think Mardi Gras, with more drinking and pirates). Luckily, she knows how to handle guns, outwit angry mama bears, drive a speedboat, and get herself out of (and into) almost every kind of trouble. If only that pesky state police detective (who also happens to be a pissed off ex-boyfriend) would stay out of her way.

Bobbie Faye's Very (very, very, very) Bad Day is in bookstores now. To find it in an independent store near you, visit BookSense. To buy online, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Toni's website at

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Since I'm a bona fide Target FREAK, I was thrilled to learn that they handpicked Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA as an Emerging Authors Breakout selection. It's in stores now, so if you visit your local Target, you should be able to find it in the Breakout display.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Applewood liebt George Clooney!

Came home from a delightful family vacation in New England to find a copy of Wann Kommt George in my mailbox (click pic for larger view). It's the German edition of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, and I think it's a hoot. I seriously love the cover! Can't read a word, of course, but I'm assuming Ursula Walther, the translator, did a good job, as she's got amazing credentials

Another fun development in my absence was this interview posted on the blog of the multi-talented Kay Sexton.

Still have mountains of laundry to get through. More later ...

Monday, August 27, 2007


By Laura Florand

Today I have the pleasure of blogging about a wonderful book by an author who's fairly new to the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, the talented Laura Florand. It's ironic that I'm not doing a GCC Does Hollywood blog for this one, because it's so filmic I'd bet money BLAME IT ON PARIS winds up on the silver screen. Here's the description from the press release:

Eleven o’clock on a Friday night. The seamy, sex-obsessed center of Paris. I balanced over a Turkish toilet in a tiny bistro, one stiletto heel propped against the wall to make some kind of writing table out of my knee, trying desperately not to touch anything around me as I wrote an invitation…

Thus begins BLAME IT ON PARIS, Laura Florand’s hilarious and moving true story of a French-American romance between two people, two families, and two cultures.

What does happen when you put a small-town Georgian in Paris and a handsome, sophisticated Parisian in small-town Georgia? Especially when two huge families, one French and the other American, decide it’s up to them to further this romance. The Parisian’s family wants Laura to learn how to prepare snails, while Laura’s family keeps serving SĂ©bastien Mad Dog 20/20 as good wine. How will true love survive?

I think that's a great concept all around, and while I haven't gotten my hands on the book yet, apparently it reads like a dream, because over on, readers are going nuts over it. Critics and fellow authors love it, too. Here's a sampling of the raves ...

“Hilarious…A fun, frothy tale for anyone who has ever conjured up a dashing handsome foreigner to sweep her off her feet. Readers will be happy to live vicariously in Laura's French fairytale.” –Booklist (Aleksandra Kostovski)

“A frothy French confection.” –
Publishers’ Weekly

“Laura Florand offers up an outsider’s oddly inside view of Paris, and she does so in a narrative that is by turns witty and touching, but always charming. Best of all, she turns the tables and lets us see our own culture through the fresh, French eyes of the man she loves. Do yourself a favor: Read this book.”--
Joshilyn Jackson, best-selling author of Gods in Alabama

“I haven’t laughed so hard over the course of an entire book in a long time.”

“A fabulous romp from Paris to Podunk and back again. Loved it. Laura Florand’s reluctant heroine is adorable, and her perfect Parisian amour can wait on my table anytime.”--Haywood Smith, New York Times best-selling author of the Red Hat Club series

“A romantic, hilarious soufflĂ© of a story! Move over, Bridget Jones. Charming and laugh-out-loud funny.”--Deborah Smith, New York Times best-selling author of A Place to Call Home

“This delightful book should come with a warning label: do not read while traveling, otherwise other passengers will wonder why you keep laughing aloud and shouting ‘Vive la Laura Florand!’”--Cassandra King, author of The Sunday Wife

“I was taught in high school chemistry never to combine two ingredients whose properties you don’t fully understand. Well, Laura Florand ignored that advice and mixed a Parisian gentleman with a Southern lady, and what she got, predictably, was combustible. Blame It on Paris is a charming, light-hearted romp through a cross-cultural quagmire that proves that love, if it can’t conquer all, certainly is a match for a couple with families at different ends of the universe.”--Larry Habegger, editor, Travelers’ Tales Paris

“As enchanting as Paris in the spring, Florand’s debut sparkles with all the brilliance of the City of Light. Warm, funny, and sublimely satisfying, BLAME IT ON PARIS follows Laura as she journeys around the world in search of herself - only to discover home is in the hearts of those she loves. I’m adding Laura Florand to my must-read list!”—Alesia Holliday, author of Seven Ways to Lose Your Lover

BLAME IT ON PARIS is in bookstores now. To buy online, visit any cyber bookseller, such as, Barnes & Noble, and Powells. For more information (and to see a pic of the lovely author herself) visit Laura's website at

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Signed books

My minivan and I have been busy this week, driving around Long Island from bookstore to bookstore, where I got to meet some lovely folks who let me sign their inventory of my book. So if you live in the area and are interested in an autographed copy of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, paperback edition, please visit one of these stores (but call first to make sure it's still in stock):

Borders Syosset*
Book Revue, Huntington*
Barnes & Noble Huntington
Borders Westbury
Barnes & Noble Manhasset
Barnes & Noble Carle Place
Borders Farmingdale
Barnes & Noble Massapequa

I hope to visit a few more stores this week, but the kids are finished with camp so that makes it a bit harder. Still, I'll give it a shot, and will post updates. If there's a particular store you'd like me to visit, let me know.

If you don't live on Long Island and would like an autographed book, I'd be happy to send you a signed bookplate. I had new ones specially designed for the paperback. They're self-adhesive and right into the front of the book, like this:

Just send me your address and tell me who you want the bookplate(s) made out to. The stamp's on me.

*Indicates large quantity in stock.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New interview

Lynn the Virtual Wordsmith just posted an interview with me over at her blog. Check it out:
Virtual Wordsmith

Thanks, Lynn!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


By Deborah LeBlanc

One of the wonderful things about the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit is the diversity of talent in the group. Deborah LeBlanc, for instance, is a highly-acclaimed, award winning writer in the horror genre. Here's are just some of the raves her latest book, MORBID CURIOSITY, has received:

“One of the best new voices of supernatural thrillers!”
--Cemetery Dance

“It’s now official: Deborah LeBlanc has become a master not only of good spooky stories, but also of crafting great characters to fill them!”
--Horror Fiction Review

“An imaginative chiller. Riveting!”
--Publishers Weekly

“Ms. LeBlanc’s tale is a powerful, gripping read, with an ever increasing intensity that forces you to the end without laying the novel aside.”
--Who Dunnit

I'm in awe of a writer who can generate that kind of enthusiasm from these tough critics. And now here's a brief synopsis of this extraordinary novel:

It seemed like the answer to Haley’s prayers. The most popular girl in her high school promised Haley that her life would change forever if only she performed certain dark rituals. And if Haley can convince her twin sister to participate, their power will double. Together they will be able to summon mystical entities they never dared dream of. But these are powerful, uncontrollable forces, forces that can kill—forces that demand to be fed . . .

If that doesn't whet your appetite enough, check out the trailer for the book:


Here's a little bit about Deborah:

Deborah LeBlanc is an award-winning author from Lafayette, Louisiana. She is also a business owner, a licensed death scene investigator, and an active member of two national paranormal investigation teams. Deborah’s unique experiences, enthusiasm, and high-energy level make her a much sought after speaker at writers’ conferences across the nation. She also takes her passion for literacy and a powerful ability to motivate to high schools around the country.

She is the president of the Horror Writers Association, president of the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana, and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Women Writers, and International Thriller Writers Inc. In 2004, she created the LeBlanc Literacy Challenge, an annual, national campaign designed to encourage more people to read. Her most recent novels are: FAMILY INHERITANCE, GRAVE INTENT, A HOUSE DIVIDED, and MORBID CURIOSITY. Deborah’s next release, WATER WITCH, is scheduled to be on bookstore shelves in August ’08. For more information on Deborah or the Literacy Challenge, visit

MORBID CURIOSITY (paperback) is in stores now. If you'd prefer to buy online, visit any cyber bookseller, such as Target, Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Harry Potter and

The World's Messiest Girl"

An unillustrated picture book
By Ellen Meister

One day, The World's Messiest Girl turned to her mom and said, "There's a Harry Potter party at Border's tonight! Can we go? Please? Oh, please! Can we go?"

Now the mother, who was a kindly old mother, but also a tired old mother ready to settle in for the night in her cozy old bed, said, "If you clean your room, we can go."

You see, the kindly old tired mother was also a clever mother, and she knew that The World's Messiest Girl would never ever clean her room. She wouldn't clean her room for a tasty dessert. She wouldn't clean her room for a new Webkinz. She wouldn't even clean her room if her mom and dad threatened to take away all her favorite toys.

A short time later, the kindly old tired clever mother was about to undress for bed when The World's Messiest Girl came back to see her.

"I'm done!" said the girl.

"Done with what?" asked the kindly old tired and maybe not-so-clever mother.

"Cleaning my room!"

The kindly old tired and maybe not-so-clever mother went to check, and the bedroom of The World's Messiest Girl was sparkling clean.

Moral: Harry Potter really IS magic.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Paradise

I recently finished stage 1 of draft 17 of my second novel, The Smart One. That means that I got to the last page and typed THE END, and then printed it out so I could edit it in hard copy.

I was so happy to get to this stage. Not just because I'm that much closer to sending it off to my editor, but because I'm no longer tied to my computer. I can take the ms. out into the world and edit wherever I want! (You might argue that I could have done this with my laptop, but you'd be wrong. Every try to reach a computer screen on the beach? Impossible.)

Anyway, for years I've been looking for a lush and solitary outdoor place I could sit and write, and this year I found one in a nearby park. I won't tell you where it is, but I will show you some pictures (click on images to enlarge) ...

Here is the bench where I sit. I put my blue backpack on it so you can see.

Though it looks kind of stagnant here, that water is actually a small running brook, right in front of the bench.

If you look carefully, you can see a wooden covered bridge that crosses over the stream.

My bench from another angle.

Today I went to the beach instead of the park. I got there before the crowds. The sky was very blue, the water was very calm, the air was very clear and I can still smell the clean brine. How I love this beach!

I go to a town beach in the Jones Beach area. Early in the morning, they drives special trucks through to rake the sand. You can see the tire treads.

I love the beach when it's empty.

My closest sand neighbors this morning.