Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas is coming. This will be our second holiday season in our new home in Tryon, so we know what to expect and look forward to it.

The Christmas Stroll happens this week when all the businesses in our tiny town open their doors one evening and people literally stroll from one to the next for a cup of punch or a cookie (or a glass of wine and some brie in the fancier places). Santa’s there as well as street musicians. It’s as quaint as you’d expect from a small town and rivaled only by our New Year’s Eve festivities where we drop a disco ball from the clock tower with a fishing pole at 10:00 because midnight is just too late for most folks. It’s such fun that we raise and drop it a couple more times for good measure.

Have I mentioned that I love it here?

By the way, I had an amazing experience at that writers’ conference in Raleigh last month. It was my first. I learned a lot, but the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It’s a fascinating business.

My weekend was filled with workshops, panel discussions, and open mics. I met so many interesting writers and editors and agents. It’s a whole new world for me and I’m soaking it up.

I got some great feedback about my novel (what I call my “book book”). And I got an amazing suggestion from an editor for another book, which of course, I loved and have already started working on. She saw me at an open mic reading a funny monologue I’d written for Meanwhile Back at Café DuMonde a while back and asked for more. One thing led to another and now I’m writing funny essays while I continue to edit my book book.

It’s too chilly to work on the front porch, so I’m in my office with a perfect view of our backyard. The birds flock to our little feeder right outside the window and the Chihuahuas flock to the heating vent at my feet.  

Happy holidays.

Friday, September 7, 2012

We’re heading into fall, and I must say, I’m looking forward to it. After living in L.A. for a few decades, I had almost forgotten how beautiful the change of seasons can be. Don’t get me wrong—I love L.A. and its weather is at the top of my list of reasons to love it. But I also love where I live now—the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. This place knows how to put on a show when it comes to fall color, and now I have a front row seat.

I’ve really been enjoying my life here since my move last September. There’s a reason this place has been a haven for writers and artists for many years.  Every time I turn around, I meet a painter or sculptor or writer. They flock to this place and flourish.

I’ve been very busy myself working on the sequel to It Seemed Funny at the Time. For now, I’m calling it No Worse for Wear. The title might change before the book sees a printing, but it came to me in a dream and it fits nicely. I’m workshopping No Worse for Wear in a writers’ group online, which has been fun.

I’ve also been doing some freelance writing for a website about dogs. Animal rescue is a cause near and dear to my heart, so it seemed fitting to write about it.

I haven’t been shopping It Seemed Funny at the Time because I’ve been tweaking it a little as I write No Worse for Wear, making sure the two tie together well. I’m planning to take it to a writers’ conference in November though, and it should be ready to shop again by then.

In the meantime, you’ll find me happily working on No Worse for Wear on my wide covered front porch with a big yellow dog lying at my feet, just waiting for the leaves to turn.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I have some more books for you! These are all available now. I didn't have my blog when they were released, so I'm pimping them now.

Fritz, the Count of Aglie by Michele Dalcin Botts is a tale for all ages narrated by a cat living in the small Italian town of Aglie. It's Michele's own love story and a tribute to her husband, Michael Botts, who lost his battle with cancer in 2005. Michael was the drummer for Bread, and also played with Linda Ronstadt and Dan Fogelberg, among others. I'm fortunate to call Michele my friend, and we're all lucky to be able to enjoy her adorable book now.

How to Make Love to Adrian Colesberry by Adrian Colesberry is for adults only, as its title and cover indicate. It's Adrian's very bawdy and unique sexual memoir, disguised as a manual to please him in bed. My personal relationship with Adrian is purely platonic, so I can't attest to the book's accuracy, but I can report that it's very funny and nothing like you've ever read before.

When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror by Carol Leifer is a collection of essays by one of the funniest women in the world. I've known and admired Carol for decades (in spite of our youth), and knew her book wouldn't disappoint. She's smart, warm, honest, and funny, and this book shines among her many achievements.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today, there are two new books I want to tell you about. I have a connection to both, but they're very different.

The first one is Kristin Harmel's The Sweetness of Forgetting.

Marie Claire magazine recommends it on its 2012 summer reading list. Here's how they describe it:

Hope, a divorced mother who runs a bakery on Cape Cod, reconnects with her grandmother, whose onset of Alzheimer's spurs the revelation of a family secret about the Holocaust.”

Kristin is a very popular and prolific writer of women’s fiction. This is her seventh novel and she’s only 33 years old!

I had the privilege of taking a writing workshop taught by Kristin, and I found her to be a wonderful teacher as well as writer.

Watch for The Sweetness of Forgetting, coming out on August 7th.

My second recommendation is for a coffee table book called Meanwhile Back at Café Du Monde, created and edited by my dear friend, Peggy Sweeney-McDonald.

Peggy had the brilliant idea of producing a show comprised of an evening of food monologues accompanied by actual delicious food. There have been many such evenings in New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and Los Angeles.

Most monologues are written by their performers—chefs, restauranteurs, and other foodies who have an interesting tale to tell. I was fortunate to have two of my monologues performed in several shows by the talented Caroline Fogerty in Los Angeles and Nancy Litton in Louisiana.

The shows were a huge success and prompted what promises to be an equally fabulous book. It’s number one on Amazon’s Hot New Releases: Best Louisiana list and comes out on September 15th.

I hope you’ll check out both of these books, enjoy them, and tell your friends.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Write what you know.

We’ve all heard this, and while it’s true that it’s fun to explore things you don’t know, I am a firm believer that the closer you can get to your real voice, the better your writing will be. And if you stick to your own experiences, you’re more likely to use your own voice.

I heard a songwriter once say in an interview that the more personal he made his song, the more universally it was accepted. That stuck in my mind and so when I write, I try to make it as personal as possible.

I have a writer friend who lives in Norway and she says there’s a Norwegian word for this kind of writing that can’t really be translated. The closest English word she can find is “skinless.” It’s essentially when a writer exposes his or her inner self.

Anyway, I’m starting to babble now. My apologies. I just wanted to explain a little why I wrote It Seemed Funny at the Time the way I did. It’s fiction, but it’s also personal.

I took real experiences with real people that I had as a young woman and fictionalized the people and some of the experiences. I did this for a number of reasons, the main one being it made a better story. I could skip over the boring parts and condense the time frame and not agonize over the fact that I’m unable to remember every detail perfectly.

I based the main characters on people I knew, but sometimes I combined two or more people into one character, or gave an experience I had with one person to another character. And sometimes I just made stuff up. I wanted the book to be good and a fun read, not just a chronicling of my life. I doubt many would be interested in that no matter how “skinless” it was.

Some of the people in my life at that time—the late 80s—are still in my life, I’m happy to say. I’ve told them about the book and some have read it, or at least one draft of it or another. Several have been extremely helpful in discussing our past together, jogging my memory and adding their perspectives.

One friend said I could write whatever I wanted as long as I made him handsome (easy to do—he was and is very handsome). Another asked that I not make her a gold digger, which I found interesting since I’d never thought of her that way at all. I could see she was nervous though and I made sure there was nothing written that could make her seem gold-diggery.

I understand what it feels like to be written about. I had an ex once who wrote a little TV show about his life—you might have seen it. Sometimes, I’d recognize a scene or an element in a character as mine, just as I’m sure many of his friends and family did. But the story wasn’t about me. It was about him.

And my book is about what happened to me. My intent isn’t to make anyone uncomfortable or look like a gold digger or less handsome. I’m just telling my story in a way that I hope people will enjoy. I just happened to have had some very funny, sexy, amazing people in my life, and they’ve made my personal story interesting. So, I’m sharing it. I hope you’ll like it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This morning I decided to add a blog to my website. I know, I know—I’m always a little slow about such things. But it occurred to me that people checking the site might wonder what the heck is going on with the book, and I didn’t want to leave you hanging.

My path to publication started a little strangely since I got major media attention for my book before I’d even finished writing it. It was just a fluke that Jerry Oppenheimer, the writer of the Post article, happened to call to get a quote from me on Jerry’s new show. I mentioned that I was writing a book and before I knew it, I was featured in the article, and then got a call from Inside Edition.

I knew very little about the book business, but knew enough to know not to say no to such opportunities. I was grateful for both the article and the piece on Inside Edition, and continued writing as fast as I could.

Once the book was finished, however, I had no clue what to do next. I started asking my writer friends to explain to me how the business worked, and began my education on how to get published.

I learned quickly that I had chosen yet another profession in which the odds of success are overwhelmingly tiny. That never slowed me down the first time around though, so I kept going again, just like I had in my modeling career when I was a naïve young thing.

When I was teaching acting in Los Angeles, I used to tell my students, "People will tell you you'll fail for many reasons and chances are they're right, but if it's really what you want to do, then do it anyway."

So, I'm doing this. And I have learned a lot. In querying literary agents, I’ve gotten some interesting responses. Some of them were silence (not so interesting). A couple of them had very valuable advice (which I took). A few expressed interest in a non fiction book kissing and telling about you know who, but as many of you who know me know, I have no interest in writing that kind of book.

I stopped shopping the book for a while. My husband and I decided to move from Los Angeles to North Carolina, and that endeavor took much of my time. I was still working on commercials in L.A. and juggling that with getting the house ready to sell and still writing—something I can’t make myself not do now that I’ve discovered it.

Anyway, two escrows and a multi dog and cat-filled cross-country trip later, we landed in Tryon, North Carolina, a tiny quaint artists’ and writers’ haven that I loved at first sight.

I unpacked a little, kept writing, and ignored my first book. I've posted much of my fiction on websites under another name, thoroughly enjoying myself, but I knew I needed to get back to hocking what I’d started calling my “book book.”

I finally blew the dust off my list of literary agents and started sending out queries again, but honestly, it’s no fun. Rejection and being ignored have far less appeal than the absolute joy I find when I write, so naturally, I write more than I query.

Consequently, I’ve started a sequel to my book (my book book) even though I still have no agent. But I promise I’ll keep trying. And I’ll keep you posted on my progress as I go.