Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Girlfriend Visiting

As if the dating scene and all it entails isn't scary enough, the hilarious Melissa Clark has concocted a scenario that may be enough to make you stay home by yourself with a some Chardonnay and a few caramel turtles.

In her debut novel SWIMMING UPSTREAM, SLOWLY--well, let her tell you:

MELISSA: After too many vodka tonics at her best friend's baby shower, twenty-seven-year-old Sasha finds herself having a ladies' room epiphany. How quickly life can change, she thinks to herself: one minute she's writing a master's thesis about a TV comedy show for kids–and the next, the program actually gets optioned with her as the star.

But Sasha’s awe at the twists of fate proves to be premature. The real shock comes the next day, when her routine visit to the ob-gyn reveals that she’s pregnant—even though she hasn't slept with anyone in more than two years.To her unbelieving ears comes the doctor’s diagnosis: Sasha’s body has unwittingly hosted a cellular hitchhiker, a medical anomaly known as “lazy sperm.”
HANK: Yup, that kind of swimming upstream.

(Oh, FYI : Melissa is the creator and executive producer of the award-winning television series, 'Braceface', and has written for shows on the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and Fox. )

And she agreed to reveal "The Latest..."

HANK: You and I get into an elevator on the first floor. We're both going to 22! Oh, I say, you're the famous author. What's your new book about? You say:
MELISSA: "Don't worry that you're stuck in the elevator with a crazy lady, but "Swimming Upstream, Slowly" is about a woman who hasn't had sex in 2 years and finds out one day that she's pregnant. After seeing a specialist she learns she is pregnant from a lazy sperm. She must now trace her love life to figure out who the father is.

HANK: Do you remember the moment you had the idea for the book? How and when did that happen?
MELISSA: I was having lunch with a friend and overate. I lifted my shirt to expose my bloated belly and the friend said, half joking, "Are you sure you're not pregnant?" and I said, "Yeah, right, from a lazy sperm." I went home that night and started outlining it for a movie. I decided, eventually, to write it as a novel instead.

HANK: Your main character--is she you?
MELISSA: She's got some of me in her, sure.

HANK:. So--movie time. Tell us who you envision playing your main character? The love interest? A bad guy?And you can be in the movie too--what part would you play? And why?
MELISSA: I play this game all the time. I could see Jennifer Garner, Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore...y'know, depending on who is available. There are a lot of guy roles for this movie. Anyone named Ryan might be good in a guy part. I'd love to see Emile Hirsch in a romantic comedy role.

HANK: Do you read other people books while you're in the writing process? How does that affect you?
MELISSA: I never read more than when I'm writing. I devour books. For Swimming, I read lots of autobiographies for some reason. I figure since I'm creating a life story of sorts, it's fun to read others' life stories.
HANK: What's the very best line of the very best review you've gotten? So far, of course.
MELISSA: When people tell me they read my book in one day or in one sitting I am very flattered. I worked very hard to make it zippy and compelling.

HANK:. What was your favorite book as a child? Do you still love it?
MELISSA: The fav books changed as I did. When I was a tiny tot I loved "C.D.B." by William Steig, then the Madeleine books, then, of course, Judy Blume.

HANK: What's your secret indulgence? A certain food? A particular movie? What would you buy on a day of shopping?
MELISSA: I always laugh to the point of tears in the Diane Keaton/Jack Nicholson movie "Something's Gotta Give". That movie triggers something for me. If it's on cable I'll say to myself, "I'm just going to watch 5 minutes" and then 2 hours later I'm laughing and crying and loving it for the 5th, 6th, 7th time.

HANK:. What's one thing no one knows about you?
MELISSA: Newer friends and people I meet and even my students have no idea that I was paralyzed with shyness until my early 30's. I am now very outgoing for some reason.

HANK:. Do you remember when you typed "The End?" What happened next?
MELISSA: An internal victory dance. And then edits a few months later.

HANK: What's next for you?
MELISSA: I JUST completed a draft of a new novel, "Imperfect". It is another medical anomaly type of story, but very different than "Swimming..." This one is more of a coming-of-age story. I sent it to my agent last week and am now on pins and needles waiting for her response.

More about Melissa? Check her website

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ON BREAKING NEWS: Girlfriend Visiting

Love, Longing and La Dolce Vita!

Ramona Elise is in a rut—a 36-year-old widowed mother of two, she can’t seem to find what make her truly happy in life. Making sure her kids are happy isn’t the hard part; Ramona’s looking for the passion she lost two years ago when she lost her husband and her world turned upside down.

When a handsome Italian immigrant walks into her English class, Ramona never expects to find la dolce vita (the sweet life) in a younger man—or in her self!
Come experience a renaissance to love and life as Sourcebooks Casablanca presents the heartwarming novel

Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott

"Written smartly...satisfying and uplifting."Publishers Weekly

Malena Lott lives in Oklahoma...is married and has three kids! But somehow, she manages to write charming, witty, heartwarming and oh-so-true novels--perfect for the time you steal to curl up with a good book.

HANK: You and I get into an elevator on the first floor. We're both going to 22! Oh, I say, you're the famous author. What's your new book about? You say:

MALENA: Dating da Vinci is a Texas-based Under the Tuscan Sun meets How Stella Got Her Groove Back. A young widow, 36-year-old Ramona Griffen, searches for joy with the help of a handsome younger Italian immigrant named Leonardo da Vinci. He becomes the catalyst to her own renaissance.

HANK: Do you remember the moment you had the idea for the book? How and when did that happen?

MALENA: I don’t recall the exact a-ha moment when the book idea came to fruition, but I’d just moved into a new house in the ‘burbs, my whole department had just been laid off, and I was in a big transition period as a stay-at-home mom and starting my own consulting business. I was definitely in a place in my life where I was thinking: what’s next? And, what does it mean to truly be happy? So Ramona sprung to life, and since I’ve always been a huge da Vinci fan – there wasn’t anything that guy wasn’t gifted at – it all just came together.

HANK: Your main character--is she you?

MALENA: No, but of course we have some things in common. Ramona is a 36-year-old widow, and mother of two boys. I am thirty-six with two boys, plus a girl in the middle, but the biggest point about Ramona is that she is a widow and lost her soul mate to a sudden heart attack two years prior. Ramona is a Griever, so she sees life through the lens of her sadness, but she desperately wants to be happy again and the book shows us her journey. I definitely understand her grief as I’ve lost a lot of loved ones in my life, but I’d say I’m generally a very happy and optimistic person. Like most writers though, aspects of ourselves spill onto the page, so besides the emotions that we share, Ramona and I share a love of words. She’s a linguist and I’m a writer. I think we’d play a pretty mean game of Scrabble.

HANK: So--movie time. Tell us who you envision playing your main character? The love interest? A bad guy?
And you can be in the movie too--what part would you play? And why?

MALENA: Every author loves to play casting director! I did envision the book as a movie as I was writing it. It helps if you can find actors that you can draw from. I imagine Kate Winslet (in her plumper roles) as Ramona, a sexy unknown Italian for da Vinci, Greg Kinnear for handsome, charming doctor Cortland, Jane Krakowski for her egotistical sister, and Sandra Oh for her best friend Anh. I’d only want a bit part. Perhaps the barista at Starbucks? Or be the bed salesperson when Ramona is shopping to replace her marital bed Lumpy. (I do a mean rolling of the eyes.)

HANK: Do you read other people books while you're in the writing process? How does that affect you?

MALENA: I do, because I’m always either writing or editing, so if I had that rule I’d never get anything read and I think reading is the key to becoming a better writer in addition to clocking more hours writing. I would only be worried about being adversely affected, so in that regard I only read books I like or I’m into. If not, I put it down and read something else that inspires me.

HANK: . What's the very best line of the very best review you've gotten? So far, of course.

MALENA: I really like “A remarkable tour de force” from the SingleTitles.com review. That’s epic.

HANK: What was your favorite book as a child? Do you still love it?

MALENA: I really love A Bridge to Terabithia. First book that made me cry. I recently re-read it and it still holds up. Great emotion.

HANK: What's your secret indulgence? A certain food? A particular movie? What would you buy on a day of shopping?

MALENA: I’m the queen of simple pleasures! It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Love Starbucks Mocha, a hot bubble bath with a glass of Merlot, pepperoni pizza, chick flicks, and hats, handbags and shoes. Pretty much a girlie girl through and through.

HANK: What's one thing no one knows about you?

MALENA: Most readers don’t know that I’m an avid college football fan. My team is the Oklahoma Sooners (currently ranked #1 and going to the national championship!) I was in a college recruiting club at OU called Crimson and Cream so I got free tickets to the game; we got to sit at the forty yard line right next to the band and my job was just to talk to the high school recruits and their parents about how great going to OU is. Now my eleven-year-old son is a big Sooners fan so we watch all the games together and have gone to two games in person this season. The OU/Texas Tech game was one of the highlights of my football fan memories!

HANK: Do you remember when you typed "The End?" What happened next?

MALENA: I probably smiled, exhaled and then changed my baby’s diaper. Of course even when you type THE END, you know it’s just the beginning of the next round of revisions! I usually do about four to five drafts and only stop making revisions when the publisher tells you too, really. But, yes, getting to The End that first time feels pretty great.

Irresistible, yes? Check it out at http://www.malenalott.com/

And come back soon for more photos of Crimebake!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Girlfriend Visiting

Nora Ephron Hates Her Neck. Big Deal!
Mindy Sherman hates her whole body.

In Mindy's yoga-obsessed, thirty-is-the-new-wife neighborhood, every day is a battle between Dunkin' Donuts, her jaws-of-life jeans, and Beth Diamond, the self-absorbed sancti-mommy next door who looks sixteen from the back. So much for sharing the chores, the stores, and the occasional mischief to rival Wisteria Lane.

It's another day, another dilemma until Beth's marriage becomes fodder on Facebook. Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead ASKS THE IMPORTANT QUESTION: what did you do to deserve living next door to a crazy woman? Sometimes it's worth finding out.

Here's girlfriend Saralee Rosenberg....to give us--The Latest!
HANK: What was the inspiration for your new novel?

SARALEE: Of my four novels, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD is the only one that was inspired by, well, me! This story is based on my first novel, ALL IN THE CARDS, which was never published, but did take a very exciting journey to Hollywood. Back in 1997, Bette Midler optioned it for a feature film (she was looking for a follow up comedy to “First Wives Club”). Exactly! Wow! First time out and it’s a homerun. Sadly, the reason you never heard of it is because ultimately, Bette and her partner couldn’t get financing or find the right screenwriter to adapt it. Bye bye Bette... Now fast forward to a few years ago.
I wanted to write about my “peeps” in the suburbs and pitched my editor on letting me rewrite ALL IN THE CARDS. She was hesitant because she wasn’t sure Avon was the right publisher for a suburban/soccer mom story with bickering neighbors. Then came “Desperate Housewives” and suddenly it was, get me suburban/soccer mom stories with bickering neighbors. Timing is everything.... So although DEAR NEIGHBOR is an incarnation of my earliest novel, it is a much richer, deeper, funnier story and is resonating with readers of all ages.

H. When you got that first phone call announcing you had sold a novel, how did you react? How did you celebrate?

S. Phew. You can’t imagine the relief. I had given up a successful career writing non-fiction, which had sent me on two national book tours, including an appearance on Oprah (heaven!!!!), only to have my writing life come to a screeching halt when I switched to working on a novel.
I got word that the deal was done exactly two days after 9-11, and because I live in the New York area, the grief and shock was all I or anyone could think about. I let family and friends know, of course, but run out and buy diamonds or book a cruise? Didn’t happen. And interestingly enough, all of my book celebrations since then have been, not subdued as much as put in perspective. I’m sure that my joy and satisfaction will always be tempered with the memory that life is so full of yin and yang. And maybe that’s for the best.

H. When and where do you write? Is it cluttered or minimalist heaven?
S. I’m a crack-of- dawn morning writer maybe because my muses are busy all night and can’t wait to have me pour out what they sunk in (at least they let me go to the bathroom first).
That being said, when I’m in the zone, I write morning, noon and night. I know I’m done, however, when I look up at the computer screen and I see this, “She said, hjkljkl;uiop.” Then it’s time to shut the lights.
I always fantasized about having the kind of home office that “playwright” Diane Keaton got in “Something’s Gotta Give.” - this huge, white, ocean-facing office that was stocked with floral bouquets and a breathtaking view. Perhaps one day, but for now it’s fine. I look out at my beautiful backyard and at least my commute is a breeze. Not to mention I can make it to the fridge in under thirty seconds.

H. When deadlines hit, what happens in your house?

S. Let me put it this way. Please don’t ring my bell unless you’re bringing fresh baked cookies because I don’t want you to see that the dining room looks like a mini landfill. And that’s before you reach the piles on the stairs (I swear there is one that has been there since Clinton was President). The clothes in the dryer go round and round for days because I keep hitting wrinkle remove, we run out of milk, the shows saved on Tivo go unwatched, calls from my kids get answered with, “Make it quick and NO CRISIS’s today”. Also I look like hell and probably need of a touch up. As for dinner? The family is on their own... although they would tell you I say that every day. Basically it’s every man/child for himself and don’t give me a hard time about anything... This is why I write all the time, otherwise I’d lose my privileges, lol.

H. What comes first? The title or the idea?

S. For DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD, the title came to me only a few months before publication and trust me, by then I was in a total panic. The original title, based on the very earliest draft, was ALL IN THE CARDS, but everyone agreed that was kind of boring. Then I submitted a list of twenty titles, some interesting, some wacky, some that would never fly because they involved curse words.
Here is a sampling: Hot, Hungry and Hormonal; Ask Your Doctor if Stress Is Right for You; Same SH-T, Different Zip; If Lucy Hated Ethel; and one of my personal favorites, The Bitch Next Door. No, no, no, my editor said to all of those. Then I came up with Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead and she smiled. We have a winner!!! And I must admit, it’s a beauty. Everyone gets it. No need for an explanation. As for my novel, CLAIRE VOYANT, that title came to me years ago and it took me a while to create an entire story based on the premise that a girl named Claire would have super natural abilities.

H. What's up next for you?

S. I am very excited about my next novel because the focus is about a child leaving for college and this is hitting very close to home fas our youngest is now a senior in high school.
But in this story, Jackie, a twice-divorced mom, has one son, 17-year old Daniel and she is in a panic thinking that when he leaves for college in the fall, she’ll be left alone with her ornery, widowed father. Thus, when she sets off on the campus tour circuit, she decides to throw caution and her underwear to the wind and boy does she have one hell of a good time. It’s worse senioritis than even Daniel has and their adventures visiting the Ivies is one for the books. In the end, she rediscovers the smart, ambitious girl she left behind at Yale Law and pledges to get her life back on track. The title of the book is EARLY DECISION and I think it’s going to be my best yet.
Check out Saralee's website at:

DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD AVON-A BOOKS, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishersUSA $13.95 (Canada $14.95)ISBN 978-0-06-125377-5

Friday, November 14, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Girlfriend Visiting

You've heard of it, I'm sure--the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit-- a virtual tour for female authors...some romance, some suspense, some mystery, some ya--all eager to share their latest with new friends.

The GCC has been in existence for four years and had been featured in the Village Voice and New York Time's style section. Membership is invitation only--and I'm so honored to be part of it.

Watch this space for new girlfriends! And today, in case you haven't read the acclaimed Graffiti Girl (optioned by Hollywood--so watch for the film!) grab a cup of tea...and hear The Latest from girlfriend Kelly Parra.

Do you believe in fate?
Kara Martinez has been trying to be "normal" ever since the accident that took her father's life when she was eleven years old. She's buried the caliente side of her Mexican heritage with her father and tried to be the girl her rigid mother wants her to be -- compliant and dressed in pink, and certainly not acting out like her older brother Jason. Not even Danielle, her best friend at Valdez High, has seen the real Kara; only those who read her anonymous blog know
the deepest secrets of the Sign Seer.
Because Kara has a gift -- one that often feels like a curse. She sees signs, visions that are clues to a person's fate, if she can put together the pieces of the puzzle in time. So far, she's been able to solve the clues and avert disaster for those she's been warned about -- until she sees the flash of a gun on a fellow classmate, and the stakes are raised higher than ever before. Kara does her best to follow the signs, but it's her heart that wanders into new territory when she falls for a mysterious guy from the wrong side of town, taking her closer to answers she may not be able to handle. Will her forbidden romance help her solve the deadly puzzle before it's too late...or lead her even further into danger?

Hey Kelly--welcome to The Latest! As always--a few questions....

HANK: You and I get into an elevator on the first floor. We're both going to 22! Oh, I say, you're the famous author. What's your new book about? You say:
KELLY: Invisible Touch is Tru Calling meets an edgier Nancy Drew, where a teenage girl sees signs on individuals' torsos and must piece the signs together in order stop unfortunate fates.

HANK:. Do you remember the moment you had the idea for the book? How and when did that happen?
KELLY: I don't, but I remember writing the proposal and there was a moment when I zoned out and just wrote as if I was really seeing the book unfold in my mind. Sounds weird, I know!

HANK: Your main character--is she you?
KELLY: I think I manage to give my characters characteristics of myself but no, Kara isn't me.

HANK: So--movie time. Tell us who you envision playing your main character? The love interest? A bad guy?
And you can be in the movie too--what part would you play? And why?
KELLY: My characters are teens so it is hard to pick a movie star I know, but Kara would possibly be Vanessa Hudgens.
Anthony would be a younger Milo Ventimiglia. And as for me, I could be an innocent bystander in the hamburger restaurant? :)

HANK: Do you read other people books while you're in the writing process? How does that affect you?
KELLY: I do, because I read every night to unwind. Sometimes I am inspired when I read another writer's work.

HANK: What's the very best line of the very best review you've gotten? So far, of course.
KELLY: "Invisible Touch is Visionary". Love that line!

HANK: What was your favorite book as a child? Do you still love it?
KELLY: I loved the original V.C. Andrews's series Flowers in the Attic. I haven't read it in years but I loved the dark suspense of her writing and I'm still a fan.

HANK: What's your secret indulgence? A certain food? A particular movie? What would you buy on a day of shopping?
KELLY: I have so many! LOL. The works at Starbucks is a splurge, and I love watching movies from the 1980s. Some of them were just so good and memorable. During a day of shopping would be new outfits just for me. I'm a mom and I'm always buying for everyone else.

HANK: What's one thing no one knows about you?
KELLY: I'm actually a homebody and not much of a conversationalist. I'm so outgoing on-line that people think I'm like that in person, but the truth is I'm a little shy.
HANK: Do you remember when you typed "The End?" What happened next?
KELLY: I have never typed the THE END. And I'm not sure why.

Because maybe--it was just the beginning? Visit Kelly Parra

at her website to learn even more about Invisible Touch...and watch the fabulous trailer here!

Come back soon..for more of the Latest...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Kaye Barley on Bouchercon:
"Who’s that standing next to me? Not even 2 feet away. Nuh uh, it cannot be. My mouth dropped open and I looked at Sandra and she just nodded. Knowing that this was not an opportunity I’d likely have again I bucked up my courage and with legs shaking, walked over and asked if I could introduce myself and when I did, Mr. Lee Child said, “Kaye Barley. Nice to meet you. Actually, I’ve heard your name.”
from Meanderings and Muses

So were you there? With the legendary Kaye Barley? Here we are: At Bouchercon. In Baltimore. Where, as one convention attendee put it, they get 2000 introverts all of whom would rather be reading mysteries and thrillers or writing them, and make them all talk to each other.

We also got to sell books!

Wine helps. (Although Mom always told me never to have my photo taken holding a drink, so you'll never see that.) Caryn, is this a picture of you? My first Bouchercon signing...thanks!

Here's Lee Lofland (get well soon, Lee!) and Lucienne Diver, agent extraordinaire-turned-writer who's new book VAMPED has a pretty hilarious cover.

My sisters on Jungle Red Writers..together in a photo for the first time!

We did a panel together called "Do You Want to Know a Secret--What I Wish I had Known Before Writing My Novel."

And look: people came! Here's the audience. And they were terrific.

We had a great time. And told lots of secrets.

Here's another panel--Bouchercon organizers (congratulations on a great convention, by the way!) asked me to discuss the influence of Sherlock Holmes on my mystery novels. OOOOkay. But then--it turned out Arthur Conan Doyle's methods did influence me, quite a bit. And we can talk more about that later. But here's the panel..

You can see Laurie King (amazing and I was so honored to be next to her!) and then me, all happy, and then Steve Hecox, a wonderful Holmes scholar and teacher.

Others on the panel were moderator Sophie Hannah, whose idea it was. She's smart and lovely. I snagged a copy of her newest book, Little Face, and can't wait to read it.
Here's Sophie.

And Peter Blau, a Sherlockian who absolutely knows everything Holmesian. And he gave me terrific idea for Drive Time. Thanks, Peter!

Here's an event that wasn't on the schedule: When I came out of my hotel, and crossed the bridge to the convention hotel, I saw hundreds of people milling outside. And I figured they couldn't all be smokers. What was going on?

So see the person looking over the edge? I tapped her on the shoulder and asked what was going on. She turned, and told me the fire alarms had all gone off! So everyone scrambled (as quickly as people do when it's 8:30 in the morning and the coffee hasn't kicked in) and headed for the exits.

But what was more interesting than the fire drill was her name tag. Look who she is: Frances Neagley. Ring a bell?

Anyone? Know who she is..in fiction?

Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm so happy about this! You found it.

And of course that's all that matters. Here's where I'll be putting all the new stuff.

Photos. Appearances. Schedules. Contests. Questions. Answers. Chat.

And I always wanted to have a news conference. Let's do it.
First question--yes, you there in the back.

You're asking...why can't you find PRIME TIME, the first Charlotte McNally Mystery?

You're asking...will there be more Charlie McNallys? And when?
Those are great questions. And the answers are fun.

All the copies of PRIME TIME (and FACE TIME for the most part) are gone from stores. That's the bad news.

The good news--well, I mean, the terrific news--is that they'll all be back in bookstores and on line very soon! And there's a lot more good news.

The fantastic MIRA BOOKS (home of JT Ellison, Alex Kava, Heather Graham and Susan Wiggs) is going to re-issue PRIME TIME, with an all-new cover, in July of 2009.

In August 2009, FACE TIME reappears from MIRA

In September 2009, the all-new AIR TIME is coming, also from MIRA Books. (Has an airline ever lost your luggage? Have you ever had to wait, wondering if you would ever get it back? In Air Time, you'll discover why. And it's not pretty.)

And look what just arrived, speaking of the latest:

"The most fun I've had reading in a long time. Hank Phillippi Ryan has given us one of the best heroines to emerge in a long while, and her stories zip along as fast as news bulletins. Air Time is a fun, fast read with a heroine who's sexy, stylish, and smart. I loved it."
****Nancy Pickard Award-winning Author of The Virgin of Small Plains

(And hey. If you have the original versions, they're kind of going to be collectors' items. If you're into that sort of thing. Happily, my mother is, she has about ten of them. )

But if you missed those books, they'll soon be at your bookstores again! And followed in 2010 by the fourth Charlie McNally mystery thriller, DRIVE TIME.

Okay--next question?