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 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 fiction?