Valerie Frankel's
Palace of Love

This really happened!

Hex on you

7/06 - 2/06

July 26, 2006

Hello, again, peeps. Before Judy McGuire give me shit, I apologize for not posting. Parents' visiting weekend at Maggie's camp consumed much of last week. She had a starring role in the camp play. Glinda in Wizard of Oz. I dare say, her Mikado experience of last January was evident on stage. She's just so chill up there in front of all those people. I don't know how she does it. Her singing was amazing ("Come out, come out, whereever you are..."). She has a real gift which, if I were a good parent, I'd nurture. And I will. She's going to join the chorus at school next year, and I will probably get her voice lessons. Lucy is at day camp and her parents' visiting day is Friday.

Most of my publishing friends are off to the Romance Writers of American conference in Atlanta this weekend and I'm sorry to miss it. But being a good mom and a country-trotting author do not always mesh.

Attn: Daryl Chen. I have read "Mary" the upcoming 700 page novelization of the life of Mary Todd Lincoln. My mini review: It was highly entertaining, but won't be taken seriously by historians because so much of the book is about Mary's sexual frustration with paragraph after paragraph about her thwarted passion. I wonder if a commercial fiction reader—and this book does fall into that category—would pick up a 700 pager about a historical figure. And the non-fiction Lincoln crowd will consider this book lightweight, even though the author certainly did her period research. This will shock you, Daryl: I won't make any predictions about this novel's success. I'm usually the first one to lay down a verdict. But not this time. We'll have to wait and see. I will say this: It's a bit unsettling to read sex scenes about Abe Lincoln.

In happy book news: Anne Bohner, my wonderful ed at NAL/​Penguin (who will be attending RWA) has accepted "Fringe Girl in Love" with only minor changes requested. Whew. That's three books in a row without a major revision. After fifteen years and sixteen books, I must be getting the hang of this.

Because I know you, my five readers, are all dying to know: I did NOT run 20 miles last week. I did NOT do 200 pushups, nor 2000 crunches. I DID run 15 miles, do 150 pushups and 1500 crunches. Not too shabby. The parents' weekend killed my diet, though. Steve was up for four days. My sister and her husband were here. Lots of snacking and big family meals. Candy for the Maggie and Lily, my niece, at camp. Oh, well. You take two steps forward, and one step back. This week, I am awaiting my monthly bill. My boobs are so frigging huge, I'd give myself a black eye if I tried to run. So I will wait a day or two to begin again. I'll shoot for 15 miles again. Or settle for 12.

Reading list for the summer so far:
Harlan Coben's The Innocent. Twists, turns, yes. Engaging writing, not by a million miles. Coben is from NJ, and this book is about Livingston, a couple towns over from where I grew up. I loved the parts about Essex County. His stories zip right along. But no laughs, no characters you care about, no wit or wisdom, no real scares. Just a decent afternoon's read by the pond. For great thrillers, go to Jonathan Kellerman, and Tess Geritsen.

Meg Cabot's Avalon High: My favorite Meg Cabot yet. I ADORE Camelot stories. Excalibur is a favorite old movie, and I'll watch it whenever it turns up on cable. I also HIGHLY recommend the Mary Stewart four-novel series told from Merlin and Mordred's perspectives that begins with The Crystal Cave.

Katherine Stewart's Class Mothers. A mom-lit story about toddlers at a snooty Manhattan private school. Very funny for New Yorkers. Kathy's Yoga Mamas came out last year, which I loved. I recommend both for urban wit and rich-people gawking pleasure.

Scott Smith's The Ruins. I've only just started. I went to college with Smith, although I doubt he remembers me. Turns out, we also have the same movie agent. Small fucking world. Anyway, the novel is creepy already, and I'm only on page 50. I'm not a huge horror fan, but Stephen King loved this one, so I'll give it a try.

July 18, 2006

Well, here I am, typing from the Berry library at Dartmouth. The whole town of Hanover is wireless. I could be posting from the middle of the green. But I wanted air conditioning, since it's 95 FUCKING degrees out.

I attempted a four mile run today—a course I used to do easily a year ago. Not so this summer. I made it the two miles out, and walked the two miles back. Pathetic. But you've got to start somewhere. I've decided to do 20-200-2000/​week. Twenty miles, two hundred pushups, two thousands crunches. In four weeks, I should be back in fighting shape. But, as I ask myself every time I feel the drive to get all toned, In shape for what? For getting in EVEN BETTER shape?

The fact of the matter is, I've been fat and I've been thin. Thin is better, in every way (except for getting to eat brownies). I was looking really good immediately before my naked photo shoot for Self (btw, the photos will run in the February "Body Image" issue; it'll hit the stands on my 42nd birthday). But, unfortunately, there was a certain relaxing of standards after my pre-photo shoot prep. Anyway, I'm sure I'll be chasing my 35 year old body for the rest of my life, at the pace of 20 miles per week. My dad, a doctor, said that exercising does increase the length of your life, but only by the amount of time you spend exercizing. Makes you think...

My trip north soundtrack: Grateful Dead (reminded me of my youth), Wilco (of course), Avril Lavigne (for Lucy, CONGRATS on your recent nuptials, Avril!), Ryan Adams (who I am becoming OBSESSED with), and Alicia Keys. Any of my five blog readers who are NOT familiar with Alicia Keys must immediately go buy Songs in A Minor. What an incredible voice! She's funk/​soul/​hip hop all roled into one accessible (for whities) package. I just love her! And I'm a classic rock alt-country type. Speaking of which, there was a story in the Sunday Times about the demise of alt-country this past weekend, and it mentioned all of my faves, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Jayhawks. Interesting. I'd link, but I'm too lazy today.

Work news: I have sent a new novel proposal to my ed at Avon. I'm working on a piece for Self about couples therapy (under a pseudnym; admitting it defeats the purpose, but I keep no secrets with my five readers). So, off to toil for my daily whole wheat organic bread.

July 8, 2006

Deeply amused by a hate email I received about Fringe Girl today. Some mother in Iowa City vented her rage at my exposing her daughter to THE VERY IDEA of premarital sex. As if I invented it all by myself. Anyway, this woman is alerting her church group that Fringe Girl is not to be read by any Iowans.

Whew! That's a relief. I was worrying about teenage Iowans thinking about sex. Thanks to this woman, I can rest easy, knowing they won't.

In other news, RUN do not WALK, to see Pirates of the Caribbean! We all loved it, from the first minute to the last. A genuine cliff hanger and a great surprise ending left us salivating for next sumemr's big finish. Johnny Depp goes over the top, as usual. And I thank God for it. My Johnny is the only actor who can pull it off. If only he'd pull off his clothes!

July 7, 2006

Summer has broken. The cover story of the Post today was about some sick wacko who picked up two electrical saws from a construction site and used them to gouge people on a subway platform. That would be one argument against wireless technology.

So far, in the last week, I have seen:
1. Devil Wears Prada. I went with my friend Rebecca who, incidentally, works at Vogue and was probably the only person in the audience of a thousand who has actually met and spoken to Anna Wintour. I always get a bit nervous to see the women's magazine world portrayed on TV and in movies because directors get everything wrong, wrong, wrong. Not so here. I loved the movie, in particular, the magazine scenes (especially one staff meeting). For once, my hopes were not dashed. It was everything I wanted it to be, and more. Anne Hathaway, who is from my home town of Short Hills, is making New Jersey proud. And here's some faint praise I never thought I'd dole out: The movie, far superior than its source material, actually made me respect the book. Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly was a nuanced geniune human being, unlike the novel's one-dimensional satanic beast. But the character and plot were structurally sound. The novel gets credit for supplying a foundation. The style and embellishments go to the film makers.

2. Superman Returns in 3D at the IMAX theater at Lincoln Center. Jaw dropping special effects. Any movie fan would appreciate the visuals. I liked it a lot. I liked Batman Begins better with its dark, hypnotic vision. And I prefer the humor, wit, cast and spunk of the Spiderman movies the most. Jodi Picoult is set to write a few Wonder Woman comics. Hopefully, she can give us a female superhero to beat the rest. I'm rooting for you, Jodi!

3. Pirates of the Caribbean. Well, I haven't seen this yet. I will in two hours. My five readers know how deeply my love for Mr. Depp runs. I haven't seen him in so, so long—not since The Libertine. I'm cutting work today to see Pirates, and I want it to blow me away, leave me wrung out, on a Johnny Depp high that'll last until dinner. Watch this space for a review.

In other news, I have sent Fringe Girl In Love to the appropriate editors and agents. I have completed my scheduled assignments. For the first time in years, I am currently between book contracts. It's a funny feeling, not having a major deadline looming. Both freeing and terrifying. More terrifying, actually. Fortunately, I have assignments from Parenting and Self to occupy July.

Oh, our annual fourth of July party was the best ever. Thanks to all our hungry guests! Judy McGuire asked me to post recipes on the blog. And I'll get to that later. Ted brought a camera to the roof and took three rolls of film of the fireworks. If he got any great shots, I'll post here.

June 30, 2006

I deserve fifty lashes for failing to post for TWO WEEKS! (Volunteers can email me.) My niece Anna tore me a new one for the absense of dribble on the blog. So this entry is dedicated to her. Knock 'em dead at Exeter, girl!

I've been traveling like a madwoman. I'm still waiting for my good-fer-nothing brother-in-law to email photos from the college reuninion book signing in Hanover, NH, with sister Alison. It was a very fun event. I have to say, my brain is complete hamburger meat. A few people came in, smiled at me, and I had no idea at all who they were. This has happened to me before. The only conclusion I can come up with: I have killed a few too many million brain cells, a handful at a time. Let that be a warning to teens everywhere. The brain cells you kill? You don't get those back. And one day, at your twentieth college reunion, people will smile at you and act like they know you, and you'll feel like a moron trapped in the Twilight Zone.

Disney World: I'm glad we didn't take the Ride of Death, aka the Rockin' Roller Coaster, that killed a 12-year old boy yesterday. We largely avoided scary rides since Lucy cried on the Yeti-themed roller coaster Everest at Animal Kingdom. I did convince her to do Splash Mountain, and then had to spend the rest of the afternoon explaining to the kids why the Disney movie Song of the South has been banned for its racist undertones. I've never seen the movie, so my explanation was a bit thin.

One weird experience: While watching the gay spectacle of Cinderella's coronation on the steps of the sugar-spun castle at Magic Kingdom, I started weeping. Tears spilled out of my eyes like someone pushed the Sob Reflect in my occipital lobe. Could it be that Disney "magic" creates a sentimental nostalgia for the Jungian collective unconscious of American childhood, even if you (meaning, I) were never exposed to that kind of fairy tale crap as a kid? Well, I wept like an idiot. Seriously, people stared. I completely embarrased myself. Four year olds held it together better than I did. It was quite dangerous, actually, to release so much salty water in 90 degree Florida heat. I immediately longed to get back home, to the comfortable, safe cynicism of Brooklyn.

I started to see the Mickey Mouse siloutte when I closed my eyes at night. Mickey hats, Mickey candy, Mickey patterened curtains, bedspreads. Everything everwhere was in the shape of those three interlocked black circles. When you eat and sleep Mickey, it came as no surprise when one of my daughters (who wishes to remain anonymous) announced one morning that she'd produced a Mickey shit. She didn't use that word. But I find it to be highly appropriate.

Maggie is safely tucked away at sleep-away camp. I miss her, but having one child is easier. Lucy starts camp next week, and my days will be free again to work on a proposals/​outlines for upcoming novels and a super secret non-fiction project I've been thinking about for a while. I've written a draft for the proposal, but need to do more refining, and write a sample chapter. Could be ground-breaking. Or bread-breaking. Or maybe just wind-breaking. In any event, I'm excited about it.

June 16, 2006

Oh, yes, I truly suck for neglecting the blog for a solid week. But the kids finished school and they're AROUND all day long. And they want attention. Fresh air. FOOD. Three times a day. I'm telling you. They are so fucking needy.

I'm going to Vermont today. Tomorrow, New Hampshire to do a signing at the Dartmouth Bookstore (now a Barnes & Noble, my favorite store) with my sister Alison, author of the fabulous Double Eagle. We are both alumni, and this our reunion weekend (Dartmouth gangs three classes for each big year; it's our "20th," even though she graduated 21 years ago, and I finished 19 years ago). I'll see some people I haven't thought about in decades. Ideally, one or two will wander down Main Street in Hanover and stop by the bookstore. No matter what, a day in the country will hit the spot. I've got Janet Evanovich's Metro Girl on audio book for the drive. Yea!

On Monday, Steve and I are taking the above mentioned needy children to Disney World in Orlando. Their first time. My second. I fully expect to experience a horrifying tranformation for the length of our visit, and turn into a G-rated Zombie with big, black, round deformed ears.

Then on to West Palm Beach for a few days with husband #1's in-laws. Back to Brooklyn. Up to Vermont to drop off Maggie at sleep-away camp. Back to Brooklyn for a couple of weeks. Back to Vermont for a month. Then back to Brooklyn in August. I'm telling you, it's an awful lot of to'ing and fro'ing. Summers are always hectic. Thank GOD I don't have a real job, otherwise I might have a nervous breakdown.

I've been on a thriller binge:

1. Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger. Good. Main character was a magazine writer; I liked that part. Not nearly as sexy as it was advertised. For really steamy thrills, try Linda Howard.

2. Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder. Okay. A man's book with detailed military/​corporate ops. No surprises, strangely. The guy who you suspect all the way through actually is the bad guy.

3. Gone by Jonathan Kellerman. Excellent. Alex Delaware has never let me down. Kellerman is truly the master. Highly recommended.

June 9, 2006

Say what you will about Brangelina, Angelrad, their divorces, tatoos, very bad movies, selling their baby's image for money. But they're giving it away! Probably to Namibia, the nation that anointed them God and Goddess in Chief. GOOD FOR THEM! $4,000,000 is just a little bit more than I've given to charity this year. If they keep it up, the Pitts will become the Gateses of Hollywood.

All celebrities should exploit themselves for charity. Why the hell not? Steve says, "I'd be proud to do it!" THIS YEAR ALONE, the photo rights for celebrity weddings and babies could have rebuilt New Orleans.

I'll be honest. I sympathized with Jennifer Anison. That said, if Brad Pitt were married to her today, Namibia would be $4,000,000 poorer. And that's saying a lot. Not sure what, but a whole lot of it.

Jeez, can't believe a week has gone by since I last posted. Bad blogger! I was busy having fun and—as my lovely editor at NAL, Anne Bohner, will be pleased to know—finishing Fringe Girl In Love.

Above, some photos from last week's B&N reading of Fringe Girl. The positive feedback is still streaming in, and I have high hopes that Fringe will be a big sleeper hit.

What a weekend! The best weather all year. I, for one, like it hot. Started with fireworks, courtesy of the town of Hemstead Harbor. A tough town. The residents get so excited by the fireworks, they throw cars into the Long Island Sound. Seriously, they drive their boats into the harbor, and hoot the air horns. My sister took us to her friend's house, right on the Sound, to watch the pyrotechnics. Thanks, Alison! We would have sat at home playing tiddly winks otherwise.

Alison's great nonfiction book Double Eagle has been given huge, raving reviews in Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly and The Wall Street Journal. We all have our fingers crossed for the Times, see if she can crack into the Book Review, winning the clan Frankel the glory my books have failed to deliver, lo, these fifteen years since I was first published. She's doing a reading at the Borders on 57th and Park tomorrow night. Sevenish. Be there! I'm talking to you, Judy McGuire!

The remainder of our weekend was spend on our deck, in and out of our pool (it's plastic and fits three, but it does the job). The girls and I worked very, very hard, sweating and laboring, over our tans. We had a few folk over for a bbq yesterday, and everyone dutifully oohed and ahhed about my container garden. Don't call them pots or planters, God damn it. Serious city gardeners use CONTAINERS. When my sunflowers (from seed) bloom, I'll post it right here.

May 24, 2006

Taylor won. I knew he would back in January. But the American Idol finale was surprising for two reason:

1. CLAY AIKEN IS HOT! Oh, sweet, sweet passage of time! Clay is no longer the redheaded farm boy who looked like Howdy Doody. He grew up! He's all manly now. The freckles? Gone. The straw hair? Done over. I LOVED his Liam Gallager bangs. The bad posture and scrawny body of 2004? Aiken version 2006 is tall in a gorgeous Beatles suit, all filled out. He took the stage in a way that can only be described as masterful. Clay Aiken has made me mourn his gayness. My daughter Maggie was also amazed. She said, "I wish he were straight! How can a guy that cute be gay?" (Maggie, 10, has much to learn.) She also said, "The man who gets to marry Clay is so lucky."

Shocker Number 2: Prince appeared in a purple haze of shame. Is this the same Prince who was once the slickest, coolest, most aloof and media shunning recluse in the music universe? And now he's on American freaking Idol, the corniest, cheesest show on TV (and I mean that in the most affection possible way)? How the mighty has fallen and landed on his Princely crown. It's a sin, His Royal Purpleness on American Idol. But stranger things have happened (see above, re: Clay Aiken).

In other news, Carrie Feron, my wonderful and talented editor at Avon has just been promoted to Supreme Queen of Romance and the High Priestess of Love at HarperCollins (although the official title is something very boring like Vice President). Not too shabby, Carrie! You deserve the promotion and much, much more. Congrats!

Wow. Still reeling from Aiken heat.

May 23, 2006

If any of my blog readers happen to work in HR, are shrinks, career counselors, or CEOs of large, medium or small companies, please answer the following question:
What five character traits are most valuable in a potential hire?
I ask because I'm writing an article for Self on this very subject, and, as always, am in need of excellent quotes and sources.
Thanks, peeps!
By the way, so far, among the sources I've interviewed, none had specifically mentioned the dangers of cursing incessantly in the workplace. Fuck yeah!

May 19, 2006

Here's a quote from Elliot Yamin, lifted from his interview in the NYPost today (the caps are mine):

"[Paula Abdul] has a big heart, like I do, and I think that's why she identifies with me and can relate. WE'RE BOTH JEWISH, TOO, SO . . . YOU KNOW HOW US JEWS HAVE A BOND AT BIRTH."

I had no bloody idea Elliot was one of us! And, here's another shocker: I didn't realize Paula was, too. My Jewdar is way, way off. And it's usually so right on. I used to pride myself that I could spot the Jew from 500 feet. Maybe it has to do with the two-dimensional TV images.

Then again, you can hardly fault me for not picking up on Elliot's tribal status. Hello, his TEETH! Most Jews have at least one dentist or orthodontist in the family.

I've been saying for years that, if American Idol EVER had a Jewish contestant, I'd back him or her all the way. SORRY, Elliot! I would have given you my Jew vote every week had I known (along with my vote for Taylor, who I picked to win, as I've mentioned several dozen times now, months ago).

May 18, 2006

Fringe Girl was named a "Hot Summer Read" in the June/​July issue of Teen People! (Check it out, page 138). I share the honor with my friend Melissa Senate. Her first novel for teens, Theodora Twist, comes out next week. Good luck, Melissa! It's great being "Hot" with you.

Apologies for not posting last week. I was busy doing readings. The first was set up by my friend Lynn Douglas and her daughter Elizabeth. They invited over a dozen of her eighth grader friends to talk about writing and Fringe Girl. They were all 13 and 14, sweet, interested, excited, polite. If my kids grow up as engaging and articulate as these girls, I'll be thrilled. I answered questions about the creative process, read three chapters. We had pizza and ice cream. It was a load of fun. And they all bought books! Many thanks to Lynn and Elizabeth. If any teens in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) want me to come read to you at your house for your friends, I am SO FUCKING THERE! I love the kids! E-me to arrange.

Last night, I did another reading at the BN in my hood. I knew everyone in the audience, except Andrea (Hello, Andrea!) a fan, whose best friend works at BN and set up the reading, and a woman who was clearly killing an hour at the bookstore and decided to take a seat. She asked a question. I noticed, though, that she did NOT buy a book. Lucy, my 7-year-old, styled me (Banana Republic wrap dress that showed off my large floaters), silver heels, and purple lipstick. She also styled herself in a pink halter dress and red patent mary janes. Lucy introduced me as "My mom, Valerie Frankel, author of Fringe Girl and many other books," charming the crowd (okay, not exactly a crowd; more like a gathering). Most of the audience went out for sushi after, and much saki was consumed.

My sister is doing a reading next week, on May 31th at the Borders on Park and 57th. Double Eagle, her new non-fiction book, was raved about in the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly. We all wish she'd bask more in her glory, but Alison doesn't do bask. She broils. The reading is at 7 pm. I will be there, and so should anyone who loves a heady historican narrative!

May 11, 2006

Wednesday, May 17th, Barnes & Noble, Court Street, Brooklyn Heights, 7 PM, me, reading, Fringe Girl, Q&A, pot, beer, hookers.

(Kidding about the pot. And beer. And hookers.)

Click link above for directions, etc.

Quickies on AI5:

1. Chris was voted off because he peaked too early, was a one-trick pony. And he sang a Styx song. We can't forgive that.

2. Eliot has been building, a bit off radar until now. Fans on LOVE him, and write things like, "It's unfortunate that his looks may be a problem down the line." Eliot, unlike Chris, is multi-dimensional, but he must stop signposting, e.g., "I'm showing my wild side!" "I'm showing my tender side!" If he keeps talking that way, we're sure to see his backside.

3. Katharine. First of all, what is with the two a's in her name? Second, she annoys me. More so, her smug mother annoys me. I have ears; I realize she can sing. But she seems like a "me first" bratty upstart, flashing the shivery entitlement I see in certain high school girls in the hood. Yuck. She'll lose on her personality.

4. Taylor. Well, I picked him to win two months ago, as I'll continually remind my readers. My mother says, "I hate him. I feel like I have to shower after he sings." I can see why he makes many sick. But I just love his kooky weirdness. He has very nice teeth, btw. As I've blogged before, he seems to have loved, lost, been kicked around since the day he was born. I like that in a man.

Taylor will win, and he'll sell a fair amount of records. Bt he'll make a fortune touring.

Meanwhile, Daryl Chen saw Constantine from AI4 in Times Square last week with a saucy blonde. She said he looked hot. Really, really skinny. But hot.

May 9, 2006

And now, the complaint.

Does anyone had an good answer to the following question:

"Have we met before?"

The question assumes that the asker expects the askee to have an adequate memory for names and faces, where as she herself can't be bothered. The askee can then automatically assume that the asker is (1) retarded and/​or (2) a self-aborbed asshole. Otherwise, why wouldn't the asker already know that, YES, she had been lavishly introducted to the askee, three fucking times.

Response option #1: "Yes, retard, asshole, we have met three fucking times." Although accurate, this might seem a bit hostile.

Response option #2: "I believe we have." I object here because it raises doubts about the askee's memory. And why should she lower herself to the trench level of the asker? The askee betrays herself by pretending to be murky on the subect, since she (with two brain cells to rub together) is quite positive that the two had not only met, but spend ten mintutes kibitizing (granted, in group).

Response option #3: "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is . . ." That would be the polite, socially adept way to go. But so good natured and phony, it hardly seems doable.

I just so happened to be in this position the other day myself. The woman's husband greeted me warmly. Her face suddenly etched in confusion, she asked, "Have we met?" For all I know, this woman might very well be mentally challenged. But all evidence points to her being just a self-absorbed asshole.

I was so busy NOT replying with option number one, I just stood there on the street, staring at her, mouth moving but no sound coming out. She said, "I guess we haven't. I would have remembered meeting a blithering idiot."

Kidding. She reintroduced herself, stealing option number three out from under me. She then asked me a litany of questions about my new books (argh, I HATE being asked on the spot to describe my plots; it smacks like an on-demand sales pitch), which also rendered me near mute.

Thank GOD Lucy was with me. She might have sensed how rattled I was by the sudden interrogation from a woman who hadn't found me interesting or memorable the first three times. Lucy said, "Mom, can we please GO NOW?"

If I'd ever wondered why I had kids, now I know. Children save their parents from social awkward situations.

God bless the little runts, every one.

May 6, 2006

New review of Hex from Romance Divas. I like this one so much, I've included nearly the whole thing:

"If you are anything like me you approach chick lit with some trepidation. Of course the heroines of these tales are often thin, stylish and privileged—but they are also often so arrogant I would rather push them off a cliff that commiserate with the trials of chipped fingernails and straying boyfriends. Thankfully the heroine of ‘Hex and the Single Girl’, Emma Hutch, is just the thing to renew my faith in the chick lit genre.

Emma uses her peculiar telepathic ability (she can put thoughts into people’s heads) to run a small business as a match-maker. Meanwhile her own love life is conspicuously absent. Emma loses her savings to a corrupt company and is on the verge of losing her apartment. Then cool, blonde Daphne strolls in and asks for help catching the attention of gorgeous William Dearborn. Deep down Emma knows that Daphne is not really her sort of client, but she lets her financial
straits bend her ethical standards.

Valerie Frankel has a breezy humorous style loaded with wit and wonderful characters. The plot winds its way through a series of disastrous encounters between Emma and William, and the plot is well thought out and about as complex as light fiction should be allowed to get.
Emma goes all out to keep her house and help her friends and clients, and fates takes some very strange turns to finally give everyone a happy ending with someone to love.

If you are looking for chick lit that is fun entertainment, without being cloying or populated by the kind of girl who made your life hell in high school, ‘Hex and the Single Girl’ is the book for you."—Emily Veinglory

Romance Divas uses a ranking system. Emily Veinglory gave Hex four and half kisses. Thanks, Emily! If I ever meet you in person, you'll get those four and a half kisses back, and then some.

May 5, 2006

Got a good review from the Kansas City Star for Fringe Girl. Here 'tis:

Benefit from Fringe Girl

Fringe Girl by Valerie Frankel, Nal Jam Books $9.99, soft cover, 248 pages

Who’s in it: Dora, Eli, Liza and Sondra.

What it’s about: Living on the fringe — pretty but not beautiful, comfortable but not rich, everyone knows her but she’s not in the ruling class. This has been high school junior Adora’s (Dora for short) life since she could remember. But when Dora is assigned a social studies project, she takes revenge into her own hands. Dora and her friends Eli and Liza start a revolution among the junior class. Dora sets out to overthrow Sondra and the rest of the ruling class. Along the way she learns life is not all about who’s popular and who’s not.

What’s good: The story is wonderful. It shows in detail how Dora’s ride to the top brings her all the way back to the bottom. This book also encourages friendship and other moral lessons.

What’s not so good: Guys may not like the book. It was written by a girl for girls. But if guys have any girl friends who are dealing with “mean girls,” maybe guys should pick up this book.

The bottom line: Fringe Girl is a reflection of life in high school that girls can enjoy.

Grade: A

Thank you, Micah! Much obliged, forever grateful!

May 3, 2006

Yeah, too bad about Paris. My sister is all cranky about it. She thinks Taylor Hicks is an epileptic freak. We've always had different tastes. She also said, "Aimee Mann and Billie Joe Armstrong would puke into buckets if they saw Taylor Hicks."
I said, "I think it's possible, on this great green Earth, for someone to be fan of Green Day, Aimee Mann AND Taylor Hicks."
She thinks not.

I took a break from my marathon Lindsey Davis reading (fourteen down, three to go) to read my galley copy of Meg Cabot's debut hardcover novel, The Queen of Babble. Again, I ask the heavens: How does she DO it? All her books read like warm butter, smooth, sweet, effortless, easy to cut through, finger-licking good. Daryl Chen (one of the original three readers of my blog) says I'm the kind of woman who likes to make pronouncements. Here's one: Meg Cabot was born to write novels. I'm not sure when this one comes out. June? Look for it.

May 2, 2006

Taylor Hicks! Dude! You didn't shame me tonight. When I heard the first bass slap notes of "Play That Funky Music," I grabbed Maggie said, "This is gonna be great!" She agreed. We hooted, got down, got funky. Lucy is a Paris and Katharine fan, so she refused to dance. But she was willing to admit, with her seven-year wisdom, that Taylor is "weird, in a good way."

I was nervous when he started singing "Something," even though I am a big George Harrison fan. I was afraid he'd stare into the camera, emote, get mushy, all that signature American Idol crap that reminds me how tacky we are, as a nation. Much to my relief, Taylor stuffed his performance with subtlety! He approached real emotional depth. For two minutes, I believed that Taylor, a grown man, understood and had experienced the fragility, bravery and brevity of love. Surprised Paula didn't cry. I got a bit moist in the eye socket myself. Don't ask me how my love for Taylor grows. It just does. I'll remind my five readers that I picked him to win in February.

I put in a vote for Chris, too, although, dear God why, he sang a Styx song. Isn't Chris supposed to be cool? He might as well have sung "Lady." Maybe Styx has had a comeback, or is retroactively hip. Last time I checked, that band holds the world title on cheesy.

Checked in on the Dynasty reunion, but I couldn't stand more than five seconds of Linda Evan's remoded face. She looks like she's been torn apart and patched back together with fishing line and scotch tape. I thought Joan Rivers was the anti-plastic surgery role model. But that was before I got a load of Linda Evans. And, forgive me if I'm wrong, but do most sixty-plus women's boobs ride high on the collarbones?

Why can't these women let themselves get older? If they wanted to leave this earthly coil with a beautiful corpse, they should have killed themselves at 40.

You know how I said my favorite TV show of all time was Freaks and Geeks? I'm not taking that back. But it's in a tie for the top spot with Comedy Central's Strangers With Candy, starring Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert. SWC went off the air about six years ago. The movie has been in legal limbo for a couple of years, but will finally come to theaters this summer. Click below to see a trailer. Thanks to Doug Quint, a tireless SWC fan, for sending the link.

May 1, 2006

A few points on a Monday morning:

1. Howard Stern said last week to the New York Post that American Idol’s Katherine McPhee would be perfect if she “lost fifteen pounds.” Considering that most normal women would have to lose 15 pounds just to get in McPhee’s neighborhood, Stern’s comment disgusted me. My advice to McPhee: Cherish those pounds, if they’ll protect you from the interest of Howard Stern.

2. Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenthal are pregnant. I weep with the news of this additional hurdle to my ultimate union with Peter, some day, perhaps in another life. Forget Angelica and Brad (whose appeal I’ve never really gotten). The Paggie (or Meter?) baby will the most beautiful creature alive.

3. Last word on the Opal Mehta plagiarism story. Megan McCafferty, a woman I’ve met once and exchanged a few emails with, has been very classy, wanting to put this behind her, showing sympathy for the perp, refusing to comment on the scandal at signings. She is taking the high road, and probably enjoys the view up there. Like I said, I barely know her.

I have to say, if this kind of thing happened to me, you’d find me pulling a cart of my books along the muddy, filthy LOW road. In my squallid lowness, I’d gladly talk to any reporter who called, and say, “The plagiarist liked my stuff, so will you! My new book is in stores now!” and “She made a few mistakes, but the plagiarist sure has great taste in books! See for yourself. My new book is in stores now!”

It is so hard to get that extra press, any nibble of attention for a new book. If I am ever blessed with a chunk as such, I make a vow to slut and whore my way though it, to scrape and sweat out a wider audience for my books. Not for selfish reasons. I'm told my books make fans laugh out loud. I want to spread joy and happiness all around the world. And here's a secret I don't tell many people: Every time a reader laughs at my jokes, an angel gets her wings. Seriously.

April 27, 2006

Here's the letter to the editor of the NYT I sent in, but they didn't run (bitches):

No one really knows if Kaavya Viswanathan, author of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life intended to plagiarize Megan McCafferty’s novels Sloppy First and Second Helpings. I can safely say that Ms. Viswanathan certainly hadn’t intended to be caught. Perhaps, despite her Harvard credentials and her two years of pre-college tutoring with Ivywise, Ms. Viswanathan didn’t understand what constitutes plagiarism.

Many of the sentences in question (that question being, “What the hell was she thinking?”) are paraphrased. Viswanathan changed key words. Replacing “boring” for “dull” and “smart” for “intelligent” was a trick I used when writing sixth grade history reports—a lazy, stupid eleven-year old move. It wasn’t until I reached a more mature age (twelve) that I came to understand word substitution wasn’t going to fly with my public junior high school teachers.

Viswanathan, 19 (old enough to know better), is only learning what is acceptable now, at a tremendous cost to herself, her school, her publisher, and possibly publishing in general.

How did she do it (intentionally or otherwise)? Everyone wants to know. Did she have McCafferty’s book open, and typed directly into her keyboard while reading? Or did she “internalize” the language, and reproduce it innocently later on? Did she even compose any of it herself, of did the book packagers hire ghostwriters? By my lights, none of the “how” really matters. Intention is irrelevant. The fact that she did it—or agreed to have it done—is all that counts. In the name of every writer who isn't packaged, who grunts out each word, thought, concept and idea alone in a room, this kid must pay. Or, at least pay back.

Viswanathan signed a contract ($500,000 for two books) from Little, Brown, her publisher. This isn’t play money. Whether an author is writing for teens, or is a teen herself, if she lies and cheats, she should be punished. Grown up punishment. Much worse than being grounded. Just ask James Frey.

That’s right: I’m pissed off at her. Not only did she plagiarize, this girl squandered her youth with her Harvard fixation. Makes me sick, when I think of what my daughters will face, competing against "special" machines like this cheater. When writers of my generation were nineteen, we were thinking about getting drunk and/​or laid. The book deals were for later, after we’d gathered life experiences that would inform our novels to come. The whole "gathering experience" part of the equation is missing for this girl. Instead of actually having a life, Viswanthan "wrote" about how to get one.

The horrors of being a teen these days are hashed over in the newspapers routinely. The constant standardized testing, pressure from parents and peers to acheive, widespread systematic cheating, term papers lifted off the internet, steroid use in varsity athletes. What Viswanathan did is the ultimate example of the teenage instant gratification, pressure-to-cheat culture. When faced with the demands of getting into Harvard—and struggling to write a novel about exactly that—this poor girl probably saw no other option but to steal.

I’ll bet ever cent I earn (and, compared to Viswanathan’s advance, we are talking pennies), that writing a novel wasn’t Viswanathan idea alone. Her parents and/​or her tutor pushed her. She probably felt like she had to do it (and not in the sense of “there was a novel in her that just had to come out”). Like high school juniors and seniors all over America, Viswanatha must have been told that to get into Harvard, she had to stand out.

Hoo-boy, is she ever standing out. And not in the way she intended.

April 24, 2006

My dear readers (all six of you). I have some suggestions for the week.

1. Ben & Jerry's NEW flavor: Strawberry Cheesecake. I don't care if you hate strawberries, cheesecake and/​or ice cream. You MUST try this favor. Just trust me on this. Also recommended, if only for the name, Vermonty Python flavor. Coffee, with little chocolate (catapulted) cows.

2. 40-Year-Old Virgin. I'm late breaking on this news, but since I can never make it to R-rated movies in the theater (fucking kids), I have to wait for Netflix. The scene when Steve Carrell gets waxed made a howl. Also, it was excellent to see Seth Rogan. Anyone who, as I do, believes Freaks and Geeks is the best show to air on TV ever, will be squirming in her jeans to see this actor again.

3. See below (the very idea—YUCK!)

April 18, 2006

A few things:

1. American Idol doesn't suck! Daryl Chen and I were concerned that a show of standards would be as exciting as watching mold grow. But it wasn't. Go figure. Taylor didn't embarrass me for my loyalty, and he expertly hid his female ass with the suit jacket. Face pulled his hair back into the cute pony like Citizen Cope. A new look? Hope so.

2. At Passover seder, my sister's husband's aunt (still with me?) flew in from Minnesota and reported that the woman sitting next to her on the airplane was reading The Girlfriend Curse (!). Sarah asked what she thought. Apparently (I am getting this second hand), the woman said, "It was funny at first, but it's slowing down in the middle." I think the book is only just getting going in the middle, but that's me. I was impressed Sarah didn't sugarcoat it. She doesn't seem like the sugarcoat type.

My sister Alison (remember to order your copy of her excellent nonfiction book Double Eagle today!) made a fine brisket with the special ingredient of her own human blood. While slicing, she cut off the tip of her middle (aka, fucker) finger and had to be rushed to the hospital to have it reattached. She survived, and will live to type again. Although, the feeling in the tip may not return. She won't feel the "e" "3" or "c." She'll hardly know she's typing the word eeeech.

3. The cats have killed again. A mourning dove, sadly. Well, not necessarily killed. Mortally wounded, probably. Steve was in the dining room and heard a tussle. He went into the living room and saw a million gray feathers everywhere, and the still breathing bird in the corner. He took it outside, and let it go over the railing of the deck. It flew away lamely, and that was the last we saw. I thought of the story in the paper today about some lunatic in Islip who catches neighborhood cats and has them secretly euthanized. Why? To protect the wild sparrows and finches. Imagine, putting some child's pet to death for potentially, instinctively preying on birds. Scary wacky insane.

Tulip can claim the catch. We knew because she had feathers in her mouth. We suspect Ollie had a part in it. His first blood. He chased a fly for the rest of the day. Perhaps we should rename him Renfield.

4. I love my husband. Even with his broken arm. This afternoon, Maggie had track practice and Lucy had a playdate. I'll say no more ("my motto's aways been when it's right, it's right..."), except that, after nearly five years, we keep getting better. Sunny afternoons, excellent kids, killer cats and Steve. Bestseller? Who cares.

April 11, 2006

Can Anybody Find Me one good excuse for the pathetic state of American Idol? How could a show that featured eight Queen songs be so fucking boring?

I will remind my five readers of my deep abiding loyalty to Constantine. His Bohemian Rhapsody was better than all eight performances tonight, wrapped up in a Union Jack soaked with Freddy Mercury's Turkish sweat.

Even Taylor has turned into a Disney version of himself. He used to be Joe Cocker (or, as my mother has said, "Joe Crocker"). Now he's The Tramp. Simon was absolutely right to say Chris squandered his chance to have a moment. He could have done Under Pressure, for example, and made the same point. As Maggie says, "No electricity." But perhaps it's too much to ask of a bunch of teenage amateurs.

Mandisa will be sorely missed.

I have not been blogging, and I apologize. Work is on heavy flow. Preview: My article about posing nude will be a Killer. I lay myself bare, in many ways. Physically and emotionally, and, dare I say, philosophically. I've sent some of the pictures to my parents and my sister. They approved. Honestly, I look good in most of them. Not thin. Never that! But good nonetheless. I'm also writing an essay on my acrylic toilet seats with the shells and plastic fish embedded inside. An editor at a large circ mag is paying me $2/​word to extoll the wonders of my toilet seats. Do I not have the greatest job on earth—OR WHAT???

Fringe Girl In Love is getting good. I find myself adding a danger element to the love story. Some lurking in shadows, sneaking around, rifling through belongings, risking capture. FUN! The action reminds me of my mystery-writing roots (trivia: in my twenties, I wrote four P.I. murder mysteries that are all out of print now; should a buyer find a copy at a used book store for a quarter, she will surely get her money's worth).

Some photos below. Regarding the two of my large cat Penny: Lucy was arranging her magical creature dolls into their usual meetings circle. Penny wandered into the room to see what we were doing, and walked right into the center of the circle as if she were to be their ritual sacrifice. She proceeded to stay there for hours, napping.

April 3, 2006

New review of Hex from Romance Junkies:

"HEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL is a great read. Valerie Frankel weaves magic and laughter all the way through. You can’t help but love Emma. She brings happiness to so many people throughout the story. William Dearborn is the kind of hero any girl could fall for. HEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL is laugh out loud funny. I couldn’t stop reading it. If you‘re a fan of magic, love, romance and a little bit of steam you must read this book."—Heather Riley

Thank you, Heather! Much obliged, and grateful.

FRINGE GIRL, meanwhile, is out officially tomorrow. It's been reviewed in the April issue of Teen magazine (they loved). My article on "How To Dump A Guy" appears in the April issue of CosmoGIRL!, along with a photo of the Fringe Girl cover, and the announcement of a signed book giveaway. If any teens have found their way here, HELLO! Warning: On this blog, I curse. Like, all the fucking time. And I write about sex. And nudity (see below). If there were a middle ground between R and PG-13, it'd be under my feet. That said, I adore Hello, Kitty products. I've heard tale (from writer Lani Diane Rich) of a toaster that singes bread with the Hello, Kitty logo. I want that toaster!

In other nudes—I mean, news—I can now add "Naked Model" to my resume. I have removed my clothing and been photographed for my article in Self mag. The shoot I've been anxious about for weeks has come to pass, and I survived. I feel incredible relief, actually, though the experience was only positive. The five readers of this blog already know that I can't write too much about it (I should have "property of Self" stamped on my forehead—or my ass, as the case may be). I will say that, from what I saw of the pix, they will not send me scurrying under the nearest rock.

March 28, 2006

Greetings from Thetford, VT! We are on vacation at my parents' house in the country. In case anyone is getting ideas, three vicious cats are guarding my apartment, so rob at your own risk.
For our first foray into a family skiing trip (a great Frankel tradition that I am determined to continue), we went to Loon in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Lucy ventured out with enthusiasm if some nervousness. She did quite well at ski school and wants to go back tomorrow. Maggie has advanced already to the beginner slopes (no more bunny hill for her!).
Steve, on skis for the first time, fell and broke his arm.
I wish I were kidding.
Cap'n Howie and I had been skiing on the north face while the kids and Steve were having lessons. We returned at the appointed time. Found the kids. Steve had disappeared. We looked around the lodge. Checked the bar (his default location). Finally, his instructor, the one who took him on an obviously too challenging slope, found us and said, "Steve had a tumble. He's at the first aid station. They had to bring him down the mountain on a tobagan." I instantly thought BROKEN LEG. But, much to our relief (file under "Could have been worse, but not much") he'd fractured his left arm above the elbow. As the nurses were strapping down his arm for the hour and a half drive on bumpy country roads to the hospital, the instructor turned up. He said, "I guess it's more serious than I thought." I would have gone for his jugular, had he not been wearing a DICKY (very gay turtleneck muffler thing).
So we drove Steve to the emergency room at Mary Hitchcock Hospital at Dartmouth. Five hours, several hits of morphine, two sets of X-rays and a cast later, Cap'n Howie and I brought Steve home. He hardly complained at all, over the entire afternoon, evening and night of throbbing pain. I tell ya, Steve is like Hercules with his ability to handle distress. He was trained in his Maine childhood not to bitch and moan. The Vicadine also helps.
It'll be eight weeks with the cast. He'll miss some gigs, both singing and playing the French horn. But, as I said before: Could have been worse.
Steve is determined to ski again. Maybe he'll break the other arm.

March 21, 2006

ONE MORE UPDATE: Maggie, my 10 year old, has these manditory group de-stressing periods at school. A dozen fifth graders and the health teacher gather to talk about "issues." So the kids were all bitching about their parents. Maggie contributes that it sucks how her mom doesn't help with math homework. The other kids all agree, most of them saying how their moms work so late, they barely get to see them until bedtime. The health teacher says, "Is that what's happening with you, Maggie?"
She says, "No, my mom is ALWAYS home. She doesn't help with my homework because she's just really bad at math."

UPDATE FOR EARLIER POST: Fringe Girl—like Hex and the Single Girl—is a "recommended" book at! YEA!

Holy shit, batman! I can't believe it's been a week since my last post. A million apologies to my five blog readers. I have very good excuses. Kids on spring break, a deadline for Self, trying to make headway on Fringe Girl In Love, etc.

I am not a good mother; I hate school vacations. I don't see it as a time to relax and bond with my kids. Why? Because it never is! I'm ALWAYS on some crucial deadline during breaks. The kids watch way too much TV. I do half-assed activities with them, like to go the art supply store and buy new paint so they can make a mess I'll later bitch at them to clean up. I can tell you right now: It'll be Bagel Bites again for dinner.

We are going to Vermont next week to ski. It'll be Lucy's first time, now that she has normal feet. I'm looking forward to seeing her snow plow (instructors these days call it "making a wedge"). I'm going to push Maggie to try snowboarding, before she's a confirmed two planker like me. My one snowboarding day didn't involve much actually skiing. I did roll down the mountain several times before I gave up. Re: shredding, I'll stick to cheese.

Fringe Girl comes out in two weeks. The day before its release, I will pose nude for photographer Koren Keyes. I have to admit: I have felt a ripple in my resolve, a spark of panic, a wavering of guts. But then, I decided fear was part of the process. I can't say more, since the whole story will soon be the property of Self magazine. But, suffice it to say, I'm nervous.

On the lighter side, I've lost ten pounds since November and can now fit into my black leather jeans quite comfortably. Perhaps I'll wear them to the studio. For confidence.

That's it for now. Fringe Girl, aka Dora Benet, is on the verge of cheating on her boyfriend with a lesser boy. I have to stop her before she does anything rash. Or not. Definitely not.

March 15, 2006

Calling all essayists (I'm talking to you, Michele Cagan). I got this email today from an editor at Glamour, perhaps the one person there I HAVEN'T worked with. Anyhoo, here's what she wants you to know...

Hi Valerie,

Glamour magazine, a nationally distributed women's magazine with a monthly readership of 12.5 million, is currently soliciting entries for its Fourth
Annual Essay Contest. We'd love to invite the readers of your blog to participate. Would you be able to mention it on your site with a link to our
contest rules?

All entries must be received by May 14, 2006. The finalists will be reviewed by Glamour editors and a panel of top writers (two of this year's confirmed
judges are Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley and best-selling author of Seabiscuit Laura Hillenbrand). The winner will get $5,000, publication of his or her story in a future issue of Glamour, and the opportunity to work with eminent literary agent Betsy Lerner on a book proposal.

The link below will take you immediately to the contest rules and entry form. I suggest, knowing Glamour as I do, that essayists write from the gut, not TOO funny, a bit on the earnest side, and be HONEST. GOOD LUCK!

In other news, I had lunch at Pastis (amazing French restaurant in the meat-packing district) with my psychic friend Mary T. Browne. I have known Mary T. for, dear God, over fifteen years now. She's written a few mind-expanding books, including The Power Of Karma, and her next one (I predict) is going to be big. Mary T. and I both lost our significant others to lung cancer (my first husband and her long-term boyfriend) a year apart, which in only one of the many reasons we have such wonderful shorthand and understanding as friends. Spending a couple hours with her always leaves me feeling peaceful and content. I refer to her as a "helper spirit," and she never fails to help me refocus, get to the heart of the matter, and see clearly. Thanks for lunch, Mary T.! If anyone in or outside NY is curious about getting a psychic reading, I'll also forward emails to Mary T.

March 11, 2006

Another review of Hex excerpted below:

"A throwback to zany madcap comedies (imagine Mel Brooks penning chick lit), Frankel's novel is a quite funny tale. . . . Once it hits its stride, it works with tremendous aplomb. Secondary characters all play imortant roles without overshadowing the strong female lead and sexy, complex hero."—Lauren Spielberg, Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine

Thanks Lauren Spielberg. I'd predicted that reviews would call Hex a "romp" but I like "madcap" even better. This is the first time I've been compared to Mel Brooks, and I LOVE that one. From this point on, I'm calling myself "The Mel Brooks of Chick Lit."

March 8, 2006

After a month of dithering, I've made up my mind. I've decided who to pin my American Idol hopes on. The five of you who read this blog will not be surprised by my choice. I'll be with you, buddy, for the long haul. And don't disappoint me (Constantine, I still weep for you!).

No, it's not Ace, henceforth "Face." Or Elliot, henceforth "Batboy." And not Chris, either, although he will be my runner-up.

I've voted for Taylor, of course (who we call, in our house, Travis for reasons I can't quite remember at the moment). He's an oddball, and I have always been attracted to the peculiar types (no offense, Steve!—although, darling, I have to say, you are as odd as balls get).

My prediction for who will be voted off tomorrow night: That Little Chickenhead from Long Island (who, incidentally, had the same vocal coach as one of my neices), and Will, who has zero edge of any kind. He is the definition of bland. He is human tapioca pudding.

On the women's side: Melissa who has a jaw dropping body but not much else and . . . this is telling: I can't even remember the other girl's name! The tall one, the basketball player, the "hard worker" with "determination." You know the saying: Art is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. Except in her case, she's all sweat. No blood or tears behind her vocals.

I had lunch today at BarCo 18 on Park Avenue South with old friend Ellen Tien, Pulse columnist for the NYT Sunday Styles section. We caught up, and ate way too much. For any fans of Iberian tapas, I heartily recommend the joint. Order the lobster pizza thing, the lobster and aparagus salad, and the white chocolate cheesecake, which I will not regret having eaten four bites of. Granted, one bite would have been enough to get the general concept. But I had to confirm with a few more.

Re: the following, sorry to be so one noted these days, but such things happen when a new book comes out.

I continue to get reports that Barnes & Noble stores nationwide have (1) floor displays of Hex and the Single Girl, and/​or (2) racks by the cashier area of my backlist books. Steve, who's doing a Trial By Jury production in Alaska, saw two big displays of my books in Anchorage. I've also heard about them in southern Florida. For those of you who have a poor sense of direction, Alaska to Florida would be as coast-to-coast as one can get.

Still don't know why BN is now my favorite store in the whole wide world, despite my mother's harassing BN employees in the Livingston, NJ, store. Someone at either Avon Trade or BN likes me, and if I knew who, I'd send lots of flowers. I urge everyone to GO TO BN AND SPEND LIKE THE WIND! I recommend, along with my stuff, the ancient Rome detective novels of Lindsey Davis. Cap't Howie and I are obsessed with this series of sixteen books and counting. I've read eight so far and Dad has devoured fourteen. If anyone deserves a cashier rack display, it's Davis.

March 7, 2006

New review of Hex. I'll skip the plot summary and get straight to the commentary:

"I laughed my butt off reading HEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and I don't think there is any greater recommendation a reviewer can give. Emma Hutch is an engaging heroine and is the glue that holds the story together. Told from her point of view, the tale is humorous and has enough twists to keep readers turning the pages. Emma's description of a bank employee will have you rolling on the floor in hysterics. The author skillfully makes all of the characters real, with human foibles -- Emma weighs keeping a roof over her head against her personal ethics -- and one can't help but feel attached to all of them. Throw in a mugging, a Naughty Nurse costume, and an anorgasmic condition and you have the makings of a wild ride you won't want to end.

If you are looking for a great story that will make you laugh yourself silly, HEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL is the book for you."—Kathy Samuels, Romance Reviews Today

Thanks you Kathy Samuels! I hope your butt has found its way back after you laughed it off!

I should be pitching Hex as a diet aid. Read book; lose ass.

I am doing an event! That's right sports fans! On May 17th, at the Barnes & Noble store I was chased out of for taking photos, I'll be signing and reading excerpts from Fringe Girl. They usually put a poster of the author's face in the storefront window. Perhaps I should give them my naked photo for Self. That should either lure customers, or terrify them.

Steve has been gone for over a week. I miss him terribly (last night was the first since he left that I could sleep peacefully). What I miss even more than the man himself? Steve does our family laundry. Of all the household chores, laundry is the one I simply can't stand. I don't find balling hot socks relaxing. I'd wash dishes for everyone on the block more agreeably that fold one load of inside-out t-shirts. My loathing is irrational and cranky. But we all have our charming little quirks.

South Dakota. The governor has signed a law banning abortions. Is there any wonder why our nation's youth flees for the big cities as soon as it get the chance? Mark my words: In ten years, there won't be any women left in South Dakota of child bearing age. The state's demographics will soon look like Boca Raton! South Dakota can keep its abortion ban. In exchange, urban centers will take its future.

March 3, 2006

Sad news: Jack Wild, aka the Artful Dodger, Jimmy from HR Pufnstuf, had died of mouth cancer. He'd battled it for six years, apparently, having had surgery to remove his voice box and tongue. He was only 53. He blamed his heavy smoking and drinking for his illlness, and called himself a "walking time bomb."

Whenever Oliver! was on TV (about once a year), my parents let us stay up late to watch it. I love Oliver! so much, I made the hero in The Not-So-Perfect Man an actor who was playing the role of Fagin. My sister, brother and I knew all the words (as my daughters do now), but what I cherished the most about the movie was the Dodger. He was irresistable, scrappy, adorable, smart, a survivor. When Jack Wild got older, and starred in HR Pufnstuf (Witchypoo, magic flute, etc.), I continued to adore him. My first husband, when he worked at Columbia House, put together a collection of HR Pufnstuf tapes which I still have even though my kids have outgrown them. We'll have to watch them tonight or put on our disc of Oliver!.

I tell you, seeing this notice in the paper hit me in the tender spot. I haven't felt as sad about a celebrity death since Joe Strummer.

March 1, 2006

A Hex on you

Michelle, a reader and friend from Rockland County, NY (and super cool rock chick), sent me two photos of my books in BN at the Palisades Mall, including this floor display of Hex (sorry quality isn't so great from cell phone photos).

Another fan, Ben Abel Bey, an actor and filmmaker, is appearing in a new show called Brilliant Traces this week and next. Tix are only $6.50. I don't even know what it's about, but for that price, I'm open to anything! Ben is, I dare say, a very handsome fellow, so watching him on stage for an hour or two won't be too tough on the eyes. Here's the link for info:

February 28, 2006

A few things:

1. Hex is a "recommended selection" at Barnes & Noble, which is fast becoming my favorite store in the whole wide world.

2. After a spike last week (record: 500 hits in one day), this blog is back in the comfort range. It's just me and my five readers again. Much more cozy!

3. My husband, the opera singer Stephen Quint, has left me. He packed his bags, and has flown away. Far, far away. To the frozen wasteland of Anchorage, Alaska, for a 10-day gig as the Judge in Trial by Jury. He often travels for work. As a Gilbert and Sullivan patter baritone specialist, he has something of a rarified profession. (Quick: how many G&S patter guys do you know? None? My point exactly.) I miss the little fucker already. I HATE IT when he goes on these gigs, which he does a few times a year. But, whenever he's gone, I tend to jog more often, and for longer distances (working off my sexual frustration, no doubt), so his timing doesn't suck (nude photo shoot in less than five weeks!).

3. New York State has made me proud by approving the sale of over-the-counter morning-after pills. It'll probably be months before one can actually purchase said pill. But it's a step in the right direction. As I've long espoused, the morning-after pill, OTC, will make moot our national abortion rights debate.

4. A Dutch study reports that optimists have a 50 lowered risk of heart failure than pessimists. Ah, the happy, speed-skating half-full Dutch! Americans can learn a lot from them and their wooden shoes, tulips, and OTC pot and mushrooms. We'd be a more optimistic and heart-healthy people then, too.

5. I've submitted for my editor's approval the new novel, I Take This Man. I could tinker forever, but at a certain point, one has to let go.

6. Meg Cabot might be the sweetest author I know. First she blurbed my new book. Then she put a HUGE picture of the cover on her blog. Read her entry from last week by a fan/​American Idol contestant. Makes me want to not watch (but I'm sure I will anyway). Check out Meg's Diary:

February 27, 2006

Hex had been out for a week, and it's selling well (as far as I know), mainly in the three-digits at, and four-digits at amazon. Those numbers mean little, I suspect. I've been told that unless you're in the top one hundred at either site, the rankings are more or less meaningless, measuring the difference in sales of only a few books a day. A fan wrote in that she's seen a 12-copy floor display of Hex, but near the YA section of a BN in California. Another fan mentioned she'd seen the backlist rack (see photo below) in Virginia. So my books are OUT THERE. Which is only good. If anyone else sees a nice set up, please let me know!

The kids and I saw Eight Below. It was considerably understated for a Disney movie, and I enjoyed it, even though a couple of the dogs died (relax: none you'd miss). My parents are dog obsessed people (yes, that kind). They refuse to go to the theater to see Eight Below, but plan to rent it when it's out on DVD. Just imagining the two of them, their four dogs on the bed with them, watching the movie in the privacy of their own home, sobbing hyst

For Your Amusement

Four women who'd otherwise have nothing to do with each other, join for a bogus 'Diversity Committee" school meeting, and wind up playing poker. Instead of playing for money, they play for secrets. Before long, these four women know EVERYTHING about each other's lives, and strong—not always smooth—friendships are formed. "Instantly addicting," RT Book Reviews. "Engrossing!"—Publishers Weekly. "Friggin' awesome!"—Snooki (she does say that a lot Not about this book, but WHATEVER)
Book #4 in the Fringe Girl series
Book #3 in the Fringe Girl series
Adora Benet is back. In the second of the series, true love doesn't runs smooth for Dora and Noel. Hurdles: a seductive substitute teacher, jealousy, a hot college boy.
A bride, a groom, her mother, and his father. Sex, kidnapping, wedding cake and a cabana with a towel warmer. Who could ask for anything more?
Adora Benet is on the fringe until she leads a revolution that turns her school's social hierarchy upside down.
Emma Hutch has the sexth sense. She sees naked people. Not that she minds...
"Wickedly entertaining."—People "Draws laughs."—EW First chapter, reviews, reading group questions
Three sisters, as many romantic plights
Stacy has a week to get laid or she becomes a virgin again. CAN SHE DO IT?
Smart sister, pretty sister, a murder mystery, a few hot guys, lots of caffeinated humor, and recipes
NEW!! CLICK FOR READERS GROUP GUIDE (Subversive Version) and AUTHOR Q&A Chronicle of my efforts to "get the hate out." Warning: If you love snobby neighbors, NYT bestselling debut novelists, loud cell phone talkers, social butterflies, scary doctors, bratty kids on airplanes, this memoir will OFFEND YOU with its OBNOXIOUS DENUNCIATIONS AND CONSTANT CURSING. Don't say I didn't warn you. "Refreshing! Entertaining! Funny! Warm!"—PW "Hilarious! Helpful, hard-won insight!"—Kirkus
The story of my life as a diet addict, and how I eventually overcame my compulsion to count carbs. People magazine: "Funny! Satisfying!" Kirkus: "Witty! Candid!"
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