Monday, October 20, 2014


My Master's Thesis tackled the subject of television commercials. I argued that rather than breaking up the story, commercials actually added to the tension, ultimately making the story more enjoyable for viewers.

Books don't have commercials (which is a shame, as it would add an additional revenue stream for perennially struggling authors). But maybe they should.

Or, at the very least, maybe they should be written as if they do.

In addition to writing romance novels and figure skating mysteries, I've also worked extensively for soap-operas, including ABC Daytime (General Hospital, One Life to Live, All My Children, Loving) and Procter & Gamble Productions (Guiding Light, As the World Turns, Another World).

As a result, I write my books as if I'm building to a commercial, cutting a scene at a crucial moment, then picking it up later.

It's a tactic that works in TV, but does it work in books?

Here's how I intend to find out: After 20 years and over a dozen traditionally published novels which went through the usual submit, get editor's notes, revise, resubmit process, I am writing my next book live on the web at: Instead of editor's notes, I'm getting reader notes (click on Comments to read them). So I need you to tell me, does my approach work?

More Writing Tips:

Writing Tip: Start Your Scenes at the End

Live Sex Acts: Writer Exhibitionism

Writing Tip: Cut the Hysterics

Teaching Creative Writing to Teens

How To Write a Better Book

Putting My Writing Where My Mouth Is

How To Murder a Writing Career

I Hate Writing Description

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Favorite Soap Opera Interrupted Weddings

It's been a rough season for soap opera weddings. First, on Days of Our Lives, EJ got arrested in the middle of his and Sami's ceremony. (Though interrupted weddings are kind of a tradition with them). Then, on The Bold & the Beautiful, Hope was all set to marry Liam but, when he didn't show up (he was rescuing a girl who'd fallen into the Seine River; yes, that old excuse), instead of giving it a couple of minutes or checking to see if her fiance was dead or alive, she married Wyatt, instead. (Wyatt's mom was the one who pushed said hapless girl into the Seine precisely so that this would happen; she knows Hope doesn't like to be kept waiting.) And finally, last week, a newly no longer comatose Phyllis brought Sharon and Nick's umpteenth wedding ceremony to a grinding halt on The Young & the Restless.

But these were just run of the mill soap opera wedding interruptions. (Bet the caterers didn't even give them their deposit back because they should have expected it and planned accordingly.)

Check out some truly momentous aborted ceremonies, including highlights from GH, AMC, OLTL, GL, ATWT, AW and more at:

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Last week’s announcement that TNT was canceling the primetime soap-opera Dallas reboot after three seasons instantly prompted cries of outrage from heart-broken fans, as well as petitions to save their show which, as of this writing, had gathered over 55,000 signatures. A rally is even being planned on the site of the original Southfork in Texas.

Soap opera fan campaigns, both primetime and daytime, are nothing new. To read about the five most outrageous ones, including examples from The Young & the Restless, Days of our Lives, All My Children, One Life to Live, Guiding Light, As the World Turns and more, check out my latest post for Entertainment Weekly at:

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


As I am wont to do, I managed to sneak soap operas into my tip for finding your writer's voice at How To Write a Book.

Other authors actually look to their readers to find their voice. In a rather extreme example, Alina Adams, a New York Times best-selling author is actually asking her audience for feedback on voice, and writing to please her audience, in her new experimental writing project:

“If you want to write professionally, the only voice that matters is the one that sells. When I wrote tie-ins for the soap operas, As the World Turns and Guiding Light, I wrote not in my voice, but in the voice of the characters narrating the books. And those books became NYT best-sellers. Currently, I am taking writing to please an audience up a notch by producing my next book completely live online where readers can tell me which voice they prefer.”

Go to: to learn more about the book I am writing live with reader feedback - in real time, and click here for more advice from authors on finding your voice.

More Writing Tips:

Live Sex Acts: Writer Exhibitionism

Writing Tip: Cut the Hysterics

Teaching Creative Writing to Teens

How To Write a Better Book

Putting My Writing Where My Mouth Is

How To Murder a Writing Career

I Hate Writing Description

Monday, October 06, 2014


From my interview at The Bee Writes...

3) Which Author has influenced you and why?

Here are a pair who don't often come up together (I can't imagine they attended a lot of the same parties): George Orwell and Sidney Sheldon.

Orwell because of the sparsity of his prose. There is not an excess word to be found in "Animal Farm," and yet he gets his point across completely - without ever spelling it out for you. I strive for that kind of conciseness. (Like Elmore Leonard, when I write, I try to leave out the parts readers skip.)

As for Sidney Sheldon, he was the first writer I ever read (at the age of 13, it's a very impressionable time) who demonstrated that you could just write something that was pure fun and keep readers turning pages. There was a period in my life when I spent a lot of it on airplanes. I worked as a writer/producer/researcher for figure skating coverage on ABC Sports, NBC, TNT and ESPN (and I subsequently used that experience in my series of Figure Skating Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime). I am a horrible sleeper at home in my own bed, so sleeping on airplanes was out of the question. The only thing that could make the time go faster was a good book. Ever since then, my goal has been to help humanity by writing books that make time pass faster on an airplane. It's not exactly up there with Mother Theresa, but we all do what we can.

Read the entire interview at:

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


General Hospital's Elizabeth, One Life to Live's Marty, Another World's Lorna and many others. What do they all have in common?

All were "bad girls" who became heroines thanks to being raped.

Is that really a good message to be sending out into the world?

I tackle soaps' tendency to make sexual assault a positive, character building experience for "Entertainment Weekly" at:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014



On Tuesday, September 30, 2014, Emmy-winner Eileen Davidson is poised to make history when she appears as both Susan and Kristen on Days of Our Lives, and as Ashley on The Young & the Restless. In many markets, these shows air at the same time, so warm up your DVR's or go for it old school with the remote control.

And while you wait, check out what Eileen had to say in my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, about the challenge of playing multiple roles.

Read how she practiced to act against... herself, here.

*** (Previously published on 8/20/14)

In my latest for Entertainment Weekly, I tackle the topic of soap-opera long-lost twin stories, including the best from All My Children, Another World (hi, Anne Heche), As the World Turns (hey, Julianne Moore), The Bold & the Beautiful, The Young & the Restless, One Life to Live and more, plus this quote from Days of Our Lives Eileen Davidson about playing multiple roles:

Eileen Davidson began playing the role of Kristen on Days of Our Lives in 1993. A year later, she also took on the role of Susan. Susan was no relation to Kristen, but they did (coincidentally) look enough alike for Kristen to hire Susan to pretend to be Kristen and give birth to a baby that Kristen would then pass off as her own (and this was on one of Kristen’s more reasonable plans). But then, it turned out that homeless waif Susan had a twin sister named Penelope, who was a British socialite. And another one named Mary Moira, a God-fearing – and somewhat sadistic – nun. And a brother named Thomas. Davidson played them all. As she summarized in my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments, “They worked me to death. I was going to leave after the first year I played Susan. And they asked me to stay an additional year to finish off the storyline, so I did.  It was a great, great, great thing for me. I would do something like this again, but I would want to know a beginning and an end date.  Even when I left DAYS, I knew that the shelf-life of those characters was running out.  It wasn’t something that could go on forever because it would lose its punch.  I felt like I got out at the right time.”

Travel down memory lane with Vicky/Marley, Lily/Rose, Todd/Victor and other cases of Double Trouble at: