Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Living in New York City, obviously the plans that I had for Halloween a week ago, have been changed.

For instance, this piece I wrote on the best NYC places to go trick-or-treating in, is no longer relevant, as many of them are currently under water, and even huge events like the annual parade have been cancelled.

Also, this self-made costume of my son's - an NYC subway car - is now ironic, as the subways aren't running.

Rain is predicted for this evening, and it's still not safe to go outside unless absolutely necessary, due to the danger from falling branches and other debris.

But, you know what?  My family is safe, we have plenty of canned food and water to get us through till the stores open, and we are much, much better off than some, who have lost their homes and possessions.  So I'm not complaining (and God help my kids if they do).

Maybe this year's Halloween won't be the best ever, but there are future ones to look forward to and past ones to remember fondly.

Plus, to cheer us all up, in honor of the holiday, a flashback to a soapy Halloween classic....

Originally published on 10/31/11


In honor of Halloween 2011, an excerpt from the interview I did with Michael Corbett for Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments where he talked about his Young & Restless stint as David Kimble, and the challenge of portraying a character already in make up who puts on more make up who puts on a wolf disguise...

MC: It was a lot of make up. It was really difficult. A lot of hours because, in addition to having that whole set of KILLER make up (ed. note: a presumed dead David kidnapped a plastic surgeon and tried to force him to make David look like David Hasselhoff. Instead, the surgeon carved KILLER into David's forehead. David later returned to town incognito), I would have days where, as the storyline evolved, David went to a make-up artist to become another character, Jim (who married Flo). I’d have the whole disfiguration make up on and I’d do those scenes in the morning, then they’d have to strip all that off and put on a whole other set of prosthetics. My skin was just cracked. It was really hard because, sometimes, we’d have to go from the KILLER scars to the Jim make-up, then pull all that off with acetone, and then go back to the scar make-up.

Later, the masquerade ball was a great, amazing thing. We shot for so many hours, it was such a long process, there was a lot of downtime and long days, but the end product was really great. It was really exciting because the storyline was fantastic. The whole cast was at the giant masquerade ball, it was a big event; long, long hours, but really beautiful and a lot of plotlines were woven together, as the Bells are so good at doing. It was the big climax of a lot of storyline all in one place.

For more from Michael and dozens of other soap opera actors, writers, producers, and experts, check out Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments at:

Meanwhile, enjoy a clip of Genoa City all dressed up for Halloween 1991 (exactly 20 years ago!), below:

Monday, October 29, 2012


Even since I set upon the course of taking all of my previously traditionally published books, including my romance novels, my Figure Skating mysteries, and my soap opera non-fiction titles and turning them into enhanced e-books with music, video, interactive elements and more, I've learned a lot of lessons about not just writing, but about running your own business, which is the part of the writing craft no one ever mentions in MFA programs, etc...

Whether you're published by a big, New York City press, a small independent, or whether you've taken your career into your own hands, you are still the one out there doing most of the publicity and marketing vital to making sure that your book isn't just published, but sold.  And, you know... read.

To that end, when asked by to contribute one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs for their series of helpful tips, I offered:

“They say ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ What “they” neglect to add is that means everything you once loved then becomes a job. Think long and hard if you are ready for the consequences of that before you start.” -Alina Adams, Alina Adams Media 

I expanded a bit more on the subject in my Kveller piece, All Work and No Play Makes Mom... Tired

Confucius (allegedly) said: Do a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Who am I to argue with Confucius?

So, that’s precisely what I did. Because I loved television, I studied television in college, and then I went to work in television. I loved to watch figure skating, so I became a television figure skating producer. After my oldest son was born and the travel associated with skating competitions became unmanageable, I switched to working in soap operas–because I loved soap operas. In the meantime, because I loved to read, I also wrote books, primarily figure skating mysteries and romance novels. 

Ultimately, having three kids and going into an office every day became too difficult, so I switched to freelance writing part-time. And, in addition to raising children, I began writing about educating children. And about finding free stuff to do with children. And just general raising children (do I really need to link this one)?

In other words, every single aspect of my life, from my marriage, to my parenting, to the stuff that I do for fun, became a job. At which point, it ceased to be fun.

I can no longer watch television without analyzing it to death (a primary reason why nobody wants to go to the movies with me. Apparently, being trapped in a dark room with a person who sees every plot twist coming from a mile away is… annoying, to put it politely).

I can’t watch skating without thinking of how I might turn it into a book. Or how I would have covered a given story if I were there on-site.

I can’t read without comparing it to my own work, good and bad.

As for my kids, well, let’s just say everything is blogger fodder.

I am now basically working 24/7.

Read more at:

And, just in case you think this blog post doesn't have an element of work to it.... (I think I'm the opposite of May Poppins.  In every job there must be done, she found fun.  In every bit of fun, I seem able to find work).... I am happy to report that Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga (Volume One), where what happens next is up to you... in now available as a Nook Book for Barnes & Noble!

Buy your copy today, here!

Friday, October 26, 2012


If dispatches from the 8th grade trenches are to be believed, when it came time for everyone to go around the room and answer–en Espanol!–what chores they did around the house, my 13-year-old son was the most overworked in his peer group.

He loads the dishwasher. He takes out the garbage. He sweeps the kitchen floor. He sorts and folds the laundry after it’s been washed. He takes his younger brother to school in the mornings and he babysits both his siblings in the evenings when we go out. He also, on those rare weekend mornings when my husband and I try to sleep late (i.e. until 9!) has been pressed upon to produce a toaster waffle or a bowl of cereal for the younger two.  But the fact is, my son doesn’t earn a red cent for doing any of those things.

No one who lives in our apartment is paid for contributing to the maintenance of our household. I don’t get paid for cooking or changing the sheets or putting away clothes or keeping track of the bills, my husband doesn’t get paid for doing the laundry or carrying groceries home or fixing light bulbs or snaking the bathtub drain, and my youngest two don’t get paid for dusting (though thank God for All of a Kind Family and their button game!). So why should my eldest be paid for hefting his share of the load?

It gets worse. Not only are my children not paid for work they do inside our home, they don’t receive an allowance, either. I.e. not only do my three kids not get money for something, they don’t even get money for nothing!

Read my entire piece at:

Thursday, October 25, 2012


We Love Soaps named As The World Turns' Henry and Katie to their list of Top 30 Dynamic Duos (by my calculations, they came in at #16).

I've never made a secret of their being two of my favorites, especially after I "co-wrote" a pair of novels with them.  "Oakdale Confidential" with Katie, and "The Man From Oakdale" with Henry.  (Though, I must say, being imaginary people, they make very lazy collaborators.  I had to do all the work myself!)

"Oakdale Confidential" was a NY Times best-seller, and "The Man From Oakdale" won the Scribe Award at Comic-Con for Best Tie-In Novel of the year.

For those who never got a chance to read either, here is a free excerpt from "Oakdale Confidential," featuring Katie and Henry at their scheming - and thus hilarious - best.

And for more about "The Man From Oakdale," check out the video, below:


“I want to believe you,” Alice said.  “You have no idea how desperately I want to believe you, Rachel.  That’s why I offered to come ask you myself, instead of putting either Lucas or Felicia through it.  Because no matter how much this train of thought may pain me, it is obviously nothing compared to what they’re going through.  They deserve to know what happened to their daughter.”

“And they’ve decided that I’m involved in having Lorna kidnapped and killed?”

“Are you?” Alice asked softly.

“What do you think?” Rachel fired back.

“I think,” Alice chose her words with care.  “That you loved Carl with all your heart.  Even more than Mac, in a way, or at least, differently.  Mac healed you, and you healed Carl.  That made the redemption of his soul the most important thing in the world; even more important than your own.  I think that you honestly saw nothing wrong with what he’d done, because to view it otherwise was unthinkable.  And I think that you would have committed just about any act in order protect not just him, but your vision of him.”


Alice questions Rachel about her role in Lorna's disappearance, while Rachel offers Chase a chance to save his career - for a price.  Lila breaks down in front of Grant, who is pushed to his own breaking point by Sarah.  Cass and Frankie hatch a plan, as Kevin sees the results of his own.

Choices need to be made today on:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Yes! say a pair of Today Show producers, Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner.

Of course, they have written a book called, Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us -

- So take that as you will.

In a recent cover story for New York Family Magazine, the ladies expressed the following opinions:

AY: When I was growing up, the streetlights on either side of the block were our parents during the summer.  You did not cross those streetlamps or there would be consequences, but we were out all day.  And especially during "As the World Turns" or "Guiding Light," you were not going into the house during those shows!.... We're basically saying it's okay to be selfish, and that's taboo in our society.  I can't say I'm a selfish person, much less a selfish mom.  For my mom it was "Guiding Light."... You've just got to find whatever is going to inject new life or new energy into you.  There's nothing wrong with being a little selfish.

Of course, in this day and age of hysterical political hyperbole, there is only one conclusion to be drawn from the above: ANYONE WHO CANCELS A SOAP OPERA IS CLEARLY ANTI-MOTHERHOOD WHICH MEANS THEY'RE ANTI-AMERICAN AND ANYONE WHO DOESN'T AGREE WITH THAT IS ANTI-AMERICAN AS WELL!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Lynn Liccardo, a Red Room soap journalist I've linked to in the past, has a new book out, As the World Stopped Turning.

In it, she offers a (previously published) "collection of 18 essays considering the final years of As the World Turns,  the soap opera that redefined the genre when it premiered in 1956.  Written by a lifelong fan of the show, these essays weave together the show's history, characters, storylines, writers and producers, to create a context within which to consider, not just ATWT, but all soap operas, past and present."

Of particular interest to ATWT fans may be Lynn's inclusion of creator Irna Phillips' original bible and vision for the show.

Get more information at:

Meanwhile, in a book not specifically dedicated to soap operas, Glenn Croston's The Real Story of Risk, which "traces our distorted perception of risk back to our ancient ancestors. Starting from an evolutionary perspective, Croston reminds readers that we are all the culmination of a long line of survivors who fought life-and-death threats such as attacks from wild animals, starvation, and disease. The fact that we have covered Earth with seven billion people is a testament to our skill at overcoming these risks. But our spectacular success has also produced our contemporary artificial world with new threats like climate change, chili dogs, and online gambling. Our brains, which evolved to deal with the ancient world, are ill equipped to process the new threats we face." - also includes a soap opera reference.

In Chapter 8, and a discussion of social risks, he quotes my interview with Eden Riegel (Bianca; AMC) from Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments in a section about fans interacting with their favorite actors.

Read more in:

Monday, October 22, 2012


Everyone has a favorite line from the 1991 classic comedy, Soapdish.  Mine happens to be Whoopi Goldberg, as the fictional daytime drama's headwriter, asserting, "He doesn't have a head!  How do you expect me to write for a guy without a head?"  (Maybe she should have consulted with ATWT's Shannon, who came back from being headshrunk in Africa looking not much worse for wear - and with Darnell Williams, to boot, so, really, how bad could the experience have been?)

Obviously, I am not the only one with a soft spot for this movie as now comes news that Soapdish is being developed as a musical (check out a preview of story and lyrics, here).

A read-through is scheduled, and the announced cast includes John Stamos (Blackie; GH), Jane Krakowski (TR; SFT) and Michael Park (Jack; ATWT).  Oh, and, you know, other Broadway heavyweights like Kristen Chenoweth, etc....

But, we're more excited about the ex-soap people in a musical about soaps!

For a look back at the actors during the daytime days (and, in Jane's case, the hair.  Oh, the 1980s hair...) check out the classic clips, below!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Are you the author of a print book who'd like to turn it into an enhanced ebook, adding multimedia features like video, audio, links, family trees and more?

Having done so with several of my own titles, including embedding skating footage in my figure skating mysteries, music to my romance novel, "When a Man Loves a Woman," and writing "Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga" based on real-time feedback from readers, I will be speaking this Saturday, October 20 at the 2nd Annual Writers Conference for the New York Chapter of the National Writers Union.

Get more information about the conference at:

And for a preview, check out the video below of a talk I gave to the same organization this past February:

Hope to see you at the conference!


“Is that book even still in print?” Iris wondered.  “My goodness.  Well, I guess these days, the digital age makes it possible for every title in creation to stay permanently in the public eye.  I see that Felicia has gone ahead and turned all of her titles into ebooks.”

“I understand she’s doing quite well with them," Rachel noted.

“How wonderful to hear.  Especially since I was just going through a list the editorial department sent me of Cory titles they recommend we scan and send right back out into circulation.  One of them particularly caught my eye.  An old thriller that I’m told we still get regular requests for: Harry Must Die.”

Despite the nonchalant way in which Iris let drop that tidbit, Rachel realized exactly where it was aimed, how, and why.

If Iris thought that bringing up the manuscript that had, in a roundabout way, led to Rachel and Mac’s first break up, her relationship with Mitch, not to mention Mac finding out – in court, of all places – that he wasn’t Matthew’s biological father….

“I gather our truce is over then?” Rachel closed her book.

“Did we ever truly have one?” Iris cooed.


Rachel and Iris remove the gloves of civility, followed by Rachel's attempt to deal Chase a killing blow, as well.  Jamie wonders about Steven's role in Horace's attack while Morgan attempts to make Amanda see the truth about Kevin, and Donna presents Sarah with an offer... and a threat.

Misunderstandings abound on today's episode at:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


When I first decided to turn my Figure Skating Mystery novels, initially published by Berkley Prime Crime as paperbacks originals, into enhanced ebooks with video to compliment the text, I turned to The Ice Theatre of NY, America's premiere ice dance company.

For a sneak peek of what our multimedia skating mystery looks like, click here:

Now, I am happy to report that ITNY is offering readers of this blog a discount to see them perform live this weekend in NYC.  Go to: for details.

And click on the links to explore all of our books, below:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


It all started with Cain and Abel, got bloody during the Civil War, blew up primetime (and now cable) with JR and Bobby, and has been a daytime staple from radio to today (with The Smothers Brothers giving rise to the whine: Mom Always Loved You Best).

No one can deny that sibling rivalry makes for good drama, whether it's B&B's Stephanie favoring Ridge over Thorne (and the girl, whatever her name is), James Stenbeck on ATWT perennially digging up new heirs to pit against his presumed scion, Paul, Y&R's Leslie feeling like she was living in her sister Lori's shadow (and writing a whole book about it), not to mention Adam's current issues, DOOL's Sami's ongoing one-sided feud with the presumed perfect Carrie, GH's adopted Michael making mean puppy dog eyes at Sonny's "real son" Dante, or AW's Iris being threatened by any new sibling who might divert dear Daddy's attention from her.  The list is truly endless.

Experts and arm-chair psychiatrists both in-universe and out have spent decades pondering the motivation and meaning behind parents treating siblings differently.

Now, I humbly offer my own take on the subject in

I recently sent my third child off to kindergarten. My only girl, my last baby, looking all grown up with her hair in a ponytail, wearing a backpack, clutching a lunch box. And I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling kind of… bored by the whole thing.

When my oldest went off to preschool for the first time, I read the handbook they gave us like it was The Holy Grail, terrified of making a mistake (oh, no, did I build the wrong kind of art smock?) and veering his entire educational future off-course for want of sewing ability. I attended every parent meeting and curriculum night. I volunteered for field-trips and saved his “report cards.”

When it was time for my second son, my “less easy” child to attend the same preschool, I was so terrified wondering whether he’d even walk through the doors, whether he’d stay, and, most importantly, what he’d do the minute my back was turned, that every day was a never-ending adventure.

By the time my daughter started her first year (ultimately, I spent seven years at the same preschool, six of them consecutive), I was pretty much over it. I was done with the trips to the firehouse and pumpkin-picking at the farm and The American Museum of Natural History’s dinosaur exhibit. I was particularly unconcerned about the art smock. If it was good enough for her brothers, it was good enough for her. Let the art commence!

I dragged myself to the Welcome Meetings, though I had the teachers’ introductory benediction memorized by that point. I felt it was important that my daughter saw me going, so she’d know her education was just as important to me as her two brothers’ had been. Because, of course, it was. Just not quite so demonstratively.

Read the entire piece at:

Could I be on to something, here?  Could the real reason for all that soapy angst simply be that, by the time the younger child arrives, the parents are just... tired?

Let me know in the Comments, and also chime in about your favorite case of soapy sibling rivalry!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Last week, National Public Radio aired an interview I did with them discussing my interracial, interfaith family.  You can listen to it at:

Since the beginning, soaps have had a checkered record when it comes to presenting racial issues.  We've previously addressed some of them here, here, and here.

In 1989, Generations premiered, featuring a core Black family, as part of an attempt to rectify the imbalance.

Creator/Executive Producer/Headwriter Sally Sussman recalled for my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments 

Our purpose in creating a multi-racial series was to not shy away from controversial storylines. We hoped to make our show different by creating black characters who had not been seen on daytime before; like Doreen, the black conniving bitch, or Martin Jackson, the manipulative businessman. Generations didn’t look like every other show.  Sadly, we were a little ahead of our time and the series only lasted two years. But the impact of the show still resonates as it presented African-Americans in a very aspirational way.

Read more from Sally, as well as find out (and watch) what she believes to be the show's most powerful scene in:


Stung, Sarah raised her eyes to meet Grant’s, practically daring him to continue.

He accepted the dare.  “I’ve said it before, and now that the events of the afternoon have proven it, I will say it again: Sarah is too young and too irresponsible to be so much as thinking about raising a child on her own.”

“That’s none of our business.” Marley attempted to cut him off at the pass.

“It is when we’re the ones making it possible for her to engage in this folly.  We’re acting like everything is going to be fine, when it obviously won’t be.”

“I know what I’m doing,” Sarah insisted.

“You think you do.” Grant stepped forward, trying, forcing, begging her to hear what he was saying. “I thought I knew what I was doing, too.  With Kirkland.  I thought because I loved my son, that meant I was capable of taking care of him, of giving him everything he needed.  I told myself so in order to justify my own selfishness.  I told myself that, after a decade of being gone, Kirkland would welcome me back with open arms.  And when he didn’t, I still pushed to get my way.  Mine, not his.  I wasn’t thinking about Kirk.  I was thinking about myself.  What I wanted, what I needed, what made me happy.  It wasn’t until my son nearly died; until he was lying in a hospital bed and telling me the best thing I ever did for him was leave him behind to be raised by someone competent, that it hit me what a selfish bastard I’d been, and was still.  I don’t want that to happen to you, Sarah.  Or your child.  I don’t want, years down the line, for either of you to regret… anything.  Do you understand me?”

Sarah’s mouth opened, but no sound came out.  She appeared gut-punched, wanting to respond to Grant’s claims, but too staggered to make it happen.

It was Marley who spoke up instead, putting one arm around Sarah’s shoulder, while taking Grant’s hand in hers, the three of them standing so close together, they could hear each other’s ragged breathing.


Grant struggles to make Sarah see the light, while Cass and Frankie get some fresh insight into their own dangerous game.  Amanda grows suspicious about Kevin, Donna frustrates Matt, Lucas and Alice ponder just how far Rachel might go, while Lila believes she's gone too far.

You decide if she's right at:

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Today is Eileen Davidson's first day back as Kristen on Days of Our Lives.  Read what she had to say earlier about revisiting ALL of her old DOOL characters!

Originally posted 5/1/12

With news breaking yesterday of Eileen Davidson's firing from The Young & the Restless (where she has played Ashley Abbott on and off since the early 1980s), came instant speculation that the actress might be recreating her Days of Our Lives role as either Kristen Blake or Susan Banks (or, hey, why not Sister Mary Moira and/or Thomas while we're at it? RIP: Penelope).  Especially since EJ's paternity is currently up for... reassessment?

When I spoke to Eileen about her multiple roles for Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, this is what she had to say about the possibility of a return to Salem:

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.  But it’s certainly something I would love to do again.  Even a few years ago, when I was going to be leaving Y&R, I thought: Wouldn’t it be a fun thing to do for six months or a year

Read Eileen's recollections about how the multiple roles came about, here.

And for more from Eileen, as well as dozens of other actors, writers, producers, and directors sharing the behind-the-scenes scoop about those moments viewers voted soaps' best of all time, check out Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments enhanced e-book on Amazon and


“I’m sorry,” Amanda gulped guiltily to her mother. “I’m afraid I’ve tipped our hand. I… kind of told Iris you and I knew she had insider information about the Cory stock plunge before it went public. And that she was in on it with Hamilton from the start.”

A part of Rachel wanted to explode at her daughter for the stupidity of the maneuver. True, Rachel, more than anyone, understood that way Iris had of ever so innocently pressing all of your buttons until you blurted out the last thing you’d intended. On the other hand, Amanda should have known it too, and either not engaged her half-sister at all, or at least gone in prepared.

Another part of Rachel, however, realized equally well the futility of crying over spilled milk after the cows had already left the barn. Or some such thing. What was done was done and time spent reproaching Amanda could better be put to use trying to think of a way out of her blunder. No matter how cathartic the alternative might prove. After all these months, the idea of finally going off on Amanda for everything….

“How did Iris react when you accused her?” Rachel asked instead.


Rachel prepares to do battle with Iris even as Lila puts the moves on Chase.  Grant sets up Sarah for a fall, Allie relives a nightmare, Donna springs a surprise on Matt, and a shocking development with Horace changes everything.

All at:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Over at, I've partnered with The Worldwide Dessert Contest: Enhanced Multimedia Edition ebook and Blockbuster to do a giveaway of a backpack full of family-friendly movie DVDs, candy and more.  Read all about it at:

But then I got to thinking: Why should they have all the fun?

The readers of my skating mysteries deserve free movies and candy just as much!

So here's the deal: Want to win a Camp Blockbuster backpack full of goodies?  Send me an email at telling me which character from any of my mysteries -

- Is based on which real-life skater, and you will be entered into my drawing to win!

To get you started on this (pretty easy if you follow skating) guessing game, here are excerpts from:

Murder on Ice
Axel of Evil
Death Drop

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


This past July, I wrote a piece for entitled "When to Hide Your Race and Religion."

Among the issues I addressed was:

When it comes to: Would we encourage our children to hide their heritage(s) in an effort to make life easier for themselves or us?

We agree that, under certain circumstances, the answer is: Absolutely yes.

I spent the first seven years of my life in Odessa, USSR (now Ukraine), and my husband his whole childhood in Harlem, NYC.

In Odessa, as in the entire Soviet Union, all citizens carried an internal passport, on which the infamous Fifth Line asked for “nationality.” And that nationality said: Jew. (And if your nationality said Jew, good luck with getting a place at a university or a high-ranking job or a non-communal apartment.) There was a way around it, however. Children of one Jewish and one ethnically Russian parent had a choice as to what they would put down (or have put down for them). They also had a choice between taking either parent’s last name. I don’t know anyone who opted for a Jewish name and a Jewish listing if they had an alternative. (On the other hand, a popular Russian saying was, “They don’t punch your passport, they punch your face,” suggesting you could wiggle bureaucratically all you like, it’s what you look like that ultimately matters.)

By the same token, my husband learned from an early age that, when applying for a job, it’s optimal not to be laid eyes upon until the very last minute. As late as 15 years ago, he was hired sight unseen by one company due to primarily phone and e-mail interviews, and he still sweated the first day, wondering if they’d suddenly decide they had made a mistake....

As noted in the “punching your face, rather than your passport” example, “passing” is easier for some people than others. Just like my husband looks exactly like what he is, anyone familiar with 20th Century Eastern European Jewry has no question regarding my origins, either.

But, our kids are a different story.

African-Americans recognize they’re Black, Hispanics tend to think they’re Hispanic, and white people assume they’re white. We’ve also been asked whether they might be Greek, Rumanian, Pakistani, Israeli, or Turkish.

In other words, my kids could “pass” for pretty much anything.

And that’s a good thing.

And that’s a bad thing....

I can easily imagine my kids sitting with a group of casual acquaintances at work, or in college or even high-school. Somebody makes a racist joke. Are my kids obliged to speak up? Are they duty-bound to “come out” as Black or Jewish (or both)?

There are those who would say yes, absolutely. How are widespread, bigoted attitudes supposed to change if those affected don’t speak up, if they don’t educate and chastise?

That’s a hell of a lot of pressure to put on any one person’s shoulders. Especially a child’s. Not to mention that it can get you into trouble. Big trouble.

You can read the entire assertion at:

To say that the piece caused an uproar would be an understatement.  I got chastised and vilified - and periodically agreed with.  I was also asked to appear on National Public Radio to talk about the subject.

I did the interview over the summer, but the piece has only been scheduled to run today.  It will be part of Tell Me More with host Michel Martin on WNYC-AM at 2:40 in New York City.  Not sure about when/where in other parts of the country.  (To be honest, so much time had passed since I first taped it, that I assumed I hadn't lived up to expectations and the segment shelved.)  Edited to add: You can now listen to the broadcast at:

I hope that I was able to make my points in a clear and succinct manner.  And that I'm prepared for the reaction I'm bound to receive as a result.

And just in case you think I've learned my lesson about keeping my mouth shut about potentially incendiary topics, fear not!  Only lost week I contributed another piece, this one regarding my opinion that parents who teach their children to be color-blind (and to follow the Golden Rule) are actually doing them - and all of us - a disservice.

Read the entire heresy at:

Monday, October 08, 2012


Originally published 10/11/11

The lovely Tina Sloan reminds me that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The perfect time to share a little of what Tina said to Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments regarding Guiding Light's 1992 breast cancer tale for Lillian, and why soap operas are unique in their story-telling ability:

The original breast cancer story itself won so many awards from the American Cancer Society, the Italian-American Breast Cancer Society, Harvard Medical School, Dana Farber and on and on. But, best of all, were the letters I got from fans telling me the story had saved their lives or that "by crying for you, I was finally able to cry for myself." My story followed a woman who had cancer in real life for a year. So, for a year, I went through all she did with radiation and group therapy... Bravo for the soap opera and the continuity. We didn’t do it in one episode, but in one year. The sadness that this medium has left us is the sadness that mothers with their mothers and their daughters cannot share the stories together anymore. The emotional history of our country’s consciousness is being taken away from us by taking off the world of soap opera and replacing it with game shows and cooking shows and weight loss shows.

Read the complete interview and more in Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments.

To read Tina Sloan's take on what happened to Lillian after GL went off the air, go to: The Surprise Unraveling.

Edited to Add: If you are in the New York City area and are looking to do something good for the cause of breast cancer research - while also doing something nice for yourself, check out the below offer from Fix Beauty Bar:

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Fix Beauty Bar is located on 847 Lexington Avenue.  Learn more at:


“Rachel isn’t holding on to false hope,” Lucas pointed out, about to urge Felicia to do the same, when she abruptly interrupted him.

“No. She’s not. Rachel is convinced Carl, Elizabeth and Cory are dead. And, I swear to you, it’s almost as if she’s happy about it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. No matter what Carl may have done – in the past and up to now – Rachel adored him. She was blind to his faults, blind to the danger he represented to her family – and to ours. Rachel could never in a million years be happy about losing Carl. Not to mention Cory and Elizabeth, all in one swoop.”

“When I told her Frankie and Cass had tracked down the bodyguard who was supposed to have been on Carl’s plane, and that he was still alive, Rachel asked me about Carl and the children. When I said there had been no sign of them so far, she looked relived. I tell you, she was relieved to hear it.”

“If Carl and the children are still alive, that means Rachel’s husband has deliberately put her through the worst pain a human being can endure. No wonder she was relieved you didn’t have any evidence of his having done so.”

“It was more than that,” Felicia insisted. “It was almost… Luke, listen to me, I’ve been thinking… I know it sounds crazy but, please, hear me out.”

He braced himself as if for a blow, but, nevertheless, said, “I’m listening, Fanny.”

“I’ve been thinking. What if… What if Rachel is on this with Carl?”


Felicia floats an unconscionably horrible notion to Lucas, while Cass forces Frankie to admit a long-held secret - by offering up one of his own.  Allie's confession inspires Donna, Steven and Kevin reach their breaking points, and Lila makes her move.

All at:

Friday, October 05, 2012


I confess, when I originally wrote my Figure Skating Mysteries, Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop, and Skate Crime for Berkley Prime Crime, I incorporated a lot of gossip I'd heard backstage working for ABC Sports into my stories.  How could I not?  The stories were so juicy!

Because my books were fiction, I didn't have to investigate whether or not they were true.  If they sounded good and helped my plot along, in they went.  (I also incorporated a lot of stories I knew to be true, but wasn't about to name names for publicly, for fear of lawsuits or, worse, unemployment.  There is a disclaimer at the front of each book that say the characters bear no relation to anyone living or dead, and I'm sticking by them.)

In Axel of Evil, the third book in the series, the following exchange occurs when our heroine, TV researcher, Bex Levy, catches Brittany Monroe, an American girl skating for the Russian team (due to one grandparent having been Russian), trying to make off with her primary competition's skates....

Bex stated the obvious. "Those aren't your skates."

Brittany looked down at the golden skates she was cradling in first position. The blades of each skate were digging into her elbows. Eight metal hooks at the ankles had already snagged a few loose cherry threads. She wrinkled her brow, either suffering from temporary amnesia or painfully trying to summon up a good reason to contradict Bex. 

"Yes, they are."  Then Brittany conceded, "No, they're not."

Bex stated the obvious. "They're Galina's."

This time, Brittany didn't even stop to think. "Yes. They are."

"Are you taking them for a walk?" Bex inquired politely. "Is that a Russian team tradition? Sort of like a wacky initiation?  What's going on?"


"Why do you have Galina's skates?"

"I... uhm... I..."

Bex sighed. Why was it, in books, sleuths always had brilliant—sociopathic, but brilliant—nemesis to match wits with. While Bex was up against folks too stupid to even try making up an on-the-ball excuse. Just standing here, Bex could think of several credible lies for Brittany to wriggle with. How about: "She left them behind in the locker room and I'm returning them to her."

Or, "She asked me to take them to the skate sharpener's."

Or, "The Russian Skating Federation is so poor now, the skaters have been told we're going to be sharing boots."

Bex considered sharing any of the above with Brittany. Surely, even a scripted answer would be better than the current, all-vowel stuttering. Especially when the real answer was obvious to anyone with eyes. And a suspicious worldview.

Luckily, Bex fit both bills.

She allowed Brittany's silence to flop about like a newborn's limbs for a few more seconds. Then she got bored. And she accused, "You were going to dump Galina's skates in the refrigeration room.

Brittany stopped trying to talk. And just shrugged. She looked down at the floor. But, for a moment, Bex thought she caught the teen peeking defiantly up at Bex, as though simultaneously embarrassed and proud of her actions.

"Not very sportsmanlike behavior, Britt."

"Who the hell cares?" Even the kittens on her sweater quivered with indignation. "What about the way she treats me? What about the way they all treat me?"

Bex really did see her point. And, being only a few years older than Brittany, she had no interest in going all "listen to your elders" on her with a lecture about why it was wrong to cheat and steal. To be honest, Bex was less interested in the right and wrong on display here, and more about getting the whole story in case she decided to pitch it as a 24/7 feature for Gil.

"How long has this been going on?" she asked Brittany. "The Russian team dissing you like they did after practice today?"

At the time I wrote this back in 2005, there were certainly rumors of similar sabotage. But now, Phillip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune reports:

Saying he acted on orders from national team head coach Jae Su Chun, U.S. short-track speedskater Simon Cho admitted to having tampered with the skates of a Canadian athlete at the 2011 World Team Championships in Warsaw, Poland.

The sabotage, which involved skater Olivier Jean, kept his Canadian team, the bronze medalists, from contending for the gold or silver medal.  

Read the entire expose at:,0,6242424.story

And ponder whether truth really is stranger (and meaner) than fiction.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


The fine people at Blockbuster sent me a very pretty blue backpack full of family-friendly DVDs like Finding Nemo, Rio, Madagascar, and more.  There was also candy.  Big, movie-theater sized boxes of candy.

It was part of a promotion they're doing for Camp Blockbuster's Kids Pass, where you can rent as many family movies as you like (one at a time) a month for $4.99.  Which, frankly, if you watch a lot of movies, is a great deal.

As has been established earlier, I am very, very cheap.  As a result, I love great deals.

I love free things even more.

And about the only thing I love more than great deals and free things, is telling other people about great deals and free things they can get for themselves.

To that end, the nice people at Blockbuster and I are partnering to do a giveaway wherein three of my readers can win their own backpack full of free DVDs and candy.  Big, movie-theater sized boxes of candy.

Sound good?  Click here for entry details.


“No,” Amanda informed her half-sister, marching into the Cory Publishing office Iris had claimed as her own ever since assuming the mantle of their CEO. She had a lot more to say, but Amanda figured that one syllable summarized it nicely.

“Thank you for coming in,” Iris said, as if she’d been the one to summon Amanda, instead of the other way around. “Won’t you have a seat? I have a few matters I wish to discuss with you.”

“No,” Amanda repeated. “Let me make myself clear. Anything you have to discuss with me, the answer is no. See how nicely that streamlines the process?”

“I’m afraid it won’t be working that way,” Iris enlightened her. “I’ve been looking over the budget for next fiscal year – “

“We have accountants for that.”

“And a marvelous job they have been doing so far, bringing you nearly to the brink of bankruptcy.”

“That was a Black Swan event. No one could have foreseen that Hamilton would go after Carl’s loan – “

“It was your job to foresee it. Frankly, Amanda, it was your job not to accept it in the first place, considering the events of the past summer were perennially a possibility. But, then again, you always did have a soft spot for Carl.”


Amanda makes a critical mistake with Iris, Marley makes the mistake of saying too much to Donna - who jumps to her own conclusions, Kevin attempts to rectify his mistake with Horace, Cass realizes he made a mistake with Frankie, and Lila forces Chase to revisit his own mistakes.

Make no mistake about it, you can't miss today's episode at:

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Ask Nook HD what it can do for you!

Barnes & Noble announcing two new products last week - the 7-inch, $199 Nook HD and the 9-inch, $269 Nook HD+ - made me very happy.

Why?  Because what could be better to esperience on an HD Nook than an enhanced ebook designed specifically to be both read and viewed?

And what could look better on your brand new HD screen than professional figure skating footage combined with text to create the Figure Skating Mystery series?

Originally published as paperbacks by Berkley Prime Crime, Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, and Death Drop by Alina Adams have been reissued as enhanced ebooks where you get all the text of the first release, plus video to compliment it.

Not precisely sure how that would work?

Check out the excerpt below from the first title in the series, Murder on Ice:

Of all the people Bex worked with at 24/7, she supposed, if pressed, she would have to say she knew Francis and Diana Howarth the best. Not that they were friends or anything. Bex couldn't imagine Francis and Diana, who lived on New York's Upper East Side in a duplex over Central Park, and talked about sitting on committees to support the symphony/ballet/museums and eradicate diseases from ALS to Zoster (which was actually a fancy word for chicken pox; Bex looked it up because she was weird that way) could ever consider someone like her a friend. After all, most of the time, the Howarths weren't even sure Bex wasn't their personal assistant. Why else would they send her for coffee, and to make photocopies, and to, "Do me a favor, Bex, Francis forgot his tuxedo shirt back at the hotel. Would you be a dear, scurry over and fetch it?"

"But... uh ... Diana, the broadcast is about to start."

"You'd best hurry then, hadn't you?"

However, friends or not, Francis, Diana, and Bex did spend a lot of time together. As soon as America's sweethearts arrived at their latest location (usually days after the grunt crew, Bex included, decamped), they called her up, expressing dismay that she should already sound so tired when the competition hadn't even begun yet, and then off all three of them would go to the rink to watch the practices. Because it wasn't only judges who came to the practices to get an idea of who was doing what with which consistency, and how they might mark them accordingly. Announcers came, too: to stock up on their pithy, extemporaneous comments.

For three to five days, depending on the length and importance of the competition, Bex, Francis, and Diana sat shivering in the stands, Bex huddled in her 24/7 (one size fits all as long as you're a pro football player) down jacket, Diana elegantly sipping hot toddies from a thermos color-coordinated daily to her outfit, and Francis wearing a furry, mink Russian hat with earflaps he'd purchased from a street vendor in Moscow back when entrepreneur was still a Soviet dirty word. They sat, and they watched practice group after practice group, skater after skater, ranging from jumping beans to artists to technicians to people who obviously won their country's national championship by virtue of being the only citizens to own ice skates. They watched athletic talent so breathtaking it made you doubt you even belonged to the same species as them, and they watched the painful results of paying for your partner and your lessons and your costumes and, thus, your spot in a world championship.

As every skater stepped onto center ice to perform a run-through of their program with music, Bex would pull out her bio and jump sheet, urging Francis and Diana to do the same, and they would click through each element as it was done, note whether or not it was completed (so that, during the broadcast, in case of a fall, Diana could exclaim, "I don't know what happened! He/She/They were nailing them in practice all week!"). At the end, they'd have a brief meeting about what they wanted to say about this particular skater when they got on air, how to introduce them, which element to tell viewers at home to look out for, and which aspect of their personal story to highlight. If any of them made a particularly pithy comment, Diana would diligently write it down and, later, she and Francis would divvy up the cleverness.

Of course, based on how both behaved the night of the ladies' long program, most of the time Bex felt like she was just talking to herself. The only time Francis or Diana ever actually followed the narrative course she'd charted for them was when the other seemed determined to do the opposite. Still all three of them diligently went through the charade of preparation.

And, in the middle of the charade, while the ice was being cleaned, or while the skaters were warming up, or while one boy whom Francis called "as exciting as watching paint dry," was on the ice, the Howarths and Bex just chatted. One day Francis and Diana might regale her with tales from their amateur days, when everyone competed outside, and a stiff wind could be either your biggest friend or greatest enemy. They talked about being the first Westerners to travel to some Iron Curtain towns and of getting a private tour of India's Taj Mahal. On other days, they might decide to talk about their first tour, and how they put it together on a wing and a prayer, not realizing how much work and extra expense was involved in physically transporting not only the other teams they’d hired to perform with them (which they budgeted for), but also multiple costumes and sets (which they hadn't) and how as a result, despite playing to packed houses all over the world, their debut season was a huge financial failure.  The next year, Francis and Diana pared down the costumes (pretty much limiting themselves to one set of outfits accessorized with dime-store masks) and got rid of the sets entirely, deciding to let the skating, variations on a formal court-dance, speak for itself.

And sometimes, Francis and Diana merely kicked back and gossiped about everyone they knew. Who was sleeping with whom, who was cheating on whom, who was about to dump their coach, and whose partner was secretly trying out with others. They were witty, they were knowledgeable, and, in their own way, they were quite charming.

Which was why Bex was having a hard time picturing the Howarths as killers.

Read more at:

And don't worry, the Figure Skating Mystery series can also be experienced right now on the Nook Color or, even easier, by simply downloading the FREE Nook app to your computer, laptop, phone or iPad!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


In honor of today's release of Dark Shadows, the movie, on DVD, I re-post my original Apology to Tim Burton.

Plus, as an added bonus, an interview with Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie/Josette), and a photo of Ms. Scott with Lara Parker (Angelique) at Comic-Con 2012.

Please enjoy!

Originally posted on July 19, 2012

Dear Mr. Burton -

I apologize.  I admit it, when the first trailer for your latest movie, "Dark Shadows" came out, I bought into the hype and, right here on this very blog, took you to task, writing:

Last week's release of the first trailer of Tim Burton's/Johnny Depp's Dark Shadows feature film earned cries of foul from the original series' devoted fans. They assert they'd been led to believe the movie would be more along the lines of Burton's previous Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Sweeny Todd, gothic, atmospheric thrillers played more or less straight, when what they got appears to be closer to Bettlejuice.

And the Brady Bunch Movie.

And Dukes of Hazzard.

And Bewitched.

And A Very Brady Sequel.

In other words, laughing at, not with a beloved 1970s television show

Well, yesterday, a scant four months later (I have three kids and a half-dozen part time jobs I desperately attempt to cobble into a single, full-time one - in other words, I'm slow), for my husband's birthday, I actually saw your version of "Dark Shadows."

And here is what I have to say, Mr. Burton: It was wonderful.

Yes, it was campy.  But, campy in the very best way.  Campy like a classic soap opera written and acted at the top of its game, with both dedication and self-awareness.

And yes, it was funny.  But, not funny like a farce, not funny like a spoof, but funny like the way soap fans talk about their favorite show.  As the girls at Serial Drama say, "We mock because we love."

So, I apologize to you, Mr. Burton (and I transfer my wrath to your promo department, who I presume decided to sell the movie as a wacky, "Naked Gun" type parody.  I do wonder, though, what the people who came expecting to see said wacky parody thought once they'd handed over their ticket money).

And I urge soap fans who might have stayed away from the movie due to reasons listed above to give it a chance.  "Dark Shadows" is gorgeous to look at, it's solidly (I daresay, classically, plotted) and, most important, it's fun.

(A disclaimer for the purists, I realize that liberties were taken in places with the plot, the most grievous presumably the making of Victoria Winters and Maggie Evans the same person.  But, it worked for me in context.  I understand how others might have more trouble with it.)

Monday, October 01, 2012


Thank you to the Smashwords reviewer who wrote about Stacy Juba's collection of essays, 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back:

I really enjoyed this book of essays and there is one for every taste or mood. I especially enjoyed Friend in Need as it points out how time passes and lives change course.

The essay in question is mine.  Read an excerpt below!

Originally published August 28, 2012

An essay of mine appears in a newly published collection by Stacy Juba, 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back.

When Stacy first contacted me about contributing, I had no idea what I was going to write about.  The only criteria was the theme: 25 years ago.

Twenty-five years ago, I graduated high-school (Lowell High, class of 1987, that's me).  Unlike a lot of people, high-school was actually a pretty great time for me.  But, in thinking about it, and writing about it, I ended up contributing an essay about one of the most painful things that ever happened to me.  I'd never written about it before, and I'm still not sure if I did the right thing writing about it now.  The subject is still too raw and too painful for me, not to mention somewhat embarrassing.

An excerpt is below:

In high-school, I find made friends with people who were engrossed by the same things as I was.  There was a whole bunch of us “A” English students, budding writers all.  We read books and we discussed books and we wrote our own books.

My best friend and I even wrote our own novel, in the vein of our then favorite, blockbuster writer, Sidney Sheldon (we were seventeen years old.  You can guess at the book’s quality).  But, it was our passion, and we worked on it diligently all through our Senior Year.

We went to different colleges, but we kept in touch via marathon phone conversations, working on the book, among other things.  I majored in Writing for Television.  My friend, at the insistence of her parents, chose a more sensible field.  But, we still clung to our dreams of completing and publishing our book together.

Eventually, I took over the bulk of the writing, but she continued to read it and proof it and offer ideas.  It was still ours, and it was still going to happen, we were sure of it.

The proposal complete, I armed myself with that mandatory tool of aspiring authors everywhere, “The Writer’s Marketplace,” and proceeded to send our baby out to those New York City publishers who’d produced our favorite novels.  The book got repeatedly rejected.

But, a funny thing happened along the way.  Editors who didn’t think this particular manuscript was “right for them at this time,” saw something promising in my prose, and asked me to submit other works.  I did.  This lead to the publication of two Regency romances with AVON, and a pair of contemporaries for AVON and DELL.

But, all along, I kept working and re-working that original story.  Because I loved it and believed in it.  And because it was something my best friend and I were doing together.

And then, in November of 1998, I introduced my best friend to my fiancĂ©.  The three of us had lunch together.  Everything seemed to go well.

She never called me again.

At the time, I thought I was the only person this had ever happened to.  Since then, I've learned that the abrupt termination of friendship with no explanation (especially among women) is such a common thing there's even a book about it, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Break Up With Your Best Friend.  Though people still tend to keep it a secret, for a variety of reasons.  As a result, when it happens, everyone feels like they're alone.

I've tried writing about it, fictionalized (most notably with Sarah and Allie in Another World Today), and, when I was at P&G, I pitched the story repeatedly, arguing that this was a woman's medium, and this was something that affected women's lives, something a majority of women could relate to.  It would be a fresh, new story on a seemingly ancient and perennially perplexing subject (and no, it wouldn't be something as simple as a case of two former best friends fighting over a man.  I was talking about something subtler, and much sadder).  Nobody bought it.

So now, I've written about it for real, torn off the scabs and opened myself up for more pain.

Like I said, still not sure this was a good idea.  But, hey, you can read the complete essay at:

And, in case you're wondering, that story I've been developing since high-school eventually became the Counterpoint interactive series.  Initially, I was going to write it with my best friend.

Now, I'm writing it with all of you....




The two women eyed each other warily over the breakfast table, each having suspected that, what with them both living in the Cory mansion now, they were bound to run into each other sooner or later. They’d just both been truly hoping for later.

“Congratulations,” Iris offered, smiling insincerely and taking a seat.

“For what?” Donna inquired with equally fake enthusiasm, doing the same.

“Why, your most recent marriage to our Matthew. You know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. You and Michael certainly made a habit of it.”

“Something that could never be said about you, now could it, Iris?”

“It could not, no.”

“I guess once is more than ample for any man where you’re concerned.” Donna managed to look innocent while sipping her coffee.

Iris reached for her own cup. “I prefer to learn from my mistakes, rather than wring alimony out of them.”

“Speaking of your many, many mistakes,” Donna went on. “How is Dennis faring these days?”


Donna and Iris bare their claws - and it does not end well.  GQ accuses Steven, Marley urges Sarah to make a choice, Dean gets advice from a most surprising source, and Kirkland demands answers from Grant.

Things are getting chilly in Bay City!