Thursday, January 31, 2013

AS GOES "AS THE WORLD TURNS," SO GOES... EVERYTHING?

We've already written about Lynn Liccardo's book chronicling the end of As the World Turns, here.

But now, Sam Ford, who contributed a piece on ATWT's Luke and Noah to my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, argues that what went wrong with ATWT can be applied to practically any business.

He writes in Fast Company:

Marketing and communications professionals alike are increasingly thinking about themselves and their everyday work as acts of "storytelling." Often, though, this is said in a vacuum, with little thought about how lessons learned from professional storytellers in the media industries might apply to the stories companies tell.

Recently, I've been reading Lynn Liccardo's e-book, As the World Stopped Turning. Liccardo (who contributed to the Survival of Soap Opera, a book I co-edited) provides a personal account, as both fan and critic, of watching the gradual deterioration of a soap opera which had been a staple of the U.S. daytime lineup for 54 years.

In her focus on the particulars of As the World Turns, I see several key lessons that corporate storytellers should take to heart, lest we (once again) live out the cliche about those not studying history being doomed to repeat it. Here are a few of those themes:

Read the entire piece at: http://www.fastcompany.com/3005076/demise-soap-operas-and-lessons-content-marketers

ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #195-2


“A wine order?” Chase leaned back in his office chair and contemplated the ceiling.  “That’s our big clue?  A wine order?  Six months on the trail and that’s the best Cass and Frankie were able to come up with?”

“An exclusive wine order,” Iris specified.  “One that should have stopped with Carl’s death, but didn’t.”

“Maybe he bequeathed it to his favorite charity: The League of Extraordinarily Evil Gentlemen.”

“It is, nevertheless, worth following up on.”

“I cannot spend government money on a sight-seeing tour of French wine country.  They’d take away my Fiscal Conservative card.”

“I could go,” Iris offered.  “It wouldn’t cost you a cent.”

“How civic-minded of you, Mrs. Wheeler.”

“Quid pro quo, Your Honor.  I presume you haven’t forgotten the details of our bargain?”

******

Iris and Chase make the terms of their alliance clear, Amanda confronts Frankie and Cass - and Morgan, Lila lays down the law to Jasmine, GQ drops a bombshell on Allie, and Olivia begs Sarah not to fall for her grandmother's manipulations.

The deals and the duos are deadly at: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2013/2013_195p2.html

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

COOKBOOK FINDS RECIPES BASED ON INGREDIENTS YOU HAVE!

A favorite dinner dish at our house is entitled Mommy, Mommy, What Do You See? (in honor of the Brown Bear who gets asked the same thing).  Mommy, Mommy What Do You See? consists of me opening the refrigerator, surveying the ingredients therein, and whipping up some mish-mash of what's available.

Which is why, when it came time for turning "SKINNY SPICES: 50 Nifty Homemade Spice Blends That Can Turn Blah Healthy Eating Into Flavor-Rich Delicious Dining" by Erica Levy Klein, previously published by Surrey Books in 1993 into an enhanced ebook for the 21st Century, I had the thought: Wouldn't it be awesome if an electronic cookbook could be searchable?

I enter the ingredients available, and the cookbook promptly offers me those recipes which include what I've got on hand!  How cool would that be?

Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

"SKINNY SPICES: 50 Nifty Homemade Spice Blends That Can Turn Blah Healthy Eating Into Flavor-Rich Delicious Dining" is the newest title produced by Alina Adams Media as an enhanced ebook, and it's truly one of a kind.

Check it out on Amazon or B&N and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I NO THINK THAT STORY MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEAN

Elana Gartner’s piece about “adjusting” the fairy tales she tells her son and daughter reminded me of how my poor children are forced to bear the brunt of my Master’s in Media Analysis every time they watch a movie or television show.

Most recently, my 13-year-old son and I discussed how in Les Miserables, the noble revolutionaries who only care about the plight of the poor set up their barricade and destroy the poor people’s (whom they care so much about) neighborhood. Then, while said poor people are literally on their knees cleaning up the mess, the only revolutionary left goes back to his rich grandfather’s house and proceeds to celebrate his lavish wedding without a moment of irony or even self-awareness.

My 9- and 6-year-old, on the other hand, get lectures about The Incredibles and how, while the super power-laden family laments being forced to hide their own powers because “normal people” are threatened by them, when the designated villain invents devices that mimic those powers, “The Incredibles” are deeply offended and rush out to stop him, since you can’t become a superhero through hard work or brilliance–you can only be born one. Anyone else is unworthy. (Wee bit √úbermenschy, no?)

But, the big issue that comes up over and over again in children’s animation especially is the perennial edict to stick with your own kind. Even as the movie in question presumes it’s telling the exact opposite story.

Read the complete piece at: http://www.kveller.com/blog/parenting/what-kids-cartoons-teach-about-intermarriage/

Monday, January 28, 2013

A PERFECT TWITTER STORM: WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH ON GH?

If 20 years ago you'd told me that, in the 21st Century, I'd be discussing Ibsen plays with Jane Badler (Diana; V), pointing out to Robin Strasser (Dorian; OLTL) that her dream time period to live in may be the 1930s, but as a Jewish woman she probably wouldn't be too comfortable there, reminding Shannon Tweed (Savannah; DOOL) about her Miami Vice-style location shoot in Florida, and commiserating with Alicia Coppola (Lorna; AW) about the hassle of having three kids in three different schools, I would have thought you were out of your mind.

Twitter, however, has made all that possible.  All that and more.

Last Friday, Mala Bhattacharjee (formerly of Soap Opera Weekly, now Romantic Times) tweeted General Hospital's Headwriter Ron Carlivati to ask if, in addition to Genie Francis and Kin Shriner and Jack Wagner and the rest, we might also get John Stamos (Blackie) back for GH's 50th Anniversary.

Ron tweeted Malah back to say the actor had turned them down.

Except that, at almost the exact same moment, Stamos tweeted to say he'd never been asked.  (EDITED AT 1:14 PM TO ADD: Mala contacted me to correct my chronology.  Apparently what really happened is Stamos tweeted he hadn't been asked, Mala sent out a general, rhetorical response, and then Carlivati saw the post via, presumably, a GH hashtag, and added his comment about Stamos having turned them down.  We're sorry for the error.  Which is another thing about Twitter.  When information is coming at you fast and furious in a flowing timeline, some of it in chronological order, some of it re-tweeted after the fact, it's hard to keep straight what came first: the rumor, or the denial.)

Oops.  Awkward.

Now, of course, there is a multitude of explanations for this He Said/He said that doesn't include either man lying.  It could be that GH's invite had never been passed on to the Greek yogurt seller by his management.  Conversely, it could be that the person who tweets for Stamos (I don't know if there is one, this is all pure speculation) didn't know that Stamos has been asked or that he'd turned them down.

Anything is possible.

But, twenty years ago, could you have ever dreamed of such a scenario?

ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #195-1

Iris asked, “Do you know why I left your father in Elliot’s care the way that I did?”

“Because you had better things to do?”

“Yes!” Iris said with a great deal more enthusiasm than Sarah would have expected.  For most people, abandoning your child was something to be ashamed of.  “I did have better things to do.  But, in the beginning, I was just like you.  I’d lost Dennis’ father, a man named Alex Marshall – “

“I know the story,” Sarah attempted to cut her grandmother off.

“No.  You don’t.  You only know one part of it.  This… This I’ve never told anyone previously.  Not Dennis, not Elliot, not even Alex.  Will you listen to me?  Please?  If my past suffering can help you even an iota, I would be infinitely – “

“Okay, I’m listening,” Sarah twirled her hand to try and drive Iris closer to a point.

“I’d lost Alex.  Even though I’d loved him desperately.  I thought, well, at least I had his child.  That was something.  It may not be him, but it’s a part of him.  A part of him that won’t ever up and leave me.”  She looked at Sarah.  “Do you recognize what I am saying, my darling?”

“Yes,” Sarah gritted through clenched teeth.

“Good.  Because then you will also understand why I vowed to be a perfect mother to Dennis.  To love him in a way his father wouldn’t let me.  I swore to sacrifice anything for him, my own life, if need be, in order to make him happy.”

“So what happened?” Sarah was having a hard time keeping up the detached cynicism when, truth was, now she really wanted to know.


**** 

Iris uses her own past to try and control Sarah's future, Cass and Frankie attempt to get to the bottom of what happened with Charlie, Lucas struggles to figure out whom to trust, Jasmine flirts with danger, Marley and Grant carry on, and Jen's new relationship helps make up Kevin's mind.

Everyone thinks they're doing the right thing on today's AWT: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2013/2013_195p1.html

Friday, January 25, 2013

FLASHBACK: GUIDING LIGHT'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Guiding Light made its radio debut seventy-six years ago, on January 25, 1937 and went on to broadcast for a record seventy-two years on radio and television.

In honor of the day, check out the fuss that was made when the show was a mere 50 year old baby in 1987, and again when they celebrated 50 years on just television in 2002:







Thursday, January 24, 2013

MIKOS CASSADINE COULD HAVE SOLVED GLOBAL WARMING!

And he would have gotten away with it, too - if it weren't for those darned kids!

Who needs climate change when you have an evil weather machine?

The record-cold temperatures currently sweeping the country made me wonder if General Hospital's Mikos Cassadine - or his awesome widow, Helena - are up to their old tricks again.

Back in the early 1980s, when GH was the hottest thing on TV, Executive Producer Gloria Monty and Headwriter Thom Racina decided to cool things off a bit with a sci-fi adventure story about the world's largest synthetic diamond known as the Ice Princess, and a megalomaniac's plan to freeze the world.

Had our silly political leaders known about global warming then, they would have welcomed Mikos with open arms, and today he'd be hailed as a hero, while those stowaway spoilers, Luke, Laura, Robert and the World Security Bureau would be vilified for their attempts to stop him and doom us all.

Watch a classic clip below featuring Sharon Wyatt in her earliest days as Tiffany, Thao Penghlis (DOOL) as Victor, John Colicos (of Battlestar: Gallactica fame) as Mikos, and even Dr. Bombay from Bewitched and find out how crushed diamonds are the future of climate control.

ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #194-2

“More people?” Lucas thundered at Iris.  “You want to bring more people in?  How the hell is anything supposed to be kept secret with you broadcasting our business to anyone who asks?”

“I did no such thing!” Iris bristled.  Then, in an attempt to calm Lucas down, cooed, “I am so sorry.  I had no idea this would upset you so much.”

“You didn’t think that talking about my daughter’s murderer would upset me?”

“I thought you’d be pleased to hear we are not the only ones set on digging up the truth regarding Carl.  Chase Hamilton is a powerful man.  He can be a great asset to us.”

“Chase Hamilton might have been responsible for Lorna’s death.  How do we know he isn’t connected with the compound?  Maybe this appeal to you is his way of finding out what we know in order to report back.”

***

Lucas is forced to choose the lesser to two evils, Cass, Frankie and Kirkland try to understand what happened with Charlie, Allie and Sarah commiserate, Donna offers her help to Jasmine, Jen reaches out to Steven while Rachel gets an offer of her own.

Who would you trust on today's AWT: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2013/2013_194p2.html

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

US FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS: BEHIND THE SCENES

The US Figure Skating Championships are taking place this week.  It's an event I am very familiar with.  I was in Detroit in 1994 when Nancy Kerrigan got clubbed on the knee, and also at many subsequent events while working as a researcher for ABC Sports.

When it came time for me to write my Figure Skating Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, naturally I drew on my experiences from all the competitions I'd been to, and the skaters I knew. 

Death Drop, the 4th book in the series actually takes place at the National Championships.  If you ever wanted to know what it's like before the cameras arrive, this is the novel that tells you everything.  Please enjoy an excerpt, below:

PROLOGUE

At first, no one realized he was even there.

Though the Pasadena Dome in Southern California could accommodate up to fifteen thousand spectators, on the morning of the Senior Dance Compulsory run-through at the U.S. Figure Skating Championship, the only people in the arena were the five dance teams making up Practice Group "B," their coaches, a handful of parents, and about fifty hard-core skating fans — middle-aged women bundled up in sweatshirts and fur-lined parkas who believed that their All-Event Nationals Tickets really, really meant All-Event.

They had the Championship's program on their laps, a thermos full of coffee in their left hand, and a pen in their right, ready to jot down who'd deigned to attend the early morning practice, which team was skating to what music, and how their edges looked compared to their opponents' twizzles versus the other's Choctaws and Mohawks. Some of the fans even had laptop computers for on-the-spot Internet reports. They were the easiest ones to spot, since they absolutely had to be sitting next to a phone jack, and tended to get very cranky if blocked.

They also liked to sit in the front rows, since that made it easier to eavesdrop on what the coaches, standing at the barrier, were whispering to their students on the ice. The bulk of the advice seemed to be, "Push. Push. Push!" making most dance practices feel more like natural childbirth classes, especially when that advice was often followed by, "Just ignore the pain for now. It will be worth it in the end."

The dancers all listened keenly, nodded intensely, blew their noses, took a sip of bottled water, then joined hands and whipped around to — more often than not — make the same mistake, prompting the coaches to groan and that groan to echo off the cavernous arena. At that Sigh of Ultimate Despair, the skaters' parents, who previously had been sitting hunched over in their seats, trying to calculate how many hours of sleep they had lost per lifetime after a decade of racing to 5:00 A.M. practices, would snap to attention as if slapped and commence staring pointedly at their offspring, as if their focus — and their focus alone — was what might keep the kids upright for the duration of their event.

"That concludes practice time for the Paso Doble. Our next dance will be the Killian," intoned a sleepy announcer's voice as the arena was engulfed in shrill and painfully peppy music. The Killian was a march, and one of the fastest ice dances in existence. While two sequences of the Ravensburger Waltz took fifty-eight seconds to skate, and two patterns of the Tango Romantica filled a leisurely, practically restful, one minute and forty-three seconds, the Killian required six sequences to be whipped through in exactly fifty seconds.

On cue, all of the couples who'd previously been facing each other for the Paso Doble, turned so that both were facing in the same direction, the man's right hand clasping the lady's right palm and pressing it to her hip, his left hand extending her left arm across the front of his body. Their expressions of fiery, Spanish intensity morphed into mindless, noncountry-specific glee, and off they went in a counterclockwise circle, cheerfully pretending that their hearts weren't ready to explode out of their chests from exertion, or that the squishy feeling in their socks was merely wholesome sweat rather than blood from freshly opened blisters.

This time the scream emanating from their coaches was, "Cross behind! Damn it, how many times do we have to go over this? Cr! Oss! Be! Hind! Boot! Touching! Boot! It doesn't do anybody any good if you cross behind without the boots touching!"

The dancers all listened keenly, nodded intensely, blew their noses, took a sip of bottled water, and tried their best.

As the practice drew to a close, the mood in the arena grew more desperate. Coaches who'd spent the past year trying to get their points across realized that they had literally four more minutes to make an impression. Skaters who'd spent the past year just ignoring the pain, understood that they had four more minutes to get their steps right, or all that suffering would amount to nothing. Their parents were already giving up on this season and making plans for the next — maybe a new coach was in order, maybe a new partner. The spectators started typing their concluding thoughts onto the Internet. It wasn't until after "Group B" finished their run-through, and "Group A" stomped in to take their place, bringing with them a new contingent of frustrated coaches, sleepy parents, and rabid fans, that anyone even noticed the abandoned baby.

He was so tiny, he couldn't even hold his head up in his car seat, needing to be propped up by one of the straps. He wore a newborn-size blue snowsuit with a hood, gloves, and booties, and seemed not so much scared as befuddled by the crowd that gathered around him after the first yelp. He blinked, sleepy and unfocused, then arched his back, yawned, stretched, and smacked his lips.

"He's hungry," one of the skating moms said. But seemed stymied over what to do about that fact.

"He looks like he's all by himself," came another statement of the obvious.

"We should call someone."

"I wonder where his mother is."

"We should get someone."

"Yes. Someone should get someone."

Eventually it was the referee who decided that his authority to make all calls for a given event included determining the fate of a baby abandoned on his watch. He picked up the surprisingly light car seat and moved toward the Championship's accounting office. He called the police, telling them they had an unaccompanied infant on their hands, with no idea of who or where the mother might be.

However, twenty minutes later, when the LAPD arrived, the referee nervously had to tell them that now he actually did have some idea of who, and even where, the mother might be.

He thought she might be Allison Adler, a nineteen-year- old former national ice-dancing champion who was now hanging, dead, from the ceiling of the costume room, a red leather belt with sparkles on the buckle tightened around her neck.

Find out what happens next in: 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ARE SOAPS A FORM OF THERAPY (AND DOES THAT MAKE THEM JEWISH)?

Mother Tongue, a short story I wrote for Lilith Magazine when I was still in college, was originally published in their magazine in the early 1990s.  A few months ago, I received an email from Lilith asking for permission to include the story in their electronic archives.  I agreed and, in return, they sent me a subscription to the magazine.

In their latest issue, there are several articles on the subject of psychotherapy, and whether it's a Jewish art and science.  The question is an interesting one, but it's not the one that struck me as I read the piece, The Therapeutic Dyad is Totally Jewish by Lori Hope Lefkovitz.

Instead, the passage that jumped out at me was:

The whole, Jewish, suburban, kitchen-table culture is informally therapeutic; it was therapy before America became a therapized culture.... You puzzle out your world by telling each other about your lives and making sense of it around a table.....

When people want to mock or demean soaps, what do they say?  They say that it's just a bunch of women sitting around a table, talking about their problems.

Irna Phillips, the woman who, to all intents and purposes invented soap operas, has been quoted by Don Hastings (Bob; ATWT) as saying, "(W)hat Irna had in mind which was, if something happens to a person in a family, it affects everybody.  It not only affects that family, but it affects the neighbors.  You put a drop in a swimming pool, and you see how the ripple effects everyone."

And then everyone would talk about it.

Irna Phillips was a Jewish woman (at least by birth, she later found solace in a Unitarian church, but that didn't change the rhythms she'd been raised with).  She was also a deeply unhappy woman. (More on Irna in Lynn Licardo's book, here.)

So if psychotherapy is, at its core, a result of the Jewish culture that recommends two people studying an issue in depth - and not necessarily coming to the same conclusion in the end - are soap operas a product of the same?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

ICE THEATRE ON STAGE, IN BOOKS... AND NOW ON VIDEO!

I've long been a fan of The Ice Theatre of NY.  So much so, that I asked them to provide the video for turning my Figure Skating Mystery series of novels into enhanced ebooks.

That's why I'm so excited to announce that ITNY is about to conquer yet another medium when the 41st edition of Dance on Camera presents a Video Screening and Panel Discussion honoring Ice Theatre of New York this coming February at Lincoln Center. The festival will make its first foray into the glamorous and virtuosic genre of ice dancing, as it captures the artistry of Ice Theatre of New York, the nation’s premier ice dance company, through film excerpts and a personal appearance by Olympic champion and award-winning television commentator Dick Button and other guests. Founded in 1984 by Moira North, Ice Theatre of New York is nationally known for challenging conventional definitions of figure skating by creating works that integrate the sensibilities of contemporary dance, music and art.  In addition to building and performing works of the highest artistic merit, ITNY reaches out to the next generation of skaters and audiences through its exemplary education, community outreach and training programs.

The program will explore “dance on ice” through a brief overview of the history of figure skating as a choreographic art form. Dick Button will introduce the evening and narrate videos of historical dance pieces created by skating artists such as Belita, Toller Cranston and John Curry. Ice Theatre of New York’s Founder Moira North will introduce video clips along with pieces specifically created for the company by dance choreographers Ann Carlson, David Parsons, Lar Lubovitch, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Twyla Tharp, and also by such skating stars as Johnny Weir and ITNY’s artistic director Douglas Webster, among others.

Joanna Ney, co-curator of the Dance on Camera Festival, remarks, "While recorded dance has its place, this year we are reaching beyond traditional genres to encompass ideas we have not explored before, with programs devoted to ice dancing, the body’s relationship to landscape and music, and the fusion of choreography and narrative in non- verbal ways.”

Ice Theatre of New York’s first program is on February 2nd at 6:00 pm; on February 3rd the program will begin at 7:30 pm. Both days’ programs will be followed by panel discussions featuring Moira North, Dick Button, choreographer JoAnna Mendl Shaw, author, playwright and skating historian Edward Epstein. Tickets are on sale at the Elinor Bunin Munroe’s box office and the Walter Reade Theater's box office and online at FilmLinc.com. Discounts on tickets are available for students, seniors, Film Society and Dance Film Association members. Public Screenings will be held at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (located at 144 West 65th Street).

Thinking of attending?  It promises to be a great event.  But, just in case you need even more incentive, how about I sweeten the pot?  Purchase a ticket, forward me your receipt to AlinaAdams@gmail.com, and I'll say thank you for supporting Ice Theatre by sending you a free copy of Book #1 in the Figure Skating Mystery series, Murder on Ice.  Enjoy!




ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #193-2

The Cory board meeting took longer than Rachel expected.  Iris was having too much fun playing with her food to leave before she’d managed to pierce Rachel with every rapier at her disposal.

Unfortunately for Iris, however (and possibly Cory Publishing down the road), Rachel’s mind was on other things and, the moment they’d completed their agenda, Rachel was out the door without so much as a friendly barb for her stepdaughter.

Rachel sped down the road towards the private airfield where Amanda had told her Alice was planning on seeing Spencer’s coffin off.  If that body managed to leave the country, there went Rachel’s leverage regarding implicating Alice in the cover up of his death.  It was a clever move, Rachel had to admit.  One that she was kicking herself for not having anticipated.  Carl certainly would have.


*****

Rachel races to keep Alice from ruining her plans just as Chase decides he's had enough of her stunts.  Jamie puts the past to rest, Cass and Frankie ponder their priorities, Amanda is forced to thank Allie's rescuer, and you get to vote on a poll that will affect story for years to come.

The choice is up to you at: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2013/2013_193p2.html

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

JEWROTICA A.K.A. JEWS CAN BE SEXY, TOO

As I confess in today's Jewrotica:

In February of 2001, I was interviewed for an article entitled “The Secret Jews of Romance Novels.”

I talked about how in my then-latest book, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the hero and heroine were Jewish. But, it was never flat-out stated. You had to pick up on the subtle clues to figure it out. And no, the fact that they were both doctors wasn’t one of the clues.

The reason for these Muranos of Romance, as it were, was that I wasn’t writing stand-alone historical titles like Anita Diamant, or women’s fiction like Belva Plain, or even chick-lit mysteries like my good friend, Kyra Davis. I was writing category romances. And whenever I would pitch a category romance that featured anything other than straightforward, white bread, all-American characters to my various publishers, I would get shot down. The belief was that anything outside of the norm, anything “exotic” wouldn’t sell in that particular genre like it did in others. (For the record, I have nothing against Americana. As an immigrant, I just don’t know much about it.)

So I faked it.

Read more, including a hot When a Man Loves a Woman excerpt at: http://jewrotica.org/2013/01/romance-novel-jews/

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SOAPS CAN SAVE YOU FROM THE FLU!

With the media going into their usual hysterical frenzy over flu season, broadcasting that this could be the Worst One Ever (forget the worldwide pandemic that killed more people in 1918 than World War I, or the fact that the CDC reports that it already appears to be waning in some areas), what better time to recall the Llanview Flu of 1994, when Dr. Ben Price made sure all the contract players (sorry, we can't help you, under fives) could continue on with their One Life to Live:




Monday, January 14, 2013

WHY GO BIG WHEN YOU CAN GO MAMMOTH?

I am thrilled to announce that an original short story of mine, tentatively titled, To Look For You, will be included in The Mammoth Book of Medical Romance Anthology coming out this fall.

Some of the publisher's previous titles include The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance, The Mammoth Book of Best New SF, The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance, The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance and more.  I am very happy to be on board.

I was invited to participate in this anthology based on my 2000 title for Dell, When a Man Loves a Woman, which was named by RomanceNovels.me as one of the Top 1000 Romance Novels of All Time.

Eventually, I'll offer a sneak peek of To Look For You, on this blog.  But, for now, here's an excerpt from the book that got everything started:



PROLOGUE

James Elliot was the best friend Deborah Brody ever had.

After tomorrow, she fervently hoped she’d never see him again.

Lying in bed that night, she told herself that was because in five hours it would be Matching Day. The day when Deb and Elliot, bloated with the self-importance of graduating from the University of California at San Francisco Medical School all of twelve hours earlier, learned which hospitals had accepted them for residencies. They’d each applied all over the country - "Just to be safe,” they said - but both had their hearts set on getting their first choices: Deb in San Francisco and a specialty in neurosurgery, and Elliot in Los Angeles, for trauma care. If both got the selection they wanted, odds were high they'd never see each other again.

It was almost four AM, and Deb had been tossing and turning since midnight. She assumed she was worried about not getting the placement she’d requested. After all, what else could be filling her with this nameless sense of deficiency, this feeling that she’d forgotten something? The only time she usually felt like this was when Deb left for vacation, and passed the first hour of her trip wondering if she’d turned off the water, and shut off the gas. But, right now, as far as she knew, Deb was not on vacation. When it came to the results of Matching Day, everything that could be done had to already have been done. Her staying up and worrying was not going to magically rearrange the letters inside the envelope. Deb knew that. She understood it intellectually, and had thought she’d already let it go. Yet, here Deb was, lying awake and feeling like there was some question still terribly unsettled in her life.

It was getting ridiculous. With all her tossing and turning, she was getting a better aerobic workout in bed than she usually managed at the gym. And she refused to exercise involuntarily. Gingerly, Deb slid out from beneath her blanket, reluctant to fully lift it off her body, for fear of waking up Max. She padded, barefoot, out of the bedroom and into their apartment kitchen. She picked up the phone on the wall beside the counter their landlord had oversold them as a 'dining area,' and, wincing at each click of her nails against the buttons, dialed Elliot’s home number.

He answered on the first ring, as if he had been sleeping with his hand on the receiver. He sounded groggy, yet functional; A doctor for less than a day, and he already had the tone down.

"Elliot?" Deb couldn’t fight her impulse to whisper. As if whispering could make up for waking the man up at four AM. "I--I . . ." Good Deb, now that you’ve got him up, maybe you should think of something to say. "Elliot, I need to talk. Do you, maybe, you know, have a few minutes?"

From the other end of the phone, she could hear Elliot stretch and smile lazily. Somehow, no matter what inanity slipped out past her lips, he seemed to have a knack for decoding the meaning underneath. Elliot took a moment, then drawled, "You bring the cards."

Deb’s whole body exhaled. "I'll be right over."

Luckily, medical school had taught her to dress in a matter of minutes, in the dark, and in absolute quiet. Still, as Deb riffled around in her desk for a scrap of notepaper and a pencil, Max heard her and, stifling a yawn, rolled over on his stomach, propping his still sluggish head up with one hand. Eyes at half-mast, he took in Deb’s jeans, her UCSF sweatshirt, her sneakers, and the Toyota keys pressed in her left hand. Rubbing the bridge of his nose with a knuckle, he asked, not unpleasantly, "Going somewhere, hon?"

She straightened, giving up the hunt for writing material, and confessed, "Elliot’s."

"Something wrong?"

"Uhm, no. Of course not."

"A four AM social call, then?"

Deborah responded automatically, reassuring him, "Everything’s fine. Don't worry." The last thing Deb wanted was to put Max out. And she knew that, if he found out just how frazzled Deb really was feeling right then, he would be very put out.

Not in a bad way, of course. She meant he would be terribly concerned, and he would ask her, over and over, what he could do to help. Problem was, there was nothing Max could do to help. But she was reluctant to let him know that, and leave him feeling helpless. So, in addition to her reassurance, Deb showed him a dazzling 'no problem' smile. The one she always showed him, no matter what.

This time around, though, it didn't work. Max sat up in bed, blanket puddling his waist. "Try me," he offered softly. "Just once, try telling me what the matter is, Deb. You never know, if you explain it to me, slowly, I just might understand."

She really did wish she could unburden herself to him, She knew how much Max wanted to be the one to help her. She knew how much he wanted to be the one who slayed her dragons. And, most of the time, he was. Except when it came to work. Not because Max didn't understand her work. Granted, he wasn't a doctor, but he was intelligent and could promptly understand anything technical. What he didn't understand were the emotions that whipped around and tore at you when you least expected it. But it wasn't his fault. It was Deb’s. She didn't have the adequate words to explain it all properly. That’s why, when the difficulty was work-related, she needed help from somebody who knew precisely how she felt, without her having to struggle to articulate it. She needed Elliot.

Lamely, Deb attempted to answer Max’s plea, more for his sake than for hers. She stammered out, "I - it - it’s Matching Day."

"I know," Max said. "I also know that my brilliant, talented, A + pupil of a wife couldn’t possibly be worrying about not getting her first choice of residency. Because, that would be absurd."

He looked so eager to please, it was all Deb could do to keep from reaching out and ruffling his hair. He thought he was telling her what she needed to hear. Unfortunately, such unabashed confidence in her was the last thing Deb needed to hear.

But it was also the last thing she would allow Max to know.

"You're probably right," she said brightly.

"If I'm so right, how come you still look so jittery?"

"Too much coffee?"

Max guessed, "This is about more than Matching Day, isn't it?"

She didn't want to lie to him. But, then again, she also did not care to tell him the truth. So she settled for hedging. "It’s... you know, school stuff."

"Nothing I could help you with?"

"Max..."

"I understand," he kidded. "I know when I get all worked up over stocks and bonds, only another commodities trader will do."

"Don't be upset, Max. It’s nothing. I just need to run a couple things past Elliot. Doctor things. I'll be back soon."

He looked at her, then, like he wanted to say something or to ask something. But in the end, all Max did was blow Deb a kiss. "Good luck," he said. "I hope Elliot has the answers for you."

The story continues in When a Man Loves a Woman, available on Amazon and B&N.

ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #193-1

Jasmine said, “They all made fun of me.”

Donna followed up, “Who did, darling?”

“The girls.  The ones who were here over New Year’s.  Who you did the makeovers on.  They laughed at me because Mama won’t let me wear make up.  They all do!”

“Well, not everyone can be a natural beauty, like you and I, Jasmine.  I’m certain those girls are merely jealous.

“Of me,” Jasmine snorted.  “No one is jealous of me.  They called me a baby.”

“Sticks and stones,” Donna dismissed.

“They’re right,” Jasmine plopped down next to her stepmother.  “Mama does treat me like a baby.  No make-up, no rated R movies, no going out without an adult chaperone.  I’m the only one at school who gets treated like that.”

“I doubt that.”

Jasmine ignored Donna’s denial to demand, “If your parents treated you like that, if they monitored your every move and bossed you around and told you what to do and how to think and who to be every minute of the day, what would you do?”

“Oh, Jasmine,” Donna began.  “It’s not that I don’t know how you feel.  Trust me, my darling, I do, more than you could possible realize.”

“You mean your mom and dad were like that, too?”

“My father,” Donna said after a moment’s hesitation.  “Reginald Love was a very… controlling man.”


***

Donna views Jasmine's dilemma through her own perspective, both Dennis and Olivia reach out to faces from their past, Amanda drops a bombshell on Rachel regarding Alice, Grant sees what might yet be, and GQ and Kirkland race to save Allie... and Charlie.

All at: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2013/2013_193p1.html

Thursday, January 10, 2013

WHAT DOES JON LINDSTROM THINK WAS HIS GREATEST DAYTIME MOMENT?

Jon Lindstrom is on his way back to General Hospital as Kevin.

To celebrate, check out what he believes to have been his greatest moment, to date.

PS: Thanks to you all, I was able to find the scene he talks about and include it in my book!

Originally published 7/26/11

CALLING ALL PORT CHARLES FANS!

Jon Lindstrom submitted the following for: Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments

Kevin, who is reeling from the news of Eve's (Julie Pinson) untimely death in an explosion, learns that she had been having an affair with Ian (Thorsten Kaye) who Kevin believes also died in the blast. The episode was designed to show all the emotions one goes through when you realize you have been betrayed by someone you love; anger, jealousy, self-hatred, confusion. It was about the most brutally honest piece of television I ever had the honor of performing (and I wish I had a copy).

Like Jon, I haven't been able to track down this particular episode, either. So I am asking all Port Charles fans: Do you have it? Please look through your archives, ask your friends, and, if you do manage to locate it, kindly upload it to YouTube so that it can be included in the Time Capsule - and so that Jon can see it again!

He - and I - would much appreciate it!

Please help spread the word!

ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #192-2

“You wouldn’t,” Rachel informed Alice calmly.  “You wouldn’t turn in Jamie.  Not even to save yourself.”

Alice merely smiled and, equally calmly, told Rachel, “Neither would you.”

“You think I’m bluffing.”

“No.  I think you were hoping Kevin would decide to take care of matters on his own.  That way he’d never come to me, and I’d never tell him about Jamie also being involved in covering up precisely how Spencer died.”

“Jamie was only there because of you.  You got him into that mess.”

“And Spencer wouldn’t have ended up beaten to death if it weren’t for your husband.”

“Please,” Rachel scoffed.  Because it was easier than confronting the real issue.  “The three of them were in it together.  Carl, Spencer, and Lucas.  Each was equally to blame for what happened.”

“Then why was Spencer the only one targeted?  After Carl made sure Jeanne reported the compound’s downfall was entirely Spencer’s doing.”

“All three men knew the risks they were facing.”

“Yes, they did.  What Spencer and Lucas didn’t know – but probably should have – was that Carl would sell them out at first opportunity.”

“What makes you so certain my husband hasn’t paid his price?  Carl’s jet went down in the Atlantic Ocean with my children on board.  You honestly think that was an accident?”


****

Rachel and Alice hit a stand-off, Marley lets Dennis have it - and vice versa, Matt warns Donna about interfering with Jasmine, Kirkland turns to a surprising person for help with Charlie, and Jamie makes a confession to Steven.

It's your call on Another World Today: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2013/2013_192p2.html

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON: THE BOOK THAT SOAPS INSPIRED

LAST WEEK TO WIN!  WINNER WILL BE DRAWN ON 1/11/13!

For many years, "Love in the Afternoon" was the slogan for ABC Daytime's line up (back when that line up consisted of more than one soap... not that I'm bitter or anything).  Now, it's the title of author Alison Packard's new romance novel, which not so coincidentally takes place on the set of a sizzling daytime drama.

Book Description:

Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image—and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime's most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend.

Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm's length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.

But when Kayla receives threatening letters, her past as a scream queen seems to be coming back to haunt her. Succumbing to an attraction neither one of them can deny, Sean and Kayla must face down her stalker and their own personal demons before trusting what they both feel—a love that lasts long after the cameras stop rolling
.

What inspired Alison to set her book in the soap world?  Soap Opera 451 went straight to the source to find out that... and more!

Alina Adams: Why a soap opera setting for your first romance novel?
Alison Packard: As an avid romance reader for many years, I'd never come across a book set in the soap opera world. I thought it would be unique , fun, and a way to pay tribute to a genre that I, and many others, love and grew up watching.

AA: Are you a soap fan? 
AP: Yes, I'm a huge soap fan! I've been watching soaps since I was a kid. Three of my favorites shows, One Life to Live, As the World Turns, and  Guiding Light, sadly, have all been canceled. My other favorite, General Hospital, is still airing and I watch it every day when I get home from work.  

AA: Were you inspired by any current soap actors when "casting" the book in  your head?
AP: Good question, and as there are many soap actors I admire and love to watch, it's not out of the realm of possibility. But in truth, no soap actors (past or present) were "in my head" when I was writing Love in the Afternoon. My inspiration for Sean was Josh Holloway from Lost, and in my imagination, Kayla looks a lot like a younger Catherine Zeta-Jones.

AA: How did you do your research about producing a soap and acting in  it?
AP: I've never worked in the television industry so my research on that aspect of the book was done on the Internet. I found several interviews with soap opera actors who described what a day on the set was like and incorporated that into the story. The opening scene was inspired by an interview I'd read many years ago in a soap opera magazine. The actress, Eileen Fulton from As the World Turns, told the story of how an extremely angry woman came up to her in the grocery store, slapped her face and accused her of being a home wrecker. For some reason, that story stuck with me and I thought a variation of it would be a great way to start the story.

AA: Is the plot of your book particularly soapy?
AP: It's got romance, family drama and a stalker! It doesn't get much soapier than that!

AA: Why will soap fans enjoy your book?
AP: I hope they'll enjoy Love in the Afternoon because it's a loving homage to a genre that's been dying a slow death for several years now. Those of us who love soaps are truly saddened by the state of daytime television today. There are only four soap operas left on network television and one day soon there may not be any. I hope I'm wrong, because when that incomprehensible day arrives, millions of hearts will be broken, and all we'll have left is You Tube edits to remind us of the shows and characters we've loved so dearly.

Love in the Afternoon is on sale for $1.99 through the end of the year (regular price is $4.99) so make sure to pick up your copy ASAP, using the link below:



In addition, Alison has generously offered to gift one lucky reader with a FREE copy of her book.  Just e-mail AlinaAdams@gmail.com with "Love in the Afternoon" in the subject line, and you'll be entered in the drawing to win.

Good luck and happy holidays!

****

Alina Adams is the author of NYT best-selling soap opera tie-ins "Oakdale Confidential," "The Man From Oakdale" and "Jonathan's Story," as well as romance novels "When a Man Loves a Woman," "Annie's Wild Ride" and "Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga."

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

HOW KNOWING SKATING GOSSIP CAN WIN YOU A PRIZE!

This weekend marked the 19th anniversary of Nancy Kerrigan's attack at the National Championship, the event that (temporarily) made figure-skating the most watched televised sport in America (even ahead of football).



I was actually in Detroit in 1994 when the assault happened.  What's ironic is that, inside the arena, we didn't realize what a huge deal the media was making of the incident outside of it.  On the ice, skaters continued practicing, their minds on their own upcoming performances.  It was only later, practically after Nationals was over, that many of us understood how huge the story was.  (It even lead to a TV movie!  Though not the one below:)



The subsequent media attention led to many more skating competitions being created specifically for television.  I worked as a researcher, writer and producer on several of these programs for ABC, NBC, TNT and ESPN.

Unfortunately, working in skating means traveling around the world to where the story is.  Lots of fun when I was single.  Less fun once I was married and had a toddler.  A toddler who made his displeasure with my frequent absences clear by refusing to speak to me once I returned.

So I retired from TV skating and moved over to writing books about skating.  Which, in a way, was even more fun.  When I worked for the shows, I learned all sorts of interesting tidbits about skaters and coaches and officials which I could exactly put on the air.  However, when writing fiction, there is that little disclaimer at the front of the book which states: These characters bear no relation to anyone living or dead.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

As a result, I was able to put all sorts of details into my Figure Skating Mysteries that fans have always wondered about, but I wasn't allowed to tell.

Which inspired me to start the following game: I will post an excerpt from one of my books, and the first person to email me at AlinaAdams@gmail.com with the correct guess about who the character is based on, will win a free copy of Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

Okay, ready?  Here's is the first excerpt:

Unlike every generic hotel room she'd ever seen, Erin and Patty Simpson's temporary home away from home looked like they'd brought in a personal decorator to cozy up the place. It wasn't just the travel suitcase standing on its side in the corner, with all of Erin's skating dresses hanging from individual hangers, organized from darkest color to lightest. It wasn't just the teak dresser covered with a ruffled, pink drop cloth to hold their face powder, lipsticks, eye shadows, curling irons, hair ribbons, and body glitter. It wasn't even the portable cooler stocked with Erin necessities like fortified sports drinks, fortified vitamins, and fortified protein bars. What really went above and beyond the call of duty for personalizing a hotel room were all the pictures. They were everywhere. Photos of Erin as a young smiling skater stuck along the mirror, photos of Patty and baby Erin in frames on the nightstands, two scrapbooks chockfull of newspaper clippings on the table, and a handful of Polaroids from the medal ceremony the night before.

This wasn't narcissism as a hobby. This was narcissism as a lifestyle choice.

Not—Bex, the politically correct and terribly nice person, reminded herself—that there was anything wrong with that.

Erin and Patty greeted her when she came to their door. Erin wore blue jeans that, even though obviously petite in size, still hung loosely about her waist, and a green, belly-baring shirt with the words Erin Excitement! glue-gunned in rhinestones across the chest. Her hair was loose around her shoulders. Finally freed from its French braid and ponytail, her scalp actually seemed to be smiling with relief. Patty, for her part, was still in her coaching outfit. She'd taken off her blazer, but she was still wearing a below-the-knee skirt and white turtleneck.

"Come in, Bex," Patty said and subtly directed her to one of two chairs in the room, the one next to the desk by the bay window. The one boxed into a corner. Patty took the other chair, facing Bex. It was as obvious a power play as Bex had ever been a part of. Thanks to Gil, she knew exactly what it meant when you were shoved into a comer. Erin, though, flopped down on the bed, legs bent at the knees and raised in the air, chin propped up on two fists.

Bex said, "Actually, Patty, Erin was the one I'm really interested in interviewing, so maybe you two could switch seats and—"

"Erin doesn't give interviews without me."

"How come?" Bex asked innocently, as if Patty's unbelievably fanatical, loony control over Erin was news to her. As if a few weeks ago, at the national championships, Bex hadn't been in the room when Patty threw a fit about Erin being interviewed for the broadcast in front of a pair of lit candles. They'd been put there to cast a complimentary light on all the skaters. Only Erin Simpson's mother had insisted on their being removed, lest it look like Erin was into—hand to God, no kidding—devil worship.

***

Think you know whom this is referring to?  Email me!

Monday, January 07, 2013

AGNES NIXON SPEAKS!

It was a big weekend for All My Children and One Life to Live fans!

The shows' original creator, Agnes Nixon, released a statement on Facebook about her babies continuing on with Prospect Park, and Emmy-winner Debbi Morgan revealed on Twitter that she'd signed on to play Angie again... as had her leading man, Darnell Williams (Jesse).  (For those interested in this sort of thing, it is fascinating that public figures are choosing social, rather than traditional, media these days for their breaking news.  Presumably they prefer to control the story instead of leaving it in someone else's hands.)

In light of this great news, I thought I'd repost a blog from 2011, wherein onetime OLTL Headwriter Michael Malone shared what he learned from Agnes about writing a compelling soap opera.

Enjoy!

Originally published 10/24/11

AGNES' ALWAYS APT ADVICE

As the clock ticks down to One Life to Live's last airdate on ABC, and Prospect Park, the company scheduled to take both it and sister show, All My Children, on-line continues to be skimpy on the details: Will it be daily? Weekly? Will it be ad supported? Subscription-based? Will it be an hour? A half hour? Will it be all video? Will it be multimedia? Who is in the cast? Who is writing?

I thought now would be a good time to share the advice AMC and OLTL's creator, Agnes Nixon, gave to Michael Malone prior to his first daytime assignment.

Malone recalls, "When I first joined One Life as Headwriter, Agnes Nixon invited me to her home for dinner. That evening she graciously asked me about my novels. I didn’t want to talk about them. Here was one of the most gifted creators of a great American genre right across the table. I wanted advice on how best to write serial for television. Her metaphors were a master class in how narrative must move when story is open-ended, now in the case of her One Life to Live, for more than forty years. She said, “Keep turning the diamond to the light. There’s a lot to see.” She said, “It’s a big ship. If you want to change directions, start way ahead.” She said, “Don’t let all the waves break at once. One wave crests; there’s another behind it, then another.”

Read more from Michael Malone and dozens of other soap opera writers, actors and producers about what made - and still makes - the medium great in Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments. (Direct link at: http://tinyurl.com/SoapMomentsEBook)

ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #192-1

“Kevin,” Rachel offered a satisfied smile at the sight of her son-in-law’s return to the Cory mansion.  “I trust you’ve come to your senses?”

“Actually,” he took a seat opposite her.  “I was kind of hoping you’d come to yours.”

“You mean you were hoping I’d let the cold-blooded murder of my husband and children… slide?”

“You know, Rachel, I’d heard things about you.  About how you used to be.  But, according to popular mythos, your third marriage to Mr. Cory effectively nipped the more anti-social aspects of your character in the bud, as it were.”

“It’s like riding a bicycle,” Rachel assured him dryly.


****

Rachel and Kevin come to a stalemate, Iris forces Marley to acknowledge Grant's odd behavior while he explains himself to Lila, Frankie goes searching for Charlie even as Allie finds herself in even greater danger.

The stakes are raised even higher at: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2013/2013_192p1.html

Thursday, January 03, 2013

ANOTHER WORLD TODAY EPISODE #191-2

“Rachel,” Alice merely repeated the name after Kevin filled her in on his mother-in-law’s New Year’s Eve ultimatum.  Forty years of history resonated throughout the single word.

“I wanted to tell her to go to Hell, but I realized I couldn’t without talking to you, first.”

“She must be in so much pain to even consider doing something like this.”

“With all due respect, Grandma, Rachel’s suffering isn’t my concern.  Not when she’s chosen to take it out on you and a pair of innocent kids.”

“Are you even capable of doing what she asks?”

“In theory,” Kevin shrugged.  “I mean, if anyone can break one of my documents, it would be me.  I could probably think of something if I had to.”

“Don’t,” Alice told him after a long moment’s thought.

“Not a problem.  Except for what it would mean to you.”

Alice hesitated.  “What if there was someway to stop Rachel?”

“I’m all ears.  That’s why I came to you.  Way I hear it told, you’re the only one who’s ever stood up to Rachel and lived to tell about it.”


****

Alice refuses to roll over under Rachel's threat, Marley won't let Olivia off the hook, Lila warns Donna against interfering, Sharlene prods Frankie regarding Charlie, and Allie finds herself in a life-threatening situation you need to help her get out of!

The New Year is off to an explosive start in Bay City at: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/2012/2012_191p2.html