Thursday, January 29, 2015


True confessions time: I like plot. No, strike that. I LOVE plot.

Yes, yes, I know, character is king, and poetic language is queen. But I prefer stories where stuff… happens.

Call it pulp, call it melodrama, call it whatever the opposite of literary fiction is, but when you ask someone what a book is about, that usually means you want to know, what’s the story? And a story means something happens. Preferably something interesting and surprising.

I love plot twists, too.  The more the better. Preferably ones that I didn’t see coming, but, upon reflection, make perfect sense.

Common wisdom holds that character drives plot. But, conversely, doesn’t plot define character? After all, isn’t the best way to find out what a person – imaginary or real – is made of, by seeing their reaction to stressful situations? Do they rise to the occasion, or shirk? Do they handle setbacks with grace or present their worst selves? I don’t want to learn about a character by being told – no matter how poetic the language may be.  I don’t want to leaf through pages of internal monologue about their thoughts and dreams and hopes and plans. I want to see them DO something. And then I’ll make up my own mind about what kind of person they are.

For those wondering, why, no, I didn’t do particularly well in high-school English class. And I dropped out of my college Creative Writing program when I realized that the kinds of stories I wanted to write – and read – were not the kind considered acceptable by serious literary types.

Which is why I’ve started a program of my own. Kind of. And it fits in perfectly with my writing and life motto of DO SOMETHING.

Instead of telling aspiring authors how to write a book, I am going to show them.


By writing my next novel live online at, with readers being able to watch every key-stroke, every typo, every dead end and every deletion of entire paragraphs at a time.  They’ll be able to comment on the action, too. (After all, what’s the point of criticizing a book after it’s published? It’s too late for me to do anything about it, then.)

Learn more at:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The East Coast is currently covered in snow. Are you having sex with someone inappropriate?

You would be if you were on a soap!

Seems that there’s nothing like freezing temperatures, blinding precipitation, and/or the imminent threat of death (or, at the very least, a nasty case of the sniffles), to make soap-opera characters leap to the conclusion that taking off their clothes would be a great idea. And then, once clothes are off, well … what else is there to do in the middle of blizzard?

Check out some of our favorite examples of folks getting hot when the weather turns cold from Y&R, DAYS and more at Entertainment Weekly:

Monday, January 26, 2015


In honor of Jason Brown winning his first US Men's Figure Skating title, please enjoy the piece I wrote last year for about the three nice, Jewish boys representing American figure skating at the Olympics, and my own lack of fear that my sons' interests in costume design and ballet would "make" them... you know....


First, I was a figure skating fan, then I was a figure skating TV researcher/producer, then I was a figure skating mystery novelist, and currently I’m a hodge-podge of all the above.

I am referencing my C.V. in order to explain why, while I don’t know the total number of Jews on Team USA for the Sochi Olympics, I do know that there are three of them in the figure skating delegation: two-time World Ice Dancing Champion and defending Olympic silver medalist Charlie White, singles skater Jason Brown, and pairs skater Simon Shnapir. (Ladies’ singles skater Gracie Gold is, alas, not Jewish, despite the name.)

That’s right, the US is being represented at the Olympics by three nice, Jewish boys. The latter actually emigrated from Moscow as a toddler.

It stands to reason. Figure skating is a huge sport in Russia. It’s a huge sport in America, too. But, primarily for girls.

“My son, the Olympian figure skater,” is not something a lot of parents–Jewish or otherwise–dream about. Or even think about. At the rink, girls get signed up for figure skating lessons, boys get hockey lessons. It’s more instinctive than deliberate.

I saw it when I worked in televisions sports. I saw it when my younger brother was a competitive skater. I see it now with my own sons.

They don’t skate (mostly because I know exactly how hard it is… on the parents, and never even gave them the option). But my 14-year-old is passionate about art and costume design (check out some of his Purim/Halloween creations here), and my 10-year-old has been studying ballet since second grade.

I’ve lost count of how many people have congratulated my husband and I on being so “open-minded” about supporting our sons’ artistic interests.

And then, some of them will ask, “But, aren’t you worried about…”


“You know…”

“No. I don’t. What?” (I know. Of course, I know. I’m just messing with them. Because they deserve it.)

I’ve had one father flat out state to me that he would never let his son take dance lessons because it might turn him gay. (There, see, doesn’t it feel better to stop beating around the bush?)

Continued at:

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Nah, just kidding.

But Marie Grace Berg of the Today's Leading Woman Podcast did interview me about turning my previously traditionally published books into enhanced ebooks, including the Figure Skating Mystery series, where I added professional videos from Ice Theatre of NY alongside the story.

To get a sneak peek of what that would look like, click here.

And to listen to the podcast, go to:

You can hear about the enhanced skating ebooks, as well as about the book that I am writing live with real-time reader feedback at

And just in time for the 2015 US Figure Skating National Championships, all five of the Figure Skating Mysteries are available to be borrowed for FREE on Amazon Prime.

Just click the links below!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


On General Hospital, Sonny has 99 problems, and 98 of them have to do with being in jail, Ava, being in jail, Julian, being in jail, Johnny, and being in jail. But what is occupying the bulk of his mumbling and obsessing time?

How about the fact that Michael has turned his back on his adoptive dad, Sonny (well, both his parents—mom Carly, too), and returned to his biological father’s family, the Quartermaines? (We shall now take a moment to recall that Sonny managed to adopt Michael by hanging his bio dad on a meat hook and threatening to kill him unless he signed the papers; so it wasn’t exactly voluntary.)

But Sonny has always been more obsessed with Michael than he is interested in his natural children, including Dante (okay, Sonny didn’t know about him growing up; but he also shot him in the chest), Morgan (he shot Morgan’s mother in the head during delivery), Kristina (she’s a girl, so, whatever), and the newborn Avery (who had an equally good shot at turning out to be Sonny’s granddaughter due to her mother, Ava, also sleeping with the aforementioned Morgan).

Maybe Sonny loves Michael more because he’s named after him. Or maybe it’s because Sonny really enjoys taking things that are rightfully theirs away from other people. (Probably why he went into the mobstering business.) Or maybe it’s because, since they’re not biologically related, Michael always had the option of choosing someone else over Sonny. And Sonny really, really hates coming in second place. (Just ask Jax.)

On soaps, disputed paternity (and sometimes even maternity) is a near-daily occurrence. As a result, a lot of importance is placed on blood being thicker than water. Children are routinely handed over following the latest blood test, no matter how bonded they may have been to the original, presumed parent.

Every once in a while, however, some soap-opera parents prioritize their adoptive child over all the rest. Those instances are so rare, they deserve deeper exploration. Check out some of our favorites at Entertainment Weekly and make sure you leave a comment!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Last week, news broke that Kristen Alderson would soon be leaving General Hospital. Whether by her choice or the show’s depends on whom you believe.

It wasn’t too much of a surprise, though, as Alderson’s character never really caught on with fans. Or, rather, Alderson’s characters never caught on.

A daytime vet, Alderson began playing the role of Starr on One Life to Live in 1998, at the ripe old age of six. (This was after she’d already appeared on Broadway as Molly in the musical Annie. Feeling like an underachiever yet?) Alderson grew up in the part until the show’s cancellation in 2012, whereupon Starr was relocated to Port Charles and GH. However, a lawsuit from Prospect Park, the company that bought the rights to revive OLTL online, forced GH to send Starr out of town. They then brought on a totally new character, Kiki Jerome—who, for reasons never explained or acknowledged, happened to look exactly like Starr and was also, coincidentally, played by Alderson.

Soaps try to pulls these kinds of switcheroos all the time, taking popular actors, giving them new character names, and hoping that lightning will strike twice. Especially when it comes to super-couples.

Unfortunately, it never, ever works.

Want proof? Check out this week's Entertainment Weekly soap column at:

Monday, January 12, 2015


It’s earned over $100 million at the box office so far, charting the best debut of a Broadway-inspired musical ever, so Disney’s Christmas Day release of “Into the Woods” looks on track to become a record-breaking hit.

As a Stephen Sondheim fan, I would agree that “Into the Woods” is a terrific musical (and for those concerned, fine for kids; mine had the soundtrack memorized in preschool, and they’ve seen the Broadway production, the Shakespeare in the Park version, and now the movie). As someone with a Masters degree in Media Analysis who writes on Jewish topics, I also see “Into the Woods” as quietly, subversively Jewish. Here’s why.

Stephen Sondheim is Jewish. Wealthy, assimilated, grew up on the Upper West Side of New York City Jewish. (Sondheim’s first Broadway job was writing the lyrics to “West Side Story.” When offered the assignment, he reportedly responded, “But I don’t know any Puerto Ricans. I don’t even know any poor people.”) In the book, “Stars of David” by Abigail Pogrebin, Sondheim confessed he also didn’t know how to pronounce “Yom Kippur” until his “West Side Story” collaborator, Leonard Bernstein, set him straight.

Still, I contend that just because he didn’t grow up listening to “Kol Nidre,” or consciously set out to write a musical infused with Jewish themes, that doesn’t mean “Into the Woods” isn’t, at heart, a Jewish show.

Read more at:

Friday, January 09, 2015


My very first published book, a Regency romance, The Fictitious Marquis (AVON 1994), is finally being re-released as an e-book.

Check out the cover below, and thank you to everyone who offered their opinions about it!

Thursday, January 08, 2015


There are two ways to do a musical series on television.

One is to set the musical aspect in a world where characters have a legitimate reason to spontaneously break into song. Shows like The Partridge Family, Fame, Glee, and Smash all took advantage of that trope, having their characters perform at any and every opportunity.

The other option is to have perfectly realistic settings, where you wouldn't expect anyone to suddenly commence crooning — only to have them do it, anyway. It's the ancient performance technique Broadway musicals have employed for years. After all, alley cats, homicidal English barbers, revolutionary French peasants, and your average historical figure, Ragtime-era or not, don't, as a rule, go around warbling their innermost fears, thoughts and feelings. It's a stylistic narrative choice.

Television shows that have chosen to follow the latter, more complicated path through the years have included Rags to Riches, Viva Laughlin, and, of course, that ultimate punchline, Cop Rock. (We're not counting special, one-off, fantasy musical episodes of otherwise non-musical programs, like Chicago Hope, Oz, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, That 70s Show, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, etc...)

There's probably a reason why all of the shows in the first category managed to eke out more than a single season. And the ones in the second category... didn't. (Technically, Rags to Riches was on the air for two years, but their first was a truncated, eight episode run, and the second was axed after twelve airings.)

That reason most likely has to do with a manageable suspension of disbelief. It's one thing to accept uncharacteristic singing coming from the stage, where everything is already artificial, non-realistic, and heightened. It's quite another to be watching a television episode that looks and feels exactly like Hill Street Blues (another Steve Bochco creation) only to suddenly see the hard-core cops and robbers start rapping or, even more disconcerting, belting out a heartfelt ballad.

To read about ABC's latest attempt to bring musical theater to America's living rooms, Galavant, which premiered this past Sunday, read my post at BlogHer Entertainment:

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


Musicals are breaking out all over!

The film version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods is close to earning $100 million at the box-office (I told you casting soap-opera stars was a smart move), while ABC’s all-singing/all-dancing knight errant, Galavant, was the third-highest-rated comedy series debut of the season.

Of course, as always, soap operas are ahead of the curve, offering musical episodes before it was all the rage.

So get out your tap shoes and hold on to your microphones: We’re counting down soap operas’ top 5 best musical interludes of all time, including examples from GH, Y&R, B&B and more at Entertainment Weekly. Click here to check it out and add your own suggestions!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


I am 45 years old. And I have never owned a bra that fits.

Granted, that’s partially my fault. Unlike what every stand-up comedian since the beginning of time would have you believe, I hate shopping (I also hate dressing and undressing; probably a sensory issue like my son), and thus attempt to avoid it as much as possible.

As a result, when I was a teenager, my mother bought my bras. (My mother actually enjoys shopping and, to this day, if someone notices me wearing a new outfit, the follow-up question should always be, “Is your mother in town?”) She bought me my bras when I was in high school, and I continued wearing them through college. And my 20s. And my 30s. (I did buy a few nursing bras after I had my first son in 1999. And you don’t want to know how long I wore those. Even after I stopped nursing.)

My bras never fit exactly right, but it also never occurred to me to do anything about it. I didn’t even know what size I was. (Yes, I could have looked at those handy tags in the back, but I had owned most of the bras for so long, the numbers had been laundered off. And it is impossible to underestimate how deep my disinterest in the subject went.)

About 10 years ago, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go shopping on my own. (Primarily because what I currently owned was literally down to its last strap and snap). I went to Victoria’s Secret. I got measured and everything. And I bought the size they recommended.

It didn’t fit. The straps were constantly slipping off my shoulders, and I wobbled around in the cups. However, a few months after that purchase, I got pregnant with my third child and, miraculously, for the next half a year, it fit perfectly!

My daughter turns 8 this January. I haven’t bought any new bras since.

So, after almost 16 years of marriage, my husband decided to get into the act.

Find out how that went at:

Monday, January 05, 2015


My children didn't have much of a choice about becoming musical theater geeks. Show-tunes were pretty much the only thing I played around the house, with Stephen Sondheim far and away the most popular composer and lyricist.

As a result, my 15-year old , 11-year old, and almost-8-year old regularly pepper their conversations with such Into the Woods truisms as "Nice is different than good," "What's important is the blame, somebody to blame," and the reality of "Life is often so unpleasant, you must know that as a peasant." (They also know my perennial birthday wish is the equally Sondheim inspired, "I wish my house were not a mess, I wish my son were not a fool, I wish a lot of things.")

They've seen my old VHS tape of the original production starring Bernadette Peters as it was recorded in 1989 and broadcast on PBS in 1991. We took them to watch the Public Theater's version live outdoors in Central Park starring Donna Murphy in 2012, and the cast recording has been their bedtime listening staple since they were in diapers. (You haven't lived till you've heard a preschooler dramatically warble, "I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right.")

Because they're so familiar with the story and the lyrics, I had no qualms about taking my three to see Disney's Christmas Day, big-budget release of this Sondheim classic. But is Into the Woods appropriate for children who might be experiencing it for the first time?

It absolutely is.

Naturally, every parent knows what their own child's sensitivities and patience levels are (the movie runs two hours and four minutes, with close to a half-hour of previews beforehand). But Into the Woods is certainly no more frightening than the average kiddie adventure tale, live action or animated. (My daughter, for instance, was more frightened by Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame.)

For parents familiar with the show, be advised that Disney has actually lightened it up quite a bit. Far fewer characters die than in the stage production, with all of the remaining deaths more implied than shown. The same goes for the Baker's Wife and Cinderella's Prince's "moment" in the woods.

Johnny Depp plays the lecherous wolf who comes upon Little Red Riding Hood and sings a song full of sexually charged, double-entendres before sneaking into Grandma's house, donning her clothes, and partaking in the well-known, "My what big (facial features) you have," exchange.

Depp chooses to play this role the same way he has chosen to play every role he's undertaken this century, in a manner so bizarre and off-putting that you have no idea what he's trying to convey. On the stage, Little Red Riding Hood is usually portrayed by an adult woman, so the scene is all sexual subtext. In the movie, she is an actual little girl (Broadway's Annie, no less!), thoroughly oblivious to his implications.

Her innocent state transfers to the audience where, even though my 15-year old snorted, "He's such an obvious pedophile," the younger two piped up, "What's a pedophile?" prompting my husband to snap at the teen that he should think more before he speaks.

So now that you know you can take your kids Into the Woods, the questions remains, should you?

Find out in my post for BlogHer Entertainment: