Monday, March 30, 2015


A summary of last week's live writing at:

I have four scenes outlined in my mind that I intend to write today. Let’s see if any of them end up being anything near like what I planned, or if the characters will just laugh and do whatever they like. As usual. (Meanwhile, in the middle of writing this, my computer ran out of power and turned itself off. Even it is against me.)

Yesterday, I said that I had four scenes outlined that I intended to write. I managed one. Working on the next scene today. Want to put down bets on how far I get? (Hey, not bad, two more!)

My favorite writing tip to keep a story moving: Start with a line that gets right to the point of the scene, and assume your readers are smart enough to keep up. (Thanks, smart readers!)

Stopped in the middle of a scene. I know how I want it to end, but have written three versions of getting there, and none of them work. Deleted the whole lot and will try again Monday. See you then!

Today is Monday. Still have no idea what I'm going to write. Though why should that stop me?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Last week’s The Bold and the Beautiful was an utter shock to viewers. The last time we in soap land were so surprised by a revelation may have been in 1981, when General Hospital‘s wedding of the century ended with (warning: 34-year-old spoiler ahead) Scotty catching his ex-wife Laura’s bouquet.

Then–head writer Thom Racina told me in my book, "Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments," “It’s a twist, and God knows, in daytime, twists are the foundation of keeping the audience tuning in tomorrow.”

In 2015, the Internet makes that kind of shocking twist almost impossible. There are simply too many spoilers out there, some leaked by insiders, but many officially released by a soap opera’s own publicity team to drum up interest and viewership.

That’s why the recent March Madness Wednesday cliffhanger on B&B was such a genuine jaw-dropper. Not only was supermodel Maya (as played by actress Karla Mosley) once a man named Myron, but her secret hadn’t been predicted and endlessly anticipated by every viewer and online pundit for months. It was classic soap opera at its best. And it was only the beginning.

Read more, and check out a history of soap-opera transgender stories and how they worked out at:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


UPDATED 4/21/15
It's here! Buy it below!



After six years as the NY Gifted Education Examiner and Kindergarten Exmissions Consultant at River Park Nursery School, I am finally heeding all those who urged me, "You should write a book," and I am... writing a book. (That isn't about soaps, or figure-skating or romance, that is.)

"Getting Into NYC Kindergarten (September 2016)" is scheduled to be released this May. (Yes, that's almost a full year and a half before your child would enter Kindergarten, but that's how early you need to begin prepping for the process. See bottom of the post for a schedule of workshops to get you started.)

The book will cover:

* Public School/General Ed (zoned and unzoned)
* Public School Gifted & Talented (District & Citywide)
* Public School Dual Language
* Public School Magnet Programs
* Charter Schools
* Hunter College Elementary School
* Private Schools (Independent and Religious)
* Test Prep (Hunter, G&T & private school)
* Insider Application Tips
* Working the Waitlist
* Application Timeline & much, much more!

No other book like it currently exists. There are books on NYC's top public and private schools, books on applying to private school, and books on how to prep your child for a variety of entrance exams. But "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten (September 2016)" will be the first to cover everything in one. And because it's electronic, it features links to dozens of sites, articles and reports for you to learn more about each topic. Plus, as the NYC Department of Education is notorious for changing rules and requirements on a whim (sometimes smack-dab in the middle of the application season), "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten (September 2016)" can be instantly updated, unlike a print book, which is often out of date the moment it hits the shelves.

"Getting Into NYC Kindergarten (September 2016)" is a book for every New York City parent. It lists and explains your options, then offers an insider's guide for how to get what you want.

Ready to dive in? I'll be giving two "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" workshops in May:

* Thursday, May 14, 2015 at River Park Nursery School on the Upper West Side

* Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at Evolution Enrichment in Chinatown

Click here for more information, registration, etc...

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


St Patrick’s Day is a perfect time to ask: Just how lucky have the Irish been on American soap-operas?

These days, daytime’s most prominent Irish family are the Bradys on Days of Our Lives. (Even if one the Brady kids, Bo, was actually fathered not by patriarch Shawn, but by a Greek named Kiriakis.) We know they’re Irish because they run a pub, and because two of their boys are cops. Also because, in 2007-8, we got a whole storyline based on flashbacks to the “old country.”

Novice nun Colleen Brady fell for doting dad Santo DiMera (Colleen’s little brother, Shawn, was buds with Santo’s son, Stefano). When she found out Santo’s wife wasn’t quite as dead as he’d led her to believe, Colleen fled back into the arms of the church. Santo interrupted Colleen taking her vows, and she fled for a second time – right off the edge of a convenient cliff. Or, at least, that’s what her family assumed. There was a cliff, there was her nun’s habit. What else could they possibly think?

How about that a pregnant Colleen fled to Argentina (they’ve got Catholics there, too), where she placed her son in an orphanage, only to have him given up for adoption without Colleen’s permission. That son turned out to be John Black, who’d once believed he was long-lost Brady son Roman. Then he thought he was Forrest Alamain. Now, at long last, John knew who he really was! He was Ryan Brady, who’d been adopted by the Alamain family. No wonder the Bradys had long accepted him as one of their own. He was one of their own! Talk about the luck of the Irish!

Except that, in 2013, John learned that Colleen had been lied to. John wasn't her son. Colleen's son had died as an infant. It was all a bunch of blarney, after all.

Read more at "Entertainment Weekly!"

Monday, March 16, 2015


I was telling a fellow author about how I'd taken my previously traditionally published books and re-released them as enhanced e-books with video, audio and other interactive features.

She sighed, "I wish I could do that, but I've priced it out and those IT guys are so expensive!"

"I sleep with my IT guy."

"Oh! That is SO much cheaper!"

I highly recommended it, too.

More stories about working with your spouse (see, it's all perfectly legit) at the Real Entrepreneur Development podcast:

And for a sneak peek at what an enhanced ebook looks like, click here, or just download a sample of one of the books featured on the side of this blog!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


It’s been a slap-happy soap week as, on Days of Our Lives, Jen let Eve have it for sleeping with Jen’s son, and Adrienne smacked Will for cheating on her son (lesson learned: Don’t mess with a soap mom’s precious baby boy).

Meanwhile, Quinn slapping Brooke over Deacon on The Bold & the Beautiful, is being treated like some major event. As if Brooke isn’t a slap veteran....
Here’s the thing, though, this past Sunday, March 8, International Women’s Day, in New York City, as well as other cities around the world, thousands of people, including actors like Paul Bettany and AnnaLynne McCord, marched to support a variety of women’s issues, including ending domestic violence.

Bettany, in particular, said that he brought his son with actress Jennifer Connelly, to drive home for the boy that violence against women was also a man’s issue.

So, men hitting women is bad, while women hitting other women (and men, for that matter) is… entertaining? Funny? Acceptable?

How does that work, exactly? (To be clear, I am not saying soaps are the only offenders. Primetime shows are just as bad at portraying this double-standard, as are movies and pretty much every other form of media.)

None of the slaps above were treated as physical assault. Was it because they were administered by women? Puny, helpless women can’t possibly be aggressors, can they?  Or was it because, in the case of the men they hit, the slap was perfectly justified in story (would the men have been justified in hitting back?)? In the case of women hitting women, well, you know how women are. They were probably just being petty or catty or bitchy or hormonal. No one should bother taking their violence seriously. They can’t be held responsible for their behavior. They’re women!

Daytime is the only television genre created for women by women (though, these days, both the creators and the audiences are much broader). Soaps were intended to be a heightened reality. More romantic, more dramatic, more passionate and more emotional. If that’s the case, then why aren’t we getting more upset about casual violence against women, no matter who’s dishing it out, instead of cheering them on and looking forward to the inevitable cat-fights?

What do you think? Is it time to retire the soap slap (and the cat-fight)? Tell Entertainment Weekly at:

On the other hand, if you just can't get enough soap-slapping, you can also click the above link for over a dozen videos of classic soap slaps, including scenes from GH, DAYS, B&B, Y&R, AMC and more!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

My whole writing career has been a case of “You know, it’s not supposed to happen that way.” My first romance novel was picked and published out of the slush pile. I wrote a non-fiction book about figure skater Sarah Hughes in a year when she wasn’t expected to do much at the Olympics. She ended up winning the gold medal, and my book went into second and third printings. I pitched a novel based on the soap-opera, “As the World Turns,” and it ended up becoming a NYT best-seller. 

Then, a few years later, I took a cancelled soap-opera, “Another World,” and revived it on-line as a combination of text and video with readers directing the story. I took what I learned there, and turned my paperback figure-skating mystery novels into enhanced e-books, with professional performance footage alongside the original story. And then I combined everything I’d done up to the point, the interactive fiction, the multimedia enhancements, and decided that I would write my next book live online, and that I would take feedback from readers along the way about where I wanted to story to go next. 

At, readers can literally watch my every key-stroke. They can see my typos, my mistakes, my clunky prose and my badly plotted dead-ends. It’s the exact opposite of what writers are told to do, which is to polish their work until it’s perfect before letting anyone see it. But, what can I say, it sounded like a fun idea, so I went with it. You know, it’s not supposed to happen that way….

Read my entire interview at Jim Jackson's blog:

Monday, March 09, 2015


Question: Why is there a Kickstarter-backed Tonay Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Museum coming to the hallway of a third-floor walk-up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn?

Answer: Because it can.

Learn more at:

The Washington Post

New York Magazine

ABC News


But if you prefer your skating drama fictionalized (which means being able to tell truths non-fiction would be sued for), click here to win copies of the Figure Skating Mystery, Murder on Ice, and the Figure Skating Romance, Pairing Off (Red Hot Russians).

Thursday, March 05, 2015


At first glance, NBC’s Allegiance looks to be a painfully obvious rip-off of the FX hit, The Americans.

Both feature a seemingly perfect, all-American family, Mom, Dad, older daughter, younger son – except Mom and Dad also happen to be Russian spies.

As it turns out, however, Allegiance isn’t purely a cynical network attempt to ape yet another cable critical darling. It’s actually based on an Israeli show, The Gordin Cell, (the same way that Homeland is a remake of Israel’s Prisoners of War). Though it’s doubtful Allegiance would have been developed, if not for the success of The Americans.

The two shows are actually more different than they are similar. Or, rather, they are companion pieces instead of being direct competitors.

Their commonalities are purely surface, and include some pretty horrible attempts at speaking Russian. On The Americans, neither of the leads are native speakers, though all of the actors playing KGB agents at the Rezidentura are, and hearing them talking to each other is pretty jarring. On Allegiance, Margarita Levieva, who plays oldest daughter Natalie, was born in then-Leningrad and, like many Soviet Jews – including myself – moved to the States as a child. Her Russian is perfect. Hope Davis’, who plays her mother… isn’t. And, of course, there is the matter of the subtitles. On both shows, the translations are flawed, at best, complete fictions, at worst. Sometimes the dialogue only matches on the most surface of levels, but idioms and nuances are inevitably lost.

The differences, however, are key. On The Americans, “Elizabeth” and “Phillip” a.k.a. Nadezhda and Misha, are trained spies, recruited at young age and set up in the US with stolen documents as a phony married couple. Their children, Paige and Henry, are merely part of their cover story, as much tools as the employees at the travel agency they supposedly run.

On Allegiance, Katya was a Russian agent sent to recruit American engineer, Mark, (a fact that prompted my American engineer husband to look at me with suspicion). The two ended up falling in love, getting married, and raising a family in the US – while continuing to spy as a team. Katya isn’t pretending to be a wholesome, all-American housewife. She’s supposed to be a Russian immigrant, so the family speaks Russian, and celebrates Russian Orthodox holidays (nevertheless, my 15 year old refused to believe any real Russians would be so blasĂ© about the youngest daughter getting a “D” in math). Oh and, along the way, they recruit their oldest child to be a spy, too.

It’s the middle son, Alex, however, who is the centerpiece of the story. Alex is an up-and-coming analyst with the CIA (though, like with all of TV’s attempts to portray an intellectually gifted individual, they make the usual mistake and/or lazy writing of demonstrating it by having him spout obscure facts and be socially awkward). Katya and Mark’s handlers want an oblivious Alex to start spying for them, too. Or else!

And this is where Allegiance dovetails so beautifully with The Americans.  The theme of the latter show’s third season has been Phillip and Elizabeth’s conflict over recruiting daughter Paige to their cause. (Apparently, even in this, poor, neglected Henry gets the shaft.) Elizabeth is all for it. Phillip is wildly against it. Elizabeth thinks it will give her moody teen a life purpose and bring the two of them closer together. Phillip thinks their sheltered, innocent American princess would shatter from living a lie.

Read more at:

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Last week’s soaps post discussing whether or not actress Victoria Rowell would be able to prove racial discrimination as the reason behind her not being rehired at The Young & the Restless, triggered a great deal of discussion, both in the Comments, on Twitter, and in emails sent directly to me.

One poster wrote: This "Cry Racism" garbage is backfiring across America big time. Millions of people are turned down for jobs every hour. If this narcissistic whiner wasn't happy with how she was treated, then go elsewhere! If the Management had a vendetta against black people, the soap wouldn't have hired her the FIRST time!

While another countered: It's easy for the privileged few to scream racism doesn't exist. It does. And it's evident. No one knows how this woman was treated.

And a third insisted: Oh good Lord I am sick of this racial bull of whining and complaining. She was no great asset to Young and Restless. Been watching since it began. Race is an old excuse and getting old in this day and age.

Interestingly, the bulk of the feedback on Twitter and email came down to the question: Is it possible to dislike a character of a different race, religion, sexuality, etc… and have it be not about the race, religion, and sexuality, but about the character themselves?

Is it racist to have never liked Rowell’s character, Dru, and not want her back now, or is it just a matter of personal preference?

Can you dislike Maya on The Bold & the Beautiful because she’s a bitchy, manipulative social-climber who seduced Rick away from his wife (personally, that’s why I happen to love her, but to each their own), or must it only be because she is currently in an interracial relationship?

Can you think that Days of Our Lives’ Will is a whiny, self-absorbed, spoiled brat who, like his mother before him, is always blaming his bad behavior on someone else, without it automatically being a case of homophobia?

And then there’s the General Hospital two-fer, where Brad is both gay and Asian, but also has a past that includes blackmail, tampering with lab results, and perennial snark (again, why I love him, but I can certainly understand those who feel otherwise).

For every soap character with a rabid fan base, say, Sonny on GH, there is an equally loud group that finds them unpalatable. In this case, no one (to my knowledge) is accusing Sonny-haters of being anti-Greek. They simply don’t happen to believe that an unrepentant mobster who kills people for looking at him funny is prime romantic hero material. Those who love him, point to the dimples, and go from there.

This begs the question, are these the sorts of issues daytime soaps should be dealing with?

Find out what actors, producers and fans of your favorite shows had to say on the subject, and make sure you leave a comment of your own at Entertainment Weekly:

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


I don’t watch reality TV, so when my husband asked if “Kosher Soul,” which premiered last Wednesday on Lifetime TV, was a typical example of the genre, I didn’t know what to tell him. When I was getting my Master’s in Media Analysis (yes, it’s a thing, no, I don’t recommend it), I asked one of my professors how, if you’re not a fan of a given genre, you can possibly judge whether or not the program in question has successfully achieved its goals? He mumbled something about good drama being good drama regardless of genre.

I disagreed. If you’re not a fan of science fiction or Westerns, how can you determine whether a work delivered what fans–not overeducated media critics–expect of it? I believe art needs to be evaluated on its own terms.

This is my roundabout way of saying that I have no idea whether or not “Kosher Soul” is good reality television. I don’t feel qualified to evaluate it on those merits. The only criteria I do have for reviewing this half-hour “reality” show about Jewish celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff and her fiancĂ© (spoiler: husband by Episode 3), African-American comedian O’Neal McKnight, is as a Jewish woman married (16 years this January) to a black man.

In some ways, Miriam is way ahead of me. She’s gotten O’Neal to agree to convert. (Though not before the wedding, which my own husband found very odd.) My husband made it clear before we got married that while he was fine with having a Jewish home and raising our children Jewish, he would not be converting for a variety of reasons. One of them was that he took religion too seriously to treat it the way O’Neal seems to do on the show, which primarily includes switching hats. Though O’Neal has also agreed to a ceremonial bris, even though his friend points out, “White man has your dick in his hand, with a knife? That’s scary.”

“It is,” my husband agreed, most solemnly.

Read the complete review at: