Thursday, June 30, 2011


When news broke yesterday about the death of Anthony Herrera, fan tribute sites soon filled up with clips of him in his most famous role, As The World Turns' James Stenbeck.

In addition to James, Herrera also played Jack Curtis on The Young and the Restless from 1975 to 1977, a sleazy college professor who seduced youngest Brooks sister, Peggy, because his wife was... fat (forget that the poor woman had turned to overeating in response to a devastating miscarriage).

In 1984, Herrera brought his particular brand of evil charm to Loving as Dane Hammond. Furious at being fired by Cabot Alden, Dane retaliated by bringing Cabot's illegitimate daughter, Shana, to town. When Cabot embraced his long-lost child, Dane put Plan B into effect, marrying Cabot's other daughter, Ann. Along the way, Dane learned - conveniently - that he was the biological father of Ann's adopted son, Jack, and attempted to establish a true father/child relationship with him.

It went about as well as James' overtures to Paul usually did. (Jack was so happy to hear he was the son of his family's greatest enemy that he went out and grew a beard, crashed his motercycle... and dumped his girlfriend, prompting her to marry another man.)

Below, watch the late Mr. Herrera in action as Dane in a series of ABC Daytime promos...


Lorna confessed to Jamie, "Here I was, panicking over being mom to a girl over stuff like books and toys and dolls and clothes, when the real problem is... look at the havoc I wreak around Felicia on a regular basis. If I can't make things work with my own mother, how am I supposed to do it with Devon? I don't want her to hate me."

"She won't."

"Oh, yeah? Damn it, Jamie, you look at me like I'm the most spectacular woman in the world. And I can't tell you what it does to me. You see me the way no other person has ever seen me. Problem is, out there in the real world, I don't play well with others. On a good day, people tolerate me. And I used to not care about it one way or the other, but now..." Lorna looked down at Devon with near dread. "How do I not screw this up? Screw her up? How do I make it so she doesn't run away from home when she's thirteen years old because anywhere has to be better than with me?"

"Ask yourself what would Donna Love do and then do the opposite?"

"Not funny."

"You are not going to screw this up. Which doesn't mean you and Devon won't fight, and it certainly doesn't mean you'll never make any mistakes. I'm going to let you in on the best-kept secret in parenting — and I know this from experience, both as a parent and as a child and, frankly, as a grandchild, too, considering my mother's relationships with Devon Ada's namesake, here. Deep down, your kid can never, ever hate you. No matter how many times they say they do."


Lorna stresses her mother/daughter relationship with Devon - and Felicia, Carl pushes his children to the limit - and is surprised when one chooses to push back, Grant thinks of something Sarah can do for him and Marley, Amanda offers her mother a chance to finally prove her support, and Charlie puts Cass' advice into action - with shocking results.

All at:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


In May of 2011, Spain's anti-trust authorities fined Procter & Gamble, along with one of their biggest competitors, L'Oreal cosmetics, over $67 million Euros for conspiring to fix beauty product prices in Europe.

While the Soap Opera 451 blog is a huge believer in free markets and strongly condemns the above collusion in no uncertain terms, we can't help wishing that, when it came to certain other areas, the two industry giants had colluded a little.

Because, while P&G has exited the soap opera business - for now (some of us still cling to the hope they'll come to their senses eventually and revive the brands they've abandoned), L'Oreal USA has partnered with Telemundo to launch the network's first, official telenovela fan club:

Jacqueline Hern├índez, Chief Operating Officer, Telemundo announced in a press release, “Consumers will be able to join an online community where they can interact with each other and with their favorite telenovela stars, while also finding rich beauty content including a brand new dedicated beauty blog.”

When it comes to finding value in a soap opera watching customer base, boy, what we wouldn't give for a little collusion right about now....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


From Santa Barbara...

Mason (Lane Davies) is suffering from amnesia and thinks he's a cowboy named Sonny who looks like Mason and has been recruited by Gina (Robin Mattson) to imitate Mason and embezzle money from his family.

In this scene, Gina tutors Sonny regarding Mason's very convoluted, very soapy family tree.

For anyone who's ever tried to explain a soap opera story to a civilian....

Monday, June 27, 2011


.... My five skating mysteries, Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime feature recurring characters with relationships that evolve from book to book. (You could say they were almost… soap opera like).

They are my dry run for what I hope to do next, which is embark on an original e-book series which will feature both text and video, and continue indefinitely via feedback from the audience (something else I developed at; including a poll at the end of each episode so that readers could actually guide my actions).

It is imperative that open-ended, serialized storytelling continue in some form....

Read my entire piece on the potential future of the genre at: and let me know what you think!


"What if Lorna wasn't wrong, Luke?" Felicia fretted. "What if she sensed something I'd never admitted, not even to myself? Was I — a part of me, anyway — was I... relieved... when I thought I'd lost her?"

"No," he said with utter conviction. "Your mourning, that was no act."

"I did mourn. I did. I mourned her, and you, and what we had, and what we could have been. But, at the same time, I was a kid. I had dreams. I wanted more than the life I had, certainly more than the life my mother had had. I wanted to be somebody. That couldn't have happened with a baby to take care of. Not then. There is no way I would or could have become Felicia Gallant, if I'd had a child to take care of, too."

"You underestimate yourself. I've got no doubt you'd have figured out a way to become the woman you were meant to be and a mother to our daughter. If anything, she'd have been another reason for you not to settle, to make a better life for yourself. Our little girl would've been your partner in crime; co-pilot, muse and inspiration all rolled into one."

"Or she'd have been the Veda to my Mildred Pierce."


Kirkland holds Grant to his promise, Jen learns about Kevin and Amanda as Allie confronts GQ about their kiss, Chase continues to confound Lila, and Matt breaks the news about him and Donna.

All at:

Friday, June 24, 2011


Five women scorned (in different ways) attempt to band together to bring down Roger Thorpe once and for all.

But, are they all equally committed - or is one planning a double-cross?

Find out at:!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Cass turned Charlie's face forward. "Your mother also told me that you bought condoms to protect yourself. Thank you for being responsible enough to take the proper precautions and not make me a grandfather before my time. I am currently much too young and virile."

"That's all you have to say?"

Cass turned to look at his daughter squarely. "What more is there? Do you actually want me to tick down the cliched list of do's and don'ts?"

"Won't your Father of the Year card be revoked otherwise?"

"Fine. Do always, always, always use protection — more than one form at a time is never overkill; don't ever give into pressure to do anything you don't want to do — hurt feelings are nothing compared to the alternatives, which include pregnancy, disease and death; don't be afraid to have fun and explore what you like and what you don't like in spite of all that; do make sure you and your partner are on the same page since sex doesn't necessarily always have to be about love, but there are still feelings — inevitably strong feelings — involved all the same. Do your best to be sensitive to that. Anything else?"

"Nothing about how my virginity is a sacred gift I should save till I'm married?"

"You, Charlotte Frame Winthrop, are an indescribably special gift for the man — or woman; let's be open-minded here — who will ultimately be lucky enough to snare your heart for the long-term. But, there is also something to be said for dry running through a few relationships on the way to your soul-mate. It helps narrow down what you want and what you don't want, what really matters and what's a total deal-breaker, so that, by the time you do meet that special someone, you have enough frames of reference — hey, see how I worked that pun in there? — to know that they're definitely the one for you, and enough life experience under your belt — the good, the bad and the ugly — to make that most important relationship work out for the rest of your lives."

"So what you're saying is, basically, don't get too attached to you first?"

"Depends. I'm sure somewhere — far, far, far away from Bay City — the first person you fall in love with does end up being forever. But, most of us just aren't that lucky. To be honest, it probably is optimal if your first time is less about raging hormones and more about the person you're with. Is that the case here?"


Cass offers Charlie the benefit of his own, uniquely Winthrop experience with sex, while Morgan works to convince Amanda that her quickie marriage is pretty standard - and equally doomed. Felicia and Lucas meet their new granddaughter, prompting Lorna to blurt out her true feelings regarding a long-festering resentment, and Grant receives a startling offer of help with Marley... and devastating demand to keep his end of a bargain.

All at:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


To continue the comedy mood (and counteract depressive funk triggered by the 2011 Daytime Emmys), I am going to post clips featuring some of my favorite daytime funny moments from now until... I feel better.

Kicking off things is As The World Turns' Brad and Katie's 2008 wedding:

Got suggestions for soap scenes that made you laugh? Let me know in the Comments below (assuming Blogger feels like cooperating), and I'll do my best to track them down and post them!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


To cleanse my palate of the doomed depression expressed in yesterday's blog, I decided to hark back to my humor post of last week in the hope of cheering myself - and my readers - up.

The previous Wednesday, my husband and I went to see one of my favorite Stephen Sondheim shows, Company. It's the story of a thirty-five year old man (Neil Patrick Harris in this version; quite possibly the best Bobby I've ever seen) who has lots of girlfriends (including Anika Noni Rose, also a stand-out)... and no true love, and plenty of married friends to demonstrate the pitfalls of the latter.

The show deals with some very soapy topics, but does it in an often very funny way - and with music, to boot!

Below is my favorite rendition in all of time of the song, Not Getting Married, as performed by the late Madeline Kahn, proving, once again, that serious subjects can still be entertaining in the right hands....

Monday, June 20, 2011


I watched my very first Daytime Emmy Awards exactly 30 years ago, in 1981. They aired in the afternoon on NBC, opposite General Hospital and Guiding Light. Some people may have had remote controls then, but my family didn't. I spent the two hours of the broadcast sitting right next to my TV, manually turning the dial (remember those?) back and forth between the three stations.

I was in soap opera heaven. (Watch the opening below - I was only 11, imagine my confusion when I saw Luke and Laura on the wrong channel.)

I worked my first Daytime Emmys in 1994, when I wrote E!'s arrival show (remember those?) and the post-broadcast wrap-ups.

In 1995, I was actually in New York, field-producing Shelley Taylor Morgan's red-carpet coverage. (Jennifer Aniston came with her dad, John. Friends was big by then, but she wasn't... yet.

Jonathan Jackson was nominated for his first Emmy, and when I told him he was considered the favorite, blinked in surprise and asked, "Really?" Jason Biggs was nominated in the same category.)

In 1996, I was on the production staff of Dick Clark. Our Year in Review montage was set to the cast of Rent singing Seasons of Love.

My two big contributions to the show were thinking to use the shot of B&B's Sly throwing a match over his shoulder to set his club on fire for the line "The bridges he burned..." (another colleague had the brilliant idea to use a shot of Y&R's baby Noah in the incubator for the "measure in inches" line), and coming up with an excuse to have GH's Genie Francis on a live video hook-up from LA. Genie was very pregnant and couldn't travel, but we wanted to have her on the show because we suspected she would win her first Emmy (she didn't). I came up with the idea of doing a quick piece on the 15th anniversary of daytime's most watched event - Luke and Laura's wedding - that Anthony Geary would introduce and she'd chime in to.

I continued to work for Dick Clark up through the new millennium, then switched to As the World Turns and Guiding Light. (A highlight for my husband, a long-time AMC fan, was getting to dance with Cady McClain and her Emmy at one after-party.)

The last Emmys I actually physically attended were in 2007. But, I continued to be involved in one way or another up through 2010.

Last night, I couldn't even muster up the strength to watch. It was all just too, too sad.

My wonderful, thoughtful, considerate husband went ahead and recorded them anyway, without telling me. He said, "You might want to watch... later." (The last thing he did that for was AMC's David and Anna mourning Leora. He insisted the scenes were amazing, I told him I don't do dead babies. "Maybe later," he said.)

I followed along on Twitter, and I congratulate all the soap winners. But, my heart has been broken.

He continued to wait. When Donna didn't speak, or move, or do much of anything, Matt felt compelled to follow up, "So... what comes next?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Were you just going to stroll out the door and schedule a hair appointment?"

"Only if I couldn't get cell reception in here."

"It didn't work," Matt enlightened.

"You mean, my attempt at triage grooming?"

"I mean, your repeated attempts to push me away. When are you going to give it a rest, Donna? Obviously, I'm in this for the long haul. Telling me you never loved me didn't work. Pushing me at Jeanne didn't work."

"I did no such thing!"

"When are you going to admit that you and I are it? We can fight, we can break up, we can date other people — "

"Marry other people..."

"And it still doesn't matter. We can't stay away from each other. Not for long."


Matt challenges Donna to be honest with herself, Lila and Alice challenge the Harrisons to become better men, Morgan challenges himself - and Amanda - to grow up, but gets a shock in return, and Jamie and Lorna's baby gets her name.

All at:

Friday, June 17, 2011



Harley returned to Springfield with Zach and Jude, and mentioned wanting to look up Cyrus again, despite Mindy mentioning that he was now dating Mel.

Meanwhile, Mindy suspected that Roger's umpteenth rise from the dead was a plan of his grandson, Kevin's... and that it was somehow connected to Leah. Rick disagreed.

Mindy was planning a nice, quiet day with Hudson, when a surprise quad of women appeared on her doorstep. Alex, Holly, Dinah and Blake had an offer for Mindy. Was she in or out?

Tweet Mindy your advice on the matter at: and help Guide the Light! And keep up with on-going adventures of Springfield by the co-author of Jonathan's Story!

(PS: My apologies to those who have tried leaving comments over the past few days, but had problems with Blogger. It's in another one of its moods, hopefully they'll fix it soon.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011


"If I tell you what I was thinking about," Allie cut right to the point of Rachel's obvious interest. "Do you promise not to make a big deal out of it?"

"Are you pregnant again?" Rachel asked.

"No! Of course not!"

"Planning to kidnap another young man and help him die?"

Allie rolled her eyes. "You know I'm not."

"Then, honestly, darling, I can't think of anything you could say that might prove a bigger deal that what we've already survived together over the past two years."

"You do have a way of putting things into perspective."

"Good. Because that was precisely my intention. Now, what's on your mind that it warranted the immolation of a perfectly innocent bag of popcorn?"

Allie took a moment to collect her thoughts. Then, in a rush of words nearly devoid of punctuation, she demanded, "How is it that a person can know someone is bad for them, know that they treat you badly and that they make you do bad stuff in return; how can you understand that you're much better off without them, but then still... still want them anyway? Or, at least, a part of you does?"

"I see..." In contrast to Allie's ramble, Rachel willfully dragged out her response.

"You promised not to make a big deal out of it," Allie reminded.

"All I said was: I see."

"It was the way you said it. Like you were gearing up for a lecture."

Rachel laughed. "Rest assured, I know the futility of that. I certainly never listened to my mother when she lectured me on the very same topic. Hard as it may be to believe, we were all young once, Allie. Before I was your grandmother, I was...well... a lot of things. Among them, a woman who knowingly allowed herself to suffer at the hands of more than one man who I also understood was very, very bad for me."


Rachel's confession about her own past to help Allie leads to a startling question, Frankie and Cass' pasts color their takes on Charlie's future, Donna and Matt resurrect their past, Jamie struggles to keep the past from repeating itself with Lorna, while Grant ponders what went wrong in the present.

All at:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


@DreamerofSoaps made the mistake of asking, on Twitter, whether anyone had ever heard of the television show, Soap.

It just so happens that Soap, which ran on ABC from 1977-1980 is my favorite show of all time. My brother and I can quote long, long stretches of dialogue (much to the dismay of our respective significant others).

After raving about Soap on Twitter, I boiled it down to the following: Soap was able to take traditional daytime drama tropes, make them funny and make you care about the characters. They weren't just mocking the conventions, they were honoring them in a highly entertaining way. (Personally, I always thought traditional soaps could stand to have more humor. You can have drama along with chuckles. It's why characters like ATWT's Henry, DOOL's Vivian, GH's Diane and B&B's Sally tend to become so popular. We want to cry and laugh.)

Below is a perfect example of what Soap did best. It took a traditional serial situation: Corrine (Diana Canova) recently learned that Jessica (Katherine Helmond) is her adoptive mother, while the abrasive Inga (Ingrid Swenson) is her biological one. Corrine rejects Jessica and moves in with Ingrid. But, Jessica isn't about to walk away...

Enjoy, and let us know your thoughts: Is there a place in daytime for more laughs?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


For the past few years, whenever I've been working at home and needed to get the kids out of my hair for a bit, my husband has told them, "Shhhh.... Mommy is busy saving daytime."

Obviously, Mommy has not done a very good job of it. (Though, in Mommy's defense, she's been up against some pretty strong forces doing their best to kill it.)

Which is why, just like Hollywood does with their most popular franchises every few years, I've decided to... re-imagine daytime - or, rather, serial storytelling - instead.

My plan involves many steps and experiments (and inevitable failures) prior to the release of the final product.

Step One is my first Enhanced E-Book, Skate Crime: Multimedia:

Step Two is the upcoming Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments. (Details, here.)

Step Three is the release of my 2000 romance novel from DELL, When a Man Loves a Woman, as an Enhanced E-book this July 2011. (Read an excerpt at my official site,

When the book was originally released, this was the cover the publisher gave me:

It is not one of my favorites. (However, it is also not the worst one I ever got, if that tells you anything about my luck with covers - and does anyone else think the guy looks a little like Rick Hearst, of GL/GH/Y&R/B&B fame?)

This is the cover for the Enhanced re-release:

I like it a lot better. What do you guys think?

Monday, June 13, 2011


Jamie's voice trailed off and he frowned at Dr. Ng. "You're not going to do a C-section immediately? I asked Lorna's neurologist to send you her records weeks ago. You're aware of her circumstances?"

"I am," Dr. Ng nodded slowly, choosing her words with impeccable care. She snuck a peek at Lorna, who was, quite conscientiously, managing to avoid everyone's eyes at the same time. "You haven't filled Jamie in on your decision?"

"We've been busy..." Lorna hedged. "And I thought I had more time."

"I see." Dr. Ng offered, "I am going to step out into the hall for a few minutes so that the two of you can talk privately. Come and get me if you need anything."

"Thanks," Lorna said weakly, even as Jamie's mouth was already opening to demand, "What decision? What do I need to be filled in on, Lorna?"

She held up a hand, waiting for another contraction to pass, hoping to work the sympathy vote as she pleaded, "Just hear me out, okay?"

"I'm listening." He crossed his arms, body language not exactly radiating acceptance.

"Okay. So. First of all, you know how much I love you, right?"


"And you know that I would never, ever, ever do anything to put our baby in danger."

"I notice you didn't exclude putting yourself in danger."

"Raya thinks I should be able to get by without a C-section, or any kind of narcotic. Just an epidural."

"Raya Ng is not a neurologist."

"No. But, she's consulted with one. Several, actually. We both have. Their consensus was I'm not at that much of a risk."

"Everyone is at some risk during even the most conventional deliveries. Your blood pressure could spike without warning. I've seen it happen in women with no history of a brain injury. In your case, you could have a massive stroke. You could die, Lorna."

"Jenna died. She had a C-section because everyone — including you — recommended it as the safest option. And she died anyway."


Jamie and Grant receive unexpected sympathy from two very unlikely sources regarding the difficult women in their lives, while Matt struggles to pry a logical explanation out of Jeanne.

All at:

Friday, June 10, 2011


Over on Mindy's Twitter (!/MindyLewisBauer), Roger Thorpe has returned to Springfield... and all the subsequent drama that entails.

While the vast majority of readers have written and tweeted me to express delight with this latest development, one person objected that, due to the tragic death of actor Michael Zaslow (I wrote about his family a few years ago, here), the character should be left to rest in peace, as well.

To me, this is akin to saying that because Christopher Reeve is gone, Superman stories can't continue.

On the other hand, Mindy's Twitter, like Another World Today, was created to be fan interactive. So I pose the question to you: Are there some soap characters who should be retired permanently, like a baseball player's number?

Let me know, below!

Thursday, June 09, 2011


We've had circa 2003 interviews with Martha Byrne, Grayson McCouch and Cady McClain. Now check out:

Marie Masters (Susan; ATWT)

John James (Rick; ATWT & Jeff; Dynasty)

Agim Kaba (Aaron; ATWT)

"Let me be clear, Grant. If you ever come near my granddaughters again, there won't be enough left of you to fill a coffin for Spencer to bury."

"I'd listen to her if I were you," Steven called from the top of the stairs. "Between the gun cabinet, assorted vases, candlesticks, and fireplace pokers, Grandmother could do you some real damage. Not to mention, she knows people skilled at making problems... disappear."

"Trot along, son," Grant dismissed without so much as turning around. "Adults are talking."

"Then you'd better speak up, since I'm in charge of Bridget and Michele now."

Grant's eyes slid to Donna who solidly returned his gaze. "You dumped Marley's children on another child to raise? What's the matter, Donna, actually taking responsibility for two young girls still incompatible with your society lifestyle?"

"I took control of the situation as I saw fit," Steven asserted.

"Did you sucker-punch Granny in the jaw, too?"

"You did that?" His grandmother indicated the ugly black and blue bruise on Grant's chin, unable to hide her newfound respect for Vicky's oldest son. "Bravo, darling!"

"Fine," Grant turned on a dime, realizing he'd been wasting his time with Donna and appealed directly to Steven. "You want to pretend you're a big boy now? Then realize you need to put your petty feelings aside and do what's right for Marley and those girls."

"Fair enough. My petty feelings aside — oh, and, by the way, you talk to Kirkland yet this morning?" Steven barreled on, taking pleasure in the flicker of agony that crossed Grant's face, but refusing him the right to respond. "My sisters are in no shape to be taken for a joyride by the man who recently tried to kidnap them and could very well be planning to do it again. Especially not so they can visit a sick woman ranting about shadow figures hiding in garages and poisoning her coffee cups."

"I talked to her nurse, she's much calmer now," Grant kept his voice even, lest he be accused of hysteria, as well. "Steven, please, just let Marley see Michele and Bridget so she can ease their minds about what's happened and make them understand she'll get better and come back to them as soon as possible. You know they won't accept anything secondhand. Not from any of us. They have to hear it from Marley herself. If you're really that adamant, then I don't have to take them to her this morning, but someone should. For their sakes as much as for Marley's."


A surprising figure settles Grant, Steven and Donna's tug-of-war over Bridget and Michele, Cass and Morgan pick up exactly where they left off, Lorna and Jamie prepare to greet the future, Charlie surprises Frankie, who reacts in the last way she expected, and Matt makes a discovery regarding Jeanne.

All at:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


On the suggestion of a reader, I recently interviewed Michael Corbett (ex-David; Y&R) for Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments about some of his top soap moments, including having KILLER carved into his forehead, committing attempted murder while dressed as the Big Bad Wolf and, ultimately, death by trash compactor.

Got any thoughts or memories on the above that you'd like to share for publication? Please e-mail me at!

Meanwhile, enjoy David at his best (aka worst) below!

These days, Corbett is a corespondent for EXTRA, and a best-selling author:

But, he told me he'd love to come to Genoa City for a return visit. After all, how sure are we that it was really David in that trash compactor....

Read David's complete interview, as well as contributions from Linda Dano, Tina Sloan, Victoria Rowell, Eileen Davidson and more in Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, this Fall!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Lee Goldberg, television writer, novelist and blogger extraordinaire, likes to post old and obscure television credits at his site.

On May 30, he posted the below, featuring, as guest stars, Y&R's Dennis Cole (Lance #2) and Terry Lester (Jack #1).

Both actors have since passed away, but they were the Lance and Jack that were on when I started watching in the early 1980s. I know that to most viewers, John McCook (Eric, B&B) is the one true Lance, and Peter Bergman the longest running (and Emmy winning) Jack, but, for someone who used to watch these two guys cut a broad swath through the ladies of Genoa City, it was a really kick to stumble on the credits of Flying High.

Monday, June 06, 2011


An excerpt from a guest blog I did for Fiction Writers and Other Oddities, wherein I (modestly) ponder the future of all media...

Professionally, I kept my careers pretty separate. I wrote romance novels for AVON and DELL while also writing and producing soap segments for ABC Daytime and the Daytime Emmy Awards. The closest my two worlds came to overlapping was when I used my experience as a television researcher for ABC, ESPN, NBC and TNT’s figure skating coverage to set the background for my series of Figure Skating Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime).

While working for Procter & Gamble productions, I wrote tie-in books for their TV properties, “As The World Turns” and “Guiding Light.” I also developed a website for them, , where I combined vintage clips from their soap opera, “Another World,” with fresh written content.

If I could do it for them, why couldn’t I do it for myself?

Especially now that, with the advent of iPhones and iPads and assorted other, non-Apple products, it’s possible to both read an e-book and watch a video at the same time. (Kind of like when I’d do my homework in front of the TV! See, Mom and Dad, I told you it would be a useful skill…. Someday.)

I was going to build an enhanced e-book. Even if no one was quite sure what precisely that was, yet.

Simon & Schuster gave it a try, debuting the Vook ( They offered mostly non-fiction titles, along with a romance by Jude Deveraux and a thriller by Richard Doetsch. (Other fiction titles they just enhanced with non-fictional elements, like authors talking about their books, historical documents, etc…)

But none of those were precisely what I was looking for.

So, I decided to make up my own genre. Because I’m like that. (An obvious side-effect of too much reading and watching TV simultaneously.)

In cooperation with The Ice Theatre of New York ( ), I took an excerpt from my fifth mystery, “Skate Crime,” and enhanced it with videos that actually (I hope) contribute to the story.

And when I say I did it, I mean my husband, the MIT-educated engineer, did it. I just stood over his shoulder and said, “No, not like that. That’s not it. Nope, not that either,” until he finally read my mind and built what I wanted. (I’m like that, too.)...

Read the entire piece at:


Grant was about to continue his protest, when his eye was caught by... "Kirkland Ryan Frame?" Grant asked slowly, jabbing his finger at the offending line. "That is not your name. Your name is Kirkland Grant Harrison."

"It's what Mom wanted my middle name to be."

"It's who Mom wanted your father to be, too! Unfortunately, she didn't get to pick."

"Yeah. Fortunately, I do."


Kirkland shocks both Grant and Jamie with his latest stance, Rachel demands Carl tell her everything, then wonders if she can accept it, Kevin sees himself - and Amanda - in a new light, Steven tentatively questions Jen about the future, and Matt employs what he learned from Donna with Jeanne.

All at:

Friday, June 03, 2011


With word now out that Aunt Viv and her on-again/off-again nemesis, Carly, are leaving Salem in the near future, while tortured couple John and Marlena are on their way back - at least for the summer, this seemed like the perfect time to write my thoughts on the Days of Our Lives tie-in novel, A Secret in Salem, by Sheri Anderson, in which Mr. and Dr. Black are prominently featured (along with their daughter, Belle, her husband, Shawn-Douglas, and their little girl, Claire.)

Though I've been a voracious reader of tie-ins since I was a kid (Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Star Trek), I've been looking at them with a new eye ever since publishing three of my own, ATWT's Oakdale Confidential and The Man From Oakdale, and GL's Jonathan's Story.

The most difficult thing I, personally, found about writing a tie-in was that stories (outside of those stream of consciousness things everyone feels compelled to experiment with in college) require the protagonists to learn something, and then to grow and change as a result of it. (As a writing mentor once said, "Your story needs to be about the most interesting thing that ever happened in this character's life. If this is not the most interesting that ever happened to them, then throw away the story you're currently writing, and write about that.")

Good advice, if you're writing a stand-alone novel. But, as part of a series (not to mention part of a television series), that can be tricky...

Especially if the series you're writing about is going on even as you're composing your story.

With a tie-in, what you want to do is have your character learn something, grow and change... and still be the same person they were when the story started. I visualized the journey as a rope, of which you then tie up the loose ends. Your hero/heroine have to come full circle and end up in the same place they started, so that their adventure may be neatly slipped into the fabric of the main (more important) text - the show, without causing barely a ripple.

In that regard, Sheri Anderson does a wonderful job of crafting a suspenseful, intriguing tale for John and Marlena (why is John hiding the fact that he's no longer paralyzed from Marlena?), while still making it possible for them to return to Salem as more or less the same people they were when they left.

The question is, do you, the viewers, want the story told in A Secret in Salem to be incorporated into John and Marlena's return, or do you believe the "real" story is only the one that happens on screen, excluding all supplementary material (books, websites, etc...)?

Let us know in the Comments below!

And for more about tie-in books, visit the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers!

They voted The Man From Oakdale the Best Original Tie-In Novel of 2010!

Thursday, June 02, 2011


"Aunt Marley is an adult," Steven snapped. "We've all had our share of childhood trauma and disappointments. We don't all lash out at half our loved ones while trying to kidnap the other half. We don't all have our feet 'slip' on a gas pedal or go Single White Female on our own sister. There comes a time when Aunt Marley needs to be held accountable for her actions, and not have you — or Grant — tripping over each other to absolve her."

Donna stared at her grandson, hesitant at this most unusual, angry outburst, realizing, "Marley taking your sisters, she didn't so much anger as... she frightened you."

"If Marley had had her way, Kirk and I would have probably never seen them again. She would've taken what we have left of our mother and..."

"Victoria would be gone again," Donna finished, struggling with emotion as she recalled the ten year old boy in the itchy suit and tie at his mother's memorial service, insisting he was fine, he was okay, it's Kirkland they should be worried about. "Oh, Steven..."

He waved her off with one hand and gulped down the last of his coffee. "Dad didn't turn Marley in. He got her to commit herself to Clareview like you always planned."

"Thank God," Donna sighed in relief. "What about Grant?"

"Dad's dealing with him."

"Dealing with him how?"

"You'll have to ask him. He told me to focus on taking care of Bridget and Michele, and that's what I plan to do."

"It's time for you take care of yourself, darling. I can see what an effect last night had on you. I'll watch over the girls from here on out, don't you worry."

"I'm sorry, Grandmother. I cannot leave you in charge of Bridget and Michele."


Steven asserts himself with Donna, Jamie puts Grant's deal into Kirkland's hands, Chase offers Lila a glimpse into his past, Amanda refuses to let Kevin wallow in self-pity, GQ and Jen fill each other in, and Sarah issues an ultimatum.

All at:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


When China made it's pair figure skating debut at the 1980 World Championships (trust me, I'm going to tie this in to soaps in a minute), the team of Yao Bin and Luan Bo finished dead last. Primarily because, not only were they training without a coach, but they also had to learn all their moves and tricks from photos and videos of other teams. (Yao Bin went on to train China's subsequent, powerhouse squad of World and Olympic medalists, but that's another - awesome - story for another time.)

The reason I'm bringing this up is because, with the pruning of American soap operas from network television, those of us who need a serial fix are, by necessity, turning to other options. I know a lot of people are loving their telenovellas, but I don't speak Spanish.

On the other hand, African soaps operas, such as those featured on the Africa Channel, Isidingo, and Generations (not to be confused with the African-American soap of the same name), are broadcast in a combination of English and (English subtitled) Afrikaans.

Not only do these shows feature African characters the likes of which you hardly ever see on Western television (and school even the most self-satisfied "diverse" programs a lesson in how it's done), but - and this is why I brought up the Chinese Pair teams - Isidingo and Generations give the impression of having been written, directed and performed by people whose only exposure to soap operas was America in the 1980s - and it's awesome.

Everything you could possibly want from a soap opera - dramatic proclamations, pregnant pauses, intense looks, blackmail, betrayal, deceit and hot, hot people - is available for your pure, classic, soapy enjoyment. It's like they didn't get the memo that women (and men) are no longer interested in this sort of thing!

Do you miss ATWT and GL? Are you already mourning AMC and OLTL? Give the soaps on The Africa Channel a try!


Thanks to everyone who let me know that the Comments section wasn't working. It's a Blogger problem, and they promise to get it fixed ASAP.


In the meantime, if you have a contribution to Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, please e-mail it to me at Thanks, and sorry for the inconvenience.