Wednesday, December 24, 2014


What’s better than one soap-opera fan? A quorum of soap-opera fans!

The end of the year always brings a flood of television experts and their Best Of/Worst Of lists. They’re fun to read, but in the end, the only opinions that really matter are those of the fans. (Just ask any TV show with a wheelbarrow of Emmys and low ratings; critical love will only save you from cancellation for so long.)

When I wrote my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments, I turned to the fans, using Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, and email to crowd-source what viewers through were examples of daytime drama at the top of its game.

I’m doing the same thing this week. Instead of me listing what I think are some of soaps’ most memorable Christmases—and invoking familiar traditions like Days of Our Lives’ ceremonial hanging of ornaments with character names on them, or General Hospital’s children’s parade (often starring the actors’ real life children) and reading of the Christmas story—I’m going to let the fans speak up … in their own words.

To read memories of GH, DOOL, GL, OLTL, AMC and many, many more go to:

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


The very first book I ever published, The Fictitious Marquis, a Regency Romance for AVON in 1994, is finally coming out as an e-book.

As with my previous titles, I can't use the original cover art, and so need a new image.

The designer I'm working with sent me to

In The Fictitious Marquis, the hero has red hair, and the heroine black - both are actually a story-point. Which was why I couldn't resist a sketch I found of a red-headed man talking to a dark-haired woman, and both of them in period dress, to boot! (What are the odds?)

The designer did a basic, low-res mock-up of what the cover might look like. Take a look below and let me know what you think, as I have no visual sense whatsoever.


Monday, December 22, 2014


For my Entertainment Weekly post tomorrow, I would like to do a round up of your most memorable soap-opera Christmases.

Is it Phillip and Beth meeting St. Nick in New York on GL?

Michael's It's a Wonderful Life dream on Y&R, Steve Hardy reading the Christmas story on GH, DOOL's traditional ornament hanging or something else altogether?

Tell me your favorite soap-opera Christmas memory in the Comments or email me at, and the most popular ones will me highlighted on Entertainment Weekly!

Thanks in advance and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Yesterday was the first night of Hanukkah—an admittedly minor Jewish festival blown all out of proportion due to its proximity to the major American holiday of Christmas.

Jews make up only 2.2 percent of the U.S. population, so it’s no surprise that they very rarely show up on that most Middle American of art forms, the daytime soap opera.

Nevertheless, in honor of the eight nights of Hanukkah, we now present: The 8 most prominent Jewish characters in soaps (and count our blessings that there aren’t 10 nights, because we’d have had a hard time filling out the list), including representatives from GH, DOOL, Y&R, GL, RH and more at:

Happy Hanukkah, and make sure you leave a comment!

Monday, December 15, 2014


Don't have a little dreidel? (Or any clay, for that matter?)

Don't worry, my 5th grader has you covered!

Behold, the virtual dreidel!

Prevents cheating AND it won't roll off the table, under the couch and get lost forever!

Try it for yourselves!


And if you need help lighting your candles, rest assured, he's got a virtual version of that, too!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014


On The Young and the Restless, Adam Newman has a new face (which happens a lot). It is, however, one familiar to TV viewers. Actor Justin Hartley played Fox on the defunct soap opera Passions, as well as Oliver Queen, aka The Green Arrow, on Smallville. He was also Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, on the unsold pilot of the same name. Aquaman became the first unsuccessful pilot ever released for viewing on iTunes (where it instantly shot up to No. 1 in the rankings).

But Hartley isn’t the only actor to ever make the switch from soap-opera hunk to superhero—and back again. Check out our three favorite good guys—and our three favorite bad guys— from GH, ATWT, OLTL, AW, GL, SB and more, who share a past in both soap operas and comic books at Entertainment Weekly, here.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


Tonight on NBC it's Peter Pan - live!

You know the story (NeverNeverLand, Lost Boys, Captain Hook, clock swallowing alligator), but do you know the soap-opera connection?

Guiding Light! Dallas!

Find out where they intersect and more in my BlogHer piece, 10 Secrets You Didn't Know About Peter Pan!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


Last week on The Bold and the Beautiful, Rick broke off his relationship with Maya to try to repair his marriage to Caroline. And while fans debate which woman is the better match for the Forrester heir—Caroline, who kissed his bother, or Maya, who jumped into bed with a married man at first opportunity (not to mention the more pressing question of whether Rick is good enough for either of them)—one topic has yet to come up. Rick is white, Maya is black. Nobody cares.

It wasn’t always this simple in soap-opera land.

In 1962, the short-lived PGP soap opera A Brighter Day made history by hiring the first African-American series regular, actor Rex Ingram. The show was canceled that September due to low ratings.

In 1966, Guiding Light hired daytime’s first African-American contract players, Billy Dee Williams and Cecily Tyson. The roles were later recast with James Earl Jones and Ruby Dee. Jones also appeared that same year on As the World Turns.

But the African-American characters were kept peripheral to the main action, and there certainly was not even a hint of interracial romance. That took several decades to develop. Check out Entertainment Weekly's five most memorable soap-opera interracial loves stories (and three honorable mentions) from GH, Y&R, DOOL, OLTL, ATWT, Santa Barbara and more that brought soap operas to where they are today at this link!

Monday, December 01, 2014


I know what you're thinking: Why can I only incessantly read about what Alina is thinking? Why can't I also hear her talking at me incessantly?

Behold! My interview with Arise America on the subject of raising biracial kids, below:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Soap-opera fans are not exactly a shy and retiring bunch. When something pisses them off, they complain, promptly and loudly.

Unfortunately, all of the ear-splitting bitching and moaning tends to drown out the positive. So, in the spirit of the season, we take a look at five things soap opera fans have to be thankful for this year at Entertainment Weekly.

Happy Soapsgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What's your favorite soap opera location shoot?

Last week on The Bold and the Beautiful, Hope continued to insist that she was committed to her husband, Wyatt, despite casting longing looks at his brother, Liam. And Wyatt continued to insist that he was okay with Hope and Liam’s romantic past, while not very subtly pushing Liam towards his new girlfriend, Ivy. What made this quadrangle not the same old, same old was that last week, it took place in Amsterdam.

When soaps want viewers to pay particular attention to a story, wrap a story up in a spectacular way, or launch a new supercouple, they often ditch the three-walled living rooms and boardrooms and go out on location.

Check out our 11 favorite locations from AMC, ATWT, DOOL, GH, GL, OLTL and more, where daytime dramas literally went to the edge of the earth, all to entertain you at:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I have made no secret of my love for Sidney Sheldon. (Well, all of his work up to Windmills of the Gods, that is.)

I read my first book by him, Master of the Game, when I was 13, and it basically changed the trajectory of my life. I decided I wanted to be Sidney Sheldon when I grew up, and I have been feebly trying to achieve that goal, ever since.

Another favorite of mine is his con-artist romance, If Tomorrow Comes. I also read it in high-school, which means it also left a big impression on me.

Now, there is a newly released sequel, Sidney Sheldon's Chasing Tomorrow by Tilly Bagshawe (because why let a little thing like the original author being dead stop you from extending the series?).

It's a fine follow up. Except for one thing.

If Tomorrow Comes was published in 1985, and based on the technology, the politics and the fashions, we can assume that the action took place in the mid-1980s.

Chasing Tomorrow picks up with the last scene from the first book. Only now the heroine, Tracy, makes a reference to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia did not exist in the mid-1980s.

We have jumped ahead in time 24 years, without anyone aging more than a day. Am I the only person this upsets deeply?

Check out the book for yourself by clicking the link below:

And the original:

Monday, November 17, 2014


About a decade ago, when I only had two children, I wrote a piece for called The Working Mom's Tricks to Writing a Novel in Your Free Time.

The tips boiled down to:

* Think First
* Skip Lunch
* Write Longhand
* Get Your Kids Into the Act

I have been told by many moms since then that they found my advice very helpful. You can read the extended version of the article, here.

At the time, I was working outside of the home. With the birth of my third child almost eight years ago, I switched to working from home, which led to its own set of challenges.

My current project, after a dozen traditionally written, edited and published books, is writing my latest family saga live online, where readers can watch every key stroke, every mistake and every deletion - and offer feedback as I go along. (After all, what's the point of telling a writer what you don't like after the book has been published? What am I supposed to do about it then?)

You'd think writing naked, as it were, would be enough of a challenge. But add three kids into the mix, and you end up with days like the below:

UPDATE 11/11/14
Tales of the Work From Home Mom Writer. Yesterday, 5th grader was off from school so we went to the park and to a Book Club. Today, the 15 year old is home from school, so we’re going to buy him a winter jacket. I lead a glamorous life! (And write around it.)

UPDATE 11/12/14
First time since I started live writing that I am going into a scene with absolutely no idea what’s going to happen. So take a look and see if anything actually does.

UPDATE 11/13/04
Now the 7 year old is home sick from school. It’s a Working From Home Mom Trifecta!

Want to know what happens when a mom writes live... with children? Go to: to see it happen - live! And make sure to let me know what you think in the Comments (and read what others have already had to say. My favorite comment so far? "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!")

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Some mothers and daughters share clothes. Some share men. On Days of Our Lives last week, Eve slept with JJ, her daughter Paige’s boyfriend. This budding (love? hate?) triangle is hardly the first of its kind. Join us now for a trip down memory lane with 10 soaps that took the concept of mother lovin’ to a whole new level!


1) Days of Our Lives

Eve/JJ/Paige have nothing on Addie/Doug/Julie. Actors (and real-life husband and wife) Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes even made the cover of Time Magazine in 1976 in tribute to all their onscreen suffering. Their characters, Doug and Julie, were all set to get married, but then they had a fight. So Doug married Julie’s mother instead. Addie got pregnant, was diagnosed with leukemia, gave birth to a daughter, Hope, went into remission, then got hit by a truck and died. Solved that problem.

2) General Hospital
Angry at your mom for putting you up for adoption? Seduce her husband! What? That’s what Carly did. And everything was going swimmingly, too, until that pesky one-night stand with AJ. The consequences of that (named Michael) are still playing out onscreen today.

More examples from Y&R, B&B, AMC, GL, ATWT and more, plus your chance to tell us your favorites at:

Thursday, November 06, 2014


When I first began my live online writing experiment, my intention was to demonstrate, in real-time, just what it took to put a book together. I volunteered to expose my first draft (warts, typos, misspellings, dumb plot ideas and all), so that everyone could see just how much work it took to go from that initial rush of enthusiastic words to an acceptable manuscript.

Something else I wanted to show was how the scene you think you're going to write sometimes turns into something else entirely. Yesterday, I sat down to compose what I intended to be a fast, angry, spiteful sex scene. The heroine, Lauren, is pissed off at her husband, Seth, for walking out on her earlier that morning. She is also pissed off at herself, because she's pretty sure he was justified and she was the one at fault. She runs into Harry, a man she's been dealing with professionally - and rather acrimoniously - for years, and ends up going home with him.

The scene was supposed to be two people blindly taking out their frustrations and disappointments on each other. But, instead, it became (in my opinion), kind of... funny.

Sometimes, when a scene gets away from you, it sucks. You need to delete it and start all over again. (This past summer, I deleted two whole chapters when I decided that if they were boring for me to write, they'd be even more boring to read.) But, at other times, they take you in a direction you never expected. And it ends up being kind of cool.

So, since I promised not to hold anything back when it comes to the process of taming your manuscript, take a look for yourselves and let me know what you think....

She wondered if he were waiting for her to make the first move. He certainly hadn't seemed like the hesitant type back at the bar. Or any other time she'd ever dealt with him, for that matter. If they were here to negotiate a contract, Lauren had no doubt Harry would have started making demands long ago.

But they weren't here to negotiate a contract. They weren't here to negotiate anything. Well, save the pathetic remnants of Lauren’s sanity, but that ship had sailed a long time ago.

“I'm not drunk,” she told him abruptly.

“That’s good. I like my women conscious.”

“I know exactly what I'm doing.”

“Previous experience is also a plus.”

As if to prove her point, Lauren stepped forward and kissed Harry as hard and as provocatively as he had earlier. He responded just as spiritedly and, when Lauren made a grab for the buckle of his belt, responded in kind by sliding a hand up her thigh and under her skirt.

She allowed him that much but, when Harry’s next move was to reach around and start unzipping it from the back, Lauren pulled away.

He cocked his head, puzzled, his lips swollen and puffed from where Lauren had all but ground them to shreds. “What?”

“I'll do it myself,” she insisted.

“I've been doing this for a while,” Harry reassured. “I pretty much know my way around most forms of women’s apparel.”

“I will do it myself,” Lauren repeated, the edge in her voice suggesting she did not find their exchange amusing.

No matter how much Harry may have.

“Okay,” he agreed affably, plopping backwards onto the bed and just sitting there, legs outstretched, arms behind him, palms flat and supporting the bulk of his weight.

“you're just going to… watch?”

“You have an alternate suggestion in the meantime?”

“You could,” she waved her hand vaguely in the direction of what she'd glimpsed to be an en suite bathroom. “You could… get changed yourself.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Harry dutifully rose to his feet. And proceeded to do exactly as she'd directed, unbuttoning his shirt and dropping it on a nearby chair.

“Here?” Lauren startled. This wasn't at all what she'd expected.

“We are going to have sex?” Harry double-checked.

“Yes,” Lauren sighed, sullen, as if the issue were out of her hands. Despite all her repeated claims to the contrary.

“Then I'm getting undressed and,” he stepped out of his pants, shoes, socks, and boxers, utterly unselfconscious, followed by pulling back the geometrically decorated duvet. “Getting into bed. Unless you had some other location in mind. I'm game.”

“Just… shut up,” Lauren said.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Lauren allowed her skirt to fall to the floor, then pulled her sweater off over her head.

“Hm,” Harry made a noise that might or might not have indicated approval once she was just left in her bra and panties, but Lauren didn't feel like lifting her eyes and actually finding out. It also crossed her mind that the last time she'd gotten naked in front of a new man she'd been twenty-five. And now she was forty-one. She suspected a lot of things had… shifted.

She also reminded herself she didn't give a damn. She was hardly here to impress Harry. Of course, what exactly she was here to do remained in the air.

There was still time to back out. She could still pick up her things and walk out of the Harrison house with, if not her dignity, at least her marital vows intact.

Instead, Lauren peeled off the remainder of her clothing, dropping the underwear next to the skirt and top, and approached Harry’s bed.

He smiled and raised the covers for her . She slid in next to him.

“Hello,” Harry said.

She kissed him again, this time lowering her hand and aiming for right below the (no longer there) belt, allowing herself, for the first time all night, to feel, along with the fading booze and the simultaneously rising, blinding anger, the equally undeniable erotic charge of, there was no polite way to put it, screwing two men at the same time.

Her plan had been to ride Harry fast and hard, to work out her tension in the classic tradition of wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am (his repeated mocking of her using that particular word had both hurt - and helped - the cause), then get the hell out, preferably before her car’s engine had time to cool off.

But Harry, it seemed, had other ideas.

Read the entire scene (and what I have so far of the entire book) at:

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Last week marked the end of an era on Days of Our Lives. On Thursday, October 30, Alison Sweeney, who played the role of bad girl Samantha Gene “Sami” Brady since January 1993, left the show. She’d had a 21-year-run.

Sweeney penned a heartfelt good-bye letter to her fans on Facebook. These viewers watched Sami (and Ali) grow up, starting as a confused teen with an oh-so-trendy-back-then side ponytail that prompted on-screen mom, Deidre Hall (Marlena) to dub her Pebbles. She soon became a much-married mother of four (including a set of twins by different fathers), then a grandmother (!) who took over multinational corporations, with a brief stint on death row along the way.

But while it’s rare for an actress to go from ingĂ©nue to a leading lady on a soap opera - due to daytime’s insatiable itch to SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) their adorable tots into sexy sirens ASAP - it does happen periodically. Alison Sweeney is just one example of an actress growing with her role.

Check out some of our other favorites from GH, OLTL, SFT and more at:

Monday, November 03, 2014


National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo) run through all of November. During this month, aspiring writers are challenged to complete a minimum 50,000 word first draft of a novel. There is encouragement, community support, badges and even prizes.

I've never done it. The closest I've come was writing the 100,000 word Oakdale Confidential in six weeks, but that came with no encouragement, community support, badges or prizes. Just a deadline and a workaholic fog. But the resulting book did spend two weeks at #3 on the NYT best-seller list. So, uhm, yay fog?

When I decided to write my latest book live online at, I didn't set either a time or a word count limit. My objective was to take readers behind the scenes and let them watch the process of how a book comes together - typos, misspellings, plot dead ends and all, as well as collect reader feedback along the way. Some sample feedback from last week: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (If you want to read more, you can go to the above link and click on Comments.)

However, it occurred to me that those participating in NaNoWriMo might enjoy watching me struggle live as I type, delete and retype every word. And then delete the entire paragraph. Maybe the whole chapter.

Once you see what I'm working on, I can't imagine you not thinking, "Aw, hell I can do better than that!"

So, please, use me for your own needs.

And if you ever feel like you're the only writer stuck staring at a blank page, check out my notes from last week:

UPDATE 10/27/14
So, once again, I am trying to write a sex scene with people watching. And it’s going pretty well. And then the doorbell buzzes. It’s Con Ed. They need to turn off the electricity and check the meter. Kind of a mood killer. So, yeah, I got it done. But with enough stops and starts to make it challenging. Search the date and see if you can spot where the inadvertent breaks came up.

UPDATE 10/24/14
Kissing versus sex. I don’t know where you fall on the spectrum in real life but, when it comes to fiction, I know for sure which one is easier for me to write. If you’ve read my previous books, you probably know it, too. (And if you’ve read my previous updates, you know the last time I tried to write a love scene in public, I froze up. Let’s see what happens today!)

UPDATE 10/22/14
When in doubt, cut it out. I solved yesterday’s problem (see below) of lacking the words to say what needed to be said by having the characters say as little as possible. (That’s always my solution when I fear a scene isn’t working. I make it shorter. Sometimes, when I feel a chapter isn’t working, I cut the whole chapter.) I figured there was no need for characters to restate what readers already know, so I cut to the chase. (You all know how much I love to cut to the chase.) In addition, in the next scene, I don’t know if what happened surprised you, but it certainly surprised me, as I didn’t know it would until my fingers typed the words. (Search by the date to go straight to it.)

UPDATE 10/20/14
The problem with writing is that it hinges entirely on words. So what do you do with a scene where words are absolutely inadequate to what everyone in it is feeling? You use different words. But how do you still convey the words underneath? That was my challenge today. You let me know if I pulled it off.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


The latest Entertainment Weekly cover(s) feature the upcoming movie version of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods. Disney has invested a lot of money in this production ($90 million), and they are even more invested in it becoming a box office hit.

The question is: Will it be a hit?

The answer is: Yes.

Why? Because it has former soap stars in the cast! Just like every other previous movie-musical hit.

In advance of Into the Woods‘ December 25 release date, see the top eight highest-grossing live-action movie musicals of all time, along with their soap-opera-heavy roots at:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Hot on the heels of Ebola outbreak, producers Ridley Scott and Lynda Obst announced that they are developing a TV series based on the 1994 nonfiction, best-selling book The Hot Zone. (Instead of the ever-popular “disease of the week," it’s “disease every week!”)

When it comes to dramatized epidemics, primetime is, as usual, late to the party. Daytime has already tackled the subject. As only daytime can!

Read all about Entertainment Weekly's favorite soap-opera epidemics from General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light, One Life to Live and more at:

Monday, October 20, 2014


My Master's Thesis tackled the subject of television commercials. I argued that rather than breaking up the story, commercials actually added to the tension, ultimately making the story more enjoyable for viewers.

Books don't have commercials (which is a shame, as it would add an additional revenue stream for perennially struggling authors). But maybe they should.

Or, at the very least, maybe they should be written as if they do.

In addition to writing romance novels and figure skating mysteries, I've also worked extensively for soap-operas, including ABC Daytime (General Hospital, One Life to Live, All My Children, Loving) and Procter & Gamble Productions (Guiding Light, As the World Turns, Another World).

As a result, I write my books as if I'm building to a commercial, cutting a scene at a crucial moment, then picking it up later.

It's a tactic that works in TV, but does it work in books?

Here's how I intend to find out: After 20 years and over a dozen traditionally published novels which went through the usual submit, get editor's notes, revise, resubmit process, I am writing my next book live on the web at: Instead of editor's notes, I'm getting reader notes (click on Comments to read them). So I need you to tell me, does my approach work?

More Writing Tips:

Writing Tip: Start Your Scenes at the End

Live Sex Acts: Writer Exhibitionism

Writing Tip: Cut the Hysterics

Teaching Creative Writing to Teens

How To Write a Better Book

Putting My Writing Where My Mouth Is

How To Murder a Writing Career

I Hate Writing Description

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Favorite Soap Opera Interrupted Weddings

It's been a rough season for soap opera weddings. First, on Days of Our Lives, EJ got arrested in the middle of his and Sami's ceremony. (Though interrupted weddings are kind of a tradition with them). Then, on The Bold & the Beautiful, Hope was all set to marry Liam but, when he didn't show up (he was rescuing a girl who'd fallen into the Seine River; yes, that old excuse), instead of giving it a couple of minutes or checking to see if her fiance was dead or alive, she married Wyatt, instead. (Wyatt's mom was the one who pushed said hapless girl into the Seine precisely so that this would happen; she knows Hope doesn't like to be kept waiting.) And finally, last week, a newly no longer comatose Phyllis brought Sharon and Nick's umpteenth wedding ceremony to a grinding halt on The Young & the Restless.

But these were just run of the mill soap opera wedding interruptions. (Bet the caterers didn't even give them their deposit back because they should have expected it and planned accordingly.)

Check out some truly momentous aborted ceremonies, including highlights from GH, AMC, OLTL, GL, ATWT, AW and more at:

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Last week’s announcement that TNT was canceling the primetime soap-opera Dallas reboot after three seasons instantly prompted cries of outrage from heart-broken fans, as well as petitions to save their show which, as of this writing, had gathered over 55,000 signatures. A rally is even being planned on the site of the original Southfork in Texas.

Soap opera fan campaigns, both primetime and daytime, are nothing new. To read about the five most outrageous ones, including examples from The Young & the Restless, Days of our Lives, All My Children, One Life to Live, Guiding Light, As the World Turns and more, check out my latest post for Entertainment Weekly at:

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


As I am wont to do, I managed to sneak soap operas into my tip for finding your writer's voice at How To Write a Book.

Other authors actually look to their readers to find their voice. In a rather extreme example, Alina Adams, a New York Times best-selling author is actually asking her audience for feedback on voice, and writing to please her audience, in her new experimental writing project:

“If you want to write professionally, the only voice that matters is the one that sells. When I wrote tie-ins for the soap operas, As the World Turns and Guiding Light, I wrote not in my voice, but in the voice of the characters narrating the books. And those books became NYT best-sellers. Currently, I am taking writing to please an audience up a notch by producing my next book completely live online where readers can tell me which voice they prefer.”

Go to: to learn more about the book I am writing live with reader feedback - in real time, and click here for more advice from authors on finding your voice.

More Writing Tips:

Live Sex Acts: Writer Exhibitionism

Writing Tip: Cut the Hysterics

Teaching Creative Writing to Teens

How To Write a Better Book

Putting My Writing Where My Mouth Is

How To Murder a Writing Career

I Hate Writing Description

Monday, October 06, 2014


From my interview at The Bee Writes...

3) Which Author has influenced you and why?

Here are a pair who don't often come up together (I can't imagine they attended a lot of the same parties): George Orwell and Sidney Sheldon.

Orwell because of the sparsity of his prose. There is not an excess word to be found in "Animal Farm," and yet he gets his point across completely - without ever spelling it out for you. I strive for that kind of conciseness. (Like Elmore Leonard, when I write, I try to leave out the parts readers skip.)

As for Sidney Sheldon, he was the first writer I ever read (at the age of 13, it's a very impressionable time) who demonstrated that you could just write something that was pure fun and keep readers turning pages. There was a period in my life when I spent a lot of it on airplanes. I worked as a writer/producer/researcher for figure skating coverage on ABC Sports, NBC, TNT and ESPN (and I subsequently used that experience in my series of Figure Skating Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime). I am a horrible sleeper at home in my own bed, so sleeping on airplanes was out of the question. The only thing that could make the time go faster was a good book. Ever since then, my goal has been to help humanity by writing books that make time pass faster on an airplane. It's not exactly up there with Mother Theresa, but we all do what we can.

Read the entire interview at:

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


General Hospital's Elizabeth, One Life to Live's Marty, Another World's Lorna and many others. What do they all have in common?

All were "bad girls" who became heroines thanks to being raped.

Is that really a good message to be sending out into the world?

I tackle soaps' tendency to make sexual assault a positive, character building experience for "Entertainment Weekly" at:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014



On Tuesday, September 30, 2014, Emmy-winner Eileen Davidson is poised to make history when she appears as both Susan and Kristen on Days of Our Lives, and as Ashley on The Young & the Restless. In many markets, these shows air at the same time, so warm up your DVR's or go for it old school with the remote control.

And while you wait, check out what Eileen had to say in my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, about the challenge of playing multiple roles.

Read how she practiced to act against... herself, here.

*** (Previously published on 8/20/14)

In my latest for Entertainment Weekly, I tackle the topic of soap-opera long-lost twin stories, including the best from All My Children, Another World (hi, Anne Heche), As the World Turns (hey, Julianne Moore), The Bold & the Beautiful, The Young & the Restless, One Life to Live and more, plus this quote from Days of Our Lives Eileen Davidson about playing multiple roles:

Eileen Davidson began playing the role of Kristen on Days of Our Lives in 1993. A year later, she also took on the role of Susan. Susan was no relation to Kristen, but they did (coincidentally) look enough alike for Kristen to hire Susan to pretend to be Kristen and give birth to a baby that Kristen would then pass off as her own (and this was on one of Kristen’s more reasonable plans). But then, it turned out that homeless waif Susan had a twin sister named Penelope, who was a British socialite. And another one named Mary Moira, a God-fearing – and somewhat sadistic – nun. And a brother named Thomas. Davidson played them all. As she summarized in my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments, “They worked me to death. I was going to leave after the first year I played Susan. And they asked me to stay an additional year to finish off the storyline, so I did.  It was a great, great, great thing for me. I would do something like this again, but I would want to know a beginning and an end date.  Even when I left DAYS, I knew that the shelf-life of those characters was running out.  It wasn’t something that could go on forever because it would lose its punch.  I felt like I got out at the right time.”

Travel down memory lane with Vicky/Marley, Lily/Rose, Todd/Victor and other cases of Double Trouble at:

Monday, September 29, 2014


From the blog of best-selling erotica writer Kyra Davis:

Okay, I know I haven't been very chatty lately. I've been busy doing things like writing, house-hunting and...oh yeah, getting married!!! I promise I'll write more about that in the near future. But what brought me back today is friend and fellow New York Times bestselling author (still love saying that) Alina Adams. She's launched a really interesting writing project that seems to be part exhibitionism, part performance art and part lunacy.  You see she's writing a romance novel filled with drama, secrets, double-crosses, revenge, scheming, schemers and sex. So far this is my kind of book. Note I did not say it sounds like it's going to be my kind of book. I said so far it is my kind of book. I can say that definitively because I've read part of it. And no, she didn't send me the first few chapters. She didn't have to because she's writing it online, as in anyone who clicks this link can actually see her while she's typing this thing. We can see her typos, we can see her delete, we can see her going back and rewriting sections or taking out entire passages all together. We can even give her advice in regards to what we think she should be writing and what's good and bad about the sentence she's writing as she's writing it.

Personally I'd rather play Twister with Attila the Hun on a bed of hot coals than invite the world to judge me as I struggle through sentence after sentence.  Therefore when I found out Alina was doing this I had to know what on earth was going through her head.  That burning question lead to this interview. Hope you find it as interesting as I do!:

So I've written my fair share of exhibitionist scenes before but never anything as daring as this.  What gave you the idea to write a novel live, online, for all to see?

Well, as with all traumas, this one began back in my childhood. When I was in high-school, I was a voracious fan of what some might call "trashy novels." Sidney Sheldon was my all-time favorite, but I also read Judith Krantz, Belva Plain, Michael Korda, Jeffrey Archer, etc.... Basically, if they made a rich, splashy, 1980s mini-series of it, I was there.

I wanted to grow up to write trashy novels that got rich, splashy, 1980s mini-series made out of them. To English teachers, this was not a worthwhile goal. Frankly, it wasn't a worthwhile goal to anyone. So I had to make it up as I went along. I wrote many, many books, and received many, many rejections letters, before I somehow stumbled into selling my first romance novel, a Regency, in 1994 to AVON (a year later, my second book shut down their line - make of that what you will). I can't help thinking, though, that the process would have been made a whole lot easier if, as an aspiring writer, I'd been allowed to hang out and watch over a professional writer's shoulder as they went about their business, seeing how they did things, learning all that stuff high-school English teachers wouldn't - let's be honest, couldn't - teach me. (That shouldn't be too annoying to said professional writer, right?) That opportunity didn't exist for me as a teen. So I decided to create it as an adult.

Want to watch a book as it's being written live, all the typos, the mistakes, the deletions, the moving words around, the changing the same word ten times in the hopes that, this time, it'll magically work, not to mention the cutting of two entire chapters because you've come to the depressing realization that if a character is boring for you to write, he'll be even more boring to read?

Well, then, is the place for you! You can learn from your own mistakes, or you can learn from mine. Because, God knows, even twenty years and over a dozen published novels later, I still make tons of them!

Read the entire interview at:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Hollywood lore holds that serialized stories, even primetime megahits like Dallas, Dynasty, or Desperate Housewives (as well as shows that don’t begin with the letter D), don’t do well in reruns.

That’s why Retro TV deciding to air two back-to-back episodes of The Doctors (not the one you’re thinking of; the daytime drama) every weekday starting this Monday, September 29, is big news in the worlds of both soaps and syndication.

Though The Doctors ran on NBC from 1963 to 1982, Retro TV plans to begin with the 1967 season, the first year the show switched to color.

However, this 21st-century airing of The Doctors isn’t merely for original fans of the show. Before They Were Stars spotters should also get a kick out of catching early glimpses of future Academy Award nominees, Daytime Emmy winners, cult sci-fi figures, and sitcom stars!

But you can’t tell the players without a program. Check out my handy-dandy listing for Entertainment Weekly as your guide by clicking:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Looks like the Days of Our Lives coma we described last week is about to come to an end for John, as Kristen's miracle cure is promising to have him up, around, and eyebrow raising in no time. And just what exactly is in her magical elixir that none of the doctors at Salem Hospital have ever seen before but that Kristen swears will totes work? Oh, you know, chemicals... vitamins... minerals... a little eye of newt, perhaps? When it comes to soap opera science, the details are very often fuzzy, while the results are... unprecedented, to say the least. (Maybe they hesitate to reveal the complete ingredient list for fear people might start whipping up batches of coma cures in their bathtubs?)

Meanwhile, over on General Hospital, Freeze Tag is the name of the game as the heretofore presumed dead are brought back to life thanks to a vague process which involves freezing and unfreezing via a complicated formula developed by Robin. Once again, we don't know what exactly is inside those test-tubes she stared so meaningfully at for months. My money is on diamond dust. If it was good enough, back in the early 1980s, to power an evil weather machine constructed to frost over the entire world (Mikos Cassadine was proclaimed a villain for his efforts, but don't you wish he were around now to give global warming a bit of a shove in the other direction?), then it's good enough for Mikos' brother, Victor, to use on their not quite dearly departed family members, and everybody's favorite brain-damaged hitman hero, Jason.

But if you think that's soap opera science at its weirdest, then you ain't seen nothing yet!

Soaps' tenuous grasp on the world of physical sciences may range from the near divine diamonds with the power of Lazarus, to the more banal BeLieF formula on The Bold & the Beautiful that keeps haute couture from wrinkling. But it's in the fields of medicine and applied biology where writers really let their imaginations run wild.

Go to: and read my latest for Entertainment Weekly about all the times soaps went Dr. Frankenstein.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


And that is why you should start your scene at the end.

Okay, maybe not exactly.

I understand all about building tension and dramatic structure. But, as a reader, I want to get to the good parts as soon as possible.

That's why, as a writer, I try to anticipate what my readers want most from a scene - whether it be action or a question answered - and I give it to them right at the top.

Starting with a big moment and then having to build upwards from there forces my scene to be more interesting (I hope). Plus, it gets rid of filler. (Like Elmore Leonard, I also try to "leave out the parts that readers skip.")

See what I mean with the current series of scenes at:, the novel that I am writing live in real time so that readers can find out everything about the process (and chime in their thoughts as I go along; after all, what's the fun of criticizing a book after it's been published and it's too late for me to do anything about it?).

More Writing Tips:

Live Sex Acts: Writer Exhibitionism

Writing Tip: Cut the Hysterics

Teaching Creative Writing to Teens

How To Write a Better Book

Putting My Writing Where My Mouth Is

How To Murder a Writing Career

I Hate Writing Description

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


On The Young & the Restless, Phyllis is starting to come out of her coma – just in time for her fiancĂ©, Jack, to fall for Kelly (ain’t that always the way?), while on Days of Our Lives, John continues to linger in his coma, despite wife Marlena’s medically innovative technique of spraying his hospital room with perfume to wake him up - trust her, she’s a doctor.  (BTW: This isn’t even John’s first coma. The last time was in 2007, after he was shot by EJ.)

Comas are so widespread on soap-operas that an international, peer reviewed medical journal, The BMJ, actually published a scholarly article, Epidemiology and prognosis of coma in daytime television dramas about the phenomenon.

Web MD then summarized their findings as: Casarett's team studied the depiction of comas on U.S. television soap operas from 1995-2005. During that time, 64 soap opera characters had what appeared to be comas.

Here's how those characters fared:

* Nearly nine out of 10 fully recovered
* 8% (five "patients") died
* 3% (two "patients") remained in a vegetative state

Those results are "unrealistically optimistic," write the researchers.

Perhaps the researchers would feel better if they knew that while, in the "real" world, comas are caused by trauma, on soaps, trauma is only a small, contributing factor to a character's comatose state.

My latest post for Entertainment Weekly reveals the real reason so many soap characters go into so many comas. Check it out at:

(I'm told I completely messed up the details of Marlena's coma, though the commentators can't seem to agree on what the correct story is, either. Maybe you can help?)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


I write romance novels and women's fiction (plus Figure Skating mysteries but, for the purpose of this post, lets ignore them for now).

Romance novels and women's fiction have sex scenes in them.

When I started my live writing project at, I promised readers the chance to watch me type every word, every sentance, every paragraph; edits, deletions, dead ends, sex scenes and all.

Yup, I specifically promised sex scenes. (As I wrote on Romance Junkies, they really help grab a reader's attention.)

Yesterday, the time had finally come for my first one. With the software I'm using to live write, I can see when/if someone is watching.

Usually, I have no problem writing when someone is watching. In fact, that's kind of the point of this exercise.

Yesterday, it was time to really dive in (as it were) to the sex scene. I noticed that someone was watching.  And I froze.

Usually, I don't believe in writer's block. I just force myself to keep writing, muscle through, then go back and edit later. (The sad part is, in my experience, when you reread, the scenes that felt like they were flowing via divine inspiration and the ones you had to sweat blood just to give birth to sound exactly the same.)

But, this time, I couldn't do it. I've written in the past about my kids reading my sex scenes. I'm not too thrilled at the thought of my parents doing it, either. I'm pretty sure the people on with me yesterday were total strangers. But, nevertheless, I froze.

My personal motto is to do at least one thing I'm afraid of every day. It's character building (and rather unpleasant, if truth be told). Today, that thing is going to be writing that damn sex scene - while being watched.

Will I be able to do it? Will it be sexy? Will it even be readable? Stop by and find out at:

Heckling is optional.

Though understandable.

Monday, September 08, 2014


So – true confession time – I was one of those kids who went straight from “Little House” and “Ramona” books into romance and women’s fiction, bypassing the entire YA genre altogether. I read my first Sidney Sheldon novel at the start of 8th grade, and that was it for me.

Let’s just say the sex scenes didn’t hurt.

Around the same time, I remember the TV show, “Square Pegs,” featuring a high-school English teacher getting his students interested in classic literature by standing in front of the class and reading “the good parts” from “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”

If it works for getting kids interested in reading, how about writing?

At age 13, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. A writer (like Sidney Sheldon). The problem was, there aren’t a lot of places where a teen can go to learn how to write romance novels (either with sex scenes or without). High school English was absolutely no help. Either we were diagramming sentences, parsing symbolism or perfecting our essays for the AP composition exam. Or my Creative Writing teacher was explaining that there was only one right way to write creatively – her way. And woe be it to anyone who dared disagree. (Despite my getting an “A” on every single one of my assignments, she tried to give me a final “C” for the semester, due to my bad behavior. Said bad behavior included disagreeing. Frequently.)

What I wished back then, more than anything, was that I could just sit and watch a real writer at work (preferably Sidney Sheldon), to see how they did it.

Back in the late 1980s, that wasn’t really an option. Sure, people put out “How To” books (I particularly enjoyed Lawrence Block’s “Telling Lies for Fun and Profit”), but it was all still mostly theoretical. I wanted to see the nitty-gritty, day to day stuff. I wanted to watch a story come together, so that I could learn from the process. Unlike most people, I actually wanted to see how the sausages got made.

With the advent of the Internet, things picked up somewhat. Writers would periodically put up drafts and get feedback from readers. It was a start, but it still wasn’t precisely what I wanted.

So, in lieu of a role model, I proceeded to just make up stuff as I went along. I wrote many, many books, and I sent them in to many, many agents and publishers. It’s pretty much what I did for the bulk of my college years (college English professors were about as helpful when it came to learning to write genre fiction as high-school teachers had been.  For most of them, genre writing wasn’t something that even existed, much less warranted being taught at an academic institution).

I finally sold my first book, a Regency romance to Avon, in 1994. I followed up with another Regency, two contemporaries, five figure skating mysteries, three soap-opera tie-ins and a few books of non-fiction. Finally, I was at a point in my life where I could become the writing mentor I’d so badly wanted in my youth.

The only question was: How? I did some research of what was already available, and I discovered that no one was doing exactly what I had once dreamed of: Writing their entire book live, so that it were as if you were literally standing over their shoulder, watching them type each word. Then stop, delete, write again. Stop, delete.  Delete the entire paragraph, followed by the entire chapter, then throw their hands up in the air. (What? Just me?)

I decided if no one was doing that, then I should. (Did I stop to wonder WHY no one was doing it? No, I did not. It’s one of my many character flaws.)

Read more about my live writing project,, at the Romance Junkies blog!

Friday, September 05, 2014


I don't put up with hysteria in my "real" life (whatever that may be).

If an argument escalates to raised voices, I walk away. (I've had bosses who were screamers, and I fictionalized that experience in my Figure Skating Mystery series. The louder they yelled, the quieter I got. They hate that.)

If my kids throw tantrums, I send them to their room until they can pull themselves together. (They hate it, too. Which is how they all learned tantrums don't work, and quickly stopped throwing them.)

And if I won't put up with hysteria in real people, I most certainly won't stand for it in imaginary characters.

Last week, I realized that the characters in the novel I'm writing live on-line (for your entertainment and educational pleasure) had pretty much the exact same argument twice, with the exact same consequences each time. I decided that was redundant, and so went back and cut the first argument. (Read all about it, here.) Cutting the argument meant changing the scenes that came afterwards, and the reconciliation that lead to the second argument (what's that saying about insanity equaling doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different results?).

I'm happy with the change (so far; I reserve the right to change my mind at any time), as it makes the story move faster and now has less filler between the "good parts." I'm all about the good parts.

I then spent this week writing and rewriting and rewriting again the argument that was left. It's a climactic moment in the character's relationship, and I wanted to get it just right. Four four days, I didn't feel that it was right.

Finally, I realized that it was too overwraught. The heroine gets upset early in the scene, and then it just builds and builds from there, until she sounds completely irrational. This makes the hero, who remains calm, seem like an insensitive jerk. Not exactly great character traits for the leads in a romance novel. (Though I do have the heroine call the hero out on it. And he does have his reasons.)

So, with every edit, I calmed her down a little, figuring Less is More. And More Less is Less More.

I'm not thrilled with the scene as it stands now. I am never thrilled with anything I write, ever. But I am okay enough with it to move on to the next chapter.

Then again, my opinion doesn't matter, only yours does. So tell me what you think. Does it work? Is it lacking something? Is it too much?

Leave a Comment at:

More Writing Tips:

How To Write a Better Book

Putting My Writing Where My Mouth Is

How To Murder a Writing Career

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


From the age of 7 to 24, I lived in San Francisco, CA. For four of those years, I attended a magnet high-school that was primarily Asian. Now, my oldest son attends a New York City high-school that's so predominantly Asian that the new mayor wants to change the highly selective admission criteria to "even things out." (To read what I think about that, click here.)

As an immigrant, Asians have always been a part of my American experience, which is why I was frequently surprised by their lack of representation in movies and television in general, and on soap-operas in particular.

My latest piece for Entertainment Weekly focuses on daytime's rather dismal record, including examples from The Young & the Restless, As the World Turns, All My Children, General Hospital and more, as well as where I think they've finally gotten it right:

Last week on General Hospital, Lucas and Brad’s post-coital Knot’s Landing binge-watch was interrupted by news of Maxie and Lulu’s kidnapping (as such things in soaps are wont to be). For some viewers, the big news might have been the sight of two men in bed together. Gay couples are still a rarity in daytime, and this one is, arguably, the most interesting and fun yet (feel free to disagree in the comments; I know As the World Turns’ Luke and Noah (or Luke and Reid); Days of Our Lives‘ Will and Sonny; One Life to Live‘s Kyle and Fish; All My Children‘s Bianca and Marissa; and Guiding Light‘s Olivia and Natalia have their die-hard fans).

But, for me, the even bigger news is that Brad is played by the Asian actor Parry Shen—and his storyline is, shockingly, not just about him being Asian! Brad being Asian and, for that matter, gay, are only parts of who he is, not his defining traits.

When the character was first introduced in February 2013, his sole purpose was to help schemer Britt fake a medical condition to snare a man (as such things are also wont to be in soaps). His being Asian or gay wasn’t relevant. He was merely a plot point, which, in the long run, turned out to be a good thing.

Read the complete post at:

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


From my guest-blog at:

All writers are given the same advice. Write your story, edit your story, polish your story. Make sure that only your very, very best work ends up in front of agents, editors, reviewers and readers.

Well, I followed that advice. I wrote, edited and polished many, many manuscripts. And I sent them out. And I got rejected. So I wrote and edited and polished some more.  And eventually, I sold. Regency romance novels, contemporary romance novels, figure skating mysteries, non-fiction, soap-opera tie-ins. I’ve published over a dozen books, including two NYT best-sellers.

But, here’s the thing: It was all trial and error.

When my books were being rejected, I didn’t get any feedback. I had to guess what was wrong. And I had to guess how to fix it. Afterwards, I’d get editorial notes. Some were specific and helpful. Some less so. (My personal favorite, from an editor who shall remain nameless, was: This scene doesn’t work. Make it work.)

When I was first starting out, I would have loved the chance to just shadow a professional writer and watch them go through the entire process, from first draft to publication, and hear their reasons for why this word instead of that one, why this scene that way and not another way, why begin here, why end there?

So I’ve created the resource I never had. is me writing my latest book completely live. Readers can literally watch as each word is typed. And erased. And rewritten. And misspelled. And then deleted along with the rest of the lousy paragraph. Maybe even the whole chapter.

The problem is, I am doing the exact opposite of what every writer is told. I am not putting my best foot forward. I am putting out my worst one. I want readers to see what I go through. All the missteps, the dead ends, the clunky prose, the boring characters, the laughable sex scenes.  And I want them to chime in with their thoughts so that I can make my book the very best that it can be – for them.

Read the entire piece, including the risk I'm taking - and the real reason I'm willing to take it at:

Friday, August 29, 2014


Last week, I wrote about my sinking realization that, in the book I am writing live at:, one of the supporting characters was boring the hell out of me to write. Which meant he must be boring the hell out of you to read.

As I result, I went back and turned two (boring) chapters into two (hopefully less boring) pages (read all about it, here). I thought that was it and I could start moving forward again.

All went well for a couple of scenes. Or, at least, I was happy with them for the time being.  And then I realized that an argument that my hero and heroine, Seth and Lauren, were having at the end of Chapter Eight was very similar to one they'd had in Chapter Six. And there was no need for both of them.

Confession Time: I love plot. "What's going to happen next?" is what keeps me turning pages in whatever genre I'm reading. Maybe it comes from a lifetime of soap-watching. Or Sidney Sheldon reading. Maybe it's an undiagnosed case of ADD. Whatever the reason, I like action (though of the emotional and romantic, not violent and loud variety). I like "the good parts." In fact, it is my goal to make the whole of my next novel nothing but "good parts."

So, even though I liked many of my early scenes and thought they added to the overall character development, I made the tough decision to cut them - including the first argument and all of its subsequent follow-up - so that readers could get to the "good parts" faster. My hope is that the character traits high-lighted in those "lost" scenes will, nonetheless, appear elsewhere, even if only subliminally.

I cut Seth and Lauren's original argument, which means I cut the four years they spent not speaking to each other, her apology to him and their tentative reconciliation.

This also solved another problem I'd blogged about earlier, how to make time pass smoothly in a multi-year saga without resorting to The Princess Bride's "What with one thing and another, three years passed." I thought I'd come up with a pretty clever narrative solution, but that went away with this latest edit, so I just adopted a reader's earlier suggestion to put the date at the start of the chapter. (See, I'm keeping my promise to incorporate reader ideas into the story!)

I read a writing tip this week that said, "Don't edit as you write. Get the first draft down first."

But, here's the thing that doesn't make sense to me: If the beginning isn't right, how can what comes after ever be? And if I were to keep on writing in spite of my suspicion that the book had already gotten away from me, then wouldn't that just lead me further and further down the wrong path, which would then necessitate even lengthier rewrites in the second pass? I have an outline for my story. The first few chapters are supposed to set it up. When I felt they weren't working, I went back to fix them so that the next chapters could be more of what I was shooting for.

What do you think? Was it the wrong approach?

Let me know!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Two of my favorite topics, romance and figure skating, come together in Jennifer Comeaux's novel, Life on the Edge.

Set in the world Olympic skating, it tells the story of an aspiring American pair team but, in a non-Cutting Edge twist, the romance isn't between partners (and the man isn't a macho hockey player who decided to take up figure skating after an injury ends his NHL dreams, because, hey, the two styles are totally alike, and jumps, spins and lifts can be picked up by anyone in a few months time; but someone who actually likes to figure skate and has been doing it for most of his life), but between the girl of the pair, Emily, and her Russian immigrant coach, Sergei.

Here is my main problem with romance as a genre: Since we know the hero and heroine are going to live Happily Ever After, I need a plot reason beyond will they or won't they to keep turning pages - because I already know they will.

I prefer stories with a mystery aspect to them or, at the very least, a unique problem to warrant keeping the couple apart for 200+ pages.

Life on the Edge has that, and it's a good one, too. If word gets out that Emily and Sergei are dating, even though she's over 18, it might prompt the National Federation to censor Sergei, pull his credentials and forbid him from coaching. And then where will Emily be? She'd not only forfiet her own Olympic dreams (and the money and effort her parents have expended to support her), but that of her partner, too.

No, the stakes aren't life and death in the literal sense of the word, but they are damn serious, nonetheless, and not contingent on some silly misunderstanding that could be cleared up if only the two leads ever actually spoke to each other, instead of leaping to conclusions (a criticism that's been leveled, ahem, at my own book, When a Man Loves a Woman).

More importantly, the stakes are connected to skating. Often, a book's setting merely serves to provide some exotica, without having any substantial influence on the plot. Here, both skating and romance are front and center, making Life on the Edge a true skating romance, and a treat for fans of both.

Check it out by clicking the link below:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


It was raining in Port Charles last week, so, naturally, Sonny and Carly shared an ill-advised sex romp. (Not that fair weather would have stopped them, just that they’ll grab at any excuse.) Ill-advised sex romps, are about the only kind this couple ever has. Starting from their very first time, back in 1999, when Sonny wanted to prove to his best friend, Jason, that his girlfriend, Carly, was a slut (and, obviously, there is only one way to do that), up through the infamous “limo grief sex” (they were sad because it looked like their son, Michael, might never come out of his coma) to the sex they had because they were sad about post-coma Michael going to prison to now, where, sure, let’s blame it on the weather. Or the pizza. Or Carly’s new boyfriend, the reformed serial killer.

But lest you think General Hospital’s four-time married and divorced signature couple are they only ones in daytime who can’t stay together or apart, rest assured, they’ve got plenty of company.

Check out examples from DOOL, B&B, Y&R, AMC, OLTL, ATWT, GL and more at my latest post for Entertainment Weekly:

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Last week, I explained how my book had gotten away from me and announced plans to go through, slash and burn, delete everything that wasn't working and start again.

This week, I actually had to do it. (Funny how that works.)

The biggest problem was the relationship between my two lead characters, Lauren Briggs and Seth Danzinger, childhood friends who grow up and... well, it's a romance novel, no spoilers needed. Somehow, though, in my writing the first few chapters, their relationship evolved into a girl with a crush on an older guy who is completely oblivious to her feelings (or, at the very least, pretending to be). And that's not the relationship I wanted to write, at all.

Naturally, the first thing I had to do was delete all the interactions that gave that impression. Then I had to rewrite those interactions so that they gave the impression I wanted to give. (You can judge for yourselves whether or not I succeeded by going to:, the site where I am writing my book live with real-time feedback, and searching for "8/20/14," the latest revision date.)

But, the challenging part was, I had to rewrite those interactions to completely change the tone of Lauren and Seth's relationship, while still keeping the relevant plot points in place in order for subsequent scenes I'd already written to work.

There was also the matter of time passing. Personally, I love family sagas. Big, sweeping stories where readers get to watch characters age from kids to adults, and see everything that makes them who they are along the way.

Well, maybe not everything. No matter how much I love sagas, a day by day chronology would still be pretty dull. You've got to pick the exciting parts and skim over the rest. But you've got to skim over them somewhat gracefully.

With the rewrite, I know had to jump ahead three years in time. I considered taking inspiration from one of my favorite books, "The Princess Bride" (all the good stuff you love from the movie, plus a whole lot more!) and just writing, "What, with one thing and another, three years passed."

I refrained.

Since my project is a collaboration with readers, I asked for suggestions, and got some pretty good ones. The end result can also be found at:

Check it out and let me know what you think because, for the first time in my 20 year writing career, I'm putting together a book not to please editors, agents or reviewers, but a book to please only the readers! I can't do this without you!

Monday, August 18, 2014


My best reviewed title ever, Annie's Wild Ride, originally published by AVON in 1998, is finally back in print! (Read the reviews, here.)

You can get it as an e-book on Amazon,, or Smashwords.

Here's a sneak peek of the story:

When his ex-wife and daughter’s plane goes down in a snowstorm, Major Paul Gaasbeck is forced to break every US Air Force rule and betray his own honor code in his attempt to rescue them.

As both battle the elements in a desperate struggle for survival, Paul and Anne can’t help remembering all of the reasons why they couldn’t stay together – or apart.

From Colorado’s Air Force Academy to military bases all across America to the hostile skies above Libya and the battlefields of Iraq, romance lovers will be helplessly swept away – just like Paul – by ANNIE’S WILD RIDE. 

Plus, I made it to the website, Lousy Covers (considering the original Annie's Wild Ride had a pink duck on the cover, I consider this new one a massive improvement).

Click the below link to learn more:

Friday, August 15, 2014


When I started my live writing project at: my goal was to demonstrate exactly how a book comes together by exposing all the first (and second and third) draft typos, deletions, clunky prose and inevitable plot dead ends.

Well, a month into the project, we've hit our first plot dead-end. As often happens, my book has gotten away from me, with characters doing things I didn't want and heading off in directions I don't like.

The first issue is a couple of minor characters have taken over. I realized when I woke up in the morning dreading writing scenes with Lauren's new boyfriend, Steven, and that, when it came to re-reading, I was skipping over them, that if they were boring me, they had to be boring the reader. And not only is he boring, but he is pulling focus from the main couple. Clearly, Steven Erikson is in for a major overhaul (or possibly a complete deletion - still mulling over that one).

But, the biggest problem is the relationship between Lauren and her childhood friend, Seth. Somehow, the story has turned into a girl in love with a guy who doesn't see her as anything more than, at best, a kid sister. And that's not what I initially intended at all. 

(Not that I am comparing myself to Tolstoy in any way - except that my first language is also Russian - but he once said that he pleaded with Anna Karenina not to throw herself under that train, and yet she did it anyway. I don't know what kind of parent Tolstoy was, but I'm the kind who has no problem making her kids do things they don't want to do.  And if I'm like that with my kids, I can certainly be like that with my characters. So Tolstoy can let Anna dictate story. I have no intention of doing so. Spoiled brat characters are almost as bad as spoiled brat children.)

I am currently eight chapters into the book. Some scenes, I think work quite well - at least for a first draft. Others do not. So, painful though it may be, come Monday, I am going in and deleting about half of what I've already written, so I can start again from scratch. All the Steven stuff is going to go, and I'll be doing some serious re-writing of several key Lauren/Seth interactions. And I'll be blogging about why I made the changes to better serve the story.

So, if you haven't yet, pop on over to: and check out what I have there so far, then come back Monday for the slash and burn and rewrite - and make sure to tell me what you think!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Beloved “Family Ties” mom Meredith Baxter (with all due apologies to the now divorced Ms. Baxter, the weaned on TV kid in me will never be able to stop thinking of her as Meredith Baxter Birney) is joining the cast of The Young & the Restless on September 8. And while official press releases won’t admit to her being anything more than a drinking buddy for Nikki, savvy soap fans are already betting on her turning out to be the long-lost mama of Stitch and Kelly. You know, the one they’ve been talking about endlessly for months?

In a casting coincidence, Baxter’s “Family Ties” hubby, Michael Gross, also did a Y&R stint in 2008 as a former hippie who assumed a fake identity and went underground to avoid a murder rap. (As Steve Keaton, mild-mannered public television station manager, perhaps? Remember how he and Elyse were always rhapsodizing about their flower-power days?).

However, Meredith Baxter is hardly the first primetime sitcom mom to make the switch to daytime – and playing a character much less respectable than her earlier incarnation.

Read all about the sitcom moms who popped up on Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, As the World Turns, The Bold & the Beautiful and much more at:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


My oldest son goes to an NYC high-school that only accepts the top 2% of its 30,000 applicants. My middle son taught himself computer programming and is trying to prove his contrary theory that light is, in fact, not both a particle and a wave. And my youngest daughter completed the local library's summer reading challenge in the first week and wiped them out of all their prizes.

My kids are - there's no pretty way to put this - geeks.  Mega-geeks. Who don't watch much TV. Not that I have anything against TV. The fact that I write about it incessantly and am ashamed to say even got a Master's Degree in it proves that I think TV is the greatest thing in the history of ever. I also know the effect TV has on the developing brain, and so I limit my kids' screen-time. But, you know what I would really love? I would really love it if on those occasions when they do tune in, there was at least a smattering of programming available that didn't suggest being a smart, bookish kid is truly a fate worse than death, guaranteeing social isolation, the disdain of your peers and a loveless adulthood. For those of us from a previous TV generation, see Urkel, Doogie, the entire Head of the Class, The Smart Guy and more. (Intelligence also apparently causes asthma, near-sightedness, acne and obesity.)

Read the rest of my BlogHer post, What TV Gets Wrong About Smart Kids (and Adults), here, with examples ranging from The Simpsons, Modern Family, ANT Farm and The Big Bang Theory. Plus, find out who's the coolest geek on TV - I guarantee, it's not who you expect!

Monday, August 11, 2014


Charles Keating, the Emmy-winning actor who played Carl Hutchins on Another World on and off from 1983-1999, died this weekend.

Cast-mates including Linda Dano (Felicia), Alicia Coppola (Lorna) and Ricky Paul Goldin (Dean), shared their memories and tributes to the man over Twitter.

When Another World Today launched in 2009, Mark Pinter (Grant) recalled:

It was a great treat to be a part of the Another World family for almost ten years. I was very, very lucky. I got to work with some extraordinary people. I made life-long friendships from that show. Two of my best friends are Charles Keating (Carl) and David Hedison (Spencer). Charles lives ten minutes from me, I see him two, three times a week. Hedison was really my mentor. When I met him, we clicked immediately. Again, it was a case of me moving towards an actor who’d been around longer than I have. I see him as much as I can. David is 82 years old now and he wouldn’t mind me saying he looks extraordinary. He’s in great shape, great health. I love him dearly. As I do Charles. Charles is a one of a kind actor. Extraordinarily passionate, a beautifully gifted actor. And not just an actor, a writer, a composer. And then Vicky Wyndham (Rachel) lives in my town up here. All of these people, I took away from my time at Another World. It was a huge gift for me, more than just monetarily. It was a very important part of my career, and a very rich time in the history of Another World. I took away great memories.

To watch AW's final scene, featuring Wyndham and Keating, click here.