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.