Friday, May 29, 2015

Entertainment Weekly: ‘The Bold & the Beautiful’s’ transgender Maya is ‘like every other woman’

“Maya is just like every other woman in Rick’s life,” The Bold & Beautiful’s Brooke fumed last week, insisting that her son’s girlfriend is an untrustworthy liar, just like Rick’s other exes, Amber and Caroline.

Brooke didn’t mention that her son has a tendency to be a major scumbag in his own right.

Or that Maya is transgender.

The former can be attributed to the blinders worn by most mothers when it comes to their precious baby boys (no matter how old – or scummy – their baby boys get).

The latter is… unexpected.

When B&B first dropped their Maya is Transgender bombshell back in March, fans instantly began speculating about how various characters would react to the news. Not just Rick – who regularly made a point of rubbing his girlfriend’s beauty, femininity, and unquestionably honesty in the faces of those who he believed lacked those qualities, but also Rick’s parents, siblings, and, especially his enemies. (Rick made a lot of enemies with his face-rubbing. Also with his deliberate humiliation of his family members and employees, his replacing his stepmother’s place-of-honor portrait with one of Maya, and his firing off a gun at his ex-wife and her new lover, Rick’s brother, Ridge.)

The truth began seeping out almost immediately (quite surprising in the world of soaps, especially a Bell soap, where one conversation can last from Monday to Friday). People were initially surprised. Who wouldn’t be? But then they… got over it.

Read why that's both a good and a bad thing at Entertainment Weekly:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Figure Skating mystery novels with professional skating videos included as part of the story, a cookbook you can search by ingredient, a children's fantasy novel with its own original musical score, soap-opera greatest moments you can actually watch, and a book about getting into NYC Kindergarten that can be updated as soon as the rules change.

They're all enhanced ebooks I've produced, and I talk about how anyone can turn their traditionally published book into an enhanced ebook with Kevin Price at The Price of Business.

Listen to my interview below!

Friday, May 22, 2015


Recently, I dragged my children to the most southern part of Brooklyn on a gray, drizzly day to attend a parade for Soviet veterans on the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II.

Considering my ambivalence toward Brighton Beach, my antipathy towards fellow immigrants who voluntarily ghetto-ize themselves to the point of not even having their children learn English, and my general abhorrence of any and all things USSR, the question was: Why?

Find out at:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


This weekend, as part of their “Countdown to Decades Binge,” a new television channel, Decades, ran 130 episodes (about six months worth) of the 1966–1971 gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows.
As someone who studied the show, but had never actually seen it in any kind of systematic fashion, I felt like an archaeologist transported back in time to witness people and events I previously knew exclusively from artifacts and the reports of others.

And there Dark Shadows was in all it’s glory. The blurry camerawork, the shaky sets, the actors stumbling over their lines due to being given only one take, and the famous boom mics dipping in and out of shots.

It was fantastic. Not in a campy way, but in a truly engrossing one. Somehow—even with cardboard tombstones, costumes from a mishmash of historical time periods, and rubber bats on strings—the show managed to convey both a genuine sense of eerie menace along with sympathy for the characters, be they vampire, werewolf, witch, unethical doctor, or simpering heroine. Dark Shadows had everything a soap and a horror story should.

They did it all on a budget that would make Tim Burton (director of the 2012 theatrical remake) and Joss Whedon (who many mistakenly believe invented the tortured-demon trope on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) weep.

When I interviewed actress Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie) for my book Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments, she had quite a lot to say about working conditions on Dark Shadows … and the dedication of its cast and crew.

Read an excerpt from my interview with Ms. Scott, as well as my thoughts on what all cancelled soaps can learn from Dark Shadows about never saying die (how appropriate for a show with a vampire) at:

And read the entire interview FREE by borrowing Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments via Amazon Prime. (Kathryn Leigh Scott is featured with dozens of other actors, writers, producers and directors who created the moments soap fans voted best of all time.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015



Education plays a vital role in your child's development, so choosing the right school is one of the most important decisions you can make. The problem is, it's no longer just a choice between private and public schools. Several new types of schools have cropped up, which may leave parents confused.

Here's the lowdown on your school options to help you make an informed decision for your child:

Public Schools
These are funded by local, state and federal taxpayer money. "Public schools vary so much across the country -- and from neighborhood to neighborhood," says Alina Adams, a kindergarten admissions consultant at River Park Nursery School in New York City and the author of the upcoming book Getting Into NYC Kindergarten. All public schools must also adhere to the regulations and curriculum requirements of the state.

Read more at:

And if you'd like to hear from me in person, I will be offering a Kindergarten admissions workshop this Wednesday, May 20 at Evolution Enrichment in Manhattan's Chinatown at 6 pm. Registration at:

Monday, May 18, 2015


Last week, my post for Entertainment Weekly was all about the main difference between soap-operas and romance novels.

Surprisingly, while there is some overlap, not all soap fans are romance readers, and vice-versa.

This is a situation that must be rectified, as too many people are missing out on too much good stuff.

To that end, Joan Reeves, contributor to Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot Contemporary Romance Collection, offers this delicious tease of what's in store for you. With 21 different stories, there is bound to be something for everyone! Check it out and enjoy!

It's All in the Logline
by Joan Reeves

Logline is a script writing term. It's the one sentence used by those in the television and motion picture industry to pitch their project to the powers that be. Gradually, the logline, or short pitch,  gained popularity with book publishing editors and agents as a quick way to see if an author had a focused story.

Fast Forward to Today

In today's publishing and self-publishing world, most authors commonly use the logline as a "tagline" to describe their books to readers. Distilling an entire book into one sentence is, as you might imagine, difficult. For many authors, it's harder than writing the book! Sometimes, an author uses two sentences because getting it all in one is just about impossible.

Here's a tip for Authors who may not have mastered the logline yet. Imagine your book as a movie poster. What would the few words of text emblazoned on the poster say?

21 Bestselling Authors

The logline is crucial for authors in a box set. When there are 21 authors in a box set, the need for each to generate a short but evocative sentence is crucial. The authors of Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot Contemporary Romance Collection were tasked with this for not only the Book Description posted at all ebook sellers webpages but also for the Video I created for the box set.

I think these authors did an amazing job. Read the loglines below from the Summer Fire Authors and tell me what you think.


Leave a comment with your email address–not as a hot link but written out–to be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot Contemporary Romance Collection. Giveaway is open until May 23 midnight. Winner will be chosen on May 24 by RandomNamePicker app and notified by email as well as in the Comments section of Alina's blog.

Summer Fire Authors & Their Loglines
Gennita Low, author of Sizzle.
Spies, Lola and Jake, fall hard for each other. Is their love strong enough for one assignment that would risk everything?

Stacey Mosteller, author of Just One Summer.
When Harvard bad boy Reece meets good girl Abbi on Cape Cod, he forgets about his punishment and focuses on corrupting her instead.

R.J. Lewis, author of Sinful.
Two different people from two different worlds find their lives colliding in the most sinful way.

L. Wilder, author of Summer Storm.
VP Guardrail's life has always been his MC club. It's up to him to fix a wrong, but he wasn't expecting Allie to take him by storm.

Victoria Danann, author of A Season in Gemini.
She couldn't live in my world. I couldn't live in hers.

Kym Grosso, author of Solstice Burn.
Love and temptation flare in a tropical paradise. When Chase rescues Penny, she learns to embrace her inner fantasies.

Cat Miller, author of Sun Burnt.
Kesslyn inherits a ranch, but the city girl is unsure she's up for the challenge. Can her sexy foreman rope her into staying forever?

Mimi Barbour, author of Big Girls Don't Cry.
He's everything she's ever wanted in a man, and she's nothing like the girl she wants to be–something's gotta change.

Clarissa Wild, author of Killer.
Secrets could kill you. He murdered her husband. She's the prime suspect seeking justice. Only one of them can win.

Teresa Gabelman, author of Rodeo Romance.
Jake McCabe had one rule: never date a client. Trisha Summers had a new rule: never date a man again. Rules were meant to be broken.

Helen Scott Taylor, author of Irish Kisses.
Ten years ago he said he loved her, then he left and broke her heart. Now he's back, and he wants her again, but can she trust him?

Victoria James, author of Sweet Surrender.
Cade showing up on her doorstep is not what Julia wants-but this bad-boy is back and ready to convince her that this time is forever.

Mona Risk, author of Husband for a Week.
A Sicilian vendetta, a fake husband, and a matchmaking grandmother complicate Jonathan and Isabella's lives. Can love conquer all?

Patrice Wilton, author of A Man for Hire.
Jordon's ex-boyfriend is bringing home a bride. To save face she hires a hot guy for the weekend. Sparks fly–can this be love?

Linda Barlow, author of My Mile-High Mistake.
Six years ago, she yearned for her sexy, forbidden high school teacher. Now she can't resist his temptation at 35,000 feet.

Joan Reeves, author of Heat Lightning.
Her husband found her, claimed her, rescued her–his touch makes her throb, her body knows him–but she remembers nothing about him.

Danielle Jamie, author of Tan Lines and Salty Kisses.
Becca and Parker have a second chance at summer romance. The spark is hotter than a Georgia July. Can it withstand news of his secret?

Terri Marie, author of Someone Exactly Like You.
Cameron Barron's plan was solid: a few lies, a disguise, and an apology to Chastity Newberry. What could possibly go wrong?

Lorhainne Eckhart, author of His Promise.
A love they thought would last forever. A promise forgotten–until one summer night.

Brandy L Rivers, author of Summer Rhythm.
Doug never could resist Chloe. She always runs. Will this time be different or is their summer rhythm destined to repeat.

Nicole Blanchard, author of Anchor.
I thought it was a weekend from hell, until he showed me a little piece of heaven.

Reminder: Giveaway

Remember, leave a comment with your email address to be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot Contemporary Romance Collection. Giveaway is open until May 23 midnight. Winner will be chosen on May 24 by RandomNamePicker app and notified by email as well as in the Comments section of Alina's blog.

Buy Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot Contemporary Romance Collection at:


Bio Note:
Joan Reeves, whose book in Summer Fire is Heat Lightning, is a bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Available as ebooks and audiobooks, her romance novels all have the same underlying theme: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily ever after with her husband in the Lone Star State. Sign up for WordPlay, Joan's free email list for readers:

Thursday, May 14, 2015


The end of the school year inevitably brings heated debate among parents and politicians about the value of tests  – for both students and teachers. Families insist their children can’t be quantified by a single number, while educators reject being graded themselves or having their salaries tied to classroom performance.

Which, class clowns that we are, naturally got us to thinking: How would the teachers presented in movies and on TV shows fare if they were subjected to the same evaluation system currently employed in real life?

Let’s sneak a peek at their report cards!


To Sir With Love (1967)
Teacher Name: Mark Thackeray
Alter Ego: Sidney Poitier
Pluses: Willing to teach delinquents at a failing school in the East End of London – as long as they follow his rules (mostly involving respect… and good grooming)
Minuses: Only teaching until a good engineering job comes through (or so he thinks)
Extracurricular: Excellent role model
Final Grade: A-

Stand & Deliver (1988)
Teacher Name: Jaime Escalante
Alter Ego: Edward James Olmos
Pluses: Realizes math is important – and anyone can learn it if they apply themselves
Minuses: Made a mistake in class that led to his students being accused of cheating (because they all made the same mistake on the big test)
Extracurricular: The real-life Escalante was fired because his class was so popular it lead to overcrowding, and students coming to school early and staying late
Final Grade: B+

And if you're interested in real-life educational issues, I'll be speaking at River Park Nursery School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan TONIGHT about how to get your child into the best Kindergarten for them. Details here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


When non soap-opera fans want to disparage the genre, they call it a romance novel. When non-romance novel fans feel obliged to dismiss the best-selling book category, they call it a soap-opera.

Both are wrong. (And not just because they erroneously believe either term is an insult.) They’re wrong because of one key difference between soap-operas and romance novels.

Robert Newman, who played Josh on Guiding Light, explains, “A romance novel is finite, while we have 16,000 episodes worth of shows that people who have been watching their entire lives are drawing on. A romance novel happens. It comes and it goes. A soap is more complex than that.”

And Susan Dansby, an Emmy-award winning writer currently working on The Young & the Restless, thinks that’s a good thing. “A romance novel is the story of a hero and heroine who are leading separate lives, who find each other and decide to join their lives together. On a soap-opera, you have one couple that's falling in love, you have one couple that's dealing with the challenges of new love, i.e. the: we've declared our love, now what? stage, and then you have a couple that's been in love for a while, but they have challenges like kidnapping or illness that they're dealing with. Because once you've told the story of their love, you've got to do something to keep the story going. You've got to break them up. Would we, as writers, prefer that they live happily ever after? Yes! Is it interesting to watch? No!" (Read more, here.)

And there’s your key difference: Soap-operas rarely have a Happily Ever After. They can’t.

Last week, Anthony Geary, who’s played the role of Luke on General Hospital on and off since the late 1970s, announced that he would beexiting the show this summer for the (presumably) final time. 

The news came hot on the heels of Genie Francis’ (Laura) scheduled return. But if those fans who’ve rooted for the couple for over thirty years think that means their beloved L&L will be riding off into the sunset together, Geary is quick to squash that hope.

He pronounced, “Genie and I agreed several years ago that the love of Luke and Laura had run its course. They have children together and a very storied history and there's definitely still love there but I think they're toxic to each other at this point.”

This would never happen in a romance novel.

Neither would the other story currently playing out on GH, wherein Federal Agent Anna (Finola Hughes), after battling to free the love of her life, Duke (Ian Buchanan) from the mob only to believe him killed in 1989, return with a new face (plastic surgery, natch) and die again a year later, was reunited with her not-quite-dead husband in 2012. After three years of conflict, Anna and Duke have finally decided to forget their respective stances on organized crime: (Her: Bad; Him: Eh, it’s okay) and run off together to begin  a new life. 

Read more, including examples from Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light, All My Children and others, and leave a comment on the subject: Can the only Happily Ever After on soaps come with cancellation? at Entertainment Weekly:

Plus, don't forget, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, the book where you can read interviews with the actors, writers and producers who created the scenes fans voted best of all time - then click a link and watch them, is now available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Monday, May 11, 2015


My book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, came out in 2011, after Guiding Light and As the World Turns had left the air, and All My Children and One Life to Live were on their way out.

I wanted some way to document the very best of what this genre has been. So, first, I turned to you, the fans, to ask about your favorite moments ever. Then, once those were compiled, I turned to the actors, writers, and producers who made them happen, for some behind the scenes scoop.

The result was an enhanced ebook where you can not only read what fans and experts had to say about top moments from your favorite shows, but also click a link and watch the scenes they're talking about (now with inisde knowledge about how they came together).

Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments ended up being a best-seller in the TV category. But some readers contacted me to say that they couldn't afford the cover price of $9.99.

Soap fans have been so supportive of my work over the years, not just my ATWT and GL tie-in books like Oakdale Confidential and Jonathan's Story, but also my romance novels, like When a Man Loves a Woman, Annie's Wild Ride and Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga. To thank you, I am making Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments FREE to borrow for Amazon Prime members.

Just click the link and go straight to it!

You do not need a Kindle to experience this book. A desktop, a laptop, a phone, anything with an internet connection will do. In other words, if you can read this post, you can enjoy this book!

Friday, May 08, 2015


In 2010, when Karen Quinn's book, "Testing for Kindergarten" first hit the shelves, I was so impressed that I interviewed her for my NY Gifted Education Examiner column. Read it at the links:

Part #1

Part #2

Part #3

Now, I am proud to announce that my own book, "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," is featured on Karen's site.

Check it out and, while you're there, sign up to receive 100 FREE practice questions to get your child ready for NYC public gifted and private school testing. As I write in "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," if you have your heart seat on Hunter College Elementary, a Gifted & Talented program, or a private school like Horace Mann, then prepping is definitely the way to go. The competition for Kindergarten seats is just that intense!

And if you have no idea what Hunter College Elementary, a public Gifted & Talented program and/or Horace Mann are, then check out both my book and Karen's, below!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: High-tech baby-napping on soaps

Last week, on Days of Our Lives, Theresa was finally reunited with the baby boy Kristen had stolen from Theresa and Brady.

And how did Kristen steal him exactly? Did she lay in wait for a moment when his parents were distracted and snatched the bald-headed little guy out of his stroller? Did she break into his bedroom in the middle of the night and take him right out of his crib? Did she lurk around the maternity ward dressed as a doctor and intercept him on his way to the nursery?

Nah, all of the above would be way, way too prosaic for our Kristen.

Instead, she drugged Theresa, had the embryo excavated from her uterus and implanted into herself, carried the fetus to term, and gave birth to a bouncing baby kidnap victim.

‘Cause that’s how Kristen rolls.

As Ashley on The Young & the Restless, Kristen’s portrayer, Eileen Davidson, played another baby-napper, only this time, Ashley only stole Victor’s stored sperm (not the whole baby) and used it to impregnate herself. Her rationalization was that Diane, Victor’s hated ex-wife, had actually been the one to steal the sperm in the first place. Ashley was just stealing it from Diane to protect Victor. Besides, Ashley had aborted Victor’s baby years ago, so he owed her one. Right? Discuss.

Embryo-snatching is a pretty popular activity on soaps. On General Hospital, Britt needed a baby to hold onto Patrick. And when he didn’t get her pregnant the old-fashioned way, the crafty OBGYN and her mother (Dr. Obrecht, whose evil makes Britt seem downright sympathetic in comparison) simply borrowed one of patient Lulu and Dante’s frozen specimens. Britt gave birth to Ben, whom she genuinely loved, but was ultimately forced to return to his biological parents. Because the only time a secret stays a secret on a soap is when the writers forget about it. Lulu and Dante renamed the baby Rocco. Which is a different kind of crime against humanity. (Don’t worry, though, little Ben/Rocco took the change of identity and family in stride. If there is one thing soaps have taught us, it’s that children have absolutely no attachment to the people who raised them for months, sometimes years, and are always ready to switch loyalties at the drop of a DNA test.)

Over on The Bold & the Beautiful, it was an egg mix-up, not an outright theft, that led to Taylor giving birth to her nemesis, Brooke’s, child. Unlike roll-with-the-punches Rocco, Taylor couldn’t accept little Jack’s relationship to Brooke, and ultimately surrendered the child to Brooke and his father, Nick. Since then, the show seems to have misplaced the tot, and no one is exactly sure where he is at the moment.

Oh, if only Taylor, like Kristen, had been aware of the high-tech reproductive technology that’s available in soap-land – and nowhere else.

Read all about it (it's been around since the 1970s!) at Entertainment Weekly:

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


I launched my live writing project this past July to demonstrate how a 1st draft gets to publication (spoiler: many revisions are involved).

Show Not Tell is a key writing mantra, and I figure why learn from your mistakes when you can learn from mine (it's less painful that way).

To compliment the live writing that you can watch at:, I thought I'd also record my thought process (bigger spoiler: I'm making all this up as I go along).

So check it out below, then go to: to see how the scenes in question turned out. (Just search by the date.) And make sure to leave a comment, telling me what you think!


UPDATE 4/20/15
Not a huge fan of starting to write without knowing what the scene(s) are about, especially when I’m writing live for all to see. But being a pro writer means writing every day, not just when you feel like it. So here I go…

UPDATE 4/21/15
Had an idea for the middle of yesterday’s scene. Still no ending. Writing is fun! (Especially when you’re being watched!).... Wait! I think I thought of an ending!

UPDATE 4/23/15
Why do the scenes in my head always sound better than they do on paper?

UPDATE 4/30/15
Decided to take a break in the scene I was writing, before both characters said something they’d later regret. Wish I was this diligent in real life.

UPDATE 5/4/15
Let’s see if my characters can finish their conversation without completely ruining their relationship.