Where’s the American Idol for Writers?

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Are you hooked on American Idol? While I am normally a B & E watcher (beginning and end only), this season I am totally hooked. I’m not sure if it’s the pool of talented wannabe’s or the new judges or both.

It’s not that prior years haven’t produced amazing talent, but this year seems more diverse. There is also an influx of what I like to call the quirky element. I like that.

So far, among the ‘boys’ my favorite is Caleb Johnson with his edgy, rocker style. He reminds me of younger version of the famous ‘Meatloaf’ lead singer Marvin Lee Aday. On the quirky side is Alex Preston, who gave a flawless performance. Then there was the booming and mesmerizing voice of Malcolm Allen.  Who will win? It’s anyone game at this point. Every one of the top ten ‘boys’ brings something unique to the stage.

There is an equal amount of talent on the ‘girls’ side. My favorites run from Majesty Rose who just makes you want to dance, to Kristen O’Connor who dared sing an Adele song and nailed it, to Jena Irene who rocked the Rolling Stones anthem “Paint It Black”, in a spectacular new way. I would love to hear her sing a few Heart tunes because she could handle a Wilson sister’s song. Still I really like Jessica Meuse as an overall performer and my quirky awards go to MK Nobilette and Malaya Watson who are just so interesting to watch.

If you aren’t already tuning in you can catch the recap of them all at http://www.americanidol.com.

The other irresistible part of the this years show are the judges.

Jennifer Lopez is back as America’s darling. She’s so sweet, and a seemingly accessible star. After all, she’s just like you and me…only famous, wildly talented and gorgeous. We ignore all that because she could be the woman next door, really, couldn’t she?

Randy Jackson is back, but in a whole new capacity.

Then there’s Keith Urban. In a word, HOT! My only problem with Keith is that as soon as he starts speaking, I don’t hear a single word he says because I’m completely spellbound by his accent.

Thank goodness for Harry Connick Jr. who I think is one of the most qualified judges of all time with his background as not just a singer, but also a musician and an actor. He’s reminiscent of a ‘real movie star’ from back in the day when celebrities were role models and not tabloid fodder. Plus, I adored him in ‘Hope Floats.” *SIGH* To the studio audience I want to say stop “booing” him! Seriously? Leave the man alone! He speaks the truth! He can’t love everybody like Jen and Keith or there would be no reason to watch the show.

So, to my original point, where is the American Literary Version of Idol?

Where are the aspiring writers from all over the country, reciting sonnets or flash fiction?

We could do this people!

As for judges, how about:

  • Clive Cussler, Harlan Coben, or James Patterson for Thrillers
  • Maya Angelou for Poetry
  • Stephen King or Dean Koontz for Horror
  • Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts for Romance
  • Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark or Janet Evanovich for Mystery
  • George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling for Fantasy
  • Sorry folks, we’d probably have to omit the Erotica category if the show airs on prime time!

What a panel this could be! Of course, it would be hard for the contestants to compete across multiple categories and some would say, “I can’t write on demand!” Even though, it would be interesting to see who could.

The only remaining questions are:

Would it make good television?

And

Would anybody watch?

Locks of Love
Salerno, Italy
www.eileenslovak.com

Some Valentine’s Day Advice for Men

This one’s for the guys…and here’s why…

In a few short days, it will be Valentine’s Day. It’s that special day when women’s hearts swoon in anticipation of the thoughtful, romantic, elaborate plans thoughtfully made by their beloved.

Now let’s be honest…despite the fact that the ‘big day’ is less than a week away, most of you men have no idea what to get for your wives or girlfriends.

What? Some of you are offended? I realize there may be that random male freak of nature out there who has a beautiful night of passion planned. You sir, have my sincere apologies. Feel free to move on to other blogs. To the other 99.9%…as it’s generally understood, admit you’re clueless and read on.

These are confusing times. We women send mixed signals. I truly sympathize with the complicated, modern male predicament.

Case in point…of course she wants chocolate! If she could, she would trade you in for your weight in chocolate. However, don’t you dare give her chocolate! Unless your wife/girlfriend has a freakishly high metabolism, this is the kiss of death! If you give her chocolate, you’re not getting any! And I don’t mean chocolate. Of course that won’t be shared either.

Before you judge us, there’s a reason why women love chocolate. It actually creates the same chemical reaction in the body as love. It’s not half bad as a substitute.

You may even escape unscathed, let’s just say, if you were to order chocolate from one of the best chocolatiers in the world…like Maison Du Chocolat in Paris  http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.com.  A tiny, gorgeously wrapped box of minuscule, delectable, French chocolate heaven might impress your heart’s desire. Maybe you’ll be forgiven for the excess calories. Alas, it is getting late, even for express shipments from Paris.

Besides, do you really want to give her the substitute for love? Or do you want to give her love?

Why is Valentine’s Day so freaking important to women? What you have to understand is that this really has less to do with you, than you would think.

It’s a contest among women, the ‘who had the most romantic Valentine’s Day?’ contest. I blame Hollywood, but truly, it begins at work with the office flowers, the love bears, the fruit bouquets and goes downhill from there. Most of us women, don’t even want to participate in the Valentine’s Day office wars, but we have no real choice. If we slink to the back of the pack, they call us out.

“Hey, Sally. What did Jake get you for Valentine’s Day?”

Poor ‘big boned’ Sally, has two options here, to lie…or to tell the truth. Wouldn’t it be great, if just this once dear, sweet Sally had something amazing to tell? Something to make the anorexic Jennifer’s, and the bubbly Brittney’s and the saccharine Susie’s sing in unison, “AWWWWW!!!! That’s so sweet!”

Listen guy, you don’t have to be a super stud to pull this off.

OK, here’s the plan…you take that same box of Parisian or Belgian chocolates and lay them on a pillow…not just any pillow, but a pillow in a smarmy hotel…not just any hotel…but one with a Spa. If you’re broke, use points or make your own bedroom look like a spa. You pre-book Spa treatments for both of you, side by side. Her masseuse is a hot dude named Enrique and (I’m sparing you from a huge V-day fight right here) yours is a zaftig, German woman named Helga.

If you have children, YOU find and vet a suitable babysitter, plan a sleepover for the kids or even better, find a relative or trusted friend to watch the kiddos, because she won’t be able to relax if she’s worried about them.

OK. Honestly, I’m really only equipped to offer advice to the married men. We wives of multiple years, have dangerously low expectations.

Maybe your woman has a favorite singer, a favorite sports team, a favorite museum or a favorite Broadway show, whatever it is! Make it happen! Remember when you were dating? Remember how hard you tried? You know this woman better than anyone else and if you don’t, well, shame on you! Show her that knowledge. What blows her skirt up?

Maybe she really does love to play pool or air hockey and isn’t just faking it. You stage a tournament at ‘your place’. You let her win, but not obviously, so she can bellow, “I am the air hockey queen!” After which, you arrange to have her favorite song play. Better yet, you arrange to have your ‘couple’s song’ play. Even better, you find a decent singer to announce a dedication to her and have him sing the song. Best, you secretly take singing lessons and sing the song yourself. OK, that’s a bit Hollywood.  Then, you sweep her out to the dance floor and whisper something romantic in her ear. WIN, WIN!

You have a ‘light’ dinner DELIVERED and have champagne or her favorite wine, beer or soft drink on ice.

If you’re doing this at home, candles really are romantic. Do it! Just don’t burn the house down.

And…if you didn’t send them to the office, skip the bouquet of flowers, because one red rose or her favorite flower (bonus points!) given at the appropriate time is still really hot.

Most importantly, give her a totally, unique gift. This is where, if you can’t afford diamonds (because diamonds truly are forever!), you can still make a big score. A friend of mine told me her husband had a bracelet handmade for her out of recycled typewriter keys. It spelled out the acronym of their favorite romantic saying, ILUTD, “I love you to death”. Even I was like, “What??? Who does that?”

I know. It’s some tough competition. But, I have faith in you. Man-up and do this thing right.

The bottom line is…surprise her, rock her world! Do all of the planning and the thinking, just for just one night. Because she’s F***ing tired of taking care of everybody and every detail. I promise, you’ll get what we all know you really want and she’ll love you for it!

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Novel Acknowledgements

Thank you!

Grazie!

شكرا

¡gracias

谢谢

σας ευχαριστώ

ありがとう

merci!

The bulk of the work of writing takes place in a solitary room. It happens between a writer and his or her computer. However, even for Indie writers, creating a finished product, producing a physical novel from the ramblings of the mind is not really a solo act.

Editors, proofreader’s, cover designers, interior layout designers, writers groups, beta readers, family and friends all contribute to the process. Although, those who put up with the most, often receive the least amount of gratitude. For example, the family members who endure the last-minute thrown together dinners because the words were flowing or tolerate the mood swings when characters are not cooperating. And the friends who read the early and not so great versions of our work, but still offer honest feedback, while remaining supportive.

So, to my entire support network: Thank you! Here is a glimpse of the Acknowledgement page of “Secret Agent of God”:

Secret Agent of God

Secret Agent of God

 

There is every possibility, I will have forgotten to thank someone. Please know that this is not intentional. There is also a real possibility, that I might thank someone who will never even read my book. Some of my very best friends don’t follow my blog, or my twitter feed, and do not even have Facebook accounts. That’s OK, they have my back and for that I am forever grateful.

Oh and by the way, the first person to like this blog post on http://www.wordpress.com, will receive a free, signed copy of my new novel. It only seems fitting, since this is where my public writing journey began, to say thank you with a gift.

Thanks for reading!

 

Third Time is a Charmer

In 2012, I attended my first writer’s conference. Although, at the time, I had already been writing for years. Walking in that first day, I was certain that at that point in time, I was ready to become a published writer. Turns out, I wasn’t.

An agent was kind enough to review my work, but I was devastated when she said I was likely a year away from being ready. Another year, I thought. I’ll never make it. Alas, after many more hours of writing and after completing multiple rewrites, just shy of two years later, I emerged with a completely different manuscript.

I just published my ‘first’ novel, “Secret Agent of God”. 

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“Secret Agent of God”

 

I say ‘first’, but what I mean is third, because the other two never saw the light of day. My real ‘first’ novel, the one I attempted to write about twenty-five years ago, was a summery love story. From what I can recall, it was along the lines of Snooky’s book about the Jersey Shore, but mine was about a little known island called Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. I think I still have the story in a shoebox somewhere. It was hand-written on an assortment of cocktail napkins and in several beer-stained, spiral notebooks.

My second novel was another lovelorn tale about a single working gal, who was very similar to my former single-self, but in a fictional setting. Said ‘gal’ tried desperately not to fall in love with a very attractive private detective who had just breezed into town. YAWN. Sixty-five thousand words into the manuscript and after (I’m too embarrassed to say how many years), I decided the story was not unique enough to publish.

What’s the moral of this story? Both of these writing exercises helped me to become a better writer and more importantly, they made me realize some things. I don’t really like writing romance unless it’s wrapped in another package like paranormal suspense. Furthermore, if my life were exciting enough to read about, I wouldn’t need to write fiction. Finally, it takes as long as it takes. While deadlines are important, you need patience to become a writer.

In my first published novel, I created a protagonist who is nothing like me, threw her into a crazy situation and viola! I wrote a fast-paced thriller, with a strong female protagonist who is quirky, upbeat and funny despite her bleak circumstances. I almost feel badly about everything I put poor twenty-one-year-old Janice Morrison through, but I’m confident that she can handle it. She is ‘spiritually challenged’ but remarkably resourceful.

The weird thing is, I keep thinking, that someday I’ll be signing books in a mall somewhere and Janice will walk right up to me and say, “Hey, you stole my life!”

Now wouldn’t that be something?