Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the Year Thoughts

The holidays were very low-key for me and HH this year. We noticed many people were keeping their celebration fairly scaled-down with fewer extravagant gifts, and those aimed mostly at the children in our lives. I disagree with people who claim Christmas is for the kids only. This holiday season is for all of us to enjoy and appreciate what we have and if that means sending a token of our esteem like a hand-knit scarf or a plate of sugar cookies shaped like snowmen, then great. I think the presence of children make us remember the holiday; they remind us to express our love and joy when we might otherwise just hole up in our houses.

This year I have been solely focused on writing - and when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. So the celebration part of the holiday kind of got away from me. We had but one string of lights in the window and a tiny fake tree with one ornament on the coffee table. We did enjoy time with friends and for that I am grateful but we didn’t do much gift exchanging. Maybe you kept things low-key like that too.

So before the year ends, I’d like to give my friends a gift of memory. I have some old friends, people I’ve known for years, which in itself is a major accomplishment for me, seeing as how I have moved and replaced people in my life so often. I plan to send each of them an email with a single memory of when we first met: words they spoke, a joke they told, an impression I had of them. And I hope this recalls for them a time in their lives when we were perhaps less encumbered by responsibility - or simply younger. And I will send a link to this blog post so they understand why I am doing it. They will know how much I appreciate their friendship.

You’re welcome to do this too. I don’t mind. And maybe if you’re an old friend of mine, you’ll want to send me a memory too. I’d like that a lot.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Project 2 Status: Complete!

Another very awesome pair of leg warmers is finished, but this time I'll be giving them away to a friend. But before I do that, I will post a photo on the blog. These took me slightly longer to finish so I might not be as inclined to make many more pairs but if someone really wanted them, then yes I would do them. Again, price of yarn and shipping will determine the price. I will try to get my Ninja Webmaster to put the pictures up asap.

I also started a very cool little knit cap which should be finished momentarily. Here in LA we actually do wear hats but not usually in wool. It's more likely to be in cotton or a nylon blend. But it gets cold enough for them, that's for sure!

As for my other projects...let me tell you, the knitting ones are going a lot faster and seem to be more satisfying sometimes. I hope to be able to take a breather soon for a couple of weeks and then plunge back in. (I'm still being cryptic, aren't I? Perhaps my new year's resolution should be to stop worrying about jinxes...)

Should we call them New Year's Revolutions instead?

Your Hollywood connection putting her nose to the grindstone,
Leigh

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Getting Focused for 2008

Do you set New Year's resolutions? If so, are they they kind that you can't possibly keep (like quitting smoking on January 1st) or are they realistic (like adding a walk to your routine)? Do you choose specific numbers (fifteen pounds, one month) or general (new job)?

My resolutions fall between the realistic and completely out-of-there categories, between general and specific. I claim to want to be a better person or a kinder stranger or a more committed friend but I don't always have the particulars to back it up.

How exactly does one become "better" in one's personage?

I need to become more focused in my resolutions and in my resolution-making. So right now I resolve to come up with more specific and achievable goals for the new year. Not sure what they are yet but if I'm focused, I should figure them out.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Friday, December 28, 2007

Project 1 Status: Complete!

The knitting project, that is; the writing projects are still going on and unfortunately, I have no idea if the first one is actually completed. In fact I know it's not because even if it's accepted by certain persons, it will still need more work and if it's not accepted by certain persons, then it definitely needs more work.

And if it seems like I'm being cryptic about my new story, then yes, you got it exactly right. I am one of those people who thinks discussion about a good thing will jinx it.

And why wouldn't talk about a bad thing not jinx that? I have no idea how the universe works.

So the first knitting project was a pair of bright white, super soft leg warmers. They turned out to be fantastic and way easier than I thought. I have already worn them twice and gotten many compliments and an offer to purchase a pair. Someone actually wants to pay me to make them a pair! Which gave me an idea...

I will soon post a photo of me wearing the leg warmers on the blog and if anyone would like a pair, I will be happy to make them and to negotiate a price based on the cost of the yarn (one skein is all it takes) and where it needs to be shipped. If you give me a color range, I will pick the yarn since it needs to be a particular type in order to knit up fast but there are many, many colors available. I will also post a link to the pattern if people want to make them on their own.

Sounds fair, yes?

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Santa Claus Came to WeHo!

Ho Ho Ho!

Santa must have thought Head Honcho and I were good this year because he brought us the best gift ever: a renewal of our Netflix subscription! With the WGA strike still going on and no end in sight, this is truly a wonderful gift.

We used our subscription so much last year, I was afraid they would try to curb our rentals. Many people claim they slow down your delivery when they see you're renting too many DVDs...check out some opinions here. Honestly, tho, I doubt we rented that many. And I have to admit they were good to us: they sent a replacement DVD for The Wire right away even tho we already had 3 DVDs out.

Altho it's sad that the year is nearly over, you know what's great about it being December 26 already? It's one day closer to Lost being back on the air.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Writing a Merry Christmas

For those of you who enjoy the wonderful movie, "A Christmas Story," I just want to remind you that it was based on a novel by the marvelous Jean Shepherd (who also wrote the script and narrated the film) called "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash."

And for those of you who think "It's a Wonderful Life" is the epitome of the Christmas spirit, it too was based on previously-written material, a short story called "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern who sent it out with his Christmas cards.

And all those incarnations of "Scrooge"? Yep, a classic Charles Dickens story called "A Christmas Carol."

You know when you write a line or a paragraph that it's the exact right thing, that it's a sentence to be proud of - and often that makes the difference between a sucky day of writing and a good one. You may have spent six straight hours churning out junk that you know will have to be trashed but if you get that one line right, it makes the whole day worth the agony.

I wonder if the writers of those magnificent stories knew they were writing classics that would last long beyond their lifetimes. I hope they felt that "rightness" of their lines.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Celeb!

If you thought I was taking a break from my job as your Hollywood connection, you are sadly mistaken. I am always on the lookout for you because I know you are counting on me. If there are celebrities around, they need to be noticed. And let's face it, they want to be noticed. That's why they became celebrities.

I have to admit I don't have a heck of a lot of sympathy for celebs who pretend to be shocked by the attention they get, the paparazzi who surround them, and so on (not that that is any excuse for invading a person's privacy or for putting a person or his family in danger) when the very actions they do...Britney and Jamie Lynn, I''m looking right at you...make them a magnet for photographers.

It's similar to American Idol. In the first season, people had no idea what they were up against with those 3 judges and so, if they were teary or upset or angry with the reactions they got, fine, I'll give it to them. But now, after six seasons? Come on, people. You know what you're getting into here. This is American Idol, not American Bandstand.

So as much as I respect celebrities and want them to be able to lead normal lives, I'm just saying I think certain celebs (Lindsay? Paris? Are you listening?) deliberately draw attention to themselves and then seem totally disingenuous when they are ambushed by photographers.

That being said, get yourself over to my website and check out the newest celeb sighting listing. Ninja Webmaster should be getting that up soon if it's not there already. (A hint: he has helped people make their homes better - extremely. And no it's not Ty.)

Your Hollywood connection never taking a day off,
Leigh

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Die Hard 2 is Also a Christmas Movie!

What was it with Bruce Willis and his adventurous Christmas tales?

Okay, here are a few more holiday movies I love to watch and hope you do to:

"Trading Places" - Dan Akyroyd and Eddie Murphy (back when HE was funny) switch places as fortunate and less to prove to 2 old codgers the nature vs. nurture theory. Never has an Intro to Sociology lesson been so amusing!

"Elf" - Some cute moments when Will Ferrell plays an adopted elf who looks for his real father. You can skip most of the movie that Ferrell is not goofing around and still enjoy the movie.

"Nightmare Before Christmas" - I love Jack Skellington and I love the animation. Tim Burton is an amazing filmmaker and every shot of this movie was lovingly designed. If HH would let me, I would own this movie and watch it every year.

"Miracle on 34th Street" - more of a Thanksgiving movie, don't you think? Still, it's a classic and young Natalie Wood was adorable without being annoyingly precocious.

Bonus Treat: This is a fun little thing to do, if you're not quite sure which Christmas movie your life most resembles:

Christmas Movie Quiz - According to this, my Christmas is most like "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Ha! So true! Every year, HH and I always look for the saddest trees on the lot- the small, misshapen ones that no one will buy (but the lot owners still charge big $$ for!). Yeah, I guess that's accurate. Which movie are you?

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Writers Read

I am always wary of people who claim to write but don't read. They say, "Oh I don't have time to read" or "I don't want to be influenced by other people."

Writers read. Stephen King devoted pages to this subject in his wonderful memoir/inspirational guide, "On Writing." (Well, he has a tendency to devotes pages and pages to lots of things which is probably why his books are so darn long.) I'm re-reading his book now, having first read it years ago when it came out. Now that I have published a book and have been through that particular process, I find I am reading it with different eyes, a different head.

I find the same thing to be true when I re-read children's books that I loved as a kid. Now that I am an adult, I get a completely different feel from the read. As a writer, I see the story structure better; as an adult I see the character development more; and as a reader, I experience the pleasure of a great book in my hands. (It's rare that I re-read a beloved book and wonder why I loved it - which is certainly not true of movies!)

The writer who, when asked for a favorite book title, does not produce a huge list, is no writer. One title should lead to the next should lead to the next and so on. I can't get out of a conversation about books without mentioning fifty titles in half a dozen genres. "Here, let me send you a list," is how I usually conclude such a discussion.

No, I don't trust those non-reading writers.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Friday, December 21, 2007

3 Things I Didn’t Know About Publishing…

…that I have since discovered and am now passing on to you.

1. Just because something is being distributed by Amazon Japan does not mean it’s been translated into Japanese.

The same holds true for all of those websites that are in Chinese or German or French. Much as it would be way cool to have my books translated (and someday I hope for that to happen!), these are just sites that are in different languages but are still selling the English language version.

Sigh.

2. You can include a dedication page in your debut novel.

I can include a dedication page in my debut novel?

Yes you can include a dedication page in your debut novel.

I didn’t realize this when I was writing my first book and thought only famous authors could do that. I assumed I would have to wait a bit, for my third or fourth novel, to actually dedicate it to someone. I had hoped the people I wanted to dedicate my books to would still be alive by the time that happened. So I only included an acknowledgment page in LOVE, MEG. When VEE came around, I asked about including a dedication page and was met with a, “Yes, of course,” from my editor.

“Yes, of course”? I had no idea I would get “Yes, of course”! Had I known, I might have asked about MEG. So I included a dedication in VEE. Can you guess who I dedicated it to? Go on, guess.

3. You will not actually die if your Amazon rank drops.

When your book first comes out, you check that number ten times a day. It’s up! Now it’s down! Someone bought five copies! Oh no, they just returned them all! After a month of this agony, you stop checking multiple times and settle on just once every day. After several months of this, you often forget to check at all.

That is a good day.

I have not reached that day yet.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Another Thing People Don’t Know About Me

I am a knitter. I knit. I am not a good knitter. I can only knit baby blankets and afghans and scarves. I knit a purse once which I thought was kind of cute and I did a whole bunch of baby caps as part of the Save the Children’s “Caps to the Capital” project last year. But I don’t know how to cable. Circular needles scare me. And I still don’t hold the yarn in my hand properly.

Still, there is something extremely satisfying when you finish a project that is useful.

Knitting is the complete opposite of writing a book. When I finish a book, it sits on my computer until I buy the toner and paper to print it out. Then I have to give it to people to read and critique. Then I have to rewrite it a zillion times. And then I have to cross my fingers that someone will buy it and make it into an actual book that other people can read.

When I finish a scarf - or a blanket or (hopefully soon) a pair of leg warmers - it’s a done deal. I can give that item to a friend or relative or I can wear it myself. No one needs to do anything to it in order to use it. No one has to pray that many other people will okay it before it can be worn.
It just is.

And that “is” is very cool. That “is” is a wonderful moment. I love that “is.”

I know I won’t ever be a great knitter. Not like my mom or my friends whose knitting skills are highly refined. I will probably always be clumsy and more likely than not knit when I should purl and leave big gaping holes that have to be sewn up or ripped out. But that’s okay. It’s still a lot easier than writing a book.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Finding Friends

I have noted before how awesome the internet is when it comes to looking up old friends. I love to google old boyfriends and college friends and just random people whose company I used to enjoy but with whom I have lost touch. (That's what happens when you move around a lot as I used to.) Recently, I heard from an old friend and former co-worker who had himself moved across the country. I was thrilled to hear the update on his life and to offer up my own - and come on, who wouldn't want to be able to tell someone they were now a published author? I gotta admit, that has to be the coolest thing I have ever been able to say, aside from...um, I'm gonna be a published author?

Anyway, his name is Marcus and I always wondered what happened to him and now I know. So hey Marcus! Stick around and stay in e-touch!

All of this gave me a neat idea: I thought it might be a cool thing to list some people's names who I am dying to hear about. I figure if they google themselves (we all do - it's nothing to be ashamed of!), they might see their names listed here and contact me and let me know they're okay and they're doing some amazing things in their lives. The only question is where to begin...high school? college? grad school? all of my various jobs? dance buddies? It's quite an overwhelming list.

So I'll start small with some high school people:
Liz Losty, Jennifer Murphy, John Taylor, Jane Betz, Peter Schilling, Sue Lawshe, Michelle Lussier

If any of you are out there and want to contact me, please do! I'd love to hear what you're up to! Next up will be college friends. (How cool would this be if it works?)

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Die Hard is a Christmas Movie?

It sure is! Just ask my Ninja Webmaster who insists that the explosion extravaganza is one heck of a happy holiday film. Not the kind you'd sit down with your young 'uns and watch with a cup of egg nog (maybe if it was spiked) and I suppose he's right. It begins with our hero in town to visit his estranged wife and family for the holidays and he ends up saving a building full of people from Euroterrorists hellbent on...what was it they wanted again? Money? Weapons? Does it really matter when Bruce Willis is on the case?

A perfect holiday film.


Other movies I like to watch during the Christmas season:

"It's a Wonderful Life" (of course) - HH and I will watch on the eve after a delicious meal of sushi, which is our favorite holiday tradition

"A Christmas Story" (at least twice) - already seen once while we addressed cards

"Christmas Vacation" - anytime is the right time for this classic Chevy Chase flick (back when he was actually funny) - who doesn't laugh hysterically when he flips out in front of the family after he gets a fruit basket instead of a Christmas bonus?

"Scrooged" - don't own this but wish I did - Bill Murray is a riot as a modern day Scrooge working in, of all things, television! Carol Kane is fab as the wacky Ghost of Christmas Past

I prefer my holiday movies to be funny (except for "Life" which is a sentimental fave) instead of sappy. Sappy movies just make me wish I was back on the east coast with my family...oh now, stop. I don't want to be sad that I'm not there this year! It's snowing and icy and all sorts of yuckiness and travel is horrible this time of year!

There, that's better.

Your Hollywood connection staying in Hollywood,
Leigh

Monday, December 17, 2007

Congratulations Yooli and Billy!

Today I just want to say congrats and best wishes to my friend Yooli Pak who married Billy Ryoo on Saturday afternoon in a beautiful ceremony in LA. The church was splendidly decorated for the holiday season, with red velvet ribbons everywhere and wreaths hanging from the ceiling. And she was gorgeous in her cream taffeta dress!

Yooli had told me that she thought her wedding and reception would best resemble the episode from Gilmore Girls when Lane Kim got married so I was really looking forward to that, with people rushing to get in the buffet line before the couple had made it down to the reception. And I was not disappointed! We waited to greet our friends and to get a picture taken with them but fully half the guests (a staggering 400+) were already downstairs eating. Many of them left without seeing Yooli and Billy!

By the time they got to the very intriguing and funny and beautiful formal ceremony in which the traditionally dressed couple attempts to catch dates in the bride's apron (a fertility symbol), pretty much everyone except HH and our friend Patricia and the family members were gone. How sad that the rest of the guests missed this! It was amazing and beautiful - and did I mention funny? My friend (just like Lane Kim) had to be helped up and down in her very heavy and uncomfortable traditional dress.

The lesson? Television has much to teach us if we are only willing to learn.

Your Hollywood connection finding the silver lining everywhere,
Leigh

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Celeb Update

Would that I had actually met Will Smith at the screening of his new movie. Sadly, I was only able to add Doug Savant who plays Tom Scavo, Lynette's husband, on Desperate Housewives to my list of celebrity sightings.

(Check out the listing at my website. If it's not there now, it will be shortly - as soon as my Ninja Webmaster posts it for me.)

OMG, this guy was soooooo handsome. He's another example of how people who look conventionally attractive on television are totally hot in real life, which makes me wonder if people who are seriously sexy would just blow me away in the real world. For instance, someone like Patrick Dempsey from Grey's Anatomy - I think we can all agree he's massively good-looking on his show - would he be so fantastically hot in person that you couldn't take your eyes off him?

I guess I'll just have to hope I run into him at Trader Joe's someday...

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Will Smith is Legend

Let's get this straight upfront: "I Am Legend" is a fantastic movie (kudos to all involved) but it's not Richard Matheson's "I am Legend." It is based on the source material, as was "The Omega Man" with Charlton Heston but it is not the book. Which is okay. That means there's still the opportunity to make the right movie.

Anyone who knows me - and I mean really knows me, not the ones who look at my book jacket and think that blonde chick is really me because I don’t even have blonde hair anymore - knows I adore Will Smith and “I am Legend” was, without question, one of the most anticipated movies of the season for me.

The first 2/3 of the movie in which Will roams the city with his dog and experiments on the zombie/vampire creatures, convinced he can cure them, is brilliant, absolutely fascinating. I totally bought Smith in the role of virologist Robert Neville and I really wanted to see him succeed with the creatures. His interaction with the dog - the last living connection he has to his dead wife and daughter - is touching. The CG effects were amazing. The filmmakers turned NYC into a wasteland in a most beautiful and intriguing way. The attention paid to detail was inspiring.

That being said - and make no mistake, Will is wonderful in this movie - the story takes a turn from a dark post-apocalypytic flm into Hollywoodland the moment the woman and the boy show up. Until then, I was with Will and his plight; honestly, if they continued making the movie as it had been written in the book, Will Smith would have been a shoo-in for Oscar. Not that he won't be - they will probably nominate him and might even give it to him to make up for "The Pursuit of Happyness" being overlooked.

In an LA Times article, Akiva Goldsman, the movie's writer-producer, said he didn't believe in totally hopeless endings which is, I believe, the reason for the unlikely uplift at the end. I don't mind keeping things on the positive side but not at the expense of the story. Maybe the movie just needed to be longer so that Smith's Neville could have grown into the hero he suddenly becomes instead of instantly being self-sacrificing. I would have bought that and heck, giving Will Smith more screen time is always a good thing.

It won't be much of a surprise to see this movie hit the top of the charts worldwide; it absolutely has a universal appeal,. For anyone who ever doubted it, Will Smith has officially succeeded Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and all the other massively huge actors out there. He is the new face of megastardom. And I couldn't be happier.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Friday, December 14, 2007

Reality Wrapup

Sadly, my three favorite reality shows are off the air as of Wednesday night. BATG left last week and this week Kid Nation and Kitchen Nightmares both ended. Although why does Ramsay’s show ever have to end? Couldn’t he be doing this indefinitely? There are how many restaurants in the country? Thousands! He doesn’t need to do that other Hell’s Kitchen show anyway - or run his 4 star restaurants…j/k!

So how about those $50,000 gold stars on Kid Nation? Wow! I definitely agreed with the choice of Sophia and Morgan getting the stars, even though they already received stars earlier. Those 2 girls were the backbone of the town, both morally and emotionally. They kept the kids on track and out of trouble. I was so thrilled for Sophia when she made the right decisions during her week as sheriff - she kept the town in order and kept the kids happy with the choice of a balloon ride. I will miss this show. I will miss those kids. I really hope CBS gives some follow-up info on them all. I would love to know how and what they’re doing, if this gave any of them the incentive or support to try new things at school, to be a leader or speak up in class, or if they’re more tolerant of their younger brothers and sisters and parents.

As for Ramsay’s season ender, wow! What an ego on that French chef! He and Gordon butted heads from the moment Gordon walked in. In fact, for 59 of the 60 minutes, I was convinced Ramsay had a dud on his hands, that this was one place he simply could not work his magic. Finally, for that guy’s sake, he listened - only when he saw the money coming in and heard all the compliments on the new menu. Stubborn mule. Still, I would check out that restaurant, even though I’m not a big fan of French cooking. The new menu with its lighter salads and that yummy looking asparagus tart could win me - and Miss California - over.

So that’s that. I think all of my shows are officially finished for the season. We saw the final Journeyman on Monday, the final reality stuff, the last DH, etc. I think Simpsons is still new since that is done so far in advance. I guess we have a few shows to look forward to trying: Medium and Lost if they come back, the Terminator show on FOX looks interesting, and Idol, of course. HH can’t wait for American Gladiators but I think I will sit that one out. I have a lot of reading to catch up on!

PLUS: A very happy WHOO-HOO!! for Nikki Blonsky' nomination for a Golden Globe for "Hairspray'! That was one of my fave movies this year.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Addendum

As Anonymous noted below in the comments, Terry Pratchett announced yesterday that he is in the beginning stages of a rare form of Alzheimers. What an odd coincidence to read that on the same day I posted about Discworld. It must have been something in the zeitgeist, as they say. True to his tongue-in-cheek author persona, Pratchett wrote that his statement should be interpreted as he is not dead yet "although someday he will be as will all of us."

For all of his readers -and those of us who want to become his readers - I hope he continues to live a long time and write as much as he can.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

Presents, anyone?

Aside from world peace (which I ask for every year and have yet to receive) and infinite time (ditto), I would love some books!

Last night I saw a bit of "Hogfather," which HH and I discovered was a British TV production based on Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books. Considering the man is as prolific as Stephen King, John Grisham and James Patterson combined, I have only read one of his books: "Good Omens," which he wrote about 15 years ago with Neil Gaiman. However, considering my memory is like a sieve, the fact that I remember this with such clarity means it made an impact. I usually have a horrible memory for books I've read and movies I've seen.

"Hogfather" was fascinating! And now I have to check Netflix to see if it's available. And "Discworld" sounds fascinating too; sadly there are about nine million books in the series which means, unless I get that gift of infinite time, I won't get around to reading many of them.

Normally, I don't care for fantasy. Too many people want to be Tolkien (who was difficult to read anyway) or Rowling (for whom the right elements combined at the exact right moment) and create massive worlds with all sorts of wizards and magic stones and hobgoblins and they all take themselves so darn seriously. But I recall what I liked about Pratchett was his sense of humor. I like a light touch in both my sci-fi (see Douglas Adams) and fantasy. And for this reason, I am really excited to get into a new series. Besides, sometimes you just get tired of reading - and writing - realistic stuff with realistic characters and situations.

So I'm looking forward to gifting myself with either Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy or a couple of the Pratchett novels and have myself a "fantasy-tastic" new year!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In the Year 2000...

Quick: how old will you be in the year 2000?

I know, I know...that was seven years ago. But I knew since I was in grade school how old I would be in that milestone year. Everyone in my class did, probably everyone in my generation did. We all learned it in math class as part of addition and subtraction lessons. And it was an easy number too, for my class (no, I won't tell you what it was).

2000 was such a grand, turning point of a year, it seemed back then. When you're a kid you really do believe there will be flying cars and monorails in your future (just like Disneyland!).

The reason I mention this is that I was thinking about end of the year stuff as I usually do in December and beginning to wrap my head around the year 2008. And I remembered that 2000 thing from when I was a kid. Now, I wonder, what sort of milestone year is there for children? 2010? 2020?

It was kind of cool to have the turn of the century looming ahead of us. It felt like a year that held so much promise which was something really important to kids of the 70s who were growing up with the tail end of Watergate and a disgraced president, sky high gas prices and rationing (remember odd/even days at the gas stations?) and an unstable economy.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Anyway, the title of this post brings me back to television: to Conan O'Brien's "In the year 2000..." bit he used to do with Andy Richter. Ah, late night. When will you return, my old friend?

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Monday, December 10, 2007

No More Drama-mas

Too little, too late, I discovered Wikipedia has an entry titled, “List of Christmas Specials” and it includes a ton of dramas and sitcoms, both American and British, as well as celebrity hosted specials, children’s specials, and special movies. Why did I not know this, considering my love of all things Wiki-related?

I’d like to say my work here is done but sadly, none of the dramas listed were ones I watched or even liked much, except for Little House (I LOVED the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was a girl!!), so I had to do my own research. Which led me to a whole bunch of websites devoted to 80s television shows - both dramas and comedies - which, in turn, led me to become all nostalgic about shows I used to rush home to watch including 21 Jump Street (omg, a very young Johnny Depp!), Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (can you say “Ferris Bueller” rip-off?) and the Dallas-Dynasty-Falcon Crest triumvirate.

Oh yes, 80s cheese. It was fat-filled and creamy and very, very bad for you. I feel my arteries clogging just thinking about all those shoulder pads and big hair. I was a lot taller with that hair.

Love it!!

And as a great 80s song goes, "I have too much time on my hands..." except I don't. Not really. I am desperate to finish writing the draft of this book before the end of the year so I can finally move on and read some of those books on my list. All writing and no reading makes Leigh...something, something...

(Simpsons reference there...everyone catch that? Good.)

Today's research: chocolate candies.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Sunday, December 9, 2007

8 Days of Sitcom-mas

It was not nearly as easy to come up with a top ten list of favorite Christmas episodes of comedies. It might have been easier if I could repeat myself, like with multiple episodes of Friends or The Simpsons. The fact is that most holiday episodes are lame. They end up being "VSE" (very special episodes) where people learn Life Lessons and everyone sings "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" or something nondenominational.

In other words, many comedies completely forget they're comedies.


So here are my Top 8 instead in no particular order:

1. The Simpsons - Bart accidentally burns down the tree when he gets up early to sneak a peek at his gifts and then blames a burglar
2. Bewitched - Samantha brings an orphan to the North Pole to convince him Santa is real
3. MASH - Hawkeye operates wearing a Santa costume
4. Mary Tyler Moore - Mary and the gang get snowed in at the office so Sue Ann makes an impromptu Christmas with food from her show
5. Bob Newhart Show - the group is snowed in (again with being snowed in!) and want to celebrate the holiday but Bob is desperate to get home to Emily so he walks home in the blizzard
6. Seinfeld - what else but the Festivus episode!
7. Happy Days - Fonzie is alone on the holiday so Richie invites him even though his father only wants the celebration to be family

8. Friends - Phoebe finds her father but decides she isn’t ready to meet him

I'm not sure about the dramas. I thought for sure this would be a piece of cake which makes me think dramas will be even harder. And you know I hate to do things that are difficult.

Hey, did you realize yesterday's post was number 100? I guess if you were counting them all or maybe using the column on the right hand side to add up all the posts in each month but I certainly didn't! So I guess that's a milestone of some sort. Yay!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Holiday Spirit

Did anyone else watch Frosty the Snowman last night besides me and Head Honcho? No? I can't watch the entire show, just as I can't watch all of Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Charlie Brown Christmas. I don't need to. I watched them so many times as a kid that my brain fills in the rest of the story, which is good because that leaves me free to watch...

...The Wire Season 4! Yes, thanks to the power of Netflix, we received 3 discs of the newest season on DVD. This has to be the most underrated show on television. Sure, gritty cop shows like The Shield get the kudos and the Emmys and the big name movie actors deigning to take roles for one season, but The Wire is consistently good. Excellent storytelling, wonderfully realistic dialogue and characters. The camera work is nothing out of the ordinary, nor are the sets particularly special (some of their locations, I have to admit, look like backlots instead of Baltimore), but unless you're talking about a show like Heroes or Supernatural which relies on special effects, you don't need great cinematography. Strong narrative and 3-dimensional characters are what make a drama like this great.

The season started out like all the rest - with a bang - and I was pleased to see a lot of my favorite characters are back: Bodi and Bubs and Omar on the street, Keema and Herc and Carver on the force. I will miss Stringer (RIP) but he deserved his fate and I really hope we will see Avon out of prison again.

Even better and more promising, the show has added a group of young characters (played by very talented young actors) who are the next generation of gang members. We will see them in school and out, interacting with each other and the older gang members like Bodi and Marlo who are vying for their loyalty. Fascinating. Already we are 3 episodes in and we are hooked like fish. This is yet another show where you feel a very strong writing staff behind it. Don't tell me they don't deserve more money for their efforts!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Friday, December 7, 2007

Local Talk

Around here (LA, that is, not the blogoshphere ((btw, I hate that word)), talk revolves around the WGA strike. Now, this is not talk among professionals or even wannabe professionals. These are regular folk - young, old, in and out of the business - and it makes me wonder if this is the talk across the country. Or do we talk about it here because we see the picket lines, we know people on the picket lines, we are affected by the picket lines? In other words, when Detroit autoworkers strike, is the talk the same in Detroit as it is in Des Moines or Denver?

My family on the other side of the country also talks about the strike - with me, so that's not a completely realistic picture. And when they do ask, it's mostly about the individual shows as opposed to the deal the writers are trying to make because the way it affects them is what they see on their television,:

Do we have to step up our Netflix?

Will Men in Trees be affected?

Will you be home for Christmas?

(Yes, no, and uh, that has nothing to do with the strike. I've already been home twice this year and it's kind of late to even think about getting a ticket and geez, why are you asking me this now?)

I'm very curious about the local talk in the rest of the country. I think we are unusual here in LA, but I could be entirely wrong.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Books, Books, Movies and Books

Beside my bed is a table and on that table are, currently, 5 novels I want to read (e.g. "Someone Like You," "Waiting for Normal," "This Lullaby").

In my living room is a bookshelf and on that bookshelf are, currently, 10 novels I want to read and/or reread (e.g. "Lisey's Story," "Prey," "Stupid White Men").

And in my brain is a list of at least a dozen more that I still have to purchase, borrow from friends, or take out on loan from the library. Some of these are based on movies that have come out or will be coming out soon (e.g. "I Am Legend," "No Country for Old Men," "The Golden Compass"). Some are just books I've heard about that I really want to read (e.g. "13 Reasons Why," "The Luxe," "Wicked Lovely").

As you can see, they range from mainstream commercial fiction like Michael Crichton and Stephen King to YA like Sarah Dessen and Jay Asher to literary fiction like Cormac McCarthy. I don't know what category Philip Pullman falls under but I am dying to read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Fascinating concepts and a series I wouldn't normally touch due to its high degree of what I call "black cover fantasy," that is, those books that usually have black covers with raised lettering, usually in gothic script, and have a complex, highly detailed visual image.

I usually don't like those at all.

I thought for sure I would have time to read a lot over the past few months but the thing is I have been writing and I can't write and read at the same time. Not that I get influenced by the style or stories of other writers; I just get depressed. I am usually reading excellent material and I think "oh god, I can't write nearly as well as this" and "my story and characters are totally stupid compared to this" so it's best that I leave the reading to the rewrite process when I can become inspired to improve rather than dump my book.

Remember that wonderful yet oh-so-sad episode of The Twilight Zone where Burgesss Meredith is a voracious reader who survives a bomb blast because he's reading inside a bank vault and he finally has all the time in the world to read - and then he breaks his glasses and can't see? (The classic O. Henry twist ending.) Love that episode. I sometimes feel like that.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

America Chooses Wisely

Last night on the season finale of BATG, America voted Dave and Jasmine the winners! Yay! Ya know, most of the time on shows like Idol America always picks the wrong people, IMNSHO. But this time, they got it right. The super couple, the couple who epitomized the social experiment of the show, were the big winners.

And how awful was it that they had to wait 4 months to find out? Most reality show participants know the outcome of their shows long before the country does because they are shot so far in advance but in this case, they had to wait along with us.

Not too many revelations in the show. It was nice that Will apologized to his castmates for being the loudmouth center of attention all the time; he seemed sincerely sorry. On the other hand, William's proclamation that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover was way too little, way too late. His partner - who will be taking her Realtors exam - go Jen! - missed out on a fine opportunity to grow and that was his fault.

Does anyone else besides me think Rebecca and Sam are not gonna continue their relationship? Not for nothing, but Sam looked almost shocked that Rebecca was even there! He has probably gotten a new girlfriend or 2 in the time they were apart. Rebecca (fabulous in dark hair) looked like she would hook up with him again in a heartbeat. Poor thing.

I do hope Sam and Natalie go to college like they said they would and that Natalie studies anthropology (a subject very near and dear to my heart). That would be the ultimate win.

So another season done...I would love it if they could start up a new season while the writer's strike is on but who am I kidding? It takes a while to get it going plus there are writers on that show too!

For some winter holiday fun, come check out my elfishness on my website.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Don't Need Another Hero

But we're gonna get one anyway. [SPOILER ALERT] I thought for sure the Latina with the black eyes and killer power was gonna bite the dust on Heroes last night. After all, getting shot in the chest usually means death.

Not on this show! People die and return to life with remarkable frequency. I actually don't have a problem with that. It's all part of the comic world that I love. In fact, I liked just about everything in this episode with the exception of one or 2 things:

1 - yep, you guessed it: the inaccurate promo! All week we kept hearing two heroes will fall. Now, it wasn't the Latina with the black eyes and killer power and dead twin since she came back to life. Does Adam buried alive in a coffin deep underground count? (Way to go, Hiro! Way to save the villain so he will be even more po'ed when he does get out - very comic book!) Okay, I guess I'll give 'em that one. "Fall" doesn't have to mean death. So who is the second one? Nikki? She was in the burning building when it exploded but we didn't see her die which doesn't necessarily mean she's dead (although Ali Larter has been doing more movies so she's probably out of there plus there was the whole blood thing that she needed to be saved from the virus so it's just as well she's gone). So once again, the show doesn't live up to the promo hype.

2 - the cruddy comic book expository dialogue: Peter knocks Hiro out in the Primatech warehouse and when Adam is released from the time stoppage, Peter tells him Hiro froze time, etc. It's nitpicky, I know, but when you're dealing with a show like this, not one frame of film should be wasted and that was wasted film. You don't tell a character what just happened when a) WE know what happened b) Hiro told Peter that Adam knows all about him and c) Adam ain't stupid. Things like that bug me when this show is otherwise fantastic.

Question: did the show's producers anticipate the strike and coincide the "finale" with the last episode? Did they skip stuff they were gonna show us in favor of ending the season neatly? They had a mini-ending last season too (I think) which makes me think no, this was strictly a coincidence and they never intended to air anymore shows this year.

Tonight: season finale of BATG! Yay!! Go Dave and Jasmine!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Tornado Takes Down Fairview

One of the things I hate most about promos (those little trailers the networks use to tease you into watching their shows during the week) is that they aren't always truthful. I have been seeing the Desperate Housewives promos with Lynette screaming right after the VO guy says lives will be lost - which infers that one of Lynette's kids or husband will die - and was anxious to see the episode (last one until the strike ends!).

Spoiler alert! In case you have DH on your Tivo and haven't watched yet...

We knew - as soon as Victor showed up with a gun - that he was the one to go. It couldn't be Carlos or Tom and it shouldn't be Orson and Susan was in the hospital w/her husband (oh and how soap opera-ish would it have been to have her lose the baby because she fell down the stairs? So glad they didn't do that!) so who could it be? The only expendable one, of course! And there was no way that the mayor of a town w/political aspirations was gonna be caught trying to kill someone else so...so long Victor!

Hopefully that actor, whom I loved in the short-lived Jack and Bobby, will go on to better, more permanent things.

As for Lynette's scream? Her entire house was torn up by the tornado. Okay, that's cool but um, in the first season, Edie lost her house and had to stay w/that old lady. Now, are Lynette and her family gonna do the same? Sheesh, talk about jumping the shark.

Today's research: donut-making.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Lists

I love lists. Lists of all kinds: favorite Weird Al Yankovic songs, favorite barbecue restaurants in Tennessee, favorite NFL quarterbacks. Lists I have absolutely no opinions on and will never use. Somehow they seep into my brain and get spit out at various times when they're needed.

Q: I wonder which Hollywood actress is the highest paid.

A. Reese Witherspoon.

See? I read that somewhere and it stuck in my head and now when someone casually asks at a holiday party, I'll have the answer. Lists are also good topic starters for when you're at that holiday party and the only person you know is the hostess and she's busy greeting guests or beating back the fire in the kitchen from the overcooked crab cakes and you're all by your lonesome. What do you do? Bring out a list!

You at party: Did you know that Caprera Island in Sardinia is considered the world's best beach?

Party guest you don't know: Really? I had no idea.

You: Yes, and South Beach in Miami is number 7.

Guest: Um, er, that's interesting.

You: I love Miami. Did you ever watch "Miami Vice"?

Guest: I, uh, have to leave you now.

What's the lesson we've learned here? Never mention old 80s cop shows at parties.

So now that it's December and the Christmas tree lots are up around the city, I've started to think about Christmas shows I like. Not movies like "A Christmas Story" or "It's a Wonderful Life" or perennial TV faves like Charlie Brown or Rudolph but episodes of my fave shows that revolved around Christmas. So I think I'm gonna compose my list - and check it twice - and then post sometime soon so I can get those episodes from Netflix if possible.

Your holiday Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Netflix Queue Redux

When you let Head Honcho dictate the queue, you gotta be prepared for surprises - and inconguous trios of DVDs. You just never know what you're gonna get from week to week. I had to comment on this week's DVDs cuz they're such a strange combination.

1. The Odd Couple Season 1: this is one of my ninja webmaster's very favorite shows. He claims to have watched the late night reruns when he was but a babe on the sofa. I do recall watching some of them although I was not as big a fan (he quotes entire episodes from memory). I always thought Felix and Oscar were much too old to live together and I never bought into the conceit that these two guys would get a lot of girls. Did I mention how old I thought they were? But now, years later, watching with someone who has such an affection for the show, it's been way fun.

2. Sliders Season 1: continuing with my plan to catch up on TV shows I never watched or always loved and miss, is Sliders with Jerry O'Connell and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli from "Lord of the Rings"!!). We saw the 2 hour pilot and the first couple of episodes and all I can think about is Quantum Leap and Journeyman, both of which are far superior shows. Not that this isn't fun but I can see now why I never watched it. I was also a big Trek geek so I had pretty high standards for time travel and sci-fi-ish stuff. Still, I'll watch a few more eps and give it a chance.

3. Blades of Glory: this is on the schedule for tonight. Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler! What a cast! I love all of these actors and can't wait to watch it. Why didn't we watch in a theater? Who knows? Sometimes studios crowd the theaters with good movies and you can't watch all of them so you pick and choose. Sometimes you think a movie will be stupid so you don't bother. And then sometimes you just don't want to spend the 15 bucks on it and figure you'll Netflix it. That's probably what happened here. It's not a movie that really needs to be seen on a big screen. The smaller screen, with the cheap snacks and the clean bathroom, will do just fine.

It's always a surprise with the queue, thanks to HH's quixotic choices (how's that for an SAT word??).

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Friday, November 30, 2007

BATG Down to 2!

I didn't blog about BATG on Wednesday due to my desire to talk about MYSELF.

Btw, did everyone get a chance to read that fantastic review at Teenreads.com? Just checking.

So we're down to 2 teams - and America votes! I voted. I admit that freely. Normally I don't do that kind of thing. For one, I worry that I will somehow get caught up in a spammer's web and for another, I just never feel that strongly about contests. But this one was different. I had to voice my opinion that I truly believe Dave and Jasmine ought to win. They are the epitome of the show and its "social experiment."

And they're just so gosh darn cute together!

Be warned, though...it cost me a buck to vote, which I think is completely unfair. Didn't Idol and all those other shows eliminate the fee years ago? I mean, come on. These reality shows make tons of money and cost nothing to produce. Can't they foot the bill of text messages from fans? Sheesh. Cheapskates.

Your Hollywod connection,
Leigh

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Celeb Encounters

I don't know if these count as sightings so I will call them "encounters" instead.

1. Tom Hanks is on my friends page at MySpace! I am now one minuscule step closer to my goal of meeting him. Note I didn't say actual step; this is a virtual step and really it's more of an inch.

2. I met the amazing author Megan McCafferty at a reading she did at UCLA yesterday! She knew who I was (when I mentioned my name) and how to spell my first name (I had already given her my book) and she was just so cool. And very cute in her pretty dress. She looked just like her head shots, which you know people never do.

She talked a lot about writing and how much she loved to read and write from a very early age and she told us about working for many years in magazines which gave her a lot of experience to draw from when she was writing her Jessica Darling character.

Best of all she sang! And she was good! Someone in the audience asked her to sing Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You." (Which is way better than what my choice was gonna be if no one asked her: Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun".) She didn't know all the lyrics which flustered her a bit but she soon hit her stride and belted out the ending. She claimed to want to be a Barry Manilow backup singer but I say no way: she could have opened for him!

Yay, Megan! I'm so glad she visited LA and inspired all of us.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Toot Toot Toot

That's the sound of me tooting my own horn. Okay, it's a little flat but I'm not a very musical person.

Chris Shanley Dillman at Teenreads.com gave me this amazing Review! Please check it out (and the rest of the fantastic website while you're there). I was thrilled to get this review - and how cool is it that her last name is Shanley, just like Meg?

Do you think that got me the good review?

Hey, every little bit helps.

On another note, I am SUPER excited to go to UCLA today to hear Megan McCafferty read from her new book,"Fourth Comings." I can't wait to meet her and have her sign my book - plus I hope to see how a REAL BIG-TIME author does a reading. Maybe I can pick up some hints.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Down to the Wire

And I don't mean the good kind of The Wire like season 4 which I am desperately waiting on Netflix to deliver to me.

No, we're talking about good original episodes of favorite shows. The Office has finished with its new shows and is now in repeats. Desperate Housewives will finish this Sunday. Some of the CBS procedural and comedies are also over as well, although I don't watch those and so don't care.

I am most concerned about Lost, Heroes, and Journeyman - three shows which are serialized and kind of have to be watched in sequence. They are also shows which will lose an audience if they don't continue because it will be hard for people to come back to them.

On a positive note, Medium and American Idol will return to the schedule in January - whoo-hoo! Head Honcho tells me he's psyched for American Gladiators; I think it brings back fond childhood memories for him, kinda like Battle of the Network Stars, which he talks about an awful lot. Too much, in fact. I think that show warped his brain.

Nikki Finke, whose Deadline Hollywood column has been following the strike since it was a glimmer in the WGA's collective eye, talks about yesterday's sitdown between the two warring tribes and suggests the strike may soon be over, according to her reputable source (ooh, how "Variety" did that sound?). Let's hope so.

As for me, I am clinging to my final episodes of BATG and Kid Nation this week and hoping Chef Ramsay will keep on yelling at people through the holidays.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Monday, November 26, 2007

Be My Friend, Tom Hanks!

Okay, I can't figure out how to friend Tom. Unlike normal people with MySpace pages, you can't simply add him as a friend. You have to enter Tom's last name or his email address when you make a request.

1. Uh, isn't his last name Hanks?

2. How am I supposed to get his email address?

3. And are you telling me 24K people have his email address?

According to his page, he's a big reader and I'd love to give him some reading suggestions (hint, hint, Tom, it starts with a LOVE and ends with a MEG). No, seriously, I just think it would be awesome to have Tom Hanks as a virtual friend. I don't have many so to have him as one of the few would be way cool.

Today's research: "Star Wars" characters' names.

Well, I have much work to do this week. Not the least of which is trying to figure out how to friend Tom Hanks. That could take days!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tom Hanks has a MySpace page!

TMZ reported this a month ago but I finally saw Tom (with Julia Roberts looking amazing) on Oprah recently and Oprah asked him about it.

Tom Hanks, the movie star, has a MySpace page (over 24,000 friends at this writing)! But it's not so easy to find. I tried with a quick search but all sorts of fake pages that came up. One had me completely fooled. I figured this Tom had a great sense of humor when he said his hometown was "Somewhere in Seattle," and that he was the "first Tom in space." But then I looked more closely and realized it was a goof. I mean, I get the sense the real Tom Hanks can laugh about himself but this went a little too far.

So I googled instead and found the TMZ article, along with a whole host of reader comments, some of whom took issue with TMZ's assertion that Tom was way too old to have a page. Why not? Why does it have to be just young people, they want to know. And I have to agree. One of the cool things about MySpace is searching for old friends - high school and college friends you lost touch with. You kind of have to go through high school and college to have gotten those friends you are gonna lose, right?

So I say, right on, Tom. He's one of my favorite actors of all time (Head Honcho and I are probably the only two people in the world who loved "Cast Away" which is one of the reasons we crave Lost so much). I will see him in pretty much any movie, regardless of how crappy it is.

The only question remains: should I try to friend him on my own page? Oh Tom, be my MySpace friend!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Selling a Book - Part 2

I shocked you, didn’t I? With that work-related post yesterday? You thought C. Leigh would be all sleepy and lazy after a long Thanksgiving meal and that she’d post something about nice friends and watching “The Incredibles,” but she fooled you! She went for the serious stuff!

Who writes about publishing the day after Thanksgiving? Who’s crazy like that? Your Hollywood connection, that’s who. She’s got work on her brain and has been for days and days. She’s woken up early thinking about scenes she wants - nay, must - write. Characters who are desperate to speak to her and get their words down on the page. And for two days she’s been so flippin’ busy with other pie-related matters that she didn’t have time to work! And now she’s so crazy, she’s talking about herself in the third person.

So I wanted to mention the next thing about the book sale and that is the work after the fact, after the deal is struck. The honeymoon ends very quickly when you get the editor’s notes. They usually come in the form of a long email and in the case of my editor, begin with generalities (as in, shorten act one and lengthen act two) and then get into specifics (as in, shorten act one by fifty pages and get rid of these characters). You freak out ever-so-briefly because you thought you’d sold a book that was going to be printed into book-like form and then you find out alas, no, you only sold something resembling a book.

If you’re like me, you outline the book again and look for the sections of problems that your fantastic editor (who has a much greater image of the big picture than you do) has clued you into. Then - before you have a conversation with him or her - you figure out where you can make some of the changes he or she needs and what you absolutely have to keep. It’s really a good idea to know this going in because this is a process of compromise. This is why you (and I) did the earlier edit: to show that you (and I) can be flexible when it comes to the rewrite.

This will happen over and over again. So get used to it. And trust me, it’s way better in the long run. You will be much happier and so will your editor and publisher. Having sold and rewritten only two books with my editor, I can’t pretend to be a Stephen King-level expert but I’ve seen a trend or two emerge from the process.

The rewrite can go on for a year and a half, as it did with LOVE, MEG or just a few months, as it did with ALL ABOUT VEE. Why am I telling you this? Why did I even label this “Selling a Book” when clearly this is post-sale? Because this is what is involved in selling a book. You don’t just sell it and go away and write another. There is much work to be done and I think it’s important that writers realize this.

And this isn’t nearly as bad as the movies. In that business, writers are rewritten constantly: by producers and directors and actors and other writers. You get used to it. You have to. In publishing, it’s just you and your editor and that relationship is very important to the ultimate health of your book. Cherish it, nourish it, respect it. You will be much better off if you do.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Friday, November 23, 2007

Selling a Book - Part 1

I’ve mentioned my editor Kristen here and the length of time it took me to rewrite LOVE, MEG after I sold it but I’ve neglected to talk about how it got sold.

That’s a long story and you probably have a lot better things to do, like flossing your teeth or walking your dog.

You say your brother is in charge of walking the dog and you never floss anyway? Well, you might want to think about the consequences of that decision. The dog-walking, that is, not the teeth-flossing. Dogs tend to bond with their walkers.

I’m sorry, what was the question again?

Right, right. The story of how I sold my book. Are you sure you want to know?

Of course you do. That’s probably the second question people ask, “How did you sell your novel?” What they really want to know, since they are probably writers themselves if they even think to ask this question, is, “Was your experience something I can use to sell my novel?”

The easy answer (because I am all about the easy answer) is…sure, why not?

The harder answer, which is more like the truth, is…no, probably not. Every book is different. Every writer is different. The path to publication is generally the same for every book but specifically different for every book.

In an ideal world, you write a book, you rewrite it a few dozen times until it’s perfect, then you call up a publishing house and ask to speak to someone who loves stories about people who walk their dogs but hate to floss and the receptionist connects you to the exact right editor who says she was just that very second wondering when someone would come in with a dog-walking/floss-hating story and when can you send your fantastic manuscript in so she can make you an offer and by the way, what did you have in mind for the cover art?

In the real world, none of this happens. You can try calling a publishing house and hope that the receptionist is a temp who doesn’t know any better and connects you to Ms. Perfect Editor but there is no way Ms. Perfect Editor will agree to read your manuscript, no matter how many times you tell her it’s awesome. If you somehow manage to get her on the phone, instead of her voice mail, she will tell you the publishing house does not accept “unagented, unsolicited submissions.” This means you need to get an agent and then you need to have the editor request the manuscript.

So, back to LOVE, MEG. I had to find an agent first. There are many, many articles and blogs filled with advice about finding an agent and I couldn’t possibly write anything that hasn’t already been written much better. All I will say is that it’s crucial that you find the agent who’s the right one for you and for your work. When I found the right agent for me, the amazing Faye Bender of the Faye Bender Literary Agency, then it was a matter of submitting the manuscript until we found the editor who was the exact right editor for me, which turned out to be Kristen Pettit of Penguin/Razorbill Books. She asked for a rewrite before she could reconsider it but fortunately, during a very long phone conversation, we found we agreed on the direction the book needed to take. I went away, rewrote, she re-read, and we were in business.

After that, the real work began: characters disappeared, some plotlines were collapsed while others were expanded, and yes, the title changed. But that’s a whole ‘nuther blog topic, one which I will try to tackle another time, if anyone is interested.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Love, Meg" Thanks and Giving

Thanks to:




--my parents for hosting me this summer when I was visiting the east coast for my book launch


--my brother for finding The Alphabet Garden for the east coast party


--Adam for getting me in at Book Soup on Harry Potter weekend and at RJ Julia's when they had no idea who I was


--Faye for always answering my lame questions and giving awesome speedy feedback when she knows I need it


--CG for bringing me up to Chico and introducing me to a whole new crop of readers


--Kristen for working tirelessly to get the book in front of the sales and marketing people


--Sherri for giving me the chance to talk to some amazing kids at Hillsides


--Book Divas and Teen Reads Too and Genrefluent and the Library Goddess and JenniferAnistonWatch and all the other blogs and sites that have supported the book


--Little Willow for giving me my first amazing interview


--Christina at Book Divas for giving me my second amazing interview

--All my friends and relatives who attended the readings in LA and Connecticut and actually bought copies of the book


--All the readers I have met and have yet to meet

--Head Honcho for doing his ninja webmaster thing





And Giving:


--If I could, I'd have you all over for apple pie.



Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Eat well and be happy...



Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Finally, William is Gone!

I think the sign of a crazy person is when they believe television is real (see Brooke Shields in the classic Friends episode in which she thinks Joey is really his soap character). But what about reality television? Is that not real? Am I crazy to believe in BATG?

No. I'm not crazy.

But I am super happy! I was never so glad to watch a reality TV show as I was last night. First of all, my favorite team is winning - Jasmine and Dave the LARPER - and they won the wine-making challenge. Now, this couple is really the epitome of this show. They started out antagonistic, primarily due to Dave's lack of social graces, and turned into a great partnership. They learned from each other and they functioned as a wonderful support system for each other throughout the show. And this all came about because of Josh and Shay's admonishment of them weeks ago! They were almost chosen to be elminated that night, were it not for Josh's insistence that they start working as a team.

This couple deserves to win. They ARE what the show is about. Sam and Nicole are just a team, no learning or change involved, aside from Nicole's new hairstyle and contact lenses. And then there's William and Jen. Gone. GONE! I was sooo happy when they lost the challenge and then lost in the elimination room. And I do not for one second believe William when he said they were just getting the hang of working together. That's a total crock. I feel bad for Jen, of course, but I just wanted her pain to be over.

So...whew! On to the final week! Will Dave and Jasmine succeed and win the 250K? I sure hope so. But if not, they have done so amazingly well.

And now for me, on to the apple pie challenge! Will she make 2 apple pies? Will one burn? Will the crust fall? Stay tuned....

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Turkey Day Television

I don't get sports. Correction: I don't get sports except for baseball.

Golf? Bor-ing.

Basketball? Too sweaty, too much yelling.

Hockey? Was a fan in high school when it meant something but pro? No thanks.

Football? See all of the above.

When I was a cheerleader in high school (yes, it's true! I was a rah!), football meant something to me. I knew all of the players, had a crush on a few, understood what each game's value was to the overall place of our high school within the state league. I didn't quite understand the game itself (my friend Mark had to explain to me that there was no goalie in football which I thought was a pretty big omission) but I enjoyed it. At the very least, I knew when to lead an offensive or defensive cheer.

But now that I don't have to care, I don't. I have on occasion watched the Super Bowl and I used to prepare for that like I would prepare for the Olympics: by reading all I could about the teams and the players so I could make it mean something to me. And yes, that was kind of fun. Fortunately, Head Honcho is not a fan. He'll watch the Super Bowl as he's surfing the net but it's not a day he sets aside to wallow in chips and salsa.

Thank goodness for small favors.

So come Thursday as we're drinking our coffee and scarfing down apple pie, we won't have any of the pigskin on the telly. Instead, we'll probably pop in a classic like The Godfather or JFK, an epic movie that has nothing to do with the holiday but makes us think big thoughts.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Monday, November 19, 2007

Leigh Finally Catches on to this YouTube Thing

While watching The Simpsons last night (an episode that began in classic awesome fashion with an alternate comic book store and great guest voices like Jack Black and Alan Moore but degenerated into lazy writing which was typical of last season when the writers were all working on the movie), I saw a parody of what I learned is an old video of the group Ok Go.

As a dancer and as someone who hates gyms and treadmills and can see no good use for them, I was so impressed by this video in which the 4 members of the band dance on treadmills. It was so incredibly clever I had to watch it twice! And it was all in one wide shot, one take. Very hard to do for any dancer - on a floor or a treadmill.

I'm gonna try to include it here in case there is someone in the world who has not seen it, like me.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5zWaTEVkI

All right, I don't know how to save this video so I can upload it to the post so you'll just have to click the link and check it out in YouTube.

Wayyyy cool.

So Happy Monday.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Netflix Weekend

So what was in the Netflix queue this weekend? Three movies, no TV shows. We’re still waiting for Lost Season 4 and The Wire Season 4 to come out. Should be soon!

Hairspray - I had forgotten how much fun the original John Waters’ movie is! And how musical it is without being a real musical. He uses so much great 50s and 60s dance music that it feels like it’s a musical. I loved Ricki Lake and Divine and even the smaller roles had great actors like Jerry Stiller as Tracy’s dad and Deborah Harry as Amber’s mom. I have to admit I preferred the cast of the new movie. I can’t help it! The fact is that Waters had no money to get the big cast back then. He shot on location in his native Baltimore with actors he could afford. Head Honcho and I joked that he probably spent most of his budget on licensing the music! Another difference that I think improved the second movie: the fleshing out (no pun intended!) of Edna Turnblad. I liked that the new movie made her housebound for years so that Tracy’s coming out was hers as well. As her daughter blossomed, so did she. I think that added a lot of depth to her character.



Smokin’ Aces - this SHOULD have been a great movie. What an awesome cast: Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck (briefly), Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Matthew Fox (briefly)…action from the get-go. It was just scene after scene of great action - or preparation for action. So what happened? In the denouement of the story, things get massively complicated. So complicated in fact, that Head Honcho and I had to stop the movie and talk about it. We were like wha??? And it didn’t need it. That’s the killer part. It could have stopped just after the revelation that [SPOILER ALERT] Buddy was Primo’s son and Primo actually wanted Buddy’s real heart for a transplant. It would have been awesome if all the killers had merely misinterpreted the hit. Also, [ANOTHER SPOILER], many of the hit men were shown to have survived the big attack at the end - but then NONE of them were used! Unforgivable! If you show the gun, you gotta use it.


Children of Men - What a bleak and horrible future we live in, to quote Homer (Simpson). I didn’t think I’d like this movie much, seeing as how it’s quite a downer but I was really impressed. Poor Clive Owen had to run around in a pair of flip-flops for much of it. He was, in a word, amazing. My friend Yooli has always had a huge crush on Clive and with good reason: he’s a great actor AND he’s super sexy. My only complaint? I wish they had given at least some explanation for why the women were infertile. Was it chemical? Biological? The natural order of things? Mike Judge’s excellent and underrated Idiocracy posits a future in which only the stupid have children because they don’t consider the consequences as smarter people do. But I don’t think that’s what this movie is about. And fyi, the director, Alfonso Cuaron, also did Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which I think was the best of all of them so far.

So that was the Netflix weekend. Wonder what treats the queue will bring us this week?

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Strike Hits

So far the only shows I’ve read about that have stopped production are Desperate Housewives, which shot its last episode last week, and some comedies like Two and a Half Men, Back to You and others. They simply ran out of scripts to shoot.

Comedies, since they are usually shot in front of an audience, will probably show the absence of writers the most because they are often tweaked while they are being shot. If an audience reacts to a joke - or worse, doesn’t react - the writers and producers will huddle together and throw out more jokes, trying whatever they can to get the laugh. If there are no writers to do that, the audience will get stuck with some pretty lame jokes.

Dramas, on the other hand, are usually set before they are shot and that’s because the showrunner (the creator and executive producer of the show) does a final pass on every script to make sure it fits with the tone she has developed. So when Katherine Heigl is saying her lines on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, they will probably stay exactly as they are written because Shonda Rhimes has approved them. Not to mention the fact that the writers are not often on the set of dramas; they’re back in the room working on the next episode!

I think we’ll soon begin to see the effects of the strike on the schedule as networks try to maximize the number of episodes they have left for different shows. Some will go away for a week or two when nets think they aren’t being watched and then return at a more opportune time. Regardless, they can’t get around the fact that this strike will impact them: viewers will leave for other venues like the internet and DVDs and videogames and yes, books! And if it’s like the previous strike, they will have a hard time getting those eyeballs back, especially if they don’t have anything good to offer.

All I have to say is…please settle this before Lost returns! Carlton Cuse has already said they don’t have that many scripts ready to shoot and I fear being left in the lurch. Is it possible they won’t reveal as much as they had intended to this season? Oh no!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

P.S. Good news! Since I posted this, they have announced that the AMPTP and the WGA have set a date to resume negotiations - the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend! Whoo-hoo! This isn't anything definite but it's a good sign.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Back to School

This morning I am headed off to do a couple of short writing presentations at a school in Pasadena and I have to admit to being a tad nervous about it. Although each group will be relatively small (15-20 students) and brief (40 or so minutes), I still don't really know what I will be saying to them! I sort of have an outline about the process of writing a novel, along with some hints about writing and rewriting but it's not like I have a multimedia slide show or handouts or anything.

During Teen Read Week, when CG Watson and I talked to her school in Chico, we talked about ourselves a bit, read a bit, and then answered questions. We had a blast! But it's just soooo much easier when you have a partner. It definitely takes the pressure off!

Today it will just be me! I hope they are kind and ask questions and pay attention as if I'm saying something that's actually interesting.

Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the amazing "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," once gave me a piece of advice when talking to schools so I think I will try to use it today and see if it works.

Crossing fingers...

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kid Nation Redux

A blurb in the Sunday LA Times reminded people to get over their initial preconceptions about this show and give it a shot. I was so happy to read that! This show - and those kids - deserve to get the eyeballs. Since I'm not in the TV business anymore, I'm not keen to the show's numbers so I have NO idea how well it's doing in the ratings. All I know is that it's a great show and these are amazing kids and you should be watching.

Okay...what drama last night, eh? The districts were shaken up by some switching of team members which brought tremendous rebellion - and lots of anger. The worst by far was on the red team which saw the inclusion of gold star winner Nathan. The poor kid was discussed (more like dissected) by his new teammates while he stood right in front of his them! I believe them coming in last in the challenge was their karma for being so mean to him. Let them be laborers!

Then there was Blaine, the new member of the yellow district. Kudos to Zach who knew his team needed help. They're all so young and female and someone like Blaine can help them get stuff done and boy did he! He was a huge help in the challenge but he also kicked his team into gear and encouraged them to work hard. He definitely deserved the gold star for all he did.

On the negative side, Laurel, in an act of loyalty which became more selfish than anything else, refused to trade and kept her team intact. At first that seemed like a nice thing to do but it really wasn't fair to everyone else. And it wasn't very pro-Bonanza. Just pro-Green district.

So the upshot? Another council vote! Another shakeup in the town's leaders could result in some very interesting decisions being made - and a very different tone.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

And Then There Were Three (Couples)

Say it ain't so! Josh and Shay are gone from the mansion on BATG. How could this happen? How could Jen and William beat those two lovable people?

As I have noted many, many times, William is a total and complete jerk when it comes to his partner and for someone who really shouldn't be so self-centered, he has an inordinately high self-esteem. He actually complained to the host and judge of the bartending challenge that HE should have won, instead of Dave. He later told the camera that Dave only won because of personality.

Hello?

Have you NOT been paying attention to this entire social experiment?

The geeks are supposed to be learning that there is a lot more to a person, to having friends and girlfriends. than simply knowing stuff. Just having amassed a wide variety of facts and figures does not mean you are BETTER than anyone else. Thankfully, the other geeks who are left have recognized that about him and have been trying - none-too-successfully - to point out to him the rude error of his ways. He is a horrible, horrible person.

Sam and Dave and Jasmine (Nicole knew) are also learning much too late that they should NEVER have let William and Jen stay last time. They had a chance to get rid of them and didn't. Now it's every couple for themselves and if William and Jen win in the elimination room, well, that has nothing to do with partnership and everything to do with luck of the draw. Josh could easily have been the one with the extra question to tie but I guess he lost the toss of the coin.

On a lighter note, how cute was it when Dave tried to cheer Jasmine up by making brownies? He has come such a long way since the show began and he was snotty and didn't think he could ever learn anything from or teach anything to Jasmine. I'm so glad to hear them use words like "proud" when talking about each other.

This is such a frustrating show when you like the characters! I wonder if they will be doing a new season right away due to the strike. Although they probably ramped up the search for a new cast, they still have an entire process they have to go through that they might not have been able to hasten.

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To Boldly Go

Along with MTM and Bewitched and Bob Newhart as shows that bring me back to a certain time and place in my life, I have to add Star Trek. The original series, an episode of which I saw the other night, reminds me of living in a brand new housing development in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania when my dad was working for a company that made him travel a lot. He drove a POS Aspen which he bought because he had rented one and loved it. My mom was driving a VW bus then. It was the fanciest house we ever lived in.

My brother and I used to skateboard up and down the hills of the development, past giant dogs - Dobermans, I think - which scared the heck out of us. I remember listening to ABBA with a neighbor who was French and decorating my bedroom with matching curtains and sheets in god-awful bright geometric shapes of yellow and blue and orange. I was in the hospital for pneumonia that winter and I remember nearly fainting at midnight mass. We only lived there for a year but I guess a lot happened.

My dad and I didn't do much together but we watched reruns of Star Trek.
Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Powers That Be

A comment on a recent post about Heroes made me start thinking about all the cool powers the characters have on that show. I've seen enough Spiderman and Batman movies and read enough graphic novels to know that there are a lot of really innovative writers out there creating characters with amazing super-cool powers but I have to say the writers of Heroes have amassed a serious number of awesome powers in one place - heck, in one city, it seems!

If you follow comic book lore at all, there has always been a debate between fans of Batman and fans of Superman, with the question being about an ultimate battle between the two of them. Who would win? And it's really unfair to put Superman in an equation like that because he's superhuman and impervious to bullets and brawn.

That could have happened with someone like Peter or Sylar in Heroes as they gain more power but I think the writers have done a good job of not allowing that to happen because they have tempered their powers with a weakness, as writers of all great superhero characters have, and because there continues to be something BIGGER and BETTER than what we see. At some point though, we have to wonder if there isn't an end to this because once we reach that end with the final person being THE most powerful and controlling individual, he or she can then be vanquished. Right now we're waiting to see who this Adam Monroe person is, where he came from, and why he's so much more powerful than our heroes.

I feel like there should be a lesson here for me, for us as viewers but I don't think there is one. Nor does there seem to be anything applicable to the current manuscript I'm working on! LOL!
Oh man, do I have a lot of work to do!! I need a superpower that handles THAT! :)

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh Mary! Oh Nostalgia!

Who can turn the world on with her smile...

Ah, Mary Tyler Moore. I love Mary. I feel so nostalgic watching her show, the early years when she had the big bouncy hair and was all, "Oh, Mr. Grant!" before she called him "Lou." I have the second season on DVD and I just finished watching it last night while Head Honcho was out doing his guy thing.

Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile...

Love that time, that guy time. I say, please, spend time with your friends and give me some time to myself to knit and watch MTM and The Closer and movies like Spirited Away and Willy Wonka with Gene Wilder. HH will begrudgingly watch those things with me but sometimes it's better when I do it on my own. I am definitely not one of those girls who thinks their guy needs to be with them 24/7 or if he's out, he should be with me. No sir. I have my own things to do, either in the house or outside. That's cuz I'm independent just like Mary.

Well it's you girl and you should know it. With each glance and every little movement you show it...

There are certain shows that take me down memory lane and even if they're not nearly as good as I remember them (e.g. I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart), they still bring back warm fuzzies of being a kid or even watching them on Nick at Nite in the early years of cable.

Love is all around don't need to waste it. You can have the town, why don't you take it...

What shows are like that for you? I'll try to think of some more and make myself sadder.

You're gonna make it after all!

Your Hollywood connection,
Leigh