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January 2016
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March 2016

I watched "Room" so you don't have to...

Wow, that was depressing.  Worse than the book from my standpoint.  It gets a 95% great rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- which only tells me not to trust that site.  This movie takes you to a dark place, leaves you there stranded for a long time while you see how people survive in the worst of circumstances -- then, gives you a little ray of hope and dashes it again for its dark moment.  I just think it worked better in the book with the sweet innocence of the child's voice.  

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I really don't know how this movie got nominated.  


Kesha's garbage judgment against Sony proves justice wasn't served. Creatives can't create with PTSD.

I don't know how many of you have been following Kesha's lawsuit against Sony.  But she alleges some pretty sociopathic behavior in producer Dr. Luke at Sony and tried to get out of her contract.  The judge ruled against her and claims she must finish out her Sony contract. (I think that's six more albums) The judge did says that she didn't have to work with Dr. Luke  (her alleged abuser) -- but Sony didn't approve another producer, so who knows if that would happen.

If any of this is true, Dr. Luke is a sociopath who stays calm, cool and collected and allows Kesha to go public and look unstable.  Welcome to how these folks work. He says she just wants more money and doesn't want to fulfill her responsibilities.

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What he's alleged to have done is emotional abuse, and ask any beaten woman -- they'll say the emotional abuse is worse because it keeps you locked in your own cage. The beatings end.  The gaslighting and put-downs are continual.  Even when your cage is opened, you won't leave.  You live in a cycle of fear and Stockholm Syndrome with your abuser.  Kesha has all the telltale signs of this trauma, so I'm inclined to believe her.  Now, take that state and create six albums for Sony like the judge said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3462137/He-violently-thrashed-told-looked-like-s-t-threatened-kill-dog-Kesha-claims-Dr-Luke-controlled-career-body-bombshell-court-papers.html#commentsYeah, that isn't happening.  Because creativity cannot occur in that kind of emotional state.  Artists are not robots who do as their told.  The judge is asking her to go back to her "trigger" point and be the same person she was before.  It's not going to happen.

How do I know this?  Because I've been in the publishing business a long time and I've seen this happen to authors.  Their contract gets bought out by some other company, who doesn't get them as an artist, and yet, they're expected to keep producing the same results without the same supports.  It didn't happen with these authors -- and I can name at least three who stopped writing altogether  -- and that is the ultimate shame. When you kill that part of a creative person, it's like part of their soul.

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As corporate America takes over the creative process, it gets duller.  They "know" what will sell and they try to make every artist the "next best thing."  It's not enough to write your cute, little dance songs.  Now, you need to up it. You need to stay relevant.  You've got to reinvent yourself.

Today I heard, "Video Killed the Radio Star" (first video ever played on MTV if you get asked that in trivia) and right after it, I thought how bad the music industry has gotten under corporate America.  Everyone has to look good.  Everyone has to be a star! Who cares if they can actually sing?

Would Christopher Cross have made it?  Lionel Richie?  This video age has ruined music, but it has always allowed predatory music producers to wield this kind of power over their talent. The same kind of power that Bill Cosby used to shut up all those women over the years.

I'm already angry about justice after watching, "The People Vs. OJ Simpson" -- man, if that clash of egos didn't make a joke out of justice, I don't know what did.  9 Pairs of Bruno Magli Shoes IN THAT SIZE were sold in all of America, but the footprints are at the murder scene?  And they've got pictures of OJ in the shoes?  Yet, if you watch how the narcissistic defense team created stories to take the focus off of OJ and create doubt, you have exactly what sociopaths do.  That's what this guy Dr. Luke will do.  He'll say Kesha is nuts and just doesn't want to perform to her contract.

I'm here to say as an artist, that she cannot.  You cannot create in that kind of environment -- which she called "emotional torture."  I've seen it happen to too many great authors, and I imagine it's worse in the music industry. I hope one day the world will realize that controlling monsters look like the guy next door.  There's no "look" to someone who is capable of true evil. And one day?  Maybe this judge will get it, but I doubt it. It's too easy to call a woman an emotional wreck and chalk her words up to hysteria.  How Victorian.

 

 


Susan Meissner's New Book Set During the Making of "Gone with the Wind."

We all know, I love the classic era of Hollywood.  I just read a book set during the making of "Call of the Wild" with Loretta Young and Clark Gable.  Susan Meissner always has a special way of telling her stories, and I'm anxious to get to this one.  The book gets a starred review from "Publishers Weekly." 

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On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Stars-Sunset-Boulevard-Susan-Meissner/dp/0451475992/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456348152&sr=8-1&keywords=stars+over+sunset+boulevard

On Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stars-over-sunset-boulevard-susan-meissner/1121731447?ean=9780451475992

 

Stars over Sunset Boulevard

Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of eighteen books, including Secrets of a Charmed Life, a

2015 Goodreads Choice Award finalist, and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s

Fiction titles for 2014. She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in

community journalism. She and her husband make their home in Southern California.

 

1. Susan, tell us where the idea Stars over Sunset Boulevard came from.

I’ve only read Gone with the Wind once, but I’ve probably seen the movie a dozen times. There’s

something about those characters, the cinematography, the costumes and that sound track that have

always wooed me. I’ve wanted to set a story on the 1939 movie set of this film for a long time; I knew it

would provide a detail-rich environment. Gone with the Wind is not very often described as being a

story about friendship, but the more I’ve watched the film version, the more I’ve seen how complex

Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Hamilton’s relationship was. I long wanted to explore how these two

characters at first glance seem to be polar opposites but are actually both fiercely loyal and aren’t

afraidunafraid of making hard choices to protect what they love. I knew I could use Scarlett and

Melanie’s fictional friendship as a template for telling a story about two studio secretaries who, like

Scarlett and Melanie, are not as different from each other as we might first think.

 

2. What is the story about, in a nutshell?

Christine McAllister owns a vintage clothing store on West Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. When the

iconic curtain-dress hat worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind ends up in her boutique by mistake,

her efforts to return it to its owner takes the reader on a journey to the past. It’s 1938 and Violet

Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Los Angeles after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls

apart. She lands a job on the film-set of Gone with the Wind and meets the enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a

once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together

among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires start to collide. What

Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy

endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

 

3. Is this a book about friendship, then?

Most definitely. I think friendship is the most remarkable of human relationships because it is

completely voluntary. We choose our friends. There is no civil or legal code that demands we stay

friends; no vows are spoken and no contracts are signed to be or stay remain in relationship with each

other. And yet most of us have friends whom we love as deeply as those people we are legally and

morally bound to. I know I have friends like that. C.S. Lewis aptly describes friendship this way: “I have

no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of

necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… It has no survival

value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” I love writing novels about

relationships, and friendship is no a relationship is quite like that of friendship unlike any other.

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5. What is the significance of Scarlett’s curtain dress hat?

 

Scarlett’s curtain-dress hat is emblematic of what dire circumstances can lead someone to do when

what she loves most is in danger of being ripped out of her handslost. If you’re familiar with that scene

in the movie, you know that Scarlett is in a place of decision when she pulls down her dead mother’s

curtains so that she can dress the part of being someone she is not. When we’re afraid of losing what we

treasure most, we sometimes choose to do things that we would never do in an ordinary situation. I

don’t think it’s any accident that that hat is part rich velvet and gold braid and part barnyard rooster

feathers. It’s an amalgam of Scarlett’s strength and her weakness. She will do what no one else will do

because of how afraid she is of losing everything.

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6. What were you most surprised by most during the writing process for this book?

Hollywood was like a dream factory in the 1930s and ‘40s. It was a place that produced in fantasy what

people imagined life could be like after the horrors of the First World War and then the demoralizing

years of the Depression. The Golden Age of Hollywood was a chance to indulge again in beauty and

wonderment. This era also interests me because Hollywood’s Golden Years ended so suddenly and

without any warning. After World War II, most in Hollywood thought they could just pick up where they

left off before the war started. But the arrival of television just a few years later changed everything. The

beginning of WWII was actually the beginning of the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age. and Nno one

really saw it coming. I also didn’t fully appreciate how much easier it is to write a book when in which

the setting is hostile! I wrote SECRETS OF A CHARMED LIFE against the backdrop of World War II, and

with. A FALL OF MARIGOLDS employed the historical, I had the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire as well as and

9/11 as settings. Hollywood in its heyday was a glamorous and benevolent location, so all of my tension

had to come from within the characters. Yikes!. I had forgotten how helpful it is to have a setting

provide some of the angst.!

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7. What would you especially like readers to take away from Stars over Sunset Boulevard?

I hope the theme that will resonate most is that love and fear can sometimes feel the same, but though

they influence our choices differently. When I have a decision to make has to be made that involves

another person, fear usually often motivates me to choose what’s best for me. But lLove motivates me

to choose what is best for the other person. Fear urges me to hang on to what is mine, while love can

actually lead me to let go. My hoped-for takeaway from the novel is the idea that when you hold

something you love tightly to your chest for fear of losing it, you actually risk crushing it against you.

 

8. What are you working on right now?

I am two-thirds through the book I am writing next, which is tentatively titled A BRIDGE ACROSS THE

OCEAN. One of its key settings is the HMS Queen Mary during one of its many GI war brides crossings.

The Queen is such a perfect place to set a story, because she has such a marvelous past. She started out

as a luxury liner, was remade into a troop carrier during the war, and has been a floating hotel here in

California since 1967. She is also fabled to be haunted by numerous ghosts, a detail I simply cannot

ignore. So there will be a ghost or two in this next book! This story thematically, though, is about is

about three female characters, two of whom are war brides who meet on the Queen Mary in 1946. The

current-day character, Brette, has the family gift of being able to see ghosts and though she very much

wishes she couldn’t. She also doesn’t want to pass along that hereditary gift to a child but her husband

is anxious to start their family. All three characters will face a bridge they need to cross where the other

side is hidden from their view. The concept of a bridge across the ocean – which seems impossible --

speaks to how difficult it is to go from one place to another when you can’t see what awaits you. This

book will release in 2017.

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Thanks to Susan for allowing me to tell about another author's fascination with classic Hollywood. 


Millennials: I'm sensing a trend -- but work is good for the soul!

It's no secret that the work ethic is down. Admittedly, it's hard to see that here in Silicon Valley because we do get the best and the brightest -- the kids who had no life in high school because they were too busy being brilliant.  However, every parent has to be worried for the Millennial generation.  I heard from my friend that she's never seen anything like it in her career.  "These kids come in, and you know how we used to make sure our job was done for the day?  Not these kids.  5:00 comes and they're out the door." 

Then, I heard about this woman who was fired after putting out her salary complaint in an open letter to her CEO.  Naturally, they say it's not related, but the girl was making $733.24 biweekly.  That is disgusting in San Francisco. I literally made that working for the Fairmont Hotel in 1988.  1988 people!  Granted, homegirl could have gone and found a new job.  Or ANOTHER job.  I had to do that when I crashed my boyfriend's car in college.  (It wasn't my fault! Someone sideswiped me.) But I had to pay his deductible, so I got another job that was from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekends when I wasn't already working.  The thing is, the open, public complaint is the way of life -- rather than fixing your problems.  This concerns me for our youth.  

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/02/22/millennial-complains-to-yelp-ceo-about-her-salary-in-online-post-heres-what-happens-just-hours-later/

One more thing on the subject of salaries in the Bay Area -- the high tech nerds are making SO much that anyone not doing that job cannot keep up.  (Hello, author here!) So what happens is the bubble burst and you can't get waiters or other services because those people can't afford to live here.  It's happened before.  I think it's getting ready to happen again.  

Images-1 Cereal: It's magically delicious!
Back to sloth as a topic.  So then, I hear that cereal sales are down.  Why, you ask?  Is it the gluten?  Everyone's allergic to gluten.  That's why Millennials aren't consuming cereal, right?  Or wait, maybe it's too expensive?  I mean, $5 for your Frosted Flakes can get hefty.  But no.  No, that's not why they're not eating cereal.  They're not eating it because they are too dang lazy to use a bowl and a spoon.  You have to clean up after yourself! 40% of Millennials don't want to eat cereal because they're too lazy to clean up afterwards.  Are you freaking kidding me?  It's a bowl and a spoon. I know NONE of my MILLENNIAL readers are like this, but just in case you're out there.

http://katu.com/news/local/new-york-times-millennials-dont-eat-cereal-because-theyre-lazy

Okay, Millennials.  I have a secret for you.  I'm going to share it with you, because if you were one of my own kids, I would have told you to get off your $$$ and clean up after yourself.  Since you are not one of my children, I share this cheat for you:

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Bounty Paper Towels with Dawn Dish Soap inside.  You just wet them, rinse out your cereal bowl and they go right in the dishwasher.  Or if you're really lazy, heat up the water and consider it washed.  No one else is probably living with your filthy self. 


She's the ultimate soccer mom...

The other day, I had kids in the back of my car and they were talking about someone's mother.  "She's like the total soccer mom.  She looks like a soccer mom.  Has the soccer mom outfit."

I zoned into their conversation. "Not me?  You're not talking about me?"

I mean, why wouldn't they be?  I had four kids in soccer.  Soccer was  big part of our lives -- what's so bad about being a soccer mom?  About having orange slices at the ready?  A first-aid kit in the back of your city SUV?  A trunk full of water bottles.  I had all those things, so why did I reject looking like a soccer mom?

"No, Mom.  We're not talking about you," my daughter said to my relief.

Truthfully, I didn't care whose mother they were talking about, I was just glad in my narcissistic way, that it wasn't me.

"What kind of mom am I?  What do you describe me as?"

"You're the weird mom," DD says.

"Yeah," her friend agrees.

"Cool, okay."  Lord forbid I be the normal, soccer mom.  ACK!  Weird Mom is a title any writer would be proud to wear.

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Morgan Freeman's Voice on Waze...

I'm a huge Waze fan.  It's gotten me all over L.A. and Beverly Hills -- and it was like I was in my own game of GTA.  The traffic just parted for me!  Anyway, now you can add voices to your Waze app, and one of them is Morgan Freeman.  I'm so happy about that.  It's like having my own "Driving Miss Daisy" chauffeur.  

http://www.comingsoon.net/extras/news/659519-morgan-freeman-waze#/slide/1


Adele lives in the real world!

I just saw an article on "make-up free" Adele shopping in Target.  I refuse to post the picture here because I cannot imagine a bigger invasion of privacy than someone bothering me while at Target.  A girl needs her Target time. Especially when you're a young mother, and you get that time away to peruse the aisles.  Is there a greater sense of freedom? I think not.

She did this in LA, so hopefully, she was left alone by the other shoppers, who also know that she's just a mom -- with a fantastic set of pipes.

 

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Nora Ephron Documentary to Air on HBO in March

Thanks to Nicole who sent me this article on a new documentary about one of my favorite writers: Nora Ephron.  She's probably one of yours,  too -- if you don't recognize her name.  She was the queen of the Chick Flick -- but wrote them so well that men would watch them, as well. 

When Harry Met Sally

You've Got Mail

Sleepless in Seattle

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http://www.purpleclover.com/blog/6067-praise-nora-ephron/

Anyway, it's set to air on March 21 on HBO.  She used to say, "Everything is copy."  For a writer, that is true.  Anne Lamott has her own version of that (the dangers of knowing writers!)

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

 




Anna Wintour is what's wrong with America...#Marchesa

Marchesa is one of the few fashion designers I follow on Instagram.  I just love their over-the-top feminine style.  (Same goes for Lazaro) I'm a girly-girl, and I make no apologies for that.  Did anyone watch, "Project Runway: Junior?" There was one young girl (Samantha) who was so talented, but her designs were so masculine.  I see why it was cutting-edge, but I don't want to see young women dressed like men.  Didn't we get past that stage with Rosie the Riveter?  Anyway, this is some of what the Marchesa show during fashion week offered:

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And this is Anna Wintour's reaction:

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Granted, she could just be angry that Taylor Swift stole her hairstyle, but she does not look happy.  If you're that over fashion, maybe it's time to step down.  I question Anna's taste lately.  She sure loves a Yeezy fashion show. The rest of us think it is reminiscent of the Holocaust. At the very least, it looks like Spanx and they're not quite dressed. 

 

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Anna should smile more.  It doesn't mean she loves the fashion. It just means she's grateful for being alive, and in the front row!


Writers vs. Normals

I'm working in the office for my friend today, and I noticed she's not used my EnerGel Pens that I ordered for the office.  She's been using a regular, old pen.  Writers can't do that.  I don't know why, but stationery is very important to us. It matters.  

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This week, I spent it in the country with my parents.  I'm finally at a place where I could live in the country and write forever.  I'll be glad when it's time to leave the left-brained world of Silicon Valley.  My daughter and I went through a coffee drive-thru in Auburn, and the kid working there was so cute.  I'd say he was about 18, with this incredible sapphire/aqua eyes that had to be seen to be believed.  He mentioned his little brother, who was a sophomore (my daughter's age) who was ready to go pro golfing.  I think my daughter was ready to move up there immediately.  "You mean, there's one of him in my size?"  

Anyway, I was telling the kid it was good to hear of someone who was pursuing other options besides STEM -- and bless his heart, he said, "I don't even know what that means!"  Oh my goodness, my people!  I'm so sick of the way everyone here views right-brain creatives as "special needs" because we are not engineers.  The whole world isn't supposed to be engineers and NO, it would not be a better place if that were the case.  Read "The Accidental Tourist" and see if you want a plethora of Macon Learys -- granted, he's a writer, but he's not.  He's an engineer, through-and-through. You know how Apple is saying it CANNOT unlock that phone?  In their minds, they cannot.  That's how engineers work.  Their way is the only way.  Okay, I'm done picking on left-brains for the day.  LOL