Tag Archive | Hope Dawns Eternal

Alison Armstrong and the Independent Creators Alliance FB group

alison-armstrong-with-michael-easton-roger-howarth-aug-2016

Roger Howarth, Alison Armstrong and Michael Easton last summer.

Alison Armstrong is a gifted author I met through online fan groups for Michael Easton, the General Hospital actor who inspired my vampire soap opera thriller Hope Dawns Eternal. Alison and I met in person at a GH fan event in New Jersey in 2014. This morning she’ll be meeting Michael and his GH buddy Roger Howarth at another event in New Jersey. Since I couldn’t afford the trip this time around, I sent Alison a copy of Hope Dawns Eternal in hopes that she can hand it to him directly, along with a letter and a couple of poems I hope he’ll enjoy.

Back on October 8, 2016, Alison and I both participated at an Indie Authors Day held at libraries nationwide. Soon after, at my request, she sent me the following post about the event:

Having attended an Indie Book Fair recently as an author, I learned some valuable information regarding marketing and distribution; however, the overall message of the advice left me feeling disheartened regarding the arbitrary standardization of the publishing industry and upset about the commoditization of the arts in general.  Instead of focusing on creativity and literary talent, the speakers at the book event emphasized orthodoxy in page design (justified text, avoidance of stylistic content-driven page and paragraph breaks, etc.) .

Although I support the importance of proper grammar and punctuation and feel that these aspects, along with originality in content, expression, and style, are essential in quality writing, I do not believe that standardization of font, margins, and other traditional publishing practices should be given such a high priority.  Nevertheless, despite the increasing numbers of indie authors, the publishing industry persists in perpetuating typographic conventions that are usually not used in Word or other common writing programs.  In so doing, the publishing industry imposes an arbitrary standard to differentiate between traditionally published and print-on-demand authors so that the “indie” writers may feel pressured into purchasing services to make their work appear more like traditional published materials, thereby making their work less independent, more restricted by financial concerns.   Along with the standardization of text format , book publishers seem to be promoting an increasingly conventional approach to cover design, resulting in a glut of covers featuring monotonously similar figurative clichés associated with the book’s genre,  such as the faceless torsos displayed like slabs of cosmetically enhanced meat on the covers of lurid romance novels.

The arts in general, especially in the United States, are generally viewed in a similar way as those hunky yet generic slabs of flesh, something to readily consume as entertainment or profit from.  Favoring the familiar, the already established, the tried and true moneymakers,  publishing companies, recording companies, and movie studios sign fewer new authors, musicians, and filmmakers.  The newbies and the “indies,” therefore, seek new ways of gaining exposure for their work.  However, as with the “indie” book fair example, even some resources and organizations presuming to work on behalf of the independent artists devalue certain aspects of individualistic expression.

Independent authors, musicians, artists and filmmakers represent a challenge to the financially-driven industries that struggle to maintain a monopoly on the arts by propagating lookalike, superficially pleasing but often substanceless clones. The literary renegades, such as William Burroughs and J. G. Ballard, the ravaged voices of Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith, these muses of rebellion and individuality epitomize the freedom, intensity, and expressive potential of the independent, creative spirit.  

Inspired by artists such as these, I have created the Independent Creators Alliance group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/269464480120915/ ). I invite creators in any of the arts to join in solidarity, supporting each other and the ideal of artistic freedom. I envision this group as a place to express our ideas regarding the arts and integrity to our vision while connecting with other creative people. It can be a place to network, brainstorm ideas, share sources of inspiration, and collaborate perhaps on projects. In these rather depressing times, we need the arts more than ever to heal the soul.

alison-armstrong-indie-book-fair-10-8-16

Alison Armstrong at Indie Book Fair last October.

Alison makes some provocative points that are deserving of further discussion. I’ve joined her Independent Creators Alliance group on Facebook, and I hope you will too. And by all means check out her books Revenance and Toxicosis, both available on Amazon. But don’t confuse her with the other Alison Armstrong, who writes books about how women can please and communicate better with men. That’s definitely the wrong Alison!

Hope Dawns Eternal makes The New York Times!

I’ve always been in awe of The New York Times, so it was thrilling to be interviewed by a Times reporter last Tuesday on New York’s primary day, and even more thrilling to find myself quoted in the next morning’s edition, and to discover that the reporter, Jesse McKinley, topped off his story with the title of my vampire soap opera novel, Hope Dawns Eternal. Here’s the poem I wrote to commemorate the occasion.

Hope Dawns in a Grungy Gun Club

Hope Dawns Eternal!

The New York Times, that great gray lady, gave me the last words

In the story “Voting at a Gun Club,”

Filed before the presidential primary was even over.

Inside, I’d traipsed the length of the grubby gray cinder-block building

At the Bailey Mountain Fish and Game Club,

Passed the yellowed illustrations of assorted guns,

Taped to the cheap pine paneled walls.

Passed the mounted deer heads, the sample ballots on collapsible tables,

Faced the row of portly aging men

Who smirked as I declared my party and signed the Democratic ledger.

They told me to remove the Women for Hillary button

Pinned to my dusty rose Old Navy fleece—no electioneering allowed

In this Inner Sanctum of democracy.

I blackened my chosen circles, fed my ballot into

The silvery maw of the machine,

Nostalgic for the heavy curtains, the leaden click of levers

Pushed down to reveal the red x’s of my choice.

 

When it was over, out in the sunlit clearing in the woods,

A blond young man in casual sports attire, reporter’s pad in hand,

Approached and asked if I could spare the time to talk.

Over his shoulder, a photographer snapped away

As I stumbled over half-baked opinions,

While my inner critic cursed my lack of originality,

Stringy hair and nearly nonexistent makeup.

 

When the questions wound down, I asked what paper he was with,

Thinking Schenectady or maybe Troy.

The New York Times, he said, in a near-apologetic mumble

Like the one I use when I say I’ve gone to Harvard and Columbia.

I told him of my father, managing editor of The Milwaukee Journal

Back in the fifties heyday of McCarthyism. He was suitably impressed.

Almost as an afterthought, I told him I was a novelist,

Rummaged in my purse, handed him a postcard for Hope Dawns Eternal,

My vampire soap opera novel.

 

That night I binged on TV primary returns, rejoiced for Hillary.

Woke Wednesday morning, guardedly hopeful,

But dubious I’d made the cut. He’d no doubt talked to lots of people,

And I’d said nothing especially quote-worthy,

Let alone worthy of The New York Times.

My ever tech-savvy husband grabbed his cell,

Googled my name and news, and said, “You made it.”

I commandeered the phone, scrolled down,

And there I was at the very end of the article,

Sounding surprisingly articulate.

When I reached the last lines, I shrieked:

“An amateur novelist, she pressed a pamphlet

For her vampire novel into a reporter’s hand.

Its title: Hope Dawns Eternal.”

 

He chose it as a closing metaphor, I’m sure,

But to me, such synchronicity feels like a blessing.

I’m not big on higher powers,

But maybe something somewhere is looking out for me

And success is in the stars.

Of course I’ll have to work my butt off,

But I can legitimately say,

“As featured in The New York Times.”

My parents, with their lost, unpublished novels,

Would be proud.

I premiered the poem yesterday at my women writers group and last night at POETS SPEAK LOUD, a monthly open mic at McGeary’s Tavern in Albany, where I was featured poet. I got a warm reception both times, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too, regardless of your political persuasion.

Here’s a direct link to the New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/live/new-york-primary-2016/at-a-gun-club/

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]

Michael Easton’s mysterious doctor Hamilton Finn

Michael Easton as Finn shooting up 4-8-16

Michael Easton as Hannibal Finn

It’s been two weeks since Michael Easton returned to General Hospital as the mysterious doctor Hamilton Finn—three episodes per week, for a grand total of six, and in half of them he’s been shown shooting up with some mysterious substance from a gigantic syringe. We don’t yet know the contents, but the phases he goes through from craving to semi-stoned satisfaction give him a wonderful opportunity to show off his acting chops, something he couldn’t do as the tightly controlled John McBain and Silas Clay.

Like most fans, I don’t believe he’s shooting up an illicit drug, at least not of the opioid variety, but it could well be something experimental he brought back from his travels in Australia and heaven knows where else, perhaps something derived from his “service lizard,” the bearded dragon Roxy that he’s keeping caged at the Metrocourt hotel.* He’s probably self-medicating in hopes of curing some exotic, potentially fatal disease.

michael-easton-hamilton-finn-lizard

Finn with his “service lizard,” the bearded dragon Roxy.

Fans are loving this latest reincarnation of Michael’s. He’s edgy, temperamental, quick to anger, with a sardonic sense of humor. Friday’s scene, when he was cajoling and shouting at Tracy to wake up following her brain surgery, was marvelous—she may have been near-comatose, virtually at death’s door, but how could she resist such a gorgeous doctor luring her back to life?

For me, this is by far the most fascinating character Michael has played since the late lamented vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles. He’s already inspiring me to plunge back into Sunlight and Shadow, the sequel to my vampire soap opera novel Hope Dawns Eternal. My enthusiasm had flagged since they killed off Silas Clay last July 31st, which happened to be my birthday. But I’m eager to get back into the adventures of my Jonah McQuarry character, who’s just beginning to embrace his true identity as a vampire, and his lady love Abigail Hastings, who’s hiding more secrets than he can possibly imagine.

What are your theories about Dr. Hannibal Finn? Who is he, really? Why does he want to stay in Port Charles, and what characters will he become involved with? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if through his “service lizard,” he’s seeking a magical elixir that will give him eternal life? Then he’d be sure to stick around awhile.

Michael Easton as Finn brooding 4-8-16

*Thanks to Alison Armstrong for researching bearded dragons and posting an article from an Australian museum that states: “Recent research has indicated that Bearded Dragons possess primitive venom glands, the use of venom in dragon lizards is not yet understood, however a bite from this species should pose no long-term ill effect. The bite site should be cleaned with a mild disinfectant, as with any animal bite.” They rarely bite, however, but they do puff up their bodies, including the “beards” under their jaws, to appear more formidable to potential aggressors.

Please visit me at http://www.Amazon.com. Just type Julie Lomoe into the search box and all three of my books will come up: Hope Dawns Eternal, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, and Eldercide. I could really use some sales!

Congratulations to my contest winners! Free books for the best guesses about Michael Easton’s new character

Michael E with baby and red phone 1-27-15

Michael as Dr. Silas Clay with Ava’s baby, January 2015

Hallelujah! It’s official: Michael Easton will soon be back on General Hospital. I had Friday, March 18, highlighted on my phone’s calendar, complete with a celebratory rainbow. But ABC preempted GH for Nancy Reagan’s funeral, so today’s episode won’t air till Monday. That means Michael will reappear on Monday, March 21, the first full day of spring. That feels somehow more auspicious than the day after St. Patrick’s Day.

michael-easton & Frank Valentini grocery promo

Valentini and Easton in the video promo of a “chance encounter” announcing Michael’s return

According to Executive Producer Frank Valentini, Michael will once again be playing a doctor, and not any of his previous Port Charles roles. “He will be very different from anyone else Michael has played,” Valentini said in the March 14th issue of Soap Opera Digest. “But at the heart of it, you still have this amazing actor who is really loved by the fans and loved by the cast and crew on General Hospital.” 

Now that the news is official, my contest is officially over.

No one guessed that Michael would be coming back as a doctor, but I’m awarding copies of my vampire soap opera novel Hope Dawns Eternal to the two fans with the best entries:

RYAN CARPENTER wins for the entry with the most knowledge of the show’s history. He guessed Michael would return as the villainous Valentin Cassadine, who’s been referenced several times on GH since the 1980’s, but who’s never actually made an appearance.

LOIS TROUTMAN wins for most creative guess. She thought Michael would return as the head of the shadowy WSB organization, which is involved in all sorts of international intrigue, but she also deserves a shout-out for her many valuable contributions to Michael’s enormous and dedicated online fan community.

I was blindsided by the news that Michael would return as a doctor, although that had been my first guess. Especially after the departure of Jason Thompson, who had played Dr. Patrick Drake, many of the soap’s followers commented that for a show supposedly centered on a hospital, there weren’t nearly enough doctors. I thought Michael might return as a long-lost or previously unknown brother of Silas Clay. After all, Silas already had a twin brother, the evil rock star and serial killer Stephen Clay, who had entertained the delusion that he was a vampire. It wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to create another doctor and make the siblings triplets.

GH mattcohen_Dr. Griffin Munro

Matt Cohen, aka Dr. Griffin Munro

But I abandoned that theory when Dr. Griffin Munro, a brilliant neurosurgeon, made his entrance in February. Played by the actor Matt Cohen, he’s a hunky guy with dark hair, gorgeous blue eyes and serious film and TV credits—a major contender in the heart throb department. They also introduced Dr. Matthew Mayes, an older, curmudgeonly doctor with a nonexistent bedside manner. He’s played by Matt Riedy, another actor with extensive experience in film and TV. Google him and you’ll discover he’s also a serious body builder, though his face looks much older than his body, to an extent that I first thought they’d photo shopped two different people together. Perhaps somewhere down the road he’ll get to bare his torso as the love interest of one of the more mature actresses, but I’m not holding my breath.

GH Dr. Matthew Mayes Matt Riedy

Matt Riedy, aka Dr. Matthew Mayes

 

So I thought they had the doctors covered, but apparently not. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Michael’s character. In an interview in the same Soaps in Depth, Michael was candid about his stint as Silas Clay, a character created after, for legal reasons, he could no longer play John McBain: “I felt like I didn’t have a place, really. There was not much of a point to it.” He thought long and hard about coming back, but now he says, “I feel inspired, more inspired than I’ve felt in years. It’s a new start. I’ve forgotten the other character. . . . there’s an energy that I feel in it that didn’t exist with the Silas character, where I felt like I was just hanging on from day to day. . . .and most of it was just to push another character’s story line along.”

Michael Easton as Silasclay

Michael Easton as Dr. Silas Clay

 

Ever the gentleman, Michael refrains from criticizing—or even mentioning—the former head writer Ron Carlivati, who probably had a hand in his firing and was then fired himself, but the interview, along with Valentini’s, offers a remarkably candid perspective on the interpersonal politics that play out offscreen.

So once again, congratulations to Ryan Carpenter and Lois Troutman. I’ll be mailing you autographed copies of Hope Dawns Eternal, and like thousands of others, I’ll be counting down the ten days until Michael Easton appears in a new incarnation on the first day of spring.

 

 

 

 

 

General Hospital’s new writers pass probation with flying colors

Author’s note: I wrote this blog post nearly two weeks ago, and I procrastinated about posting it. So much has happened since then—especially the announcement that Michael Easton will be back soon—that I considered revising and updating it, but I decided to leave it as is and then post a new one in the next couple of days. Please subscribe so that you won’t miss any updates. I’ll be running a contest, too!

GH Passanante & Altman

Jean Passanante & Shelly Altman

It’s been over three months since the work of the new regime has been in evidence on General Hospital. The new head writers, Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman, came on board last August after the firing of Ron Carlivati, but it wasn’t until mid-October that the fruits of their labors were on display. I was dubious at first, but it’s time for a three-month evaluation, and I believe they’ve passed their probationary period with flying colors.

News of Carlivati’s firing preceded the killing of Michael Easton’s character, Silas Clay, by only a few days. Like many of Michael’s fans, I was devastated,* and debated whether to swear off watching the soap forever, but ultimately I couldn’t shake the GH habit, and I’m glad I hung in there. No watershed moment marked the transition—it would have been uncomfortably jarring if it did—but gradually the changes became apparent.

Michael E with baby and red phone 1-27-15

Michael as Dr. Silas Clay with Ava’s baby, January 2015

 

First and foremost, romance and relationships took on more importance. Were there more steamy bedroom scenes? Were they longer, with more bare skin on display? I’m not sure, because I don’t keep count of such things, but it seemed so. The romantic dialogue sometimes seemed too saccharine and clichéd, but I didn’t mind; in fact I rather enjoyed it.

The most positive change: story lines began moving more quickly, with more action. The when-will-Jake-remember-he’s-Jason saga dragged on far too long, but the writers inherited that problem from the previous regime, and they’ve speeded things up a bit.

Heroes have become villains, and vice versa. On fan sites, many viewers bemoan the fact that Nikolas, who used to be a virtual as well as titular prince, seems to have gone over to the dark side. But they’re especially incensed at the impending break-up of Dante and Lulu Falconieri, who seemed like the ideally married golden couple until Lulu’s cousin Valerie arrived in town. Lulu became a lying, conniving bitch who drove Dante into Valerie’s arms, much to the disgust of fans who’d like to see Dante and Lulu reunited.

Maurice Benard as Sonny

Perhaps the biggest transformation is that of the mob boss Sonny Corinthos. Wheelchair-bound after a near-fatal shooting that left him unable to walk, he’s sounding more and more like a New Age guru, spouting nuggets of wisdom like “The quickest way to lose is to refuse to try.” I wrote down that quote verbatim from a recent episode, when he was dispensing advice to his son Michael.

Sonny’s full of advice for all three of his sons, including Morgan, who’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, like Sonny himself. I blogged about this development back in August, when the subject was introduced with sensitivity and understanding. For a while it looked as if the new writers were going to abandon this story line, but they’ve brought it back to the forefront. Morgan doesn’t like the flat way his new medications are making him feel, and Sonny’s giving him excellent advice, hard won from his own experiences, about the dire consequences of going off his meds. General Hospital is providing a valuable public service in disseminating essential information about this diagnosis, which the media so often links to horrendous crimes.**

(To be continued with updates)

*The reasons behind Michael Easton’s firing remain mysterious. In online comments, he’s said it came as a total shock, but he’s been unfailingly diplomatic and gentlemanly about his departure. He’s not burning any bridges, because who knows, he might decide to return some day, though I’d prefer to see him move on to bigger and better things.

GH Fantasy Michael Easton

Me and Michael Easton at Fan Fantasy day, April 2014

 

**Speaking of bipolar disorder, I recently republished my novel Mood Swing:The Bipolar Murders. It’s now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions. You can read more about it elsewhere on this blog. Please check it out. Better yet, please buy it!

 

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Women writers break the balls of their big male stars

Is General Hospital terminally ill? Should the venerable soap be put out of its misery once and for all? After more than 50

Jean Passanante & Shelly Altman

Jean Passanante & Shelly Altman

years, perhaps it’s finally time to ring down the curtain for good. After a week of watching episodes credited to the new head writers Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman, I’m finding it virtually unwatchable, and I’m willing to bet thousands of other fans are feeling the same.

Ron Carlivati, the former head writer, was fired in late July, and the arrival of the two veterans of other soaps was announced with much fanfare. But the real-time arc of soap opera storytelling plays out months ahead, so Carlivati still got the onscreen head writer credit until a week ago, when Passanante and Altman’s names appeared in his place. But even if I hadn’t noticed the credits, I’d have known that something had gone grievously wrong.

Ron with the traitorous Jean

Ron with the traitorous Jean

First I noticed the increase in romantic scenes. The new writers have been quoted, most recently in the October 26th ABC Soaps in Depth, as saying they want to give viewers, in Passanante’s words, “a show that is character-centered and emotion-driven. That is our first aim….Whenever we talk about story, we ask ourselves ‘What are the romantic stakes?’ Where is [sic] the yearning and love and romance.”

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not against romance. There’s plenty of it in my vampire soap opera thriller, Hope Dawns Eternal, and I pay my dues to the Romance Writers of America. But suddenly characters are speaking in trite, saccharine clichés that don’t even sound like the characters we thought we knew. Saying those lines must make all those talented actors want to puke. Even the background music is more syrupy.

Julian flaunts it for Alexis

Julian flaunts it for Alexis

There are more lingering kisses and shots of men’s bare torsos. Again, nothing wrong with that, but I hope the presence of six-pack abs won’t become the determining factor when they hire new actors. Then again, maybe it already is. Take William DeVry, who plays Julian Jerome. His scene with Nancy Lee Grahn as Alexis, playing footsie and sipping champagne in a big bathtub, was pretty hot, and I like the fact that they’re both 40-something. But the fact that the top five actors in the latest reader’s poll all flaunt their bare-chested physiques on a regular basis somehow unnerves me. Personally, I’d rather the cameras focus on interesting faces—like Michael Easton’s for example. But oops, that’s not going to happen—they killed off his character, Silas Clay, the same week they fired Ron Carlivati.*

But what I found most unsettling this past week was that three of the most popular romantic male leads—all of them in the aforementioned top five—had spectacular meltdowns and made stupid decisions that went totally against character. Then in the same episodes, they calmed down and did rapid turn-arounds that made no sense either.

First there was Billy Miller, aka Jake/Jason, becoming visibly agitated and impatient in his frustration over a missing DNA GH billy-miller-shirtless-general-hospital-ABCstest. His character, nicknamed “Stone Cold” in his previous incarnation, would never have blown his cool like this, then decided it wasn’t important and taken to bed with the evil Elizabeth.

Then there was William DeVry’s Julian Jerome. Learning that the baby he’d fathered with Olivia wasn’t dead after all but was alive and well and living nearby, he went charging off to reclaim the baby through brute force, although Alexis tried her best to convince him the best way to get custody or at least visitation rights was to act calm and collected and pursue the case through legal means. But no, he went charging off to confront the mother, babe in arms, and snatch the baby away. Others managed to talk him down, and by the end of the episode, he and Olivia were chatting amiably about how they could share in parenting after all.

But the most egregious folly was that of Maurice Benard’s Sonny Corinthos. Still hospitalized and bedridden after a shootingMaurice Benard as Sonny that left him at death’s door, convinced he’d become totally powerless, he insisted on going home against medical advice and convinced his son Morgan** to smuggle him out in a wheelchair. When his wife Carly intercepted them, Sonny pushed himself up from the chair and promptly fell flat on the floor in a classic pratfall. Once resettled in bed, after an off-screen conference with Carly, he did a total 180° and docilely agreed to chill out and follow doctor’s orders after all.

If these total turn-arounds in the span of a few minutes are what the new head writers mean by character-driven plotting, General Hospital is in deep doodoo. Such major transformations take time, and maybe months of therapy. (Where’s Dr. Kevin Collins when we need him?) In the examples above, it’s as if the women in these guys’ lives waved a magic wand, and voila! Men who’d been acting like raging bulls were instantly brought into submission. The new women head writers may give lip service to romance, but beneath the surface, perhaps they’re man-haters at heart, making their most powerful and sympathetic male leads into out-of-control idiots, then having the women break their balls and whip them into docility.

Me and Michael Easton at Fan Fantasy day, April 2014

Me and Michael Easton at Fan Fantasy day, April 2014

Do I sound bitter? Unlike many fans, I didn’t swear off GH forever when they fired Michael Easton, but I may not be watching much longer—more and more, the show’s an insult to my intelligence. Does anyone out there agree? I’d love to hear your comments, both pro and con. And I’d love it even more if you buy my vampire soap opera thriller, Hope Dawns Eternal. You can read the prologue and first chapter right here on this blog, and I guarantee you’ll find it more entertaining.

*The murder of Michael Easton’s character may have been one of the factors that led to Carlivati’s firing, but the true story has never come out, and Michael’s been unfailingly gracious in his comments after he was let go. His millions of fans have been public in their outrage, however.

**Speaking of Morgan, I wonder what the new writers will do with the theme of his possibly being bipolar, which I blogged about a few posts back? I’m willing to bet they’ll drop it completely.

UPDATE, OCTOBER 28 – MEA CULPA (sort of)

Lots of GH fans took offense to the blog above and/or the way I described and linked to it on a Facebook post. Let me clarify: in no way do I want General Hospital to be cancelled. I still watch it daily, and I still like many of the actors. I hope the new writers prove me wrong, and they deserve time to settle in and hit their stride. Perhaps I was feeling particularly cranky when I wrote the above post. Nonetheless I stand by what I said and defend my right to say it!

Great new blurbs and a poetic rant

My new author photo by Shannon DeCelle

My new author photo by Shannon DeCelle

Here’s the new back cover copy for Hope Dawns Eternal. I’m reformatting the interior to increase the size of the font and width of the margins. That results in more pages, which requires adjusting the cover as well. While it’s being tweaked, I decided to add an author photograph and some review quotes as well. Since some of my blog readers may not know what the book’s about, this will give you a good idea. I hope you’ll order it on Amazon, either in print or on Kindle.

It’s hard blowing my own horn, and I hate it when people come up with excuses for not buying my book. I wrote a poem about it which I read at “Poets Speak Loud,” the monthly open mic at McGeary’s in Albany hosted by Mary Panza. I thought of posting it on my blog but decided it was too vitriolic to float around the Internet in its entirety. But if you’re curious, below the book description, I’m including a censored version.

CAN SOAP STARS LIVE FOREVER? IF THEY’RE VAMPIRES, ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE.

“A fascinating twist on the vampire romance theme takes you on the set and behind the scenes in the world of soap operas. This well-crafted page turner was hard to put down.”

—Robb Smith, author of Granny Porn 

“Lomoe’s witty, playful and thrilling novel, like the daytime dramas it depicts, entangles its characters in a mysterious web of murder and passion. Fans of soaps and the supernatural should be captivated by this fast-paced read.”

—Alison Armstrong, author of Revenance

Jonah McQuarry is the new cop in town on the soap opera Sunlight and Shadow. Tall and slender, with dark good looks and Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]blazing blue eyes, he has millions of fans thanks to his years on Hope Dawns Eternal, so the showrunners bring him along when the QMA network cancels Hope and replaces it with Brand New You, a self-help reality show. When he meets the raven-haired beauty Abby Hastings, he suspects he knew her when the actor who plays him was a vampire on a long-defunct soap and she was his leading lady.

When the host of Brand New You turns up dead and drained of blood, Jonah becomes a prime suspect. Even worse, he begins to suspect himself. Could Mark Westgate, the actor who plays him, be suffering from dissociative identity disorder, and could Jonah truly be a vampire?

Watch for the sequel, Sunlight and Shadow, coming in 2016.

Reading at Poets Speak Loud at McGeary's

Reading at Poets Speak Loud at McGeary’s

Okay, now here’s my shadow side, coming out in an expurgated version of the poem I read at Poets Speak Loud. No words have been altered but some content has been deleted because I don’t want to identify or diss the people involved.

THE ANGRY AUTHOR

“Julie, if you mention your new book one more time,

I’m going to walk away whenever I see you coming.”

Thus spake a respected elder of our church,

In front of a dozen others. Raised an obedient girl,

I followed orders and stayed mum thereafter

^&*($* Bragging’s bad, and so is pushiness.

Just ask poor Hillary, being pilloried for strengths more seemly in a man.

My &*()%$ group’s no better. &*(#& they meet

To coffee klatch and tell each other how great their writing is,

&*()#% You think they’ll buy my book?

Maybe a couple will, if I beg and wheedle, swallow my pride

And gulp down bile and anger, all for a measly ten bucks, plus

Palpitations and dangerously spiking blood pressure.

Hand selling, they call it—I call it shit. I’d rather dirty my hands

My dog Sirius, who stars in Hope Dawns Eternal

My dog Sirius, who stars in Hope Dawns Eternal

With poop when I scoop my dog’s turds on our morning walks.

Compared to the stench of personal rejection, his shit smells sweet.

Besides, he gives me unconditional love.

Then there’s the Internet, Facebook and the fan groups

That count me as a member, showing just how low they’ll go

But bristling if I try to guide them to my blog. I know they’d love my book,

But blatant self-promotion’s frowned upon, could even get me banned.

The moderators issue dicty warnings—one more transgression,

One more step over the invisible line in the cloud,

And I’ll be forever blackballed.

And what about the friend I asked for a review, at least a measly quote.

“I’ll blurb your book,” I said, “if you blurb mine. A win-win for us both.”

She’d read it but turned me down, claimed she had nothing to say.

^&*(%#@*%^&*

And all the friends and relatives, with all their lame excuses:

“I just don’t have time to read anymore.”

“I’ve got too many books already.”

“I still haven’t read your last one.”

“I don’t like vampires.”

HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL: it’s yours for a measly ten or eleven dollars,

The same as a half-way decent glass of wine, and I could really use the money,

Though it’s beneath my dignity to admit it.

F*(% you, I want to scream. You crappy tightwad! You lousy piece of shit!

Instead I smile politely, paw through my purse for another Tum

And turn away before I trash what used to seem like friendship.

What happens to all this anger? Strangely enough, I find it energizing,

higher up the tone scale than depression,

the deadly black hole that could really do me in.

I’ll channel it into SUNLIGHT AND SHADOW,

the next in my vampire soap opera series.

Hmm, whose blood should I drain first?

Writers, can you identify with this rant? Readers, have I totally turned you off? I’d love to read your comments.

General Hospital’s new bipolar plot line: like father, like son?

Maurice Benard as Sonny Corinthos

Maurice Benard as Sonny Corinthos

On Friday’s General Hospital, Sonny Corinthos, played by the actor Maurice Benard, gave an eloquent description of his struggle to come to terms with bipolar disorder. I’m still furious with the former head writer, Ron Carlivati, for killing off Silas Clay, a plot twist that enraged thousands of fans and may well have played a part in Carlivati’s firing, but I have to commend him for addressing the topic of bipolar disorder in a major new story line.

Loyal viewers have known for years that Sonny, the moody mob boss of Port Charles, is bipolar. (So am I, by the way; I’ve blogged about it elsewhere.) I never watched General Hospital until my favorite soap star Michael Easton came on board after ABC cancelled One Life to Live. Now that they’ve murdered Michael’s character, I’ve been tempted to stop watching, but this new development may keep me hooked. In the few years I’ve been watching, there have been references to Sonny’s mental illness, and the fact that he generally keeps it under control by faithfully taking his meds. But I’ve never seen him markedly manic or depressed.

Maurice Benard, who’s been playing Sonny Corinthos since 1993, has been outspoken about his own bipolar disorder. He

Me and Michael Easton at Fan Fantasy day, April 2014

Me and Michael Easton at Fan Fantasy day, April 2014

was diagnosed at age 22 and has been on lithium nearly nonstop ever since. He’s spoken openly about his illness in interviews and on many talk shows, has worked with nonprofit organizations that focus on the disorder and won awards for his advocacy work. His heartfelt soliloquy about his bipolar disorder in today’s episode had the authenticity of real-life experience.

GH Fan event in 2014. From left: Laura Wright, Michael Easton, Bryan Craig, Maura West. Bryan plays Morgan, who's now possibly bipolar.

GH Fan event in 2014. From left: Laura Wright, Michael Easton, Bryan Craig, Maura West. Bryan plays Morgan, who’s now possibly bipolar.

Sonny and his ex-wife/bride-to-be Carly were speaking to their son Morgan, trying to convince him to see a doctor for evaluation. For weeks they’d been expressing concern that he might be bipolar, especially since the disorder can run in families, but I couldn’t see it. Morgan’s been one of my least favorite characters, a dim bulb with such flat affect that he’s the last person I’d peg as bipolar. He and Bryan Craig, the actor who plays him, have a huge fan base, and I know they’ll hate me for saying this. But today Morgan was brimming with energy, grinning and telling them how great he feels, so clearly he’s at the start of a manic upswing. In the near future, maybe we’ll get to see if Bryan Craig can actually act. He must have something going for him, since he’s engaged to Kelly Thiebaut, a gifted actress who played an evil doctor and left the show of her own volition. She can always come back, though, since the writers didn’t kill her off; she merely left town—unlike Silas, who was shown lying dead on the floor with a knife in his back.

As Sonny and Carly point out, Morgan’s been acting erratically for months—poisoning his brother, screwing his girlfriend’s

Nina saying her final farewell to Silas, while Franco looks on. They're both suspects in his murder, along with several others.

Nina saying her final farewell to Silas, while Franco looks on. They’re both suspects in his murder, along with several others.

mother Ava, then screwing her again when she’s pretending to be his aunt Denise—but that kind of behavior is run-of-the-mill for soaps, nothing that would suggest bona fide mental illness. Still, those kinds of off-the-wall escapades can be symptoms of bipolar disorder, so I’m guessing Sonny and Carly are right. And who am I to question their judgment? They’ve been married and divorced five times, and they’re about to put a ring on it for the sixth time. Perfectly normal, right?

Coincidentally, one of the main characters in my novel Hope Dawns Eternal is a temperamental mobster named Tony Giordano. But he’s not into marriage or preoccupied with multiple children and babies, and he’s not bipolar. A sociopath, perhaps, who’s obsessed with becoming a vampire, but nothing like Sonny Corinthos.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]When I began writing Hope Dawns Eternal three years ago, I took care to create original characters with minimal resemblance to soap stars or actors who might have inspired them, however distantly. But so much has changed on General Hospital—in terms of both fictional characters and real-life behind-the-scenes drama—that I can now genuinely state that any resemblances are purely coincidental.

You believe that, right? Whether or not you do, I’ve got a wonderful book to sell you. And by the way, like Maurice Benard, I religiously take my meds. But that may not be enough to save me if my books don’t sell.

Attention GH fans: I’d love to hear your comments. What do you think of the current plot lines? Were you watching GH when Sonny had genuinely manic or depressed episodes? Do you think they should bring back Silas?

Real-life soap drama shatters idyllic writing retreat

Wellspring House. Photo by Julie Lomoe

Wellspring House. Photo by Julie Lomoe

“Wherever you go, there you are.” That’s the most significant lesson I brought home from my week at a writing retreat in the Berkshires the last week in July. You can change your surroundings, plop yourself down in an idyllic setting with maximal solitude and minimal distractions, but it’s fiendishly difficult to jettison your habitual ways of frittering away the hours you ought to be writing.

My husband had spent a couple of highly productive weeks at Wellspring House in Ashfield, Massachusetts, so I decided to give it a try. My goal: to get a good running start on Sunlight and Shadow, the second in my vampire soap opera series. In particular, I wanted to get inside the head of my heroine, Abigail Hastings. Hope Dawns Eternal, the first in the series, is told entirely from the point of view of the hero, Jonah McQuarry, who fears he’s being possessed by a vampire played by the actor Mark Westgate on a long-cancelled soap. This time, I plan to alternate between Abby’s and Jonah’s viewpoints, especially since that will give me more freedom to describe Jonah in more explicitly loving detail.

Michael Easton as John McBain

Michael Easton as John McBain

Wellspring is a beautifully restored, rambling old two-story house run by Preston Browning, a retired English professor. There are bedrooms for from eight to ten writers, each nostalgically furnished in New England bed-and-breakfast style, each with its own writing desk and chair. There’s no television, and the spotty cell phone service works only if you have Verizon, which I don’t, but they do have WiFi. A shared kitchen, but no set mealtimes, and you’re responsible for your own food.

The atmosphere is quasi-monastic. Talking isn’t forbidden, but people tend to speak in hushed voices, and if you encounter someone in the common areas, it’s perfectly okay not to speak. Since people spend most of the time in their rooms, presumably writing or confronting the reasons they can’t write, it’s possible to spend an entire day in silence.

Preston Browning, proprietor of Wellspring House

Preston Browning, proprietor of Wellspring House

I booked a five-night stay and arrived Monday evening, vowing to write at least 2,000 words per day. Only after a full day of successful writing would I allow myself to tap into the box of Almaden Pinot Grigio I’d brought along. But Monday was practically over and I was tired after my drive, so I decided to take the night off and get an early start on Tuesday.

I settled in with wine, cheese and crackers. I’d brought a few library books, so I cracked open Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Next thing I knew, it was two in the morning—an all too common bedtime, I admit—so I slept till ten, then went out for a leisurely breakfast at Elmer’s, the restaurant down the street. Back in my room, I whiled away a couple more hours with Abe, rationalizing that the book counted as research into vampire lore. When I finally buckled down to work Tuesday afternoon, I was delighted to find myself back in the flow. Jonah and Abby were trading lustful glances and barbed witticisms in their favorite bar, and I was happily channeling their words as fast as I could type. I felt good about meeting my word count for the day.

Wednesday morning, I was still in the flow. Around noon, I decided to take a break and check my email. As usual, my inbox was dominated by Facebook notifications from the General Hospital fan groups I belong to. I clicked on one of the links and brought up my Facebook page. Within moments, I was clobbered by devastating news: Michael Easton, my favorite actor on General Hospital, was leaving the show, and Friday would probably be his last day. Although he’d signed a three-year contract renewal in March, the news didn’t come as a total shock. His character, Dr. Silas Clay, had been given increasingly crappy story lines, and recently, he’d barely been seen at all. But had he quit? Been fired? I surfed from one site to another, checked out all the soap gossip columns I could find, but nowhere could I find an explanation.

Michael as Dr. Silas Clay with Ava's baby, January 2015

Michael as Dr. Silas Clay with Ava’s baby, January 2015

This called for more than a cursory lunch break, so I headed to Elmer’s again. I ordered a  Chardonnay and silently toasted Michael, whereupon Wednesday morphed into an official day of mourning and goofing off. I hung out at the beach, did some leisurely swimming, showered and changed, then decided to dine at the Ashfield Lakehouse, a boisterous blue-collar pub. What the hell, this was hardly the time to count calories, let alone words. Their sandwich of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil pesto went fabulously with the house red wine. After dinner, I retreated to my room and lost myself in the memoir of a classical pianist who had been molested by her father until I drifted off to sleep.

Thursday I tried my best to write, but I never got back in the zone, never reentered that state of creative flow where the words spill onto the screen of their own accord. I kept clicking back to the web, searching for the rest of the story of Michael’s departure, trading conspiracy theories and wallowing in collective grief on the fan sites. Rumors were flying that Silas Clay would be murdered on Friday’s show. What choice did I have? I headed back to the Lakehouse for a repeat of that yummy mozzarella sandwich.

Ashfield Lakehouse. This is exactly where I was sitting when the rain started pouring down.

Ashfield Lakehouse. This is exactly where I was sitting when the rain started pouring down.

Although storm clouds were threatening, I chose a seat out on the deck overhanging the lake. I was midway through my mozzarella sandwich when a drenching downpour let loose. The waitress helped carry my stuff inside, where I found a seat at the bar. I was back to Abe the vampire hunter once more, trying not to drip cheesy grease onto the pages, when a man asked what I was reading. When I told him, he grinned and said, “I think Abraham Lincoln had an evil side. I have kind of an evil side myself.”

(to be continued)

Ashfield Lakehouse, where I took shelter from the storm at the bar.

Ashfield Lakehouse, where I took shelter from the storm at the bar.

Michael Easton Leaving General Hospital

Michael Easton at Comic Con 2015. Thanks to Taylor Rose for permission to use this great photo!

Michael Easton at Comic Con 2015. Thanks to Taylor Rose for permission to use this great photo!

GH Fan Fantasy Auction. Laura Wright is auctioning off Michael's book while Maura West hugs him and Lisa Del Cicero reacts

GH Fan Fantasy Auction. Laura Wright is auctioning off Michael’s book while Maura West hugs him and Lisa Del Cicero reacts

Michael as Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Michael as Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Michael as Dr. Silas Clay with Ava's baby, January 2015

Michael as Dr. Silas Clay with Ava’s baby, January 2015

 

It’s official: Michael Easton is leaving General Hospital. Rumors have been flying recently, but yesterday his departure was confirmed by official sources. Reportedly he wrapped shooting at the end of June and in all probability his character, Dr. Silas Clay, will soon be murdered. I’ve got lots to say, but for now, I’m just going to share a few favorite photos.

Me and Michael at Fan Fantasy day, April 2014

Me and Michael at Fan Fantasy day, April 2014