Tag Archive | soap operas

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!

 

A lonely birthday marred by murder of my favorite soap opera character

The bar at Ashfield Lakehouse (winter snowmobilers, but a similar crowd)

The bar at Ashfield Lakehouse (winter snowmobilers, but a similar crowd)

It’s not often a man strikes up a conversation with me in a bar, but then it’s not often that I find myself alone at a bar in a strange town where I know no one.* New York City doesn’t count—I met my husband at a bar there over 40 years ago, Max’s Kansas City, to be specific. And when I’m in Manhattan for the day, I sometimes treat myself to a libation in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel or the Marriott Marquis before heading back to Penn Station. But those are elegant upscale establishments with overpriced cocktails and comfy upholstered chairs that invite lounging, so they don’t count.

The Ashfield Lakehouse, on the other hand, is the quintessential blue-collar pub, and the man who asked me about the book I was reading at the bar when I took refuge from the storm was a perfect match for the place—middle-aged and moderately paunchy, with curly brown hair and a ruddy complexion suggestive of Irish origin. I’m not sure he was actually hitting on me. Perhaps he was just being friendly. But when he told me that like Abraham Lincoln, he had kind of an evil side, I decided it was time to settle my tab and make tracks back to Wellspring House, where I’d gone for a writer’s retreat week.

Whatever his intentions, I’ll admit I was flattered, especially since my seventy-fourth birthday was just hours away.

Robb and his motorcycle

Robb and his motorcycle

Back in my room, when I logged back online, I found a Facebook message from my husband wishing me an early Happy Birthday. I poured myself a nightcap, settled into bed with Abe the vampire hunter, and read myself to sleep.

Friday was the first birthday I can recall spending alone in over forty years, and the first day my voluntary solitude weighed heavily on my mood. The dozens of birthday greetings from friends on Facebook brightened the day enormously, but I missed Robb, and I longed to hang out in my garden with my dog Sirius and my cat Lunesta.

Although I had no access to television, I knew Friday’s General Hospital would end in a cliffhanger, and it was hard to focus on my writing. Would they really kill Silas Clay? I thought it more likely that they’d string out the suspense until the next week, maybe close with a pointed gun or an off-screen scream. But no, by 3:00pm the reports started flooding Facebook—he was dead, lying face-down on the floor, stabbed in the back. The only cliffhanger was the mystery of who had murdered him.

Silas Clay, stabbed in the back on my birthday!

Silas Clay, stabbed in the back on my birthday!

At first I felt surprisingly calm. After all, the rumors of the murder had been flying all week. But as I surfed through the messages pouring in, the sorrow was contagious. Women were crying nonstop, some for hours. One had vomited, another fainted. Many swore they would never again watch General Hospital. Like me, many had watched Michael Easton since he played the vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles, then Lieutenant John McBain on One Life to Live and GH, then Dr. Silas Clay on GH. Fourteen years in all—it was like losing a member of the family, a close friend, a fantasy lover.

Elmer's (photo by Peacebear222)

Elmer’s (photo by Peacebear222)

I drank some wine, went for a swim, then headed to Elmer’s for a solitary birthday dinner. The place was crowded, though with a clientele very different from the Lakehouse. More upscale, dressed in country chic, speaking quietly with their partners—and virtually everyone seemed paired off with a partner. I was glad I’d be checking out the next morning.

I began this post as an exploration of my writing experience at a retreat house, and how it compares to the experience of writing at home in my own office. But I veered off on a tangent—much the way my writing got derailed by a drama being played out across the country in a Hollywood studio.

So in conclusion, I’d say I didn’t give the retreat experiment a fair trial; thus the results can’t be considered valid. If I ever decide to repeat the experiment, first I’ll treat myself to a computer or tablet equipped solely with a word processing program—one that doesn’t connect to the Internet.

*This is a continuation of the saga I began last time, in the post dated August 10th. If you missed it, I recommend you read that one first so you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Conquering my Internet angst

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]Hallelujah! I just updated the signature that goes out with my e-mails, and it took me only an hour and a half to figure out how! Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, says e-mail signatures are one of the most effective and easiest ways to market your work, but for me, when it comes to internet technology, nothing comes easy.

Lest you think I’m a total ignoramus, I’ve known how to create signatures for ages, but they’ve been tiny and self-effacing, in the plain text that’s standard with Thunderbird. To promote my new book, Hope Dawns Eternal, and let people know it’s for sale on Amazon, I wanted something flashier that will jump out at viewers, and for that, Thunderbird told me I need to use – insert gasps of horror, hyperventilating and pounding heart – HTML code. For the uninitiated, that stands for hypertext markup language.

I’m proud to say I didn’t have an anxiety attack. I’ve come a long way since acute panic made me drop out of a web design course at Hudson Valley Community College a few years back. Instead, I calmly clicked on Thunderbird’s HELP menu, found the information on creating custom signatures, and printed it out for further study. Call me old-fashioned, but for truly assimilating new knowledge, I still prefer paper.

The Thunderbird tutorial took me part of the way, but my signature didn’t look right, so I Googled “HTML code beginners.” That brought up millions of hits, and some further surfing turned up what I needed to know.

<Insert break here. It’s time for General Hospital.> 

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Okay, I’m back. Luke Spencer saved one of his sons from a grisly death by defusing a bomb, only to face armed gunmen who – oh, never mind. Michael Easton, my favorite actor on GH, isn’t on this week. They’re concentrating on Luke because the actor who plays him, Anthony Geary, is retiring and moving to Amsterdam, and they want to give him a spectacular send-off. I doubt they’ll kill him, though, because he may get bored and want to come back for a visit.

But I digress. True, Hope Dawns Eternal is about soap operas, but it isn’t about General

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Hospital. The hero, Jonah McQuarry, is a police lieutenant played by the reclusive actor Mark Westgate, who used to play a vampire on a long-gone soap called Oak Bluff. When a talk show host turns up dead, drained of blood, suspicion soon falls on Mark . . . You can learn more by checking out previous posts, or still better, by reading the Prologue and Chapter One right here on this blog. Then, of course, I hope you’ll buy it.

The world of publishing has changed dramatically in the years since I published my two previous books, and indie authors like me have more opportunities than ever before. But the trick lies in learning to harness the infinite power of the Internet, and for technophobes like me, the challenge is daunting. The learning curve is steep, fraught with perils and frustrations, but I’m determined to hang in there and master at least the rudiments of self-publishing.

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

When I published Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, a small firm in Texas handled the formatting and design. They did a beautiful job, and I loved the finished product, but they took a huge percentage of whatever measly sales income I managed to accrue, and my royalty checks were minimal. Though I can probably never prove it, I’m convinced they swindled me out of some earnings.

Now, with the generous royalty arrangements available through Amazon, Smashwords and other distributors, I won’t get fooled again. By summer’s end, Eldercide and Mood Swing will be available in new editions, in a variety of e-book and paperback formats. I’ll be in total control, but the learning curve is less a curve than a raggedy zig zag line. The overall trajectory tends slowly upward, but there are lots of hidden hazards and pitfalls. Often I feel the way all those cops must have felt bushwhacking through the Adirondack woods in search of the killers Matt and Sweat, wary of ambushes and sometimes doubling back on their own tracks.

One example: The design of this blog. Notice how the headers at the top are superimposed on each other like a double exposure? I know exactly when the problem arose; it was when I changed “themes,” as WordPress calls its design templates, from “Misty Look” to “Koi.” While my blog was relatively inactive, I let it go, but recently I spent a couple of hours trying to fix it, in every way I could think of, but to no avail.

Finally I clicked on the WordPress link that says “Contact Us” and arrived at a site called “Happiness Engineers.” There I texted back and forth with a friendly fellow named Amal, who gave me all kinds of hints and suggestions to try. Alas, he couldn’t fix it either, and after a couple of hours, I thanked him for his efforts and signed off. The next day WordPress sent me an email with a questionnaire asking how the experience had been, and I didn’t answer, not wanting to get Amal in trouble.

Learning the rudiments of HTML is another challenge, but I’m hanging in there. I’ve got all summer to fine tune my marketing campaign and expand my online network. For example, once again I’ll be featuring guest bloggers, beginning around Bastille Day – but that’s a topic for another blog. Right now, I’m heading out to enjoy my shade garden and a gin and tonic.

HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL now available on Kindle – buy it, I’m begging you!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]It’s official! Hope Dawns Eternal is available on Kindle for $2.99. It’s been five days since I successfully uploaded it, but now the trick is getting people to visit the site and buy it. I’ve got a lot to learn about that. To find it, go to Amazon, type in my name, and it should take you right there. My two previous books are there too, but I’ll be reissuing them soon with new covers at a lower price, so please hold off on buying them.

Within a few days, if I don’t succumb to my technophobia, the CreateSpace paperback version will be available as well. In the meantime, here’s the description I wrote for Kindle. I hope it whets your appetite and that you buy the book!

Can soap stars live forever? If they’re vampires, anything’s possible. In the hotbed of intrigue that is daytime television, sometimes the deadliest dramas are unscripted, and passions transcend anything the censors dare allow.

Hope Dawns Eternal is the first in a new series of romantic paranormal thrillers set at the fictional QMA television network in New York City. The novel features Jonah McQuarry, the new cop in town on the beloved soap opera Sunlight and Shadow, his lady love Abigail Hastings, and his arch-rival Tony Giordano. Played by the actor Mark Westgate, Jonah is tall and slender, with dark good looks and piercing blue eyes. Thanks to his years on Hope Dawns Eternal, a recently cancelled soap, he already has millions of fans, so the showrunners bring him along to S&S when the QMA network replaces Hope with a self-help reality show, Brand New You. 

His first day on the set, when Jonah meets the raven-haired Abby, the erotic chemistry between them is instantaneous and off the charts. Soon Jonah suspects he knew her in another incarnation, when Mark played a vampire on the long-defunct soap opera Oak Bluff and the actress who played Abby was his leading lady. 

When the host of Brand New You turns up dead and drained of blood, there’s immediate buzz about vampires, and Jonah becomes a prime suspect. Even worse, he begins to suspect himself. He’s been having black-outs, with long periods of time he can’t account for, and he’s developed a ravenous appetite for bloody rare meat. Could the reclusive Mark Westgate be suffering from dissociative identity disorder, and could Jonah be just one of several personas who inhabit the actor’s psyche? 

Tensions escalate as Jonah tangles with mobster Tony Giordano and his enforcer Mick Hastings, Abby’s dangerously possessive hulk of a husband. As Jonah’s relationship with Abby heats up, he also finds himself increasingly drawn to Gloria Kemp, an evening news anchor about to launch her own daytime show on the QMA network. She wants him as a confidant and a friend with benefits. But does she truly lust after Jonah, or is she just chasing after the most sensational journalistic coup of her career? Can Jonah trust her? More importantly, can he trust himself? As the bloodthirsty killings continue, all bets are off.

Hope Dawns Eternal is the first in a darkly humorous series of romantic paranormal thrillers featuring the characters of the last remaining soap opera on the QMA network.  Watch for the sequel, Sunlight and Shadow.

Julie Lomoe is the author of the mystery novels Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. Both books draw on her decades of professional health and home health care experience, and both explore issues of vital importance to today’s society. Eldercide focuses on the ethical dilemmas that arise when quality of life declines with age and illness, and families confront life-or-death decisions. Mood Swing features a feisty heroine with a bipolar diagnosis who confronts the stigma of mental illness while investigating mysterious deaths at a psychiatric social club on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Julie attended Radcliffe College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard. She received her MFA in painting at Columbia University and exhibited widely in New York City and at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. In 1979 she received her MA in Art Therapy from New York University. Her work as a creative arts therapist at a psychiatric hospital inspired her to turn to fiction as a creative outlet for processing her feelings about spending her days on locked wards in the company of the mentally ill. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, dog and cat.

I hope that’s enough to intrigue you. As the Temptations sang all those years ago, I ain’t too proud to beg. So please, folks, hunt down and buy my book! At just $2.99, what have you got to lose but a night’s sleep?

Ready for May Day Lift Off – Hope Dawns Eternal

May Day! May Day! I’ve zeroed in on the first of May as the launch date for Hope Dawns Eternal. That gives me a few days to figure out how to upload everything to Kindle and CreateSpace. I’m thrilled with the gorgeous cover illustration by Kim Killion, and Rik Hall has finished formatting the manuscript, but I’ve still got a steep learning curve to figure out the next steps before it’s actually accessible to buyers. With my technophobia, I’m still in acute avoidance mode.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]

Now it’s high time to focus on marketing strategies. The publishing scene and especially the online opportunities have changed dramatically since I published Eldercide in 2008, and this time I swear I’ll be relentless in promoting my work, because as outlandish as it seems, my happiness seems to hinge on becoming a successful author.

My first publicity salvo was shot down almost immediately. I posted a shot of the cover to one of the soap opera fan groups I belong to, telling them how excited I was that the book would soon be available. I assured them they’d love it, since the hero is inspired by the actor the group is about. Big mistake – my post smacked of blatant self-promotion, and the group’s moderators removed it with a message warning me not to make the same mistake again, lest I be banned from the site.Caleb Morley

Fair enough, but how do I let people know about the book without being obnoxious about it? Word of mouth is reportedly the best way of creating the buzz that boosts sales, and there are multiple ways of going about it. First and foremost, I’m renewing my connections to the writers’  networks I’ve lost touch with over the years. I’ve rejoined Sisters in Crime, and I’m about to rejoin Mystery Writers of America, especially so as to get the discounted rate to their Edgar Symposium in New York City on April 28th. As a member, I’ll be able to attend their wonderful cocktail party that evening, where schmoozing with authors, editors and agents is lubricated by an open bar and bountiful hors d’oeuvres.

For the first time ever, I’ve joined Romance Writers of America and their Capital District chapter, because this book is the most romantic – even, dare I say, sexy – I’ve ever written.*

Most of all, I want to reach my primary audience – the millions of devotees of soap operas and especially of General Hospital – without being blatantly obvious about it. My fictional network, QMA, and its last remaining soaps retain only the sketchiest suggestions of the soaps and actors that I solemnly swear didn’t inspire me. (Yeah, right – if you swallow that, I’ll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.)

So what’s my strategy? I’ll be networking like crazy. I’ll trade guest blogs – you can be on my blog if I can be on yours. I’ll be looking for reviewers. If you like, I can send you a free advance review copy. Just leave a comment or email me at julielomoe@nycap.rr.com, and we’ll figure out the logistics.

eldercidefrontcover1Above all, I solemnly swear I won’t launch Hope Dawns Eternal into the vast black hole of oblivion that swallowed my last two novels, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders and Eldercide. Those mysteries basically sank without a trace, triggering major depressive episodes that laid me low for far too long, and I hope never again to experience those depths of despair. To that end, I’ll be resurrecting both novels in new online and print editions in May, or at least before the summer solstice. In the meantime, you can still buy the first editions on Amazon, but I’d rather you buy them from me directly, because I suspect the original publisher hasn’t been paying me the requisite royalties.

Speaking of money, I’m reviving my GoFundMe campaign. At the rate I’m racking up expenses, it won’t be long before I max out my credit card, and I can use all the help I can get. You could win prizes, including maybe an acknowledgment or a character named for you in Sunrise or Shadow, the sequel to Hope Dawns Eternal. For more information, check out my GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Every little bit helps, and who knows, before long you may be able to brag that you knew me when! I’ll be eternally grateful for each and every donation.

*Strictly speaking, Hope Dawns Eternal is the most romantic and sexy since The Flip Side, my unpublished first novel inspired by my work as a creative arts therapist in a mental hospital. One of these days, I may actually publish it too!

I

Wanted! Advance Readers and Reviewers for HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL

Caleb MorleyHow would you like to be one of the very first to read my vampire soap opera thriller, Hope Dawns Eternal? So far, only my husband has read the entire novel. A few writers have read isolated chapters, or heard me read scenes aloud, but no one else has read it in its entirety.

I’m not looking for critiques or editorial suggestions. I welcome comments, but I’m not going to change anything – not unless someone signs me to a three-book contract and pays me lots of money upfront. My last post about why I don’t want an editor inspired some spirited discussion in some online discussion groups, particularly the one associated with the International Women Writers Guild, but I’m standing my ground for now.

Right now I’m looking for people who will commit to reading the entire manuscript and then writing blurbs or brief reviews that I can use in publicizing Hope Dawns Eternal online. If you’re really speedy, I may be able to quote you in the book itself, because I still haven’t completed the front and back material. I’m envisioning the kind of quotes you see filling the first couple of pages of a trade paperback, comments that tempt the reader to buy.  But you need to get them to me by Sunday, February 22nd, at the latest, because I’m going to send the book off for formatting next Monday. If you miss that deadline, I’d still welcome your comments for future use, but they won’t appear in the book.

Not my cover but it has the right noirish feel

Not my cover but it has the right noirish feel

Of course if you hate the book, you don’t have to write anything at all. But I welcome your opinions anyway – if nothing else, I may take them into account as I begin the next installment. You can even tell me I should have hired an editor! I especially welcome comments from published writers, and I’ll gladly include a book or series title after your name. But if you’re simply a reader, that’s fine too. And I’d love to include quotes from a few soap opera fans, because you’re the audience who will love this book the most.

So how much reading am I talking about? The manuscript stands at 78,318 words. That’s 265 pages double-spaced, typed the way you’d see them fresh out of my printer before formatting. If you’re interested, please e-mail me privately at julielomoe@nycap.rr.com. In addition, please leave a comment on this blog so that I’ll know you’re motivated enough to actually type something!

If you’d rather donate money, that’s great too. Go to www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Better still, do both! You’ll have my undying appreciation.

Woman reading summer hammock

UPDATE Saturday, February 21st. Since I published this post two days ago, I’ve changed my strategy. It’s too late to expect you to read or react to anything by Monday, and I’m not going to include blurbs in the first edition, but I’m still looking for readers – especially published writers. There’s no longer a huge rush. But please, if you’re interested, include a paragraph about who you are and why you want to read it, so that I know you’re literate. Also, I may send out just the first couple of chapters. Then, if you like it, I may send more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What, me hire an editor? No way!

Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard

Hallelujah! HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL is finally ready to publish, or almost. Yesterday I finished combining the prologue and 36 chapters into one gigantic document of 265 pages and 78,318 words – longer than I’d expected, but an ideal length for the first book of a trilogy. Or who knows, maybe it’ll become a longer series. I feel as if I’ve barely begun to explore all the possibilities in this paranormal soap opera vampire saga.

In countless workshops and articles, I’ve heard the same advice: get an editor. I’ve always disregarded it, convinced I’m my own best editor. This time my husband, who has extensive professional experience in publishing, gave my final draft a careful read-through, and he found relatively few things that needed changing. Even so, it’s amazing how many nit-picky things I’ve found to research even after I thought I was finished.

Murray's Cheese Bar, Bleecker Street, NY

Murray’s Cheese Bar, Bleecker Street, NY

The names of cheeses, for example – how do you know which to capitalize? Swiss cheese, with its many holes, is a no brainer, but how about Brie or Stilton? Yes, they’re capitalized because they’re named for specific locations where they originated, but it takes some Googling to find out which are actual place names. Some are capitalized because they’re domain-protected, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, which can only be made in those specific cities. We don’t capitalize ricotta, though, because the name simply means “recooked.”

And what about hats? I had my hero hunkered down in a cab, with a fedora Hat styles - menpulled down low to hide his face, but I thought I’d better check to be sure that was actually the correct word for the hat I was visualizing. Turns out I was right. Picture Bogart, Sinatra or the film noir heroes and villains of countless 40’s movies – they’re all wearing fedoras. But in the course of my research, I learned all about porkpies and homburgs too.

 

Then there are new-fangled terms like showrunner. It’s the trendy term for the head honchos/creators/auteurs of TV series, like David Chase of The Sopranos  and Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad.* But is it one word or two? When I was working on my first draft two years ago, Word’s Spellcheck underlined showrunner with that squiggly red line every time I used it, but now the powers-that-be at Microsoft have decided it’s a genuine word, and the red squiggle is no more. In the new Vanity Fair, however, Beau Willimon, the creator of the Netflix series House of Cards, is described as a hyphenated “show-runner.”

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano

Consistency is the key – that’s why publishers and periodicals have style guides, and they don’t always agree. In my personal style manual, showrunner is one word, but I found a couple of instances where I’d made it two, so I changed them. And I’m ultra-cautious with the “find” and “replace” functions, which can lead to weird consequences. For example, I had a villainous character named “Nick,” and I changed him to “Mick.” My husband caught the line where I said something happened “in the Mick of time.”

But these are just copy editing issues. Then of course there’s the over-all flow of the story line, the characters – I could go on and on about that kind of editing, but I’ve said enough for one post. I’ve done my damnedest to make this novel the very best it can be. That’s not to say it couldn’t be better, but I’m not changing a word. If some agent or publisher wants to take it on and offers me a gazillion dollars upfront, I may reconsider. Until then, for better or worse, Hope Dawns Eternal is a fait accompli, and I’m ready to send it out into the world. With any luck, it will be available by the end of February. Then it’s on to the sequel!

*Brett Martin’s book Difficult Men (Penguin, 2013) is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of modern series like The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

P.S. I still haven’t found my illustrator and designer, and I need money to hire good ones. Please help by donating to me at www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Every little bit helps, and I’m offering prizes. I may even name a character after you!

 

 

 

 

Soap Operas: Fifteen Unwritten Rules

HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL, my new paranormal soap opera thriller, is practically finished. I plan to have the final edit completed by my birthday, July 31st, and to make it available online in September, so it’s high time I start building some buzz about it.

Michael Easton as John McBain

Michael Easton as John McBain

My hero, Lieutenant Jonah McQuarry, is the narrator. With his years of experience as a soap character, he has an expert but often cynical take on the venerable traditions of daytime drama.

Here are fifteen of the conventions he talks about. While they’re not hard and fast rules, they occur more often than not. See what you think:

  1. When two friends or former spouses share a hug, usually in times of tension or grief, one of their significant others discovers them. That person may sneak away to brood in silence or may confront them openly, but either way, he or she refuses to believe it’s just a friendly hug.
  2. People don’t phone ahead to set up appointments or check whether someone is available. They prefer to drop in unexpectedly.
  3.  When someone knocks, those inside open the door without asking who it is, much less using an intercom or peephole.
    An exception occurs when there is no answer, the visitor barges in, and two people are caught in bed in flagrante delicto.
  4.  When a man and woman have spontaneous, unplanned sex, the woman gets pregnant.
  5. If the pregnancy is unwanted, it never ends in abortion. The woman may consider terminating the pregnancy and may even discuss it, but always decides to keep the fetus, which is always referred to as “the baby” even in the first few weeks.
  6. When two people are shown in a car, there will be a crash, usually resulting in a fatality or at least a life-threatening injury. It’s never just a fender bender.
  7. When people share confidential information with each other, they do so in a public place, and usually in perfectly audible voices. Preferred locations are parks, hallways, bars and restaurants. It follows that:
  8.  Someone is eavesdropping. That person will share the information in nefarious ways.
  9.  The people who shared the information will be flabbergasted that the news got out, and will usually blame each other for spilling the secret.
  10.  Anyone who shares a secret on condition that the other person swears never to tell another soul is delusional, because that person always confides it to someone else.
  11. People spend enormous amounts of time discussing and bringing each other up to date on the goings-on of everyone else.
  12. Many of these people have professional careers or run newspapers or corporations, but they are rarely shown at work, and they never let their responsibilities interfere with the more important business of discussing the other characters. Partial exceptions include cops, doctors, lawyers and others whose jobs impact directly on the plot.
  13. Those with no discernable jobs or income nevertheless live in lavish or at least comfortable living quarters.
  14. These living quarters are always immaculate and clutter-free, though the inhabitants are never shown cleaning house.
  15. Unless someone is shown actually dying, for example flat-lining in an intensive care unit, that person can never be considered unconditionally dead. Even flat-liners can sometimes be miraculously resurrected. At the very least, they can come back as ghosts.

Can you think of any soap opera conventions I’ve left out? Do you disagree with any of mine, or do you want to elaborate on them? Please leave me your comments. And please subscribe to this blog so as not to miss any exciting new developments as publication of HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL draws near.

Hobnobbing with Agents in the Big Apple

 

Site of the IWWG Summer Conference in August

Site of the IWWG Summer Conference in August

Back in April, I attended the second day of the International Women Writers Guild’s Spring Big Apple conference. I wrote the following piece for their newsletter, and I’m delighted to learn that they published it almost in its entirety. (They diplomatically deleted my critique of the old events, which were held back when IWWG was under different leadership.) Their newsletter included the link to this blog, so I’m hoping some of their members will wander over this way – and maybe subscribe and leave comments.

I’m excited about my newly finished novel, Hope Dawns Eternal, and eager to see it in print, so I was all set to go the self-publishing route, as I did with my two previous mysteries, but IWWG’s Spring Big Apple Conference inspired me to rethink my strategy.

I was ambivalent about signing up. I’d attended a couple of these events a decade or so ago, and although I did get a couple of leads – which ultimately didn’t pan out – I found them disorganized and disappointing. Queuing up in long lines in order to get a couple of minutes to pitch my work to the agents, I could barely muster up the poise it takes to deliver an effective elevator speech, and most of the agents seemed as frazzled as I felt.

This time, with 10-minute sessions scheduled online in advance, I decided to give the Meet the Agents event one more try. Once registered, I printed out the blurbs for the agents, studied them and targeted those who handle fiction. Though the slots were filling up fast, I managed to schedule appointments with four agents and one lawyer. With Cynthia Stillwell and Kristin Conroy as time keepers and task masters, the sessions ran like clockwork, and I felt I had each agent’s undivided attention.

The earlier talks and panels gave me some valuable pointers on how to craft my pitch, and I’m delighted to report that all four agents want me to send them my work. Even better, three of the four seemed genuinely enthusiastic to an extent I’ve never experienced at similar events in the past. But then how could they resist a paranormal thriller about vampires and soap operas?

Remember Port Charles?

Remember Port Charles?

So it’s back to the classic routine I thought I’d abandoned forever – crafting an enticing query letter and synopsis, polishing my first few chapters and sending them out either online or with the old-time SASE, depending on their specifications. I’m researching other agents as well – I won’t necessarily restrict myself to these three. Meanwhile, I plan to reissue my older novels as e-books and keep building my presence online, in hopes of landing the agent of my dreams.

My heartfelt thanks to IWWG for putting together such an inspiring event – one I’m confident will help me reboot my career and take it to a level higher than I’d ever dared to dream of.

To learn more about the International Women Writers Guild, go to www.iwwg.org. They’re having a four-day conference in Litchfield, Connecticut this August. I attended several when they were held at Skidmore in Saratoga, and I have writer friends who go religiously every year. I recommend it especially for women who are suffering from writer’s block or need help finding their voices as writers. Fortunately, I no longer fit those categories, so I’m probably going to pass this year, though who knows, I could still change my mind.

Please subscribe and leave your comments – I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

UPDATE – Saturday, June 7th

Two major changes since this post:

  • I’ve decided to go to the IWWG conference after all.
  • I’ve decided to self-publish after all, rather than retreat to the old model of querying agents.
Me and Romeo at Lake George on June 5th

Me and Romeo at Lake George on June 5th

The conference in Litchfield looks irresistible, especially because of the location. Wisdom House is set on 70 acres, with a swimming pool and labyrinth, and it looks as if I’ll have ample time and space to have my own mini-retreat if I’m not in the mood for nonstop conferencing and socializing.

My husband came back from a day of workshops on e-publishing at the recent Book Expo in NYC, full of information and enthusiasm for the opportunities for authors who have the gumption to go it on their own.

I’ll blog more about these soon. But right now, I’m off for some shopping and gardening before I settle in to watch the Belmont. Romeo, the horse I rode at Lake George two days ago, has the same coloring as California Chrome – chestnut with a white blaze and feet – though he and I are a bit slower. I’ve always loved chestnut horses, though, ever since as a teen I fell in love with one named Diablo.

Anyone out there going to the IWWG conference? I’d love to hear from you – and from anyone else, for that matter.