Monthly Archives: August 2013

Theresa Paolo Has a Lovely Cover

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Hey, my Booker-Albert LIterary Agency sistah Theresa Paolo has a lovely cover for a great new book coming out in the fall. Check it out, won’t you?

Theresa writes, “Today is the day! The official cover reveal for (Never) Again to be published by (Berkley) Penguin on October 15th, 2013.”

Never_Again-5Just when she had finally moved on…

…He moved back.

When  college freshman Liz Wagner hears her ex’s voice for the first time since he moved clear across the freaking country, she does what any respectable girl would do: Dive into the girls’ bathroom.

Zach Roberts—the Zach Roberts—is back. And he’s everywhere Liz looks—infiltrating her friend group, buddy-buddy with her brother. It’s enough to ruin college altogether. But what choice does she have but to put on a happy face and pretend he didn’t leave her vulnerable and alone in a pile of emotional wreckage?

Pretending works, until tragedy strikes and the only person available for comfort is the one person she wants to stay away from. When Zach turns out not to be the jerk she convinced herself he was, but the boy she used to love, Liz needs to decide whether to open her heart again to the boy who tore it out.

Available for preorder on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads.

Theresa Paolo lives in the same town she grew up in on Long Island, NY with her boyfriend IMG_8057and Milton, their big eyed goldfish. She has a hard time accepting the fact she’s nearing thirty which is why she writes New Adult and Young Adult books, reliving the best and worst years of her life through her characters. She put her love of writing on hold while she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Dowling College. On November 11, 2011, at 11:11 she made a wish. Two hours later she was laid off.  Jobless for the first time since she was sixteen she was determined to make her wish come true. Writing became her life again and after many nights of ignoring her boyfriend to spend time with her characters, she finally received the call that all her hard work, finger crossing and eye crossing paid off. She signed with Berkley (Penguin) and her debut novel, (Never) Again, a NA romance, will be out in Fall 2013. When she’s not writing, she’s behind a camera or can be found in the blogosphere or on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

A Long-Lost Chick Flick!

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So just the other day I was thinking fondly of one of my favorite movies from the ’80s. (Yes, I know. I’m old. Shut up.) I got a hankering to watch it again, so I checked all the usual suspects—Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video. And…nothing. I’m going to have to buy the DVD if I want to see it again, so helloooo Amazon’s 1-Click. Because, it occurred to me, this movie played a key role in making me a contemporary romantic comedy writer.

So what is it? See if you recognize it: American Dreamer. I think it’s one of the best examples of a 20th century chick flick, even though it never makes it onto a “best of” list. If you’ve never heard of it, or if you did but can’t quite recall the plot, it goes like this:

Beleaguered suburban housewife Cathy Palmer (JoBeth Williams) lives for her family—her quite dull and condescending husband (he calls her “kid”) and her two adorable, precocious boys. She spends her days running errands, cleaning the house, and cooking meals for the menfolk, but her passion, and her escape, is a book series with a glamorous female James Bond–like main character, Rebecca Ryan. Rebecca is the opposite of Cathy—she’s rich, oozes self-confidence, lives in Paris, and solves international mysteries while wearing haute couture. She has a fabulous love life and a loyal gay best friend sidekick, Dmitri.

Cathy devours these books one after the other and rereads them so often she has all the details memorized. In fact, she knows the Rebecca Ryan books so well that when she sees an advertisement for a contest, “Write in the style of the Rebecca Ryan novels and win a trip for two to Paris, meet the author, and attend a luncheon in your honor,” she fires off a sample chapter easily—and she wins! …And then her jerk of a husband tells her they can’t go because he’s too busy at work.

He thinks he’s laid down the law and she’ll obey, but Cathy rebels and goes without him. Her first day in Paris, however, she gets knocked down by a purse snatcher and hits her head. When she wakes up in the hospital, she has no I.D. and no memory of her suburban life or her family. She thinks she’s Rebecca Ryan.

She marches into the hotel suite that’s Rebecca’s home in the books to find the author’s son, Alan (Tom Conti), who lives there. He thinks she’s an actor sent there as a joke by one of his friends. She thinks he’s Dmitri. She refuses to “break character,” so Alan decides to humor her. Then she finds intrigue around every corner—involving several politicians and ambassadors—and drags Alan along to solve these “mysteries.” Hilarity ensues, as does a romance between Cathy/Rebecca and Alan/Dmitri (in between much running around and dodging bullets).

I swear, this movie is fantastic. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and viewers shouldn’t take it seriously either. It’s just plain fun—and it incorporates every great thing about chick lit and flicks: a main character who’s bored with her life and starts looking for excitement, an adorable and at times frazzled hero (OMG my crush on Tom Conti and his gorgeous hair—!), comedy, action, romance, glamorous settings, fabulous clothes, and a happily ever after. What more could you want? Oh yeah—and it’s got a fake-out ending just to add to the fun.

Back when it was released in 1984 (I said shut up), it was dismissed as a copy of Romancing the Stone. The romance-plus-adventure-in-an-exotic-place combo is similar, but they were released the same year, so it wasn’t like they set out to copy it. At the time, female-centric, romance-tinged adventure movies were actually pretty rare. There were some, of course, but when we talk about the history of chick flicks, we sort of skip a couple of decades, going from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) to When Harry Met Sally… (1989). Movies like American Dreamer, Romancing the Stone, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) (another unhappy housewife with amnesia, come to think of it), and Working Girl (1988) all get forgotten—as chick flicks, at least. And that’s a shame, because those are all great films, and they fit the genre in their own unique ways.

I can’t remember if I saw American Dreamer at the movies or not, but I distinctly remember seeing it on HBO, back when they played certain movies repeatedly until those of us at home on summer vacation had them memorized. (American Dreamer was one; Eddie and the Cruisers was another. All of Me and The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, too. Oh—and Fame. But I digress. HBO in the ’80s is another blog post entirely.) Anyway, I remember deciding that someday I was going to write something just as fun and funny and silly and romantic as American Dreamer.

I’ve never gotten close to the fast-paced madcap adventures of that movie, but hey—I’ve only got three books under my belt so far. Combining the fun, frivolity, excitement, and adorable romance of American Dreamer is something to work toward! And maybe I’ll give one of my heroes an incredible head of hair in homage to Tom Conti, too.

Rom Com No. 2 Is Here!

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unscrcoverOooh it’s a good day. My second contemporary romantic comedy, Unscripted, is out today! Check it out!

It’s the story of Faith Sinclair, a high-powered executive producer with a very successful TV show…until she gets into a bit of a “disagreement” with the studio head, loses her job, and has to move heaven and earth to get it back. Plus she’s got to deal with a mooching stepbrother, an overbearing movie producer mother, and a former star of her show with whom she has an…embarrassing history, let’s say. Fortunately she meets hottie college professor Mason Mitchell, and that makes everything all right in the end. Hey, it’s a happily ever after, after all!

Here’s a bit of it—and if you like it, go git it!

Usually, grabbing a man’s balls can take you far in this business. I mean, the Hollywood entertainment industry? Please. Far worse has gone down in the name of getting ahead. (No pun intended.) (Okay, maybe a little.) But that particular move came close to ending my career; I just didn’t notice at the time.

But then, I wasn’t really thinking rationally, let alone considering the “consequences of my actions,” because I was having my usual knock-down, drag-out argument with my boss, Randy Bastard (real name: Randy Barstow). And, as usual, we were out of our chairs and nose to nose—well, figuratively, at least; in what I preferred to think of as my don’t-fuck-with-me-or-you’ll-get-a-stiletto-in-your-ear heels, I was half a head taller than he was. So it was more nose to bald spot as I attempted to “explain” myself. That was pretty tough, because I just wanted to slap the smirk off his face instead of using my words like a grown-up. Plus I was finding it pretty difficult to make a cogent point when I was all up in his aura, which reeked of caramelized onions and stale gym sweat.

I did try.

“Okay, let’s put it another way,” I said, exhaling in short, quick puffs. “All that stuff you just brought up? Not happening. Modern Women’s ratings are doing fine without some ass-backward ideas about what constitutes ‘entertainment’ that were outdated two decades ago. So you can keep the donated outfits from your cousin’s lingerie shop, because my female characters aren’t parading around in them for your jollies. And there will be no bouncing-cheerleader scenes for no apparent reason. My characters—and the women who portray them—will never, ever be anything less than three-dimensional individuals. These characters are not just strutting life-size Barbie dolls, and their story arcs will most definitely not focus only on sex. Have I covered everything to your satisfaction, you perv?”

I probably shouldn’t have called him a perv, but hey, if it walks like a duck and all that—and Randy definitely walked like a duck. He was also president of the unfortunately abbreviated EWW (Entertainment Worldwide) channel, a second-tier cable network that was home to my hit dramedy, Modern Women. The network wasn’t half bad, but Randy? He was another story. Dude made me see red even on my best days. And today was hardly one of my best, with Randy—yet again—challenging me in a meeting with a dozen other suits about creative control, making idiotic recommendations about my show. Mine. I created it, I exec-produced it, I wrote every episode. I knew what direction it was going in; I had every bit of the story planned out for the next three seasons, and longer, if it came to that. Not to mention Modern Women rocketed to success in its first season and saved his lame-ass network—I mean, literally kept it from turning into a 24/7 syndication- and infomercial-fest.

He knew all that, but he conveniently forgot it. Why? Because I was a woman—and, even worse for this type of job, halfway decent-looking, with my chestnut hair often in out-of-control-waves and blue eyes that could pin any slacker on my staff to the wall at twenty paces—and he was one of those dinosaurs who still thought it was cute when women try to be in charge of anything besides baking pies and popping out babies. You couldn’t win with those guys. I knew I should have gotten out of the situation. I knew I should have just sat back down at the conference table, among his startled toadies—I could see their wide eyes, each mouth in an identical “O,” out of the corner of my eye—and thank my lucky stars that my Little Show That Could was about to complete its third season on his network.

Yep, that would have been the smart thing to do. But then he said it. All the arguments about story arcs and character development we had been hurling at each other for the past ten minutes vaporized as I focused on the one phrase that issued from his fleshy lips, his voice dripping with sarcasm: “Look, sweetheart—”

It was like my appendage had a life of its own. Although if I had known in advance what it was going to do, I’m not sure I would have stopped it. Honestly, I thought I was dreaming—you know, like in those TV fantasy sequences where you see the main character do something outrageous to his or her nemesis, but then the main character blinks, and reality kicks back in with a zoosh sound effect, and you realize it was all going on in her head? This was like that. Except it actually happened. No life-saving zoosh.

I only realized I had his nards in a vise grip when I saw Randy Bastard’s face get small. It was as if all his facial features congregated in the middle of his face, close to his nose, as if they were huddling together to protect and comfort one another.

Everything froze. In all my thirty-eight years on the planet, my senses were never as heightened as they were at that moment. The midafternoon L.A. sunlight coming through the meeting room’s windows was brilliant and blinding. Randy B.’s rank onions-and-sweat odor burned my nose. I fixated on his navy track pants. I never was able to figure out how he could make expensive clothes—in this case, Givenchy—look cheap. On him, even Armani suits look like they came off the rack at Kmart. I remembered thinking that somebody should have told this network emperor that the stripes on the sides of his pants worked about as well as after-market go-faster stripes on the hood of an ’89 Yugo. And that he probably should have just given up and gone for the Pajama Jeans.

It occurred to me that the track pants were a perilously thin barrier between my hand and his nether regions. And that completely skeeved me out. Because it finally sank in, what I’d done. I’d gotten even closer to him, my nose nearly touching his, and . . . grabbed his ballsack. Right through the damp fabric of his track pants and whatever passed for underwear beneath them (I didn’t want to know). And yeah, I squeezed, but only a little. Just to make my point. Which was . . . how did I put it? Oh yeah.

“My show? It’s about women. And you have no right to tell me how to run my show. You know why? These.” And I gave another squeeze, making sure the sharp tips of my manicured fingernails made themselves known to his, er, boys. Of course, a silent scream of revulsion was ricocheting around in my head, and the rest of my body was recoiling with disgust. But my clawlike fingers held on. “They mean you have no opinion. None. Don’t forget that.”

The instant everyone else in the room realized what I’d done, they all sucked in a horrified breath at the same time. It was kind of impressive, really. If it had been a scene for my show, it would have taken several takes and a whole lot of yelling through a megaphone to get a bunch of extras to all gasp on cue like that. But this reaction was spontaneous.

In the silence that followed—miraculously, not even one cell phone chirped or vibrated on the table—it occurred to me that all those people, from the execs down to the assistants to the assistants, figured I had just dug my own grave and jumped right in.

Point made, I let go of Randy Bastard’s moist and, not surprisingly, suddenly quite small package. One glance at his face, which had gone from parchment white to get-him-his-blood-pressure-meds purple once he knew his boys were safe, and I knew what I had to do next. I resisted wiping my hands on my skirt, fought down the bile rising in my throat, squared my shoulders, and grabbed my expensive leather portfolio bag off the floor. Before Randy B. could find his voice—and before any of us could find out if it had gone up an octave—I muttered, “Yeah, yeah. I’m going,” marched to the door, yanked it open, and strode out.

He didn’t need to shout after me “You’ll never work in this town again;” it was implied. And he didn’t. So he gets points for not succumbing to one of the millions of clichés that ping around L.A. like so many annoying gnats. Or Mini Coopers. But that didn’t stop him spewing a few choice epithets at my back, as well as some threat about my being “done” and another tidbit about “charges for assault.”

I wanted to march triumphantly out of the building, with inspiring music swelling in my wake. But I had to make a brief stop at Randy’s assistant’s desk. I smiled as naturally as I could at the poor waif, who was staring at me, saucer-eyed, terrified of what I had done to set her boss off, and said softly, “Heather, please tell me you have some hand sanitizer in your desk.”