July 30, 2012

Join Me for a Live Twitter Book Chat!

Come join me and authors Shelle Sumners and Nora Zelevansky for a live Twitter chat for Self Magazine this Thursday, August 2nd at 2:00 Central time.
Don't have a Twitter account? Well, GET ONE!
Should be fun!

July 26, 2012

Anyone Can Write A Novel!

Funny video for anyone who wants to write a novel.

July 20, 2012

Two Authors Thinking They're Filmmakers

Amy Nathan, author of the fabulous blog Women's Fiction Writers, and I attempted to make a vlog - video blog - about the upcoming publication of my book. Like Amy says, "A vlog is serious business, folks. No, really. Serious business that required dinner and two glasses of wine at its completion."
Okay...we're writers, not filmmakers, just remember that. Amy will post the completed video soon but meanwhile we thought you'd enjoy some outtakes.

July 14, 2012

Movie Review: Magic Mike *

Magic Mike should make some magic and disappear. What a stupid movie. I always forget how much I dislike Matthew McConaughey until I'm watching him. He's the same in every movie and sometimes that works better than others, depending on the movie (mostly it doesn't work at all for me), but you can almost hear the director as you're watching him in Magic Mike: "No...sleazier!" "Okay, reeeeaaaally swivel your hips now." "Okay, now lick your lips in a lewd and lascivious way." You're always conscience that he's acting (or trying to) and he seems to be thinking, aren't I good?
In a word...no.
Should I have expected a storyline? Probably not. But I did, and whatever's there is extremely thin, nearly invisible to the naked eye. There's the new-kid-on-the-stripping-block who magically becomes the club favorite, even though he's never done this before and doesn't even dance. Yeah, that's believable. Then there's the disgusted sister who has no use at all for Mike and his "career" until suddenly she's laughing uproariously at his jokes (which aren't funny) and you can practically see the lightbulb going off over her head. You know this device: boy meets girl, girl hates boy, girl discovers she loves boy. It makes for a good story if it's done right. In this movie it's not. Again, you can hear the director: "Okay, you're starting to find him attractive." She giggles at nothing. Director: "Okay, now it's dawning on you that you're liking this guy." She laughs raucously at nothing.
I finally had enough and left, so I have no idea how this movie ends. But I can guess. And even if I'm wrong...who cares?
BTW, I almost always agree with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune but shockingly he gave Magic Mike 3-1/2 stars. Michael, Michael, Michael...
From me? one star for Magic Mike.

July 12, 2012

Advance Reviews for What More Could You Wish For

“Everything old is new again – especially in matters of the heart. Samantha Hoffman vividly renders a tale of angst, terror and triumph inherent in the process of finding true love, no matter the age. Hoffman reminds us all that it’s as hard to let go of love as it is to put down this rich gem of a modern-day Cinderella tale.” Cathie Beck, author of Cheap Cabernet"What More Could You Wish For is a book you won’t want to put down. It is heart-felt, funny, sad and poignant – a delightful tale. Highly recommended.” –Marilyn Heyman, Romance Reviews Today

July 6, 2012

Love Letter to Lookingglass...

Dear Lookingglass Theatre,
I love you. I'm sorry that our relationship is so one-sided - you give me so much and I give so little in return - just a few dollars which seems so inadequate.
I've been a subscriber for a few years now and can't remember any production I wasn't enthralled with. Oh, I'm sure there must be something - you're not perfect after allbut I'm wracking my brain and nothing comes to mind.
There's no permanent stage here so it's a new experience every time I step into your theater, and you never cease to dazzle me with your creativity. The current production of Eastland  has a very minimalist set but as the play unfolds you see so much more than what's in front of you. That's genius. That's innovation and inspiration.
The acting in Eastland  (and all your productions) is stellar, the singing beautiful, the direction perfect, the story haunting. I loved the music, altho there were two places that were very reminiscent (unintentionally, I'm sure, but striking, to me) of songs from West Side Story. Be that as it may, I am moved to look for the CD.
It's hardly fair to single out any one person - the entire cast is superb - but I have to say that Claire Wellin as Bobbie has a clear and lovely voice that thrilled me. I didn't want her to stop singing.
Eastland  is the unimaginable, but true, tragedy of a boat that tipped over onto its side in the Chicago River in 1915, killing 844 people. Not the typical stuff of musicals but it's beautifully done. The final act brought tears to my eyes for its poignancy.
Anyway, Lookingglass Theatre, Eastland is just one in a long line of amazing plays you've given to me. You continue to give and give and give and ask so little in return. I will try to manage my guilt.
I can't wait to see what's coming.

July 5, 2012

Countdown to Publication!

I'm counting the days before my book What More Could You Wish For is published by the venerable St. Martin's Press. I couldn't wish for more than that!
There's so much going on:
1. SAVE THE DATE: On August 2nd I'll be on a Twitter chat with two other authors with Self Magazine. They'll be giving away a package of our three books - great beach reads. Tune in here.
2. SAVE THE DATE: On August 11th at 12:30p CST I'll be on WGN Radio with Bill Moller talking about my book and how I got published. So cool. 720am on your radio dial if you live in Chicago, listen live online here if you don't.
3. AND...the publication date is August 7th! That's when you'll be able to find my book in bookstores (yay!). But you can pre-order now on these sites: your favorite independent bookseller, B&N, or Amazon.
4. Read this great review from Amy Sue Nathan, my St. Martin's sister.

Wait, there's more! REGISTER here TO WIN A SIGNED ADVANCED READING COPY of What More Could You Wish For. The names of the first fifty people to send an email  will go into a hat for a drawing on July 20th and the winner will receive what's sure to be a collector's item. Or at least a good doorstop. (An ARC is what's known as a bound galley and isn't quite finished - there are still has some typos and the cover does n't have my photo (oh no!). But it does call my book a "charming debut.")

July 3, 2012

Cirque du Soliel - Dralion

I'm wild for Cirque du Soliel. Well, almost always. Last year I saw OVO and it was the first time I left feeling disappointed. So I was a little worried about this year's performance, not that it stopped me from going. So glad I did - it was fantastic. Not quite as remarkable as Allegria (but maybe that's because that was one of the first I ever saw), or O which I saw in Las Vegas and was crazy-good. But Dralion is definitely up there. So beautiful and magical and creative. My favorite parts were the trampoline people who bounced off  the walls. I've seen that before (one of the good parts of OVO) but it's still enthralling. The other was the jump rope segment. You have to see it to understand how jumping rope can take on a new dimension. Watch the video below for a sample and then get over to the United Center to see Dralion.

July 1, 2012

Movie Review: To Rome With Love **1/2

I like about half of Woody Allen's films (but see them all) and To Rome With Love is going to have to go in the half I'm not crazy about. It's an odd story, which can work, but this is all over the place with different story lines and no acknowledgement of time, so we're not quite sure what's happening when. Some things seem to be taking place in one day but as we move from story to story there are things that couldn't happen in a year much less a day. It's all very confusing. And some very goofy story lines, like the opera singer who can only sing in the shower so Woody Allen's character produces operas where he appears on stage in a shower stall and all the action happens around him. The audience laughed at this but I just rolled my eyes and looked at my watch. Too silly for me.
And then there's the guy, a simple businessman, who is suddenly and inexplicably famous with paparazzi following him everywhere, asking what he eats for breakfast and if he wears boxers or briefs. And then suddenly his fame disappears and he doesn't know how to live without it. This must be a metaphor for Woody Allen's life, altho I don't see how.
The film has its good parts; one being Alec Baldwin as a famous architect who runs into Jesse Eisenberg's character and then becomes his alter-ego giving him relationship advice. He has some of the funniest lines and for all his craziness Alec Baldwin is one of my favorite actors.
Another good thing is the photography - how can you lose when shooting in one of the most beautiful cities in the world?
I always love Woody Allen's ensemble casts and his whiny Jewish humor, even if it's a little redundant by now. And it's all here, just not quite the way I want it to be.
But maybe next year's film will be more to my liking.
P.S. I love that all these years, for every single film, he has used the same font and style for the credits; always white type on a black background. Simple. I'm not sure why I like that so much but I do.