August 28, 2012

Abusive Relationships the Rage in Fiction?

Author Laurie Frankel poses an interesting question:  Why the nationwide summer taste for abusive relationships?
Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels have been the hot best-sellers all summer and you have to wonder at  people's penchant to read about the kind of relationships portrayed in these books. It's not the eroticism Laurie or I have a problem with (which I didn't find erotic - I can't speak for Laurie), it's the theme of a powerful, abusive man vs. a weak, submissive woman. Jeez, how can that be entertaining?
What the heck makes things like this catch on? Is it a commentary on public taste or contemporary morals?
Holy shit (to quote the heroin in Fifty Shades of Grey - only one example of the splendid dialogue), I hope not! I hope it's just simple boredom and a jump-on-the-bandwagon craze that will pass. Although it doesn't look anyone's capping that well any time soon since the Grey  novels are into their twenty-something week on the NY Times best seller list. NY TIMES, for pete's sake! WTF?

Fifty Shades of Gone Girl
by Laurie Frankel
As you know (where you = a person on earth), the two big books of the summer are actually four: the three Fifty Shades of Gray books and Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Having just finished the latter, what I'm wondering is this: 
Why the nationwide summer taste for abusive relationships? Not abusive relationships in a Lifetime movie kind of way. Much stranger than that. Consensual abusive relationships. Fantastical abusive relationships. Wildly complicated and begged for abusive relationships. Love so hopelessly confused as abuse, violent abuse, possibly murderous abuse, that you can't tell the difference.
Read the rest of Laurie's post.

August 20, 2012

How To Change The Video Image Created By Constant Contact

There's a nifty feature in Constant Contact (an email marketing program) where you can embed a YouTube video in your email blast and Constant Contact will create an image for you. So I was creating a blast for my friend and client, Mikki Williams, and look at the image that was created for me (right).
Not such a nifty feature when the image looks like that.

(Sorry, Mikki. But there's a payoff for you - I'm linking to info about Speakers School with Mikki Williams, CSP.)
Which, by the way folks, if you have any interest in becoming a professional speaker, you MUST attend!

Anyway, here's the dilemma - how do I wipe that unattractive grimace off of Mikki's face? I'm loath to send out an email blast to thousands of people with that image (the fact that I just put it out into the cyber-universe notwithstanding). I tried restarting the video and stopping at a different point and then copying the link to see if it would create a different image but there was no change.
So here's what I did: I took a screen shot of the YouTube video where Mikki has a nice smile on her face and I opened it in Photoshop (any other photo-editing program will work just as well - Gimp, for one, and that one's free). Then I found an image of a 'play' button and I opened that in Photoshop too. Then I cloned the play button onto the good-Mikki screen shot and saved the whole thing as a JPEG file. So now it looks like this:
Much better, right?
Next I imported the new image into the Constact Contact email I was creating, and I linked it to the original YouTube video.
Voila! Good-Mikki works the same way as grimacing-Mikki, only cuter! And isn't that what it's all about?

August 16, 2012

What More Could You Wish For review

A beautifully written story, WHAT MORE COULD YOU WISH FOR will capture the interest of readers from the first page to the last. Libby is an excellent character who is trying to figure out where her life is going. She has a close relationship with her family and good friends, but she is not so sure that marriage is in the cards for her. If only Michael wouldn't add to her confusion by surprising her with rings and other things! She is surprised to have two men vying for her attention. 
Written in first person, 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

Read the entire review from Romance Reviews Today.

August 14, 2012

Life In The Retirement Community

No, I didn't write this - I don't live in a retirement community. At least not yet, although we all know I more than meet the minimum age requirement. My best friend Judi Tepe does, and she writes a slice of life column for the Sun Day. I just cracked up at this article she wrote recently - although it garnered her a bunch of hate mail from some of the single women in the community.
It's great when you look at the world through laugh-colored eyes but when you don't...well, I guess you send hate mail to those who do.

When a single man comes to town…
By Judi Tepe 

I can say without reservation that one of the most exciting events in any over-55 community occurs when a single man moves in. The men on the block look at this happening as just another guy to borrow a ladder from, but the women view this as a challenge, and a major one at that.
It begins when the moving truck pulls up in front of the recently-sold house. Suddenly we women have gardening to do, windows needing to be washed, or are awaiting some important mail that requires at least several trips to the mailbox in one afternoon. The types of furniture unloaded and taken into the house is the first and usually major indicator of marital status. Experience has taught us that leather sofas and chairs, especially those in solid black or gray, almost certainly spell single male, commonly referred to as The SM. The lack of candy dishes, flower arrangements, chintz throw pillows, ANY pillows, side tables, boxes labeled “holiday decorations,” or a Kitchen Aide stand mixer, well, we women already know what our mission is going to be.After a reasonable amount of time has passed and our new neighbor has set up his garage and had the cable guy out, we begin to seriously assess the situation. This particular assessment is done on a scale from 1-5. I’ll explain.

August 12, 2012

If You Missed My Interview...

If you missed my interview with Bill Moller on WGN Radio yesterday you can listen here

What fun! Bill is the perfect host - made me feel as if we were chatting in my living room (except for all the equipment and the headphones and the WGN logos everywhere.)

Bill's family was in the studio with us - from here they were leaving for vacation to Door County. Sorry for the blurred picture, Bill. It would have been a keeper if it was in focus. Obviously I'm a better writer than photographer. 
By the way, Bill's wife's name is Elizabeth, the same name as the main character in What More Could You Wish For. Coincidence or karma?

August 9, 2012

Listen to me on WGN Radio on Saturday!

I made my famous oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies for Bill Moller, who's interviewing me on WGN Radio about my book and my publishing process. Should be fun! (The cookies are how I bribed him to get the interview. Don't tell anyone, but he's a sucker for cookies.)
Be sure to tune in on Saturday, August 11th at 12:30 p.m. - 720 on your AM radio dial in Chicago or listen online - just CLICK HERE.  

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies 
3 dozen cookies

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup rolled oats
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 eggs
 • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 12 ounces block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
• Large flake sea salt, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and kosher salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter. Using the paddle attachment beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat them into the butter/sugar mixture. Add vanilla.
With a rubber spatula or with the stand mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts.
Spoon the cookie dough by an ice cream scoop into balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place 2 inches apart. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes.
When the cookies come out of the oven IMMEDIATELY sprinkle each cookie with a few grains of sea salt. This is really important to do while the cookies are hot.
Let the cookies cool for 2 to 3 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

August 7, 2012

4 Stars for What More Could You Wish For

by Samantha Hoffman
RT Rating
Hoffman’s first novel about falling in and out of love in midlife is an easy read. It’s also a must-read for strongminded women who want to follow their hearts. The story shows us that times of grief awaken a place within one’s self for repairing broken heartstrings and making new beginnings.
Libby Carson has achieved her dream job, with plenty of devoted clients. Her history with men is not something she is proud of, but it makes her strive to fill her life with other interests and activities. She’s happy with accepting and entertaining friends. But what is Libby really looking for in a relationship with the opposite sex? When she receives not one but two marriage proposals, she must finally decide what she wants. During her morning runs through the woods, she tries to find clarity of heart. (ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN, Aug., 256 pp., $14.99)
Reviewed By: Lindy J. Swanson
Published: August 2012

My Book is Born!

Today's the day. It's finally here - the publication day for What More Could You Wish For by Samantha Hoffman. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! (That's me, laughing hysterically at this most amazing event.)
I'm told that this day can be anti-climactic and maybe that's true but I won't know, really, until the day actually begins. Right now it's 3:09 a.m. and I have no hope of sleeping. I have butterflies in my stomach and a headache which I think is because my brain can't  process the enormity of what's happening for me today -  that the last decade that I've spent with this book has come to this one day when I'll be able to walk into a bookstore and see it sitting on a shelf, with my name on the cover and the St. Martin's Press's logo.
I bet I don't have to tell you how thrilling this is.
I'm thinking at some point fireworks will explode in the sky and bells will ring and trumpets will blow. Isn't that how it works? Or that the phone will ring and it will be President Obama or George Clooney congratulating me. Or the paparazzi will be waiting when I leave the building tomorrow.
Alright, clearly I'm hallucinating. I need to go back to bed and try to get some sleep now - I have a big day ahead of me.
And RCN's coming for the third time to try to get my wi-fi connection working.
Oh, and I have a dentist appointment. That wasn't very good planning, was it?

August 2, 2012

What More Could You Wish For Than Being Interviewed by Amy Nathan

Well, you've seen the outtakes, now here's the real thing. Thanks, Amy!