Sunday, December 17, 2006

Season's Greetings from Asbury Park

Holiday Poem

'Twas the night before Christmas, all white with snow,
I was sitting home waiting for the fat man to show.
The cookies were baked and the tree was all trimmed,
My stocking was hung and the lights were all dimmed.
On the stereo King Curtis played soft and I started to snooze,
I admit I had one, or two, ok... maybe four shots of booze.
I sat back to wait and became rather sleepy,
And from there things went awry, got downright creepy.
Cause a buzz or a dream can't explain what came next
The events that unfolded have left me quite vexed.

My peace was disturbed when I heard a loud clatter.
A strong gust knocked over my glass and vodka went *splatter*.
I jolted and tensed, suddenly spooked and confused.
I heard a low laugh; wry, breathy, and dark, but also amused.
"Oh screw me," I said as I got really scared,
"Getting robbed on Christmas? Shit. Dammit. Crap. Merde!"
Then the air got all cold, and the sax faded low,
A door creaked shut, then a laugh, "Heh. Ho."
It wasn't from far, this sound was terribly close.
The hair on my arms rose, I knew this was a ghost.

I took a deep breath and smelled salami no less
My mind was all hazy, this was causing me stress.
The smell made me think of my dead Uncle Sal,
But Sally was friendly and I sensed this wasn't a pal.
"HEY! HO!" it said again and it gave me a shiver.
When I turned 'round and saw him, my knees sure did quiver.
This wasn't my uncle, and it wasn't a trick,
I was standing in front of a guy dressed like Saint Nick.
But something was wrong, and I craved a martini,
Because this fellow resembled James Gandolfini.

"I've been sent as an ambassador," he said with a flair.
"To take your requests. That is, if you dare."
I just stood there dumbly, blinking my eyes,
Unsure if this visit was my curse or my prize.
"You're a very bad girl," he said full of malice.
Suddenly I wished I'd visited my brother in Dallas.
"I’m also here to warn you," he said full of glee.
I thought, who is this punk that is threatening me?
But I looked at him again and I couldn't stay mad,
Although he's a gangster, he's also a really sweet dad.

Gimme a break, you thought I'd still be afraid?
Dead, alive, ghost, whatever, I had it made!
He shouted again and I squealed with joy,
But the look on his face said he wasn't a toy.
He went, "You have to atone, you gotta do something nice,
"Listen to me now, I won't be telling you twice.
"Think smart and think hard, and then say something quick,
"I am a present sent instead of St. Nick."
"Alright, that's enough," I said as I poured us a drink.
"What's going on? I need time to think."

"Listen to me," Jimmy, he said it quite loudly,
"You've had a nice year." And at that, I beamed proudly.
He was right, it was true, in three collections I'd been pubbed,
And for a Pushcart I'd been nommed, nothing had flubbed.
Fate had been kind, I'd really been lucky,
With that sort of year, who cares if the money from it was sucky?
Then Jimmy surprised me, as he stated his case,
It felt like a great big merry old slap in the face.
"You're naughty," he said, "and that's not all, there's much more,
"You're a gambler, a drinker, and a bit of a whore.
"But I've come anyhow, because you're really quite brash,
"To take down your wishes, which I'll grant in a flash."

It's been a good year, oh yes, that's quite true,
But as much as to luck, I owe it to you.
I did lots of writing, this I know well,
But without fabulous readers, it wouldn't be swell.
So to Jimmy I said, "A kind word or a read, those things I hold dear,
"I want to send out greetings to those who helped me this year.
"Now give me a moment, the words I must carefully choose,
"To make sure I offend no one, be they Gentiles or Jews.
"To everyone I wish mostly for happiness and lots of good cheer
"And for all these things to continue throughout the next year.
"So whether it's Christmas or Hanukkah, I hope you have fun,
"These are my greetings, but wait, I'm not done,
"Let's not forget the Buddhists and Muslims -- both Shiite and Suni,
"And for myself? I hereby wish for a naked George Clooney!"

"It's been a good year, so on some others I'll brag.
"Myfanwy, she's great, she's in a book and a fancy lit mag.
"Ellen Meister's another one, she's really quite grand,
"Her book's a big hit, let's strike up the band!
"I wish for her the same as I wish for myself:
"A visit from George, he'd make one sexy-bitch of an elf.
"Ah but I hope you excuse my pervy, self-serving digressions
"This year was a smash success for her Secret Confessions.

"Matt St. Amand's no fool and these are the facts,
"This year he pubbed his first novel, called Randham Acts.
"J.D. Riso is a sweetie, that's really quite true,
"I loved reading her new novel, it's simply called Blue.
"Then there's a guy, we all call him Biff,
"His writing is fluid, never stilted or stiff.
"He's got four novels, he's a writing machine,
"He makes me so jealous it hurts in my spleen.
"My dear old friend W.B., I hope he makes a good buck,
"His book is a riot, it's called How Not to Suck.
"My agents, Bernadette and Gretchen, you're truly a delight,
"You dealt with my troubles and helped make them right.
"Mark, you'll be a big hit on TV, that's what I think,
"Thanks for the boost, and thanks twice for the link.
"Don Capone is my buddy, and for him this year was a thrill,
"We all love his stories, collected in Sunset Hill.
"To Rebel Press I owe tons of thanks and gratitude,
"In Rebellion he pubbed a story of mine, and it wasn't even lewd!
"So readers and fellow Rebels, let's give him a snap,
"And if that's not your style, you're welcome to clap.

"Ruthie's Club pubs prose and pics with some spice,
"And to me this past year, they've been exceptionally nice.
"I landed a story with a place they call Phaze,
"My hopes for success, they surely helped raise.
"Zane is a slick one, and she did me a favor,
"by putting my story in the book called Caramel Flava.
"Mr. Jakubowski is a cool one, let's call him Maxim,
"He put my story in Mammoth, and it's really a brash one.
"And for this next one I'll give thanks all through the night,
"I finally made it into the collection by Susie Bright!"

"I'd be quite remiss if I didn't mention AI,
"Sweet singing Elliott was the apple of my eye.
"To the Yaminions, I hereby do tip my hat,
"And hope your year is as happy as Simon's head is so fat.
"Though cupcake lost out to barbeque loving Taylor Hicks,
"The year was quite fun, and on Daughtry I took my licks.
"Next season will be grand, this theory I will posit:
"To keep ratings up, Seacrest will come out of the closet!"

"So for all these good times, all these folks I do thank,
"But just a couple more, before my mind goes all blank.
"So now to the folks who give us scribes quite a kick,
"Let's hear it for reviewers, they're all very slick.
"Whether we find them online or in a print mag,
"they give us great blurbs and reasons to brag.
"I got one from Kirkus, ain't that a kick?
"But take care of them all, won't you St. Nick?
"Last but not least, to all the readers, my sincere thanks galore.
"My only wish is that next year, I can gain a few more."

"Well that's very nice," Jimmy said with a smile.
But I knew that his cheer was covering his guile.
"Your news is quite nice but your wishes were lame.
"Think bigger, think bolder, think fortune and fame."
It took me a moment, but then it was perfectly clear,
I knew the perfect wish for all the writers here.
So I sucked in a breath and chose to go quick,
Because these iambic couplets were making me sick.
So I clapped and I shouted and let out a squeal,
"The same thing for everyone -- a six figure book deal!"

And then I leaned in, to give Jimmy a kiss,
But he backed away, and it went down like this.
I tired to cajole him, my eyes got all mooney,
But he said, "You never should have dissed me for that 'madigan George Clooney."
Crestfallen and shocked, my jaw dropped to the floor,
And I watched very sadly as he walked toward the door.
In spite I lashed out, "You're just on TV, you're no Al Pacino!"
In parting, he said, "Hey babe, watch it, you're no Mira Sorvino."
"Pardon me," I said, "But she's and actress and blonde and really wealthy."
"Class ain't from money," he said. "You should be feminine, more like Melfi."

So these are my final wishes: To everyone, be of good cheer,
To the writers I wish you prime pubs all through next year!
To reviewers and readers, I bless you some more,
Happy Holidays forever to you and to yours.
I hope you have a have a great time with those you love bestly,
And that your holiday is even gayer than Carson Kressley.
May your days be cheerful and burdens be light,
Thanks for reading my blog, and this lame poem tonight.
It took patience and timing and caused me some stress,
But the result leaves me pleased, but also perplexed.
Blame it on cheer, or call it good luck,
I made it through this whole story without saying "fuck"!

But as Jimmy walked toward the door, I was really quite sad.
And knew this gift was also my punishment for being so bad.
All would have been well if just for the night he'd have stayed,
But this was a rhyming first-person, dammit, and I didn't get laid!
But then Jimmy halted, and then he brightened my day,
He said, "I'll give you one more for yourself before I head on my way."
I wished big and wished bright, with all of my nerve,
And then I shouted it loudly with plenty of verve.
Same wish as last year:
"I'd work hard on a screenplay and never be lazy,
if you'd get me a film option from Martin Scorsese!"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Perfectly Frank

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sinatra.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Let Nothing You Dismay

It's the time of year lots of network shows roll out the red, snow-covered carpet for Santa and air their very special, heartwarming Christmas shows, whoring themselves out in sweaters and snowflakes to match the theme of the kitschy Gap and Target ads. I, being the sentimental fool that I am, for the most part enjoy these. Taking the buche de noel this year has to be NBC's Studio 60.

They had writer Matt fighting to air a Christmas show -- not because it makes for good product placement or ratings stocking stuffers, but just because it's jolly. And it wasn't just a matter of coming up with Holiday themes, the quest included the ludicrous scampering and scrounging to come up with coconuts for snow for the set. But that's not enough. As if. They also had enough nobility, bravery, and do-goodery coming from everyone else in the cast to make Frank Capra blush. I mean. Seriously. Somewhere, Jimmy Stewart was watching this broadcast and saying, "N-now that's cockle-warming."

Of course, that's the one drawback to the Studio 60 characters -- they're so fucking wonderful it loses a bit of conflict and makes me feel small about myself. I mean, even George Bailey got pissed at the newel post, yelled at his daughter to stop playing the damn piano, and drunkenly rammed his car into a tree. But no seasonal stress can break the spirit of ye merry gentlemen and women of Studio 60. Even though Jordan had what society at large considers a sleazy past and regardless of Danny's coke addict history, there just aren't any sharp edges to these characters. They're going to do the Right Thing all the time, damn the consequences. And best -- there are no consequences! No one gets fired or gets anyone else fired. It all works out for the best and a quality sketch comedy shows airs every week!


I like it anyhow. It's not Dexter, which I love, and which you should be watching, too. It's Studio 60. And that's fine by me.

But I also give Schlamme and Sorkin extra props for their good cheer with this episode, because they did me a favor. As part of the storyline, they featured a group of New Orleans musicians organized by the Tipitina's Foundation. And during an extended musical interlude, they played an original arrangement of "O Holy Night."

The lead trumpet decked my halls, that's for sure. And though I like jazz, I'm not an aficionado of current musicians, so I didn't recognize who was pulling that beautiful tone from the horn. Behold! The glorious wonders of the web. I got the lowdown from NBC's website, and found out all about the Tipitina's musicians, and learned that the trumpeter was Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. The song they performed on the show is currently available for free from iTunes, but, since I'm an American to the core, I was a good trick and went the extra distance and picked up a copy of Andrews's CD, The End of the Beginning.

So, good on Schlamme/Sorkin for giving the stage to the musicians that night, and also for giving me the present of some new music to investigate. They put some classy Ho Ho Hoing into the holiday Ho Ho Whoring.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

1 out of 3

Michigan got screwed. That's all I have to say about that.

It's Dec. 5, and I'm already thoroughly disgusted with winter.

But! On the bright side, I just read a great non-fiction story in the new edition of Edifice Wrecked: "Boracho Bolivar" by William Reese Hamilton.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Peacock Blues

Well, the networks are really kinking up my game now. NBC seems loathe to relinquish Thursday nights to Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy and it's pissing me off. I could care less about the thetan-infested comedy Earl, but I really do love The Office, and, given my silly affection for a jackassy Baldwin and an appropriate girl-crush on Tina Fey, I really dig 30 Rock, too. But, like Dwight Schrute trying to match wits with Jim Halpert, NBC seems intent on failure again, so instead of opening up a whole new night, like Wednesday -- when there's nothing else on -- they're going to stick their best shows up against the water-cooler shows of the year.


I could see how they wouldn't want to put 30 Rock on Monday night, just before Studio 60, because it'd reinforce the meta nature of the shows to an off-putting degree. I mean, they basically have an entire network revolving around shows about Saturday Night Live, and even SNL just isn't good enough to really fan that interest. Also, it'd draw comparisons to the titles. The 60 minute show about SNL is called Studio 60, and the 30 minute show is called 30 Rock. Was that intentional or just really poor coincidence?

But still. Why doom themselves and let these perfectly good shows flail around with a smaller audience than the Green Grove Retirement Community's annual production of "A Christmas Carol." They're insisting on the formerly flagship Thursday night lineup? It's dead, NBC. It's more dead than Robert DeNiro's real emotions.

If Jordan McDeere really was running the network, I doubt she'd allow this to happen. Someone needs to remind them that Seinfeld wasn't always a hit. It was a little show with a little audience. And when NBC first shuffled it around, they plopped it up against the then hugely popular Tim Allen comedy Home Improvement. What happened? Seinfeld got slaughtered in the ratings. But it finally found a home on Thursday night and became, well...Seinfeld.

And speaking of Studio 60, I like the show. I really do. But I could like it a whole lot more. Sorkin's proven that he's the technical master of jazzy dialogue, and I mostly enjoy it and appreciate it. Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, and even Amanda Peet have risen to the challenge of being able to snap and pop with each other and give their exchanges crackle. But the heightened, rapid-fire pace sometimes bears a striking resemblance to John Coltrane's "Blue Train," for which one critic adroitly coined the term "sheets of sound." It's an amazing album, and really showcased Coltrane's genius. Technically, it's a masterpiece. And yet, artistically, it can be almost defeating for the listener. Once in a while, you just think, "Take a goddamn breath, dude!"

And that's what Studio 60 is lacking. There needs to be a pause once in a while. A moment to let things settle, or congeal. And that's what the romance between Matt and Harriett should be. They've got their clever banter, but once in a while they need to stop and like each other. Sorkin tries to position those moments in there, such as when they stand and listen to Sting perform "Fields of Gold" on his mandolin. But it's just not working for me.

I've been reluctant to give myself over to the reason why, because I really don't like to rampantly bash women. But Sarah Paulson? She's not up to the task. She's been grossly miscast in that role and it's never going to mesh. I was doubtfu of Amanda Peet in her role. Peet, some people don't like her, but I think she's a fine rom-com actress with a goofy appeal. And she didn't really work well in the first episode when she had to be the superwoman producer with the superhero ethics. But since then? Well. She's a bit of a drunk with a supposedly sordid sexual past who makes wisecracks that no one else gets. In other words, she's just aces.

But Paulson sucks like a virgin on prom night. First, she's supposed to be a brilliant comedienne, and yet she's just not fucking funny. Supposedly Matt fell in love with her because she's so charming and funny. But all I can see of her is a bitchy, uptight, hatchet-face who thinks she's really marvelous. And her lisp? Not sexy. It really screws up the delivery of Sorkin's snazzy lines.

I realize that the relationship is a construct. It's a microcosmic representation of our country's divided political beliefs, and it should be illustrating how we can find common ground and love for each other while letting them build plots around hot-button issues. I like the idea of that. But, unlike the Alan Shore/Denny Crane relationship on Boston Legal which has the same construct, the problem is that this relationship doesn't make the leap from intellectual construct to entertaining characters. It's forced, and Paulson is phony. Also? I already get my fill of a sunny, skinny, lispy blonde with a struggling workplace romance on Grey's Anatomy.

Which brings us back to where we started. NBC is piling it all onto Thursday in what seems like a frantic, desperate shot to reclaim the evening. I think the highly underrated Scrubs is set to join the lineup, too. But someone who is in charge at that network needs to stop thinking like a proud peacock, take a goddamn breath, look around, and come up with a different game plan.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Secret is Out

Ellen Meister just got a great review from Entertainment Weekly for the audiobook version of her novel, Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, narrated by Lisa Kudrow.

The book is terrific, and Lisa Kudrow does a great job with it.

Justin Holt -- Orion

Happy belated birthday to Justin Holt! He's got a new story live at Oxyfication called "Orion." I really dug it. It's got some holiday flavor and soul.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Third time's the charm

I hope. I fear the the third consecutive post about myself is actually grotesque. But, you know. Someone has to do this shit.

I found this review from Kirkus Reviews for Best American Erotica 2007, edited by Susie Bright.

I was amped when I read it, because it mentioned my story, and I thought it looked good. But my reading comprehension skills are a bit lacking. (Irony, thy name is Wannabe-Writer.) Perhaps this isn't so much a compliment as a backhanded compliment? I can't decide. The relevant portion:

"Not all the stories possess the same level of skill, but most match Bright's exuberantly positive attitude toward sex. Among the best of those are Susan St. Aubi's "Taste," in which two late-night bakers treat each other to secret delicacies, and Susan DiPlacido's "Heads-Up Poker," featuring a strip-poker game where every player comes up a winner."

Um. So, that's saying that my story isn't very skillful, isn't it? Fuck. But, it kind of also says that it's hot, right? Fuck yeah!

BAE 2007 isn't available yet, but you know I'll let you know when it is. But if somehow all this blatant talking about myself has gotten you whipped into a frenzy, thinking, "Wow. This chick has her name in pink next to a tasteful picture of a woman's ass on one book, and her story garnered what she construes as praise in another one. I think I need to check this shit out!" then I have the solution for you. My story, 'Twas the Night After Christmas is currently the top rated erotica e-book on Fictionwise. Since it's only $2, you can pick that up, and, if you do, remember that if you drop me an e-mail (susandiplacido at telling me you bought it, I'll send you a free copy of my paperback book, Mutual Holdings.

Or, if you prefer to spend bigger, there are handy links right over there ---->
where you can easily Amazon order either of my other books.

Thank you, and I apologize. We will return to the regular blog proceedings here shortly, I believe. And I'll try to refrain from future hard-sells such as this for the duration of the holiday season. Though I don't promise to not slip something in here or there.

Mammoth Happiness

This weekend, I got my contributor copies of Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, edited by Maxim Jakubowski in the mail. Whoo! I was really excited, because one of my favorite stories, "Neon Nights" is included in the anthology.

I'm not certain of when the exact release date will be, but I *think* I have the Amazon link for it already, even though the cover picture they show is different than the one Amazon has up there. Here's the link: Mammoth 6, but here's what the cover actually looks like: (beware, not work friendly!)

I've already read a couple of the other stories, including "Blindness" by Donna George Story and "Lucky Numbers and Marlboros" by Gwen Masters, and those knocked my socks off. Anyone who reads erotica knows Donna and Gwen, because they rock. So I was thrilled to be in a lineup with them. Even more of an ego boost (though still not quite enough to make me get that name-on-my-back tattoo) was when I flipped the book over and looked at the back cover. (again, not so work friendly)

Do you see it? Please look carefully, as I don't want to indulge in the assholery of pulling out my red pen and circling it. There are lines of acceptable self-pimpage, and I fear that'd be crossing it.

Rebel Press Pushcart Noms

Rebel Press announces its nominations for this year's Pushcart Prize.

Roof Whirl Away, by Tom Saunders, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
Bloodlines, by Susan DiPlacido, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
On the Bridge, by T.J, Forrester, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
Everything is Something to Somebody, by Marcus Grimm, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
Quiet, by Katrina Denza, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
nineleven, by Donald Capone, Stories From Sunset Hill

Congrats to all the nominees!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Susie Bright on writing

Writers, both published and unpublished, should really read this: Susie Bright's A Devil's Argument. It's both depressing and empowering, because it's all so right on.

Susie says:
"The Market is not “your friend”; The Market does not have your self-interest at heart. It can be an intoxicating place — the money changing hands, the competitions, the auctions, the promotions and premiums — but it isn’t a place that puts art first, or people first. It puts money first, and that requires a measure of illusion and exploitation that must be endured in order to reach your desired audience."

But that's not the full gist of the article. I don't want to creflo the entire piece, so go visit Susie's blog to read the whole thing.

Tattoo You

What I'd like to share with you today is something that happened as a consequence of yesterday's blog post here. It's the one directly below, where I have the picture of Chris Daughtry and label it "asshole." Someone took such offense to that post that instead of flaming me here or sending me a scathing e-mail, they e-mailed one of my publishers. (!) Can you stand it? Oh yeah. This person sent an indignant e-mail to one of my publishers, complaining about my word choice and how it offended them and how they'd never buy a book from me or my publisher. (!!) AND, get this, they're going to post the link all over to Chris Daughtry fan sites in outrage. (!!!)

I ask you -- Can it get any better than that?


At first, I was shocked. Shocked primarily because this is the fellow this person is valiantly defending against being called an asshole:

Secondly, I was shocked and sad, because clearly this person never checked in and read any of my American Idol recaps while the season was rolling. I know this because there were a plethora of pictures and words tossed around during those couple months on this blog that I'm sure would've sent this person into overdrive with their uptight umbrage. I mean, I'd made it pretty clear what I thought of Daughtry over that time: How he's by very definition not a rawker. He's a fraud of a rawker. He's a perfect fit for the commercialized, watered-down, processed, shitty fraud-rock like Creed-Nickelback-Fuel that's marketed to the American public. Daughry is a frawker.

But I got over my sadness at being previously ignored and the joy just bubbled out of me. I mean, can you imagine how my head swelled? Someone had paid attention to me! Someone was so moved as to write to my publisher! Suddenly, I felt relevant! Oh, the fucking ego boost it was.

I was still a little surprised by it, of course. I mean, in the spring, when I heavily engaged in the Daughtry bashing, I got plenty of flame-mail sent my way from Daughtry fans. But that's the thing: Those fans were direct. Those fans were witty and engaging and passionate and the exchanges were, frankly, pretty fun. Certainly, some of the messages were concise, let's call them, and consisted of simply, "your a bitch." But most of them were much more erudite and flamboyant, and we had some great exchanges. But then a half a year later, out of nowhere, comes this lone fan who's an uptight, mirthless little narc. It wasn't the sort of behavior I'd expect from a Daughtry fan. It was the kind of behavior I'd expect from a Claymate.

Nevertheless, it tickled me. I was insufferable for about 23 minutes, becoming quite the self-important asshole. I mean, can you imagine? To work and toil and scribble and write and publish in obscure anonymity for years, and now, suddenly, I'd finally done it. I'd ignited someone. I'd inflamed someone. I'd made a statement bold enough to be controversial enough to get "superiors" involved. Controversy! Fuck, it was exciting. I'd arrived. Briefly, I considered getting a tattoo of my own name emblazoned across my own back!

But then, of course, reality hit as the giggles stopped. I remembered: Oh yeah. I'm not relevant. I'm nobody. I'm just a bitch with a blog. And someone just got miffed that I slammed their crush.

But I do still hold out hope that the whiny, narcy person will make good on her word and link my site all over the place. I really hope she remembers to post an indignant link at MJ's! Maybe it'll gain me a few readers come February when the new season starts, or at least remind people to check back in.

In the meantime, in case she's checking here today to see if I addressed her concerns, I have two very choice words for her. I know you didn't like my use of the word "asshole." (Frawk fans, such tender sensibilities and so easily offended!) So here are two extremely choice words you're probably going to like even less: Thank you. Seriously. It's over something extremely silly, and it was brief. But for that brief second -- okay, 23 minutes -- I really felt special.

Oh. And also? This is the guy you got all worked up over:

Yep. Still an asshole.

And so am I.

But he's an asshole with a crappy, mass market CD. That's a lot more success than I'll ever know. But hey, life is fair. At least I'm an asshole without a tattoo of my own name scrawled across my back.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Idol releases and Idle Idols

Remember when I used to blog about American Idol? Yeah, that was fun. Well, I've kept up with some of the news, but didn't want to look like an obsessive freak so I don't post most of it here. But here are a few little snippets I felt worthy of passing along.

So. Chris Daughtry has released his CD. Here's all I have to say about that:

Also, Taylor Hicks has a really cool website, though you have to suffer through hearing that crappy song that was foisted upon him by 19E. But in cool news, his official blog is Gray Charles. A while back, Gray Charles was going to fold up shop, because he was a fan and the blog caught fire when Taylor got so popular, but it got overwhelming for the guy. But Taylor knew who was saucing his barbeque (that sounds dirty and I don't intend that), and now Gray Charles is in business. Good on Taylor.

And, of course, I have to comment on my cupcake, Elliott Yamin. He doesn't have a slick website or newly released CD. But he's got a Myspace page. (I fucking hate Myspace. Nevertheless, here's mine! Please be my friend, as I have none. Fucking Tom is my only friend. And yet here I sit ragging on Chris Daughtry even with quantifiable proof that I'm a loser.) Anyhow. Back to Elliott. He says he's hard at work on an album and that it'll be out soon. He says (through Myspace) that his first release will be a cover of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Free Paperback with e book

I've mentioned this before, but I've got a newly released story available from Phaze called "'Twas the Night After Christmas". This is a holiday themed story, and it's plenty steamy, and it's available as an e book for just a couple bucks.

I'm running a special giveaway for this ebook. If you live in the continental U.S. and you purchase a copy of this story from either Phaze or Fictionwise, you can drop me an e-mail and I'll send you a free copy of my paperback, erotic romance Mutual Holdings.

I'll work on the honor system. You don't have to forward me a receipt or anything. Just drop me an e-mail at susandiplacido at or, if that one doesn't work, susan at (remove the spaces and replace at with @) Tell me that you bought a copy of "'Twas the Night after Christmas" and that you'd like a copy of Mutual Holdings, and give me the physical street address where you want the book sent to, and I'll get it popped in the mail to you.

This deal is good as long as supplies of Mutual Holdings lasts, but I have an awful large stock, so I expect it can last quite a while.

It's as simple as that. Though, do remember that with me, flattery gets you everywhere. So if you happen to mention that you enjoyed "'Twas the Night" and gave it a good rating, there may be a small little extra something sent along in the package with Mutual Holdings. I mean, 'tis the season and all.

So here's everything you need to know:

The Titles & Deal:
"'Twas the Night after Christmas" -- $2. Purchase this, and you get Mutual Holdings sent to you via mail. Mutual Holdings got four stars from Romantic Times, so this isn't a dog I'm pawning off on you here.

Review of "'Twas the Night After Christmas":
"Ms. DiPlacido is an excellent author with an obvious command of her
characters, capable of giving the reader just what we need to maintain
interest. I wholeheartedly recommend this book." ~ 4 Hearts from The Romance Studio

The place to buy:
$2 - 'Twas the Night after Christmas from Phaze

$1.45 - 'Twas the Night after Christmas from Fictionwise

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Ellen Meister!

Ellen Meister, author of the fabulously funny Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, celebrates her birthday today in style. She's got a new interview up at LitPark, and the interviewer does one heck of a great job!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dancing Queen and King

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke win Dancing with the Stars! As well they should. Mario, he was technically good, yeah. But in the finals, he really didn't dance so much as preen, and he's just not nearly as cool, classy, or funky as Emmitt on the dance floor. And, frankly, Mario was at a disadvantage because he didn't have Cheryl as his partner. Sure, Karina is HOT, and she's a hell of a dancer. But she can't put a routine together as well as Cheryl can, and she doesn't have the instincts on how to "show off" her partner's key assets in the dance. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a little photographic evidence of Emmitt's, uh, masculine prowess that set him apart, and it also illustrates how Cheryl knows how to spotlight the important stuff.

But, most importantly, Karina and Mario were never really able to look like they were having any fucking fun.

Emmitt and Cheryl? They worked hard, but when they'd hit the floor, they just looked like they were having a blast. This is Cheryl's second consecutive win, and she sure does deserve it. Last year's winner, Drew Lachey, was able to dance his fanny off and he had the same infectious attitude on the floor that Emmitt brought this year, and I have to think at least part of that is due to Cheryl. When I got sucked into the cheezy show last year, I figured they'd never come up with another Drew. And they didn't, really. But they did just as well this year and got Emmitt.

Emmitt, he's the guy that women want to dance with, and that other guys wish they could dance like. And he deserves that glitter ball trophy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Having a firm grasp on the obvious

So. People Magazine has released its "Sexiest Man Alive" issue and they've chosen George Clooney. Women around the world say, "No shit." Obvious. Certainly. But do I have any objections or quarrel with the choice? Uh. No.

Cheers, Giorgio!

In other obvious news, crazier-than-a-shithouse-rat OJ Simpson manages to reap in some cash with his book deal and a two hour interview on FOX. The schtick? "If I did it, here's how I did it." Uh huh. No shit. The only thing I don't understand is why this motherfucker is so coy about admitting he did it. What? He could be slapped with a purjury charge or something? Anyhow. I suppose most people will be disgusted that he's profiting from this. I would be, but I hold some hope that the families of the victims will be able to collect on some of what he owes them from this little windfall.

But Judith and ReganBooks? Fuck off.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rebel Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen is a renaissance man when it comes to words. He's accomplished with short stories, book reviews, interviews (ahem), and he's also the editor of a very fine and unique lit magazine.

For a sampling of some of his fiction work, you can find him in some of the best 'zines on the web: Frigg, Paumanok Review, Danforth Review.

Sometimes quirky, his stories develop through the characters and often take unexpected, but wholly plausible turns where he often plumbs the depths of suburban hysteria, both comic and tragic.

Steve's story "Psychoanalysis" is featured in Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction, the 2006 USA Book Awards Finalist.

Also? Steve's a really cool guy.

Meet Steve.

1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?

I owe a debt to Thomas Wolfe's great novel "Look Homeward, Angel" for getting me off of Fantasy series' reading and into some of the great lit of the 20th century. After LHA, I devoured all of Wolfe's other novels and then started in on many of the other so-called Lost Generation writers: Hemingway, Fitzgerald among others.

2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?

My greatest strength used to be not giving into apathy, but lately I've not been doing much writing, so...

3) Your story in Rebellion is called "Psychoanalysis." I think I recognize some of the characters in this story from other works of yours. Are you working on a collection of linked stories?

Yes. It's pretty much complete and I should be shopping it around to some publishers, but ... [see answer to Q2].

4) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?

I've had the feeling that I could be successful at writing here and there over the past 20 years, but nothing lasting. Sustaining your discipline throughout a lifetime gets harder as your responsibilities elsewhere increase. I'm not working on anything currently. Writing is not for sissies, and right now I am a sissy.

5) Your alterego, Theodore Q. Rorschalk, is the founder and editor of a cutting edge, interactive lit 'zine, TQR. What was your inspiration for creating the 'zine? Does reading/editing others' stories help with your own writing, or does it eat up all your time?

I started TQRstories cuz it seemed to me most of the e-zines out there had more or less print mentalities and were not using the immediacy and intimacy of the Web to their advantage. I thought, why does the editorial process still need to remain behind a veil? Wouldn't it be fun and instructive to expose it to the public? So, that's TQR.

Seeing the great work done by others is actually very inspiring and would (and has been in the past) a great motivator for my own work. The e-zine doesn't eat up too much time, really. I'm thankful for it.

6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?

Hmmmm. I guess it would be my grandfather (who the short story cycle is centered around). I'd like to go to Louie's on the tip of San Francisco with him again and order a big fat tuna sandwich and look out over the ocean and dream.

7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?

Well, how about Abbey Road for music, The Bible for reading, with apocrypha attached, but minus Revelations (too frightening and obscure), and for the DVD ... how about Sexy Beast cuz that dude in it who won the oscar for playing Ghandi (can't remember his name now, Ben Kingsley?) plays an unforgettable gangster.

8) Other than fiction writing, what's the biggest lie you ever told?

There have been so many ... I can't really pin one down.

9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?

Well, since I have a minuscule bit of the first and found it lacking, next time around I'd opt for selection number 2.

Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction now available from Rebel Press, or Amazon.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Early Holiday Cheer -- and smut

Look, I apologize in advance. I wish I was Alec Baldwin and that I could slyly drum up interest in my projects by simply going on TV shows and being charming, but I can't. Can't be charming, that is. So when I've got something new cooking, I gotta pimp it some. So here goes:

I've got a newly released story available from Phaze. It's a holiday themed story, and it's plenty smutty, and it's available as an e book for just a couple bucks. The 411:

The Title:
"'Twas the Night after Christmas"

The Blurb:
When Joe meets sexy Marie, he bets his pal that he can score with the
feisty redhead before Christmas. But will that wager cost him the best
present of his life?

The Review:
"Ms. DiPlacido is an excellent author with an obvious command of her
characters, capable of giving the reader just what we need to maintain
interest. I wholeheartedly recommend this book." ~ 4 Hearts from The
Romance Studio

The place to buy:
$2 - 'Twas the Night after Christmas

Tony & Tony

As an Italian girl, there are very few things I find more attractive than a good Italian boy. But one of those things is, of course, a bad Irish boy. I've already blathered about my love for Mickey Rourke on various occasions, but there's one fellow who's always managed to pwn even Mickey when it comes to my affections. And that guy is Alec Baldwin.

He's had just enough bad press over the years to tweak my interest without ever disgusting me. And he's coupled that with some outrageously good work on film. I love that he steps back and takes supporting roles instead of leads and often manages to steal all the thunder. Not to mention that he's been in what's possibly the best Vegas movie ever made: The Cooler. (Well, the best Vegas movie aside from the delightfully awful Showgirls)

Alec's been in good form lately, with a great little turn in Scorsese's The Departed, and a recent appearance on Bill Maher where he held down the liberal fort but did so with aggression and mouthy retorts. Alec, he's probably too much of a hothead to ever run for office, but some of the Democratic leaders could take a lesson from his never-back-down, no bullshit attitude.

But what I love most about Alec is that he's a really good sport, and he's completely comfortable playing an asshole or the fool. And he's damn good at it. Which is probably why he's one of only two people who have a standing invitation to appear once a season on SNL. (Christopher Walken is the other one.) And, sure, SNL is struggling -- to say the least -- this year with Tina Fey gone. Tina, of course, has teamed up Alec on the show "30 Rock." And so Alec hosted SNL this past weekend to promote "30 Rock," which meant that SNL was pretty much one long commericial for "30 Rock," but I didn't really mind, because I'm loving the show and I hope it gets some viewers and succeeds. It's classic, foolish Alec, and Tina is even sillier than I thought she could be.

But even though SNL is flailing, Alec did manage to pull off a couple of hilarious moments (with a little help from his friends.) "I was in Schwetty Balls!" was pretty damn funny. But the best came compliments of another good sport. If you're not familiar with the skit, Alec does a great, just really really great impression of Tony Bennett hosting his talk show. So the bad Irish boy plays the good Italian guy, and his guest this week just made it perfect.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Great Teacher Gift from Ellen Meister

Ellen Meister, author of the hilarious and touching Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA is offering free signed bookplates for teachers. Read all about the offer right here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Katrina Denza -- Pushcart Prize Nominee

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Katrina Denza. Already a well established short story and flash fiction writer, Kat has just been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her story "Quiet" which appears in Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction.

Congrats Kat!

Beautiful, generous, and with a truly kind soul, I'd admire Kat even if her wrting wasn't so spectacular. She writes with a fluid grace; the language and metaphors she uses subtly but undeniably enriching the stories. Often she tackles serious subjects, but personalizes them through the characters, who are always people, not constructs. Widely published, you can find Kat in the best lit zines on the web. A sampling:
Smokelong Quarterly
Word Riot

Meet Kat:

1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?

First, thanks so much for doing this interview, Susan. It’s such a joy to be a part of this book. As far as favorite writers, I have so many. How could I possibly make a list that wouldn’t take up at least ten pages? And my list is always evolving. That said, every writer I admire influences me in some way. It’s a natural part of the apprenticeship.

2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?

It’s difficult for me to get a sense of my strengths as a writer—I’m far better at identifying my weaknesses: impatience being at the top of the heap. In fact, impatience is probably behind every other weakness found in my writing.

3) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?

The first time was winning an award for a story I wrote in grade school which didn’t confirm anything in real time, but rather, in hindsight. I didn’t write again until 1999 when I wrote a really dreadful short story (with a couple of good elements) that placed in a local contest. That single event was, for me, a sign that the universe would support the insane and impractical notion that I could write and someone might want to read it.

4) I know you've written short stories and flash. Do you ever dabble in poetry? How about novel length?

I’ve written only one (too sentimental) poem and I’m just now learning the daunting process of writing a novel.

5) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?

Virginia Woolf. I read her biography years ago and I have many questions I’d love to ask her. In fact, I wouldn’t let her leave until she answered every last one of them.

6) Other than fiction writing, what's the biggest lie you ever told?

I don’t tell lies.

7)Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?

I’m stubborn enough, determined enough, to try to have both, however respect and critical acclaim precede the other on my dream list.

8) You've been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for your story "Quiet" in Rebellion. Do you plan to send that information along to every publisher who's ever rejected a story of yours?

Ha! Except they wouldn’t know who the hell I was. I’d be better off sending them an old dirty sock.

9) You tackle some rather serious subjects in your fiction, and yet, there's often a wry wit and humor that pops up unexpectedly. In another interview you've done, you said this: " Today, people are so distracted by the material world, by the ego's cravings, that it's more difficult, but not impossible, to achieve what is necessary for redemption: the marriage of an individual's light and dark sides with absolute acceptance and forgiveness." That's an extremely potent and graceful observation, and it seems like this sort of view threads its way into a lot of your work. Is that something you strive for, or does it just... happen?

I like to think I can see the hilarious and ridiculous and gut-grabbing funny in the worst of situations—it keeps me from taking myself and my neuroses too seriously, and even though I don’t intentionally write “funny,” I’m grateful you noticed the humor. Each time I sit down to write a story, I strive for coherent sentences and to connect with another heart, another soul.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Vote tomorrow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

57 channels (And Nothin' On)

With baseball behind me until spring, I've been catching up on some other TV.

So we all know Emmitt Smith is gonna win Dancing with the Stars, right? Mario's better technically, but he's so freaking skeevy. And Joey wants it the most, and it's pretty cute how tightly wrapped that dude is. And he's probably technically better than Emmitt. But Emmitt just has IT. He oozes class and fun and funk. And Cheryl's the best choreographer, she knows how to showcase her dancer's strengths and make the routines entertaining.

But what I love most about the show is still Bruno Tonioli. Oh, how my days would brighten if I could have a pocket-Bruno, perched at the corner of my desk, cheering me on with his effusive Italian elan. "Weeeell, Soozan. The way you add those numbers is simply magical. I'm filled with amore for your amortization schedules!" And then he'd raise his left arm, pump his fist, and give me a celebratory ten. Who wouldn't want to work like that?

You know who could use some Bruno encouragement these days? The writing staff on Boston Legal. Now, don't get me wrong, I love that show. And it's had some cute touches lately. I love how Alan Shore took on Scientology a few weeks ago, and I love that Alan Shore of course has an immediate dust-up with Jeffrey Coho -- a perfect reaction considering they're the same person. But overall, it's felt a little flat and slightly off-kilter so far this season, much like how Alan is feeling restless and not quite in his groove. But of course they've decided to take the over-the-top affection for Denny Crane and parlay that into giving William Shatner his own game show. Hey, if Regis can be so overexposed, so can Captain Kirk.

Speaking of exposed, Salma Hayak made an appearance on her hit show Ugly Betty last night, baring her bra for all of us. I'm sure this was planned out way before the show turned out to be such a big success. It was a bit of insurance to get viewers to tune in. I didn't mind it, because as much as I'd love to hate Salma, I just don't. I mean, on paper, I should hate her. She's beautiful, she's sexy, she's successful. And then she really makes matters worse by being smart and savvy in her business dealings. And then she completely demoralizes me by showing she also has a soul in regards to the projects she chooses to produce. Like I don't feel inadequate enough without HER walking around. But, you know. Fuck it. I'm perfectly comfortable with loathing someone while still giving them grudging respect. But I've never been able to work up any abject dislike for Salma. Not even when she got to fulfill Quentin's foot fetish in "From Dusk Till Dawn." Good for her and rip-roaring success at being such a great person.

And she was just fine on Ugly Betty. But even more notable is that the show didn't really need her appearance, either. America is holding down the fort just fine. Already this show has taken over our office chatter while Grey's Anatomy has struggled this season. We got it, Izzy was in mourning about Denny. But that's the danger of those "realistic and heartfelt" dramatic moments on TV. Everyone loved Denny. It's very sad that he died. But, you know, we have actual lives if we want to cope with terribly distressing and depressing shit. TV is escape, and "Grey's" didn't offer solace or relief -- or laughs -- for several weeks there. The writers are noodling around, trying to keep up some level of Unresolved Sexual Tension between Meredith and what's-his-name. You know, Patrick Dempsey. (I refuse to call him by The Nickname.) But Ellen Pompeo has become painfully skinny and it's getting difficult to watch her emaciate on a weekly basis. How can she be expected to prop up a whole show when she can barely prop up the weight of her own head?

Speaking of skinny broads who are painful to watch -- Terri Hatcher has also pretty much destroyed her looks with her over-zealous refusal to eat. And her show, Desperate Housewives is a show that I want to love on paper. Female leads? Great! Half of them over 35? Fantastic! Outlandish plots and silly shenanigans? Excellent! So why is it just so fucking annoying, this show? It's annoying because Susan is anorexic, Gabby is now blonde, Delfino sits in bed with an idiot look on his face, and that redhead pestering Tom and Lynette can't act. Bree and Orson are still kind of fun. But the rest of the show's plots limp along, more regurgitated than Hatcher's dinners.

That's something I'd like to hear Bruno comment on. "Oh Terri! You are the vixen of vomit tonight! The food was delicious, but it is nothing compared to the charm you showed as you spewed it back out, all over Nicolette's shoes! Nothing desperate about that, my dear, it was pure American glamour!"

And yet, I watch the show. Why? Because fucking HBO has lost their shit and doesn't have anything on right now other than Bill Maher on Friday nights. Where is the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm?

So. What are you watching these days? Anything I should tune in to?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

On my way into work this morning, they were doing a thing on the radio, talking about how Halloween costumes can speak to a person's personality. For example, if someone routinely dresses up as fairy tale characters, it means they have an optimistic streak and think things will work out eventually. (Naive fools!) Whereas if someone dresses up as an evil character from the aforementioned fairy tales, they're showing off their naughty side. If they dress up like a sexbomb, they're ready to be a little less sexually inhibited. (And here I thought whore attire for Halloween had simply become pretty much mandatory for anyone over 18 who still dresses up. No tits, no treats.)

Then they started blathering on about different couple outfits and what sort of relationship the couple has, and that's when I turned it off because I don't care about happy couples, and I especially don't care about ones who dress in tandem for Halloween. (There just aren't enough bite-size Snickers to mask my deep-seated bitterness.) So I didn't hear what deep psychological problem it speaks to if you repeatedly dress as a serial killer or monster for Halloween.

But I did a quick mental recap of my past "adult" costumes, and here are some I recall. See if you can spot a trend:


Liza Minnelli

Blanche DuBois

Zelda Fitzgerald

Cruella DeVille

Yeah. In case you're still not getting it, my main accessory was generally something similar to this:

So on Halloween, instead of indulging in deep-seated fantasies, I tend to live out my everyday life, only with more extravagant clothing, and sometimes a cigarette holder. Cin-cin! The moral of this story? Smirnoff trumps Snickers.

What sort of profile would your costumes over the years create?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rebellion: Myfanwy

This week, I want to wish a happy birthday to Myfanwy Collins!

In case you don't know Myfanwy, she's a generous, charming, and extremely talented writer, and she embodies those same qualities as a person. She's an experienced editor, having been the flash fiction editor for Ink Pots and a guest editor for Smokelong. She's garnered plenty of acclaim and awards so far in her career, having been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, longlisted for the Carver award, a finalist in The Journal's 2006 William Allen Creative Nonfiction Contest, and she also took 3rd place Honorable Mention and Finalist in the 2005 Night Train Richard Yates Short Story Award Competition for her story "Freak Magnet".

Her short story "Have You Seen Us" is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. And here are a couple of links to some of her work online, both fiction from Smokelong Quarterly and CNF from Agni and Lit Pot.

She was born in Montreal but moved to the Adirondack Mountains in New York when she was young, and she currently lives in New England.

I'm an avid reader of Myfanwy's work, and what always strikes me is how much emotion she's able to coil into her characters and plots. She brings scenes to life, not through overly-descriptive passages, but through carefully chosen, evocative words. And when you reach the end of her works, the tightly coiled spring pops with reward.

And Myfanwy, she is also a Rebel. Her haunting story "Marlborough" is one of the treats of the 2006 Best Book Awards Finalist. You can visit her online at or And while at her blog, be sure to check out her fabulous "My Secret Shame" postings.

1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?

First, let me say thank you to for you interviewing me, Susan. It’s generous of you. Okay. This is always a tough question for me because I have so many favorites—always new ones added. As far as influence, I would say that reading poetry has influenced me in a big way. Poetry makes me pay attention to sound, to the impact of a single image, to the importance of heart.

2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?

My greatest asset is stubbornness. I will never give up. My biggest weakness is self-doubt, anxiety, fear. These two things play off each other, of course, and so I am an insomniac.

3) I know you've written short stories and creative non-fiction. Do you ever dabble in poetry? How about novel length?

I love poetry but I do not write it. I did in college for creative writing classes and whatnot but it was always really bad poetry. I also have some tragic poems from my twenty-something years. I have written a few novels—my first as a senior in college for an honor’s project. My most recent novel is represented by a terrific agency, who have been really supportive of me. It will be going out to publishers sometime soonish.

4) You're prolific. Do you have several projects going at once, or do you buzz through one thing at a time? Do you ever do a mix-and-match where themes from one story bleed into another one and then change what you'd set out to do? Or, do you have a strong idea of what you're going to do with each piece and then just follow that to completion? Also, part B to this question—not only do you write like crazy, you publish quite a bit. Does the grind of submitting ever interfere with your writing? Or is that part of the reward for you – getting acceptances?

I do have several going on at once, though I try my best to focus. If I’m focused on one thing and an idea for another comes along, I write down some notes on the idea and then get back to the main focus project. I like your mix-and-match question—I don’t think I do this but I probably do. Right now I’m embarking on a new project which is maybe going to be a novel in stories and so there I think this idea will come into play. As for having a strong idea about where something is going—I might think I do, but I really don’t. I’m always surprised by the end product.

The grind of submitting absolutely interferes with my writing. I find I cannot do the two things at once. I used to work as a project manager because I’ve always been (even as a child) focused on seeing one thing through to completion and then moving on to the next (but, as I said in Part A, I do not shunt ideas aside because of this, instead I mark them for the future). I’m sort of obsessive-compulsive and so to have anything half done drives me nutty. Okay, so what does this have to do with submitting? Well, I typically submit in batches and this requires research and printing and collating and trips to the post office, etc. So when I’m in office manager mode, my writing brain just doesn’t kick in—or at least I haven’t found a way for it to yet.

5) You also blog. From your blog comments, I can never really pigeonhole your tastes. Do you have favored genres or types that you prefer to read, or are you wide open?

My tastes are WIDE open because I am greedy that way. I love to entertained. I want to be moved. I want to be kicked in the ass. I want to laugh. I am obsessed with popular culture. I love television and movies. I love genre, I love literary. More, just give me more!

6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?

My mother. She is dead and having dinner with her one last time would be lovely. I would even cook so she could see how well she taught me.

7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?

One CD (it’s a double CD—so I hope that’s okay): Yo Yo Ma / Bach / Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites
One DVD: Woody Allen’s Manhattan
Book: Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

8) Other than fiction writing, what's the biggest lie you ever told?

I guess it would be the time I was grocery shopping with my mum and I stole a pack of gum right while we were at the register. She turned to me and asked me if I wanted any money for candy and I said no. I knew that she knew I had taken the gum. It was a moment of pure shame. Okay, so that’s not really a lie but it sort of is.

9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?

Respect and acclaim, hands down.

Thanks so much, Myfanwy. Looking forward to your novel!

Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction is a finalist in the 2006 Best Book Awards and is now available from Rebel Press, or Amazon.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Phaze Snugglers

Phaze is a publisher specializing in erotica and erotic romance. I'm pleased to announce that a story of mine has been accepted for their holiday-themed Phaze Snugglers line. I realize it's not quite Halloweeen yet, and I'll have full details when the story is available, which will be mid-November. But I can tell you that it'll be a $2 download and it's about a hot and dirty little romance that takes place around Christmas, and it's called "'Twas the Night after Christmas".

Here's the official announcement from Phaze:

The Holidays can't get here fast enough! Go to Phaze's homepage and check out our latest ebook teaser trailer featuring our upcoming Snuggler line. The first of these holiday-themed stories will be released at the beginning of November.

Here's a list of our Snuggler stories and authors:

Fairy Tail - Courtney Bee
San Diego Sunset - Alessia Brio and Will Belegon
Midwinter's Night - Michael Barnette
Santa's Helper - Yvette Hines
The Ice Butterfly - Vivien Dean
Cold Hands, Warm... - Jade Falconer
A Winter's Dare - Leigh Ellwood
Melting the Ice Queen - Aurora Black
He Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Cat Johnson
S'mores - Jalena Burke
Snow Falling on Lovers - Adrianna Dane
Proving Santa Exists - Victoria Blisse
Halfpipe Romance - Kate Burns
Twas the Night After Christmas - Susan DiPlacido

Don't get left out in the cold!

Friday, October 20, 2006

I am teh sad.

I'm sad for the Mets. It was a good NLCS series, and game 7 was a really good game. Once again, Oliver Perez stepped it up and did a great job. It looked like disaster in the sixth inning when Willie Randolph let Perez pitch to Scott Rolen with Edmonds on first. Rolen drilled one to left field but Met Endy Chavez leapt and pulled the ball back over the wall with an ice-cream cone catch, and then sweetened the treat by doubling Edmonds off of first. In the bottom of that inning, Rolen made a horrible throwing error and the Mets loaded the bases but just couldn't score and the game stayed tied at 1-1.

The Mets had a great year, tying the Yanks for the best record in baseball. And in the end, it wasn't the injuries to their starting pitching that did them in this series. Ironic to the rest of the season, their awesome bullpen gave up the runs, and their stacked lineup fell silent in key opportunities. After Cards catcher Molina hit a two run homer in the top of the ninth to put the Cards on top 3-1, the Mets had their chance again in the bottom of the inning, loading up the bases against Adam Wainwright. The Mets had the right guy at the plate in Carlos Beltran, who's racked up quite the impressive stats against the Cards. But rookie Wainwright clearly has confidence in his curve -- and he should. I can't fault the Met hitters for freezing in the box when he'd throw it, especially as a follow up to his live fastball, because even as a viewer watching the pitch, it's momentarily confusing. And freeze Beltran is exactly what Wainwright did, ending the game on a called third strike with the bases loaded.

As heartbreakers go, this game really was about an 8.75 on a 1-10 scale. I'm not mad at the Mets. They did good. They did great. I never really expected them to overcome the loss of Martinez and El Duque. But Paul Lo Duca handled the potentially shaky starters extremely well, calling good game after good game. And Maine and Perez kept their shit together and got the job done. Wright struggled at the plate the whole post-season, but Delgado came big a number of times and I really can't fault anyone. The Mets had a nice, classy club this year. It was a great series. The ending just really fucking sucked.

And, frankly, I don't need Tommy LaSorda laying a guilt trip on me about not being stoked for the World Series. I am a fucking baseball fan, okay? But I don't like the Cards; I think they've got a lot of bona-fide assholes on that team. And the DH just REALLY fucking irritates me. So even though I'm familiar with some of the Detroit players and wish them well, I just cannot tolerate or root for an American League team.

It's no big secret that baseball is no longer America's pastime. And it's also no secret that it loses fans every year. I could write a dissertation about why baseball is hemorrhaging and dying faster than Denny Duquette on Grey's Anatomy. (Okay, I won't write the whole essay, but it might have a little something to do with old fans dying off and the fact that although it's the greatest -- and most original -- sport going, it's also a generational thing that has to be passed on to be appreciated. Not to mention the plethora of problems with the business of baseball that are fairly grotesque.)

Now, no disrespect to LaSorda, cause I love the guy. But suffice to say that the way to woo current viewers and add new ones isn't to have some old guy being crabby and taunting fans in promo spots. You wanna entice people to watch, Tommy? How about replaying that ass-over-tin-cups tumble you took when you got nailed with the line drive while you were coaching third base during the All-Star game a few years ago. Like I said, I love you, man. But that was some funny shit. That might tempt a few people to tune in, hoping that they get to see a macabre scene like that.

I don't blame LaSorda for the spots though. He's doing what he can for the sport, because he's an ambassador. I blame the marketing idiots at Fox who came up with the idea. And since I'm on Fox, it was also a blatantly pandering move to fire Steve Lyons. And pandering to whom, exactly? Lou Piniella? Latinos? I don't fucking know. But it was pandering to someone. Lyons cracked a joke and got canned, that's what I know. And yet they allow Tim McCarver to prattle on endlessly with his asinine, grating commentary, year after year. And oh yeah -- while we're on the Fox broadcasting team? Those Holiday Inn commercials with Joe Buck? Suck.

Shitcan the condescending, accusatory promo spots, bring back Lyons, and tell McCarver to take a fucking breath once in a while, Fox. That might be a start to retaining some viewers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rebel Robin

To celebrate Rebellion being a finalist in the 2006 Best Book Awards, I'm going to be interviewing some of the other writers in the anthology over the next several weeks. This week, I'm so pleased to be kicking it off with Robin Slick, whose marvelous short story, "Daddy Left Me Alone with God," is the lead story in the anthology.

Robin is the author of:
Three Days in NYCAnother Bite of the Apple
Three Days in New York City, Another Bite of the Apple, and Buenos Noches, Justine, light-hearted erotic comedies published by Phaze Press. Robin's short stories have appeared in print and on the web—everywhere from heady places like In Posse Review and Slow Trains Literary Journal to give-heady places like Clean Sheets. She lives vicariously through her rock star offspring Julie and Eric Slick, who were featured in the Picturehouse Films documentary, Rock School, and are now members of the Adrian Belew Power Trio. Visit her online at and

I know Robin through a writer's group, and she's as funny, pretty, and talented as they come. She's got a fresh naturalness to her prose that's neither pretentious nor pedestrian. It's purely compelling and character-driven, with a deft touch and honesty that elevates it beyond chick-lit or erotica. Though, her erotica is pretty damn steamy, too. So please meet Robin.

1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?

J.D. Salinger and Erica Jong. I'm not going to lie and tell you I read Raymond Carver and Barry Hannah when I was growing up - I didn't even know who they were though of course they are favorites now. I just wish it wasn't too late to be influenced/guided by their voices. But when I was eleven years old and read Catcher in the Rye, I knew at that moment I wanted to be a writer. I was the female Holden. And then I read Fear of Flying when I was around 18 and I thought Oh my god, you can mix literature with sex? Women can write about their affairs with humor and grace? So then I decided I was Erica.

2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?

I guess strengthwise it's my voice and the fact that I can laugh at myself...therefore my characters are usually funny or get themselves in crazy situations. My biggest weakness is that I can't write descriptive passages. Bleh. But maybe it's because I have no patience reading them. Take Alice Munroe. Brilliant, brilliant writer. Wish I could write a short story that even comes close to something she puts out. But oh my god, she can spend pages writing about doilies and china patterns. I want to start screaming: Holy crap, get back to the story! But it's just jealousy. I'm unable to do it myself. It's all I can do to come up for a descriptive phrase when it's cold out other than Oh My God It's Freezing Out Here.

3) You write both erotica and non-erotic pieces. Do you tend to get in the "erotic" frame of mind beforehand, or can some stories just pick up that extra heat along the way?

I cheat when I write erotica. I write a funny chick lit story, get drunk on a bottle of good wine, and go back and add the sex scenes. Both editors I've had at Phaze have sent my original manuscripts back for Three Days in New York City and Another Bite, telling me to add more sex and be more...arghhh...descriptive. I'm going to try something new for the next one, though. I'm gonna get drunk first and have a Neil Gaiman fantasy.

4) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?

I never thought I could be successful at writing and still can't believe people actually buy my books. I thought my friends were just humoring me when they read my work. And when editors take my short stories now, I think to myself "Oh. It's because they like me and think I'm a character, not because I'm brilliant." (I've meet a lot of editors over the past six years through Zoetrope, readings in New York, and my blog). Right now I'm working on the book I've wanted to write my entire life. It's creative non-fiction...a memoir that's highly exaggerated...called Daddy Left Me Alone With God. It's about a baby boomer who refuses to believe she's not a kid anymore -- a woman with a rock and roll groupie past who is now living vicariously through her rock star children. While on tour with them, she meets up with a man she had an affair with when she was seventeen (and he was twenty-seven)...he was a famous rock star then and still is today...and even though she's married now and has given up her wild ways, when these two former lovers meet up now all kinds of crazy things happen... and our heroine must decide if she will finally grow up and come to terms with middle age or take the path she wishes she took with this man twenty five years ago.

5) You also blog. Do you think this helps inspire your books, or are the two unrelated?

Ugh. My blog. I am as addicted to blogging as I've ever been to any drug. Wait. I wasn't really ever addicted to any drug...bad analogy. Ahem. Anyway, no, blogging doesn't inspire my writing at all. It takes the place of my real writing, damn it. Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't be happier as a non fiction columnist. All the energy I used to pour into my writing at 5:00 a.m. every morning I now spend blogging. But here's the thing. I've met people from all over the world via my blog, even some major celebrities are daily readers (they email me!)...and once when I said I was thinking of ending the blog because of the time drain, I literally got around 500 emails from as far away as Norway and Japan, begging me not to stop. So like, I have this ego, you know? And now I can't only not stop blogging, I feel the need to be "fabulous" every day in said blog. Ack! Now today I have nothing new to report in my blog (which is rare) and I'm miserable. That's just not right. Luckily I have this interview with you to do or I'd be eating a dozen donuts for breakfast in frustration.

6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?

Ooh, I want both. I want dinner with an alive Neil Gaiman because I'm currently infatuated with him in every way possible. Christ. He's even got me reading his graphic novels right now. Who'd have thunk it. Dead...John Lennon. I've said this before but John is the closest thing I've ever had to a hero. My blog is named for John's incredible book of prose poetry -- In His Own Write.

7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?

The CD will probably surprise you, but it's by a band called Savoy Brown and it's called "Raw Sienna". It's 36 years old and every time I listen to it, I still get the chills. It's music to write to, music to have sex that makes my soul rise. The book would have been Catcher in the Rye but since I've read it a thousand times, I'm gonna switch gears and get in another Gaiman plug...Smoke and Mirrors, his collection of short stories. Oh crap. Maybe I'd take his new one, Fragile Things. Or American Gods. Can you tell I have a a problem right now? Ick. I'm a middle aged groupie. Someone gag me. Please. DVD? A Clockwork Orange. Hands down my favorite movie ever.

8) You're going to be editing a book. What made you decide to take the leap from writing to editing?

Ha ha - I didn't. My publisher asked me. We were kicking around ideas for anthologies, and as you know, Phaze does erotica, paranormal stuff...we're all over the place. So some of the fantasy analogies being discussed didn't appeal to me...then I got the idea for sex over forty since, um, that's what I relate to these days and I just happen to be working on a novel with that theme as discussed above...and I have a short story I've been working on that's an out-take from the book. So when I suggested that anthology, I got a private off-list email asking me How would you like to edit it...and include your own story of course..and also be in charge of the selections? I mean, how could I turn that down? I'm currently going after a big name author for this, too, so Susan, I'm hoping you submit to this as well because as you know, I think your writing really rocks.

Also, and don't let this get out or everyone and their mother from Zoetrope will start emailing me, but I love to edit other writers' works. Well, good writers, that is. I edited two lit mags before I got burnt out...then Phaze asked me to edit one of their books and when I didn't say no, they started sending me more, and before I knew it, I'm on their payroll as an editor. I'm really enjoying myself. I just wish I could see the obvious errors in my own work the way I can pick them out instantly in the works of others.

9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?

Bestselling with the fat coin. D'oh, that's a no brainer. I'm never going to have respect and critical acclaim. I'm too raw and I am so far from being literary it's not even funny. I want enough money to travel all around the world every year and own real estate in the UK. All kidding aside, I just want to write. Very few writers earn enough to do it full time. So yeah, I want the fat coin so that I can just sit at my computer and write what I want and not worry that they are going to turn off my electricity. As far as fame goes, that I can live without. I'm a loner who interacts very well on the computer but in the real world, I'm the one who hides in the corner at parties and gets drunk in an effort to be sociable, only to run to the bathroom and throw up once I have more than three drinks. And then I spend the next week under the covers in bed agonizing about what a fool I made of myself and how I'm never going out in public again.

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Robin.

And, of course, along with Robin's novels, you can also find her in the Rebellion anthology, available at Rebel's website or via Amazon.

Next week, I'll have a little chat with the charming Rebel Myfanwy Collins.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rebellion: USA Book News Finalist

Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction is a finalist in the USA Book News 2006 Best Book Awards!

Rebellion does, indeed, feature some tremendous writing from some very talented folks. And it's also got a story of mine in it! Complete details about the book, including online excerpts, are available on Rebel's website.

Congrats to all the contributors:
Robin Slick • Susan DiPlacido • Tom Saunders • Steve Hansen
Katrina DenzaMyfawny CollinsMarcus Grimm • T.J. Forrester
Grant JarrettMatt St. Amand • Tripp Reade • Donald Capone

And an even bigger congrats, and a heartfelt thanks, to the publisher, Rebel Press. Truly, being included in this book makes me so happy and proud.

12 great writers. 12 great stories. 1 dollar a story.
ISBN # 0-9786738-0-8
192 Pages

It's available for purchase direct from Rebel, so if you're interested, please see their website or use the handy-dandy little button on the sidebar over there. And, if it's easier, the book is also available at Amazon.

Tiramisu Teams

The Mets kicked the everloving shit out of the Cards last night to even up the NLCS series at 2-2. I'm so proud of them. Delgado and Beltran are stepping up big with their bats, the bullpen is doing their job, and who'da thunk that Oliver Perez would be able to turn in the winning pitching performance that he did after a 3-13 regular season? That's what October baseball is all about -- stepping up and not giving up. It really looked crappy for the Mets when their starting pitching rotation got dealt what should've been a 1-2 KO. But they've been able to hold their shit together and give us some good, even great, games anyhow. And now tonight the old man takes the mound again. With only three days rest, 40 year old Cy Young winner Tom Glavine will try and bring the Mets up to 3-2 in this series. He's definitely got experience. And he's definitely a fighter.

Detroit has now been dubbed the "team of destiny" for this year. Whatever. I can't say anything bad about Detroit, because they're a bunch of young kids and, frankly, I like watching them. Also, the town I live in currently hosts the AA farm club for Detroit. So a few short years ago, I was watching a lot of the guys on their current roster as they played at our ballpark. Interestingly, the team sucked. You'd think with all those now-blossomed stars, they would've been good. They weren't. They sucked. Finished last. Shit happens.

Anyhow, the whole destiny thing can bite me. Maybe the Mets will go to the Series, and maybe not. But they aren't playing like a conglomeration of entitled pricks, and they aren't treating this playoff trip as everyday business. So I'm proud of them no matter what. But I still hope they kick the holy hell out of St. Louis and then prove there's no such thing as fate and it's all about free will.

That said, their post-season pitching woes did make me think of a fun little change that could make for some interesting post-season shake-ups. Remember playing pick-up games as a kid? And you know how teams can expand their roster for the post-season? Try this on for an idea: Every year, the teams that make the playoffs are allowed to expand their roster by an extra two players -- and they can pick players from any team that doesn't make the playoffs.

It'd be good for the "business" side of baseball (which usually repulses me, what with their interleague bullshit) because a couple of big name players from clubs who had lackluster years could stay in the spotlight by hooking up with another team. It'd give writers and announcers weeks of copy and chit-chat speculating about who each team will go after. And I'm sure the union would find a way to make hay out of it all, too. (As long as everyone can engage in blatant profiteering, it's all good.)

And it'd be good for the "game" part of baseball. Pick-ups are fun, man! No one can cry about getting a ringer, cause everyone has the chance to pick-off a big gun to use as their own personal mercenary. (And it would give everyone the chance to ignore Barry Bonds!)

So that's my brainstorming done, and I'm sure we're all glad for that. Good luck tonight, Tommy.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mets to NLCS!

YAY Mets!! They're going to the NLCS, while that other team from NY got knocked out this weekend. I was concerned for the Mets, because although that other team was having absurd praises sung about its lineup, being called "Murderer's Row plus Cano," I knew the Mets actually had the better bats. They probably have the best lineup in baseball this year. But the dearth of starting pitching after some injuries had me worried. Luckily, the Mets also have the best bullpen in baseball. So if they can get four decent innings from a starter, they've got a good chance to win the game.

It never fails to amaze me how this game always comes down to fundamentals, and how people tend to forget that. A fundamental rule of baseball: Good pitching stops good hitting. And there's been all sorts of talk about that other NY team and what happened and why they "collapsed". (You can get lots of informative and funny commentary about them at Designated Blogger.) And I'll admit I spent a huge amount of time on Sunday morning watching the sports news shows as they all did their reports on it, and I laughed my ass off the whole time. At noon, I turned to my friend and said, "Are we getting sick of this yet?" And he said, "Hell no!" And I had to agree. Nasty, yes. Nevertheless. But my point is this: It still came down to pitching. New York had some old, run-down guys. I don't care how big their paychecks are, or how cute Mussina is. They're old. And Detroit? Their pitchers threw the shit out of the ball! People can blame and analyze all they want, but the Detroit pitchers dominated.

Anyhow, in sad news, my main man Mike Piazza and his team, the Padres, are now out of the playoffs. So the Mets will face the Cards, and let's be honest, who the hell cares what the hell is going on in the AL?

Also this weekend, I went to see the new Scorsese flick The Departed. Excellent. Loved it. This is a remake of the hugely popular (and fantastic) Hong Kong flick Internal Affairs. but Scorsese puts his stamp on it, and you can't get away from the outstanding acting. Now listen, I know, I KNOW people hate Leo, probably because of his over-the-top success from Titanic. But he's clearly Scorsese's new DeNiro, and can you seriously watch these pictures and tell me he's not fantastic? I mean, did you see The Aviator? He killed. And he does again in this movie.

30 years after Taxi Driver, Scorsese is still seamlessly blending "films" and "movies" to make the best pictures possible. I can't wait to see how the Oscars are going to fuck the guinea out of his award this year. Though it was crap that they blew him off for Raging Bull and then utterly laughable that they pwned him by handing the joke that's Kevin Coster an award for his melodrama "statement" movie over the benchmark Goodfellas, I figured maybe they just couldn't stomach anything nasty. Especially something that so perfectly showed the terrible beauty of violence. But when Marty didn't get his due for The Aviator, I just didn't know what to make of it. I still love that flick. It's absolutely amazing. The Departed doesn't have the lushness that The Aviator did, and it doesn't have a grand liberal message, either. So he's still pretty much fucked. But he's also still making the best movies in the world.

Last thought for a Monday? No matter how hard your workweek gets, you can take comfort in the fact that you're not this guy:

That's right. Proof that a $252 million salary doesn't necessarily mean your life will be a bed of roses.

Here's hoping to four good innings from Met starters this coming week.