Fern Kendal certainly doesn’t have it easy. Living in a completely unglamorous flat above and Indian restaurant, Fern must take on multiple jobs just to afford her rent. She desperately hopes to make it as a singer, but performing at a small pub with an unappreciative audience is not helping her case. Her best friend and accompanist Carl convinces Fern that they should try out for Fame Game, a reality TV competition for singers. To Fern’s surprise, she makes the callbacks- but has to go ahead without Carl.
Meanwhile, Fern is struggling to make ends meet while trying to help support her brother and his extremely asthmatic son who needs constant care and dealing with her new housemate- her father. Fern’s parents are on the verge of divorce and her father is quickly becoming more than a nuisance for Fern. She takes on the job of assistant to Evan David, popular opera singer- even though she knows nothing about opera and keeps having to run out on her professional duties to deal with her personal life events. To make matters more confusing, Evan David takes an unexplainable liking to Fern, all while Carl is desperately hoping that Fern will one day love him as much as he loves her.
Welcome to the Real World by Carole Matthews brings likable characters and a scenario that is very real. It was fun to read about the struggles that the heroine is dealing with, and was refreshing to see a character that isn’t just hoping to fall in love- she is pursing big dreams and fantasies. With a supporting cast of hilarious characters (Fern’s father pretending to have Tourette’s to try to win back his wife) readers will enjoy the humor and snappy dialogue that Matthew’s brings to all her novels.
Brenda Janowitz, a native New Yorker, thought from a small age that she wanted to be a writer. She graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelors Degree in Human Service Studies, with a Concentration in Race and Discrimination. She then went on to attend Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and won the Law Review Writing Competition. She has worked as a law associate and also a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Janowitz has since worked as a career counselor at two New York City law schools, where she published a number of articles on career related issues in publications such as the National Law Journal and the New York Law Journal. She has published two chick lit novels, titled Jack with a Twist and Scot on the Rocks, as well as a short story Based on a True Story. Her work has also appeared in the New York Post and Publishers Weekly. Brenda Janowitz currently lives in New York with her husband and teaches creative writing at Mediabistro.
The 2010 Miss America Pageant aired live last night from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Newly engaged Katie Stam passed on her crown to 22 year old broadcast journalism student Caressa Cameron. The Miss Virginia contestant, who is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, won the coveted crown along with a $50,000 scholarship for her year long reign as Miss America.
Cameron showed off her impressive singing skills, singing the Beyonce song “Listen” from Dreamgirls, and impressed the judges by her interview answer when asked about child obesity. “We need to get our kids back outside, playing with sticks in the street like I did when I was little.”
Miss California, Kristy Cavinder, is the first runner up and winner of a $25,000 scholarship, and will take over Cameron’s duties as queen if Cameron is deemed unfit throughout the year. The judges for the pageant included radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Vivica A. Fox, musician Dave Koz, American Idol‘s Brooke White and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson. Mario Lopez hosted the event.
Photo Credit: Eric Jameson/AP
Miss America Katie Stam has to turn over her crown tonight to the new Miss America, but she is loving her new jewel- engagement ring from fiancée Brian Irk. Irk, a personal trainer from Indiana, proposed to the pageant winner on Saturday in front of more than 600 guests during a fundraiser gala. People.com quotes the 24 year old beauty on her surprise engagement, “I started hyperventilating because I was so excited. He dropped down on one knee and he said ‘I love you so much. Will you be my Miss America forever?’” The couple will return home to Indianapolis and plan for a fall wedding.
The 2010 Miss America Pageant will air live tonight from Las Vegas, starting at 8 pm EST on TLC.
Photo Credit: B. Vartan Boyajan
Q: Why did you decide to start writing?
A: Ever since I was old enough to write, I’ve wanted to be an author. Of course, often when you tell your guidance counsellor at high school your dream, they tell you that it’s not a real career, and instead recommend going to university for journalism, which is exactly what my guidance counsellor advised me. Unfortunately, they’re not at all the same thing! One is all about reporting the truth, and the other is all about making things up (And I wanted to do the latter!). Still, off I went to j-school to get my degree. I don’t regret it, but it was definitely a different career path. So a few years ago, while working at ELLE magazine as the beauty editor, I decided that I couldn’t put off writing a novel any longer. I set myself a deadline and every night after work, I’d work on what eventually became Stuck in Downward Dog, my first novel.
Q: I love the concept behind Love Struck! Where did that inspiration come from?
A: I wanted to write a novel that was light and fun, but that had a deeper underlying dilemma, to which female readers could relate. I thought about the dynamics of relationships and the instance of affairs–and how oftentimes, we have these hard and fast rules that we would break up with our boyfriend/spouse instantly if we learned he was cheating. But I think it’s easy to think that it’s black & white, but would it be a harder decision if it actually happened to you? What if you really loved the person who cheated on you? Relationships are something that everyone can relate to, and so I thought that made for an interesting theme. Then, I threw in the lightning and the memory loss, just to complicate things, and make the novel a bit of fun and escapism.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a writer?
A: I recently quit my full-time job as a magazine editor to write–and now, I love the freedom of being able to do what I love every single day, even from the couch!
Q: Do you have a certain area (office, bedroom) where you have to be in order to get writing done?
A: When my agent sold Stuck in Downward Dog, my husband bought me a writing desk, and we turned our spare bedroom into my office. I’m all set up there, but I have a laptop (pink, of course) so I usually alternate from working at my desk, to sitting on the couch, or writing in bed (on the weekends, when I’ve got the entire day to write).
Q: I read that you were an assistant to a literary agent. How was that job, and how much did you learn?
A: I learned so much being an assistant to a literary agent. She was (and still is) quite a successful agent, and it was incredible watching her run her business as a one-woman show. I learned what an agent does for an author (so much, without any pay until she sells the book!) and how passionate most agents are about the work and the clients they’re representing. I ultimately realized though, that I couldn’t bear to file and answer phones while I witnessed–daily–every other author write their novels, get signed by an agent and sell their book. That was my dream, so I had to make it happen for myself.
Q: How did you land your positions at places such as ELLE and TV Guide?
A: After graduating, a friend asked me to cover a few of her shifts at one of the newspapers in Toronto. I did, and ended up sitting next to a woman who, a few months later, was hired to work at ELLE, which was just launching its English Canadian edition. She called me a few days after she started and asked if I wanted to proofread the magazine a few days a month. Two months later, the editor hired me full time, and I worked my way into the beauty department the following year. After two years of writing about self-tanners in July and holiday glam in December, I applied for an open position at TV Guide, which was published in the same building. I loved working there, and getting a sneak peek at new shows before they were on TV. Now, while I’m in Dexter and Glee withdrawal, I wish I was back there so I could get a little preview at the coming season!
Q: Love Struck is due out February 15th. Do you have a third novel in the works?
A: Writing a novel is such a labour of love that for months and months you’re bogged down in the very unglamorous aspects of writing, revising and editing. So now that the book is done and about to come out, I definitely want to just enjoy this time as much as possible, including my launch party and other media appearances. Of course, the reality is that the moment I finish writing a novel and there’s nothing more I can do to it, I start thinking about my next idea. But I’m superstitious, so until I have something set, I don’t like to tell anyone my idea.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or author?
A: I have a few favourite authors, depending on the genre. For commercial women’s fiction, I adore Emily Giffin. Her latest novel, Love the One You’re With, is my favourite book. For YA, I think Sarah Mlynowski (Magic in Manhattan series) is the funniest writer I’ve ever read. And for short stories, I love Stuart McLean. When I was at Ryerson University, Stuart was a professor in another program. For four years I wanted to stop by his office and ask him to sign one of his books for me, but I couldn’t work up the nerve because I was so intimidated. It’s ridiculous, really.
Q: What would be your advice to aspiring authors?
A: Write! You can definitely achieve your dream of being an author, but you have to write. So often, other aspiring authors ask me for the secret, but I really don’t think there is one. If you love writing, you will eventually succeed. I’m no expert, but I try to remember these three things, whenever I get discouraged or need inspiration.
a) It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at any activity. So the only way to be a good writer is to write as much as you can. Eventually you will become a good writer!
b) Success is only 1% luck. The rest is 99% hard work.
c) There’s no such thing as writer’s block. If you don’t want to sit down and write your novel, then you probably don’t love the story. And if you’re stuck on a scene, cut it. It probably won’t work anyway, if you can’t figure out how to write it.
Q: What is or do you think would be your favorite place to travel?
A: Last fall, once I finished my final edit of Love Struck, my husband and I took three weeks off to travel to South Africa. I loved it. It was such an amazing mix of history, culture, and wildlife. It was the best vacation I’ve ever taken, and I’m a bit worried to take another vacation, since I doubt it will compare!
Clemmie Colshannon is running out of luck. After finding out her boyfriend is a complete slum (him being the main reason of losing her job as a London art appraiser) and having a disastrous trip around the world, Clemmie finds herself living back at home. Her family is eclectic at best, with a drama queen actress as a mother with a passion for wild animals, (including a recuperating seagull), a brother with a secret crush that he is changing all his ways for, and a reporter for a sister that gets Clemmie wrapped up in what turns out to be a dangerous story.
Holly Colshannon, whom readers first met in Playing James, has found a juicy story involving another writer at the newspaper, Emma the society writer. Emma has mysteriously disappeared, and the girls learn she was secretly planning to get married to a man her father did not approve of. While trying to help Emma get her fiancé back, the sisters inadvertently put Emma (and their whole family) in danger.
Society Girls by Sarah Mason delivers a humorous story, with the supporting cast really giving the story line something extra. It was a little slow in the beginning, but the humor kept me going until the real drama started happening. Chick lit readers will also enjoy the love story that is fairly obvious to all but the heroine, and overall Society Girls makes for an entertaining read.
As a lover of carbonated drinks, I have been trying to cut back my consumption of soda and other juices that aren’t the best for my health. My solution? Bringing a water bottle with me to work and drinking water throughout my 8 hour work day. I also bought a Brita water filter for my house, because my tap water does not taste good at all and I now can drink healthier, better tasting water instead of sugary juices at home. I was so proud of myself switching to a healthier alternative, and I even heard that drinking lots of water would help improve my skin. I got even more excited after hearing this, and upped my drinking level from about 3 full water bottles to five full water bottles during my work day.
Sad to say, I got an email from FitnessMagazine.com filled with fun pointers and facts today, and one of their little facts mentioned that drinking water (no matter how much or how little) will improve your skin. Darn. Water is still good for your overall health, but will not help hydrate and improve skin. What will help? Apply a lotion or moisturizer to your face right after you get out of the shower. That will help trap the moisture and you will begin to see improved results.
People.com has reported that Dancing With the Stars will be missing a regular in the ballroom next season. Co-host Samantha Harris had decided not to return when the show premieres on March 22nd for its 9th season, instead she will be focusing on projects, such as correspondent duties on The Insider. Her spot has yet to be filled.
Photo Credit: Adam Larkey/ABC
The Superbowl will be filled with superstars for its musical performances. Carrie Underwood has been slated to sing the national anthem on February 7th, when the Indianapolis Colts will take on the New Orleans Saints. Usmagazine reports that Queen Latifah will also perform “America the Beautiful” and The Who will be the entertainment during half time.
Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images for PCA
Here comes the reality bride! People.com has reported that The Bachelor couple of Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney will say there I Do’s on national television, following in the footsteps of the only other successful couple the show has produced: Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter. ABC has confirmed that the wedding episode will air on March 8th, and will follow preparations such as dress fittings and even the bachelor/bachelorette parties.
More than 17.1 million viewers tuned in to the Rehn/Sutter marriage in 2002, and another astronomical number is predicated for this marriage, especially consider the unusual circumstances surrounding Mesnick’s choice. As you may remember, he originally chose Melissa Rycroft on the show’s finale, only to let her go at the Final Rose Ceremony and ask runner-up Molly to give him another chance.
Photo Credit: Matt Klitscher/ABC