January 2019

January 30

Random House Closes Loveswept as Part of  Termination of Digital First Imprints 

As a result of restructuring at Random House, president and publisher Gina Centrello announced a number changes at the publishing conglomerate, one of which appears to be that Random House is closing their digital first imprints — which includes the romance lines Loveswept and Flirt.  According to Publisher’s Lunch, a daily newsletter about the publishing industry, a Random House spokesperson said “The digital imprints are winding-down in 2019 but Ballantine Bantam Dell remains committed to publishing commercial fiction across all genres.” The existing digital backlist will continue to be published. 

It appears that the much-loved and talented Sue Grimshaw, who ran the Loweswept line, will not be continuing in her current position at Random House.

Authors and readers on the Twitter romance threads expressed sadness at this news. Maeve Greyson, author of a Highlander series at Loveswept, tweeted, “Working with Loveswept and Sue Grimshaw was a delight. My heart is heavy.” :-( “

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By Lori Perkins

January 29

Breakin’ My Heart

Getty Images

It’s a sad, sad day when Valentine’s Day loses its most iconic candy. Necco officially announced that they would no longer be selling conversation hearts this Valentine’s Day. 

 

The candy debuted in 1866 by SweetHearts before Necco bought them out in 1901. The cancelation of the candy seems quite spontaneous as Candystore.com rated them the most popular candy for Valentine’s Day in 2018. 

Lucky enough, this year’s halting of the candy is just a temporary blip in the conversation. Round Hill Investments bought out Necco and the candy hearts themselves were sold off to the Spangler Candy Company.

 

Unfortunately, because of how long it takes to produce the number of hearts sold, around eight billion, it was too late for Spangler to get the wheels turning on the heart production. 

 

Thankfully, lovers can expect to see them on the shelves next year, likely with some updated slogans. Over the 153 years the candies were produced, the text printed on them changed. Some of the new phrases include, “TOP CHEF,” “IN A FOG,” “URA TIGER,” HOME SOON,” “FIT FOR LOVE,” and “URA QT.” 

By Lilli McHale

January 28

Bridesmaid Catches Wedding Bouquet and

  Her Boyfriend Proposes at the Reception

SWNS

They say that whoever catches the bride’s bouquet is the next to marry, but that cliché came true super fast for English bridesmaid Kirsty Frayne, 29.

When bride Natalie Lavall tossed the bouquet at to her at her wedding, Kirsty’s boyfriend, Joe Booker, 28, got down on one knee and proposed, according to SWNS.com.

Booker confessed that it was not completely spontaneous as he and the groom, his cousin, had discussed it the night before.  “I was at Ben’s stag do in Krakow when, after a few drinks, he said he thought it would be a good idea for me to propose to Kirsty at his wedding,” Booker explained. “I was not sure at first, as I didn’t think about getting married yet, as we are just about to emigrate to Australia, but then I thought it doesn’t get much more romantic than proposing at a wedding.”

Kirsty said she was shocked, and did not expect the proposal, although she did accept.  The couple said they will plan their wedding after they relocate to Australia.

By Lori Perkins

January 27

“Victoria & Albert: The Wedding” 

Portrait painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1847, as an anniversary present for Prince Albert (image in the public domain).

“Victoria & Albert: The Wedding” is a PBS program documenting an exact historical reconstruction of the wedding of Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert. 

 

Dr. Lucy Worsley, English historian and Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, hosts this PBS show. She speaks in a very British, upper-class accent. She has that upper class speech impediment that Monty Python so famously satirized, which consists of the mispronunciation of “r” as “w.” 

 

Dr. Lucy Worsley and her team of experts, including Museum Curator and English history expert Jasdeep Singh, tell the story of this fairytale royal romance, originally performed on February 10th, 1840. Theirs was a great, enduring love that lasted beyond the grave. 

 

The program features a complete recreation of Victoria and Albert’s courtship, wedding ceremony, vows, reception and wedding night dinner. Most resplendent are the costumes, the ceremony and its music, the wedding cake, and, most importantly, Queen Victoria’s white wedding dress. It turns out that Queen Victoria originated the idea that women should be married in white, and her wedding dress formed the basis for our notion of weddings and wedding dresses today. 

 

The cake is stupendous and mouth-watering, the dishes served at the feast are meticulously constructed, including fabulous gelee molds, heaped cakes, game roasts, and other delicacies not seen on even the fanciest of today’s dinner tables.  

 

For the ceremony, Worsley and her team found a chapel similar to the original one at Windsor castle, and reconstruct a choir to perfectly mimic one that would have performed at the original wedding. Their singing is beautifully royal and totally English.

 

Even the guests are dressed as guests would have been at the original wedding. Are you a true romantic? Then this is a show not to be missed.

 

To find out more about the show, visit: https://www.pbs.org/program/victoria-albert-wedding/ , and to watch the full series via PBS “Passport,” go to https://www.pbs.org/video/episode-1-tlmmhh/.

By Camilla Saly

January 26

Daughter’s Photo with Her Dad and “Bonus Dad” Goes Viral

Willie + Rose Photography

Five year-old Willow’s photo from a recent daddy-daughter dance with her two dads has gone viral, but it’s not because the men are a couple.

 

The adorable photo of five-year-old Willow Megnon with dad Dylan Lennox and “bonus dad” David Lewis was posted on Facebook. “No, we are not a same sex couple, but we do share a daughter,” explained Lennox, who is engaged to Willow’s mother Sarah Megnon. David Lewis is Sarah’s ex-husband. “We have molded ourselves into one unique family, of only for the sake of our children to know the power of love. Not only did I gain a daughter, I gained a brother and a best friend.”

 

Sarah Megnon is a professional photographer and took the shot of her daughter with her two dads.  She explained that when she and David divorced two years ago, they decided to make Willow’s happiness a priority, and this applied to introducing new partners into their lives.“ I introduced Willow to Dylan when she was 18 months old and he’s been with us ever since,” Sarah told Yahoo Lifestyle of her now-fiancé.  “Dylan told me he fell in love with Willow before me.”

 

Luckily, the men developed a bromance as well.

“Dylan and David have a strong friendship,” Sarah added. “It’s never a competition. It’s what is best for Willow. Our daughter is very loved and will continue to know what unconditional love is.”

 

They are now a big, happy blended family. Dylan has a six-year-old son from a previous relationship, and the couple also has a child together, two-year-old Tatum, but David Lewis is very much a part of their lives. 

“When we care more about our children than the way society has taught us to be towards [ex’s], then walls will fall, life will be free of hatred and remorse, and our children will conquer the foolish ‘norms’ that media has shoved in our faces,” Dylan’s Facebook post reads.

“[Lewis] stays at our home when he visits, because family is always welcome. He is not an outsider, he is and will always be a part of my life for the simple fact that we share the same daughter!”

 

Sarah hopes that it will teach other parents to put aside their own feelings for the sake of their children. “I hope people take away from this message to show compassion, kindness and love for the sake of your children,” she says. “You have to set that example as a parent.”

 

Dylan Lennox says he hopes that among the thousands of people reacting to his Facebook post, there might be someone out there for his co-parent, Lewis.

 

“FYI David is single,” he added to the post.

By Lori Perkins

Willie + Rose Photography

January 25

Couple Divided by Mexican/U.S. Border

Get Married on International Bridge

CBS 4

Not even an international border can stop true love.

On Monday, soccer sweethearts Yesenia Hernández , 28, and Takeshi Torres, 26,  who live on opposite sides of the U.S./Mexico border got married on the Texas bridge separating the two countries, which is considered international territory.

The couple met eight years ago while playing soccer on the collegiate level in the United States. However, since Torres’ visa expired, they have been living in separate countries—Hernández in the United States and Torres in Mexico. Still, they officially started their life together as a married couple on the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge on the Texas/Mexico border.

“We had to get married here in the bridge so that we can get married over there in the U.S.A.” Torres told Harlingen, Texas news station KGBT.

Immigration attorney Margie Villalobos told the TV station that the pair is not the first to marry on the international bridge. “They feel like they have to do it here at the bridge to be able to get a Texas marriage license, but honestly, that’s not necessary,” Villalobos explained to KGBT. “If they want to get married, they can get [married] in Mexico too, that’s a valid marriage too. It just has to be a bona fide marriage.”

Family members joined the couple on the bridge for their special day as a judge performed the ceremony. The couple is reportedly working with an immigration attorney for Hernández to petition on behalf of Torres to become a permanent U.S. resident which could take up to a year.

For more info, please watch the news report: 

By Lori Perkins

January 24

Hallmark Channel Brings Us Winterfest 2019

Just when I’ve decided it’s too cold to go outside, I remembered that the Hallmark Channel had sent an email announcing that there are a whole new batch of winter romance movies premiering this month.  I can just grab my favorite throw, make hot chocolate and curl up before the TV as the weather plummets.

 

There are five new movies this January. Winter Castle is the first feature in Hallmark’s Winterfest. It’s a destination wedding romance set in an ice hotel.  The setting alone is worth the watch. This one stars Emilie Ullerup and Hallmark boyfriend fave Kevin McGarry.

 

The second offering in their Winterfest 2019 series is The Winter Princess–a typical Hallmark plot chestnut about a princess in disguise and a hot ski resort owner’s brother starring Natalie Hall and Chris McNally.

 

Winter Love Story is about two writers and a Hot Chocolate challenge with Jen Lilly and  Kevin McGarry. It’s always a delight to see how the Hallmark Channel portrays the “easy” life of a writer (right up there in their favorite fantasy professions with party planner and baker/caterer). Here’s the plot summary--new author Cassie Winslett's first novel isn't selling well, so she is paired on a book tour (ha ha!!!) with the best-selling author Elliot Somersby to boost sales and her confidence--but along the way a romance starts to bloom. 

One Winter Proposal is the sequel to One Winter Weekend.  Old flames are reignited and current flames burn brighter when the fan-favorite foursome of Taylor Cole, Jack Turner, Rukiya Bernard and Dewshane Williams return to the ski resort.

 

The last film in the winder love fest is Snowcoming which premieres on the 26th with one of the Hallmark Channel’s favorite heartthrobs, Trevor Donavan, and Lindy Booth on a second chance at love plot.  Samantha returns home for her town’s winter festival to celebrate her father’s retirement from coaching. Her hopes for a quiet visit are dashed when she discovers NFL quarterback and high school sweetheart Jake is the surprise her father has waiting for her, and he’s staying with them!

 

I’m looking forward to what Hallmark puts together for their Valentine’s 2019 season.

By Lori Perkins

January 23

Behind the Scenes of a Beauty Blogger’s

“Perfect Wedding”

Hair and Makeup by AMM Team – Photography by Lauren McGlynn

Beauty Blogger Jen Mathews thought she had planned the perfect wedding in a castle in Scotland. She invited a small group of family and friends to her dream destination wedding… and then came down with a cold.

She shared her experience in her blog mybeautybunnies.com and we share some of her musings on the experience here.  But ultimately, the wedding was a dream come true!

 

Planning a dream wedding can be incredibly difficult and stressful. Here are some of My Beauty Bunnies’ best tips to surviving wedding planning. 

 

Jen recommends organizing a “wedding meeting,” with your future partner in order to really lay out what wedding details will be important to each member of the wedding party. Jen is a beauty blogger, so obviously that was important for her. Her fiancée Gregg cared about the venue, having a good photographer, and a nice suit. Both side of the family had yet to meet each other and their initial meet up was going to be kind of a big deal so they wanted a small destination wedding. They had 24 guests total. 

 

The two had to deal with a lot of food planning so they weren’t initially worried about what kind of food they were going to serve. Instead, they dealt with allergies and vegan guests. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pair chose Dalhousie Castle in Scotland’s Edinburgh working with Lisa Bauer of TartanWeddings.com. Jen comments, “almost every single person I talked to wanted to know if it was me or Gregg who was Scottish. Well, I think that’s normal human curiosity, but also kind of weird. If I was getting married in Hawaii, no one would have asked if I was Hawaiian! 23 and Me says I have a lot of British and “broadly northwestern European” ancestry so maybe there are some Scottish ancestors in my family, but that’s not why we chose Scotland for our wedding. Neither of us had been, but we knew it was going to be a be a blend of beautiful Scottish countryside mixed with a big, bustling city full of history and old Gothic architecture. Plus, I mean dude – a freaking CASTLE!” The pair got a lot of looks for having their wedding in October, but their anniversary is in October, and they wanted their wedding to be then too. 

 

The Castle that they booked their wedding at was all inclusive and took care of all of the details they didn’t want to have to care about. They got their food, alcohol, tables, plates, chairs, and workers all provided for them without having to worry. They even had an owl named Bonnie that was there to deliver the rings to the ceremony. 

 

“One of the best things about Dalhousie Castle, is that they took care of a lot of little details that I didn’t want to worry about. The best part was that the wedding venue was also a hotel so the tipsy guests could simply stay the night! They bought special keepsakes of cake toppers that were a custom lion and bunny alongside champagne toasting flutes that looked like they were fit for royalty”

But seriously, what happens when you’re sick on your wedding day?  You preserve.

 

“So, Gregg and I were sort of fighting off colds leading up to the wedding (and my BFF was sick for HER wedding a week prior), but the stress of wedding planning, long-haul overseas travel, lugging around 200 lbs of luggage (literally – I’m not kidding!), and LOTS of walking and stair climbing did us in.

 

About an hour after our rehearsal dinner, I got SO sick. Gunk was pouring out of my nose, I had a headache and muscle aches and I was exhausted. I took some meds, hoped for the best and went to bed. The next morning I was even worse. I was so upset, but what could I do? I googled “bride sick on my wedding day” to see what other people were saying. Someone mentioned going to urgent care to get a cortisone shot, but I wasn’t sure how to do that in Scotland, and quite frankly, I didn’t have time. I ended up staying in my hotel in Edinburgh and skipping a lot of the pre-wedding prep that was supposed to happen at the castle (which was about 30 minutes south of Edinburgh).

 

I skipped out on meeting the florist and cake baker (which was sad – I wanted to meet them) and I missed a lot of the pre-wedding stuff, but you know what? It was fine. In addition to sleeping in, I was lucky enough to borrow some very strong medicine from a family member, and my good friends drove all around town to pick up more meds, tissues and energy drinks for me! It was really sweet to see everyone rally to help me. I also was sure to drink a lot of water and electrolytes, plus, I had a great makeup artist and hair team. They made me look glam and un-zombie-like, which is why no one can tell I was sick in the photos!

 

This is going to sound weird, but being exhausted and sick actually made me so much less nervous. I wasn’t even stressed or anxious at all until right before it was time to take first-look photos and head in to the ceremony. And if you know me at all, you know I’m prone to anxiety, and especially in a situation like this. I’m not saying I would have wanted it this way, but looking on the bright side and all… 

 

So – moral of the story is that stuff WILL go wrong and you have to get creative with solutions, think positive and say “the show must go on!”

To read the entire story, please visit https://mybeautybunny.com/i-was-sick-at-my-wedding-survival-guide/

By Lilli McHale

Wedding Planner – Tartan Weddings; Photography by Lauren McGlynn

Wedding Planner – Tartan Weddings; Photography by Lauren McGlynn

Hair and Makeup by AMM Team – Photography by Lauren McGlynn

January 22

Changes are Coming to David’s Bridal 

After Declaring Bankruptcy

David's Bridal

January 20

After filing for bankruptcy in 2018, David’s Bridal is making some big changes starting in 2019. The first of them being the inclusion of a lesbian wedding in their latest ad campaign, which promotes bridges to “rewrite the rules.” The company’s goal with the campaign is inclusion in order to celebrate all the different types of love that exist today (or maybe it’s to make a little extra cash as the LGBTQ+ wedding market raked in 1.6 billon dollars last year).

 

Their chief marketing officer told AdAge, “ We wanted to make sure this spot represented what we see from brides today.” In the past, David’s Bridal and its commercials spent much of their time focusing on what the story could provide, from the experience to the dress. They are finally moving to focus their attention on the couple with the ad offering views of multiple different weddings. The first is an interracial couple that gets married in a forest of redwoods, the next is a couple with a baby with them at the altar, followed by a lesbian couple dancing at their reception, and a couple walking barefoot on the beach.

In case the series of beautiful images didn’t make viewers excited about the commercial’s different direction, the narration certainly will, stating, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and above all else… something you.” 

By Lilli McHale

Bridal Shop Window Display Features Wheelchair

For many brides, there is no greater joy than looking at all of the beautiful mannequins on display wearing their possible future gowns. Yet, for those who are disabled it can be disheartening to not see themselves reflected and portrayed in the windows. A bridal shop in the United Kingdom is doing something to change that. Their latest display window included a mannequin showcasing a gown while positioned in a wheelchair.

 

Beth Wilson, who is disabled, saw the window display and tweeted about The White Collection Bridal Boutique and how exciting its display was for her. The window first caught Wilson’s eye due to the beautiful display but she then quickly realized just how exciting and different the display was. She goes on to tweet about the display saying, "The new wedding shop in town has a wheelchair-using mannequin and it shouldn't be exciting but it's the first time I've ever seen disability portrayed in a shop window.”

The Bristol-based shop is hoping that their display, along with the positive responses from Wilson’s tweet, will encourage other stores to consider revising their own windows to be more inclusive.

 

Wilson furthers notes that the window display did everything right as it did not hide the wheelchair but highlighted it with its own respective decorations. The dress was still on full display and allowed the disabled to feel represented and celebrated in their own fairy tale.  

https://www.thisisinsider.com/uk-bridal-store-wheelchair-window-display-reactions-2019-1?fbclid=IwAR2DerPR0q2bif9F37_DRq3ZHk1NfY6jwmnUVhH3kswFxuBddweCFSICoZE

By Lilli McHale

January 19

Did You Watch the New Vampire Family Drama, The Passage?

You might have missed this.  I don’t blame you.  I think that the marketing for this new kick-ass vampire series sucks, and not in a sexy blood-sucker way.

 

But you’re also in luck, because the pilot is showing again on the 19th on most Fox stations.  Tape it if you can!

 

The basic set up is that there’s a new virus that turns scientists, and then condemned criminals they are using for experiments, into powerful, resilient blood drinkers who turn into decomposed old flesh, except for the younger ones.  The youngest condemned prisoner they have tried this on is in her 20’s and she looks great – she just drinks a bucketful of blood every day.

Of course, all this scientific experiments is being carried out by the government, which means science without morals, so it should be no surprise when an agent with a broken marriage and a dead daughter is assigned to kidnap a child “who no one will miss,” for future experiments. 

By Lori Perkins

January 18

Launch Party for Memoir Sex Drive:

On the Road to a Pleasure Revolution 

The author poses with Veronica Vera

By Sasha Swann

New York last night was the latest stopping off point for the “Sex Drive Road Show” as author Stephanie Theobald is describing the grand tour of her new book, Sex Drive: On The Road to a Pleasure Revolution. The racy memoir, which Emma Thompson claims caused her to “quiver,” sees Theobald embark on a road trip across the US in search of her lost Sex Drive. Along the way, she seeks out advice from the incredible sex-positive feminists of the 1970s and 1980s and so begins a fantastic voyage into her own body. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guests at the party, thrown by New York Times-acclaimed “sex tech” entrepreneur and director of Unbound, Polly Rodriguez, 30, included leading figures from the worlds of film, fashion, journalism and sexuality. An early attendee was Bianca Jagger-esque beauty and former Robert Mapplethorpe model, Veronica Vera. “VV” to her friends was at the center of the New York sex world of the 1970s and 1980s. She appeared in porn films, made cable sex shows and advocated for sex workers’ rights. Today she runs Miss Vera’s School for Boys Who Want To Be Girls. VV reflected last night about things she misses about the New York of the 1970s. “I’d wear a sheer blouse with no bra and you could walk down the street like that, no problem!” 

Other guests included screenwriter and producer Gabrielle Kelly, Bronwyn Cosgrove, fashion writer and author of Vogue on Coco Chanel, Burlesque dancer Elle Anhorn, Sari Cooper, the director of Center for Love and Sex and Shelby Marne, a director of Skirt Club, the discerning women-only play club. 

They sipped champagne as they listened to Theobald read a humorous passage from Sex Drive about attending 89-year-old Betty Dodson’s newly-revived  “BodySex” self-pleasuring classes.  Other chapters immerse readers in a counter-cultural America of marijuana lollipops, alien pleasure cults and “ecosexual” sexologists.  Theobald said she believes Sex Drive is timely. “#MeToo was about men imposing their pleasure on women. The pleasure revolution is about women asserting their own pleasure.”  

 

She concluded the night by advising guests to purchase not just a copy of Sex Drive but also a “Squish” vibrator ($99) invented and produced by her hostess, Polly Rodriguez. “Your week will definitely get more fun if you add those two things to your daily routine,” she said. 

 

https://unbound.com/books/sex-drive/

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January 16

Former Star Quarterback Tim Tebow is engaged to Former Miss Universe

kellybramanphotography

By Lori Perkins

That sounds like the plot to a good romance novel, doesn’t it?

 

Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow asked former Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters to marry him last Wednesday at his family’s farm on the outskirts of Jacksonville, Florida. According to People Magazine the engagement ring was a whopping 7.25-carat solitaire diamond! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tebow, 31, proposed to Nel-Peters, 23, while standing beside a hand-carved wooden bench inscribed with the day they met, the date of their engagement, and the word “forever.” He additionally flew all of Nel-Peters’ closest family and friends from her home of South Africa to ensure they got to see the epic event. 

 

The two met last April at Night to Shine, an event held by Tim Tebow’s Foundation that aids those with disabilities. The pair started to exchange messages before finally talking, which is when Tebow supposedly knew she was special. As the two spent more time together, he said he knew she was the one. 

Nel-Peters told People about her excitement for the wedding and says she “can’t wait to spend forever,” with Tim Tebow. 

The pair celebrated their engagement in Walt Disney World Florida. The couple took pictures in front of the Magic Kingdom castle with Cinderella and Prince Charming. How fitting! In celebration, Disney Weddings posted a photo to congratulate the happy couple. 

kellybramanphotography

kellybramanphotography

January 15

“Cat Person” Author Kristen Roupenian

Holds Book Launch for New Short Story Collection at NY’s Strand Bookstore

By Lori Perkins

It was standing room only at the third floor event space for the book launch and reading for viral sensation short story writer Kristen Roupenian’s just-published collection, You Know You Want This on Monday, January 14th.

 

The crowd of mostly female readers had assembled to hear the author of the short story, “Cat Person,” which appeared in The New Yorker in December of 2017 and quickly went viral to became the second most read piece in the magazine that year.

 

At that time, an auction for her short story collection and novel followed quickly (a seven figure deal) as well as the sale of a horror movie screenplay the following year, so this collection was one of the most highly anticipated books of the new year. 

 

It does not disappoint.

 

Roupenian took to the stage to read an excerpt from “Biter,” the final story in the collection of dark and powerful tales, which she described as a literary “mix tape.”  In this story, a female character has an insatiable desire to bite, which she has restrained since first grade, but the appearance of a particularly attractive office manager has made her fantasize about her old desire. The author did not finish reading the story but described it as “the story of a woman who wants something really badly and gets it.” And then she smiled. 

The rest of the evening Roupenian was interviewed by Haley Mlotek, a journalist who had previously interviewed her in Elle Magazine and discussed the how and why of Roupenian’s stories.

“For me, writing is like riding a wave,” Roupenian explained, as she shared how she views the creative process. She said that once the story is published, she “gives the story to the reader and lets it breathe.”  

 

When asked about the zeitgeist of publishing “Cat Person” on the cusp of the #MeToo movement, she was honestly thrilled that “Cat Person” was a story that people either loved or hated. “The core has to be a story that makes you turn the page,” she added. “When the story got out into the world, it became political because it was an amazing moment of collective conversation.”  She said she was glad to be a part of the larger moment and “glad to have given [the world] fiction to dissect instead of an essay.”

 

The Strand had about 100 copies on hand for signing.  There might still be a few left.  I think this is going to be an author we are going to be talking about for decades, so you might want to see if you can still snag one from this first printing.

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January 13

What Makes Mrs. Maisel So Marvelous

January 12

By now, you’ve binged the second season of this incredible Amazon Prime show about a divorced female comedian in the 1950’s whose foul-mouthed routine about her single-mother life living with her middle-aged parents on NY’s Upper West Side is both liberating and side-splitting. And compelling. You cannot watch just one episode.

 

It’s not just the spot-on eye for detail of the clothes (matching hats and bags and shoes!) and furniture and cars, or even Luke Kirby’s brilliant line-for-line recreation of Lenny Bruce’s appearance on the Steve Allen Show.  It’s not even the amazing screenplay.  It’s the story telling.

 

After I finished watching the show’s second season, which some TV critics said was weaker because it left the New York comedy scene and meandered to Paris and the Catskills.  The show opened with Rose, Midge Maisel’s mother, running off to Paris (Paris in the 50’s OMG!!!!) to find herself, and Midge and her professor father chasing after her and bringing her back as both of them find pieces of themselves in the process.

 

The show then veers off on another tangent as the Weissmans return to their annual summer sojourn to the Catskills, a time and place viewers are familiar with from Dirty Dancing, where we see the dynamics of Midge’s parents’ marriage, as well as her in-laws’ marriage, in addition to the social mores of the times.

 

This is when I went online to see who wrote this show. I knew it had to be a woman.  And, of course, it was. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the brainchild of Amy Sherman-Palladino, who won double Emmys for the show in writing and directing, and is the daughter of comedian Don Sherman (so the 1950s comedian lifestyle material comes from an authentic place). Although she worked on the show with her husband, Daniel, the reason I knew that this show was written by a woman was that the story telling was circular as opposed to linear. Women readers and writers know that the best way to show (not tell) a story is to weave vignettes about where the characters come from and where they are going.  By showing the inner workings of Midge’s parents’ marriage and how they dealt with change, you can see where Midge came from, and where she might be going, especially when we compare it to where she was with her ex-husband Joel.

Another circle within the show is the oddball friendship between Midge and her manager, Susie Myerson, a much poorer and butcher woman, who has a completely different kind of chutzpah than Midge, but they both acknowledge and respect their female power and learn from each other.  You don’t often see that kind of pairing written by a man. The show takes these characters on a road trip to show this friendship, and the hardship of being a female comedian on the road.

 

And then comes back to New York where Midge does a telethon which leads to an offer to open for a famous singer on a European tour.  She immediately says yes, and then realizes she will be leaving everything that she has ever known, and everyone who loves her, and will have to face herself on her own for the first time in her life.

 

I can’t wait until Season 3

By Lori Perkins

RDN Interviews Cathy Maxwell

Cathy was born and raised in Kansas and believes she is as stubborn, independent and loyal as her fellow Kansans. She began writing historical romances during the 28 years he lived in Virginia; the place she calls “her spiritual home.” More recently Cathy moved to Austin, Texas to be near family.  She adores the music scene, but most of all she has the chance to rise her horses every day! For Cathy life is a goof. She has her family, two dogs and a host of friends to keep her busy; as well as her writing. Her readers know they can expect the unexpected from Cathy and that she’ll always weave that unique Maxwell humor into every book she creates. 

 

RDN: When did you realize you were a “writer”?

CM: I always knew I was a storyteller.  The question was, did my stories have enough merit that someone else would want to read them AND did I have the discipline to write them?  The latter question is often more important than the first. No one is born a “writer.” It is a learned skill.  But to be a storyteller? Yes, that is a gift! 

 

RDN: What inspires you?

CM: My family, art, music, poetry, random conversations I hear in passing that make me wonder “what if?”

 

RDN: Do you have a set time or special place you write?

CM: No, I’m fairly promiscuous about that whole endeavor. I write when I must because the first draft is painful. I write where I have space or an inclination. I do have a home office and I do like to write in silence.  

 

RDN:  You’ve written 36 historical romances, many set in the in the Regency Period. What is the appeal of historical romance s for you?

CM: The appeal of ANY romance for me is the emotion.  I like the veneer of history because it allows me to talk about many issues that are of concern today without it seeming so immediate. Plus the societal caste system of the Regency can often times serve as an antagonist.  We all must learn to come into our own, that there are rules meant to be bucked . . . but setting a book against a historical backdrop can give added weight to those actions.  Then, as is so often the case, fiction helps us to sort out and review our own attitudes.

 

RDN: Why is the Regency such a favorite setting?

CM: Because it is the beginning of the modern age. Many of the concepts we accept as truth today have their roots in the Regency such as education for women, the rise of the middle class, the equality of man, etc. And then there are the delicious things like fabulous horses, lovely gowns, and men in tall boots.

 

RDN: Tell us about The Duke That I Marry, the conclusions to the Spinster Heiresses. 

CM: I wanted to jilt a duke, and a good-looking one at that.  In the Spinster Heiresses series, I’ve been playing with three young women who demand more from themselves. Yes, they have played to the expectations of society and their families, but at some point, they realize that isn’t enough—and isn’t that true of all of us?  We each reach a moment when, in order to be the fabulous people we were meant to be, we realize we have to demand more of life.  Even the duke has his moment of recognition, when he understands it isn’t his title that will win the lady’s heart, but the person he makes of himself.  Besides, lovely Willa isn’t interesting to him until the moment when she calls things off, and that is when the fun begins.  

 

RDN: You’ve had some amazing and unique covers? Do you have any input into the cover art?

CM: I have some input. However, I am working with the best Art Department in publishing.  I try to give them ideas that will tickle their fancy, but they take it from there.  By the way, look at all of the Avon Books covers. They are ALL excellent.

 

RDN: Romance is very empowering for readers. Your heroines are women who appeal to today’s readers. Do you strive to write strong women into your novels or does this just happen?

CM: I see no reason to write about weak people.  An insecure person will never be happy. An angry one will never trust.  I don’t want to write about people who are cowed by life.  I firmly believe that to live successfully, I must be willing to face any of the challenges that come my way.  Of course, my characters reflect my worldview. “Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health?”  That isn’t a vow for wusses.

RDN: Do you have a favorite heroine of your creation?

CM: Phadra Abbott in Treasured Vows.  Lovely Phadra with her scarves and toe rings.  What a delight! They are reissuing the book in August of 2019.

RDN: How do you bring contemporary issues into the plotline of your novel?

CM: I don’t. I focus on what was happening at the time and the truth is, human nature hasn’t changed much. There will always be jealousy and greed. There will be difficult decisions to be made where there are no winning solutions.  And Love will always matter—because how well we love and how well we are loved in return are the only true measures of a well-lived life.

RDN: How do you think the #MeToo movement will affect historical romances?

CM: Consent has been an issue for the last 30 years. Being considerate and kind with your partner has always been a part of “romance” relationships.  That being said, fiction is about what “some folks will up and do.” Yes, we have to push boundaries to teach lessons and have reactions.  Characters only grow and change through being challenged.

RDN: What message do you want readers to take away from you books?

CM: To never give up on life because out of our worst fears and doubts comes the very best solutions.  There is also my belief as stated above about a well-lived life.

RDN: What are you reading now?

CM: I just finished Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins. I’m suffering from a book hangover. I did not want the book to end, but it when it did, the ending was perfect!

RDN: To use a New York Times Book Review question – if you were hosting a literary party who would you invite; living or dead?

CM: Maggie Osborne, Nora Roberts, Pat Gaffney, Cheryl Etchison, Kristan Higgins, Sophie Jordan, Deborah Barnhart, the whole team at Avon Books, Jennifer Enderlin, my Romex buddies, Kim Lowe, Kathryn Falk (I dedicated this latest book to her), the whole RT crew from back in the day, Leanne Davis, Geri Krotow, Eileen Dreyer, Maida Malby, Bonnie Tucker, all the crowd at WRW, ARWA, VRW, OSRBC . . . the list goes on and on.  I did host a party or two like this one. The last time, we were in the middle of a great time when a friend walked up and asked, “Cathy, did you hire strippers for the party?” No, I answered. “Well, then, the police are at the door.”  We were having a fabulous time until we were shut down. Put wine and a room full of storytellers together and magic happens. 

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By Kathe Robin