Mad Men Monday: What Did You Think of ‘My Old Kentucky Home’?


Last night’s Mad Men episode was called “My Old Kentucky Home,” and it was one of those “outside the office” episodes that producer Matt Weiner is making popular this season.

What I liked:

  • I liked having another “outside of the office” episode — I like seeing how the characters behave out of the office from time to time, and this one didn’t disappoint. Most of the characters were attending the “soiree” of Roger and his new wife. And even those stuck working for the weekend (Peggy and the Creative team) had a “soiree” of their own, of sorts, as they put on their weekend personalities and smoked a little weed. Meanwhile, Joan threw a dinner party and realized, I think, that her husband might need her more than she needs him.
  • I liked that we saw unexpected “performances” at each of the parties, underscoring the “having different personalities out of the office” concept — Roger singing (although in blackface, singing “My Old Kentucky Home”), a barbershop quartet number from Paul Kinsey from Creative, and then Joan on the accordian. They each gave sort of the same element of suprise you’d get if you suddenly saw your boss performing a tap number at the holiday party. Continue reading

Follow-Up to Beta Read…

So the beta read is going well!

I have about 12 readers going strong. So far, all (but one?) said they’d read beyond the first 58 pages. (And that was highly important to me: the first 60 pages — which translates, usually, to three chapters — is all I get to send out to potential agents/publishers, so I need to be able to hook them there. I needed to know if — at the end of Act I — the reader would sigh and think “ho-hum” or if they’d be thinking “More! Give me more!”)

So now that they asked for more, now comes the “long part” — the balance of 100,000 words. So I need to be patient while everyone reads the whole thing. But three people have already finished! Whew! That’s a compliment! Superman barrelled through it and read it in about four days, so that was awesome. (First time he ever read it — I was so nervous!) So I’m already getting some long, terrific feedback.

One of the biggest things I’m waiting on feedback about is that I had to change the heroine pretty significantly after about Chapter 8 or 9, so I’m curious, in general, how everyone responds to her. But so far, so good. Every chapter after 9 changed (because when her motives changed, her actions did, too), so this is the first time anyone is reading the “new Simone.” And I added in two big scenes toward the end that now I can’t believe weren’t in there before (because they’re kind of big “showdowns”), so I’m eager to hear how those read. In other words, some of these scenes are actually “first drafts”! (Although 80% of the book is more polished with thought-over word choice, so I don’t want anyone to worry!)

Plus I want to make sure the dialogue reads well, and the secondary characters are interesting.

I guess I just want everyone to love Adam and Simone; and I want to make everyone smile and have fun with the story. Always a writer’s goal. : )

Pageant of the Masters 2009

1920s actorsLast weekend, Superman and I got to attend one of our favorite summer events – Orange County’s Pageant of the Masters.

We always reserve our seats early – sometimes in even in December of the previous year – so we can be sure to get good seats for next year’s show.

The Pageant is a 75-plus year tradition here in OC. It began in 1933 – tucked on a little stage in the Laguna canyons, which had already come to be known as an artists’ colony.

Artists (and movie stars, incidentally), began coming to Laguna in the 1920s – the movie stars sipped cognacs and watched the sunsets from the famous Victor Hugo Inn on Pacific Coast Highway (today it is Las Brisas), while the artists flocked to the cliffs and coves to paint the beautiful beach settings and lived in bungalows in the eucalyptus canyons. As more and more artists continued spilling into the seaside town, they began an annual art show. They had to throw sawdust on the ground to keep the dirt from rising and ruining their paintings, and eventually this show became the Laguna Sawdust Festival, which is still growing strong more than 75 years later. Laguna also became home to the county’s first art museum, which is still there, on an ocean cliff overlooking the Pacific.

The Pageant was created shortly after the Sawdust Festival. Back then it was called “Tableaux Vivant,” which means “living pictures.” Continue reading

Mad Men Monday: What Did You Think of ‘Love Among the Ruins’?

Last night was Season 03, Episode 02, “Love Among the Ruins.”

As straightforward as Episode 1 seemed last week (pretty much poising everyone on the brink of change), this week’s episode seemed very … hmmm … not so straightforward?

What I liked:

  • (Superman caught this one, and had to point it out to me, but …) I liked that Sterling’s daughter is planning her wedding for November 23, 1963, which will be the day after Kennedy is shot. Superman looked over at me, when they showed the invitation, and said, “Hm. There’ll be a problem with THAT.”
  • I liked that they, once again, tied everyone’s struggles to the current ad campaign. Don comes up with his ad campaigns from what’s going on around him, but sometimes what’s going on around him seems to mimic the campaigns, in very cool twists. This week he was touting, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” Continue reading

Writing, Critiquing and Blogging — Oh My!

Whew! Well, I’m falling a bit behind in my blogging schedule, but it’s certainly not for lack of topics. My head is always swimming with a million things I want to write about. Since I’m on Twitter all day (for work), I see a gazillion links, articles, photos, blog posts, youTube videos, trending topics, and twitpics that tempt me each day … it’s a veritable information overload. Meanwhile, my brother-in-law is sending me health and news clips, my editor-in-chief is sending me links, my husband is sending me interesting food and diet articles, my coworker Amanda has this long list of interesting news bytes … ayeeee … Sometimes I drive home and just blast the radio and try to turn my brain off.

But sometimes … I don’t.

Sometimes I write in the car.

And sometimes I write on my lunch break.

And I’m writing like crazy every night. I’m still making tweaks to the manuscript that’s supposed to be done (and that I’m not supposed to be messing with right now). I’m still opening the file of the next book every day and wondering if I should jump in. Meanwhile, I’m critiquing my friend Patti’s novel for at least an hour every night, and then I need to take a look at another friend’s outline. Continue reading

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