Girl Crush: Author Liza Palmer…Ramble

Liza is one of those people who’s writing creates new friends. Friends that fulfill the Girl Scout song “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.” I’ve been able to connect online with Liza and interview her for some outlets, including this blog. She just pretty much kicks ass. Funny, honest and bubbling over with talent, she even has a French bulldog named Poet. Could she be any cooler? 

My favorite book of Liza’s is Seeing Me Naked. It’s a powerful and intrigueing facing the hard stuff in life with your family and finally creating a life for yourself regardless of what everyone expects you to do. Her last book A Field Guide To Burying Your Parents completely book my heart. It was so powerfully emotional and really hit a raw part of my experience in life. Let’s not forget her first book Conversations With The Fat Girl which was both hilarious and amazing.

Palmer fans already excited for her latest book More Like Her out on April 17th, which I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of to read. I’ve been discussing this issue of lifestyle over career ambitions and how that changes with age with a lot of my friends in the last couple of years. It’s like Liza was part of those conversations or at least her characters in “More Like Her” were. There are times when it’s hard for us to understand the end of a relationship, romanticize it and grieve for it while admiring someone else who seems to have “more” than us in one or several ways. 

“More Like Her” captures the feeling of being in your 30’s wondering why life still hasn’t resolved those career and relationship issues, but really addresses the need to actual realize you deserve someone who appreciates you as you are and the first person to fall in love with you should be you. This book is a little bit of a lighter emotional tugging than Liza’s first three books, but have no fear she will still take you over that edge and in that way I wish I was ….more like her. :) 

Face-off: The Girl With The Dragon Tat vs. The Hunger Games Trilogy War…Ramble

Hype can completely come attached to any media. People hear and see things and they want it, especially on repeated exposure. It’s how marketing works, it’s how careers rise and we consume media. Mass transit in the publishing capital of America allows for extra ‘impressions’ every time you see a person reading a book with a colorful cover it leaves another impression, the feeling that ‘oh I keep seeing people with that book, it must be good’ creating a sense of urgency the way teens catch on to what their peers are into and adopt it.

Here, we face off two triologys- one that has been hyped to adults and one aimed at teens. Both have sold millions of copies and are being translated onto the cinematic screen. Now, their heroines must FACE-OFF!

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Lisbeth Salander vs. The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen

FAMILY TIES:
Lisbeth is a twin but estranged from her sister. Her father is a powerful government figure who savagely beat her mother so hard it caused brain damage. Lisbeth tried to protect her mother by setting her father on fire, although it did not kill him.

Katniss is the oldest of two girls. Her father died in a coal mining explosion, sending her mother also off into a land of delusion and a fog descended upon the house. Katniss was left to fend for the food as they live in the poorest District (12 of 13).

Winner: ick, both have Father/Mother/Sister issues. If you want to go in terms of more severe suffering, Lisbeth is the ‘winner’.

SKILL SET:
Lisbeth is a genius hacker. The book’s author Stieg Larsson spends a ridiculous amount of time discussing the computer equipment (now of course completely outdated) she uses in the most boring way possible. Lisbeth has had to fend for herself being institutionalized herself and often sexually assaulted. She is stronger than her fragile malnourished appearance, great with a blade, fast and not afraid of hand-to-hand combat. She is also cunning and will use any weapon at her disposal to achieve her goal including sex.

Katniss is a huntress. She learned basic hunting skills from her beloved father before he died. He taught her to find the herb she is named after in the woods ‘you’ll never starve if you can find yourself.’ She is brave as she volunteered to take her young sister Prim’s place in The Hunger Games, where a boy and girl from each District annually face off in a death match. That’s right a death match. Katniss is also street smart and doesn’t full trust anyone even her best friend potential boyfriend Gale who refined her hunting skills and teams up with her to provide both their families with illegal game they find in the woods.

Winner: Each one’s skill set helps them survive and foil killers to the best of their abilities, and not without injury. This one is another hard category to pick. Lisbeth has skills that help her navigate the modern world, while Katniss’ skills are also include putting on a show and being an actress to win the crowd to her side. I’m going to go with Katniss.

LOVE TO LOVE YA:
Lisbeth dabbles in the lady pond but she also manages to fascinate men. Men who sexually assault her but also the unlikely journalist Mikael Blomkvist *played by Daniel Craig (hello James Bond) in the US Film Version out 12/21/11. Reading the books I found it highly bizarre. Blomkvist is a notorious ladies man and will shag just about anyone. It’s odd because Lisbeth is so private and when they first meet her partner is a woman.

Katniss has undeveloped feelings toward her best friend Gale. They are undefined but no matter how many girls throw themselves at Gale *played by Miley Cyrus’ man Liam Helmsworth, he only has eyes for Katniss. Of course, Katniss has a bit of a love triangle (well let’s face it both Lisbeth & Blomkvist have more than two partners in the first book) of her own due to the baker’s son, Peeta being pretty much in love with her. He is someone who gave her bread after her father died and got a beating for it. In fact, he is also the boy selected at random from District 12 to face off in The Hunger Games.

Winner: Personally I’m into amazing guys vying for my attention and since this is my blog I’m going to go with Katniss. Lisbeth doesn’t have the love of anyone, she can’t trust anyone so how can love blossom for her? It can’t.

TRAILERS:
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO:

THE HUNGER GAMES:

Winner: Woah, those are some great trailers but having not liked the Millenium series (yes that’s what they call The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series), seeing the trailer made me intrigued to see the movie. Comparatively I already want to see The Hunger Games so the winner is “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Purists who saw the foreign import version will beg to differ but I’m sticking by my choice.

BOOK REPORT: I’ll admit the 2nd book “The Girl Who Played With Fire” ended in a much more intriguing cliffhanger than “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” yet I still couldn’t be bothered to read “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest”. I have a feeling if Mr. Larsson had lived he would have done edits for the US market, a map of Sweden might have been placed in the books for reference and he probably would’ve changed the second book from having multiple characters with names starting with ‘B’ (I stopped counting at 8!) including one of the main characters Blomkvist and his boss/lover.

To compare, I delayed beginning “Mockingjay” the last book in “The Hunger Games” series because I didn’t want it to be finished. I was so engrossed in the triology I will have to read it again. I can’t wait for the movies! I will go see all of them in the theater- something I don’t really do as much given the bed bug freakiness of New York.

WINNER: The Hunger Games

OVERALL VICTOR: While these two characters both struggle to survive one has a target placed on her back and the other one inserts herself into the middle of trouble constantly. My choice is Katniss Everdeen who is far more likeable and you root for her. I find Lisbeth’s story harsh but it’s the similarity she has to the The Assassin character (in the US “Point of No Return”) that makes me want root for something fresh.

UPDATE 12/14:
MUSIC:
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – music by Trent Reznor and six of those songs are available for free download.

The Hunger Games: soundtrack not announced yet.

FASHION:
The Girl With The Dragon Tat: H&M fashion line is now in-stores this week so you can be, what my former intern, Julian would like ‘a badass’ without having to run from the law, be a victim of the system or rescue James Bond from getting killed.

The Hunger Games: Hard to judge here as the movie doesn’t come out until March and I can’t wait to see the clothing that Cinna, the costume designer played by another badass who will rock leather til the day he dies, Lenny Kravitz fills the screen with.

Winner: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on both accounts. While it’s too early to call on The Hunger Games, I’m guessing I’d rather rock the H&M line then the bodysuits the contestants in The Hunger Games have to sport.

NEW OVERALL WINNER: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on Badass Cool points, but let’s not count out The Hunger Games (again books I clearly prefer) til it comes out in March.

Getting GOOP’y about Gwyneth…Ramble

Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook book is finally out and while foodie sites like Eater.com are hating (ok to be fair the recipe for oatmeal – a cup of oats, add your favorite toppings is a bit of a no brainer), but the stories about her family life and how food allows them to gather and enjoy each other is charming.

I love me some Gwyneth so I was excited to have her sign a cook book for me. Kudos to Gwyneth for allowing the staff to take photos with people’s cameras, but holla, dude took photos just of Gwyneth, not me. Take a look:

It's my favorite Golden Goddess!

I’m happy to see that I got GP to smile. I gave her a CD since she enriches my life so even though I’m not “in the photo” she does have her hand on it. (Yes, I know I’m acting like a schoolgirl but who’s life doesn’t need a glamourous influence?) She was very sweet and it was like, wow, they were not rushing us along like happens with most of these types of events so thank you Gwyneth. You are a classy lady and I loved seeing the black sharpie on your hand as you autographed your beautiful book!

How sweet, she is petting the CD I gave her!

Fortunately my fabulous friend @brianistuft was able to capture how adorable I look from behind talking to GP.

Can you sign it to "my BFF"? Bwahaha.

Despite working in entertainment and having been exposed to tons of famous people, it was exciting for me to finally be talking directly to Gwyneth and have her attention for a minute. Here’s what I forgot to say to Gwyneth:
-Could you add “Watch out for the randoms!” to your signature?
-I’m going to Nashville and I’m testing your GOOP newsletters vs. a local!
-Could you adopt me? I know you have a fabulous Asian lady who is probably your PR person, but I’m more fun.

Five Questions Always a Good Idea…Ramble

I love the duel promotion of Gwyneth and Hova interviewing each other for their respective blogs. GP’s GOOP is great, but as I’ve mentioned before I would optimize it a few different ways for her. Perhaps Gwyneth asking five questions will make me lament even more the lack of my Follow Friday Five Questions series.

It’s also reminded me there is a “face-off” I’ve been slacking on as it forms in my mind- Jay Z’s/Kindle bio vs. Keith Richards/Physical. My problem here physically Richard’s book is so heavy it’s been a challenge to want to pick it back up and I do most of my reading on the subway.

Either way, Ms. Gwyneth is fabulous! I’m glad Hova considers her his sister. It’s definitely an interesting endorsement after reading his book Decoded that starts in a very depressed area of Brooklyn while Paltrow’s Upper East Side prep school upbringing was a complete opposite spectrum, still life, art, music and friendship have tied them together. It’s what makes these interviews so charming and gives insights to the affection they have for each other. I won’t lie, I’m seriously excited Gwyneth’s cookbook is finally available.

Holiday Gift Suggestions…Ramble

Now that the sales are over, are you looking around saying ‘oh crap, I bought things for myself with no overall plan or strategy for what people might actually like vs. what was on sale’? Awrighty then, I’ve got a few gift suggestions for the discerning woman in your life:

BOOKS:

Dear Money by Martha McPhee is an amazing satire that sheds light on the debate of art vs. responsibility and money making. I always thought if I got married I’d like to be a working mom supporting the family. After reading this book I have to say pass on the realities of such a move. This is a throughly great read for anyone who ever had such notions and pining for their youthful dreams.

Just Kids by Patti Smith a great memoir that is a must-read for music lovers granting access to the struggling artists Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe at the legendary Chelsea Hotel among such greats like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

JEWELRY:

Yes, it’s an old standby but …it works for most woman. Some discount sites you should sign up for to find bargains: Hautelook.com and Ebiza.com

But…for cool, trendy and small business, I have to once again shed light on my fave: KT Collection. If you follow her on twitter or sign up for the newsletter you’ll get in on discounts. Loooove my KT from my “Chanel meets downtown” jaguar ring (not couuuugar. egads! ha) to the classic gold necklaces, this is one collection that’s affordable and looks damn good.

FOR THE HOME:

Check out One Kings Lane. Oh my how I adore this site.

FOR THE SKIN:

Om Aroma & Co. is luxury for the skin. Ingredients like champagne and caviar renew the skin and smell delicious.

FOR THE HEART:

A puppy. I’m serious however, you have to include a dog trainer and to be super sweet and take on the responsibility of potty training the dog. Try some agility classes and involve the whole family.

Good luck shoppers! xx Grrlgenius

Shopaholics Love Sophie Kinsella…Ramble

Every woman who has been on a little shopping splurge or two or more can relate to Confessions of Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. To celebrate the release of Kinsella’s newest Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) adventure Mini ShopaholicBig City Moms held a spectacular event resplendent with cupcakes, a reading and book signing in the ‘newish’ Limelight (yes the former nightclub!) Marketplace (which has a J Sisters Salon in it! Holla if you love avoiding midtown). Discounts included a free mini-facial at the amazing Om Aroma & Co. on the second floor. Owner Angela is a former professional pianist who uses champagne, truffles and even caviar as ingredients. All in all a true delight and a dangerous shopping location that Becky would approve of!

As for Sophie, she told us a charming story of motherhood which involved her pink shoe closet, a live Skype transmission and a sleepy husband luring their 4-year-old to crawl to him while Mommy continued a live book reading to a packed audience in Chicago. She was humble, charming and just so delightful. The passage she read from Mini Shopaholic involved Becky justifying an outrageous toy purchase as the toy equivalent of a Chanel jacket for her daughter Mini. I can’t wait to read it and may not sleep tonight.

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The Lars(son) Effect…Ramble

What is the Lars(s)on Effect?

It’s more than suffering an untimely death at the brink of your creative peak and posthumous recognition like Van Gogh- the effect of having these works be successful but needing some tweaking. Rentheads, don’t be offended but I would rather light my own candle then listen to that song again…!

“The Larsson Effect” thus far involves two different writing Larsons:

a) Jonathan Larson creator of Broadway sensation “Rent” who died after being misdignosed at 2 hospitals, just several hours after giving an interview to The New York Times about “Rent” moving to Broadway. Rentheads are probably familiar with Anthony Rapp, the originator and still sometimes performing role of “Mark”, writing about the earlier days of “Rent” and the death of both his mother and Larson in his autobiography Without You. Good news: Rapp is workshopping Without You into a musical and it is a serious tear jerker just like the book. Oh @albinokid I still cry thinking about this.

b) Stieg Larsson who was a journalist, activist and writer of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy. According to his bio his heart attack was a heart attack which may or may not have been suspect. Hmm. In any event, he died shortly after turning in the 3 manuscripts. According to the NY Times there is a 4th book he was merely 100 pages from finishing which his long time lover, Eva Gabrielsson has in her possession. Since they never married to avoid Sweden’s law of married couples having to disclose their addresses (what!?) due to numerous death threats for Larsson’s political work, Eva received nothing when Stieg passed. Ouch.

As for Stieg’s triology… the writing style is like being hit with a blunt object. He goes ad nauseum into hawking Apple computer equipment his heroine Salander uses, the food everyone eats, but fails to including distances between places. Suggestion: add a map of Sweden in future additions kindly and a reference section at the back for those of us not familiar with Maundy Thursday, etc.) and perhaps some names changes since there are 5 (maybe more) characters in The Girl Who Played With Fire that begin with the letter B. Really.

I say check out the movies instead. I only got ‘involved’ in the story 500 pages into The Girl Who Played With Fire and have not bothered to open the final finished installement even though the ending was a decent cliffhanger, unlike the first book which tied everything up in a neat bow.

There you have it. This is a case when the movies smooth over some of the things I

Knock me down with a mere feather...not!

don’t like about the books i.e. ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (please refrain from sending me any work by this author.) It is odd to me so much fuss was made over the casting of Salander yet, director David Fincher cast Daniel Craig as Blomkvist? He gets the crap beaten out of him in both the first and second books.

5 Questions with @BookSparksPR…Ramble

What I love about the Internet is the way it instantly connects you to people you may have never met without it living in other places. @BookSparksPR is one of those great people I’ve online when I inquired about writing for SheKnows.com. Crystal comes up with great digital campaigns for a diverse and talented group of female authors and really makes use of social media to bring books into every day conversation.

She's got a spark to her!

Location: Phoenix, AZ – but I service clients all over the US (and one in Canada!)
Vocation: BookSparksPR (book publicity)
Sign: Virgo

1. What is the benefit of having your own business over being with a larger firm?


For years I worked in corporate and agency PR, and I loved it. The creative people, the atmosphere, the water cooler and lunches with co-workers, the client meetings, the benefits package. There’s a lot to be said about that. However, nothing beats the flexibility and freedom of having your own business, setting your own hours, your own pace. Enjoying a mental health Monday or a Friday afternoon at the movies. It’s liberating!

2. How did you transition from corporate clients to representing authors and books?


I still have some corporate clients and do business PR (through BizSparksPR, the other division of my agency), but at the moment I have a lovely roster of authors that I am really enjoying working with. I’m passionate about books and stories and always have been – and so I’m thrilled to work with so many different authors. It sort of fell into my lap really… I took some out-of-the box approaches to book publicity – particularly online – and people responded and suddenly I was representing several authors.

3. What has been your favorite campaign you came up with this year?

This is so very hard to say – like picking your favorite child! I really loved working with debut author Sarah Pekkanen on her novel, The Opposite of Me. I was thrilled to be part of launching that book (along with Sarah and several very talented people!). I’m so happy that Sarah is in like her 5th printing now and signed another two book deal. I also am very proud of my clients Liz and Lisa (behind the popular ChickLitisnot Dead blog) because they’ve completed a second manuscript which is fabulous and are searching for an agent. They have come so far with their blog and writing in the last year – they are all over the place and I love seeing that! And I’d be remiss not to mention Allison Winn Scotch who I adore and who is so generous to readers and writers. And then, of course, there’s Christine Lemmon who is so inspiring! Her book was an Indie Excellence Award finalist and she is a lovely person. For Mother’s Day, I worked on a fun promotion of Irene Zutell’s Pieces of Happily Ever After with the help of the lovely Emily Giffin. Can I just say all of them? I could go on and on!

4. Do you think it is essential for authors to have an online social profile?

No, I don’t. There are several authors who do not and who do just fine. I think it’s a great way to reach readers and promote your book and build your readership – and also support other writers and readers. It’s exciting and effective – but not essential. Well, maybe a little essential. It’s certainly a lot of fun connecting with the book community – readers, writers, reviewers, book bloggers, and other authors.

5. How do you manage to juggle so many amazing projects and write too?

Oh my… well, I have a great team of people who help make it all happen. A wonderful co-worker who I met online and adore, a couple of fabulous, very beautiful, smart and savvy interns from Arizona State University (Go Devils!). So many authors who are so very supportive of my work and of each other. My lovely babysitter who my kids adore! A supportive family. My writing definitely takes the back-burner – as I’m too busy promoting other people’s writing. But I’ll get there… and when I do, I know a network of women authors who will be cheering me on!

Damn Decent Read: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County…Ramble

I won a copy of “The Little Giant of Aberdeen Country” from Getglue.com for being a Guru of some subject. It took a little time for it to actually show up so I’d completely forgotten about it but was delighted to read it.

Tiffany Baker’s debut novel is a charming and dark twist of medicine, magic and the power of love over size, circumstance and society’s norms. Written from the point of view of Truly, the ‘giantess’ who has a pituitary gland issue, it’s a powerful and poised novel that I felt would’ve been a person I know. Truly is somewhat naive and at the same time so smart about seeing people for who they truly are it’s a long time in coming before she fits her own skin.

I found Truly’s train of thought when comparing her stunning older sister, that in order for pretty to exist, ugly has to, an idea that probably Naomi Wolf (author of The Beauty Myth, a standard feminist reading) would applaud.

It led me back to ponder why many of the intelligent and riveting men I’ve come across in the business world (tech, record, media, etc.)  seem to pick a righthand who is almost the exact opposite – basically a ‘yes’ person who goes around collecting gossip and leaving a wake of trash talking and taking credit for other people’s ideas with a talent for doing a two-step side shuffle when it comes to taking the onus for any missteps.

Truly was  right about opposites needing to exist. There is no pretty without ugly, no highs without lows, no way for some to show off their intelligence without the security of stupidity next to them, no way to pull oneself right from going off the deep end unless you take responsibility and grab the reigns in your life.