Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday and so I am dedicating my blog post to her—Happy Birthday, Mom!!

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I love my mom with all my heart, and I credit her with being one of my most productive muses. In fact, she inspired the mother character in my debut novel, Just Friends with Benefits. Little things my mother says/does always appear in my writing. I think my mother has a love/hate reaction to seeing “mommyisms” in my writing—she is both flattered and embarrassed.

Despite the obvious affection we share, my mother and I argue pretty frequently. She likes to harp on certain aspects of my life (*cough* my love life) and sometimes, particularly when I’m not happy about it, she stresses me out. I don’t like to confide anything until there is something significant to share. At the same time, I like to assure her that I’m not sitting at home waiting for Mr. Right to knock on my door so that she doesn’t worry about me being a hermit, a spinster, etc. We both lack the patience gene and get frustrated pretty easily. It’s not pretty…

My mother is an avid reader of my blog and while I believe she‘s always hopeful that I will share something personal (*cough* my love life), I know that she’s genuinely interested in all aspects of my life, including my friends, my day job, and my writing.

Although we bicker often and are both aware that time spent together should probably be limited to 48 hour intervals at a time, we have shared many good times together. These are some of my most cherished memories with my mom:

Christmas day – My birthday is December 23rd and since I was raised Jewish, my family typically does not celebrate Christmas. Almost every year since I’ve been out of college, my mother and I have spent either Christmas or Christmas Eve together. We see a movie and then we go out to dinner. Among the movies we’ve seen are The Wolf of Wall Street, Up in the Air, The Pursuit of Happiness, Young Adult and Schindler’s List. Although there have been years that I was away during the Christmas holiday and years we’ve been joined by a third person, those years are few and far between. The tradition is really ours and I love having my mother all to myself.

Day trip to the beach – My mother loves the beach and another tradition we share is reserving a day in the summer to drive to the beach in Long Branch, New Jersey. We leave the house by 9am, arrive at the beach by 11am and stay until at least 5pm. The snack bar at Long Branch makes the best hot dogs ever and I think we look forward to that as much as the beach. Parking is never fun, mostly because I have to carry both of our beach chairs. I’m sure my mom remembers the bitchy woman who purposely took forever packing up her car because she knew we were waiting for her spot. And I know she recalls the year after I graduated college when we passed Monmouth University and I started crying when it hit me that I wouldn’t be going back to my own college, Suny Albany, anymore.

Shopping – there is no one I enjoy shopping with more than my mother. She has impeccable taste and she’s always honest with me about what is flattering and what is not. Growing up, I would lose sleep in excitement the night before a planned shopping spree with my mom. To this day, I entrust my mom more than anyone else to help me choose dresses for important occasions and I’m never quite certain if something works until my mom gives her okay.

Amusement parks – One of my proudest moments of being my mother’s daughter was the day we went to Six Flags Great Adventure. While my sister and I bit our nails in anxiety while waiting in line for the rollercoasters, my mother was fearless. It was pretty awesome.

In sickness and in health – I don’t like being sick but when I’m under the weather, I always want my mom to nurse me back to health by making me her famous “orange aid” with a maraschino cherry. This was a tough winter for me health wise—I was five minutes away from a flu at all times. My mother escorted me to Urgent Care and she also made me several helpings of orange aid and Matzo Ball Soup. There is nothing like feeling under the weather to turn a grown woman into a mama’s girl.

Broadway – Since my mother’s birthday is so close to Mother’s Day, my combined gift to her is always a mother/daughter outing to a Broadway show and dinner. We’ve seen The Producers, Fiddler on the Roof, 9 to 5, The Pajama Game, Mama Mia, Hairspray, La Cage Aux Folles, Billy Elliot and many others. This year, I bought us tickets to see Beautiful. Although it costs me a pretty penny and it seems the tallest guy in the audience is always seated directly in front of one of us, I love sharing the experience with my mother.

There are so many more wonderful memories where my mother is concerned and I look forward to creating more in the years to come.

Happy Birthday Susan Jane Goodman. I love you!

Isn't my mom cute?

Isn’t my mom cute?

Your Littlest “M”

Casting of Blogger Girl Series – Installment One – Kimberly Long

Welcome to the first installment of the Casting of Blogger Girl series! Now, I know that Blogger Girl has not been contracted for a movie but I am a dreamer and I like to dream big. Probably why I love writing so much – so I can dream up fun stories to entertain other people. So, for shits and giggles, let’s say that I have, in fact, sold the movie rights to Blogger Girl and let’s suspend reality even more and say that I, as the author, actually have a major say in casting said film. In this series, I will be sharing my picks for the roles of Kim (heroine), Nicholas (love interest), Bridget (best friend) and Hannah (high school nemesis/villain). I will also share my thought process as to how said actor won the role. In some cases, the decision was virtually instant. In other cases, I changed my mind five or six times before I knew – like the way you just know. Finally, since a few bloggers/readers shared their thoughts on the casting, I will include their picks too and give credit where credit is due. First up is the role of Kimberly Long.

Kimberly Long is a twenty-eight year old legal secretary/book blogger living in New York City. Kim has long, straight light brown hair and brown eyes. Her most distinctive physical feature is her height – only 4 feet and 11 inches. Kim is the first to admit to compensating her lack of height by emphasizing her proportionally larger breasts: “I needed to give people a reason to look down far enough to see me.”

Kim describes herself as “cute” and is not all that aware of her sex appeal:

Nicholas: – “Yes, I guess Hannah is cute, but you are sexy.”
Kim: “No, I’m cute.”
Nicholas: “Fine, you are cute. But you’re also sexy.”

There were only two actresses I considered for this role. My choices were somewhat limited because I couldn’t choose a very tall actress. My choices are slightly taller than Kim but, hey, it’s the movies and movies often stray somewhat from the book.

My runner up for the role of Kimberly Long is Michelle Williams:

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Although Michelle is a terrific actress and certainly cute enough to portray my girl Kim, I wanted someone a little more “quirky” and my pull towards the other actress was just too strong.  

Other thoughts for the role of Kim included:

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Hillary Duff (courtesy of Elizabeth Grunderson who, by the way, wrote one of my favorite reviews ever.)

Amanda Seyfried (Courtesy of fabulous blogger Melissa Amster from the equally fabulous Chick Lit Central).

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I actually think both of the above options are not at all off-base and I wouldn’t terminate the movie contract if either of these actresses were cast. However, by the time I finished the first draft of Blogger Girl, I had a very clear picture of Kimberly Long and, without further ado, here she is!

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Definitely_Maybe-7-Isla_Fisher

Isla Fisher!

She’s adorable and sexy, yet approachable and not intimidating. I think she is perfect to play a comic role, a romantic lead and a vulnerable young woman learning what it takes to make her happy and how to make it happen.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of the Casting of Blogger Girl series – Nicholas Strong!

Hollywood Hits & Misses – take 2

I initially wrote this blog for a third party website but, for reasons unknown, it was never posted. I’ve decided to post it on my own blog for your reading pleasure.

I would think almost all of us have read books that were made into movies and just as many of us have probably seen movies that were adapted from books. When I devour a book and find out it’s being turned into a movie, I literally count the days until I can watch the scenes play out on the big screen. (Most recently, I organized an outing for my friends to see The Hunger Games.) Most of the time I do not expect to enjoy the movie as much as the book and most of the time, it works out that way, for example, Bonfire of the Vanities – Loved the book, HATED the movie. But sometimes I am pleasantly surprised.

Listed below are my picks for three best movies that were adapted from books and three worst movies that were adapted from books. My list is limited to books/movies in the chicklit/rom-com genre because that was the “assignment” for the third party blog.

Hits:

1. The Devil Wears Prada – Book by Lauren Weisberger

Although I enjoyed this book, I preferred the film version for several reasons. Most importantly, I liked that Merryl Streep brought vulnerability to the role of Miranda Priestly. I also enjoyed Andrea’s makeover and watching her transform from a somewhat sloppy “plain Jane” to a sophisticated fashionista. And, of course, any film starring Simon Baker is cool with me.

2. Bridget Jone’s Diary – Book by Helen Fielding.

I recall finding the book humorous but, in my opinion, the movie kicked serious ass! The casting was completely on point and I found Renee Zellwegger’s portrayal as a British single woman very authentic. Also, while reading the book, I got bored with the diary entries of how much she weighed, drank, smoked etc., but the narrative during the movie made me laugh. I have watched this movie more times than I can count on my fingers and toes and quite honestly, I can’t wait to watch it again! HIT with a capital H!

3. In Her Shoes – Book by Jennifer Weiner

The movie perfectly captured the complex relationship between two sisters, Rose and Maggie. The casting of Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz, not to mention Shirley Maclaine was spot on. I don’t recall major discrepancies between the book and the movie but if there were any a) they were subtle and b) they worked. I loved the book but I think I might have enjoyed the movie even more.

Misses:

Something Borrowed – Book by Emily Giffin

1. Something Borrowed is probably my favorite chicklit book of all times. It is one of the only books I’ve actually read more than once and I was beyond excited to see the film adaptation. In fact, I actually counted down the months with a friend. Unfortunately, I was unimpressed. For one thing, I didn’t like the casting of Kate Hudson as Darcy Rhone. The character was supposed to be a dark-haired sophisticated head turner and, while obviously an attractive woman, I consider Kate Hudson more of a ham. Her performance actually exceeded my low expectations in that regard, but I HATED what they did to the character of Marcus. In the book, Marcus was a viable contender for Rachel’s affections and made Dex feel somewhat insecure. In the book, he was a complete train wreck, like a court jester. Additionally, the book character of Hilary, Rachel’s work confidante, was completely written out of the movie and much of her advice-giving role was given to Ethan. While I adore John Krasinski, the character of Ethan was in London for the entire book. The movie completely foreshadowed the eventual romance between Ethan and Darcy in the follow-up Something Blue and I just didn’t like it. The one thing I loved about the movie – Colin Eggilsfield was some serious eyecandy! But in sum, I wish the movie had followed the book more closely – why mess with perfection?

2. One Day – Book by David Nicholls

I admit to being torn by the book but the chemistry between the main characters Emma and Dexter was undeniable and I was completely sucked in as I waited to find out if they would eventually find the right timing to be together, as they belonged. Where the movie succeeded in spanning two decades, the movie felt too rushed, the connection between Emma and Dexter seemed forced and I was left thinking “is that all there is?”

3. The Lovely Bones – Book by Alice Sebold

This book will always hold a special place in my heart. I found it hauntingly beautiful. While the violent death of Susie Salmon at such a young age was tragic, the descriptions of her afterlife were magical and I loved being able to imagine what “her” heaven looked like. This novel touched me in such a major way that whenever I see the soft blue cover, I feel the urge to pick up the book and leaf through the pages. The movie adaption, on the other hand, was just too commercial for me and I was majorly disappointed. I also never pictured the parents as good looking as Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz and while I would never complain about watching Mark Walhberg on the big screen, it seemed a bit too hollywood for me and detracted from the magic that exuded from the pages of the book.

And there you have them. Agree? Disagree? Indifferent? What about you? What are your picks? They need not be limited to any particular genre!