Monthly Archives: August 2011

Jessica Darling, Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, I was shopping in a Books*A*Million with a friend of mine when a book glowed at me from a shelf maybe ten feet away. I’m not kidding. The book lit up and made a chiming sound that told my shy, bookish heart that it was a book for me and I should come fetch it right away.

That book was Sloppy Firsts, the first of of the Jessica Darling series, which starts out with an almost-16-year-old Jessica writing to her best friend Hope, who’s just moved. That was me when I was 16, moving from Georgia to Louisiana, writing to all my friends. So, even though I was was a bit older than Jessica in 2001, the first book and later, the rest of the series, seemed to eerily parallel my own experiences in that comforting, amazing way we all need from books when we’re younger (and maybe always).

So, when author Megan McCafferty sent out a newsletter offering interviews to 10 bloggers to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sloppy Firsts, I jumped on the chance and sent her 10 questions. And she answered them!

With no further ado, here is my Q&A with Megan McCafferty:

Q: What do you think the Jessica Darling of Perfect Fifths would say to the Jessica Darling of Sloppy Firsts if they found themselves trapped on an elevator together?

A: “Don’t worry. You’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be.”

Q: What did Sloppy Firsts teach you as a writer?

A: Everything about writing a novel! Before SLOPPY FIRSTS, I had never written anything longer than a 10 page term paper.

Q: What is your favorite/most memorable fan story about Sloppy Firsts?

A: I’ve kept the first fan email I received from a reader in Indonesia. It’s still so surreal to me that young women growing up on the other side of the world see themselves in this angsty suburban New Jersey teenager.

Q: Do you remember where you were the first time you saw someone reading Sloppy Firsts (someone who was not related to you)?

A: Yes. I was picking up my son from daycare in the Fall of 2003 and I saw one of the high school YMCA volunteers reading SLOPPY FIRSTS during her break. I was so tempted to point and yell, “THAT’S MY BOOK!” but I refrained.

Q: What is you favorite thing about being a writer? What is your least favorite thing?

A: My favorite thing is hearing from readers how much my work has meant to them. My least favorite thing is the business of selling books, and worrying about my future in it.

Q: What inspired you to write [new novel] Bumped?

A: Everything in BUMPED is inspired by real life. The initial idea was inspired by the Gloucester High School “pregnancy pact.”

Q: Who were your favorite writers when you were 16 years old? Who are your favorite writers now?

A: When I was 16, I didn’t read many books because I was a magazine junkie. So my favorite writers were on the staff of SASSY. Now I’m lucky to consider some of my favorite writers as friends, including Gabrielle Zevin, Rachel Cohn and Carolyn Mackler.

Q: Which fictional character (not one of yours) would be Jessica Darling’s best friend? And which her arch-nemesis?

A: Samantha Baker from 16 Candles. Which would make Caroline Mulford from the same movie her enemy.

Q: Is there something about Jessica Darling’s character or history that you’ve always known that hasn’t ever been revealed in the books? (People are complex! Even fictional ones! Especially fictional ones!)

A: Absolutely! Just like there are things about me that not even my husband of 13 years knows about. There are always unknowable aspects to everyone….

Q: What do you think the Megan McCafferty of July 2001 would say to the current Megan McCafferty? What would you like to say to 2001 Megan if you could?

A: 2001 Megan to 2011 Megan: “Are the Backstreet Boys still together?”
2011 Megan to 2001 Megan:  “Start paying more attention to Justin Timberlake.”

Megan’s newest book is Bumped, a dystopian novel about 16-year-old twins in a society where wide-spread infertility has made teens the most prized members of society.

You still have the rest of today to enter Megan’s Epic 10th Anniversary Giving Away of Rare and One-of-a-Kind Stuff contest, so check it out.

Here are the links for the other blogger-fans and their interview posts are so funny and creative, I feel so lucky to have been included amongst them:

Anna Reads


The Reading Zone

Stuck in YA Books

Book, Line and Sinker (with photos of the 5 Wonders of Pineville)

I’ll link to the other interviews as they go up. Enjoy!!



Filed under books, coolness, funny, pop culture, what I'm reading

48 Film Project August 12-14

Team Gefilte Fish Eye shoots 'Damned Love' in Tel Aviv in 2008.

A friend of mine recently told me about 48 Film Project, which is about to start its fifth year in New Orleans (and tenth year overall).

Teams register online and then spend 48 hours writing, producing, editing (and scoring) a 7-minute film. Later, the films are screened for audiences (always sold-out audiences in New Orleans) and the winning films will be screened at the New Orleans Film Festival. They’ll also compete with the winners of other competing cities for a screening at the Cannes International Film Festival.

There are a limited number of team openings in each city, so register now if you’re interested. You can also register as an individual interested in joining teams by providing your name and contact info, as well as skills and experience.

The kickoff event will be Friday the 12th at 6 p.m. at The Big Top/3 Ring Circus. The dropoff event will be at the same place on Sunday at 6 p.m. In between will be 48 hours of no sleep and lots of creative chaos for each of the teams. Don’t forget to register BEFORE the kickoff event as there is limited availability for teams. You can, however, sign up for a waitlist if they’ve already reached their maximum number of teams and you register to join an already-formed team. Check it all out at the website:

If any of our readers compete (or have competed), we’d love to know about your experience!

Photo taken by Rob Hatch at Cinequest 2006.

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Filed under Creativity, Film, movies, Women

Brag your heart out

The Words and Music Faulkner-Wisdom Award finalist and semi-finalist lists are up! There are some awesome Peauxdunque placements and many friends have been recognized. There may be additions to this later as those still in the running are listed only by title at the moment.

Novel category finalists (short and long list) include:

Helen Krieger‘s Don’t Cry Little Monster

Sabrina Canfield‘s Birds of Paradise

Tad Bartlett & J.Ed Marston‘s Kites, Quite Tall

Mark Spitzer‘s Monstropocalypse

Novel-in-Progress finalists include:

Missy Wilkinson‘s Life During the Plague Years

James Claffey‘s Motion of Souls

Sabrina Canfield‘s To The Place Where They Go

Susan Kirby-Smith‘s Desert Humidity

Short story finalists include:

Helen Krieger‘s Okay, So You Talk

Jennifer Nunes‘s Buy One, Get One

J.Ed Marston‘s No Accidental Fall

Tad Bartlett‘s The Non-Artists

*Maurice Ruffin‘s Ten Stories and Terri Stoor‘s A Bellyful of Sorrow are both still in the running.

Essay finalists:

Sabrina Canfield‘s Spring Sparks Sure Shot

Nefertiti Austin‘s Barack Obama Made a Liar Out of Me

*Terri Stoor‘s Bird Dog is still in the running.

Poetry finalists include:

Claire Dixon‘s The Deep End

Jenn Marie Nunes‘s Only Daughter

*Tad Bartlet‘s new century/old century, three acts and J.Ed Marston‘s Voyage of the Limit Perfected Fish are both still in the running.

Please let me know if I’ve forgotten or missed anyone!

Congrats to everybody and good luck to those still in the running!

In other news, Ronlyn Domingue has finished the first of two books that developed from one epic novel that she’s been writing. They are “independent but wholly interconnected,” Ronlyn says. She continues writing the second.

I have three pieces in this month’s 225 Magazine. One is a profile of Jeanne Leiby and her book of short stories. One is a review of the Baton Rouge One Book One Community selection CRAZY. And one is a review of Chris Tusa’s Dirty Little Angels. Also, I reviewed Hollywood Car Wash over at NOLAFemmes.

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Filed under book news, bragging on, freelance work, Friends

Hollywood Car Wash by Lori Culwell

Lori Culwell was doing a giveaway of Hollywood Car Wash on Twitter. I missed the actual giveaway, but when I read the description of the book, I wanted to read it. So, I wrote her and asked her if she’d still send me one to review. And, she did, so that was extremely cool of her. Here’s the description that made me want to read the book:

From college student to Hollywood star in less than one year, Amy Spencer is living every girl’s dream. But will she survive the Hollywood Car Wash?

I was intrigued because of my background in movie production, primarily because I don’t have a lot of experience with the acting side of things. I thought it would be an interesting and fun read.

First, Hollywood Car Wash looks like (and is) light “chick lit” reading. The kind of book best suited for a beach or for carrying you away on boring plane trips. It’s so easy to get sucked into the story and care about Amy immediately that the pages will just fly by.

But, this book is also sneaky and really smart. During Amy’s transformation from an insecure, grieving theater major to a successful (but still insecure) lead actress, there is an actual physical transformation that might haunt you at night, like it haunted me. Think the Miss Congeniality sequence in the big airplane hanger mixed with any sequence from any SAW or Final Destination movie. Amy’s being pushed toward a “perfection” that can be measured by ratings and opinion polls but which demands bigger and bigger emotional and physical sacrifices. Leading up to and during the scenes at the dentist’s office, I was screaming for Amy to run just like I would during any horror movie.

This book made me think a lot about the price of fame and success (especially for women), but was wrapped up in humorous, scandalous pleasure reading.

My only complaint is that because there’s a romance (of course), I wish it had been developed a bit more. Part of me kinda likes that Amy and her Hollywood transformation/burnout are the main focuses of the story, but because the romance was there, I wanted more. Even as slightly underdeveloped as it is, it’s still believable, which is a big plus.

Originally self-published in 2007, Hollywood Car Wash won “Project Publish” and was re-released in 2009 by Simon & Schuster. It might be turned into a t.v. show (ironically). You can visit Lori Culwell, who also founded an Internet consulting firm, at her website.


Filed under books, Film, In Business, Media, movies, New Orleans Women, Women, Writers and Poets