Monday, April 21, 2014

I Still Love Lucy

Lucille Ball (1911-1989) was an American comedienne, film, television, stage and radio actress, model, film executive, and star of three landmark sitcoms; one of the most popular stars in America during her lifetime; a movie star from the 1930s to the 1970s; on television for more than thirty years.

Pretty, sexy, funny, almost a dingbat, star of I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy. The original Redhead of the Week received thirteen Emmy Award nominations and four wins, was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Governors Award in 1989. Lucy was our first Redhead Hall of Fame inductee. That was a few years ago, and where I picked up most of this rehash. I write about Lucy a lot.

Here's what I wrote back In July of 2007, the first ever Redhead of the Week:

"After much rumination, and consultation with shrinks, I now believe this thing I have for redheads stems from Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy show reruns. She was pretty, spunky, sexy in her own funny way, and definitely all the entertainment you’d ever need for a long weekend.

"Yes, she was a pain in Ricky's ass, but there must have been plenty of good reasons why her hot Latin musician husband never strayed in all those years."

This redhead was a wild thing.

In 1927, Lucy dated a gangster by the name of Johnny DeVita. Because of the relationship, Lucy's mother shipped her off to John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City. Lucy came home a few weeks later when drama coaches told her that she "had no future as a performer."

The redhead responsible for my neurosis persisted, however, and began a performing career on Broadway, using the stage name Diane Belmont, and then moved to Hollywood and appeared in small movie roles in the 1930s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures.

At 29, Lucy eloped with Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz.

Oh, I knew you were a WILD thing.

In 1948, Lucy was a wacky wife on My Favorite Husband, a new radio program, and when it became a hit, CBS asked her to develop it for television. She insisted on working with Arnaz. CBS executives worried about an All-American redhead and a Cuban as a couple, however, and neither were they impressed with the pilot episode. Lucy again persisted, and toured a vaudeville act as the zany housewife with Desi. The tour was a smash, and CBS put I Love Lucy on the air for a stunningly successful nine-year run.

The show co-starred Desi as Ricky Ricardo and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel and Fred Mertz, the Ricardos' conflict-creating landlords.

On April 18, 1989, Lucy complained of chest pains and underwent heart surgery for nearly eight hours. She died a week later. We will miss her always, as will many millions of fans around the world.

Thanks to Lucy and Wikipedia. Visit Lucy and Desi's official website.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Protagonist or Antagonist, Who Will YOU Root for?

With both hands, I lift Nataska’s mask from the blanket and draw the Black Ogre’s likeness down over my face. Gazing through, a current of strength races through me, as if the black spirit's power flows directly to my heart. There is comfort in the darkness, the cover such a screen provides. This is natural. All living things must have a black kachina to go to, a killing spirit when they are attacked, a monster in chains. Why? Because everything in this world both eats and is eaten. Nature seeks us out for slaughter, and staying alive and leaving seed means protecting your ferocity. Each of us needs the ability to wage war, to struggle for our lives. And so while half the world criticizes, sees me as villain, I know I fight for my people, my culture and all the forgotten lives on this harsh globe -- that place where all of us are still eaten. And though the White Man has killed millions of American Indians, only one is needed to get even. Me. With the determination of a desperate man, I light the candle. I care not if the fire engulfs us all.

A complete manuscript is available from TFA's agent, Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. BLACK KACHINA is a 70,000 word contemporary thriller. Protagonist or antagonist -- which will YOU root for?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Famous Author Dances as Daughter Sheds Name, Ties

The Famous Author's female child was married this past weekend, and while most dads reminisce, weep and bemoan the "loss" of a daughter at such events, TFA danced the night away. Watch TFA display his true colors by clicking on the video below. If you don't recognize his dance moves, then you are too young to remember Dee Dee Sharp sing the Mashed Potatoes -- one of those odd ditties created in the studio using the names of other hit records as lyrics, but which caught fire with half the high schoolers in America and became the Great Mashed Potatoes Dance Craze. Figures TFA would fall for the latest in trends, but why fifty two years later? When he showed up at the office this morning, I asked TFA about this emotional inconsistency:

"Sad?" he said. "Are you kidding? Are you nuts? Like everyone else in the room, I am happy for my daughter. Nothing to be sad about."

"Her name is no longer Getze," I reminded him. "Doesn't that bother you?"

"Hardly. Now the U.S. Marshals won't mix us up serving warrants."

Friday, April 4, 2014

You Calling Me a Screwball?

Rosalee Richland is the pen name of two square dancing writers -- Cyndi Riccio and Rhonda Brinkmann -- who joined forces to create the Darla King cozy mystery series and Darla's own blog. We tried to have Darla interview me -- one fictional character interviewing another fictional character -- but the FCC said we couldn't do it. Here's "Darla" asking questions of The Famous Author.

What prompted you to write a series rather than a single book and to re-issue it beginning in 2013?

I wrote BIG NUMBERS with no thought of a series. But when the publisher tells your agent they want a second book with the same protagonist, though, most writers don't say no. I sure didn't. I like writing Austin Carr -- he's sort of an alter ego -- and I hope I earn enough readers to keep going. That's why I was thrilled when Eric Campbell of Down and Out Books said he wanted to reissue the first two and publish a third -- BIG MOJO -- for the first time. I believe in Austin and don't think until now he's gotten a fair chance to prove himself. New York says the public won't care about a stockbroker. And it's true not everybody likes him. But for the first time in seven years the Austin Carr stories are being read, reviewed, and purchased. Austin definitely has some fans.

The Austin Carr Series is referred to as a “screwball” mystery rather than a “cozy” mystery or simply a mystery. How did you choose this description?

Screwball is what I've heard agents and booksellers call mysteries by Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, Lisa Lutz, Tom Dorsey, and others. Funny mystery I've heard as well, perhaps slightly more often. I think of Austin as a screwball so as far as I'm concerned, it fits. One important thing: My books aren't cozies. There is some violence. People fight and die on the page. Though usually played for laughs, there are also sexual situations, and Austin makes jokes and references to his sex life. More than one reviewer has said he thinks like a seventeen year old.

Is there any significance to the name, “Austin Carr”?

I thought it sounded a bit goofy and that's what I wanted for the character. If you imagine Bugs Bunny as his mentor, it's easy to understand Austin. After I wrote the book, I discovered Austin Carr is the name of a very successful college and professional basketball player from the 1980s. I probably plucked it from my sports news memories.

Your other works include noir, crime, and horror. How different is it to write the Austin Carr series in comparison?

After four completed novels with Austin as the protagonist, his world is a very comfortable place. I have ventured out to write other things over the past five years (one thriller is still circulating), but it was warm and fuzzy coming back to Austin for Down and Out and the reissues. Right now I'm giving BIG MOJO the once over and discovering I have more to say. Because so much of my life parallels Austin's, it's as if I've spent the last forty years doing research for the series. I have so many more exciting places I want to send him.

How would you describe the audience who will most enjoy reading BIG MONEY?

I'd say a well developed sense of humor is key. But thanks to Goodreads and their giveaways, I have REAL pictures. I give away books, so right now on Goodreads I can see a name and picture for over 1,000 people who wanted to win my book in a drawing. In the majority of cases, these are people who have seen the cover, read the description, then filled out their address trying to win the book. Of course not all of these people are going to like my book if they win, but all those faces give me a very good idea of my market. I was told the mystery market is 75% women, mostly middle aged and college educated. My market looks to be 90% women, from 19 to 73.

What else would you like to share about yourself and your books with your readers?

Austin's two children will require more and more attention from him as the series progresses. Like most of us, Austin Carr's worries and troubles are complex, varied, and often fanned by the flames of family.

Thanks so much for joining us Jack!  I definitely fall in the market and enjoyed reading about Austin Carr!

Thank you, Darla.