Friday, September 18, 2009

Blinded by the... Lite-Beer Girls

Beauty can be a beast, sometimes.

Now... it's a particularly well-kept secret that the entertainment and advertising industries can, at times, be somewhat superficial. I pause here while you gasp, clutch your hands to your bosom in disbelief, and perhaps swoon upon a fainting couch or two.


You okay now? Need I fetch the smelling salts?

I know. This is not a well-known fact but, gentle reader, it is true. "Looks" occasionally trump "talent" in the casting process. Unbelievable.

Okay, okay, enough funnin' with ya. But, as most regular blog readers here at TNG know, I am an actress. Have been for some time. And, no, I'm not jaded, nor am I jealous of other, prettier actresses - er - most of the time. Heh. At least, I try not to be. I will, however, admit to the odd twinge now and then, especially when I'm sitting in a waiting lounge at a casting house - where I'm about to audition for the part described as "quirky best-friend type; a little on the nerdy side, 'real' person not 'model' pretty, should have excellent sense of comic timing"... while in the studio next door, they're auditioning girls for a beer commercial.

It's kinda funny, actually. The "quirky" girls on one bank of chairs, sitting there, watching (with varying degrees of wry facial expressions) the parade of lovely, leggy, youth-dewy beasties in belt-length "skirts" and six inch heels stalk precariously past on their way to be judged entirely on their looks. And I sometimes feel a little sad. "Of course you do," some will say. "You are not even from the same species as these ethereal creatures." "You are a wee crawly troll-girl by comparison. Of course you feel sad." "They are incandescent - you are quirky. You have every right to feel --

Okay okay! I get your point.

But no. The sad-feeling isn't for me. You see, I usually wander over to the cork-boards and check out the breakdowns for the various spots being auditioned for. And the "character" descriptions for the beer commercials are usually something like "dorky guys try to get it on with three models in club wear."

Personally? I'll take "quirky, nerdy, excellent sense of comic timing" over "model in club wear" as a character description any day. And it's not intellectual snobbery making me say that. I've been in this business long enough to be pretty secure with my own particular strengths. The thing is, I've chatted with these girls at the auditions and, on a one-to-one ratio, they're not any less intellligent than the "quirky nerd girls" in my camp. Some, granted, are dumb as a boot. But some of them have killer wit.

Thing is, they rarely get to show it off. Because, even though I'm not necessarily smarter or funnier than some of these girls, I'm the one who gets to act like it. Partially because I'm not a six-foot tall size 0. Hollywood case-in-point - I'm pretty sure (no pun intended) that Megan Fox wouldn't have gotten an audition for the part of "Ugly Betty".

Now, you know, I'm not exactly expecting the girls of America's Next Top Model to cry me a river anytime soon. I just think that, at times, being blindingly beautiful can just be blinding.

Now. Enough of my profound ruminations. Head on over to the side-bar (if you don't already know the rules) and leave your comments here to enter the Super-Awesome Novel Girls Blogoversary Contest-o-rama-rama!!! Do it, Beautiful!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Girl With the Frizzy Hair

I decided to choose beauty as this week’s topic, because that’s the first topic that came to mind when I thought about THE LIFE OF GLASS. In the book, the main character Melissa believes there are two types of people in the world – the outwardly beautiful people and inwardly beautiful people. Her mother and her sister clearly fall into the first category, as her mother was once a beauty queen, and her sister is a frequent beauty pageant contestant. But Melissa does not see herself as beauty queen material, nor would she ever want to. While her sister, Ashley, worries about make-up, becoming queen of the spring formal, and losing enough weight to be a size double 0, Melissa likes to wear baggy sweatshirts, she avoids make-up at all costs, and she worries about dying like her father did a few years earlier. But when a new beautiful girl moves to town, everything changes for Melissa, and over the course of her freshman year in high school, her ideas about beauty, life, and love are tested.

When I was writing the book, I thought back a lot to my own teen years and thought about my own ideas on beauty. I was not one of those beautiful girls like Melissa’s sister, certainly no pageant queen or even a pageant queen wanna be. But I do remember the idea of beauty being on mine and my friends' minds a lot as a teenager. When I was Melissa’s age, I knew girls who starved themselves to be thin and then fainted in gym class, girls who were made fun of by other girls for not being thin enough, girls who wore too much make-up and looked ridiculous, and girls who didn’t wear enough and were teased for being “ugly.”

And then there were those girls who always looked perfect. Who showed up every day at school, with straight shiny gorgeous hair that never fell out of place, girls who were tall and skinny and dressed in designer clothes and dated the most popular boys. I was not one of those girls. But I kind of always wondered about them, which is why I created the character of Ashley – just to see what would happen, just to see what she was really like.

But me, I was the girl with the always out-of-control curly frizzy hair. I thought a lot about my curly hair when I was writing the book, because even all these years later, even with a multitude of anti-frizz product and straightening devices, I still take issue with my hair. And it occurred to me, that maybe I wasn’t the only one, that maybe, for everyone, there is one thing, that one thing that makes us question our own outer beauty. Maybe that’s just part of what makes us human. Melissa and Ashley sprung from there, and this was also part of why my original working title for the book was “Beautiful.”

So what’s your one beauty issue? Leave a comment or do any of the other things listed on our sidebar to enter to win an Advanced Review Copy of THE LIFE OF GLASS! And you'll also be entered to win $100 giftcard to Amazon at the end of the month!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quote me!

I'm late . . . again. I'm thinking back to all the free time I used to have and I never even appreciated it. In fact, because I'm simply not a planner (instead I'm a crammer) I'm paying for every single stressful second. My spare minutes are gone, over, finished. Goodbye relaxation and hello craziness.

But isn't this a wonderful problem to have? I have waited for this two-week-countdown for much too long. In fact, I dreamed up the title to my upcoming book, Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter, just about 14 years ago. It's a mighty fine feeling to see my dream finally coming true. It's a beautiful thing!

And since Jillian's topic is about beauty, I've scoured the internet for some of my favorite quotes on the subject.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart." ~Kahlil Gibran

"Our hearts are drunk with a beauty our eyes could never see." ~George W. Russell

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." ~ Confucius

"Do I love you because you're beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?"
~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella

The most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time is the look upon my son's face while he's playing the piano. With his eyes closed and his head tilted to the side, he gets lost in the melody as his fingers travel effortlessly across the keys. His face exudes peace and joy. And that's beautiful to a mother's heart. Especially after the unrest he has endured these last few weeks.

As for me - The fairest form of beauty is that of a kind and forgiving heart. Feel free to quote me on that one!

Thanks to everyone who entered our contest last week--and don't worry, you're all still entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Keep the comments up and we'll announce the winner at the end of the month!

Be sure to leave a comment this week to win a signed ARC of Jillian's new book: THE LIFE OF GLASS. I'm jealous that Maureen has been able to read it already. There's no doubt in my mind that it's fabulous. We all know by now the Jillian girl can write.

So, do you have a favorite quote about beauty? If so, comment and quote away!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Little Things

First off, we have some unfinished business to take care of from last week. The winner of a signed copy of my book, A BUMP IN THE ROAD, is cait045! Congrats! Please shoot us an email at with your address and how you would like your book personalized and I'll send it out!

Thanks to everyone who entered our contest last week--and don't worry, you're all still entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Keep the comments up and we'll announce the winner at the end of the month!

Be sure to leave a comment this week to win a signed ARC of Jillian's new book: THE LIFE OF GLASS. I cajoled and begged Jill until she was basically forced to send me a copy of this book, and let me just say, it's brilliant. Beautiful and lyrical, it kind of made me hate her since it was so freakin' good. So, folks, you want this one.

OK, so, onto this week's topic: beauty. At first, Jill had me stumped with this topic--should I write about beauty in literary characters? Real-life beauty? The beauty of paying off my car last week? But then, as I took my son for a walk to the park yesterday morning, I realized I can talk about a different kind of beauty: nature.

See, I've never been a nature-girl. It's always been strictly city-living for me. When my mother-in-law would suggest a family camping trip, I'd recoil in horror. Because, you know, bugs and wild animals and stuff. Yet, I've been writing at home full-time since June, so I've had lots of opportunities lately to go outside and let my toddler run around while I enjoy the weather.

Before this summer, I was always working full-time in an office environment, so I barely noticed the change of seasons. All that summer meant to me was that I had to crank up the air-conditioning in my car a bit and winter meant scraping off my car in the wee morning hours.

Just last week, I called my mom and asked her why there are so many bees outside right now. It seems like we can't go to the park, grocery store or on a walk without being attacked by yellow jackets searching for a morsel of food. (And of course it results in some hysterical shrieking, arm flailing and running. It's quite possible my neighbors think I have some kind of disorder.) My mom reminded me that late August/early September is bee season, and that it's totally normal.

I was somewhat struck by this, since I realized that I'd never had the opportunity to be outside much in the past, oh, twenty years, so I didn't even notice the living creatures all around me. Now, mostly thanks to a rambunctious toddler, I'm outside every day. And I not only notice the little things, but look for them.

In honor of the impending change of seasons, what's your favorite time of year?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Announcing This Week's Giveaway!!

Tracy has a crazy week this week, and since it's my week to give something away in our month-long blogoversary I offered to step in and announce the weekly prize! I'm going to be giving away an Advanced Reader's Copy of my upcoming release, THE LIFE OF GLASS. Here's the jacket description:

Before he died, Melissa’s father told her about stars. He told her that the brightest stars weren’t always the most beautiful—that if people took the time to look at the smaller stars, if they looked with a telescope at the true essence of the star, they would find real beauty. But even though Melissa knows that beauty isn’t only skin deep, the people around her don’t seem to feel that way. There’s her gorgeous sister Ashley who will barely acknowledge Melissa at school, there's her best friend Ryan, who may be falling in love with the sophisticated Courtney, and there’s Melissa’s mother who’s dating someone new, someone who Melissa knows will never be able to replace her father.

To make sure she doesn’t lose her father completely, Melissa spends her time trying to piece together the last of his secrets and completing a journal her father began—one about love and relationships and the remarkable ways people find one another. But when tragedy strikes, Melissa has to start living and loving in the present, as she realizes that being beautiful on the outside doesn't mean you can't be beautiful on the inside.

This is a lyrical tale of love, loss and self-discovery from the author of THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS.

And here's what a few fabulous authors have said about the book so far:

“The hardest tests of adolescence don’t come in English, Algebra, or Biology. They come in those defining moments, when we are asked to know ourselves and to follow our true hearts. In THE LIFE OF GLASS, the supremely engaging Melissa McAllister has reached her crucible moment. She’s sweet. She’s confused. She’s believable. She’s the right kind of soul for our times."--Beth Kephart, author of Undercover and the National Book Award finalist The Slant of Sun

"THE LIFE OF GLASS is a beautifully rendered novel. Cantor is pitch-perfect, capturing the thoughts and mind-set of her characters with a precise familiarity that will have teenagers nodding their head in recognition and adults wistfully looking back. A must read."--Cecilia Galante, author of The Patron Saint of Butterflies

Because the book has a lot to do with beauty, we'll be blogging about that topic all week! To enter to win, all you have to do is comment on this post or any of the others this week, and/or do any of the other things listed over on the sidebar. >>>>>> You'll also be entered to win $100 to Amazon that we'll be giving away at the end of the month!