Category Archives: film and TV

The Bachelor Effect

After fourteen years on television, The Bachelor managed to snag my attention for a full episode. Yes, I’m a “late adopter.” But that had nothing to do with my lack of exposure to the reality romance show. It was the evening of the Iowa Caucus, and there was nothing left upon which I could focus my political frustrations. Zeroing in on a TV program about a harem of women competing for the affections of one average Joe was the distraction I needed.

According to The Bachelor’s viewer ratings, women (and men) everywhere await each weekly episode, to find out which of the dozen or so remaining prospective lays, oops, I mean brides, with whom the male cast member–the bachelor–has passionately gone mouth-to-mouth, will receive a single long stem rose. This begs a few questions. Are flowers that difficult to obtain now? Or is there a global shortage of unwed heterosexual men?

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It’s not Easy Being Indie

Often I read articles or blog posts about independent eBook authors who’re making it big, selling 100,000 or more eBooks in less than a year, receiving six-figure offers from major publishers, or landing movie deals. My spirits are lifted and hopes rekindled by such news. However, I quickly remind myself that for every one of these fortunate (and, no doubt, hard-working) authors who are hitting the Big Time, there are thousands of others who are refreshing their Kindle Data Publishing dashboards every few minutes and wondering why their sales numbers haven’t changed in days.

 Truth be told, I’ve spent most of my self-publishing time on neither end of that sales spectrum (though I admit to being a numbers checker). So I thought I’d offer a glimpse of what middle ground looks like. 

I’ve written three humor books and one short collection of, I’m almost (but not quite) ashamed to admit, bathroom humor essays. What began as a silly newspaper column grew into a full-time obsession when I wrote my first book, Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road. I didn’t set out to become a humorist. But I don’t need to tell you what happens to plans. Right? 

Initially, I didn’t fully appreciate my book market size and competition. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are a few statistics: According to Amazon’s category listing details, as of today, there are 18,223 humor books available on Kindle. In the past ninety days, 2,939 of those titles were added to the Kindle store.

 For my eBooks to simply maintain their rankings, I must constantly outsell the new titles coming on board. This means that every time Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, Ellen DeGeneres, or Jenny McCarthy releases a new book, my books lose whatever position and ranking they’ve previously built. I wish these famous folks would just be content with their awards, TV shows, and stage appearances. But, sadly (for me), they’re not.

 Flipping through the TV channels last night, I paused to catch a glimpse of an Oprah rerun. There sat Jenny McCarthy, looking all gorgeous and well-rehearsed as she discussed her latest release with the Queen of Book Marketing. I folded my arms and tried my best not to be a “hater” (or a “hate her”). Humorists like me don’t get invitations to promote our books on Oprah. We get asked to provide free speeches at ladies’ garden club luncheons.

 Oh, sure, I once garnered mild interest from a top-tier literary agent. But in the end, the woman said my “platform” wasn’t big enough. I wanted to say, “Oh, yeah? Well, my caboose is!” But I doubt that would have helped my case.

What the agent was telling me was this; I didn’t perform stand-up comedy, and I lacked my own radio and television show. My material was good, but without a blog like Snooky’s (Okay, her name wasn’t tossed out—but I got the drift.), this businesswoman feared I’d be a tough sell. Most likely, she was right.

 After that exciting but big miss, I forgot about agents and dared to publish my own work.

 Some suggest my paperback books have sold well, for an “unknown” author. Sales figures have been less than stellar, though, if you ask me. Nonetheless, in 2010, I decided to release Driving, my first book, in eBook format. With no previous formatting knowledge, I followed the Kindle and Smashwords publishing guidelines to make my book available through multiple outlets. I had no idea what to expect, but I figured I had nothing to lose . . . other than maybe a little despair.

 To my surprise and delight, readers found me!

 I’m not entirely sure how this happened. I did no advertising, other than on my own website (which was getting all of  three hits per day). The only people who seemed to be visiting my blog were ones offering to enhance male performance. My family (excluding my husband) and most of my friends paid zero attention to what I’d written and even less to how they might help me spread word of my books. 

It wasn’t until I received my first sales report from Smashwords that I realized Driving was selling overseas. Through Smashwords’ distribution arrangement with Apple, the book was selling in the U.K. and Canada! How were these audiences finding me? They weren’t visiting my website or blog, to be sure. I could see the number of visits posted on each site. Something else was leading readers to my work. But what?

 I wondered what might happen if I did a little advertising.

 Some research led me to Kindle Nation Daily, Daily Cheap Reads, The Frugal eReader, Red Adept Reviews, and Kindleboards.com, where I tested the waters with various sponsorship ads and banners. Over the next four months, I rotated my books’ exposures through these channels. Each ad produced a bump in sales, followed by a tapering off. But the lift was enough to get my books off the ground and into their Amazon categories’ top 100 lists.

One year after the eBook launch of Driving, this title is currently #167 in Amazon’s Kindle humor category. (That is among all 18,223 titles.) Today the book is sitting at #21 in Amazon’s Kindle humor essays listings and #8 in humor/parenting.  

Despite my book sales success, I have not sold 100,000 eBooks. Nobody has offered me a movie deal. Playboy hasn’t asked me to pose nude, either. (And if they do, the answer is “ARE YOU CRAZY?”) Oprah doesn’t, and likely never will, know that I exist. But thousands of readers do. And I am humbled and sufficiently awed by that knowledge.   

Personal success is measured not by how much of the journey remains ahead of us but rather by the distance we’ve already traveled. The stamina required for completing a book, the courage it takes to publish your own work, the faith that’s needed to believe what others don’t, and the fortitude necessary to stay the course are all accomplishments to celebrate. In between hitting the refresh button, of course.

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Deedee Divine on Sacramento & Co., News 10

Happy to be home today! Deedee Divine made a trip to Sacramento to appear on a morning news program. See her in action here:

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Why men like explosions in movies

Several friends and I recently discussed the differences between men’s and women’s tastes in movies. Guys want the films they watch to be packed with astonishing pyrotechnics that deliver excessive jolts of adrenaline.

“If something doesn’t blow up in the first 15 minutes, my friend’s spouse confessed, “I’m out of there.”

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The other men seated at our restaurant table nodded in agreement.

We ladies shared a knowing laugh.

Right then, one of the kitchen’s wait staff dropped what sounded like a four-piece serving for 50. The concerned gentleman seated next to me applauded. 

Why are men so enamored with things that go “BANG?” I wondered. Perhaps the male of our species welcomes anything that interrupts otherwise constant thoughts of sex.

Nah, that can’t be it. Nothing could be that jarring.

When it comes to movies, men are attracted to explosions and fires and guns that go “POW!” because viewing these forces allows them to satisfy their urges to eliminate opposition.

Think you won that last argument with your man? Nope. He obliterated your score while watching Transformers. You just don’t know it.

Gals, here’s the deal. Men are physically wired to want something to erupt—loudly. As long as there is plenty of noise, they can avoid listening to us talk.

Furthermore, car explosions and artillery bombs and asteroid collisions boost men’s confidence because they’re always looking for an equalizer to prove size really doesn’t matter. Uh-huh. They’ve never been fully convinced.  MPj04030700000[1]

The metaphorical links between explosions and heated desires have been well established for eons. Good grief, “combustible” even contains the word “bust”.

To a guy, there’s nothing more thrilling than giant fireballs spewing debris and carnage. Don’t ask them to watch a movie that has a dramatic plot, one with actual dialogue and fully clothed stars. That would require too much cerebral effort for anything that lacks a powerful climax.

However, when I’m watching a movie, if something blows up during the first 15 minutes then I expect whatever follows to be a two-hour waste.

Unless, of course, that is the inciting incident that sends the heroine on a journey of self-discovery that takes her to some exotic locale, wherein she will meet some gorgeous hunk of hormones who is suffering some similarly tragic loss, and they will fall in love, drift apart, and then through some chance event reunite and eventually marry and live harmoniously, despite having four children, two dogs, a cat, an iguana and one mother-in-law sharing their quarters.

See, women are just more realistic when it comes to what they expect from films.

 

 

 

www.TotallySkewed.com

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Totally Skewed: Jobs for Journalists

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Jobs for Journalists

 

 

 

When it comes to the fate of newspapers, I fear that ship has already sunk. The question now is this: What will become of all the unemployed journalists? Where is our bailout package? Come on. Let’s face it. Our skills are not exactly transferable to construction jobs where workers produce something people want.

 

Here are a few ideas related to high growth employment areas that journalists might wish to consider:

 

·        Prepare legal summaries for attorneys representing financial executives accused of fraud.

 

·        Become a paid blogger for companies offering in-demand products, such as ready-made meals and weather-resistant tents.

 

·        Author a cookbook filled with only meatless soup recipes.

 

·        Become a personal advertising consultant, helping sellers prepare eye-catching headlines for Craig’s List.

 

·        Be a ghostwriter for a politician who has not yet been impeached, indicted or imprisoned.

 

·        Put that fiction talent to good use by writing speeches for government officials and CEOs who’re under investigation.

 

·        Create a new line of sympathy cards which carry missives such as, “Retirement is overrated, anyway,” “Sorry for you recent home loss,” and “Hope your 401(k) recovers real soon!”

 

·        Charge by the hour to write creditor notices, provided you insist on being paid, up front, preferably in gold coins.

 

·        Pen RFPs for school construction projects in states like, oh, I don’t know, maybe Illinois.

 

Or just do what I’m doing and post a notice like this on your blog or Web site:

 

 

WILL WRITE FOR FOOD!

(McDonald’s coupons cheerfully accepted here)

 

 

 

 

 42-16242389

 

 

www.TotallySkewed.com

 

www.Franklyfunny.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Totally Skewed Economics: Ways to fight back during a recession

Ways to fight back during a recession

 

Rule #1: Reduce your cooling costs  

So you think the price of a movie ticket is too high? How much does it comparatively cost to heat or cool your house for three hours during peak electricity demand periods? Uh-huh. That’s what I thought. Movie tickets remain a bargain—especially in the South. During August. Save some bucks, adjust your home thermostat, and go to the theater.

You might also consider enrolling in a night class at your local junior college. You can more than cover the tuition with what you’ll save on your utility bills. And you just might learn something—such as how to accurately define a recession, though probably not how to weather one—in the process. If nothing else, you’ll feel wiser simply from being around so many students who are text messaging in class.

Looking for no-cost alternatives? Spend an afternoon or evening at your local library, read all the periodicals for free (while these publishers can afford to remain in business), and use the computers to surf those sites you wouldn’t dare attempt at home. (I’m talking about the ones that scream “VIRUS ATTACK,” not the ones your spouse would object to.)

No library in your community? How about your local bookstore? The store clerks don’t know if you read your last novel in high school. They’ll think you’re there to actually purchase something—like maybe a latte.

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My first screenplay

I’ve been away from my blog for several weeks, so I thought I might owe my readers an explanation–both of them. Both readers, that is, not both explanations.

The truth is, I’ve been writing a screenplay for several months. At one point, I simply became so involved with my screenplay that I didn’t wish to write anything else. I’ve become obsessed, in fact, with the story, and now I’ve finally surfaced for air.  

Last Friday, I sent the script (the 10th draft of it) off to a professional script reader in L. A.  Simultaneously, I sent it to a local college professor.  Within a few weeks, I should hear from them just how brilliant the script is . . . or isn’t. I’m braced for the worst (This sucked!) and hoping for the best (Wow! I’m going to personally contact a studio executive I know!). 

So that’s my explanation for where I’ve been, in case some of you feared I’d fallen off my meds. Not that I actually require medication. I don’t take anything stronger than chocolate. I do, however, wash that down with a little red wine now and again.

 

 

 

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