Friday, October 30, 2009

I Want You Back: Hilarious AND Free!

The author of Never Slow Dance with a Zombie, E. Van Lowe has a great way new book coming out and it's FREE. I'm not really original, so I copied and pasted what he had posted on his own blog to let you know what this is all about:

My big announcement at Saturday's Never Slow Dance With A Zombie Fest was about my newest work. It's a funny, thrilling paranormal YA novella called I Want You Back!

I Want You Back! is a free e- chapter book (with illustrations) available to my fans. The illustrations are being done by my good friend, artist, Tatiana.
If you'd like to get in on this FREE e-book all you have to do is subscribe to my website. Just go to click the subscribe button and follow the instructions. I promise your info will not wind up on somebodies mailing list. I'm keeping your info safe. Once you subscribe, each new chapter (10 or more, I'm still writing) will be sent to you via email every time a new chapter is available. One to two chapters per week. This is my way of paying back my friends and fans for your support, and hopefully getting those of you who haven't read me yet to read me. Tatiana and I are very excited about this new project.

Here's the opening from the book:

To begin with, I’m not a nice girl. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be a nice girl. I used to be kind, and helpful, considerate and thoughtful. The kind of girl who went to all of her boyfriend’s games, even though she hates basketball; the kind of girl who helped her boyfriend study for his English final while she should have been studying for her own calculus final—and maybe she would have done better than that C; the kind of girl the boys at school lovingly call, oh, what’s that cute little name they have for us again? Oh, yes—Doormat.

Doesn't that sound like a fun opening? I Want You Back! is the story of 16 year-old Emy Grant, who uses magic to ensnare the boy of her dreams. We're trying to have it ready in late December so you'll have it to read during the holidays. More announcements will be coming in the next few weeks.

So there you are! I really do think this sounds very cute, and the opening had me laughing the first time I read it so go and sign up. Books are expensive; why not do yourself a favor??

White Collar Pilot Review + Extra Entry

White Collar Pilot Episode Review
By: Lauren

Summary (taken from

FBI Agent Peter Burke takes an unconventional route in tracking down a ruthless and devious outlaw named "Dutchman". In order to catch the counterfeiter, he employs the help of incarcerated con man, Neal Caffrey.


White Collar is the newest show on the USA network and it definitely seems to be a hit in my book. Yes, I know it's only had one episode, but the teamwork between Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey and Tim Dekay who plays Agent Peter Burke is great. They work well with each other, giving this show an instant likeability.

As you can see from the summary, this is a lot like a TV version of the film Catch Me if You Can, but more like the post version as Neal has already been captured and put in jail. Now what happens?

I like the mix of humor, mystery, romance, and friendship that seems to permeate all USA shows. I've heard someone say that it's not very realistic, but I think most shows are not that realistic. You have to suspend reality a little bit when you are dealing with entertainment. Just sit back, relax, and see if you can enjoy the show.

The second episode of White Collar will air tonight at 10/9c on USA Network right after Monk. If you missed the pilot episode, you can check it out here:

What do you all think? And remember, if you comment here and then let me know in the White Collar contest thread (over in the left hand sidebar) you will get an extra entry.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Discuss + Experiment: Can Bloggers Make a Difference?

Discussion for Book Bloggers (Authors too if you wish)

Do you think that book bloggers can really, truly make a difference in a book's sales? Don't get me wrong. I think we can help spread the word and get people buying but what about behyond that? Can we get them a lot more sales? Could we, crazily enough, get them on the New York Times Bestsellers' List?!

I would love to think we could if we really put our minds to it. I know that a lot of us try and come up with ways to spread the word about books we love or authors we want to do well, but it's kind of hard if there are so many of these from various bloggers. And in the end, not all of them will generate a lot of sales.

My main idea with this post is to get your thoughts, but to also let you know about an idea I had. What if we all chose ONE book in 2010 to really pimp out?

Now, I know we would still interview other authors and review other books and I want all of those to do well of course but I want to see if bloggers really can make a difference if we all narrow a list down and honestly just PIMP THAT ONE BOOK OUT. It can be a new author, it can be an older author that deserves more help in promotion. It doesn't matter. But what do you all think? If you all seem to like the idea, I'd love to get ideas in the comments of books you'd like to help in the newe year. I'll try and narrow it down to who gets the most "votes" if you will and then we'll go from there.

I think we can make a difference, so why don't we try?

I left a comment but instead of leaving ANOTHER one, I thought I'd add it to the main post so people see this. I do like Mandy's idea of promoting a book that will give back to charity so that we can experiment with this idea but it also doesn't matter if you like the book in the end, it doesn't matter if you don't normally read that type of book, because the experiment can work around a charity. Her thoughts were that some books give proceeds of their sales to a charity and if we found a book that did that in 2010, we can promote the book based on it summary and THIS component so buying the book helps not only the author and gives us an experiment, but it also helps out a charity b/c the more sales the book gets, the more money goes to that charity. Do we know of any books like this? Authors, are you going to donate proceeds somewhere?

I have one idea right now. Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler will be out in Fall 2010 and some of her proceeds will benefit the National Eating Disorders Association. I think we can all agree this is a great cause for an important issue, regardless of what people think of the book in the end. After all, spreading the word tells you ABOUT a book, not that you will personally like it, but you try it out!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: How Beautiful the Ordinary

How Beautiful the Ordinary
Twelve Stories of Identity

By Michael Cart, Francesca Lia Block, David Levithan, Ron Koertge, Eric Shanower, Julie Anne Peters, Jennifer Finney Boylan, William Sleater

Apparently this is out now, though I thought it wasn't out until December!

Summary from Amazon:

A girl thought to be a boy steals her sister's skirt, while a boy thought to be a girl refuses to wear a cornflower blue dress. One boy's love of a soldier leads to the death of a stranger. The present takes a bittersweet journey into the past when a man revisits the summer school where he had "an accidental romance." And a forgotten mother writes a poignant letter to the teenage daughter she hasn't seen for fourteen years.

Poised between the past and the future are the stories of now. In nontraditional narratives, short stories, and brief graphics, tales of anticipation and regret, eagerness and confusion present distinctively modern views of love, sexuality, and gender identification. Together, they reflect the vibrant possibilities available for young people learning to love others—and themselves—in today's multifaceted and quickly changing world.

Why I Want to Read!

by: Lauren

It's a collection of short stories for one and that's always great when I'm swamped with reading but really want to try something new. I also love anything that deals with GLBT fiction and I'm excited to see what all these authors have included in the book. What do you all think? Has anyone read this yet? I don't remember seeing it on a blog anywhere...

Oh, and does anyone know of any upcoming GLBT books that are coming out at the end of the year or in 2010?!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

(Alicia Reviews) Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC
From: Publisher
Release Date: Out Now
Pgs: 400
Review by: Alicia

Summary (from ARC):

Nora Grey is responsible and smart and not inclined to be reckless. Her first mistake was falling for Patch. Patch has a past that could be called anything but harmless. The best thing he ever did was fall for Nora.

After getting paired with Patch in biology, all Nora wants to do is stay away from him, but he always seems to be two steps ahead of her. She can feel his eyes on her even when he is nowhere around. She feels him nearby even when she is alone in her bedroom. And when her attraction can be denied no longer, she learns the secret about who Patch is and what led him to her. Despite all the questions she has about his past, in the end, there may be only one question they can ask each other: How far are you willing to fall?


One word: PATCH!!!!

This book was phenomenal and most defiantly one of my favorite books. I had a feeling I would like it, I just didn’t know I would become obsessed with it. Yes, you read that right, I am obsessed.

This book was definitely unpredictable and kept you guessing until the end. It was one of those books where everything is not what it seems to be. Patch was not what he seemed, the same with the bad guy and basically everything else. There were a lot of plot twists too. The last 100 pages were pretty intense. I recommend you do nothing but read when you get to that point.

I found Nora to be another relatable character. While she was attracted to Patch, she was also weary and cautious of him the whole time.

Patch is the ultimate bad boy. You never knew if he was the hero or the villain. He would go from one thing to another. Nora was never sure what to think of him, and I was the same way. Also, he was super hot!

I loved all of the info about the angels. I found it incredibly interesting. Also, I love the idea of a “fallen angel” book. Angels and demons have always fascinated me, so I was all over this book.

This book was hot, sexy, intriguing, and…hot. Another book that has a sequel I am counting down the days to.

Cover comments: freaking gorgeous! The cover is hot. One of the best covers ever. Also I love that the feathers are changing color and falling off.

Overall: 5/5

One-of-a-Kind Copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike

The holidays are fast approaching and some people still have birthdays to celebrate before then too, so you know you want an awesome, unique, gift right? What about one that is COMPLETELY ONE OF A KIND? Yeah, sounds good, huh? Well, you can now go and bid on a copy of Wings that was marked up by the author...meaning notes in the book about the "making" of the book if you will.

Go and bid! Spread the word because we want more people to know!

Oh, and if you bid you get extra entries into giveaways on here so you know you want to find out more about that fun addition.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Interview with MEGbabyBoutique + $25 Giveaway

Interview with Connie from MEGbabyboutique
By: Lauren


1. How long have you been making baby items? Did you start out this way, or were you creating other products first?

I have been making baby items for 3 1/2 years. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was in high school. I worked at a fabric store while I was in college and fell in love with fabrics! After realizing I could make my own clothes without people laughing at me (at least out loud) I began to experiment with curtains, purses, quilting & even made a wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses for my brother's wedding. When my youngest daughter was born in 2006 7weeks premature, I for the first time began sewing out of necessity. The doctors told us not to use the vinyl changing pads with our fragile preemie as they can carry a large amount of bacteria, and since we could not find a cloth changing pad, we decided to design one. So our Travel Changer was the first official MEG Original item we created.

2. What made you decide to start selling on Etsy? Do you wish to have your own website in the future?

A friend of mine referred me to Etsy and I instantly fell in love. The more I explore Etsy, the more I love it. My husband and I have finally managed to get our website up & running. We haven't added all our products yet, but received our first sale on the second day it was up so we are encouraged!

3. Feedback from customers is always great. What is something that you've heard about your products that meant a lot to you?

Feedback is so great & so completely appreciated! Nothing means more to me than feedback about quality. As a mom, I think it is relatively easy to look around and see beautiful baby items. Who doesn't love shopping for babies?! What is more difficult is to find items that are lovely in appearance, completely functional, and can withstand constant wash & wear. So I get the most satisfaction from customers when they leave feedback saying they are repeat customers because of the great quality items. It's an awesome feeling!

4. Can shoppers expect to find anything new in your shop in the future? When do you normally create and sell new pieces (by season, whenever, etc)?

In the near future, shoppers can expect several new additions to our inventory. Not only are we bringing in a lot of new fabrics, but we are also adding nursing covers to match the rest of the products. Also, after experiencing the trials of trying to find hats, bibs, onesies etc. to fit a preemie, we have decided to add a line just for our tiniest treasures!

5. If you could wish on a real shooting star, what would you wish for and why?

I do wish on shooting stars!! It's so exciting! I always wish the same wish...simply for happiness for my 3 girls. I think all the other specific things I could think of can all be wrapped up in happiness for them.


To Enter: What do you like about the shop or the interview?

Open To: U.S.

Ends: November 7th

Prize: $25 gift certificate to the shop. She also said " enter STAR20 in the notes section with your order and get 20% off your purchase" if you don't win or want to buy something before this ends!

Extra Extra!

+1 if you follow (leave a new comment)

+1 for every giveaway you enter on this site

+1 if you post this somewhere

And remember, every time you bid here, you get 5 points to spread through any giveaway or you can put them all into one giveaway!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Alicia Reviews: The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

Title: The Naughty List
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: Feb. 4, 2010
Format: ARC
From: Publisher
Page #: 256
Review by: Alicia


Tessa Crimson:

Cheerleader by Day, Spy by NightAs leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), Tessa’s mission is twofold: pep preservation and relationship salvation. That’s right, Tessa is a head cheerleader whose night job is catching cheating boyfriends in the act! Thank goodness her own relationship with Aiden is strawberry-smoothie purrfect—except for the fact that she’s been concealing her nocturnal habits for, oh, two years.Aiden suspects something’s up, and his patience is wearing thin. But in the meantime, Tessa’s far too busy to deal with her own romantic roadblocks.

The Naughty List is at maximum capacity; because so far, every single suspect on it is 100% guilty.When sultry Chloe Ferril transfers to Washington High, things only become more catastrophic. Tessa knows this predatory vixen won’t stop hunting Aiden until her claws are planted firmly in his backside…But Tessa’s in for an even bigger shock when Aiden’s name shows up on The Naughty List, and she’s finally forced to confront the unthinkable: is her own boyfriend just as naughty as all the rest?


This book was cutee! I totally loved it. Did anyone watch Veronica Mars? If you did, you should read this. I think I would describe the book as Veronica Mars meets cheerleaders plus lots of naughtiness.

Tessa was a cute character. She was completely filled with being peppy and happy. Most of the time I liked it, but some of the time I found it a little annoying. She never ever swears either! She says cute little phrases instead! And when people around her swear, she just gives them a look and they apologize and rephrase their comment. Her attitude and way of talking changed a bit at the end, for which I was grateful. I found her more easy to relate to when she made mistakes and wasn’t acting “perfect”.

The only thing I would have liked more of was the back story of Tessa and Aiden’s relationship.

The little cheating reports and notes before each chapter were cool. It definitely added to them spying on people.

I just, really, really, reeeeeeeaaaalllllyyyyyyy loved the book. It made me feel lots of emotions. I’m stopping the review now because if I don’t, I will just spend the rest of this review gushing. For real. :)

I am also eagerly counting down the days until the sequel comes out, not sure if I will make it though.

Cover- the cover is cute and I like it. I like how the girl is on top of the guy and they are on a bed with lingerie around them. And I don’t think I should have said that. Also the background blinds make it seem like an old spy movie. I like it.

Overall: 4.5/5

Go buy it when it comes out!!!!!!

*Another* Another Faust Contest!

The author's of Another Faust are holding a fun giveaway for all you writers out there!

Hi everyone. Dina and I are about to kick off a month-long tour for our book, Another Faust, and we want to do it by announcing a contest! We are looking for the most promising writers out there (that’s YOU). And then we want to showcase their work, so that all of the Internet can bask in their awesome writing might (and, you know, give them prizes).


We want you to write your own short story, re-imagining of the Faustian Bargain. (For inspiration, check out Bedazzled, Simpsons “Tree House of Horrors IV,” and The Little Mermaid). It can be about anything you like (but let’s keep it PG-13, and under 3,000 words), and it’s open to everyone.
All you have to do is send your entry to before January 31.

Rules and details can be found here:

Make sure to read them so you don’t get DQed

And the winner gets all kinds of sweetness:

A signed copy of Another Faust

A handwritten deleted scene

A featured article & interview on our site

An author’s galley of the sequel Another Pan

Though we’ll feature the top five on our site for comments, the judging WON’T happen by popular vote (so basically, we don't care which contestant has the most friends). Dina and I will personally read them.

So, spread the word! Tweet, retweet, forward, thread, spread, embed this post.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

(Review) The Baby Dipper

The Baby Dipper Review
By: Lauren


This blue and yellow bowl is perfect for a little boy or girl as it's fairly gender neutral with the mix of colors. And besides, as long as it's not some hot pink item, it works for anybody right? I love the idea of a bent spoon to better help you feed your child when they are old enough for baby food. I know that my friend's baby is already a bit heavy so whether you're holding your child or not, it would be best to have something you can use with one hand. Also, the whole bowl has a bottom that will keep it from sliding all over the place so you don't reach to get some food and push the bowl off the table! It's great for when your little ones start feeding themselves too since we know they can be a bit more clumsy with things than most people.

The bowl iteself even dips so that all the food hits one side of the bowl. I'd like to have this for some of my food too. I mean, really, how annoying is it to be scooping all the bowl for the rest of your food? This makes feeding a whole lot easier! And the blue is light enough to see through and be able to tell about how much food you have left to go.

Some notes that I thought were great about the packaging-

1. There are instructions on the back in English and Spanish so if you are bilingual or know someone who only speaks Spanish, they can still use this just as easily.

2. There are photos of the creator and how to use this product on the back as well which is just a nice touch for those who want to see who made the item and it will also help you work with the bowl better if you are more of a visual learner. I know I'm a bit of both...I like to read it but I also like being able to get the idea in my head by watching something or someone work.

"What are your thoughts though? We want to know! Would you use this for your child? Have you used it?"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We're Baaacckkkk!!! Leave a Mark + Bonus Entries

That's Right....We're Back and it's time to start bidding again for some AMAZING marked up books. The auctions have begun now with Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde (she has one other book that will be auctioned off later too in case you love her and don't win now...) and lots more to come!! You know you loved it last time so don't be left out this year!! The holidays are coming up and these will be some amazing, one-of-a-kind gifts and guess what? All the money goes to CHARITY!!! Every single penny donated goes to First Book:

So check out the link below so you can bid and pleaseeeeee spread the word. It's a good cause. You know you want to help out! And guess what? Each bid gives you extra entries in giveaways here. How awesome right??

See you there!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

USA Network's White Collar - Giveaway

Psych's fall finale might have been last night and Monk might be in its final season, but that's not the end of fall TV on the USA Network. The latest is White Collar. Believe me, this one looks great and I should have a pilot review up sometime very soon. You can catch it on tv this Friday, October 23 at 10/9c though!

Show Summary-

To solve the hardest crimes, hire the smartest criminal! USA NETWORK’s new series, White Collar, premieres Friday, October 23 at 10pm/9c. WHITE COLLAR, stars Matt Bomer (“Chuck,” “Tru Calling”), Tim DeKay (“Tell Me You Love Me,” “Carnivàle”), Tiffani Thiessen (“What About Brian,” “Fastlane”) and Willie Garson (“Sex and the City,” “John from Cincinnati”). WHITE COLLAR is about the most unlikely of partnerships between a con artist and an FBI agent. The story unfolds after charming criminal mastermind Neal Caffrey (Bomer) is caught by his nemesis, G-Man extraordinaire Peter Burke (DeKay). Rather than returning to jail for this daring getaway, Neal suggests an alternate plan - providing his expertise to assist the Feds in putting away infamous and elusive criminals in return for his freedom. Join us online: Official Site, Facebook Fan Page, and Twitter.

Enter to win a White Collar Gift Bag!

– Six-in-One Game Set
– The Modern Gentleman
– Neal’s Little Black Book
– White Collar T-Shirt

Prizes courtesy of USA Network

To Enter: What do you think of the new show White Collar based on the summary?

Open To: U.S. only

Ends: November 15th

Extra- please follow the rules of leaving comments or I might miss an entry for you and that's just one less shot of winning!

+3 be a follower (leave three new comments)

+1 leave a link somewhere else (leave a new comment)

+1 for each giveaway you enter on Shooting Stars Mag until the contest ends (leave a new comment)
+1 for every time you comment on a subsequent White Collar post...there will be at least one more, the pilot review (leave a new comment here)

+2 for commenting on the Psych interview (leave two new comments)

Friday, October 16, 2009

(Interview) Psych's Steve Franks and Dule Hill

Conference Call with Steve Franks (creator, writer, executive producer) and Dule Hill (Gus) from the USA show Psych.

Tonight at 10/9c, Psych is having its finale...but don't worry, it's only for the fall. The show will be back in early 2010 for more crazy antics from Shawn and Gus. The following conference call was done earlier this week with the wonderful Steve Franks (who gave us the gift of Psych) and our very own Gus, Dule Hill. They talk about James Roday and Dule Hill and how they became the show's main stars, their thoughts on the similarities between Psych and the Mentalist, what the new season holds, and much more. I'd like to say that it was a pleasure talking to these two men and I can't wait for the finale tonight. It should be a wild ride so don't miss it!! (Please note that my questions with the two men are in blue!)

Moderator: We’ll go to the line of Frederic Germay from Media Boulevard. Please go ahead.

F. Germay: My first question is to Steve. It is what advice would you give to aspiring writers in the business?

S. Franks: I can’t believe I got the first question with Dule Hill on the line. Don’t you guys know that there is a television star on this line? I’m very excited. Thank you very much for that. For me, my advice is to write and to keep writing if you want to be a writer because if you want to be an actor writing doesn’t really help you that much. For me, I was working at Disneyland and working in college and I wrote five scripts before I ever went out with one because the first three were terrible and then the fourth one was less terrible. The fifth one I thought was pretty good. The fifth one I set up and sold. For me, I didn’t know anybody in the business. I didn’t have any relatives in the business. I just knew I always wanted to do it. I knew from the time I was in fifth grade. I was writing scripts in fifth grade, so I just knew that I was going to be in it for the long haul and I had to just keep working at it. For me it was trial and error, trial and error, and trial and error.

The interesting thing about being a writer is so many of my friends were like, “Yes, I want to write. That’s cool.” I always encourage them to keep writing and you find out who really wants to be a writer by who’s still around two years later.

F. Germay: Thank you.

S. Franks: You’re welcome.

Thank you. We have a question from Joshua Maloni from Niagra Frontier Publications. Please go ahead.

J. Maloni: I’m enjoying another stellar season of Psych. Steve, let me ask you: what can you tell us about the fall finale and where we’re going when the show comes back?

S. Franks: The fall finale is really, really fun and really intense. The idea came about after we had the Mr. Yang episode that ended last year. We thought how fun was it to really have a fun, suspenseful, intense episode. Bonnie Hammer, the head of pretty much half of the world and our NBC/USA world really loved that episode and wanted to see us do something like that, so we decided, “You know what? Let’s do something great and exciting.” We actually shot this episode third and when we got it back we were like, “Wow! This is really intense and is really big and really has this unbelievable finale. It has so many things. This is clearly not the light season kickoff. It’s like this is a season finale,” so we actually shot this episode months and months ago and we realized we’ve already done our season finale, so we went on to the lighter, funnier, goofier stuff that you’ve been seeing in the last few weeks.

It’s really exciting and we like to do one or two of these every half season where we do something that’s a little more intense and more exciting. In the spring we’re doing another one or in the winter. I guess it would be officially called the winter. I call it the spring even though we don’t have a date yet for next year, but for us it’s always about building off of the core and what we can get away with in Psych. Since we were able to get away with something more intense with ... we sort of pushed it a little bit more in this episode with all of the signature fun comedy that we also get throughout this episode. Expect this to be probably our most intense episode, a lot of fun, a slam-bang finale and we’ll follow that up in the spring with something equally as crazy.

J. Maloni: Can you give us any kind of hints as to what we’ll see in the second half of the season?

S. Franks: Oh, my gosh. Of course I can. We’re actually shooting it right now. I finally realize my dream to do a Jaws episode, so we’re doing an episode with a shark attack. We’re doing an Outbreak episode. We’ve always wanted to do something fun with that. Of course, what’s more fun than a deadly virus on the loose? What are we doing? In the spring, I call it, the winter, we’re starting off doing a military episode and we’ve landed our dream guest star. That’s John Cena from the World Wrestling. We’ve been trying to do that since season one. We actually had a wrestling idea. We’re really excited. For me it’s always been each episode is a little movie, a little summer movie and we’re continuing that. Each episode probably couldn’t be more different than the last one and that’s the way we like it until we run out of worlds.

Moderator:We’ll go to the line of Rosa Cordero from Accidental Sexiness. Please go ahead.

R. Cordero: Dule, I love you and I think you need a girlfriend on the show and I want to try out. The second part of my question is for Steve. I loved Big Daddy. I want to know if you’ll do any more writing for movies.

S. Franks: I love that question. Thank you. Ever since we started the show I thought, “Gosh, I want to get back into features. I want to get back into features.” Then, just like now when we’re at the end of the season, the end of the season comes and I go home and collapse into my bed. I really would like to. My goal this year is to get back. I actually have a feature script that I’ve been working on the last two seasons and I’m finally going to finish it this year. I would love to get back in the movies. After the end of this show, after 12 seasons, that’s probably where I will return to.

To answer your first question, Dule Hill having a girlfriend on the show, there may be a little bit of that in the winter, but somebody can ask Dule about that.

Thank you for that question. I would love to get back in the movies. It’s my goal and plan. To me it was so fun being a feature writer because it’s like, “Do I write today? I should. Maybe. I’m not inspired.” When you’re doing a seven-day schedule of a television show it’s pretty much, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. There’s another one coming up after this,” so the pressure and the level of intensity, they couldn’t be more different. You don’t have time to obsess over anything. You don’t have time to obsess over things the way you can in a feature. You just have to do it and trust your instincts. For me, I think I become a way better writer from working in TV because there is no excuse. You can never slow down. You can’t be blocked. It’s a really different experience.

Moderator: Thank you. We’ll go to the line of Laura Tucker from Small Screen Monthly. Please go ahead.

L. Tucker: My first question is for Steve. I am absolutely addicted to the theme song. I know your band, The Friendly Indians, recorded it. It’s literally stuck in my head every Saturday morning. Now, why is it not available on iTunes, but other Friendly Indians tracks are? Is it like a copyright thing or what?

S. Franks : No. What happened is we played around. The Friendly Indians have been around for ten years. By the way, The Friendly Indians are back and rehearsing and we’re going to do some shows in the off season, but it was one of those things where we went in to record the theme song before and we got this great studio where Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder had recorded. We had great producers. It was really super professional and cool. We only had enough studio time to record the one-minute version of the song, so we were like, “Okay. We’ll come back and record the full-length version,” and there just has not been any time to go back and do it. Now that we have this really great version of the one-minute song we can’t sort of half-way do it. We have to go lock into a studio and get all of those elements back together.

The reason it’s not available is there is no full-length version of it. We fully intend, every off season, to do that, but as I mentioned earlier, at the end of every season I usually curl up into a ball and sleep for the two months we have off until we start writing again. So, I hear you. I’m going to pull the guys together now that we’re back rehearsing. I think it’s inevitable that we’ll actually do a great recording of it and get it on iTunes. Actually, we’re hoping we’re going to have enough material to go in and record a third album.

Moderator: Thank you. We have a question from Lauren Becker from Shooting Stars Magazine. Please go ahead.

L. Becker: Thank you, guys, for talking to us.

S. Franks: Thank you, guys, for coming out. By the way, I have to say I love all of the questions so far. No pressure on you.

L. Becker: My first question is for either of you, quite honestly. I was wondering about the The Mentalist; it’s so similar to Psych just on a more serious level. What was your initial reaction to that?

S. Franks: Well, I think we can both probably comment on that. For me, I guess it’s the sincerest form of flattery, you know. There’s not really anything you can do about it, but we like to take every opportunity we can to sort of play with it and have fun with it. There will be a Mentalist reference in this Friday’s episode and probably a lot more in the winter season. Dule?

D. Hill: I would agree with Steve. I mean it’s not like that show is taking away from our audience or we’ve taken away from their audience. There’s room for both of us on the air. I think it’s great there are actors out there who have work to do. There is more television that’s being made that’s not a late night talk show. I think it’s a great thing. I mean on our show we like to have a lot of fun anyway, so as long as they can take us ribbing them every once in a while I think it’s all good.

L. Becker: Fair enough. My second question is from the beginning idea of Psych how has it changed to what we, as the viewers, see? Were there a lot of things that you had to change round character wise or anything or is it pretty similar to the main idea?

S. Franks: For me, because I came from features, you write a 110-page script and in that story the characters sort of go along their arc, as they say. They go through their journey and make the changes as the situations sort of change them. In a TV show I sort of think of it as it’s maybe a 110-episode arc, so you take each episode is another minute of the movie. The characters start in a certain place and then you expand upon that world. We started our guys exactly where we wanted them to. Gus had a life and Shawn had drifted a little bit out of his world. Shawn had is life. They were sort of both looking for something. Gus’ world was too structured, his full-time job. Shawn’s life had no structure whatsoever and this opportunity came about for these two guys to sort of rekindle their childhood and have this great sort of fun adventure together. They’ve been affecting each other every week and making each other more complete and enriching their lives and developing and growing up. Now it’s been four years that they’ve been doing it and they’ve undergone these great changes.

Important for us is we’ve expanded. Every week we drive our network crazy because we never want to repeat what we’ve done. We want to just expand and go a little bit further, a little bit further so when we do a very intense episode, like the one that comes Friday, we also want to do a crazy episode a little bit crazier, just like the Spanish Telenovela episode and the Hollywood episode.

I’m very happy with where we started. It’s fun for us; Dule, I’m sure, will talk much more eloquently about this; to just keep expanding upon what we’ve done and building on what we’ve done and stretching the rules just a little bit more. Our goal is that people on Friday go, “Holy crap. Did you see what they did on Psych Friday and they got away with it?” That’s our goal. Dule?

D. Hill : I think you sell yourself short, Steve. I think you’ve explained it very well. I mean it’s a journey. As I said, I’m only going to be repeating what Steve said. I think he nailed it. I mean, as the show goes on you’re kind of slowly, but surely, going over this arc hopefully by the end of the series the characters would have still maintained some of the elements of who they were from the beginning, but they still have grown. They’re not the exact same person because nobody stays the same. Actually, that’s what keeps audiences interested. As I said, Steve, you nailed it anyway.

Moderator: We’ll go to the line of Stefan Blitz from Please go ahead.

S. Blitz: I have a question, actually, for both of you. Steve and Dule, how has both the series and the character of Gus unexpectedly changed since the series began?

D. Hill : Can you repeat the question one more time?

S. Blitz: Sure. How have both, the series and your character, unexpectedly changed for you since the series began?

S. Franks : Dule, before we start I can tell you that one of the great things about Dule, as we talked about the Gus/girlfriend thing earlier, is every once in a while Dule is really great about calling up in the best way and saying, “All right, Steve Franks, what are you doing? Don’t you think that Gus’s character should…?”

It’s always in a very collaborative way and in such a way that I’m like, “You know what? You’re right. We haven’t explored that part of Gus. We haven’t done that. Gus has done this a little too much.”

At the beginning of the season Dule called and said, “Hey, when is Gus going to get a girlfriend coming in?” So we sort of use that as a springboard to a really fun episode that happens in the winter. I think for me it’s like I have the entire world to think about and it’s always good for me to check in with Dule or James or Maggie to sort of see what are you looking for. They’ve been such a great collaborator in terms of how we can push the character in a little further direction.

Okay, Dule. Take it.

D. Hill: I mean there haven’t been too many things that have been unexpected necessarily. It’s weird when you use the word unexpected because you’re in the character so long that it’s always a collaborative effort when you’re trying to figure out what new places to go. I guess for myself the one thing would be having a girlfriend coming on this year. It wasn’t necessarily unexpected because we spoke to Steve about it earlier in the season. Also, the fact that Gus and Shawn can sing so well and sing so much, I think that would be something from the get-go of the show I never saw happening on the show so much.

I don’t really know. It’s a hard question to answer so say what is unexpected with the character. It’s been a great journey. I’ve enjoyed each episode and seeing where the character goes next in the different things that come up. That’s it.

S. Franks:There’s also something fun. We have this great built-in device that Gus has these unbelievably odd interests that somehow dovetail into the cases, so he has expertise in areas that are always really fun, so Dule is always surprised to find out that he happens to be an expert in a certain area. I remember the first season when we did the Comic-Con episode and Dule was like, “Gus is a comic book geek?”

I’m like, “Absolutely he is.”

He’s like, “Okay. I didn’t see that coming.”

D. Hill: ... we’re four years in and being that Gus does have these random interests, things don’t really surprise me. They’re not really as unexpected anymore, because Gus can be interested in anything. He can be a connoisseur of anything. It doesn’t surprise me anymore. I mean, it can be anything random, the fact that he may know some random thing that Gus may know, something about space or something about - in the last episode that aired he’s a member of the largest on-line community to abolish the practice of - what was that thing, Steve, taxidermy?

S. Franks: Yes.

D. Hill: I mean it doesn’t really surprise me anymore, but to me it’s what keeps the show funny. It’s what keeps the character interesting and lets it be an enjoyable thing to do.

S. Franks: We always think of Gus as a student of the world. He wants to learn. He wants to learn and understand everything.

D. Hill: He’s actually a very corny renaissance man.

S. Franks: Exactly.

D. Hill: A cornball renaissance man.

Moderator: We’ll go to the line of Travis Tidmore from Cinemaniac. Please go ahead.

T. Tidmore:Steve, first of all, I want to thank you guys for the theme song. My 20-month-old loves it and won’t stop watching it. It’s non-stop in our house.

S.Franks: That’s awesome. We love to tweak the theme song as much as possible. That’s one of our favorite things. Quite honestly, one of the great things that’s happened on this show was the opportunity to have Boys II Men sing my theme song. It was unbelievable. I love the theme song too. Congratulations on your 20-month-old. You’re going to be sleeping a lot more very soon.

T. Tidmore: Yes. I’m looking forward to that. You guys have talked a lot about Dule’s character having a girlfriend this season. This last episode featured Larisa Oleynik, who was my first TV crush. I just wondered if there’s any chance that she’s going to come back in any capacity.

S. Franks: That’s a good idea. Definitely not in the winter, because we’ve actually written all of the episodes as of yesterday, but there’s always a possibility. In fact, one of the big things going forward to season five, we already have ideas. We’ve got nine ideas for season five. We’re really interested in bringing some characters back. We’ve got a whole slew of them that we’re working on bringing back. We’ll definitely add her to the list. I have a board in the office. It always hovers around 50 ideas, but it’s sort of 50 worlds and usually they’re one-word descriptions, but many of them would relate to characters we’ve already seen in the past and loved, and a lot of them from this season.

D. Hill: Larisa was great on the show. She came up and she had a good time and we enjoyed having her. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get a chance to see her back some time soon.

Moderator: We’ll go to the line of Elliott Slament from Spoiler TV. Please go ahead.

E. Slament: I have a question for Steve. Abigail hasn’t really been present very much as Shawn’s girlfriend. Does this represent Shawn’s lack of interest and ultimate attraction to Juliet or is it something else?

S. Franks: Who hasn’t? I’m sorry. What was the beginning of that question? It was cutting out.

E. Slament: I was saying that Abigail hasn’t been very present as Shawn’s girlfriend.

S Franks : Yes. Actually, we sort of had the idea that she’s been there, but we have her for only a certain number of episodes and we wanted to keep her for a certain amount of time, so we sort of spread it out over the season. It’s one of those things also, when you’re on a cable budget, your guest star budget is only so large, so we can only see her so many times. It’s one of the challenges we have making our show on the sort of price range we do for all of the sort of big ideas that we try to get. For us, our idea was that Shawn is very invested in Abigail and he’s trying to take this big leap to sort of do a relationship, but production wise we had to figure out a way to sort of keep her alive by talking about her or seeing her and I think Shawn is doing his best to make things work for he and Abigail. We will see her again.

E. Slament: Speaking about relationships, might we see anything for Lassiter in the future?

S. Franks: We have not done anything in the winter, but it’s at the very top or very near the top of my list for season five, should the season five happen, just assuming that season five happens, because you never know in this business. But yes, I think Lassiter with a girlfriend has endless possibilities.

Moderator:We’ll go to the line of Joel Humel from Pop Culture Madness. Please go ahead.

J. Humel: Thank you for taking our calls today, both of you guys.

S. Franks: Thank you a lot. I’m really excited. I got the list of all of these sites and I’m going to visit each and every one of them in the next week.

J. Humel: Cool.

S. Franks: I sit there and when I actually can get on my computer to just play I realize all I do is go to I’m excited to have new sites to look at.

J. Humel: Okay. Well, I hope this doesn’t count as a question, but who are you rooting for?

S. Franks: I’m rooting for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They’re my team. I was at both games this week. This has been one of the greatest weeks of baseball ever for me.

J. Humel: I’m a Phillies guy. They’re right next door to me practically.

S. Franks:Boy, what a game last night.

J. Humel: Yes.

S. Franks: That was just amazing.

J. Humel : Anyway, here’s my question: What were you doing or what inspired you when you came up with the premise of Psych?

S. Franks: At the very core of it I just found TV depressing, especially the procedural. I grew up with what they called the light hours, the shows that were fun: Magnum PI. When I was really little it was Rockford Files and Moonlighting and all of those shows that were just fun to watch. I found myself looking at TV and it was always about murder and dismemberment and looking under a microscope at bones and flesh wounds. For me, and I think this is also to go back to the very first question, the best advice I could give is I wrote the show for me. I wrote a show that I wanted to see. I’d never done a one-hour show. I’d had a few half-hour, multi-camera live pilots, but I’d never even attempted to write the hour-long drama or cop show. My dad was a cop, so I’m like, “Maybe now is the time to do a cop show.” I wanted to do something that was fun and funny and revolved around characters that also can take you into a little mystery each week, but that you really got yourself wrapped up and loved the characters and to create a really fun world each week that does something that you don’t see on other shows.

I’m locked in that nobody else is doing a murdered sea lion episode and nobody else is doing an acapella group gets involved in a drug sting. I feel really good about what we’ve accomplished, but I basically wrote the show that I’ve always wanted to see or that I missed from my childhood.

J. Humel: Okay. Thank you. Dule, I guess my second question is a little bit related. What did you bring into the character of Gus as opposed to what was playing when you first heard about him?

D. Hill: It’s always hard for me to go through and talk about, I guess, the thought process of a character, the process of creating a character, but I can make my best attempt. I think the main thing that I brought to the character was the idea that he wasn’t just a nerd. I thought that when I first came Gus was the reluctant sidekick. I think the main thing I brought was the idea that he actually had a very rational thought process for why he did certain things. Everything he did he did under the belief that made it very cool and made him very slick. When you really look at him and look at his actions, he’s not cool at all and he’s not slick. I mean the thing I always ... the character that he’s a cool nerd. That’s the thing. He’s a nerd who thinks he’s cool or he’s someone who thinks he’s cool and he’s a nerd. That’s the main thing. He’s a conflict of both; of him trying to be cool, but really being a nerd instead of him just ... the fact that he’s a nerd. If you ask Gus if he’s a nerd he’s going to tell you no. He’s going to say, “Women love what I do.” He’s going to say, “It’s a proven fact.” Even in the acapella episode is it a sign ... signing the name on the back of a card, but that’s a very corny thing to do. Do you know what I mean?

I would say that would be the main thing that I brought to the character, but as I said, I’m realizing as I get older the more and more I do interviews on ... process I don’t really enjoy talking about the process of the character because it’s more of an organic thing. It just happens through the actions. It happens as you’re living the character out. As you go along through the seasons you just create it. You don’t really necessarily put it into words or put specific pinpoints into; at least I don’t anyway; the development of the character. That would be my answer.

J. Humel: Plus it’s such genius writing that you don’t have to, right?

D. Hill: Overall. I mean the show is a hit show anyway. I know when me and Steve first met, when we first sat down that was the only thing I could really remember is I didn’t want to be playing a straight nerd for five years or six years on television. I always thought that we’d seen – (recording cuts out)

S. Franks: We must have lost Dule. I can actually take a little bit more. Dule says the word nerd or geek or whatever. We don’t ever think of that as a bad term. We sort of think of this as a more fully realized human being, as a person who understands it and wants to understand the world. What Dule says is the most true is everything that Gus does is so much thought out that it’s too thought out. He analyzes everything in his life to the point of his own demise. I think it’s a fun, fun character to write.

We’ve been so lucky this year to really be able to write for all of the characters on the show. It’s not just we have to figure out another Shawn episode. I’m doing an episode in the spring called “A Very Juliet” episode and it was just so great to spend an entire episode just thinking about Maggie’s character and bringing a really, really fun case right into the middle of the episode.

Moderator: We’ll go to the line of Lena Lamoray with Please go ahead.

L. Lamoray: In casting Psych what was the one thing that James and Dule did that made you realize they were your Shawn and Gus?

S. Franks: I hope Dule gets on by the end of this. We looked at so many people for Shawn. We cast Shawn first. James came in and it was funny when James came in. James is really funny because he grows a beard in the off season. He’s really shy and really quiet. This guy came in all really super quiet with this kind of thickish beard. We’re like, “Who is this guy?” Then he starts talking and it was like, “Oh, my gosh. That might be him.” Then James came in a second time. We had a certain number of people we called back and James came in the second time and it was like, “Oh, my God. That is him.”

James is such a good guy that he came in when we were bringing in all of the Guses. I don’t know a ton about this business because, like I said, this is the first TV show I’ve done, but I don’t think that the lead of a show ever does that. He was there for casting for all of the Guses and would read with every single person who came in to read for the part. Dule came in for a meeting and it was like, “Wow. This is kind of exactly what we were looking for.” They had like an instant chemistry. They were kind of friends right from the start.

The only thing I knew going into the show is that you hear horror stories about actors who are difficult and stay in their trailer all day or won’t come out until the other actor comes out. The only thing I knew coming in was I wanted everybody on our set to be there, to really want to be there and to be cool. We have a no a-hole policy on our show. James and Dule were really good people right from the start. I liked them and I said, “You know what? I can spend five to eight years hanging out with these guys.” So the chemistry was first and foremost before those guys ever read a word together; in fact, the first time Dule came in it was just for a meeting at the end of the day. We ended up just running the scenes right then and it was great. There is a whole casting process where you have to bring the people into the network to read; well, we sort of tipped the scales a little bit. We had Dule and James read together at Dule’s house. James drove to Dule’s house and they sort of were more practiced than the others. It was just great from the start. Those guys were friends from the start.

It was just really lucky. I can’t stress enough how much of a miracle it is that a TV show ever gets made, ever becomes good, ever stays good and ever stays fresh. All of those things happening and for us to be coming here to the end of our fourth season, we’ve been incredibly lucky and we’ve had so much fun along the way. The fact that we went to Comic-Con this year and we filled a room with 4,200 seats and the fans were insanely great and for us to have that kind of following this far in it’s been magical and great. We just feel so fortunate and lucky to be part of it.

S. Franks: I hope we got Dule back.

D. Hill :Yes.

S. Franks: I was just talking about – what was the question? I talked for 12 minutes, but I got you back on. The question was about – go ahead ...

L. Lamoray: In casting Psych what was the one thing that James and Dule did that made you realize they were your Shawn and Gus.

S. Franks:Dule, I talked about you coming in. You came in for that meeting that first day and that you guys just had a chemistry together and how we ended up sort of tipping the scales by having you guys work together and how James came out to your house to work on it. I guess the question is talk a little bit about when you first met James and how you knew it was right.

D. Hill : It was interesting because when I first read with James, being that I came from West Wing, which was a very strict ... show in terms of staying to what’s on the script and what’s written, when I first read with James he’s a great actor and his impropositions are unbelievable, so when we first started reading together he was all over the place. My first impression was it was a shock to my system at first, but from the get-go I thought that he was an amazing actor. I thought he was brilliant. I thought that we kind of tapped into something special. There was some kind of back and forth that was going on that I thought people would enjoy to see. Even for myself it was a blast to do, as much as I loved doing my last show and I loved working that way, this was something fresh and new for me. I thought it could be great. I thought we could have a really good time.

Also, when James came to the house and we got a chance just to talk for a while, I respected him as an individual. I started to realize that he was someone who wasn’t too caught up in all of the trappings of Hollywood. He was really just about doing the work, having a good time and having a blast. I could relate to that. I think that is what helped us form a chemistry right there from the beginning. I hope that I added a little something to what was said.

L. Lamoray: Yes. Thank you.

S. Franks: Okay. Great. Thank you to everybody for coming on. I know there were a lot more people that we didn’t even get a chance to get to, but hopefully we tried to expand on each question and give everybody something to take home with them I guess.

D. Hill: I just want to say this has been the easiest interview ever for me. I want to thank Steve Franks for answering questions so great. Actually, going ... the top of next season what will happen is if you request an interview with me you will be getting Steve Franks as my proxy. He answers the questions great.

S. Franks: I think the ... often will answer questions in one line. I don’t have that ability.

D. Hill: ... just great. I think it’s great. I hope you all enjoy the season finale coming up. I think it will be something different and something fun. One thing I will add that I didn’t get a chance to add in is I think that’s what keeps Psych so interesting is that we do different things week to week. I mean just two weeks ago we had Gus singing in the acapella group. This last week we had a possible werewolf. Now we have an episode where Shawn’s life is in danger. It’s a completely different tone. If you look at the last three weeks, the tone for each show is completely different. I think that’s what keeps Psych interesting. I think that’s what audiences really enjoy, so tune in this Friday. I think they’ll have a blast.

S. Franks: Thank you, everybody, for the support. I’m sorry, Dule, what was that?

D. Hill: I said get ready for the rollercoaster ride.

S. Franks: Exactly.

C. Fehskens: Steve and Dule, thank you again for being with us. For all of our participants, again, transcripts of today’s call will be distributed within 48 hours, so please look out for those. Of course, remember to tune to Psych Fridays at 10:00/9:00 central on USA Network. Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone.

S. Franks: Thank you.

D. Hill: See you guys, later. Talk to you later, Steve. Good-bye.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Handmade Baby Love Interview + Bootie Giveaway

Interview with Deborah of Handmade Baby Love
By: Lauren


1. A lot of the items in your shop (from hats to booties) are crocheted. When did you start crocheting and what is your favorite part about it?

On a family vacation when I was thirteen, a cousin of mine spent the entire time knitting this beautiful gray cowlneck sweater, and I watched her, completely fascinated. I went home and pulled out my mom's old stash of needles and yarn, believing I was going to teach myself how to knit. Crocheting is a lot easier than knitting, I found out, and years and years later I am still crocheting. I find it very relaxing, and it is something I can do while watching the news or listening to the radio. Most of all, though, there is nothing like finishing a project and having that feeling of accomplishment rise up in you. It could be a small pair of booties or a huge blanket. Either way, simply amazing.

2. Do you have children of your own? And if so, do they wear any of your products? If you don't, does anybody you know personally wear them?

I have a 4-year-old son, Cameron, who is a wild and crazy little boy! When he was itty-bitty I was working retail and attempting to keep my marriage together, and didn't have much time for crocheting. Cameron will be wearing some stylish beanies this winter, however - that's for sure. Some friends of mine have little ones who have been able to enjoy the booties - and I cannot wait to have another child of my own to doll up in some handmade booties and beanies:)

3. Why do you pick the colors you do for the booties? Are they inspired by various things or do you just want a mix of fun, gender-suited choices?

At first I chose colors based on what I'd put on my own child, but I always have welcomed requests, and I have had several. For instance, one customer requested a pair of bootie boots in linen white, and now they are my best seller. I love lots of colors, and I definitely think baby items have moved past light pink and light blue to deep purples and grassy greens and the like.

4. What do you love about Etsy? What do you wish you could change about the way it works?

I love that Etsy is a marketplace that encourages handmade items and allows people like me to easily put my items up for sale. I would be crocheting regardless of whether I sold anything, but Etsy gives my hobby a purpose, and actually helps with my bills! (And who couldn't use a little help in that area right now, anyway?) I think it would be nice to have a little more autonomy about how my shop is laid out, but overall I think that Etsy serves its purpose well.

5. If you could wish on a real shooting star, what would you wish for and why?

I think I would wish for more simplicity in my life, a deeper relationship with God, and to not stress out so much!


Prize: Baby Bootie Boots (winner chooses size and color)

Open To: International

To Enter: check out the site and find something you liked or comment on one of the interview questions

Ends: Oct. 31


+1 if you follow (leave a new comment)

+1 if you post this somewhere (leave a new comment)

+1 for each giveaway you enter (leave a new comment for each)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Personalized Parcels Review/Guest Post/GIVEAWAY

Personalized Parcels Review + Giveaway

Written by: Lauren (guest post by Dez Stephens)


This is such a fun site! I always love figuring out gifts to give my friends and family for their birthday and/or Christmas. I actually have one friend that is always giving really sweet things (even on non-special days) but I find it so hard to shop for her. Thankfully, I found this site before the holidays so I'm pretty sure I know what she's getting this year.

However, the parcel I was sent to review was for another friend who just had her first baby, a little boy. I'm actually doing all these baby/parent posts lately in her honor if you didn't know that. Normally, the theme is picked out by whoever is buying the parcel (and you get ideas like just because, birthday, business, good luck, and more) and then mailed to the person who it's going too so it's a fun surprise for them to get in the mail. I was afraid my friend would be moving though, so I had the parcel sent to me so I could take some photos of it for the review and then give it to her in person.

The actual business of what goes in the parcel was really easy. The owner of the site, Dez Stephens, will ask you to describe the person recieving the parcel and of course they go along with the theme you chose too and then she goes and picks out a collection of items to send. Before it's mailed off, though, she emails you and makes sure you are okay with everything she has chosen and then voila! The package is done and ready to be mailed. One of the things that I loved about the parcle is that it comes with a handwritten note too. You give your letter through email to Dez and she handwrites what you want inside a little card...she did this for my friend and I think it's so sweet since normally you wouldn't be giving them the gift in person, so they want to know who it's from right?

As for what my friend thought, she seemed to really enjoy it. There was a really soft one-piece bodysuit for her little one that her and the rest of our baby shower guests seemed to love! Believe me, it was SO soft. I believe you can see it in the photos (it's green) and I know she's taken bubble baths to relax before so some fun bubble bath was included as well, which I just wanted to steal. She also got a fun stuffed animal, more baby onesies, tea for herself with some nice yoga/relaxing music, a hair scrunchie, and this really awesome product called the rack trap to name a few. The rack trap, for those that don't know, is a tiny pouch where you can put your money and/or i.d and then stick it in your bra or shirt so you don't have to carry a purse or shove it somewhere else when you are trying to deal with a little one! Genius, isn't it?

Now before we get to the guest post and giveaway, here are the pictures of the parcel's contents (it came in a fun baby gift bag too that I loved!)

Guest Post with Personalized Parcels Owner Dez Stephens:

I started my home business, Personalized Parcels, for two reasons.

Firstly, I love sending care packages to people. I always have. My first memories of doing this go back to mailing a special package off to my friend from summer camp when we were back home. I wanted her to know how important she was to me, so I put together some of her favorite snacks, a book I thought she’d like, a photo of us together at camp, a small bottle of a perfume I thought she’d like, etc. Her reaction was priceless! She still mentions it every once in a while. No doubt we’re still in touch today because of meaningful gestures like her “personalized parcel.”

Secondly, I kept reading about and hearing about great new business ideas and e-commerce websites doing well with simple little ideas based on individual’s talents and ingenuity. I thought to myself – What do I like to do that I can turn into a home-based business? When I was pregnant and working full-time, I realized it was “time” to start my own business part-time in order to grow it at home while caring for my newborn baby.

Putting parcels together for my clients is so much fun to me. Some clients know exactly what they want and others want lots of ideas from me. Either way, it’s a true pleasure to put together customized care packages - knowing that the people on the other end of them will undoubtedly have a big smile on their face when they realize the special thought someone else put in for them to receive their gift!

I start with the person’s likes and hobbies – and, of course, the “occasion.” It might be a college student who needs some homemade treats. It might be a spouse who needs being reminded how special they are. It might be a corporate client needing “just the right gift” for a prospective customer.

I work with my client – coming up with ideas on what to include – and the two of us collaborate on the parcel until we think it’s ideal for the recipient. I email a photo of the parcel contents to my clients when parcels ship so they see exactly what their recipients are opening up when they receive their package.

Most parcels typically include items like music, magazines, specialty food items like teas and candy, personal care products, books, stationery, etc. I’ve even made homemade cookies for some clients. Special items might include a customized gift like a handmade ornament with a photograph of a house on the front signifying a new home purchase. In fact, I did this recently for a wife who was thanking her husband for helping her family get into their dream house. What fun!

Dez Stephens, owner

Giveaway Time!!!

Prize: One $50 parcel

Open Too: Anyone

How to Enter: Go to the website and pick out your favorite theme package

Ends: Halloween (October 31st)


+1 if you follow (leave a NEW comment)

+1 how did you find this giveaway? (leave a NEW comment)

+2 post it somewhere else (leave TWO comments)

+1 tweet this (leave a NEW comment)

+1 for each giveaway you enter on this site until the contest ends (more to come soon as I know right now this is the only new one)....again, leave a NEW comment

Monday, October 12, 2009

(Review) Hell is Other Parents by Deborah Kogan

Hell is Other Parents
And Other Tales of Maternal Combustion
By: Deborah Copaken Kogan

Review by: Lauren (sent a copy from Voice!)

Summary is a list of quotes from the back of the book, copied from Amazon-

"For anyone who's ever been a parent, had a parent, or wanted to choke a parent, Deborah Copaken Kogan's book is for you. With obscenely funny and frighteningly dead-on insights, this book is so close to my heart I want to put it in a locket and wear it around my neck. I plan to buy Hell Is Other Parents by the carton and hand it out at the playground."
--Julie Klam, author of Please Excuse My Daughter

"Deborah Copaken Kogan writes with verve, warmth, and passion about the complexities of parenting, her love for her children, and all the comedies and melodramas that the complexities and the love together make us perform."
--Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon and Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York

"The next time you see a modern American mom walking down the street and think you know what's going on in her life, Hell Is Other Parents will remind you that you don't know the half of it. Like Larry David, Deborah Kogan isn't obsessed with putting her best foot forward. Rather, she unloads what's truly on her mind. She's not afraid to show her anxieties, her vanities, her deepest desires. The results aren't always pretty, but it's a thrilling, hilarious, nerve-wracking ride--a mother's high-wire balancing act--that I wouldn't have dared miss."
--Stephen J. Dubner, author of Freakonomics

"Brave, funny, and charged with equal measures of regret and joy, Kogan's parenting misadventures spring from the page. Though her battles with smothering or totally deranged moms take place in nanny-ridden Manhattan (a world she and her husband can't afford), her stories will resonate with anyone who ever changed a diaper or comforted a weeping child."
--Tad Friend, author of Lost in Mongolia: Travels in Hollywood and Other Foreign Lands and Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor

"This is the stuff of life. Okay, maybe not the stuff of your life, but luckily for us, though maybe not always for Deborah Copaken Kogan, it is the stuff of her life, and she has made it delightful stuff to read about."
--Patty Marx, who is not a parent so don't blame her; author of Him Her Him Again The End of Him

My Review-

Hell is Other Parents is a relatively fast read and I enjoyed that it was a collection of short stories so I could read them in smaller bursts. Not every single story was a favorite of mine, but that's always the case isn't it? Different stories will relate to different people.

I liked hearing about the other parents in Kogan's life and how they view things. I grew up around a lot of different type of parents so I could definitely understand how some are just a little too crazy or obsessed with their children's life. In particular, there is a story in the novel where Kogan gets a call from her daughter Sasha's school. The vice principal told her that another parent was upset that Sasha only had a few close friends and therefore, she needed to be friend's with everyone. As Kogan tried to explain this was just Sasha and she was happy she had any friends at all, the vice principal refused to listen and kept restating that she needed "to be friends with everyone." Obviously this statement is not possible, so it was definitely an amusing part of the book.

"I read No Exit, Sartre's famous existentialist play, in my early twenties, and I remember thinking at the time that it was interesting on a conceptual level but not on a literal one. Hell might very well be other people, okay, sure, but under what far-fetched conditions would anyone ever actually be trapped forever in the company of strangers with no sleep or means of escape?

Then I became a parent."

-page 27

The above quote is taken from the very beginning of the short story titled "Hell is Other Parents" and definitely made me laugh. You only have to know a mom to understand how true this statement can be in those circumstances.

One of the things that I really enjoyed in this book (and I think a lot of other non-parents and parents alike will too) are the stories that involve her son Jacob's career. I say this not because her other children, Sasha and Leo, aren't interesting but because it's a different look into the acting world for a child. You see, Jacob is an actor who hasn't starred in much (as the family has certain rules on what he can and cannot do) but was the lead role in an indie film, Joshua. I definitely want to check this one out now. It seems a bit creepy, but it also reminds me a lot of the film The Good Son which I was a fan of and hope to somehow find a copy of so I can own it.

Apart from Joshua, as most of you might not know that one, he was also young Spock in the latest Star Trek film. I didn't see this move in theatres, but if you did, you know who I mean. As such, an interesting chapter to read was "The Adolescent Spock" which is about Jacob's time on the set of Star Trek but also how Kogan's daughter, Sasha, is more like Spock in real life. You get a unique look on the making of the film, including the hotness of Chris Pine and how sweet J.J. Abrams was to Jacob and everyone else on the set (he even allowed Jacob and his grandpa see an advanced screening as the latter had only months to live and wouldn't see it in theatres).

Overall, this was a good book. It's great for moms but it should have some fun information and stories for those that aren't (there is even one story about reconnecting with old college friends).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

(Review) Perfect Baby Handbook + Extra Entry!!

The Perfect Baby Handbook by Dale Hrabi

Review by: Lauren (I was sent this to review by Harper Collins)

Extra Entry-First off, I want to apologize for the lateness of the review but if you comment here in time for the contest (it ends tomorrow, so you have a day and a half just about) you will get an extra entry into the giveaway. More details under Contests in the left hand sidebar.

Summary (written by me)-

This book is full of hilarious advice for soon-to-be parents. The idea came about from real-life couples who are often brought in by crazy advice and techniques that you should just be ignored. We all know parents want their baby to be happy, healthy, and hopefully successfu in life...but it's not going to kill you to treat your child like a child while they are one. You can try and add things to their lives to enrich it and help them learn, but a lot of things shouldn't be as stressful as they are. Sit back and relax a little. Enter...The Perfect Baby Handbook!


This really should be required reading for all new parents along with "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and whatever other baby novels are out there. It will hopefully keep those stressed parents laughing and realizing when they are freaking out just a little too much. It's a new should be happy! You aren't supposed to be planning their whole lives and worrying about every little thing in their lives. It'll be okay. And just to say this now...there is no such thing as a perfect baby in my mind.

One of the sections I enjoyed was on picking out a baby name, since I love names of characters and always imagine what I'd name my own future children. They have some very interesting categories of names such as "Registered U.S. Yachts." A few really are nice. Who would have thought?!
A hilarious chapter is all about helping your baby's self-esteem so they don't get down on themselves and start writing bad poetry, for example. How hilarious is that? This is full of great tips on preventing this from co-pooping. Yeah, it's probably exactly what you are thinking. I can see the merits.......sarcasm people.

The whole section of discipline reminds me of a comedian I saw on TV once. I'm forgetting the name right now, but it was how parents nowadays always try and reason with their kids like an adult instead of just telling them what to do like they did in the past. It's quite a funny skit and the page in the book devoted to this is very similar. For example-

"Can you tell me why you did that, Amelie? Maybe next time, we can come up with ideasa together that will help us avoid such misunderstandings."

Near the end of the book, there is a section all about having the best party for your child's first birthday. It's an amusing take on what should be included, but it also makes me remember think of all those celebrity parties they hold for their children. Why spend so much money for something they will not or will most likely not remember? It's crazy to me! On the next page of The Perfect Baby Handbook, they even show this in another great way...little kid's thoughts back on their first birthday parties.

" much screeching..." -Matthew D. Frith, age 4

And finally, you'll want to take a look at the rhymes that were redone in this novel from the Itsy Bitsy Spider to Humpty Dumpty, which is now Bravo, Humpty, Bravo!

Friday, October 9, 2009

(Hilarious) Dirty Little Secrets Review

Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile

Review by Lauren


Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile conducted interviews with hundreds of mothers while researching their best-selling book I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids. It didn't take long before these moms began to reveal their Dirty Little Secrets surprising, thought-provoking, guilty confessions they hadn't told anyone else. Cringe-worthy moments ('I bit my daughter's finger trying to steal a bite of her cookie.') meet real insights ('I love my kids but I didn't always. It took time to fall in love with them.'). These are the private thoughts that every mom has and every mom can relate to.


This book starts out with "Dirty Little Secrets" and then get bigger and bigger, but all of them are still absolutely hilarious and/or true. I'm not a mom but that doesn't mean I can't understand a lot of these notes. I think most peole shouldn't be too hard to place yourself in a mother's shoes to see what it might be like. I read some of these out loud to my mom and she thought they were great too, even remarking that she'd heard of other moms doing certain things in the book before. It's a really short read but a lot of fun.

I keep mentioning it but the holidays are coming up and this would be a great little stocking stuffer for a mom (at any age honestly). The only thing I could say against the book is that it's a hardcover and for its smaller size, I would have loved to have a paperback...or at put more secrets in the hardback. However, it's still a fun book and worth checking out.

Some of the secrets:

"I signed my son up for karate because the instructor is hot."

"I missed my child's first day of kindergarten."

"I want to smack the mom who says 'You only have one child?'"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Interview with Monk's Tony Shalhoub

If you are a fan of the Monk series, I sure hope you are already watching since this is the last season. It's a bit sad...I never got into this show because I started watching other shows on USA too late to really figure out what was happening. I'd love to see the past seasons of it at some point though as I've caught moments and it's quite fun. I hope this season ends on a good note for all its many fans and if you want to know where to catch it:

USA on Friday nights 9/8c (Psych, a personal favorite of mine, is right after)

The following interview was done quite a bit ago and I do apologize for the lateness. Everything was pushed back in August and it's been crazy trying to get it all posted without overwhelming everyone, so hopefully we've achieved that. Monk and Psych were both absent last Friday but they are back this week so please tune in! And sorry for the rough posting of this interview. We are sent it, but once it's copy and pasted, I normally have to go back and make sure it's easy to distinguish who is talking and what they are saying. To make sure this is posted tonight though, I didn't do that for anyone but mine...but I've done this before and it seems fairly easy to read. I can always email the transcript if you want it. Just let me know and leave an email in the comments.

Interview with Monk's very own Tony Shalhoub

Moderator Thank you. The first question comes from the line of Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

J. Steinberg Hello. It’s such a pleasure to speak with you. I appreciate your time.

T. Shalhoub Thank you.

J. Steinberg I was wondering, what’s the lasting impression you want audience members to take from watching your show and watching you?

T. Shalhoub That’s a great question. I think, if I had to choose one thing, I would say that I would want people to take away this idea that sometimes people’s problems or neuroses are really the things that are kind of a blessing in disguise, and even though there’s, you know, sometimes there’s pain associated with these things that sometimes in the face of adversity with obstacles to overcome, people can really kind of soar and find their higher selves and I think that’s what we’ve tried to do on the show is we’ve portrayed this character as someone who turns his liability, his liabilities into assets per his life. And that there’s – and I hope that when we get to the end – I don’t know this for sure, but I hope when we get to the end of season eight that we’ll have seen some real healing from Monk, and I believe in that. I believe that there is healing and that there is change, and that all of those things are – they are just really, really key to all of our lives.

Moderator The next question comes from Jennifer Iaccino with Media Blvd.

J. Iaccino It’s wonderful to speak to you again. Actually, we met at the Upfront in Chicago, the USA event last year.

T. Shalhoub Yes, I remember. I remember. That was such a great night.

J. Iaccino Indeed, it was. I’ll try to make this quick. I wondered if you had any input into the new changes of Monk because, I mean, from the ads, it seems that he’s sort of looser and more comedic, and I wondered, I mean, because you mentioned that you really wanted to do a Galaxy Quest II. I mean, do you have a preference to comedy or drama or horror, because I know you’ve done Thir13en Ghosts, and you had a big part in 1408 and such, so I’m a big fan of yours. I’m sorry.

T. Shalhoub Thank you. No, I appreciate it. Well, I don’t really have a preference, to be honest. In fact, my preference, my only preference is to have a lot of variety and diversity in the material that I work on. I’ve been so fortunate throughout my career, when I was doing theater, more theater than anything else, and when I was doing films that I got a chance just to do a broad range of things. In fact, a lot of my choices that I made were about that very thing. Every project that I had an opportunity to do or chose to do, I wanted it to be different from the last thing I did, and I think that’s why I have a good, you know, I had kind of a diverse kind of résumé. I’m really – it’s what I set out to do as an actor originally.

Moderator The next question comes from Joshua Maloni with Niagara Frontier.

J. Maloni Tony, thanks for your time today.

T. Shalhoub Thank you.

J. Maloni You talked about the character and what he sort of means, but in terms of the pantheon of great television series, what sort of legacy do you think this show leaves, and what do you sort of take away from it in that regard?

T. Shalhoub Well, I think one of the things that will be remembered about this show, I hope will be remembered, is that at a time when there was, in a lot of television, especially with the onslaught of cable and in a period where television is kind of redefining itself, that there were precious few shows on the air that were suitable for a wider audience, like a younger audience, you know, people in their 30’s and then people like elderly people in the 70’s and 80’s. That there was a show that all those different demographics could tune into and appreciate, and would appreciate on their own level.
And I think there aren’t a lot of shows like that. There haven’t been a lot of shows like that in the last decade. And I hope that that’s something that people will focus on and remember for a long time, you know, that it’s still possible to do interesting stories and good comedy without having it have to be all exclusively adult themed kinds of things or super violent or with language that some people might feel is inappropriate for younger audiences, and that this show was kind of able to stand out and do that.

Moderator The next question comes from the line of David Martindale with Hearst Newspaper.

D. Martindale Hello, Tony. My first interview with you over the years was way back in Wings.

T. Shalhoub Wow.

D. Martindale And I think you’re one of the good ones, and I’ve always been happy for you, how well you’ve done for yourself, and the good work that you’ve done.

T. Shalhoub Thank you.

D. Martindale One time when I interviewed you, you mentioned that you’re the only one at your home who knows how to absolutely – the only right way to load the dishwasher, which struck me as a kind of Monk thing to say.

T. Shalhoub I’m not the only one in my home. I’m the only one in my community, I think, my entire neighborhood, I’m pretty sure.

D. Martindale Who knows how to load the dishwasher right? My question is, have you found that the longer you play Monk, that the differences between you, Tony, and the character has eroded, which is to say, have you become more like him, and he more like you, over the years?

T. Shalhoub I would say yes, absolutely. I mean, I resisted it for a long time. I wrestled with it. I fought with it. I was in denial about it and all of that. But inevitably, you know, there have been some – you know, as I said, in interviews too. I feel like I’ve been infected in some way by this character. Tendencies, you know, minor tendencies that I’ve had in my life prior to Monk have just kind of ballooned and expanded and it’s inevitably. I mean, I just, there’s no point in trying to – I’ve given up trying to resist it. I’ve had to just surrender to it. I mean, I’m hoping that when Monk is over that I’ll have some period of recovery, but I’m not holding my breath.

Moderator The next question comes from Jim Halterman with The Futon Critic.

J. Halterman Hello, Tony. How are you?

T. Shalhoub I’m well. Thank you.

J. Halterman I wanted to know, you know, how is the final season structured? I mean, the season premiere seemed like a very standard, great, hilarious episode, but when do we kind of get into the wrapping of things up?

T. Shalhoub Excellent question. What the writers have in mind is to do, you know, as you said, our normal standalone episodes for the first, I would say, 11, because we’re doing 16, as usual. So the first 11, I would say, are going to be standalone, and then the last 5 is when we’ll be kind of connected. They’ll have a connected tissue, and we’ll start to get into the wrap up, not just of Monk, but of some of the other characters as well. Then what they want to do is the final two episodes, number 15 and 16, it’ll just be one story, a two-part, you know, aired in two segments. Just to follow – that episode, I mean that two-part will involve the wrap up of Trudy’s murder, you know, the solving of Trudy’s murder.

Moderator The next question comes from Sarah Fulghum with

S. Fulghum Hello, Tony.

T. Shalhoub Good morning.

S. Fulghum What was the deciding factor to make this season the final season?

T. Shalhoub Well, I think there were a lot of things at play there. I mean, long conversations that I had with Andy Breckman, you know, one of the co-creators and the main writer. We’ve been talking all along about how many seasons to do, how many episodes that he had in him, you know, as the writer. He, at one point, said that he didn’t think really he had more than six seasons, and then he kind of got a gigantic second wind, and we did the seventh, and we weren’t sure when we were doing the seventh if the network was going to go with us on the eighth. But to make a long story short, we all kind of agreed that the eighth season would be it for all of us.
I think it will have 124 episodes by the end of the eighth season, and I think we’re all ready to resolve the storyline and move on to other things. We certainly don’t want to go too long and have the quality start to wane and just limp to the finish line. We want to go out while we’re still really, we feel really that we’re doing great work and delivering really strong episodes. We want to go out on a high.

Moderator The next question comes from Beth Ann Henderson with

B. Henderson Hello, Tony. Thanks for taking our calls today.

T. Shalhoub Thank you.

B. Henderson I wanted to know how many of the old faces for past episodes are we going to see as a way of saying good-bye this last season?

T. Shalhoub Well, we’ll certainly, I’m sure you’ve probably read because there’s been a lot of publicity about Sharona coming back. Bitty Schram is going to come back for episode – I believe it’s episode number 12, which will start shooting in September. And they want to bring that character back and kind of wrap it up and kind of give that a good send off. A lot of people really missed that character and the dynamic between Monk and Sharona. And so we’re all looking forward to that.

Of course, we’ll see Harold Krenshaw comes back, one of my favorites. He’s the other OCD patient who is always kind of in competition with Monk, played so brilliantly by Tim Bagley. He’s going to return for at least a couple of episodes.

And well, that’s it. I mean, of course, Dr. Bell, the psychiatrist will be in a number of episodes. I don’t think – people have asked if we’re going to see Ambrose. I don’t really think that's in the cards simply because that’s … John is so busy. It’s difficult to schedule him in. I mean, if I had my way, we’d do kind of what Seinfeld did and bring back almost every guest star there ever was on the show, but ours is going to go in a different direction.

Moderator The next question comes from Christine Nyholm with

C. Nyholm Hello, Tony. Thanks for talking to us today.

T. Shalhoub Okay.

C. Nyholm I have to tell you. I’m from Wisconsin. You’re one of my mother’s favorite actors.

T. Shalhoub I’m in Wisconsin as we speak. I’m at a family reunion in Door County, so it’s beautiful here.

C. Nyholm Oh, it’s fantastic there, and that’s actually my question is, being from Wisconsin, how did you make your way from Wisconsin to Hollywood, and do your Midwestern roots impact your acting at all and how?

T. Shalhoub Boy, I think so. I think they do. I went to college on the East Coast in Portland, Maine. I went to graduate school at Yale Drama School. I worked in the theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts for years, and moved to New York, and then to Los Angeles. I mean, that’s kind of the – that was kind of the roadmap of it.

But I also come back to Wisconsin every year, and I have family here, of course, and I don’t know. I just think there’s a – you know, this place kind of was a fantastic place to grow up and kind of keeps me kind of grounded and keeps me somewhat humble just to kind of return to it. Yes, I think it just keeps me balanced. I still have great, great friends and feel like it’s home.

Moderator The next question comes from the line of Laura Tucker with Small Screen Monthly.

L. Tucker Yes. Hello, Tony. Thanks for talking to us today.

T. Shalhoub Okay. Thank you.

L. Tucker Just to reflect on some of the earlier questions somewhat, but it’s a little more specific. Have you, Tony, learned anything from your years with the character of Adrian Monk, and do you think Adrian has learned anything from Tony?

T. Shalhoub Well, I think yes. I think I have learned something from Adrian. I think I’ve learned to – sometimes, you know, hyper-focusing on things is actually a good thing to do. Not all the time, and I wouldn’t want to be as kind of fixed – you know, get as fixated and as obsessed as Adrian, but sometimes, you know, I’ve found that it’s really helpful to look at things in my own life with the same kind of sort of relentlessness that Monk does, just turning something over and over and over and trying to see it from all angles, and not being too quick to judge something or label something. So in that sense, I feel like I’ve gained a little real life wisdom.

What has Monk gotten from me? Boy, I don’t know. That’s a really good question. I feel like Monk has maybe become a little more – because I was playing the role, maybe Monk has become a little more open to others and embraces to the level, to the degree that he can, embraces other people’s point of view. I feel like I’ve been that kind of a person in my life, open-minded.

Moderator The next question comes from Joe Hummel with Pop Culture Madness.

J. Hummel Thank you very much for taking the call, Tony.

T. Shalhoub Thank you.

J. Hummel Some of my questions were kind of asked by a few other people, so I guess I have two quick, short things. How involved were you with the development of the character of Monk, and are there any clues that point to the potential killer for Trudy besides the garage?

T. Shalhoub Well, I wasn’t really there when the character was created. The script was around for a number of years before it came to me, although I do feel that I’ve had some significant input. When I came to the project, the script and the character was somewhat different, and I had long conversations with Andy Breckman about kind of morphing the character more towards to what I wanted to do, more to my strengths. The original script that I read was somewhat more – was a little more slap sticky, and I wanted to emphasize the kind of darker aspects of this character and more … and so that was a conversation that a lot of the producers had in the beginning. And I think Andy did such a great job morphing what he had originally written to fit me and what I wanted to do.

As far as the other clues, well, I don’t want to give away too much before these episodes air because I think it’s going to be a lot more interesting for people to discover things as we go along.

Moderator: The next question comes from Lauren Becker with Shooting Stars Magazine.

L. Becker: Hello. My question was, you’ve already talked about how, through the years, you’ve become more similar to Monk, and I was just wondering if, in your own life, you found some of his compulsions entering your life in small ways and, if so, kind of what they were.

T. Shalhoub: Well, you know, they take so many different forms and kind of crop up at the oddest times really. Sometimes I feel like – there are moments when I feel like I’m just nothing like the character. But then something will happen, and I’ll just realize that I’m rearranging something on a table at a restaurant, which seems that in that particular moment, seems like it’s absolutely essential that the sugar packets are facing one way and that everything else has to stop until this particular task is completed. Then I realize, what the hell am I doing? I’m channeling the character again. So it would take me about an hour and a half to describe all of the things that occur, but just trust me. It just kind of comes over me in waves, and I have to really, really check myself and try and pull myself out of these things.

Moderator The next question comes from Gino Sassani with Outcoming Disc.

G. Sassani Good morning, Tony. How are you doing?

T. Shalhoub Good morning.

G. Sassani Listen, the question I have for you is that of course a big loss for your show throughout these years was the loss of Stanley Kamel as Dr. Kroger.

T. Shalhoub Yes.

G. Sassani And we know kind of how Monk is dealing with the loss of the character, but can you tell us a little bit about Tony dealing with the loss of Stanley?

T. Shalhoub You know, it’s been really tricky, and we all speak … it’s almost as if he has never left us because his name comes up in stories, and anecdotes come up about him all the time on the set. And he’s missed, but we try to sort of keep him alive in our – you know, keep in our midst. He was there from the very, very beginning, from the pilot episode, and I have to say, you know, those scenes, those Dr. Kroger scenes in the pilot were so important, just in terms of my process, my discovery of who Monk was.
I think those scenes in particular were the most informative for me and the richest. They really, really helped me to kind of define the parameters of this guy, of my character. So, yes, I kind of carry that with me and have for all these seasons. And now, when I’m in these sessions, these scenes with Hector Elizondo, who plays Dr. Bell, I can’t even go into these scenes without just this little – I sort of do this little internal toast, as it were, to Stanley Kamel because he was the original doctor. I like to think that he’s kind of there in those sessions with me. He is missed.

Moderator The next question comes from Travis Tidmore with the Cinemaniac.

T. Tidmore Hello, Tony.

T. Shalhoub Hello.

T. Tidmore Over the years, you guys, as you’ve discussed, have had a lot of guest stars on the show.

T. Shalhoub Yes.

T. Tidmore I was wondering if you had a favorite over the years and maybe a favorite you’ve worked with so far this year.

T. Shalhoub It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite because there have been so many great ones, and I’ve had the chance to bring friends of mine on the show, I mean, people that I’ve worked with in the past like Stanley Tucci and John Turturro and people that I’ve always wanted to work with like Laurie Metcalf. But I have to say, of all of the seasons, and of all of the guest stars, the most thrilling for me was last season working with Gena Rowlands on Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door. She was such a tremendous influence on me when I was a student and studying acting. I was a devotee of John Cassavetes movies and the movies she did even separate from him.

I was the one who actually when we were casting that particular episode, The Lady Next Door, there were a number of names on the list, and I pitched her name. And I was stunned and thrilled to find out that she wanted to do it. And then working those eight days with her was just, you know, I felt really, when we finished that episode, I felt like I could retire, that I had done everything I needed to do now. She was so gracious and so good, and of course she’s been nominated for an Emmy for that episode too, so I will hopefully see her at the Emmys in September.

Moderator The next question comes from the line of Josh Bozeman with

J. Bozeman Tony, it’s an honor to talk to you. Thanks for taking the time today.

T. Shalhoub Thank you.

J. Bozeman I think the character of Monk has been portrayed very respectful. What was the process you went into in the research to try to make sure you didn’t go over the top and play it maybe possibly offensive?

T. Shalhoub The process was really one of - it’s a process that I use and have used in approaching other characters, which is to find out – you know, knowing that it’s a comedy and to find out what – in any comedy, what I try to do is I try and find out what are the more serious aspects of the character. And, conversely, when I do a serious role, I try and find out what’s funny about the character. And the beauty of this particular character is that I’ve had the opportunity to do both comedy and drama within one series, one character.

So I guess to answer your question, it’s really digging out the – when you’re doing the comedic moments, digging out what’s really, really at stake and what is the most important and most serious thing to the character, which I believe informs the comedy. And then conversely, you know, when the moments are really dark and poignant, trying to infuse those with an unexpected and sometimes inappropriate or seemingly inappropriate comedic flash, you know, a little spark of something absurd or comedic. That’s been my approach.

Moderator The next question comes from Sandy Lo with Star Shine magazine.

S. Lo Hello, Tony. How are you today?

T. Shalhoub I’m very well. Thanks.

S. Lo I was just wondering. I know you talked about your favorite guest stars, but I was wondering if you had a particular favorite episode of Monk.

T. Shalhoub Man. This is so difficult because I have so many that are just so near and dear to me. I kind of will reframe the question in the answer, I think. The ones that – I will say the ones where I think we did, where we’ve done the best, in other words, those episodes where we did 100% of what we set out to do or 100% of how we imagined the show should be in a perfect world when we’re doing our job – just the best. Those episodes would be, I would say, the first John Turturro episode where we meet the character of Ambrose. That was called Mr. Monk and the Three Pies.

Another favorite of mine was Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine because it was a chance for me to do this character almost as a different character – see a different part of him emerge. We did an episode that we just shot in the first part of season eight, which will be airing in about a month. It’s called Mr. Monk is Someone Else, and it’s an episode where it’s basically … assume this character of a man who looks just like him, but the character happens to be a professional hit man for the mafia, and this character dies, and Monk is asked to take on, you know, to take this guy on and become him. And so those opportunities to kind of transform within the character are really, really challenging and satisfying.

Moderator The next question comes from the line of Sarah Lafferty with

S. Lafferty Thank you, Tony, for taking your time to interview.

T. Shalhoub You’re welcome.

S. Lafferty I have a question. Trudy’s murder has been one of the most successful narrative arcs in television history, rivaling even Mulder’s sister Samantha on the X-Files.

T. Shalhoub Wow.

S. Lafferty So what do you think – while it’s going to be addressed in the final season, do you think it should be solved or left for the audience as more of a McGuffin?

T. Shalhoub I really think it should be solved. I know there are people who say that maybe it shouldn’t because that would mean that there would be life for this character beyond the series and that possibly the solving of Trudy’s murder would cure him in some way or take down his OCD symptoms, and then the character wouldn’t really be the character that we’ve come to recognize. But I really feel that we’ve worked this storyline so delicately and for so long that I think we owe it to not just the audience and to ourselves, but to the character of Monk and to the character of Trudy that we’ve created. I think we should solve it.

Moderator The next question comes from Jessica Mahn with

J. Mahn Hello. Good morning.

T. Shalhoub Good morning.

J. Mahn What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had filming the series?

T. Shalhoub The most memorable moment? I can’t remember my most memorable. I think I would have to say the most memorable moment would be when I was doing the episode with Stanley Tucci, Mr. Monk and the Actor, and he and I were, you know, having been reunited from having worked together for a number of times, he and I sort of, in the climax of the episode where I take the gun away from him, and we’re kind of sitting on the floor leaning up against this counter thing, you know, kind of our arms over each other’s shoulders because it was reminiscent of a moment in Big Night, which was such a gigantic turning point for me, I think, in terms of film of my career. So in that moment in Monk kind of reminded me of the moment in the movie was pretty emotional, a pretty emotional time.

Moderator The next question comes from Russell Trunk with

R. Trunk Tony, wonderful to speak to you today, mate.

T. Shalhoub Thank you.

R. Trunk Now just because USA is bringing the series to an end because of their choice and collectively yours, as we’ve heard, it doesn’t mean another network down the line, a couple of years or so, wouldn’t pick it up, following, of course, on from the reveal of who the killer was. Now is this a choice that you’ve thought about that maybe you would contemplate a return to the character down the line in a couple, three years perhaps?

T. Shalhoub You know, I’ve given that a lot of thought. I feel like I’m ready to put this character to rest, but by the same token, I never say never, and circumstances could change, and I could change my mind. Certainly I’ve been known to change my mind. I just think time will tell. I would never ever rule something like that out. I hope that answers your question.

Moderator Your next question comes from Earl Dittman with Wireless magazine.

E. Dittman Hello, Tony. That kind of was my next question too. Do you ever foresee maybe doing specials in the future? And also, what are you going to miss the most about playing this character that you’ve played for so long?

T. Shalhoub Well, to answer your first question, I assume you’re talking about like a TV movie or something of the character the way Colombo did. I don’t really see that being so likely just because I think I’m going to be – I’m hoping that I’m going to be busy with other things. Maybe I’m diluting myself.

Moderator The next question comes from the line of Jay Jacobs with Pop Entertainment.

J. Jacobs Hello, Tony. How are you doing?

T. Shalhoub Good. Thank you.

J. Jacobs Good. I just watched the season premier, and this question is sort of specific to that. Have you ever run across any people who are as passionate about Adrian Monk as Adrian was about Christine…?

T. Shalhoub Yes. I have to say that I have, actually, and it’s kind of a disturbing notion. But that’s kind of, you know, it’s kind of been part of what’s been interesting about this character is that being an obsessive character, I find that there are obsessive fans. There are people who know way too much about the details of the character and way too much about various moments in different episodes, things that I, frankly, have long forgotten, small, small details. I suppose that’s good on the one hand. You know, I just – it’s – I just hope that those people keep a nice, healthy distance in the future, a nice, healthy, respectful distance.

Moderator Your next question comes from Rosa Cordero with Accidental Sexiness.

R. Cordero I’m a long-time fan. I’m very grateful that you took the time to speak to us today.

T. Shalhoub My pleasure. Your fans want to know what’s up next for you. After you’re done with Monk, are you going to take a nice long vacation, or will we get the pleasure of seeing you more on the big screen?

T. Shalhoub Well, I don’t want to take too long a vacation, although I do think I need a break. I start to – whenever I take too long a break or don’t work a while, all my demons start to resurface, and I go a little nuts. And I did work on an independent feature this past winter, which I hope will be coming out soon called Feed the Fish, a movie that I acted in, but also co-produced, and a really nice … so we’re looking for distribution to sell this picture, so people should look for that.

But beyond that, I want to really, really take some time for myself to decide which direction to go next. I might do some theater for a year before I do any more television. I think I need a break from hour long episodic for a while.

Moderator Your next question comes from the line of Tom Parsons with Blog Critics.

T. Parsons Tony, thanks for taking our calls today.

T. Shalhoub Sure.

T. Parsons I have a question about the character and how much freedom you have to kind of riff on the OCD? It seems like there are moments in different episodes are just complete adlib where you’re just playing that personality trait more for the comedic effect. How much freedom do you have to just kind of take an idea and run with it?

T. Shalhoub Well, I have an enormous amount of freedom. In terms of dialog, I try to stay really close to the script. We all do, but we do have a writer with us on the set every moment, and we’re always pitching ideas to this writer/producer and seeing what we can get away with. But as far as physical behavior and things that I discover that may not be in the script, but are, but we discover in whatever environment we’re in, whether it’s somewhere outdoors or somewhere in an office or wherever the setting may be. I’ve been able to kind of just find things and work with them. That’s what’s really been so exciting because it’s kind of, there’s an endless, believe me, playing an OCD character with some of those tendencies myself, there’s an endless, endless array of stuff to become preoccupied with out there in the world, whether it’s intentioned by the script or completely unintentional.

Moderator Your next question comes from the line of Adam Krause with Static Multimedia.

A. Krause Hello, Tony.

T. Shalhoub Hello.

A. Krause To be honest, most of my questions I was hoping to ask you have been asked, so on a lighter note, knowing you’re a Packer fan, and me being from Green Bay, Wisconsin myself, I was hoping to actually maybe get your feelings on the possibility of Bret Favre playing for the Vikings. Does that upset you, like it upsets most of us?

T. Shalhoub Well, it doesn’t really upset me, but it does – you know, I think if someone – this guy, that someone like him who is so passionate about his work and just cannot give it up, thinks he can give it up, and then discovers that it’s impossible to give it up, I think in some ways I would be like him. I would retire and then come out of retirement 17 times. But I think what’s really, what’s a little bit unsettling to me is this idea of being at Lambeau Field on that day when the Packers are playing the Vikings, and he trots out through the tunnel wearing the wrong uniform. I don’t really have any desire to be at that game. It’ll be all I can do to – you know, I’ll be watching it on television with my remote getting ready to just flick it off really quickly. I’ve lost a little sleep over that, but hey, the guy is just trying to make a buck, you know.

Moderator And your next question comes from Kendra White with SideReel.

K. White Hello. Thanks for taking our questions. This is a bit of a follow-up on a previous question. A number of seasons ago, it looked like Monk could actually solve Trudy’s murder. Has it always been the plan to wait until the final season to possibly solve it, or were there ideas along the way to solve it, and then continue on in a different plot angle?

T. Shalhoub No, I think from as far back as I can recall, it was always part of Andy Breckman’s agenda to save the wrap-up until the end, I think the biggest reason being that it keeps Monk in a bit of a fog, and it keeps him on his heels, this unresolved, this one case that he just cannot figure out, and that he’s just too close to, to figure out. And so I think it was always part of his plan.

Moderator The next question comes from Roger Newcomb with We Love Soaps.

R. Newcomb Hello, Tony. Good to talk to you. You played so many varying characters over the years, and I’m looking forward to many more. Do you have any interest to do more work behind the scenes?

T. Shalhoub Yes, actually, because I’ve been a producer on Monk from the very start, and that’s been such a great education for me, I have a couple things in mind that I want to produce that aren’t necessarily vehicles for me. But I think it’s time for me to branch out into producing. And then I would also like to do some directing. I’ve done a little of that in the past, but it’s something I’d like to do more of. But, of course, I would never consider giving up acting. I still want to keep that alive. But because of the experience that I’ve gained and the contacts that I’ve made now, I think producing is definitely in my future.

Moderator Your next question comes from the line of Steve Reramo with Sci Fi and TV Talk.

S. Reramo Good morning, Tony. A pleasure to speak with you today.

T. Shalhoub Good morning.

S. Reramo I wonder maybe if you could tell us what so far has made a career in this industry rewarding for you, would you say?

T. Shalhoub Well, a number of things. Having the opportunity to work in all three different mediums: theater, film, and television. Having the opportunity to work with people that I really respect, and having, most importantly, which was my original objective from way, way back was to have longevity in the industry. It was never really one of my goals to gain tremendous amount of celebrity or make a tremendous amount of money necessarily. But it was very important to me when I set out that I would be able to do it for a long period of time and not burn out too quickly or not paint myself into a corner necessarily by doing one thing, which is another reason why I think it’s a healthy and a perfect time to bring Monk to an end because there are other things that I really want to do.

Moderator Your next question comes from Mark Eastman with

M. Eastman Hello, Tony. Thanks for taking the time. I actually just kind of wanted to go – probably a lot of these things have been covered, but what I was wondering is the die hard fans don’t really need to be convinced to tune in to the new season, but for those who maybe know the show, but are not quite addicted yet, apart from the obvious things, is there anything you can give us about maybe why we really need to tune in to the new season?

T. Shalhoub Well, yes, that’s a really good question. I think people will be really gratified and startled maybe to see that the quality remains really, really high, that the stories are interesting, that we do a bit of what we’ve tried to do every season, which is kind of break our own rules and do some unexpected things. We always have interesting guest stars. We try to bring in people to do things that they may not be necessarily known for. We try to do our guest casting so that it isn’t completely on the nose. For example, we have Jay Moore coming in an upcoming episode that we shot recently. He plays a sort of super lawyer, a super kind of … Johnny Cochran super lawyer who never lost a case. And it’s really an interesting turn by Jay Moore. I think we keep it kind of just off center enough to make it interesting. I hope we do.

Moderator The question will come from Sheldon Wiebe with Eclipse Media.

S. Wiebe Something that I’ve always liked about the series is that Monk’s OCD may be the source of some comedic moments, but it’s never been treated as a gimmick. It’s never been played that way. And every year, Monk has to do something large like I’m thinking of the scene where, the sequence where he was in the sewer.

T. Shalhoub Yes.

S. Wiebe Sometimes when it’s life and death, he can overcome the OCD, but we know he’ll never be completely without it. How do you figure the season will find him in terms of the OCD, solving the case with Trudy will give him a little more control, or will he spin further out because there won’t be that big goal?

T. Shalhoub No, I think it will give him some – I think it will actually help him, and it will give him some kind of peace and some kind of – and in that peace, his OCD symptoms will begin to, you know, significantly drop away. And when that happens, I think he’ll be able to move forward in his life. You know, he won’t feel so paralyzed. He won’t feel so – he won’t have such an aversion to being with other people. He might even, who knows – I don’t know because the writers haven’t revealed this to me, but he might even be able to find love and romance in his life again. All those things, I think, remain, you know, all those things are on the table and are good possibilities.