A Slice of Orange


And the Emmy Goes To….

September 13, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,

By Bobbie Cimo

Have you ever noticed that when the cameras pan over the audience at an awards show, you very rarely see an empty seat? That’s because they have seat fillers. Yes, even when someone has to get up to go to the bathroom, the director wants those seats filled.

No, it’s not a paying job, but the list of volunteers is aplenty–as you have to know somebody to be put on “The List”. But once you’re on “it,” it’s like being in the Senate…you never get replaced, until somebody dies. You can see why–I mean who wouldn’t like the opportunity to play dress-up and be admitted to the hottest ticketed show in Hollywood, excluding the Oscars?

The year my name was added to the list, nobody actually died, but a new firm was in charge of handling the seat fillers, plus the network I work for was televising the show. (Update, here) Since then, my name has been removed, as the company handling the seat filler have made new friends of their “own”. Proving once again, that old adage–“It’s who you know in this business” (sadly, even for seat fillers).

I was thrilled when I learned I had two tickets (one for myself and my sister, Tricia) to attend the 53rd Annual Emmy Awards ceremony, scheduled for Sept. 16, 2001. But then came Sept 11th and for obvious reasons, the show was cancelled. Later, we got word that the show had been rescheduled for October 7th. Our hearts weren’t in it, but like the rest of the country, we felt lost and didn’t know what else to do, except to grab on to something that felt normal–like going out for an evening.

A few weeks later an inter-office memo was issued, requesting a photo ID and informing us that the FBI would be running a background check on everyone attending the ceremony. And because the show would be taking on more of a somber note, all attendees were told that they should be dressed in dark business attire, rather than tuxedos and ballroom gowns.

On October 7th, after finishing our box lunches served on Stage 33 at Television City, and before boarding the bus heading for the Pasadena Civic Center–just hours before show time, once again the show was cancelled. This time due to a US air strike in Afghanistan.

Then the fate of the 2001 Primetime Emmy Award Show became even more uncertain, when it was learned that Don Mischer Productions(who has produced the show seven times before) might have to scratch the Emmys altogether, because of previously made commitments to other shows.

They say the third time is the charm, but in this case it was the forth time. Finally, a new date and a new location had been set for the 53rd Annual Emmy show for November 4th at the Shubert Theatre. But instead of busing us as previously planned, this time we were told we had to drive ourselves.

If the cement barricades and the closed off streets that were lined with police offices and FBI agents didn’t make it seem surreal enough, then the mirrors placed under our cars, searching for bombs and other explosives, certainly did.

After enjoying a catered dinner and listening to some live lounge music in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, we were escorted through a secret passage to the Shubert Theatre. Once inside we were led around a narrow path around backstage. I see a few familiar faces of Stage Managers, and after giving a few Hollywood kisses on the cheek, I was back to marching with the commoners(seat fillers). Deep down I had hoped one of the Stage Managers would have pulled me aside and said something like, “What are you doing there? Here, I have some extra tickets”…but it never happened.

I can’t remember exactly when, but somewhere along the line we were handed our duel badges. One had our picture with our name and a number printed on it. (think mug shot here), the other simply stated the following: “I am filling this seat TEMPORARILY (in bold lettering) in order to avoid empty seats for camera purposes. THANK YOU.” This apology–disclaimer or whatever you want to call it (embarrassment was the word that came to my mind) I’m sure was for the purpose of not freaking out some celebrity who might be wondering what happened to the person who had been seated next to them and now was gone. Both badges hung around our necks on black lanyard that seemed more like a rope.

We were told that under no circumstances were we to talk to any of the celebrities…not even to tell them how much we enjoyed them or their shows. And when we walked down the aisle, we had to remember to swing the lanyards around our necks, so our badges couldn’t be seen on camera. Two things happened by doing this, 1) I felt like I was strangling myself and 2) I inadvertently slapped the person behind me with my badge.

You could have almost heard “action” when that first commercial break happened and the doors of the lobby flew open. Like a heard of cattle we trampled down the aisles, wondering which row we would be entering first.

Hurry, hurry, hurry” are the only clear words I remember hearing, as a silhouette stood in the darkness, waving his arms like a traffic cop, directing me where to go.

Not only were we told to walk fast and to cover up our badges, but we also had to remember how to enter the row to get to our seats. I think we were told we had to face the people, rather than put our backs to them. Or maybe it was we had to keep our backs to them, and not bother looking them in the eye. Either way, it seemed like a lot to remember just to get to a seat–a seat that was only going to be mine until the next commercial.

Ten minutes later, snapping fingers told me to get up and once again I was on the move, stepping on important people‘s feet as I made my way back into rotation, awaiting my next assignment (seat).

By this time, my sister and I were separated, so I have no way of knowing if she’s landed a good seat or not. However, I did find out later that she had a terrific seat for about a minute when Megan Mullally (Karen on Will and Grace) claimed it back. My sister, absentmindedly, asked, “Now?” In which Miss Mullally replied, “Y-E-A-H!” And begrudgingly, my sister got up.

On my third time around, I was placed in the third row, center stage–prime territory by any standards.

When the curtains opened up, Ellen DeGeneres stepped out and continued with her job of hosting the 53rd annual Emmys Show by introducing, Barbra Streisand, who just happens to be my sister’s favorite singer.

I briefly looked around, wishing I could switch places with her, so she could take my seat…and then it hits me like someone who should have had a V-8,….was I crazy? This wasn’t even my seat to be giving away. Besides in this Army it’s every person for themselves. I sat back and enjoyed the rest of the song. And hopefully, my sister was somewhere close, doing the same. (I later found out, she remained in the lobby not only during Barbra’s performance, but for the rest of the show, along with a bunch others whose services were no longer needed)

As for me, I had the feeling I must have had either Ellen’s seat, or someone who was a sore loser and had walked out on the show, because no one claimed my seat for the rest of the evening. I was, however, afraid to make eye contact with any of the people in charge of seat fillers–fearful, that once they saw me, they might ask me to move.

Did I break any of the rules that night? A few, when I smiled cordially at a few of the celebrities who sat around me.

Would I ever be a seat filler again? In a New York minute! Let’s face it, I couldn’t have had a better seat, than if I had been up for an Emmy myself.

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A Writer’s Pursuit…

September 12, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Of Inspiration

Have you ever strolled into a room and just been struck by the intricate details found in every corner, by the colors, by the traditions, by the history? Did the room ever become inspiration for part of your story?

This particular room inspired a couple of famous authors, Lewis Carroll and J.K. Rowling: The dining hall at Christ Church in Oxford, England.

Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, taught mathematics at Christ Church, but entertained Dean Liddell’s daughter, Alice, and her siblings with stories about Wonderland and often drew his inspiration from his surroundings around the college. At the far end of the photo, you can see the High Table where the faculty members eat. From what we were told on our tour, the senior members of the faculty would exit the dining hall through an extremely narrow staircase behind the table, which eventually led to a senior common room then outside to the Tom Quad. It’s believed this may be the inspiration for the Rabbit Hole.

And, of course, Harry Potter fans recognize this hall as the inspiration for Hogwarts’ dining hall, too. However, the portraits here didn’t move, although I did hear a tale that one of them does… I wish I knew the full story behind that! 😉

I know lately I’ve been inspired by historic homes, abbeys, villages, and small towns…At least enough to incorporate a piece of what I remember about those places into my stories, those special details to make the tale my own, to make it pop off the page.

So what about you? What places have struck you with inspiration lately? Was it a room? A town? A college? A dining hall?

Take Care,


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance. To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

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My Video Interview with Burn Notice Author Tod Goldberg

September 11, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

by Jina Bacarr

“When you’re a spy, certain things come easy…” writes Tod Goldberg in the opening of his Burn Notice book, “The Fix.”

For me, writing this blog on September 11th isn’t one of them.

I’m not a spy, but the heroine of my latest Spice release, Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs, is. Meet Breezy Malone, a female Indiana Jones and one tough chick. I asked Breezy what she would say if she was writing this blog on this important day in our history.

These are her words:

“Everybody knows the game has changed since 9/11. No longer are attacks planned and executed by a single al-Qaeda mastermind. Fueled by an ever-increasing well of recruits bound together by motives and causes, it’s up to me to find out what the target knows and who he’s working for.

I’m a spy. A covert op, a trained intelligence agent. I deal with graying KGB agents with prostate problems, punks from Pakistan flaunting peach fuzz and assault rifles and Iraqi militants eager to trade intel for explosives. It’s an international grocery list and it’s my job to roll up as many of these lowlifes as I can.

I go where other government agents can’t, taking down sophisticated men in grey tweed as well as terrorists who view the world with a piercing gaze and an AK-47.

If you passed me on the street you’d never know I was a Federal agent carrying a concealed Glock while keeping the eyeball on the punk ahead of me, ready to go into auto-mode to immobilize him if I’m threatened. I like my job and I do it well.

They say in the field, it’s all about people, not theory. Never was it so true as it is today. We’re fighting a war on terror and terror doesn’t take a holiday. The Federal agents out there know that and risk their lives every day to keep America safe. They do it because they believe in America and what we stand for. So do I and I know you do, too. So don’t forget the agents in the field. Not now, not ever.

Duty calls. Gotta go. It’s the business I’m in.”

Thankz, Breezy.

And thank you to author Tod Goldberg for bringing Michael Westen from the Burn Notice TV series to the page in his novel, “The Fix.” As anyone who watches the show knows, Michael Westen does his job with style, brains, a quick wit and fast moves. That also describes Tod. I had the opportunity to interview him after the August OCC meeting and totally enjoyed it.

Check out my video interview with Tod Goldberg then check out Tod’s blog at http://todgoldberg.typepad.com/

Best, Jina

Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha , Naughty Paris, Tokyo Rendezvous, a Spice Brief, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs, featuring a female Indiana Jones.

Coming in April 2009: Cleopatra’s Perfume, set in Cairo and Berlin during WWII.

Jina says, “What if Casablanca was erotic…”

“Get Caught in the Act!”

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Running With Joy

September 10, 2008 by in category Archives

By Nancy Farrier

Something caught my eye as I stood in the front yard talking with my neighbor. I looked up to see my two-year-old daughter racing, arms outstretched, down the slope of the roof toward the edge. My heart stuttered. I broke into a run, hoping to get close enough to catch her when she stepped into space. Instead, she stopped, her small feet poised near the drop off, a smile as big as the Grand Canyon on her face. She still had her arms out, and I could see how delighted she was to have this vantage point. My expression of utter panic didn’t faze her.

This wasn’t the first time my daughter managed to climb on the roof. She’d been eighteen-months-old the first time she found her way there. Since then, we often heard from neighbors driving by, who would call when they got home to tell us Anne was on the roof again. Hooray for small towns.

Despite my repeated attempts to apprise her of the dangers, Anne loved being up so high. I would send her outside to look for something, and when I would find her on top of the house, she would say, “But, Mom, I can see better from up here.” Who could argue with that logic? Well, I could—and did.

Sometimes, in life I get bogged down. There are everyday mundane chores that never seem to end no matter how often I do them. When that happens, I can find myself forgetting the joy and fun in life. All I see are the piles of laundry, the dirty dishes, the nitpicky editing I need to do, and on it goes.

I have to remember to be more like that two-year-old. My attitude doesn’t have to be that of a grumpy person, even if I have a lot of responsibility. Not that I intend to run across my roof, but I do need to put my arms out sometimes and surrender all the things that weigh me down. I need to keep alive the joy in my life.

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It’s Worth It

September 9, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as


by Kitty Bucholtz

Write every day. Make each book better than your last. Write what you love so that your passion fills every page. Oh, and by the way, make time for blogs, web sites, social sites, teaching classes, and writing articles to get your name out there as much as possible.

Not to be a naysayer, but wow! That sounds like so much work! I’d rather do the first three things than spend so much time on marketing myself that I have less time for writing. But once a business school graduate, always a business mindset. How could I do both?

One day, it occurred to my two critique partners and me that our weekly conference calls were such a huge part of all three of us getting more done – why didn’t we find a way to share our conference call with more writers – and promote ourselves? Thus the idea for Routines For Writers was born.

Launched on September 1, 2008, the web site is meant to be a discussion-starter for brainstorming ways to get more and better writing done. The three of us only blog once a week, but that gives readers new material each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (It also gives us real and attainable deadlines.) We’re writing “pillar articles” – longer articles that go into more detail on a particular topic. We’ll post helpful spreadsheets and documents for tracking progress, making goals, and other helpful items. And we’ll have guest bloggers from all areas of the publishing scene.

Instead of stressing about whether we three unpublished-in-novel-length-fiction writers should have three web sites already, we moved the synergy we’d already developed into a joint web site. And the web site is on a topic we’re (gasp!) passionate about! All three of us love teaching, love sharing what we’ve learned with others. (I helped a new writer while eating lunch at the Costco food court last month. It was great!)

What can you do to harness synergy that’s already begun in your writing world? How can you get more done with less work? How can you get your name out more without cutting into your writing time? (And without, say, forgetting to go to the bank and the grocery store as I did this week. Scene 1: Enter husband looking through bare cupboards…)

If you have some ideas, share them here. And come on by our web site and see what we’re talking about each week. We’d love to have you join in the discussion!

Kitty Bucholtz is a co-founder of Routines For Writers, a new web site to help writers write more. She writes light urban fantasy novels with a romantic comedy spin – and loves every minute of it! Read her article Orange You Glad You Thought of That? in this month’s RWR magazine. Even though she loves talking about, writing about, and teaching about writing, she’s pretty sure she knows at least three people who aren’t writers.

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