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Kindle Countdown for “Ask Me Anything: A Memoir”

  • Marie Book CoverAsk Me Anything, the memoir I wrote with Marie Rudisill, is available as an ebook. A Kindle Countdown is underway, starting at $.99 today. Then the price goes up each day. On Wednesday, it will be $8.99, its list price.

Why wait? See what Marie has to say – about her upbringing in Monroeville, Alabama, her nephew Truman Capote,  taking on the Big Apple, giving the Big Orange a squeeze when she appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Well into her nineties she became a television celebrity, going mouth to mouth with anyone who asked her a question or sought help with a problem. She always had an answer on the tip of her tongue.

Here are a few of Marie’s many bon mots about the places she’s been and the people she’s met:

“I was certainly never one to play it safe. If I had wanted to play it safe, I would have stayed in Alabama.”

“In New York City where are the flowers? Where are the trees? If you open the window to get some fresh air, your apartment is filled with soot. You think you don’t have soot? Well, just run your finger over the windowsill and see what happens. That grimy, black stuff is soot.”

“I have met the most wonderful people in the world in the [publishing] business. Some of them have even lived in New York City.”

“I never got to experience the traffic for which Los Angeles is so famous. It was just as well, as I have a feeling that the stop and go pace would have driven me right up the wall.”

“Celebrities are people, too. They might live in big houses by the ocean and have more money than God, but they don’t deserve special attention in my book.”

“Florida is not a Southern state, not to me. It has no history, no civility, no gentility. It’s all flip flops, short shorts, and hairy legs.”

Ask “The Fruitcake Lady,” and get ready. You never know what she’ll say next.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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It Could Be You

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Elizabeth Lawrence is Betty Jo Tucker!

My friend, radio talk show hostess and award-winning author, Betty Jo Tucker has recently relaunched her book “It Had to be Us.” It’s a romantic memoir, sure to tickle the fancy of young-at-heart lovers. It’s available on Kindle for $5.99. Royalties are donated to THE IMAGINATION LIBRARY, a children’s literary project sponsored by the Dollywood Foundation.

Betty Jo is offering lots of bonuses, including a copy of her book “Confessions of a Movie Addict,” which I enthusiastically recommend, especially if you love movies as I do. For more details, check it out here.

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Sign Up on Goodreads!

Marie Book CoverAre you a Goodreads member?

 

I’m offering a Goodreads giveaway.

 

Ten lucky readers will receive a copy of Ask Me Anything: A Memoir.

 

You need to enter the drawing by September 21, 2014.

 

Ask Me Anything is available on Amazon and as an ebook.

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Long Live the King!

I just finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a memoir of sorts, first published in 2000. In the first one hundred pages he recalls stories of his growing up, describing how he became a writer. Actually, King was born a writer, but how he became a successful writer is quite a story, from magazines rejecting his short stories to the first publication of one of his novels, Carrie. Written in 1973 while King was teaching school and living in a $90 a month apartment with a wife and kids to support, it changed everything.

Jack Torrance’s typewriter in the movie “The Shining,” based on King’s novel. Photo by: China Crisis.

In the second half of his book he gives a lot of advice about writing, particularly for wannabe novelists. His prime rule consists of four words: Read. Write. A lot.

King reads because he likes to read, but he also notes, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

One of the pleasures in King’s book is that he names names — Charles Dickens, Margaret Mitchell, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, John Grisham, Tom Wolfe, J.K. Rowling, and many, many more through the ages. When he’s discussing style, plot development, character development, dialogue, and symbolism, he gives lots of examples, both from his works, as well as from others. For a book on the tools of the book trade, it’s never boring and surprisingly entertaining.

King also goes into detail on his run-in with a light blue Dodge van in 1999, while he was walking on a country road. The van hit him, and King suffered horrific injuries, including broken bones and a collapsed lung, and endured multiple surgeries. The quick arrival of emergency personnel saved his life. Physical therapy sped his recovery process. Eventually, he began writing again.

With the publication of several short story collections and full-length works, such as Doctor Sleep and Mr. Mercedes, over the past decade, it’s safe to say that he’s back and in fine form.

Are you trying to decide what to read this weekend? Do want to improve your prose? Or, are you looking for a pick-me-up? Pick up a copy of On Writing by Stephen King. (Oh, that’s corny. But apt.)

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

 

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Five Stars for Ask Me Anything

Marie Book CoverThe first review for Ask Me Anything, the memoir I co-wrote with Marie Rudisill, best known as “The Fruitcake Lady” from her appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,”  is below. I’m pleased to say that the reviewer awarded it five out of five stars.

Ask Me Anything is available from Amazon. The print book has a  discount from its list price of $14.95, and the ebook is $8.99, unless you have signed up for Kindle Unlimited. Then it’s FREE.

Word-of-mouth is crucial for any author to succeed. If you enjoy the book, please leave a review. Even if it’s just a sentence or two. It would make all the difference and would be very much appreciated. 

 

And now, a 5 star review by Jack Magnus from Readers Favorites:

Ask Me Anything is a memoir written by Marie Rudisill with Susan Marg. Marie Rudisill is known to late night television watchers as the Fruitcake Lady. Her letter, written in 2000 to Jay Leno, defending the honor of the fruitcake, prompted his invitation to her to appear on “The Tonight Show.” She was 89 years old at the time. Her appearance was such a success that she was invited back again and again. She taught celebrities how to make fruitcakes and would answer just about any question posed by members of the audience. When the trip out to the West Coast became too difficult for Rudisill, Leno would send out a crew to do her segments at her home. Rudisill was a product of the old South, and this memoir is filled with stories of her life as a child in Monroeville, Alabama. When her father died after an accident, her cousin Jenny took in the widow and her five children. Rudisill’s mother also died several years after, and Jenny raised the three older sisters as her own. Jenny was a self-made woman who built a small millinery business into a thriving department store, and built the rambling house with extensive gardens where she, her siblings and their young cousins lived. Co-author Marg worked extensively with Rudisill on this memoir until Rudisill’s death in 2006.

Marie Rudisill’s memoir, Ask Me Anything, is blunt, outspoken and charming, all at once. I immediately felt at home reading her story, even if I did cringe sometimes at some of her statements. Her stories of her childhood in the big house with the flamboyant, and rather alarming, Jenny and her other cousins are marvelous, especially the kitchen wars and the legendary bullwhip Jenny carried around. Rudisill was also Truman Capote’s aunt and she considered him her favorite nephew. Her stories of their friendship and later falling out were parts of Ask Me Anything that I particularly enjoyed. Rudisill and co-author, Marg, are a wonderful writing team. The memoir reads beautifully, with Rudisill’s voice coming forth loudly and clearly, even if she was in her mid-nineties as they worked together. While she’s no longer with us, she’s still very much here in spirit as evinced in Ask Me Anything. I very much enjoyed getting to know Marie Rudisill through her memoir and highly recommend it.

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Windmills of Her Mind

Marie Book CoverI recently published Marie Rudisill’s memoir, Ask Me Anything, which I wrote with her in the last year of her life. It’s been on my mind, so I hope you’ll forgive me as a move away from my usual blog themes to blog about this book.

Marie had been called many things: irreverent, sassy, brash, even rude, and, certainly, too old to be crude. You get the idea, if you didn’t know her as “The Fruitcake Lady” from The Tonight Show. With host Jay Leno and special guests including Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson, she made fruitcakes, mixing up the batter with plenty of fast talk and worldly advice. Well into her nineties, she became a television celebrity, going mouth to mouth with anyone who asked her a question or sought help with a problem. She always had an answer on the tip of her tongue.

But Marie was more than a pop culture phenomenon. She had seen a lot and accomplished even more when she passed away at 95 years old. She was Southern to the core, yet she took on the Big Apple. When she settled in the Carolinas, she undertook one venture after another – writing cookbooks, selling antiques, and operating a restaurant or two.

Family, too, was a big part of Marie’s life. She was close to her nephew Truman Capote, and their falling out over some paperweights hurt her deeply. She retired to Florida with her husband to be near their son, yet yearned to return to her sweet Alabama hometown.

Ask Me Anything covers a lot of ground, telling Marie’s story from the beginning to the end. She also had much to say about various topics – talking to teenagers, surviving a hurricane, and, of course, baking a perfect fruitcake, and I was only too happy to go along with whatever was on her mind. Here’s how we got started.

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How I Hooked Up with “The Fruitcake Lady.”

From the Introduction to Ask Me Anything.

Marie always made me laugh. She was feisty and funny, and like her television character, “The Fruitcake Lady” from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she gave as good as she got. For an old lady, and at ninety-five years of age she was getting up there, she never took guff from anyone, always speaking her mind, telling it like it is.

I only got to know Marie the last year of her life although my husband, Jim Simmons, had known her for over twenty-five years. He was her collaborator on the two books she had written on the background and upbringing of her nephew, Truman Capote. In late fall of 2005 she asked him if he would be interested in working with her on another book, possibly about her sister Lillie Mae, who was Truman’s mother. Jim was in the middle of a couple of projects and didn’t think he had the time to devote to something new. Besides, she had always given him a difficult time when they were working together. Who needs that? But he didn’t say “no,” it was hard to say “no” to Marie, and they stayed in touch.

In December of that same year we were watching Marie on what would be her last appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. We were laughing along with everyone else as she did her “Ask the Fruitcake Lady” shtick, bullying and berating members of the audience for their silly questions and ridiculous complaints. Suddenly it occurred to me that Marie herself would be a terrific subject for a book. Jim thought I was onto something, as long as it was my undertaking, not his, which I must confess was not my original intent. Still, I agreed. When Jim broached the subject with Marie, she didn’t think twice about it. Just like that, I had a new book in the works.

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Ask Me Anything, ISBN 978-0-578-14318-7, is a 195-page quality paperback book consisting of nine chapters.  Topics cover growing up, family ties, and family feuds, as well as becoming a celebrity on The Tonight Show. An ebook is also available.

 

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Truth or Fiction?

Memoirs continue to be popular. The best of the lot read like fiction. There’s a beginning, middle, and end, but events are not necessarily presented in chronological order. We learn about a life, while the facts, even if they’re simply emotional recollections, resonate with our lives.

Photo by: Urban Muser

Photo by: Urban Muser

Moss Hart’s Act One, first published in 1960, is now a Broadway musical. It’s been described as a “funny, heartbreaking, and suspenseful portrait of the artist as a young man.”

Jeanette Walls’ 2005 The Glass Castle has sold 2.5 million copies and was translated into twenty-two languages. It’s now in development in the capable hands of Jennifer Lawrence, who plans not only to star in the film version, but also to produce the movie.

Writers often get around to telling their own story. Most recently, Frances Mayes, known for her personal reflections on living in Italy, including Under the Tuscan Sun, penned her autobiography, detailing her coming of age in rural Georgia.

So, too, do actors, who continue to act. Andrew McCarthy actually became a writer who travels or a traveler who writes. I’m not sure which came first. Molly Ringwald wrote Getting the Pretty Back, half memoir and half guide to girl things. Rob Lowe’s two autobiographies have been well received. Yes, the 1980s Brat Pack have done all right in the writing department.

The cast members from Beverly Hills 90210, now in their forties, are a prolific bunch, too. Shannen Doherty put out a guide to being a badass, if not a bad girl, something she knows about all too well. Jenny Garth found time to share her triumphs and tribulations as a single working Mom, and Tori Spelling continues to spill her guts, both on television and in print. And, this just in: Jason Priestley: A Memoir was recently released.

As far as the stories Priestley tells of his costars in the 1990s drama series, Doherty notes, “I always say that everyone has their own version of the truth, and memories are very funny things.”

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Hollywood or Bust Wins Award

This month the National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA) announced the winners of its annual contest. The competition was created to acknowledge self-publishers and small and independent presses that go the extra mile to produce high quality books, from eye-catching design to well-written content. Judges represent all aspects of the industry and include publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters.

HorB CoverAuthor Susan Marg entered her book Hollywood or Bust in the category “Arts& Entertainment.” It was the perfect fit. Hollywood or Bust consists of over five hundred quips, quotes, and off-the-cuff remarks of actors, directors, writers, and others involved in making movies and conveys what Hollywood insiders think of themselves, their lives, their fame, their careers, each other, and the town itself.

Marg is pleased that this well-regarded organization recognized her efforts. “Hollywood or Bust was a lot of work, but it was fun to research and put together,” she comments, adding, “It’s a fun read, too – like overhearing a conversation at Starbucks.”

Hollywood or Bust, ISBN 978-0-578-11882-6, is a 182-page paperback book consisting of seven chapters and twenty original photographs.  Topics cover dreams of success to attending the Oscars.  It lists for $14.95.

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 Susan Marg is the author of Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide, published by HarperCollins.  Since she has moved her field of focus from the City of Lights to the City of Angels, her interest in popular culture has only intensified.

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Why the Academy Awards Go On and On

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“I just want to thank everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

—  Kim Basinger,

winning Best Supporting Actress for  “L.A. Confidential” in 1998

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A Hard Day’s Night

31st_Acad_Awards

Johnny Carson hosted the Academy Awards in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, and again in 1984.  In his first appearance he quipped, “Welcome to the 51st Academy Awards, two hours of sparkling entertainment spread over a four-hour show.”

While the telecast might seem to go on for hours and hours, the awards ceremony did not go over four hours until March 1999 when Whoopi Goldberg hosted. At two minutes after the four-hour mark, Shakespeare in Love took Best Picture.  The following year when Billy Crystal was host and American Beauty won, the show went 4 hours 4 minutes.

Ever since, the telecast has been under four hours, except in March 2002 when, again, Whoopi Goldberg hosted. Lasting 4 hours 23 minutes, the evening finally ended when A Beautiful Mind took Best Picture.

How will Ellen DeGeneres do?  She received a Primetime Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program” when she hosted the 79th Academy Awards in 2007.  In case you’re wondering, the show went 3 hours 51 minutes and The Departed won.

As for her appearance this year, she says, “I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say — the third time’s the charm.”

They also say, “It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log…”

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved