Best Spoken Word by Laura Bennett

Project Runway finalist Laura Bennett provides her hilarious take on modern motherhood in Didn't I Feed You Yesterday? A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos. Here, she reflects on the experience of recording her first audiobook.

I love listening to audiobooks. My entire van full of kids gets swept up in Jim Dale’s magnificent narration of Harry Potter, as he deftly changes his voice for each of the fifteen or twenty characters, making the story come to life. Ditto any audiobook by David Sedaris. After my kids spend a few moments arguing whether it is a man or a woman speaking, they settle in and enjoy his hilarious material and perfect comedic timing. Conversely, I love reading essays by David Rakoff, but I can’t bear the lisp and uneven pace of his recordings, and find his material more enjoyable on the page.

With the knowledge that not all audiobooks are created equal, I had mixed emotions about reading the audio version of my own book. Who could possibly relay the material better than I? But my inexperience ran the risk of rendering the material unbearable to listen to. My apprehension was heightened because I turned in the book to my publisher a year ago and had not really looked at it since then, outside of thumbing through to answer some queries from the proofreading department. (‘Coniferno’ is not a word. Are you trying to be funny? Yes, the Christmas tree was on fire.) Like any creative project that you revisit, you are never sure if you will be amazed by your own genius or say, “What the hell was I thinking?” My Princess Diana–inspired, home-sewn 1981 prom dress falling smack into the latter category. Looking at my book again after all this time was going to be scary.

The actual recording was an exhausting experience. My director was named Dennis Kao, and he was infinitely patient with me. He had me rerecord any line that was subpar. “Do that again from ‘penis,’” he was actually heard to say. By the third day he was still constantly reminding me to slow down, and he still noticed every slight slur and mispronunciation far past the time when I would have said, “Screw it, just finish the thing.” When my southern would rear its ugly drawl, usually a sign that I’m tired or drinking, Dennis would kindly offer me a break. I came home after every session mentally depleted and crashed, leaving my kids to fend for themselves for the rest of the evening.

Narrating is not at all like everyday speaking; the speed is much slower and each letter in every word is carefully pronounced. In real life you run words and sounds together, or you sound like Martha Stewart. I also discovered that my writing has some stylistic issues that work on paper, but make reading it aloud difficult. I tend not to use contractions when I write. Screaming, “You are going to get it!” at the kids sounds unnatural. I also favor lengthy sentences packed with alliteration. I do it to be funny, but I certainly do not speak that way in life. These sentences become veritable tongue twisters when read aloud. I also learned that under no circumstances, no matter how many times I try, will I ever be able to pronounce the word Massachusetts. Before I ever write and record another book, I have to move to Connecticut.

In the end, after three mind-numbing days, Dennis said he was happy with the results. Being the overly optimistic type, I am hoping for a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album. (I did make it all the way to Bryant Park on my first try as a fashion designer.) About my revisit, I am amazed by my genius. There were a few lines here and there that I would change, but it is nowhere near as embarrassing as the photos of me in that prom dress.

Click here to check out Laura Bennett's audiobook Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?


Tags: Laura Bennett, Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?

The Dirty Laundry Challenge

"Dirty little secrets/Dirty little lies/We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s size/We love to cut you down to size/We love dirty laundry." –Don Henley song “Dirty Laundry,” circa 1982 (yes, we’re that old).

 

It’s true: we’re into dirty laundry.  We’ll show you ours, if you show us yours.

Andersen vs. Maggie, sans spin cycle: Who can out-dirt whom?

Andersen…

…is as hairy as a white person can be, without being Robin Williams.

…is worried about the whirling razor-sharp propellers of reckless Floridian rednecks on motorboat joyrides. Wait, that’s Manatees.

…is turning silverback, like a mountain gorilla. He also has a few too many animal-related anxieties.

…would be married to a nice Jewish girl by now, if he weren’t as gay as all get out.

…wonders why he got out of bed for this.

Maggie…

…self-consciously tries to keep her wine glass as far away from her mouth as possible, which is as counter-intuitive as it gets.

…wonders what it would take for casting directors to type her as hospital thin.

…should be further along in her career.  Although, her acting resume shows she has worked on two series, and studied with Kurt Vonnegut which is impressive for her “acting age.” (Real age - 7 years + stage makeup)

…worries she will go blind, deaf, lose her hair, get horribly disfigured by hot acid, and people will hate her.

…also worries she will be convicted of a crime that a girl who looks identical to her commits. She won’t even be cast in the TV movie of her story, due to the “stress lines” in her forehead. It’s hard to get bootleg Botox in prison, ladies.

…has short term goals like organizing her closet, and long term goals… like changing everything about her.

ABOUT THE WRITERS

Andersen Gabrych is inspired by honesty, even when it’s a complete lie. He’s a ritualistic writer, if you count his ritualistic jags of watching Kung-Fu movies and reality TV. While researching Dirty Laundry, he learned the most telling, seminal moments in life come in the strangest little moments; the value of which only realized after you’re caught singing “Old Man River” gussied up like a Turkish prostitute. He’s discovered that as people grow less connected in reality and more in tune with internet media, true experience has become more novel than fiction. Andersen is currently reading The Audubon Guide to North American Mammals, which may explain his wildlife daydreams.

Maggie Rowe is well versed in literature: she used to put on thick eye make-up and pretend she was Sylvia Plath in the mirror. For that reason alone, she is considered a true feminist. She’s read four books about Pentecostal snake handlers in the last three years. There must be something hot about a charismatic Appalachian snake-handlin’ preacher leading a hapless and toothless Appalachian congregation to inevitable death by snake bite. She currently owns 87 self help books — if you open the cabinet, they all say “help me!” Right now, Maggie is reading The Dry Eye Remedy: the Complete Guide to Restoring the Health and Moisture of Your Eyes by Robert Latkany, M.D. Top that for Less Sexy!

There. We said it.

Now you show us yours.

Click here to check out Dirty Laundry.


Tags: Maggie Rowe, Andersen Gabrych, Dirty Laundry

Introducing Harlee Harte: Celebrity Columnist Extraordinaire

Hi, what’s up?!

I'm Harlee Harte!

I’m a Junior in high school, and I write a celebrity column, "HarteBeat," for my Hollywoodland High School newspaper. It’s the best job in the world! I get to meet and greet the hottest teen idols and hit the hip Tinseltown places to hang out while I'm out on the hunt. Being a columnist is hard work, but I love the glamour and excitement! This place is crawling with stars, and it’s my duty to keep you up-to-date with who’s hot and what’s not!

At times, it feels like I’m living a double life; my life as a high school student mixes with my red-carpet escapades. Despite what it sounds like, though, I’m still a pretty normal teen. Homework, parents, chores, and a certain history teacher, who shall remain nameless, annoy me, but that’s part of life. I especially hate studying for tests and can’t stand babysitting my eight-year-old brother, Alec. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but they drive me bananas!

My books are not only about celebs like Robert Pattison, Taylor Swift, and Taylor Lautner, but all about my life too. It’s not easy being a teenager. Oftentimes, I feel we don’t get enough credit for how we deal every day with the ups-and-downs and ins-and-outs of our insane so-called lives. It’s very stressful trying to balance homework and crushes while avoiding social pressures. That’s why I like to chime in on how to handle problems such as parents or school or friends or guys.

My three BFF’s, Kiki, Luzie, and Marcy join me on wild adventures through Hollywood. We have so-o-o much fun going to concerts, movie premieres, sporting events and shopping. We might as well be attached at the hip since we spend so much time together. I would be lost without my girls!

Kiki is the ultimate fashionista whom I rely on to style me for my important events. From flat ironing hair to 3-inch stiletto pumps, Kiki knows how to look hot. Always dressed to the nines, no matter where she is, Kiki could be on the cover of Seventeen. It pays to have a friend who breathes the latest runway trends…especially since I’m a little lame in that department!

Remember Sporty Spice from the Spice Girls? Luzie reminds me of her. She loves every sport, especially soccer. Last year, we were running from paparazzi, who chased as though they were starving tigers in the jungle, and she didn’t break a sweat! She’s even better at sports than most of the boys…but maybe not better than her totally hot boyfriend Joey!

With a book by her side 24/7, Marcy is a bookworm. She finished the Harry Potter and Twilight series faster than anyone I know. She also has her iPod jammed in her ears everywhere she goes. Between her music and books, she thrives in her own fantasy world. Once in a while, Marcy will perform her works at a café during an open mic poetry night, and we always go support her. Sometimes, though, she goes wild with henna tattoos, but, hey, that’s Marcy!

And I guess I should mention my crush Jack. Sometimes I don’t think he knows I’m alive, and then there are other times…oh, I could go on forever! There’s so much to tell…and I will.

Tune in later…’cause now it’s time for my mani and pedi so I have sign off, but I'm always looking for the latest 411 about our favorite stars, so drop a line if you hear any tidbits! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to catch up on the recent celebrity scoop. Most of all, don’t forget to check out my books!

<3 Harlee

Check out Harlee's books:
I Heart Justin Bieber
I Heart Taylor Swift
I Heart Selena Gomez
I Heart Robert Pattinson
I Heart Taylor Lautner
I Heart the Jonas Brothers
I Heart Zac Efron


Tags: Harlee Harte, I (heart) Taylor Lautner, I (heart) Robert Pattinson, I (heart) Zac Efron, I (heart) the Jonas Brothers, I (heart) Taylor Swift, I (heart) Selena Gomez

Mark Bego Discusses rock stars and Elton John: The Bitch Is Back

I am Mark Bego, and I am really happy about the publication of my 52nd book, Elton John:  The Bitch is Back, from Phoenix Books. I have been writing books about rock stars since the ’70s, and by far, this is my most colorful one!  How could I write about Elton and not have all of the sex, and drugs, and boys, and rock & roll in it.

There are few people as colorful as Elton John, and I specifically wanted to talk to people who personally know him and are not usually interviewed for Elton John books.  These people’s insights into Elton make this quite exciting. Researching this book, I interviewed Alice Cooper, Billy Wyman of The Rolling Stones, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Angela Bowie, Sarah Dash of LaBelle, Randy Jones of The Village People, Duncan Faure of The Bay City Rollers, and Gary Brooker of Procol Harum.

I also received some great stories from Danny Hutton and Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night. A lot of people don't realize that it was Three Dog Night recorded the song that became America’s first exposure to Elton's music, via their recording of “Lady Samantha.” One of my most fun interviews was with the totally colorful and outrageous RuPaul. And, those are just some of the rock & roll figures quoted in the book! There are many more.

I found that one person led to the next, and it was a very exciting process. In reality, this book could have gone on and on. However, with all of the different sides of Elton that I uncovered, when I was finished, I felt that I had given a really well-rounded look at “The Rocket Man” and his amazing life.  I managed to work in all of the addictions, the self-doubts, bad toupées, affairs and scandals – but also with the triumphant later years, the coming-to-terms with his sexuality and the establishment of a happy and healthy private life. I am really excited about this new book, and I know that Elton’s fans will be as well.

Click here to check out Elton John: The Bitch Is Back


Tags: Elton John, Mark Bego

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