Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's Hard to Say Goodbye, Maeve Binchy...

Maeve Binchy dies at 72 on July, 30.  I'm so lightheaded as I stare at those words on my laptop screen. I need to splash water on my face, but I'm too unsteady to stand. I can't believe I'm experiencing this loss of a woman I've never met, but know her through her storytelling.  
 I must be dreaming.  This can't be happening.  To say my heart is heavy, is putting it lightly.  I'm devastated.  I want this to be a nightmare that I'll wake up from.  


And when I do wake up from this nightmare, I'll check the Web and see when your next book will be out.  No, it just can't be your last.  How is that possible?  We weren't prepared.  I wasn't prepared.  

  "Though weeping may endureth for a night, joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Miracles and Blessings, Kiki here ... this special text-webisode is dedicated to the storytelling memory of Maeve Binchy.  I bring you greetings with a heavy heart, but also a joyful heart.  Our beloved Writer, Maeve Binchy is in Paradise now, our celestial home, Heaven.  Can you imagine the stories she's spinning now among the celestial crowd with her ever-present smile shining brighter than ever?

You'll be missed by so many readers who willed you to write faster, because they couldn't stand to wait a minute longer for your next novel.  I can't believe the next one, due in November, will be your last.

Rationally, I know your novels will continue for years to come, and that makes me happy.  Next generations will enter Tara Road and see what it's like to switch lives with a stranger from across the globe like Ria and Marilyn.  

They'll drop by Scarlet Feather's kitchen and enjoy the aromas for the day's catering job, or hop a ride in Cathy and Tom's catering van.  

They'll get the best table at Quentins and maybe bump into a nervous Noel dining with a social worker who is determined to remove his infant daughter, Frankie, from his home.  

New readers will also arrive in time to get a good seat in the Evening Class, and what a class that'll be.  

Yes, generations to come ... you're in for a treat!

However, what will become of your readers today.  Emotionally, we'll miss living with your characters ...Fiona, Signora and Aidan, etc. and watching them pop up in new scenarios.  And we'll miss experiencing the new chapters in their lives.  

We'll miss curling up with a Maeve Binchy adventure and losing track of time as we read, read and read some more.  How many times have you seen the sun come up, because you had to see what happened next?

I blink back tears as her passing hits me again.  I almost feel like I've lost a family member.  I have.  Her characters embodied her spirit in each word. 

How do we go on without those wonderful moments around the Aga, sipping a cup of tea as the kettle simmers--and eating a raisin scone as our favorite character sort out a pressing matter?   Believe me when I say, the matter will be sorted out.

I can't count how many times I've sat down with you and enjoyed an Irish breakfast of rashers and bangers, black and white pudding and oatmeal porridge with a container of thick cream. 

(Irish Breakfast)

Who will mind us, like the village folks did in Minding Frankie?  Will we ever meet baby Frankie again in adulthood, as we did with so many of your characters? 

How will we get on without a stop at Quentins for a heaping bowl of Irish stew?  Yes, their menu is upscale, but I'm sure they can rustle up this Irish staple.  I'll even miss the fictional pints and a friendly game of darts at a days end--and the wonderful personalities that made up each closely knit community.

I didn't know you were one of the patients at a heart center that inspired Heart and Soul.  Was it a well-kept secret?  Or did you leave fictional bread crumbs in the form of clues that I totally missed?

Heart and Soul

What will we do without your secrets to unravel and your mysteries to uncover?  I've spent time in Ireland (Killarney, Carlow, Limerick and Dublin) and understand its rhythm.  It has always been my dream to return, one day, and meet you.   

(Enjoy this walking tour through Killarney.  I remember walking on some of the streets-YouTube)

It doesn't matter that we come from different cultures--we speak the same language of fiction.  Ms. Maeve Binchy, you inspired me as a writer and soon-to-be author to weave my stories through family sagas.  I'm on my way.  But I so hoped to share it with you, one day.  That's okay, because one day lives inside each page of your books. 

One more thing comes to mind as I say goodbye to you, my literary angel.  Will I ever experience Greece the same way I did in the Nights of Rain and Stars?  Time will tell. 

We love you, Maeve Binchy.  See you when we get there.  Let's all enjoy a nice brewed cuppa tea and an Irish Raisin Tea Scone in her honor.

The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club

"The most important thing to realize is that everyone's capable of telling a story."   Maeve Binchy

A Collection of Maeve Binchy Novels

(Maeve Bincy)

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    So You Want to Be a Television Producer...



    KIKI (V.O.) VOICE-OVER:  NYU Junior and Broadcast Communications Major, Alisha Wallace, has her eyes set on the nearest producer's chair she can find after she graduates in 2014?  Is that a realistic goal?  

    Well, today she's going to find out when she interviews, VICTORIA L. CHAPMAN... Format Producer in Post Production at A&E Television Networks, Principal and Founder at RTT Enterprises, LLC, Writer and Voice-Over Artist.

    (Victoria L. Chapman)

    Kiki sips a peach smoothie with college junior, Alicia on the cafe's sectional. Camera zooms in on a laptop screen showing them side-by-side.

     (macbooks air)

    I'm not saying, I won't have to work hard.  I just don't think it'll take that long.  All I need is a great internship at MTV, VH1 or E! Entertainment and I'll be producing in no time.

    Kiki smiles brightly toward the camera.  Words now appear on the laptop screens.

    "Donot conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Romans 2:12


    Miracles and Blessings! Today, we're handing over the hosting reigns to our young grasshopper here.  Maybe we'll be able to pry off her rose-colored shades, or at least crack them so she'll see her goals in a realistic light.  After-all, knowledge is king, or in her case... queen.

    (rose-colored glasses - Photobucket)

    This is the New Millennium, things happen a lot faster, Miss Kiki than when you were starting out.  (TURNS TO WEB CAMERA) On So You Want to Be a Television Producer, I'm interviewing Victoria L. Chapman because Miss Kiki thinks I need to hear from an actual television producer.  

    Victoria joins them on the sectional.  Kiki hands her the third peach smoothie.

    Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by iCafe Woman Moderne for our So You Want to Be a Producer? text webisode.

    It's important that Alicia and other Alicias and Adams get a clear picture into a television producer's life.

    Thanks for inviting me... I'm happy to help.  But first I have to say, this peach smoothie is amazing. 


    You’re a post production producer at A&E, what does that entail?

    My title can also be called Format Producer.  What we do is work with shows once they have been delivered to the network by production companies.  When the shows and episodes are delivered, we lay them out with timings for  commercial breaks and edit out certain language or objectionable images for daytime versions of these shows. 

    When we work with feature films, adapted for television — if the studio doesn’t do it — we’ll trim the movie to network timings (while trying to maintain story integrity) and create commercial break points also. 

    (Victoria L. Chapman)

    What was your most rewarding job?

    I’ve found great joy in many projects that I’ve worked on, but I took great care when I worked at E! Entertainment on a series called Mysteries and Scandals.  It was a biographical documentary series about “Old Hollywood.”  Most of the subjects had passed away after living mysterious, scandalous or tragic lives. 

    One episode I worked on was about Florence Ballard, one of the original Supremes, who left the group soon after they reached fame and ended up on welfare before she passed. 

     (Florence Ballard - Florence Ballard Fan Club)

     (You Tube - Supremes - It's Not Unusual)     VICTORIA CONT'D.    I think we were the first television series to tell her story and I felt an obligation to tell her story with integrity and not with all the innuendo that has surrounded her.   Ultimately, it was learned that she was positioning herself to try to make a comeback when her life was cut short.   Mary Wilson, the only consistent member of the Supremes, shared tremendously... and sent me a lovely note after it aired.  Also, one of the greatest compliments I received was from a colleague who noted that he could tell that “Flo was fighter.”   That was great—because I did NOT want to feed into any notions that she was beaten down or a victim.  She was a spitfire, who had some hard challenges—but she didn’t succumb and I wanted people to know that.      
     (Florence Ballard)     VICTORIA CONT'D.   These shows are stories for us to consume—but first and foremost —they are someone’s life.  And when I stood at Ms. Ballard’s grave, I told her I wanted to honor that life.  Ms. Wilson’s lovely note, helped me feel that I succeeded.  
    What is your favorite aspect of producing?  
    VICTORIA It has to be creating something from nothing.  It's like any other creative endeavor.  It starts as a notion and eventually becomes something tangible and real.  I most enjoy show producing because it involves the whole thing:  structuring the journey from beginning to end... building the story in a way that keeps folks intrigued and informed... and waiting to hear or see what comes next.    ALICIA      What were the highlights of working as a producer for E! Entertainment?     VICTORIA     While at E!... I worked in the Live Events Department, doing all those Red Carpet events.  Yes, I worked with Joan Rivers.  As a result, I got to work on, cover and be in attendance at some really cool events.     
    Oh, my gosh... you got to work with Joan Rivers.  That's so awesome! 
    (Red Carpet) 
    VICTORIA   Yes, it was... but what was even more awesome and one of my greatest highlights was at the Academy Awards in 1998.  That year, Spike Lee was nominated for his documentary, 4 Little Girls, about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama where 4 little girls were killed.    
    (4 Little Girls)
    (Spike Lee)      
    Mr. Lee's "date" for the event was none other than the mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Ms. Rosa Parks.  She was a little overwhelmed by the red carpet spectacle, but she was lovely.      As she passed by me, I greeted her and could only reflect on the fact, that because of what she did, I was able to have a job that allowed me to work the red carpet at the Academy Awards.  It still moves me to tears when I think of what a HUGE privilege and honor it was to meet her.   
    I'm sure she was also impressed by you.
    Thank you for saying that. 
    I've never thought of the Academy Awards as a place where history gets into the limelight and touches the people working and attending this star-studded event.
    Nicely put.
    What's the best way to get started in producing?
    If you mean in television, one seldom starts producing without coming through the ranks.  You don't get into a producer's chair right out of college.  If a person is still in school... INTERN.  Everywhere and anywhere that will let you... and WORK once you get inside the door.  If not in school, be willing to start at the bottom as a PA (production assistant)... and WORK.  
    A bachelor's degree is often preferred, but beyond that, this is a business that honors and respects work experience more than study and advanced degrees.  People hire people they're worked with and people they trust.
    Do I need to know how to edit and shoot?
    Learning technology... editing and shooting... is crucial, these days.  In the 20th Century, those were all separate functions and jobs — now they’re combined as a singular job requirement (along with producing) more and more.      Get on a production and ask questions, volunteer for tasks beyond what’s assigned and show creative initiative – without overstepping. There’s nothing like ongoing exposure to actual production to see how the madness all comes together.  
    I have several show ideas that I’ve been developing — in addition, I’m exploring  a business idea that will approach funding and the distribution of television programming in a different way.   ALICIA
    You're also an accomplished billiards player, tell us about that.  
    I don’t know if I’d call myself accomplished.  I enjoy the sport and have played in a league.  As for how I started, I played a few times as a child at people’s houses, but started playing more regularly in college.  A guy from my hometown showed me how to determine where I needed to make contact on the object ball to drive it to the pocket I wanted.   
    Pool has come and gone in my life over the years.  I was active in a league for about 5 years, until about 2-years ago, when I had shoulder surgery. 
    The one thing I’ve realized about the sport is that you can’t be distracted to play it well.  It requires focus and patience, which can be calming after an intense day.  You can also use it to channel your aggressions, or just step away and live with just yourself and the green. 
     (Victoria L. Chapman) Today's Text Webisode was Brought to You By...

    We Believe in the 3-Second Rule… 

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    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Cool Off With Frozen Treats You Made Yourself

    What Frozen Treat Am I Enjoying, in my
    Adirondack chair on the beach?

    I'm imagining myself on a tropical beach enjoying a frozen treat I made myself in my rented bungalow, only a few flip flop steps away.  What am I enjoying?  I'll give you two hints in the form questions. 

    It's a dessert you can have year-round, but it's most popular in the Spring and Summer.  This time it has taken on an entirely new form.  I'll give you one more hint, as you enjoy my postcards from paradise.

    What does Lemon Meringue, Fiber One Cereal, Honey Nut Cheerios and carrots have in common on a hot summer day?

    If you guessed, they can be all made into frozen treats, then you've won the prize.   Actually, everyone who tuned into this week's text-webisode from iCafe Woman Moderne wins the prize.  

    What's the prize, you ask?  Recipes from Betty on how to make these unique treats during the summer heat.  It's the perfect way to cool off as you watched the London Olympics.

    "But if anyone who keeps looking steadly into God's law, he will not only remember it, but he will do as is says.  And then God will greatly bless him in everything he does."  Proverbs 1:25 


    Our host, Kiki Jones, owner of iCafe Woman Moderne, a virtual cafe for inter-generational women, teens and girls... enter the great room in beach attire.  Monitors in the background show tropical beach scenes. The web camera takes a quick pan of the iCafe Woman Moderne divas busy creating our frozen treats.

    Miracles & Blessings, Kiki... here.  I'm so glad to be back, but I know you were in good hands with Brenda and Layla. 
    Ladies Summer Light Weight Lace Flower Sun Crushable Fedora Trilby Hat Lt Brown

    I've got my sun hat, sunglasses and sunblock and my first cool treat.   Behind me are our iCafe Woman Moderne Divas Sarah (48), Tarah (22) and Melinda (39) whipping up our Betty Crocker frosty treats. 

     (Snaidero Kitchens USA)

    It's a lemon meringue pie.  No, it's a popsicle.  Our first tasty num-num is a frozen treat you and the little ones can make during this heat wave.  

    Lemon Meringue Pie Pops

    Can you think of anything better than a lemon meringue pie?  Pie pops... oh yeah!  Betty outdid herself with these.  Betty Crocker's frozen take on lemon meringue pie has a graham cracker crust, creamy lemon filling and a fluffy topping.  Yes, it's a slice of heaven on a stick!  Enjoy!


    1   box (4-serving size) lemon instant pudding and pie filling mix
    1 ½   cups half-and-half
    ¼    cup fresh lemon juice
    1   container (6 oz) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free lemon burst yogurt
    7   tablespoons coarsely crushed graham crackers
    ¼   cup marshmallow creme
    ½ cup whipping cream

    Step 1
    In medium bowl, beat pudding mix and half-and-half with whisk 2 minutes. Beat in lemon juice and yogurt.

    Step 2
    Pour about 1/3 cup mixture into each of 7 (5-oz) paper cups. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon graham crackers. Cover cups with foil; insert craft stick into center of each pop. (Or fill ice pop molds according to manufacturer’s directions.) Freeze about 6 hours or until frozen.

    When ready to serve pops, in small bowl, beat marshmallow creme and 1 tablespoon of the whipping cream with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Add remaining whipping cream, increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Remove each pop from cup. Spread top of each with about 2 tablespoons marshmallow mixture, forming meringue peaks.

    Our mango, carrot juice and spinach (yes, I said spinach) pops are absolutely delish... as our girl Rachel Ray would say.  They're a fun and sneaky way to give kids and adults more fruits and veggies.  It's a win-win!  Enjoy! 

    Crazy Carrot Pops
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 8 hours and 10 minutes
    Servings: 6 

    2 containers (6 oz each) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free French vanilla yogurt
    2 cups chopped ripe mango
    1/2 cup carrot juice
    1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves

    Step 1
    In blender, place yogurt, mango and carrot juice. Cover; blend until smooth. Reserve 1 cup mixture; cover and refrigerate. Divide remaining mixture among 6 (5-oz) paper cups, about 1/3 cup in each. Cover cups with foil; insert craft stick into center of each pop. (Or fill ice pop molds according to manufacturer’s directions.) Freeze about 2 hours or until frozen.

    Step 2
     In blender, place reserved mango mixture and spinach. Cover; blend until smooth. When first layer is frozen, remove foil from pops. Pour about 3 tablespoons spinach mixture in each cup over frozen layer. Return foil to pops to support sticks. Freeze about 6 hours or until frozen.

    To make these pops look like carrots, freeze in 4-oz paper cone-shaped cups. For sticks, use green straws. To strengthen straws, insert lollipop sticks through straws before freezing.
    Look for carrot juice in the refrigerated case of the produce section. 

    Strawberry Green Smoothie Pops            

    Strawberry Green Smoothie Pops
    Are you a smoothie lover?  Then, you'll love these pops. Green smoothies are today's trend and add that with a classic strawberry smoothie and you've got a wonderful summer staple.    Ingenious! Betty layered the two together for a delicious and colorful pop that pops out at you!

    Prep Time: 15 Minutes 
    Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes – 5 Servings

    1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free French vanilla yogurt
    1 cup sliced strawberries
    1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free Key lime pie or French vanilla yogurt
    1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves
    1/4 cup apple juice
    Step 1
     In blender, place 1 container French vanilla yogurt and strawberries. Cover; blend until smooth. Spoon 2 tablespoons mixture into each of 5 (5-oz) paper cups. Cover cups with foil; insert craft stick into center of each pop. (Or fill ice pop molds according to manufacturer’s directions.) Put remaining mixture in bowl; cover and refrigerate. Freeze pops about 2 hours or until frozen.

    Step 2
    In blender, place Key lime pie yogurt, spinach and apple juice. Cover; blend until smooth. When first layer is frozen, remove foil from pops. Pour about 1 1/2 tablespoons spinach mixture in each cup over frozen layer. Put remaining mixture in bowl; cover and refrigerate. Return foil to pops to support sticks. Freeze about 2 hours or until frozen.

    Step 3
    Repeat with remaining strawberry and spinach layers, freezing at least 2 hours between layers.

    For that great layered look, freezing completely between layers is necessary so that colors do not mix into each other.

    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Total Time: 5 minutes
    Servings: 4

    Honey Nut Peach Smoothies
    1 1/3 cups Yoplait® 99% Fat Free creamy harvest peach or creamy vanilla yogurt (from 2-lb container)
    1 ½ cups Honey Nut Cheerios® cereal
    1 can (15 oz) sliced peaches in juice, drained
    1 cup milk
    1 banana, sliced
    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, if desired

    Step 1
    In blender, place ingredients. Cover; blend on high speed 10
    seconds. Scrape down sides of blender. Cover; blend about 20 seconds longer or until smooth.

    Step 2
    Pour into 4 glasses. Serve immediately.

    You can use 2 (6-oz) containers of Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free French vanilla yogurt instead of the yogurt in the recipe if you like.
    For frostier smoothies, substitute 1 1/3 cups frozen sliced peaches, slightly thawed, for the canned peaches. 

    And last, but not least...

    1container (6 oz) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free strawberry yogurt
    1 cup fresh strawberry halves or frozen unsweetened whole strawberries
    3/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
    2 tablespoons Fiber One® original bran cereal  

    Step 1
    In blender, place all ingredients. Cover; blend on high speed 10 seconds.

    Step 2 
    Scrape down sides of blender. Cover; blend about 20 seconds longer or until smooth.

    Step 3
    Pour into 2 glasses. Serve immediately.

    For a smoother consistency, crush the Fiber One® cereal before adding it to the ingredients in the blender.

    Don't be shy... give them a try, and let us know what you think?