Karen Quinn


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News and Reviews

Sarah Jessica Parker to star in The Ivy Chronicles

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

The Good News comes From NY Post Page 6

NOW that Heidi Klum and “Project Runway” are out at Bravo, Sarah Jessica Parker is moving in. According to Hollywood Reporter, Parker’s “art competition reality show has found a home” at the network, which will announce the deal Sunday.

Parker’s creation, which is being co-developed by the creators of “Runway,” is said to be an hourlong show featuring aspiring artists who will compete in front of a panel of judges for a top title of “American Artist” – the show’s working title.

The Bad News is that according to The Los Angeles Times, her clothing line BITTEN has bitten the dust

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post, reports that Sarah Jessica Parker could soon have her first project after “Sex.”

The actress is in talks with Warner Bros. to star in “The Ivy Chronicles,” a story of class and the single woman in contemporary New York.

Based on Karen Quinn’s novel of the same name, the project is described as following in the vein of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Nanny Diaries” as well as Gigi Levangie Grazer’s “The Starter Wife,” which became a successful limited series on USA.

It centers on Ivy Ames, an Upper East Side woman who, after losing her high-powered job and getting divorced, starts over again in a less ritzy downtown apartment. After pulling her children from private school, Ames starts a business to help upper-middle-class women get their children into elite kindergartens.

From Bookshelf to Big Screen
Denver Magazine

In a lavish loft, 13 floors above the streets of New York City, an inviting study is tucked away, ceiling-high oak bookshelves lining cream-colored walls. Amid the paperbacks and picture frames, author Karen Quinn — famous for her debut novel The Ivy Chronicles — radiates, creates her bestselling books.

Quinn’s stories are an addictive hybrid of The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, blended with a fair dose of Sex in the City. However, growing up in Denver, she says she never dreamed of becoming a writer. After completing her law degree at the University of Denver, Quinn made the cross-continental move to the Big Apple with her husband and worked for American Express. The mommy of two eventually abandoned her corporate vice presidency to become an entrepreneur. Prompted by the experience of applying her first daughter to preschool, she created Smart City Kids to help parents craft appropriate essays and strategize ways for kids to compete for those much-coveted pre-kindergarten spots that presumably start children on their path to an Ivy League college. “I totally freaked out,” she says of her initial experience. “I overheard a mom saying that the children would be tested on their ability to draw circles, squares, triangles and ovals. There was no reference book, no crash course in building a resume for your toddler. Had I known that my kids would be tested on that, I could have prepared them.”

While the profitable enterprise was garnering favor from the media, Quinn was nurturing a desire to write. With her experiences with crazy parents, she had a full spectrum of characters (one man hired an acting coach because his four-year-old was “boring.”), and The Ivy Chronicles was born.

Once finished writing, Quinn began the dreaded search for representation. A serendipitous tie with her babysitter connected her with an agent. She then met editor Stacy Creamer at Random House, of Devil Wears Prada fame, whose interest in the book prompted an aggressive bidding war for the title. Viking eventually bought the manuscript, and four years later, Warner Brothers optioned the movie rights. Two months ago, Sarah Jessica Parker signed on to play Ivy, the novel’s protagonist, who is let go
from a prominent career, cheated on by her husband and who creates a company to help kids get into private schools. Quinn says, “Writing was cathartic. [Ivy’s] company was, in a way, autobiographical, but my husband and I have a great relationship. He would never cheat on me.” Quinn’s characters are savvy, successful Manhattan women, and the book does flirt with R-rated material: steamy sex scenes, heartbreak over illicit affairs and wicked altercations.

Quinn attributes many of her complex characters to her experiences with Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. Mama Gena is Regena Thomashauer, a teacher and author whose writings and workshops are devoted to giving women a context in which to maximize their power, passion, enthusiasm and creativity. “If I had to rely on my own life, it’d be pretty boring,” Quinn says. “So it’s fun for me to imagine what it might be like to live in another way. The Mama Gena stuff is so incredible
because it’s allowed me to meet so many fabulous women going through different experiences.”

In addition to her novels (her third book, Holly Would Dream, came out this past summer), Quinn responds to every reader letter she receives and blogs about her exciting life with personal photographs and comical anecdotes (like working with The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, who penned The Ivy Chronicles film).

Readers have not only come to love Quinn’s triumphant novels; they have come to love the author behind them.

Devil Wears Prada Screenwriter to Adapt The Ivy Chronicles

The Sex and the City star will play a high-powered New York executive in the comedy, who begins anew after she loses her Wall Street job, divorces her cheating husband and moves out of her Park Avenue flat. To provide for her two daughters, she sets up a business helping Manhattan’s elite how to get their offspring in premier kindergartens.

Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna has just been hired to adapt the bestselling novel by Karen Quinn. Brosh McKenna is a specialist in the comedy genre as she has penned the screenplays for The Devil Wears Prada, this year’s 27 Dresses, and the 2004 comedy Laws of Attraction, starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore.

Parker could make The Ivy Chronicles her first film since Sex and the City the Movie hit cinemas earlier this summer. The adaptation of the hit TV series has been a hit with audiences and has so far cashed more than £185m around the world.

Parker is also attached to star in another comedy, A Family Affair, in which she would play an engaged woman who realises a former one-night stand of her is her future father-in-law.

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Friday August 01 2008.

Author elicits inner Audreys of Port City

Published: Friday, July 25, 2008 at 8:21 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 at 8:20 a.m.

Despite the ominous sky, growl of thunder and my dog Buster’s mounting anxiety, I stepped out for the evening in the antithesis of rain gear: a black sheath, black patent pumps, three strands of pearls, opera length black gloves and a sparkling tiara. Instead of attending a glamorous cocktail party, my friend Rachel and I pulled into the Barnes & Noble parking lot at Mayfaire.

Author Karen Quinn reads from her latest book, ‘Holly Would Dream,’ at the Barnes & Noble store in Mayfaire Town Center.

Local Audrey Hepburn dress-a-likes appear at Barnes & Noble to hear author Karen Quinn read from her work. Photo | Jess James
Opening the front door of the bookstore, we looked for the signature signs – any pearls over there? Black dresses? No. As we weaved through the bookshelves, we entered a clearing and then heard an exuberant voice exclaim, “Look! Two new Audreys have arrived!”

New York author Karen Quinn and local hostess-with-the-mostest Charlene Dupray, co-owner of South-n-France bon bons, both channeling style icon Audrey Hepburn, welcomed us to join the other “Audreys” for Karen’s reading from her latest novel, Holly Would Dream. The Audrey connection? The book’s title character Holly Ross, not unlike the author herself, is an Audrey devotee, who “can’t help but fall in love with her and the glamour and innocence of a 1950s Hollywood movie.”

Speaking of the silver screen, Karen’s first novel, The Ivy Chronicles, is being made into a movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker.

Like her first foray into film, Karen’s career as an author has had its own touch of Hollywood dreams.

Starting as a lawyer and then becoming an executive at American Express, Karen took a new direction after a corporate layoff. After her own stressful experience, she and a friend started a business offering counsel to parents enrolling children in Manhattan private schools.

Although their business filled a niche and was written up in both Forbes and The New York Times, it did not generate enough income for both of them. Inspired by her experience and motivated by her desire not to get a “real” job, Karen wrote her first novel.

“Did I know anything about writing a novel? No. But everyone said my annual Christmas letter was really funny,” Karen said.

From her babysitter’s connection to a literary agent to her husband’s chance encounter with the editor of The Devil Wears Prada, Karen’s foray into publishing consisted of one serendipitous connection after another, reinforcing her psychic’s prediction that Karen’s life change would be “like hitting a brick wall at 100 mph.”

Karen admits that her first book was very easy to write because it was so autobiographical.

“It just poured out of me,” she said.

With her second book, Wife in the Fast Lane, she felt a lot of pressure and found it much more difficult to “make everything up.” With Holly Would Dream, Karen says, she was “just having fun. I really just focused on topics that interest me: travel, fashion and old films. I wrote this book as if it was a 1950s Hollywood movie.”

When asked who she could envision as Holly on the big screen, she responded without hesitation, “Heather Graham,” who’s a friend of Karen’s. “She’s so funny!”

How about a modern-day Audrey? “Audrey was so beautiful and almost … otherworldly. Yet she has a simplicity to her, an approachability that makes other women relate to her as a friend. And she has such an impenetrable signature style. No other woman has surpassed her. Her look is timeless – the pearls, the little black dress – and is still relevant 50 years later.”

Our local LBD brigade was awarded with Charlene’s delectable bon bons, which Karen first tasted at a networking group in Manhattan.

“They were amazing and immediately left an impression,” Karen said. “Charlene and I spent time together the next time she came to New York, and we’ve been friends ever since.”

Before Charlene shuttled Karen to her next interview, I asked her if she preferred life as a brunette as opposed to a redhead (as she is pictured on her Web site, www.karenquinn.net). “I am always changing my hair color. It’s just a fun thing to do and a way to change the way you feel.” A little a la Audrey, n’est-ce pas?


Ivy Grows on Sarah Jessica Parker
Wed., Jun. 25, 2008 8:15 PM PDT by NATALIE FINN, E! Online

Now that Sarah Jessica Parker’s Big moment is behind her, it’s time to start thinking about her post-Sex life.

The actress who never met a funny hat she didn’t like is in talks to star in The Ivy Chronicles, based on the novel by Karen Quinn, about a single gal making her way in New York.

If that sounds a little too familiar, this time around Parker would play newly divorced mom Ivy Ames, who loses her high-powered job and has to give up her uptown digs for an apartment more suited to…well, someone like Carrie Bradshaw.

Eventually, she totally rocks her new life in ways meant to both dazzle and inspire the largely female audience this film will be seeking.

If the deal goes forward, this would most likely mark Parker’s next return to the big screen after her massive success with the still-playing cinematic version of Sex and the City.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the 43-year-old mother of one had signed on to the romantic comedy The Late Bloomer’s Revolution (which, interestingly, sounds as if it could be about the same exact thing as The Ivy Chronicles) for New Line Cinema and HBO Films’ Picturehouse, but now that New Line has folded into Warner Bros., the future of the project is uncertain.

Sarah Jessica Parker lines up ‘Ivy’
In talks to star in her first project after ‘Sex and the City’
By Steven Zeitchik and Borys Kit
June 25, 2008, 11:00 PM ET, The Hollywood Reporter

Sarah Jessica Parker could soon have her first project after “Sex.”

The actress is in talks with Warner Bros. to star in “The Ivy Chronicles,” a story of class and the single woman in contemporary New York. It centers on Ivy Ames, an Upper East Side woman who, after losing her high-powered job and getting divorced, starts over again in a less ritzy downtown apartment. After pulling her children from private school, Ames starts a business to help upper-middle-class women get their children into elite kindergartens.

The project, based on Karen Quinn’s eponymous novel, is described as following in the vein of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Nanny Diaries” as well as Gigi Levangie Grazer’s “The Starter Wife,” which became a successful limited series on USA. Jerry Weintraub is set to produce.

Warners is keen to cast Parker in another project after “Sex and the City” became one of the blowout hits of the summer, earning more than $300 million worldwide. Several projects were presented to the actress, who sparked to the single-mother tale.

About eight months before “Sex” became a summer smash, Parker had signed on to a romantic comedy titled “The Late Bloomer’s Revolution,” which HBO Films was to have produced for Picturehouse; with the dissolution of the unit, that project’s status is uncertain.

Parker has had mixed big-screen results outside of “Sex.” Recent academia dramedy “Smart People” earned only $10 million at the boxoffice, though “Failure to Launch,” a film in which Parker had a leading role opposite Matthew McConaughey, wound up earning nearly $90 million domestically for Paramount in 2006.

The Carrie Chronicles

Denver native Karen Quinn is riding high.

She’s the daughter of the late Sonny Nedler of Sonny’s jewelry on Fillmore. Brother Michael Nedler still runs the shop.

Quinn was recently back in town with her new book “Holly Would Dream.” But she has bigger news.
Her first book, “The Ivy Chronicles” was bought a couple of years ago by Catherine Zeta-Jones, who wanted to play the heroine, a woman who helps rich kids get in the right New York City schools.
Seems the project stalled with Jones — and it’s been snatched up by Sarah Jessica Parker.

People.com, the Hollywood Reporter and other showbiz outlets are spreading the news that Parker is attached to “Ivy” as her first post-”Sex and the City” project, which brought in more than $300 million.
Jerry Weintraub, the guy behind the “Ocean’s Eleven” series, is set to produce at Warner Bros.

“It is very exciting,” says Quinn from her home in Tribeca. “I always loved Catherine Zeta-Jones, but I’m even more excited about Sarah Jessica Parker. She’s a great person to play this role.”

Go to karenquinn.net for all “Ivy” news.

Sarah Jessica Parker Caught Reading The Ivy Chronicles

We adore New York street photography. The list of the greats include Henri Cartier Bresson, Walker Evans, our favorite Helen Levitt, Frank Paulin and Christopher Peterson. They all have a couple of things in common and that is a passion for their craft and talent.

Look at this iconic photograph that Christopher did of Sarah Jessica Parker in lower Manhattan yesterday. She was heading home after a trip to Dean and Deluca carrying a copy of “The Ivy Chronicles’ by Karen Quinn.

Watch the sales of that book soar now that Sarah Jess is photographed carrying it. The publisher will be delighted.


Star Magazine Hot Sheet – weekend of June 6 2008

From Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts Newsletter, May 9, 2008

Mama Gena Club: Holly Would Dream,
by Karen Quinn
Review by Sheila Hay

Remember those days when you could lie back and lose yourself in a delicious novel? When you could hardly bring yourself to separate from a book and its characters? I’ve often wondered what happened. Are novels not what they used to be? Have I become a jaded reader? Have the three little munchkins that rule my days truly whisked away all of my attention span?

When Karen Quinn gave me a copy of her new book, Holly Would Dream, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I hadn’t finished a novel in years. I threw it into the suitcase at the last minute as we were packing for our family vacation extravaganza, with a faint “maybe . . . ”

Not only did I read the novel–start to finish!–but I loved and savored every last delicious drop. This book is AMAZING! It is pure pleasure packed into 400 or so pages! Inspired by Audrey Hepburn movies, Holly Would Dream is a modern-day fairy tale–a romantic comedy that sparkles, not only with the easy glamour of Hepburn and the 1950s, but also with the sass and spirit of Mama Gena and the School of Womanly Arts.

In pursuit of her pleasure, Karen left her corporate job several years ago to write full-time. And I am so grateful. Following the gorgeous and goofy Holly on her hilarious quest to lure in a big donation for her fashion museum, retrieve stolen museum gowns, and beguile the unsuspecting guy was the perfect antidote to my novel ennui!

Holly Would Dream reconnected this ex-voracious reader with her pleasure. It is an incredible, laugh-out-loud book. (Seriously, when was the last time you laughed out loud while reading?) This novel screams bestseller/ blockbuster movie. I’m happy to know that writers like Karen Quinn are out there pursuing their pleasure to give us ours as readers.

For more information on the School of Womanly Arts, visit www.Mamagenas.com.

New Karen Quinn Novel, Holly Would Go Immortalizes Me & Benny

Grab your suntan lotion, your beach blanket, your enormous sunglasses, and your lipstick because “a girl can’t read that sort of thing without her lipstick.” But whatever you do, read Holly Would Dream, Karen Quinn’s delightful new novel. (Yes, It’s chicklit, but the good kind.)

Holly Would Dream is big fun, and I’m not just saying that because Benny Bix Ochman Labradoodle Puppy and I are immortalized in it. We both play ourselves, except I have my dream job of running a doggie boarding place. Benny can play himself, and I think maybe Kate Winslet or Bette Midler should play me in the movie. This would fulfill another dream of mine, where Benny works and I don’t. Who do you think should play me in the movie?

Holly Would Dream is about a woman who wishes her life could be like an Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy and it feels a lot like a classic Hollywood movie that would star Cary Grant and, maybe, Grace Kelly.

When Quinn’s second novel, Wife in the Fast Lane, was published, I created an online contest for her. Among the many fabulous prizes was the chance to become a character in then-unnamed next novel. There was intrigue and fun, cheating, and silliness, but the rightful winners were finally chosen from among more than 750 entries. They were:

Nichole Cannon who wrote the winning essay, and who becomes senior curator of the Costume Institute at the Met in the book.

Candice Broom another top dog at the Met, who did the winning contest video.

Elizabeth Blair, who wrote the winning one-liner and is portrayed as a hottie who tries to join the Mile High Club with Pops. Says Quinn, “I asked Beth’s permission before assigning her to such a floozy character.”

Last but not least, Holly called her character an “unconscionable trout,” which is what someone called us when we created a funny blog ad maligning Anna Nicole Smith’s death.

Holly Would Dream
By Bianca McCullough, Special to the Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, June 5, 2008

* Fiction. By Karen Quinn. Touchstone, $14.

Plot in a nutshell: Quinn, who grew up in Denver, struck it big several years ago with her best-selling novel, The Ivy Chronicles, a Nanny Diaries-type story about a consultant priming preschoolers to get into Manhattan’s best kindergartens. The movie rights to the book were promptly snapped up by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Warner Bros., and last year, Quinn followed the effort with the amusing chick-lit novel, Wife in the Fast Lane.

Holly Ross (named after Hepburn’s Holly Golightly) is a young woman who wishes her life were a Hepburn movie, yet is thriving in New York – until her fiance is caught cheating with a minor, she’s passed over for a promotion at a fashion museum and accidentally calls Denis King, one of the museum’s most generous benefactors, a part of the male anatomy in front of the press.

Holly takes each humiliation in stride and decides it’s time to take back her life. She works a deal with her Devil Wears Prada-inspired boss to snatch the senior curator position away from the rich and dim-witted Sammie, if she secures a million-dollar donation while on board the luxurious Tiffany Star cruiser – the same cruise Denis King is on.

Holly’s misfortunes follow her to Greece when the trunk full of Hepburn costume “replicas” she borrows from the museum for her voyage goes missing, causing several unfortunate events to transpire as love and lust saturate the Mediterranean air.

Sample of prose: “Why had I borrowed those dresses? Here I was on the ship doing just fine without them. What made me think I’d magically inherit Audrey’s grace or luck by wearing knock-offs of her gowns? They were fabric and buttons and beads, nothing more.”

Pros: The many Hepburn movie references scattered throughout the book will delight Hepburn fans. And readers of romance will appreciate the romantic novel elements – smart, beautiful heroine falls for wealthy, handsome hero, but complications arise on the path to happily-ever-after.

Cons: Hepburn references aside, Holly features cliche characters and plots, at times trite dialogue (Denis calls Holly a “breath of fresh air”).

Blog: A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore…

“When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.” –Erasmus
Book reviews
Friday, June 13, 2008
Review: Holly Would Dream, by Karen Quinn

Holly Ross is an assistant at the National Museum of Fashion in New York City. A holder of a Master’s degree in fashion, Holly knows pretty much everything there is to know about the subject. In addition, she has an obsession with Audrey Hepburn films. Holly’s also engaged to her heart’s desire, and she’s about to receive a promotion at work.

But everything changes when the promotion is given to Sammie Kittenblatt, a New York society darling who got her job through a generous donation made by her parents. Then Holly’s fiancee cheats on her, and eventually finds herself fiancee-less, job-less, and living with her father in the basement of a pet hospital.

Things change for the better when Holly is given the chance of a lifetime: to lecture on a cruise ship traveling the Mediterranean, and to bring home a seven-figure donation to the museum that will get her her job back. Soon, however, things turn bad as Holly finds herself the subject of an Interpol investigation looking into the case of a mysteriously vanished trunk full of Audrey Hepburn designer gowns. Added on top of all this is Holly’s growing attraction to Denis, a wealthy entrepreneur.

Holly Would Dream is pure escapist chick lit at its best. The Audrey Hepburn mini-storyline is heaven, and the story is told with wit and humor. There were some passages in this book that I just could not stop laughing at! In addition, I learned quite a bit about the fashion world, which Karen Quinn manages to make even more exciting and sexy than it already is. The characters are well-developed–I loved the description of Denis’s fiancee and her five-pound dumbbells. Holly’s father is a hoot, as are some of the ladies on the cruise. This book is a must-read for any Audrey Hepburn fan. It makes me want to go back and re-watch some of her movies.
at 7:15 AM

News and Reviews for Book Lovers – Issue 13

Current mood: satisfied


After finishing reading WIFE IN THE FAST LANE by KAREN QUINN I was at lost of what I was going to write for a review. It was not that I did not enjoy the book. The problem is I think I enjoyed it too much. You ask how could I possibly enjoy a book too much? Well, let me explain:

I went to work last night fit to be tied because I still could not think of an interesting book review to write for Karen Quinn’s entertaining second novel WIFE IN THE FAST LANE. I tell you it was really bothering me, so I decided to start telling some of my co-workers about my dilemma. I was secretly hoping to get inspired by a brilliant idea of what to write for my review.

I started by telling my co-workers that I finished reading WIFE IN THE FAST LANE by KAREN QUINN, which is a 400-page novel, in a day and a half. I told them that I read it way too fast. I just could not put the book down. I got so caught up in the characters and the story that I desperately wanted to know how the book ended. You see, I usually read the books that I intend to review at a much slower pace to make sure I don’t miss anything, big or small. I also like to take in the writing style of the particular author since I am an aspiring writer. You can learn so much about writing from just reading books. While reading the novel I also try to think of different things that I want to include in my review of the novel. Trust me I put a lot of thought and effort into each and every review that I write. However, I just allowed myself to sit back and enjoy reading this light breezy novel, which I am sure the author, Karen Quinn, intended when she wrote WIFE IN THE FAST LANE.

I then went on to tell my fellow co-workers that I usually write book reviews on how I can relate my own life experiences to that of the main character in the book. I did not know how I could possibly relate to the successful life of the main character, Christy Hayes, which Karen Quinn created in her novel WIFE IN THE FAST LANE.

The main character, Christy Hayes, has won two Olympic gold medals, built a multimillion-dollar business, landed a gorgeous and powerful CEO husband, and inherits custody of an eleven-year old girl. One of my co-workers said to me of course you could relate your life to the book. I kind of just gave her a funny look. Did she know something I didn’t? She just simply stated that I was a wife with a job, and that I seemed to be very ambitious and successful with my book reviews and my writing. Well, I guess there is some truth in that.

I was feeling particularly comfortable with this co-worker, so I started to tell her how in the novel WIFE IN THE FAST LANE by KAREN QUINN a seductive single woman tries to steal the main character’s husband from right under her nose. I proceeded to tell my co-worker stories about how my husband who is an Executive Chef on Norwegian Cruise Line constantly has female crewmembers going up to him and asking him if he wants a girlfriend. He always politely replies that he is happily married. I have worked on cruise ships and believe me the women are that blunt, especially with high-ranking officers who are good looking and make good money. I even told her the story of the time that I met my husband’s boss. After my husband introduced me to his boss, his boss turned to my husband and quite arrogantly said, ‘you could have any girl on the ship. Why did you marry a Canadian? You don’t need a passport.’ By the way, my husband is German. My mouth must have dropped to the floor. I was standing right there. EXCUSE ME! I am sorry that I am not the typical wife of a ship’s officer who is a six-foot model with legs that go on forever. I tell you I was so upset that I almost broke down crying right then and there. Later that night my husband told me that he loves me just the way I am. I think he stole that line from the move Bridget Jones’s Diary. LOL. It worked. I felt a lot better about myself.

After my discussion with my co-worker she turned to me with a smile on her face and said, ‘Trisha, I think you just wrote your book review for WIFE IN THE FAST LANE by KAREN QUINN.’ She was right. What a relief. I wanted to write a review that was intelligent, honest, and something that I was proud of. I think I accomplished that with this review. I want to thank Sarah for listening to me babble for so long. You are a great friend and a great co-worker.

I recommend WIFE IN THE FAST LANE by KAREN QUINN to all women who feel that they are living in the fast lane.

Karen Quinn is also the bestselling author of THE IVY CHRONICLES, which has been optioned as a major motion picture slated to star Catherine Zeta Jones.

Check out Karen Quinn on MySpace, she is one of my top friends, http://www.myspace.com/authorkarenquinn. You can also find out more about the author and her novels on her websites www.karenquinn.net/ and www.wifeinthefastlane.com.

I hope you enjoyed my thirteenth issue of NEWS AND REVIEWS FOR BOOK LOVERS. Please leave comments. I really appreciate everyone’s feedback.


The grass isn’t always greener for those with lots of green

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Close your eyes and envision the scene: The hustle and bustle of a big city, the smell of exhaust fumes permeating the air. The sound of idling cars and honking horns competes with the murmur of thousands of disconnected people talking on cell phones and typing on their laptops. High-rise buildings surround you in this concrete jungle.

And there you are, in your stretch limousine, noshing on delectable gourmet goodies while a nanny-your day-time one-is talking gently to your children, keeping them well-behaved and quiet. You are deep in the middle of the chaos, yet the world that surrounds you is serene.

To some this sounds like paradise, and just another case of the grass is greener on the other side of the hill. I know I’ve had fantasies of having tons of dough and not enough time to spend it. But after the most recent book I read, I’m not sure if I’d ever want that life.

The book, “The Ivy Chronicles,” by Karen Quinn, portrarys Ivy Ames, a hardball, highfalutin’ corporate executive in New York City who brings home more than a millsion dollars a year. But after her world comes toppling down, she is forced to give up life’s luxuries and gind antoerh job to support her two young daugheters. Ivy decides to become a private school kindergarten admissions coach to help the city’s most powerful (read: richest) parents get their Datanic, umm, uh, I mean, angelic children into urban, cutthroat private schools.

Don’t get me wrong. The book itself was hilarious. There are so many times that I laughed out loud that my husband was starting to look at me as if I haoiled from Mars. It just made me see the light, so to speak. It provided a glimpse into that Prada-toting, Gucci-wearing, greed-driven society that I don’t think I’d ever want to be associated with. Parents with too much money and too little time, toting their children around like they were the latest accessory, and just something to complement your for certain event or specific function.

But that’s not what kids are for! They are something to be loved and nurtured, coddled and cuddled. Material things should never replace the attention or love that we as parents are respondible for. Whya have big bucks just to let someone else raise your kids? You’d miss out on so many of life’s little joys-from their first words and their first steps, their first homework assignments, their first attempts at tying shoes and oh, so much more. These are things I’d never give up, no matter how much you could pay me.

Reading this book made me happy to be right where I am-a country girl at heart (OK, for the most part!), raising my kids with good values and without an exorbitant speing account. And as flawed as I may be, I think I’m doing a pretty decent job at it. You know what they say-the grass is always greener in the countryside.

—Jessica Stott, The Citizen Telegram

Wikipedia’s Not the Net Police

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The online encyclopedia says it will verify contributors’ credentials, but the job of monitoring Internet honesty belongs to all of us

by B.L. Ochman

Responding to a recent brouhaha over a contributor’s false diploma, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced that contributors’ professional credentials will be verified from now on. But why? And by whom?

Human beings’ desire to make ourselves seem like more than we are is part of our hard wiring. And I don’t think it’s up to Wikipedia to change it.

Calling oneself a professor with a doctoral degree when one is actually a 24-year-old college dropout is a lie. So is plagiarism. Both lying and stealing have been going on since before there was language. And both will continue. Now user-generated sites like Wikipedia provide new and better tools to make deception easier.

Jimmy Wales, for all his good intentions, can’t stop that. Nor should he try. Here are two plagiarism cases to demonstrate why Wales’ attempt at fact-checking is a losing battle.

Plagiarism Unpunished

In 1985, Emily Dickinson scholar and author Dorothy Oberhaus claims to have had her PhD thesis, “The Religious Voice of Emily Dickinson,” ripped off almost in its entirety by Jane Eberwein, who reworked the text in one sabbatical year and published it as her only book on Dickinson.

When Oberhaus protested to the Emily Dickinson International Society (where Eberwein has been a board member), to the book’s publisher, and to the Modern Language Assn., with exhaustive proof of the plagiarism, she was told to take it up with Eberwein.

Says Oberhaus, “In other words, they were saying to a woman who has been raped, ‘Sorry, dear, talk to your rapist!’” A quarter century later, Oberhaus’ plagiarist continues to claim credit for the true scholar’s work, even when the two appear at the same conferences.

At least Oberhaus knows whom to accuse. These days, it’s hard to know who is stealing from you, or accusing you of stealing intellectual property. Online thieves have more tools at their fingertips, as the second example demonstrates.

Rudner Rip-Off?

The announcement of the prizes in the contest promoting Karen Quinn’s novel Wife in the Fast Lane (Touchstone, 2007)�a contest I produced and promoted via blog advertising�is embroiled in a scandal involving Wikipedia. It proves that people who want to cheat will always find a way.

I’m sure the kerfuffle could provide Quinn with a plot for her next novel. It involves not only Wikipedia and plagiarism but also hoaxes, mockery, bloggers, vote-stuffing, cloaked e-mail addresses, false identities, comedian Rita Rudner, and a lot of housewives.

More than 750 people entered Quinn’s contest with one-liners, essays, and videos describing their lives in the fast lane. The top 10 finalists in each category were selected by a group of volunteer judges. Then the public selected winners from among the finalists and the fun began in earnest.

Quinn was about to announce the winners when an e-mail arrived, accusing the winner of plagiarizing comic Rita Rudner. As proof, it linked to a Wikipedia entry that contained the quote submitted by the contest entrant.

Loser’s Ploy

With just a little amateur sleuthing, it was easy to learn that the quote was added two hours before the finger-pointing e-mail was sent. Nonetheless, just to be sure, Quinn contacted Rudner herself, who confirmed that the contest entry hadn’t been stolen from her material.

And then�poof!�the Wikipedia quote disappeared. Without naming names, it’s clear that it was a not-too-clever plot by someone who’s clearly a loser to wrest the prize from its rightful owner.

The true winner, who says she never heard of Ms. Rudner, swore her entry was original and was aghast at the idea of ripping off another person�s published work: “That’s like breaking one of the Ten Commandments.”

Age of the Fake

Sadly, not everyone who posts to Wikipedia is concerned with the Ten Commandments. Some are concerned with revenge. Some with self-aggrandizement. Some just have nothing better to do.

We live in an age of fake IDs, fake money, fake e-mails, fake URLs, fake IP addresses, and fake votes, where anyone can print or claim anything�or enter it in Wikipedia. But none of these frauds negate the value of Wikipedia. Nor do they mean that Jimmy Wales has to become the Internet’s chief of police, because Wikipedia is working just the way it’s supposed to.

Wikipedia entries are meant to be edited by members of the community. And in the long run, the truth will win out. Because the community, sooner or later, polices itself. And when it doesn’t, it’s the responsibility of those who are wrongly cited to correct the entry and/or out the spoiler.

It’s Up to Us

Like it or not, it’s your responsibility and mine to monitor what’s being said about us online. We each have to make time for reputation management the same way we made time for e-mail, blogging, instant messaging, and the thousand other bits of information that interrupt, overload, educate, enlighten, annoy, captivate, scare, thrill, and delight us.

Wikipedia isn’t the policeman of the Internet, nor could it be. Not even with 10,000 “fact checkers” and all the good intentions in the world.

So that brings it back to each of us. We have to pay attention, settle our own scores, and sadly, not always come out winners. Just like offline.

“Ivy” Author Dishes Dirt on NYC Swells

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Get over Narnia. Here comes “The Ivy Chronicles.”

This chick-lit book is penned by Denver alum Karen Quinn. She’s the daughter of the late Sonny Nedler of Sonny’s on Fillmore Jewelry in Cherry Creek. Mom Shari and brother Michael still run the shop. The book is out in paperback and Karen’s in town riding the wave.

“Ivy” was a sleeper hit when it hit the shelves a year ago. It’s about a NYC woman running a biz called Smart Kids that helps get the little yard monkeys into exclusive kindergartens. Who would have thought it would strike such a chord?

Well, Catherine Zeta-Jones, for one, who immediately bought the rights to play Ivy in a movie, with Jerry Weintraub set to produce. The book went on to became a huge bestseller in England and was picked as a “summer read” for the “Richard and Judy” show, the UK version of “Oprah.” It started to sell like a million little Ivies.

Next up from Quinn, a book titled “Wife in the Fast Lane.” It’s another look at the rich in NYC.

Quinn is back in Denver for a few days for a series of talks. She’ll be speaking at 6:30 tonight at a Fashion Group International gathering at the Denver Press Club. Tix are $30, which includes hors d’oeuvres. Call 720-922-9715.

—Bill Husted, Denver Post

In Baby Boomlet, Preschool Derby Is the Fiercest Yet

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

The fierce competition for private preschool in New York City has been propelled to such a frenzy this year by the increased numbers of children vying for scarce slots that it could be mistaken for a kiddie version of “The Apprentice.”

Take the case of the Rabbani twins, who live on the Upper West Side. Their father, Usman Rabbani, graduated from Yale 10 years ago, has a master’s degree from Harvard and works for a major drug company in Manhattan. Despite his accomplishments, Mr. Rabbani was stumped when he sat down to compose a short essay a couple of months ago.

His assignment? To profile his two toddlers. Of his 18-month-old son Humza he eventually wrote, “He knows that birds like to sit on rooftops when they are not on the ground, that cats and dogs like to be petted, and that the blue racquetballs in the can belong in the racquetball court upstairs.”

About Humza’s twin, Raza, he wrote, “He is happy to point out all his body parts when asked.”

With those words, Mr. Rabbani conquered parental writer’s block and entered this year’s version of the altered universe of private preschool admissions. After years of decline, the number of children under 5 in Manhattan, where the most competitive programs are located, increased by 26 percent between 2000 and 2004, according to census estimates. Yet the number of slots has not kept apace.

“These are the kids who are 2, 3, 4, and 5 years old now, trying to get into preschool and kindergarten,” said Amanda Uhry, the owner of Manhattan Private School Advisors, a consulting firm for parents. “And it’s a nightmare.”

This is the moment of maximum anxiety for parents, many of whom have applied to so-called safety preschools, just hoping their children will be accepted somewhere. And the hot pursuit of slots has continued despite tuition that can run over $10,000 a year for 3-year-olds. Acceptance letters were sent out last Wednesday for private kindergarten programs, to be followed next week by the telltale thick or thin envelopes from the preschools.

“We’re feeling it,” said Ellen Bell, an admissions official at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, an elite private institution. “It’s a real problem for us to deal with the number of applicants and deal with them properly the way we want to, to be fair with every family. These numbers are just becoming overwhelming.”

“I see a greater angst in the parent, and that troubles me, and my heart goes out to them,” she added. “We’re sending out more news that people don’t want to get.”

Part of the problem is that the number of twins and triplets born to women in New York City has increased, according to city Health Department statistics.

In 1995, there were 3,707 twin births in all the boroughs; in 2003, there were 4,153; and in 2004, there were 4,655. Triplet births have also risen, from 60 in 1995, to 299 in 2004. Because preschools strive for gender and age balance in generally small classes — and also, some parents suspect, as many potential parental donors as possible — it is harder to get multiple slots in one class.

“I tell families that they may increase, hopefully double or triple, their options, by telling schools they are willing to separate their children,” said Emily Glickman, whose firm, Abacus Guide Educational Consulting, helps parents win admission to private schools.

“Unfortunately we are in a very cutthroat climate right now, where the schools have the power,” Ms. Glickman added.

New York City has about half the capacity it needs for its youngest students, public and private, said Betty Holcomb, the policy director of Child Care Inc., an agency in Chelsea that provides referral services for early child care.

“Even if you’re rich, you’re not guaranteed a place in a preschool,” Ms. Holcomb said.

So this year, the application essay, which parents might once have dashed off in a few sentences, has become a reason for more hand wringing.

“What do you say about someone who just popped out?” Mr. Rabbani asked. “You’re just getting to know them yourself.”

In a sign of how overwrought the process has become, production is in progress on a pilot for a cable television reality series, “Manhattan Mom,” about the daily travails of a New York woman. A producer said the series would include at least one episode focusing on the mother’s struggles to get her 5-year-old into a top private kindergarten.

But none of the 25 or so private schools the producers called will allow the producers to film any part of the process.

“They don’t want publicity,” said Rachel Tung, one of the producers.

Few schools were interested in talking about the application process to a reporter, either; nearly a dozen did not return calls for comment. But many parents poured out their frustration.

The preschool essays are just part of the problem, they say. Time-consuming interviews, observed play sessions, rising tuition costs and application fees, preferences shown to siblings and families who have connections to the school, and the increasing difficulty of gaining admission for twins and triplets, parents say, are making the process more stressful for the entire family.

“I didn’t get a real sense of competition like this until I was doing my college applications, and even that seemed easier,” said Mr. Rabbani, who went to high school in a small Canadian town near Buffalo.

Lori Malloy, who lives on the Upper West Side, watched friends try to get their children into preschool last year, and she remembered thinking, “I’m not going to get stressed out like the rest of these ladies.” But when Ms. Malloy, a federal prosecutor, applied for her twins, a boy and a girl, she asked her husband to write the application essay.

“I was so nervous,” she said, “and I’m someone who took the LSAT, who’s written for the federal judiciary and in law review.” The family applied to four schools.

“There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t regret that I didn’t apply to three or four more,” Ms. Malloy said.

Consultants are reaping benefit from the competition. Victoria Goldman, a consultant and an author of guides to Manhattan private schools, said, “This year, I’ve gotten more calls for nursery school than kindergarten.”

In writing the essay, parents can turn to the seminars that focus on “idea starters for application essays.” Some good words to use in describing your child? Enthusiastic, creative, inquisitive, sensitive, consultants say.

Ms. Uhry, the consultant, said it was almost impossible to overstate the importance of the essay.

“The first way of separating the wheat from the chaff is to get rid of those essays in which the parents couldn’t be bothered enough to write a decent essay or take this whole process seriously,” she said. “It is your calling card. It is your entree.”

Still, no one can say for sure how much the essay matters. Some consultants think it is more important to have a strong contact or family friend already in the school of choice.

Mr. Rabbani’s advice? “You have to get creative in describing your child.”

Hence, his son Humza, in his essay, is “a soft-hearted jock.” And Humza’s brother Raza is “a thinker and a mischievous lover.”

Perhaps Mr. Rabbani knows what he’s talking about: Humza and Raza got into their parents’ first choice of preschool two weeks ago. They were notified before most other parents because they applied through an early decision program.

—Susan Saulny, New York Times