Category Archives: Humor

Welcome, Christine Elise McCarthy!

We are excited to welcome professional actress, Christine Elisa McCarthy, to the Highlighted Author. You’ve watched her on U4EA, Beverly Hills 90210, ER, and Child’s Play 2  among other shows and films. Today we’re featuring her debut novel Bathing & The Single Girl. It’s hilariously funny. It’s fabulously relatable. It’s totally Christine. Enjoy! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess


Bathing & The Single Girl

BathingandthesinglegirlCoverBathing & The Single Girl is the smutty, mercilessly irreverent and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel by actress Christine Elise McCarthy.  Inspired by her one-woman short film of the same name, it’s the kind of novel Jonathan Ames might write if he’d dropped out of college and had been working as an actress in Hollywood for the last 20 years.

The life of an actress in LA isn’t all glamour, money, and bedding rock stars.  Sometimes it’s more about humiliation, red wine hangovers, and the bad decisions they fuel.  Ruby Fitzgerald has barely worked in years, not that anyone remembers her for anything but her short stint on a long-canceled but iconic TV show.  But that was back when her career prospects seemed on the upswing — longer ago than Ruby cares to admit, and awkward sex with regrettable partners is doing nothing to take the edge off. Everything once functional in her house is going on strike, but the unemployment checks barely cover the mortgage, and a self-respecting girl needs to be able to pay her bar tab — so repairs are on hold.  One more bubble bath and a few more cocktails.  A gal can always get responsible tomorrow.

With everything mounting against her, a cranky and increasingly despairing Ruby will have to find out if her life’s larger indignities are the result of bad luck, or a chronically bad attitude.  What follows is a walking tour of the hilarious depths you can sink to if you stop exercising your best judgment.

Purchase Bathing & the Single Girl now:



Christine – from the screen to the world of publication

Christine Elise McCarthyChristine Elise McCarthy has been acting professionally for 25 years and is recognized primarily for her roles as U4EA-popping bad girl, Emily Valentine, on Beverly Hills, 90210, as Harper Tracy on ER, and as Kyle, the gal who killed Chucky in Child’s Play 2.  She has also appeared in recurring roles on China Beach, In the Heat of the Night, and Tell Me You Love Me.  Among her other film roles are Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers and two films starring Viggo Mortensen: Vanishing Point and Boiling Point.

As a writer, she has written three episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 as well as characters and storylines for the series, a pilot that was optioned by Aaron Spelling, and comical true-life essays that she performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Naked Angels theaters in LA.  She maintains an irreverent food porn blog called for which she provides recipes, photographs and sometimes shares details of the triumphs and, more frequently, the humiliations of her own life. She has a great passion for photography ( and has shown her pin-up and decaying Americana imagery in the United States & Paris.  She has been on the selection committee of Michigan’s Waterfront Film Festival since its inception in 1999, she is co-director of the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival, programs for the Self-Medicated Film Festival and The Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, and consults & judges for many others.  Her directorial debut, Bathing & the Single Girl, was accepted into over 100 film festivals and won 20 awards.

Bathing & the Single Girl, inspired by the short film, is her debut novel.

Here is a link to a recent & comprehensive radio interview about everything Christine is up to –


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“I’m sorry, but is anyone sitting in the seats on either side of you?”

He turned and looked at me with huge blue eyes which were set off by an amazing quiff of nearly white hair. I’m not one that typically goes for towheads but something about his face made my heart pitter pat. He appeared to be in his early thirties. He looked at the seats beside him and turned to me and shook his head.

“Well, would you mind terribly moving over one so that my friend and I can sit here?”

“Fo shizzle,” he replied and scooted over a seat. Eliza and I bellied up to the bar.

“This your first time here?” he inquired.

“What? We look like we don’t belong here?” I snapped back defensively and reflexively removed my granny sweater.

“Whoa, Cuz. I was just making small talk.”

“I’m sorry,” I said as I tucked my sweater beneath me and wondered if I’d really just been addressed as “Cuz.” “It is my birthday and it hasn’t been a very good night so far.”

“Happy birthday! Let me buy you guys a round, Big Willie style.” He smiled a shy smile that was in contrast to his urban verbiage and he touched my shoulder. He called the bartender by his first name (Thaddeus) and I ordered a glass of champagne. Eliza was still pawing her first glass of wine.

“Thanks. That is very sweet of you. So, you must come here a lot, huh? You know the bartender by name and all.”

He nodded as he sipped what looked like a gin and tonic but more likely involved exotic tinctures and artisanal liqueur and probably set him back thirty bucks. I eyed the candied lime astride the rim and wondered if it was made of fruit or Chuckles. You could never tell with hipsters these days, what with their irony and irreverence. Thaddeus placed a glass of champagne before both me and Eliza, made some hat-doffing, semi-bow gesture and moved away.

“Ya dig, my Thaddeotis. Celeb mixologist. I’m all about livin’ nappy, yo. Know what I’m saying?”

I did not. Undeterred, I forged ahead.

“Can I ask why you come here? This place sucks.”

“Co-owner Mos is my OG homie skittle, son,” he explained and touched my cheek.

I tried to put an expression on my face that 1) suggested I understood what he had just said and 2) looked noncommittal enough to suggest that I agreed with him—whether what he’d said had been good or bad and 3) hid the fact that I was secretly swooning every time he touched me. Eliza kicked me under the bar. I grabbed my champagne and took a long swallow, trying to distract my platinum wigga from seeing in my eyes that I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about.

“My name is Ruby. This is my friend Eliza.”

“Word. I’m Bunker.” He smiled again and pierced me with those baby blues. He reached out and removed an invisible bit of lint from my dress. It was all I could do not to press my heaving bosom into his retreating palm.

“Bunker? Really? Bunker? Eliza, did you hear that? Isn’t that unbelievable?”

“Yes. I have been listening and yes, it is unbelievable.”

Her sarcasm was lost on me.

“My dog! I had a dog named Bunker. He just died last month. His name was Edward Bunker.”

I said that to Eliza, as if she didn’t already know.

“Facheezie on the reezie! That is some crazy shiznit, Holmes. My middle name is Edward,” interjected Bunker, and then he touched my champagne glass. I took it to mean I should finish the glass. I drained it and, as I chewed the green-tea infused lychee that had been at the bottom of the flute, I gestured to the bartender that I was ready for another. I was very excited about this Bunker business.

“This is amazing! Are you a fan of Edward Bunker?” I asked him and, without even waiting for his response, I turned back to Eliza. “Can you believe this, Eliza? Isn’t this crazy?”

“Craaazy shiznit, fo sho,” Eliza quipped. I heard her mocking tone that time. I mean—she never said shiznit at home. I threw her a little warning stink-eye. A fresh glass of champagne was before me. Bunker touched it twice and then touched my cheek again. He looked directly into my eyes when he touched me. I blushed and grabbed my drink. My head was swimming with wine and champagne and the crazy odds that I would meet a cute guy that shared a name with my recently deceased dog. And on my birthday. It had to be sign. I looked at Eliza and I could tell she saw the hearts bursting above my head. I fixed her with the “Wow, can you believe my luck?” look.

“I’m gonna go to the ladies’ room. Ruby, will you come with me?”

“Go ahead, Shorty. I’ll watch your drinks.” He touched my shoulder again.

I giggled a thank you, took a huge slug of champagne. Standing up, I suddenly felt the impact of the five plus drinks I had had in probably just over an hour. Hoping Bunker was watching us, I tried very deliberately to suck in my gut and be sure I did not stumble in my heels. I could hardly wait to get into the privacy of the bathroom and discuss these exciting new developments.

“Oh my God! I LOVE him! And his name is Bunker! How perfect is that? Isn’t this crazy?”

“Word, Dawg,” she said and flashed me a gang sign.

“I know, but, I don’t know. Maybe he is trying to talk black to… compensate for… being practically an albino…” I said, stumbling into an end to a sentence I had begun with no formed conclusion. “AndheissocuteandhekeepstouchingmeandhisnameisBunker!” I thrilled.

“I don’t know who is more retarded, you right now or Yo MTV Raps out there.” Eliza was laughing.

“You don’t think he is cute?”

“I guess he’s okay. You know who he is, right?”

“No. Who is he?”

“He is an actor. He was in that movie about the kangaroo that became President.”

“THAT’S Jerry O’Connell?”

“No, the other kangaroo movie. The impossibly dumber one…”

“Dumber than? …oooh…” I exhaled my realization, deflated by this new information. “But still. Tonight sucks. My life sucks. My career is on life support, I’m hopelessly broke and I haven’t kissed a boy in five years.” I let that soak in for both of us before I continued. “Fuck it, Eliza. He is very cute and every time he touches me I think I am going to faint.”

“I saw him on Oprah a long time ago. He has Tourette’s syndrome,” she said gingerly, as if it had great meaning. I stared blankly back at her. I was pretty buzzed. Then it dawned on me.

“Oh! You think that’s why he hangs out here?”


“You know. Shouting out ‘FUCK’ and fucking… blurting out racial slurs… might not seem so offensive in a restaurant with ‘Nga’ in the name and bizarre, culturally insensitive art on the walls… right? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s like a racist free for all in here.”

“No. No. Some Tourette’s manifest as ticks—like OCD. Like—counting stairs and washing hands and… you know… touching things. He has no ability to control the urge to touch stuff. That is why he keeps tapping you and your drink and everything else.”

“Oh.” This was even more disappointing news to digest. I was determined to have a good birthday now, though.

“Well, his name is Bunker.”

“This is true,” Eliza charitably conceded.

“Five years, Eliza. I’m squandering my sexual prime! Tonight. Tonight, I’ve found a new sense of purpose. You know what comes after middle age, Eliza? Old age. Old age, Eliza. I need to find some fucker out there to step to the plate and blow the dust off my cooter and breathe some Goddamn life back into it. If you go too long without using it—it just puckers up, you know? Eliza. Yes. Like a prune. And nobody likes shriveled snatch flaps, Eliza. Nobody,” I said in my gravest tone.

“I think you are mixing some very unappetizing vagina metaphors there but thanks for the visual all the same.”

“I’m serious. I heard an unused twat gets all dried out and powdery like the elastic in your sports bra—you now—the one you find years later at the back of the drawer,” I said while pretending I was stretching the band of a crumbling athletic top. “I don’t want an ashy bajina!”

“My dry spell has been at least as long as yours but… this guy… really?”

Eliza was laughing but still not giving me the green light I was angling for.

“He really has Tourette’s and isn’t just, you know, unable to keep his hands off me because I’m wicked fabulous?”


“Well, would that explain why he talks like the D.O. Double G?”


“Eh—fuck it. I like him and I hate everyone. I’m going to go back out there to New Jack City and I’m going to flirt my ass off. It doesn’t mean I have to marry him. Right?”

“Heck to the yeah, Cherry Coke! Stop trippin’.”

“I had no idea you were so street, beatch.”

“Let’s get out there and get some of that dope mac-n-cheese, home slice,” she answered, dryly.

“Okay, Cockblockie. I get it. Shut up.”

We returned to the bar to find a new round of drinks next to our old ones. Bunker’s seat was now the perch for a scantily clad, Britney Spears look-a-like hooker slut. I looked at the two glasses in front of me and waited for the champagne to explain this new development.

“Bunker had to go but he bought you guys another round before he left,” Thaddeus said and stepped away quickly as if to avoid further questions. I got the distinct impression that he was embarrassed for us. For me, actually, because I am the center of the universe, a hundred years old, poverty stricken, fat and unfuckable. I looked at Eliza, trying to mask my humiliation.

“He probably just heard there was a blue light special on dookie ropes on Hollywood Boulevard or something,” Eliza said.

~ ~ ~


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Welcome Bill Peschel

oin me in welcoming Bill Peschel to Highlighted Author.

Hello. I’m Bill Peschel, and I’m a writer.

That makes up most of me. Pretty simple, and, I guess, shallow. The great writers do things that inform their works or make them noticed.

* Ernest Hemingway was an outdoorsman, but while I can appreciate nature, I prefer to do it from the balcony of a very nice hotel, preferably with a beer.

* Virginia Woolf wrote bitchy things in her diary and killed herself. I write bitchy things in Writers Gone Wild, but leaven it with humanity and good humor. I’m also still alive, so that’s a strike against me.

* Edgar Allan Poe got into feuds with other writers, acted out in public and also died well. I’m one of those “nice guys” who tries not to get into trouble. Public speaking gigs are a trial, complete with sweaty palms and spiking blood pressure. Fortunately, audiences see high energy and passion.

Which is kinda why I wrote Writers Gone Wild. I wanted to be a published writer ever since I was a teenager. I wrote short stories in high school for credit. I wrote role-playing game materials, book reviews, stories and novels. But what really caught my passion was collecting these stories about famous writers to learn how they did it, how they blew it, and how much fun they had along the way.

In the meantime, I worked in journalism as a reporter, editor and book reviewer in the Carolinas and Pennsylvania, developed computer games (back when you had IBM, Apple, Commodore and Atari duking it out), delivered bread, renovated houses and married and raised a family.

Along the way, I discovered that cynicism and optimism are two sides of the same coin ─ extreme cases in both lead to cynicism ─ and that the world is made of stories. Facts are important, but we remember the stories and we feel anxious because we’re so separated from each other ─ in actual distances, in the lack of time we spend together, and in the many worlds we visit throughout the day ─ that we don’t share the same stories. We’re isolated.

Culture is built around the stories we tell each other. You can be a Greek if you know your Homer, English if you can recite Shakespeare, American by appreciating Mark Twain.

The Internet may be made of cats, but we’re made of stories. And, I find, so am I.

And some hot air, too.

Writers Gone Wild



Virginia Woolf Punks the Royal Navy (1910)

It was a cool February day when Virginia Stephens, then 18 and two years before becoming Mrs. Leonard Woolf, dressed up for a special outing: caftan, turban, false beard and a healthy dollop of blackface. At the top of her to-do list that day: portray a royal Abyssinian and prank the flagship of the Royal Navy, the H.M.S. Dreadnought.

Inveterate prankster Horace Cole had organized the stunt. He recruited a few friends, including future Bloomsbury painter Duncan Grant and Virginia’s brother, Adrian, but when several people dropped out, Adrian talked Virginia into portraying the emperor’s crown prince. With the help of theatrical costumes and beards, there would be four “Abyssinians” in all, plus Adrian playing an interpreter and Cole an official from the Foreign Office.

They sent a telegram to the ship, signed with the name of an Admiralty official, and talked the railroad into setting aside a special VIP coach for the trip to Weymouth. At the port, they were met by a ship’s officer who escorted them by boat to the Dreadnought. As they neared the ship, the sailors stood at attention along the side of the ship and the band performing the national anthem. True, it was of Zanzibar, but lacking an Abyssinian flag and music, the British Navy made do.

For 40 minutes, the party of six were given a grand tour of the battleship. They talked among themselves in a mix of Swahili and Latin tags from Virgil and Horace, and at every new British marvel, called out “Bunga bunga!” Everyone agreed that it was a successful diplomatic mission.

Then news of the hoax hit the newspapers and torpedoed the navy’s pride. A high navy official had to explain to Parliament how it happened. Children taunted sailors in the street with cries of “bunga bunga,” as was the real, and no doubt puzzled, Emperor of Abyssinia when he visited England weeks later. Reporters sought out Virginia for an interview and described her as “very good looking, with classical features.”

Eventually, the uproar died down, apologies were accepted all around, and the navy’s honor was restored when Cole and Grant were “punished” with ceremonial canings on their buttocks. Virginia was not only enormously amused at successfully passing as a man, but learned something about masculine notions of honor that she would use in her fiction.

To promote Writers Gone Wild, I made this video of me narrating the “Norman the Knife” story from the book. My office cat, Ivan, decided to make a cameo appearance, so this is the result:


Visit Bill at his Planetpeschel website.

And get your copy of Writers Gone Wild Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndyBond .