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From the Emmy-winning creator and writer of All My Children and One Life to Live, a memoir of her trailblazing rise to the top of the television industry, including behind-the-scenes stories from some of the most beloved soaps of all time. Before there was Erica Kane, Adam Chandler, or Victoria Lord, there was Agnes Nixon, a young girl who dreamed up stories for paper doll From the Emmy-winning creator and writer of All My Children and One Life to Live, a memoir of her trailblazing rise to the top of the television industry, including behind-the-scenes stories from some of the most beloved soaps of all time. Before there was Erica Kane, Adam Chandler, or Victoria Lord, there was Agnes Nixon, a young girl who dreamed up stories for paper dolls. Those tales she imagined--ones filled with ambitions, rivalries, and romances--would soon parallel her own path to success. In a memoir filled with as much drama as the soaps she penned, Nixon shares her journey from Nashville to New York City, as she overcomes the loss of her fiance in World War II, a father intent on crushing her writing dreams, and the jealousy of her male colleagues on her way to becoming one of the most successful names in television. While fans will delight in Nixon's own incredible life, they will also love her behind-the-scenes insight into her most popular shows. Inside, she shares the inspiration for Erica Kane and how she cast Susan Lucci in the role; an excerpt from the never-before-seen All My Children story bible; entertaining anecdotes about her shows' beloved casts and special guests, including Carol Burnett, Kelly Ripa, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffett; and more. But My Life to Live is also a portrait of a pioneer. Driven to use her ratings power for good, Nixon fought and broke network taboos by wrestling with controversial social issues ranging from women's health, interracial relationships, and the Vietnam War to drug addiction, LGBT rights, and AIDS. By infusing her characters with sensitivity, humor, and humanity, she enabled millions to examine an opposite point of view. And long before Shonda Rhimes launched a golden age of female showrunners, Agnes Nixon positioned ABC to become the media giant it is today. She is a true television legend, and her candid and inspiring glimpse behind the curtain of the television industry will charm soap fans and story lovers alike.


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From the Emmy-winning creator and writer of All My Children and One Life to Live, a memoir of her trailblazing rise to the top of the television industry, including behind-the-scenes stories from some of the most beloved soaps of all time. Before there was Erica Kane, Adam Chandler, or Victoria Lord, there was Agnes Nixon, a young girl who dreamed up stories for paper doll From the Emmy-winning creator and writer of All My Children and One Life to Live, a memoir of her trailblazing rise to the top of the television industry, including behind-the-scenes stories from some of the most beloved soaps of all time. Before there was Erica Kane, Adam Chandler, or Victoria Lord, there was Agnes Nixon, a young girl who dreamed up stories for paper dolls. Those tales she imagined--ones filled with ambitions, rivalries, and romances--would soon parallel her own path to success. In a memoir filled with as much drama as the soaps she penned, Nixon shares her journey from Nashville to New York City, as she overcomes the loss of her fiance in World War II, a father intent on crushing her writing dreams, and the jealousy of her male colleagues on her way to becoming one of the most successful names in television. While fans will delight in Nixon's own incredible life, they will also love her behind-the-scenes insight into her most popular shows. Inside, she shares the inspiration for Erica Kane and how she cast Susan Lucci in the role; an excerpt from the never-before-seen All My Children story bible; entertaining anecdotes about her shows' beloved casts and special guests, including Carol Burnett, Kelly Ripa, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffett; and more. But My Life to Live is also a portrait of a pioneer. Driven to use her ratings power for good, Nixon fought and broke network taboos by wrestling with controversial social issues ranging from women's health, interracial relationships, and the Vietnam War to drug addiction, LGBT rights, and AIDS. By infusing her characters with sensitivity, humor, and humanity, she enabled millions to examine an opposite point of view. And long before Shonda Rhimes launched a golden age of female showrunners, Agnes Nixon positioned ABC to become the media giant it is today. She is a true television legend, and her candid and inspiring glimpse behind the curtain of the television industry will charm soap fans and story lovers alike.

30 review for My Life to Live: How I Became the Queen of Soaps When Men Ruled the Airwaves

  1. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    This is a well-written memoir by a woman who spent a great deal of her life writing storylines and dialogue for soap operas. While Agnes Nixon had some challenges in her life, such as a difficult father, her own life was no soap opera. Her one marriage was a terrific one, and she successfully combined working with raising a family. She admitted, though, she spent as much, if not more, time thinking about her fictional characters as she did her husband and kids. There is no dirt dishing in this m This is a well-written memoir by a woman who spent a great deal of her life writing storylines and dialogue for soap operas. While Agnes Nixon had some challenges in her life, such as a difficult father, her own life was no soap opera. Her one marriage was a terrific one, and she successfully combined working with raising a family. She admitted, though, she spent as much, if not more, time thinking about her fictional characters as she did her husband and kids. There is no dirt dishing in this memoir, and much talk in the latter part about the storylines of her soaps, plus some talk about the actors on the shows. Not being a watcher of soaps, I skimmed at times the episode descriptions, but found it interesting the way Mrs. Nixon worked medical and social issues into many episodes; in an effort to educate viewers, as well as to hopefully create empathy for those who often did not get empathy from the average soap watcher. This is indeed a good read for both soap fans and those who like to read about women writers, particularly pioneering ones. (Note: I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Agnes Nixon's "My Life to Live" unfolds a lot like one of the soap operas she famously developed, moving from her often difficult girlhood in Nashville, a heartbreaking wartime love affair, success in Chicago at Northwestern and writing for Guiding Light, finding success in influential circles in New York, and, finally, making it big as a producer of All My Children, One Life to Live, and Loving. Nixon devotes the first half of the book to her youth, focusing particularly on her difficult relati Agnes Nixon's "My Life to Live" unfolds a lot like one of the soap operas she famously developed, moving from her often difficult girlhood in Nashville, a heartbreaking wartime love affair, success in Chicago at Northwestern and writing for Guiding Light, finding success in influential circles in New York, and, finally, making it big as a producer of All My Children, One Life to Live, and Loving. Nixon devotes the first half of the book to her youth, focusing particularly on her difficult relationship with her volatile father, Harry. Although she grew up in Nashville with her divorced mother Agnes' extended family, Harry's influence shapes many of the events in her young life, from starting college at St. Mary's in Indiana to her transfer to Northwestern. In fact, until her marriage to Bob Nixon in 1951, Harry's acceptance, rejection, and manipulation seem to be the major themes in her life -- ones that she acknowledges appear throughout her soap operas. Nixon presents her professional life as an almost effortless ride from success to success. After connecting with famed soap-opera creator Irna Phillips in Chicago, Nixon started writing for Guiding Light right after college graduation. After a few years, she decided to try her luck in New York, where she wrote for early television soaps, including As the World Turns, Search for Tomorrow, and Another World. After more than a decade writing for daytime, Nixon had the clout to pitch her own shows. Although she attempted to launch All My Children first, network politics propelled One Life to Live on the air in 1968, with AMC following in 1970. Nixon was determined to make daytime plot lines more relevant, so she worked medical, social, and political issues into her stories, adding characters of different races, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations. The book makes clear that AMC was Nixon's obvious favorite among her projects. She devotes several chapters of the book to the development of the show, her hopes for its themes, and her love for the actors, especially Susan Lucci and Kelly Ripa. By contrast, she says little about One Life to Live, apart her interest in endowing lead character Viki Lord with multiple personality disorder. Strangely, though, she never once refers to actress Erika Slezak, who captured six Emmys during her 42-year run playing the role. Co-star Robin Strasser gets similar treatment, with only a passing reference as a player on Another World. Although Nixon goes into detail about her advocacy of actress Ellen Holly as one of the first African-American soap-opera characters, no one else on OLTL merits a mention. In fact, even in the book's final chapters, where she discusses AMC and OLTL being canceled on the same day, she talks only about how sad she was for the AMC cast. It seems a strange slight for the longest-running show under Nixon's auspices. But One Life fans should feel lucky she discusses the show at all -- she fails to mention Loving completely. Not a single word about it, not even the title. Many people would consider a show that ran 14 years to be a success worth noting. Not Nixon, apparently. As a reader, one has to wonder what else -- and who else -- Agnes Nixon omitted from her memoir. Was she settling scores? Getting a last word in on various people? Or, did she just run out of steam and leave things dangling? Without more insider knowledge, we'll never know. And, that's really how I came away feeling about the entire book. Although Nixon writes well, as her story progressed, I got the feeling that the things she didn't talk about were probably much more interesting than the things she covered. It's an easy, pleasant read, but not a great memoir.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    Before there was Erica Kane, Adam Chandler, or Victoria Lord, there was Agnes Nixon, a young girl who dreamed up stories for paper dolls. Those tales she imagined--ones filled with ambitions, rivalries, and romances--would soon parallel her own path to success. In a memoir filled with as much drama as the soaps she penned, Nixon shares her journey from Nashville to New York City, as she overcomes the loss of her fiancé in World War II, a father intent on crushing her writing dreams, and the jeal Before there was Erica Kane, Adam Chandler, or Victoria Lord, there was Agnes Nixon, a young girl who dreamed up stories for paper dolls. Those tales she imagined--ones filled with ambitions, rivalries, and romances--would soon parallel her own path to success. In a memoir filled with as much drama as the soaps she penned, Nixon shares her journey from Nashville to New York City, as she overcomes the loss of her fiancé in World War II, a father intent on crushing her writing dreams, and the jealousy of her male colleagues on her way to becoming one of the most successful names in television. While fans will delight in Nixon’s own incredible life, they will also love her behind-the-scenes insight into her most popular shows. Inside, she shares the inspiration for Erica Kane and how she cast Susan Lucci in the role; an excerpt from the never-before-seen All My Children story bible; entertaining anecdotes about her shows’ beloved casts and special guests, including Carol Burnett, Kelly Ripa, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffett; and more. But My Life to Live is also a portrait of a pioneer. Driven to use her ratings power for good, Nixon fought and broke network taboos by wrestling with controversial social issues ranging from women’s health, interracial relationships, and the Vietnam War to drug addiction, LGBT rights, and AIDS. By infusing her characters with sensitivity, humor, and humanity, she enabled millions to examine an opposite point of view. And long before Shonda Rhimes launched a golden age of female showrunners, Agnes Nixon positioned ABC to become the media giant it is today. She is a true television legend, and her candid and inspiring glimpse behind the curtain of the television industry will charm soap fans and story lovers alike. My Thoughts: I became a fan of “soap operas” in the 1960s when I first had some time at home in the daytime. Guiding Light was one of my favorites, and Agnes Nixon was a writer on that soap for a while. One Life to Live, another of her creations, was one I first saw in the 1970s, and then again just before the show went off the air. By the time it was canceled, I was hooked. And happy to hear that it would go online, along with All My Children, which I had just started watching. But that happy dream did not last long. She has, rightly, been touted as the Queen of Soaps, and reading how she came to write for soaps in a world dominated by men was definitely engaging. Her own life could have been a soap drama, with losses and conflicts, not to mention seeing racism up close and personal in her hometown. Using what she knew and what she had lived in her stories, and bringing social relevance to daytime, would be her trademark. It was how she captured the love of the fans. A memoir that drew me in from the first pages, My Life to Live earned 5 stars from me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    R J Mckay

    I received a copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review. Reading someone’s memoir is sort of like having a front row seat into a person’s life. You see firsthand who and what influenced their decisions and you discover those pivotal moments that alter the course of their lives. Sometimes it is something simple that takes an ordinary live and turns it into an extraordinary one. From a little girl who played with paper dolls and made up stories of their lives, Agnes Nixon became the I received a copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review. Reading someone’s memoir is sort of like having a front row seat into a person’s life. You see firsthand who and what influenced their decisions and you discover those pivotal moments that alter the course of their lives. Sometimes it is something simple that takes an ordinary live and turns it into an extraordinary one. From a little girl who played with paper dolls and made up stories of their lives, Agnes Nixon became the ‘First Woman’ of the Day Time Soaps. From plotting the lives of tv legands such as Susan Lucci, the indomitable Erica Kane, to finding a way to champion social justice, Nixon touched so many lives. She was a ground breaker, a reformer, a woman ahead of her time. ‘My Life to Live’ spotlighted the pioneer spirit of one woman who broke the glass ceiling when she was awarded the prestigious Trustees Award.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura Harrison

    Fascinating and enjoyable read of a true television pioneer. If you ever watched a soap you will appreciate My Life to Live. Bonus that the forward is written by the one and only, iconic Carol Burnett. I am still mourning the demise of All My Children and One Life to Live. How could ABC cancel those brilliant long running shows??? Highly recommend My Life to Live.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    The life of Agnes Nixon, with a focus on her youth and the creation of All My Children and One Life to Live. She was such a talented writer, I was just endlessly fascinated by her story. She focused a lot on her tenuous, toxic relationship with her father (a definite inspiration for AMC's Palmer Cortlandt) and her first fiancee, Hank, who died in WW2. Just after that, she was hired by Irna Phillips to do the dialogue for Guiding Light serials--it was so cool hearing how the stories were created, The life of Agnes Nixon, with a focus on her youth and the creation of All My Children and One Life to Live. She was such a talented writer, I was just endlessly fascinated by her story. She focused a lot on her tenuous, toxic relationship with her father (a definite inspiration for AMC's Palmer Cortlandt) and her first fiancee, Hank, who died in WW2. Just after that, she was hired by Irna Phillips to do the dialogue for Guiding Light serials--it was so cool hearing how the stories were created, and how that differed (or not) from later decades. It was super character driven, talking about how to include certain characteristics in scenes, etc. Also interesting that she had AMC created many years before OLTL, and it was actually accepted and then turned down by CBS a decade before it finally aired on ABC (years after OLTL launched). And that Viki/Niki was created to be part of her trademark comedy scenes! I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into the story bible, laying out all the backstories of the characters and then going into what was happening when the show opened. I also loved how committed she was, always, to telling progressive stories. She related how hard it was to cast Carla, a light skinned African American woman, and how the casting directors wanted to just hire a Latina or Italian woman and move on. It was days before the show launched, but she maintained that if they couldn't cast a woman of the right ethnicity, they would just hold off on the story entirely until they found her. It was also fascinating to read about Erica Kane as a high schooler, which is how the show began. I can't fathom her or Susan Lucci that young! And yet. Seeing her backstory laid out, and how they decided she would behave based on how she perceived everyone because of it was just a treat. It made a lot of what I remember from the 90s make sense. It's interesting how the families featured shifted over the years. I never knew Tara Martin, a key player in the 60s and Erica's teen rival, at all, and was surprised to read that Kelsey, a character I remember very well, was her daughter. I also remember Michael on AMC, and I had had no idea that the guy who played him was homophobic until he started digging into the character. There was a lot in the book about how she wanted people to confront their prejudices and ideologies through these stories, and the many reactions and stories they heard. I really miss her style of telling stories. I watch GH regularly, and I just can't fathom that they set up their stories in the same way. We haven't had a progressive storyline in, like, decades. She also laid out how they wrote the character of Hayley Vaughan, working hard to figure out what outward characteristics to give to someone with a lot of anxiety and emotional issues relating to her mother, and the emotionally abusive relationship her mother forced on her. Seeing it all broken down brought those scenes to my memory, and I can see how they made it work so beautifully. Compare that to the chapters about the end of the shows, the meddling of the network, and how actors were told that their motivation was to read the lines given to them--no nuance, no characteristics anchoring their actions. Boo. As for her life, her husband Bob was a great guy--a true partner, someone who was proud of her talent and supported her the whole time, from the 50s until his death in the 90s. The book ended with the radio script she wrote back in the 40s as a final for a class, which is what propelled her into writing, first for Guiding Light and then also with Freedom of Opportunity biographical radio programs, with Studs Terkel and Nelson Shaun. The script is definitely a product of its time, it rings with 1940s style and sentiment, but it was so beautiful, with an amazing amount of emotion packed into seemingly simple words. She was an incredible talent.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mediaman

    What I had hoped would be a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the life of a major television writer/producer ended up being a dull story filled with self-praise but low on drama or content. This is the way Nixon wants to be remembered: as a young women that all the men were after, as the daughter of a horrible father that she came to forgive, as an amazing mother who was able to balance producing two TV soap operas at the same time while raising a bunch of kids, as the wife in a perfect marr What I had hoped would be a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the life of a major television writer/producer ended up being a dull story filled with self-praise but low on drama or content. This is the way Nixon wants to be remembered: as a young women that all the men were after, as the daughter of a horrible father that she came to forgive, as an amazing mother who was able to balance producing two TV soap operas at the same time while raising a bunch of kids, as the wife in a perfect marriage, and as an award-winning TV icon that knew all sorts of other rich and famous people (she focuses on her awards a lot). The problem is none of that is very interesting the way she tells it. Even the way she writes the story about her father is so black-and-white it's hard to believe the man existed beyond her soap opera caricature imagination. She barely mentions her mother. She says almost nothing about her kids. She has an odd obsession with her first love from Davenport Iowa, who died in the war before they could be married. And she claims that a woman that works 12 to 14 hours a day can have it all--but then reveals that she barely saw her kids while her husband and others took care of them. Her real loves were her characters that she created on paper, and she devotes a bit of space to them as well as the actors. But everyone is said to be great and all of her creations are claimed to be amazing successes. It's all a bit too perfect and packaged that puts her in the best possible light as she finished the book just days before her death. She says very little about Irna Phillips, the soap opera icon who basically made Nixon's career. She doesn't go into detail regarding how Nixon was given credit when most of the show's work went to other writers, producers, and actors. The most surprising thing was that she barely went to New York and rarely saw the show being taped--she spent most of her time at home with the door shut writing and editing scripts, then watched it on the screen with the rest of us when it aired. If only she could have written this book with the same creativity and drama that she wrote her shows it would be worth reading. As is I can't really recommend it unless you don't mind a very distorted fairy-tale like view of a life that really had few interesting moments. Namely, if her life story would have been made into a TV show it would have been cancelled quickly.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I grew up watching One Life to Live and All My Children, but I didn't know anything about the creator of these two long-running soap operas. Therefore, this was quite an interesting book for me to read. I loved hearing about Mrs. Nixon's childhood and how she came to be interested in writing and creating characters. It was also nice to read about a woman who was able to make both her family and her career a priority. It obviously helped that she had a loving and supporting husband. And while it I grew up watching One Life to Live and All My Children, but I didn't know anything about the creator of these two long-running soap operas. Therefore, this was quite an interesting book for me to read. I loved hearing about Mrs. Nixon's childhood and how she came to be interested in writing and creating characters. It was also nice to read about a woman who was able to make both her family and her career a priority. It obviously helped that she had a loving and supporting husband. And while it did seem that her younger life with a father who appeared bent on controlling her and her future was tough, it no doubt led to her determination to chart her own path. Although it was mentioned that she found writing a book more challenging than writing for television, I don't think many readers would ever guess this was the case. In fact, I thought more than once as I read this book; if Mrs. Nixon hadn't been writing soap operas she no doubt would have been writing best-selling novels. She clearly had a talent for keeping the reader hooked, not only on television but also in her autobiography. I was saddened when I got to the end of the book and found out that before finishing it she suffered a debilitating stroke. But I was not surprised that she had the help of her family that allowed her to complete the work. I enjoyed getting the chance to read such an interesting book about an amazingly talented woman. Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review. More reviews at: www.susannesbooklist.blogspot.com

  9. 4 out of 5

    BJ

    Back in the day, I was obsessed with the ABC 1-hour soaps, All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital. This is the memoir of the creator and writer of 2 of those soaps, All My Children and One Life to Live, Agnes Nixon. She wrote her stories for 40+ years and had legions of fans around the world and many great guest stars like Oprah Winfrey, Carol Burnett, Rosie O'Donnell and Warren Buffet. As well, she worked with many great actors every day like Susan Lucci, Ruth Warrick, David Ca Back in the day, I was obsessed with the ABC 1-hour soaps, All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital. This is the memoir of the creator and writer of 2 of those soaps, All My Children and One Life to Live, Agnes Nixon. She wrote her stories for 40+ years and had legions of fans around the world and many great guest stars like Oprah Winfrey, Carol Burnett, Rosie O'Donnell and Warren Buffet. As well, she worked with many great actors every day like Susan Lucci, Ruth Warrick, David Canary, Mark Consuelos, Kelly Ripa, Kim Delaney, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Josh Duhamel, Richard Hatch, Michael E. Knight and Jimmy Mitchell. This is her story, how her dream got started and how she made it happened and what happened in her personal life along the way. Short, engrossing, enjoyable read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    I enjoyed reading Agnes Nixon's memoir. As a long time fan of One life to Live and occasional watcher of All My Children, it was interesting to read her personal history and how much of it shaped her story telling, where she found her story ideas, and how she turned them into soap operas. I would have liked to hear more backstage stories and more about how real life events affected the soaps. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Goodreads.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Got this as a gift for my birthday! I loved watching All My Children and this is a great background on the lady who made the Soap a reality. Good read!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Being a huge AMC fan I was so excited to find this book. At college I would schedule my classes, whenever possible, to be sure to be in the dorm at 1 PM to watch All My Children. And Erica Kane...oh, she was great! Years ago I got to meet her in Philadelphia and kept an autographed photo of her in my office at school. I would just crack up when students would ask..."is that you" as in "what happened??" Reading the life of Agnes Nixon I can see how she took hardship, tragedy, family drama, and cr Being a huge AMC fan I was so excited to find this book. At college I would schedule my classes, whenever possible, to be sure to be in the dorm at 1 PM to watch All My Children. And Erica Kane...oh, she was great! Years ago I got to meet her in Philadelphia and kept an autographed photo of her in my office at school. I would just crack up when students would ask..."is that you" as in "what happened??" Reading the life of Agnes Nixon I can see how she took hardship, tragedy, family drama, and creativity and made a life she loved. In later years I became a One Life to Live fan, too. I enjoyed reading the background on Agnes Nixon and all her shows. What a great life she had...what a gift. Along with many others I find myself at 1 PM some days seeing a different show airing and say to myself ( no offense to the other shows) " I can't believe THIS is still on and there is no more All My Children. From telling Susan Lucci that I loved her Erica Kane because she was short and glamorous and not many people can do both, to seeing Kendall in the ladies room at a Broadway show, and seeing James Mitchell on the street in NYC...AMC has always intrigued me. I totally enjoyed this book....if you ever watched AMC you will want to read it, too!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cdubbub

    I really, really enjoyed this book. Even if you're not a soap fan (which I am!), there's so much to enjoy here. Wartime love story, cold & disapproving father, woman trying to make it in a man's world. It's a captivating read & the inside scoop on what it takes to create not one, but two daytime dramas. Enjoyable all the way around! I really, really enjoyed this book. Even if you're not a soap fan (which I am!), there's so much to enjoy here. Wartime love story, cold & disapproving father, woman trying to make it in a man's world. It's a captivating read & the inside scoop on what it takes to create not one, but two daytime dramas. Enjoyable all the way around!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nola

    This was a quick read as Agnes Nixon had such an interesting life that I did not want to put the book down. She told her life story perfectly. The daytime world lost a true gem when she passed away a few weeks ago, just two days before this book was to be released.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Martha Jackson

    This is a fascinating read. Nixon is an amazing lady and writer. The fact that she persevered and succeeded despite the cruel bullying of her father is a testament to her greatness.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    The woman behind 2 of my all-time favorite shows ! This was a great look into her life and the process of her creating them. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Might read it again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Draper

    Gives an inside look in to the the life of Agnes and her famous soaps.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I won this book on Goodreads. It is a very interesting autobiography of Agnes Nixon's life, from her hard childhood, to writing for the shows One Life to Live and All my children. She talks about how she tried to make problems of real life and interlace them in the shows to bring attention to them. How both shows were cancelled the same day and how she fought back after having a stroke.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jena

    Most everyone I know grew up watching soap operas. At least, they watched them in the way we watch what our mothers, and aunts, and grandmothers watched. Reluctantly since if we didn't, we wouldn't watch anything at all. So, willingly or unwillingly, we all knew the plots. My mother watched All My Children religiously. She taped them every day and watched them either that night or over the weekend while my dad escaped to do dad things. There were others, but Erica Kane and Pine Valley were practi Most everyone I know grew up watching soap operas. At least, they watched them in the way we watch what our mothers, and aunts, and grandmothers watched. Reluctantly since if we didn't, we wouldn't watch anything at all. So, willingly or unwillingly, we all knew the plots. My mother watched All My Children religiously. She taped them every day and watched them either that night or over the weekend while my dad escaped to do dad things. There were others, but Erica Kane and Pine Valley were practically family in our house. When I saw that the creator of the show had written a memoir, I was curious to read it. Agnes Nixon led an incredible life. It wasn't just that she was a woman writer in a time when that was practically unheard of. It wasn't even that she created two successful shows that ran for four decades. Those are amazing accomplishments to be sure, but she achieved these milestones in spite of facing multiple obstacles and set backs. One of the most interesting parts of this book was reading about her initial writing process. She includes one of the scripts she wrote for radio that launched her career. I've never given much thought to how writers had to evolve their writing to meet the new demands of television before. Things like timing in plot, dialogue and even having to consider visual effects were considerable changes. It was fascinating to read how she learned from each change and had to work to adapt her writing to meet these new demands. Having grown up with these shows, I honestly had never given much thought to them. I had never considered how provocative, or how socially aware and cutting edge they actually were. They seemed silly and outlandish. People got married and divorced. They lied, cheated and stole. They faked deaths and kidnapped their rivals. They encountered bizarre medical conditions. They were outrageous and dramatic. That's what I remember. What I didn't remember, partly because some happened before my time, were the plot lines bringing attention to racial tension, the war in Vietnam, abortion, drug addiction, child and domestic abuse, and so much more. They were one of the first shows to have an actor play a gay man coming out. And to his High School class no less. They put banners at the end of episodes directing their audience to resources based on the subject matter, and were very successful in increasing programs and awareness by doing this. They increased awareness for drug addition, AIDS, Diabetes, and more. Nixon and several actors playing the roles have won awards, or been given recognition for their work in these areas. Social impact went hand in hand with these daily episodes. Nixon talks quite a bit about how she watched things happen in her childhood, and throughout her life, social issues that made her feel helpless. She wanted to bring these subjects to light. She wanted to give people a chance to change their opinions or learn something new. This was her motivation. And she was constantly listening and learning to stay relevant to the times. That sort of determination shows exactly what type of woman Agnes Nixon was. It is true that she had an incredibly supportive mother and an aunt who pushed her to reach for the stars. She married a man who was ahead of his time in his unwavering support of her career. But she faced the constant criticism of her father and numerous obstacles from men in the industry. Yet, she still pushed forward and carried on, going back to her belief in herself and her willingness to work hard. One of the best summations of writing I've read is when she said, "the biggest element of successful writing is the ability to get the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair." Make yourself write. Do the work. Simple but true. Another, and this one more profound, was her opinion on criticism. "I didn't mind the criticism; it meant our show was helping people voice their opinions," she wrote. To be able to choose to air risky and controversial topics is one thing. To accept the criticism without taking it personally is phenomenal. I didn't know what I expected when I picked up this book. A fun trip remembering some of my favorite characters? She gave me that. But she gave me more too. Lessons and reminders on how to be a writer. Lessons and reminders that everyone will have an opinion of your life. But the best lesson and reminder was this: "We only have one life to live, and we have to try to make the most of it." I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I've included links below. More Info Author Bio

  20. 5 out of 5

    Oak

    My Life to Live: How I Became the Queen of Soaps When Men Rules the Airwaves is a memoir by the late Agnes Nixon, the writer and creator of the well-known soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live. (Nixon died at the age of 93 on September 28, 2016, and this memoir will be released on March 21, 2017.) I was really looking forward to reading this book. I liked how Nixon’s imagination, intelligence, and perseverance translated into commercial success. I would like to see this book as a movie My Life to Live: How I Became the Queen of Soaps When Men Rules the Airwaves is a memoir by the late Agnes Nixon, the writer and creator of the well-known soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live. (Nixon died at the age of 93 on September 28, 2016, and this memoir will be released on March 21, 2017.) I was really looking forward to reading this book. I liked how Nixon’s imagination, intelligence, and perseverance translated into commercial success. I would like to see this book as a movie. I knew very little about Nixon prior to reading the book, so I definitely learned a lot through the book! I would read parts of it again in a few years. *I received this book for review*

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    My Life to Live: How I Became the Queen of Soaps When Men Ruled the Airwaves by Agnes Nixon is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late February. Nixon reveals her life as inspired by elaborate paper doll vignettes, radio serials, her mother's extended family, her dad's often selfish and money-minded ways, many terrific teachers and mentors, the life of her fiancee Hank, travels in France, marriage to Bob Nixon, her kids, inspiring Caribbean vacations; all of which filter into her writing for G My Life to Live: How I Became the Queen of Soaps When Men Ruled the Airwaves by Agnes Nixon is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late February. Nixon reveals her life as inspired by elaborate paper doll vignettes, radio serials, her mother's extended family, her dad's often selfish and money-minded ways, many terrific teachers and mentors, the life of her fiancee Hank, travels in France, marriage to Bob Nixon, her kids, inspiring Caribbean vacations; all of which filter into her writing for Guiding Light and creating All My Children.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie Pfahler

    This is probably going to be a lengthy review because soap operas mean a lot to me and I love to talk about them. This was such a great little book by a truly amazing woman. It was really nice to read in her own words the struggle of a woman in the 50s and 60s to be a writer for mainstream television. Not only did Agnes Nixon manage to do it, but she did it twice with All My Children and One Life to Live along with being a full-time mother of four.It was really inspiring to read about how she cl This is probably going to be a lengthy review because soap operas mean a lot to me and I love to talk about them. This was such a great little book by a truly amazing woman. It was really nice to read in her own words the struggle of a woman in the 50s and 60s to be a writer for mainstream television. Not only did Agnes Nixon manage to do it, but she did it twice with All My Children and One Life to Live along with being a full-time mother of four.It was really inspiring to read about how she climbed the ranks and networked to become the headwriter on Another World , and did such a great job she was offered the job with ABC. Soap operas were at the forefront of a lot of diversity in storytelling because they were on at the time these events were happening. Soaps got to delve into topics like racism and abortion and LGBTQ+ issues much earlier than it was popular to, probably more so than we see on mainstream network television today.A lot of that had to do with the wonderful women at the helm of all three ABC soaps during their "golden ages." I started watching much later, and though I loved many of the things about the shows ( General Hospital in particular, which was/is home to my greatest otp), it wasn't without its ups and downs. What I believe led to the steady decline in soaps (most definitely what I believe led to the cancellation of AMC and OLTL) is the long periods of male headwriters, many of whom shifted the shows direction from the classic "love in the afternoon" themes. Nixon touches on this briefly at the end of the book, and very politely as well (though anyone keeping an eye on the writing team of AMC and OLTL, along with a certain male director of daytime at ABC/Disney could easily surmise who it was). As the audience of soaps has always been primarily women, you lose much of that audience when you constantly have the female characters belittled by men or used only as a prop for a male character. Diversity in the writers room across daytime and primetime needs to be more of a priority in entertainment. Though it was sad to lose AMC and OLTL, along with Nixon herself, her legacy as a woman at the forefront of many successful television shows and radio plays will always be remembered, as she paved the way for successful women in television today.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    During my undergrad years, a group of us would gather around the dorm's lounge television to watch All My Children together. There weren't hundreds of viewing options available then, or personal devices that live streamed video on demand. That hour of dorm mates collectively viewing a soap opera was not to be missed. We were all caught up in the lives and drama of the residents of Pine Valley. I watched All My Children for a number of years before and after my college years, and I have to admit t During my undergrad years, a group of us would gather around the dorm's lounge television to watch All My Children together. There weren't hundreds of viewing options available then, or personal devices that live streamed video on demand. That hour of dorm mates collectively viewing a soap opera was not to be missed. We were all caught up in the lives and drama of the residents of Pine Valley. I watched All My Children for a number of years before and after my college years, and I have to admit that I never gave much thought to Agnes Nixon, the creator and head writer of the show (as well as One Life to Live). This book is her memoir. We learn about how her childhood, and her difficult relationship with her father, contributed to her storylines. Ms. Nixon was a trailblazer, one of the first women to write for a major network. She also was the first to include storylines about abortion and homosexuality and strived to educate viewers on matters like child abuse and diabetes through the lives of her characters and tie ins to public service banners. It was fascinating to read about these aspects of her career. The book,is also,peppered with memories of specific characters and stories, which brought back memories for me (more from All My Children). Overall, a really interesting book about a very interesting woman. It would probably appeal most to viewers of her shows, but is a compelling memoir overall.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    I'm an enormous fan of Agnes Nixon's work and I grew up watching "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" rarely missing an episode from 1985 through their cancellations in 2012 and 2013. That being noted, I was somewhat disappointed by this book. I was hoping for more details and inside information on all of her shows but this book weighs heavily on "All My Children" with "One Life to Live" being like a forgotten child from another marriage. She gives minimal information about how she saved "An I'm an enormous fan of Agnes Nixon's work and I grew up watching "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" rarely missing an episode from 1985 through their cancellations in 2012 and 2013. That being noted, I was somewhat disappointed by this book. I was hoping for more details and inside information on all of her shows but this book weighs heavily on "All My Children" with "One Life to Live" being like a forgotten child from another marriage. She gives minimal information about how she saved "Another World" or how she created Rachel, and there is not a single mention of "Loving." While it's obvious that "All My Children" was her favorite, some of her fans may feel like this autobiography leaves something to be desired when it comes to discussing her entire body of work. I really enjoyed the stories from her life and how her history influenced the characters that she created over the years. It is obvious that she was a kind, loving person who overcame tremendous obstacles to forge her own identity and succeed despite the best wishes of her father and the industry. Agnes really was a unique talent and her passing leaves a tremendous void in both daytime television and the world. Reading this book will certainly leave soap fans wondering if our beloved stories will ever reign supreme again.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    Too short, and too -- facile? Obviously she’s shaping the narrative of her life, but was her life really that devoid of conflict, were her husband and family really that supportive without being demanding? But, as a sort-of primer of how to do a soap correctly, it’s right up there with Harding Lemay's book, "Eight Years in Another World." And she really was brave to tackle issue stories like abortion or racism. No one would dare to these days, not when the audience is for soaps is so precarious.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wendi Manning

    I grew up watching Agnes Nixon's soaps and I loved them. When I was an adult and decided to change my last name, I took my new one from a character on One Life To Live. It goes without saying how excited I was to read this book. As she herself said, this was harder for her to write a memoir than it was to write a soap opera. Unfortunately, it was harder to read this than it was to watch a soap as well. I'm not saying this wasn't good, because it was. Agnes Nixon had a great life that helped feed I grew up watching Agnes Nixon's soaps and I loved them. When I was an adult and decided to change my last name, I took my new one from a character on One Life To Live. It goes without saying how excited I was to read this book. As she herself said, this was harder for her to write a memoir than it was to write a soap opera. Unfortunately, it was harder to read this than it was to watch a soap as well. I'm not saying this wasn't good, because it was. Agnes Nixon had a great life that helped feed many a storyline, and she was more than happy to share these stories in this book. I just felt that she had more to say about what she thought or felt. I did really enjoy it though. Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    If you were a soap opera fan, then you probably have at least heard the name Agnes Nixon legendary creator and writer for All My Children and One Life to Live. She got her start in soaps writing for Guiding Light when it was still aired on the radio and eventually made the move into television eventually getting to start her own shows that then ran for over 40 years with her involved until the end. This book is a memoir she wrote before her death about her life, her difficult relationship with h If you were a soap opera fan, then you probably have at least heard the name Agnes Nixon legendary creator and writer for All My Children and One Life to Live. She got her start in soaps writing for Guiding Light when it was still aired on the radio and eventually made the move into television eventually getting to start her own shows that then ran for over 40 years with her involved until the end. This book is a memoir she wrote before her death about her life, her difficult relationship with her father, her marriage, her kids, and most of all her career. It's funny since she spent most of her life writing that she said in the memoir that she found writing it very difficult and that it wasn't like writing for a soap opera. I would agree that she was not perhaps the best memoir writer in actual writing style, but I very much enjoyed her story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Magie

    I grew up watching the ABC block of 'All My Children', 'One Life to Live', and 'General Hospital' with my mom whenever I was home sick from school and as much during the summer as I could. OLTL was my absolute favorite and when I was old enough to understand that it and AMC were created by one incredible woman I became enamored. Agnes Nixon was a new kind of hero to me. I was really sad to see both shows go in 2012 and without hesitation skipped my college classes on the respective days each sho I grew up watching the ABC block of 'All My Children', 'One Life to Live', and 'General Hospital' with my mom whenever I was home sick from school and as much during the summer as I could. OLTL was my absolute favorite and when I was old enough to understand that it and AMC were created by one incredible woman I became enamored. Agnes Nixon was a new kind of hero to me. I was really sad to see both shows go in 2012 and without hesitation skipped my college classes on the respective days each show aired its final episode so I could watch live. Getting to read this book and hear about all of Agnes' live was nothing short of a treat. Hearing about her early childhood and the young adulthood that lead her to be the leader in daytime was fascinating. I'd recommend this book to any soap fan as well as just anyone looking for a great human story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    (a)lyss(a)

    "My hope is that many will feel very close to them and that they will be almost like members of their own family." I received a copy of this book from blogginforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review. This book is more 3.5 stars for me. While Agnes Nixon is a great writer who tells an interesting story, the last third of the book seemed to drag for me. She gives a fascinating look at her life growing up with her paper dolls, a dysfunctional relationship with her father, and losing the love of "My hope is that many will feel very close to them and that they will be almost like members of their own family." I received a copy of this book from blogginforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review. This book is more 3.5 stars for me. While Agnes Nixon is a great writer who tells an interesting story, the last third of the book seemed to drag for me. She gives a fascinating look at her life growing up with her paper dolls, a dysfunctional relationship with her father, and losing the love of her life. Once she lands her first big job and has some ups and downs, the tone of the book changed and turned from anecdotes and details to more of how she kept her job and found new ones. This is an interesting read that also touches on the evolution of story telling and TV. I wasn't familiar with much of the authors work before this book but I'm interested in looking into it now.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Pittman

    How disappointing. Agnes Nixon was a visionary and a TV pioneer. It's a shame the book doesn't fully acknowledge all of her contributions. Much like it's time on the airwaves, ONE LIFE TO LIVE gets the shaft. How can Erika Slezak not even be mentioned in these pages? She gets a photo with Agnes in the insert...but said photo has no context. Way too much ALL MY CHILDREN and nothing about LOVING. It's never mentioned that these shows were sisters, with Pine Valley and Llanview occupying the same u How disappointing. Agnes Nixon was a visionary and a TV pioneer. It's a shame the book doesn't fully acknowledge all of her contributions. Much like it's time on the airwaves, ONE LIFE TO LIVE gets the shaft. How can Erika Slezak not even be mentioned in these pages? She gets a photo with Agnes in the insert...but said photo has no context. Way too much ALL MY CHILDREN and nothing about LOVING. It's never mentioned that these shows were sisters, with Pine Valley and Llanview occupying the same universe, and in some cases, storylines. I know soaps are supposed to tease you and ask you to tune in tomorrow. But you can't anymore. I was looking to Search for Yesterday with this book. Didn't happen.

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