Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yummy

I love reading books. Sometimes in a rather sinful way. Like I'd prefer to read them than do something necessary (think: laundry, cleaning, conjugal relations, etc).

I have not read this one yet, but I can't wait. EVERYONE SHE LOVED has not just a yummy title and a yummy cover (covet, envy, paint me green), but a yummy plot. In author Sheila Curran's own words:

Four women, friends since college, live in a charming southern beach town. One of them, Penelope, has more money than God. Which may be why she insists on playing the deity from time to time. Despite her beauty and inherited wealth, she becomes preoccupied with what might happen to her husband and children if she died. So she talks her husband into signing a codicil to her will. If she should die, he won’t remarry unless the new wife (and more importantly) mother, has been approved by her sister and three best friends. Years go by, the codicil gathers dust, and more than its share of hilarity, until the unthinkable happens and everyone she loved must find their way without Penelope. Simply told, it’s old money in the New South, romantic confusion, legal entanglements, and the unbreakable bonds between four women – and a man.

Sheila is not just a writer of yummy fiction, however, she is a mummy. So I had to ask: You're a mother. And you killed off a mother in a book. You must not be superstitious or neurotic?! How did it feel to do that? Well, I AM superstitious but in this case I felt it was necessary because after all people do die, even moms. (My first book, Diana Lively is Falling Down, was all about mothers. Its tag line was ...For mothers who think, or for those who vow to think, as soon as they find the time.) Anyway, one thing I've noticed in the world is how birthing a child doesn't necessarily confer perfect mothering skills...and we can find other sources for nurturing, even in men (again, huge theme in Diana Lively.)

NOTE to self: get DIANA LIVELY IS FALLING DOWN, as I am mother who neither thinks nor has the time to notice she doesn't think.

Clearly, Sheila is up and thinking again, but how does she balance the yummy writing with the mummyhood?

My mothering comes first. My writing second. However, I'm a way better mom when I'm in a happy writing place. Luckily I've managed to have great help when I needed to write, and luckily too, I was able to get work done in short bursts so that I usually only put them in day care for part time once writing because my job. What place does each have in my life? It's essential but I often feel as if I'm flying from the seat of my pants. It doesn't feel authentic to do anything to my kids that I wouldn't want them to do to me.

Uh-oh. If I did that I'd have to eat my vegetables first (not the chips in the cupboard) and be forced into bed by eight o'clock. (Now that sounds good.)

Me to Sheila: How much does your experience of being a mother show up in what you write? I think it permeates it. For one, Lucy is the kind of mother I am. She's often lost in her work and tends to let the kids walk all over her but they never ever doubt that she's there for them. If they're scared, they sleep in her bed, if they're sad, she sits and hugs them. All this is fine until her dead friend's eldest daughter looks as if she's developing anorexia and it appears that Lucy's more naturalistic, intuitive and gentle discipline might not be enough to solve Tessa's problem. Also, and this is true no matter how you parent, when anorexia or addiction or similar illnesses strike, everyone doubts their parenting. This leaves Joey, the girls' dad, and Lucy, their surrogate mom, easily talked into anything that 's different from what they've done before. Suddenly they're sucked into this tough love approach with lots of rewards and punishments (an approach I could never get going because I'd forget to apply either rewards or punishments) and this is highly recommended, but no one is thinking that such a system MUST be imposed by someone with heart and soul and also a sense of humor and most of all, of human frailty.

Well, human frailty could take up a lot of blog space. We'll have to stop there and all go read the yummy book itself.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dearly Beloved

I love my friends. For lots of good, noble reasons (because they're kind people, wise, helpful, etc.), but also for entirely selfish ones. For example, because they love me.

My first book reading and signing was a huge success. They SOLD OUT of copies of THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME, which, apparently, never happens. And all because of my 40 beautiful friends.

How well will the book do? This little mommy cannot say. She is excellent at potty training, lacking in ESP. Will I sell out of books online? Will I be rich?

I don't need it. My community makes me wealthy. It is more to me than gold. Thank you for showing up.

(And yes, I have just sapped out on you completely. You may hold it against me. For one day.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You say it's your book launch?

Today's my great book launch, reading, chat, signing at the Odyssey Bookshop, a glorious, enormous, independent bookstore. I will try to shower before going. And possibly find something to wear without a stain. But I can't promise much; the toddler had a 30-minute "I won't eat what you give me," lunch time scream feast that essentially lead me into the outer reaches of Zen practice as I attempted not to a) throttle, b) throw an equally hysterical fit or c) ask, in a booming voice, "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'M A FAMOUS NOVELIST! YOU CAN'T TREAT ME LIKE THIS."

Um. Well. Right. So. See you soon?

I have a whole week of book tour stops ahead. You can click on the link to find out where and how to get there. In the meantime, please. Eat your sweet potato.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Publication Day

If you have not already ordered your copy of THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME, run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore (or online venue) and purchase the book that will you ensure that you survive another day. I am not kidding. If you do not buy this book, you may not make it.

My mother sent me the brilliant poem "Publication Day" by John Updike. Here is my own version.

Mother's Publication Day

What? You wrote a book?
Good for you, I'll take a look.
It's just right now, I've got to run,
there are so many things that need to get done.
About a mother? And poop and dismay?
I doubt any Pulitzer will come your way.
Oh, well, it's chick lit. And you want it to be a big hit?
I'm sorry to hear it's only 53000 in the online store--
and I don't doubt it's better than any ever written before,
but you see I've got a meeting in an hour,
I'm planning my neighbor's baby shower.
What did you say?
You want me to help you get on the bestseller list today?
Honey, there's no way. Not so soon,
unless you sleep with Oprah or send the book to the moon.
Can we make another date?
Fine. Tell me what you did to celebrate.
You had a mole removed? You had an eye exam? The baby had diarrhea? The toddler had a tick? You woke up in the middle of the night feeling strangely sick?
No one's called? They hate the title? You can't work,
you're feeling idle?
Um, congratulations, I guess,
(it sounds to me like a terrible mess).
How about this? I've got a library card,
I'll get it there, that won't be hard.
Does that make you feel better? I may even read it.
I'll go on amazon,;if you don't like the review you can delete it.
Are you crying or laughing? I really can't tell.
did you say, "publishing is its own kind of hell?"
Well, there's no need to swear,
I'm sure someone will care. It's just that I've got lots to do,
as I'm sure you do too,
I'll get around to reading it, I promise,
as soon as my kids are grown and my husband becomes an Adonis,
and the weeds are pulled and the laundry done--
but hey, don't walk away from me,
I've never known a published author. It's actually quite fun.
Oh, not for you?
Well, I've got an idea. I'll have my book group read it.
We haven't met yet, but I'm sure I could arrange it.
Now go enjoy your fame.
And, could you tell me again, the book? What was its name?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Want to win a free copy of the book?

I love Jessica Brody, author of the bestselling FIDELITY FILES. She is awesome. She is kind. She is clever.

Go to freebookfriday.com to win a free, signed copy of my book. You can listen there or here to the interview she conducted with me.

THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME hits the shelves in a matter of days. It's FUNNY. It's HONEST. It's a pleasure read. And don't we all need more pleasure?

If you're going to send me emails/comments about my book--as my wise son has said--remember to be careful; I'm alive! So please be kind.

Friday, June 19, 2009

You Want to Know What I Think?

I think a lot of things. But for one, from a woman who used to want to save the world or at least write an award winning novel: motherhood has humbled me. Now? All I want is to enjoy my life, have healthy, satisfied children, and laugh. (If we are laughing, I imagine, the world will save itself.)

Books, after all, are the best escape. They last longer than chocolate (and for that matter, sex), and cost, compared to therapy, spare change.

Judi Fennell is one of the writer's on my writing/blog network who has a gift for transport. (No, she doesn't drive a limo. Well, maybe a metaphoric limo.). Her new novel IN OVER HER HEAD (yes, love that title) that features a fantastic male torso on the cover, is not mere romance. As one reviewer said: "IN OVER HER HEAD is a delightful, quirky blend of humor, adventure and passion." What could be better than that?

Judi's also one of the mom breed. I asked her if motherhood ever comes up in her books. (Dumb question, I know. We're talking adventure, romance, desire here, not sticky fingers and yes, you know I'm going to say it--POOP.)

Here's what she said: I never really thought about it until answering this question, but my heroine's mothers in the first two books (In Over Her Head, and Wild Blue Under) really do shape them and make them who they are in the story, which I guess all mothers do, but without giving anything away, there's something that deeply affects both of those heroines. A mother's love plays an even bigger part in Catch of a Lifetime, the third book. It's funny to me that I put it in those first books, almost without realizing it. It's amazing how much we, as mothers, affect our kids and have been affected by our own moms. Having my children has been one of the great gifts of my life.

So far, her kids aren't ready to read her books. A good thing. I never could stomach the romance or the sex in my mother's novels. Still can't. Sorry, Mom, but as far as I'm concerned? You're a eunuch.

But since you aren't Judi Fennell's kids, you might want to read her. Nothing beats a great escape. Speaking of, I have to stop blogging and go eat some chocolate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey, Oprah!

It's the final countdown. Next week my book comes out. Here's another silly reading to enjoy!

video

I may not like self-promotion (at all), but I sure can do it with a smile!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Field Notes

1. Pointing to a photograph on the refrigerator of me as a wee-one:
"Look! It's baby Mama!"

This would be the first time I've been called a baby-mama.

2. Sitting at the dinner table discussing why solely eating ketchup in the absence of any other nutritional matter is not a good idea, I asked my son, "Would you want to wake up and find that you'd become a bottle of ketchup?"

"I'm a boy!" he replied, in a moment of literalism uncommon for an almost three year old.

"Well, what's a boy made of?"

"Nothing," he replied.

I poked his soft belly. "Then, what's inside you?"

"God," he said. Then, after a pause: "and blood." A longer pause. "And ketchup."

3. Often, when playing with insects and other small creatures, I say to him, "Be gentle. Remember it's alive."

The other day, during a routine bum wiping episode after (well, don't make me say it, the word is already flagrantly littering this blog), my son said: "Be gentle. I'm alive."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lucky for Me

My book received a review recently of mixed adoration. (By that I mean mixed with things that aren't adoration.) Among other things, some good, some snarky, the anonymous reviewer wrote that for those who enjoy "soliloquies on poopy diapers" it's a great read.

Well, this is lucky indeed for me. Because. News Flash. Get the Cameras Rolling.

MANY OF US DO ENJOY "SOLILOQUIES ON POOPY DIAPERS."

But who are those crazy, improper, tasteless, trashy people? And why aren't they busy reading great literature? What could lead a person to be entertained by such a senseless, meaningless, disgusting topic?

Could these scary people really be the mothers and women among us? Come now, Shakespeare made comedy without resorting to a poopy diaper monologue.

But then, undoubtedly, he never changed one.

(P.S. This blog is so radically countercultural that POOPY does not even appear in my computer's spell check. Cool!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Total Lack of Imagination

I've done a few interviews for my book recently. Nothing like talking for a half-hour about yourself for a mood enhancer. God, I'm so important I shouldn't even be blogging. I should be courting Oprah.

Or.

Playing with caterpillars, which is actually what I've been doing quite a bit of. It takes some imagination to write a novel, but these children, they have it in CAPITAL LETTERS. They think if you pull a flower off a stem you can put it back on, and if you don't look at a cut, it will heal faster, and that air can become cake, and arms wings. Makes me feel terribly literal and dull.

Until I get asked a dozen questions, then, naturally, I feel interesting. I was asked what I have in common with the main character in my novel. She's cranky and angry and funny and sassy and tired. So, not much. But we both really love chocolate.

And you know what? My son still believes me when I eat M&Ms and say they're vitamins. Talk about the powers of imagination. Though he may be catching on. The other day he said: "Mama, when I'm old enough, I'll be able to eat vitamins." "Yes," I told him. "But not Mama's. Never Mama's. Only Mama can eat her vitamins." And to think I keep wondering why he's no good at sharing.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Poop and Poetry

You know how it is when the poop rolls out of the diaper onto the floor and the dog eats it and the baby screams for it back and the toddler slips in the residual drool (from the dog), which is when the phone rings and it's that woman who's been needing to get a hold of you and it sounds like she's starting to take it very personally that you aren't HOME when SHE calls, as though you're avoiding her on purpose. (Like you've got enough wits about you for that.)

And then, things quiet down and it's only the baby eating the cat food and your toddler flinging his fork across the table and something crunching underneath your shoe and the realization that there is no milk and no bread and no body else in charge. But you.

And then you pause for a moment, though the dinner is late and the phone rang again and this time they want to sell you something you really don't need, and you stop, right there with the knife in your hand, staring out the window and noticing the cobwebs in the screen that you ought to vacuum and the baby wants another helping of watermelon and the toddler wants to know "why" and you think, wow, this is so hard, and then you think, wow, I am so cool. Because so far that day you have done 179 things. And half of them pretty well. And you turn around and do it, though you don't do it perfectly, and you get to the end of the marathon when everyone's asleep but you and the stillness is filled with love. If love had a sound, that would be it.

It was that kind of day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blogger, Missing in Action

I'm sure you've all been on the edge of your seats waiting for a new post. For awhile, and being new to it, I forgot I was a blogger. You know, I went on a trip, and then I completed a book for a deadline and then I had really important things to attend to like 1. shaving legs, 2. taking nap and 3. washing diapers.

It's 20 days! 20 days until THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME hits the stores. I want to address one of the questions I get asked all the time right here and right now, as thoroughly as possible, so that I don't need to do it again.

No, this book is not autobiographical. If it were, it would have been entitled:

THIS LITTLE MOMMY EATS A LOT OF RAW COOKIE DOUGH
or
THIS LITTLE MOMMY HAS BEEN BREASTFEEDING FOR FOUR YEARS STRAIGHT
or
THIS LITTLE MOMMY GETS NEUROTIC

So, please, though it may hard to believe, I made the thing up. But don't worry, if my life gets really exciting, I'll write a memoir. I'll call it MAMA-LLAMA-DING-DONG. Just for fun.