Who says what?

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Year's End Top Ten

Not that I have a devoted following of millions, but my apologies anyway for such lazy blogging. I hope all of you were doing holidays anyway and not glued to your computer. People will like you so much more if you talk to them in person rather than send them a virtual message. (Trust me on this one.)

At any rate, hard though it is to be funny (very hard, sometimes), I will try to wrap up this glorious year with my Top Ten Mothering Moments. Feel free to send me yours. (And copyright them if you don't want them used in a future book of mine! Just kidding.)

Top Ten Mama Moments of 2009

10. My son, standing at a public potty, says to me: "Mama, sometimes my penis gets a little rusty."

(And no, I do not know what he meant by that. And yes, I asked.)

9. During a routine poppy diaper change, I noticed a flap of skin on my daughter's rear. (The really rear part of her rear.) It was pink. And small. I called my mother. I had no idea a baby could get hemorrhoids.
On later inspection, the thing accidentally fell off. To my total horror. And thus I discovered an undigested piece of pink salmon eaten the night before for dinner.

8. After the death of our cat, my son, curious about life and death, asks my husband, "What's alive?" He wants to know if beds are alive, if houses are alive, if cups are alive. Then he asks, "Daddy, are books alive?"
(What would you say?)

7. On an exciting trip to Vermont, my husband and I stopped for lunch and extracted the children from the backseat. Where we discovered my daughter covered in poop. Having no where to go and not wanting to bring her into the restaurant in such a state (and also unable to hold her in anyway without getting covered ourselves), we stripped her down on the sidewalk and used the entire box of wipes to clean her. Whoa onto the poor innocent diners eating on the sidewalk who had to witness this event. (We did try to conceal our activities. You know, in case it's illegal to change a baby in public. Which I'm sure it is. Somewhere.)

6. The classic and darling moment when my toddler, in public, began diving down my shirt, then ripping it off me, while screaming, "Nursies!" (Later when I told this story to a LLLI leader, she said, all too wisely, "That's great. What a moment to educate the public about nursing.")

5. Walking through the Borders Books in Vermont days before a book signing with my son and daughter slyly looking around for my book which I couldn't find anywhere. I gave up and started to head out when my son tugged my hand. "That's the same baby we have," he said, pointing at something. When I turned to see what he was pointing at, I discovered an enormous Danielle Steele worthy display of THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME. With that fat baby on the cover.

4. This isn't mine. I've totally borrowed it. But it's the best. My friend has a toddler. The toddler calls her daddy's manly item (seen on rare occasions during dressing and also known as the penis for the more literal minded) his tail.

3. My son, during a play date, began to act wild, unruly, hyper and spastic. Otherwise, just like a three year old. He kept taking his friend's toys. After a particular bad go around between the two of them, my son said, "I'm really a good boy. I just act crazy sometimes."
So, you can teach them to use their words, but it won't make them act any better!

2. In a perfect moment of modeling his mother, my son, woken too early by his sister (while sleeping in the same room on vacation), said, in response to my daughter's request to "get my books," "Mama can get them later. I'm too tired."

1. Waking up, my son snuggled beside me (having snuck in from his own room), I turn and give him a warm cuddle and a kiss, and he says, "Mama, your breath smells."

Well, life is sweet, even if my breath isn't.
I wish you true sweetness in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Origin of Streaking

Tonight, post-bath, Adeline decided to run naked back and forth through the hallway. My son found this so truly hysterical that he couldn't stop laughing, then, naturally, couldn't wait to join in. I observed these moments of pure delight with fond memories of the streakers in my college days who also appreciated their moments of nude revelry. Surely, we were all born to streak.

And then you grow up, and things change. Like your body.

I've been hanging out with some other "changed-body people." A.K.A. mothers. Motherhood has inducted me into this secret society where stretch-marks can be discussed with a certain air of competition. Where else can this be done?

I am certain that I ought to be blogging about life's deeper profundities. Were I not thoroughly consumed with a child who can scream continuously for almost an hour, I might have the time to consider the finer things of life.

Oh, right, unless, like those in the secret society, I hold some sense that parenting is one of the finer things in life. Or that, at least, in believing that (since we get to believe whatever we want), I regain my sanity. Never my former belly. Sanity, however, remains the more significant of the two, despite what all the beer commercials would have you believe. Beauty won't get you far if you're crazy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What We Buy For Christmas

However scrooge-like I may seem in saying this, I don't like buying for Christmas. Or, at any rate, I don't like the "enforced" compulsion to buy arbitrarily.

And with kids? My son would just as soon get a branch to play with than a toy. My daughter gets really excited just before we nurse. The greatest gift I could get is sleep. And I think my husband would like me to get out of bed.

See? Nowhere in there are fancy presents, plastic things that sing, or objects to get broken, lost or fought over.

We like to give our hard earned cash to The Food Bank of Western Mass. We also like Heifer International. My husband likes Habitat for Humanity. But I think if you're going to give, the nicest way is more personally--if you know someone who has a need and you can supply it anonymously. I especially love to give to new mothers, so if you know of a new mother in need of something, tell me. I'd like to help.

In the meantime, I have to go purchase some Scotch tape. (We don't have any.) So I can wrap the two gifts that I've bought. The rest I am planning on baking.

Cause, hey, really, all we need is love.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More Mysteries of the Universe

The thing about children is that when you're pregnant, you think you're going to have a baby. When they are born, you realize it's a person. I look at my children, sometimes, and marvel that they are themselves completely apart from any nurturing influence. All my good schooling has been blown to pieces: I believe in nature.

You can tell me then whether or not there is something in nature that creates the gender divide which brings about situations like this: as I make breakfast for myself and the two children, my husband makes his own breakfast. (In the same amount of time.) While I dress myself and the two children, my husband dresses himself. (In the same amount of time.) Of course, I adore him, and he is perfect as he is, I'm just pointing out what seems to me to be a great mystery. Have you noticed this before?

I suppose, and in my world I'd agree, that this men are from mars business doesn't suit anyone's full humanity. But by observation, it seems to be more true than before children, that men and women are not exactly the same.

Have any of you other wise, liberated women of the world come across such a mystery?

Monday, December 7, 2009

What to Get for the Holidays

Probably I should win an award for most boring person of the year.

I am, in fact, so boring that I can't even think of anything to blog about. I must then give in to seasonal blogging.

It's the holiday season. (I actually love this time of year and have lots of profound things to say about it, which I will spare you.)

So you're probably wondering what you can get me as a present, but are undoubtedly too shy to ask.

What I want for Christmas from the blogging universe is a second printing for my novel. You can either go out and buy 2000 copies personally (only about $20,000), or you can simply buy a few for your friends.

Seriously, I think the book is a perfect gift for new mothers. If you give my book and Anne Lamott's OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS you will make a new mother happy, healthy and sane in the new year. You will help her to feel like her feelings are okay. You will let her know that she is not alone. You will give her laughter. I have a special place for new mothers in my heart, having been one myself so recently, and if we can have some new-mother sanity, we will be that much closer to peace on earth. And a second printing for my book.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

I've got another good read, good thing too since the holidays are here and in my family the best gift is always a book.

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, in addition to having just published her second novel, is a serious Japanse karaoke singer. How cool is that?

Her new novel sports the truly excellent and green (as in envy) inspiring title: Love in Translation. It looks like an engrossing read--and beyond that, the interview below with Tokunaga is a great one for aspiring writers, a group she often works with.

(Lovely cover too. My favorite colors.)
Here's the meat of the book: After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysteries, 33-year-old fledgling singer Celeste Duncan is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. This overwhelming place where nothing is quite as it seems changes Celeste in ways she never expected, leading her to ask: What is the true meaning of family? And what does it mean to discover your own voice?

What inspired Love in Translation?
Many things. LOVE IN TRANSLATION is my cockeyed valentine to Japan, which is a place I’ve both loved and loathed, a place that has fueled both fascination and frustration. And it is also a place that has had a huge impact on my life and writing. I also wanted to explore what it means to be a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan and the benefits and downsides of that status and what happens when a gaijin sings in Japanese. I also am fascinated by the concept of the homestay, (something I never experienced), and how that would impact someone as an adult who grew up in foster homes and who never experienced a real family.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be singing. Before I started writing fiction I wrote songs, sang lead and played bass guitar in my own bands. Later on I got into singing Japanese karaoke. And further down the road I took voice lessons from a great Japanese jazz singer. I learned so much from her and was able to take my singing to a whole new level. I began to sing jazz standards with my husband accompanying me on keyboards. We play low-key venues once in a while but usually we just practice for fun at home.

Which craft books have inspired or helped you throughout your writing career?
There are many and some are not technically “craft” books such as “The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors” by Catherine Wald. Others include “bird by bird” by Anne Lamott, “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman and “The Art & Craft of Novel Writing” by Oakley Hall.

What do you consider the heart of your story?
My stories seem to have several “hearts,” or at least I see them that way. In LOVE IN TRANSLATION it’s how Celeste Duncan, a woman without a family, finds one in a foreign culture. It’s also about the power of music on the soul and heart and the meaning of finding your own voice, both in the singing sense and the identity sense.

What has brought the greatest joy since you were published? The greatest angst?
I’d say the greatest joy is having readers who appreciate your writing. And the greatest angst is in working hard to keep those readers and gain more.

What do you love about being an author?
There’s so much that I enjoy. First, it’s great to be paid for something you love to do. But I also find it inspiring to help other writers. I enjoy telling my story of woe on my road to publication and let others know that they don’t need any special connections to the publishing world in order to get published. I like to promote the message that you should never give up. And if you work hard, keep at it and be flexible, your publishing dream may come true. I also like helping other writers make their work the best it can be.

What’s one piece of writing advice you’ve found valuable on your journey to publication?
That often you won’t discover the real story you’re trying to tell until the revision process.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on a novel that is a different departure for me: it has very little to do with Japan!
Thanks, Wendy! I can't wait to read it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Writing Mother

I love mothers who write. And I'm always thrilled to hear of another one.

Here's Melissa Senate. She's gorgeous. Her latest novel, THE SECRET OF JOY, has just come out.

It's her EIGHTH novel! (Since 2001, no less.) Below is some advanced praise for the book.

"The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate opened my heart, made me laugh, cry, and smile all at the same time. A don't-miss read!" –New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips

"The Secret of Joy is a warm hug of a book. Insightful, wise, and romantic, it's as inviting as the small-town life it depicts." –Claire LaZebnik

"A wonderfully heartfelt story about hope, possibilities and the yearning for real connections. Senate's latest will take you on a much needed vacation, while sneaking vital life lessons in when you're not looking." –Caprice Crane

"The Secret of Joy is a heartwarming story that hits all the right notes. Senate has you cheering for more." –Cara Lockwood

What could be a better read for this time of year?

I had a chance to virtually interview Melissa. Here's what she said.

Give us a brief synopsis of the book.

A: 28-year-old New Yorker Rebecca Strand is shocked when her dying father confesses a devastating secret: he had affair when Rebecca was a toddler—and a baby he turned his back on at birth. Now, his wish is that the daughter he abandoned, Joy Joyhawk, read the unsent letters he wrote to her every year on her birthday. Determined to fulfill her father’s wish, Rebecca drives to a small town in Maine—against the advice of her lawyer boyfriend who’s sure Joy will be a “disappointing, trashy opportunist” and demand half her father’s fortune. But when hopeful Rebecca knocks on her half-sister’s door, Joy—a separated mother who conducts weekend singles tours out of her orange mini-bus—wants nothing to do with Rebecca or the letters her father wrote to her. Determined to forge some kind of relationship with Joy, Rebecca sticks around, finding unexpected support from Joy’s best clients—the Divorced Ladies Club of Wiscasset—and a sexy carpenter named Theo . . . .
If you could only own and read 5 books for the rest of your life, (excluding your own) what five books would you choose?

The Portable Dorothy Parker; the collected works of William Shakespeare; To Kill A Mockingbird; Anne of Green Gables; The Color Purple; and I can’t leave off this gem: Why I Like My Mommy by Max (my son’s latest work in first grade!)
Any tried and true tricks for beating procrastination?
Tried but not true: taking laptop to a library or coffee lounge without wi-fi. I can’t handle more than an hour or two without checking email or reading through Twitter or Facebook. Tried and true: a deadline, whether self-given or publisher-given.

Which 'craft' book has inspired or helped you the most throughout your writing career?

The most inspiring, to me, is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. But I also love Stephen King’s On Writing; Carolyn See’s How To Make A Literary Life, and Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping Into The Open.

What’s next for you?

Next up is my second novel for teens, The Mosts, which will be published by Random House in June 2010. Then, my next women’s fiction novel from Simon & Schuster, The Love Goddess’s Cooking School, about five people in an Italian cooking class, will be published November 2010. I’m staring down a 1/1 deadline (the worst deadline to have!) And I’m being poked at by a new idea . . . .
Thanks, Melissa! I wish you continued success and more happy times in Maine.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thank You

For thanksgiving, I would like to thank all the little people who made it possible.

Just kidding. I'll save that line until I'm on Oprah. In the meantime, I find this Thanksgiving that I have friends everywhere I go. Literally.

My experience of my debut novel has given me the chance to reconnect and connect with so many people I love. This is not what I thought would come out of my book talks and book signings and frail attempts at publicity. But it is what has happened nonetheless.

At my book launch back in June, a crowd filled the small space to overflowing; the books were sold out. This doesn't happen with a debut novel because as a new author, nobody knows you. The space was filled with friends and family and neighbors, yoga students and those who know me in my work as a minister.

Before each of my book signings, I worried that no one would come. The thought of sitting at a table piled high with stacks of my novel while people simply walked past me, sent my ego into tremors of despair. Instead, every single one of those events (eight of them), were attended, and attended with love. In Connecticut, my dear friend arrived with friends of hers in tow; we sat in a small circle and talked about books, motherhood and life. In Vermont, two friends I met years ago while at Kripalu came to sit with me (and brought friends). In Concord, three of my high school teachers filled the seats, and their presence brought out great tears from me. I felt so honored to have them there. At all of these venues, and the others, "people" showed up too. Regular, interesting people who were not my friends, but instead of crowds waiting at the door at 6 a.m. (as they do for Harry Potter books), I drew in a small circle. One of love.

In my visits to book groups, I have had such an marvelous, hilarious, heartwarming time. Being with the women and mothers who have read the book and appreciated it, has made all the difference in the world to me. It has reminded me why I wrote it in the first place.

And then on this totally impersonal blog, and through my hapless attempts at publicity, I have come into contact with some amazing women, including the powerful feministbreeder and more recently the wonderful mother who reviewed my book for 5minutesformom. (You can see her site at 5minutesforbooks.) Susan at bizymoms was a delight and a great support getting a page set up over there.

Really, love is all around. Love is everywhere we go.

So if you STILL haven't got your hands on a copy of THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME, there's a give-away going on at 5minutesformom. Enter to win a signed copy. I happen to think there's some love in that book also. I don't think it will automatically turn me into the Patron Saint of New Mamas, but maybe some day?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are we ever good enough?

I was asked, for an interview, what advice I could offer other writers now that I have finally "got there."

My advice? You never get there.

I received a statement of my royalties in the mail the other day. That means my publisher told me how many books I've sold so far. Boo-hoo is all I can say. A big, fat boo-hoo.

All we ever want, we think, is for this one thing to happen. And then it does, and we change our minds and now we want this one thing to happen.

"You got a book published!" my husband says. Boo-hoo. Boo-hoo. "Oprah didn't read it," I said.

"Imagine all those books you sold lined up in the living room. There wouldn't be room!" he says. Boo-hoo. "I didn't make the best seller list."

"Think of all the people you've made laugh." Boo-hoo. Boo-hoo. "Is that enough?"

Is that enough?

And the sun rises and falls, and the children laugh and scream, and the bloggers keep on blogging into the vast quiet of the internet.

I look at these children. They are already good enough. We come out good enough. Boo-hoo, boo-hoo. We just forget.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Love Under Cover

I am so excited to be blogging about my friend Jessica Brody, whose second novel, LOVE UNDER COVER, is hot off the press. In addition to being a fantastic novelist and a fellow Smith alum, Jessica has been a great source of support to me as a writer. She created and runs the fantastic website freebookfriday. If you haven't found it already, you have a chance every week to win a book. She's such a big hit that her first novel, THE FIDELITY FILES is being made into a TV series. (Wow.) But really, I love her for helping me so selflessly so many times as I have gone through the publishing process. Not that you should read her novels simply because she is good. You should read them because they are good.

Here's a brief summary of the new book:

In her job, she’s an expert on men…
In her own relationship, she doesn’t have a clue.
Boyfriend behaving badly? Suspect your husband of straying? Jennifer Hunter can supply the ultimate test. She runs a company which specializes in conducting fidelity inspections for those who suspect their loved ones are capable of infidelity.An expert on men, Jennifer can usually tell if they're single, married or lying... Unfortunately, her new boyfriend, Jamie, is one of the few men that she's never been able to 'read.' Has she finally found the perfect man or is he too good to be true?
And some advance praise:
"With a complicated, sympathetic protagonist, worthy stakes and a clever twist on the standard chick lit narrative, Brody will pull readers in from the first page."
– Publisher’s Weekly

"Those who enjoyed Brody's debut will be eager to catch up with Jennifer, but newcomers will be intrigued, too...an honest, witty portrayal of modern love."
- Booklist

Okay, Jessica. Here's what we really want to know:

Since becoming a writer, what’s the most glamorous thing you’ve ever done?

When my first book, The Fidelity Files, came out in France last year, my French publisher actually flew me out to Paris to promote it! It was a dream come true! I speak French almost fluently so I was able to conduct all my interviews in French, which was both nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time. Paris has always held a special place in my heart. I was a French major in college and I lived in Paris my junior abroad. Plus, I spent a month in Paris in 2005 finishing the novel so it was all very magical and kismet to be back there to see it in French book stores!

If you could be a superhero, what would you superpower be?

Calorie Immunity. That would definitely be my super power. The ability to eat anything I want and be completely unaffected by the calories contained within. That would be really awesome. And I guess that would automatically make my nemesis cupcakes. Although, if this were a comic book, he would be called “Dr. Cupcake” and his side kick would be called “Sprinkles.”

Do you have a sample chapter posted?

Absolutely! www.jessicabrody.com/loveundercover_excerpt.html

What's the main thing you hope people take away from your book?

Entertainment. That’s all I seek to do. Entertain people. The reason I started writing was because of Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. I read that book in college whenever I would go to the gym and I remember looking down at the elliptical and thinking, “Seriously? I’ve already been exercising for thirty minutes!?” The time would FLY by. I was so inspired and awed by the fact that a book could take me away from my life like that. I knew from that day on that I wanted to be a writer so I could attempt to do the same. So if my book can help pass the time of a long flight or a boring workout then I’ve accomplished my goal. And if some of the issues about relationships and love and trust that I’ve delved into get people thinking, than that’s just icing on the cupcake.

What’s next for you?

Although I strive to live in the moment, I can’t help but be excited about the future! I’ve got three young adult books scheduled to come out in the next three years from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. The first, THE KARMA CLUB, releases on April 27 and I simply can’t wait! It’s about three teen girls who are tired of waiting for Karma to get off its butt and do its job, so they decide to give Karma a helping hand by getting revenge on their evil ex-boyfriends. But they soon discover that when you mess with Karma, Karma messes back. It’s a story I wanted to tell for years and I’m so glad it’s finally going to be put out to the world. The teen voice feels very natural to me (not sure what that says about my inherent maturity level, but whatever!) and the YA novels are such a blast to write. I think the teenage years resonate with everyone in some way. For me, my teen years were very painful so it’s somewhat therapeutic to be able to “go back” and relive them with all the knowledge and wisdom that I have now!

You're awesome, Jessica! May this be a huge success and may you have another trip to Paris! (But don't wear your sweatpants.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Wonder We're All on Medication

It's hard to be critical of the very thing you're doing....no, that isn't true. I'm critical of blogging even while I'm blogging.

Is their any other activity of the modern age so touted for making connection that makes you feel so, well, alone?

It's like writing a diary no one wants to read. And I don't just mean me. (For the record, none of this stuff is anywhere as interesting as what I write in my real journal. That's all sex, drugs, scandal and excitement.) Some lucky bloggers get a volume of comments. Like, for example, Michelle Duggar. But then if she reads them she'll have to shift through the invective--not my cup of tea.

But then I am a touchy-feely person. Sitting alone in front of my computer is my least favorite time of day. And, too, I get it. No one has time to read this stuff, let alone comment on it. We're all too busy with our lives full of technology and medication. No wonder. A virtual community is just that. Virtual. A.K.A., not real. Not that I want to be a whistle blower, but how can it compare with sitting together in front of the fire next to our cave?

Ah, for those good old days.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mama Needs a Time Out

It wasn't pretty here yesterday if you count the number of people screaming in relation to the number of people in the house. (Three of us. Three of us screaming.)

It drove me back to my parenting library of which I make regular use. I find a need a continual school in mothering, especially when I feel as though I'm failing.

I'm sure there are countless resources on the web, but I am a fan of the old fashioned paper book and wanted to share a few of my favorites for dealing with discipline.

Learning a Loving Way of Life
Adventures in Gentle Discipline
The Negotiation Generation
Scream Free Parenting

And, of course, This Little Mommy Stayed Home, which won't teach you how to parent, but will make you laugh.

Others you've found useful?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Origin of Grouchiness

There are so many things about motherhood that are rarely spoken of, like, for example, the loss of sleep. Not unlike the acute loss of blood.

But moms are beginning to complain about this terrible phenomenon--in a cutesy sort of way. Nobody bothers to comment on the real effects of long-term sleep-deprivation, among them, the evil and sinister perpetual grouchiness.

What's even more interesting? Even after your children have learned to sleep through the night, you will still wake, at regular intervals, like Pavlov's dog, trained to startle at the smallest sound. You will think, of course my baby hasn't strangled herself in her sleep, she's too old. She'd call out. She can talk. I have a friend who still goes in in the middle of the night to cover up her pre-schooler despite his very functioning arms and legs.

So where are the studies on the permanent effects of interrupted sleep? Mama Zombie is not a Halloween costume, but a sleep-deprived woman who will never be the same.

Enlighten me with links. I'd truly like to know.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

I decided, considering the state of the nation, that for Halloween I would dress as a pig--you know, a swine.

But I couldn't make a costume in time. So I decided to try being a neurotic, paranoid person who's obsessed with the media swine-flu blitz.

That way, I get to wear my own clothes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Feminist Poop

Here is another excellent review--and a book giveaway--for THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME. Enter to win a copy for yourself or a friend.

You may also be interested in reading this reviewer's fantastic blog, thefeministbreeder. She's fascinating and an excellent writer, and who can resist a title like that?

If you think feminism has nothing to do with poop, you may be right. But while the internet is busy with good reviews of my book, I am busy cleaning poop. Specifically, diarrhea, yesterday, off the rug in my daughter's room. Please don't ask. But from this lowly work, great things can come?


Friday, October 23, 2009

Blogs of Substance

I've started blogging at a big Massachusetts website, masslive, for something called the Parenting Project.

You can now read my blogs of substance there.

Start here.

This blog will continue to lack substance.

But then, probably, it will be much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I was just interviewed on Parenting Radio Unplugged, a totally awesome radio--both live and ready for you to download--out in Oregon, that's building a virtual parent network, is a huge resource for parents, and is run by two awesome and funny people, Laura and Todd Mansfield.

You must listen.

It's an excellent, interesting conversation where I spout off about the book (a nice excerpt from it), my thoughts on motherhood, and how I didn't have any romance in the first nine months after my son's birth--except with him. Not only that, I think you'll find much worth listening to if you browse the archives.

For the record, I had to step in at the last moment when Dr. Oz couldn't make it.

Hmmm. Filling in for Dr. Oz. Are you listening Oprah?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Beat Goes On

Here's a fantastic review my book got on a blogspot site--except that link won't work, though God knows I tried to make it happen. You will need to manually type in (or cut and paste) bookjunkie79.blogspot.com and then scroll down to see my book.

Unfortunately, I can't open the site. Because my computer had some kind of techno-PMS over the past weekend and gave up on life altogether. Now, it doesn't know how to open pictures and videos and fancy things like word documents. The thing's a Luddite, like me. Neither the computer nor I like technology. Of course, that's a really bad quality for a computer to have, but nevermind. None of us is perfect.

Life marches on, regardless of my ability to communicate with other bloggers. If you can open this woman's site, please thank her for me. She adored the book and so, therefore, I adore her.

And speaking of adorable things, aren't your children priceless in their Halloween costumes? If you submit your photos to the bizymoms.com Halloween contest you can win my book! That's right. A free, autographed copy of my outstanding novel THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME could be delivered to your doorstep and all you have to do is send in a photo of your beloved kid.

I'm off tomorrow to another book club event. If you can get your book club together to read my book, I might just show up. You have to be in walking or driving distance. OR, I can make a virtual trip. I've got Skype, you know, so don't feel disappointed. This famous novelist will come to your meeting and talk about the little-known advantages of sleep-deprivation, like novel writing. Think of how popular you'll be!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Want some good listening?

THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME has been featured on the very cool bizymoms.com.
You can listen to the podcast interview here.

I go on about motherhood as a calling, how to get published, and how to write a book with a baby underfoot and another on the way. Talk about content!

Let me know what you think. No, really, I mean it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe

Ever just long for the old days of child rearing?

Whip them and put them to bed?

Modern parenting is soooo involved. You've got to get attached and then get them unattached and keep them happy and make sure they become responsible, green, compassionate, world-enhancing little creatures.

And to think there was a time when pregnant women smoked and drank whiskey without a thought!

Or course, the world is being run by those children now....

I know an old woman who had five children. (But didn't live in a shoe.) I asked her how she did it. "In those days? In those days we didn't have all this stuff you do. If they cried, I'd say, 'I'll give you something to cry about.'"

Oh, for simpler times.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Academic Oversight

Believe me when I say that I know as well as most, if not better, that motherhood can be dull, tedious, repetitive, draining, and insular. That despite all of that, it is also fascinating, deeply meaningful, educational, and fun, is nothing short of miracle. How many things can you think of that would fall into both of those camps? Filing? Boring, not ever deeply meaningful. Teaching? Deeply meaningful not really insular. Slaying dragons? Repetitive maybe but never dull.

If you're waiting for a point, I have one.

My Alma mater, a prestigious woman's college (you won't have to search far to know which one), has not gone to the trouble of including me in their "recently published" list in their alum magazine. Of course, I am told that my itsy-bitsy three line listing could not make it in due to space. That may be true.

Or it may not be. Correct me if I'm wrong, but generally, no one takes chick lit seriously. (A serous mistake.) And funny, fast fiction about motherhood? Well, why would they write on that when they've got half of their graduates saving orphans and stopping wars. Giving a new mother a few hours of hilarious pleasure and a reason to get through her day without throwing her infant into the dishwasher? Who has space for that?

Seriously, I'm angry, but in a really happy sort of way. (Yes, it's possible.) Because I feel like the truth that gets revealed in their "oversight" or general neglect of my publication fortifies my purpose. Did I write a novel for the academics to ponder? For the award committees to select? Or did I write a novel for the mothers, to reflect their experience, with honesty and humor, because humor is nothing short of salvation when you're working on no sleep. Never mind wars in other countries, I'm hoping for peace in the homeland.

It does bother me. And it bothers me that only few in the "press" have got my little book. The reviewer I feel who got it most? A Man. In this interview, he gathered together the whole of my work in the world, as a minister, a mother, a yoga teacher, and a novelist. Why does a minister start her novel with an in-depth investigation of the post-partum vagina? Why does a feminist write about staying-home?

Whether they like it or not (that school of mine), the reality in my book is one that most mothers have lived. In the acute, intense, and nothing-else-like-it period after the birth of the first child, nothing tethers you to the ground, not your degree in ancient history, not your Prada handbag, not your working spouse, not your working self. Is this a reality anybody takes seriously for its profoundly transformative powers?

I, for one, do.

And since when does being funny mean you can't make a point? It may be the only time we get a point, when we're laughing with recognition.

So please, though we are the silent, boring, and tedious majority, put a mother on the cover of your alum magazine. Someone out there will be interested.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Anti-Blogger Gets Mean

Oh, how the world of non-communicative, virtual communications gets my panties in a bundle.

If raising children is real, immediate, a truly felt, lived, intimate, and responsive reality, everything else is so, well, fake.

Like I had a fake conversation with a (supposedly) real person at amazon.com. Did you know you could call these people? And listen to them read scripts and put you on hold for hours, all so you can send them your money? Yes, well, if you're interested in wasting some time, you can do just that.

And, for heaven's sake, stop inviting me to join a "social networking" site and invite me over for dinner. I don't want 100 friends who don't know anything about me, or conversely know everything about me but don't know me at all.

It's a vast soul-less mecca out there, and yet, perversely, it's all we have sometimes. We're so rushed we can't make time for friends, because we have to spend all our time on the unfriendly computer with its wild deceptions.

What can I say? If I filled this site with lots of naked pictures of myself doing raunchy things, I would be so popular. But just writing about motherhood? I say, if sex is original (which it's not), than so is motherhood. And it's live and vital and rich, whereas virtual coitus, not so much.

Wouldn't it be nice if, when you called some place, any place, there were a real voice on the other side?

Hey, I've got my daughter hugging trees. You can't hug your monitor. Go ahead. Try it. I dare you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jane Austen Rules

I've got another GCC novelist "visiting" today. Marilyn Brant's debut novel has just come out. Since I've just had my first novel released, I know what an exciting, hair-raising time it is. Not that this lady needs my help. Kelly Moran of Bookpleasures wrote, "This was a truly, irrevocably inspiring novel." Could praise get much better than that? Marilyn is also a mother. Which makes her very cool indeed to me. See below for all the great stuff she has to say about motherhood and writing.

The book: ACCORDING TO JANE. Another wonderful cover.

And the interview:
Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.
My debut novel, According to Jane, is the story of a modern woman who--for almost two decades--has the ghost of Jane Austen in her head giving her dating advice. I first read Pride & Prejudice as a high-school freshman. Like my heroine Ellie, I raced through the novel way ahead of the reading assignments. I loved both the story and Austen’s writing style immediately. Her books changed the way I perceived the behavior of everyone around me, and I spent the rest of freshman year trying to figure out which Austen character each of my friends and family members most resembled! Also like Ellie, I had a few (okay, a lot) of less-than-wonderful boyfriends, and I would have loved to have been given romantic advice from the author I most respected and the one who’d written one of my all-time favorite love stories.

How do you balance your mothering and your writing?
This is an ever-evolving challenge. As my son has gotten older, he's been able to do many simple things independently that I'd had to help him with a few years ago (i.e., pour a bowl of cereal for himself, get dressed on his own, etc.), but he now needs to go to new activities like cross-country practice or swimming lessons or youth-group services that he wouldn't have attended previously. I need to shift the way I do my work to accommodate his schedule--sometimes editing in the car while waiting for him, often just putting off my tasks until he's asleep or occupied doing something of his own at home.

How do mothers show up in the novel?
My heroine's mother is very much a tangential character in the story. Since I parallel Austen's Pride and Prejudice to some extent, my heroine's mom has a touch of the rather frivolous "Mrs. Bennet" about her (the mother of P&P's leading lady, who was an insatiable in her pursuit of suitors for her daughters). In my second novel (due out in October 2010), all three of the main characters are moms, and the act of motherhood plays a far greater role in that story.
Has being a mother changed how you write?
LOL--being a mother has changed how I do everything, Sam! I became a writer largely *because* I became a mom. I felt it was critical for me to pursue my passions as a parent and to set an example of doing this for my child. I didn't want--not even for one moment--to have my son feel I was living my life through him. More specific to writing itself, I feel so much compassion for the mothers in my books! For the choices moms have to make, the time and energy motherhood requires, the tremendous love we feel for these beautiful little beings... Being a mother has been the best part of my life and, also, the biggest growth experience (*grin*).
(I, for one, no nothing of growth experiences. Actually, motherhood has helped me to grow into a much bigger person. Around.)
Marilyn's book is out today, hot off the presses. Can't wait to read it. You can find out all about her at: http://www.marilynbrant.com.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Naughty Bad Thoughts

Don't get your hopes up. Or anything else for that matter. There is nothing erotic about what I'm going to say. However, if there was, I would probably be exceedingly more popular.

Even if they aren't sexy, there are still naughty bad thoughts:
1. Are we doing too much? I mean the crazy business, and the texting and the jobs and the house and the family? And all the simplify-your-life magazines just tell you more things to BUY. When my daughter grabs her jacket, she says, "hurry." She thinks her jacket is called "hurry." Ouch.
2. Shouldn't somebody stay at home? It doesn't have to be mother, but wouldn't it be nice if it was someone? Keeping the home fires burning? It's not a non-job, it's a calling, the sacred hearth keeper. At least it was, in days of 'yore.
3. Are there more bloggers than people?

I'm just asking.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Things that Aren't

Hey, want to know a funny thing I did the other day?

I googled "feminist stay-at-home mother."

What I got? A whole lot of articles about how feminism ruined the family.

Now somebody please help me. I know there are more feminist mothers ought there. I know I'm not the only radical mommy on the internet. Well, no one wants to call themselves feminists anymore. On top of that, no one wants to stay home with their kids. I mean, who wants a title that requires three hyphens!!! Please. M.D. doesn't need a hyphen. Neither does Esq.

I'm worried I'm going Conservative. I'm going to read Laura Schlesinger's book "In Praise of Stay-at-Home Mothers," because she's the only one who's got anything nice to say about it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go dust some furniture and fix my husband's dinner.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm back with another one of the gorgeous women from the GCC blog network. Hank Phillippi Ryan's third Charlotte McNally mystery has just been published.

This is Hank.

This is her latest detective novel.

And this is what she has to say:

You have won 26 Emmys and 10 Edward R. Murrow Awards. Tell us about the stories that won a couple of these distinguished awards for you.

Here’s a list! We proved the state’s 911 system was sending emergency responders to the wrong addresses. We found there was not one person of color on the federal jury pools in parts of Massachusetts. We discovered why thousand of people were never called for jury duty. We found there were thousands of warrants for peoples’ arrests that were never served . We found people convicted of drunk driving who were still on the road. We found unsafe big rig trucks on the highways and found they were illegally ignoring the weight limits on the state’s bridges, thereby causing expensive and dangerous damage. We found school buses with massive mechanical problems. We found the unit pricing in stores was completely incorrect. We found unscrupulous mortgage companies luring people into foreclosure. At least four—maybe five?—laws have changed as a result of our stories and people have gotten literally millions in refunds and restitution.

(Um. Wow. Speechless. Did I fail to mention that in addition to being a novelist, Hank is a investigative TV reporter. That's just so cool! And she's been doing it for 30 years!)

Your job sounds very demanding. How (and when) do you find the time to write? Do you ever take a vacation, and, if so, what do you do with your time off?

Short answer—no. I don’t take vacations anymore. We used to! We love Nevis, a tiny island in the Caribbean with empty white beaches and nothing to do. We love to go to western Massachusetts, to Tanglewood, to go to plays and the symphony and museums. We love to go to Cape Cod, to Truro, to sit on the beach with pals and read, then go out to wonderful dinners. All in the past. Now, I write. And Jonathan lounges in the back yard. Luckily, we have a lovely yard, with a pool and beautiful gardens.

What do you wish readers knew about you?

I’m a pretty good cook! I love arranging flowers. I’m…nice. I have such a tough persona on TV—I’m always confronting someone, asking tough questions, being just a tad pushy—so people are always surprised to see me smile. I think I’m pretty funny, too . . . but that may be just me.

Here's a tiny plot summary for AIR TIME: Charlie enters the glamorous and high-stakes world of high fashion—and soon discovers when the purses are fake, the danger is real. Carrying a hidden camera and dressing to deceive, Charlie's not the only one disguising her identity. In her high-risk job and in her suddenly steamy love life, how can she tell the real thing?

Delicious reading for the fall!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Try This

So I was imagining what it would be like to hire someone to do my job for the morning. I made a list:

1. Get the children dressed and don't forget to dress yourself. Moisturize so you won't look older than you are, even if you look as old as you are.
2. Feed everyone. Feed yourself. It must be nutritious, contain whole grain, and have some protein.
3. While you are fixing/eating breakfast, unstack the dishwasher, empty the dish drainer, clean whatever is left in the sink. Make a grocery list. Look in the cookbook for a few interesting child friendly recipes. Make sure to eat your breakfast. Drink your tea before it gets cold. Go to the bathroom. Don't let the children harm the furniture.
4. Take the preschooler to preschool. Be nice to the other mothers. Act friendly and open. Smile at everyone. Don't wonder whether you remembered to brush your hair.
5. Go to the hardware store with the baby. Get a roller to finish painting the cupboards. Get storage bins for summer clothes.
6. Go to the grocery store. Buy what's on your list. Think: healthy, protein, not too expensive. Pay attention to everything you buy and it's nutritional value. Keep talking to the baby. Make it fun for her. Race the car through the parking lot just to be a "fun" kind of mom.
7. Go home. Take the groceries in. Unpack the groceries. Change the baby's diaper. Give her a snack.
8. Take a walk. Walk quickly. Remember if you only exercise a few times a week, it better really count. Point everything out to the baby so she doesn't feel neglected. Think uplifting thoughts.
9. Play with the baby outside. Give her fresh air. Don't think about anything but her. Give her total, one-on-one your older brother is at school time.
10. Change her diaper. Look at the mail. Sort it. Recycle envelopes.
11. Pick up the preschooler. Make new friends. Let the kids play.
12. Take them home. Change the baby's diaper. Put the toddler on the potty. Wash every one's hands. Feed them a healthy, empowering kind of lunch. Eat yours while sitting down for at least three minutes.
13. Keep everyone happy. Speak gently. Enjoy every minute of it. Be grateful. Go to the bathroom.
14. Put each one on the potty. Wipe bums. Smile.

Now that ought to be worth at least $8 an hour, wouldn't you say?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Who's Sexy?

Whether or not it's a sign of some kind, I don't know, but I did find myself, over the weekend, test driving a minivan (yes, the very kind of car I have insulted like a philandering ex), and also, hanging out with a guy we'll call James. Not just any guy, of course. James was the salesman. He wasn't hanging out with me because he liked me, he just wanted to sell me a car.

So James and I are cruising around the block in this totally awesome vehicle with leather interior (DVD included!!!--would be even cooler if my children watched TV, which they don't), when I say to him, "Minivans are so not sexy." He laughs. "Not that I need to be sexy." He laughs. "No one looks sexy in a minivan. Not even a sexy person."

Needless to say, this was something of a redundant, asinine sort of one-way conversation, the type you make when you don't have anything to say. ("Wow. Cool turn signal." Where can you go from there?) And certainly it didn't dawn on me, not once, that it could be awkward for this man to hear me ramble on about sexiness. And why would it? I don't identify people any longer as male and female. Either you pick up toys or you don't. Those are the two types of people in the world.

Only later, when I saw him walking down the hall, a great, tall, strong, figure, did it occur to me that he was a man. Thankfully, I am certain that he didn't perceive me as a woman.

Which is all to say, that despite my protestations, I got out of that navy blue used family van feeling like a million bucks. That thing has bucket seats! I felt like the Queen of England. I can fit 25 children in there AND luggage. Cup holders next to the third row of seats? God, what genius thinks of this stuff?

Never mind sexy. Family-friendly is the new black.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crossing Washington Square

You can think of me as an internet blog sieve. Only holding the good stuff.

Today that good stuff is Joanne Rendell, who besides homeschooling her six year old (amazing and cool, see what she has to say about it below), writes novels. And, they're really good too. So, see, you can have it all.

This is Joanne. (Love the pic.)

Her new book is CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE. (Love the cover!)

Here's some advance praise: “Rendell’s second novel is thoughtful and open, with plenty of interesting academic debate for truly bookish readers.” Booklist

"For every reader who has ever wondered why nineteenth century novels about women are called ‘the canon’, but contemporary novels about women are called ‘chick-lit’ comes a charming, witty and cerebral novel about Rachel Grey, an Austen-worth heroine fighting for love and respect in the academic shark tank." Nicola Kraus, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Nanny Diaries (I for one have wondered.)

And here's what the lady herself has to say.

What was your inspiration behind your latest novel?

The idea for Crossing Washington Square evolved over a few years. As someone who has lived the academic life (I have a PhD in literature and now I’m married to a professor at NYU), I’ve always loved books about the university – novels like Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, Richard Russo’s The Straight Man, Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, and Francine Prose’s Blue Angel. But what I noticed about such campus fiction was the lack of female professors in leading roles. Even the female authors like Francine Prose and Zadie Smith’s novels focus on male professors. Furthermore, most of these male professors are disillusioned drunks who quite often sleep with their students! I wanted to write a novel with women professors taking the lead and I wanted these women to be strong and smart and interesting – instead of drunk, despondent, and preoccupied with questionable sexual liaisons!

(Um, Joanne, are you saying we shouldn't like drunk, despondent and sexually preoccupied women?)

Is writing your main job?

When I’m not writing, I’m hanging out with my six year old son who is homeschooled. Although, “homeschool” is somewhat of a misnomer as we spend a relatively small amount of time schooling at “home.” We live in New York so are lucky enough to have an amazing array of fun and educational places on our doorstep. Benny and I, together with his homeschooled friends, are always out on trips to the Met, the Natural History Museum, aquariums, zoos, galleries, libraries, and parks. When we’re not out and about, Benny and I love to read – either together or separately. I’m so thankful he loves books like I do! Also I’m learning so much as a writer through Benny’s books and his homeschool experiences in general. Inspired by another homeschool family, we recently started a loose history curriculum in which we’ve studied dinosaurs, early man, Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt followed by Ancient Greece and Rome. We’ve combined relevant story and picture books, with many trips to museums. Benny has learnt a lot, but it’s amazing how much I’ve learned too about Greek myths and Egyptian gods, ancient texts and lost civilizations. I feel my mind – and my writing – expanding because of these studies. Homeschooling isn’t just for six year olds, apparently!

For you, what is the most difficult part of being an author?

Settling down to write. Once I get going, I love it. But there’s just that hurdle of getting going which is so hard -- especially these days when there are so many demands on authors to go online and promote our books. It is wonderful to meet people and connect and learn through the internet, but the web is also a huge procrastination vortex! I sometimes kid myself I’m doing promo work, but really I’m just wasting time snooping around on Facebook or reading other people’s tweets about what they ate for breakfast!

(Well, if you end up writing a novel about tweeting, it will have all been worthwhile.)

Do mothers play any role in your novel?

The two main characters in my novel are female professors, but they’re not (also) mothers. The only mom we see in the book is the wife of an assistant professor.
There are, of course, plenty of professors who are moms. But it is a big challenge to do both and I hugely admire the women who pull it off (my best friend is one of them). Motherhood is a 24/7 job so to add writing lectures, grading papers, going to faculty meetings, writing journal articles etc. on top is just a very hard thing to do. It clearly involves a lot of juggling, scheduling, toughness, and support.

(Any prof. moms out there want to add anything?)

Joanne Rendell was born and raised in the UK. After completing her PhD in English Literature, she moved to the States to be with her husband, a professor at NYU. She now lives in faculty housing in New York City with her family.

I can't wait to read it, Joanne!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random but Relevant

Two things. One. I'm on the phone last night with Charter, our internet and cable company, but essentially the source of pure evil in the world. After talking to the robotic woman for a half-hour, I'm transferred to a human, in the Philippines, who hangs up on me. When I call back, I ask the robotic woman about the state of her vagina which (write this down) got me immediately transferred to an actual woman, this time in the US.

But anyway. I can't stand this company. If I were the head of this monopoly of total F-grade customer service where most of the people you talk to can't speak your language well enough to argue with you (and why would you call except to argue?), I would feel so bad. I wouldn't be able to hold my head up at the grocery store. How could you live with yourself? Sure, you'd be rich, but what good would that do you on your death bed? (Of coures the sheets would be really high thread count....)

And, yes, I'm completely over it. I LOVE using my precious time talking to Stepford Customer SATISFACTION (hahahahahaha) Technicians, and hey, what's an hour worth anyway. It's just this little birdie wake up call that reminds me what I already know. Technology is NOT bringing us closer. Sorry virtual world. You have to reach out and at least hear someone, if not see them. Moreover, it's not making life FASTER. It's making us angrier.

Which brings me to the relevant part. What kind of world do I want my children to inherit? I know, I'm getting all Michael Jackson on everyone. Sorry. But, we ARE the world. How about paying real people real money to talk to other real people whose business you value instead of getting rich on being a total TERD-whole and outsourcing to India, because frankly, every time I talk to those Indian guys now, I'm all SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and that makes me sad. It does not make me want to buy more services. It makes me want to adopt orphans.

So, please, reach out and touch a real live person today. Do it for your children. Do it for me. Turn off your computer. Turn off your TV. The sun is shinning. Somebody's looking at you. Life isn't what we have, it's what we DO. And if you own Charter, man, oh man, I feel bad for you.

Second thing. Maybe next time. I can't remember what it is anymore.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I am a fan of myself

So the other night I visited my first book club. (More to come.) I didn't know what to expect. Really. I wasn't even imagining a bunch of women in glasses with their legs primly crossed at the ankle. I literally, typically, did not have a single preconception. I think I've officially become too tired to preconceive. On account of all my conceiving, I suppose.

Anyway, I loved these women. And not just because they loved my book. But really, how could you not love a bunch of people sitting around talking about your novel like it's some kind of real book with things like "plot" and "character development." It blew my mind. And, they were funny.

And deep. The motherhood vibe was very strong in the room and I can say, without any hesitation, that I love mothers, strange though we may be in large playground settings. My people, my people, my people of poop, my people of sleeplessness, droopiness, worry and neurotic love, my people of Baby Toy minutia, of Feeding Kids Sucks, my people who do not mind seeing the word vagina on the first page. My people who are glad vagina has made it to the front page. You all make me proud.

Monday, August 31, 2009

One of Them

It's a chilling moment, really. Standing there at the foot of the playground, surrounded by adorable children and endearingly engaged mothers, listening to the sounds of these otherwise normal women saying such things as, "if you do that one more time..." and "Good job! Wow!! You just slid down the slide ALL BY YOURSELF!!!!!!" And, "Johnny, sand is not for throwing. We don't want to hurt anyone. Look in mommy's eyes; see how hurting sand makes her sad. Do you want to make mommy sad? Johnny, I said look at me. Johnny, you're not listening."
Johnny is eleven months old.

Some part of me cringes to be in the thick of it, a throng of summer mothers. Surely, I don't talk like that. Surely, I don't look like that. And I take such pride in my mothering. It gives me such definition. I wouldn't want to make fun of these innocent women and their startling single-minded devotion to their exceptional slide-going offspring. (Because those first couple of slides really are worth the hundred and ten pictures you take, until you have a few more children....)

I speak in mother-tongue now. It's a language all its own. I sit on the beach and hear it all around me. Every now and then, it seems foreign again and I wonder who these strangers are. And then I realize they are me, and you really shouldn't throw sand because as we all know, sand is not for throwing, BALLS ARE FOR THROWING.

Are you looking at me?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Carleen Brice

Ah, content at last. What we've all been waiting for.

I'm part of the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit--essentially cool women who write. My "guest" today is one of those excellent ladies, Carleen Brice. So excellent in fact was her first novel, ORANGE MINT AND HONEY, that it won the 2009 First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the 2008 Break Out Author Award at the African American Literary Awards Show. It was also optioned by Lifetime Movie Network, and no, in case you're wondering, I'm not at all envious. That would be unseemly.

Her latest release, CHILDREN OF THE WATERS, is the "story about race, love, family & identity. As someone else put it, 'issues fiction.' Two women, 1 black and 1 white, discover they are related and the story deals with how that impacts both their lives."
Here's what Carleen had to say about the book, motherhood and writing.
ME: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
CARLEEN: The idea came from a story my sister-in-law told me. She’s biracial and was given up for adoption and raised by a white family. Her birth sister, who’s also white, found her when they were adults. I wondered what would happen if she had been adopted and raised by a black family.

ME: How does motherhood appear (or not appear) in your novel?
CARLEEN: Motherhood is quite important to this story. Billie, one of the 2 protagonists is pregnant. The other protag, Trish, is looking at having an empty nest soon as her son is a teen. And both women deal with the repercussions of having lost their biological mother. Billie’s adoptive mother plays a key role. So motherhood comes up a lot.

ME: What's been your own experience of mothering? (Giving it, receiving it, etc.)
CARLEEN:I don’t have children. I had 2 miscarriages, so my experience around mothering is one of loss. My first novel Orange Mint and Honey also deals with mothering—it’s about a mother-daughter relationship. My mother was very important in my life, though we sometimes had a difficult relationship.

(Editor's note: I'm sure that hasn't happened to ANYONE else in the world.)

Here's what some other writers are saying about the book:
“I was exhausted and singing the blues the hour I began Carleen Brice’s new novel,
CHILDREN OF THE WATERS. Five hours later, I’d finished this fresh, free-rein novel about mothers’ secrets and children’s sorrows and was shouting ‘Hurray!’”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

In CHILDREN OF THE WATERS, Carleen Brice deftly explores issues of family, identity, and race with a wonderful abundance of humor, forgiveness, and grace.
This moving story of two sisters separated by prejudice will open minds and touch hearts.”
—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

In CHILDREN OF THE WATERS, Carleen Brice manages to explore the difficult, messy and unpleasant details of life with both humor and wisdom. The parallel journeys of sisters, Trish and Billie, will resonate with everyone and anyone who has questioned their identity and place in this world. Once again, Carleen Brice has crafted a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gets at the heart of the human experience.”
—Lori Tharps, author of Kinky Gazpacho

She is at work on her third novel, Calling Every Good Wish Home, and she maintains the blogs “White Readers Meet Black Authors” http://www.welcomewhitefolks.blogspot.com/ and "The Pajama Gardener" http://www.pajamagardener.blogspot.com/.

Monday, August 17, 2009


The cat is dying. I suppose that will do for gratuitous internet blog content. Drama, tragedy, and scandal are all the rage on the web. Whatever catches one's attention, a moment of voyeurism, or sympathy, I suppose.

"I don't want him to go," my son says.

Well, neither do I, not after thirteen years, my stealthy, black, anti-social ferret of a cat.

Somewhere, amidst the chaos of ordinary life with children, in its vibrancy and melodrama, its self-obsession and neurosis, a flash of the mortality of all things, the cat a skeleton with a tumor, sleeping behind the toilet.

What do we do? Set him up in the bathroom with water he won't drink and a cat box and two ratty, hair-lined cat beds. I give him rubs and hold him and wonder if he might make it because my son has kissed him and once, last year, when I accidentally uprooted (while weeding) a scarlet bean plant (gorgeous, healthy, productive), my son kissed the vine as it withered almost instantly in front of our eyes, then wouldn't you know, or would you never believe?, that plant, wilts and near-dies then (despite even a break in it's lower stalk--and of course I'd instantly replanted it in desperation), greens again. Lives.

I think of my novel, how I might be more literary, more serious, more important as a novelist if I'd killed off a few characters and encircled them with despair, melancholy, alcoholism--which always sells. But then life gives us more than we need of heartbreak. I don't think fiction needs to dream up sadness. It's a river through the landscape of every life, one way or another, and though we might like to glimpse another person's losses, laughter pulls us awake, and away, into the very fine land of perspective, where, though the cat lays dying, the baby and toddler make festive rolling over one another in paroxysms of hilarity and for a moment I recall the bold, squat face of my kitten, who my Jewish friend always said was surely a Jewish cat, and how the other month I had to pick the shit off his tail (what was he thinking?), and that he has never been a groomer or a lover of people, but that he has always liked me, and late at night will come for pats, like every other cat, or like a person, a friend, a lover, a child, to sit on your lap and be comforted for a short while.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Ever notice how when you post on your blog you imagine thousands, if not millions, of eager readers devouring your every clever word? Okay, maybe YOU don't do that. And hey, neither do I. I'm too busy trying not to check my book sales on Amazon.com, and, um, taking care of my children, to worry about the relative success of my blog personality. Anyway, I cannot compete. I am told, though I have not read, blogs that journal in great detail one's sex life, one's divorce, one's affairs, one's depression.

I have nothing on these people.

Well, except cloth diapers. They're very edgy, you know. Very now. Very political. And I've been using the same set through two children. Thrifty lady. Maybe one day I'll post a picture of them. Stay tuned. Don't turn off your computer. Things are happening on this blog! Watch out! Boring mother, woefully lacking in racy content, blogs on.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why I Don't Love Sand

And other troubles with the beach vacation.

Drop bathing suit. Insert nipple into mouth of nursing babe. Watch her back away with a look of resentful disgust, puckering her lips and shaking her head. No, she will not nurse at the salty bosom of a woman who has been swimming recently enough to still have seaweed cleaving to her cleavage.

This leads to the ritual washing of the breasts, over the sink, with water and dish soap. Three times I go back. I hope the neighbors are enjoying the show because, as it happens, I am not.

Also, too much sand in the diaper does in fact lead to diaper rash.

And, it's possible for a grain of sand to plant itself in one's foot, impersonating a garden variety splinter.

Look out for sand in your hair as well as on your pretzels. Sand on the pretzel does not constitute a salty pretzel. You have to dip it in the ocean for that.

But then, I am on the beach every day. There is simply nothing to complain about. Not even the tedious, frustrating thrice daily application of SPF during which all children will fight against you while you shout threateningly, "Do you want to get burned? Do you? DO YOU? I don't think so!!"

For the record, my son has responded to this rhetorical drama. "Yes, Mama, I want a burn."

Oh, so speak the innocents who have no idea, no idea, of the suffering I am ensuring they will never have. Good mommy. Sleep well at night mommy, in your sandy bed.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

All the way to Hong Kong

Look! A dear, old friend of mine from high school got my book delivered to Hong Kong. And there it is. The Hong Kong skyline. And that, most likely, is as close as I will ever get to seeing the view myself.

But, don't you think the book looks good in that light? Very sexy. Very sophisticated.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On life after birth

So I'm attaching this monster ship of a maxipad to my underwear, and, based on size and weight alone the thing ought at the very least to require staples if not full on nails and a hammer, when it dawns on me that if I continue to use these super size pads, I will fill every landfill on the planet.

But, hey, it happens. After babies, you get what my midwife cheerily called "a return to fertility." You know, your monthly friend. Little red friend from Kansas.

Anyhow, this little friend of mine has changed since the kids came along. She's not what she used to be, way back, when she was younger. I can't really blame her, I've changed too.

Whoa! Help! I'll have to write more later....the current is taking me downstream on my kayak of cotton--

Friday, July 24, 2009

Has this ever happened to you?

I opened the refrigerator door and located a glass container of jam. Opened it. Inserted knife. Oh, the hollow, sad sound of scraping glass.

Someone in my household had returned said jar to the fridge.

I guess they were thinking it could still be licked clean.

Say, if you had the tongue of a dog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eat Your Peas!

And butter. And cheese. And bread.

I don't want to have to say it, but I've got a skinny daughter. I'm wondering where I went wrong. Has it already started, the culturally prescribed rite-of-passage body-obsessed diet-crazed habits of girlhood?

I mean, she's only fifteen months old. And I'm standing over here like an Italian grandmother practically pouring lard down her throat. She walks around on legs like a new born fawn, straight shoots from the hips down. My son, on the other hand, had rolls you could hide your cash in, say, if you didn't feel confident enough to put it in the market.

Well, if you want an exercise in futility, tell a burgeoning toddler to eat her dinner. She is too young to bribe with dessert, too clever to simply take what you offer--if she doesn't like it, she spits it out--and too good to be left in her high chair until she eats what she's been given. I could not even get her to eat bread and butter. Until I put jam on it. And while she wouldn't eat yogurt before, she will eat it now with honey in it.

You can feel free to give me advice, but I'm sure I don't need it. If I want to fatten her up, I'll have to put her on my diet: chocolate, baked goods, and chocolate, for variety. But what do they say? Girls are made of sugar and spice? They are certainly not made out of peas.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More on Motherhood

Thinking more about my yesterday post and comment interchange--here's a reprint of the fantastic Nantucket Today magazine article in which I scandalously refer to motherhood as a spiritual calling. And YES, you SHOULD buy the book!! And one small caveat--I wax a bit on what I love about staying home with my children, but I certainly do not now, nor ever have, believed all women should stay home. I feel all women should only do what EACH women feels called to do and I admire and respect mothers who do whichever.

Read the review here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

You Know Not What You Do

I have just finished The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer, a novelist I adore, and you may have to stop me because I have more to say than anyone has the time to read, but being frank, as one can be while blogging, I have to confess, I didn't like the book primarily because I DO NOT AGREE with this premise that our time raising our children is anything like a "ten year nap." Also, it was not at all funny. (But then neither is this blog post.)

What disappoints me on a large scale (like bigger than a billboard), is the fact that women continue to act as though raising children is not of any significance, pining away for something worthwhile to do. (Um, gee, I don't think there EXISTS more worthwhile.) The characters in the book are all, mostly, aching for a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Paying no attention whatsoever to the reality of their lives.

What happened to me the other day: I come back from the grocery store. I have a car full of groceries including milk, cheese, frozen yogurt--you know, COLD things--and I discovered as I put the baby in the car seat at the store that she is soaking wet (through her pants). I am feeling a great senseur of urgency about my work, necessity, and, of course, purpose. I need to get the groceries in the house, unpack them, get the baby dry and clean, and entertain the toddler meanwhile or at the very least keep him from destroying himself or something in arm's reach and just at that moment, a door-to-door Sierra Club guy walks up the driveway and wants to talk to me, and I think to myself, HE thinks I can talk to him because I am simply "staying home."

I told him I don't have the money. My husband does. When he persisted, I told him I'm not sure we even like the Sierra Club. I said, AGAIN, I have a soaking wet baby and some thawing frozen food in my car. This may not make the national news, but it's as pressing and necessary as anything. And please, won't the women wake up from the thorny stem of feminism that has poked them into slumber like a reverse fairy tale, and realize that life is not happening SOMEWHERE ELSE. It is happening here, among the detritus of home life, as well as in the boardroom, and that somewhere, food needs refrigeration and that if you are the one to keep it cold, you have a purpose. A very fine purpose, in fact. Keeping frozen yogurt cold and edible may, actually, make this world go round. Never mind the act of service in cleaning a tiny, baby bum. (But p.s. if you pay attention you will be rewarded with a sense of purpose.)

Coming off of soap box now. Stepping down. Walking away from the silence of the computer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Is this fun? I am having so much fun these days. (Minus moments of boredom, exhaustion, tedium, you know, the stuff of live.)

I have a new favorite person: Eliot Baker. He's a staff writer of Nantucket Today magazine. A father of one about to be a father of two who's read my book (and liked it!) In addition to being a funny, lyrical, interesting writer, he's a fan of mine. (Go, self-absorption, go!)

Here are a few things he said about THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME.

Illuminating the dark corners of motherhood in “This Little Mommy Stayed Home” with light prose and breezy language, Wilde goes where no chick-lit has gone before.

The quick hits of lean, raunchy comedy tantalize readers like bites of spicy chocolate as protagonist Joy McGuire reclaims her femininity from drooping body parts amid a floundering marriage and illicit love interests.

Joy charms the reader with her wit as she punctuates smoldering inner monologues with punchy dialogue. Her cynicism is matched only by her disillusionment (which ultimately sublimates into a disarmingly authentic self-awareness).

But Wilde dives into that aching, sleep-deprived psychology head-first and smiling. Her gift for humor and comedic timing allows for an effortless foray into potentially-dangerous territory. She won’t shy away from sexuality or nasty thoughts, but Wilde knows how to temper the bad stuff with good humor. And she can be counted on to whisk her readers away from anything too dark before it becomes a bummer.

Now what could be better than that?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Announcing the "I'm a Mess" Motherhood Championship Contest

Well, I love new mothers. I just do. I see them, braving the strange world, small, blinky-eyed little new thing in their arms, and I want to--I want to give them all sorts of unsolicited advice. God, it's hard to be bossy.

Seeing as I can't do that (and shouldn't do that), I am announcing a new contest exclusively for first time mothers with babies under one year. (Terribly selective, I know, but I'm looking for the Joys among us. [That's the main character in my novel.])

Here are the rules.

1. Submit an essay by email only to samanthawilde@live.com.

2. You may write an essay about a new mother you know or about yourself if you are a new mother.

3. No more than 800 words.

4. Write why you are a mess (messy, tired, bewildered, on a steep-learning curve, drinking lots of coffee, eating lots of chocolate, etc.). Be humorous please and not totally depressing.

5. Then you must include some of the things/skills/gifts you have gained in your new mothering experience. In other words, why you are in fact a CHAMPION mother. And YES, go on and praise yourself. I WANT you to. It will feel GOOD to see how much you have gained.

6. DEADLINE: September 1

7. You must include your name and email address. If your essay is chosen you will be notified by email and will need to send along a mailing address.

I will pick TWO winning entries.

The winners will each receive a signed copy of THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME and have their essay published on this blog.

So go on, reach out and touch me with your essay. New mamas, you are already champions, but if you have time to write an essay, you really will deserve an award.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Aren't You Ashamed of Yourself?

Yes, I am. I'm terribly ashamed of myself. If I had my own reality show I'd be in the headlines right now: Mother Acts Childish. But, thank God, I am not on TV. I do not have to be scrutinized by the masses for the normal, garden-variety imperfections that I sport like freckles.

We went to dinner. That's how it all began. Except it was WAY past bedtime for those among us who deem it fine to fart in public (my children, but thank you for thinking that I am a) that young and b) that liberated and unselfconscious). Cranky doesn't do justice to their state of being. Spilled: not just one but TWO miso soups. Overheard: shushing from the childless people beside me. Reaction: the embarrassing mother behavior that makes us all want to turn away. In other words, cross words, cross face, a lot of huffing, whispered threats, and one hearty, I-am-so-put-upon sigh.

The big kid spilled the soy onto the table. The little one put her hand in the burning hot soup and tipped it over. The big one moved the table and spilled the replacement soup. The little one screamed "POTTY" at the top of her lungs (I mean, for AWHILE, like we're attracting attention awhile). The big one covered himself in sticky sushi rice. The little one threw crackers on the floor and laughed. Do I need to go on?

I don't even want to tell you the price of that Japanese dinner. When we got back, my husband and I looked at one another surprised that we had lived through it.

And to think I'd been planning on getting dressed up for this meal! Check please.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thank God for the Kid

As you all know, I'm on tour for THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME.
(Oooh, sounds so good, doesn't it?) Actually, I'm with my husband for a conference and up for a book reading at the local Borders. I visited the store today with wet (from rain and lake play) children where I was greeted with a great picture of the book and announcement of the event on the door.

But then, I couldn't find the book.

Now, I'm a humble person. (Ah-hum.) So I wasn't going to go searching or ASK. God forbid I ask for my own book. Instead, I moved on to the kids section where I spent a lot of time delineating the differences between book stores (NO, you can't take it home) and libraries (where you can take it home but you can't step on it).

As we moved out, two wet umbrellas, two tired children, one slightly bewildered looking woman furtively searching for her debut novel, my son said: "Look, Mama, it's the same baby." He tugged on my hand to pull me back and pointed at an enormous display that contained--you guessed it,

MY BOOK. And even better: ONLY my book.

Wow. It was like Danielle Steele or something, they had so many copies. I was tempted to take a picture but couldn't endure such a display of self-gratifying humiliation. (Or something like that. Don't expect fancy words. These feelings are new for me. I don't know what to call them.)

I sauntered out. Still with two wet children and two wet umbrellas and myself. But, hey, I sauntered.

So if you're in the heartbreakingly beautiful state of Vermont, come on Thursday at 7 p.m. to Borders in Burlington and after my reading (which I promise will make you wish you'd worn Depends--if your post partum body is anything like mine [from laughing, not from free drinks]) and I will sign a copy just for you!

Friday, July 3, 2009

You Can't Be Serious?

Being funny is really hard work.

It's much easier to be serious. Seriously. Melodrama just flows from me. Sap. Sentiment. Self-obsessed misery.

But I have to work really, really hard to write something funny for all you virtual people out there. And STILL I can't get taken seriously.

Comedy is for the dogs.

Woof. Woof.

P.S. Novel is out. THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME is a totally serious, deep, probing account of the great mystery of motherhood in all its complex, inscrutable ways. Adrienne Rich move over. I will depress the heck out of you. I mean, when you're sitting around using your precious free-time to read a novel, isn't depression what you're after?

P.P.S. Here are some fun blogs I've visited lately: www.maggiemarr.com. www.robertaisleib.com/blog http://www.joannerendell.com/. http://grannypantychronicles.blogspot.com/
There are others! I'll try to get them up soon.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


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.