Who says what?

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Next Big Thing

Welcome to the Next Big Thing blog hope where today I am your humble hop host.

This blog hop is a giant game of virtual tag to help readers discover new authors and books to love. For this hop, I was asked to answer 10 question about my next big project. I do have a brand new novel near completion but with 27 days to go until the publication of I'll Take What She Has, there is only one thing on my mind!
Have you ever felt envious and wished you had what *she* does?

Brenda Janowitz tagged me. Check her out because she's awesome. I've tagged three other writers for next week. You can follow their links at the bottom.


1.What's it called?
I'll Take What She Has

2. Where did the idea for I'LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS come from.
My mother.
I wish this were a joke. But it's not. In the middle of the contract negotiation with Bantam Books (way back in 2007, I think), BB showed interest in a two-book deal. I didn't have a second idea let alone a book. I called my mother. She said write about newlyweds and envy. I said, "I'll call it I'll Take What She Has." I came up with the Cynthia Cypress character (although in the published version she's way toned down) and the rest is history.

3. What genre does your book come under?
Bad-ass hilarious fiction about women's real lives and issues. Is that a genre?

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
If someone is asking me this question, I want to see a six figure check and a red carpet.
Seriously? Oh, man. I haven't watched a movie in ten years. How about Minnie Driver does Nora, I get to play Annie (hey, I'm an excellent actress) Barbie plays Cynthia and Bradley Cooper plays David Hayworth. Betty White can do the MIA grandma. Tina Fey can play the outrageous and disturbed cousin Elle.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Captures the oozing, molten core of American life with profundity and grace.
Oh, woops. Sorry. That was someone else's book AND it was really bad.
My book for real this time: Read it or I will un-friend you on Facebook.
Ha! Just kidding. That was my evil twin. Last time: I'll Take What She Has explores friendship, envy, motherhood and marriage with humor and sass, taking on feminism, working versus at-home motherhood, infertility, married and family love with hilarity, insight, verve and wit.

6. Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
Bantam Books, man! All the way. Random House rocks!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Maybe 6 months. But then I revised it for four different editors for years.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is hard to answer. There is so much women's fiction out there, but this book is funny. It wants to be funny and people think it's funny which makes it different from the women's romance fiction and women's fiction that centers around trauma, death, etc. I usually find books like it, but they are often memoirs. Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette? may be the closest in that it's funny but about serious stuff too, except the NYTs reviewed her and they won't review me unless I dance for them first. I told them I only dance for Facebook fans. They cried.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My running joke is that I wrote a book about envy and had to do a lot of research on the topic. Wanting what others have is almost as human as breathing. And what happens when you envy your friends? Or when you finally get to be friends with the popular girl, but it threatens to ruin your oldest, closest friendship?

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It's full of naked pictures of...my dog. Just kidding! I would never take advantage of a canine like that. One plot line I love in the book is about finding home, a sense of belonging, and Annie and Nora both look for it and find different ways to make it, which includes making peace with imperfect childhoods and zany family members. Annie, in fact, goes to therapy to help with raising a "spirited" child and in the process confronts her own ambivalence about her choices.

Okay, next week's hoppers, consider yourselves tagged!
Nancy Thayer
Jamie Cat Callen
Jordan Rosenfeld

Check out their Next Big Thing posts next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases.

Happy Writing and Reading!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Have an old friend? Win a Book

Annie and Nora, the two main characters in my soon-to-be released second novel (called "thoroughly entertaining," "honest, unflinching" and "smart and funny" in early praise) I'LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS, have been friends since kindergarten and their twenty-five year friendship is at the heart of the novel.

Here's my five-year old best friend. A woman who has known every one of my hairstyles. As children, we loved the Frog and Toad books and somehow, I became Frog and she Toad. Today, she is my sister (I don't have one by blood) and our shared history has an incalculable value.

In celebration of lifetime friendships, I am giving away my last ARC (advanced reader's copy) of I'LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS, signed and shipped (US only), to one lucky person who leaves a comment either here or on my facebook site and tells me a line or two (or more if you wish) about YOUR Annie/Nora friendship of a lifetime.

Sara's college graduation.
Stay tuned for more historical photos!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How Facebook makes me feel Unsuccesful, Unpopular and (probably) Fat

I want you to know that I never wanted to join Facebook. I wanted to join the Amish but they wouldn't have me since I look bad in a bonnett. But my mother made me do it. She basically said, "I won't send you those weekly six dozen homemade cookies unless you get yourself on Facebook and start making something of yourself!" So let's be honest with each other: I didn't join Facebook to find my lost loves, to spy on my worst enemy or to show anyone cute photos of my kids, I joined to help promote my second novel, I'll Take What She Has, which (according to my publicist, since I've never read the thing), is the best, funniest, most heart-felt and entertaining novel you'll ever read.
Face Book. Of course.

And you know what's happened to me since I became the last American to join Facebook? My self-esteem has plummeted into the earth's core and I have LOST not gained money by having to see a shrink every other day. I know this hasn't happened to you because I've looked you up on Facebook and read all your old blog posts so I know everything about you and your children and the awesome birthday party you threw where you took six thousand photos--so cute, can't wait to get more, :-), LOL!!!, so I'll go ahead and tell you why Facebook has ruined my life.

First, until Facebook, I thought I was pretty popular, doing pretty well in the friendship category. I could host a party and at least two people would show up and if I met an old friend in the grocery store she always said, "Oh, yeah, I think I remember you," so imagine my surprise when I got on Facebook and realized how totally, completely, profoundly unpopular I actually am. How do people get hundreds of friends? I mean, I guess I know how. I thought, if I just look up all my old lovers and get them to be friends with me, then I'll have at least one thousand friends, except I couldn't remember any of their last names which is why I'm going to teach my children NOT to have one-night stands with strangers who leave before sunrise so that when they grow up they won't have to feel like a virtual loser. (Kids: know the name before you do the deed!)

Second, Facebook exposes you to all the people from your past who you couldn't stand the first time around because they were so much better than you only now, because you're friends with them so that at least you don't look like the world's most unloveable human on the planet, you have to be reminded of this fact every time you turn on your computer (which is why after I finish this blog post I'm going to through this computer out the window). I mean, who needs to see messages like this: "I'm so happy! The larger dose of Prozac is amazing!" Or, "Finally kicked my crack addiction, now I can use my billions to buy some stuff I saw on Pinterest" or "My book just hit number one on the bestseller list and yours didn't!" Look, if I wanted to get depressed, I'd read Sylvia Plath. And she'll never unfriend me because she's dead.

Third, I am not fat, but Facebook makes me feel fat. I'll tell you why, because I can hear the intrigue in your silence (and by the way, it's so great that we could have this special moment together, a real heart-to-heart), get ready for it (drum roll, please): it vaporizes your time! And before you know it, once you've read every entry in your newsfeed, looked up every person you ever kissed, your worst enemy, your husband's new secretary (thank God, she's fat, except you had to guess based on her chin because she doesn't have a single picture of herself from the waist down), and all the most unpopular kids you knew in high school (to make yourself feel better, of course, which it doesn't, because it turns out they have more friends than you now), that you have been sitting at the computer for EIGHTEEN HOURS! And during that time, you have done nothing but mindlessly eat Cheez-Its (comfort food, natch), also your toddler has died of starvation and your six year old got stuck in a tree and couldn't come down and your husband run off with a woman who actually engages with him (and what's up with that? You did "like" his latest post, after all), and your mother called to say she's sorry she can't friend you on Facebook but she doesn't want to make herself look bad because she's next in line to be the Best Selling novelist of all time and you'll only drag her down (but she's sure you don't mind and she's sending cookies so your fat ass can just get even bigger!).

Ah, well. Envy. What a good topic for a novel. I should write something about it....
Oh, right, I already did.
And really, normally, I wouldn't ask you to buy my new novel. I'm not that kind of girl. But if you don't go and buy it, I will not be able to continue seeing my therapist for help with my Facebookphrenia. Won't you please help a good cause?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Will Dance for Book Sales

Hello, wonderful blog readers. I'm into my count down for the publication of I'LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS, and boy, is this an exciting time. I am so thrilled, in fact, that I am dancing, in my mother's words, "like an insane housewife." You can't miss it!
What's all the hoop-la about? The publication of my second novel, which has gone through 5 (!) editors and four years!

Read the first chapter here. And while you're at it, you can pre-order a copy from your favorite book seller (unless you plan to make the book launch and party on February 27 at Odyssey Books, then you can save it for the DAY!).

There will be many opportunities to win the book for free in the upcoming weeks. You can enter for a copy on Library Thing and soon on Goodreads. I will be holding my own giveaway of an advanced reader's copy, and I there is still time to enter the I AM A FEMINIST MOTHER PHOTO CONTEXT AND EXHIBIT, inspired by one of the main characters, Annie.

I hope you laugh!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dear Vice President Biden,

My six year old son woke me up last night after having a bad dream. Soon after I hugged him and got him back to sleep, I feel asleep myself only to wake a short while later from a nightmare about an armed man entering a large wedding reception ready to open fire.

I could not say to myself when I awoke, "don't worry, it's only a dream."

Regardless of the interpretation of the Second Amendment, we can be certain that our forefathers could not imagine the level of violence possible with modern gun technology. Moreover, ours is a country where the safety of many is ALWAYS more important than the rights of a few to recreation.

Take, for example, smoking. If my son's first grade teacher loved to smoke (and, of course, has a right to smoke), and chained smoked while she taught, she would be told that she cannot smoke on school grounds. In fact, we now have rules that smoking is not allowed in most public spaces. Does this inconvenience smokers? Yes. Does it rub up against their freedom? Sure. But is her love of smoking more important than the health of a group of children? Is there anyone who wouldn't answer yes?

You could do the same with drunk driving. Some people might be just fine driving around drunk and if their drunk driving only injured themselves, it wouldn't be a problem. But it doesn't. And so, our rights to drink and drive have been curtailed. Or let's take anthrax. Do I have a right to make it? Or to conjure up some biological weapons of mass destruction in my husband's lab--just in case the end of the world arrives? Or just because I think it's fun? Obviously not.

The right to bear arms is no different. I don't personally like guns, but I don't doubt that some decent human beings think it's great to shoot a gun for fun. But that person is confused if they think that their right to own a weapon that could murder another person is a more important right than my child's right to live when he goes to school. (That person may say, "I would never harm someone else," but then the majority of mass shootings have been committed by legal gun owners and your neighbor's kid could always come steal your gun. I have to say it: it's just not all about YOU.) I'm not saying people can't have guns, just like we're not saying people can't drink or smoke or ride ATVs. I'm saying, guns belong ONLY in shooting galleries. We say that ATVs can go on paths, backroads, open fields, but for the safety of all, they can't go down the highway.

What can't this logic be applied to this issue? If the gun companies are worried about the loss of sales money (and boo-hoo! some people have lost children!), then perhaps they could learn from the car companies and adapt. Car companies faced a crises and responded by making more fuel efficient cars appropriate for this time. The gun companies could start making recreational Nerf guns, because, hey, if you're doing something for fun it really doesn't need to be something that could kill someone else, now does it?

On the day of the Newtown shooting a man stabbed twenty children in a Chinese school, but they all lived. In truth, crazy people will always be around. This is a gun issue and you and the President must be visionaries and leaders to make a permanent change. We have the most gun violence in this country, not because we need MORE guns, but because we have too many. This is not merely opinion. Statistics back it up: "The United States has the highest gun ownership rates in the world and the second highest rate of gun deaths among industrialized nations. That's not a coincidence. Looking at developed nations, the U.S. is the end point of a staggering trend where the higher the rate of gun ownership, the more people die from gun wounds."

I have three young children. If my two year old runs around with a spoon in his mouth, I take it away, not because a spoon is wrong, but because he could hurt himself and spoons belong at the table. Guns belong in the shooting range and nowhere else. I challenge any person to tell me that their right to a massive assault weapon is in the best interest of ANYONE. I won't say the word selfish, but I'll think it.

Thank you for taking firm, revolutionary, history making action which rests upon strong, established policy precedent in this country to preserve the right of each of us to live in peace. You can be brave and stand up against the NRA and if your courage falters, then you can remember the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am sure that will be inspiration enough.

Yours sincerely,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Feminist Mother, duh!

I asked my oldest friend, during a recent visit she made from Ohio, to pose for the I Am A Feminist Mother Photo Contest and Online Exhibit. She wanted to know why, again, was I doing this, because in her life, every mother she knows is a feminist mother.

It was a good opportunity for me to share some of the responses I have received about this project, which I list, in no particular order:
1. Silence
2. What is a feminist?
3. I don't like the word feminist.
4. I don't understand what you mean.
5. Feminists are angry and hate people; I'm not one of them.
6. I don't understand.
7. Feminist and mother are oxymoronic.
8. If you stay-at-home, you can't be a feminist.
9. Feminists don't like me.
10. Silence

Here, I've captured my oldest, dearest friend, who suggested she read the galley copy of my new novel, I'll TAKE WHAT SHE HAS (the inspiration for this photo contest), for the photo. Her son is leaping beside her. My friend, Sara, is one of the strongest, wisest, brightest people I know and she is raising her son with authenticity and awareness. I have learned from her how to be more myself, and truer to myself. A woman who supports other women like she does, who uses her gifts for the good (politically and emotionally),and who is neither apologetic nor retiring in her own gifts and capacities, is not just a feminist mother, but an inspiration.

Please send me your photograph!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bestselling Books of 2013

This is only a prediction, people. However, I have used my astute psychic powers (and the 2012 bestsellers list) to compile the list of bestselling books for the upcoming year.

1. FIFTY SHADES OF PINK (nail polish memoir, obviously)

2. BAGGYPANTS (mother with ill-fitting wardrobe tells all)

3. GIRL WITH THE CHOCOLATE TATTOO (one woman's obsession leads her into dark places)

4. THE TODDLER WHISPERER (a man who can understand toddlers reveals their doomsday prophesies)

5. ZOMBIE MOMMIES (Tribe of zombie mommies rid the planet of guns)

6.  LIFE OF PIE (an apple pie confession)

7. SAMANTHA WILDE: VAMPIRE HUNTER (has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?)

8. SHAGGING KENNEDY (admit you want to read it already!)

9. UNDERWEAR: A HISTORY (underwear through the millenia, coffee table book, naturally)

10. I'LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS (a novel of envy, friendship and motherhood that you can't put down)