Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jennifer Weiner, The Guy Not Taken



Jennifer Weiner has talent and a way with words. It's a gift, like good skin and thick hair. She does such a fantastic job of describing a scene or character so clearly -especially those retirees in Florida- you feel as if you were there. When you sit down with a book by Jennifer, it's like partying with P. Diddy- you are guaranteed a good time. I wonder if she's ever been compared to P.Diddy before? I bet not.

One of my favorite books, right up there with White Oleander, Black and Blue, I Know This Much is True and The Glass Castle (to name a few), is the novel In Her Shoes. I was impressed with the way Jennifer set up the relationship between Rose and Maggie, two sisters that don't exactly see eye to eye. And in The Guy Not Taken, we met Josie and Nicki, very different siblings who reminded me of the girls in In Her Shoes.

This new book is a collection of short stories. You know how I feel about short stories-- I get involved and interested in a character and then...on to the next story! Of course I'm reading this book because it's written by an author whose words have never let me down before.



Here’s an obvious question, why a collection of short stories versus a full length novel? And will you turn any of the stories into a novel?


I’ve always written short stories. Some of the pieces in this book are among the first stories I ever published (extensively revised, which is good news), and some are pieces I wrote in the last few years. I enjoy working in the medium – it’s nice to create a world and take the characters in it from beginning to end in twenty-five pages instead of three hundred and fifty.

As to whether you’ll see any of the characters again – either in other stories or in novels – I’m not sure. They’re all still rattling around in my brain right now. We’ll see if any of them keep talking.


In Her Shoes was a brilliant book and the movie adaptation was excellent. How was the whole experience of having your book made into a major film and are you and Cameron Diaz still BFF?


First of all, thank you for liking the book, and thank you for seeing the movie. I had about the best experience of any writer I’ve ever heard of who’s had her stuff adapted for the screen. I decided really early on that once I’d sold the rights, my role was basically that of an enthusiastic cheerleader who’d stay on the sidelines and hope for the best. Because I don’t know
anything about making movies, I was very content to let IN HER SHOES, the movie, be the filmmakers’ story to tell…and I was thrilled with the way it all turned out, from the script to the director to the cast (I was also thrilled to be able to get my Nanna a role as an extra in the senior prom scene).


And yes, Cameron Diaz and I are BFF. In my head, where we have a very warm and intimate relationship, and frequently go surfing together.


So, besides myself and Cameron (of course), what other writers/celebrities/well known personalities would you like to invite to a dinner party?


See, the problem with me and other writers/celebrities/well known personalities is that I tend to become catatonic in their presence…or, worse, sound like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney. “You know when you were in the Beatles?” (Witless giggle). “That was cool.”

If I met the authors I like the best, I’d probably make a total ass of myself, so I’d stick to famous funny people. Maybe Chelsea Handler and Sasha Baron Cohen could come. And that guy from America’s Test Kitchen who roasted five hundred chickens to figure out the best way to roast a chicken (not that he’d be so amusing, but at least we’d get a really good roast chicken).


You are so well known by now, people are interested in your every move- they google your name, anticipate your books, want to know what you are doing... do you have any lets say "devoted fans" ? And how do you deal with that aspect of fame?



I think you’re overestimating A., the extent to which people are interested in me, and B., the extent to which I look anything like my author photo on a normal day. (That picture was the result of a lot of help with hair and makeup, which means that I’m not sure people would recognize me enough to stalk me, even if they wanted to).


Plus, while I’m thrilled that people like my writing and anticipate a new book’s arrival, my real life is so incredibly mundane and it’s hard to imagine anyone caring too much about it. Which speaks to the nature of celebrity. I think if you’re Julia Roberts, you have to walk out the door
and be Julia Roberts every minute of every day. If you’re a writer, unless it’s the week that you’ve got a book coming out, or a movie based on your book, you can just go to the grocery store or the playground and nobody’s going to bother you, let alone be interested in your every move. That suits me just fine.


You have written a novel in every genre- chick lit/womens fiction (Good in Bed, In Her Shoes), short stories (The Guy Not Taken), Goodnight Nobody (mystery) not to mention the Cameron Diaz movie and the HBO series of Good In Bed. Has your success surpassed your dreams and plans? Did you always have a feeling that your talent would take you to places that most people only dream about?



When I published GOOD IN BED I thought maybe twelve people would read it, and I’d know ten of them from Weight Watchers….so yes, what’s happened to that book, and my career, has by far surpassed anything I could have imagined. Really, the thing I hoped for most was just being able to walk into a bookstore and see my book there, and being able to make my living as
a writer.


In terms of my talent taking me to places that most people only dream about, when I was a journalist writing features for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I got to cover a Presidential inauguration, the Miss America pageant, Wrestlemania and the Pillsbury Bake-off. I’m not sure whether it was my talent that took me there as much as it was my affinity for oversized
American spectacles and ability to convince my editors to let me write about them, but I did have access to a lot of things that not many people get to see up close (or would necessarily want to see up close).



Would you ever consider moving to the west coast where we could get our teeth whitened together and go shopping and talk about plastic surgery over drinks at the Polo Lounge? Or are you going to live on the east coast forever?



I think you should move to Philadelphia, where not only do you not need teeth whitening to be a babe, you don’t even necessarily need teeth. Seriously, though, I have a sister and two brothers in LA, so I visit pretty often, but I’ve never been entirely comfortable there. I remember going to Saks on Rodeo Drive because I needed a blouse and asking where the plus sizes were, and having the woman rearranging the Marc Jacobs skirts stare at me like I’d asked for a kidney before mumbling that they were up the street, in a different building.

In other words, if you wear a size sixteen in Los Angeles you are such a freak that your clothing CANNOT EVEN BE KEPT IN THE SAME BUILDING WHERE THE SKINNY GIRLS SHOP.

At least, that’s how I felt. But I will say that when I located Salon Z in the Big Girls’ Ghetto, which was indeed in another building, up the stairs from the menswear, they had a
great selection, the saleswomen were very helpful, and I got a lovely black lace dress from Marina Rinaldi.

How do you focus on one project at a time when you have so much going on? I’m sure you have a lot of creative energy, how do you harness it?


For whatever reason, focusing on one thing at a time is not a problem for me. Credit all those years in journalism, when I’d write three or four stories a day and dream of the time I could focus on longer pieces….or the early days of motherhood, when I’d long for an uninterrupted fifteen minutes to write. I really cherish the time I get to spend on my current project…and
the rest of my creative energy goes to things like making no-bake banana cookies with my daughter.

What does success mean to you, how do you measure it? Is it by how much money is in the bank or what kind of new car you drive, is it how famous you are or how many books you've sold?


I think it was Francine Prose who said that for women writers, success equals time. The money is lovely – it’s great to take nice vacations, and to know that my daughter’s college education is paid for – but mostly success means that I can be a full-time writer, that I can pay for child care, and that I don’t have to fit my work around a day job, or find teaching gigs to support my fiction.


However, in terms of new cars, I will tell you that in 2005 we bought a fully loaded Honda Odyssey minivan, complete with built-in DVD player, and I love love love it…and in terms of material indulgences, it’s a pleasure to be able to buy any book I want without having to wait for it to come out in paperback.


I suppose people could consider you an overnight succsss but in reality you've worked hard. In the past few years, you have become a household name and everyone I know has read at least one of your novels. Tell me about the road to getting where you are right now.


How much space do we have? Long story short: I was an English major in college. I took a lot of creative writing courses, where I devoted myself to exploring the pain of my parents’ divorce, through fiction and poetry, for four years straight. Good times (especially for my poor professors).

Then I went to work as a journalist, and for the nine years between graduating from college (1991) and selling GOOD IN BED (2000), I worked for newspapers, freelanced for magazines, and wrote fiction on nights and weekends. I sold a few short stories here and there in places like Redbook and Seventeen, then went through a really bad break-up in 1998, which provided the impetus for the first novel. I knew I wanted to write about a girl who was sort of like me, and a guy who was kind of like Satan, and give my heroine a happy ending, because I wasn’t sure I’d ever find one myself.

Once I’d completed the novel, it took me a while to find an agent. I queried all the big names and got turned down flat – they weren’t taking new clients, or new fiction, or new women’s fiction, or whatever. I had one very big deal agent who was interested in having me as a client, but was very uncomfortable with the protagonist’s size (“she’s FAT. We’ll never get a film deal!”)


Finally, the pieces fell into place. I found the right agent. We revised the manuscript for about three months, had meetings with five editors in New York City, and sold the book at auction to Pocket Books (now Atria, still a division of Simon & Schuster). Six years and five books later, I’ve got the same agent and the same editor and publisher, and I’m one of the happiest
authors I know.


How many books are you working on this minute? And what kinds of things can we expect from you in the next year? Like a typical superstar- a clothing line, perfume, a record deal....?


If you had any idea how I usually dress (not to mention how I usually smell), you would not be asking me that.

I’m working on one book right now, and thinking about the one that will come after that. I’m considering taking up knitting or Pilates. I got a gift certificate for Pilates class for my birthday. Which was in March. And that’s about it!


Monday, August 28, 2006

John Shors, Beneath A Marble Sky


Beneath A Marble Sky is an incredible book. If you don't believe me, just click on over to Amazon and read the reviews. Five golden stars and glowing write-ups. All the success couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. From our exchange of emails, I can tell that author John Shors is totally unpretentious. He just happened to write this grand book and oh, yes, it's going to be a major motion picture that might very well win an Oscar. No big deal.

John's writing is so vivid, descriptive and magical, you cannot help but be swept up into this grand story about the Taj Mahal. It is historical fiction which will please and entertain even the pickiest reader. I couldn't help but draw comparisons to Memoirs of A Geisha which is another novel that is a must-read. I am just beyond thrilled for all the accolades this book is garnering. It really couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. Read one chapter of the book and his hard work will be glaringly evident.


This book is drenched in detail! The reader is right there amidst the silk pillows and jeweled hues of India. How did you go about researching the infinitesimal details? It must have been extremely time consuming and a true labor of love to write this novel.

Well, as you say, writing Beneath a Marbly Sky truly was a labor of love. I was so delighted when I was at the Taj Mahal and I came across the story behind its creation. I knew almost immediately that this story could be the foundation for a wonderful novel. Afraid that someone else would come up with the same idea, I dove into this project, though it still took me five years to finish!

As far as my research, I spent about a year researching Beneath a Marble Sky. A fair amount of this work revolved around reading religious texts, memoirs, and historical accounts of 17th-century Hindustan. Surprisingly, the written word was not my greatest aid in terms of research material. Instead, hundreds and hundreds of period paintings provided me with a rich sense of the time and place that my novel is set in. Mughal paintings are exquisite and offered glimpses of life within the harem, of how battles unfolded, of how people ate and celebrated and loved. I could not have written Beneath a Marble Sky without such visual aids. The silk pillows and jeweled hues that you mention would have never made it into my novel if I hadn't been fortunate enough to see them in period paintings.


Did you write the book full time? How long did it take from beginning to end? Did you start with an outline or let the characters speak to you? I'm curious about the research process..?

I had a full-time job within the public relations field when I was writing Beneath a Marble Sky. At the time I lived in Boulder and worked in Denver, so I'd take notes on my steering wheel as I drove to and from work. I made the most of the 45-minute commute. Then at night I'd type for a few hours. This process went on and on for five years!

Most writers have a detailed outline from which they work from. I'm not that organized, alas. Most of Beneath a Marble Sky simply lived in my head. The characters kind of came to life on their own. As did the story. Of course, a lot of work went into my novel. Thousands of hours of work.


You traveled extensively, what was it about India that inspired you to write this book as opposed to writing a story about Japan or another country?

For a time I wanted to write a novel set in Japan. Then Arthur Golden wrote Memoirs of a Geisha, and suddenly dozens of writers decided to write novels set in Japan. When this happened, I had no interest in following suit. I wanted to do something different. And when I visited the Taj Mahal, when I saw its unimaginable beauty and heard the magical story behind its creation, I knew that I had found my story. I honestly think that I could have searched the world for a hundred years and never stumbled upon a better tale to tell.


This book will be a movie and I'm always excited to see another writer living my dream! Tell me how it happened and your reaction to this awesome event. Was it in the back of your mind that the book would make a fabulous film as you were writing?

I always felt like Beneath a Marble Sky would make a great movie. But I never really put much effort into trying to sell the movie rights. Probably because I was just too busy with everything else to even think about. Then one day I got a call from Eriq LaSalle's (Dr. Benton on "ER") representative, who told me that his production company wanted to buy the film rights to my novel. That was certainly a fun call to take! The movie-making process is a long one, but it's quite interesting, and I'm enjoying the process.


You are an American man writing from an Indian woman's point of view. How hard was it to slip into Jahanara's silk slippers and take on her persona?

Let’s just say that writing in the first person as a 17th-century Hindustani woman wasn’t completely natural to me. Additionally, not only did I need to write convincingly as a woman from another place and another time, but I had to re-create the way in which Hindustanis spoke in general. Upon reading memoirs from that time, I quickly realized that the manner in which people spoke was much more formal than how people converse today. I wanted to capture some of this formality without getting carried away.

So, a great deal of work went into Jahanara’s voice, as well as the other voices within Beneath a Marble Sky. I edited my novel fifty-six times. This number did not always sit well with my wife, as I was forever editing at night or during a much-needed vacation! However, I think that all of these edits allowed me to create consistent, unique voices within my novel.


What do you do when hit with writers block or an inablity to move forward with a chapter?

When I'm afflicted by this unfortunate condition, I simply force myself to work. Even though I know my work isn't my best, I plug away as long as I can. I know that I can always go back and improve copy, so I simply write and write and write. Later I do a great deal of editing. Fortunately, I'm stubborn enough that I rarely quit.


How has your life changed since this book was published? How do you stay humble and grounded with all the success?

Oh, it's easy for me to stay humble. We have a pair of little toddlers, and it's easy to stay humble when one is constantly being urinated on. Plus, I know that success can be fleeting, so I really try and stay grounded.

As far as how my life has changed, I've been able to quit my day job, which has been a nice change of pace. And I've been traveling all over the U.S. doing events and book signings. That's been a lot of fun.

Is there anything that you would like to share with your readers?

I am grateful for their support, and I look forward to creating other novels that they may enjoy. Readers might be interested in learning about my national book club program. Through this program, I have called into book clubs (via speakerphone) all over the U.S. and Canada. I’ve spoken with more than 200 book clubs so far. I created this program in an effort to give something back to readers.

So far I think the program has been quite successful in that readers really seem to enjoy our chats. I do as well. If anyone is interested, additional information can be found at the back of the trade paperback version of Beneath a Marble Sky. It’s really quite easy to participate. All people have to do is email me to set up a time. This is a free service.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Vote for The Quill Book Awards!



Like a proud mother, I'm thrilled and just a bit teary eyed that one of my interviewees, Debra Dean, has been nominated for the Quill Book Awards in the categories of Book of the Year and Debut Author of the year. Congratulations, Debra!

Her novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad was a gripping, emotionally touching read and if you haven't done so, hurry to your nearest bookstore, online or otherwise, and get your hands on it.

If you have read the book, then please go here and cast your vote! Best of luck to you Debra and our thoughts are with you. It's truly an honor to be nominated, isn't it?


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This is NOT CHICK-LIT



I haven’t read this book yet. The title, it’s so negative. Frightens me a little. Shouting it out- this book is most certainly not, please do not confuse it with, we would never! It is NOT, no way, Chick-lit.

I like chick-lit. Sure, why not? What’s not to like when you are in the mood for a light story, something a little funny, a little flirty. Chick-lit can be as entertaining and delicious as a Julia Roberts flick and a bucket of buttery popcorn. It may or may not change your view of the world but it will sweep you away into someone else’s life and that’s the point of a book, right?

This Is Not Chick Lit has a host of outstanding female authors, I hold them in high regard. But still, what’s wrong with chick-lit? Please tell me. This is NOT Crap! This is NOT a bad book. I think I found the title of my next novel.

There’s another book out there, a rebuttal against This is NOT called This Is Chick-Lit. These ladies are proud to be in this genre, they wear the badge of frothy female novels happily. It's seems like there's a big rift between literary novelists and those who are considered “chick-lit” authors. Who has purchased a chick lit novel in the cover of night, mortified you might be caught with a book that’s printed by Red Dress Ink? Oh..is that what you’re reading these days? Snort.

I want to know- where’s the love? Why can’t we all just get along? I know we all enjoy a good literary novel, think something like Triangle by Katharine Weber, a sweeping historical ,
Memoirs of a Geisha comes to mind, or sometimes we long for a humorous take on the absurdities of life, like Lauren Weisburger created in Devil Wears Prada.

Different authors for different moods. We are so lucky to have them all to suit our many needs. Each vibrant and prolific and wonderful in her own way. I am admiration of authors that can cobble together an entirely cohesive book out of blank pages and twenty-six letters of the alphabet. My hats off to each of you fabulous ladies.

Good books are good books. We can all peacefully coexist. Authors are a talented and generous bunch. Why pit chick-lit authors against well, other female authors? Is this a competition? Straight out of West Side Story, its the Sharks (literary) versus the Jets (chick-lit). When is the official rumble? And remind me, why are you on two different sides of the same story?

There’s room for all of us isn’t there? Yes, I think so.

And by the way, This Is NOT Another Blog.


new look, new site...Hello Dollface!



Please head over to Hello Dollface to see my brand new beauty site!

see you there!


Monday, August 21, 2006

Laura Dave, London is the Best City in America


Judging a book from it's cover, I expected London is the Best City in America by Laura Dave to be a chick-lit book, something entertaining and amusing that might have a few laugh-out-loud observations and a sweet happy ending metephorically tied with a fluffy pink bow. Which would have been fine because I do enjoy novels like that, I do. However from page one, I realized that I was not in for what I initially expected. Wait, no - even from the acknowledgements page, I knew.

When an author is represented by none other than Gail Hochman, a fabulous agent who represents highly esteemed authors, I knew the book wasn't going to be lightweight.

Laura's debut novel reads like she's been writing books for years and years. The book is polished, the prose is sharp, the story is multi-layered. There is a lot of praise for this novel and Reese Witherspoon is set to star in the movie version.

Laura answered my questions in capital letters so I'm not going to retype in lowercase and risk making a mistake. Best of luck to you Laura, with your exciting future!


What is your favorite city in America?

NEW YORK CITY IS MY FAVORITE CITY IN AMERICA. WE HAVE HAD THE UPS AND DOWNS OF ANY LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP. WE'VE BEEN ON THE OUTS AND HAD OUR HONEYMOON PERIOD. AND HERE WE STILL ARE, TRYING TO WORK IT OUT.


You grew up in Scarsdale, NY. Have you ever tried the Scarsdale diet?

I CAN'T SAY THAT I HAVE. UNFORTUNATELY, LIKE WITH MOST DIETS, I HAVE READ ABOUT IT, BUT HAVE FAILED TO TAKE THE CRITICAL STEP OF ACTUALLY DOING IT.


What literary character (any book, any genre) do you identify with the most?

I LOVE A CHARACTER NAMED HARRY GINSBERG IN CHARLES BAXTER'S NOVEL, THE FEAST OF LOVE. HE IS AN AGING PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR, WHO CALLS HIS WIFE, ESTHER, "A TOUGH BIRD, THE LOVE OF MY EXISTENCE," AND SAYS THINGS LIKE, "HE KNOWS AS MUCH ABOUT MUSIC AS A PIG ABOUT ORANGES."

HARRY IS THIS PERFECT BLEND OF CERTAIN AND SEARCHING. HE IS KIND, AND WISE, AND NOBODY'S FOOL. AND MAN—IF IT ISN'T OBVIOUS—I TOTALLY ADMIRE HIM, WANT TO KNOW HIM, SIT DOWN AND LEARN FROM HIM. I'M NOT HIM, YET. BUT WE CAN ASPIRE…I ASPIRE TO BE MORE LIKE HIM.


Reese Witherspoon is making your book into a movie. You are the second author I've interviewed to have Reese's production company turn her book into a film. Have you met Reese yet? Did you imagine her in the role of Emmy as you were writing the book? Who would you like to see in the role of Josh?

I HAVEN'T MET REESE YET, BUT I AM VERY EXCITED THAT SHE WANTS TO PLAY EMMY. THE MAN IN THE MOON IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES, AND I'VE BEEN A FAN OF REESE SINCE. I THINK SHE'LL MAKE A GREAT EMMY.

AS FOR WHO I CAN SEE IN THE ROLE OF JOSH, I ADORED BILLY CRUDUP IN ALMOST FAMOUS. THAT LAST SCENE WHEN HE SAYS HE LOVES EVERYTHING ABOUT MUSIC? I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT HIM. I ALSO THINK ZACH BRAFF IS A GREAT ACTOR—AND FEARLESS WHEN IT COMES TO TAKING ON COMPLICATED CHARACTERS, AND BRINGING COMPASSION TO THEM.

THE TRUTH IS, WHEN I LET MYSELF THINK ABOUT THE MOVIE, I HAVE TOO MANY IDEAS AS TO WHO COULD BE A GOOD JOSH (A GOOD BERRINGER…A GOOD MOM), WHICH MAKES ME THINK IT IS A GOOD THING THAT I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW THOSE DECISIONS GET MADE.


Walk me through the process of having a book made into a film. The book is optioned and then what? Do you sign away the rights so the production company can do things their way while you stand back or will you have a hand in how the movie is made?

IN THE CASE OF LONDON IS THE BEST CITY IN AMERICA, TYPE A PRODUCTIONS (REESE'S PRODUCTION COMPANY) OPTIONED THE SCRIPT IN CONJUNCTION WITH MANDALAY PICTURES AND UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. A GREAT SCREENWRITER, GWYN LURIE, WAS TAPPED TO ADAPT THE NOVEL. AND WHILE NO ONE HAS ANY OFFICIAL OBLIGATION TO KEEP ME IN THE LOOP, EVERYONE HAS.

I RECENTLY GOT TO READ GWYN'S COMPLETED SCREENPLAY, WHICH I THINK IS FANTASTIC. I AM EXCITED FOR THE CAMERAS TO START ROLLING.


The book deals with relationships and broken engagements among other things, but mostly the brother-sister relationship between Emmy and Josh. I was wondering if it was really possible for two siblings to get along so well and care for each other so deeply? They are more like best friends than brother and sister.

THE AMAZING THING TO ME ABOUT SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS IS THAT THEY TAKE ON SO MANY SHAPES OVER THE COURSE OF A LIFETIME. AT THE MOMENT WHEN WE MEET EMMY AND JOSH, I DO THINK THEY ARE LIKE BEST FREINDS. FOR THE FIRST TIME, EVER, JOSH NEEDS EMMY AS OPPOSED TO THE OTHER WAY AROUND. THIS SHIFT HEIGHTENS THEIR CONNECTION, AND CHALLENGES IT.

ONE OF THE GREAT JOYS FOR ME, IN WRITING LONDON, WAS DISCOVERING WHAT RESULTED: HOW BOTH JOSH AND EMMY WOULD HELP EACH OTHER DURING THIS IMPORTANT WEEKEND, HOW EACH WOULD COME OUT ON THE OTHER SIDE.



Has the publishing experience changed your life at all? Do you walk with a spring in your step knowing you've written a book that's garnered great reviews from esteemed authors? One look at the back cover and the praise must make you downright giddy.

I FEEL VERY LUCKY AND GRATEFUL FOR THE PRAISE THAT I'VE RECEIVED. I ESPECIALLY LOVE TO GET LETTERS FROM READERS, SHARING HOW LONDON AFFECTED THEM—AND, OFTEN, REVEALING THEIR OWN STRUGGLES WITH MAKING CHOICES, MOVING FORWARD, LETTING GO OF SOMEONE THEY LOVED.

SHORTLY BEFORE MY 17TH BIRTHDAY, I WROTE A LETTER TO THE NOVELIST ELLEN GILCHRIST, WHOSE WORK REALLY TOUCHED ME. I WILL NEVER FORGET OPENING THE NOTE BACK FROM HER. I'VE KEPT IT ALL THIS TIME.

TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT NOW…IT IS A TRUE BLESSING.


You've written a successful debut novel- do you feel like the second book must be as good or better than the first? Thats a lot of pressure, I would imagine.

IN THE MONTHS IMMEDIATELY AFTER I SOLD LONDON, I WAS REALLY FEELING THE PRSSURE OF BOOK TWO. I WENT TO BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA, AND WROTE EIGHTY PAGES OF A NOVEL CALLED "AFTER", WHICH "AFTER" LEAVING BIG SUR I THREW OUT!

IT WAS GOOD FOR ME TO DO THAT.

AS OF THIS SUMMER, I AM ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH A NOVEL THAT I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT. IT SURPRISES ME DAILY, IT CHALLENGES ME. I HOPE TO HAVE A COMPLETE WORKING DRAFT BY CHRISTMAS TIME. I AM HAVING A BLAST WORKING ON IT, AND THAT IS THE MOST YOU CAN ASK FOR.


Are you writing full time, do you have another job?

I DO SOME REPORTING FOR ESPN THE MAGAZINE, WHICH I ENJOY. I ALSO WRITE PERSONAL ESSAYS/RELATIONSHIP PIECES FOR VARIOUS PUBLICATIONS, LIKE THE NEW YORK OBSERVER AND SELF MAGAZINE. I GUESS THOSE ASSIGNMENTS COUNT AS WRITING, TOO, THOUGH I THINK OF THEM AS SOMETHING SEPARATE THAN MY PRIMARY WORK, WHICH IS WRITING FICTION.

I DO MOST OF MY WORK AT THIS GREAT COFFEE SHOP NEAR GRAMMERCY PARK. I GET THERE AT 8:30 AM MOST MORNINGS, AND STAY UNTIL MID-AFTERNOON. A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, A SCREENWRITER, WRITES THERE WITH ME. IT IS NICE TO HAVE HIM THERE, BECAUSE IT CREATES A SYSTEM OF ACCOUNTABILITY. WHOEVER GETS THERE LAST BUYS THE COFFEE. AND, WHEN WE BREAK FOR LUNCH, WE DISCUSS OUR WORK WITH EACH OTHER: WHAT PROBLEMS WE ARE RUNNING UP AGAINST, WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO WORK OUT.


Where do you want to be in the next five years? I'm talking career-wise and in your personal life.

IT IS A NICE THING THAT I FIGURED OUT EARLY ON THAT I LOVE TELLING STORIES SO MUCH. IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, I HOPE TO STILL BE DOING WHAT I'M DOING NOW. I CAN'T IMAGINE DOING ANYTHING ELSE, ACTUALLY. (I JUST KNOCKED ON WOOD THAT I DON'T HAVE TO.)

IN TERMS OF MY PERSONAL LIFE, MY BOYFRIEND AND I JUST WENT TO VISIT SOME FRIENDS OF HIS NEAR SARATOGA SPRINGS. SINCE THEN, I HAVE BEEN HAVING FANTASIES ABOUT A FARMHOUSE SOMEWHERE UPSTATE—IN WOODSTOCK, MAYBE, OR COLUMBIA COUNTY. I CAN SEE A VERY LARGE SOAKING TUB, AND A KITCHEN I CAN SPEND ALL DAY IN. I LIKE TO IMAGINE THAT THE KITCHEN WILL BE SPARKLING CLEAN—BECAUSE, IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, I WILL DEFINITELY HAVE TRANSFORMED INTO SOMEONE WHO DOES DISHES IMMEDIATELY, AND PUTS EVERYTHING BACK, RIGHT WHERE IT BELONGS. OR, AT LEAST, NEAR WHERE IT BELONGS…


Friday, August 18, 2006

Interview with...well, me!

I'm excited to see my name on someone's blog. That's really just the next step before seeing it on a billboard or a marquee, right?

Simon over at Bloggasm interviewed yours truly. Want to read the interview? I mention a few of my favorite sites and the books I'm looking forward to reading and other stuff. You can see a photo of me, the only one that I ever post with my eyes cut off.

You can read oour interview right here.

Thank you to Simon for inviting me on his site, that was fun!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Chatter


thought I would share this photo from my trip to Alaska


I've been doing a lot of reading. People magazine...Elle...Lucky. And I've been hard at work on my other blog, check out what I just posted here. A little something about seeing a certain Dr. 90210.

I just finished a brilliant book called Stupid and Contagious by Caprice Crane. Do you want to laugh? Do you want a quick read that you won't be able to put down? Then get this book right now. Order it here.

I've been paging though Simply Green: Parties and Simply Green: Giving both by Danny Seo. One book is about creating simple and elegant crafts, the other book is putting together events and parties with an environmental focus. Environmentally friendly all the way around. I appreciate that. Sometimes the more uncomplicated something is, the more beautiful it is. A gift from the heart is always better than store bought! Danny offers Simply Green Shopping tips as well. Oh how I want to be organic and environmentally friendly and conscious and responsible.

At this very moment I'm reading London is the Best City in America by debut author Laura Dave. Any writer who shares an agent with the brilliant Caroline Leavitt is going to be fabulous.






Monday, August 14, 2006

Janice Taylor, Our Lady of Weight Loss


Our Lady of Weight Loss is a must-read. It's fun and funny and quirky and cute. It's motivational and positive and you cannot help but have a smile on your face as you read this upbeat book of weight-loss tips and encouragement .

This lively book offers tons of inspiration through funky, brightly colored artwork and healthy recipes. There are quotes from everyone from Tori Amos to Vincent Van Gogh. The author encourages us to shed the pounds and gain an inner artist by making the crafts featured throughout the book. There is much to read and do!

As a New Jersey native, I have to repeat this little fact that Janice mentions, "New Jersey has more diners than any other state and is sometimes called the diner capital of the world." Gosh how I miss my diners back east!

Janice includes little tidbits of information, various "fatoids". For example, did you know that burning a sweet vanilla candle may help you forsake sugary treats? Something with the scent of vanilla.. which is why I am now wearing vanilla perfume and vanilla body lotion and burning a vanilla candle next to me while sniffing vanilla extract.

Chapters include Our Lady Of the Deep Cleansing Breath, Our Lady of Feng Shui Red, Our Lady of Is Stressed Out and many other uplifting chapters. It's not only a weight loss book, it's also a book that will touch your life and make you smile and take a deep breath and focus on living a happy, healthy life. Kudos to Janice for creating such a positive tool we can all benefit from.


What was your favorite meal before your weight loss and what do you like to eat now? Your favorite recipe from the book?

My favorite sandwich was olive loaf with crushed potato chips and macaroni salad on white bread. I know, I know - it sounds awful, but I just loved it.

Oh My - you want me to pick a favorite Righteous Recipes. They're all delicious, under 300 calories and really easy to whip up! I don't know if I can pick a favorite. Depends on the season, time of day, etc. Well, since it's summer and blueberries are in season, I'll go with the Blueberry Sauce. It's actually my daughter's recipe! It's pure heaven and fabulous on toast or fruit, you can mix with yogurt or just eat it plain. MMMM .... I'm going to make a batch tomorrow morning and put o toast!


Why is there so much pressure on women to be so thin and fit and perfect? Why do we do this to ourselves? Not a day goes by when I dont scrutinize myself in front of the mirror and beat myself up for not having thin thighs. And I think sadly, that is pretty common.


I can tell you – having been on both sides of the fence – that liking yourself feels a whole lot better. There are only so many hours in the day. May as well spend them liking yourself. It’s energizing. By the way, I know for sure that you’re fabulous.

You seem like a really upbeat, fun person and someone who is probably a joy to be around. What keeps you happy? And what is the best advice you have ever received?

I have a lavender plant and when I water it, I take in deep breaths and I get a lavender rush. My studio walls are an incredible shade of periwinkle. Every room is a different color and I just love that. Oh, and right now, I can hear my husband in the kitchen … he’s cleaning up the after dinner mess. Yahoooo. I'm thrilled. And I know it’s kind of corny, but I feel really happy when my kids are happy. Best advice I ever got: “Let it go.”

Tell me about the terrific artwork in the book. Did you do all the projects, make all the pictures? And where are those pictures now? I sense a little tribute to Frida Kahlo, a Mexican vibe?


The artwork in the book sure is mine! And the Pious Projects as well. One of my favorite Pious Projects is the TapeMeasure Bracelet. I was getting pretty tired of measuring my thighs, so I made the bracelet! It’s a great conversation piece. And … Yup, there is a Mexican vibe. Very perceptive!! I was in Mexico a couple of years ago – wow, what a great trip. I'm currently transferring the images in my book into stain glass pieces! That's right, stained glass. It took me 4 months to create one piece. This is a 30-year project!

What kind of music do you like to exercise to? Do you crank up the Black Eyed Peas or do yoga to chanting monks?

Oh, so glad you asked! I just downloaded a variety of tunes onto my iPod. Food is the theme! Put the Lime in the Coconut by Toxic Audio is one of my favorites as is Okra by Olu Dara and Cabbage Rolls and Coffee by Big Lou's Polka. That's a hoot. You want to laugh? Feel happy? Dance to Cabbage Rolls and Coffee!


How can we get magazines to place advertisements of woman who are fit and have curves? That would be so much healthier. I love those ads of real women, I think its for Dove soap. Imagine opening a magazine and the women actually look real!


Ask Dove and other companies that you admire to advertise on your site! You generate the message. We can make a difference with our work!

How many members are in your Kick in the Tush club? What's the origin of the club?

The KITT Club has over 6,000 members! I was so excited that I'd permanently removed over 50 pounds of excess weight and had found Our Lady of Weight Loss, the best companion / cheerleader anyone could possibly have, I wanted to share the news. So, I got busy and created the Kick in the Tush Club (newsletter). I sent it to my friends and family and they sent it to their friends and family and before I knew it, I had a bunch of members and Good Housekeeping and Family Circle were writing about Our Lady of Weight Loss, the KITT Club and even me!

Richard Simmons: shouldn't he retire the nylon short-shorts and thick socks? Somewhere that's a fashion felony.

Richard Simmons called me a couple of weeks ago!!! He was very complimentary about my work! I LOVE HIM, so don't you be knockin' his nylon short-shorts and thick socks, girlfriend! :)

What would be the ultimate dream come true for you, personally and professionally?


I'm living my ultimate dream. I quit a perfectly good job three years ago to follow my dream - to write a book, to get it published and miraculously and mysteriously - it happened! I've got the best husband and kids, too. Oh, and I'm looking pretty good, if I say so myself. I'm happy and grateful and just want to keep on making more art, keep on writing and coaching people! I love to help people find their “inner-thinner core” and tap into their passions. And having fun interviews like this!


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Katharine Weber, Triangle


One of the first adult books I read as a teenager was a novel about the historic Triangle Shirtwaist fire. I've always been intrigued with this time in history, early New York City and the young girls who worked in the big city so long ago.

With Triangle, Katharine Weber takes us inside the life of a surviving Triangle factory worker, Esther Gottesfeld, who is 106 years old. Set in modern day, the novel looks at the fire through interviews with Esther and an overzealous historian with an agenda of her own, Ruth Zion. Triangle also delves into the lives of George, a composer who is inspired by genetic material and Rebecca, Esther's granddaughter. The themes and plots and characters are seamlessly braided together so well, as only a writer like Katharine Weber is able to do.


Why did you choose to write the book through George and Rebecca rather than from Esther's point of view?

I am not sure I made a decision about this exactly, so much as I just wrote it in a very organic way. I do think I wrote the book with Esther's voice as the organizing spine. I think her voice dominates the story. The story of Rebecca and George is really more of a counterpoint.

Tell me about your paternal Grandmother who worked at Triangle. What did you know about her and her work at the shirtwaist company, did she leave notes behind?

My grandmother rarely spoke of The Triangle to me, though she did work there for perhaps a year, finishing buttonholes, in 1909. She would mend my clothes when I visited her in her Brooklyn house, and she made some very nice little jackets for my dolls, complete with buttonholes. She would say from time to time that I was lucky to be in school, lucky I didn't have to earn a living the way girls my age who worked in sweatshops did, in her day. She died when I was 12.

My father talked more about his mother having worked at the Triangle than I ever heard about it from her.“She was a great lady,” he would say, and then he would enumerate her accomplishments, arriving with her brother, sister, and nothing else in 1900, working first in sweatshops and later in the family grocery store (where my father was born, in the back room, in1910) to support the family and to help put her sister Esther through law school.


Not a lot of books delve into the tragedy that was the Triangle fire, which was such an interesting time in history. What other periods in history intrigue you?

It's hard not to be intrigued by the Civil War, which has offered fertile material to countless novelists. I am also really interested in Irish history of the last few hundred years, and delved into it in a bit in The Music Lesson. I am especially interested in the first half of the twentieth century as well which seems so much richer than our present era.

I always think that serious books are written by scholarly, somber writers. How would you describe yourself and is 'serious' a word you would use ?

I certainly mean to be taken seriously. I feel only somewhat scholarly, however, which is to say the scholarship, crackpot as it is, is only ever there to serve the fiction. I am a novelist above, not anything else. My kind of scholarship is much more like a magpie swooping down on a glittering gum wrapper on the sidewalk than it is like the kind of scholarship necessary, for, say, a thesis.

Does your writing routine revolve around a cat, a pot of Earl Gray and a bit of classical music? That's how I imagine you.

Not quite. Our beloved cat has died, and I am a coffee drinker. I don’t listen to music while I write. I write in my study out in the studio in our backyard in Connecticut, and also at certain times in Paris, and in our little house in Ireland.

What is your writing schedule? Are you a disciplined writer?

I am a wildly undisciplined writer most of the time, and I am mostly unproductive (in the sense of words on the page) for long stretches, but then I write in bursts of very intense long days, and some of that feels more like writing down what I have allowed to form fully. It is a little bit of a manic process. In a way it is like spending a certain amount of time just floating around, becalmed, and then catching a wind in your sails. I have learned to be patient with myself, and to accept that this is how I work, this is my process –- the not writing is an important step in the writing.

When did you decide to become a writer, was it a long road or smooth sailing to get to the point of being an esteemed novelist?

I was always writing and a child, and there is no clear single moment of decision. But I did get a bit of a late start. My first fiction in print appeared in1993, a short story in The New Yorker, taken off the slush pile, which was part of my first novel, then only half-written. I turned 40 the same year my first novel was published. I had done a lot of other writing along the way, I have never studied writing, and taught myself to write by being a reader, pretty much. It has certainly been a very crooked path.

Who are some of the writers of today that you admire?

I have tremendous admiration for Philip Roth, Stephen Milhauser, Richard Powers. Colson Whitehead, EmilyBarton, and Jonathan Lethem are fabulously inventive, and I esteem Allegra Goodman, Binnie Kirshenbaum and Margot Livesey a great deal as well. My admiration is boundless for Vladimir Nabokov, Muriel Spark, Iris Murdoch, Somerset Maugham. And always, always --Henry James and Edith Wharton. I am sure that on another day I would name a dozen different writers, but some of these are my core mentors on the page.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rebecca Agiewich, The Break Up Babe

One day I'm going to be a famous writer and every boy who's ever wronged me is going to regret it. There I'll be on the back of my book, gazing out at the world with soft yet cynical brown eyes, my long hair just the slightest bit windblown, looking unbearably brilliant, beautiful, and rich. --- Breakup Babe, 08/12/02




A while ago I received an email from a friend giving me a heads-up that she knew of a blogger who got a book deal. Bloggers signing with agents was the happening thing, you see. As common and trendy as a teacup poodle in your Burberry handbag, it was very "in" to blog and then get a contract with a major publishing house. Rebecca Agiewich was the blogger who got the deal and The Break Up Babe is the humorous, fictionalized account of her blog.

The novel includes chapters taken from her blog after dating a variety of ill suited guys in an attempt to get over her ex-boyfriend. I enjoyed the setting of the book which is the fantastic city of Seattle. (I wanted to move there after seeing this movie a few times) Rebecca has an easy, flowing writing style and the book is a very quick read. You might relive your own dating history as you read about her dates with various guys. This is why online dating is so hot right now but that's a whole other blog.


Have you found your Mr. Right since the book has been published?

I have not yet found Mr. Right! (If there is such a thing). So I'm taking applications. But I have had a lot of fun hanging out with various Mr. Right Nows. I'll probably die old and alone in the nursing home but at least I'll have a lot of good memories - even though I won't have any grandchildren to come visit me.

How long ago did you write the book, how long did it take to publish and what did you do in between writing and having it published?

I finished writing the book last summer, then went through the editing process into the fall and winter with my publishing house. From the time we wrapped that up, it took another 7 months to get published. They always knew they wanted it to be a "summer" book; I'm sure it could have gone to press sooner had they wanted it to.

I actually first conceived of the book in the winter of 2002, so from that moment until the moment it got published was actually four years! So it was a long process. The bulk of the writing took place between November '04 and August '05; November was when Random House bought the book and the August was my deadline for finishing it. When they bought it, it was only partially done, and I had to go back and rewrite what I'd already written and then finish it. I liked having that deadline hanging over my head. If I hadn't had it, I'd probably still be writing!

The book was based on your life. Was it hard to turn something real into something fiction?

Fictionalizing my life was not that hard once I got into the swing of it. I originally sold my book as a memoir, then we turned it into a novel early in the process. After I got used to the idea that I was writing a novel and could make whatever I want happen, I felt much freer, and enjoyed having my heroine do all sorts of stupid things I would never do and get into trouble I never got into.

I like the idea of extreme sports while you seem to enjoy actually doing them. What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?

Let's see...just this past year, I went to Patagonia for a month and went trekking in the mountains there. That wasn't "extreme," per se, because I was just hiking, but it did feel very adventurous to me to go so far away. I also went with a travel partner who I met on the Internet and didn't really know if we'd get along. Luckily we did! Recently I climbed Washington State's second largest volcano, Mt. Adams, and tried to ski down it. That's not very "extreme" by northwest standards - there are lots of outdoor freaks around here -but it was a challenge for me, especially the ski part. Then we got lost and almost died but let's not get into that.

Where are you working now?

I am now working as a Books editor at Amazon.com, which is really interesting to me as an author. I get to see the bookselling business from the inside out.


Why do you think blogs are so addictive? Which ones are daily reads for you?

I think good blogs can be addictive just the way any good writing is - it brings you into another world completely and helps you feel better about your own life because you live vicariously through someone else's. I think my blog, when I was writing a lot about dating, cheered people up because they could laugh my dating mishaps and therefore feel better about their own. Or they could look at me and say, "God she's so messed up; at least I'm better off than her!"

Here is something a reader just said to me about my book and I think it is a great comment about how good writing, in general, can be therapeutic for us: "Having recently lived through a quite similar Great Unpleasantness (my live-in boyfriend cheated and lied about, even to this day), your book has given me strength to carry on. I dealt my revenge metaphorically through your actions. The lonliness and boredom were transported as I held your book in my hands...thank you for giving me hope."

There is one dating blog I particularly like to read by a talented NYC blogger who calls herself "Girl Gone Mad." That's probably the blog I've been reading the most consistently for a while, although my friend writes one from his cat's point of view that is hilarious as well called "Diary of a Dark Cat."

Who would play you in the Lifetime TV's movie of the week version of The Break Up Babe?

Hmm, that's a tough one. I think Wynona Ryder needs the work after her whole shoplifting incident so I'd like to give her the chance to revive her career.





Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Secret Desires Of A Soccer Mom

I interviewed Robyn Harding last year after reading her debut novel, The Journal of Mortifying Moments. It was a fun book, well written and engaging. I would have a picture of the new book but Blogger is not letting me post pictures. Trust me, the stilettos on the book are to die for!

The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom is amusing and quick, an easy read with a good dose of humor. I recommend this book based on the fact that it made me laugh out loud several times and was a fun mystery. I predict more chick-lit murder mysteries coming soon.

Suburban mom Paige Atwell finds herself daydreaming about not only the hunky mailman with the muscular thighs but a potential murderer who serves up hot coffee at a local cafe. She is in the midst of dealing with her potty mouthed son and a pre-teen daughter who listens to inappropriate music all while attempting to resexualize her marriage. Oh and in between all of that, she's putting together the pieces of who killed her good friend. It's a page turner with a happy ending. Check it out!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Jean Godfrey-June, Free Gift With Purchase



Various high end beauty products find their way into the hands of Lucky magazine beauty editor Jean Godfrey-June. She has the best of all cosmetics, hair and skin care right at her perfectly manicured fingertips. Lucky girl!

She wrote a book, Free Gift With Purchase, to inform us how she landed such a coveted position and talks about what goes on in the glamorous world of magazine publishing,
fashion and beauty.

Jean offers little hints and tips and writes about things like acne, bad hair days, cellulite, her love of self tanner and getting her hair cut by the world famous Sally Hirschberger. This is a completely enjoyable and fun book that you will zip through quickly and revel in your insider information brought to you by Jean.


What are the most and least glamorous aspects of working for Lucky magazine? Is there a downside to what you do?

For me, having more than a million people read what I write every month is definitely the most glamorous part of my job. The least glamorous aspect—let’s see—there was the time I appeared half naked in front of a full house at Lincoln Center . . . there’s also the “acne breakfasts” and “cellulite lunches” --product launches that are as lurid as they sound.

You have experience working for both Lucky and Elle, my favorite magazines. Is there a magazine you must read each time it hits the news stands? Are you a Star addict or Us weekly fan?

The two magazines I really wait for are Domino and World of Interiors. Design magazines are like Prozac for me. Domino I obsessively read and re-read, and am constantly convinced I’ve lost an issue. And yes, if there’s an US Weekly sitting in front of me, I will immediately read it from cover to cover. I suppose that’s more like crack.

As a beauty editor, you get free products all the time. So what products are so great that you actually purchase them to stock your cabinets at home?

The only product I’ve bought in the last year is Antihelios sunscreen from Europe —it’s in every dermatologist’s office.


What do you do to de-stress after a long day of sampling makeup and skincare and breathing in the heavenly scents of perfumes and lotions?

Play with my children or take a class at Jivamukti Yoga.

Why did you decide to write Free Gift With Purchase?

People are always incredibly intrigued to hear about my job & what it’s really like -- and I’ve always loved writing my column, and my book is sort of an unexpurgated (there’s only so much space on a magazine page) version of the column.

Where do you like to go on vacation? Do you tend to overpack? Is there ever a time when you don't want to be around cosmetics/candles/skincare/haircare?

My favorite place to go on vacation is my house. I hate packing, I super-hate unpacking (is just wrinkled? wrinkled and dirty? ruined?), and I loathe airplanes above all else.

Sitting by my pool with my kids, giving ourselves pedicures, attempting to harvest whatever vegetables escaped the voracious groundhog, and generally doing nothing is my idea of relaxation.

I don’t really wish to escape cosmetics/candles/skincare/haircare. I definitely tire easily of having people TELL me about them, but live without my favorite shampoo? Not unless absolutely necessary.


Being in the industry that you are in, is there pressure to look good all the time? I imagine everyone to be fit and glam and dressed in pretty clothes with smooth hair and clear skin at Lucky magazine.(more details about all of this in the book!)

There are definitely beauty execs (male ones) who will admonish beauty editors for “not wearing makeup” -- when of course, we’ve got plenty of it on, it’s just applied right, so it doesn’t look like we are!

As far as clothes and glamour — everyone in the Conde Nast building looks pretty good, it’s true. But pressure—I can’t say I get any more stressed out than anybody else does getting ready. At the end of the day, you want to look good, whether you’re a lawyer or a beauty editor or a construction worker, no?

You must see all kind of great shoes and clothes and accessories all the time, how do you not want everything you see? Can you borrow clothes? What is the best part of your job?

I have a funny part about this in the book —where I borrow enormous billowing teal shorts and a Pepto-Bismol-pink t-shirt at the last minute to go to yoga & end up right next to my idol & crush Russell Simmons. I do want everything I see, but my life is such (job, kids, husband that travels a lot) that I have no time to shop. So I want everything I see, but I can’t have it. I do borrow clothes on rare occasions.

Did you see or read The Devil Wears Prada? Is Kim France anything like Anna Wintour? I mean, Miranda Priestly? Does she ever talk about her days working at Sassy?

Kim France is nothing nothing nothing like Miranda Priestly — as I explain in my book—see chapter on Lucky—she’s the anti-fashionista, which is one of the reasons Lucky is so successful. It’s for real fashion for real people.

Yes, she definitely talks about her days at Sassy, but you’d have to ask her about it.

You address this in the book but tell us how you choose the real people (not models) that get to be in the magazine?

We’re always on the hunt for cute real people. And we meet them—like everybody else does—out and about.


Jean's favorite products...


Lancome Flash Bronzer for Legs. I know it says “for legs”, but I use this all over my body & face — it has the best color by far, and it’s tinted so you see any mistakes you’ve made. Self-tanner conceals a multitude of sins, from undereye bags to cellulite, and this is truly the ultimate one— I’ve tried them all.

Mac Tinted Lip Conditioner Stick SPF 15 in Fuchsia Fix. This looks wild and daring in the tube, and your-lips-but-better in reality—my favorite combination. Plus it smells and feels amazing.

Cover Girl Lash Exact mascara. I tried this while on my book tour—I would wake up in a new city, looking exhausted & scheduled to go on the local morning show at 6am —this genuinely wakes up my entire face. There’s not a single clump and your eyes look huge.

Laura Mercier Secret Concealer. Without this under my eyes, I look 60,000 years older & as if I’ve been drinking, smoking and staying up all night. It is definitely the most transformative item I own. My friend calls it “That stuff that makes you look awake.” You dab it on with a brush (I use the concealer brush from Fresh) and then pat—don’t rub—with your finger until the concealer and your circles disappear.

MAC blot film. Powder gets cakey on me. These weird sheets of high-tech blue plastic-like stuff are amazing.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20. Incredible coverage, natural look.

Tazorac (prescription retin-A cream for acne) This erases both acne and wrinkles & I could not live without it.

Phytojojoba Shampoo from Phyto. A guaranteed good hair day, every time. I always try new shampoos, and nothing every measures up.

Fresh Meadowfoam Cream Conditioner. I love the smell and the resulting shine, texture, etc.

Burt’s Bees shower gel & Crabtree & Evelyn’s Naturals shower mousse — they smell fantastic & have no parabens, SLS, etc.

PLUS: Anything by Douglas Little, particularly his Salem candle that smells like the charred remains of a bonfire. He is truly the most imaginative, interesting person in beauty at the moment.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Books worth reading...


Beneath A Marble Sky by John Shors was sitting on my bookshelf and unbeknownst to me, my neighbor came in and swiped it. To be fair, she was watering my plants while I was in Alaska. I came home and she was raving on and on about this novel, claiming it was truly remarkable. It's a slice of rich, historical fiction. Has anyone read it? My list of books is long and eventually I will get to every last one but I was happy to hear that it was such a satisfying read.

More books waiting for my eyes is The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar, Elements of Style by the late great Wendy Wasserstein, The Sound Of No Hands Clapping by Toby Young, Why Men Marry Bitches by Sherry Argow, to name just a few on the wire shelf behind my very uncomfortable chair.

And what are you reading these days? Do tell!


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sarah Mlynowski, See Jane Write, Me Vs. Me...and more



Imagine if you could live your life in two different places simultaneously. What would you do? I would have one foot in my southern California life and the other Jimmy Choo boot planted in Manhattan, living in a Greenwich Village brownstone with lots of shoes and an impressive art collection. And lots of closet space.


For Gabby Wolf in Me Vs. Me, she lands her dream job and must decide between leaving her steady, true love in Arizona or persuing her fabulous new career in New York City. But wait- what if she didn't have to choose, what if she could have both at the same time? That is the premise of this book, one of the many that Sarah Mlynowski has coming out this summer. And look for the much anticipated See Jane Write available on August 15th.


Here is the obvious question- what two lives would you want to live?

Well, I’m pretty happy with the one I’m living right now. I’m healthy, happily married, living in NYC, and getting paid to write. But if I could have one other life, I would live on a remote island somewhere in the Pacific and manage an adorable boutique hotel. It would have a kick-ass library. My husband (I’d keep the one I have, if that’s allowed) would run the restaurant and scuba shop.

Alice was the nightmare mother in law to be. She was obnoxious. Annoying. Who was she based on and why didnt Gabby ever stand up to her?

She was not, not, NOT based on my mother-in-law. Really. Though Alice was inspired by someone’s mother-in-law, but if I squeal, I will be in mega-trouble.Gabby could not stand up to Alice, because she was a wimp in her Arizona life. When she gave up her dream career to be with Cam, her personality got weaker and weaker until she became a spineless shadow of her self. New York Gabby would have stood up to Alice, no problem.

You have had big success with your novels, I still hear people talking about Milkrun. Is your writing career going as planned? And how did you find the time to come out with FIVE books this summer?

I’m so happy to hear that Milkrun is still being read! So far I’m pleased with the way my career is going. I never expected to start publishing when I did, in my twenties. I thought that maybe, if I was lucky, I would write a novel at some point way off in the future…but then I discovered chick lit, where twenty-something voices were valued as authentic, and decided to make a go of it. And I’m thrilled that I’m now writing YA.

Ever since I first read Judy Blume, I knew that I wanted to write about teens. As for my “FIVE” books, when you put it in caps, it does sound like a lot. But honestly, in this case it’s mostly about publishing schedules. It takes me about 4 to 6 months to write a solid first draft. I finished Frogs & French Kisses (book 1) in January ’04, See Jane Write (book 2) in August ’05, and Me Vs Me (book 3) in February ’06, and all I did was contribute one story and co-edit Girls’ Night Out (book 4). Bras & Broomsticks (book 5) is a re-release, so I did nothing at all except admire the new cover. I’m not saying I don’t work hard—I do. I keep a strict work schedule, 9 to 7 every weekday, and I work weekends when I’m under deadline. But it’s not like I wrote five books simultaneously. Now that would be impressive.

Where did the idea stem from for See Jane Write? Do you think writing chick-lit is harder than people think?

Readers were always asking me how to write chick lit—and I wished I had a book to refer them to. One day (while under deadline and procrastinating) it occurred to me that I should write one.

I asked Farrin Jacobs, my then editor at Red Dress Ink, if she would be interested in collaborating on the project. I knew we worked well together, and I thought that aspiring writers would appreciate both the author and editor perspectives.Anyone who thinks writing a chick lit novel is easy has never attempted to write one. Or has never completed one, anyway. Finishing any book is a killer. And in today’s crowded chick lit marketplace, an aspiring author has to work extra hard to overcome tired plots and cliched characters. You can’t just throw in a gay best friend and call it a day.

What are the perks of being a published writer? Now you are well established, your name carries weight and you probably dont have to search for an agent and send query letters.

One of the best perks of being published is that I don’t have to complete a novel to sell it. I write out an outline and three chapters and hope that someone trusts me enough to buy it. Another perk is that I get to work at home. My commute is eleven seconds. And I can work in my pajamas. Not that I do. But I could. (Okay, sometimes I do.)

I’m pretty sure that wearing pajamas on a regular basis would encourage me to take mid-day naps, which would result in me getting a lot of rest but never finishing a novel. Slippery slope, I tell ya.

Do you like to read? What are the last few books you've read?

I live for reading. I’m never not reading. I carry a mini-library around wherever I go. The last two books I’ve read are Bad Kitty (so funny) and What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal (so creepy and well done). I read a lot of YA, a lot of chick lit, a lot of literary fiction, a lot of thrillers…a lot of everything.

Take me back to when your first novel was published, what was that experience like and has your life changed since then?

The most exciting day for me wasn’t the day of publication, but the day I sold Milkrun. The editor called me at work and I was pretty much in shock. But my life didn’t feel that different…the biggest changes for me came when RDI offered me my first multi-book contract. That enabled me to quit my full-time job, move from Toronto to New York (where my then-boyfriend now husband was), and write full time.

What is your writing space like? Do you have any rituals or a muse or listen to certain music while you work?

I have an office, where I do most of my work: editing, e-mailing, contract stuff. But I do have a weird first-draft ritual. I park myself on my living room couch, put my laptop on my legs, and type while Law & Order reruns play in the background. I Tivo a million of them before I start a new project. Something about the Da! Da! frees up the creative side of my brain. Told you it was weird.


The Untelling by Tayari Jones



I want to show you the lovely cover of The Untelling by Tarayi Jones.

The other evening I was looking through an old sketch pad of mine and what do I find but a pencil drawing of a flower. Lo and behold, I pull The Untelling off my book shelf and what is on the cover but the exact flower from the sketch pad. Crazy, isn't it?

From page one I was hooked on the novel. I read into the wee hours of the morning which isn't good when there are dogs and kids to be fed bright and early. There was also a group of guys digging a ditch in my front yard but that's a whole other story.

Tayari Jones is a great storyteller. Some people are gifted in this way. Words find a way to decorate the page and paint a vivid picture as you are reading and you feel like it was effortless on the author's part because the words simply flow. I'm so envious. But grateful too because without the gift of a good writer, we wouldn't have such wonderful books to read. So. Back to The Untelling.

I'm going to finish the book tonight, I'm almost done. I can't wait to sit in bed, propped up with clean white pillows under a spinning ceiling fan with the dogs laying on the floor next to me while I find out what happens to the sympathetic character of Aria, a young literacy teacher living in Atlanta.

She is trying to live a normal, happy life but is emotionally haunted by the father and baby sister who died in a car crash when Aria was just a young girl. Seated in the backseat on her way to a rehearsal with a red velvet cake on her lap, Aria's biggest concern was trying to sneak icing off the cake when suddenly her world changed forever. How do you move forward in your life when something so terrible happens? What do you do when your mother isn't there to comfort you and your sister can't wait to move away?

Check out the authors website and let me know what you think of the book.


Google