Monday, July 30, 2007

Five Minutes With Maggie


As an obsessive list-maker and planner, I can completely empathize with the main character, Cassie Moore. Her meticulously detailed life plan, color-coded in a spreadsheet, has worked perfectly: job, fiance, beautiful apartment, and all before age 30. But one horrible, unlucky day changes everything, and Cassie is forced to work outside of her plan. To face her fears, she travels to Buenos Aires, where she instantly befriends a group of eclectic travels who are also brokenhearted. Together they explore the city, attempt to learn Spanish, and tango all night.

For those of us who have a hard time flying by the seat of our pants, this is a perfectly hilarious and inspirational read. Cassie's mistakes and misadventures reminded me that sometimes the best things in life happen spontaneously - not planned out weeks or months in advance!
-Maggie Marton

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Friday, July 27, 2007

I sure do love good books!


For the longest time I heard the name "Jodi Picoult" but I never read her books. Once I started reading books by Jodi, I became hooked on her amazing talent to emotionally involve the reader in the story. She almost always offers some kind of shock or revelation about one of the characters. Nineteen Minutes is a four star book for sure.



Kate White knows how to spin a mystery and leave you nearly gasping for breath in anticipation of what comes next. Lethally Blonde was a quick page turner. I've been a fan since her first Bailey Weggins mystery novel If Looks Could Kill. If you enjoy Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich, give Kate's books a whirl.



Right, then there's me, Cindy Bokma. This novel is a satirical look inside the life of a tabloid obsessed writer and her "friendship" with a pop star who is headed for a downward spiral. A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss, movie coming soon. Starring Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz... I wish! Take it to the beach and enjoy.



Not my usual style of book but it's funny and well crafted. I Love You, Beth Cooper is about a night in the life of nerdy Denis Cooverman after he proclaims his love for classmate Beth Cooper on their graduation night. Any author who can describe a pimple as being "succulent" can be a friend of mine. Larry Doyle scores points for being witty and sarcastic, my favorite combo.

I have many brand spanking new novels to read and I wish I had more time to sit and lose myself in a great book. I need a vacation because that's when I get tons of reading done. When I read, I imagine the book as a movie and mentally cast roles as the novel progresses. Tell me, how does one get a job turning books into films?

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Leslie Schnur, Late Night Talking


What I thought was going to be a cute little read ended up being more. Late Night Talking is a very good book with some thought provoking issues and author Leslie Schnur hits the nail on the head with so many pet peeves. Jeannie Sterling is the talk show host of Sterling Behavior, a late night radio show where she voices her pet peeves about people’s behavior. Callers can phone Jeannie and chat about what irks them too.

Jeannie is the moral compass for late night talking. But how far can she go before her annoyances at bad behavior take a turn for the worse and do gooder Jeannie is in over her head? Add in an estranged father, a hunky reporter and a handsome boss and you have a recipe for Late Night Talking. Leslie would be so proud of me, yesterday I was at SeaWorld and someone tossed a water bottle in the garbage can and missed. I picked it up and threw it away like the responsible citizen I am.



Leslie Schnur is a great writer and a really fun and kind person. I can't wait for her third novel so I can interview her again. Our first interview, for her book The Dog Walker can be found here.




You must see a lot of strange behavior living in New York City. What is the oddest thing you have ever seen? When I lived in Honolulu, I saw a guy walking down the street while peeing in front of oncoming traffic that was pretty crazy. (And gross).

That is gross! And in Hawaii too! But New York City isn’t worse than anywhere else. It gets such a bum rap, which isn’t fair. I think it’s an amazingly civilized city given the size of its population. That said, I’ve seen guys peeing too—drunk guys, deranged guys. But the weirdest behavior to me is from people who seem normal – they have jobs, go to school, they probably have homes, families, etc. I saw two high school girls on the subway platform, eating a morning donut and when they were finished, they just dropped their garbage at their feet. And a garbage can was only a few feet away.
I saw another young woman, sitting on a bench waiting for a train who spit on the platform. And then she spit again! I saw a man and a woman get into a fight for a space in a parking lot. And there were lots of spaces—they’d just have to walk a little further. I saw a Hummer parked on the street, and it was not only taking up two spaces, but one was for the disabled. Things like that are crazy odd to me because they cross the fine line between ethical and insane behavior.


How different was it writing a second novel as opposed to your first, The Dog Walker? Did you find it easier or harder the second time around?

It was easier in that I had the confidence to do it. I had done it before, so I could do it again. It was harder because I so wanted it to be a better book, a deeper read, a bigger seller. The first book I wrote on hope and a dream. I had little expectations. The second time I wanted more all around, in every way. And yet, having been a publisher, I knew from experience that most often an author’s second book is often ignored. So it was scary from that point-of-view but fun and exhilarating from the actual writing.


You walk into Barnes and Noble. What section do you head towards first?

I go to the New Fiction table, then the New Fiction section, to see who has a new book, what hot new debut is out, and I think all the neurotic things that authors do, which I am not going to tell you about here. It’s too embarrassing. Then I usually pick out one or two to buy.
And then, because I cannot help myself, I have to check to see where and if my books are in stock. If I find them spine out, I move them face out. But ssshhh, please don't tell anyone at B&N that I'm the culprit.
This summer my new book has been right up front on the summer reading table, so I won't have to be own own personal merchandiser for a while.


Your long list of pet peeves on your website made me laugh and I agree with what you say. Do you ever comment after witnessing offensive behavior?

Just yesterday a man was sitting in his huge SUV, talking on his cell phone, and the engine was running and he was blocking the exit to the parking lot. Cars had to go around him, which blocked the cars entering the lot. As we walked into the lot to retrieve our car, I swore to myself that I’d say something if he was still sitting there when we left. And there he was. As we drove around him, I rolled down my window and said, as we passed, “Parking there is not safe. And it’s illegal too.” That was a little goofy, right? And, it wasn’t very effective. He looked at me and went back to his cell phone. When I comment like that, my kids worry about me. They’re afraid I could get beat up or shot. So I have to be careful what I say and to whom, just so my kids don’t worry.

If you could jump on a plane and go anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?

I want to go everywhere and take the kids and make them excited about travel and new places and people. I love traveling to Europe and also want to go to Argentina and Costa Rica and China and Morocco. But really what I dream of doing and am afraid I never will is to go white water rafting down some wild river and get the thrill of my life. Oh, and also, I want to go to Antarctica. I read every book that comes out about Shackleton. There’s something very romantic about him and the place.


What is the last movie you saw?

It was Live Free or Die Hard. I loved it. It was really very exciting and, though I normally go for story and character over special effects, the special effects were outrageous. And watching Bruce Willis running around half-naked for two hours aint bad either. The movie before that was Knocked Up, which I thought was fresh and hilarious and perfectly raunchy. Tonight I’m going to see Sicko.


Do you write in your pajamas? Writers are so lucky, we can be sitting in front of the computer with unwashed hair and bunny slippers and no one knows!

I write in a t-shirt and yoga pants and flip flops. I’ve just started to do yoga, but that has nothing to do with it. The pants are comfy and one step up from sweats. A girl has her pride. Sometimes I don’t shower until the afternoon, but I do make myself change from the t-shirt I slept in to a fresh t-shirt just to pretend I am getting dressed. On those rare days I have to dress up to go to lunch or a meeting, I have to remember where I put my makeup.


You mention New Jersey drivers….as a Jersey girl, I feel obligated to stand up for my home state. Come on! Jersey drivers aren’t that bad. I think New Yorkers are worse. Why pick on NJ?
(sidenote: Leslie must be right because I just read that New Jersey is ranked number 1 for the worst drivers in the USA!)

Now wait a minute, Cindy. Just because I am from California, I don’t defend everything about the place (I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor? Pullease.) So why should you defend New Jersey’s world-renown reputation for having the very worst drivers? To be fair, maybe New Jerseyites only become bad drivers when they cross the border into New York. Unlikely, but anything is possible. New Yorkers are excellent drivers, except for those Big Apple dwellers who only drive on the weekends or in the summer. Then, they might beat out New Jersey in the Entitlement category. (As in ”I am so special that I am entitled to double park, to cut you off, to not use my turn signal.”)


Do you know what your third book will be about?

Yes, but I find that talking about the book I’m working on makes me think I’ve worked on it when all I’ve done is talk about it. So, let’s just say it’s about a single mom who is given a mysterious painting when her best friend dies. Her search for the truth behind it takes her on a journey—of love and discovery-- that changes her life.


After you complete a book, do you take a break or immediately start on something new?

I’m always taking a break. Like right now, talking with you, instead of writing. So, I try to start something new right away. But I find that I take a long time to stew over the next book—I think, make notes, research, think, watch Ellen DeGeneres, think, make more notes, go to a movie, email a friend, make some notes, check my numbers on Amazon, get depressed—before I can sit down and begin to write. I need to stew a little less and begin actually writing a little sooner so that I close up the time gap between my books.


Who would play the lead role in Late Night Talking if it were to become a movie?

Drew Barrymore or Kate Winslet would be Jeannie, George Clooney or Bruce Willis would be Moss, and Jake Gyllenhaal or Heath Ledger would be Tommy.


What are your summer plans?

I’m so lucky to be living out near the beach for the summer. My kids are at day camp, so I get to write every day without the distractions of city life. Though there is the beach, which is a major distraction for me, not to mention that we do get the internet out here and Ellen on TV, and movies. But I’m finding lots of room to breathe and think and write. So I hope to get a lot done before we head back to real life in September. Let’s talk then. I’ll let you know how it went.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Min Jin Lee, Free Food for Millionaires


If you want a thick, extremely well written literary novel then rush out and pick up Free Food For Millionaires. It took me a while to read but every night I crawled into bed with it and marveled at how Min Jin Lee crafted this satisfying novel that weaves together so many themes.

Casey Han went to Princeton and is floating around with no real source of income to support her very expensive taste. Her parents are Korean immigrants who have worked hard all their lives at a dry cleaning store in Queens. Casey has so many options to lead a life better than her parents but can't seem to get it together. She is complex and flawed and very real. The book takes place in Manhatten which is a fabulous setting.

Free Food for Millionaires is a study of friendship and work and parents and love. It's about hard work and dreams and culture. You can read more on Min Jin Lee's website here.

This book was enormous, I can’t help but wonder how long it took you to write and edit it? And then work with a professional editor and go back and edit again?

The books I love to re-read have always been long ones. For me, the mark of a fine book is when you grieve its end, because you wish to continue the dream. I wanted to write a book about a large community—intimately peopled with characters I cared about, and I wanted each character to have a beginning, middle and an end within the narrative frame. The book totaled at 670 manuscript pages which became 560 published pages.

It took me at least twelve years to understand how to use the omniscient point of view, but this manuscript in particular took five years from beginning to manuscript page 670. My agent Bill Clegg read the sixth rewrite of the manuscript before it was sent around, and he made great comments, all of which I used, making rewrite number seven. My editor Amy Einhorn offered marvelous suggestions for changes. With Amy, I did two go-arounds.

The published book is the ninth rewrite, not including the two copy-editing rounds. Phew. I worked alone for such a long time that when smart readers like Bill and Amy gave their insights or asked me thoughtful questions, I was grateful to have any and all shortcomings pointed out to me. Bill, Amy and my copyeditor made it a better, certainly, cleaner work. Other readers like Alicia Gordon, Suzanne Gluck and Emily Griffin gave me good notes, too.


When the reader finishes the book, what do you want them to take away from reading Free Food for Millionaires?

I hope the reader feels pleasure throughout the reading and at its end—that is very important to me, because reading has always been this nourishing and pleasure-giving aspect of my life. I want my reader, this person who has spent at least a few days with my pages, to have been happy and satisfied to stay with this work. Perhaps, even to one day, re-read the book, because it is missed.

In this busy age, it is no small thing to have a reader of fiction at all, and to have her rare time and thoughtful consideration. I think you have to earn his trust, to allay her anxiety, to satisfy his questions—I want to do those things in the work. Sure, I want to enlighten and elevate, but I also want to amuse. The fundamental takeaway: The reader should feel seen.

Good reading is an exchange of attention—a private yet shared act between two parties, and being seen accurately comes only with heightened concentration and absence of self-consciousness. This can occur best, I think, if the writer stays out of view. The writer should see without being noticeable. Sometimes, I think being a writer is like being a good servant (a problematic word in our allegedly democratic culture, I realize)—and the reader should be feted and cosseted without hardly any consideration of the writer.

Why was the father Joseph so mean to Casey? What was your intention with his character?

To me, Joseph is mean to his daughter because he is profoundly frustrated. Language is the palpable and limited form of expression that we employ to understand each other, but it fails us. This is not news. Joseph is handicapped in his command of the English language, but even if he possessed native fluency, he is limited in what he feels he can say to his daughter who has migrated to another social class.

When my son was in preschool, a child once bit him. The biter’s mother was horrified as was I. But we both understood that her son, a lovely child, was incapable of expressing his anger at that moment in any other way. I think if we didn’t know better, we would bite a lot, and perhaps we do bite in other ways, in grown up ways—and that is no less upsetting.


Through the omniscient point of view and through Joseph’s story line, I hope that he does not appear as a monster for having hit his daughter, because, to me, he is a person who struggles to be good.

I read on your web site that there was no relief from rejections you accumulated after quitting law to become a writer. How many times did you submit Free Food before landing an agent? And with all the rejections, how did you keep moving forward?

A year ago, I did a multiple submission of my FFFM manuscript to four agencies with every agent being notified that he or she was receiving the manuscript simultaneously. It was, to my profound shock, taken almost immediately. Less than two weeks.

However, as you know, I had been writing fiction seriously for eleven years before that moment. As for rejections, I think they are absolutely horrid. I will not sugarcoat this. For what for it’s worth, I pray a lot, and I think about what I care about over what the world cares about. Sometimes, this offers consolation. Sometimes, this does not.

I think writers swing between feelings of superiority and inferiority. I am that kind of writer—anxious, confident, neurotic and bold. Fiction (almost all of it is writing on a speculative basis) is not for the skinless, and I am not a well-armored person. I do trust that technical expertise can distinguish your work. I work very hard on understanding techniques in storytelling. Having said that, I am not immune to the the blues.

Could you be friends with someone like Casey?

Casey is not an easy person, but she is a very good friend, and someone who thinks about loyalty a great deal. The reason why Casey might occasionally offend a reader is because the reader is privy to her thoughts, but consider how offensive we might all be if our thoughts were transparent—our thought bubbles being compared to our actual dialogue. What readers love about fiction is that we can experience the behavior conflicting with the intention of the character, because we natively understand that reality is rife with this contradiction between the internal and the external.

Where did the character Delia (a woman with loose morals when it comes to sleeping with married men) come from?

There are many Delias around us, and having met a number of them, what I have learned is that they always have very specific reasons for their sexual engagements. I was interested in what a woman like this can do, what she knows, what she can achieve ultimately, and her weaknesses.
Incidentally, the Delias I have met are uniformly perceptive, sympathetic and often highly entertaining. Looks is just the top tray of the seduction toolbox. Sex is another tray. Namely, Delias know how seduction works.

Don’t we want to know what the mistress knows or how she holds sway her objects? It doesn’t really help anyone to dismiss the individual who might do things you don’t agree with. I often wonder why people seek or succumb to that which our society deem as taboo.

You are such a talented writer, I’d never guess this is your first novel. Were you always interested in writing? What made you go into law?

Thank you for your kind words. I have been writing non-fiction essays since I was fourteen. I began writing fiction in college. I did not have the nerve to become a writer after graduation, however. Also, my family didn’t think it was a great idea. I went to law school because I love school (really, most any school might have done). I practiced for two years, but it was too difficult for me to continue at that dramatic pace when I had so little love for the actual work. I am not sorry however, for having gone to law school.

I use many of the underlying principles I have learned in torts, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law in my work. I haven’t written about the law specifically, but beneath any rule of law is the rationale for human interactions and expectations. I think certain legal subjects should be taught in college if possible—definitely the study of contracts.

What was the turning point where you said, enough with law—I want to write full time? Presuming you said that at all.

I worked for two years as a corporate lawyer. I did junior level associate work—due diligence, mocking up forms—but I was a competent attorney, and I was given an enormous quantity of work. It was all doable, but time consuming. One month, I billed three hundred hours which meant that I was in the office every day of the month, and I was very unhappy.

Although my husband and I had discussed the possibility of resigning, I had not intended to quit the day that I did. One of my bosses, a partner at the law firm, came by with more work, and I found myself announcing to her that I would quit, and I couldn’t be persuaded otherwise. She was stunned. Me, too. It was as if my voice knew before my mind. I worked for another week or so, then I left.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by history, casual anecdotes, images and old books, including the Bible. Occasionally, I am inspired by real people, but mostly, I start with images, phrases and unproved pet theories. I am inspired by some of my personal problems.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Book signing in Pasadena


I thought I would post a photo from my book signing at Vroman's in Pasadena. It was a lot of fun and for those of you who have never been there, you must go. It's an amazing place.
To order A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss, click here. It's the perfect little novel for the beach or for sitting in the air conditioning, sipping a mojito.
Cheers!

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Meet Maggie!


Thanks to all who answered my call for a reader! I was overwhelmed with responses and am still trying to answer all the emails that flooded into my inbox. Thank you so much! I'm thrilled that there are so many avid readers out there.


I want you all to meet Maggie who is from Washington DC. She is going to help with reading and writing about the books I receive. I really appreciate it, thank you Maggie!

I am accepting book reviews from anyone who has read a great novel and wants to share their thoughts. Send me an email at distressedbluejeans@gmail.com to submit your reviews!

And now, here is a little biography about Maggie.

"I love all things literary and read various forms of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. When I'm not reading, I focus on writing, hiking, practicing yoga, throwing dinner parties, and traveling as much as possible. I share a teeny but fabulously cozy condo in downtown Washington, DC with my hubby of almost two years and my two adorable and sometimes well-behaved dogs."

I will be posting Maggie's first review later today or tomorrow so be on the lookout.

Happy reading!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mark Lindquist, The King of Methlehem


Yikes, I had no idea that drugs were such a huge problem in the state of Washington, Tacoma in particular. Although I knew something was up from all those Ann Rule books I’ve read. Mark Lindquist takes us into the world of methamphetamines providing details that only an insider would know. I think I now know precisely how to make drugs in my very own kitchen although I’ll pass on that recipe.

Detective Wyatt James is in pursuit of the self proclaimed King of Methlehem, an addict and distributor named Howard. Wyatt is determined not to let this creep slip through his fingers. Every time the police come close to catching him, Howard narrowly escapes. Wyatt tries to hold his personal life together but is practically obsessed with Howard. That's a relationship killer right there.

Author Mark Lindquist is a member of the Literary Brat Pack, along with prolific writers Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis. He was also in the pages of People Magazine for being a hot bachelor back in 2000. The King of Methlehem is a page turning read that you will zip through. Mark has been a copywriter, screenwriter and a lawyer which has shattered my theory that people are either logical or creative, not usually both.

Whoa! You practically give a recipe on how to make meth. I never thought about it before. Is there really a law that you can't buy more than two boxes of Sudafed- pseudoephedrine - at a time in Washington?

Unfortunately, the recipe for meth is no longer a secret. You can find several on the internet, but all require pseudoephdrine, and yes, the Washington Legislature restricted sales of pseudoephedrine. This helped us reduce meth labs in Pierce County by about 80%. Now there's a national law that does essentially the same thing. Meth labs are declining and tweekers are turning to imported product.


Why is Tacoma such a hot spot for drugs?

Long story, but as I wrote in "The King of Methlehem" the Department of Corrections, which administers the prison system in Washington State, uses Pierce County as a dumping ground for ex-felons. For example, a criminal could be convicted in Seattle, do his time, and then be released to Tacoma, and many of these offenders, not surprisingly, are drug addicts.


Soooo…you were one of People Magazine's 100 Most Eligible Bachelors back in 2000. How did that come about? Did your phone just ring one day and it was People magazine?

Yep. And it comes up more often in interviews than any of my books.



Tell me about working as a copy writer for a movie studio. Sounds like a pretty excellent job.

Being a copywriter wasn't that excellent, mostly I wrote poster copy, but screenwriting was cool, at least until I burned out. Screenwriting is lucrative and fun - you're usually working closely with creative people, it's a collaborative process - but very, very few screenplays are actually made into movies, so your writing seems like it's a exercise in futility even though you're being paid absurdly well.

And how did you go from being a writer in LA to a lawyer in Washington?

I had always meant to go to law school, I just put it off because I was making a living as a writer. Then, when I was burned out on screenwriting, I finally went. I didn't know for sure that I was going to like it, but I got a job as a prosecutor and loved the work. I'm very lucky to have two jobs I'm passionate about.



What are some of your favorite songs or bands? Were you a big Nirvana fan?

A: R.E.M., the Replacements, U2, the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Rolling Stones, Wreckless Eric, Jen Trynin, Talking Heads, Dandy Warhols, Death Cab for Cutie, Faith and Disease, Doors, Led Zep, the Cure, X, the Shins (despite selling out to McDonald's), Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Modern Lovers, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and yes, Nirvana. Can I go on for another page? I love too many bands and songs to list. Lately I've been fixated on the Wreckless Eric song, "Whole Wide World," which was featured in the movie "Stranger Than Fiction," but Wreckless Eric's best song is "33s and 45s," a pop classic any music fan will identify with.


What did you want to be when you were a kid? Did you grow up to be exactly what you imagined?

When I was playing little league football I wanted to grow up to be a NFL quarterback, of course, but as I got older I was torn between being a writer and a lawyer. Eventually I figured out I could do both.


Have you changed at all after becoming a successful novelist?

I was lucky and started writing professionally at a young age, so it just seems like a job to me, though it's a very good job.


I looked at your pictures and you aren't smiling in any of them. Should we believe you are very pensive and serious all the time?

No, I laugh a lot, like right now.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fifty Cents for Your Soul


Thank to all who read A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss! If you haven't read it, it is the perfect summery beach read- light and funny. I completed the next book in the series and I am excited for this one to be published. Here is the basic idea of Fifty Cents for Your Soul:

Marilyn Monroe never died and her death may be the biggest cover-up in history. In Fifty Cents for Your Soul, celebrity obsessed writer Barrett Greer meets a former actress who was a close friend and confidante of Marilyn Monroe. She discovers that the actress has many tales to tell about Marilyn including the night she helped the legendary bombshell fake her own death.



Barrett sets out to find Marilyn Monroe hoping to uncover the truth and in the process, become famous. But what is it worth to expose the confidential information which has the ability to alter many lives, namely Marilyn’s who has been living in peace since 1962.



When you write a book, have it edited and ready for agents, you send out a query to the agents you hope to work with and pray that one of them likes your story. They ask to see the manuscript, then hopefully offer representation. That's where I am at right now, sending those letters and biting my nails waiting for a reply. It can take weeks and months to send out letters. When my first book was published, I went with a small publishing company but now I'm ready for the great agent, big book deal and fingers crossed, a film deal.

My goal is to have this book made into a movie- I love imagining who would play Marilyn in the 1950's and 60's flashbacks. My vote is for Rachel McAdams. Who would play the role of Barrett, the celebrity obsessed lead character, varies from Cameron Diaz to Kate Hudson but after seeing the fabulous movie, Waitress with Keri Russell, I am convinced she could be the ideal Barrett. Ahhhh, someday. We all have to dare to dream, right? Fifty Cents for Your Soul...coming to a theater near you!


Enough about me! New interviews coming within the next couple of days.

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Book to Movie News


"Newmarket Films has built a tasty reputation by producing and/or distributing such intelligent offerings as The Prestige, God Grew Tired of Us and Death of a President. Their latest endeavor is no less challenging: according to Variety, they have acquired the screen rights to Michelle Richmond's novel The Year of Fog.

Richmond's second book has garnered praise as a literary page-turner since its publication at the end of March. it relates the story of a photographer named Abby and her fiancé Jake. Abby takes Jake's six-year-old daughter to Ocean Beach in San Francisco one day, looks away momentarily to snap a picture, and when she looks back the little girl is gone. As a review in the San Francisco Chronicle reveals, "each reacts according to personal nature, abandoning any semblance of normalcy in the process. Jake's a teacher, a planner, and he throws himself into organizing a storefront volunteer group that keeps him frenetically busy.

Abby, a loner, takes off on her own, spending long hours at the beach and in increasingly unsavory neighborhoods." As the search for the little girl continues, the toll upon both Abby and Jake mounts. The only real question mark that has been raised by readers at Amazon.com is about the ending, but beware of possible spoilers if you venture forth."

I love to read news about books being made into films and this one sounds great. It reminds me a bit of The Deep End of the Ocean. Congrats to the author, Michelle Richmond!

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jane Austen Book Club



This movie looks fantastic and I can't wait to see it! Books that are chosen for movies always excite me.

Can you believe I have never read a Jane Austen novel? I think it's time. Enjoy the You Tube clip and HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Martha Kimes, Ivy Briefs



Who knows what I would have become had my guidance counselor not told me that I wasn’t college material (despite honor roll grades, thank you) ? I know one thing for sure - I would not have made a good lawyer. Scientist, perhaps. Fashion designer, screenwriter or actress…sure. But memorizing pages of law text and debating in front of a class of hundreds? No way. And after reading Martha Kimes book, Ivy Briefs- True Tales of a Neurotic Law Student, based on her experiences at Columbia University law school, I know I couldn’t hack it for a day. Not even an hour! I'd be reduced to tears by the professors and end up with a headache from all the studying.

Martha writes with humor about her adventures at Columbia, being a young newlywed succeeding at the ultra competitive law school in New York City. She also has an addictive blog called The Random Muse and used to write for one of my favorite sites called Snarkywood.


Martha, you list Little Miss Sunshine as one of your favorite movies on your Myspace page. What did you love about it?

I loved that it wasn't about the plot, so much as the characters. And the characters were so original, believable, and memorable. Whether I liked them or not, I had this inexplicable desire to embrace every one of them in a giant bear hug. (And I'm NOT a hugger.) Each character was a different raw, exposed kind of real. I wish I could write characters like that.

Who would play you in the Lifetime movie version of Ivy Briefs? I pick Rachel McAdams to play me in my biographical movie masterpiece.

Sienna Miller. Not because I like her, really, but because in real life she slept with Jude Law. And, if she played me in a movie, that would kind of mean that I, too, had slept with Jude Law, right? (Not that that seems to be such a unique claim, but still...)

You now live in Phoenix. What brought you from New York City to Phoenix, AZ? Quite a change in climate among other things!

In March of 2001, I had a baby. Raising babies and working at big law firms, even "family friendly" big law firms, are two activities that don't often mix very well. Throw in some existential angst after 9/11, and you have a recipe for moving out of New York. My dream job as Assistant General Counsel to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America kind of fell in my lap, so my family relocated to Phoenix.

And yes, quite a change in climate. But even sweltering in my overheated Honda minivan in the 111 degree Phoenix heat (like we had today) can't begin to rival the misery of standing on an unventilated subway platform in NYC when it's 96 degrees outside with ridiculous humidity, while you're wearing a suit and panty hose and wishing that God would just grant you the mercy of a quick, painless death as a means of deliverance from your profuse sweating.

You were a philosophy major so maybe you can come up with a good explanation for ghosts. My kids are obsessed with them. What happens after a person dies?

Whoa, deep question!

Answer Number One (the serious one): I'm not a personal believer in heaven and hell -- mostly, I think that after a person dies, they live on in the memories of those that loved them and by the lasting contributions they made while alive. So, go on -- make a difference, already. The clock is ticking!

Answer Number Two (the not-so-serious one): They go on to become characters in Scooby Doo cartoons. The producers of Scooby are always looking to cast new ghosts.

What is your recipe for success? You were a successful lawyer at a prestigious firm and now you can add successful writer to your resume. What's the secret?


I think it's a winning combination of stubbornness and dumb luck. Also, I know what I'm bad at, and I try to steer clear. If I decided that I wanted to add "successful singer" to my list of credentials? It wouldn't happen. (Not even my KIDS like to hear me sing. The other night, I tried singing a goodnight song to my youngest son, and he instantly started screaming, "No, I want DADDY to do it!" And that's saying something, because my husband is no Luther Vandross, let me tell you.)

What is the last book you read, what types of books do you like?

I read a lot of nonfiction (although I'm certainly not above the occasional chick lit novel). Right now, I'm in the middle of reading "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" by J. Maarten Troost, and I could barely put it down to come do this interview. It's a memoir about a young guy and his girlfriend who move from D.C. to the tiny island of Tarawa in the South Pacific, and it doesn't exactly turn out to be the island paradise that one might imagine. When I hurriedly grabbed it off the B&N "beach reads" table last week, I thought it was a novel -- the fact that it's a true story makes it all that much better!

I also recently read "I Am Not Myself These Days" by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, and absolutely loved it. I don't know how to begin to describe the book, so I'll use Josh's words: "It's your typical boy-dressed-as-girl-meets-crackhead-male-s/m-escort story." It's a memoir about the author's first year in New York City when he worked during the day in an ad agency and at night as a 7'2" drag queen named "AquaDisiac." I know, that sounds kind of ... unrelatable, maybe? But it's not -- not at all. It's kind of a sweet, confused, messed-up love story, and I think that it quite possibly has the very best last page of any book I've ever read. And I've read a lot of books.

You have two young sons so you know how tough parenting can be. One minute, you think you have the most angelic kids in the world and the next you want to crawl into the closet with a flask of vodka because they are so out of control- or maybe that's just me. Is parenting more of a challenge than law school?

Yes, parenting is definitely more difficult . I thought law school was competitive, but that's nothing compared to The Mommy Wars. It's vicious! Plus, with parenting, there are no summers off.

But at least I'm not being graded. And, unlike my law professors, the kids don't have enough experience to know when I'm doing a bad job.

How did you juggle writing the book with law and being a wife and mother? Do you have superior time management skills?

My time management skills are sub-par at best. Which was undoubtedly one of the many reasons I didn't enjoy being a big-firm lawyer, where I had to bill my time out in six-minute intervals.

I sold my book, IVY BRIEFS, based on a book proposal that I wrote over about three months' time, on nights and weekends. After the book sold, I had eight months to finish writing it. I kept up the working full-time and writing in my spare time gig for about four months, then realized that there was absolutely no way I was going to finish my manuscript on time at that pace. I ended up leaving my lawyering job to write my memoir about law school.

What happened to Snarkywood? I loved that site!

I loved it too, but its time had come. Simply put, life interfered with The Snark. We all got busy, then busier, then busier still, and entries once every two months just weren't cutting it. We decided to go on hiatus until we could commit to putting forth more than a half-assed effort. But don't write us off forever -- hopefully, we'll make a triumphant return.

What do you do when you have free time?

Sleep. Google ex-boyfriends. Fantasize about moving back to New York City. (And drink flasks of vodka in the closet while hiding from my children.)

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