Imagine an accident where possible side effects include forgetting everything and everyone. Your friends and family think you have amnesia. Except you don't ...but if you did, you might get away with acting differently and potentially changing the course of your life. That is the premise of Forget About It, a new novel by the fabulous Caprice Crane. Jordan Landau is smart and funny but the people in her life- namely her boss, mother and boyfriend- don't respect her and she is guilty of letting them walk all over her. Jordan's introduction to amnesia comes by way of an accident while riding her bike. Here is the perfect opportunity to radically change herself. She can be bold and outspoken and get away with it.
Ahhh but nothing is ever that easy! An unexpected, unfortunate event forces Jordan to really question what's been going on in her life. Scarlett Johansson is going to star in the film version of the book, this will be a great movie.
Caprice is the author of the acclaimed Stupid and Contagious. She has a writing style that really talks to me. I totally get the sense that Caprice is an ultra cool chick and seriously, someday we will meet and become total BFFs. We'll collaborate on a hilarious screenplay and then get Reese Witherspoon and Matt Damon to star in our Academy Award nominated film. Caprice and I will go on to work together becoming the most in demand writing duo ever. You see she isn't the only one with a wild imagination.
Did you know that Forget About It is also the title of a movie starring perhaps the greatest actor of all time, Burt Reynolds? No doubt your book title was inspired by this Burt Reynolds-Richard Grieco- Raquel Welch vehicle.
I actually did not know that. I'm a HUGE Grieco fan. Who are those other two?
There are many things I would like to forget about including my hideous and painful braces and headgear years. What are some things you'd like to wipe from your memory?
For a period of time (spanning parts of both my sophomore and junior years in high school) some friends and I robbed 17 banks in the Southern California area. We shot and killed two security guards and a police officer. I'd love to wipe that from my memory, as the ski-masks we all wore were NOT flattering at all.
Do prefer screenwriting to novel writing? What are some of the challenges involved with both?
I'm more familiar with screenwriting only because I've been doing it longer and went to film school for it but I enjoy both. I wouldn't do both if I didn't. Both are tough and both can be rewarding. (You'd think I'm getting paid every time I use the word "both.") Both are very solitary, so sometimes it can be challenging to have a social life. Or to even get out of my pajamas. Because I'm in the book-promotion-phase right now, the first thing that comes to mind re: challenges with novel writing, is getting people to know about your book. It's tough to get anyone to pay attention to fiction writers. People have to go and pull crazy stunts like make short films!
How do you lift your spirits when you are having a bad day?
I take my Barbies out from under my bed and use them to re-enact scenes from "All My Children" circa 2001. This way Ryan and Kendall always stay together. ALWAYS. There is nothing you can do about it, Annie!!
Okay - truthfully, since I can't always be silly (or can I?) I listen to music. Whatever album I'm into at the time can often help. Or make it worse. But deliciously worse. The soundtrack to my pain.
Also, just to look at my dog Max's funny expressions is like an Anti-Sad Pill™. His face is probably one of the best things in existence. That, and breakfast.
Are there ever days when you would like to be a movie star? Imagine the fun, the endless cash to spend on sassy new clothes and cute shoes, relaxing spa days and spray tans, dinners at Il Sole and Nobu, hobnobbing with the likes of Jennifer Aniston or whomever.
See, when I pretend to act all of these things out, my dedication to reality forces me to also snap pictures of myself from unflattering angles while wearing zit cream in a grocery store, and then send them to Perez Hilton.
I was at the Coffee Bean on Sunset with two of my friends, Cristina and Abby (Abigail Spencer--the gorgeous and talented star of my short film), and we were talking about collaborating on something. I mentioned the idea I had for the short, and how since Disney had optioned the feature film rights to Forget About It, I couldn't make it "based on" my book but I could do something completely different yet "inspired by" it, and it would be a great way to promote the book. So I wrote the script, sent it to Abby and she loved it. Abby had just guest-starred with Reid Scott on My Boys and knew he'd be perfect so we got the script to him and he totally dug it too (he's an amazing actor by the way). Next thing I knew we were scouting locations, getting a crew together and making this no-budget short. (Which was recently featured on the home page of Will Ferrell's site funnyordie.com under "Hot Right Now.")
So, both the short and the book explore amnesia, but are completely different animals. In Forget About It, the lead character decides to fake amnesia to reinvent herself. In Passing The Time, the lead character has amnesia when we meet him and we have to go on the journey to figure out what happened and who he is. You can check it out here.
What drink do you order when you are out at a bar? Are you into flirty, fruity drinks or hardcore beverages? Perhaps a Perrier?
I don't drink alcohol because it doesn't mix well with the heroin. Out at a bar? You're assuming I leave my house.
What is the last book you read?
How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper. A great friend of mine was only half-way through reading it, knew that it was right up my alley and ordered it for me from amazon without even having finished it. (How nice was that by the way?) Well, he was right. Tropper is a genius.
If you could write for any television show, which one would you choose?
So tough! I honestly think some of the best writing is on television and has been for several years now. You know those people who act all superior? Like, "I don't watch TV. I don't even own a television." Yeah - that's not me. I love my one-hours. LOVE them. There are so many that I watch. The dream would be to work for Aaron Sorkin or Shonda Rhimes. I bow down to them. But, jeez..even the cable channels are producing some really fantastic shows - and I don't mean HBO which is a given. I'm talkin' TNT...FX... by the way, where does Denis Leary get off having so much freakin' talent?
What is your idea of a perfect day when you are in LA? What about New York ?
LA? Hanging out with Mary-Kate. New York? Hanging out with Ashley.
What do you think you will be doing one year from today?
I better be cashing million dollar checks or someone's gonna get cut.
I am always so excited to see which books are being made into films. I try to stay up on the news of what's happening in Hollywood but this book escaped my notice. I tried to read The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter a while ago but ran of time and the book had to go back to the library. The film version looks funny and touching and sad and I am looking forward to it.
Joaquin Phoenix sports a beard and looks like a teacher- actually he plays a teacher-in this movie but don't let the corduroy blazers deter you. This film looks amazing. At first I couldn't tell what it was about and had to go and read a description on Amazon.com. I must get my manicured hands on a copy ASAP. The movie is one that I must see even if it looks haunting and emotional. I will be walking out of the theater with tears in my eyes, I know it.
I adore Joaquin, even with a beard. Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino round out the cast.
In her novel, Special Relationship, Robyn Sisman explores the secrets kept between a mother, Annie Hamilton, and her son, Tom. The novel opens days before the 1992 Presidential election. Annie, living in England, can't forget her days at Oxford University, when she and Jordan had a brief, but passionate affair. Annie held that memory close to her heart for years - along with a secret that could devastate her family and Jordan's shot at the Presidency. When Tom discovers a photograph of his mother and Jordan in their youth, he suspects that she hasn't been honest to him about anything because, strangely, Tom and Jordan very closely resemble each other. Tom dashes off to the U.S. to confront Jordan, and enlists the help her best friend Rose, a media magnate in New York. But does Rose have the best intentions? Or is this the perfect story so spice up her magazine?
Flashing between Tom's chase and Annie's memories, Sisman carefully intertwines and unravels the lives of her characters. Turn after turn, the tension builds and eventually culminates at a surprising, but happy end. Also, watch for the creatively titled chapters - they cleverly reflect the songs from the 1960s and 1970s and subtly set the tone for each chapter. -Maggie Marton
This Saturday evening or sometime over the weekend, I hope to see The Nanny Diaries. It looks like a cute movie and I enjoyed the book so I have high hopes. You can view the trailer here. Variety has an article about the film here. Here is the official movie website.
I think it's almost every authors dream to have their book made into a movie, I know it's mine. Seeing your very own idea come to life with actors, dialogue and set design, can you even begin to imagine? Would you rather be a mildy successful writer with lots of books to your name or a very successful author with a single major book to film deal?
Either way, best of luck to those in the film. I'm sure it's going to be seen by many this weekend!
If I lived in New York City or was a train or bus ride away, I would for sure make it to this event tomorrow. Okay, I'll be honest- I'm wildy envious of those of you who have the opportunity to go! You can get a decent bagel and stroll over to Bryant Park followed by a really fabulous slice of pizza and then maybe a Broadway show in the evening capped by a Vodka Tonic at a hip bar somewhere.
My fingers are crossed that I will attend or -dare I dream- be part of a panel like this one.
Caprice Crane? Ned Vizzini? These are two of my favorites right there. And I have read books by Jennifer Belle (I really want to read her new one, Little Stalker) and Megan Crane. Carrie Karasyov? Hilarious. Please.
Here are the details for those of you who live in the New York city area:
Wednesday, August 22 12:30pm – 1:45pm Bryant Park Reading Room
Jennifer Belle, Little Stalker Caprice Crane, Forget About It Megan Crane, Frenemies Carrie Karasyov, The Infidelity Pact Hosted by: Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story
Writers chat about the hip and chic in-and-outside world of “Chick-Lit” & “Lad-Lit.”The country's most celebrated authors speak about recent successes and their thoughts on being a writer. Introductions by the Bryant Park Bookworm, Miriam Tuliao, Librarian at the New York Public Library.
At my book signing. Please note I am having a good hair day. Perfectly fluffy, curled and no visible roots.
I could sit here for hours and tell you about my quest to becoming a published author. I'll give you the shortish version. I always wrote whether it be a poem about how I hated my nose when I was nine or a story for the literary paper in highschool or marketing materials as an adult. It's such a part of me, being a writer. I can't NOT write. I was making up books when I was a kid, different characters and such. I was also constantly reading a book or magazine.
Finally I decided it was time to buckle down and write a book. I wrote a book about a mother and wife who was not in love with her husband and left her infant daughter in his care to pursue her education in New York City even though no one could understand her motivation.
The book received tons of rejections. I wrote another book about a girl who is marries an abusive Hollywood producer and flees Beverly Hills to a quiet seaside town in the Northeast. More rejections. I stopped writing books for a while.
All the crazy celebs in Hollywood inspired me to write A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss. And that's where the lovely, talented and super cute Allison Winn Scotch's interview picks up. You can read it here. It's published by a small publisher but the next go-around, I'm looking for a stellar agent and a large publishing house with a good advance. This business is tough. And creative people are sensitive people and its just a shame that there is so much rejection in this business.
As Winston Churchill said, "Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up."
Laurie Viera Rigler, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Imagine waking up one day and finding that you are not in the year 2007. You can't go to the bathroom because there is no toilet. You have a maid to help you empty your chamber pot, get you dressed and brush your hair. Perhaps you would like to visit the next town but you can't do it alone because that's not allowed even though you are thirty years old. A hot shower? Doesn't exist. You know what, I'd never last. I need my showeres and all the modern conveniences not to mention good face cream and mascara. I do love the romance of the era though. So perhaps I could spend a day in Jane Austen's England.
In the fabulous novel Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Courtney Stone is a hip, modern girl from the twenty-first century. She's been nursing a break-up with her boyfriend and self medicating with Jane Austen novels. Courtney wakes up to find she has been hurled into the middle of what looks like a Jane Austen book. I love the premise of this, a fish-out-of-water story with a twist. This is a fun and quick read. I'm sure author Laurie Viera Rigler had a blast writing this book.
Jane Austen is all the rage but when did Jane ever go out of style, really? Becoming Jane is in theaters now and soon to heat up the big screen is The Jane Austen Book Club. I want to lose myself in these films!
I've never read a Jane Austen book. What's your favorite novel and which should I start with?
My favorites alternate between “Pride and Prejudice” and “Persuasion.” I would suggest “Pride and Prejudice” for you as a starting point, because its heroine is the most popular of all Austen heroines.
I think I would go crazy without the modern day accoutrements like blow dryers and makeup. If you went back to 1813, what would you miss?
I would definitely miss hot showers every day, a toilet that flushes, my MacBook Pro, and mascara and lipstick. Please stop me, because I could go on for pages.
You mention lack of deodorant and personal hygiene…umm, yuck! Didn't they like to keep clean back then?
Sure they did, but plumbing was fairly primitive. If I had to fetch my water from a well or from a tap on the ground floor with an intermittent, thin stream of water, haul the buckets, and heat up each one over a fire, I might rethink the concept of daily bathing. For the poor, water was much less readily available. And there was a tax on soap, which made it a luxury many could not afford.
What is your favorite Jane Austen inspired movie? What do you think of Anne Hathaway portraying Jane in the movie that's coming out soon?
My favorite Austen-inspired movie—that’s a tough question! There are four I love best: the Ang Lee-directed “Sense and Sensibility,” Douglas McGrath’s “Emma,” Gurinder Chadha’s “Bride and Prejudice,” and Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless.”
What is it about Jane Austen that you identify with so strongly?
Every time I re-read one of her novels, I recognize myself and the people around me in her characters--different characters at different times. Austen is the keenest and funniest observer of human nature of any author I’ve read. Although her books are set in Regency England, they are timeless, because human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Austen’s day.
Clearly you like the era or else you wouldn't have written about it in such fine detail. Are there any other times in history that capture your interest?
I’m also fascinated by medieval and Renaissance Europe, but I’m pretty much hooked on Regency England, because it’s the era of Jane Austen’s novels.
I can't believe that a grown woman of thirty would need a chaperone as you mention in the book. What are some practices from that time period that are ridiculous to you?
You’d have to be engaged to your boyfriend in order to write him a letter or receive one from him; that is, if your parents approved of the engagement. As an unmarried woman, you could not live on your own; you’d have to live with your parents, other relatives, or a suitable companion.
If you were a gentlewoman with insufficient financial means, your only respectable career option other than wife was to be a governess or a paid companion.
I know from your website that you like to travel- at least to England. Where have you been and where do you want to go?
I’d love to see much more of England, especially places where Jane Austen lived or spent time, including Chawton, Steventon, and Winchester. I’d love to spend more time in Bath, too; I absolutely fell in love with that city. And though I’ve been to Italy and France, I have not yet visited Paris or Rome and would love to do so. I visit Austria every couple of years with my husband, who is from Graz, and I look forward to my next visit there. One of the usual stops on our journey is a lovely town in Southern Germany, Burghausen, which is just across the border from Austria, and where we have friends. And I’d love to see the Himalayas.
Will you continue to write about Jane Austen in your future books?
If my next book is any indication, then yes. I am working on the sequel/parallel story to “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict,” which follows the adventures of Jane, the nineteenth-century woman who is taking over Courtney’s twenty-first-century, L.A. life. Talk about culture shock!(Laurie, that book sounds awesome! I can't wait to read it!)
What are five things that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I read a lot of contemporary fiction when I’m not reading Jane Austen.I own an iPhone.I do not own an embroidery frame.I spent a year doing advocacy work for battered women.Courtney could drink me under the table.
I've long been a fan of Ann Rule's true crime books. It's been years and years since I began reading the books she writes. I am a huge fan even though her books are bone chilling at times and I look at every stranger with a suspicious glance after I'm done with each story.
Once you start reading, it's really hard to put it down. You know the saying, truth is stranger than fiction, and when you read Ann's books, you can't help but think that's very true. It seems these terrible people who commit crimes have one of two things in common- either an overbearing or controlling mother, perhaps some kind of bizarre family life or maybe both.
I read Too Late to Say Goodbye recently and want to recommend it to my readers who are looking for a worthwhile book to sink their teeth into. Each book Ann writes is full of detail, meticulously researched and written in a way that anyone can understand. Hopefully, someday I will get to interview her on this site but until then, I want to recommend any of her books.
Too Late to Say Goodbye "is about the bizarre story of Dr. Barton Corbin, a Georgia dentist, and two women in his life--Dolly Hearn, a fellow dental student--and Jennifer Corbin, his wife. This promises to be one of the most remarkable and tangled stories Ann has ever told."
I started Lottery with the intention of reading for an hour or so. But I couldn’t put it down and finally in the wee hours of the morning, I finished it. This rarely happens. There are books that I love and books I don’t want to stop reading but come on, I need my sleep. Lottery was a novel that I just had to finish, sleep be damned. I couldn’t fall asleep not knowing what happened to Perry L. Crandall, the man with the IQ of 76 who wins the Washington State Lottery.
Perry has a terrible, selfish family who want nothing to do with him until he wins millions. Perry is a simple guy with a good business sense who’s windfall affects those around him probably more than it affects him. The book is written from Perry’s point of view and it's wonderful. I couldn’t go to sleep not knowing how his story would pan out. I risked baggy eyes and puffy skin for the sake of a good book.
Author Patricia Wood has crafted a novel that will stay with you long after you are done. It's bound to be a best seller and now I'm waiting to hear movie news because I'm certain this will be a film in the future. But first read the book, okay? Check out this link and a reading guidefor the novel.
The character of Perry reminds me of Forest Gump. Do you see the resemblance between the two? Slow, not retarded. Both with big hearts and lots of love.
To be frank there is little resemblance- only the fact that they call themselves slow- Forrest was a savant and the movie (and book) more fantasy "Woody Allen Zelieg- like" and the fact that they both resonate with readers and can be termed endearing. Perry is less charismatic than Forrest but since there are few characters in literature that can be used as a comparison I chose to use Forrest Gump.
Perry's family is so despicable. I didn't want to see them get what they wanted at all. Did you ever consider a different ending?
Some editors asked if I would consider a different ending and I only briefly entertained the notion- I don't want to give the story away but having those with mental challenges as protagonists many times results in unsatisfying endings whether unhappy or no- I wanted the reader to be content with the way the novel ended even though it might not be thought of as necessarily a good literary choice.
If you could be friends with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose?
I am friends with them all to various degrees- They are in my head still- but I must say that Keith is particularly interesting and complex to me.
The obvious question- if you won the lottery, how would you spend the money?
This is a question many ask and entertain. I will say from personal experience it is not that simple- between taxes and predators - a lottery win can create havoc in someone's live. I would do nothing different as I have done winning the "publishing lottery" My normal live goes on as it did. I just have more opportunities to travel (to promote LOTTERY).
You live in Hawaii, how long have you been there? Do you eat poi and taro root? Shop at Hilo Hattie? When I lived in Hawaii, I used to eat taro root pancakes but couldn't wrap my taste buds around the poi.
I have lived here over 17 years. I eat all Hawaiian food- Poi can be an acquired taste.
Where did you learn so much about boats?
I have lived around the sound and worked with boats since I was a child- My husband is an avid sailor.
Was it a challenge to write in Perry's voice?
Only from the perspective of keeping it authentic. As a writer I wanted to razzle dazzle you with my prose but Perry would not have used words in just that way- I had to simplify and distil.
How did you like the writing process? Are you a disciplined writer?
I think all published writers are disciplined otherwise they would not be published. I write constantly.
Are you working on another novel? If you are, can you tell me what its about?
I have three other manuscripts in various stages of completion. I rarely talk about those I am working on- I find constantly talking about them can dilute the creative process and dull it.
I couldn't help but think of Jake Gyllenhaal as Perry if the book was to be a movie. He just came to mind. How would you cast the roles if you could turn the book into a film? Gram would totally be Betty White. I can't decide on Keith or Cherry though.
In the USA Today I did mention that Jake would be a great Perry- but as for the others - I think unknowns might be better.
How do you feel when you hold the book in your hands and see your name on the front cover?
Indescribable joy.The feeling that I am where I'm supposed to be.
I remember reading this story not too long ago. It was in all the papers and on the internet, the whole thing caused quite a stir in the literary world.
The movie looks disturbing to say the least so don't watch the trailer if you are easily offended. Those Sprouse twins from the Suite Life of Zach and Cody are in the movie, definitely a departure from their little Disney show.
Hollywood’s hottest it-girl, Addison McGhee, rose to stardom in the great American way. An impoverished immigrant, she struggled through bad acting parts (including a stint on Hollywood Squares) and waitressing jobs until she finally achieved the success she dreamed of – despite her traditional parents’ dismay. But when she marries her hottie costar, things begin to unravel. Addison finds herself in jail and risking deportation, in part because of her sleazy husband, and in part because of a vendetta the First Lady has for her.
Beverly Bartlett’s novel is a hilarious tale of hardship and success, Hollywood glamour and the steep price of stardom. Through Addison’s journal keeping, we hear the witty, self-deprecating journey of self discovery. In her scandal, Addison finds herself, and makes us laugh along the way.
This isn't exactly my kind of book but as far as movies go, this is what I love. Suspense, Matt Damon, awesome direction, quick paced, edge -of- your- seat thrills. Best of all, it's based on a novel by Robert Ludlum. You knew that, right? Books to movies, my favorite.
I love going to the movies, watching the trailers, escaping the house for 2 hours. Back to reality now.
One of my very favorite writers in the whole world has a new blog. I stumbled upon it today and am so excited. Now I can catch up on what's going on in the life of super-ultra-talented Caroline Leavitt. Her books are so amazing and I've been waiting and waiting for her new one to come out. Seriously, I think I've aged four years while looking forward to her new novel. There are some authors who I just adore and she is one of them.
At least with the blog I can get a little dose of Caroline to satisfy me until her newest work comes out. Click here to read her blog and learn more about her.
I’ve only sent off one handwritten letter to an author and that author was Laura Moriarty. I finished The Center of Everything and wanted to let Laura know how good it was, how I was drawn into the story and affected by it. I count the book as one of my all time favorites. It's a coming of age type novel that was so brilliant. You must read it.
Fast forward to recently when I read that her new book was coming out soon. I was so excited, I found her site and jotted off a quick note. I was so luck to receive a review copy of The Rest of Her Life and read it in two days.
The book is emotional and touching and thought provoking. Laura’s talent is on par with my other favorite writers Caroline Leavitt and Jodi Picoult. She characters that you feel sorry for and touched by and want the best outcome for them. You are moved to tears and don’t want the book to end. She is a huge talent to watch!
What types of books are you drawn to as a reader? What is the last book you read?
I tend to like memoirs and fiction about people moving through difficult situations. I say 'moving through' and not 'getting through' because the characters don't need to necessarily emerge victorious, though they often are. I don't go for the light reads, and though levity is great, I don't know that I would read a book for humor alone. My favorite authors are the ones who are telling you about people moving through hard times while making you laugh: David Sedaris, Frank McCourt, etc. But I don't need humor: I just read Amy Bloom's AWAY and loved it.
At what point in your life did you become serious about writing books?
I got my undergraduate degree in social work, and I worked for several years in the field. I wrote stories at night, just because I wanted to, and it slowly became clear to me that I was putting more thought and care into my stories than my day job. I also felt more competent when I was writing. I applied for a writing fellowship and got a nice note telling me I was a runner-up, and that was enough to make me go back to grad school in creative writing.
How long does it take you to write a book, from the moment you sit down and type ‘Chapter 1’ until your editor has gone through it and you are holding a hardback in your hands?
It depends on the book, at least so far. My first book, The Center of Everything, took me ten years to write. But that was partly because I was always working or going to school or both, and I didn't have a lot of time to work on it. The other problem was that I took a lot of wrong turns because of lack of experience. But I wrote my new novel, The Rest of Her Life, in about a year. I think that's because I was writing for a living, with no other distractions. I also had a bit more experience under my belt.
How do you develop your characters? Do you have a sheet of paper with all their physical and emotional qualities written down? I love how the character of Leigh was so sympathetic; she had such a hard childhood.
I'm so glad to hear you feel that way about Leigh. Not all readers find her sympathetic. I do, though. I tend to like characters who are flawed. Leigh is an example of a character who doesn't understand the way she is flawed, and so her good intentions sometimes fall flat. And yes, I do a lot of thinking and writing about each character before I start writing. I think about their motivations, and the way they see themselves versus the way other people see them.
What are the best and worst parts about living in Kansas ? I’ve never been there; I only know it from the Wizard of Oz.
I read somewhere that Kansas is ranked the fiftieth state for the number of tourists every year. So there's something nice - you never have to worry about tourists. I think it's really beautiful here, and my town, Lawrence, is walkable and quirky and fairly safe. The worst thing about living in Kansas is that is has such a bad reputation. But that's exactly what maintains the two things I just said I liked about it!
What kind of music do you listen to- do you have an ipod? If so, what is on there?
I do have an Ipod, and I have everything on there from Johnny Cash to Snow Patrol to Patty Griffin to Liz Phair. I try to walk a lot of places, and I love to listen to music when I'm walking. I like a lot of guitars and drums, but I also tend to pay a lot of attention to lyrics and the authenticity in a singer's voice.
How did you get your agent?
When I finished my first novel, I knew so little about the business, and I had no idea which agent I should send it to. I'd heard horror stories. I knew a writer, Christina Schwarz, so I asked her if she liked her agent (Jennifer Rudolph Walsh at William Morris) and she said a lot of very positive things about her. So I sent Jennifer a query letter, and then the first few chapters, and then the whole book, and fortunately, she took me on. The thing I don't like about this story is that it might give the impression that you have to have some kind of connection to get an agent, and I really don't think that's accurate.
I think my connection through Christina Schwarz was a case of a writer recommending an agent, rather than a writer recommending another writer. I've since recommended many writers to my agent, but she hasn't been able to take any of them on. I was disappointed, but it makes sense: I don't think an agent can afford to make decisions on whom she'll represent based on whether they have a mutual friend. I think if you write something an agent loves or thinks she can sell, she'll want to find you any way she can.
It’s Friday night, where will I find you and what will you be doing?
I will be at the pool with my daughter, maybe going out for ice cream, and then story time and bed for her, maybe some reading for me before I conk out.
Do you know what your next book will be about? Do you start with an outline or let everything unfold organically?
I do a mix. I definitely have an outline, but I revise the outline again and again based on how the story moves as I write it.
What’s next for you?
I'm hard at work on book #3. I feel as if I have two jobs now - doing publicity and readings for The Rest of Her Life, and trying hard to write the next one. It's a nice mix of communication and solitude.
I was on the road one morning, driving along the 15 freeway here in Southern California, flipping stations on the radio as I always do. I came across an interview with these two guys who wrote a book about marriage ans stopping scanning for rock music. My ears perked up. Marriage? Love? I wanted to hear more. I love love. I love hearing stories about how people met and how they have stayed together. The guys on the radio sounded like fun and the topic was interesting. While I was driving, I found an old receipt and a pen in my purse and scribbled down Project Everlasting. By time I reached my destination, the interview was over but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book.
I highly recommend Project Everlastingwritten by two bachelors in search of answers about marriage. Mat and Jason took a trip around the country to interview what they call “Marriage Masters”- couples who have been together for decades. The book is full of stories of love and dedication. Its not all sunshine and happiness though- these couples have gone through tough times and bleak periods in their relationship but have stuck together and have loved each other throughout whatever life has thrown at them. The book is so heartwarming and endearing and wonderful. You will love it whether you are married or single. The stories these couples share bring tears to my eyes. I mean, who doesn't want to be loved?
It's really neat to see two guys with this vision and learn how they made it happen. I love the idea and wish I had thought of it myself. I wish them the best of luck as they promote Project Everlasting!
What are the most profound things you have learned during your Project Everlasting tour? Things that you will think about every day or lessons learned?
Mat: The real question is what haven’t I learned? There are so many things. Number one would have to be how these couples gave me the rare gift of seeing the reality of their marriages, which included all the beautiful, touching, and amazing parts, as well as, the challenging aspects that lifelong relationships can bring. I cringe at the thought of what my marriage would have been like had I not taken the time to listen to these incredible couples. For example, if my future wife and I had encountered tough times, I would have been inclined to think that I’d married the wrong person. Now I know that even the greatest of marriages go through trials and tribulations, and traversing rocky roads is simply a part of being in a lifelong romance.
Secondly, we asked every couple for their number one secret to a successful marriage. Almost every couple gave the same answer. And I have to say; at first I was completely disappointed with their response. You’ll probably be disappointed too. Over and over again couples said “respect” was the key to their success. Over the years, these couples cultivated an incredible discipline of respect. It was like they had black belt in the art of respect. Myself? Apparently, I’m still a white belt.
Jason: I’ll answer this in a before and after the Project Everlasting journey we’ve been on for the last four years:
BEFORE: Matrimony, the way I view it on my life's time line, has always seemed a "probably within the next two years" proposition. I've been saying this since my early days of college, oh, eight years ago. Sometimes I imagine myself at eighty years old, pushing my walker through the retirement home hallways in an attempt to escape the two twenty-something researcher guys running around with a documentary film camera in search of secrets to lifelong love and marriage because I don't want to tell them how I never could find a way to sway my lonesome tune. My point is that I'm not hardwired to embrace the marital journey as a necessity for a happy, fulfilled existence on this planet.
AFTER: I realize now that I’ve spent the majority of my adult relationship life paralyzed by fear, scared, first and foremost, that I wasn’t going to be loving enough in the long run to make my mate happy. I was fearful of making mistakes, of hurting someone who might love me, and of being confused (once again) by the beast of giddy emotion which I’ve always known as Love. After sitting with all of these couples, my heart has been saturated with a deep sense of faith in my abilities to be loving for a lifetime. As Mat and I discussed early in our research, we wanted to walk away with inspired hearts—not just knowledgeable in marriage success—but with greater courage and willingness to work through our particular relationship struggles.
We go around talking about the book so much these days that it’s easy for me to forget how dramatic and sincere my shift was, from a very scared bachelor to a man who trusts his inherent ability for being a truly great husband one day.
The film version of the book features music by none other than Justin Guarini of American Idol fame! Did you ask him about From Justin to Kelly? How did you guys hook up with Justin? Did you consider trying to work with Constantine from season 4?
Mat: It’s funny how the principle of six-degrees of separation works. Networking truly is a powerful thing. Justin is a friend of a friend. Our friend told him about Project Everlasting and that we needed a theme song for our documentary film. Justin is so talented (not to mention a genuinely nice guy) that he sat down that night and wrote and produced an amazing song for us within a matter of hours! When we heard the song we knew it had to kick off the documentary film.
As far as Constantine from season 4 is concerned, I watched the first season of American Idol, but then I didn’t watch it again until this final year. That’s what happens when you’re in the throes of getting a creative project off the ground. Can you say—no life!? So I don’t know who Constantine is, but if you’re recommending her, maybe we should contact her as well. (psssst, Constantine is a guy)
Jason: Justin Guarini has such a huge heart and—in this case—a charitable heart. One of my friends knows him well, well enough to ask if he'd put together a theme song for our project and, specifically, for the documentary film trailer. I've only spoken with him a few times personally, but what I gathered from my first few impressions was that he's an incredibly down-to-earth, selfless human being, not to mention a very talented human being. He wrote, recorded, and produced the “Everlasting” track practically overnight and never asked for a dime; he seemed happy to support our mission.
After interviewing so many “marriage masters” do you guys think you are sufficiently schooled in the art of marriage? What is something about yourselves that you know you have to change? What nasty habits do you need to ditch - like spitting slimy sunflower seeds in a cup while driving?
Mat: Speaking of being “schooled in the art of marriage”, one thing the Marriage Masters demonstrated is that intellectual knowledge doesn’t cut it in the world of relationships. It’s all about the practice. Like I said before, the principles that lead to an amazing marriage are like muscles that need to be developed over time. The Marriage Masters confessed that in the beginning of their relationships they weren’t able to handle the stressful marital situations as well as they can now, but over time they got better as those “muscles” developed. I know I have a lot of growing to do. And if I’m real honest with myself, I’d have to say that my patience can be lacking at times. If I had to change one thing that would probably be it—I would ask for more patience. Actually, that reminds me of a quote I heard recently. “A man prayed for patience, so God gave him a line to stand in.” Looks like I’ve got a lot of lines to stand in before I’ll have the patience these marriage masters show to one another.
Jason: Do I think I'm sufficiently schooled in the art of marriage? No. Trust me, I know how to use self-deprecation for great effect, but it'd be best for me to just be plain about it: I have a lot more to learn. I overheard someone today on the plane, a motherly type, complaining that her children never received sufficient training for managing personal finances, and thus her “child has piles of debt and a credit score that makes me cry.” The same can certainly be said about matrimony. Sure, I've watched the example my parents set forth (and I'm luckier than most to have such a positive example), but only after sitting with over 300 couples and grilling them about their relationship's success principles do I know how little I knew about marriage. In the book I talk about my naiveté surrounding the virtue of commitment, how I'd always figured “once I find her, Mrs. Right for Me, I'm gonna be good for life—the trick is freaking finding her!” Hence my long running “aka”: Kid Oblivion.
I do think often about how I can be more respectful to the people around me, although I’m having a really hard time avoiding my sunflower seeds…can’t someone just love me for my little addiction? I come from a family who thrives on sarcasm; it’s almost an expression of admiration in my household. Mat, on the other hand, hates that form of humor—he really gets offended by it. It’s taken a while to adjust and, actually, this book writing process (and our near divorce midway through!) has been a tremendous opportunity for us to communicate more openly about our forms of disrespect and how to fix them in order to be better friends to one another. So I guess it’s not all for naught—we’re making progress! We like each other again!
Based on the hundreds of interviews you conducted, what are the biggest obstacles in every marriage? Why do so many people get divorced rather than try to weather the rough patches?
Mat: That’s a great question. When it comes to obstacles in marriage it seemed like every couple was different. Some people battled with internal struggles like personality differences or unmet expectations while others faced with external stressors like crazy-in laws, disease or even death of a child. And yet there were some couples who appeared as if they had hardy any challenges at all. However, there was one thing almost all of the Marriage Masters acknowledged as a critical factor in their staying together—an undying commitment to each other.
We sat with an adorable couple married 63 years named Ruth and Eddie Elcott. After asking them for their secrets to marriage, Ruth said matter-of-factly, “There are three keys when it comes to marriage. The first is commitment. The second is commitment. And lastly you have commitment. And then you can think of the next thing.”
The Marriage Masters would often say that divorce was not a word in their vocabulary. They went into their marriage with the mindset that they were going to make it work not matter what. It’s an incredible thing to see what that kind of commitment can accomplish. We saw couples overcome incredible hardships, but even more importantly we saw the kind of love that’s born from having overcome such circumstances.
Now, I’d like to add a quick disclaimer here. We are not advocating, nor are the Marriage Masters, staying in an unhealthy relationship. There are appropriate times to end the marriage, such as in abusive, adulterous or addiction riddled relationships. However, a lot of couples today don’t enter marriage with the same level of commitment as couples 50 years ago. There tends to be a lackadaisical attitude towards marriage. For example, I recently heard about a couple replacing the phrase “until death do we part” with “until our time together is done.” What does that mean—until we get sick of each other or one of us gets bored? The Marriage Masters agree, the one thing missing from today’s marriages is most definitely commitment.
Jason: This answer probably won't sound profound (it didn't carry much weight for me when I heard it the first hundred times from our interviewees), but I believe there is a great wisdom not to be overlooked in this favorite saying: “Marriage is a bed of roses, thorns and all.” It's the Marriage Masters’ subtle way of saying, Look, young man, your relationship is going to hit some major obstacles. Expect this and you'll find yourself ten steps ahead of most couples today. So there’s a naiveté, that’s one reason, I think, but I also think there’s a deep seeded belief buried within most people’s hearts that we are supposed to take care of ourselves first, second, and third…I’ll be the first to admit that my selfishness is a demon in my relationships with others. The greatest marriages had this underlying principle of “togetherness” through it all. Rather than point fingers when the rough patches hit—as a self-centered type would do—many of our Marriage Masters leaned on one another and tackled the obstacle as a team. It seems to me that their generations were brought up with this mindset and taught to care for community and family just as much as “me, myself, and I”, if not more. I wish I knew a simple way to bring our generation closer to that selflessness. In the meantime, I usually have to remind myself: “Hey, guy, get over yourself.”
Watching the clips on your website, I couldn’t help but think it would make a fabulous TV special. Has there been any interest in putting the documentary film on television?
Mat: We’re actually in talks right now with some networks and production companies to turn the book into a television series. We’re still discussing the best outlet for the documentary film. Right now, the best place for people to get the documentary film is at http://www.projecteverlasting.com/, as we don’t have distribution yet. But the fun part is we’ve been receiving rave reviews from those who have seen it. It’s so rewarding to be a part of a mission that touches people’s hearts. And who knows, maybe someone reading this will fall in love with the film and have the connections to get it out to couples across the nation. You just never know.
Jason: I agree! All of this footage we’ve shot—over 500 hours’ worth now—needs an outlet for wider viewership. We’ve been talking to a couple production companies in Los Angeles in hopes of creating a whole TV show based on our journey, but nothing is sticking yet. The CW Network actually bought the TV rights to the book before we even wrote it, but the pilot episode didn’t end up getting the green light for production. The rights have since expired, so now we’d love to explore how to get this material on to a Hallmark Channel or Lifetime network. In regards to airing the Project Everlasting documentary film on TV, I think you’re on to something, maybe on the smaller network level. Mat and I are testing the marketability at various film festivals this summer, so maybe some TV exec will be sitting in the audience and see the potential!
Project Everlasting obviously took a lot of time and effort. Did the outcome of your work meet your expectations?
Mat: We’ve been working on Project Everlasting for four years. Fifteen months into the project we created vision boards with images of all the goals. I remember filling the board with pictures of the Today Show, cutouts of Oprah’s logo, and phrases like “New York Times Bestseller”. There was no holding back. We tried to envision the biggest possible impact we could with Project Everlasting. We even had the Project Everlasting TV Show edging out Survivor in the Neilson ratings! Everyday I would walk into my office and see that board with the cut outs of our book next to the Today Show staring back at me. So you can imagine what it felt like to later be sitting on the Today Show looking at Natalie Morales holding our book. It’s an absolutely incredible feeling to have a dream come true, and at this point it’s definitely met and in some ways exceeded my expectations. But don’t get me wrong we still have a long way to go. We have yet to walk down the red carpet for the premiere of Project Everlasting’s feature film in LA and Broadway play in New York.
Jason: Tell me about it—what a process! You know, the outcome of the book and film actually far exceeds my expectations. For quite a while now, Mat and I have been envisioning how it would feel to walk into Barnes & Noble or Borders and see Project Everlasting on the front shelves, or how it would feel to sit among an audience laughing and crying as they watch our film, but I never received a clear image of what it would feel like to actually read our book and truly enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to toot my own horn; I’m just surprised at how meaningful this book is to me. The world of readers out there can do their own investigation to decide if they agree with me, but I know that I could pick this book up at the library or wherever and find a full spectrum of “moments” that would forever change my view of love and relationships.
What kind of music do you each like to listen to and who got to be in charge of the tunes while you drove across the country? Is one of you a better driver than the other one?
Mat: Funny! Music is such an important part of road-tripping. So I’m glad Jason and my spectrum of taste in music overlaps a bit. However, we do have our differences. I’m definitely eclectic in my taste. I love R&B, Hip Hop, Funk, Latin and World music, anything I can dance to. For example, Timbaland, Nelly Furtado, and Craig David are a few of my faves. But I also love Carlos Nakai, Nora Jones, U2, Death Cab for Cutie, Enya, etc. I’ve also been known to rock out to some 80’s ballads every now and then.
And as far as the better driver part is concerned, I think I have the record for taking out the most stop signs with the back of the RV.
Jason: Ha! Are you trying to instigate a battle with this question? I get it; you want to see if we’ve learned to argue respectfully now that we’ve published a whole chapter on the subject, right? Ok, cool. I’m the better driver. Mat hits stop signs while taking turns. Way better. Watch the bombs explode on both sides now.
What kind of music do I enjoy? Well, we all used to dig the Garden State soundtrack quite a bit. But that was before the nationwide tour. We forgot to grab the CD case before we left Los Angeles so we pretty much listened to that CD on average eight times a day for nine weeks straight. I will not listen to any of those songs on that disc ever, ever again. Instead, I will usually kick back and relax with some good ol’ Elliott Smith, Iron and Wine, Death Cab, Radiohead, Fiona Apple, Boards of Canada, DJ Shadow, Belle & Sebastian, Smashing Pumpkins (they’re back—yes!), Felix da Housecat, and, most recently, Peter Bjorn and John.
What do you like to do in your down time?
Mat: Does being addicted to the gym qualify as down time? I guess that can serve to counterbalance my sugar and caffeine addiction. No, seriously…I have to get my workouts in more for distressing and decompressing than anything else. It definitely helps me keep my mind right. I love game night with grandma and the friends. It can get a little crazy too—the other night I caught grandma pouring vodka-on-the-rocks at 4:00am during one of our all night domino marathons. Naughty, naughty grandma.
In the summers, you can find me negotiating river rapids on an inner-tube, launching off rope swings into icy lakes, camping level-2-style, or going city-side and enjoying some beers with friends at the bars. In the winter, I’m carving it up on Mt. Hood, seeing the latest flick, or escaping the Oregon rain down in Cabo San Lucas while visiting my relatives. Speaking of relatives, I’m a big time family guy. So when I get the chance, I love to spend time playing “monster game” with my nieces and nephews. Roooaaar! (yeah, I’m a bit of a nerd).
Jason: What down time? Show me some down time, por favor! I’ll tell you what I’d love to do with this phantom down time: fly fishing on the Blackfoot River in Missoula, MT; snowboarding up at Mt. Hood; mountain biking along the great trails here in Oregon; wine tasting and brewery visiting anywhere, but especially Napa Valley; camping with all of my buddies; and last but not least…SCRABBLE! (Or any other board game with the family.)
So you’re looking for some Bachelorettes to take on the road for your next project. I hear Paris Hilton and Britney Spears are single. What types of girls are you looking for?
Mat: I’m not looking right now. I’ve heard that’s the best strategy. Right? They always tell me I’ll find her when I’m not looking, so right now I’m not looking. But I have to be honest and say, that’s much easier said then done. I still find myself running girls through my mental marriage gauntlet. I’ve been known to mentally rehearse her first name with my last name to see if there is any ring to it, and that’s just the beginning. Is God an important part of her life? Does she like to work out, dance, do Yoga, at least sweat a little? Will NFL Sunday be are part of her weekend ritual? I’ve learned common values are a must. Oh! And a plus if she’s athletic (good genes for my future kids). Anyways, I recently wrote up a two to three page relationship manifesto describing in detail the kind of woman I am attracting into my life. I won’t bore you with the whole thing here, but if you’re interested here’s the link where you can download it: http://www.projecteverlasting.com/bachelor_bios.html
Jason: Yeah, but did you see the cellulite buildup on the back of Britney’s lower calf, featured prominently on the cover of every celebrity rag in the checkout aisle? My road trip bachie cannot have excess lower calf fat, rule number one. Rule number two…wait, I thought we threw our “qualification lists” out the window in chapter two of the book?! Ok, I take all that back. I want Britney Spears AND Paris Hilton to join me for our next tour! Can you imagine the publicity?
Sidenote: I’ve met both Paris and Britney before and the latter became a reoccurring object of desire in my dreams at night for about two years straight…then she married her Rapper’s Delight. My subconscious’s love spell was immediately broken. Who knows though, our road trip could reignite the heart.
Did you take any time off after completing the book or did you go straight to work on your next project?
Mat: Thank goodness we got some time off, I was so burnt! After we turned in the book I spent a month down in Cabo San Lucas visiting my family. My dad, brother, his wife and three kids, and my younger brother all live down there. “If you ever get the chance to spend some time down there I highly recommend it. It’s so choice” (adapted famous Ferris Bueller line, one of my favorite movies BTW). I spent most of my time relaxing on the beach, reading, getting sun burnt, playing with the kids, and working on my salsa moves. Ah yes, a very handy skill when it comes to meeting Latin women.
Jason: Our editor and agents keep hammering us to get this next book proposal done, but it’s been difficult for us to settle on one idea and stick with it for more than a week. You see, commitment issues aren’t specific to romantic relationships for us! Hooray—that’s it! A how-to book that helps commitment phobic authors decide on their next book topic. So to answer your question: yes, we’ve taken some time off to promote this book, speak, and land on our next big idea. And now you’re wondering, “But what about the bachelorettes? I thought they were going to be involved in book two?” Yes, before you go thinking we just wanted to collect girls’ names and numbers for the sake of collecting girls’ names and numbers, we submitted a proposal which involved another road trip—this time with extra-special female perspectives—but Simon & Schuster turned it down.
If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Mat: I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica. I hear the beaches there are pristine and the surfing is unbelievable. Plus, I’d love to perfect my Spanish. I think 6 months down there would be a nice vacation, don’t you? I could see myself in a little bungalow by the beach. I’d sit on the sand and play my Kiowa flute, or my Djembe to the sunset. I’d eat ceviche, sleep late, surf, make friends with the locals, explore the rainforests, etc. Now all I have to do is figure out how to pay for it. Hmmm…
Jason: I like this question. It gets me thinking, “Hmm, isn’t it about time to take a vacation?” The first thing that pops into my mind is a camping and fly fishing tour up that Blackfoot River outside of Missoula. Maybe throw some innertubes in the mix, some friends and s’mores and clear skies (the view of the stars out there is unforgettable), and I’m good to go. Any of your readers want to join me?
Where do you see yourselves in the next five years?
Mat: Five years from now? Let see…I’ll provide a little affirmation for myself. Here is goes. I see myself more centered and grounded in who I am. I live each day with lightness, joy, and with a loving generous spirit. Laughter is an ever-present experience in my life. I completely enjoy how I’m spending my time and my life feels balanced. I am partnered with the love of my life and we enrich each other’s lives beyond measure. I could be in a house in the suburbs helping to raise our kids or gallivanting across the globe learning about different cultures. In either case happiness saturates our souls.
What a wonderful question. Thank you for asking. The goal is to not wait five years to make this my experience, but start living this now. If you get this…you get me.
Jason: The romantic bone in me sees my lil’ inner carpenter atop an old beat up estate home, fixing up my porous roof in hopes that when my dream girl’s car shows up in the driveway she’ll be impressed enough to throw me against a wall and kiss me and make me blueberry pancakes the next morning. (I’ll make the omelets.) I see myself beginning my own everlasting love story with a passion that has been set aside for my wife. If it doesn’t look exactly like The Notebook, that’s ok too—we’ll just write our own script.
The business bone in me sees Mat and myself touring around the country as successful author/filmmaker/speakers a la Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I know I speak for both of us when I say how rewarding it’s been for us to hear from our audience how deeply this message has impacted them. Whether it’s the film, the book, or our live presentations, people are responding with sincere gratitude for a new perspective, a new heart space, or a new mindset that will immediately strengthen their relationships…I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
I received an email from the fabulously talented and super cute Allison Winn Scotchwho "tagged" me. I am so grateful that mine if one of her favorite blogs! How amazing is that? Here is the scoop on the award (I took the description from Seize a Daisy)
"this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy… of knowing them and being blessed by them.”
Now that I am tagged, how can I possibly narrow down my favorite blogs into only five? Here goes:
Pamela Anderson's Diary I know what you're thinking. Pamela Anderson, really? When I interviewed Pam for her novel Star Struck, she so kindly linked to this blog on her site. Like me, she is the mother of two kids. She has such a kind heart and I'm more impressed with her charity work than being a sex symbol. I hope to meet her one day where we can discuss AIDS and Peta and animals and children. She seems like a down to earth person with a good sense of humor and I like that.
Gallery of the Absurd I check this site several times a week. The artist 14 inspires me with her creativity. She's also super nice and witty and funny. Her artwork is amazing. She is so talented.
Gayle Brandeis She is my dear friend and an amazing author. Gayle is involved in a few different charities and always has something brewing. She is smart and lovely and has been such a source of positive energy in my life which I'm grateful for. If you haven't read her books, do so now.
The Rejector An assistant in a literary agency writes about the business. I recently started reading this blog because Ive been submitting to literary agents and the truth is those rejection letters really suck. I'll take a peek into the business and see what's going on behind the scenes.
Candy Covered Books Forget the literary sites where they praise books that take me two weeks to muddle through. I like Candy Covered Books where these girls review many many novels from chick-lit to the heavier novels. Fun fun. They do a great job and the site is easy to navigate. I love books. You will also find me on Amazon looking for new releases.
Honorable Mention to Miss Snark who scares me with her cutting remarks. I wonder if Ive submitted to her before? She can be downright mean, I'm sure in real life she would make me cry and curl up into the fetile position while cradling a bottle of vodka. But in between her remarks and snark, she offers decent advice. Plus she has a Bichon and so do I. Bichon owners can't be all bad right?