Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sheila Curran's Novel Goes Paperback

GCC pal, Sheila Curran, is celebrating the re-release of her novel Everyone She Loved (Atria, June 2009) this week! I was fortunate to read this lovely book last year and to have Sheila as a guest on my blog (see post). For those who may have missed the hardcover release the first time around, it's now out in trade paperback.

Here's a little info about the novel:

Books are born in strange places. Sheila Curran’s latest was conceived in the front seat of a car while her friend drove and their daughters chatted in the backseat. The women were discussing an article Curran had written about two young girls whose parents had died within months of each other.

While talking about the tragedy, Curran realized that choosing the perfect guardian for her kids--one that would raise them as she would--would be next to impossible. Even tougher to swallow would be the possibility that if she died first, her husband might marry someone awful, and then she’d have no control at all. Unless, she mused, she could get him to agree that if he remarried, her sisters and friends would have to agree to his choice of bride, just to prevent some wicked stepmother from moving in.

And thus was hatched the idea for EVERYONE SHE LOVED: A Novel, an utterly engaging tale that explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family, and the many ways in which romantic entanglements can confound and confuse even the most determined of planners.

With wit and wisdom, EVERYONE SHE LOVED weaves a poignant tale about the abiding strength of friendship and the profound effect one person can have on another’s life. Most important, it delivers a message about growing up and moving on while still embracing a transcendent legacy of love.

For Sheila's first novel, Diana Lively is Falling Down, Booklist gave it a starred review and called it “a gem.” And Jodi Picoult said it was “filled with characters who make you laugh out loud even as they break your heart, this is a funny, warm, inventive, original book.” She's definitely an author you'll want to check out!

Also in the Blogosphere today, L.A. Mitchell is hosting a Time Carnival all day long! Visit her blog and enjoy stories, articles, essays, poetry and more on the subject of "time"...

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Website!

I've just redesigned my website! Check it out if you have a chance here. PLEASE let me know if you spot any problems!!

Also, I'm trying out a new blog template, but it seems to be messing with my images. I'm hoping it'll correct itself soon, otherwise, well...I don't know. I will take action of some kind. Blogger, beware!!

HUGE congrats to the incredible Golden Heart and RITA finalists! I've sent messages to many of those talented writers, but news like that is worth celebrating again and again.

Hope you all have a wonderful start to the week. It's Spring Break here (yay!), but I won't be doing anything too wild or exciting. What about you????

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rockin' in the U.S.A.

Pictured above: The Mojo Daddies, singing and playing. L to R: Rob Twardock (bass/keyboards), Jim Campbell (drums--hard to see in this photo!--talking with the stage manager), Mike Dikelsky (rhythm guitar) and Craig James (lead guitar).

This past weekend, I had the rare opportunity to tag along as a rock-n-roll groupie at a concert by a fabulous local band, The Mojo Daddies, as they opened for Los Lobos. What a blast!! Their show was called "Centerpalooza," and it was held on Saturday at Governors State University in Illinois. I've had the pleasure of seeing The Mojo Daddies (TMD) perform live many times, and I have their awesome CD of original songs, "Back to Champaign" (you can listen to tracks from it, as well as to several of their cover tunes, on their website), so I was already a big fan. And since two of my very good friends are married to band members (!!), I knew it was going to be an all-day/night party months before we ordered our tickets. But getting to watch and be a part of all the cool behind-the-stage stuff was really exciting, and the new people I met were so welcoming and such fun to be around. Below are some of the highlights:

(left) The Los Lobos with TMD sign.

(right) Joyce, Carol and Sarah, married to band members Rob, Mike and Craig, respectively, showing off their new TMD t-shirts.

(left) Joyce, Sarah, Carol and I (they gave me a shirt, too!) posing in the party room near the stage--where there were many treats, including pizza, beer/wine and some delicious cupcakes *made for adults* with Irish cream in the frosting and Guinness in the batter...

(right) The view from backstage, looking out into the theater.

(left) TMD doing their sound check before the show with a better glimpse of Jim on drums this time!

(right) The band practicing and getting instructions from the stage manager.

(left) Some *very* cute shoes worn by two friends, although not the kind of footwear one should have on for 12 straight hours, isn't that right, ladies?! ;-)

Finally, Los Lobos performing live onstage after their special guests The Mojo Daddies and Backyard Tire Fire. What a great show!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Guess what I just got?! (Woot!)

Yep, Friday Mornings at Nine will be spreading the purple waves of love this October 1st. Can't wait!

The blurb on the back says:

Every woman remembers her firsts: Her first kiss. Her first lover. And her first time contemplating an affair...

Each Friday morning at the Indigo Moon Café, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara meet to swap stories about marriage, kids and work. But one day, spurred by recent e-mails from her college ex, Jennifer poses questions they've never faced before. What if they all married the wrong man? What if they're living the wrong life? And what would happen if, just once, they gave in to temptation...

Soon each woman is second-guessing the choices she's made--and the ones she can unmake--as she becomes aware of new opportunities around every corner, from attentive colleagues and sexy neighbors to flirtatious past lovers. And as fantasies blur with real life, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara begin to realize how little they know about each other, their marriages and themselves, and how much there is to gain--and lose--when you step outside the rules.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Winging It with Jenny Gardiner

Congratulations to GCC pal Jenny Gardiner on the release of her hilarious new book--out today!--called Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster). This is from the synopsis: "Like many new bird owners, Jenny and Scott Gardiner hoped for a smart, talkative, friendly companion. Instead, as they took on the unexpected task of raising a curmudgeonly wild African gray parrot and a newborn, they learned an important lesson: parrothood is way harder than parenthood."

LOL! I love the idea of a curmudgeonly parrot...although I wouldn't know the first thing about caring for one. (We just have a suspicious, always-ravenous guinea pig. :-) Jenny is the author of the novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Her writing has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post, and NPR's Day to Day, and she has a column of humorous slice-of-life essays that runs in the Charlottesville, VA Daily Progress. Jenny lives in central Virginia with her husband, three kids, two dogs, one cat, and, of course, a gregarious parrot.

Congrats on the new release, Jenny, and thanks so much for visiting today!

New readers want to know about your book! Can you tell us the basic premise? Think David Sedaris meets Marley & Me, with a deadly beak. It's the story of an African gray parrot who was given to us as a surprise Christmas gift just a few months after the birth of our first child. A wild, temperamental and trouble parrot that poops a bazillion times a day and has spent the past two decades on a mission to wound me. (It sounds very funny...and, also, rather dangerous. :)

What has brought you the greatest joy since you were published, and what has caused you the greatest angst? I think just hearing from readers who have really enjoyed reading what I've written. I love to be able to entertain/divert/amuse people with my writing, to give them time to escape the everyday and just go somewhere fun or interesting for a while. The angst just comes with the vagaries of the industry right now. What would have been published with ease 2 short years ago is being shunned with regularity now. It's very frustrating because so many authors know that they're writing wonderful books, but these books may never see publication because of so much uncertainty and financial instability, and of course the drastic paradigm shifts happening in the industry. But it's nothing any of us writers have a bit of control over, so I try to ignore it!

What is one of the nicest compliments that you have ever received about your books? For my novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, I received so many emails from women who were grateful that I put into words what they feel in their lives. I think the circumstances of my protagonist in that novel were so universal, yet it's not something that's often spoken about in such a truthful--or blatant--way. I loved that not only did they enjoy the book as a book, but they enjoyed the content and it helped them to think, "Hey, I'm normal, this is just like other people!" Oh, and the other fabulous compliment I received several times was reviewers and readers saying they peed their pants laughing when reading my book. That, to me, is high praise. LOL

If you could get a rave review in People magazine, what would you want it to say about your new book? My Achilles heel! I SO want to be reviewed in People magazine... Okay, here goes: "Gardiner's winning book is clever, witty, insightful and heartfelt. A must-read!

What is your author fantasy? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be optioned and produced by Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen's Flower Films. Or how about Nora Ephron. Either of those would (sorry, I just have to say it) um, er, make my day... (Hee, hee!)

What is a typical writing day like for you? There really is no typical day for me. I've got 3 kids, so I'm at the mercy of their schedules first. Ideally I am up before dawn and at the gym and home before 7, then get the kids off to school, then come home to write. In reality there are often so many things going on that it's not that simple. Long ago I adapted to that writing lifestyle and take my laptop with me whenever I know I'll have even an idle 10 minutes.

For you, what is the most difficult part of being an author? The time it takes to market and publicize oneself. I don't mind marketing and publicizing, but I'd way rather be just focusing on writing books, and rue the day that this became so much more the onus of the author. I understand why it is that way, but wasn't it a beautiful thing in this country when those with an area of expertise were able to take care of that end of things, rather than nowadays when it seems that everyone is expected to do everything themselves? There was a time when people didn't pump their own gas--remember that? And you hired someone to come fix things, rather than trying to patch it together yourself. Ah, but I digress... (Oh, I hear you. I had no idea how time consuming the promo stuff would be.)

Would your high school friends be surprised to discover you'd become a novelist? Funny you ask, as my high school (a very small school) sort of showed up on Facebook over the past year. I use Facebook primarily for my books, so I think it's surprised people I knew long ago that I have a very different "social" experience on FB than they do. I don't think it's a total surprise to people that I'm an author. I mean my math skills suck so no way was I going to be an accountant LOL. I wrote for the school paper and the yearbook, went on to major in journalism, so I guess it seems like a natural extension of what I did back then.

What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication? Believe in yourself. This business can be demoralizing--it's all so subjective, so you have to trust in your gut that you're a good writer with a good product, one that just hasn't found the right editor yet. If you allow yourself to be dragged down by rejection, you'll only end up marinating in a gray fug of gloom half the time. (Wonderfully expressed, Jenny--thank you!!)

Check out this video of Jenny talking about the book. (If the site directs you to Simon & Schuster's Author page, just click on letter G, find Gardiner and click there to view it.)

So...who else has a pet? What kind(s)? Any of you bird owners?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Just a quick 'Ides of March' hello/warning. (Be careful out there today... :) I'll be back tomorrow with a new Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Q&A with author Jenny Gardiner, but I wanted to share this great quote from wonderful women's fiction writer Sarah Addison Allen--from her interview at Books on the House.

Q: How long did it take for you to get published? Can you give me advice on writing a book?

SAA: I graduated from college in 1994, and that’s when I started writing seriously. I sold a few small things along the way, but Garden Spells didn’t sell until 2006. That’s twelve years writing as close to full-time as I could manage, folks. Twelve long years. This is what I know: There’s no shortcut. There’s no secret handshake. You sit down, you write. YOU FINISH IT. You revise and make it the best you can make it. You do your research on where to submit and you submit it. Then you start writing something new. It’s all about the rinse and repeat.

Well said, Sarah!! To read the full interview, click HERE. Books on the House is also giving away copies of Sarah's latest novel, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, on their site. Visit them here for more details.

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Snatched from the Pages of Cosmo

Because in writing and in life, stuff like this always catches my attention, when I came across this Cosmo piece online, I had to share it with you all. It's about how to decipher the cryptic code of Guy Speak. Some of these examples rang true for me when I read through them, others less so, but I'm fascinated by the ever-present subtext inherent in many male-female conversations...like, say, those little dialogues I think I'm having with my husband--LOL!

Anyway, take a peek and let me know what you think. Do any sound familiar? Got one or two that aren't listed here? (If you liked these, I found some more while reading through this quiz.)

1. He Says: "We should hang out sometime."
He Means: "I'm afraid you'll say 'no' if I ask you out."

2. He Says: "I'll call you later."
He Means: "I may or may not call you at some point between now and three months from now."

3. He Says: "My ex is crazy."
He Means: "I messed her up, and she got upset."

4. He Says: "That guy seems like a good friend of yours."
He Means: "Was there ever a thing between you?"

5. He Says: "It's a long story."
He Means: "It's a story that makes me look bad."

6. He Says: "That's a new look."
He Means: "You look weird."

7. He Says: "Why are you being so emotional?"
He Means: "Why are you acting like a psycho?"

8. He Says: "That's not what I meant."
He Means: "That's totally what I meant, but now that I see you're mad, I wish I hadn't said it out loud."

9. He Says: "It's fine."
He Means: "It's not actually fine, but I'm in no mood to discuss it."

10. He Says: "Can we talk about this later?"
He Means: "I never want to talk about this again."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Publishers Marketplace said...

...on March 4, 2010:

ACCORDING TO JANE and FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE author Marilyn Brant's THE GRAND EUROPEAN, the story of a conservative young woman's journey of self-discovery as she travels abroad with her adventurous aunt's sudoku-and-mahjong club, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, by Nephele Tempest at The Knight Agency.


The copy edits for FRIDAYS are now en route to New York...I'm still working on finishing up my RITA judging (due Tuesday!), but I'm getting there...and the book proposal I've been hoping--and hoping--would get approved by my publisher just sold yesterday ;-). Thanks to my agent, my editor, my CPs/writing friends and to all of you. I can say--with nary a hint of understatement--that this has been a pretty wild week.

Also, I've had a series of questions haunting me since my first sale, almost 2 years ago: Would the second time around be as thrilling? As emotional? As anxiety producing? As overwhelming? As wondrous?

Short answer: Yep.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Copy Edits & A Tale of Two Matchmakers

Resurfacing briefly to say "HELLO!!!" and "Please forgive me for being scarce in the blogosphere this week..."

My copy edits for Friday Mornings at Nine arrived last week and I only have about 8 days to read through them, fix anything and everything I want changed and get it back in the mail to Kensington. This requires (for me) reading through the whole manuscript about 3 times: checking the copy editor's changes (first pass, quickly), making my changes (second pass, v.e.r.y slowly), checking both together (third pass, quickly but with growing anxiety). Right now I'm in the midst of my second run through, where I'm reading every sentence and asking myself repeatedly if I really want it to read this way in the final version. And no matter how much time and thought I put into it now, I know I'm still going to panic when I see the page proofs in May.

This is kind of exhausting.

However, I'm also in a never-ending state of awe over what copy editors do. For three years now--THREE years!!--I've been unknowingly leaving out the second "r" in "Ghirardelli," despite the fact that I have the actual product IN MY HOUSE almost every week. The amazing CE discovered and corrected this error...along with about 200 others. Maybe I should send her some chocolate, huh?

Anyway, between this and finishing up judging RITA books (some very good ones but I have 8 of them!), I'm going to have to be offline more than on this week. Looking forward to catching up on blog posts and what's happening with all of you very soon, though!

BTW, many thanks to those of you who stopped by "Mr. Knightley's Picnic" last week :). The event itself is over but those interested in winning prizes still have until March 27th to leave comments on the posts. There are tons of things to win--especially books and fairy-related things. Here is the full schedule of events. On that page, just click on the time listed for each event and it will take you to the proper post. Both Amanda Grange (author of many Austenesque novels, including Mr. Knightley's Diary and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre) and I wrote little fiction pieces to accompany the picnicking. Each story can be read in 7 parts (these are noted on the schedule), and a comment on those posts puts you in the running to win books. Amanda's story is called "Mr. Knightley and the Fairies" and mine is "A Tale of Two Matchmakers." (Part one of mine begins here, and there are links at the bottom of the post to the rest of the story.)

So, now you know about my wacky week. What are you all doing?? Hope the start of March brings you much sunshine and that first wonderful wiff of spring (or fall, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere--love that season, too ;).