Saturday, April 21, 2012

What If. . .

My 10-year-old son recently asked me if I would dedicate my book to him and his sister. I said, Sure! Then he let out a gasp * What if it doesn't get published? another gasp * What if you're doing all this work for nothing??

I had to smile as I thought over this question. What IF it never gets published? Can I live with that? At this point in time, I would say yes because things would really be no different than they are now. But what if, when I hit that point where my work is polished, and I have a creation bigger than anything I've ever created, something that came from my heart and soul, and stole hours of time away from my family--What if no one wants it then? After all the dreaded rejections and efforts made in finding the right agent at the right time? Nights of lost sleep? Jealousy every time I walk into a bookstore? I guess I'll have to find out at that point. 

But I can honestly say that I'm not doing all this work for nothing. For one thing, I've already accomplished more than I thought I could. For another, I've met wonderful authors and friends, gained a writing mentor, and joined a group of writers, willing to help me solely on the basis of who I am and what I'm attempting to do. I've educated my brain with more on the writing craft and industry than I ever thought I could absorb. I've written some book reviews, whereas in the past, I never really thought these important and didn't take the time. I'm putting words on a page, one after another, that have never been put together in this combination before. I've followed a passion which has given me a bright new outlook on all of life, a goal to follow which has brought me joy already.

It's NEVER for nothing. There's a reason I picked up a book off the shelf at the library last October that was the first spark in this blazing fire. I hope that if you have a dream, you can begin to follow it. If you're following it, never give up. It's not in the arrival where you find your joy. It's along the road if you know where to look. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Weird Sisters and Giveaway with Eleanor Brown

I happen to remember exactly where I was when I read The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I was on vacation over the July 4th holiday, and this was my "getaway" reading. Each night, I holed up in the spare bedroom I occupied, with a small lamp and a cupcake, and read into the wee hours of the morning. Then during the day, I carried the book around with me just because it was so BEAUTIFUL, I wanted to gaze at it. People would say, "Hey, what's that you're reading?" and I'd be like, "Oh, just The Weird Sisters. It's pretty good so far" and they'd be like, "Oh," and I'd stick my nose back in it so they wouldn't bother me. . .

The Weird Sisters is a fun peek into a quirky family who have to bond in order to help each other through a gut-wrenching ordeal. As a firstborn, I could relate to Rose, the oldest daughter in many ways. I think everyone could find something in this book that they have experienced to some degree. I was easily swept into the drama since all of the conflict is set up in the beginning. This is no "slow plot" story; I found myself aching for each one's separate dilemma and cheering for Rose (the oldest, of course) to get past her firstborn instincts and get onto living her own life.
In case this book hasn't made it into your hands yet, here is a summary about the book from
The Andreas sisters were raised on books - their family motto might as well be, 'There's no problem a library card can't solve.'
Their father, a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespearean studies, named them after three of the Bard's most famous characters: Rose (Rosalind - As You Like It), Bean (Bianca - The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia - King Lear), but they have inherited those characters' failures along with their strengths.
Now the sisters have returned home to the small college town where they grew up - partly because their mother is ill, but mostly because their lives are falling apart and they don't know where to go next.
Rose, a staid mathematics professor, has the chance to break away from her quiet life and join her devoted fiance in England, if she could only summon up the courage to do more than she's thought she could. Bean left home as soon as she could, running to the glamour of New York City, only to come back ashamed of the person she has become. And Cordy, who has been wandering the country for years, has been brought back to earth with a resounding thud, realizing it's finally time for her to grow up.
The sisters never thought they would find the answers to their problems in each other, but over the course of one long summer, they find that everything they’ve been running from – each other, their histories, and their small hometown – might offer more than they ever expected.

Welcome, Eleanor! Congratulations on your success! As of today, the book is #12 on the NYT Bestseller List. What does that feel like?
It’s thrilling! When it hit the list, I was completely surprised – I had expected two people to buy the book: my mom, and my editor’s mom. So when it was that successful, it was totally unexpected. But the more I think about it, the more wonderful it is, because what it means is that I’m not alone in the questions I was struggling with when I wrote the book. None of us is alone. And that’s a comforting feeling.

I loved the theme of Birth Order and its influence on us. How did you research birth order, and how did you use it to completely form each character, personality, behaviors, and even the conflict each was experiencing?
I’ve been fascinated by birth order theory for a long time – my research project for my psychology major in college was on birth order! So when I sat down to create the Andreas sisters, I drew on the archetypes and built them from there, creating their motivations and, yes, their conflicts from those traits.

What inspired the idea of this Professor of a father who only spoke in "Shakespeare"? I completely adored how the sisters could still understand what he was saying despite his cryptic sonnets.
Every family has its own language, comprised of nicknames, quotes from books or movies (or plays!), references to experiences they had together. I wanted the family in The Weird Sisters to have its own language, so I tied that idea in with a question I had about what would happen if someone in a family were obsessed with something, and, voila! Shakespeare!

One of my favorite parts was how they all read books, laying them around the house, picking up one in the kitchen, then putting it down to read something else when they reached the living room. Also carrying them in their purses to be pulled out whenever they wanted to not communicate. This is kind of a description of my dream world. Did you grow up this way, or know someone who did?
I’m grateful to have grown up in a house full of books and music. Reading was what we did – aloud, silently, together, alone. It’s allowed me to explore lots of different ideas and live different lives, all through the pages of a book or a magazine. The family’s love of literature definitely mirrors my own!

I did my research and noted that you love Maeve Binchy, too! Hello! I wrote a post about her since one of her recent novels was starred on my list. Can you pinpoint what it is about her writing that has touched yours?
Isn’t she wonderful? Reading one of her books feels like chatting with an old friend. The most important lesson I took from her is how to weave together multiple storylines. She so deftly juggles multiple characters and then brings them together in surprising and thoughtful ways. I studied her books a lot in order to be able to write a story with three main characters.

Lastly, what is your advice for aspiring writers?
Read everything. Write everything. Then do it all over again!

Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions! I can't wait to see what you have in store for your next book!
Readers, it is your turn! Eleanor is graciously giving away a signed copy of her paperback, newly released! To enter, just leave a question or comment here. Or tell us how birth order has influenced you. The winner here will be drawn randomly on 4/19/12. (US/Canada only, sorry!)

For more information you can like Eleanor Brown on Facebook or visit her website.

Our randomly selected winner is. . . . jpetroroy! Congratulations! Thanks for participating, everyone!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lisa's Parting Words. . .but Not Quite

Lisa Potocar's Farewell Comment was a special little tidbit for me to read this morning. I'm not ashamed to admit I teared up a little. Yes, it was early and I was waiting to go into a meeting. . .but she gave me such a neat image to think about.

Then it occurred to me that I just can't wait for her next book to read more from her. She's so funny and creative! So good news: I have invited her to be an honorary guest on my blog anytime she wants! This will be her new clubhouse on the web! There is no set schedule so anytime she wants to share something with the club, we'll be here, in our pj's! Of course, she'll be back when that sequel appears.

So go out and find Sweet Glory! Congratulations to our book winners, Debbie and Marne Ann, and now here's Lisa!

I can't thank Christina enough for inviting me to be a guest on her "A Story Club" blogspot, and I'm grateful to all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to stop by and show your appreciation for my ramblings with a comment. Speaking of rambling----whew----that was some loooooooong opening sentence. Anyhow, just the other day, Christina said something like this about the outset of my interview: Last Friday was fun. It felt as though we were going to a party where no one cares how you show up. This stuck with me, and I must respond to it now in my parting words. Everything about "A Story Club" blogspot made me feel right at home: the name conjures up images of childhood sleepovers where my friends, clad in pajamas and slippers, would sit Indian style in a circle on the floor and swap mostly imagined ghost stories; the backdrop with its lovely and peaceful aura; and the thoughtful and gentle interview questions which fostered laid-back conversation. I'm glad Christina allowed me to feel cozy and comfortable enough to show up at her house party in my pajamas with mussy hair and no makeup to talk about writing----a subject near and dear to my heart. I had great fun! 

So did I! Come back soon!