Monday, April 30, 2007

It's GCC Time Again! Welcome, Shanna Swedson!

Hello, blog readers. Today I'm glad to welcome a member of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit to my blog. Shanna Swendson is the author of the magical chicklit series beginning with Enchanted, Inc. She is also a client of the amazing Kristin Nelson (yeahhh!) and is a kind and talented individual herself!

I am often asked why I belong to a blog co-op with so many women who write chicklit when my first novel, THE BITCH POSSE, was presented as "the anti-chicklit." That's an interesting question, and I'll try to shine a light on that this week. The condensed version is... we're all in this together. Boy, it took me a long time to learn that! I am one of life's classic slow learners. But y'all already knew THAT! Besides, I am not always in the mood for the next Don Delillo tome. Sometimes you want a fun novel to entertain you, something that will make you laugh out loud. And if that's the case, check out Shanna's latest book, DAMSEL UNDER STRESS, a book that comes out tomorrow and is already attracting a bunch of praise.


Once upon a time ...

A little girl learned to amuse herself by making up stories in her head. She turned everyday activities into exciting adventures, and she made up new adventures for characters from her favorite movies, TV shows and books. Then one day she realized that if she wrote down those stories, she'd have a book! But that was crazy, she thought. Real people don't become novelists. That was like deciding you were going to be a movie star. You couldn't just go and do it.

But, it turns out, you can, and she did. She realized her dream of becoming a novelist and seeing her stories in bookstores.

And then she started to wig herself out by writing about herself in the third-person.

This is her story.

The Novelist's Journey

As I said above in that bit of silliness, I've always been a writer at heart. My favorite way to play was to create stories and act them out with my Fisher-Price people, my Barbie dolls or myself and a box of play clothes. If none of those things were available, I could just sit and make up stories in my head. I occasionally got into trouble for being a little too creative, such as the time when I embellished a bit on my kindergarten experiences (where's the dramatic hook in coloring, cutting out and pasting?).

When I was in seventh grade and a bit old for Fisher-Price people, Barbie dolls or the dress-up box, I started writing these stories down in spiral notebooks. Later, I found an old manual typewriter, taught myself to type, then wrote a lot of first chapters of novels on it. I still hadn't figured out how to actually be a working novelist who gets paid for writing (finishing a book instead of writing a lot of first chapters might have been a good start), so when it came time to go to college, I went to journalism school at the University of Texas. While getting my degree in broadcast news, I managed to structure a curriculum that might also help me in my real career plans. I took fencing (which I thought would be useful for writing fantasy novels), an astronomy course on the search for extraterrestrial life (in case I wanted to write science fiction), psychology, interpersonal communication, and parageography (the geography of imaginary lands).

I got serious about pursuing my novel-writing ambitions soon after I got my first job in public relations (TV reporting, it turns out, would have taken away from my writing time) when I started joining local writing organizations and reading books on how to write a novel. Then I took the big step of registering for a writing conference. With the registration fee, you could enter two manuscripts in a contest that went with the conference. I figured if I was paying that much money, I'd get the most out of it, so I wrote two entries. At the conference, I met a real, live editor, who encouraged me to submit, and one of my entries won the science fiction/fantasy category of the contest. I hurried to finish the novel the editor had asked for, then mailed a proposal.

She ended up rejecting the book, but encouraged me to keep trying. I ended up selling that novel elsewhere, then sold two more books to that publisher before I had another idea for that original editor. That book ended up selling, and then one more.

And then I hit the wall. Due to a number of circumstances, some of which weren't my fault and some of which were, I didn't sell anything else for eight years. But then I had the idea that became Enchanted, Inc., I wrote it, sold it, and here I am.

Other Life Stuff

I think I need to get a few more hobbies or something else going on in my life that isn't related to reading or writing because currently my bio in my books is shorter than the "about the typeface" section. Yes, a typeface has a more interesting life than I do.

When I'm not writing, I'm most often reading. Otherwise, I enjoy watching science fiction TV shows and then discussing them on the Internet, working crossword puzzles, baking, singing in the church choir, and, when I have the time and money, traveling.

I haven't yet found my prince charming, and I live with a collection of predatory houseplants, including a trained attack bougainvillea, the hibiscus that shares my office, and a Christmas cactus that's stuck with me through four jobs, three homes, and several boyfriends and men who didn't quite make it to boyfriend status.


To-do: Stop the bad guys. Rescue the wizard. Find the perfect outfit for New Year’s Eve.

At last, Owen Palmer, the dreamboat wizard at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., has conjured up the courage to get Katie Chandler under the mistletoe at the office holiday party. But just when it looks like Katie has found her prince, in pops her inept fairy godmother, Ethelinda, to throw a wand into the works. Ehtelinda’s timing couldn’t be worse. A plot hatched by MSI’s rogue ex-employees, Idris and his evil fairy gal pal Ari, threatens to expose the company’s secrets ­ and the very existence of magic itself. Even worse, it could also mean the end of Katie’s happily-ever-after.

Now Katie and Owen must work side by side (but alas, not cheek to cheek) to thwart the villains’ plans. Braving black-magic-wielding sorceresses, subway-dwelling dragons, lovelorn frog princes, and even the dreaded trip to meet Owen’s parents at Christmas, Katie and her beau are in a battle to beat Idris at his own sinister game. All mischief and matters of the heart will come to a head at a big New Year’s Eve gala, when the crystal ball will drop, champagne will pour, and Katie will find herself truly spellbound.

The ongoing adventures of Katie Chandler are filled with such magical fun. -- Armchair Interviews

Mayhem at its most enchanting. **** -- Romantic Times Book Reviews

Fans of both chick-lit and Harry Potter should not miss out on this series set in magical modern-day Manhattan. -- Fresh Fiction

Great fun, an amusing romp of a romantic read -- Book Loons
1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

Part of the main plot of the book (which I won't give away here as it's a major spoiler) came from brainstorming lists of things that would be utterly impossible to make happen to my main character, and then trying to think of ways to make that happen.

Then the comic subplot, with the wacky fairy godmother, came from my occasional lament about my lack of a love life, in which I claim that it would be so much easier if I had a fairy godmother. I realized that I was writing in a universe in which I could make that happen literally and thought it would be fun to play with.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep trying. Be persistent. But also know when to give up on a particular project and move on rather than getting stuck in the rut of something that isn't working.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

Most of my writing day involves checking e-mail, posting at Television Without Pity, and reading blogs. And then the guilt kicks in and I write about twenty pages. I am the world's least organized person, and every effort I've made to organize myself has failed, so I should not be allowed to give advice on this topic.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

The most exciting thing is hearing from readers who love my books. It's so cool to realize that I've affected someone in some way. The most frustrating thing is how little control I really have over what happens to my book -- things like distribution, print run, publicity, store placement and all that have such a huge impact on a book's prospects, and I have only the teeniest amount of control over that. I have to try not to cringe when I meet someone, tell them about my books, and they say that's exactly the kind of book they're looking for, and they wonder why they never heard of them before.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?

I've already written the next book in the series, and it should be coming out in January. I've got a proposal written for the fifth book, but I don't know yet if I'll get a contract for it. I really want to write it because it closes out the series (for now) in a nice way.

6. Has it been easier or more difficult to write the third book in a series?

This book was the most difficult so far. I had the world so well-established that I was stuck with what I'd already built, even if it did turn out to be inconvenient. I also had a huge cast of characters that had built up since the first book, and I needed to give each of them a role in the story. Meanwhile, I have a lot more voices in my head trying to influence me than I did with that first book. I find myself anticipating what my agent will say, what my editor will say, what the copy-editor will say, what reviewers will say and what readers will think about everything I write. It takes a conscious effort to shut that off and just write.

7. What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I've been known to say that I like the kind of books that have words in them. To narrow it down a little, I really like chick lit, fantasy, science fiction and mystery, and I've also got a fascination for books set during World War II. Not really the battle and strategy parts of the war, but rather the effect on ordinary people.

8. When you're not writing, what do you do?

I love to sing, and I've been taking a voice class at the community college this spring. That was a real experience because I have terrible stage fright, and the teacher assigned me some pretty difficult opera arias to perform, one in Italian. But I survived, and by the end I'd quit having severe panic attacks about singing. I also had to learn to really dig for the emotion to express it in the song, and I think that's something I can apply to my writing.

Otherwise, I mostly do quiet things like reading, watching TV, and discussing TV on the Internet.

Thank you, Shanna! Check out the new book online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or further that "we're all in this together" idea a bit more by stopping in at your LOCAL INDY BOOKSELLER!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

So Not The Drama

I think I've said it elsewhere--I am addicted to Young Adult fiction. Maybe it's because I am a case of arrested development and still haven't quite gotten past high school. As the t-shirt says, you're only young once but you can be immature forever. *sheepish smile* In any case, I am always happy when the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit tour features a YA author. Maybe I'm a bit envious! I, too, would like to claim my hours in front of ZOEY 101 or LIFE WITH DEREK as research....

Anyway, I love to see what is up and coming in this area. To that end, let's welcome Paula Hyman Chase to the blog!


Paula Chase-Hyman doesn't mind being known as a Jane of all trades, Queen of none. But a single theme has followed throughout her career in communications—keeping her finger on the pulse of teen culture. From starting her own mentoring group at Annapolis Senior High School in '94 to coaching her Green Hornet cheerleaders to Grand Champion (ahem, twice), Chase-Hyman refuses to squash her inner teen diva. Luckily, her long memory for all things young led to a career writing young adult novels.

Now, watching an episode of The Hills or Zoey 101 is "research." At least that's what she tells her husband and daughter.


Hoping Del Rio Bay High will live up to her greatest expectations, Mina has big plans for infiltrating the school's social glitterati. After all, she's been mad popular for as long as she can remember—and she isn't about to go from Middle School Royalty to High School Ambiguity. But Del Rio Bay is a big school, so it'll take some plotting to avoid getting lost in the crowd. Good thing she isn't afraid of a little hard work—and that her playground peeps, Lizzie, Michael, and JZ, have got her back.

But it isn't long before Mina's big plans for securing her social status take a back seat to some drama that was so not expected. Lizzie's scored an invite from the beautiful people that Mina can only dream about, and not only is Michael tripping about being back in school, but now he's beefing with JZ. Worst of all, Mina's sociology class experiment to rid the world—or at least Del Rio Bay High—of prejudice is about to backfire. Because it might just mean she'll have to rid herself of her very best friend...

"Contemporary friendship story, which revels in rich diversity of race, color, and class."

"There is plenty here for readers to ponder about race, class and popularity (and lots of material for the next book). "
—Publishers Weekly


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

I’ve always been a “do-er.” If I don’t like the way something is done and I can help improve it or enhance it, I’ll do it. I thought YA fiction was lacking in contemporary stories featuring African American characters. So, I set out to write just that, with one other goal in mine – make the rest of the cast diverse as well. Because many books had either all white casts or all black casts etc… I wanted mine to represent the type of friendship circles my daughter had.

One Saturday, I woke up and had these characters in my head. I knew their names, what they looked like and what town they were from. I ran into my office, outlined it (my first and only outline because I’m total pantser) and began writing it that same day. The words just flowed out of me. I can honestly say the first and second books wrote themselves. This third one…it’s work.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Never let the insecurity (is this good enough) stop you. A bad writing day is better than not writing at all. As long as there is something on the paper, it can be tweaked, re-worked and polished.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

Organized? Ha. I laugh in the face of organization. Seriously, I’m not one to comment on organization. My entire process is messy from start to finish. I’ve attempted outlining, but never follow. For this third book, I’ve even written the chapters out of sequence as the ideas come to me. Something I didn’t do for the first two. I have about four different notebooks where I scribble thoughts. I’m fairly certain if you look up unorganized, my photo may be beside it.

I work full-time in public relations, so writing is my semi-full-time job. I used to be a night-writer. But for this latest work, I’ve gotten up early each morning to get my writing in. It’s working but kicking my butt. Even though I don’t get to write as long in the morning (90 minutes at best) it’s been amazing to watch the novel grow. I’m almost done.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

The exciting part is having your work validated. Writing is so solitary. It’s like wandering in the desert alone, most days. Finding a publisher who wanted my work was like hitching a ride back into town.

The most frustrating is the mystery. There’s still a lot I don’t get or understand about publishing. And although my agent and editor are very forthright when I ask industry-related questions, the truth is if I asked all the questions I really had they wouldn’t have any time to get work done. I researched as much as I could about the industry, before ever submitting my work. But there’s still so much to learn.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?

So Not The Drama is actually part of a series. Kensington Books has acquired five books. The second, Don’t Get It Twisted, will be released in December. I’m working on the third, That’s What’s Up!, now to be released June ’08. I enjoy series writing. I can see a time where I’d want to untether myself. But for now, I love the comfort zone, series writing affords me. Comfort zones are hard to come by in this industry.

Thank you so much for the interview, Paula! SO NOT THE DRAMA is available at Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble. But take my advice--the best way to buy books and support your community is to stop in at your local indy bookseller.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mysterious Moms Getting Mixed Up With Murder

I feel particularly close to author Sara Rosett this week. Sara writes books about moms who get mixed up with murder mysteries. Sounds all too plausible sometimes, eh?

Yes, you may have surmised that Thing One and Thing Two are on Spring Break, so it is All Mom, All the Time. I spent most of the day with four kids at the pool (because if one has a playdate, the other had better) and then went out to lunch, then ice cream (!!!!!) and then came home to deal with lovely microwerveable dinners (all I could manage, but hey, they were Amy's at least). Wait, aren't we supposed to recuperate on break? The only easy part of it is not having to rush to school in the morning.

However, we get to visit puppies tomorrow!

In the meantime, the book is "on ice," I read a page-turner whose ending made me want to hurl it across the room, then hurl into the nearest trash can. I picked up The English Patient next. I think I'll have better luck with that one.

Anyway, mega-welcomes to Sara! Here's some info on her intriguing book!


(in Sara's own words)
I've always wanted to write novels. During elementary school I started dozens of novels, but never finished them. I loved beginnings and interesting settings, but I was a little short on plot! As a kid, I spent a lot of time trying to describe the world around me. Since I lived in the flat plains of Texas the clouds and sunsets became my first (and most frequent) writing exercises. I loved going to the library with my mom when I was a kid. We'd go almost every Saturday and I still remember walking to the children's mystery section and thinking, "Please let there be a Nancy Drew I haven't read." Obviously, this was in the days before the internet and on-line bookstores. I hadn't heard of Inter-library loan either. Once I transitioned to the adult section in the library, I couldn't quite find my niche. It certainly wasn't romance. I knew I'd never be able to write steamy love scenes and suspense didn't quite fit me either.

In college I majored in English and graduated summa cum laude. That's also were I met my husband, an Air Force pilot, and we've been on the move ever since. We've lived in central and southern California, Washington state, Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Hopscotching around the country gave me a checkered resume. I've been a credit processor, a staff reporter for two Air Force base newspapers, and a researcher/writer for a travel company. As we moved from one Air Force base to another, I'd hit the base library and local libraries, always searching for a good book. I discovered a new type of fiction was emerging, mysteries with female protagonists who lived in America and did everything from kick-butt PI work to catering. This was a type of fiction I could write. And it had a plot so I could finally get past my opening scenes! I'd found my niche, so after years of thinking and dreaming about writing a novel, I finally decided to give it a try. the Mom Zone Mystery series is the result.


On her way to see her husband who is with the 52nd Air Refueling squadron, stay-at-home mom Ellie Avery meets her daughter's babysitter Penny Follette. Instead of fading into the woodwork, she is all aglow promising to tell Ellie her secret later. She gives Ellie a bag of chocolate covered coffees beans and she promptly sets it down in the area where the squadron has its drinks and food.

Later that day Ellie receives a phone call from a friend saying that Penny committed suicide. When a stunned Ellie listens to her phone messages, Penny's is full of vigor as she informs her that she is pregnant. Ellie is certain that her friend didn't kill herself as the enthusiasm is too great. A tox screen shows she was poisoned. Georgia, who is part of the squadron, drinks the coffee Ellie left behind and is rushed to the hospital because she was poisoned. Ellie soon becomes a suspect as she is the only link between the two women. Things get worse when she finds a third body, the general's wife who was also murdered. In between poisonings, Ellie is the victim of serious malicious pranks by someone who wants her to turn over "it" to him; since she doesn't know what it is, she begins sleuthing in earnest to prevent anyone else especially her and her family from becoming victim number four.
~Plot Summary by Harriet Klausner

Publishers Weekly : The author, also the wife of an air force pilot, includes practical tips for organizing closets, but the novel's most valuable insight is its window into women's lives on a military base.

Romantic Times: Thoroughly entertaining. The author's smooth, succinct writing style enables the plot to flow effortlessly until its captivating conclusion. (Four stars)

Please take a look at Sara's latest book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or do what I do, support your local independent bookseller.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rx for Revisions--Take a Rest

You've heard it before, I suppose. Between drafts of your novel, it is SOOOO important to "take a rest."

Writers use different terms to describe this. Some liken their novels to loaves of bread. During the drafting or rewriting stage, the writer is pounding, shaping, and generally getting all his or her aggressions out on the page (not that I would know anything about that!) But after the draft is completed, it's time to put that novel in a safe place and let it rest before working through it again. I've also heard writers call this practice "putting the novel on ice." That poor manuscript is probably pretty overheated now, with all that poking, prodding, and wrestling to the ground. The metaphor is different but the concept the same--give the novel a rest.

Well, I'm at that stage now with TINK. I've finished a draft and now it's time to let it rest. It's perfect timing, really; Thing One and Thing Two are on Spring Break this week, so I wouldn't have the time OR concentration to work on it this week. How perfect is it that I can use the vacation just to laze around? I'm reading a lot, too--just filling my head with good stuff.

It is interesting since I began paying a lot of attention to that still, small voice. Lots of fascinating things begin to happen. I've taken to summoning that voice when I sit down to write and that voice seemed to know my schedule and timed everything perfectly. I don't question. I just say Thank You.

For example, in the last several months, we were looking for a specific type of puppy to bring home to our family--a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. We even printed up a picture of this type of dog and pasted it on a money jar to sock away cash to pay for the puppy.

Then, we became quite frustrated with the difficulty in finding a breeder who adhered to the breeding protocols of this breed. This breed tends toward health problems if not bred properly. As a consequence, there is a shortage of this breed. The breeders who also show their dogs have waiting lists of over a year long--that's if they even have time to reply to your emails (many don't; we know, we tried!). Believe me, there are breeders/puppy mills who take advantage of this! Some puppies are even imported from Ireland to fulfil the demands. Can you imagine putting a 7-week-old puppy on a plane from freakin' IRELAND to CALIFORNIA to sell?

Well, long story short, we gave up on finding a breeder of Cavaliers and moved to another breed. We couldn't find a breeder who had THAT breed available right now, either! (There are plenty of sharks in the sea, though... I would not recommend ANYONE buy a dog on the Internet! ALWAYS insist you see where the puppy lives and meet the pup's mom and if possible, dad).

Meanwhile, I had begun spending time quietly meditating each night. I have been practicing prayer to my own Higher Power for some time--as for meditation, I am not sure I knew what it was. I had bought a book which told me I needed to make a sacred, special place to meditate in my house. I could not think of a place. Therefore, I didn't bother.

For some reason, I began using my relaxing bathtime to meditate. I don't do anything special, only lie in my bath and listen to my heart beating in my ears, concentrating only on that. It is amazing how clear the mind becomes when I "clean it out" in this way. Many of my friends talk about "The Committee." The Committee are a set of voices in our heads which tell us (in varying tones) we aren't good enough, those ideas are stupid, we suck in our chosen profession, the world is out to get us, people think we are fat, we ARE fat, we will never succeed, we are just so different and freakish that we are Doomed For Life. And at its most evil and dangerous, The Committee may even mention that we oughtn't even to bother staying clean and sober because we aren't addicts and/or alcoholics after all.

I'm onto The Committtee's game so I know what to do if they start yelling. I use my Phone a Friend card, read some useful publications which I own, go for a walk, et cetera. But here is the interesting part--I have found that The Committee takes a long coffee break when I do things like practice meditation. Sometimes they will even go out for a long lunch--or, if I am supremely lucky, take the whole freakin' day off.

So, this particular evening, The Committee were nowhere to be found--and I wasn't about to go looking for them. That still, small voice informed me that the puppy issue would work itself out if I only did one thing... LISTEN. A few days later, a friend of mine shared the fact that her dog had had puppies! On the long shot I asked her if she was selling any of them, and what breed the dog was.

They were Cavalier King Charles puppies. Both parents free from health problems, and the mom had been bred two years ago and those puppies were all healthy too. Can you believe it? And God willing, we will be bringing one home in about five weeks.

Since I have allowed that still, small voice its time to speak in my life--very fascinating things have begun to happen. I am so very grateful.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Faery Cube

I thought this was kind of cool. Found it on a Myspace layouts page and customized it with a bunch of faery images in the public domain. We'll call it a celebration for hitting a milestone with TINK. :) Do I love that girl! But she can be soooo obstinate sometimes.... (Hm, reminds me of someone I know)

get your photo cube

You can customize your own cube at the link above.

Happy Easter, all! I love Easter because, of course, Jesus's Resurrection is all about redemption--something in which I definitely believe. I would also like to wish everyone a Happy Passover as well. One of my most treasured memories is attending a Passover Seder with a friend a few years back. It is one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to me, and I'll always be grateful she let me share it. The Israelites' Exodus from Egypt is also a powerful tale about redemption and renewal.

Speaking of which, I saw a guy celebrate 38 years of sobriety the other day. Who says there's no such thing as miracles? xo

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Take Him, Why Dontcha?

I know a teacher who was jilted at the altar. It scarred him permanently. He spent the rest of his life torturing his students and making them cry -- a living example of Melody Beattie's adage, Hurt People Hurt People. I could definitely imagine my former teacher committing crimes due to what happened to him.

Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat wondering if you would experience the same fate? Well, that's just what a fascinating new comic novel explores. Today I have the privilege of hosting the lovely Valerie Frankel, author of the previous hit Hex and the Single Girl, and the brand new novel I Take This Man. Welcome, Valerie!


Valerie Frankel has finally created a website for herself. She certainly took her time about it, but now proudly displays her thoughts, reviews and pictures at Besides writing and getting good use out of her new digital camera, Frankel plays Snood, stares at the wall, goes running and prepares healthy yet satisfying meals for the whole family. She has eight novels to her credit (including Smart vs. Pretty, The Accidental Virgin, and The Not-So-Perfect Man), and four non-fiction books, including 2004's co-authored sex guide, The Best You'll Ever Have: What Every Woman Should Know for Getting and Giving Knock-Your-Socks-Off Sex. Her magazine articles appear in O, Parenting, Self, Glamour, Allure and the New York Times, among others. She continues to live in Brooklyn with her two daughters and two cats, and was recently married to devilishly handsome opera singer Stephen Quint.


Here comes the bride . . . there goes the groom.

Penny Bracket waited two years to marry dream man Bram Shiraz. Then on the morning of the Big Day, while she's trying on her veil, Penny receives the worst two-line letter of her life: "Penny, I can't go through with it. Sorry, Bram."

Penny's hurt and upset. But Esther, Penny's divorced mom, wants Bram's head on a platter. So Mom ambushes the cold-footed coward before he hot-foots it out of town, bonks him on the head with a champagne bottle, and spirits him away to a hidden room in her gargantuan mansion in Short Hares, New Jersey. Esther doesn't want much. All Bram has to do is write personal, heartfelt apologies to each of the two hundred disappointed wedding guests . . . and eat every mouthful of the very expensive gourmet wedding feast that has gone to waste. Then he'll be free to leave.

Penny doesn't want Bram tortured. She just wants answers to "why" . . . and maybe a little revenge. Will she discover her runaway groom is locked away in the attic? Will Bram's widowed father—handsome tough-guy Keith Shiraz—be able to locate his missing son . . . and maybe seduce Esther Bracket in the bargain? Will Bram be able to maintain his athletic figure after consuming two hundred entrées and thousands of baby quiches? Read on!

"Quite simply, Frankel makes reading a blast. No premise is too outlandish and no character is without a set a flaws. The plot is cleverly kooky and not one many authors could realistically pull off. Frankel has an endless bag of tricks that seems to get deeper—and more hilarious—with every novel."—Lauren Spielberg, Romantic Times

"I TAKE THIS MAN is an entertaining portrait of relationship hang-ups, vengeance and one missing groom. Valerie Frankel scores again with a humorous story that had me laughing until my sides hurt. Penny and Bram are a misguided couple that need help in finding their true feelings for one another. Keith and Ester search together to find Bram, even when Ester knows where Bram is hidden. The skewed relationships of all the main characters, Penny, Bram, Ester and Keith are so immensely appealing in depth and characterization. I absolutely adored the antics in this story. Frankel wonderfully explores family relationships with incredible insight, humor, and compassion. Readers will find this a zinger of a story that is a pleasure to read."—Romance Junkies


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

The basic idea for I Take This Man was cranked out on a typical day in the life of a working mother. My daughter came home from school, and announced that some little girl in her first grade class made her cry. A flash of anger flooded my brain. After a minute or two, I calmed myself down. Lucy and I discussed what had happened, and worked out an appropriate response. But that flash of maternal rage got my meat grinder going. Any intense emotion is a kick-start. It made me wonder: What offense against one of my daughters would actually move me to lash out with violence against another human being? I fixated on the question, lay awake in bed, wondering what indeed would make an otherwise controlled, rational woman thirsty for blood? I imagined being the mother of a jilted bride who, in a fit of vengeance, attacks the runaway groom. From there, I asked more questions: "Why did the groom cancel the wedding?" "What did the mother do with the groom after she bashed him?" "How would the bride find out what happened?" Five hours later, at three o'clock in the morning, I had the framework of a plot.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep moving forward. If you spend too much time backtracking and editing as you go, you might get lost in the middle, and never get to the end. I try to write a first draft, start to finish, and then devote as much energy and time to editing it later.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

I drop off my kids at school at 8:30, go to the gym, come home, eat breakfast, shower, write until pick up at 3. Very exciting, right? It's a very boring existence, but I couldn't do anything else. I write fiction as well as magazine articles. So, for me, organization is crucial to prioritize my workload. I divide time by the week. One whole week will be devoted to reporting and writing an article. The next week will be to tie loose ends and edit it before sending to my editor at the magazine. Then, I'll switch back to a novel, write that until revisions come in for something else.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?
The most exciting is having books out! Seeing your work on the shelf, or on the front table. Getting reviewed is fun (if the reviews are positive). I love it when someone tells me they saw one of my books in at far-flung airport, or on the hotel borrowing bookshelf at a hotel in Costa Rica. The most frustrating is feeling like a book doesn't reach the target audience despite the hard work or publicists and marketers at your publishing house.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?
I Take This Man is a stand alone. I'm working on the third book in the Fringe Girl series for teens, as well as a memoir about body image. Also, I'm doing a lot of stuff for magazines, too.

Three questions of my own choosing below.
1. Would you prefer to lose ten pounds, or suddenly come into $10,000?
I'll take the money. If it were $5,000, I might take the weight loss.

2. How do you show your kids a good time over spring break?
Well, right now, while I work, the kids are doing the laundry. That's a rocking good time for them, I'm sure.

3. Obama or Clinton?
At this, I'm rooting for Hillary to make history, and to make me proud. Fingers crossed.

Thank you so much, Valerie! Valerie's book can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the mostest bestest place, your local indie bookseller.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

EXCLUSIVE interview with Sopranos star Aida Turturro

Courtesy of dLife TV, please enjoy this exclusive interview with Sopranos star Aida Turturro. Aida discusses her life with Type 2 Diabetes and how it has impacted her day-to-day living as well as her career! Aida has battled Type 2 for the past four years.

As you probably know, Type 2 Diabetes differs from Type 1, but it is still a very important health concern. Many thanks to Tom Karlya at dLife for providing our network of Diabetes bloggers this EXCLUSIVE online interview. It will not be aired on TV!