The winter that I wrote The Do-Over, I fantasized about a woman who takes a vacation from her life. Now, let me say that I have a great life, but who couldn’t use a little break?
I’m heading to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina with a bunch of girlfriends & I’m very happy to say it looks like life is imitating art!
Hope you’re enjoying your own first month of SUMMER.
(Update on the first give-away… The lucky winner is Sammi P.! Check in for another spring present!)
think it’s about time for a give-away, a little swag to say thanks!
Through writing, I’ve met amazing readers on Facebook and Twitter and Amazon and Goodreads… whew! did I leave anything out? Oh, yeah, and in person in my classes and workshops! And now, I’ve got the inspiration for The Do-Over… the bath products that started it all, LUSH.
So… Relax, take a bath! I’ll be drawing for the gift basket in just 5 days. To enter to win, just look to the top of this page on the right and pop your email in the box. I promise to only send the rare but entertaining announcements for FREE books, NEW books, or if GEORGE CLOONEY passes me a note in class.
Good luck, and while we’re all winners (especially GEORGE CLOONEY) one of you will get an email from me on Sunday April 15th!
As always it’s a crazy-busy time of year, but I’d like to share a pair of holiday inspired songs (only vaguely inappropriate) and offer you TWO PRESENTS! ( No, really, it’s okay if you didn’t get me anything)
The first song is for my writer friends out there… Sing to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas,
the one I hope’s right down the road.
Where the scenes I hammer and readers clamor
to rush my Kindle book download.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas
with every novel that I plot.
May the book be funny and hot,
and may all the comma errs be caught.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas.
I’ve worked the keyboard all year round,
where my neck would seize up, my fingers freeze up,
my head would spin around and pound.
I’m dreaming of a write Christmas
I made my list in case he might…
May St. Nick bring a manuscript tonight,
’cause I’ve heard those elves can really write.
This next number (I’m sounding like a lounge singer now, aren’t I?) is one I wrote for my beloved Bookgroup: all women, all amazing, and all wondering if… Here Comes Menopause.
You can hear this song performed (not by me) in front of my very own Christmas tree. I love the little dog in the background (also not mine but I wish he were).The yellow title below links directly to Youtube where you’ll enjoy lyrics like… “She’s got a bag that’s filled with rage, but she loves you just the same!”
And didn’t I say something about a PRESENT… about TWO PRESENTS? Yes, I did. To thank everyone for being so wonderfully supportive and encouraging in my first year as a real live author, The Do-Over and my newest novel, Plan On It will be available for FREE downloads on December 26!
Thankyouthankyouthankyou and happy e-reading!
A To-Do List Because I Can’t Help Myself
Then in the manner of the best laid plans of mice and women… my cold, that has taken on a life of its own, dropped me against my will on the couch.
The Still, Small Voice
The Imprint on the Couch…
This Memorial Day weekend, while my daughter Grace and I suffered colds together and the rest of the family enjoyed the long weekend (we really were happy for them), I sold my first book. Yes, The Do-Over appeared at long last on Amazon and hooooooooray, a sale!
I thought about a great many things besides “where did that box of facial tissues get to?” But one thing that struck me was how glad I was I had learned to see and accept synchronicity when it showed up, sometimes even on my doorstep.
E-Publishing as a Fear-Based Activity
I’d been letting the idea of e-publishing roll around in my head for a while. My friend, the novelist Dennis Foley, cheered me on for at least a year before I let myself imagine it. Still it took more nudging than that for me to consider a non-traditional approach to getting to readers.
I’ve been a big fan of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and had the privilege of taking several groups of amazingly creative people through it. (Peer pressure should never be underestimated as a great way to get your life rolling.) In the book, Cameron stresses the importance of looking for synchronicity, ways the universe helps us out.
So I was half-way thinking about moving ahead with my dream of publishing, and doing it my way. (I once had a bumper sticker with Frank Sinatra in a snappy fedora that said, “It’s Frank’s world. We just live in it.”) But, of course, I lacked all the technical skills to make it happen. And then the magic of synchronicity brought me Roxanne…
In college I once broke up with a guy who said, “The only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting it.” (At the time he was referring to the Italian I dumped him for, but that’s another story.) When he said it to me, it felt like the worst fortune cookie ever.
Eternal Optimism and the Hamster Brain
As an eternal optimist, I always think that things will get better. He actually introduced me to the idea that you could want something and then later be sorry. (For the record, I do not regret the Italian!)
In a matter of days, my first book The Do-Over will be in the hands of readers. I’d like to say I am nothing but thrilled… “I am nothing but thrilled.” I am also nervous and a little stressed, and guilty of hamster brain. (You know, where your thoughts spin around on that damn squeaky wheel?) Being a writer, and even better, having readers is something I’ve wanted my whole life, and I want getting it to be the best thing.
I hope, like the Italian, I will look back on all this as a grand adventure. (I’m thinking that my analogy needs to end here before I say something with a double meaning that I will surely mean but will cause me to lose my PG-13 rating.) And I refuse to give into my hamster brain and the ominous parting shot of a college boy, and embrace the sheer joy of sharing my work. So here’s to the only thing better than having an adventure at twenty…. Having one at mid-life!
June first has probably always been a day I’ve looked forward to. Living in Montana, winters are long and spring is something of a miracle. (To give you a feel for my mood in January… I throw a neighborhood women gathering I call The Donner Party Tea.)
Springtime this far north doesn’t arrive on June 1st necessarily. That day can bring snow just as readily as sunshine. But this June 1st I’ll have my new season regardless of the weather. It’s the day my novel, The Do-Over, will be available.
Long Winter of Publishing
And yes, I have waited through a long winter of publishing… many, many long winters. I like to think I was supposed to tell the stories of women at mid-life and needed to get there myself to understand the terrain. Who else could capture the joys and irritations, the exhaustion and stubborn hope than a sister who is also knee-deep in permission slips and peri-menopause?
Admit it, if you were looking in at your own life, you’d find it interesting. (And I don’t mean a can’t-look-away-from-a-train-wreck interesting.) You’d see, as I do, that women at this stage in life are working hard for others and just beginning to see that they can begin to shift some of that amazing caretaking energy back to themselves.
I think of The Do-Over as a female fantasy in which we get all the good things and some of the bad things we deserve. Most of us don’t want to blow up our lives so much as take a break from them. And not just a vacation from warehouse shopping and work, but a vacation from our own limits. That’s what Mara Jane Mulligan does, and it’s what I hope mid-life lit. encourages us all to do.
What draws a writer to a story? Maybe it’s something lofty like a desire to change the world, but what drew me to The Do-Over was a long, cold, dark winter stuck inside with two children. I fantasized about taking a vacation from my beloved family and returning re-energized.
After the wonderful break, I’d be ready to make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich and happy to warehouse shop for jugs of ketchup. Since a vacation wasn’t actually shimmering on the horizon, I spent the rest of the long season escaping to my computer. I lived Mara Jane Mulligan’s story vicariously, and I hope others will feel the fantasy of their own domestic escapes.
Question and answer with the author
Where did you get your idea for this book?
There were a rash of movies about superheroes, and it struck me that they were male fantasies. I thought, “what’s a woman’s fantasy?”
Every woman I know longs for a break. A vacation is great, but even when you’re on one you’re still a wife and a mother and a woman who doesn’t wear prints. The real fantasy would be to take a break from your whole life, be somebody else, and recharge enough to head home again.
Where do you get your ideas for writing in general?
I wrote a screenplay from an obituary. I read them every day because I love that they are mini biographies. I keep my eyes and ears open for things just like that, an over-heard bit of conversation in the grocery store, a piece of news, a picture. Then, when something strikes me, I ask, “what if?” and try to put the least likely character in a challenging situation.
What are your inspirations?
I just love to write. “Inspired” sounds like the stars need to align, but I think writing is fun. I entertain myself by living with stories in my head. Besides, if I’m not writing, I’m like a hamster without a wheel, and my family is inspired to tell me to get to work.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Third grade. I wrote a story for Mr. Hartman, a Nancy Drew sort of mystery based on my grandmother’s black velvet watch band. The story was well received at Muldown Elementary. I realized writing was great fun, and I was forced to abandon my second grade dream of being a botanist, a profession I chose because the word was cool.
What do you like to read?
I always have a non-fiction book going. I think of it as continuing education. I love books about finance and budgeting, self-improvement, home organization, business, and, of course, writing and creativity. In fiction I read for pure pleasure: Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Janet Evanovich, and Jennifer Crusie.
How do you balance writing and family life?
I write at home, so it’s been tricky. I learned never to write when the girls are around. My mom radar is always on, and I’m easily distracted by anything I hear outside my office door. I can plot, research, take notes, etc… but I don’t even try to get any pages done. Now that they’re both in school, it’s easier, but I still go away from the house to write during school breaks. I’ve written with no trouble in a McDonald’s playland with children screaming. They just weren’t my children.
How did you start writing novels?
My background was in poetry, and I was teaching college English when I had an idea for a novel. I think working in different forms keeps writing interesting. I dove in and used the first novel to learn how to write one. My first screenplay started the same way, as an exercise in how to be a better writer. Now I like to alternate novels and screenplays.
How did you research The Do-Over? Did you run away from home or play volleyball on a nude beach?
First, what I love about fiction is that I get to make stuff up. It’s the main reason I don’t use my journalism degree. News agencies frown on “made up” stuff. For The Do-Over I took many, many bubble baths while entertaining the fantasy of thirty days away from everything, including myself. And I did take the family to Vancouver to fill in the details of that wonderful city. I scouted the beach next to the nude one. I like to imagine I would have happily gone the female equivalent of the full monty had the children not been there.