Category Archives: chick lit

Launch Pad contest for unpublished novelists

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deadlines vary by category: historical fiction is May 10, 2012, suspense/crime/mystery/thriller is June 10, contemporary fiction/women’s fiction is July 10, middle grade, YA fiction is August 10, contemporary romance is September 10, Speculative is October 10. entry fee is $35; details HERE:

http://www.novelrocket.com/p/launch-pad-contest.html

10 QUESTIONS FOR…NY Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch

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Author interview with Allison Winn ScotchAllisonWinnScotchTimeofMyLife

I’m the New York Times bestselling author of Time of My Life and The Deparement of Lost and Found. I also write for a slew of magazines, these days primarily focusing on celebrity interviews. I live in NYC with my husband, two kids and our dog.

1. Tell us about your latest book. Time of My Life is the story of Jillian Westfield, a contented but not truly fulfilled, stay-at-home mom who has lingering “what ifs” about her past and her happiness. She wakes up one day seven years in her past and has the opportunity, should she so choose it, to rewrite her future.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

Well, I wasn’t always determined to be a writer. I was always good at it, and people always told me I should pursue it, but to be honest, when I graduated from college, it simply didn’t seem viable. I mean, how does someone make money as a writer? It seemed ludicrous. I tried on a few different career hats, and one – doing an internet start-up – led to a bunch of freelance writing gigs (I was doing the web copy for the site, as well as the press releases, which led to being hired by a bunch of the site’s partners). From there, I was retained by a leading PR company to ghost-write for celebrities, and from there, on a total fluke, I was hired to ghost-write a wedding book for The Knot. With that under my belt, I landed some national magazine articles, and one thing led to another. (Though I don’t mean to make this sound easy. It was feast or famine for a while, and I worked MY BUTT off to establish myself.) Eventually, I wanted to try my hand at something other than service pieces for mags, so I wrote a novel that landed me an agent but didn’t sell. So then I wrote another novel, which I loved, but said agent did not. We parted ways, I found my current (and fabulous) agent, who sold that book – my debut, The Department of Lost and Found – in a four-way auction.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

It really all depends on where I am in the cycle of a book. Writing, promotion, edits, hanging out and doing nothing… But generally, I take my son to school around 8:30, get home, have breakfast, catch up on my internet surfing and then get writing for a few hours. I’ve found, especially with fiction, if I don’t tackle it first thing in the morning, I’ll procrastinate it all day and won’t get it done at all. So better to get it out of the way right away! From there, I usually break for a workout/lunch/errand running, and then get back to my desk for more writing/emails/whatever other work needs to be done before walking the dog in the late afternoon. My sitter leaves at 6pm, so I shut down, make dinner for my kids, put them to bed, eat dinner with my husband and then try to vegetate in front of the TV/computer/a good book.

4. Describe your workspace.

I’m lucky enough to be able to work out of a home office in NYC, which is a real luxury, I know! My desk is up against a wall with three big windows overlooking the trees on our street. On the wall to my right is a huge painting of an Underwood typewriter, which we bought when I first flirted with success, and I love it even to this day. Behind me is a Precor elliptical, which I hop on – as I said above – to blow off some steam or just give my body a break from sitting and staring at the screen all day! And also to my right, just beneath the Underwood painting, is a daybed, which primarily serves as my dog’s hang-out spot during the day. 

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Gosh, well, when I’m asked this, I always say it is IMPOSSIBLE to choose because a) a lot of my friends are writers (hee) and b) a lot of different books have affected me in different ways. But that said, I’d say that the book that really blew me away was Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to The End. It was one of those books that I just could have NEVER written, never. Which might sound like a weird reason to be enamored with it, but I think that when you’re a writer, you start evaluating books differently than the average reader. You pick them apart, assess whether or not, if given the same idea, you could write a similar book on your best day. But even on my very, very best day, I could have never written this book. I thought it was whimsical, surprising and really, just genius. Not everyone agreed, but that’s why there are so many options out there to choose from!

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I used to want to be an actress. That’s probably not so crazy, but I DID appear nude in my college’s production of Hair. Ha! Post-college, I actually shot some commercials and got my SAG card until I switched gears, and as I mentioned above, things fell into place for me as a writer.

I cannot live without Fresca, Orbit bubblement gum and Napster. Like, seriously. I get withdrawal symptoms from them.

I have a numerical near-photographic memory. I still remember phone numbers from random people years ago. My husband used to not believe this but now, he tells me a phone number or some important stat, and just says, “Got it?” And I do! My son is the same way, and I have to say, seeing it in someone else is a little freaky.

7. Favorite quote

“If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you, I came to live out loud.” – Emile Zola

8. Best and worst part of being a writer:

The best part is the freedom, which encompasses a lot of things, that this job provides me. The freedom to create my own schedule, the freedom to both work and hang with my kids, the freedom to expand my imagination, the freedom to know that my career feels pretty limitless. I truly feel so, so blessed to be able to do what I do and get paid for it.

The worst part? Well, a lot of it, even though, yes, it does feel limitless, is out of my control. Time of My Life did really well, in no small part due to the press it received, and if it hadn’t received such press, it wouldn’t have become a best-seller. Does that make it any less good of a book? Of course not. But there are a lot of great books out there that go unnoticed…and unfortunately, that’s just how this business works. So many things are out of your hands: marketing, PR, reviews, co-op, etc, that you sort of just have to accept it and do your best with what you can. But that can be tough, especially for someone like me who is Type-Z in everything non-career related but Type-A with her career.

9. Advice for other writers

Be open to criticism. I say this all the time, but it’s just so imperative. I think one of the biggest mistakes that aspiring (and established) writers can make is assuming that they’re as good as they think they are. I should know: I thought that initial manuscript that never sold was GENIUS. When I went back and reread it several years later, it was HORRID. Just horrid. Thank goodness it never sold! I’ve been fortunate enough along the way in my career to glean some truly constructive criticism, and if I’d never listened to it, I’d never have grown as a writer. Take your ego OUT of the equation, and try to improve yourself with every opportunity.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Sure, well, as I mentioned above, before I wrote The Department of Lost and Found, I wrote another manuscript, which landed me an agent but didn’t get me a book deal. I got enough positive feedback from editors, though, that I was certain that this fiction thing COULD happen for me, even as demoralizing as it was to get so close and NOT get that offer. So I buckled down, put my disappointment aside, and wrote the first draft to what is now The Department in about three months. My agent hemmed and hawed, helped me through some revisions, but it was pretty obvious that she had lost faith in me. I was freaking out – I couldn’t get her to return my emails, my phone calls, and finally, several months after I handed in my last draft, I got her on the phone, and she said, “I feel like going out with this book will do more harm than good for your career.” I remember the quote very succinctly. She gave me the offer to go back to that first book and revise it (NO INTEREST – it sucked!), write an entire DIFFERENT book, or…part ways.

Well, obviously, you can guess the one that I did. I told her I’d get back to her in a few days but knew as soon as I hung up the phone what I was going to do…and think I emailed her the next morning. Because I knew – and I say this A LOT on my blog – that I could write the best book in the world, and she wouldn’t believe in me. She’d lost faith in me as a writer but also as an asset, and this is the most damaging thing ever. Your agent HAS to have your back, HAS to be your advocate or else you are dead in the water. If I’d stayed with her, I’d never have published that book, much less gotten FOUR offers for it within weeks of signing with my new (and current and FABULOUS ) agent.

Look, it was a leap of faith, but I had faith in MYSELF and my book. I trusted my gut, and while it was ridiculously terrifying to leave my agent – everyone knows how hard they are to get – I had to believe that I had something great to offer. My now-agent believed that, and here I am today.

Where can people buy your book(s)?

Time of My Life is available pretty much everywhere: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Indie stores, and is also a Target breakout book, so will be featured in stores from 8/9 through 10/11. I’d be indebted if you’d pick up a copy! And writers, feel free to swing by my blog and post a question! http://www.allisonwinn.com/ask-allison/

10 QUESTIONS FOR…multi-book comic novelist Saralee Rosenberg

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Author interview with: Saralee Rosenbergdearneighborpbcfacebook

 Saralee Rosenberg is the author of four comic novels from AvonBooks(HarperCollins) including A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, CLAIRE VOYANT, FATE AND MS. FORTUNE and her latest release, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD. She and her husband live on Long Island and have three children and a big mortgage.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My newest novel, Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead,  is a hilarious, heart-stopping romp over fences and defenses that begs the question, what did you do to deserve living next door to a crazy woman? Sometimes it’s worth finding out.  Here is the story:

In Mindy Sherman’s yoga-obsessed, thirty-is-the-new-wife neighborhood, every day is a battle between Dunkin’ Donuts, her jaws-of-life-jeans and Beth Diamond, the self-absorbed sancti-mommy next door who looks sixteen from the back. So much for sharing the chores, the stores and the occasional mischief to rival Wisteria Lane.

It’s another day, another dilemma until Beth’s marriage becomes fodder on Facebook. Suddenly the Ivy League blonde needs to be “friended” and Mindy is the last mom standing. Together they take on hormones and hunger, family feuds and fidelity and a harrowing journey that spills the truth about an unplanned pregnancy and a sixty-year old miracle that altered their fates forever.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

All of my novels explore fate and destiny in some way, so it is probably no coincidence that my writing career began serendipitously.  The only thing I was writing were grocery lists when my husband told me that he had recommended me to a client whose new publishing firm was trying to create a series of books about relocation.  To which I said, “Are you out of your mind? I don’t know how to write a book, and what do I know about people moving from New York to Florida?” I was really annoyed, but when the opportunity became reality, I took a shot. Nine books later I can honestly say that it was kismet. The inner-writer in me was there all along. I just needed someone to scare it out of me.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

When I am under contract to write a new book, it’s an all day, every day affair. I take breaks to do my 3-mile jog, juggle family responsibilities, and check in on Facebook so people know that I’m still breathing. But essentially, the story becomes my entire focus and I think about my characters when I’m in the shower, at the supermarket- they follow me. When my kids were younger they could tell how well the writing was going by the mess on my floor. If they walked in and my desk was all neat and tidy, it was a good day. But if they basically had to skate over on all the paper and debris, it was enter at your own risk… unless they were there to give me a hug and a brownie.

4. Describe your workspace.

I never intended for my master bedroom to become my office, but the view was too great to pass up and the commute couldn’t be beat.  I could be at my desk in ten seconds if inspiration struck. The downside, of course, is that there are days when it is my private sanctuary, and other times when it feels like Grand Central Station.  The kids walk in with their friends, plop themselves down and suddenly my room is a hang out.  The good news is that I have picked up some great dialogue listening to them speak. Shhhh. Don’t tell.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I’ve always been a big fan of Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions for Writing and Life (wish I’d written it) and William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting (though published in 1973, it remains a relevant, eye opening look at storytelling).  As for my favorite novelists, I love Irwin Shaw, Sol Stein and Elinore Lipman.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Only three?  1) I never wanted to be a writer. I wanted to a model. God apparently missed that memo. 2). I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. I’m not quite a customer as much as an annuity. Every year I am a guaranteed source of income for them. 3) Years ago I was a guest on Oprah for my book, 50 Fabulous Places to Raise A Family. The experience was life changing. She was wonderful and Steadman was there too. He smelled so nice. Bonus: ) I love writing novels and even though there is pain involved, just like giving birth, I forget and do it again!

7. Favorite quote

This gem is my father’s: “Confidence is that feeling you have, right before you understand the problem.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part is hearing praise from readers, whether it’s in the form of a review, an email, a personal meeting. When I learn that they laughed and cried through my books or that they couldn’t put them down, I want to buy them lunch. I also love walking into a bookstore or library and seeing copies of my books on display. What a high! The worst part is dealing with the rejection and the negative reviews, although this has never happened to me (NOT!).  The work is so personal and requires every ounce of your being to get it right, it seems unimaginable that someone is going to knock it. But oh boy, can people dish it out.  Eventually you remove the stingers and focus on the positive feedback. Either that or you open a bottle of red.

9. Advice for other writers

The best writers are also the best readers. Read everything and think about the book’s strengths and weaknesses.  Discuss books with others, take workshops, and by all means, keep at it. I heard the comedian Carole Leifer say  that in order to be an amazing comic, first you have to suck at it. Same is true with being an author. You have to hone your craft for years before you can honestly say that the writing is solid and worthy of publication.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

When Dear Neighbor came out, I ran to my local bookstore to make sure that copies were on the shelf. I spotted a woman looking at the new fiction table and stayed close (I couldn’t believe she didn’t feel me breathing on her). Would she notice my book? Sure enough she did pick it up, then read the back cover and laughed. Even better, she put it under her arm. Oh joy, she was going to buy it (hopefully not steal it). When I introduced myself, she just stared at me like I was Alan Funt on Candid Camera. I don’t think she believed me, although who would lie about being the author of a book? Anyway, I showed her my photo inside and she gave me a big hug. She was a huge reader and loved meeting authors but I was the first one to stalk her. “Usually I’m the stalker,” she laughed. “Where do you live?”

 Where can people buy your books?

My books are available at all the chain bookstores and from all of the major on line booksellers. Please check out my website and blog: saraleerosenberg.com

10 QUESTIONS FOR…novelist Cristin Frank

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Author interview with Cristin FrankCristin
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Cristin Frank…author, artist, wife and mother of two boys…well, maybe not in that order.

After earning her bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Cristin moved to the Midwest – a sphere of industry for consumer products – where she worked on ubiquitous brands such as Budweiser, Kraft and Ziploc. Reading The Onion and listening to This American Life in her free time kept her writing spirit alive.

In her late 20’s she met her husband and returned to her family in Buffalo. It was then that the sage experiences with her elderly family members inspired her first novel, which honed her writing and editing skills and manifested a career.

Clippings:

Author of blog blog.carrycargot.com

http://blog.carrycargot.com

“Does that come in Green?” by Cristin Frank http://www.findagreenstore.com/articles

5 Ways to Stress Less About Housework contributed to by Cristin Frank

http://www.sheknows.com/articles/808040.htm

How to Wow Others with your Organization Skills tip contribution by Cristin Frank

http://www.sheknows.com/articles/808052.htm

 

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Trimming the Blue Hairs is a book that will make you laugh and cry.

Ella, the main character, drops her stuck-up salon job to be the hero, going into the homes of the elderly to do their hair. She is emotionally and physically unprepared for the challenge but keeps at it through the inspiration of her boyfriend, zany best friend and elderly clients.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I started in consumer packaging, writing and editing for companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Nestlé and SC Johnson.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

When I’m not working my part-time job (out of my home) for a design agency in Chicago, I do housework to relax me and let my mind develop my story. Then I spend solid chunks of time getting it all into my laptop. Around this time I’m also sending pitches and gathering media contacts.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I do most of my writing in bed. As strange as that might sound (and don’t tell my chiropractor), I find there are no distractions there. I’m also so comfortable that I don’t want to get out, so I’ll keep working.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris (he can tie together separate stories with great whit)

World Class – Jane & Burt Boyar

Writer Mama – Christina Katz

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1. I’ve flown and landed an airplane

2. I cannot drink soda because the carbonation hurts my mouth.

3. When I have writer’s block I soak my hands in warm water.

7. Favorite quote

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

-Anais Nin

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best is being in control of your creativity. No one else can create your voice.

Worst is the uphill battle of marketing. You cannot stay behind your computer; eventually you must pick up the phone and start shaking hands.

9. Advice for other writers

Finish what you’ve started. All the powerful dialog and drama percolating in your head won’t get you anywhere until you get it all out. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself with writing a full outline before you start, map out a few chapters at a time and it can feel more manageable.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I once had no option but to bring my 5 year-old with me to a book signing. My son was a big help, holding up the book, calling it to people’s attention. But, if they ignored him, he’d feel really bad. A few times he called out, “Fine! Have a nice time with no book!”

Where can people buy your book?

Trimming the Blue Hairs is available at all major on-line retailers or on request through your local bookstore. You may read more at www.cristinfrank.com or watch the video book trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1E0Qd4YItY

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Nancy Cohen, author of the Bad Hair Day mystery series

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Author interview with Nancy J. Cohenknotsphonecam

Nancy J. Cohen is author of the popular Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. KILLER KNOTS and PERISH BY PEDICURE are the latest titles in this humorous series. Author of thirteen published novels plus a novella, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors & Poets. A Florida resident for over thirty years, she has served as president of Florida Romance Writers, and as secretary for the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Several of her books have made the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Bestseller List.

  1. Tell us about your latest book/project.

KILLER KNOTS is the ninth book in my Bad Hair Day mystery series.  I’ve been on over 20 cruises, and I love sailing to the Caribbean, so I wanted to share my experiences with readers.  In this story, hairstylist Marla Shore and her fiancé Dalton Vail go on their first Caribbean cruise.  Marla hopes for a romantic interlude, but troubled waters lie ahead when their dinner companions start disappearing one-by-one.  Onboard art auctions, tropical islands, and sumptuous buffets beckon, but Marla ignores temptation and musters her snooping skills to expose a killer.  It was fun reliving the ports of call through Marla’s adventures, and I hope readers enjoy the voyage as much as I did.
2. How did you get started as a writer?coverPP

I’d always been writing poems and short stories.  Then one day, I bought a book called Structuring your Novel, and that taught me how to write an entire book. I wrote three books of fiction totally in the blind. Naturally, they got rejected. Then in 1988, I joined Florida Romance Writers and got an agent at my first conference.  That agent tried to sell three more books.  Meanwhile, I also got involved in a critique group, and my writing improved at a faster pace.  One of my critique partners inspired me to write a book in a different genre, futuristic romance, and that’s the book that sold. Circle of Light, my first published book, won the HOLT Medallion Award.  I wrote four futuristic romances for Dorchester before switching to mysteries.  Kensington has published nine books in my Bad Hair Day series plus a novella for their Brava line.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?

After I drink coffee, take a walk, and let the dog do her business, I begin working usually by 8 a.m.  My best creative time is early morning.  When I’m in a writing phase, I’ll set a quota of at least five pages per day.  I must finish these pages before doing anything else. The rest of the afternoon is often spent on promotional and marketing activities.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I’m fortunate to have my own office, a converted bedroom in our single-story ranch-style house.  My computer sits on one wraparound corner style wood desk with bookshelves and drawers.  My laser printer sits on the countertop.  I have a separate wood desk to work on correspondence, bills, and such.  The closet is converted into bookshelves which are full, along with bins for stacks of manuscripts around the room.  I love my office, which is one reason why I don’t want to ever move.  In a second bedroom, I keep a color printer and copier machine and file cabinets for all my clippings and articles.coverDB

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Here are just a few:

Debra Dixon, Goal, Motivation & Conflict, Gryphon Books, Memphis, TN, 1996.

Sherrilyn Kenyon, Character Naming Sourcebook, Writer’s Digest Books, Ohio, 1994

Barbara Norville, Writing the Modern Mystery, Writers Digest Books, Ohio, 1986.

Martin Roth,  The Fiction Writer’s Silent Partner, Writer’s Digest Books,  Ohio, 1991.

Joyce Spizer, Power Marketing Your Novel, Intercontinental Publishing, VA, 2000

Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey, Michael Wiese Productions, Studio City CA, 1992

 

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about youcoverDR

Let’s see.  I’m a graduate of the Barbizon School of Modeling in New York City. I worked at a few modeling jobs in my spare time but decided it wasn’t for me.

I almost had a career in ballet.  I had to make a career choice between auditioning for a professional ballet company or becoming a nurse.  I chose the latter.

I earned a Master of Science degree in Nursing and worked as a clinical nurse specialist before retiring to write full time.

 

7. Favorite quote

“Never give up.  Never surrender.”  (From Galaxy Quest, one of my favorite movies)

It applies aptly to a fiction writing career.
8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part is hearing from fans that you’ve touched their lives in some way.  The worst part is the uncertainty of the business.  No matter what stage you’ve reached as an author, there are no guarantees.
9. Advice for other writers

Follow the three P’s: Practice, Professionalism, and Perseverance.

Network as much as you can with other writers and join different writing organizations.  Networking is critical to the business aspects of writing as well as to learning new craft techniques. Other writers also supply support and encouragement which we sorely need when we work alone all day.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. Highlights

Let’s talk about Booksignings.  One of my worst experiences was being invited for an event at an indie bookstore.  The clerk on duty that evening set me up in the back of the place where no one could find me unless they came specifically for my talk.  No one showed up.  I had driven over five hours to get to this place.  A waste of time and gas money. 

One of my best experiences, on the other hand, was being invited to speak at a small local library in a country setting where I had dim expectations for selling many books.  Lo and behold, the librarians were most gracious and welcoming.  They had painted a mural depicting my sleuth’s hair salon to decorate the room, served refreshments, and filled the place with eager readers.  I was very impressed and would gladly return there anytime they asked.
Where can people buy your books?

My books are available at all online and retail bookstores.

Website: http://nancyjcohen.com

Blog: http://mysterygal.bravejournal.com

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Elizabeth Fournier, author of “All Men are Cremated Equal”

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Author interview with Elizabeth FournierFournierElizabethHeadshot0309All Men Are Cremated cover art

Elizabeth earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and Broadcasting in 1991, and soon became a local radio personality at KBOO-FM in Portland. Elizabeth is currently the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine. You can also see her online as the Video Spokesperson for Chinook Winds Casino Resort. She and her dance partner, Scott, teach Ballroom Dance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Oh, and she’s also a full-time mortician.

1) Where did you get the idea to write a book about a blind dating spree by a woman in her 30s who happens to be a mortician?

It’s my life story. I live the mortician part daily, and unfortunately I lived the 77 blind dates, too. Thankfully it was for only a year!

I readily admit that my job title made dating more complex. Since I work in the funeral industry, my career choice made the whole dating situation somewhat awkward. I was always up-front about what I did for a living, because I wanted men to be in the loop before we met. But I also steered the conversation to other topics because my career was too often the focus when meeting people. The first date could easily turn into a question and answer session all about me. I was there to screen them, after all!

The idea to actually write the book came from my beloved father, a member of no less than three Catholic singles groups at the time. He decided this was fun he didn’t want to miss out on. It was his idea to number the dates, run down each thumbnail sketch to him on the phone before each date, and keep a journal of highlights. I would e-mail him after each date, and he kept encouraging me to share these e-mails with other women.

2) When did you write the book?

When I wrote “All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates,” I was newly married. After planning a wedding across the country in only five months, I decided I could do anything. So I promptly sat down at the keyboard after our return from New Jersey and cranked out my manuscript.

3) When coming up with your characters, did you base any of them on people you knew?

Most were real, and here’s the deal: I checked with friends to make sure I could identify them by name and characteristics. The women in my memoir are long-term, fabulous friends who are all important to the story. I confided in them, garnered support from them, and still love them all so much.

My merry group of mansion housemates are all real people, but their names are changed since I wasn’t able to contact anyone to gain permission. They portrayal is flattering, although I use different names out of respect for their privacy, in the event they wanted privacy.

The blind dates all have aliases. Their monikers correspond with their jobs. Names were changed to protect the rejected!

4) What do you think of the chick lit genre in general? Are you thrilled to be apart of it?

I love chick lit! I don’t read it exclusively, but I know who’s out there, what they’re writing about, and am also a sucker for late-night movies on the Oxygen Network.

Chick lit has created millions of new book lovers. Not only women, I might add. I get emails from male fans, too.

5) Tell us a story about your writing experience.

No one knew what to make of me. I have a stockpile or letters and e-mails from literary agents stating “not sure what to do with this.” That was such a common theme. The title was unique, the story was about a single girl in her 30s who wasn’t into Prada or Cosmos, and I’m a mortician. It just didn’t sound too sexy for most people. I did, however, find wonderful, brave souls with a vision who expressed great interest. I will always keep them in my prayers.

6) What newspapers or magazines do you read?

Daily reads are the Oregonian and the Washington Post online, monthly reads are Funeral Home and Cemetery News, Mortuary Management Magazine, and the Black Lamb. There are a few fun blogs I like to sneak a peak at if I have a spare five minutes.

7) What is your greatest achievement?

About 10 years ago I had a great paying job and was able to help three women working in prostitution get off the streets in San Francisco. I had served as the Chair of the Board for the Council for Prostitution Alternatives in Portland, Oregon five years prior to that, so I was aware of the challenge women on the streets face. They need options, and I was able to provide that for these women who truly wanted out of their current lifestyle. I know I made a tremendous difference in their lives, and I’m very proud to say they never looked back.

8) Do you believe in love at first sight?

Absolutely! I am a rainbow-and-ponyland sort of girl who loves love. I certainly feel that someone can walk in the sort of grace that resonates with our soul in a particular moment.  I believe this is rare, but extremely special gift. It is one that I have never received, but do know two people who have.

9) Do you have any irrational fears?

I have an irrational terror of shipwrecks. The skeletal remains of a large vessel laying on the bottom of the sea floor just plain scares the hell out of me. I also very much dislike really loud water in unnatural circumstances like hydro-electric power stations, lock gates, or mill races. Water alone is OK it is when it is pouring into machinery that I hate the noise and the rush of it.

10) What would you like to be your epitaph?

Inspired many to believe in humanity.

“All Men are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates” can be found on Amazon.com

Visit Elizabeth at http://www.elizabethfournier.com

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Elisa Lorello, author of “Faking It”

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Author interview with Elisa LorelloElisa-Lorello_cutesy_01FakingItcover2008 copy

I teach first-year writing full time at NC State and have been living outside of Raleigh, NC since August 2006. My first novel, FAKING IT, was self-published in November 2008 (its sequel, ORDINARY WORLD will follow later this year). Currently, I’m collaborating on a new novel with S.R. Paquette, my friend and partner in crime.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

FAKING IT is a romantic comedy about Andi, a 30-something writing professor, and Devin, a male escort, who become friends after Andi proposes an unusual arrangement to him: lessons in writing in exchange for lessons in how to be a better lover. I must add that they have a contract that stipulates that they are forbidden to see each other socially, so becoming friends not only breaks the rules of the contract, but also presents other problems as well.

I like to pitch the novel as *When Harry Met Sally* meets *Sex and the City*. I also tell readers that if they like Jennifer Weiner (bestselling author of *Good in Bed*, *Certain Girls*, etc.), then they’ll probably like my writing. She and I have similar styles, especially in terms of wit and humor.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’m not really sure! Writing was always something I loved to do, something that was very natural for me since childhood. I was always writing something, be it making up little stories, or really bad poetry in my teens about beaches and sunsets or emotional angst, or just a lot of journaling, and I loved taking creative writing classes, although my fiction stuff was pretty bad. I never saw myself as a fiction writer. I was much better at the personal essay, or creative nonfiction.

I floated around a lot of different jobs following high school, but writing was still the one constant in my life. It wasn’t until I got my Masters degree in Professional Writing and started teaching first-year writing that I really got serious about the craft. It was also around that time that the idea for FAKING IT came to me.

I still never saw myself as a fiction writer, but the idea for FAKING IT wouldn’t go away. It needed to be born. So when I finally decided to write it in 2004, I wrote it just for me, thinking I’d never show it to anyone else. Ha! The dam broke after that, and I couldn’t stop writing, nor can I hold back the ideas; they’re still coming. Lo and behold, I am a fiction writer! More specifically, I’m a novelist.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

That depends on what time of year it is. I teach at a university, so when school’s in session, my typical day consists of teaching classes, meeting with students, grading papers, preparing lessons, and then coming home and chilling out from all that. At night I’ll typically read a little, or write a little (although I find it difficult to concentrate on a manuscript when the semester is in progress—especially from mid-term on—teaching consumes energy of all kinds) after an hour or two of TV. I’m also a little bit addicted to Facebook (which I suppose is the equivalent of being a little bit pregnant) and spend way more time on there than I should. But I’m always mentally writing, in the car, the shower, the coffeeshop, etc.

During the summer, I have much more freedom and I try to set into a routine of reading a little bit in the morning, then writing in the afternoon, then watching a little bit of TV at night, then a little more reading or writing before bed. But, as I mentioned, there’s this pesky Facebook addiction, so it hasn’t been going that smoothly. And sometimes I need to just do mental composing as opposed to physical typing, so even through I’m running errands and doing other things, the writing is still taking place in my mind.

Of course, there’s so much that goes on with self-publishing and promoting a book—it’s quite time-consuming, so I need to plan those things as part of my day as well. Since releasing FAKING IT, I’m always thinking about or doing something in connection to promotion. It never stops. It won’t for the next book either.

 

4. Describe your workspace.

I don’t really have one! My office at school is not conducive to creativity at all. It’s windowless and I share it with five other colleagues. I have photos of the ocean and sunsets—all outdoor scenes— hanging above my desk to compensate for the lack of window, but it doesn’t really cut it.

I wrote much of FAKING IT in my favorite coffeeshop back in southeastern Massachusetts, where I went to school and lived for 11 years before relocating to North Carolina. I have a coffeeshop here, too, that I regularly go to and take my laptop with me. When I’m home (a one-bedroom apartment), however, my workspace is pretty much my lap, my couch, my bed, the dining table… anywhere I feel like being for the day, where my laptop plugs in (although I still occasionally write scenes or chapters longhand —depends on the situation or location or my mood, and I still keep a diary as well), and where I can stare out the window while I write. Staring out the window is a must for me.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I learned so much from Stephen King’s *On Writing*. I even recommend it to my academic writing students, and most of them love it and are fascinated by his story as well. I also like Anne Lamott’s *Bird by Bird*. There are so many other good books for writers, including Natalie Goldberg’s *Writing Down the Bones* and Ray Bradbury’s *Zen and the Art of Writing*.

David Sedaris is fabulous and makes me laugh out loud every time I read him. I also love Richard Russo’s novels (especially *Straight Man*), and as far as “chick lit” writers go, Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella, and Marion Keyes are the best, I think.

But hands down, my greatest influence is Aaron Sorkin (*The West Wing*, *A Few Good Men*, etc.). Aside from creating compelling characters and telling a great story, Aaron has a musical ear for language, not to mention a love of language itself (and as a writer, how can you not love language?). I was watching *The West Wing* every single day, sometimes multiple episodes, while writing FAKING IT, and I developed an ear for dialogue as a result. I also picked up on a lot of his stylistic rhythms, albeit more subconsciously than deliberately, I think. Writing dialogue comes easy to me, but I have to listen to my characters, let them talk to me and each other for days before I write down a word. In other words, I need to know their voices really well.

Nora Ephron is my other biggest influence. You’d think with the last two influences I’d be a screenwriter, and I might be some day (especially since I can see my novels as either movies or television series), but I also enjoy writing descriptively.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1) I’m a twin. My twin brother is 3 minutes older than me, and it’s because I kicked him the hell out. We’re the youngest of seven, actually. In addition to him, I’ve got four older brothers and an older sister. My twin is also a writer, although our styles are completely different. He’s a fantastic literary science fiction writer, while I’m commercial fiction. He’s one of two people I take my writing to for feedback or to talk things out. If he likes it, then I know I’ve got something good. If he doesn’t like it, then he challenges me like crazy to make it better.

2) I can say the alphabet backwards. This is not as interesting as, say, having perfect pitch, or teaching oneself to play an entire Keith Emerson organ solo by ear and memory (minus sticking all the knives into the organ while being suspended from the ceiling), both of which my aforementioned twin brother can do; but, it’s a good little parlor trick. If you don’t know who Keith Emerson is, Google or Wikipedia him.

3) I have no thumb knuckles. Also great for showing off at parties. I don’t recommend it as a pickup line, though. This deformity makes my hands look more dainty, but it’s hell trying to make a decent fist.

7. Favorite quote

Hmmm. That’s a toughie. It’s an Aaron Sorkin line, no doubt. Just too hard to pick one. How ‘bout this one, from *The West Wing* Thanksgiving episode “Shibboleth”:

CJ: The more photo-friendly of the two turkeys gets a Presidential pardon and a full life at a children’s petting zoo; the other one gets eaten.
Bartlet: If the Oscars were like that, I’d watch.

Here’s another good quote : “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.” Pablo Picasso. It became part of the story in FAKING IT. I also love what I wrote at the very beginning of the book as a teaser: “Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Rhetoric is the second oldest.”

And, of course, I can’t forget the quote I lived by while I wrote FAKING IT, and all my other novels: “I wrote the book I wanted to read.” Toni Morrison.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part is the ocean of possibilities! I love the creating something out of nothing, the play with language, the listening to voices and extracting their truths. For me, writing fiction is a series of what-ifs. I like asking and answering the what-if questions. I get to explore truths as well as manipulate them. I get to re-write the endings of real life stories, get the guy in the end, and live vicariously through my characters if I so desire. I get to make up completely new stories and places and people. I love revision.

It’s also a wonderful feeling when someone tells me that he/she was touched by something I wrote, or when someone resonates with a character or story. And I love when someone laughs at something, anything I’ve written, even if just one line.

I’m currently collaborating on a new novel, and that’s been a blast. I don’t think I could collaborate with anyone else but this person. Of course, what makes it really fun is that she’s in upstate NY and I’m in NC, she’s a chiropractic student and I’m teaching full time. Thank God for Google chat, email, and the comment box feature in Word, is all I can say.

Another perk is all the reading I get to do. As a writer, you also have to be a reader. I listen to a lot of audiobooks to and from school during the semester – that counts, you know.

The worst part? In terms of craft, I’ve had bouts of writer’s block that I’d not like to re-live. Also, I can be too perfectionist at times. There’s always a point when you have to call a draft finished. And no Monday-morning quarterbacking, either. Easier said than done for me.

In terms of the business aspect, when you self-publish, you have to wear many hats at once. I’m an author, editor, graphic artist, agent, publisher, promoter, and publicist. And I’ve never had good multi-tasking or organization skills (I’m Italian, after all…). It can be a little overwhelming and tiring at times, not to mention frustrating. And if you’re going the traditional route of querying agents or sending stories out to magazines, that can get discouraging if you’re getting rejection after rejection. And many talented writers do.

9. Advice for other writers

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten was to put your protagonist someplace he or she doesn’t want to be. Also, your characters have to want something, and there needs to be something or someone to keep them from getting it.

Stephen King also notes that the adverb is not your friend. I tend to agree with that, although once in awhile, I make an exception to the rule (I usually follow it with a mental “Get over it, Stephen!”). I also try to stay away from the passive voice as much as I can, no matter what I’m writing.

Read read read read read. Nuff said.

In terms of the business side of writing and publishing, get aggressive and be persistent. I mean aggressive in the sense of being a go-getter, but maintaining integrity. Even if you get an agent and a traditional book deal, don’t expect them to do all the work for you. It’s up to YOU to make you a success.

If you self-publish, do everything you can to get your book into as many hands and your name into as many minds as you can. Take advantage of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and blogs such as this. Have integrity when it comes to your work. That’s what gives you credibility, not the agent or the six-figure deal. You need to believe in your writing, your story, and yourself. As I said above in the quote, write the book you would want to read. I love my characters. I love FAKING IT!

If you’re seeking a literary agent, then approach it the way you would getting a job—don’t send out form query letters; do your research and know something about the agent you’re querying. Ask not what your potential agent can do for you, but what you can do for your potential agent.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Again, there are so many to choose from, with all of the above criteria!

Last year I attended a reading by Andre Dubus III for his novel *Garden of Last Days*. Andre is a very charismatic, funny, passionate person, and he’s very personable with his audience. I don’t want to say that I was starstruck, but I was definitely swept up in his charisma. He’s similar to me in that he loves the conversation about writing, and I was very engaged in the conversation he was having with the audience. I was nodding my head so much in agreement with what he was saying that he noticed me, pointed to me, and said, “She gets it—she’s a writer!” Needless to say, I beamed. Apparently, according to my mother, who was with me, I introduced myself to him—twice—in front of this audience; once when he pointed me out, and the second time when I asked a question. (I only remember the second time.) Whoops.

Afterwards, when he signed both my copy of *Garden of Last Days* and *House of Sand and Fog*, he asked me about my own novels, and I was so unprepared for and taken aback by his genuine interest that I drew a blank! I eventually stammered something semi-coherent, and when I left the bookstore and read his inscription, I was practically moved to tears. Totally awesome. I sent him an autographed copy of FAKING IT along with a letter of appreciation, but I don’t know if he got it.

My other shining moment was when I wrote to Aaron Sorkin and thanked him for his influence on me. He replied and asked for the title of my novel so he could “get a copy right away.” Big moment. Big, big moment. I sent him an autographed copy as well.

Where can people buy your book?

FAKING IT is currently available at Lulu.com, Amazon.com, Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC, and Baker Books in North Dartmouth, MA. (It’s also on loan at the Claire T. Carney Library at UMass-Dartmouth!) Also, be sure to join the group Faking It Fans on Facebook, and follow my blog, formerly known as Kairos Calling. My website is at www.elisalorello.com