Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Update

This week went by in about 3.2 seconds. Here are the highlights ...

* Tomorrow (Saturday), Saralee Rosenberg and I are doing a book signing at the Waldenbooks in the Walt Whitman Mall (Huntington Station, Long Island.) We'll be there around noon, and will probably stay for about two hours. If you're around, I hope you'll stop by and say hello. We'll be sitting at a table by the front.

* Reached page 178 on the work-in-progress, which puts me 28 pages ahead of schedule and finally past the halfway mark. This week I told my editor I was getting ready to show her what I've done, but just hours after I said that I got a huge idea for something I want to add to the book, and I'm excited about it. So I need a little time to get that done. Meanwhile, my parents and my husband are reading the pages.

* Last night the three darlings carved out their jack-o-lanterns. They worked so hard, so long, and so quietly--a rare moment I actually captured on film:

* And while we're on Halloween ... remember that flying squirrel costume I was complaining about last week? I actually finished it. Here's the front view:
And here you can see the tail, which I'm awfully proud of:

* The flying squirrel pictured above is running for president of her elementary school. She had to make three campaign posters, which she accomplished with ingenuity and hard work. When she came home the next day, I asked about the other two candidates' posters and was told that one of them included an audio chip that spoke. (Remind me again why I live in this town?) The following week she had to make a tri-fold poster board, and pleaded with me to let her do something "really big" with it. And so I ran her to the local party store where we bought a light-up necklace to string around the picture of her face. I honestly couldn't believe I had become one of "those" moms, but I felt compelled to level the playing field. The kid deserves a fair shot, after all. The next day she brought it to school, and I expected her to tell me what a hit it was. Instead, I learned that one of the other candidates had a video game embedded in her poster board. *sigh* In my next life, we live deep in the woods with the creatures of the forest.

* Every once in a while someone asks me what I think about GOLD COAST, the Nelson DeMille classic set on Long Island, and I have to sheepishly admit I haven't read it. Now that he's coming out with a sequel, I figured it was time I got around to reading it. So I went to the public library, but alas it's checked out. While I wait for it I'm reading Tom Perrotta's THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER. Such a bold and extraordinary writer ... and he makes it look so damn easy.

* Yesterday, my sister's toy poodle went into heat, and her other dog, a funny-looking little dachshund-mix, mounted her. According to my sister, this prompted a hysterical call from from father, who witnessed the coupling. "You gotta get home! The dogs are stuck together!! Get home right away! They're stuck! THEY'RE STUCK!" I assume that by now the dogs have become ... uh ... unstuck, but I haven't stopped laughing. This is SO going in a novel ...

Thursday, October 30, 2008


By Allison Winn Scotch

Big excitement in the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit--one of our own, Allison Winn Scotch, has just made The New York Times Bestseller list. Way to go, Allison!

I'm hugely excited about the book itself. At first, I thought my attraction for TIME OF MY LIFE might be kind of self-indulgent, as the plot shares a common thread with my novel-in progress. But learning that so many thousands of readers are flocking to it validates my feelings.

To see for yourself, check out the flap copy:

Most readers have had that “what if” person in their pasts, the one they could have ended up with, or maybe the one that they fantasize about even after they’ve married or moved on. In Allison Winn Scotch’s latest novel, TIME OF MY LIFE, (Shaye Areheart Books; October 7, 2008), she explores what might happen if readers could live their lives all over again, and change the course of history.

Jillian Westfield has the perfect husband, the perfect baby, and the perfect home in the suburbs, but sometimes she finds herself wondering about the life she left behind. A few short years earlier, she was living with her undeniably attractive but unreliable boyfriend Jackson, working a demanding job at an ad agency, partying too much, and living in a less than perfect New York apartment. But those days were full of possibility and free of diaper changes, trips to the grocery store, and endless days fulfilling only the needs of her daughter and husband. Now, discontented in her faltering marriage, Jillian can’t help but think about what her life would have been like if she hadn’t married Henry, quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom, or spurned her mother’s attempts to reconcile after two decades of silence. What if she’d stayed with Jackson in their run-down apartment and tried a little harder to make their relationship work? What if she’d answered her mother’s letter? What would her life be like now?

One morning, Jillian gets a chance to find out. She wakes up in her old apartment, right in the middle of her life as it was seven years ago, before she’d left Jackson and her job, and ignored her mother’s letter. With 20/20 hindsight, Jillian has the chance to discover “what if” once and for all – and to decide which life she really wants.

Sounds amazing, doesn't it?

Allison agreed to answer some interviews questions about the book, so here goes ...

How would you describe the genre of TIME OF MY LIFE, and what pulled you toward it?

I write what the industry deems “commercial fiction,” or “upmarket women’s fiction,” which, in less industry-type speak, means fiction that appeals to people who want fun, absorbing, fairly-quick reads, the type of read that you’d find reviewed in People Magazine. (Which, incidentally, Time of My Life was!) I’m pulled toward this genre because this is the stuff I read. I’m a busy working mom to two young kids, and when I read a book, I want to be sucked in and entertained. I don’t want to have to reread every word or sentence and try to keep my eyes open after four pages. I want something that will make me think, but won’t take up too, too much energy because, frankly, I don’t have that much energy to spare!

What can you tell us about the genesis of the idea for this book?

I knew I wanted to write a book that dealt with time-travel in some way…the last episodes of Felicity were among my favorite hours of television EVER, and I was drawn to doing something like that. But I didn’t know how to sort it out in my mind. In fact, I mentioned something to my agent about “time-travel” for my next book, and I think she thought I was nuts! But then one afternoon while this was on my mind, my best friend called while she was on vacation in a city of her ex-boyfriend, and she said, “I’m so weirded out…I can’t stop thinking about what my life might have been like.” Then we had one of those intimate life conversations that you can only have with your closest friends about her what-ifs and my what-ifs, and how this was all very normal, even though people didn’t really talk about it. We hung up, and I headed out for a run, and bam, the idea, characters and plotlines just presented themselves very clearly. I came home, wrote what are now the first 14 pages, and sent them off to my agent, who flipped for them. I think, as so many of us get older and look back on our younger years with nostalgia, it’s very easy (and normal) to consider what the other possibilities could have been – and I wanted to explore that?

Do you have a favorite character in this book? If so, why?

I’m not sure that I had a favorite character, but I certainly had (and have) favorite scenes, and those scenes are when Jillian, my protagonist, runs into her future-husband in her former life. (Got that?) It was so much fun to envision how panicked and overwhelmed and confused she’d be...and even now, when I reread those scenes, I read them with a smile.

Did you have any input on the cover, and are you happy with the finished product?

I had input in so far as my publisher asked me to send them images of other book covers that I liked. They also asked me for any ideas – symbolism, photos, etc – that I might have, but to be honest, I’m good with words, not visuals, and I trusted that the art directors were hired for a reason. So I did certainly send them images of other books, but I left the actual interpreted stuff to them. And I’m so glad! My cover, in my opinion, is incredible, and never in a million years could I have conceived of it: it’s not a literal interpretation of anything in the book, but conveys exactly the spirit of it.

Do you pay attention to book reviews? If so, has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance?

Um, yes. Just the other day, I was reading a review and wishing that I had impulse-control, like those celebrities who claim that they don’t read what people say about them online. I wish, wish, wish this could be me, because, while most reviews are wonderful, there are some, of course, that are eviscerating, and those are never fun. The review that truly flipped me out was the one in last week’s People. We didn’t know it would be in there, so after I dropped my son off at school, I stopped at the grocery store and decided to flip through the newest issue to see what books were reviewed. Well, MINE WAS!! I completely lost it in the check-out line and nearly hurdled the conveyor belt to hug the cashier! I don’t remember anything from seeing the review to coming home and putting my groceries away! In fact, later that afternoon, I went into a panic because I had no recollection of putting the ice cream in the freezer and figured that it had melted on my kitchen counter…but fortunately, when I checked, I had…it was like I was in a total black-out from the People review!

Ha! I adore your reaction to the People review! I would have been the exact same way. Thanks for answering my questions, Allison, and again ... congrats on being such a smashing success.

I hope you'll look for TIME OF MY LIFE the next time you visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Allison's website at

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Update

* Up to page 162 in the manuscript now. What's exciting is that I feel I have an excellent handle on the outline for the rest of the book, which means it should get easier now and not harder.

* Got my Putnam/Berkley book contracts in the mail today. Woo-hoo!!

* My daughter has decided to be a flying squirrel for Halloween, which means I actually have to make the costume. (Sue Henderson, do you know how lucky you are?) The big problem here is that I DO NOT SEW, despite the fact that I was once the publicity director for the American Home Sewing Association. Worst yet, darling daughter has a costume party tomorrow, which means I have to finish it today. Further, it's almost 4:00 and I haven't yet been on the treadmill or showered. I need staff!

* Getting back to the book, here's something kind of cool. The whole idea behind the portal in my new novel is that every time my protagonist makes a big decision in her life, an alternate life in which she made the other decision splinters off. I thought this was a pretty crazy and fantastical notion, but this week there was a special on Nova about one of the world's most brilliant physicists, Hugh Everett III, who believed that the only way to reconcile quantum mechanics with the physical world we live in is to acknowledge that multiple worlds exist in which all of our possible choices have occurred. Wild, huh? You can read more about it here. And if you can wrap mind around it, you're at least a thousand times smarter than me.

* I did something fun and strange this week, courtesy of Sony Reader. As part of a campaign to promote literacy, a guy name David Farrow is spending the entire month of October sitting in a store window on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, reading to himself from the Sony Reader. The whole thing is captured on live webcam. Yesterday, I was one of his relief readers for an hour. It was a trip, having people gawk at me like an animal in the zoo. I even had my picture snapped by tourists. Please click here to learn more about this great program.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


By Nadine Dajani

Today I'm thrilled to blog about CUTTING LOOSE, a new novel from the talented Nadine Dajani. Maybe I have a slight bias toward books about the relationship between three women (ahem), but this one looks like a winner. I'm especially intrigued by the buzz Nadine gets for fleshing out her cross-cultural characters.

Here's the jacket copy about the storyline:

Meet three women who are as different as could be—at least that’s what they think—and the men who’ve turned their lives upside down as their paths collide in sizzling, sexy Miami. . . .

Ranya is a modern-day princess—brought up behind the gilded walls of Saudi Arabian high society and winner of the dream husband sweepstakes . . . until said husband turns out to be more interested in Paolo, the interior-decorator-cum-underwear-model, than in his virginal new wife.

Smart, independent, but painfully shy, Zahra has managed to escape her impoverished Palestinian roots to carve out a life of comfort. But she can’t reveal her secrets to the man she adores or shake off the fear that she doesn’t deserve any of it. Neither can she stop herself from thinking that if she holds on to anything—or anyone—too dearly, they will be taken away in the blink of a kohl-lined eye.

Rio has risen above the slums of her native Honduras—not to mention the jeers of her none too supportive family—to become editor in chief of SuĂ©ltate magazine, the hottest Latina-targeted glossy in town, and this in spite of Georges Mallouk, her clueless boss, and in spite of Rio’s affair with Georges’ delicious but despicable younger brother, Joe.

In this city of fast cars, sleek clubs, and unapologetic superficiality, Ranya, Zahra, and Rio wrestle with the ties that bind them to their difficult pasts, each wondering if she will ever manage to cut loose…

Nadine agreed to let me interview her about this book, and here's how it went:

Hi, Nadine. Do you have a favorite character in CUTTING LOOSE? If so, why?

My favorite character is one with little on-screen time to speak of, he shows up later in the game – he’s a young, shy, handsome boy who hangs back in clubs while his buddies make the easy conquests, and who’s undaunted by the challenge of dating an older, outspoken, and utterly stubborn woman. The world should have more of those!

What do you love most about this book?

I absolutely loved writing multi POV – especially when the three main characters hate each other! It’s very different from my first novel, Fashionably Late, where the girls had been friends forever and then have a falling out. In Cutting Loose, we have three women from incredibly disparate backgrounds who are thrown together, and somehow have to “make it work” to borrow a Tim Gunnism. I really indulged in going into the off-screen backstories of the characters in this book, and in incorporating bits of research I’d done about how Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian migrants had come to the United States in the 1800s and how they managed to survive. We know a lot about discrimination against the Irish and Catholics in general at the time, but we don’t know that pretty much anyone from the Middle East region, North Africa (and probably Greece too) was referred to as a “Turk” back then. I guess that was the “Mexican”-like term of its time!

Did you have any input on the cover, and are you happy with the finished product?

I had no input (or virtually none) when it came to the cover of my first novel and so was a bit disappointed when the final product didn’t reflect the mood of the novel – it was a pretty cover, don’t get me wrong, but the energy and mood of the book just didn’t come across. With Cutting Loose, I made sure to get involved early on, and I’m thrilled that my editor and publisher let me. That’s not something most authors get a say in – and I have to admit, the cover is even better than I imagined! I’m absolutely thrilled with it: the sunset over the South Beach skyline is an image I often had in mind while writing the book, the gradation of blue in the sky, offset against the fiery oranges and the lovely Arabic-inspired mosaic cover the mood and the influences found in the story really well.

What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?

When I was eleven, I called the publishers of my favorite line if YA books (La Courte Echelle… it’s a Montreal-based line) and asked if they’d consider publishing a book by an eleven-year old. I can’t believe my 11-year-old self actually had the cojones to look up the number in the yellow pages and boldly ask if she could do this. By then I’d had a few writing recognitions at school and was confident enough about my writing that when I would read these hilarious YA novels, I would think: I can so do this!

Too bad I never finished that "novel" I was working on at eleven … but it’s this same sentiment that made me pick up pen and paper again some 15 years later when I read “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and thought – dude, I could SO do this!!!

Can you share some particularly memorable fan mail you received about this or previous books?

I just got some fan mail this week as a matter of fact, and I am tickled pink, seeing as Cutting Loose has only been out for a week or so –

“I started reading Cutting loose This weekend and just like with F.L, I'm hooked ! I love the way you speak of Montreal and your passion for Fashion. Your books are truly amazing Nadine :) You make reading fun !”

I live for stuff like that – it reminds that I’m not just doing this for cheap therapy!

Thanks again for touring me!!!

You're most welcome! It's been a pleasure.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of CUTTING LOOSE the next time you visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Nadine's website at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Guest blogger: Deborah LeBlanc

Today, I'm pleased to welcome acclaimed horror writer Deborah LeBlanc, as she guest-blogs on the subject of success ...

When I first started writing, I had been in business for more years than I cared to remember. At first, I thought the two entities (writing and business) had absolutely nothing in common, so I tried separating the two. It didn't take long for me to realize how big a mistake that assumption was. Writing is a business, just different from the ones I was used to. Needless to say, though, as I restructured my thinking and attempted to merge the two together, I met with frustration of the highest order. Argg! As some of you have heard me spout off about before, publishing does not follow any standard business practice known to man, woman, or wooly-back orangutan. It's its own worst enemy at times.

That being said, however, I decided to take the advice of a man I'd admired for years. One whose wisdom has helped me understand the meaning of success, which inevitably moved me up the ladder in quite a few corporations. I figured why not use those same principles in writing?

So I did. And I'll be damn if they didn't prove to be just as true in the publishing business as in any other venture.

I thought I'd share some of that guy's wisdom with you today....

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.

The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel-these are the things that endure and these are the qualities that are so much more important than any of the events that occasion them.

Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.

Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent's pressure, and the temporary failures.

If you'll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives.

Remember, it's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."

--Vince Lombardi

What or who has inspired you to keep pushing forward when life gets tough?


Deborah's more than just an inspiring blogger. She's a horror novelist critics love. Check out the praise for her new book, WATER WITCH:

“One of the best new voices of modern horror.”Cemetery Dance

“It’s now official: Deborah LeBlanc has become a master not only of good spooky stories, but also of crafting great characters to fill them.”The Horror Fiction Review

“An imaginative chiller. Riveting!”Publishers Weekly on Family Inheritance

“A solid haunted house thriller.”Midwest Book Review on A House Divided

I hope you'll look for WATER WITCH the next time you visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Deborah's website at

Click here to see the video trailer for WATER WITCH!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Update

Scant blogging the week as things got a little squeezed, but here's what's new ...

* Only advanced five pages in the manuscript, but did a ton of editing. Still, before I can add one more page I have days of work ahead of me, beefing up and reorganizing the outline. Have I mentioned that writing a book is really freaking hard?

* Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. My Rabbi gave a wonderful sermon about reinventing yourself as a result of self-examination. Very inspiring.

* Speaking of inspiring, Susan Henderson outdid herself this week over at LitPark, with a blog devoted to a discussion of genre versus literary fiction. I was also completely enthralled by an essay she linked to. It's an excerpt from David Morrell's THE SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST, and all writers should read it.

* I've been helping my 16-year-old study for the PSAT, and am feeling pretty disheartened by the whole thing. The kid has a rather astounding vocabulary, but the test seems more geared toward ferreting out autism, as it hones in on subtle emotional shades of meaning and intent. Here's an example of a question following a brief paragraph:
The author's attitude toward the "young man" (line 2) is best described as:
(a) irate
(b) envious
(c) critical
(d) indifferent
(e) apprehensive
My son thought the answer was (e), which wasn't a bad response. The author did seem apprehensive. But if you pay close attention to the emotional nuances of every word, you understand that (c) is a better answer. This is frustrating to me because he knows the precise meanings of all these words, but that's not what he's being tested on.

* Today is the last day for residents of New York State to register to vote. So if you haven't already done so, please don't waste another second. Click here. It only takes about three minutes.

Monday, October 06, 2008

New review of The Smart One

I love this one! It's from a site called If you're not familiar with it, I hope you'll click in. Here's the review ....

Avon, 2008 (2008)
Paperback, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Beverly Bloomrosen is plagued by the curse of being the middle sister. She's not perfect, popular and beautiful like her older sister Clare, and she's not nearly as interesting as wild and rebellious Joey, her younger sister. Beverly's simply known as the smart one. Unfortunately, her family's high expectations turn to bitter disappointment when Beverly announces she wants to follow her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher at the age of thirty-five. Her parents are distraught, but she still ends up moving in with them temporarily, while she waits to find out if she got the job in Las Vegas.

In the meantime, living at home isn't all it's cracked up to be. Beverly has to come to terms with her family and her convoluted relationship with her sisters. If that weren't enough, Kenny Waxman, Bev's teenage crush, returns to town. Oh, and then there's the body found in an industrial drum buried in the back yard of her parents' home ...

In The Smart One, Meister delves into the female psyche to discover just how much childhood roles define the adult lives of women. Beverly, who doesn't mind being known as the smart one, still envies her sisters even all these years later. For their part, Clare and Joey aren't happy with their labels, either. Now grown women, they've never been able to shed their reputations, and those labels continue to haunt them into adulthood. Jealousy, low-self esteem and constant sibling rivalry makes the sisters' relationship a complex and touching one.

Meister writes about family connections in an elegant and sentimental way. Although Bev, Clare and Joey don't always like each other, it's clear they always love each other. The book is both fast-paced and emotionally introspective, which is a difficult balance to get right, but somehow Meister pulls it off beautifully. The Smart One will resonate with every woman who's ever had a sister - or wondered what such a relationship would be like.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Update

I'm going to try to keep this blog up-to-date by posting news and updates every Friday. Here goes ...

* I'm up to page 130 in my new novel, The Silver Line (working title). I have myself on a schedule of 10 pages a week, which is pretty challenging for me. Right now, I'm 15 pages ahead of schedule. Yeah!

* This week was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (Shana Tova, everyone!) We didn't get off to a great start, as 4 out 5 members of this family were sick. (The only healthy one? Me!) Fortunately, it wasn't a brutal virus and everyone is either better or on the mend. I credit my homemade chicken soup.

* I'm not blogging about the election because it's such a volatile issue and I can't imagine I'd be able to change anyone's mind. But if the top of my head explodes, you'll know why.

* I just finished reading Bonnie Glover's astounding GOING DOWN SOUTH. Read this book! It's a story about three generations of African American women, and it's tender and real and funny and heartbreaking. My favorite kind of novels are the ones that offer insight into complex human relationships, and this one delivers. I promise you'll love it. Also, I highly recommend it for book clubs.

* I've just agreed to the weirdest event I've ever been asked to do: read (to myself) in a window on 5th Avenue in NYC. It's part of a SONY e-Book program to promote literacy. A guy named Dave Farrow is spending the whole month of October reading in this public space, and I'm one of his relief readers. Click here for more information.
Click here for a live view of the reading space.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


By N.M. Kelby

Admittedly, I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about critics who assume that funny novels are by definition "light," and somehow lacking in value. Likewise, I'm grateful for reviewers who take the time between laughs to see the long list of attributes so many funny novels offer.

I was especially pleased to see Nic Kelby's new novel, MURDER AT THE BAD GIRL'S BAR & GRILL, get rave reviews. And not just because adore Nic (although I do!). But because it's truly so much more than just howlingly funny. It's fast and furious, lyrical and creative, and filled with some of the most memorable characters in the murder mystery genre.

And did I mention plot? This glowing review from The Plain Dealer will give you some insight:

Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar and Grill (Shaye Areheart, 291 pp., $23). Writer N.M. Kelby has pulled off the most entertaining mystery of the year so far, with a kicky title that doesn't begin to hint how clever it is.

In the first chapter, hissing carrion give away the location of a dead body - a trash bin outside a good-time bar in the retirement village of Laguna Key. Nearby are a not-so-hot Barry Manilow impersonator, a bar owner who once reigned as scream queen of Hollywood horror films, a shockingly handsome puppeteer, two elderly Swedish cheerleaders whose only English is "Ta da," and a pet vulture kept on a leash.

Kelby writes lyrically. In Laguna Key, "everything seems bleached to the bone: the people, the streets, the sidewalks, the endless miles of picket fences." Stuffed with fascinating subplots and technicolor characters, this book's prose is the real jewel. I'm searching for all of Kelby's earlier work.

I hope you'll look for N.M. Kelby's MURDER AT THE BAD GIRL'S BAR & GRILL the next time you're at your local bookstore. Or, pop over to, or and order your copy today. (Lovers of strange mistakes should definitely click in to Amazon to see if they can spot the typo in the title.) For more information, visit Nic's website at