Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays ....

Peace, joy and all good things, my friends!

And now, with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and to those

who have read this before, a poem I wrote several years ago ...

A Mother's Chilling Post-Holiday Tale
By Ellen Meister

Once upon an evening dreary, while I toiled, weak and weary
Over many a desperate dirty dishrag and forgotten chore,
While I leaned down limply lugging toys from off the carpet rugging
Suddenly there came a tugging, tugging at the skirt I wore.
"'Tis some little kid," I muttered, smoothing out the skirt I wore,
"Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
Action dolls not yet dismembered lay across the playroom floor.
Each new toy was still unbroken, yet the child still was pokin'
And the only word there spoken was the whining more, "S'more."
This he whispered then his sister murmured back the word, "S'more."
Only this they did implore.

Then the silly, sad, incessant clangor of the season's presents
Chilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now to still the beating of my heart I stood repeating,
"Darling children, I am pleading, let's return some to the store--
Darling children, I'm entreating, let us give some to the poor."
Still they said, "We want s'more."

"You still want more?" I blurted feeling slightly dizzy, my head reeling,
"Get thee back into the playroom where your playthings line the floor!
Go before I need to yank you! Go before I want to spank you!
Leave my kitchen and I'll thank you not to ask for any more.
Take thy sighs from out my sight and thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the child, "I want more."

And the child, so demanding, still is standing, still is standing
Near a portion of my pantry just beside the kitchen door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
Sights of toys and trinkets gleaming on the shelves of every store.
Unaffected with respect to his demands for even more,
Quoth I, the mother, "Never more!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Update 12/18

Didn't post last Friday because it was just too crazy here. Emma turned 12 and had a sleepover party. I learned that 6th grade girls have as much to say to each other at 2 am as they do at any other time of day.

In other news ...

• Had Mike's family over for latkes last weekend. Next year I'll try to invite the rest of you. False modesty aside, everyone should experience my latkes at least once.

• Health issues plaguing one of my darlings continue to be a problem. I'm filled with fury and curse God daily. That's no joke. Still, I don't know how to live without focusing on hope, so that's what I do.

• I do manage to work and write, and I think that's going okay. As I've mentioned before, it's a big, high concept idea, so I need to keep it under wraps for now.

• Kudos to Borders for producing a video (in three parts) called Books Make Great Gifts. Click here to check it out.

• Speaking of books as gifts, my Long Island friends can probably still purchase signed copies of mine at the Borders in Syosset and Book Revue in Huntington.

• May 2010 be a better year for all of us ...

• Edited to add:

ANDREW GROSS HAS A NEW BOOK COMING OUT! Click here to read more about it. Andy is not only a really talented suspense writer, but he looks cute in glasses.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things I Don't Get

Just some random thoughts on small things that perplex me ...

• Sourdough bread - If I'm not in the mood for something as simple and delicious as bread, I'll have something else that tastes good, not bread that tastes bad.

• Adam Sandler - Am I missing the clever? In my world, saying silly things in a baby voice is the opposite of funny. But it must be a generational thing, because perfectly reasonable people I know who are a decade or so younger than me think he's hilarious.

• Juicy Couture - I suppose there are people who will be impressed that you spent $158 on a little girl's hoodie. Don't count me among them.

• Men who wax - I support a man's desire to be as metrosexual as he pleases out there in the big, bad world. But in my bed, where there's only room for one girly type, body hair=masculine and vanity=feminine. I'll take my man hairy and unselfconscious, please.

• Dental bling - I'm still trying to figure this one out. I guess nose-piercing isn't ugly enough?

• "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" - I'm not alone here, right? I have to assume that anyone who's smart enough to put on their own pants doesn't find this song amusing.

• Hummers - The automobile. What did you think I meant?

• Mad Men - I'm as enamored of the golden age of advertising as I am fascinated by the cultural differences between the 1960s and our PC times. So I should love this show. Indeed, I want to love this show. But it's so underwritten I feel like whacking the writers over the head with a rolled up script. Damn it, people, it's your job to decide how the characters feel. Otherwise you just leave the actors standing there looking inscrutable, which is not a substitute for writing.

• White Chocolate - This is not chocolate. This is what's left over when you extract the chocolate from chocolate. It's kind of like selling sugar water and marketing it as clear orange juice.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Update 12/4

• Most important update this week is that my kid who had been ill is stabilized and feeling 100% better. Hooray for appetite!

• Met with my agents on Monday to pitch a new idea I have for a novel. It's something I'm very excited about and was hoping they would catch the fever. Good news--they did! They loved it for all the right reasons and had some insightful comments that really help me focus. So I put The Cousins' Club on the backburner for now to work on this new one. I won't be talking about the idea until (unless?) it's sold, because it's very high concept. I'm not usually paranoid about getting ripped off, but this feels like a very marketable idea. In fact, I feel a little rushed--like if I don't do it soon, someone else will beat me to it. So ... I'm off and running.

• My pal Michael Palmer, bestselling author of medical thrillers, just got a fabulous early review from Booklist on his forthcoming novel, THE LAST SURGEON (St. Martin's Press/Feb. 2010). I was thrilled to see this because I read an early copy of the book and loved it. You can read the review here.

• Another kid home today with a sore throat. Feel better, schmoo-schmoo!

• What I'm reading right now: THE BLUE ZONE by Andrew Gross. It's not new but it's a wow. Utterly gripping. I love the way this guy writes.

• My brother, Stephen Meister, continues to feel the love on Fox:

Thursday, December 03, 2009


By Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga has done it again, delivering a wonderful novel exploring issues of love while examining what it means to be a stranger in strange land. Her latest is the critically-acclaimed LOVE IN TRANSLATION.

Here's the press release summary of the intriguing story:

For anyone who’s ever dreamt of finding love and family in an unexpected place...

After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms, 33-year-old fledgling singer Celeste Duncan is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. Once there she stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars.

With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste's relatives, she discovers she's developing "more-than-sisterly" feelings for him, although his mother seems to have other plans for her son. But it is when Celeste learns a Japanese song called “The Wishing Star” that things begin to change for her in ways she never expected, leading her to ask, what is the true meaning of family? And what does it mean to discover your own voice?

Sounds great doesn't it? No wonder bestselling author Michelle Richmond said, “A delightful novel about love, identity, and what it means to be adrift in a strange land. This story of a search has an Alice in Wonderland vibe; when Celeste climbs down the rabbit hole, one can't help but follow along.”

Wendy was good enough to answer my interview questions. Check it out:

Please tell us about the genesis of the idea for Love in Translation.

Love in Translation is my cockeyed valentine to Japan, which is a place I’ve both loved and loathed, a place that has fueled both fascination and frustration. And it is also a place that has had a huge impact on my life and writing. I also wanted to explore what it means to be a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan and the benefits and downsides of that status and what happens when a gaijin sings in Japanese. I also am fascinated by the concept of the homestay, (something I never experienced), and how that would impact someone as an adult who grew up in foster homes and who never experienced a real family.

Is there a story behind the title of this book?

The original title I was using was “Wishing on a Kira-Kira Star.” Kira-kira means “shining” or “twinkling” in Japanese. I knew my editor probably wouldn’t want to stick with this title and she didn’t. And that was fine with me as I wasn’t too attached to it, but I couldn’t think of an alternative. Then she came up with “Love in Translation,” which I really like. Obviously it’s a play on the title of that great movie “Lost in Translation,” but it also evokes several other meanings that I think tie in nicely with the book. I’m very pleased with the way things turned out.

You have such a beautiful cover. Did you have any input it, and are you happy with the finished product?

I had no input on the cover, but I couldn’t be more pleased with it. And it’s so different from the cover of my first book, “Midori by Moonlight,” which had a cartoon character and a glossy finish. “Love in Translation” has a matte cover and an illustration that looks more like a photograph. And I just love the scenery of Tokyo in the backdrop. My hat is off to the designer, Olga Grlic.

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

That when I was growing up my ambition was to be a rock star, not a writer.

What are you reading now?

“Juliet, Naked” by Nick Hornby. Other books on my TBR list are: “The Tricking of Freya” by Christina Sunley, “Americans in Space” by Mary E. Mitchell and “How to Buy a Love of Reading” by Tanya Egan Gibson.

Thanks, Wendy!

To buy LOVE IN TRANSLATION, visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber retailer. For more information, visit Wendy's website at

Thursday, November 26, 2009

101 Things I'm Thankful For

In random order ...

101. That my kids all like Marx Brothers movies
100. Paragraphs that make me weep
99. Dimmer switches
98. My husband's puns
97. The internet
96. Bookstores
95. My parents
94. The kindness of my CafeMom friends
93. My tan suede boots
92. Jim and Pam
91. Air-conditioning
90. Capitalism
89. Spellcheck
88. Modern medicine
87. Summer nights
86. My astoundingly generous friends
85. Readers
84. The teachers in our school district
83. Spam filters
82. American soldiers
81. Toric lenses
80. Texting
79. My kids' talents
78. Barack Obama
77. Lunch with friends
76. Newborns
75. Brake lights
73. Diet Coke
72. Fan mail
71. Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism
70. Bargains
69. The DVR
68. Lactaid
67. People who hold the door open
66. Blurbs
65. Men who smell really good
64. Compliments
63. Big writers with big hearts
62. Thai food
61. Stadium seating
60. Sex
59. Chocolate truffles
58. Librarians
57. Tech support
56. Good reviews
55. J.Jill
54. Voicemail
53. Dorothy Parker
52. My laser printer
51. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert
50. Passing the halfway point
49. My GPS
48. Red Wine
47. Heating pads
46. Indoor plumbing
45. Solitude
44. Power naps
43. Art museums
42. Cotton
41. Surprise visits from my muse
40. Talk radio
39. My new biceps
38. When we all just get along
37. Natural light
36. Dogs
35. Unexpected hugs from the kids
34. Excellent report cards
33. Bloggers
32. People who don't take themselves too seriously
31. Competence
30. Taking off my high heels
29. Steak
28. Seeing strangers reading novels
27. Back rubs
26. Maxipedia
25. Funny videos my kids find
24. Good hair days
23. Long hot showers
22. Facebook comments
21. Sliding doors
20. Newsday's cryptoquote
19. Jones Beach
18. The smell of sauteed garlic
17. Planet Fitness
16. Coffeemate
15. Love
14. Champagne
13. Coming home
12. Signed books
11. Rock and roll
10. Presents
9. Quiet
8. Dinner with the whole family
7. Digital everything
6. Polite drivers
5. Literary festivals
4. My long leather jacket
3. When guests arrive
2. When guests leave
1. Blog readers

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday tip for writers

If you're a writer, chances are you write notes about your work-in-progress every time you have a stray thought. Here's a tip for how to corral all those ideas into one handy digital package. Type them straight into an email and save it as a draft. Then you can access it from any computer whenever you want.

I like saving it as a draft rather than sending to yourself because it's always in that same spot and acts as one continuous document.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Update 11/20

Wish I had better news to report this week. One of my kids continues to have health problems, and it's pretty hard think anything else in the world is of any importance. But we'll get through it.

Here's what's new ...

* My birthday was Wednesday. Went to a swell middle school concert and then had chocolate cake with the fams.

* Hugs and thanks to all who sent love and good wishes. It meant a lot to me.

* I needed to order new water filters for my refrigerator, and decided to call customer service instead of using the form. Here's the conversation ...

ME: I'd like to order new water filters.
GE: Yes, ma'am. They're $45 each.
ME: On my order form they're $35.
GE: The prices have gone up quite a bit since that was printed.
ME: Clearly. But if I mail in my order with this form, will I get the filters for the printed price?
GE: If you mail it in, yes.
ME: Um ... I guess I'll mail it in, then.
ME: I guess this is good-bye.

* Re: Project Runway. I really do think Irina is a great designer, but c'mon. Carol Hannah rocked that runway. Judges had to think her collection was better than Althea's, right? I guess they just wanted a Betty and Veronica moment for the end ...

* Shout-out to my kidlets for the report card nachas.

* Would love to send you free bookplates for the holidays. Click here for more info.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


By Melissa Senate

In a perfect world I'd be able to read every book I blog about for the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, but both parenting and writing are so time-intensive I don't get to read half the novels I'd like to.

Today, though, I have the absolute pleasure of blogging about a wonderful book I'm right smack in the middle of reading, THE SECRET OF JOY by Melissa Senate. This has everything I love--interesting, complicated relationships, great characters and a plot that sucks you in from the start.

Here's the plot snapshot:

What would you do if you discovered you had a half-sister you never knew existed?

28-year-old New Yorker Rebecca Strand is shocked when her dying father confesses a devastating secret: he had affair when Rebecca was a toddler—and a baby he turned his back on at birth. Now, his wish is that the daughter he abandoned, Joy Joyhawk, read the unsent letters he wrote to her every year on her birthday. Determined to fulfill her father’s wish, Rebecca drives to a small town in Maine—against the advice of her lawyer boyfriend who’s sure Joy will be a “disappointing, trashy opportunist” and demand half her father’s fortune. But when hopeful Rebecca knocks on her half-sister’s door, Joy—a separated mother who conducts weekend singles tours out of her orange mini-bus—wants nothing to do with Rebecca or the letters her father wrote to her. Determined to forge some kind of relationship with Joy, Rebecca sticks around, finding unexpected support from Joy’s best clients—the Divorced Ladies Club of Wiscasset—and a sexy carpenter named Theo . . . .

In addition to being a mega-talented writer, Melissa is very smart and very cool. Check out her answers to my interview questions:

How would you describe the genre of THE SECRET OF JOY, and what pulled you toward it?

I’d say THE SECRET OF JOY is a hybrid of chick lit and women’s fiction. My debut novel, See Jane Date, which was published in 2001, was as chick lit as you get. Eight years and eight books later, I’ve changed—marriage, motherhood, divorce, a major move from city life to Maine life. It’s natural that my writing would evolve along with me. That’s what I love so much about chick lit and women’s fiction. You can be who you are and write the book that’s inside you, in your voice, and there’s a place for you.

Please tell us about the genesis of the idea for THE SECRET OF JOY.

Several years ago, I received a startling email: I think you might be my half sister. Whoa. I was, indeed. I didn’t know how I felt about it and had some burning questions, such as: If you’ve had no contact with your biological father or any member of his family since you were little, is his child from a subsequent marriage your sibling? Really? What do the words father, sister, brother, sibling truly mean? Does DNA a sister make? I didn’t have the answers, so I ended up writing about a woman who discovers she has a half-sister she never knew existed and set her off to find her. Only the very nugget of the idea is based on my own life; I flipped everything else on its head. But the emotional force driving the story is very real.

Do you have a favorite character in THE SECRET OF JOY? If so, why?

I love Joy Jayhawk, the main character’s half sister. I share some of her trials and tribulations, and I understood her reserve and emotional journey in a way that made me feel so close to her.

What do you love most about THE SECRET OF JOY?

What I ended up loving most are Joy’s clients on “the love bus.” She conducts weekend singles tours of Maine out of her orange mini-bus. The Divorced Women’s Club of Wiscasset endeared themselves to be. I’d like to know them in real life.

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

I pay too much attention, like every writer! There was one Booklist magazine review that did make me do the Snoopy dance. “Senate’s latest has her trademark quick pacing and sympathetic, lovable characters, proving once again she’s one of Red Dress Ink’s brightest talents.” Love that.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg. I’ve become enamored of her lately. I’m just so amazed at how she manages to write so honestly and elegantly at the same time. She will call someone a shit in the loveliest way.

Ha! Perfect. Thanks, Melissa!

Please look for THE SECRET OF JOY the next time you visit your local chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Melissa's website at

Monday, November 16, 2009


by Jessica Brody

Before I even tell you about LOVE UNDER COVER by Jessica Brody, the mega-talented author of THE FIDELITY FILES, please take a minute to watch this smart, sexy trailer ...

Is it any wonder this book is under development as a TV series?

Here's the quick plot summary:
In her job, she’s an expert on men…

In her own relationship, she doesn’t have a clue.

Boyfriend behaving badly? Suspect your husband of straying? Jennifer Hunter can supply the ultimate test. She runs a company which specializes in conducting fidelity inspections for those who suspect their loved ones are capable of infidelity.

An expert on men, Jennifer can usually tell if they're single, married or lying... Unfortunately, her new
boyfriend, Jamie, is one of the few men that she's never been able to 'read.'

Has she finally found the perfect man or is he too good to be true?

This book is getting sizzling buzz. Here are just a few examples:

"With a complicated, sympathetic protagonist, worthy stakes and a clever twist on the standard chick lit narrative, Brody will pull readers in from the first page." – Publisher’s Weekly

"Those who enjoyed Brody's debut will be eager to catch up with Jennifer, but newcomers will be intrigued, honest, witty portrayal of modern love."- Booklist

“With her usual smart, deft, and witty prose, Brody delves deep into the psychology of a woman who tests the fidelity of strangers for a living but struggles with commitment in her own life." - Joanne Rendell, author of Crossing Washington Square and The Professors’ Wives’ Club

Jessica was good enough to answer my GCC interview questions, so here goes ...

Please tell us about the genesis of the great idea for LOVE UNDER COVER.

As soon as I finished writing my first novel, The Fidelity Files¸ I knew that Jennifer’s journey wasn’t over yet. Although she had seemed to find her happy ending there was so much more fun stuff I had in mind for another book. Setting Jennifer up with an entire agency of fidelity inspectors was definitely the first and foremost on my mind for the next installment.

Plus, I really wanted to explore what a fidelity inspector would be like in a committed relationship. After everything she’s seen—all the cheating, dishonesty, and betrayal—would she really be capable of settling down herself? So that’s what I set out to focus on in this book.

Do you have a favorite character in LOVE UNDER COVER? If so, why?

I love Jennifer’s three friends. They’re all fun to write in their own unique ways. Zoë has a terrible road rage problem and she has a habit of talking on the phone while driving so those conversations with Jen and Zoë on the phone are always really entertaining for me. I get to channel my inner turrets patient. Sophie is totally neurotic. I love going over the top with her.

And John is the flamboyant gay boy from West Hollywood who is always quick with his sarcasm and wit. Sometimes I don’t know where his remarks come from. I must be channelling my inner gay man because I’ll write something that he says and think, “That’s really funny. Where the hell did that come from?”

Is there a story behind the title?

For this book it was definitely the novel that came first and the title that came WAY later. We had the hardest time titling this book. We all thought THE FIDELITY FILES was such a cool title for the first book and we wanted something that lived up to that. At first it was, “The Untitled Fidelity Files Sequel” (not so catchy) then I tried to start calling it, “High Infidelity” which I thought was kind of fun, but my publisher nixed it almost before it left my mouth. And then it was just “The Hawthorne Agency” for a while which is the name of the fidelity inspection agency that my main character runs but that was thrown out very fast. And then I got on a kick of playing with “undercover” “under the covers” which lead us to LOVE UNDER COVER. And I’m extremely happy with it.

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

I’m a total techno junkie. I love technology and gadgets. Ipods, digital cameras, computers, Tivos, Sling Boxes…those are my weaknesses. My toys. I would die without my blackberry and my Kindle. Unlike most women, I hate shopping for clothes and shoes. To me it feels like a huge waste of time. In a perfect world, I would just wear my sweat pants and Ugg knock-offs all day, every day (okay, maybe I already do that), but set me loose in a Fry’s Electronics or a Best Buy and you probably won’t see me for a week.

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

LOVE UNDER COVER has gotten some wonderful reviews and I’m so grateful. But I think my favorite line was from Booklist who called the book an, “honest, witty portrayal of modern love.” That really melted me. If there are two things I try to be in my writing it’s funny and real. So this was a huge compliment. Thanks Booklist!

Thanks so much, Jessica.

To buy LOVE UNDER COVER, visit your local chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Jessica's website at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday Update 11/13

Happy Friday the 13th. Let's hope it's a lucky day for all.

• Last weekend was the DimeStories reading at Barbes in Brooklyn. It was a packed house and the readers were funny, poignant, gripping. A truly talented group! Don't worry if you missed it, because there will be an open mic the first Sunday of every month, starting December 6. Mark your calendar.

• On Tuesday night Mike and I celebrated a big wedding anniversary at a secret romantic location. And that's all I'm going to stay on that. :)

• For the first time in months I have not been working on The Cousins' Club. I've changed the focus so many times by this point that I've lost my way. It's pretty depressing, to tell you the truth. I do still believe there's a wonderful book in there, but I might just have to put it on the shelf for now while I work on something else. (And I do have another exciting idea percolating, so stay tuned.)

• Have you been following the whole price war thing started over at Walmart? They were selling hardcover bestsellers at below market prices and then Amazon and others joined in and it became a death match. Now it looks like the effects have trickled down to backlist books like mine. Barnes & Noble recently reduced the price of The Smart One from $13.25 to $11.92. And Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA is only $10.04. Then Amazon followed suit, reducing The Smart One to match B&N's price. The trade paperback of Applewood is still $13.25 at Amazon, though if you don't mind a copy with a remainder mark you pick one up for just $5.29. Good time to pick up books for the holidays. (cough cough)

• On Wednesday I'll be spending my birthday at my daughter's chorus concert. Can't really think of a better way to spend the evening.

• Congrats to my talented friend Myfanwy Collins on her Pushcart nomination! Well done and highly deserved!!

• Love and thanks to all who sent prayers and good wishes on the health of my darling kid, who is doing much, much better.

Enjoy your weekend ...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Update 11/6

I know my updates have been a little cryptic lately, as I've alluded to personal problems without giving any details. Now that things are a little better I'll simply say that one of my kids had a serious health issue. We got a diagnosis this week so treatment is underway and things are getting better.

This is good news, though my body has found a way of letting me know that my stress is still way over the top. It's that blasted eye twitch I mentioned a few weeks ago, which flashes like a neon beacon telling me to chill out.

No surprise to find this piece of information on the Internet:

The most common things that make the muscle in your eyelid twitch are fatigue, stress, and caffeine.

Welcome to my world.

In other news, my talk at Molloy College went well last weekend, and I have another fun gig on tap for this Saturday night. It's the Dimestories reading at Barbes in Brooklyn and I'm stoked. This is a series that features stories no more than three minutes in length, and this particular event showcases Marcy Krever, Brad Manzo, R.E. Neu, Susan O’Neill, Robin Slick, Rachel Shukert, Eber Lambert and yours truly. Kimberly M. Wetherell hosts and the musical guest is Micheal Hearst. There will also be an open mike, so grab your best flash fiction and join us!

More info here.

Have a great weekend ...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Author Afternoon at Molloy College

Here's a little snippet from the Q&A portion of my talk at Molloy College yesterday ...

Huge thanks to Barbara Novack who runs the program and invited me to speak. Barbara is a gem of a person and a powerful poet. If you have a chance, please check out her website,, and scroll down to read her evocative yet accessible poems.

Also, a major shout-out to my homey, Saralee Rosenberg, who filled in at the last minute when my husband couldn't make it to help me out. If you haven't laughed yet today, I suggest you drop everything and pick up a copy of her latest book, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD.


Can you spot the typo in this ad?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Update 10/30

Happy Halloween! If you're on Long Island this Sunday, I'll hope you'll find your way to Molloy College in Rockville Centre at 3 pm. I'm doing an author talk. Free refreshments and still-fresh Halloween candy will be served. Click here for details.

I'm still not in a mindset to post any personal updates, so, for your reading pleasure, here is an eclectic assortment of links I like ...

Betsy Lerner - one of my favorite agent bloggers

The Self-Esteem Companion - My friend Roch is a great hypnotist and an inspirational blogger

Ken Levine - Colorful TV comedy writer (and no, my character Kenny Waxman was not modeled on him)

Hey, I'm Maxthegirl - Kickass recaps of Project Runway and more

Lee Goldberg - Funny, honest, bold novelist/screenwriter

David Carol - Gifted photographer, extraordinary images

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Update 10/23

A few years ago I got a twitch in my eyelid that lasted for months before finally going away.

Today I woke up to discover the twitch is back, which should tell you something about my week. And that's all I'm going to say for now.

Thanks for checking in. Have a great weekend ...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Update 10/16

• This week I didn't do much but work. I finished the new proposal for The Cousins' Club and got stuck on the last couple of paragraphs. I wrote them about a thousand different ways, and it didn't feel right. I knew I would get it eventually--it just took time. And trees. I printed the thing out again and again to read it in hard copy. Of course I made changes every time.

I was looking for something that felt organic but not obvious, satisfying but not hokey. It had to illustrate the main character's arc without sounding punchline-y.

Then at last the characters spoke to me and I got an ending that felt right. So I did one last edit and sent the whole 17,000-word proposal off to my agents. Now I wait to see if they think I nailed it this time.

• I'm still reading THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH, but slowly. I'm not even at the halfway point. It's not a book that pulls me in, and I find myself avoiding it much of the time. I don't think it's the book's fault. I think it's me. I'm an odd sort of reader. I have a hard time handling books that are too tense. Clearly, I'm alone in this, because millions of people love thrillers. Page-turners, they call them. But it has the opposite effect on me. When things really heat up I have to put the book down and walk away. Yes, I am that much of a wuss.

I feel a little sheepish admitting this, because some of my best friends are thriller writers. I like and respect these people. If they came to my house, I would even let them use my bathroom. (Sorry. I read a story this morning about a racist judge and that line stuck in my head.)

So now you know. I may be a tad emotionally intense. But I'm getting better. I used to come close to blacking out at movies because I would hold my breath during the tense parts. (My husband learned to gently pat my hand during these scenes and remind me to breathe.) Now I remember to inhale and exhale on my own.

• Any other grownups really excited about seeing WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE?

• I spent much of the day yesterday glued to the television worrying about balloon boy. Now some people are whispering that the whole thing may have been a hoax. The fact that his father is a bit of a media hound is fueling this. I don't know, but there is one thing about the story that's bugging me. There were cameras following that balloon for hours, and we got a very good view of it. We didn't know how the thing was constructed, and assumed it was possible for someone to be inside. But the part of the craft that could hold people was not attached, and that had to be completely obvious to the parents. Why were the authorities never alerted to the fact that there was no way the boy could inside that enclosed section of the craft? I'm just saying.

• Thanks to Ellis Weiner and The New Yorker for the funniest thing I have read in a long, long time.

• Reminder: I'm giving a talk at Molloy College in Rockville Centre. Free refreshments and lots of leftover Halloween candy. It's on Sunday, November 1, at 3 pm. Click here for details.

• One sad and heartbreaking note. My beloved creative writing professor from SUNY Buffalo, Raymond Federman, passed away this week. He was a writer, poet, scholar and holocaust survivor who had a significant impact on me and many others, I'm sure. Rest in peace, Ray.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


By Marilyn Brant

To be filed under Better Late than Never, my blog post about ACCORDING TO JANE, a bright and inventive debut from Girlfriends Cyber Circuit author Marilyn Brant. For a Jane Austen fan like me, this sounds like a delicious read. Here's the press release summary:

It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's teacher is assigning Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. From nowhere comes a quiet "tsk" of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there.

Jane's wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go--sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham.

Still, everyone has something to learn about love--perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending. . .

Marilyn was good enough to answer some interview questions for me, so here goes ...

Tell us about ACCORDING TO JANE and the inspiration behind it.
My debut novel, According to Jane, is the story of a modern woman who--for almost two decades--has the ghost of Jane Austen in her head giving her dating advice. I first read Pride & Prejudice as a high-school freshman. Like my heroine Ellie, I raced through the novel way ahead of the reading assignments. I loved both the story and Austen’s writing style immediately. Her books changed the way I perceived the behavior of everyone around me, and I spent the rest of freshman year trying to figure out which Austen character each of my friends and family members most resembled! Also like Ellie, I had a few (okay, a lot) of less-than-wonderful boyfriends, and I would have loved to have been given romantic advice from the author I most respected and the one who’d written one of my all-time favorite love stories.

Which scene in ACCORDING TO JANE did you love writing?
One scene I had a lot of fun with was the bar scene in the first chapter where my main character runs into her ex-high-school boyfriend for the first time in four years. It was a situation I had never experienced personally, but I could imagine the comical possibilities so clearly and feel and the frustration of my heroine as if I’d been the one standing there, facing the jerk and his latest girlfriend, while Jane Austen ranted about how “insufferable” he was.

Do you have a sample chapter posted?
Yes! On my website I have a segment of Chapter One available for anyone interested in reading. Also, if you go to the Amazon page for According to Jane “Search Inside This Book” feature, and people can read samples from scenes throughout the novel.

Any great fan/fan mail stories you care to share?
The book was just released on September 29th, so first impressions are still coming in, but I’ve gotten some truly wonderful emails from people who read the ARCs this summer. One of my favorites is from a woman who won a copy of the book in a contest and emailed me to say that she’d finished the book in a day and was on an emotional high from reading it. She added, “Sometimes I go through phase where I'm so blase about reading fiction and focus mainly on non-fiction (my usual staple), but once in a blue moon, a book grips me and makes me fall in love with fiction again. Thank you. A very grateful reader.” I will always, always love that message!

Do read books on the craft of writing, and do you have any favorites to recommend?
I’m a BIG fan of craft books, so I have more than one! I used Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT! almost religiously in the plotting of my past several books. I’m still very sad that he’s no longer with us. As far as a great reference guide, Robert McKee’s STORY is incredible. It has more information about writing craft than I can ever internalize. Also, whenever I need a more emotional pick-me-up, I grab the Ralph Keyes book THE COURAGE TO WRITE. I recommend it to everyone.

What’s next for you, Marilyn?
I get to visit a number of book clubs that chose my debut novel, According to Jane, as their monthly book pick--wildly fun!--while also starting the production/promotion process all over again for my next women’s fiction project. That second book is done, but we’re still working on finding the right title. It’s a modern fairytale about three suburban moms who shake up their marriages and their lives when one woman asks her friends a somewhat shocking question… That comes out in October 2010.

Thanks so much, Marilyn!

To purchase ACCORDING TO JANE, visit your local chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Marilyn's website at

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday Update, 10/9

Yikes. I'm really behind in my blogging, and owe a post to the wonderful Marilyn Brant, which I promise to do next week, if not sooner. Meanwhile, if you're in a bookstore this weekend, please keep an eye out for her glorious and sizzling hot debut, ACCORDING TO JANE.

This week was mostly about work for me, and I'm very close to having my new proposal completed. I got within spitting distance of the finish line today when I realized I just needed a little bit of mental space to figure out how to finesse the ending. So I'm letting the girls in the attic (or the boys in the basement, as Stephen King would say) do their thing. In other words, I'm walking away long enough for my subconscious to work on it without me. My hope is that the next time I sit down to type the answers will be obvious.

One surreal bit of irritation this week. The Federal Trade Commission announced that bloggers who review books must make it clear if they received a review copy for free. Apparently, the FTC considers a free book "compensation," and think there's an implicit compact between publisher and reviewer. That's right. They think publishers are "buying" good reviews by sending out free copies, and consumers need to know this. It's completely absurd, especially since they only make this requirement of bloggers and not reviewers in other media. Click here to read more about it.

Can you believe this horseshit? As if the publishing industry wasn't beleaguered enough. I am livid.

Meanwhile, the dimwits at the FTC can sleep soundly at night knowing that Janet in Portland will be protected from buying a copy of the new Dan Brown book her sister-in-law recommended on her blog.

To protest this lunacy, call Richard T. Cleland at the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection at 202-326-3088.

Lastly, if you work at Kensington, I have a special plea: DO NOT, under any circumstances, send me a copy of According to Jane. Just the mention I made above could get me fined.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Update 10/2

Today I'm writing to you from my car in front of my local Borders Bookstore. I had intended to work from a nearby coffee shop, but it was unexplainably closed. So I headed to the bookstore, which also has free wi-fi. Alas, I got here before it opened, so I'm in the parking lot mooching wireless service.

Meanwhile, is it really Friday already? This week went by in about 3 seconds.

Partly it's because it was a short school week. Here on Long Island, schools were closed on Monday for the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. We hosted "Break the Fast" at our house, which is my favorite meal of the year ... to serve and to eat. For those who don't know, it's tradition to break the fast with bagels, lox and other smoked fish. Oof! This stuff could make a believer out of anyone.

And it's a great holiday to host, because it's so very easy to impress starving people. Also, there's very little cooking and cleaning involved. What could be better?

This year, I was very happy to have friends as well as family. A special treat!

Other good news this week is that I got a happy message from my agents. I had sent them an email with some thoughts on the new direction I want to go in with The Cousins' Club, my work-in-progress. Also included was a new prologue I felt great about. Turns out my agents loved it all--the idea as well as the prologue. They may even have used the word "brilliant." So yay! After two false starts I'm off and running.

Looks like the store is opening now, so I'm going to grab a cup of Awake tea and work on the novel. Thanks for checking in ... and have a great weekend.

EDITED TO ADD: I'm in Borders now, where I went straight to the magazine rack and found a special edition of Writer's Digest called NOVEL WRITING. It contains several articles by my pal Jordan Rosenfeld, one of which mentions yours truly. There's actually tons of great stuff in this issue and I plan to read it cover-to-cover. You should, too. Either click this link for a digital version or pick up a copy at your local bookstore.

And finally ... my brother, Stephen Meister, was on TV again this week, talking to Neil Cavuto about the real estate bail-out. This time it was on Fox News rather than Fox Business News. Take a look ...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Update, 9/25

• I don't like to use my blog to whine, but to be perfectly honest it wasn't the best of weeks. I started out trying to lick the last remnants of the flu as I waited for my agent to get back to me on my second submission of my work-in-progress, THE COUSINS' CLUB.

Understand that it was something like my twentieth draft and I'd been working like a dog. I know I'm onto something incredibly special here and was hoping my agent would say that I nailed it.

Alas, it wasn't the conversation I had been hoping for. She agrees that there's something there--something unique and fresh and breathtaking--but I haven't found the doorway inside. Pretty hard to put into words how devastated I was. Normally I handle these things better, but it's bad timing for me, as I didn't have the emotional, physical or financial resources to cope with the news.

Also, I blame some of this moodiness on the fact that I've been unable to exercise. I got pretty accustomed to those endorphins.

• I attended Back to School night at the high school and middle school this week. It was good to meet the kids' teachers, but hard for me because these were evening events and my body was reminding me that I'm still recovering and should be spending my nights under the covers with a cup of tea.

• Took a little me time this week and met my friend Saralee Rosenberg at an excellent and inspiring book talk by the author of 50 IS THE NEW FIFTY, Suzanne Braun Levine. If you don't know who she is, think Ms. Magazine. She was a founding editor, and is currently a speaker on women and family issues, as well as contributing editor of More Magazine. The talk was moderated by my friend Debbi Honorof, and sponsored by The Transition Network.

Ellen Meister, Suzanne Braun Levine, Saralee Rosenberg

• No joke--I got myself a staple gun and some fabric and am reupholstering my dining room chairs. I may be dangerous.

• Just finished reading THE BOOK OF JOE by Jonathan Tropper. Wonderful novel--funny and warm and smart. I'm dying to read his new book, THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU. My reading pile is insane but I'll get around to it one of these days/weeks/months.

• My brother, Stephen Meister, was on the Bulls and Bears show at Fox Business News again, discussing the real estate market. He's like Donald Trump with honest hair. Take a look:

• Looking forward to having family and friends over for Break the Fast on Monday night. Meanwhile, I wish all my Jewish friends a sweet New Year, an easy fast and all good things. Peace.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


By Hank Phillippi Ryan

You would think that blogging isn't the kind of thing that gets put off when you're sick. After all, how much energy does it take to type up a few paragraphs?

Clearly, more energy than I had with this damned flu, which is why I'm late blogging about a wonderful new book from the beautiful and talented Hank Phillippi Ryan, who's not only an author, but an on-air reporter for NBC in Boston.

She's touring now to talk about the latest in her breathless Charlotte McNally mystery series, AIR TIME.

Check out some of the buzz this book is getting:

"Sassy, fast-paced, and appealing. This is first-class entertainment."
—Sue Grafton

"The most fun I've had reading in a long time. Hank Phillippi Ryan has given us one of the best heroines to emerge in a long while, and her stories zip along as fast as news bulletins. AIR TIME is a fun, fast read with a heroine who's sexy, stylish, and smart. I loved it."
—Nancy Pickard

"Loved it! Smart, funny, fresh, intriguing and thoroughly entertaining—I highly recommend this series."
—Suzanne Brockmann

"AIR TIME is a thrill ride from the first page to the last. This story will tickle your funnybone and to uch your heart. Hank Phillippi Ryan is a fabulous new talent."
—Susan Wiggs

"Excellent! Hank Phillippi Ryan knows how to create characters that come to life and capture your heart. Don't miss this engrossing story."
—Brenda Novak

"Hank had me from the first line. In her latest addictive page-turner AIR TIME, real-life TV reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan once again thrills us with her terrific counterpart, investigative reporter Charlotte McNally. AIR TIME isn't only exciting and sexy and even funny—it's also damned well written."
—David Morrell, Founding co-president International Thriller Writers

"Ripped straight from the newsroom! Hank Phillippi Ryan dishes up the inside scoop—the deadlines, the duplicity, and the danger. AIR TIME is authentic, full of intrigue, and great fun—truly a page-turner."
—Kelly Lange, TV News Anchor-Reporter, Mystery Author

And now here's Hank to answer some questions ...

How did you come up with the idea for AIR TIME?

Imagine the research I had to do into the world of designer purses! It was tough, but someone had to dive in…

Actually, Charlie’s investigation into the world of counterfeit couture cames straight from been there-done that. In my day job as a TV reporter, my producer (not Franklin!) and I have done several in-depth investigations into the world of knock-offs—not only purses and scarves, but blue jeans and watches and DVDs and videos.

We went undercover and with a hidden camera—like Charlie does—into various back-alley stores where counterfeit merchandise was being sold, and also into some suburban purse parties where women—certainly knowing they were fake and thinking was fine—were scooping up piles of counterfeit Burberrys and Chanels.

You should know— law enforcement tells us, it’s not illegal to buy the purses—unless you’re buying large amounts that are obviously for resale. The illegality is in the copying and manufacture and sale of what’s clearly a trademarked and proprietary item. (As the elegant fashion exec Zuzu Mazny-Latos tells Charlie in AIR TIME—it’s like taking Gone with the Wind—and putting your name on the cover.)

Anyway—lots of AIR TIME is based on research and reality—besides the undercover work, and the research, I’ve done many interviews with the federal agencies in charge of battling counterfeiting, the attorneys who help big companies protest their products, and even the private investigators the designers hire to scout out counterfeits.

Are you more driven by plot or by character?

Ah, it's both. I start with one little germ of a plot twist--and then figure out how Charlie is going to figure it out! So I know what I know--and she knows what she knows. And then she has to solve the mystery--based on what I let her know.

Who's your favorite character in AIR TIME and why?

Oh, I can't possibly answer that. Charlie McNally is dear to my heart of course. When my husband talks about Charlie, he calls her “you.” As in: when “you” get chased by the bad guys, or when “you” get held at gunpoint. And I have to remind him, “Sweetheart, it’s fiction.” But Charlie can say things I can’t say about the reality of television, and because she’s fictional, she can go places I can’t go. And say things I can’t say!

And the very sweet 8-year-old Penny, I must say, touches me every time I write about her And I get so many letters from readers, concerned about her, and asking about her, and who I based her on. But really? She’s right out of my imagination. (She’s the character who sometimes makes readers cry...along with Charlie’s mother. I guess family relationships are sometimes—universal.)

And in AIR TIME there’s a new character --a gorgeous FBI agent named Keresey Stone. She’s amazing. And unpredictable. But I wonder what you’ll think about her?

Your double-duty career must be difficult. What's your writing process/writing environment like?

I’ve been a television reporter since 19, um, 75. I’m still on the air at Boston’s NBC affiliate, and still at work as an investigative reporter. (And I’m always hoping my best story ever is just around the corner.) So I come to work at Channel 7 every morning—tracking down clues, doing research, hoping for justice and looking for a great story that will change people’s lives. (Hmm..sounds a lot like mystery writing!)

Then at night we go back home—and when I’m in writing mode, I write til about ten pm, in a wonderful study that’s lined with bookshelves. I admit—I have a cluttered desk, and no real filing system, except for “piles.” But I know where everything is. I like it to be quiet.. At the TV station, it’s chaotic and loud, with three TV’s blasting all the time—and I can work fine there! But at home, with the books—quiet.

Because my schedule is so tight, I keep track of my words. If I know I have to write 90,000 words by the deadline, I literally divide that number by the number of days I have—and then set that as a goal. I try to write maybe—to pages a day. And on weekends, more. If I can do that, I’m thrilled.

I push my way through a first draft. I say to myself—just get the story down. Just do it. And you can fix it later.

Then I cook dinner, and my husband and I have a very late dinner together! You can imagine how patient he is!

I used to be a pretty good cook, and diligent about exercise. My husband and I gave dinner parties and went to movies and went on vacation. Sigh. That’s all pretty much over. I have a full time job as reporter, a full time job as a mystery author, and a full time job as a wife (with two step-children and two step-grandchildren!) That doesn’t leave much time for much else.

What's your favorite part of writing?

Revision, no question. I love that. You have this whole first draft, and you get to go back and see what you really have. I often have wonderful revelations when I read over the first draft—there are themes and rhythms and even clues that I didn’t realize were there! It’s always so rewarding.

And after 30 years in TV, I know how valuable editing is—so I look at it as a real treat. To get to polish, and tweak, and rearrange, and make it all shine—oh, it’s great fun.

The other favorite part—when readers love the books. I can’t tell you how often I’m out on a story, for instance, and a stranger will come up to me , and pull the book out of a purse or briefcase, and ask me to sign it. I can barely resist bursting into tears. It somehow completes the writing, you know? when someone reads it.

What's the best piece of advice you ever got about writing?

There’s a plaque on my bulletin board with the question: “What would you attempt to do if you know you could not fail?” That gives me a lot of courage.

Thanks so much, Hank!

To purchase AIR TIME or the other books in this riveting series, visit your local chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber retailer. For more information, visit Hank's website at

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Update 9/18

I have the flu. Swine? Something else? Doesn't matter. I'll be fine either way. But too tired for updates right now.

L'shana tova. Have a sweet New Year.

Monday, September 07, 2009


By Joanne Rendell

Apologies for getting so behind on my blogging. I never posted my Friday update last week, but that's not the worst of it--I'm late in telling you about this wonderful new book from an outstanding GCC writer, Joanne Rendell.

CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE sounds like a perfect book club read. Nicola Kraus, co-author of The Nanny Diaries, called it "A charming, witty, and cerebral novel." Here's the description:

Across Washington Square live two very different women …with their very different love of books.

Some women follow their hearts; others follow their minds. In this second novel from the acclaimed author of The Professors’ Wives’ Club, we return to Manhattan University, where two strong-willed women are compelled to unite their senses and sensibilities.

Professor Diana Monroe is a highly respected scholar of Sylvia Plath. Serious and aloof, she steadfastly keeps her mind on track. Professor Rachel Grey is young and impulsive, with a penchant for teaching popular women’s fiction like Bridget Jones’ Diary and The Devil Wears Prada, and for wearing her heart on her sleeve.

The two conflicting personalities meet head to heart when Carson McEvoy, a handsome and brilliant professor visiting from Harvard, sets his eyes on both women and creates even more tension between them. Now Diana and Rachel are slated to accompany an undergraduate trip to London, where an almost life-threatening experience with a student celebrity will force them to change their minds and heal their hearts…together.

Joanne was good enough to answer some of interview questions, so please give her charming answers a read ...

What's the basic premise of CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE?

Crossing Washington Square is a story of two very different women and their very different love of books. Rachel Grey
and Diana Monroe are both literature professors in the old boys club of Manhattan University. While this should create a kinship between them, they are very much at odds and when a brilliant and handsome professor from Harvard comes to town and sets his sights on both women, sparks really fly!

What was the inspiration behind it?

The idea for Crossing Washington Square evolved over a few years. As someone who has lived the academic life (I have a PhD in literature and now I'm married to a professor at NYU), I've always loved books about the university - novels like Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys, Richard Russo's The Straight Man, Zadie Smith's On Beauty, and Francine Prose's Blue Angel. But what I noticed about such campus fiction was the lack of female professors in leading roles. Even the female authors like Francine Prose and Zadie Smith's novels focus on male professors. Furthermore, most of these male professors are disillusioned drunks who quite often sleep with their students! I wanted to write a novel with women professors taking the lead and I wanted these women to be strong and smart and interesting - instead of drunk, despondent, and preoccupied with questionable sexual liaisons!

Is there a scene in the book you're especially proud of?

Rachel Grey and Diana Monroe are both literature professors in the old boys club of Manhattan University. While this should create a kinship between them, they are very much at odds. Rachel is young, emotional, and impulsive. She wrote a book about women's book groups which got her a slot on Oprah and she uses "chick lit" in her classes. Diana is aloof, icy, and controlled. She's also a scholar of Sylvia Plath who thinks "beach" fiction is an easy ride for students. My favorite scene is where these two women face-off in a department meeting. Neither of the professors is a shrinking violet and thus sparks really fly! The scene was such fun to write.

If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE, who gets the call?

Crossing Washington Square loosely echoes Austen's Sense and Sensibility - with one professor being led by her sense, the other by her sensibility. I love the Ang Lee adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet playing the two very different Dashwood sisters. I'd love Emma and Kate to play my professors too!

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

I received the first draft of the cover via email. I opened it and instantly fell in love! I really had no suggestions to make it better. I thought it was perfect and really captured the spirit of the book. It kind of looks like a Penguin classic (with the square title box and the particular typeface), but it is coupled with the very modern photo of the girl. This juxtaposition really captures what the book is about. In other words, how some people love classical books, other like modern, popular books, but how all books - whatever kind - can unite people in the end.

Actually, I recently contacted Melody Cassen who designed the cover for Crossing Washington Square and the cover of my first book The Professors' Wives' Club. I told her how much I loved her work. She was so pleased and said that she rarely hears feedback from authors about their covers. So, tip of the day for authors, if you like your cover, drop the designer a line and tell them!

What's next for you?

I'm working on final edits for my third novel (which was bought by Penguin last fall). The novel tells the story of a woman who thinks she might be related to the nineteenth century writer, Mary Shelley. On her journey to seek the truth and to discover if there really is a link between her own family and the creator of Frankenstein, Clara unearths surprising facts about people much closer to home - including some shocking secrets about the ambitious scientist she is engaged to. The book is told in alternating points of view between Clara and the young Mary Shelley who is preparing to write Frankenstein.

Thanks, Joanne!

CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE is available in trade paperback at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information visit Joanne's website at