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?