Tuesday, March 30, 2010


By Sheila Curran

I've been holding onto a Borders gift card for a few months now, waiting for the perfect book to spend it on. I've just decided: I'm getting EVERYONE SHE LOVED by Sheila Curran, one of my fellow Girlfriends Cyber Circuit authors.

Here's the copy that pushed me over the edge, written by Sheila's publicist:

Books are born in strange places. Sheila Curran’s latest was conceived in the front seat of a car while her friend drove and their daughters chatted in the backseat. The women were discussing an article Curran had written about two young girls whose parents had died within months of each other.

While talking about the tragedy, Curran realized that choosing the perfect guardian for her kids—one that would raise them as she would--would be next to impossible. Even tougher to swallow would be the possibility that if she died first, her husband might marry someone awful, and then she’d have no control at all. Unless, she mused, she could get him to agree that if he remarried, her sisters and friends would have to agree to his choice of bride, just to prevent some wicked stepmother from moving in.

And thus was hatched the idea for EVERYONE SHE LOVED, an utterly engaging tale that explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family, and the many ways in which romantic entanglements can confound and confuse even the most determined of planners.

I hope you, too, will pick up this book the next time you visit your favorite chain or independent bookstore. In the meantime, PLEASE click here to visit Shelia blog and see what's been up to. Thank you!

One last thing. EVERYONE SHE LOVED is also available online anywhere books are sold. For more information, visit Sheila's website at sheilacurran.com.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Update 3/26

It can't be Friday already, can it? Wow. This week was fast. Here's the latest ...

• There are two author blogs I really want you to click on this week. The first is Sheila Curran's. Her latest book, EVERYONE SHE LOVED, was released this summer to much fanfare, and you should to take a few minutes to dip into Sheila's world. I think you'll be inspired. Then if you'll click here to read a synopsis, you'll understand why bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson said, "Read this book. Then pass this on to your best friend. She will thank you."

Click here to purchase the book online. Click here to visit Sheila's website.

• The other blog I want you to visit is Susan DiPlacido's. Susan is a funny, sexy, bold, take-no-prisoners kind of writer, and she just published two new books: LADY LUCK and SHUFFLE UP AND DEAL. Susan's voice knocks me on my ass, and I have no idea why the big publishing houses aren't following her around with truckloads full of money. Susan rocks.

• And now at last I can announce my husband's news. He's accepted a job as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. This isn't the end of our difficulties, but (we hope) the first step in overcoming them. My darling is one of the smartest people I've ever known and, without a doubt, the most honest.
Please wish him luck ...

• I want to add that he's also adorable. Yesterday our daughter was reading from a kid's joke book and asked, "What do you call a girl with a really big head?" My husband answered, "Honey." (I have a freakishly ginormous head, so it was a pretty hilarious response.)

• I was certain I'd have a pub date to announce this week, but alas I'm still waiting. Looks like it's going to be another two weeks.

• Today I start shopping for my Passover Seder. So much work ahead. But we always have a great time.

Wishing a zissen Pesach (a sweet Passover) to my Jewish friends and a good weekend to all ...

Monday, March 22, 2010

What's on my desktop

For inspiration ...

Now I'm not only hearing Dorothy Parker, I'm seeing her. It's a fine line between here and madness ...

And the winner is ...

Congratulations to Darah in California for winning the drawing for a $25 amazon.com gift card!

Many thanks to Darah and everyone else who signed up for my mailing list. Please keep an eye out for an even bigger giveaway offer coming your way.

If you haven't yet signed up, no worries. There will be another $25 gift card drawing in a few weeks. Click here, and don't forget to click through when you get the confirmation email. Thanks!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Update 3/19

I was so busy this week it went by in a flash.

• My middle one had a health setback but he's feeling better now, so phew. Just a little bump in the road, according to his doctor, who was thrilled with his weight gain and overall appearance, not to mention blood test results.

• Because there's never a dull moment for a mother of three, the youngest developed a rash all over, which looked like prickly heat. But according to her doctor it's most likely the aftermath of Fifth Disease. In case you don't know, this is a mild childhood illness that's usually undiagnosed until a few weeks later when the telltale rash develops. By then it's not contagious ... but when it is, it's very dangerous for pregnant women.

Fortunately, she feels fine and today, finally, the rash is fading. Not a moment too soon, as she plays two parts in the school play tonight, and is receiving a "personal best" award this afternoon.

• I didn't get a chance to dig into FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER until yesterday because I was busy with a few other things, like filling out Putnam's Author Questionnaire (a bear!) and writing a press release for a friend. But I've cleared the deck and want to get serious now.

• If you haven't signed up for my newsletter mailing list, please do so now. Thanks! I'm trying to beef up the list in anticipation of my next book, THE OTHER LIFE. Sign up today and you'll be entered in a drawing for a $25 amazon.com gift certificate. But please, YOU MUST CLICK THROUGH WHEN YOU GET THE CONFIRMATION EMAIL. If you don't see it, check your spam filter.

Also important: if you are getting this blog by email, it does not mean you are on my mailing list. (The blog list is maintained by feedburner and I have no access to it or control over it.) Click here to sign up.

• Now that the weather's so splendid I'm dying to run on the beach. Going to take a ride out there today and see if the parking lot's open again ... and if the boardwalk is accessible. Oh, how I love the beach!

Have a great weekend ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Calling all readers ...

As I blow the dust off my website and update my mailing list, I'm putting the call out to sign up for my newsletter. Please click here and fill out the subscription form. It only takes a few seconds.

In return, you'll automatically be entered in a drawing for a $25 amazon.com gift certificate. Just be sure to sign up by the end of this week (3/20) ... and don't forget to click through when you get the confirmation email.

Btw, I promise I send out very few emails!

Also note that if you get this blog via email, you are NOT automatically on my mailing list. (That list is operated by feedburner and I have no control over it.)

Thanks, friends!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


By Jenny Gardiner

A memoir! This may be a first for our little Girlfriends Cyber Circuit group, as we're a cozy little bunch of novelists.

But I think WINGING IT by Jenny Gardiner is such a lot of fun it will grab hold of you and take flight as much as your favorite fiction. Check out the promo copy:


A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Like many new bird owners, Jenny and Scott Gardiner hoped for a smart, talkative, friendly companion. Instead, as they took on the unexpected task of raising a curmudgeonly wild African grey parrot and a newborn, they learned an important lesson: parrothood is way harder than parenthood. WINGING IT: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me (Gallery Books; on sale March 16, 2010; Hardcover; $23.00), is a hilarious and poignant cautionary tale about two very different types of creatures, thrown together by fate, who learn to make the best of a challenging situation.

A gift from Scott’s brother who was living in Zaire, Graycie arrived scrawny, pissed – off, and missing a lot of her feathers. Every day became a constant game of chicken with a bird that would do anything to ruffle their feathers.

The old adage about not biting the hand that feeds you—literally—never applied to Graycie.

But Jenny and Scott learned to adapt as the family grew to three children, a menagerie of dogs and cats, and, of course, Graycie. WINGING IT is a laugh-out- loud funny and touching memoir, Jenny vividly shares many hazards of parrot ownership, from the endless avian latrine duty and the joyful day the bird learned to mimic the sound of the smoke detector, to multiple ways a beak can pierce human flesh.

Graycie is a court jester, a karaoke partner, an unusual audio record of their family history, and at times, a nemesis. But most of all, she has taught the family volumes about tolerance, going with the flow, and realizing that you can no sooner make your child fit into a mold than you can turn a wild parrot into a docile house pet.

WINGING IT reminds us of the importance of patience, loyalty, and humor when it comes to dealing with even the most unpleasant members of the family.

Your browser may not support display of this image.

“ …Graycie is as much a part of us as we are of her. Sure, she might be feisty at times. But who isn’t? Whether she’s yelling at the dog or answering the phone or bobbing to the beat of the kids clapping for her amusement, she’s one of us. Our parrot, petulant or not, is a member of our family for the long haul.” -Jenny Gardiner

I love this this description! And Jenny may want to kill me for this, but before I launch into the interview, I can't resist this old Jewish joke ...

A successful man is looking for a truly spectacular gift for his Yiddisha mama. But it's tough because he's already bought her everything. Then at last he finds it--a parrot that speaks Yiddish. It's insanely expensive, but he really wants to please his mama. So he has it shipped to her. Then he waits a few days and calls.

what did you think of the bird?"

"It was delicious!"

I know. I should be ashamed. So without further ado, here's Jenny ...

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

My editor was great at collaborating with me on the cover. She really liked the idea of trying to do something sort of stark, playing up the contrast against the gray bird. I never saw the other cover options as it was being considered but she did check with me on suggestions and such. Funny thing is the graphic artist who designed the cover posted the various covers he'd come up with on his blog one day and I happened upon it because of Google Alerts. I really love the one that they settled on.

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

I have this obsession with accents. Maybe not quite an obsession. But I love, love, love to hear accented English. I notice little nuances in how people speak English when it's not their native tongue. I get my fix by listening to the BBC, which has such comprehensive world news coverage, and NPR. My kids always mock me in the car because I always try to copy the way people say things when I hear them on the radio. Perhaps I'm a repressed actress? ;-)

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

One of the first emails I got from a reader I thought was just so hilarious, because her point was that I must have been spying on her life, as what she was reading in Sleeping with Ward Cleaver was life as she knew it. I'll copy it here:

“Having read pages 1 - 15 in your new novel "Sleeping with Ward Cleaver" I must now ask that you immediately remove your little radio transmitter from my brain, as well as your cameras from my household. Until I have received notice that these tasks are completed I will have no recourse other than to wear my (almost) patented Brain-o-Matic Tin Foil Hat. This will ensure that my thoughts cannot be picked up by anyone. Not that they are by anyone in this household anyway.”

Another early letter that I thought was so sweet was from a woman who really didn't have the time to read or the money to buy a book, but did so anyhow and was glad that she did:

“I received a gift card for Barnes & Noble for Christmas....as a working mom, I hardly have time to read so I decided to treat a friend of mine to coffee inside the bookstore instead of buying a book. On our way out, there you were, and I happened to have enough credit to buy two books so I bought one for each of us. I finished mine in about two days...forgoing laundry and child care duties (my husband didn't mind, really...I kept reading some of the passages to him because they were so funny). It was hilarious! My friend finally started reading her copy this weekend....she called me to tell me how funny it was and that she was actually calling her husband at work to read some of it to him. She also cancelled plans we had together so she could finish her book. We're looking forward to more books from you. My husband is, too, because your book inspired me to go out and buy some sexy underwear!”

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

It's awfully hard not to. I mean we writers revel in fabulous reviews, and by extension, a bad review can certainly drag you down. Of course books are very subjective, so I do try to not take things personally. Although it's a bit like someone telling you they hate your ugly baby--not like we'd take that criticism sitting down, right? I'm still waiting on reviews for Winging It (though did get one--and a lovely one, from Library Journal, who said, "Often comical and sometimes tragic but never dull, Gardiner's memoir proves that the hope of having a model pet (or child) is usually not realistic. It will speak to animal lovers and offer fair warning to anyone considering the 40-year-plus commitment of owning a parrot."

The blurb I received for my first novel from Meg Cabot did make my heart sing. She was just so amazing to have even agreed to take a look at my book and I was already thrilled that she'd even consider it. But then her blurb was so perfect, to boot:

"A fun, sassy read! A cross between Erma Bombeck and Candace Bushnell, reading Jenny Gardiner is like sinking your teeth into a big frosted chocolate cupcake...you just want more."
-New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot

And this review I just thought was so funny:

“If you want to laugh until you pee your pants, then pick up this book. If you want to gain some insight into what goes into a marriage, then pick up this book. I loved the character of Claire. She is someone that every woman can relate to, young or old. Jenny Gardiner has a gift for finding humor and at the same time tackling tough issues. This is a great mom lit book to read by yourself, or giggle about with your book club.”
-Book Room Review

What are you reading now?

About ten books at once LOL. But am racing through my friend Sarah Pekkanen's The Opposite of Me and loving it. She's such a funny, talented writer.

Thanks so much for having me!

Thank YOU, Jenny! Good luck with WINGING IT ... may it fly off the shelves.

WINGING IT is available at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To buy online, visit amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Jenny's website at jennygardiner.net.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Update 3/12

At last it feels like the storm cloud that's been battering my sweet little family for the past two years is starting to lift. It's not like all our problems are over, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. Can't let the cat out of the bag just yet, so more on that next week.

In the meantime ...

• By the end of the month I'll have an actual pub date for THE OTHER LIFE. I made my pitch for a certain month that I believe would be best for me, but there are too many other factors to predict how that will play out. Like I said, it's been a hell of a couple of years here, so I'm greedy for more good news. Fingers crossed.

• Meanwhile, I'm blowing the cobwebs off my website and doing a bit of spring cleaning, which includes updating my newsletter mailing list. If you haven't signed up, I hope you will now. Click here ... and don't forget to click through when you get the confirmation email.

NOTE: If you signed up to receive this blog by email, it's not the same thing, so please sign up for my newsletter. Thanks!!

• My big news of the week was that my new book deal got listed in Publishers Marketplace. I already blogged about it, but in case you missed it here's how the deal was summarized (with a couple tweaks from yours truly):

Ellen Meister's FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, a humorous and heartfelt novel in which a mousy movie critic accidentally unleashes the ghost of writer Dorothy Parker, whose caustic wit and wisdom helps change her life in all kinds of unexpected ways, to Rachel Kahan at Putnam, by Andrea Cirillo and Annelise Robey at Jane Rotrosen Agency (NA).

The title got an extra shout-out in a PM newsletter, and I guess it intrigued people because my sitemeter showed a lot of hits from people googling it. A good sign, I think!

• Kudos to Samsung for repairing my sweet little netbook and getting it back to me so fast.

• Between working on the new novel, filling out a bear of an author questionnaire for my publisher and a press release I'm working on for a friend, I am buried. So back to work for me ...

Have a great weekend. xo

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ask the Author 3/11

Here I go again ...

Hope you found this helpful ... feel free to send more questions! Thanks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


By Caitlin Crews

My Girlfriends Cyber Circuit pals are such an impressive bunch ... and Caitlin Crews is no exception. She's not only a romance author who debuted on the USA Today Bestseller List ... but is also the alter-ego of the critically-acclaimed contemporary author Megan Crane!

Here's a quick summary of PURE PRINCESS, BARTERED BRIDE:

Bartered, betrothed and bedded!

As quiet and dangerous as a jungle cat, achieving the impossible is one of Luc Garnier’s defining characteristics.

Princess Gabrielle is invaluable – a pearl beyond price. Yet Luc has defied the odds, and a contract for marriage is drawn up. This will be a union on paper first, and of flesh later…

Except Gabrielle is just the same in private as in public – well-bred, well-behaved, and a credit to her country. Luc is determined to find the wanton within and leave his pure princess in total disarray!

And here's just the sampling of the book's great buzz:

“Debut novelist Caitlin Crews has penned a winner with her first novel for Harlequin Presents: Pure Princess, Bartered Bride! Sexy, intensely emotional and wholly absorbing, this beguiling marriage of convenience story features a deliciously Alpha hero and an smart and independent heroine readers cannot help but admire.” --CataRomance

“I will definitely buy any book that she writes.”--Adventures of a Gotham Gal

5 of 5 Stars: “This book has the right ingredients for a very good, entertaining Harlequin Presents.” --Danielle’s Book Thoughts

“Caitlin Crews has written a brilliant royal romance, a roller coaster romance with extremely intense emotions oozing from both Luc and Gabrielle.”--Marilyn’s Romance Reviews

No wonder it's selling so well.

And now here's Caitlin to answer some interview questions ...

Tell us a little about your book.
Pure Princess, Bartered Bride is the story of the arranged marriage of the ruthless Luc Garnier and the perfect Princess Gabrielle, and how they fall in love with each other despite that kind of beginning.

What got you writing in the romance genre?
I finally started writing romance novels years and years and years after I started reading them, and years after I was published, because I figured I had to at least TRY to write in my favorite genre. I have such high expectations about the romance novels I read that I had pretty low expectations about my own. I really didn’t think anything would come of the experiment. But it turns out that writing romances is almost as addictive as reading them!

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?
I get to make up stories in my head, and then tell them, and make my living that way. It’s more than a dream come true. And I don’t, in fact, need algebra, as I told my math teacher in high school long ago!

And what's your least favorite thing?
The blank page is usually filled with all my doubts and fears, and that’s not a whole lot of fun to sift through to get to the words I need to write. And you can never really take a vacation, because the work is always in your head. And I become a little bit of a crazy person as a deadline approaches. But I wouldn’t give any of it up.

Which comes easier for you, beginnings or endings?
Definitely beginnings. I like to launch myself into the beginning and write until I hit a wall, then go back and figure out what I'm doing.

What's your writing process/writing environment like?
I'm pretty fierce about my daily word quotas, which are really the only way I can write as much as I do. (I wrote five books last year and will write at least four this year.) I usually write 2,000 words a day--although at a certain point last fall I had to write 3000 a day to hit a particular deadline, and I found that dizzyingly difficult. The internet is my greatest time-waster. I'm starting to use Mac Freedom to turn it off for stretches here and there, because I can't be trusted--and I will often look up to see that hours have passed and there I am reading Jezebel and hitting refresh on Twitter... Not good.

I have written all my books (I'm on number 15!) on the same desk, which I'm a little superstitious about these days. It's currently located in the office I share with my husband, overlooking a pretty sweep of trees and mountains and the Hollywood sign here in Los Angeles. It's filled with books and pictures, and somehow, helps the words come.

What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel published?
Just write. No one can tell your story the way you can, and no one will get to read it until you write it.

Thanks so much Caitlin!

You can buy PURE PRINCESS, BARTERED BRIDE at your favorite bookstore. To buy online, visit amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Cailtin's website at caitlincrews.com.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


My new book deal was just announced in Publishers Marketplace. Here's what it says:

March 8, 2010
Ellen Meister's FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, a humorous and heartfelt novel in which a mousy theater critic accidentally unleashes the ghost of writer Dorothy Parker, whose caustic wit and wisdom helps change her life in all kinds of unexpected ways, to Rachel Kahan at Putnam, by Andrea Cirillo at Jane Rotrosen Agency (NA).

Very happy to see this and I love the logline, which is much better than the one I was tinkering with. Only I do want to correct one thing--I have two agents, so it should really give deal credit to Annelise Robey as well as Andrea Cirillo.

Okay, back to work!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Update 3/5

A few odds and ends for today ...

• Now that I've accepted an offer on FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, I'm hard at work on it. I'm not laying down new chapters yet, but trying to work out the storyline. I had lunch with Susan Henderson this week, and when I told her I planned to structure the book by breaking the story into three acts, she sent me to this blog, from writer Alexandra Sokoloff. Very useful!

• Speaking of Susan Henderson, she not only got a kickass cover for her forthcoming debut novel, UP FROM THE BLUE, but is reeling in some astounding (and well-deserved) blurbs. Check out what Jamie Ford, author of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET had to say:

“Susan Henderson’s UP FROM THE BLUE deftly portrays a family with contradictions we can all relate to—it’s beautiful and maddening, hopeful and condemning, simple, yet like a knot that takes a lifetime to untangle. This is a book that you will love completely, even as it hurts you. It is a heartbreaking, rewarding story that still haunts me. I absolutely loved this book…gushingly, unequivocally, loved it.”

Trust me, this is not empty praise. Sue is really THAT GOOD. No joke.

• Bad news this week? My netbook died. Urlg. Will call Samsung tech support today and PRAY I get someone whose English I can understand.

• I recently complained to a male friend about about how hard I'm working at losing weight. He responded by saying he lost 15 pounds last month by eliminating fast food, as if this advice would help me. As if fast food has ever been part of my diet. As if I might even consider eating at McDonald's. As if the golden arches would tempt me even if I was starving to death after crawling through the desert for 40 days. (Okay, I might pop in for a Diet Coke. But then I'd crawl another 40 days looking for a diner.)

Men. Sheesh.

I go to the gym every day, exist on spinach, air and the occasional orange, and am lucky if I lose one pound a week.

Of course, I blame myself for being in the situation where I actually need to shed pounds. Even after all these decades on the planet I have never learned how to maintain my weight. I am always either gaining or losing.

But of course, I come from a family of weight-obsessed lunatics. My mother has been on a diet since 1965. I don't know what her goal weight is or when she plans to meet it, but the last time she was here we lost her for a whole afternoon when she slipped between the seat cushions on the sofa.

Now we make her wear bells.

• No careers news update on my husband just yet, I'm afraid. Soon, I hope ...

• Also still waiting for a pub date for THE OTHER LIFE.

• Check out this flyer for the BOOK AND AUTHOR TEA on Sunday, April 18 at the Hofstra University Club. To register online, click here. To R.S.V.P. via Facebook, click here.

• Don't forget, the wonderful new NBC show, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? (produced by my cousin, Lisa Kudrow) premieres tonight with Sarah Jessica Parker's episode.

• Have a great weekend. I'm off to the gym ...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ask the Author. 3/3

Here are five tips on writing better dialogue ...

Please send more questions! And guys, where are you? All the questions so far have been from women.

Feel free to post your questions in the comments section below or email them to me at ellen (at) ellenmeister (dot) com.