Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgiving Thank-you!

              There is a LOT to be thankful for this year.  On the serious side, I learned that my husband loves me even without hair, and on the silly side, he learned that pumpkin pie must be refrigerated. Okay, his night hugging the toilet bowl wasn’t silly, but the point is, we both survived. And this year, the pie will be pecan.
               I also learned, when facing mortality, how grateful I am to have a voice in the world through writing. And that can’t happen without you fabulous book lovers. As a thank-you, here is a list of Girlfriends books that will be perfect for someone on your gift list. Or, you can treat yourself without any of those extra holiday calories. Best of all, you can finish your holiday shopping with a few clicks of the buy button.

Everyone She Loved, Sheila Curran - Penelope has convinced her husband to sign an outlandish pact. If she should die before her two daughters are eighteen, her husband will not remarry without the permission of Penelope’s sister and three college roommates…. 
Naked Man on Main Street, Jenny Gardiner
- This collection of essays will make you laugh and bring you to tears. In the tradition of Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck, here is the gift of humor and self recognition in everyday life.
My Jane Austen Summer, Cindy Jones - Lily is caught in a cycle of loss. When the opportunity arises to travel to England to re-enact Mansfield Park, she thinks she may finally realize her dream of living in a novel.  But even in England, where Lily is immersed in a literary festival so rich it seems Jane Austen is present, her problems find her. 
Passing Love, Jacqueline Lucket
- Nicole-Marie has loved all things French since she was a child. After the death of her best friend, she rejects a marriage proposal and escapes to Paris. While there, she find an old photo of her father - lovingly inscribed to a woman she has never heard of….
A Semester Abroad, Ariella Pappa - Gabriella arrives in the beautiful Tuscan city of Siena on a bitter winter day looking for solace. As she travels though the country with a new group of friends, she walks a fine line between freedom and fear. A passionate, sensuous novel about obsession, friendship and what makes a girl a woman.

And for all my Girlfriends, this year I’ll be giving thanks for your support and your friendship, too!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Leslie Lehr’s new novel, What A Mother Knows, is both a mystery and a love story between generations of mothers and daughters. Add it to your gift list or join the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs reading it in December. Available now at bookstores, airports, on the Recommended Read shelf at Target…and here. http://tinyurl.com/l5jrnqr


Monday, November 25, 2013

I Am Thankful for Failure

by Cindy Jones

In two days, seated around a table with my extended family, each of us will take a moment to say what we are thankful for, and I will say what I always say: my family, not because I have no imagination to vary my response from year to year, but because nothing else even comes close.  But, if I were seated at, say, a Thanksgiving Dinner for Writers Only, I might venture into new gratitude territory, like: my agent, my website, and my writing sweater.  Depending on how long I had the floor, I might eventually express thanks for things like the forward delete key, subtext, and yes, failure.  

While failure is probably never accorded appreciation around the Thanksgiving dinner tables of America, I often reflect that failure is the best thing that ever happened to me.  If I had not failed: my first turkey, my first novel, my first marriage, etc., my list of Thanksgiving blessings would be much shorter.  As the saying goes, “If you haven't failed, you’re not trying hard enough.”    

Almost by accident, I stumbled on what is probably common knowledge to most people.  Since I once believed that failure was the end of the road, I spent a lot of time in defeat mode over the years, reflecting long and hard on what got me there. As Thoreau said, "If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment."  Upon reflection, a new way out of my failure would almost always suggest itself.  To my surprise, I learned that failure, while it is an end, is also a beginning.  What's more, failing early saves even bigger problems down the road by creating an opportunity to correct things before it is too late.  As my son would tell me, "you *get* to fail."  

Although failure is insensitive, callous, and mean, takes no prisoners and recognizes no prior relationships, I've grown cautiously fond of failure the way one might be fond of a pet lion.  I've even gone so far as to appropriate its ruthless technique, slashing and burning bridges between my current novel's sixth and seventh drafts.  Because the overarching truth about failure, the certainty that redeems all suffering and repays all perseverance, even if I never exactly achieve success:  whatever I create after failing is always better than what failed. 

Ebook Giveway

In thanksgiving for Girlfriends Book Club and GBC books that address themes of Thanksgiving, family, and perseverance, I will give away one of the following books (in ebook format).  Leave a comment to be included in the drawing.  Winner will be chosen after midnight on Friday.  

Jess Riley
ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE: After her mother's death and a disastrous Thanksgiving, a woman decides to "divorce" her no-good siblings and posts a Craigslist Ad for a new family with whom to share Christmas dinner. It's about family: those we make, and those we make peace with.

Christa Allan

WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS: A woman admits herself to a treatment center after recognizing her addiction to alcohol, but even after a month there, she discovers the road to sobriety is still under construction.

Malena Lott

FAMILY CHARMS:  What if your mother left and you didn't hear from her for 20 years?  Marlo came home from school one day to find her mother gone. Twenty years later, she gets a letter from Elizabeth inviting her three daughters on a trip around the world to see where she’s been the last 20 years – and what kept her away. What follows is an emotional ride for a family torn apart by abandonment, infidelity, cancer and a fear of commitment. Marlo, Taryn and Amelia are three sisters as different as they come, but united in their feelings of betrayal. Is it ever too late to trust in love? Take a journey around the world to learn the meaning of family and forgiveness.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

PURSUING THE TIMES: All that popular Chick-Lit author Mercury Lauren wants is to have one of her books reviewed by the New York Times Book Review - just one - and she'll do almost anything to get it. In this contemporary romantic comedy, with a nod toward Pride and Prejudice she crosses swords and hearts with the Editor-in-Chief of the NYTBR in a madcap adventure that takes her from her home in Westport to a yoga retreat to a golf course in Florida. Will she get what she wants and will she finally be happy if she does? Only one thing's for certain: nothing will stop her from Pursuing the Times.

Cindy Jones is the author of My Jane Austen Summer, the story of a young woman who thinks she may have realized her dream of living in a novel when she is invited to participate in a Jane Austen Literary Festival.  Her problems follow her to England where she must change her ways or face the fate of so many of Jane Austen’s secondary characters, destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Gifting with Gratitude by Christa Allan

I’m so grateful to take a break from my post-retirement from teaching, newly assigned position as the unpaid receptionist at my husband’s veterinary clinic where my duties consist of saying, “Hello, how are you? Hold on…” and taking detailed chart notes to feed my longing for my non-existent writing time.

Since my reading as of late consists of deciphering scribbles to write prescription labels, I’m quite excited about the new cycle in GBC blog-land, which is talking about books. And how cool is it that it coincides with the holidays, as in hint-hint-hint…gift-giving.

So, now the happy chance to suggest some titles from out GBC list:

THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR (coming December 31) by Barbara Claypole White What could we worse than losing your child? Having to pretend he's still alive…

SCOT ON THE ROCKS by Brenda Janowitz (chick lit/ women's fiction)
It's the story of a woman who goes to her ex-boyfriend's wedding.  Hilarity ensues.  

THE OTHER WOMAN  by Hank Phillippi Ryan  Winner of the Mary Higgins Clark award, nominated for Agatha, Anthony, Daphne, Shamus and Macavity awards.  It’s The Good Wife meets Law and Order! A Boston reporter on the trail of an ex-governors secret mistress—and a detective on the trail of a possible serial killer. 
FATHER FOUND by Judith Arnold   Jamie McCoy's syndicated column, "Guy Stuff," keeps thousands of men in a macho frame of mind. But the day Jamie finds Samantha on his doorstep, his life changes drastically. Samantha is a baby. Jamie knows nothing about babies. He phones Allison Winslow, a nurse who runs the Daddy School, for advice. But when he actually meets Allison, he finds he wants much more than her assistance. Winner of the RT Magazine Reviewers Choice Award for Best Superromance of the Year.

PERFECT TIMING by Laura Spinella   There’s rock, there’s a hard place, then there’s Aidan & Isabel.   What’s a Jersey Girl to do when she moves to Catswallow, Alabama ? Isabel Lang finds the answer in friendship, an unlikely bond with the musically gifted Aidan Roycroft. The two share everything from a first kiss to startling family secrets. But when Aidan is accused of a violent crime, they flee to Las Vegas where Isabel’s future comes tumbling down.  
 LITTLE WOMEN AND ME by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (for teens) Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the 1860s world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy.
WHAT A MOTHER KNOWS by Leslie Lehr When a woman recovers from a deadly car crash and is accused of murder, she learns that her 16 year-old-daughter, the only one who might know the truth of what happened that day, is missing.

PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND THE PERFECT MATCH by Marilyn Brant  A single mother and an ER doctor meet on an Internet dating site—each for reasons that have little to do with finding their perfect match—in this modern, Austen-inspired story. It’s a tribute to the power of both “pride” and “prejudice” in bringing two people romantically together, despite their mutual insistence that they should stay apart…

HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB by Maggie Marr  Four friends; A-List actress Cici Solange, Producer Lydia Albright, Agent Jessica Caulfield, and Screenplay Writer Mary Anne Meyers try to get their film made in the treacherous cut-throat town that is Hollywood.  

A Happy Thanksgiving to all the GBCers and our readers everywhere!

Christa Allan's newest novel, A Test of Faith, will release in March of 2014. You can track her down at Facebook, and Twitter while she awaits the re-invention of her website. You can find her other novels here. She and her husband are looking forward to Thanksgiving surrounded by family, laughter, and--of course--football.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Writer’s Early Thanksgiving Thankfulness by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Why am I craving a juicy turkey wing right about now? I guess it’s because Thanksgiving should be tomorrow. But it’s late this year, landing on November 28 (just in case you need a reminder to get your stuffing in order). Yet that doesn’t mean I can’t be thinking about the little things I’m thankful for in my writer’s life.

Word Games – I don’t know about you, but my writing seems to improve when I’ve spent time playing word games like Scrabble and Jumble. And I seem to unscramble Jumbles quicker and attain higher Scrabble scores if I’ve been especially busy writing. These are robust workouts for my brain and exercise that I actually enjoy doing.

Social Networks – Writing is a solitary profession, but there’s no excuse these days not to connect with other writers via Facebook or Twitter or whatever. And, if you keep your addiction under control, you can limit these interactions to times when they’re most convenient. These replace the old workplace water cooler, but it’s much easier to use them on your own terms and participate just when you feel the need to.

Google – I don’t know what writers did before Google—I guess they spent long hours at the library (and that can still come in handy at times, of course). But how great that with a few keystrokes I can check meanings and synonyms of words on the fly, specific spellings (was Lassie’s best friend Timmie or Timmy?) and trivia (what span of years was The Donny and Marie Show on?) that can add tasty (and accurate) little details to my novel.

YouTube – I’ve never been one of those writers who thinks it imperative that you must visit every setting that you depict in your novels. But with the plethora of YouTube videos that can take you around the world in eighty seconds, there’s no excuse for not “visiting” your main character’s hometown or university or favorite hangout.

My New Ergo Stool – For years I’ve been using a series of traditional chairs at my writing desk but am now in love with my new Ergo Stool. I automatically sit up straight and have cured myself of the bad habit of tucking my right foot under my left thigh. And, not to mention, I can move around and actually get a little exercise while keeping my BIC (Butt-in-Chair or, uh, stool).

Girlfriends Book Club – What a lovely bunch of writers and bloggers we have at the GBC! And they have some great books that would make lovely gifts for the holidays. Check them out HERE.

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving!

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is the author of the novels, "Midori by Moonlight" and "Love in Translation" (both published by St. Martin's Press), and the e-book novels, "Falling Uphill" and "His Wife and Daughters," and e-book short story, “The Girl in the Tapestry.” She's also the author of the nonfiction e-book, "Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband."  Wendy holds an MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco and teaches for Stanford University's Online Writer's Studio Novel Writing Certificate Program. She also does private manuscript consulting for novels and memoirs. Follow her on Twitter at @Wendy_Tokunaga, friend her on Facebook and visit her website at: www.WendyTokunaga.com

Yee Haw! The Story Behind MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HITMEN: And Other Bombay Bedtime Stories!

Coming December 1!

    I've got another collection of short stories - MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HITMEN - about the Bombay Family of Assassins coming out December 1 through Gemma Halliday Publishing! I'm really excited! My first collection of short stories - or Bombay Family Bedtime Stories - SNUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON, came out in July. It was an experiment that I think went well.
    I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction I got when SNUFF was released. I'd written 5 Bombay books before this and my fans were calling for more. But they'd also asked about the history of the Bombay Family.
    For those who aren't familiar - the Bombay Family is a family of assassins who've been in the biz since 2000 BC. In the novels, I'd hinted or alluded to various famous assassinations throughout history. Turns out, people reading the books decided they wanted to know more.
    I'm a history nut. I LIVE for those documentaries on Nat Geo, the History Channel and I subscribe to Mental Floss and Smithsonian magazines. So I thought this would be fun! I could mess around with history and showcase the Bombays to boot.
    I decided these had to be short stories because that way I could write more of them. Well, that and I'm not a historical writer - I didn't think I could write a complete novel based on one historical time period. 
    That's right...I'm lazy. And I'm probably not that smart either.
    It turned out to work very well. In SNUFF - I wrote 6 stories - all of them in first person, by various Bombays. And 4 of them were based on real historical events from Rasputin to Elizabeth of Bathory.  Each story in SNUFF turned out to be about 19 pages long. 
    The fans really loved it. So, I thought, I could write another one!  And MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HITMEN was created.
    But while both books were the exact same length - I noticed some interesting differences between the two. HITMEN had only 4 stories - but these stories averaged 33 pages in length. The stories were getting longer. I have no idea why. It surprised me that I felt the stories needed to be longer. When I went back over them, I realized they needed to be that length. 
    Also, instead of the majority being based on real incidents, only 1 was this time - the story of Sigurd the Mighty. The rest of the stories are fiction (wink).
    I didn't enjoy writing either book more or less than the other one. My writing process for both were the same. So why were they different?
    I'm still not sure about that. Maybe the Bombays were telling me something. Maybe I was missing writing full-length fiction about the Bombays. Maybe I'm just crazy. Yeah, it's probably that one. 
    Whatever the reason - I will write more Bombay Bedtime Stories in the future. But I think first, I'll tackle another full-length novel on the family. I don't think they're done telling their contemporary story yet. 
    Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy my story collections - should you choose to read them. I had a great time writing them. And maybe, just maybe, readers will understand a little more what it's like growing up a Bombay. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Celebrity Sighting

by Sara Rosett

You might not think it from the title, but in my new book, Milkshakes, Mermaids, and Murder, Ellie crosses paths with a celebrity paparazzi photographer. The photographer was a hoot to write, using disguises, climbing trees, and bribing hotel doormen to get the scoop on her celebrity quarry.

Personally, I’ve only had two up-close celebrity sightings. I saw Al Franken in the security line at Reagan National. He looked just as harried as everyone as he tried to get everything ready to go through the scanner. That sighting was just a quick glimpse.

I was on another flight last year when I noticed a lot of activity near the back aisle of first class. I wasn’t in first class (would have been nice!) but I was seated on the first row of coach, so I had a good view of people coming and going. In particular, several flight attendants were very concerned that the passenger in the last row of first class be comfortable.

It took me awhile to figure it out, but when a young girl brought a phone, a piece of paper, and a pen with her and shyly approached the row, I realized there was a “star” in first class. The girl asked if she could take a picture. She took it and then the star autographed the paper. The girl shyly congratulated the star on her recent grand slam wins, and I finally realized it was Serena Williams.

I did a lot of research about paparazzi as well as celebrities and their entourages while I wrote Milkshakes. Some celebrities employ countless aides and experts: personal assistants, secretaries, hair and beauty professionals, nannies (for kids and pets), exercise trainers, diet and nutrition experts, and various consultants, like Anastasia Soare, who Oprah called the “eyebrow guru” because celebrity brows are her business. Some celebs don’t have time to do their own social media and hire people to update their accounts. My favorite job title was celebrity ghost tweeter. Nothing is too trivial to be outsourced, apparently:  Ashton Kutchner hired someone to run his fantasy football team. As I did the celebrity/paparazzi research, I concluded most stars don’t live normal lives, despite the magazine spreads that claim celebrities do normal things like pump their own gasoline and take their kids to the park.

After watching the interaction on the plane I was more convinced than ever that being a star results in an odd life. It was interesting to watch the fawning interaction around the tennis star, how the crew gave her special attention (which she really didn’t seem to want), and how the other passengers either covertly watched her or openly snapped her photo.

In the abstract, being a star sounds great, but watching the reality of it firsthand made me glad that after a long day of travel I could grab my bag and go home. No one cared or even noticed, which was really nice.

Have you had a celebrity sighting?


A native Texan, Sara is the author of the Ellie Avery mystery series and the On The Run suspense series. Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books, "satisfying," "well-executed," and "sparkling."
As a military spouse, Sara has moved around the country (frequently!) and traveled internationally, which inspired her latest suspense novels.

Sara loves all things bookish, considers dark chocolate a daily requirement, and is on a quest for the best bruschetta. Connect with Sara at www.SaraRosett.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Goodreads.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Give books!

Can you believe it?  It's almost holiday time!  The malls are starting to play Christmas music, and I've already started buying Hanukkah gifts for my kids.

Every year I puzzle over what to get friends and family.  I love to get people things that they wouldn't normally get themselves, things they would really love.  So, what better thing to give than books?  I love to read, love books, and every time I gift someone with a book, it's always a hit.

We've got a fantastic group of writers here on the Girlfriends Book Club blog, so here are a few of my favorites:

I loved Laura Spinella's PERFECT TIMING.  I even reviewed it over on Brenda's Book Briefs, my monthly column for LI Woman Magazine.  It's the story of Isabel Lang, a woman trying to hide from her past at the local radio station where she works, and Aiden Royce, the one who got away, who's now the world's largest rock star.  

Fans of romance will gobble this one up in one sitting.

I love everything Ellen Meister writes, but I think I have a new favorite in FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER.  It's the story of timid movie reviewer Violet Epps, who gets an otherworldly visit from her idol, the great wit Dorothy Parker.  With Mrs. Parker in her life, Violet soon has the courage to speak up and get what she wants, and she even rubs off a bit on her sprit friend.  Booklist called it "magical fun" and I can't help but agree.

Fans of women's fiction and humor will love this book.

I can't believe it took me so long to read something by Jess Riley.  I had a copy of her debut novel, DRIVING SIDEWAYS, on my TBR pile for ages.  I started with her short story, CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR, and I read it in one sitting.  The story of two people destined to meet-- the characters were real, and smart, and funny.  It didn't take me long to then tear through the entire Jess Riley oeuvre.

Fans of quirky, smart stories will absolutely fall in love with Jess Riley's writing.  All of it!

But really, all of our girlfriends are truly amazing.  I love reading the work of my fellow girlfriends-- it's such an honor to be with such a talented group.  Also loaded up on my Kindle and reading for reading:

SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER by Jackie Luckett (for fans of Terry McMillan), A SEMESTER ABROAD by Ariella Papa (for those of us who traveled abroad in college-- or just wish we had), and LITTLE WOMEN AND ME by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (for fans of the classics).

So, what are you waiting for?  Start buying!!

I’m the author of SCOT ON THE ROCKS and JACK WITH A TWIST. My third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, was published by St. Martin's on July 2, 2013. My fourth novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, will be published by Polis Books in January 2013.

My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find me at brendajanowitz.com or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.