Women’s Fiction

Best Friends Forever, Jennifer Weiner

Best Friends Forever

Excerpt from Jennifer Weiner’s BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, Chapter 2 (from Simon and Schuster website)

Looking back, the knock on the door should have scared me. It should at least have come as a surprise. My house — the same one I grew up in — is set at the farthest curve of a culde- sac in Pleasant Ridge, Illinois, a Chicago suburb of fourteen thousand souls with quiet streets, neatly kept lawns, and well-regarded public schools. There are rarely pedestrians or passersby on Crescent Drive. Most weeks, the only signs of life after ten p.m. are the flash of headlights on my bedroom wall on the nights that my next-door neighbor Mrs. Bass has her Shakespeare Society meeting. I live alone, and I’m generally asleep by ten-thirty. But even so. When I heard the knock, my heartbeat didn’t quicken; my palms did not sweat. At some level underneath conscious thought, a place down in my cells where, the scientists tell us, memories reside, I’d been waiting years for that knock, waiting for the feel of my feet moving across the floor and my hand on the cool brass knob.

I pulled open the door and felt my eyes get big and my breath catch in my chest. There was my old best friend, Valerie Adler, whom I hadn’t spoken to since I was seventeen and hadn’t seen in person since high school ended, standing underneath the porch light; Valerie with her heart-shaped face and Cupid’s-bow lips and lashes heavy and dark as moth’s wings. She stood with her hands clasped at her waist, as if in prayer. There was something dark staining the sleeve of her belted trench coat.

For a minute, we stood in the cold, in the cone of light, staring at each other, and the thought that rose to my mind had the warmth of sunshine and the sweet density of honey. My friend, I thought as I looked at Val. My friend has come back to me.

EASY ON THE EYES, Jane Porter

Listen NowTo enter to win a FREE copy of EASY ON THE EYES:

EASY

Easy on the Eyes (from Jane’s Website)
At 38, Tiana Tomlinson has made it. America adores her as one of the anchors of America Tonight, a top-rated nightly entertainment and news program. But even with the trappings that come with her elite lifestyle, she feels empty. Tiana desperately misses her late husband Keith, who died several years before. And in a business that thrives on youth, Tiana is getting the message that her age is starting to show and certain measures must be taken if she wants to remain in the spotlight. It doesn’t help that at every turn she has to deal with her adversary—the devilishly handsome, plastic surgeon to the stars, Michael O’Sullivan. But a trip away from the Hollywood madness has consequences that could affect the rest of her life.

About Jane (from Jane’s Website)
Born in Visalia, California, I’m a small town girl at heart. I love central California’s golden foothills, oak trees, and the miles of farmland. In my mind, there’s nothing sweeter in the world than the heady fragrance of orange blossoms on a sultry summer night. As a little girl I spent hours on my bed, staring out the window, dreaming of far off places, fearless knights, and happy-ever-after endings. In my imagination I was never the geeky bookworm with the thick coke-bottle glasses, but a princess, a magical fairy, a Joan-of-Arc crusader. My parents fed my imagination by taking our family to Europe for a year when I was thirteen. The year away changed me (I wasn’t a geek for once!) and overseas I discovered a huge and wonderful world with different cultures and customs. I loved everything about Europe, but felt especially passionate about Italy and those gorgeous Italian men (no wonder my very first Presents hero was Italian). I confess, after that incredible year in Europe, the travel bug bit, and bit hard. I spent much of my high school and college years abroad, studying in South Africa, Japan and Ireland. South Africa remains a country of my heart, the people, the land and politics complex and heart-wrenching. After my years of traveling and studying I had to settle down and earn a living. With my Bachelors degree from UCLA in American Studies, a program that combines American literature and American history, I’ve worked in sales and marketing, as well as a director of a non-profit foundation. Later I earned my Masters in Writing from the University of San Francisco and taught jr. high and high school English. I now live in rugged Seattle, Washington with my two young sons. I never mind a rainy day, either, because that’s when I sit at my desk and write stories about far-away places, fascinating people, and most importantly of all, love. I like a story with a happy ending. We all do.

Book-Giveaway Contest Winners (June 30th Quick Picks)

Postpartum Depression DummiesMacMillan Contest 2AdversityPregnant on prozac

I know I usually list winners in the e-newsletter, but I won’t be putting out another one for a few weeks and I don’t want to make you wait for a good summer read.

  • The Adversity Paradox: Sharon Walling
  • Postpartum Depression for Dummies OR Pregnant on Prozac: Kristin
  • MacMillan Audio Books (Hope in a Jar, Come Sunday, Something Borrowed): Janet Faye, Mary Kay, and Rashmi (A Mommy Reviewer)

CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS ~ Email me your mailing address immediately and I’ll make sure you get your books.

Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Handle

Synopsis of CHANGE OF HEART from Jodi’s website:
When Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe’s daughter, Willow, is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, they are devastated – she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain. As the family struggles to make ends meet to cover Willow’s medical expenses, Charlotte thinks she has found an answer. If she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob/gyn for not telling her in advance that her child would be born severely disabled, the monetary payouts might ensure a lifetime of care for Willow. But it means that Charlotte has to get up in a court of law and say in public that she would have terminated the pregnancy if she’d known about the disability in advance – words that her husband can’t abide, that Willow will hear, and that Charlotte cannot reconcile. And the ob/gyn she’s suing isn’t just her physician – it’s her best friend.

HANDLE WITH CARE explores the knotty tangle of medical ethics and personal morality. When faced with the reality of a fetus who will be disabled, at which point should an OB counsel termination? Should a parent have the right to make that choice? How disabled is TOO disabled? And as a parent, how far would you go to take care of someone you love? Would you alienate the rest of your family? Would you be willing to lie to your friends, to your spouse, to a court? And perhaps most difficult of all – would you admit to yourself that you might not actually be lying?

Part of a Conversation with Jodi Picoult from Jodi’s website:

The characters in your books are always layered and complex, as are the issues that plague them. How do you create a character like Charlotte that readers can love and hate at the same time?
Well, for me, it’s a lot harder to create a flat character who’s either all villain or all hero. Most of us are a combination, aren’t we? Charlotte’s the best kind of character – one who is doing something that looks unpalatable, but for all the right reasons. In this way she reminds me a bit of Nina Frost from PERFECT MATCH. You want to hate her – but can you really say that if it were you, you wouldn’t at least think about doing the same thing she does? Charlotte’s tragic flaw, in my opinion, is that she is so single-minded in her pursuit of making Willow’s life easier that she neglects the rest of her support system – her friends, and her family.

How did you choose the recipes that appear throughout the book? Do you believe in the significance they hold for Charlotte? Are you a baker yourself?Jodi
Before I got married, I was lucky enough to have a roommate who became one of my best friends. Now, Katie works at the Smithsonian organizing special events – but prior to that, she went to culinary school. When I knew that I wanted Charlotte to be a baker, I turned to her and asked for help. Charlotte, as a baker, would believe that the sum of the ingredients is so much more than its parts – this is true for her when it comes to Willow, too, who is so much more than a litany of moments where she broke a bone or had a surgery or was sidelined to recuperate. I do bake (too much, if you ask my husband, who is constantly cursing me for a pan of brownies cooling on the stove that he is compelled to eat) – and often I have been struck by the metaphorical language of baking. I wanted Charlotte’s cookbook to be a collection of these terms, with accompanying recipes. So one day I emailed Katie a list – words like weeping, hardball, blind baking – and asked her to create recipes that might involve each term. I have to admit, that rarely is my fact checking process so delicious…I got to bake, and road test, every recipe in the book.

During the course of the trial, Amelia develops an eating disorder and starts cutting herself. Did you see this as the natural progression for her character? Were these types of behavior in siblings of disabled children something you found to be common while conducting your research?
While doing research with a child psychiatrist about adolescent bulimics I learned that cutting is very common for those girls. Apparently, bulimia involves a lot of self-hatred…and cutting figures into that. Siblings of disabled children aren’t always like Amelia, thank goodness – I’d hope that their families do a better job of including them than the O’Keefes do. For Amelia, having a sibling with a disability is compounded by the fact that she feels she’s failed her sister (in Disneyworld, for example) and that there are very high stakes in that household for being a child who isn’t perfect (which would be Amelia’s interpretation of her mother’s lawsuit).

You’ve said before that you know how a book will end before you write the first word. Was this also true for Handle with Care? Do you ever change your mind about an ending as you get deeper into the story?
I do know the ending before I write a single word, and I did here too. I will tell you that I think Handle With Care is the saddest book I’ve written – and coming from me, that’s pretty dire! I never wavered on the ending, however, because there’s a bit of a morality lesson in there as well – it’s a real “Be careful what you wish for” moment.

  • For More Click HERE to visit Jodi’s website

To Enter to Win a Free copy of HANDLE WITH CARE:

  • Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter (how winners announced)
  • Leave a Comment Below: Share something about why you love Jodi Picoult’s books, what about this post piqued your interest in HANDLE WITH CARE, or something about yourself that relates to the subject of HANDLE WITH CARE.
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  • U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
  • Deadline: July 15th, 2009 ~ Midnight, EDT

MY SISTER’S KEEPER movie trailer:

LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL, Emily St. John Mandel

LastNightinMontrealFINALCOVER

LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL
…as described on Unbridled Books Website:

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she’s safe. Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world—charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding—where small revelations continuously change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel’s characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.

 

Carrie’s Chat with Emily:
Carrie:  Emily, who is your biggest fan?
Emily:
  Probably my mother, on principle. Emilymandel1

Carrie:  This is your debut novel ~ What inspired you to write LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL?
Emily:
  I’ve always had a habit of taking notes with ideas for stories, and there was a particular sentence I wrote at least a decade ago: Mirage: you used to see water in the desert.  I don’t remember what I was thinking when I wrote it, but the line suggested traveling in the desert by car (the way illusory pools of water form on the highway up ahead), which begged the question of why the travelers had set out in the first place, and the story began from there.  Other elements — tight rope walking, private detectives, dead languages, traveling circuses — came together gradually as I was writing the book.

Carrie:  Give us an idea what LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is about without giving too much away.
Emily:
  The story centers around a young woman named Lilia Albert. Abducted as a small child by her non-custodial parent, Lilia spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly.  In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop; haunted by an inability to remember the circumstances surrounding her abduction, she travels compulsively from city to city, leaving people behind. The story follows four people — her boyfriend, Eli, who follows her when she leaves him; Christopher, the private detective who remains obsessed with her case; Michaela, the detective’s daughter, who has the answers that Lilia longs for; and Lilia herself — and the question of why she was abducted in the first place is the mystery that drives the narrative.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL?
Emily:
  There are a number of themes in this novel — amnesia, the fragility of family, dead languages, love — but I think that if you were to distill all of those things to their essence, it all comes down to an underlying theme of loss.

Carrie:  What is your favorite scene in the LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL and why?
Emily:
  I think my favorite scene in the book is the ending. Without giving away what happens, I feel that the story couldn’t have ended in any other way.

Carrie:  What was the most difficult scene to write in LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL? Why?
Emily:
  I can’t say any of them were particularly easy, but I think the most difficult scene to write was the opening, when Lilia wakes up in her boyfriend Eli’s apartment and leaves him without warning.  It took a lot of revisions and rewrites to establish the tone of the novel, introduce the characters, and set up Eli’s sadness without slipping too far into melodrama.

Carrie:  Which character do you identify with the most in LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in the book? If so, while you were writing or only afterwards upon review?
Emily:
  I think that writers inevitably leave traces of themselves in the characters they invent and I’m sure there are elements of my personality in several of the characters in this book.  The book is emphatically not autobiographical, and I tried to keep myself out of it as much as possible, but the character I identify with the most is Eli.  Eli and I aren’t very much alike, but he’s possibly the most sympathetic one of the lot.  He’s trying to do the right thing under difficult circumstances.

Carrie:  What are you reading right now?
Emily:
  In all honesty, nothing — I just finished a great novel called THE BOOK OF NEGROES, by Lawrence Hill (I read the Canadian edition, but I believe it’s being published in the United States as SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME), and at the moment I’m feverishly revising my second novel instead of starting a new book.

Carrie:  Who are your favorite authors and who influenced your writing?
Emily:
  Vladimir Nabokov, Milan Kundera, Norman Mailer, Julio Cortazar, Michael Ondaatje, J.D. Salinger, and Saul Bellow are among my favourite writers, and I think they’ve had some influence on my work.

Carrie:  Can you offer a glimpse into your “real life” and share with us a bit of your personal life—Outside of writing, what’s important to you?
Emily:
  Real life ~ I live with my husband and two cats in Brooklyn, and I work part-time as an administrator at a university in Manhattan.  The cats were rescued as kittens and they each have one eye; Ralph has a right eye, and Louie has a left.  As for hobbies, I like to take photographs, play the piano, and go for long walks through Brooklyn.

Carrie:  Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.
Emily:
  A lot of people know that I don’t have a college degree, but far fewer are aware that I don’t have a high school diploma either.

Carrie:  What has been one of your biggest struggles and/or successes (professional/personal) and what have you learned from it?
Emily:
  I think of the sale of my first novel as my greatest professional success.  The experience of working with my editor has had an enormous impact on my work. I’ve learned a lot about attention to detail.

Carrie:  Have you ever had a nickname? If so, please tell us about it.
Emily:
  I have a nickname, but it’s a secret.

Carrie:  What was the best advice you’ve ever received—do you follow it?
Emily:
  “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  I fail occasionally, but I try to follow it.

Carrie:  What is your favorite literary turn-of-phrase?
Emily:
  There’s a quote from ALICE IN WONDERLAND that I write on the first page of all my notebooks, in an effort to discourage snooping: “‘If everyone minded their own business,’ said the Duchess in a hoarse growl, ‘the world would go round a deal faster than it does.'”

Carrie:  What did you learn about yourself while writing LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL that you may not have expected?
Emily:
  I hope this doesn’t sound obvious or as if I’m glibly dodging the question, but I learned that I can write a book–which was by no means clear to me when I first started writing it. 

Carrie:  What’s next for you?
Emily:
  I’m delighted to report that I’ve just sold my second novel to Unbridled Books for publication in Spring 2010.  The title is THE SINGER’S GUN.  I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Unbridled on another project.

An excerpt of LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL’s Chapter One:
He told himself to stay calm, and realized in the telling that he’d been waiting for this moment. He told himself that she’d just been distracted by a bookstore. It was entirely possible. Alternatively, she liked trains: at this moment she could be halfway back from Coney Island, taking pictures of passengers, unaware of what time it was. With this in mind, he returned reluctantly to the chase; a particular sentence had gotten all coiled up on him, and he spent an uneasy half hour trying to untangle the wiring and making a valiant effort not to dwell on her increasingly gaping absence, while several academic points he was trying to clarify got bored and wandered off into the middle distance. It took some time to coax them back into focus, once the sentence had been mangled beyond all recognition and the final destination of the paragraph worked out. But by the time the paragraph arrived at the station it was five o’clock, she’d left to get the paper before noon, and it seemed unreasonable by this point to think that something wasn’t horribly wrong. He stood up then, conceding defeat, and began to check the apartment. In the washroom nothing was different: her comb was where it had always lived, on the haphazard shelf between the toilet and the sink. Her toothbrush was where she’d left it, beside a silver pair of tweezers on the windowsill. The living area was unchanged. Her towel was lying damply on the bedroom floor. She’d taken her purse, as she always did. But then he glanced at the wall in the bedroom, and his life broke neatly into two parts.

She had a photograph from her childhood, the only photograph of herself that she seemed to own. It was a Polaroid, faded to a milky pallor with sunlight and time: a small girl sits on a stool at a diner counter. A bottle of ketchup is partially obscured by her arm. The waitress, who has a mass of blond curls and pouty lips, leans in close across the countertop. The photographer is the girl’s father; they’ve stopped at a restaurant somewhere in the middle of the continent, having been traveling for some time. A slight sheen to the waitress’s face hints at the immense heat of the afternoon. Lilia said she couldn’t remember which state they were in, but she did remember that it was her twelfth birthday. The picture had been above his bed since the night she’d moved in with him, her one mark on the apartment, thumbtacked above the headboard. But when he looked up that afternoon it had been removed, the thumbtack neatly reinserted into the wall.

Eli knelt down on the floor, but it was a moment or two before he could bring himself to lift an edge of the duvet. Her suitcase was gone from under the bed. Later he was out on the street, walking quickly, but he couldn’t remember how he’d ended up there or how much time had passed since he’d left the apartment. His keys were in his pocket, and he clutched them painfully in the palm of his hand. He was breathing too quickly. He was walking fast through Brooklyn, far too late, circling desperately through the neighborhood in wider and wider spirals, every bookstore, every café, every bodega that he thought might conceivably attract her. The traffic was too loud. The sun was too bright. The streets were haunted with a terrible conspiracy of normalcy, bookstores and cafés and bodegas and clothing stores all carrying on the charade of normal existence, as if a girl hadn’t just walked off the stage and plummeted into the chasm of the orchestra pit.

Click HERE for more of Chapter One, Emily St. John Mandel’s Bio, and MORE!

To enter to win a free copy of BOOK TITLE:

  • Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter (how winners announced)
  • Leave a Comment Below Sharing something more than “Yes, enter me for the book” 🙂 What piqued your interest about this book? Do you share some of Emily’s favorite authors or who are yours? Can you share something on the topic of Loss?
  • Call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice mail message I can play on-air
  • U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
    Deadline: July 15th, 2009 ~ MIDNIGHT, EDT

Hope In A Jar, Something Borrowed, Come Sunday (Beth Harbison, Emily Giffin, Isla Morley) THREE WINNERS THREE BOOKS EACH

MacMillan Contest 2

Hope in a Jar, Beth Harbison: Twenty years ago, Allie Denty wasthe pretty one and her best friend Olivia Pelham was the smart one. Throughout high school, they were inseparable…until a vicious rumor about Olivia— a rumor too close to the truth—ended their friendship. Now, on the eve of their twentieth high school reunion, Allie, a temp worker, finds herself suddenly single, a little chubby, and feeling old. Olivia, a cool and successful magazine beauty editor in New York, realizes she’s lonely, and is finally ready to face her demons. Sometimes hope lives in the future; sometimes it comes from the past; and sometimes, when every stupid thing goes wrong, it comes from a prettily packaged jar filled with scented cream and promises. Beth Harbison has done it again. A hilarious and touching novel about friendship, Love’s Baby Soft perfume, Watermelon Lip Smackers, bad run-ins with Sun-In, and the healing power of “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.” Hope in a Jar: we all need it.

Something Borrowed, Emily Giffin: Rachel has always been a good girl–until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend Darcy throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy’s fiancé Dex. Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for Dex. She prays for fate to intervene, but when she makes a choice she discovers that the lines between right and wrong are blurry, endings aren’t always neat, and you have to risk all to win true happiness.

Come Sunday, Isla Morley: A wonderful new storyteller unleashes a soaring debut that sweeps from the hills of Hawaii to the veldt of South Africa. Come Sunday is that joyous, special thing: a saga that captivates from the very first page, breaking our hearts while making our spirits soar. Abbe Deighton is a woman who has lost her bearings. Once a child of the African plains, she is now settled in Hawaii, married to a minister, and waging her battles in a hallway of monotony. There is the leaky roof, the chafing expectations of her husband’s congregation, and the constant demands of motherhood. But in an instant, beginning with the skid of tires, Abbe’s battlefield is transformed when her three-year-old daughter is killed, triggering in Abbe a seismic grief that will cut a swath through the landscape of her life and her identity.
What an enthralling debut this is! What a storyteller we have here! As Isla Morley’s novel sweeps from the hills of Honolulu to the veldt of South Africa, we catch a hint of the spirit of Barbara Kingsolver and the mesmerizing truth of Jodi Picoult. We are reminded of how it felt, a while ago, to dive into the drama of The Thorn Birds. Come Sunday is a novel about searching for a true homeland, family bonds torn asunder, and the unearthing of decades-old secrets. It is a novel to celebrate, and Isla Morley is a writer to love.

THREE WINNERS THREE BOOKS EACH!!

To Enter:

  • Leave a Comment Below Sharing Something About YOUR Story—Something not many people know about YOU
  • Call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice mail message I can play on-air
  • Make Sure You’re Subscribed to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter (how winners announced)
  • U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
  • Deadline: June 30th, 2009 ~ Midnight, EST

The Adversity Paradox, J. Barry Griswell and Bob Jennings

Adversity

“Fascinating insights into the ways that successful people have not only overcome adversity but made a friend and ally out of it. This book offers readers a great opportunity to consider how they will emerge from the major challenges we face individually and as a society. Griswell and Jennings have a deep understanding of the experiences of success arising from adversity, and their observations are unique and encouraging to us all.” David J. Skorton, President, Cornell University

“As Griswell and Jennings point out, there really is no substitute for hard work.  We have to build endurance of character the same way we build endurance of speed or strength, and it always pays off.” Wayne Gretzky, NHL Hall of Fame Player, Businessman, and Coach

Carrie: How did you become interested in writing a book on dealing with adversity?

Bob: A little context is in order to give you the full answer.  Barry and I come from extremely different backgrounds. Barry is from Atlanta and I am from Des Moines. He comes from a really tough background where money was extremely tight; I’m from a middle-class family.  He received his undergrad from Berry College in Rome, GA and his master’s from Stetson University in Florida. I have an engineering degree from Iowa State and received my master’s from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Out of college he went into financial services, I went into construction sales.

Over a number of years we each moved our families numerous times, Barry in the south and eastern US and me to South America, Texas, and the West Coast. We first crossed paths about 18 years ago when we relocated to Des Moines while pursuing our careers.  We, along with our spouses, became close friends socially and playing competitive tennis together, but there was no real business connection other than we were each leading and growing sales organizations for world-class companies—Barry for  Principal Financial Group and me for EFCO, companies we both would eventually lead. From time to time we would compare notes, things like compensation and benefits, employee training, and sales methods.

Given that we were each growing sales organizations there became one area that was extremely important to us and that was employee and agent recruitment, selection and retention. We talked about this on a number of occasions, and we noticed an interesting thing: if there was one marker that we felt would predict a person’s ability to be successful in our organizations, it was a demonstrated ability to overcome adversity.  Our own backgrounds and career experiences, different as they were, supported our observation. Even though Barry and I would not compare notes again on this subject for more than ten years, we each employed it in our respective company’s methods for locating and bringing along those with this all-important identification marker.

Now fast forward to the year 2003, when my co-author was inducted into the Horatio Alger Association, which recognizes and honors people who’ve come from humble beginnings and gone on to great success. The Association inducts ten new members a year and includes the likes of Buzz Aldrin, Craig Barrett of Intel, George Foreman, Bob Hope, Wayne Huizenga, Colin Powell, President Ronald Reagan, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, and Oprah Winfrey. The marker of overcoming adversity was once again in front of us, and we heard some very incredible stories.

Now, having so much affirmation of what we had thought and felt for many years, we decided to research and document in a book how the experiential learning gained from overcoming life’s worst experiences could catapult an individual to incredible success.

Postpartum Depression for Dummies & Pregnant on Prozac, by Dr. Shoshanna Bennett, Ph.D.

Listen NowPostpartum Depression DummiesPregnant on prozac

I interviewed Dr. Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D. longer ago than I’d like to admit. To be honest, I ran into some editing issues with the sound quality and some phone interference, so I put it on the back burner. After revisiting the interview and all the excellent info Dr. Shosh offers, I inquired some moms on their interest in the content. Many moms were interested in hearing about Postpartum Depression and the treatment. Though it’s still not perfect, I re-edited the file and finally posted it. It was a bit of a pain, but I really think the information Dr. Shosh offers is priceless. I realize it won’t be of interest to every Words To Mouth listener, but let’s face it, we’re all either parents at some time in our lives or know someone who is, so if you don’t listen, just be mindful of people around you who may find this interview useful. Be aware the sound levels were  a bit off, so you will hear some white noise and possibly a few phone key blurts–Hey, I tried.

Description on Postpartum for Dummies from Dummies Website:
It’s a great blessing when a new mom with postpartum depression (PPD) is fortunate enough to be diagnosed early by a knowledgeable medical practitioner or therapist. But without guidance, it isn’t always clear where the boundary between normal baby blues and PPD lies. As with any other illness, the quicker that PPD is identified and treated, the faster the woman will recover. Postpartum Depression For Dummies can help you begin the process of determining what’s going on with you and give you a better idea of where you fall so that you can get yourself into proper treatment right away. The book covers all aspects of PPD, from its history and its origins to its effects on women and their families to the wide variety of treatments available—including conventional Western medicine, psychological therapy, alternative medical treatments, and self-care measures.

Postpartum Depression For Dummies reveals:

  • Why some doctors may be hush-hush about PPD
  • How to distinguish between pregnancy hormone changes, “baby blues,” and PPD
  • The difficulties of getting a proper diagnosis
  • The role and importance of a therapist
  • The benefits of medication for depression
  • Alternative treatments with  a successful track record
  • How to find the right balance of psychological, medical, and alternative treatment
  • Ways you can help foster recovery
  • The nutrition you need to care for yourself properly
  • How to help your partner help you

YOU’D BE SO PRETTY IF…Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies–Even When We Don’t Love Our Own, Dara Chadwick

You'd be prettyA Conversation with Dara Chadwick,
Author of YOU’D BE SO PRETTY IF…

Carrie:  Why did you decide to write YOU’D BE SO PRETTY IF…?
Dara:
I learned so much about my body—and about myself—during my year as Shape’s Weight-Loss Diary columnist. But watching the effect that the experience had on my daughter, just at the time when she was beginning to think about her own body, really opened my eyes to the effect that my words and behavior have on her. That led to many conversations between us about why I was doing the column, what I thought about my body and what I hoped to get out of the experience. I wanted her to know that it was all about being healthy for me (my own mom died young) and about becoming the best me I could be. When I talked to some of my friends about their mothers’ influence and their body feelings, I realized this was a universal topic among women and I wanted to really explore it.

Carrie:  What will readers take away from YOU’D BE SO PRETTY IF…?
Dara:
I want readers to close this book and say, “Wow. I don’t need to be a supermodel or be perfect to help my daughter feel good about her body.” The practical advice and collective wisdom in this book—my story, and the stories of the women and girls I interviewed—will give readers the tools and encouragement they need to change the body image legacy that they pass on to their daughters.

Carrie:  There are a lot of body image books out there. How is YOU’D BE SO PRETTY IF…different?
Dara:
It’s different because it touches on all facets of a mother’s influence on her daughter’s feelings about her body. The mother/daughter relationship is so complex and the bond is so strong, girls can’t help but absorb everything we say and do and, to some degree, feel—whether it’s good or bad. And while the book will touch on examples of moms who tell their daughters that they’re getting fat or try to rigidly control them, it also tackles more subtle scenarios, such as how moms talk about themselves in front of their girls and how that talk affects their daughters.

Carrie:  What do you mean by that?
Dara:
For example, if the family decides to go out for ice cream and mom just orders a Diet Coke every time, what does that say to her daughter? Or when the family heads to the beach or pool for a day of swimming and mom refuses to remove her cover-up? My mom was a huge fan of self-deprecating jokes; one of her favorites was, “The first rich blind man through the door is mine.” She also liked to choose clothes that she said, “hid a multitude of sins.” Those words and behaviors aren’t lost on girls. You’re planting a seed with each comment and when her body starts to look like yours, guess what? She remembers, and applies that criticism to herself. The good news, though, is that the stories shared by the women and girls in this book will help readers see that subtle changes can have big effects.

Carrie:  As a mom, how can I encourage my daughter to eat healthy without contributing to the development of an eating disorder?
Dara:
As Shape’s Weight-Loss Diary columnist, I spent a year working with a dietitian who taught me that healthy eating doesn’t mean deprivation. My daughter watched me lose 26 pounds, but she also saw me eat ice cream and other foods that I love. She saw me eat in restaurants and cook healthy meals at home. Being healthy isn’t about extremes or rigidity, and there’s a place for the foods you love. It’s all about balance.

Carrie:  Girls today want to look like their favorite celebrities, many of whom are stick thin. What can moms do to counteract that?
Dara:
These are tough waters for moms, and I’ll be the first to admit that. At 13, it’s all about fitting in with your peers and figuring out who you are. These are tough concepts for an adolescent to grasp, but don’t underestimate your own influence. To her, you’re a role model, just like the celebrity she adores. If you take care of yourself and focus on being the best you you can be, you’re teaching your daughter to make the most of who she is—to be the best her she can be. I try to remember that, too, when I’m tempted to brush off a compliment. If my daughter tells me I look pretty, I’ve learned to say, “thanks,” instead of brushing it off. When I accept her compliment without making a self-deprecating comment (this old thing? My hair’s a mess, my arms are too big, etc.), I’m showing her that I can feel good about myself the way I am — and she can, too.

Carrie:  What about media images? How can moms contend with the media’s portrayal of women and our daughters’ aspirations to look like those women?
Dara:
I know it seems overwhelming sometimes, but you can help your daughter learn to look at media critically. I wish every girl could experience what my daughter experienced watching me go through the Shape program. She’s been to multiple professional photo shoots and she’s seen how much make-up, time, lighting, styling and posing go into creating an image of “perfection.” We also poke around on Web sites like the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty site, which features things like videos that show the transformation of a natural-looking model into a cover model. When you’re talking with adolescent girls about celebrity and media images, it’s so important to help them understand that what they see on the page isn’t real. I’ve got a friend who says she never compares herself to celebrities—they’ve got nannies, housekeepers, stylists, trainers, assistants, etc. It’s just not a fair comparison, she says. I think that’s a great attitude.

Carrie:  What’s one thing you learned while writing YOU’D BE SO PRETTY IF…that really surprised you?

Summer on Blossom Street, Under Her Skin, Flowers on Main (Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, Sherryl Woods)

THREE GREAT SPRING PICKS!!

Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET (Debbie Macomber) When she opened her knitting store, A Good Yarn on Seattle’s Blossom Street, cancer survivor Lydia Goetz couldn’t have imagined the ways in which it would alter her life.  A Good Yarn offered the recovered cancer patient her first real chance at life, and ultimately led to love and marriage.  Moreover, the knitting classes held at her shop have always seemed to work restorative magic on others, too.  So, after she notices that her friend Alix Turner is still smoking cigarettes, Lydia decides she’ll organize the “knit to quit” class. The skilled baker at Blossom Street’s popular French Café, Alix has been trying to give up smoking and is angry at herself for starting again.  She’s cut down to five cigarettes a day, but can’t seem to kick the habit altogether.  And she’ll have to if she wants to get pregnant, as she and her husband plan.  Deep inside, she knows her inability to stop smoking is an avoidance mechanism so she won’t have to confront her fears about motherhood.  And who can blame her?  After all, her own mother was a terrible parent with absolutely no maternal instincts.  What if Alix is a chip off the old block? Says Debbie, “Knitting can be a great way to keep yourself honest when giving up a habit you want to kick, cigarettes in particular.  It’s not easy to manipulate two needles and a bunch of yarn while smoking a cigarette.  It’s a real win-win to me.”  For More Click HERE

Under Her Skin by Susan Mallery

UNDER HER SKIN (Susan Mallery) The first novel in the author’s new Lone Star Sisters series, a brand-new family saga featuring three sisters from the wealthy, dysfunctional Titan family who face the challenges of finding their way in their chosen careers, dealing with their distant and powerful father and handling the romantic relationships that may mean future happiness – or disaster.  UNDER HER SKIN is Lexi’s story. Her day-spa business is doing well – until her secret investor decides to call his $2 million loan on three weeks’ notice.  Lexi’s only hope is the bad boy who dumped her years before after a one-night stand.  Now a successful businessman in the perfect position to help her out, his terms for repayment of the debt are not what Lexi expected.  To repay the debt, she’ll have to risk her heart one more time and she’s not sure she will come out unscathed. Phoebe Rylander isn’t trying to give up something, but rather someone—specifically, her ex-fiancé, Clark Snowden.  The first time Clark was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, Phoebe was devastated and brokenhearted but eventually forgave him when he swore it was a one-time mistake.  But now, after being picked up on the same charge again, she’s determined to make a clean break.  The problem is that Clark’s so persistent and she’s afraid her resolve might weaken.  After all, as disillusioned and humiliated as she may be, she still loves him.  She needs a distraction to keep her from taking him back. For More Click HERE

Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods

FLOWERS ON MAIN (Sherryl Woods) The second book in the trilogy that began with THE INN AT EAGLE POINT and continues in June with HARBOR LIGHTS. As a child, growing up in Arlington, Virginia, Sherry developed a strong love for the Chesapeake area.  As an adult, living in Colonial Beach, she continues to revere her home and the feeling comes through in the strong sense of place that imbues the books. The author’s concern for the environment and the protection of the Chesapeake Bay way of life are a continuing theme that underlies the warm and moving story of three women. The three O’Brien sisters have grown up in the beautiful, planned community of Chesapeake Shores, a fictitious town built by their father and uncles. FLOWERS ON MAIN is Bree’s story.  When her last two plays are dismal failures and her relationship with her temperamental mentor falls apart, the fledgling playwright abandons Chicago and the regional theater where she hoped to make a name for herself.  Back home, she opens a flower shop, Flowers on Main.  Engaged in a new occupation that allows her to utilize the skills learned from her grandmother, she is looking a new kind of fulfillment.  But all is not peaceful and serene in Chesapeake Shores, with Bree’s estranged mother on the scene and her ex-lover on the warpath. For More Click HERE

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    Carrie created Words-to-Mouth—a blog & companion Internet talk show introducing new book releases and their authors to a community interested in excellent writing that may not  necessarily top the New York Times Bestseller List—Yet! To learn more about Carrie, click here