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Nanny Returns, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Nanny Returns
Just as fresh, biting, and funny as The Nanny Diaries, but with the extra heart and wisdom of a few years’ experience, NANNY RETURNS brings both heroine and readers back to the exotic world of the Upper East Side—a community where appearances are everything, friendships can dissolve with the disappearance of a bank account, and children are often the casualties in the war between wealth and family.

Carrie:  What inspired you to write this book?
Emma & Nicola:
For years readers would ask us what happened to the characters from our first novel, but we had kind of drawn a hazy veil over them in our minds. We pictured a vague happy sunset for Nan, but didn’t let ourselves think about the little boy, Grayer, too much because we weren’t optimistic about his chances.  Then last Spring we had a series of A-ha moments back-to-back and before we knew it a story had unspooled before us.  We were inspired by articles we read about New York City private schools being taken over by parents who wanted to buy their children a world without consequences.  Then we read about the Astor trial and something about a son turning his father in for embezzling from his mother really struck us.  Of course the Madoff story was rife with gripping family dynamics, from the sons turning in their father to the father/son accounting firm that had enabled the fraud in the first place.  It all got our minds churning about pulling back to look at the larger societal impact of the Upper East Side community we satirized in the first book.

Carrie:  In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Emma & Nicola:
We have lunch together every day before we start working and we chew over the topics of the day, paying special attention to angles of stories that aren’t being addressed. For example in 2000 we were obsessed that endless stories were running in New York City media about how hard it was for the newly rich to find decent household help, but the help was never interviewed.  So if there’s a side of the story that is being underserved we’ll puzzle over that.  Then we have a-ha moments when one of us will crystallize one of these topics we’ve been mulling over into a fictional story.  Then Nicki gets teary and the hair on Emma’s neck stands on end and we know we’ve found our next book.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot/subject without giving too much away.
Emma & Nicola:
In Nanny Returns we are revisiting ALL the characters from the Diaries twelve years later and re-embroiling Nan back in the lives of the Xes.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?
Emma & Nicola:
Money can’t buy it.

Carrie: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

How to Rule the World from Your Couch, Laura Day

HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH Laura Day

COUCH

In her new book, HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH, Laura Day teaches you or your company how to create success in any area by using your brain in unique and compel-ling ways so that your innate intuition can propel you ahead to successful solutions. Laura’s work has helped demystify intuition and demonstrate its practical, verifiable uses in the fields of business, science, medicine, and personal growth.  Her list of clients and students includes doctors, financial investors, scientists, engineers, and celebrities.  Day has shown that 98% of success is planning and that you, therefore, have the power to transform your life.

Carrie’s Chat with Laura

Carrie:  What inspired you to write HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH?
Laura: Intuition is non-linear, out-of-the-blue, accurate insight. It has given me the means to have a successful life or save my hide, in my particularly self destructive phases, a thousand times. It is an ability that everyone has and accessing it can be taught easily. My students have been begging me for years to write a linear guide to the various intuitive abilities. I compromised. The beginning of every chapter gives the reader/student the true intuitive experience and then I make the text linear for the rest of the chapter. I also wanted a book that teachers, company’s and institutions could apply to their goals and projects without me. Here it is.

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.

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

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  • About WordstoMouth

    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