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HERE, HOME, HOPE by Kaira Rouda

A Conversation with Kaira Rouda

Here-Home-Hope

HERE, HOME, HOPE

Though I have not (yet) met Kaira face-to-face, we’ve spent much time online and on the telephone sharing ideas and thoughts on her nonfiction book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED, and encouraging women to find our gifts and talents and share with the world…Now, I feel fortunate to be able to offer a space for Kaira to talk about her first novel, HERE, HOME, HOPE. It has been a dream for Kaira to get her novels published and I’m so excited that the opportunity has come to fruition and this new chapter has begun for her. Kaira is a gifted writer with an unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit, and simply a beautiful individual, inside and out. HERE, HOME, HOPE is an evident expression of her essence and is an inspiring, and entertaining, read. I recommend it, and Kaira, highly and wish her all and ONLY the Best.

Carrie:  What inspired you to write HERE, HOME, HOPE?
Kaira:
The inspiration for HERE, HOME, HOPE wasn’t one particular instance, it’s more of a continuation of the stories found in all of my novels. This is the first to be published, but hopefully, one of many. My novels have the same underlying theme: Women who have seemingly perfect lives, and what happens behind closed doors or when they are pushed to the breaking point. HERE, HOME, HOPE was influenced by the economy, specifically the complete and utter collapse of the housing market and its ramifications even throughout up-scale suburban communities, like the fictitious Grandville of the 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?
Kaira:
My story ideas run around in my mind for quite some time before I start writing. Often, I have several different stories pulsing through and that gets to be confusing. But it’s fun.

Carrie:  Give us an idea of the plot of HERE, HOME, HOPE without giving too much away.
Kaira:
Kelly Mills Johnson is restless. An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her middling middle-American existence and her neighbors’ seemingly perfect lives. Her marriage to a
successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding. But Kelly’s own passions lie wasted. She eyes with envy the lives of her two best friends, Kathryn and Charlotte, both beautiful, successful businesswomen who seem to have it all. Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife make-over plan. From page one, Kelly’s witty reflections, self-deprecating humor, and clever tactics in executing that plan—she places Post-it notes all over her house and car—will have readers laughing out loud. The next instant, however, they might rant right along with Kelly as her commitment to a sullen, anorexic teenager left on her doorstep tries her patience or as she deflects the boozy advances of a divorced neighbor. Readers will need to keep the tissue box handy, too, as Kelly repairs the damage she inflicted on a high school friend; realizes how deeply her husband, Patrick, understands and loves her; and ultimately grows into a woman empowered by her own blend of home and career. Kaira-Rouda-headshot

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from HERE, HOME, HOPE?
Kaira:
If the grass looks greener ~ water your own.

Carrie:  What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Kaira:
I really like the scenes with Melanie and Kelly – I hope they’re realistic. My house is filled with teenagers right now and it was really important for me to get their interactions right. My
daughter, who is Mel’s age in the book, read the manuscript to make sure I got her right.

Carrie:  What was the most difficult scene to write? Why?
Kaira:
I guess the toughest scenes for me to write are when my characters are suffering. So probably Kathryn leaving, Melanie’s low points, Kelly being attacked, Charlotte in pain.

Carrie:  Which character in HERE, HOME, HOPE, do you identify with the most in your book? 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?
Kaira:
I think there is a piece of me in all of my female characters. Sometimes, it’s more obvious to my friends and family than other times. I really like Kelly. She snorts when she laughs – and I
do that!

Carrie:  What are you reading right now?
Kaira:
I am a voracious readers, so if I answer that question today, I’ll be reading something different tomorrow. I’ve been a huge fan of Susan Isaacs for as long as I can remember, and I like to
think of my books, my themes, as heavily influenced by her. If you looked around my office right now, you’d see a world of books.

Carrie: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?
Kaira:
My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby mesmerized me from the first time I read it.

Carrie:  What is your go-to book–that one you’ve read more than once, possibly over-and-over?
Kaira:
A Gift from the Sea.

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?
Kaira:
My husband and four kids are the most important part of my “real life.” Empowering women is another passion, or cause, in addition to writing.

Carrie:  Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.
Kaira:
My desk chair is an exercise ball.

Carrie:  What has been one of your biggest struggles and/or successes (professional/personal) and what have you learned from it?
Kaira:
Well, I don’t even know where to start with this. I’ve had a 25 year career in business, working for myself and others, so the struggles have been plenty. I write about many of those in my
nonfiction book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. On the personal side, I have been truly blessed.

Carrie:  Have you ever had a nickname? Tell us about it.
Kaira:
Spaz. Yep, it’s true, that was my high school nickname. I would say that it’s true, I’m enthusiastic. I’ve always believed a smile confuses an approaching frown.

Carrie:  Who is your biggest fan?
Kaira:
My husband.

Carrie:  What was the best advice you’ve ever received—do you follow it?
Kaira:
Write down your feelings. And yes, I do.

Carrie:  What is your favorite literary turn-of-phrase / quote / word picture?
Kaira:
It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.

Carrie:  What’s next for you ~ Anything else you’d like to offer?
Kaira:
If you like HERE, HOME, HOPE you’ll love IN THE MIRROR, coming next Spring.

Carrie:  How do readers get in touch with you?
Kaira:
Find me on Facebook at “Kaira Rouda Books;” on twitter: @KairaRouda; and on my website
www.KairaRouda.com where you’ll find additional information about the book, an excerpt and book club reading guide.

To enter to win a free copy of HERE, HOME, HOPE:

Leave a Comment below sharing your own story of HOPE

U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
Deadline: May 30TH, 2010 ~ midnight, EST

SEA ESCAPE, Lynne Griffin

SEA ESCAPE

Carrie’s Conversation with Lynne Griffin, Author of SEA ESCAPE

Carrie:  Without giving too much away, give us an idea about what SEA ESCAPE is about.

Lynne: SEA ESCAPE is a story inspired by my parents love letters; it’s about the ties that bind mothers and daughters. Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to Henry and Claire, when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in when her carefully crafted life unraveled years ago, after the death of her beloved husband. Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother–a woman who once spoke the language of fabric; of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage–but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, each letter revealing patchwork details of her parents’ marriage, she finds a common thread. A secret, mother and daughter unknowingly share.

Carrie:  What inspired you to write SEA ESCAPE?

Lynne: After my own mother passed away in 2000, I found love letters written to her by my father.  As I read,  I went so far as to imagine excerpts of my father’s beautiful writing shining within a novel I might someday write.  In those musings, SEA ESCAPE was born. The letters were then and are now a treasure. The love captured within, pure and sincere.  Yet to my storyteller’s heart, reading them then, I couldn’t help but think–not enough conflict, no secrets, no dramatic reveal. Certainly I didn’t want those things to come by way of my parents, but  right then I started imagining a different story belong to a different daughter. That story is SEA ESCAPE.

Carrie:  Is there an underlying theme of SEA ESCAPE?

Lynne: I’ve been a family life expert for more than twenty years, and there’s so much about my work counseling parents, observing children, and teaching educators about families that I use in writing fiction.  My desire to capture family life in authentic ways feeds the themes of all my novels.  There’s no shortage of seeds from my work that I use to inform my writing. Anton Chekhov called them little particulars. Right there in my everyday life are organic details that give genuineness to the stories I create. I’ve had my own grief work to do over the years; I lost my father when I was fifteen and my mother when I was forty.  As a professional who’s taught classes and counseled parents and children about healthy grieving, I’ve always been struck by the choices people make related to the loss of a loved one—the healthy and unhealthy ways grief work gets done.  So I write about the choices people make when faced with unbelievable pain. What really holds a marriage together when it’s tested. I examine the impact of loss on all kinds of relationships—mother, brother, sister, daughter, friend.  If they start off strong—or don’t—what happens? Why do some people thrive after a loss, finding true purpose, while others don’t come out of it stronger?

Carrie:  Which character do you identify with the most in SEA ESCAPE? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in SEA ESCAPE? If so, while you were writing or only afterwards upon review?

Lynne: I truly care about all my characters—in all their shades of humanity—yet the one I love the most is Helen.  Like my own mother did, Helen struggles with what’s called prolonged grief disorder, a specific kind of depression brought on by loss.  For some, grief refuses to follow the typical trajectory toward healing.  In my years as a grief counselor, I’ve met countless people who simply can not move through the grieving process.   I empathize with Helen, stuck in the past, gripped by the pain of loss.  I have enormous compassion for her because of what my mother experienced after the death of my father.  For this reason, SEA ESCAPE is a deeply personal and emotional novel for me.  Helen is a character I will be forever connected to.

Carrie:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about writing fiction?

Lynne: Close the door on the marketplace while you write. Writing to trends–trying to guess what readers want–isn’t for me. I feel an obligation to write for the story, to let the characters tell me about their lives. I believe if my story and characters are authentic, the novel will find its audience.

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?Lynne griffin

Lynne: I live in a seaside town much like Anaskaket depicted in SEA ESCAPE.  I’m married to the most supportive husband a woman could have, and we have two college age children; a daughter studying vocal performance and music education, and a son studying jazz piano and music sound recording.  My family provides me  my greatest joy in life—and there’s a lot of music in my life too.  My husband and children support, encourage, and ground me in unbelievable ways. I am very blessed.  If I’m not spending time with them, or writing, I’m reading. The to-be-read piles of books in my home are an embarrassment of riches.

Carrie:  What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?

Lynne: Everything I read influences my work.  If a novel isn’t working for me, I try to analyze from a craft perspective, why that’s the case. And if I love it, the same applies.  I want to know how and why it sings. There are so many novels on my keeper shelf, books I dip in to, to be inspired. Wally Lamb’s, The Hour I First Believed; Margot Livesey’s, Eva Moves the Furniture; Nicole Krauss’s, The History of Love.  I love everything by Ann Patchett, Sue Miller, and Jonathan Safran Foer. Novels I’ve recently read and adored include Day for Night by Frederick Reiken, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

Just a Bit More About Lynne Griffin:

Lynne Griffin writes about family life. She is the author of, Sea Escape-A novel (Simon & Schuster, July 2010) Life Without Summer-A novel (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), and the nonfiction parenting title, Negotiation Generation (Penguin, 2007). Lynne teaches family studies at the graduate level and writing at Grub Street Writers in Boston.  She appears regularly on Boston’s Fox Morning News talking about family life issues.  Lynne writes for the blog, Family Life Stories.

**Click HERE to visit Lynne’s website

SEA ESCAPE Excerpt ~ Chapter 1

Letters are windows casting light, illuminating the ties between two people. I could’ve sneaked a peek inside my parents’ romance by reading his letters to her, but I respected my mother’s love of curtains. At forty-five, the details of their marriage remained a mystery to me; I had no desire to confirm what I already knew. Even dead, she loved him more than me. My mother spent her days drenched in memories of safe arms and sweet music, reading his precious words, faded ink on yellowed stationery. I looked for ghosts around corners, certain I was running out of time to find a way to be enough for her. An inability to live in the present was one thing we had in common.

“Are you okay in there, Mother?” Well aware she startled at loud noises, I knocked lightly on the door nearest the driveway. No answer. By the fourth rap, I couldn’t stop myself, I was pounding.

The first pinprick of worry jabbed me as I wondered if this was the day I’d find my mother dead in her double bed, cold, even though she was covered by her wedding quilt of interlocking green and pink floral circles. Juggling two grocery bags and reminding the kids to stop at the end of the boardwalk leading to Anaskaket Beach, I jiggled the lock, but she’d bolted and double-bolted the place as if Sea Escape sat on a main street in the city instead of on waterfront acreage south of Boston.

To Enter to Win a FREE Copy of SEA ESCAPE:

  • Leave a Comment Below ~ We’d love to hear about one of your favorite memories about your parents/family
  • U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
  • Deadline: August 1st, 2010 ~ Midnight, EST

How Far is the Ocean from Here, Amy Shearn

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oceanI’ve had this interview in my back pocket for awhile. I took to heart an expert podcaster’s advice to have at least 10 shows in the hopper, so as to be prepared and it sort of backfired. I think I do best living life a bit more on the edge. So…my apologies on the delay to Amy. I think you’ll agree, it’s worth the wait ~ She’s a pleasure. Listen in as we talk about her life, her book, and her blogs.

Afterwards, don’t forget to comment below and/or call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice mail message to be entered to win a FREE copy of HOW FAR IS THE OCEAN FROM HERE. You’ll need to subscribe to my e-newsletter to make it quick and easy for me to announce the winner! Please leave me a review on iTunes and don’t forget to subscribe to Words To Mouth to get it delivered to your computer for free, so you can listen wherever and whenever you’d like. “Thanks” as always to Natalie Brown for You Gotta Believe from the Podsafe Music Network. About HOW FAR IS THE OCEAN FROM HERE: Susannah Prue is a young, unmarried surrogate mother who, in the days before her delivery date, panics. Jumping into her car, she flees her Chicago home and a few days later pulls up to a bleak motel in the Southwest—the Thunder Lodge. There, she encounters misfits, much like herself, who also carry secrets: the motel’s terse proprietors, their mentally disabled son, and a woman transporting her niece to the father she’s never met. But when the parents of Susannah’s baby discover her whereabouts, she can no longer ignore the profound power she holds over their lives. Beautifully written, How Far Is the Ocean from Here explores the ways in which people care for one another and the ways in which they fail, the kinds of families we create when we have no one else to turn to, and the strangeness and unpredictability of love.

Book Excerpt: Chapter One, “Otherhood”

Along the highway in that stretch of desert, some-where between West Texas and East New Mexico, there was nothing and nothing and nothing and then the Thunder Lodge. But what a nothing! There the horizon had a weight she hadn’t known a horizon could have; a plain unvaried by cactus or tree, unstirred by lizard or coyote, undimpled by even a shadow, only here and there the slightest swell of hills. A house, a diner, a roadside attraction—an abandoned gas station with leaking, ancient snouts; a gigantic plaster dinosaur; a man in a gorilla suit advertising discounted tires—any distraction would have inspired as raucous a land ho as has ever been heard. But there was nothing, and still she moved onward, and still the desert lay insensible to any human who entered it.

That is to say, the highway was so forgotten in those stretches that it was difficult to believe it had ever been built. Out walking on its dusty shoulder, her hands pressed to her belly as if it might detach in the heat, sweat trickling between her shoulder blades, Susannah tried to imagine the men who had done such a thing, these ghostly men who’d installed the devolving asphalt: bending their backs in the sunlight, their lungs struggling in the grit of reddish dirt, the hides of their legs and hands torn from arguing with the sinewy tangles that accounted for vegetation. On the whole she spent entirely too much time daydreaming—it was a weakness, she knew— picturing what it was like to be somebody else, trying on different versions of herself like suits of skin. Now she was entirely out of context, a paper doll slapped onto an unfamiliar backdrop, just any pregnant girl standing on the side of the highway twisting her spine, giving the overheated car a minute to tick time-bombishly, a chance to stop steaming from the hood. (For more, go to the full excerpt on Amy’s website

Amy’s Book Recommendations:amy shearn

  • The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton ~  “It is so wonderful. If you just want to spend a weekend at home weeping, I highly recommend it,” says Amy.
  • Amy says about her favorite author: “Virginia Woolf inspires me…at the same time making me feel like there is no point in writing anything”

Amy’s Blogs:

Amy Shearn’s Website

M.I.L.D.E.W. (Mothers-in-Law Do EVERYTHING Wrong) Liz Bluper and Renee Plastique (audio interview)

Listen NowMildewM.I.L.D.E.W. (Mother-in-Laws Do Everything Wrong), now in its second printing, is a hysterical marriage companion book every woman should have in her back pocket–either to make herself laugh when those inevitable mother-in-law issues arise or to have at-the-ready for a girlfriend who may need a dose of M.I.L.D.E.W. perspective. Co-Authors, Liz Buper and Renee Plastique (okay, their names have been changed to protect their identity 😉 bring humor to an otherwise extremely frustrating dynamic. The acronym, M.I.L.D.E.W., is infiltrating today’s vernacular and every woman can relate–we all have a personal or “friend” story to  contribute when the mother-in-law topic is broached. Hear about some of the biggest challenges and funniest MILDEW stories, plus some great strategies to deal with MILDEWS.

Check out and earlier Words To Mouth written interview and click the gray arrow below to hear about the book from the author’s own lips.

Matters of Faith, Kristy Kiernan

Listen NowMatters_of_Faith150

 Be sure to leave a comment below or call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice message to be entered to win a FREE copy of Matters of Faith and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes! (Please excuse the funky sound quality ~ for some reason we faded in & out ~ but worth it, just the same).

Chat with Kristy

Carrie:  What inspired you to write Matters of Faith?

Kristy:  There were two inspirations for this book, the first coming as long ago as thirty years. When I was eight or nine I did a book report on a book I’d found about religions around the world. It was supposed to be two pages long, but I turned in something like fifteen pages. I realized that religion wasn’t a choice in most parts of the world, but simply a lottery of geographical and familial tradition, and a lifelong fascination was born. The second inspiration came in 2005, when a Canadian teenager was reported to have died after kissing her boyfriend, who had eaten peanut butter several hours earlier. My first thought was wondering how parents of a child with such sensitive allergies were able to ever let them leave the house and have a life, and I began researching severe food allergies. It was later discovered that the cause of death for the young woman was not an allergic reaction, but the writer’s brain had kicked into gear and I was too far involved. I put the two ideas together, and Matters of Faith was the result. Carrie:  Tell us a bit about Matters of Faith.Kristy

Kristy:  A young man’s search for faith causes tragedy in his family when he brings home a new girlfriend whose religious beliefs– including the evils of medical intervention– threaten his younger sister, who suffers from severe food allergies.

Carrie:  What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?

Kristy:  Choice is a wonderful thing, when those choices are placed in context and guided appropriately. No matter how mature kids seem these days, they still need guidance and discussions about the big choices in life. We talk to kids about sex and drugs at such young ages, but I rarely hear about religion or faith being discussed in depth unless the family is already observant of their particular religion, and then the discussion revolves around the beliefs of that religion only. We live in a religious world, and religion has been the greatest cause of all of our world’s wars. Why aren’t we talking about it in a broader way? Matters of Faith is also about long term marriage and the hundreds of little things that can undermine it on a daily basis, and the choices (there’s that word again) men and women make to either strengthen their relationship or allow it to gradually disintegrate. And, of course, it would be incredibly gratifying if I could help people understand what families with allergic children have to go through on a daily basis just to keep their child alive.

Carrie:  Tell us about your writing process.

Kristy:  I tend to think about stories for a long time before I start them. Sometimes, as with Matters of Faith, for years. If I come up with a title I’ll usually write that down so I don’t lose it, but other than that I just let it marinate. Once I think I have enough (and don’t ask me for specifics on what “enough” is, I just know somehow), I start to make notes in a spiral notebook. As I get those initial ideas down on paper I start to devote even more time daydreaming about my story, and once the critical opening scene comes to me I sit down and begin to write.
Once that starts I write 2,000 words a day and don’t quit until I reach that goal. I write on a laptop and work anywhere in the house that makes me the most comfortable. One day it’s the bed, the next the sofa, and for my new book I’ve been out on the back patio a lot. And a lot of Diet Coke is generally involved.

Carrie: Who are your favorite authors and who influenced your writing?

Kristy:  I could go on for days listing my favorite writers, but we’ll start with: Marianne Wiggins, Tasha Alexander, Lionel Shriver, Amy MacKinnon, T. Cooper, J.D. Rhoades, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Laurie Notaro, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichi, Janet Fitch, how much room do we have? As far as influences go, I’ve always loved the old southern saga writers, Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons and the like.

Carrie:  What are you reading right now?

Kristy:  Julia Glass’s new one, I See You Everywhere, House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, and a non-fiction book on the subject of my next book, which I’m keeping private right now.

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?

Kristy:  My “real life” has always revolved around reading. I have no other hobbies. Reading lets me learn about hobbies other people have, so I get to have hundreds of different hobbies but never have to pay for them! I’ve been with my husband for eighteen years and we have great fun together. We love going out to lunch, catching a movie once in a while, and hanging out at the beach. I was lucky enough to marry a reader, so we both have our nose in a book at any given time. We don’t have children, so our dog is definitely our substitute. Granted, she’s a hairy, slobbery substitute, but hey, at least we don’t have to buy her a car or put her through college, so we feel it’s a pretty fair trade.

Carrie:  Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.

Kristy:  I am terrified of sharks. And driving a car into water. And raw tomatoes absolutely horrify me, gaaah, all slimy and seedy.  Also, contrary to popular belief, I think a lot of things I don’t say.

Carrie:  Would you be willing to share your biggest challenge/failure and how it changed your life? How about your biggest success, personal and/or professional and how it affected your perspective?

Kristy:  I constantly fail at everything I do. I can barely navigate my way around my own house without bumping into a wall. I’ve never succeeded at anything on my first try (except swimming, I was a good natural swimmer right off the bat, ha!), and the publishing industry has been the biggest, most heartbreaking and exhilarating challenge I’ve ever faced. I wrote three long novels before my fourth, Catching Genius, sold. During that time I slowly went broke and wound up selling my car in order to continue to write. My perspective never changed though, I’ve always just had to work and work and work to succeed, and publishing has been no different. I’m still working to succeed at it, to achieve my rather ambitious goals within it.

My biggest success was probably helping my grandparents in their final years. I can look back at those years and know I did the right things, made the right decisions. It changed my perspective on aging, on patience, on terminal illness, and on the ways frustrating obligations can turn into an honor.

Carrie:  What’s next for you ~ Anything else you’d like to offer?

Kristy:  I’m trying to finish my next book. Not an easy task with Matters of Faith just out, but I’m learning that if I want to make writing my career I have to fit it all in. Writing a book, while publishing another book, while figuring out what the next book will be, while promoting and marketing a book, while trying, desperately, to control e-mail (I fail at that, too!).

For more Q&A with Kristy, click HERE and check out Kristy’s awesome website HERE

Book Excerpt:  Matters of Faith is told from two points of view, the mother, Chloe, and the son, Marshall. This is an excerpt from Marshall:

[Ada] shifted up to fifth and tossed her head, trying to get a lock of dark hair blown by the wind out of the side of her mouth. He reached for it at the same time as she did, but she got there first, hooking her index finger over it and drawing it out, and had she drawn her shirt over her head it couldn’t have left him more breathless. He shifted in his seat and nearly groaned aloud.
His hands curled of their own accord, his fingers grasping the air beside his thighs the way they wanted to grab hold of her hair.
“So what else did your mom say?” she asked. “What should I call her?”
He shrugged, irritated to have the image of his mother sliding over Ada’s, but relieved too. “Chloe, I guess,” he said. His mother had always told his friends to call her Chloe. He didn’t figure it would be any different for Ada.
“Chloe,” Ada repeated, drawing it out, glancing at him sideways. “Chloe and Calvin. Cute. Chloe and Cal and Meghan. And joining them for the weekend, Marshall and Ada the vegetarian,” she sang, squeezing his knee playfully.
He laughed, his irritation and bordering-on-violent desire fading, pride at the thought of walking into his house with this beautiful girl lifting his spirits and filling his lungs with something lighter than air. He went with it, praising God for the sheer miracle going ninety miles an hour in the driver’s seat beside him.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Words To Mouth on iTunes, so you can get the audio podcast delivered to your computer for free. You can listen wherever and whenever you wish.

Thanks, to Natali Brown for You Gotta Believe from the Podsafe Music Network.

More Links:
Queen of the Road, Doreen Orion ~ “absolutely hilarious,” according to Kristy

Cancer is a Bitch, Gail Konop Baker (audio author interview) & October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Listen NowBitch“Cancer Is a Bitch smartly illustrates how breast cancer impacts our roles as wives, mothers, lovers, and friends. Gail Konop Baker’s candid recollections are also filled with extraordinary hope and humor. Her ‘mammoir’ is witty, wise, and wonderfully written.”—Elisabeth Squires, author of bOObs: A GUIDE TO YOUR GIRLS
 

Scroll down to the very bottom of this post and click gray arrow to listen

Join us as Gail discusses the unexpected gifts she gleaned from cancer…living in the now, renegotiating her life and relationships, allowing herself to feel “It’s unfair,” and allowing others to help her. Come listen in as she describes her journey from over-thinking everything and asking “Why?” to living in the present and asking “Why not?”

Be sure to check out Gail’s wonderful website with links to different resources and foundations and most importantly…

Go schedule a MAMMOGRAM Now!

To win a FREE copy of Cancer is a Bitch, leave a comment below or call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice mail message I can play on air…don’t forget to email me your mailing address at Carrie@WordsToMouth.com. And subscribe on iTunes. 

Supplemental Q & A with Gail:

Carrie:  How would you address those who are reluctant to read another cancer memoir? Or a book about cancer in general?Gail

Gail:  Good question! In fact when I asked Sara Gruen if she would read the manuscript for endorsement she told me she wasn’t sure she wanted to read about breast cancer and I told her that, believe it or not, the book is more about how the diagnosis served as a catalyst for me to examine my midlife, my mothering, and my marriage more intensely. About how it woke me up to the moment, helped me see how much I had been taking for granted and inspired me to do all the things I’d forgotten to do. A day later Sara Gruen e-mailed and said she’d read the book in one sitting, thanked me for encouraging her to read it, and sent this blurb: “Don’t let the “C” word scare you—CANCER IS A BITCH is smart, funny, hopeful, and as much about life, families and self-discovery as the cancer that prompts it. I loved this book: Read it!” So I guess I would say: don’t let it scare you.

Carrie:  How does your book differ from, say, the recent spate of popular cancer-oriented books, such as Crazy Sexy Cancer? Why should people read your book and hear your story?

Gail:  I really enjoyed Crazy Sexy Cancer but it was more tips on how to deal with cancer. (Great tips, mind you!) My book is more of a journey into the mind of someone going through a major crisis, which everyone has gone through or will go through. So while it is universal it also is extremely personal. This book was culled from my private journals so there is a level of intimacy and honesty that I didn’t even originally plan to share. My book doesn’t tell you how I coped (or didn’t cope): instead it takes you on a rollercoaster ride from despair to triumph. Reading it is both emotionally thrilling and cathartic. And the themes of motherhood and marriage and what it means to be a woman in the 21st century are universal. My book also addresses the psychological fallout that a person lives with even after a “good” breast cancer diagnosis, and I don’t think that’s been written about or is even talked about all that much. And with millions of women diagnosed every year, the mental aspect affects a lot of people.

Carrie:  What inspired you to write such an intimate book on such a touchy subject?

Gail:  I wrote this book because I couldn’t write anything else. The last (unpublished) novel I’d written was about a woman who finds a lump in her breast and wonders if she’s lived a meaningful life. I completed it just before my routine mammogram in 2006. My agent hated it, and I ended up with a breast cancer diagnosis. So I was at a crossroads personally and professionally. I spent most of my time Googling breast cancer and nutrition and alternative medicine sites. I wanted to know what had caused this: Why me? When I wasn’t doing all that productive stuff, I wrote all my craziest most private thoughts in a journal my husband gave me, vowing never to show it to anyone!
Eventually, I wrote parts of the journal into an essay I titled CANCER IS A BITCH and sent it to a couple of writer friends who were like, wow, you should do something with this (although you might want to take the swearing out). Soon after that, I read that LiteraryMama.com was looking for columnists and on an absolute whim, I pitched them a column based on the essay called Bare-breasted Mama and they took it, swearing and all! Immediately after it went live, I started receiving e-mails from readers thanking me for being so open and honest about my journey (both men and women, people who’d had cancer and not had cancer). That feedback encouraged me to keep going, even though it often hurt to relive this and write about it, and I felt very exposed putting my experience out there. Around the same time, I “broke up” with my first agent and started pitching new agents again (for my breast cancer novel). One of them wrote back to say that while he loved my voice, he wasn’t taking on much fiction. Again, on a whim, I pitched him the idea of spinning the columns into a memoir. And he said yes!

Carrie:  What are some of the most ridiculous and memorable things that happened to you on your journey from diagnosis through treatment to recovery?

Gail:  They’re all in the book! One of them was when I was in pre-op and they were poking long fishing-line-like wires into my boob and the technician was talking about her vacation to topless beaches in Europe and all I could think was when I was in Nice a few months before and I hadn’t gone topless and now I never would. Another was when my best friend came over before I had surgery and I was thinking, how can she want to be friends with this “damaged” me? and she said, “If you have to shave your head, I’m shaving mine in solidarity.”  Luckily I didn’t need chemo, but that depth of friendship just blew me away. And another friend had an affair for me. She wanted us to embrace life.

Carrie:  What words of wisdom or encouragement would you offer those diagnosed with breast cancer?

Gail:  It’s hard. And unfair. First I’d just acknowledge those two things. The word CANCER rocked my foundation, flipped my world upside down like nothing else. It’s normal to feel crazy, and don’t beat yourself up thinking you did something wrong (I did that for a while and that was a waste of energy). Then I’d just encourage them to mother themselves and accept mothering from others. Eat organic food and exercise. And sex: have it! I have one scarred breast (from several lumpectomies) and it took me a long time to feel attractive and sexual again. I think if you can find the energy, sex is important. It’s life affirming. It reminds you that you are still a woman. And still beautiful.

Then maybe figure out what you’ve been putting off, and stop saying no to the things you really want to do. I started training for a half-marathon after surgery, and I started writing a column, and then I wrote this book, and then after I completed that I went to yoga boot camp teacher training. These were all things I’d wanted to do over the years but hadn’t. Mostly because in the past I tended to over-think everything, and by the time I was done thinking something through, I would have talked myself out of it and missed the opportunity. So I really try not to do that now.
One last thing. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. That was my biggest hurdle. I didn’t want to burden others with my crazy thoughts. And now you can buy them on Amazon! But seriously, I decided to expose my thoughts, my life, my everything including my bra size because I wanted to make it okay to talk about cancer openly and honestly so others diagnosed, or those who love someone who is diagnosed, would feel less alone.

Carrie:  How do you deal with writing about your life? Do worry about exposing yourself? Your family? Your friends? Where do you draw the line?

Gail:  The best thing about switching from fiction to memoir is that everything is fodder. And it has taught me to pay closer attention to the world I live in. There are so many interesting and funny and poignant things happening in my very own life—in all of our lives. I also learned from writing fiction to look for patterns and the interesting and unexpected way things connect, and I try to incorporate that in my work so it feels layered and multi-dimensional. But at the same time, what I leave out is just as significant as what I put in. I’m very careful when writing about others, especially family and friends. In fact, when I was writing fiction I often exposed “truths” about others I would never dare expose now that I’m writing memoir. I’m not out to expose anyone but me! So in some ways writing memoir has me to be more compassionate about my family and friends.

Carrie:  What are some of your inspirations as a writer, and how do you think this comes across in your own writing?

Gail:  I was an English major so I’m always falling in love with writers and books. My first loves were Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and then Catcher in the Rye and then The Great Gatsby and then Anna Karenina. In that order exactly. Ever since I can remember, I would get on compulsive kicks with writers. First read everything they’d ever written, and then every book about them. I remember doing that with Sylvia Plath when my kids were little, and then that got too depressing and I moved on to Grace Paley. Loved Grace Paley. The year before last I had a major thing for Ian McEwan. Last year it was Nick Hornby. I recently read Donna Tartt’s A Secret History and totally fell in love with her writing. But everything influences me. Seriously, food, music, bad TV, overheard conversations, fights with my husband, stupid things I say to my kids and worry I can’t take back and imagine them discussing in therapy in 30 years, the position of the sun. Since I started my writing life as a poet, almost as important as the story I’m telling is the way the words sound, the rhythm and the beat. The way all that comes across in my writing is that I throw it all in and see what happens. And always, always looking for that one defining moment that crystallizes everything.

Click HERE for a song that speaks to Gail’s revelation about Cancer giving her compassion into others’ suffering.

“Gail Konop Baker is a knock-out writer who cracks me up one minute then brings me to tears the next. Her beautiful, funny, feisty, poignant memoir isn’t just an inspiration for cancer patients and their families—but for all of us. There is so much wisdom between these pages, yet the story is told without an ounce of self pity or a trace of triteness. In the end, this tale is a testament to how precarious and priceless life is, and how each of us needs to live it to the fullest, starting right now.”—Lolly Winston, author of GOOD GRIEF

The Divorce Party, Laura Dave

DPartyAbout the Book (from Laura’s website)
Gwyn Huntington knows how to throw a party. And Hunt Hall, her postcard-perfect Victorian home in Montauk at the easternmost tip of Long Island, is no stranger to celebrations. But on the morning of her thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, she’s putting finishing touches on the last party she’ll host there. The last time she’ll see Hunt Hall abuzz with caterers and bartenders. The last time she’ll preside over a gathering of beautiful friends chatting in candlelight. The last time she’ll fully play the role of Mrs. Thomas Huntington. Divorce parties have become commonplace, if not fashionable, in Montauk. But Gwyn is determined that hers will be different.
Just over one hundred miles away on the same morning, Maggie Mackenzie sits on the floor of her Brooklyn apartment attempting to organize her new life. A former travel writer, she’s fallen in love with a wonderful man, gotten engaged, and is planning to start a business with him. Today is also the day she’ll meet her fiancé’s parents for the first time. She’s feeling particularly uneasy about the occasion surrounding her first meeting with Nate’s family. The Divorce Party takes us into the lives of these two women at opposite ends of marriage. For all the differences between them—distance, privilege, age—Gwyn and Maggie have one thing in common: Each has found herself at a crossroads. Gwyn has been preparing for this day, the last predictable day before an uncertain future. Even though she’s had time to come to terms with her divorce, she still can’t quite believe her marriage is over. How can she move on when her marriage has defined who she is for the last thirty-five years? And for Maggie, the emotionally charged trip to Montauk shakes the foundation of her relationship with Nate and dredges up feelings she has spent her life trying to avoid. In the end, Gwyn and Maggie face the same questions: How hard should you work to stay with the person you love? And when is it time to let go?

Carrie:  Why did you write The Divorce Party?Laura

Laura:  After my first novel, London Is the Best City in America, came out, readers began writing to me, and telling me about their relationships.  I heard from so many interesting people: a woman celebrating her 45th wedding anniversary, a man trying to figure out whether he did the right thing breaking off an engagement.  The stories ran the gamut.  And they inspired to take a look at what makes a relationship last over the course of the lifetime: is there one secret ingredient?  Is it many small things?  Is it a whole lot of luck?  These questions formed the basis of The Divorce Party.

Carrie:  Tell us a bit about The Divorce Party?

365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy, by Charla Muller “Sex. Every day. For an entire year.” (audio author interview)

Listen NowNightsAbout the Book (From Charla’s website):
365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy is a funny and intimate look into turning 40, being married and wondering if there is more to marriage than laundry, babysitters and negotiating the DVR. It started when Charla’s husband was about to celebrate four decades on this planet, and she offered to give him something memorable – something that only she could give.
She offered him sex every day for a year.CharlaThis book documents that year. It’s not the behind-the-scene details of their sex life (which, really, would not be all that interesting), but rather a modest, G-rated story about how a year of daily intimacy transformed a marriage. About how the “stuff” everyone brings to a marriage can bear down on the relationship, intimacy and the desire to connect.This endeavor did not start as a book idea, but an honest attempt to improve a relationship. From “Dr. Phil” to The New York Times, the topic of marriage and intimacy is an incredibly relevant issue, it seems. Certainly Charla is no expert, but she’s been amazed at how her experience has resonated with family and friends who know about this year of intimacy. Everyone seems to have a comment, an anecdote or a perspective about intimacy and marriage…everybody.

Bittersweet: Confessions of a Twice-Married Man, by Philip Lee (Another FREE Book)

The winners of spotlighted Words To Mouth authors have been randomly chosen and I’m working on getting the announcement posted. Meanwhile, I found another freebie for you to tide you over:

Bittersweet

You can download Bittersweet: Confessions of a Twice-Married Man by award-winning investigative journalist Philip Lee between 12:00 midnight September 19th and 12:00 midnight September 21st, 2008.

So, mark your calendar for your free copy of this author’s male perspective on love, parenting, and relationships.

The site provides an excerpt for you to whet your appetite (look over to the righthand column). 

The Truth About Cheating, M. Gary Neuman ~ FREE COPY!

In Case You Haven’t Heard…

CheatYou can get a free download of a copy of M. Gary Neuman’s book, The Truth About Cheating!

Between now and 7p.m. tonight, Friday, September 12, 2008 you can click on the following link and have the book delivered to your computer for free…so just about 12 hours from this posting. Don’t delay. Click HERE

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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