All Posts Tagged With: "Words To Mouth"
A Conversation with Kaira Rouda
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.
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
A Conversation With
THE OTHER LIFE
Carrie: After The Smart One and Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, THE OTHER LIFE is a real departure for you. What inspired it?
Ellen: I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of escape. I guess that’s part of the job description for a fiction writer. I was thinking about that one day after my husband left for work and the children left for school. There I was, all by myself, waiting impatiently for my computer to boot up so I could lose myself in the world I had created, when I began to wonder what might happen if a wife and mother could use those magical hours alone to escape in a more literal sense. At once, I had the image of a portal right smack in the middle of the most domestic setting…an opening that would let the woman cross over to the life she would have had if she had chosen a very different path. The more I thought about this idea, the more excited I got. As details about my main character and her two lives emerged, a story began to form. But it wasn’t until it occurred to me that my protagonist’s mother was dead in one life and alive in the other that I knew I had a book.
Carrie: THE OTHER LIFE is about returning to the road not taken and exploring the life unlived. Have you ever longed to see what happened on the other road?
Ellen: Haven’t we all? I think that’s human nature, especially in times of extreme stress. We play the “if only” game, imagining what might have been. What if I hadn’t gotten married? What if we hadn’t bought this house? What if we never had a child? What if I had been there to prevent that accident/suicide/awful mistake? Of course, it’s easy to condemn this line of thinking as counterproductive, but I believe it’s a coping mechanism. There’s only so much grief and anxiety our minds can hold before we need a mental vacation.
Carrie: In this story Nan makes the ultimate sacrifice for a child, in this case her daughter, Quinn, and her grandchildren. Do you think that kind of love is instinctual or learned?
Ellen: I think we’re hardwired to make sacrifices for our children. It’s the basest human instinct, and it gets switched on like a spotlight when we have our first child. I guess scientists can explain the chemistry of it, but from a personal perspective, falling in love with my first child was the most dramatically transformative moment of my life. I was flooded with something that seemed to alter my DNA, restructuring every cell. I was no longer just Ellen, I was Max’s mom, and I knew from that moment on every decision I made in life would be informed by that simple fact.
Carrie: With Nan and Quinn, you brilliantly capture the mother-daughter relationship and the bond that hovers between boundless love and bruising tension. Did you draw from personal experience?
Ellen: Thanks for that compliment! I can honestly say that my own even-tempered mother is nothing like Nan, but I’ve always been fascinated by the wrenching emotional turmoil of family relationships. I’m not sure there’s anything more interesting—or more human—than the ways in which we are tested by love.
Carrie: As her daughter straddles parallel universes, Nan wonders whether having an escape route will help Quinn manage life’s difficulties with more grace, or instead taunt her with a decision no one should ever have to make. Is it a blessing or a curse…or something else?
Ellen: I love this question, because I think it gets to the heart of the book, and I hope readers will explore this issue themselves. What if their life included a portal to what might have been? Would they welcome the possibility to cross from one life to another? Or do they think they would be tortured by the endlessness of the choices they could make?
Carrie: In musing about her mother, Quinn observes: “Sometimes we don’t just simply grow and change. Sometimes life is so harsh and so dark, a part of us gets excised completely, leaving us permanently altered.” It happened to Nan, but what is it about Quinn that keeps her from the same fate?
Ellen: Quinn lives very much outside of herself. She’s introspective, sure, but she’s a giver and feels like her place in the world (or, in her case, worlds) is to take care of others. She’s so acutely aware of being needed that it’s very nearly impossible for her to make the kind of choice her mother did in her darkest hour. To Quinn, suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness.
Carrie: THE OTHER LIFE probes the choices we make in life. Do you think there’s a way to avoid the second-guessing that often accompanies them?
Ellen: No, and I don’t think we should. That constant reexamination of our motives and choices is how we learn and grow. It’s like what Socrates said about the unexamined life.
Carrie: Grief comes in many forms in this novel. Are there lessons here for those stuck in grief?
Ellen: Grief is such a bear and so very personal. So I don’t know if there are any lessons here, but perhaps some comfort in taking the journey with someone finding her way through it.
Carrie: THE OTHER LIFE has been called “the thinking woman’s beach read” (NY Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson), making it perfect for a book club selection. What feedback do you get from book clubs?
Ellen: From my experience, book clubs enjoy novels with fresh writing, complex characters and enough emotional resonance to leave readers with questions that feel very personal. Naturally, I hope THE OTHER LIFE is all those things … and I’m thrilled that the early feedback I’m getting from beta readers suggests that it is!
Carrie: What genres (or authors) do you like to read? Why?
Ellen: I don’t limit myself to any particular genre, but I’m definitely drawn to character-driven stories that take a hard look at human relationships. So a survey of my book shelf would probably reveal more literary and women’s fiction than anything else.
Carrie: Modern women yearn for balance between work and family. As a writer and mother of three, do you have any advice for them?
Ellen: For me, it’s a matter of priorities that boils down to a simple equation: Family = first; Work = second; Housework = dead last.
Click HERE to listen to Ellen’s NPR interview
To enter to win a free copy of THE OTHER LIFE:
Leave a Comment below about the “other life” you’ve always wondered about
U.S. & Canada residents only; No P.O. Boxes, please
Deadline: May 15th, 2011 ~ Midnight, EST
Debbie Macomber’s Latest…
Enter to Win:
One (1) Grand Prize winner will win $50 VISA gift card to enjoy additional titles by Debbie Macomber and a copy of HANNAH’S LIST
Two (2) additional winners will receive a copy of HANNAH’S LIST!
Just Leave a Comment Below by midnight May 11th; US & Canada Residents Only (Sorry, no PO Boxes)
A grieving widower receives an unexpected gift of love from his late wife on the anniversary of her death in HANNAH’S LIST, the emotionally powerful new novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber. Connected to her bestselling Blossom Street books (SUMMER ON BLOSSOM STREET, TWENTY WISHES, BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET, SUSANNAH’S GARDEN, A GOOD YARN and THE SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET) this story continues her moving exploration of the complex relationships among family and friends.
Carrie’s Conversation with Seanan McGuire
Carrie: What inspired you to write ROSEMARY AND RUE?
Seanan: I’ve always loved folklore and the old fairy tales — the ones that were around before Grimm came along and “cleaned them up” to turn them into children’s stories. I was visiting the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park one day, and suddenly everything clicked together. I knew who Toby was, I knew what her problem was, and I really, really wanted to know how she was going to get out of it. Everything followed from there.
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?
Seanan: It depends on the book, really. ROSEMARY AND RUE came slowly. The second book in the series, A LOCAL HABITATION, came to me all at once, and just had to be refined from there. It’s very situational for me.
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.
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
THREE-Book Giveaway from Macmillan Audio
You listen to the Words To Mouth podcast, so my guess is you’ll love this opportunity from Macmillan Audio for THREE great audio books. Actually THREE winners get THREE books, each! So, after you check out the book descriptions, read the contest details and ENTER TO WIN!!
Carrie and Ron Janson Chat about RED MONEY
Carrie: What inspired you to write Red Money?
Ron: I became inspired to write a mystery/thriller novel about a year or so after my book, Shareholder Value – A Business Experience, was published in the fall of 2001 under my birth name. Prior to this, I had written several corporate finance related articles that were published in business journals. The book, a nonfiction work on an important aspect of finance, is written as a story, with the learning taking place through a series of “experiences” that the various characters live and work through. I particularly enjoyed the character development and storytelling aspects of composing this book and wanted to pursue a new writing career in fiction, as I felt that I could develop a story that would captivate those who read mysteries and thrillers. For me, the next challenge was to write a fictional story with a compelling plot and cast of characters.
Carrie: Give us an idea about the plot without giving too much away.
Ron: The plot centers on a young married couple from Romania – deeply in love and traumatized by the murder of the husband’s older brother (a police officer) in their homeland shortly after they emigrate to the U.S. to escape a communist regime, under the guise of a student visa to study criminal justice at a college in New York City. The older brother’s homicide, preceded by the murder of his superior, the police precinct chief in their hometown, was the price paid for investigating the cover up and closing in on those responsible for an earlier mob-related killing of a greedy dock supervisor who was being shut off from narcotics shipment pay-offs. After graduating from college, the young male Romanian émigré becomes intertwined with The Red Mafia – first through drug raids via his job as a detective in New York City, and then through an accidental discovery after taking a position with the FBI in Miami. His investigative work in Miami links his brother’s slaying in Romania to a year-old killing of a female FBI employee in Washington, DC, who was romantically linked to a young American member of the mob and was “taken out” when she became a liability. The newly minted FBI agent pursues the mystery of these murders – driving him and his wife into a state of anxiety – to an exciting and deadly climax.
Carrie: What is the underlying theme of RED MONEY?
Ron: The story of RED MONEY is basically one of good versus evil, in which each side is portrayed for what it really is, and where the protagonists are a “good” family (two brothers who are law enforcement officers plus an innocent spouse) unlike many mob-related stories that focus on the mob family.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in RED MONEY?
Ron: That would be the very last major action scene, in which retribution for much pain and suffering occurs.
Carrie: Why should readers buy RED MONEY?
Ron: Virtually all who have read it claim it’s a page turner with twists and turns and good action scenes. Through May 30, readers can get a 20% discount off the $14.95 retail price and be entered in a contest by ordering on my website.
Carrie: Who are your favorite authors?
Ron: My favorite authors for the past fifteen years or so have been Robert Ludlum and John Grisham, and they have had an influence on my writing.
ENTER to Win a FREE Copy:
Leave a Comment Below
Make sure you’re subscribed to e-newsletter, so you’re informed of winner
Deadline April 30th, 2009 midnight EST
U.S. & Canada Residents Only; No P.O. Boxes Please
Upon editing my chat with Josh, I realized this interview is as much for writers as it is readers. Josh, folds his life philosophies and his writing tips adeptly into MATRIMONY and our interview. He is an engaging conversationalist and a natural teacher, not to mention, of course, a gifted writer.
How would you summarize Matrimony?
Jonathan Franzen once said that the better a novel is, the more difficult it is to summarize. The protagonist in Martin Amis’s novel The Information says something similar. He’s a writer himself and he’s being interviewed about his novel and the interviewer keeps asking him what his novel is about. Amis’s protagonist, who, like many Amis protagonists, is a pretty difficult fellow, says something to the effect of, “It’s 150,000 words, and if I could have said it in any less I would have.” I sympathize. But if I had to describe Matrimony, I’d say it’s about the twenty-year history of a marriage (it’s about two marriages, actually–arguably three) and that it’s about love and friendship, and the pleasures and perils that attend to those things. More generally, the novel is about what it’s like to be in your twenties and thirties–even your forties in some cases–when you’re waiting for life to begin and you find to your surprise that it already has begun and that the decisions you make have consequences that you’re not even aware of yet. This is particularly pronounced in the case of my protagonists, Julian and Mia, since they get married at twenty-two, right out of college, and find themselves a year later living in Ann Arbor among friends for whom marriage is the last thing on their minds. College towns can perpetuate an eternal adolescence–I know; I’ve lived in a lot of them. And there’s a real divide between married people and single people, the way further down the line there’s an even bigger divide between people who have children and people who don’t. So Julian and Mia have done what seems like the supremely adult act–getting married–even as in other ways they are far from fully formed. This is certainly true professionally. Julian is struggling to finish his novel; Mia is slogging away on her psychology dissertation. In that sense, the book is about what happens when life calls even when you’re not ready for it to come calling. Read an Excerpt
Josh’s advice about writing that first draft:
“Write by hand…to move forward and not back” and “Write, write, write and read, read READ!”
Oops, one question from Mari I missed (Thank goodness Josh was willing to answer via email):
Mari: The dialog was so meaningful throughout the book, I would like to know if the author was able to reflect his life (did his parents share tidbits of wisdom or is this his creativity)? Here’s an example: Page 59 – “My father’s always saying that college is the great equalizer. Here, we’re all taking the same courses and eating the same meals. But then we graduate and gravitate toward our own kind.” What a strong statement/wisdom. I noted several phrases in the book that read like “ah-ha” moments to me.
Josh: That’s a great question. That actual line of dialogue, like all the dialogue I wrote–like everything in MATRIMONY, in fact–is made up. but a writer is always on the lookout, always thinking, always observing, and you absorb the things that people say to you. Certainly my parents shared tidbits of wisdom with me over the years. It’s hard to imagine a parent who doesn’t, and perhaps my parents especially–my father was a professor for 50 years, so teaching came naturally to him, and to my mother as well, even if in a different way. But neither of my parents ever said that line of dialogue. Almost everything I write comes to me only at the moment I write it, though of course there are years of having lived and thought about things stored away somewhere in the recesses of my brain. In general, I love writing dialogue. How people speak characterizes them so deeply. it’s interesting to me (and pleasing) that you chose the line of dialogue you did. It’s not a major moment in the novel, it would seem, but to me it is a major moment and one that I often bring up when I talk with book clubs. I’m more than twenty years out of college now, and I’m struck by how different many of my college friends are from what they were like in college, but how similar they are to what they were like before college, and to what their parents are like. I think college is a time of real experimentation for a lot of people. Economic concerns, while still present, may be less pressing than they are later, and so people are more on the same playing field. It’s the great equalizer, as Carter’s father says. And in some ways, though I didn’t realize it as I was writing the book, this idea, this tension, is the driving force behind everything that happens in MATRIMONY. You take a couple that meet in college, you take friends that meet in college, and you subject them to what life is like after college, and interesting things happen. What is it like to fall in love in college and to try to stay in love many years later? That, to me, is what MATRIMONY is about.”
Josh’s Suggested Reading:
- Empire Falls, Richard Russo
- Cost, Roxana Robinson
- Helen Garner
- Lorrie Moore
- Mystery Ride, Robert Boswell
- The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
Josh enjoys discussing MATRIMONY with book clubs, so be sure to check out his website for details.
To enter to win a free copy of MATRIMONY:
Subscribe to the Words To Mouth e-newsletter
Leave a Comment Below
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: April 30th, 2009 ~ midnight, EST