You’ll Understand…

You’ll Understand…

It’s Mother’s Day, 2014. It’s a gorgeous Long Island day. The birds have been chirping tirelessly since around 4am, as they do around here. The trees are still in bloom. The sun is shining bright today, and all the clouds did their busy work yesterday so the sky is clear and the brightest of blues. A perfect day.

My kids haven’t harassed me this morning. They’re downstairs with their dad. I don’t know what they’re up to, but I suspect it has something to do with me. I remember being a kid and being so excited about Mother’s Day. Like it was Christmas! I remember so well conspiring with my dad, my brothers, and sister on Mother’s Day mornings about doing our thing for Mom. The one day we’d “do” for her–totally out of balance with the hundreds of days she “did” for us.

“Wait till you’re a mother. You’ll understand.”

Mom and Me, about 15 months pre-motherhood. (So thin and fancy I am!)
Mom and Me, about 15 months pre-motherhood. (So thin and fancy I am!)

This was my mother’s mantra. She used it for all kinds of reasons, from explaining why we couldn’t play with a certain kid, to why we were having spaghetti again, for the fourth day that week, to why she was hiding in the bathroom…

My mother was not Donna Reed. Like many mothers, I’m sure she struggled daily between being a person, a woman–being the girl she was before she became a mother at 21–and being a mother. These are different things. A mother isn’t human, exactly. She has a human part of her, like Superman has Clark Kent. But it’s the “Superman” aspect that we count on, and, as the offspring of Superman, we sometimes forget there’s an actual person behind all that extraordinary giving and sacrifice. A person with an identity beyond what’s in it for us. A person with hopes and dreams, sometimes shelved. With spice and verve and maybe even a wild streak.

This is my mother. She is 19 or 20 and, yes, she is smoking!
This is my mother. She is 19 or 20 and, yes, she is smoking!

“Wait till you’re a mother. You’ll understand.” I didn’t understand some of the things my mother did and the decisions she made. And when I got to be a mother myself, I, one time, challenged her on one of these things because I can be a little shit sometimes. Which she knew, because she was my mother.

Me, shitty and defiant: “I’m a mother now. I still don’t understand why you’d ever….” whatever it was.

Without skipping a beat, she looked at me and said, “Wait till you’re a grandmother. You’ll understand.” Ah, she was ready for me.

I understood. I finally understood.

Mom with Dad and the "grandbabies." Oh how she loved these little monsters!
Mom with Dad and the “grandbabies.” Oh how she loved these little monsters!

I was lucky enough to have my mom into my forties. Lucky enough to know her both as a mother and a grandmother. It was really when she became a grandmother that I started to understand her more. Not when I gave birth, but when the mother lifestyle really took hold. The endless needs. The birthday parties. The PTA. All of the obligations. The laundry. The homework. The goddamned f@cking homework!

The “playing field” leveled somewhat, and I did have some time to understand why she didn’t sign up for field trips or ever be a class mother. And for a few fleeting years, we understood together. Without her, I’m not sure anyone will ever understand me the same way again.

I haven’t blogged since her passing last fall, but I blog today to celebrate her. For all of you celebrating with your moms, celebrating your mom’s memory. For all of you new moms, expectant moms. For all of you who long to be moms, and all of you who are moms to furry loves, I understand. Thanks to my mom, I understand.

Go and enjoy yourself! Be yourself! Happy Mother’s Day!

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

 

My Writing Process Blog Tour

My Writing Process Blog Tour

I’m excited and honored to have been asked by my good friend and editing partner, Samantha Stroh Bailey, to participate in this blog tour. I have been spending so much time AWAY from my writing in recent months, I’m delighted to get back in the swing of things and focus on my stack of WIPs (works-in-progress) again by answering four questions about my writing process.

Thanks, Sam!

1. What am I working on?

So many projects, so little time… I have a few new novels in the hopper. One is a multi-generational fractured romance about people who do insane (not always funny) things in the name of love. One is a quasi-paranormal about maenads (Dionysian party nymphs living in the present). Another is about a group of forty-ish former colleges roommates down on their luck who decide they’ll rent a giant house and all live together again (with spouses, kids, pets, and plenty of baggage!). Then there’s an erotic novel; then a fractured fairytale trilogy I’m doing with my husband…. I think I may need Ritalin!

The WIP that’s in the forefront right now though is a collection of short stories I’m putting together for Mother’s Day – and for charity. A KIND OF MAD COURAGE features many stories in different genres and should be released by May. Lots of great authors have already submitted, including Samantha, plus Carey Heywood, Wendy Janes, Louise Wise, and Laura Chapman, and I’m looking forward to seeing more, from Elke Feuer, Karen E. Martin, Jen Tucker, Julie Valerie (see below!), and more! My mother passed away last fall from an auto-immune disease, and all proceeds for the book will go to the Guthy-Jackson Foundation, which does a lot of AI research, as a tribute to my mom. More about that as we get closer to the release!

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I don’t have a neat, cut-and-dry genre I write in. I wish I did–marketing would be much easier! I have been told my books are “original” and “fresh” when people like them. And “stupid” and “implausible” when they don’t. I try and take the standard three-act structure as a base, but my stories seem to spin the way they want to. They’re like unruly children who are kind of sassy and cute and with whom you put up anyway because they’re kind of cute… Right?

3. Why do I write what I write?

Characters speak to each other in my head and I listen to what they say. Sometimes they’re silly (like Rita Hayworth’s Shoes) and sometimes they’re wacky and dark (like The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything). They spout their insane ramblings at me and I try and “box” them into a story. Not really that far off from what I do as a ghostwriter, actually… (Ha! I’m kidding! [No, no I’m not.])

4. How does my writing process work?

I write when I can. I try to escape to Panera, but sometimes I’m writing “in the fray.” I’ve gotten very good at blocking distractions. With a family, a job, freelance clients, etc. to juggle, you kind of have to do it that way. I spend about 80 percent of my writing time thinking about writing and 20 percent typing. I’m a really fast typist!

JulieValeriePressPhoto

To continue the writing process blog tour, I will now hand the “mic” over to the amazingly funny Julie Valerie, who will answer these questions on her blog next week.

Thanks again, Sam!!

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.