I used to think that the greatest-ever part of writing a book was actually writing a book. Well, I guess I do still kind of feel that way, but something I never imagined has come out of the book experience: Joining a wonderful community of writers. While the experience of writing is solitary, the experience of promotion is anything but. Thanks to the women (and men) I’ve been meeting these past months, via social media, I’ve learned so many things about how there really is “strength in numbers” and that it really does “take a village” to promote a book!
Last week, I was tagged by the amazing Isabella Louise Anderson in her blog for “Authors Tagging Authors”–a fun and creative way for authors to help other authors get noticed. She started a group on Facebook called Chick Lit Goddesses that’s been a wellspring of information and encouragement for me as I launch The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything, and I was honored she chose to tag me. At the end of this post are authors who graciously agreed to be tagged by me. Go check them out!
And now without further ado… Here’s the Q&A we’ve been asked to post–the skinny about our next book!
What is the working title of your book? A Comfortable Madness
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The book is about people making bad choices, mainly romantic ones, and the sometimes tragic ramifications that go along with it. It’s also about how people rationalize and live with these choices, trying to pretend they’re okay with the crazy (i.e. a “comfortable” madness). I have been married for nearly nine years. There was a good 25 years of dating before that. So… Well… Now you know where the idea comes from!
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’ve been dreaming this one up for a while, so when I started, I saw Reese Witherspoon as Annie and Paul Rudd or Tobey Maguire as Hugh. Though I think by the time this book gets finished, those guys will be way too old! (My characters are all in their early 30s. I think that’s an important age in a person’s romantic development. Old enough to understand what true love should be, but young enough that infatuation and impulse still kind of rule.)
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Bad romantic choices run through generations.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Diversion Books published my first two books and I hope eventually they will be game for this one, too.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I started writing this book in 2001. My most recent draft is dated May 2007. Since then, I’ve carved a screenplay out of it, and am now focusing on making it a novella. (I’m all about re-working what I think is a good idea until I get it right. I’m tireless that way!)
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? If it was compared to The Hours, I think that might be cool.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? Initially, pain. Then perseverance. In all honesty, I always develop a great attachment to my characters, and it really distresses me that the ones in this story have been hanging out in some purgatorial waiting room all this time. They deserve to be heard, to have their stories known, so I’m inspired by that to keep going!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? All of my books can be read on many levels, and touch various nerves emotionally, socially, even politically. So while this book is about the awkwardness and insecurities that can sometimes go along with falling in love, it’s also about living with secrets, some of them dark, that spark that awkwardness and insecurity. If we all walked into relationships as clean slates, how different would these relationships be!
Please check out the posts for the following authors next week. You will not be disappointed! And thanks for dropping by!
She’s 6 Years Old–and She’s My Most Controversial Character To Date!
Bizarre right? I mean, how much trouble can a six-year-old cause? Well, if you have one of these, or have ever had one of these, you’re probably snickering to yourself right now… (Oy! Six-year-olds!)
Antics aside, what makes Zoe “trouble” is that readers either adore or deplore her. Zoe is the “sage” in the book, and it doesn’t always sit so well with every reader that here you get a freak-show cast of grownups flitting about all willy-nilly trying to figure out their lives, and at the center of it all is this diminutive, beyond-precocious child, this insanely polarizing figure, sitting back with her nose in a book and making sense of everything for them all. I LOVE HER! Others, not so much. For some people: “It’s just not realistic! Why should this child be smarter than anyone else! Why should she have all the answers! I just don’t buy it.”
And then for others, well, others can’t get enough of her. “It’s really so realistic! Children are smarter than adults in many ways, of course! They see the world more purely! From the mouths of babes!”
The thing is, I do now have two children. And I KNOW they are smarter than me, and also smarter than most all the other adults I know. I also know that I didn’t pull Zoe out of the the air. She’s based on a now-woman (oy!) who used to be six once, and when she was six, I swear she was just like Zoe. In fact, she’s the one who named most of the characters in the book. (True story. A good bit of advice you won’t hear too often: If you’re stuck on characters’ names, ask a six-year-old. They know!)
If you’ve read Rita Hayworth’s Shoes, you know the whole book is meant to be a little over the top (and if you haven’t yet, hey, why don’t you!), and that’s all thanks to the secondary cast. And for me, this is exactly what makes writing and reading fun. You can pin all the struggle and the strife on the protagonist, lay the foundation, if you will, the framework of the house of the story. And then you get to paint and embellish and really decorate the joint with the rest of the cast! For me, the brighter the colors, the crazier the flourishes, the more fun there is to be had by all!
I’m not alone in this. Consider the Governor in Carl Hiaasen’s books. The Emperor in Christopher Moore’s. Think of every romantic comedy you’ve ever seen starring Joan Cusack as “the best girlfriend” and you see it’s true. Secondary characters are where the quirk is. They steal scenes and they steal hearts. Like Zoe. (You know, unless you hate her.)
Probably the only thing that’s similar between The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything and Rita Hayworth’s Shoes is that each is jam-packed with a colorful secondary cast… And probably many of my new characters are just as polarizing as my Zoe! There’s an eccentric octogenarian, a rock-star new age preacher, a mysterious Russian stalker, a ghetto fabulous best girlfriend… Without these characters, there would still be a story, sure. Of course you could get by without them, like you could live in house that was simply a plain white box. But hey! Why would you want to do that?
So who are some of your favorite Secondary Characters? Please leave me a comment and share your favorites with me!
I first interviewed Meredith back in June when she’d finished writing her latest novel and had handed it off to her publisher. Something pretty big changed since then… Planet of the Flakes was renamed A State of Jane, and was released THIS WEEK! So now not only do you have a chance to get reacquainted with Meredith, you also get a LIVE LINK to discover her new treasure. I loved Just Friends With Benefits and I know I’m going to adore A State of Jane. So now…
I was inspired to interview Meredith because years ago, a mutual friend had connected us–Meredith was looking for advice about how to publish her book; at the time I was in stalemate mode with Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and proved to be completely useless. She pressed ahead and published her first novel before me. I was really thrilled and excited for her–and inspired to finally get my act together!
Having a busy work schedule and small kids means limited spare time, and I hadn’t read a book for fun for years when I ordered Just Friends With Benefits. Because of the chaos, I was worried it would take me forever to read, but it sucked me right in and kept me reading. In fact, I devoured it over a weekend! Meredith has no formal training in writing, but she really holds her own on the page and then some. I’m looking forward to more from Meredith–and I hope you’ll check her out too because she’s great, and really into what she does! (I’ll even give this part of the interview away because it blows my mind: She wrote her second book on her freaking BlackBerry, during her own “Stolen Moments“. How’s that for finding time to do what you’re passionate about!?)
1. When you were growing up, did you dream of becoming a writer, or is this something that snuck up on you later in life? And either way, how did Writing let you know you this is what you were going to be doing?
I never dreamed of being a writer when I was growing up. I had no idea I was skilled in that way until after I graduated from college and others commented that I was a natural writer. The compliments were the initial driving force but then it became an addiction. Writing, specifically fiction, is when I feel the most at peace. I live a pretty hectic life in the big city and I find the escape I get from writing to be essential to my sanity. And it’s so darn fun to create imaginary worlds!
2. I loved Just Friends With Benefits. The characters were so real and the story unfolded so naturally. It was like I was living it! And, admittedly, I probably have lived it–or at least a version of it. How about you?
Thank you so much for saying that. I am glad you feel that way. Although I tried to deny it at first, my friends wouldn’t let me off the hook that easily. Yes, I did live a “version” of it. A very skewed version of it but much of the inspiration, at least for the characters, was taken from real life.
3. Your new book, Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane), is about a no-nonsense kind of gal, ready to settle down, who manages only to find a bunch of flakes out there–and then decides then to turn the tables. And that’s when the fun begins! Where did you come up with this idea, and how was the process of writing it different than JFWB?
I came up with the idea for Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane) when I was single, dating, and one after another, guys who seemed to be completely taken with me would just *poof* disappear without a word leaving me wondering what the heck I did / said wrong. Some of my friends were experiencing the same thing. It was beyond frustrating and disappointing and I often wished I could make these guys understand how they made me feel when they disappeared without an explanation. It wasn’t until after I was finished writing the book that I realized I hadn’t done anything wrong; that sometimes it has nothing to do with me and it just wasn’t meant to be. Now I thank these men for letting me dodge a bullet and giving me an idea for a book!
The writing process was different with the second book as I wrote almost all of Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane) on my BlackBerry. I would write little snippets while waiting on line at a doctor’s appointment, at the grocery store, et cetera, and then email them to myself and paste into my word document. I think the experience of having written and published Just Friend With Benefits also enabled me to trust my instincts more with my second book.
4. Aside from the books, you also maintain a pretty active blog, do guest blogs, work full time, and even manage to read and review other people’s books–on top of everything else (like staying on top of the Yankees and having a LIFE). How do you find the time?
I ask myself that all the time. I’m exhausted!! I carve out time to write whenever I can, including a few lunch hours a week, a standing writer’s group every Wednesday night, whenever I am home and there is nothing good on the television, when I’m commuting on the train. Though I’m not a big fan of writing in my own apartment because there are too many distractions. I usually write on my small, super lightweight netbook, which makes it easy to write on the road. I’m so inspired by my latest work-in-progress now, and I know I will soon need to set it aside to finalize Planet of the Flakes (now A State of Jane). I’m already worried about finding the time, I know I will make it happen.
5. What advice can you give others with a story to tell?
This might seem like strange advice but I urge writers to maintain objectivity. I tend to use my writing sometimes to get closure on events in my own life and so even though my novels are fiction, they touch on something personal to me. Sometimes, the closer I get to it, the less objective I can be about how it comes across to readers who don’t know me and are unaware of my experiences. It is those scenes where I find my beta readers are the most critical. It’s happened a few times over the course of three novels and I’ve needed to re-do things without putting so much of myself in them. Just because you are in on the joke doesn’t mean your readers will “get it” and so I urge writers to be honest with themselves about what they are writing and why.
BONUS QUESTION! Do you have a special ritual or thing you need to get you writing–and keep you writing. For me, it’s music (usually show tunes). What brings the words out of you?
Sometimes I am extremely prolific, creating 5+ pages in a single one hour sitting and other times, I’m lucky if I finish a paragraph in that same amount of time. I have yet to solve the mystery of why my creative juices flow better on some days than on others.
A huge THANK YOU to Meredith for visiting the Shed, and a big THANKS to you for joining us. Please still around and browse through some of the other offerings here. And PLEASE leave a comment for Meredith. She will see it! Thanks again! Don’t forget where to find her: www.meredithschorr.com Facebook Twitter
And here’s some more information about her books!
Jane Frank is ready to fall in love. It’s been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed. With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her father’s law firm. There’s just one problem: All the guys in New York are flakes. They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation. Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood? Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who’ve scorned her? As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.
When a friend urges Stephanie Cohen not to put all her eggs in one bastard, the advice falls on deaf ears. Stephanie’s college crush on Craig Hille has been awakened 13 years later as if soaked in a can of Red Bull and she is determined not to let the guy who got away once, get away twice. Stephanie, a 32-year-old paralegal from Washington, D.C., is a 70’s and 80’s television trivia buff who can recite the starting lineup of the New York Yankees and go beer for beer with the guys. And despite her failure to get married and pro-create prior to entering her thirties, she has so far managed to keep her overbearing mother from sticking her head in the oven. Just Friends with Benefits is the humorous story of Stephanie’s pursuit of love, her adventures in friendship, and her journey to discover what really matters.