Creaking Open That Old Shed Door…

Creaking Open That Old Shed Door…

Why – hello everyone. Are you still here? Are you all really STILL here? Wow! Thank you for sticking around. It’s so wonderful to be able to engage with you again!

If you’ve forgotten, it’s me, Francine LaSala. You may remember me / my words from such quirky novels as Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything and as the publisher and co-editor of the anthology A Kind of Mad Courage. (You may also remember me as the author whose book somehow had the same cover as one by Margaret Atwood – my biggest post to date.)

Margaret Atwood's "ripoff" cover.
Margaret Atwood’s “ripoff” cover. (Click on image to read post.)

Actually, you may not remember me at all – or that you even subscribed to this blog – as it’s been so long since I published anything. Since I’ve written anything of my own. Somehow in the madness of the past two years, I have abandoned my poor “Shed” and somehow managed to lose track of my identity as a writer. Very Mina-esque for anyone who gets the reference.

Before…?

Well, no more or that. The past couple of weeks, I’ve been working to whack away the weeds that have grown over the “Shed” (otherwise known as my creativity). I’ve WD-40’d the hinges of the rickety old door and finally pushed it open. It’s a little musty in here, and there are some cobwebs and spiders hanging around, but give me a few weeks and I’ll have it all spic-and-span again.

I’ve already started to redecorate aesthetically – giving the blog a new look. (What do you think?) Now I’m working on “redecorating” content. I don’t think I’ll be able to commit to regular features, like Wassup Wednesday and Five for Friday anymore, but I will try and post regularly.

I still want to hear from you guys as well. While I haven’t been around all that much, I’ve really missed the sense of community having a regular blog gives a gal.

In the time that I’ve been away, I lost my mother. I became estranged from my father, and made my peace with him.

I became a dog person.

The three "musketeers" (or "stooges" - depending on the day/hour).)
The three “musketeers” (or “stooges” – depending on the day/hour).)

I took a couple of winter trips to a California beach house with writer pals Eileen Goudge, Samantha Stroh Bailey, Julie Valerie, Jen Tucker, Meredith Schorr, and Josie Brown and enriched my soul.

I went to France with my ten-year-old daughter and left here there with her grandparents – to fly home on her own. The most terrifying experience of my life, but she was awesome!

Yep, I’ve done a lot of growing these past months. How about you? Please leave me a comment about the biggest thing that’s happened to you in the past two years. (And if you’re not subscribed, do it now – it’s so easy!)

I look forward to welcoming you all back into the Shed again – maybe when it looks like more this…?

The Goal!
The Goal!

Till next time,

Francine

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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.

Chick Lit Library Giveaway – Get 25+ Signed Books!

Chick Lit Library Giveaway – Get 25+ Signed Books!

posterHow would you like to own nearly 30 signed books from some of your favorite authors and some new discoveries?! Enter NOW – between now and Christmas Eve – to WIN THEM ALL!

Features:

BINDING ARBITRATION by Elizabeth Marx

FINDING LUCAS by Samantha Stroh Bailey

IN NEED OF THERAPY by Tracie Banister

UNFINISHED BUSINESS by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED by Cindy Rossel

THE DAY I LOST MY SHAKER OF SALT by Jen Tucker

RESCUE ME, MAYBE by Jackie Bouchard

IS THIS ALL THERE IS by Patricia Mann

ROYAL SECRETS by Kathleen Irene Paterka

Plus my RITA HAYWORTH’S SHOES, THE GIRL, THE GOLD TOOTH & EVERYTHING, and MERRY CHICK LIT a collection of stories published for charity, in which my short story, “Carol of the Belles” appears – with five other festive shorts.

PLUS many more! Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

“It’s a Family Affair,” by Jen Tucker

“It’s a Family Affair,” by Jen Tucker

*Jen throws confetti and pops the bubbly*

Thank you Francine for letting me hang out at your blog today! You’re a fabulous ray of sunshine, and I would share my gluten-free cupcakes with you anytime. Unless I had only one left, then we’d have to negotiate. XOXO

(Thank you Jen for being here! It would not be the same without you, love! xo)

The question I’m asked most when chatting with readers and other authors, is what my family and friends think about being my cast of characters in my memoirs and movies. It can be a slippery slope writing non-fiction. Living under my roof are two fabulous yet extremely opposite male teenagers, a six-year-old daughter who wants to marry NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer, two Golden Retrievers with penchants for consuming sticks of butter and ant traps, and an ever-patient husband who tolerates my quirky creativity. If I’m not authentic when writing about my life experiences, readers will instantly know. They will feel it in the words I write, and the ones I omit. Yet, how much is too much to share concerning your personal sphere of family space?

iphone pics 5-5-2013 022

It’s okay to tell the whole story, yet as a family we choose the story that’s told. There are some Tucker family secrets that shall remain that way after collectively we decided to twist it, lock it, and then put them in our pockets. I want write about our sagas, yet not end up on stage with Dr. Phil in five years with my friends and/or family cursing my existence. Yet if there’s a silver lining, a moral to the story or even a glimmer that a reader will relate and not feel alone in a similar experience or journey, then to me that’s worth its weight in concert tickets to see Seal. If you know me, that’s worth more than gold.

My teenagers are supportive and proud of what I do, yet I respect their desire to remain in the background when it comes to events and my penchant (translation: addiction) to making iMovies. My sweetie pie husband, Mike, is a willing participant. Director, actor, cameraman, key grip (I have no clue what that job entails—I just like saying it), you name it and he’s all in. His SAG card is pending approval as far as he knows.

iphone pics 5-5-2013 123And then there’s Gracie. She lives her little first grade life with a flair for the dramatic. She’s the child who built multilevel stages out of my FIRM Fanny Lifter in the basement at the age of three and choreographed a little ditty to the Britney Spears star maker, “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” Where she heard the song, how she created moves like Jagger all while straddling the world of Pull Ups and Dora the Explorer panties, I will never know. I guardedly let her be a part of my creative craziness because she wants to be involved. Plus, she has some great ideas!

In our Mr. Wonderful Season Finale video, it was Gracie’s idea to put him in the dollhouse and film her playing with him unbeknownst to moi. That scene played so well because of her little brainstorm.

Writing about my life, then sharing information with others by utilizing technology has led to wonderful things. Thanks to Twitter, Gracie has met and befriended half of an Indianapolis television station. I’ve been informed by my daughter to “know my place in the relationship” with this new set of friends she’s acquired. She doesn’t share well with others unfortunately. Without a little something like Facebook, I would’ve never met the fabulous Francine LaSala. I’m forever grateful to author Jim Higley for teaching me about iMovies at the 2013 Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, or I would’ve missed out on an opportunity to make Francine laugh because I am 42 years young and play with dolls. Since she now claims me as a friend and her official court jester, it led to the humbling invitation to join her and six other talented authors at the inaugural Book Buzz NYC event later this month. Crazy, right?!

(Crazier still, Jen made awesome trailers for the event. Watch now!)

I don’t want you to be afraid to share your struggles, joys, and outrageousness with others. Your insanity just might be the sanity someone’s longing for. Embrace technology and utilize it for good rather than evil. It takes a village to raise Jen Tucker, so if I can make an iMovie and program my DVR to record Modern Family, you can too. Step away from technology once in a while and live life rather than just tweet or record it. Mr. Wonderful would want that for you.

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Jen Tucker 17Bestselling author JEN TUCKER has found a place in women’s nonfiction literature writing about days that seem to take a wrong turn before they even get off the ground. Her memoir, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out, was a 2011 Goodreads Book Awards semifinalist in the humor category, and she’s back with her latest memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt. Jen writes monthly humor columns for the popular websites Chick Lit Central and Survival for Blondes. She resides in West Lafayette, Indiana, with her ever-patient husband, their three children and two mischievous golden retrievers.

You can connect with Jen on Facebook and Twitter.

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