Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Interview with Judi Fennell

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Today, I interview debut author Judi Fennell. All I can say is Mermen rock. Read on, and check her out awesome contest, too!

About The Author:

Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to "get outside!" instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did–right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books

Photo of Author Judi Fennell

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to "dive in" to her stories.

About the Book

In Over Her Head
Sourcebooks, June 2009
ISBN # 9781402220012
Cover of In Over Her Head by Judi Fennell
When Erica Peck, one terrified-of-the-ocean marina owner, finds herself at the bottom of the sea conversing with a Mer man named Reel, she thinks she’s died and gone to her own version of Hell. When the Oceanic Council demands she and Reel retrieve a lost cache of diamonds from the resident sea monster in return for their lives, she knows she’s died and gone to Hell.

When they escape the monster and end up on a deserted island, she amends her opinion – she’s died and gone to Heaven.

But when Reel sacrifices himself to allow her to return to her world, she realizes that, Heaven or Hell, with Reel, she’s In Over Her Head.

What people are saying:

Nora Roberts? Danielle Steel? Much acclaimed romance writers should step aside. There is a new romance writer in town and she is certainly causing a great splash with her debut novel, In Over Her Head.

I truly found a pearl in my oyster when I read this delightful tale. I was surprised how good of a book In Over Her Head is. It is extremely well-written, the storyline flows and I was hooked from the first page.

IN OVER HER HEAD is a delightful, quirky blend of humor, adventure and passion. All in all, this is a fast, fun read and a great way to spend a snowy afternoon or a sunny day at the beach.
— Lynda K. Scott, Star-Crossed Romance

In Over Her Head is a heartwarming, but action-packed story of two people-one human and the other of the seaworthy body-joined together in an adventure. I enjoyed this story immensely.
— Dawn M. Ekinia, Armchair Interviews

A delightful underwater adventure… full of good-natured humor and fun. A strong first effort by a promising new talent.
— Romantic Times

A playful debut… sincere wit.
— Publisher’s Weekly


To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn ( and the Hibiscus House ( bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi’s website,

The Interview

1. Tell me a little bit about the book.

When Erica Peck, one terrified-of-the-ocean marina owner, finds herself at the bottom of the sea conversing with a Mer man named Reel, she thinks she’s died and gone to her own version of Hell. When the Oceanic Council demands she and Reel retrieve a lost cache of diamonds from the resident sea monster in return for their lives, she knows she’s died and gone to Hell.

When they escape the monster and end up on a deserted island, she amends her opinion – she’s died and gone to Heaven.
But when Reel sacrifices himself to allow her to return to her world, she realizes that, Heaven or Hell, with Reel, she’s In Over Her Head.

2. If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be?

Heh. I think Erica would love to be able to fly. That’d get her out of the ocean in a flash if a shark showed up. The fact that it’s also the superpower I’d love to have could be totally coincidental. But probably isn’t. Alternatively (or both!) if your protagonist were to wake up one day with an intense craving for something, what would the craving be? Kajiki – swordfish sushi. Paybacks are a bitch.

3. Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why? (If you’ve never watched Flash Gordon, feel free to Google or substitute the villain of your choice.)

Darth – Ming ruled a planet. Darth has a bigger focus; he wants every universe out there. Ceto has a bone to pick with The Gods and she wouldn’t mind having more power than them.

4. What do you consider the heart of your story? That is, what is the issue or emotion that propels things forward? Spill your guts on this one.

Reel’s realization. I didn’t see that one coming, and, no, I’m not giving it away here. But it touched me when I wrote that scene. There’s one line in there that just took my breath away when I wrote it about being a son and a father.

5. If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

I laugh when I get this question because I hadn’t really thought about it until I had to start doing promo because everyone asks it. Matthew McConaughey’s character in Failure to Launch inspired Reel’s devil-may-care attitude, and he does look like him and I think Matthew could do Reel really well. I love Sandra Bullock playing opposite Matthew, and her character in Two Weeks’ Notice — the chattiness and sarcasm to cover her insecurities – would play well with Erica.

6. Is there a scene you cut from the book that you kind of wish you could put back in? (Feel free to include a URL to it, it you have it posted on line.)

Nope. Everything I wrote is in there.

7. Do you have a sample chapter posted?

I have an excerpt at:

8. Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.

Because she loved my story enough to buy it! And the next two in the series on proposal. Seriously, she and I had formed a great relationship through industry functions and she wanted to make something work for us – when this came across her desk, it was the right one.


Interview with April Henry

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Today, April Henry visits the blog and is interviewed by yours truely! Yay! Her release Face of Betrayal sounds right up my alley. I love stories like this. Here we go…

About the book – Face of Betrayal

When 17-year-old Senate page Katie Converse goes missing on her Christmas break near her parents’ white Victorian home in Portland, Ore., law enforcement and the media go into overdrive in a search for clues. Three friends at the pinnacle of their respective careers–Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor; Cassidy Shaw, a crime reporter; and Nicole Hedges, an FBI special agent–soon discover that Katie wasn’t the picture of innocence painted by her parents. Did Katie run away to escape their stifling demands? Was she having an affair with the senator who sponsored her as a page? Has she been kidnapped? Is she the victim of a serial killer?
Cover of Face of Betrayal

About the authors

April Henry knows how to kill you in a two-dozen different ways. She makes up for a peaceful childhood in an intact home by killing off fictional characters. April had one detour on her path to destruction: when she was 12 she sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to noted children’s author Roald Dahl. He liked it so much he arranged to have it published in an international children’s magazine.
April Henry
By the time she was in her 30s, April had come to terms with her childhood and started writing about hit men, drug dealers, and serial killers. She has published six mysteries and thrillers, with five more under contract. Her books have gotten starred
reviews, been on Booksense (twice!), translated into four languages, short-listed for the Oregon Book Award, and chosen as a Quick Pick by the American Library Association.
April firing a Sig Sauer at Firing Range
April co-wrote Face of Betrayal with Lis Wiehl, a legal analyst on FOX. They have a contract for three more Triple Threat mysteries.

In March, April’s young adult thriller, Torched, came out from Putnam.

What others are saying

Publishers Weekly
"A sizzling political thriller. . . The seamless plot offers a plethora of twists and turns."

Romantic Times
4.5 stars [and they don’t give out five stars] "Wiehl and Henry have penned a winner that seems to come straight from the headlines. Captivating suspense, coupled with tightly written prose, will entertain and intrigue."

"Readers are in for a treat as trial lawyer/commentator Lis Wiehl and mystery author April Henry team up for a political thriller."

Find out More!

April’s Website
April’s blog

The Interview

Q: Tell me a little bit about the book (Back cover blurb is fine)
A: My latest book, Face of Betrayal, was co-written with FOX legal analyst Lis Wiehl. It publishes April 7 from Thomas Nelson. In it, three women who fight crime are also friends. Allison Pierce is a federal prosecutor, Cassidy Shaw is a TV crime reporter, and Nicole Hedges is a FBI agent. The book begins when a 17-year-old Senate page goes missing when she’s home on Christmas break. The prime suspect is the senator who sponsored her – and who might have been having an affair with her.

Q: If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be?
A: We have three protagonists. Allison would like to always know the truth. Cassidy would like to look great all the time without having to make any effort. And Nicole would like a guarantee that her daughter will always be safe.

Q: Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why? (If you’ve never watched Flash Gordon,feel free to Google or substitute the villain of your choice.)
A: Voldemort. All that power !

Q: If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?
A: Kristen Stewart to play Katie, Jennifer Garner to play Allison, Thandie Newton to play Nicole, and Cameron Diaz to play Cassidy.

Q: Is there a scene you cut from the book that you kind of wish you could put back in?
A: The editor was worried that the book was too downbeat. So we moved a major life moment for one of the characters into the second book. It was a great solution, because we got to save the scene, which I loved, and also not make the first book too heavy.

Q: Do you have a sample chapter posted?
A: Read Chapter 1

Q: Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.
A: She is full of praise. I have worked with editors who are blunt and sarcastic. I tell you, it’s lot easier to work with one who sandwiches her criticism between sincere praise. And she gets the books. She gently points out areas that need to be stronger, and has suggestions for how to approach the problem.


Beyond Heaving Bosoms – Interview and Contest!

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Today I am thrilled to be turning over the blog to Sarah Wendell, aka Smart Bitch Sarah, co-author, along with Candy Tan, of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels

photo of Sarah Wendell, co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms

Funny, irreverent, insightful, and thorough, this guide zeros in on the joys and the woes of the romance genre.
— Nora Roberts, NY Times bestselling author

A high-octane, hilarious, and relevatory look at the romance genre. . . This sparkling book is required reading. It’s too much fun to be missed.
— Lisa Kleypas, NY Times bestselling author

A Word from Carolyn

Those of you who’ve visited my blog may already know that for me, the acid test of a book’s worthiness (imho!) is whether I decide to pass it along to my sister. She’s a hard core mystery reader and I am slowly and slyly bringing her into the Romance world by handing over ONLY books I believe are really, really awesome.
Cover of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
Does Beyond Heaving Bosoms past the sister test? My God, there wasn’t even a test. There was almost a fight, though. When my copy arrived, she saw me opening it gleefully and she said, What’s that? and then she took the book from my hands and started flipping through it. And laughing. Loudly. We almost had a throw down just to make her give it back to me.

This book rocks.

OK, Sarah, the blog is yours. Go.

Sarah’s Giveaway:

Leave a comment, win a book. Easiest giveaway ever! I’ll send a signed copy of the Bosoms to a lucky reader who comments on this entry and tells me what, if anything, you’re looking forward to in the Bitch Book. And if this is the first you’re hearing of it, that’s cool too – just say howdy!

Note from Carolyn: if you actually want to receive your awesome winning you must either leave an email address, have a blogger or google id that easily tracks to contact info for you, or else commit to watching this blog on, say, Friday April 17 (give or take a day) to see if you won. K?

Beyond Heaving Bosoms – About The Book

Wendell and Tan give a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at the ins and outs of romance novels.
With their biting humor and sarcastic commentary, the authors both mock and pay homage to this highly successful genre while giving delicious tidbits of information for hardcover romance lovers, curious dabblers, and skeptics alike. Sure, the authors visit the wild love scenes where the hero/heroine Must Have Sex NOW — but they also speak with famous romance authors and explore how this genre has influenced gender and sexual roles in our society. Filled with witty remarks and an abundance of expletives, BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS provides insight on questions such as:

  • Could romance novels be considered porn? (no)
  • Why are the plots so cliché sometimes? (yes they can be cringingly bad but are always delicious in the end)
  • Can we tame the hero? (hard, but definitely not impossible)
  • What is the importance of the Magic Hoo Hoo and Heroic Wang of Mighty Lovin’? (I’m sure you can figure out what these are and have decided that yes They Are Very Important)
  • What is the difference between Old Skool and New Skool romances?

Full of sarcasm and sass, Wendell and Tan bring new insight and irreverent commentary to a long frowned-upon genre. The authors dismiss these jaded perceptions and reinforce why romance novels have long been — and will remain — the best loved book genre. From insider advice on writing romance novels to discovering your inner Viking warrior, BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS shows that while some romance novels can be silly, maybe even tawdry; they’re also intelligent, savvy, feminist, and fabulous — just like the Smart Bitches.

10 Commandments of Heroine Conduct

  1. Thou shalt not lust in thy panties for any male’s mighty wang due to normal sexual horny pants. Thou shalt lust in thy panties only for the mighty wang of the hero. There is no "ho" in heroine.
  2. Thou shalt not offer an accurate representation of the financial insecurities of women at the time period by actively looking for a hero of wealth and reputation, and admitting that thou art doing so without remorse. Just because every unmarried woman at that time actually was doing so is no excuse for similar behavior in a romance heroine.
  3. If thou art in a historical, thou shalt not be without a loyal, trusty servant, even though trusting the servant put the servant in a complicated position of power over her mistress, and really, a heroine who is blackmailed by her servants is scarcely a noble prototype of admirable behavior.
  4. Thou shalt not be aware of your beauty. Every villain, sleazy uncle, and otherwise able-bodied male who has ever clapped eyes on thee may make sexual overtures on thee, but thou shalt remain in blissful oblivion.
  5. Thou shalt have a nurturing streak larger and warmer than the South China Sea. Thy desire for children shall be unquestioned and unperturbed by real-life concerns such as the cost of child rearing, reproductive choice, and child-support payments (in contemporaries), or the dangers ofchildbearing (in historicals). And shouldst thou choose to remain child-free, thou freak of nature, verily though shouldst display your nurturing streak with animals. Preferably cute, neurotic ones.
  6. If thou shalt have a baby with the hero prior to getting together with him, thou shalt keep this baby a secret.
  7. Thy amnesia shalt be sexy and not be complicated by distinctly unsexy side effects such as loss of motor control, speech impediments, loss of cognitive skills, and inability to control bodily functions.
  8. Thou shalt not win against the hero in any significant way. A few moral victories shall be thine; all other substantive victories shalt lie with the hero, for yea, his wang is mighty.
  9. If in a historical, thou shalt desire escape from the domestic sphere. If a contemporary, thou shalt desire escape from a soul-sucking career. If in a paranormal, thou shalt desire escape from the superpowers and eternal life that have been foisted unwillingly upon thee.
  10. Thou shalt not kill, unless it be accidental or under extremely limited circumstances. Thou especially shalt not be an efficient killer, unless thou art in a paranormal and thou killest most nonhuman bad guys who verily had it coming to their asses.

About the Authors – Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan, the Smart Bitches

Sarah Wendell is a transplanted Pittsburgher currently living in New York metropolitan area. By day she’s mild mannered and heavily caffeinated. By evening she dons her cranky costume, consumes yet more caffeine, and becomes Smart Bitch Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, examining the history and future of the genre, and bemoaning the enormous prevalence of bodacious pectorals adorning male cover models. Sarah is co-author of the seminal monument to all things romance: Beyond Heaving Bosoms: the Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels.

Candy Tan is currently a perpetually sleep-deprived law student who lives in Portland, Oregon with two cats and seven bookcases (all of them double–even triple–stacked). She looks forward to becoming a less sleep-deprived lawyer. She is startled and gleeful whenever she meets people who have heard of Smart Bitches before they ever met her, and has been known to introduce herself as "Your friendly local D-list Internet celebrity" at parties.

Interview with Smart Bitch Sarah

Q: What made you decide to write this book? What’s the passion behind it?

A: Once Rose Hilliard from St. Martin’s Press gave us the idea, we realized we had a TON of things about the romance genre that we wanted to discuss and illustrate through our own odd style of comedy. So the passion behind the book is simple: we love romance novels, and it’s high time we paid critical attention to what makes them wonderful, what makes them woefully bad, and why so many women love them, too.

Q: Milk chocolate or dark?

A: Dark. With currants, hazelnuts, or crystallized ginger, please.

Q: Romance, unlike any other genre of writing, seems to be judged solely by its flaws, as if flawed books define the genre and cancel out everything else. Can you talk a little bit about how your book attempts (if you feel it does) to reconcile the highs and lows of the genre?

A: We definitely think it attempts to reconcile he highs and the lows of the genre. For example: yes, in old skool romance, there were bodices ripped, hymens stolen, and heroines raped. It’s true. But we also talk at length (hur) about the fact that one, this doesn’t happen in romances published today, and more importantly, even in the heyday of the rapetastic hero, there is a very important distinction that isn’t mentioned nearly enough. In most canonical literature, the wages of premarital sex were death, diesase, disgrace, or all three. Consider "Pamela" and its ilk: even if a heroine were raped through no fault of her own, the loss of her hymen equaled instant moral turpitude and a future of degredation and loss, with no recovery of social status or even personal happiness.

But in a romance novel, she who may have had her hymen plucked against her will … has a happy ending. There might be varying levels of remorse on the part of the hero, but she will achieve some access to sexual agency, establish some degree of self-actualization, and have. a. happy. ending.

No other genre allows a happy ending for a heroine who engages, forcibly or by choice, in premarital sex. The subtext is powerful: sexually awakened heroines are not on the short track to death and ostracization. There is value inherent in that subtext that isn’t nearly appreciated enough.

So by highlighting those flaws, or even the more shameful and embarrassing bits of romance’s narrative history, we can also discover the subversion and potential empowerment of women inherent in romance’s core. Those flaws don’t look so much like flaws when examined critically, especially against the total anthropologically-rich history of women’s sexuality that comprises the whole of the romance genre.

Q: Let’s talk ISM’s: Sexism, Feminism, Chauvinism, Reverse-isms and any others you want to throw in there. One could argue, convincingly, I think, that the reason Romance enjoys (with full irony intended) its poor reputation, has to do with the fact that romances are primarily read and written by women. Do you agree with me on that? How does your book contribute to the conversation?

A: Ayup. I surely do. It’s absolutely ludicrous that a billion dollar industry created by women operating independent businesses writing female-centered narratives for an audience of mostly women who never cease with the dedicated bookbuying isn’t taken more serious from an economic, social, political or even literary point of view. Sometimes I huff at this slight and think, "Well, screw you. More for me to read." And other times I want to knock heads together because there’s so much to discover and appreciate within romance that few people ever realize.

But in many fields and -isms in our society, anything produced by and for women is automatically less-than, marginalized, and not taken as seriously. Our book attempts to contribute to the conversation by highlighting some of the literary achievements at work within the genre, and also by including copious amount of literary theory that is usually only applied to canonical works. We discuss Jungian shadow selves, heteronormativity, and feminist lit crit while also paying attention to the man-titty, the Mighty Wang of Lovin’, and the importance of the mullet.

Q: Pirates. They rock. How come? Or, why not?

A: Current pirates, in dinghies attacking freighters, suck and suck bigtime. I have a friend in the Navy who is deployed to fight pirates. It’s kind of funny to say out loud but the core of what he’s doing is dangerous.

Historical romance pirates? Buckling of swashes? Swashing of buckles? Cross dressing heroines, charming pet pigs or pet geese? Tortured noblemen disguised as marauding pirates? Shirts unbuttoned but still tucked in, with wide leather belts, man-titty and long, erect, powerful swords matched only by the stalwart mizzen mast? Candy and I both love it and love it hard. From undermining of heterosexist archetypes to revealing a heroine of nuanced cleverness beneath a clueless exterior, pirate romances done well have it all.

Q: 5-10 years from now, you’re preparing an updated edition of your book. What will you be adding, deleting and updating?

A: Wait, what? More Bosoms? From your lips to the publisher’s ears!

The updated edition would have to revisit some of the perennial questions that plague romance, such as sexuality, sexual content, plagiarism, and hero and heroine expectations.

But in 5 to 10 years I’d hope like hell we would have a definitive and unmistakable recognition of the importance and fundamental power of digital publishing, and that primarily digital publishers who have demonstrated their acumen as romance publishing houses would by that time be taken seriously and recognized. In 5-10 years, it may be that most of us read romance digitally – that alone could be several chapters of discussion.

Q: Someone who doesn’t read romance reads your book. What happens to her afterward? Does his brain implode? Is she whisked into an alternate dimension in which men are alpha and the women kick ass? Assuming this hypothetical reader has a fairly open mind, what do you hope he takes away from his reading experience? Will she end up with an idea of where to start her newly-informed reading?

A: Since we include tons of recommendations from just about every subgenre we could think of, I’d hope a curious reader would find at least a few titles to start with. If anything, I hope that a reader unfamiliar with romance might read our book and realize that by dismissing romance, one is missing the opportunity to read and experience some truly incredible narrative fiction.

Q: Do you have a favorite section of your book? Funniest line?

A: Favorite section? Oh, boy. Probably the sexual mythology of romance novels, in which I discuss all the things that happen in sex scenes in romance novels that can’t possibly happen in real life. And my favorite line: the last line of the book itself.

Carolyn here: OK, I peeked at the last line. Yeah, me, too.

Q: Talk about what drew you into romance in the first place and how you got from there to writing a book about the genre.

A: The short version is, I was not a good reader in school and was never curious or challenged by or even interested in many of the books being taught in class. I didn’t want to answer the same questions being asked of the same twelve books every year, and I developed a sense that there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t appreciate these giant thick massive books. Then, in high school, the class valedictorian (the girl – there were two and I married the other one) introduced me to romance novels, and boy howdy was I a happy girl. This was back in the day of the pack-every-historical-detail-in-each-chapter historical romances, and I got a crash-course in English history, language, social customs, society, and, let’s face it, sexuality. I was hooked.

Once I discovered the genre, I read as much as I could, and pondered the different facets of the genre – but never had anyone to discuss it with, really. Not that many people I knew read romance or would talk about it.

Then came the internet. And it was good.

Q: Man-Titty. I think you guys may actually have coined that phrase. Does your book uncover the subject? If so, why, and (if you have your author copies yet) what page numbers?

A: The man-titty has been uncovered on its own for years now. It’s hard to miss! But we did uncover a discussion of what cover images sell, and WHY they sell. It’s sort of a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum: do clinch covers sell because they are visual shorthand for romance, or is romance best represented by the clinch cover, and ergo it sells?

Q: Anything else you want to add or talk about?

A: Nope – I’m tired. Thank you for the opportunity, though. It was an honor to be interviewed by you!


Smart Bitch Sarah
Smart Bitches Trashy Books LLC

Co-Author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels
Buy from Amazon


Interview with Brenda Janowitz

Monday, January 5th, 2009

There’s a book give away with this one, so read on for instructions for a chance to win a copy of Brenda’s book, Jack With a Twist.

Brenda Janowitz

Photo of author Brenda Janowitz A native New Yorker, Brenda Janowitz has had a flair for all things dramatic since she played the title role in her third grade production of Really Rosie. When asked by her grandmother if the experience made her want to be an actress when she grew up, Brenda responded, "An actress? No. A writer, maybe."

Brenda attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Service Studies, with a Concentration in Race and Discrimination. After graduating from Cornell, she attended Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and won the Law Review Writing Competition. Upon graduation from Hofstra, she went to work for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, where she was an associate in the Intellectual Property group, handling cases in the areas of trademark, anti-trust, internet, and false advertising. Brenda later left Kaye Scholer to pursue a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Since her clerkship, Brenda has worked as a career counselor at two New York City law schools, where she published a number of articles on career related issues in publications such as the National Law Journal and the New York Law Journal. She currently lives in New York with her husband.

Brenda is the author of JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) and SCOT ON THE ROCKS (How I survived my ex-boyfriend’s wedding with my dignity ever so slightly intact), as well as the short story BASED ON A TRUE STORY. You can learn more about Brenda at and check out her blog at


Cover of Jack With a Twist by Brenda Janowitz
Planning a wedding can be a trying experience. . .

A little prewedding anxiety is normal for every bride, and Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller isn’t worried. She’s got the loving support of the world’s greatest guy, so planning her nuptials should be a piece of cake.

But that was yesterday.

Today, Brooke’s landed her first big case and has just discovered that the opposing attorney is none other than her fiancé, Jack. But that’s okay. These two professionals aren’t going to let a little courtroom sparring get their legal briefs in a bunch. . . Right? Wrong! Now Jack’s pulling every dirty trick in the law books, and Brooke’s starting to suspect that maybe he isn’t the man she thought he was. Warring with her fianc at work and at home, Brooke realizes that she’ll have to choose between the case of her life, or actually having a life.

The Interview

Tell me a little bit about the book

JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they dont teach you in law school) is the story of Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller, who plans the wedding of her dreams, all while litigating the biggest case of her career. . . . which just so happens to be against her perfect fiancé. Hilarity ensues. Really. Marian Keyes called it "a funny, sweet romance" and Carole Matthews said it was "[a]nother fun-filled page-turner from Brenda." Ironically, I wrote JACK before even getting engaged myself!

If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be?

Brooke would definitely want to read the minds of men. After all of the heartbreak shes been through, shed absolutely want to know

Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why?

My villain is a Southern Belle who really would have no clue who either of those guys are! But more importantly, she doesnt really think shes a villain at allshe thinks shes just one of the girls. Little does she know that everyone hates her. . . . Shes just the classic misunderstood bad guy (or girl, as the case may be).

But since Im a huge Star Wars lover, can I say that I, myself, would prefer to be Darth?! I live in New York City, so I often find myself wearing all black.

If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

What a fun question! Id love Drew Barrymore for Brooke, and Fran Drescher as her mom. For Jack, I could see a lot of my Hollywood crushes playing the part: Adam Sandler, Jack Black, or Paul Rudd would be perfect. (Yes, I like me a funny guy.)

Do you have a sample chapter posted?

I love free stuff, so I am all about the sample chapters! Ive got sample chapters of both of my novels here:

Speaking of Free Stuff!

All you have to do for a chance to win a copy of Brenda’s book is leave a comment by Monday, January 12. If you post anonymously, you’re going to have to either leave an email (a format of something AT is fine and should defeat email harvesters, though I can’t promise that) or remember to check back by Tuesday January 13 to see if you’re the winner.


Interview With Melissa Clark

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Cover of Swimming Upstream Slowly by Melissa Clark

About Melissa Clark

Melissa Clark is the creator and executive producer of the award-winning television series, Braceface, and has written for shows on the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and Fox. She received a master’s degree from the writing program at U.C. Davis, and currently lives in Los Angeles. This is her first novel.

The Interview

1. Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.
"Swimming Upstream, Slowly" is a novel about Sasha Salter, who wakes up one day to find she is pregnant. Only problem is she hasn’t had sex in over 2 years. The doctor’s diagnosis is that Sasha’s body has been harboring a lazy sperm. Sasha must now open up the Pandora’s box of her past loves to figure out which of her exes is the father – and what the future holds in store.

The idea was born because I was having lunch with a friend and overate. I lifted my shirt to expose my bloated belly and the friend said, half joking, "Are you sure you’re not pregnant?" and I said, "Yeah, right, from a lazy sperm." I went home that night and started outlining the idea for a movie. I decided, eventually, to write it as a novel instead.

2. If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

Natalie Portman gets the first call. I think she could bring depth and humor to the character. If she’s busy making another movie or doing something wonderfully humanitarian we give Jennifer Gardner a jingle. She’s likable, vulnerable. If she’s having a baby then we try Drew Barrymore because she has nailed these roles in the past. There are lots of male parts in this movie, too. I’d love to see Emile Hirsch do a romantic comedy.

3. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background?

My dad is a writer, so I was always playing on his typewriter and writing on legal steno pads. I wrote short stories from the time that I could write. I studied writing and literature in both college and graduate school. In my 20’s to mid-30’s I worked as a writer in television. I created a kid’s show called "Braceface" which ran for 5 seasons. I loved that experience, but really wanted to write a novel, so I quit my own show and set out to write "Swimming Upstream, Slowly." It was the best risk I’ve ever taken!

4. Is writing your main job? If not, what do you do for your real source of income and how does it impact your writing?

I still consider writing my main job even though I’m now teaching at the college level. In between grading, preparing lectures, meeting with students, etc. I somehow manage to find time to write. When I wrote "Swimming…" it was my only job. I had the luxury of time and money from the TV show. Now, my writing time is more precious because it is limited.

5. What comes most naturally for you to write, dialogue? plot? character? And what’s hardest?

I love writing dialogue. I’ve written a few plays in the past and found it incredibly satisfying. I learn so much about my characters through what they say. I often have the feeling that they speak through me and I’m just listening and transcribing their words. I know a lot of writers feel this way. It’s hard for me to slow down and be descriptive – really describe a setting or something. I am very aware of this and tried to do it more consciously in the new book.

6. What is one of the nicest compliments that you have ever received about your book(s)?

"I read it in one sitting." Since it took a year and three months to write, I am amazed and flattered when someone tells me they zipped through it.

7. Did you have any input on the cover, and are you happy with the finished product?

I was actually very disappointed with the cover at first. I was under the false impression that I had a say in the cover. I suggested a few ideas and then showed them a piece of art I saw at the Venice Art Walk. They were all received with a lukewarm attitude. Once day I got an email titled, "Cover!!!!!!" There were so many exclamation points that I knew I was in trouble. When the cover downloaded, I broke out in tears. A girl blowing bubbles was NOT how I saw my cover. Who was that girl, anyway? Why was she blowing bubbles? After calming down, I phoned the editor and explained my dismay. They made some compromises, like removing the almost-exposed breast and some other things that irked me. Clearly I have not made peace with the cover yet, however, I do think it pops and people have told me that they bought the book BECAUSE of the cover, so I’m humbled by that.

8. What do you love most about this book?

I appreciate this question because I feel a little weird loving it so much. I feel genuinely tender toward my characters and feel very disconnected to the fact that I created them. I appreciate their personalities and foibles. Every time I reread the book, I enjoy going on the journey with them all over again. When I was writing the book I had that swoony feeling of romantic love. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I bumped into things all the time, etc. I’ve never told anyone this before!

9. What’s the most surprising thing that has happened to you on your publishing journey? Have you learnt things about the industry you never knew before?

I was invited to speak at the Carmel Authors and Ideas Festival. There is a famous food writer named Melissa Clark who writes for the NY Times and I was sure they meant to invite her. I wined and dined with the likes of Frank McCourt and Elizabeth Edwards. I gave a talk during which I explained that I thought they invited the wrong Melissa Clark. The audience thought it was hysterical. They were cracking up, but I was really venting my insecurity. The head of the program came up to me after the reading and said it was great, but never assured me… a few months later a friend, after hearing that story, told me she knew the other Melissa Clark – they had been in a wedding together – and gave me her email. I wrote about that experience and she replied, "That’s okay, everyone thinks I wrote the lazy sperm book."

10. Who was the first person you told when you got The Call announcing you’d sold your first novel?

I have a crazy publishing story, which is far too long to explain here, but the short of it is that I knew through a third party that an editor was going to call me and make an offer. I had been talking to my parents along the way, when it was going to happen, but hadn’t yet. As I said earlier, my dad is a writer, so he was giving me advice, etc. When the editor finally called, I had to pretend I knew NOTHING. It was the best and only acting job of my life. When we finally hung up I phoned my parents and simply said, "She called," and then we all broke out screaming.

11. Writers are usually big readers too. How do you make time for reading and what are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading "Bright, Shiny Morning" by James Frey and "Veronica" by Mary Gaitskill. A reader reads, just as a writer writes. You somehow find the time.

12. What’s next for you?

I JUST completed a draft of a new novel, "Imperfect". It is another medical anomaly type of story, but very different than "Swimming…" This one is more of a coming-of-age story. I sent it to my agent last week and am now on pins and needles waiting for her response.


Dating DaVinci and Interview with Malena Lott

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Today I’ve got an interview with the terrific Malena Lott, author of Dating da Vinci.

About the Author

Malena Lott writes humorous and heartfelt mainstream women’s fiction novels. With national speaking experience, she is a brand and marketing consultant and facilitates personal and professional development workshops for women. Dating da Vinci is Malena Lott’s second novel. Lott is a married mother of three and resides in Oklahoma. Lott invites you to her web site where she has posted cooking videos, contests and an excerpt of the first chapter:

Author Photo of Malena Lott

The Interview

Give us the premise of your book in 2-3 sentences.

Dating da Vinci is a Texas-based Under the Tuscan Sun meets How Stella Got Her Groove Back. A young widow, 36-year-old Ramona Griffen, searches for joy with the help of a handsome younger Italian immigrant named Leonardo da Vinci. Her humorous and heartwarming journey takes her on some unexpected adventures of body, mind and spirit as she learns to let go of her grief to make room for a wholly new life.
Cover of Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott
How did you get the title of your book?

The title came pretty quickly, early on. I love alliteration and really wanted to incorporate da Vinci since he’s the catalyst that starts Ramona’s renaissance. Since publishers have final say, I don’t get too attached to my working title, though. I do like getting credit for this one, though! Of course the book isn’t just about da Vinci and romance is only a part of the story, but I think it’s catchy and hopefully it will catch people’s eye to learn more about the book.

What pulled you into this story, and as a writer made you think I have to write this What do you consider the heart of your story?

Women, especially mothers, tend to put themselves last on the list. I wanted to share the story of someone who has lost the love of her life and has focused on just "getting by" each day, but is ready to find a way to be joyful again, even through the pain. The heart of the story really is, is there love after death, and the courage it takes to not only survive but to build a great life again.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I spend a great deal of time with character names, even when I snatch them from real life. I used a lot of word play in Dating da Vinci. For Ramona Elise Griffen, you can pull "Mona Lisa" and "Grief" from her name. Leonardo is of course named after the real da Vinci and shares a lot of common traits with the genius. Pretty much all the characters have meanings in their names since Ramona is a linguist and it fits with the theme of the book.

How do you go about choosing a setting for your novel? Does it, like New York in Sex and the City, almost play the part of another character in the book, or could the plot be transported to another setting and work?

Picking the setting is one of my favorite parts of brainstorming upfront, because I do think it’s so important. I selected Austin, Texas as the setting for Dating da Vinci because I wanted a college town and Austin is the home of UT (rival to my beloved Sooners), because I needed Leonardo da Vinci to be in America on a student visa and Ramona is finishing her Ph.D. And I’ve actually been there several times, so that helps, too.

What would you change about your life if you became the next Sophie Kinsella?

After hiring the cook, the nanny and the housekeeper, I guess I’d start interviewing stylists and personal shoppers (loathe grocery shopping.) No, seriously, I don’t think much about my life would change except that I wouldn’t get "that look" from my darling husband when I’ve gone on a shopping spree and I’d get to vacation more and feel good that my kids can go to college easily and perhaps not have to work as much as I did. *Not* that I’m complaining. On second thought, maybe I would spring for the housekeeper. Loathe laundry nearly as much as grocery shopping. That reminds me, that load needs to be changed out. Be back in a sec.

Any tried and true tricks for beating procrastination?

I have to say, I’m pretty lucky. Hugh (Jackman) typically promises a shirtless steak dinner (him, not me) if I meet my word count goal. If that’s not enough motivation, Brad’s aromatherapy massages usually get me in the mood, though sad to say, it’s not for writing. Heck, usually my imagination can trick me into getting back on the laptop to write away into the sunrise. Like, "finish this and you’ll be as famous as Sophie Kinsella and you’ll never have to buy groceries again and you can spend all your time lounging on the beaches drinking frozen Flirtinis!" I’m so easy.

If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

I did envision the book as a movie as I was writing it. It helps if you can find actors that you can draw from. I imagine Kate Winslet (in her plumper roles) as Ramona, a sexy unknown Italian for da Vinci, Greg Kinnear for handsome, charming doctor Cortland, Jane Krakowski for her egotistical sister, and Sandra Oh for her best friend Anh. I’d only want a bit part. Perhaps the barista at Starbucks? Or be the bed salesperson when Ramona is shopping to replace her marital bed Lumpy. (I do a mean rolling of the eyes.)

Do you have a sample chapter posted?
You can read the first chapter at

What is your author fantasy?

Writers already have active imaginations, so this one is a no brainer. Vision board, here I come! Hit the top 10 of the New York Times bestseller list, have a long line waiting for me when I arrive for book signings, have my books optioned for films that actually get made and made well, and a few national TV appearances to boot. TODAY show, The View, Oprah, you know. Just the small stuff, you know? Not that I’ve given any of this much thought. Not a bit.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

Kiss the older kids goodbye for school. Coffee next, with sugar and peppermint mocha creamer. Take my laptop upstairs to the playroom while my toddler still sleeps as synapses start firing. Re-read the last chapter I wrote the day before, however short or long that might be. Only slight modification, no re-writing, yet. First half of first cup of coffee is drunk, so now can dig in to actual words on page. Write until I hear my toddler yell my name. If he did not wet the bed (yea!) it’s downstairs for cereal and a cartoon while he eats. Second cup of joe for me. When he’s done, he usually wants to play games on the computer for about an hour, so I get at least a chapter written if I didn’t stop to look up some research fact online. (I can’t wait; I’m impatient.) Then I’ll usually close things down for my fiction writing and work on any marketing consulting work here and there throughout the day when I’m not playing with my toddler or running errands before it’s time for the older kids to get home from school. Get on laptop again in the evening, but usually only for marketing Dating da Vinci type of work.

Do you pay attention to book reviews? If so, has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance?

I use Google Alerts so I’m kind of like Santa. I know when people have said naughty or nice things about my book! Fortunately, reviewers have enjoyed Dating da Vinci, so that’s a thrill when you click that link and get to read what people are saying about your "baby." I’ve selected some of my favorite quotes on

What They’re Saying

Malena Lott brings a tale of love, longing and la dolce vita!

Malena Lott’s charming, heartfelt novelwill have you cheering bravissimo as Mona Lisa experiences her own Renaissance, courtesy of one very hot Leonardo da Vinci.
— Award-Winning author Jenny Gardiner, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Ramona Elise is in a rut- a 36-year-old widowed mother of two, she can’t seem to find what make her truly happy in life. Making sure her kids are happy isn’t the hard part; Ramona’s looking for the passion she lost two years ago when she lost her husband and her world turned upside down. When a handsome Italian immigrant walks into her English class, Ramona never expects to find la dolce vita (the sweet life) in a younger man–or in her self!

Come experience a renaissance to love and life as Sourcebooks Casablanca presents the heartwarming novel Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott (ISBN: 9781402213939; Fiction; $12.95 US/$13.99 CAN/6.99 UK; November 2008).

Written smartly…satisfying and uplifting.
— Publishers Weekly

This book was an extremely well written story that captivated me from the very beginning. I fell in love with the characters and Ramona’s journey I will definitely be reading more by Ms. Lott.
— The Book Binge

"Finding herself on a new path wildly different than the one she envisioned with [her husband,] Joel," comments BookList’s Annie McCormack, "Ramona Elise (or Mona Lisa, as da Vinci calls her) learns to open her heart to new possibilities in order to find la dolce vita in Lott’s delightfully affirming romance."

. . .a Texas-based hybrid of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Under the Tuscan Sun. Happily, Lott takes her story in several surprising directions: she throws some serious curve balls in her wise-in-the-ways-of-love Italian stereotype, and Ramona, in a refreshing plot twist, discovers that some of her carefully nursed unhappiness was the product of her own insecurities. . . it’s thoughtful, heartfelt, and undeniably engaging.
— Word Candy

By facing the suspicions of her late husband’s infidelity, and coming to terms with the fact that love never truly dies it is just passed on Ramona paves a path to a new romance and outlook, straight to la dolce vita! This is a heartfelt, well written account of a woman’s search for self after losing her husband. Malena Lott is a skilled writer and I look forward to reading more from her.

Carolyn says, check it out!


Interview with Saralee Rosenberg!

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Hopefully I’ll be able to do these interviews from time to time. Today, I have Saralee Rosenberg on tap talking about her latest release Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead.

About The Book

New York, November 17, 2008
A "For Sale" sign on your lawn is fine, unless you’re not the one who put it there. In DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD, Saralee Rosenberg’s fourth hit-home novel on Long Island, Mindy Sherman and Beth Diamond are warring next door neighbors who have zero in common, but no place to hide. Housewives have never been this desperate, or this funny.

The story begins on move-in day when Mindy notices that her new neighbor’s shed is bigger than her mother’s condo, and the vanity plate on Beth’s Lexus reads FSHNCRZY. It hardly bodes well for meaningful friendship as the Shermans are broke and Mindy’s favorite designer makes Mets t-shirts. Still, her husband, Artie, predicts that Mindy and Beth will become the next Lucy and Ethel. "In real life they hated each other," Mindy cried. "In real life they laughed all the way to the bank," he pointed out. "Which bank?" she asks.

Cover of Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead, by Saralee Rosenberg

Now, eight miserable years later, Mindy is still trying to compete, squeezing into jaws-of-life jeans, for in her neighborhood, thirty is the new wife. Even Artie isn’t immune. "Someone called us Shrek and Fiona!"

That someone is Beth, the ivy-league blonde next door who as resident sancti-mommy, makes Ann Coulter seem civil. It’s another day, another dilemma until Beth’s marriage becomes fodder on Facebook. Suddenly she needs to be "friended" and Mindy is the last mom standing.

For two women who have never shared a meal, it’s a hilarious balancing act as they join forces in order to keep their messy plates spinning thanks to overbearing in-laws, errant husbands, a troubled step-son, a failing business, an unplanned pregnancy and a possible relocation that would leave one of them very far from Bloomingdales.

Then, Mindy and Beth’s reality check nearly bounces on a harrowing flight when they discover a startling secret that they pray they are not too late to share.

DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD is a highly emotional, spot-on romp through bedrooms, boardrooms and backyards, making unlikely heroines out of two moms who never imagined themselves as survivors, let alone as best friends.

Publisher’s Weekly says, "Rosenberg’s novel is full of edgy wit and chicken-soup-for the soul warmth. If you enjoy giddy diversions, this bumpy suburban ride is well worth the trip."

DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD was published on August 1, 2008 by Avon A+, an imprint of HarperCollins publishers. Ms. Rosenberg is the author of other Avon novels, A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, CLAIRE VOYANT and FATE AND MS. FORTUNE. She lives on Long Island with her husband. They have three children and a big mortgage.

CONTACT: Saralee Rosenberg

AVONA BOOKS, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
USA $13.95 (Canada $14.95)
ISBN 978-0-06-125377-5

Praise for Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead

Through a winning blend of hip and humble humor, Rosenberg simultaneously skerwers and celebrates the institution of suburban sisterhood.
– Booklist

Great read. Hilarious and heartwarming!
– Good Housekeeping Quick and Simple Magazine’s Book Pick of the Week (July 22, 2008)

Saralee Rosenberg’s latest novel is zany and will have you laughing out loud. But under all the hilarity is a wonderfully touching story that grabs you at page one and doesn’t let go until the end.
– Debbi Honorof, Book Columnist, Long Island Woman

Mindy Sherman is as loveable and funny a hero as any I’ve read in years… I laughed, I cried, and loved every minute!
– Valerie Frankel, author of Thin Is The New Happy

Heartfelt, wildly funny, and pitch perfect. Rosenberg knows her turf like a Sherpa.
– Leslie Carroll, author of Choosing Sophie

Filled with belly laughs and a great big heart! I loved this smart, saucy take on suburban angst. Every page is a gem!
– Ellen Meister, author of The Smart One

Lucy had Ethel living next door but I want to borrow my sugar from Mindy Sherman. I loved Mindy! Part "Dear Abby," part "Mr Rogers," part Bette Midler, what’s not to love? If Mindy was YOUR neighbor, you’d never leave home again.
– Christine O’Hagan, author of The Book of Kehls.

I just had to send you an e-mail concerning your book, Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead. I’m on vacation and finished it late last night. I have never laughed and cried so much while reading a book. Bravo!
– Jennifer Vido, reviewer and columnist


Picture Author Saralee Rosenberg

Q. What was the inspiration for your new novel?

A. Of my four novels, DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD is the only one that was inspired by, well, me! This story is based on my first novel, ALL IN THE CARDS, which was never published, but did take a very exciting journey to Hollywood. Back in 1997, Bette Midler optioned it for a feature film (she was looking for a follow up comedy to "First Wives Club"). Exactly! Wow! First time out and it’s a home run. Sadly, the reason you never heard of it is because ultimately, Bette and her partner couldn’t get financing or find the right screenwriter to adapt it. Bye bye Bette… Now fast forward to a few years ago. My novels, A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, CLAIRE VOYANT and FATE & MS. FORTUNE had done very well but were about single women looking for love in all the wrong places. I wanted to write about my "peeps" in the suburbs and pitched my editor on letting me rewrite ALL IN THE CARDS. She was hesitant because she wasn’t sure Avon was the right publisher for a suburban/soccer mom story with bickering neighbors. Then came "Desperate Housewives" and suddenly it was, get me suburban/soccer mom stories with bickering neighbors. Timing is everything…. So although DEAR NEIGHBOR is an incarnation of my earliest novel, it is a much richer, deeper, funnier story and is resonating with readers of all ages.

Q. When you got that first phone call announcing you had sold a novel, how did you react? How did you celebrate?

A. Phew. You can’t imagine the relief. I had given up a successful career writing non-fiction, which had sent me on two national book tours, including an appearance on Oprah (heaven!!!!), only to have my writing life come to a screeching halt when I switched to working on a novel. It took me three years to write A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, another year to find an agent, and the agent a year and a half to make the sale to Lyssa Keusch at Avon. In theory, the sale should have been one of the greatest events of my life, if not for the timing. I got word that the deal was done exactly two days after 9-11, and because I live in the New York area, the grief and shock was all I or anyone could think about. I let family and friends know, of course, but run out and buy diamonds or book a cruise? Didn’t happen. And interestingly enough, all of my book celebrations since then have been, not subdued as much as put in perspective. I’m sure that my joy and satisfaction will always be tempered with the memory that life is so full of yin and yang. And maybe that’s for the best.

Q. Which scene or scenes in your novel did you love writing?

A. I am crazy about writing dialogue and would spend days working on a scene between Mindy and Beth to make sure that I got the tone, the phrasing, the timing and the subtle nuances just right. There was so much that they wanted to say to each other after eight years of making each other crazy, I just had to let it out a little at a time, like air coming out of a balloon. But the scene I loved writing the most was the one where they are in a hotel room and Beth confronts the fact that she might be pregnant. It is a funny, poignant moment where both characters reveal their greatest joys and misgivings of motherhood and I remember when I sat at my computer, the words just poured out and I had to sit still to hear every last word coming through. I realized at the end that they had just broadcast my own conflicts and vulnerabilities about being a mom and it was whoa… where did that come from?

Q. Is there a scene you cut from the book that you kind of wish you could put back in?

A. Funny you should ask. Originally, I wanted to title the book Same S–T, Different Zip because the story was very much about that no matter where you live, you have to put up with so much petty neighbor crap and competition. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t allowed to have a curse in the title but in keeping with the theme, I incorporated a funny blog in the story titled, "You Say You Want A Revelation". It was "written" by a mom in Georgia and Mindy was so hooked on it, she couldn’t wait for the next post. Unfortunately, the blog, which appeared every few chapters, took up a lot of space and got cut on the editing room floor. Bummer. It had some very funny commentary, but I did get to include one out-take in the back of the book.

Q. When and where do you write? Is it cluttered or minimalist heaven?

A. I’m a crack-of- dawn morning writer maybe because my muses are busy all night and can’t wait to have me pour out what they sunk in (at least they let me go to the bathroom first). That being said, when I’m in the zone, I write morning, noon and night. I know I’m done, however, when I look up at the computer screen and I see this, "She said, hjkljkl;uiop." Then it’s time to shut the lights. As for where I write, the majority of my work is written while chained to my computer table which is situated right smack in the middle of my master bedroom… I never thought this would be my workspace. I always fantasized about having the kind of home office that "playwright" Diane Keaton got in "Something’s Gotta Give." – this huge, white, ocean-facing office that was stocked with floral bouquets and a breathtaking view. Perhaps one day, but for now it’s fine. I look out at my beautiful backyard and at least my commute is a breeze. Not to mention I can make it to the fridge in under thirty seconds.

Q. When deadlines hit, what happens in your house?

A. Let me put it this way. Please don’t ring my bell unless you’re bringing fresh baked cookies because I don’t want you to see that the dining room looks like a mini landfill. And that’s before you reach the piles on the stairs (I swear there is one that has been there since Clinton was President). The clothes in the dryer go round and round for days because I keep hitting wrinkle remove, we run out of milk, the shows saved on Tivo go unwatched, calls from my kids get answered with, "Make it quick and NO CRISIS today". Also I look like hell and probably need of a touch up. As for dinner? The family is on their own… although they would tell you I say that every day. Basically it’s every man/child for himself and don’t give me a hard time about anything… This is why I write all the time, otherwise I’d lose my privileges, lol.

Q. Do you put friends in books? Have any of them recognized themselves?

A. I get asked all the time by family and friends to be in one of my novels, but I tend not to go there unless they’re willing to buy several dozen books in appreciation for being immortalized (if Girl Scout Moms can bribe, so can I). Once I did give in and named a character after a friend, only to describe the character as a philandering shoplifter. She was horrified and wanted to know how I knew? I didn’t know, I made it up, but boy did that make things interesting afterwards… Also, my husband’s business partner had been prodding me for years, to which I would say that a character who sold insurance, played golf and visited his grandkids in Florida would not exactly be memorable. But finally, in Dear Neighbor, to get him to stop bugging me, I did name a minor character Steven Hoffman. I made him a lawyer in Portland, and it really made Steve’s day… then he asked why he wasn’t a major character and could I feature him again in the next book? Men!!!!

Q. Do you think about writing series or do you prefer stand alone titles?

A. Readers often ask if I can turn my novels into a series because they like the characters so much and want to revisit them, which is great. I have thought about it, but the bottom line is, the high drama, intrigue and craziness that unfolds in the novel is pretty much a once in a lifetime event for the characters. I wouldn’t know how to replicate the same level of intensity and sea changes and I’d be afraid that readers would post this on Amazon: "The first book was so much better!" That being said, I have thought about writing a novel where my previous characters make token appearances so readers could learn what was new in their lives. I might call it WHINED AND DINED, and it would take place at a spa weekend so that there would be a chance for lots of characters to mingle and to get to know one another. And I do like the idea of having tough-as-nails Shelby Lazarus fighting over a massage therapist named Ivan with get-out-of-way Beth. Stay tuned.

Q. What comes first? The title or the idea?

A. For DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD, the title came to me only a few months before publication and trust me, by then I was in a total panic. The original title, based on the very earliest draft, was ALL IN THE CARDS, but everyone agreed that was kind of boring. Then I submitted a list of twenty titles, some interesting, some wacky, some that would never fly because they involved curse words. Here is a sampling: Hot, Hungry and Hormonal; Ask Your Doctor if Stress Is Right for You; Same SH-T, Different Zip; If Lucy Hated Ethel; and one of my personal favorites, The Bitch Next Door. No, no, no, my editor said to all of those. Then I came up with Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead and she smiled. We have a winner!!! And I must admit, it’s a beauty. Everyone gets it. No need for an explanation. As for my novel, CLAIRE VOYANT, that title came to me years ago and it took me a while to create an entire story based on the premise that a girl named Claire would have super natural abilities.

Q. What is up next for you?

A. I am very excited about my next novel because the focus is about a child leaving for college and this is hitting very close to home as our youngest is now a senior in high school. But in this story, Jackie, a twice-divorced mom, has one son, 17-year old Daniel and she is in a panic thinking that when he leaves for college in the fall, she’ll be left alone with her ornery, widowed father. Thus, when she sets off on the campus tour circuit, she decides to throw caution and her underwear to the wind and boy does she have one hell of a good time. It’s worse senioritis than even Daniel has and their adventures visiting the Ivies is one for the books. In the end, she rediscovers the smart, ambitious girl she left behind at Yale Law and pledges to get her life back on track. The title of the book is EARLY DECISION and I think it’s going to be my best yet. No publication date as of yet.

Q. If Oprah invited you on her show, what would the theme of that show be?

A. Sigh. I’ve actually had the distinct privilege of appearing on Oprah to discuss my non-fiction book, 50 FABULOUS PLACES TO RAISE A FAMILY, and I gotta tell you, it was awesome. She was soooo nice and I and my husband/co-author were treated like royalty. We got the limousine, the fancy hotel, the nice dinner out, hair and make-up and a souvenir coffee cup that still sits on my desk as a pen holder. And Steadman was there, too (he smelled so good!) Would I love to be a guest again? Are you kidding me? It would be a dream come true to be invited back as a best selling novelist. In fact, I had a dream scene in DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD that involved my character Mindy being on the show to talk about what it was like to live next door to Beth, the bitch. It had to be cut because of space limitations, but trust me, Oprah is always on my mind. Nobody sells a book like her.

Q. What is one of your strangest/most quirky author experiences?

A. My first three novels are a trilogy in that they all deal with the super natural. All of my main characters have funny and intriguing encounters with the other side, the after life, and/or a ghost. But never did I expect that I would personally have a strange encounter with the spirit world while I was hard at work. And yet… I had been writing my debut novel, A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE over a three year period, and as you can imagine, was very very tired. All I wanted to do was cross the finish line, have a good cry and eat a box of Mallomars… One night, I was working on the final pages and was so bleary eyed I convinced myself that the ending was terrible but maybe my editor wouldn’t notice, or would say to me, no, this is great, don’t change a word. But just as I was fixing the last page, we had a power outage and the whole house went dark. It was so strange. There was no storm, no reason to lose power. But when the lights came back on a minute later, I had lost the latest version of the ending. It literally disappeared and I freaked out and cried. How could this happen? On a whim I called my neighbors to see if their power had gone out but it turned out ours was the only house that did… Clearly it was a sign from above. The next morning I started over on the ending, and when I finished, it was so much better, so much more rewarding. This time I cried from joy. I had finished and it was great.

Q. Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or are you more organic?

A. I know that every author has a different approach and there is no right or wrong way to go about writing a novel. For me, the most important thing is to have a steady handle on my protagonist because I believe that the question readers should ask is not what is your book about but who? If the main character is multi-dimensional and in a serious bind, that is the recipe for a great story. The way that I develop a compelling character is to write their back story- pages and pages of how their life unfolded, what frustrates them, the things they desire that have eluded them, etc. Then I put on my Katie Couric hat and interview them and out of that, comes tons of possible story lines. In the end, I liken the process of writing a novel to driving with a man. I know where I want to go but damned if I’m going to stop for directions. Sure I’ll get lost but eventually I’ll arrive at my destination and tell everyone I knew where I was going from the get go. And one other thing. I do not outline because I find it too confining. No surprise for the writer? None for the reader, either.

Q. What is your writer fantasy?

A. I can only have one? I have several. I want to make it to the New York Times Best Seller List and stay there for at least a year. No wait. I want to have two books on the list at the same time, just like Jodi Piccoult. I also want to have Oprah tell me that she couldn’t put my book down and why am I wasting time talking to her, I should be busy writing the next one. I also want a feature film or TV show to be developed based on my book and it should star Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer (and their maybe babies). Finally, I would like my kids to say to me, "Mom. You Rock!"

Q. Would your high school friends be surprised to discover you’d become a novelist?

A. Funny question. When I attended my 20th high school reunion in Munster, Indiana, I had been living in New York since graduating college and had lost contact with most of my classmates. One of the first people I ran into was Mary Ann Jugovic, the class valedictorian and the sweetest girl ever. The first thing I said to her is, "please tell me that you went to med school and became a pediatrician." To which she said, "only if you tell me that you moved to New York and became a writer." And the verdict was? She was a pediatrician with a beautiful family and I was an author with a beautiful family. Dreams do come true.

Q. If you could ask one author for one piece of advice, who would you ask and what would you want to know?

A. I’m very lucky because I actually had that opportunity. One of my favorite authors in the world is the novelist, Sol Stein, who wrote THE MAGICIAN and THE LIVING ROOM, among many others. I discovered him in college and feel in some ways, he was an influence in my secretly aspiring to be a writer. Recently, I was curious to see if he was still writing (or even still alive) and discovered he had a website and an email address. I wrote him this long, flowery message, never expecting a response. But the next day he sent me a lovely note back and we exchanged several emails. In one of them I asked his advice on whether I should change my name and use a pseudonym for my next book. This is something that my editor and agent had been discussing and I was torn. He wrote back and said, don’t you dare. Saralee Rosenberg is a wonderful name and quite memorable…. now you know why I loved this guy, and so far, I’ve followed his advice.