Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Writers in Their Own Words-GCC

In case you didn't pick this up last summer . . . or you did and were hoping it'd soon be out in paperback, you're in luck! To get an insider's look at what Sheila has gone through since writing her book, read this.

And here is what I wrote last summer when it first came out . . .

I've got a fun new book to tout today by my buddy Sheila Curran.

Everyone She Loved is getting some boffo press like:

Penelope Cameron May's unusual last request sets off the action in this riveting novel of love and friendship, betrayal and lies. Sheila Curran draws the reader in and this inventive book won't let go. Prepare to be surprised and moved. I read it in one delicious gulp.
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile, The Distance Between Us

'Everyone She Loved' was the voice inside my head - at a time when I first contemplated my own mortality ... this could have been my husband, my girlfriends and my children ... it raises every emotion and suppressed fear within us all, with a clarity that is both deeply uncomfortable and yet stridently beautiful. Julz Graham, Dimensions

To whet your appetite even more, here's Sheila in her own words:

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book?

Books are born in strange places. This one was conceived in the front seat of a car.

No, not that kind of conception. My friend Julianna was driving. Our daughters were chatting in the back seat. I was talking about an article I’d written for McCall’s about two young girls in Arizona whose parents had died within months of each other. “Did you know that in some states, if there isn’t a will, the kids can be sent to foster care?”

The girls in my story weren’t so unfortunate. Their mother had named her best friends, another pair of sisters, as the children’s guardians. ”Just make sure you chose someone to take over if something happens to you.”

From there we talked about difficult it would be to chose which couple among one’s siblings and friends would best be suited for the job. Where did one couple’s permissiveness slide into overindulgence, another’s consistency into unbearable strictness? The idea of dying was hard enough, but figuring out which couple would most love your kids in your absence? Impossible.

We paused in our conversation just long enough for my brain to settle on yet another catastrophic possibility. “You know what would be worse?” I asked. “What if I died and John (my husband) married someone awful? I’d have no control at all!”

Another pause. “Unless,” I continued. “I could get him to agree that if he remarried, my sisters and friends would check out the bride. Make sure she wasn’t some kind of wicked stepmother.”

And thus was hatched the idea of EVERYONE SHE LOVED, a novel that explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family, and the many ways in which romantic entanglements will confound and confuse even the most determined of planners.

2.) Are you more driven by plot or by character?

I always start with a character who intrigues me.

3.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

I think because I come from a big family, it’s really hard to choose a favorite. I love all of them. There’s Penelope, who has died by the time the book begins but whose oversized personality permeates the novel. Her stepsister Clover, who seems like such a ditz at the beginning, is dear to my heart because she makes me laugh. Lucy, who is my main character, is, of course, my alter-ego, and so is Martha, who’s such a smart-a*&s.

4.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?

I’m lucky enough to have an office in one of the upstairs bedrooms. I sit in a comfy armchair, feet on an ottoman and write on my laptop, coffee on a table to my right, dog lying to my left. I try to write from 9-3 but sometimes it’s just two hours a day. A few times a year I sit there and can’t even get a word written. Those aren’t fun. In the early phase, I write a lot of scenes I’ll later throw away. Some days I ‘go down the rabbit hole,’ which is what I call researching on the Internet.

5.) What's your favorite part of writing?

Getting into the flow where I’m not even really aware that I’m writing.

6.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

Well, Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird has a chapter called Shitty First Drafts. I like that. I tell myself that if I can write even one bad page a day, it’s better than no pages.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Writers in Their Own Words-GCC

This morning I am thrilled to be introducing you to my buddy Jenny Gardiner's memoir, WINGING IT! It's getting great press . . .

"Often comical and sometimes tragic but never dull, Gardiner's memoir proves that the hope of having a model pet (or child) is usually not realistic. It will speak to animal lovers and offer fair warning to anyone considering the 40-year-plus commitment of owning a parrot." --Library Journal

"As sweet as a song and sharp as a beak, Winging It really soars as a memoir about family--children and husbands, feathers and fur--and our capacity to keep loving though life may occasionally bite."
--Wade Rouse, bestselling author of At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, and Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler

And, I know from personal experience and her debut novel, Sleeping With Ward Cleaver, that Jenny will absolutely make you laugh out loud. Now, let's hear from Jenny in her own words . . .

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?

We've had this crazy parrot for almost 2 decades and people are always so entertained by her and stories about her, so I thought it would be fun to do a book. My sort of funny backstory is YEARS ago, I was sitting in a bat mitzvah, and I get really antsy when I'm a captive audience, especially when everything isn't in a language I can remotely understand. So when I was sitting there for like 3-1/2 arduous hours (it was a high holiday so they had a huge service with it), I pulled out a notebook and pen and HANDWROTE four chapters of what would eventually become this book...

2.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

Well, I know this is a question to be applied to a novel, but I'll bite anyhow ;-). Graycie, my parrot. Because she is a complex character with both internal and external conflicts, and her arriving at our doorstep with many imperfections and issues then led to both internal and external conflict with me and my family. hehe

3.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?

I write very catch as catch can. I have 3 teens and lots of pets and so much going on, I try to steal time whenever possible. I prefer to write in the morning. If I'm on deadline, I will escape to a coffee shop--I have a favorite where I can tuck into the back of the shop and tune everything out. But I can't do that often because I'd feel badly leaving my pets home unattended--they get very unhappy when they're left alone for long (and then they cause trouble!).

4.) What's your favorite part of writing?

I love to just concoct things out of nothing. And to take various bits of information and weave them together into a cohesive story. It's always a challenge and the process of it is so fun (especially if there aren't things getting in the way of your being able to focus on the writing).

5.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

Just go with your gut and write what's in you. I do believe that ultimately that's how the best book will be written.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shout out to Sarah's Debut!

My buddy, Sarah Pekkanen's debut novel THE OPPOSITE OF ME is out! Yay! I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy and I loved it. Funny, sweet, smart and totally unputdownable. It's getting tons of great press (Redbook, Jennifer Weiner, etc.), so you'll want to snap it up NOW.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Happy reading!