Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Happy Day-After-Memorial Day

So, I, like most of you, spent the weekend in somber reflection of the sacrifice of our veterans. And by somber reflection, I mean stuffing myself with an obscene amount of bbq, while awaiting word from Namibia about Brangelina's baby.

Thankfully, the Brangelina baby made an appearance, so now we can all stop obsessing about how the World's Most Beautiful Baby can never be president of the United States (being born on foreign soil). I mean, sure, the baby is being touted as the New Hope for Humanity's Gene Pool, but she'll never give a State of the Union address. Unless Schwarzenegger manages to get an amendment passed before Shiloh turns 35.

In other news, it's hot here in Chicago. And by hot, I mean that it is really freakin' hot. Now, I grew up in Dallas, where you could get third degree burns from your steering wheel if you were foolish enough to leave your car out in the sun without a windshield visor. So, I like to think I'm tough, but frankly, my condo is sweltering. I knew it was bad yesterday when my Yankee Candles started to melt without being lit first. The real problem is that I, like most Chicagoians, don't have central air.

Even my laptop is sweating. And that can't be a good thing. I tried to find refuge at the mall, but the closest one to me is an outdoor mall. I don't know what genius figured that was a good idea (Christmas shopping in three feet of snow, anyone?). Thankfully, Nordstrom is air-conditioned, and has all the major life support needs (food and drink at the cafe, shoe sales and an endless supply of beauty products). If they had a bedding section, I would've probably slept there.

I'm off to buy a Super Giant Big Gulp. I think maybe if it's big enough, I could try swimming in it.

Stay cool!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Girl Fight, Part Duex

So, the girl fight continues.

You can take a sneak peek at the cover of "This is NOT Chick Lit" on Amazon (black with bold pink print). For those of you who don't know, I'm in the opposing anthology called "This is Chick Lit," available in June. (For more on this, see my last post.)

Now, to add fuel to the fire, Gloria Steinem has been quoted as saying:

“This Is Not Chick Lit is important not only for its content, but for its title. I’ll know we’re getting somewhere when equally talented male writers feel they have to separate themselves from the endless stream of fiction glorifying war, hunting and sports by naming an anthology This Is Not a Guy Thing.”

Now, I have immense respect for Gloria Steinem. But, I think the whole idea that anything with "chick" in the title is demeaning is taking things a bit too far.

I like chick flicks. And chick lit. And chick rock. Heck, I even like the Dixie Chicks. It might, although I'm not positive here, have something to do with the fact that I AM a chick. I mean, what next? Will I have to abandon pedicures and shopping because it will undermine my credibility? Or stop watching Desperate Housewives or Gray's Anatomy because my husband makes fun of them?

Not to mention, I think Ms. Steinem might be out of touch. Has she heard of Metrosexuals? "A Guy Thing" today might include an eyebrow wax.

But, all that being said, I am a feminist, but I'm also a humanist. (I'm rooting for both sexes - that is, unless my husband wants the remote).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Girl Fight

So while I'm figuring out just what Novel 5 is going to be about, there is a way to get your chick lit fix BEFORE next spring.

In fact, at the end of June, there's going to be a fantastic short-story anthology out called "This is Chick Lit" featuring authors such as Lauren Baratz-Logsted (The Thin Pink Line), Jennifer Colburn (The Wife of Reilly and Reinventing Mona), Arielle Papa (On the Verge), Heather Swain (Eliot's Banana), Caren Lissner (Carrie Pilby) and Me - of course.

The reason this book is called "This IS Chick Lit" is because there's an anthology by a group of authors called "This is NOT Chick Lit" coming to a book store near you. Now, I don't know if you all know about the brewing debate about Chick Lit, but it basically goes like this:

There are some women writers who resent their fiction being labeled as "chick lit" and feel it's demeaning and undercuts their literary credibility. There are other writers - like me - who don't really care what you call it, as long as readers find and enjoy said books.

The dueling short story anthologies point out the differences in both camps. Personally, my general philosophy is to write for readers, not write for critics, so I don't really care how derisive the New York Times is of girly covers. I mean, I'm not writing for them. But that's just my two cents.

Anyway, look for This is Chick Lit, coming soon!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Some news and a glimpse into the future

First off, I'd like to say thanks for everybody who's written in to say they like "I Did!" I seriously must have the fastest (and smartest) readers of any author I know. You guys are the best.

Second order of business, for those of you fast, smart readers in the Chicago area, I'll be at Barbara's Books in Marshall Field's in the loop tomorrow at noon signing copies of "I Did (But I Wouldn't Now)." By the way, they make fabulous belated Mother's Day gifts (at least, my mom thinks so).

Third order of business (and not in any way the least important), Sara posted a very good question on the blog recently, which is "What's next for me in chick lit?"

Unfortunately, the answer is: I don't know.

I'm between contracts at the moment, and my agent is talking to my editor right now trying to work out a new agreement. Fear not, I suspect that I'll still have a chick lit book out in 2007.

As for possible topics, I'm kicking around the idea of a sequel to Dixieland Sushi (Jen goes to London to meet Riley's quirky family and then when Jen's family gets word that she's (possibly) eloped the whole Nakamura clan flies in).

The other idea is one I'd been thinking about for a while, a kind of he-said, she-said modern retelling of Taming of the Shrew. But, at this point, maybe neither one of those ideas will actually become a book. You never know with these things. Ideas are strange that way. Some of them are definitely book-length, while others pitter out around fifty pages.

Sara says she wants to see a sequel Pink Slip Party - and so do I! I'm just trying to figure out the best way to do it. When I have a stroke of brilliance - which I haven't had yet, but one can still hope - I will let you know.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dirty Dish-ing

So, I must apologize because I have been woefully neglectful of a very important topic - celebrity gossip. I've been entirely too book-focused of late, and have skirted my responsibility (as a consumer of People magazine and occassionally US Weekly) to dish dirt on celebrities.

Frankly, even for the part of my brain that stores celebrity gossip (I believe it's the entire left side of my brain, because I certainly can't do math), it's been a bit of an overload recently.

Where to start? Katie Holmes, Suri and Insane Tom Cruise (I'm sure Tom will sue me shortly after this is posted to have this removed from my blog)? Denise Richards running off with Richie Sambora? K-Fed officially being crowned the Most Fertile Man in North America?

One of you asked recently about my thoughts of Britney and K-fed's news, so I suppose I should start there. Recently, I defended her against the tabloid speculation that Britney wasn't in shape because she was preggers (because she wasn't Playboy-ready in 2.4 seconds like the rest of Hollywood's elite). I thought even Britney, whose bad judgment is legendary (marrying K-fed, going barefoot in trucker bathrooms and driving with baby Sean Preston in her lap) would know better than to let Kevin near her without proper protection (Frankly, I would be wary of sharing an elevator with him at this point). I was, however, proven wrong.

All I can say is that I certainly hope Spears, Jr. #2 benefits from the hardwon parental lessons of Sean Preston. And, that Britney forgoes nanny help (least spending too much one-on-one time with K-Fed leads to Accident #3).

Now, on to the Denise Richards saga. I met Denise and soon-to-be ex Charlie on the set of the Lifetime adaptation of "I Do (But I Don't)." (And yes, I realize this is name-dropping, but as I've said before, what's the point of meeting celebs if you can't tell people you have?) Lately, my friends have been asking me if the 10.2 minutes I spent in Charlie's company led me to believe he was capable of surfing (possible child) porn, or doing any of the other things alleged in Denise's custody battle papers.

The answer is no. Charlie was very well-behaved, had a firm handshake, was all eyes for baby daughter Sam, and carried on a very pleasant conversation with me that had nothing do with drugs or hookers. He was very nice, in fact. He said he'd seen my book around the house and liked the cover art. I'll take compliments, even when I don't deserve them (for art I didn't create), so that earns him points in my book.

I can't pretend to know what happened between those two (although I do because I carry on the charade that they have my number on speed dial), although the very fact that Denise is now allegedly roaming about L.A. with Richie Sambora tells me perhaps poor Denise might be suffering from some of the same problems Britney is in the judgment department.

But what do I know? That's just my two cents.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Lockwoodettes

There are a group of friends I thank in the acknowledgements of "I Did (But I Wouldn't Now)" that I call my back-up singers, the Lockwoodettes. The lead singer, Ms. Kinsella, I dished about last week. Her tearful antics have sold me dozens of books, and for that I am forever grateful.

Not to be outdone, Kate Miller decided to buy out the local Borders herself. Lockwoodette Swartz had this to say about Ms. Miller:

Let me paint a picture for you...Charlie [Ms. Swartz's adorable schnoodle] and I are walking down the street last night around 7pm, much to our surprise a cute vintage Volvo slows down & out pops Kate Miller's head. She pulls over, we cross the street to say hello & as I slowly approach the car I peer in to say hello-- there it was...the ENTIRE front seat was filled with fresh brand new copies of "I did (But I wouldn't Now)"!! I think she wiped out the store's stock--she must have! I think she even justified her actions by saying "I did leave a few for other people!"

Anyway just wanted to keep you updated on your roaming PR team & if you check sales stats, I'm positive they spiked around 6:30 Monday evening--its all Kate's fault

It just goes to show that the Lockwoodettes work very hard to earn their acknowledgements. Thanks, girls! And by the way, anyone else doing incredible PR feats (including but not limiting to: getting strangers and/or friends to buy the book, buying multiple copies, and/or moving books around the bookstore for better placement), you, too could earn a shout out in future books. Email me with your PR stories. I'm nothing if not easily bought.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Marketing Whores are a Girl's Best Friend

Okay, if you live in the Chicago area, you might already know my friend, Bethie. She knows everyone in Chicago, although she claims there are a few people she doesn't know, but we all know that's just false modesty. Bethie, one of my nearest and dearest, is a woman of many talents. She not only puts Martha Stewart to shame, but this graduate of Second City is not afraid to corral strangers in book stores to buy my books.

Just last night, she convinced two strangers to buy my book by her patented "I'm in the acknowledgements" ploy, in which she heads to the front tables, picks up my book and then promptly bursts into tears. When she has a big enough crowd, she'll tell people the reason: that she's in the acknowledgements of said book. She claims she only does it to ensure she has a spot every year and because, naturally, she's my "Midwestern representation" and a self-proclaimed marketing whore. Honestly, if my books came with gold plaques, she'd have her name engraved.

Did I mention how much I love this girl?

Of course, she also extends the same PR to her two uncles, also published authors, Kevin O'Brien, a.k.a. master of the suspense novel, and her other uncle, Mike Leonard, whose new book is already on the bestseller lists.

Anyway, Chicagoians, beware. She's coming to a book store near you, and she's not afraid to cry.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Even Desperate Housewives Read

So, I used to be a huge fan of Desperate Housewives. Who wasn't? Then, it sort of got a little dull in the first half of the second season. That's when I turned the channel to BBC America and started watching Footballers Wives (if you haven't seen it, you must!).

Recently, however, I've tuned back in to DW, and it's gotten interesting again. I mean who isn't secretly hoping that Edie finds out Susan is the "other woman" and then beats the snot out of her? I'm sorry, but I've seen way too many close-ups of Susan's "oops - I screwed up again!" face.

But, I digress. The point is that back when Desperate Housewives was must-see Sunday TV (and it's creeping back up my Tivo list as we speak), I wrote an essay for a book about Desperate Housewives, called "Welcome To Wisteria Lane," which hits book stores later this month. Okay, so maybe I need to work on my sales pitch on this one, but even if DW has been uneven, this collection isn't!

My friend and fellow Downtown Press novelist, Beth Kendrick, also has a fantastic essay on motherhood (anyone who feels Susan ought to quit using her daughter as a therapist, needs to read this essay!).

My essay deals with the dangers of suburbia. Why is it that all the intrigue on TV soaps happens in the 'burbs? You've got to read the essay to find out! Check out the book on Amazon.