I told Kim that I would try not to be bitter about having to work. And by work I mean write because Julie and Kim and I decided to get together for an impromptu Sunday afternoon work session.
“We could do happy hour at Lure or we could write. Whatever you want/need,” Julie texted. (What I need is to write, yes. But what I want is to happy hour.)
Text text text. Yadda yadda yadda and blah blah blah it was decided that we would meet at my house on Sunday afternoon. So it’s a writing session with pita chips, eggplant hummus, and a couple bottles of Sauv Blanc instead of a gossip session with crab cakes, oyster shooters and four dollar Chardonnay.
That’s okay. I need it. I need it. I haven’t been writing shit lately. Which means I haven’t been writing at all, not that I’ve been writing a shitty first draft (which would at least be writing). It can’t all be writing gold. (Not that anything I write is gold. Or even silver. Hell, I’d happy to write bronze. Or maybe even some mid-quality pewter.)
And really, I shouldn’t even be writing this (word vomit/stream of conscious/whatever this is) post. I should be working on (the shitty first draft of) my next novel, the sequel to Frosted Cowboy, which should have come out a year ago, not be half written two (and almost a half) years later. But I’m not.
Because I’m stuck.
Or maybe I’m stuck because I’m scared. (Ding ding ding ding ding)
Because what if this book isn’t as good as the first one. (And some would say the first one wasn’t even that good – or in the words of one of my oldest and dearest friends – “It wasn’t terrible.”) But what if this one is terrible?
What if this one is terrible?
Then I guess I pick myself up. And dust myself off. And start writing again. (And pray that I can turn some shitty mid-quality pewter into writing gold.)
Every month my writing group has a 10 minute writing prompt. The following is my unedited response from our May meeting prompt. (I would have posted it sooner, but I accidentally left it at Kim’s house and just got it back. Sorry to make you wait.)
The prompt: Write a story about someone who can’t get a song out of their head.
“Sing, sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a song.”
That is the song that has been stuck in my head. For years.
What the fuck?
I mean, literally. What. The. Fuck. With all the concerts I go to and all the music I listen to, some stupid AC hit from the 70’s is the song i sing to myself in the shower every day. When I’m waiting in line at the market. Doing the dishes. Walking my dog.
Is that song from the 70’s? Was it even a hit? Did they play it on the radio? You remember it, don’t you? La-la-la-la-la. La-la-la-la-la. La-la-la-la-la-la. Just sing. Sing a song.
Why? That song is so stupid. I don’t even know who sang it.
Maybe it was just a stupid Coke commercial or something. Great. I’m so basic I don’t even have a real song stuck in my head.
Maybe it isn’t stupid.
That line. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a song.
Like writing a shitty first draft. Sort of. Just sing. Just write. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear.
Just sing. Or just write.
Sing a song. Or, you know. Write another fucking book already. Or at least a blog post.
*I was informed by Laurel in my writing group that Sing A Song was indeed a hit in the 70’s, by the Carpenters. (Oh and also, they covered it as it was originally written for Sesame Street.) I really have to find a new song to get stuck in my head.
Unedited ten minute writing prompt from my last writers’ group meeting. The prompt: Describe “that moment”.
Oprah says you’ll have an “Aha moment.”
“What was your Aha Moment?” she asks. As if I’m supposed to know. But the truth is, I haven’t had one yet. It seems Oprah’s had a ton of Aha Moments, so who knows – maybe she stole mine.
“I made cauliflower mashed potatoes,” she says on TV. “Get them at your local supermarket.”
But I searched my Vons high and low and I could not find those fucking cauliflower mashed potatoes anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m a Trader Joe’s shopper.
So it seems not only can I not find my Aha Moment, I can’t even find Oprah’s Aha Moment even though it’s advertised on national television. During prime time.
There have been times I thought I’ve had an Aha Moment. AHA! That’s what I’m going to do. This or that or fill in the blank, but I’ve never done any of those things. I don’t even remember what any of them were because I didn’t do them. Aha meet blazy.* Blazy is the winner.
So that moment? I’m still waiting for it. Maybe I’ll find it one day in Vons next to Oprah’s cauliflower mashed potatoes.
*Blazy is a term my writing group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness.
Below is the result of the writing prompt “What are you looking at?” from a recent writers’ group meeting. My friend Kim decided to be brave and post hers. (Which by the way wasn’t that brave because it’s so good. You really need to read it.)
So I’m being brave and posting mine. I always intend to write fiction during our prompts, but almost never do. The event below never happened, but it’s also not exactly fiction.
“What are you looking at?” Dickie said.
“Nothing,” I answer, but we both know it’s not true.
“Liar,” he says.
“Fuck off!” I tell him and his eyes go big.
“I’m telling mom,” he says and we both laugh because that’s how it used to be. Except I never told my brother to fuck off. I don’t think. If I had I’d have gotten my mouth washed out with soap. That’s how it was back then. Mouth washed out with soap for bad language. The wooden spoon for… I honestly can’t remember for what. Lying. Defiance. Kicking in the bathroom door because I locked myself in when we were fighting. We did that. Kicked the door in. Twice.
(Side note: I tried washing Marley’s mouth out with soap once. But liquid soap doesn’t work quite as well as that bar.)
We fought a lot. We weren’t close.
But we are now. Or at least close-ish. We’re different. So different. I mean he voted for Trump. But I forgive him. Almost.
But we have each other’s backs.
“I’m looking at you,” I decide to tell him. “I’m glad you’re my brother.”
*My brother says he didn’t vote for Trump. But he also didn’t vote for Hillary. I forgive him. (Almost.)
Four festivals and three concerts are more shows that some people will see in a lifetime I realize, but those are not my people. God that sounded super assholey, didn’t it? That was not my intent. I’m super grateful to have gone to these shows. And I’ve got more on the way this year.
Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears (OMG!) Adam Ant (OMFG!) Green Day (Finally!) Thomas Rhett with Old Dominion & Walker Hayes (Cannot effing wait). And something called Retro Futura with Howard Jones, the English Beat and a bunch of other 80’s throwbacks. (Bought for a steal on Groupon – going with Dave and the kids. Should be a blast.)
So yes, it has been and will be a good year for music. Because live music more than anything is what makes me feel so alive. And young. (Seriously, so fucking young.)
And fun is great. Important, even. But I have goals this year that I have not achieved. I wanted to interview more artists like I did last year with Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion and Matthew Nelson of Nelson. But I haven’t. Because that takes effort and I’ve been busy with a new(ish) job and life and just trying to keep all my balls in the air.
You know. Like everyone else.
I’ve only written seven blog posts all year. And maybe two newsletters (which you should totally sign up for because I obviously won’t overwhelm your inbox and you get a free book. Or rather bookette).
I did write this piece for my friend Jessica’s blog that I’m quite proud of, but only because she asked. And really. It was just a reworking of a piece I’d already written.
And my WIP – the sequel to Frosted Cowboy. LOFuckingL. I have an outline (ish). It’s actually a great story (at least that’s what everyone I’ve told the plot to says), even better than the first. And I’ve written some of it, obviously. But. But. What?
I’m just busy.
And so damn scared.
Because writing is so hard. And what if it’s terrible? (And like any first draft, it is so terrible.)
So, sure. I’ve had some goals. But I haven’t really had a plan. And A goal without a plan is just a wish. I read that on Pinterest. Or maybe it was Twitter. One of those very philosophical websites.
Saturday as I was cleaning that pile off my dining room table I came across an article I ripped out of Sunset Magazine by Anne Lamott called Time lost and found. And even though I was “so busy” and I’ve read it at least a dozen times before, I knew that this article about finding time to write was exactly what I needed and I sat down and read it again and it made me cry.
Because Anne Lamott knows the truth.
It’s so easy to make excuses. To be too busy to write. Busy job. Busy social life. Keeping all those balls in the air.
I’m not going to stop going to concerts or hiking with my husband or (god forbid) Happy Hour.
But what if I didn’t work through lunch every day. Or let one of those balls drop? (Or two? Or three? Or four?)
What if when I get up at 5AM (and I do, every single day) I actually write a blog post? Or contact a musician’s publicist? Or stopped being so scared to tackle my WIP?
Maybe in six month’s time – when the year is completely over, I’ll have done more than just have fun. More than just work. I’ll have created.
And my year will be one that was not half-lived.
*The quote “A goal without a dream is just a wish” is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery (but you can find it on Pinterest).
“Just so you know, I’m not going to be available for anything remotely domestic or marital related for at least a week,” I said to Dave on the first day of August.
“And that makes this week different than any other week, how?” he snarked.
Yeah, and you thought I was the funny one. (I am.)
It was actually a lie, because I had no plans on Tuesday, so I did fulfill the domestic/marital duty of making dinner and was even nice enough to do the dishes, but that’s where I drew the line. His sassy comment meant he wasn’t getting lucky. (Plus it was Tuesday. What kind of married people get busy on a Tuesday after 22 years of sharing the same last name?)
But, I digress.
The first day of August, marked my first week of having anything at all to do this summer. Yes, that’s right, all summer long I’ve been a Facebook voyeur, watching my friends travel to marvelous places like Cancun, Barbados, Costa Rica, shit even “just” Oregon while I’ve been working all day, only to go home and lose brain cells watching the Bachelorette. (Don’t judge – and if you subscribed to my newsletter you’d know why.)
And as JoJo and Jordan start their new life together (or the next six months, which is about as long as I give them), I too have finally started my new life. Or, at least (less dramatically and more truthfully) I’ve finally started to have some fun this summer.
It’s gone a little something like this:
Monday, August 1st: Cards Against Humanity
My writing group got together and played the ever awesome Cards Against Humanity where tough choices like this had to be made.
There was a lot of laughing. And drinking. And even some crying (because we love each other that much). I got home at 1AM. (Yeah, this suburban mom’s has gone rockstar.)
Tuesday, August 2nd: Got My Ass Up After Five Hours of Sleep & Went to Work Like a Boss
Reverted to my boring suburban ways as noted above (i.e. watched season finale of The Bachelorette.)
Wednesday, August 3rd: Cetaphil Party at Cool Celebrity-Owned Restaurant
I was lucky enough to get invited to a party for awesome and influential bloggers thrown by Cetphil. And by invited I mean I was the awesome and influential Kim Tracy Prince’s plus one. The party was at Jessica Biel’s Aw Fudge on Melrose where everyone who works there looks like (and probably is) a model. (Seriously people, the servers are HOT!) The party was top notch. I learned all about Cetaphil (which, BTW, my kids’ pediatrician has always recommended for them), met some fantastic people including Whit Honea (he’s awesome – read his stuff) and Fab Mom Jill Simonian, and got a bitchen swag bag from Cetaphil that included these that literally saved my life (or at least my face) this week full of late nights.
Thursday, August 4th: #BlogHer16 Expo
I hooked up again with the awesome (and influential) Kim Tracy Prince where we met our friend Rina Baraz Nehdar at the #BlogHer16 Expo.
For those of you who don’t know, BlogHer a website that hosts the world’s largest conference for women bloggers and content creators. (And yes, men can go too. If they want.) This is serious business people. Some of the sponsors were Go Daddy, Herbalife, Staples, Go Rving and Best Buy; and this year’s keynote speakers included Sheryl Crow and Kim Kardashian West (I know, but seriously, if I had been able to shove a copy of Frosted Cowboy in her hand so I could snap a picture and post it on Instagram do not think for one second that I wouldn’t have done it) among many, many others. Thursday night, attendees were invited to a huge expo hall where companies wooed bloggers with their wares. We were given huge (and heavy) swag bags upon entry that included everything from Vagisil to vitamins to VELCRO to vibrators. (Okay, I might or might not have stood in line at a booth to get the vibrator.)
I got to meet many women IRL (including the Awesome Angela Amman pictured in the pink blouse in the top of this post) that I’d only known online and the complimentary wine was surprisingly tasty. My favorite item in my swag bag was this beautiful necklace from Saressa Designs supplied by a company called The Artisan Group who bring small craft items to celebrities. (So I guess that means I’m a celebrity now!)
Friday, August 5th: Old Dominion at The Ventura County Fair
I had to skip BlogHer (and Kim Kardashian) so I could see Old Dominion play at the Ventura County Fair with my friend Simmah. And if you are not familiar with them, do yourself a huge favor and listen to their album, Meat and Candy NOW. It’s so good! I entered to win a Meet and Greet pass on their website and the music gods were smiling on me because I won!
And even though this is by no means my first backstage rodeo, I was nervous and giddy and forgot to tell them how awesome they were at Stagecoach in my allotted 60 seconds with them, but I did tell them how much I loved their songwriting and in particular how the song Nowhere Fast gives me all the feels. (Like, seriously, it’s so good!) And then I told them they really suck at Twitter. (I told you, I was nervous. Plus, they really are very bad at Twitter.) They were awesome though, so nice. I’m pretty sure they all want me. (Don’t all hot country rockstars secretly pine away for 50-year-old suburban women who babble on non-stop for 60 seconds at a meet and greet?)
Saturday, August 6th: #BlogHer16 Convention
I got my tired ass out of bed much earlier than I wanted to attend the final day of the BlogHer convention with Rina and Kim. I’m talking a marathon thirteen hour day.
There was delicious food, engaging keynote speakers, informative workshops, and tons of schmoozing. The convention has such a fantastic energy. Highlights for me were the “The Pitch,” where five innovative women pitched their businesses in hopes of earning a $50,000 prize, hearing Lucy McBath of Mothers of the Movement tell her heartbreaking story, listening to Mayim Bialik talk about her website GrokNation and watching the pilot episode of the Amazon Prime show One Mississippi and the Q&A with the show’s star and creator Tig Notaro afterwards.
And then there was dancing. From 6-9 we took over the Conga Room at La Live and partied like rockstars. Or, like suburban moms in a club before it was even dark outside who were happy to be on a dance floor letting loose after a long weekend instead of at home cooking dinner for our families. (Which is kind of like being a rockstar, right?)
Sunday, August 7th: Warped Tour
Speaking of rockstars, I did not sleep all day Sunday like most people would after a week like I had. No, I got up like the baller that I am and took Marley to the Warped Tour in Pomona which 65 miles from my house and was about two degrees cooler than the surface of the sun. If you are unfamiliar with the Warped Tour you must not have a teenager who likes to listen to music where the word “singing” should be replaced with “screaming.” (Lucky you!)
So, yes, I am freaking Mother of the Year. And I looked like it too. After a week of looking totally cute for country rockstars and parties I put on the most suburban “Suburban Mom Running Errands” outfit I could find – a brightly colored tank top, baggy shorts, this cute baseball hat, and tennis shoes and stuck out like a sore thumb in a sea of black. (And no, you do not get a photo of that!)
The good news is, I have friends in high places and after a little bit of confusion (and maybe some begging) was able to score a wristband that gave me all access backstage where I was able to find a lovely couch under a tree at the commissary patio and sat there all afternoon reading my book. (Yes, I brought a book!)
Okay, maybe I’m not such a rockstar after all. But I don’t care. I ‘d earned the rest.
P.S. If you have read this entire post the real rockstar is YOU! It’s so freaking long. Thanks for sticking with me. You’re awesome!
My friend Julie told me recently that a friend of hers heard from someone in their book club that Frosted Cowboy was going to be made into a movie and the rights sold for a million dollars. Yes, you heard that right – my book being made into a movie for $1,000,000! (Look at all those zeros!)
Only… it was news to me.
How do rumors like this get started? Although please, if you happen to be good friends with a big time Hollywood producer and think that by telling them my book was offered one million dollars for rights to the screenplay and it might intrigue them so much that they offer me $1,100,000 and start a bidding war (against no one), then by all means feel free to spread this rumor. But otherwise, nope, (sadly) 100% not true.
But what if it was?
Like most authors (probably), I’ve always pictured my book as a movie. In fact there is so much dialog in my book I’ve often said that it would probably make a better movie than it does a book. (Plus, there’s some serious hilarious physical comedy in there – if I do say so myself.)
But who would play Laney, Tom, Jake, Angel and Natalie?
When I first started writing Frosted Cowboy I pictured Sandra Bullock as Laney. At 36 Sandra Bullock was just four years older than Laney (who is 32).
The problem is life kept getting in the way and it took me a wee bit longer to write the book than I first imagined and while Laney remained 32, Sandra did not have that luxury, so she became too old. (Don’t feel bad Sandy, it happened to me too.)
As time went on I began to picture Drew Barrymore as Laney Delaney, because, like Laney (and Sandra Bullock), she is super adorable.
In fact, I had originally pictured Cameron Diaz as Natalie, so what if the Charlie’s Angels ladies reunited and Drew Barrymore played Laney, Cameron Diaz played Natalie and Lucy Liu played Kim? I am a casting genius!
Can’t picture it? Then how about this…
But the same thing that happened to poor Sandra Bullock happened to these lovely ladies. They continued to age, while Laney did not.
I also pictured Tom being played by Tom Cruise. At the time he was about 10 years older than Laney’s Tom, but he looked like this so who cares.
And also, he had not yet done this:
But now, like the ladies, he is too old. (And also, just crazy.)
Jake was originally Brad Pitt in my head.
But Brad got old like the rest of them so he became Bradley Cooper. (Yes, I realize that Bradley Cooper is also too old, but I don’t care. Because Bradley Cooper!)
And of course, Angel would be played by Angelina Jolie. (Who else?)
But that was the original cast of Frosted Cowboy. Should we meet the 2016 cast?
I love Anne Hathaway. She’s got the lips, is super funny and even looks great with red hair.
Sure, she’s too skinny, but maybe she could fatten up ala Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary. (BTW, it is my goal in life to be as “fat” as Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones.)
A few people have told me they see Zooey Dechenel in the lead role. I have to admit she fits the adorable/funny/awesome requirement that is Laney Delaney.
In the book Tom looks like Chris Pine, and I do find him super dreamy,
but lately I’ve been picturing him as more of a Liam Hemsworth.
And okay, okay, maybe my boyfriend Bradley Cooper is too old to play Jake. Maybe we could get Liam’s brother Chris to join the cast.
Of course the Hemsworth brothers, being brothers and all, perhaps do look too much alike to believably play two men who are un-related. But look at them:
Does it really matter?!
I think Margot Robbie would make a spectacular Natalie.
And for the impossibly beautiful, sexy siren Angel? How about Megan Fox?
Of course there are so many other characters to cast (in fact I’ve been told more than once, too many) -Kim, Amanda, Alison, Kyle, Abbie & George- but I’m running out of time (and quite possibly your attention), so I’ll stop now.
But I’d love to know, who would you cast in the movie version of Frosted Cowboy? (And if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Buy it here. Now!)
When my debut novel was published my awesome friend Marisa offered to throw me a book launch party. Who could say no to that? (Um, not me!) At first she was going to do something simple at her house (except Marisa never does anything “simple”). Then she started doing some research and decided why have it at home when you can have it big. (You know, go big or go home? Or something like that.)
After much discussion we decided to have it at Bellini Osteria in Westlake Village, a local Italian restaurant/wine bar that Marisa has a relationship with. (In a very different way than the relationship my thighs have with Bob’s Big Boy.) Because why have a book signing at a bookstore (what’s a bookstore?) when you can have it at a bar?
This worked out especially well as the title of my book, Frosted Cowboy, is actually a cocktail (the recipe is in the back of the book) so Frosted Cowboys were sold at the event.
Of course I had to find the perfect outfit. Something cute and a little bit sexy that also didn’t look like I was trying too hard. I scored when I found a super cute top at Blush in Calabasas that I paired with some boyfriend jeans, wedge heels, and funky jewelry.
Sidenote: I went to Blush the day before my party on my lunch break (because last-minute is how I roll) and apparently just missed a massive paparazzi frenzy as one of the Kardashians was patronizing Coffee Bean in the same shopping center. The women in the shop thought it was Kendall. (Who I guess is actually a Jenner.)
Breaking news: 18-year-old buys $5 cup of coffee.
Stop the fucking press. Sigh…
Anyway, back to me and my fabulousness.
My book signing was from 5:30 – 8:00 and the plan was for me to mingle for about half hour to forty-five minutes, take lots of pictures, be introduced by my friend Chris Stevenson, give a 5 minute speech (yeah, me talk for only 5 minutes – hilarious, right?), then sell and sign books.
Well, that was the plan.
People started lining up immediately wanting to buy the book so we figured it would be best if we started selling (and signing) right away. My husband, Dave was in charge of the “register” – a Square chip card reader plugged into his cellphone. It was a little tricky to use at first, nearly causing me to have a mini-meltdown because I am terrible under pressure (seriously, I am never the calm in the storm when the shit hits the fan), but we got the hang of it and everything went smoothly.
Some of my wonderful friends brought me gifts.
Julie brought me champagne and a gorgeous orchid that I will 100% kill no matter how hard I try to keep it alive (and probably faster than most people who are bad at plants and end up killing them).
Jillian brought me beautiful wildflowers.
Marisa (different friend than the Marisa who threw me the party – pronounced differently too) brought me a lovely bottle of wine.
It was like my birthday!
So many people came to support me. A woman named Cheryl that I went to high school with, and am now Facebook friends with, drove over 40 miles (in the rain) and bought three books! It was overwhelming and a bit surreal. I felt bad because I only had a minute or two to talk to most people. (Hey, thanks for coming to see me, you’re so sweet, here’s your book, now go! Next!) But I really was so grateful and felt so truly blessed to have so much support.
We set up an area for people to take photos with some props and asked them to post with #FrostedCowboy to their favorite social media sites.
After signing books for about 45 minutes I did give my speech. I told the story of how I wrote the book. And kept it at about 10 minutes. (I think.)
Then I signed some more books and I was able to mingle a bit afterward. (And had a Frosted Cowboy!)
I sold 47 books and many people brought the ones they had already bought on Amazon. All in all it was a pretty epic night. I’m still kind of pinching myself. It really did make me feel like this:
To everyone who was there, thank you. You made this writer feel very special and so very loved. Marisa, you are the bomb and Chris Stevenson, you rock! Oh, and hey, if you weren’t there, you can buy Frosted Cowboyhere.
Hello there! I know, I haven’t written a blog post in forever, but a lot has been going on lately. Seriously, I’ve been busy!
In the first place, my blog got a well-needed makeover. Did you notice? What do you think? I’m still working out a few kinks, so if you see anything funky (and no, I’m not taking about the wrinkles in my neck in my new Welcome Page photo), please let me know.
Oh, and did you see that picture over to the right? The one that looks like a book with a picture of my legs on it? What do you mean you know for a fact that those are most certainly not my legs? Rude! They could be. (With several hundred hours of photo shopping and air brushing.)
If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about this:
In case you haven’t heard, I wrote a book. As you can see it’s called Frosted Cowboy and it came out on February 8th. As I write this it sits at 54,118 in sales out of over one million books on Amazon, which means it’s in the top 5% of their sales. That practically makes it a bestseller! (Number 54,188 with a bullet!)
What? No again? You people are terrible. First you tell me I have fat legs, then you tell me my book’s not a bestseller. I’m going to have to stop listening to you. Or are those just the voices in my head?
Anyway… Moving on…
If you’re interested (and you should be, it’s hilarious), you can buy it here. If you’ve already bought it, thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
And if you did (or do) buy it can I ask you one more favor? (I know, so greedy!) Would you mind leaving a review on Amazon? Reviews on Amazon are so important. To make a long story about the Amazon alogrithm short, the more reviews a book has, the more people will see it and the better chance it has of being purchased. (Number 40,000 with a bullet anyone? Who hoo!)
Also, I wrote a little novella. It’s a prequel to Frosted Cowboy called Love on the Rocks (With Salt). The eBook version is free. That’s right FREE! You can get it here.
I’ve also started a monthly newsletter. Well, I’m starting a monthly newsletter. If all goes according to plan the first issue should come out next week. (Key word: should) It’s called Live… Laugh… Love and will include a short slice-of-life story (I promise to keep it short) that will make you laugh (I hope) and a recommendation for something I absolutely love. Hint: it will probably be a book. (And no, not one of mine!)
As a bonus for signing up, you get to read another (super) short story in the Frosted Cowboy series. (Yes, I really did just say that, Frosted Cowboy series.) It’s called Tequilla Slammer. You can get it delivered to your inbox by signing up for my mailing list here.
So, that about sums it up. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve had amazing support and encouragement from my family and friends for which I am forever grateful. And I have to say it’s a pretty incredible feeling when your dream of having a book published come true.
The city I live in, lovingly called “The Bubble” by its residents, has an annual book club event in the spring called One City, One Book. Past books have includedFarenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury andUnbrokenby Laura Hillenbrand.
This year the book chosen for the event was The Mountain Story by the incredibly talented Lori Lansens. Lori is one of my favorite authors. She writes unique, compelling stories in gorgeous prose. Her writing gets to the heart of human emotions and her books always stay with me for a long time after I’m done reading them.
Lori is a local resident so there was a real opportunity to have several One City, One Book events that started with a launch party where the book was sold a week before its release, a library event and finally a book club meeting a few weeks later held at our library. The city put a lot of publicity and effort behind the event and it was quite successful.
Do you want to hear something really cool? I’m actually friends with Lori. I met her years ago at the beach through a mutual friend after I was already a fan. Can you imagine what it’s like to meet one of your favorite authors and become friends with her? (I don’t have to imagine – I know! And it’s awesome!)
I smiled and said, “That’s sweet, honey, but my book would never be picked for One City, One Book.”
“Why not? We live here.”
“Yes,” I told her, “but you don’t have to live here for them to choose your book. My book is not the right kind of book. Lori’s book is literature; my book is a funny beach read.”
“What do you mean?” she asked. “Aren’t all books literature.”
“Not really,” I said. “There are lots of different kinds of books. Books that are literature not only tell a good story, but do so with beautiful writing. My writing is funny, but it’s not beautiful. Also, literature often has a deep meaning or complex theme. My book is not deep; there’s not much to discuss. Other than, you know, how freaking funny it is!”
“So do you mean that literature has big words?”
“Not always,” I said. “In fact, I think the best literature makes small words have big meanings.”
She looked at me with narrowed eyes.
“I’ll give you an example. Think of the John Green books you’ve read. He tells a great story with many layers in beautiful, quotable language. Someone who writes a book about kids with cancer that people actually want to read, and writes things like, ‘As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once,’ is writing literature.
“Now think of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Those books are great and incredibly funny, but they’re easy to read and aren’t very complex. I’m not saying that John Green is better than Jeff Kinney, both of those writers are among the best at what they do, and both of their books have value. But Diary of a Wimpy Kid ain’t literature.
“So Lori Lansens is like John Green and you’re like Jeff Kinney?”
“Well, Lori Lansens is like John Green. I aspire to be as witty as Jeff Kinney.”
“I still think your book could be in One City, One Book.”
“Well, that would be awesome, but I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.”
(If you’ve read this John Green book, then you know that in the right context writing an exchange as simple as “Okay? Okay.” is truly literature.)