Review: Julie and Julia

I didn’t watch much television as a child so this shouldn’t come as a surprise…I have not watched an episode of Julia Child’s cooking show.
My book club pondered the idea of reading Julie & Julia when it was a new release but for some reason we didn’t select the book. We would discuss it from time to time but after someone read this book we decided against it. Now that I have read this book, I need to have a follow up conversation to understand why she didn’t feel it was a good selection for us. I think women who like to cook would have a lot to discuss (I think my book group would love this book).

Before I discuss my view of this book, it’s important to remind you that I’m a vegetarian. It’s the “ICK” factor that causes me angst. This caused some issues for me reading the book, I did have to put it down several times since some sections gave me an upset stomach.

This is a memoir of Julie Powell as she shares a year of her life with us. As the book opens we quickly learn that Julie is lacking direction and is struggling to find her way through life. During a visit to her Mom’s home she finds two copies of a cookbook. She decides to make every recipe and her husband challenges her to write a blog…‘The Julie & Julia Project’ is born. We follow Julie through the adventures of finding ingredients and making recipes, the cleanliness of her home, her mother’s visits, interest from the media and more.

The reviews are mixed on this book. I initially read the book because the movie will be released in a few weeks. I can’t express how much I liked the book, in fact for content and educational value it’s near the top of my list for books read recently. Do not expect a literary work of excellence. I was amused, grossed out, and was able to connect to the writer and her journey.

Links of interest:
- Click here to read the author’s blog
Powell’s post from the day Julia Child died
NY Times book review
- Author Q&A with Powell’s bookstore
- Review of the movie on

Interview with Gothamist, click here to read the complete article:
When you started the blog, did you have bigger goals, like a book, in mind, or was it simply the year-long commitment to making all the recipes?It was really simply a personal commitment to the project itself. I had no conception of having a book come out of this at all. It was a really personal project for me and a way for me to have an outlet and a part of my life to call my own since I was so overwhelmed with my work day job.

How much time elapsed between having the idea for the blog and starting it?About 48 hours. There was not much planning involved. It was sort of one of those Reese's chocolate peanut butter cup moments where I’d been talking about wanting to learn to cook, wanting to write something and the two ideas sort of knocked into each other and made this project idea.
Type: Memoir

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.

Julie Powell is 30 years old, living in a tiny apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that's going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother's worn, dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes -- in the span of one year.

At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crepes, she realizes there's more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye.

And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her outer-borough kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life's ordinariness through spectacular humor, hysteria, and perseverance.

Reviews:“You’ll devour this delicious memoir describing one woman’s search for excitement, fulfillment, and the perfect crepe.” – Cosmopolitan
“A feast, a voyage, and a marvel.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Review: Best Friends Forever

Jennifer Weiner grew up in Connecticut and graduated with a degree in English literature from Princeton University. She is the author of seven novels including ‘IN HER SHOES’ which was turned into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. There are more than 11 million copies of her books in print in 36 countries.

She writes occasionally for the Huffington Post and on her own blog right here. She likes sunsets, sushi, reality TV and long walks on the beach and dislikes fake people, humidity, and entrenched sexism in the literary world. Her last name is not pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled and she lives with her family. (source: author website)

I picked this book up after seeing it on several summer TBR lists. A successful marketing campaign... I did purchase a copy, HA!

This is a hard review for me to write, I don’t feel that I have anything to add to the synopsis below. I didn’t love this book but it’s not horrible, by any means. I still feel the same way days after finishing so today I visited and to view reader feedback and BFF is getting mixed reviews (which made me feel better). I can’t imagine how difficult it is to write novel after novel with such high expectations from readers.

It’s a bit of a Cinderella story (the average girl gets the guy) and not my favorite book written by the author. I do like the author quite a bit and know I will read her next book if only to read the "hot new" book for summer.

Author Q&A (from her site)

Type: Fiction, 362 pages, Hardcover
Some bonds can never be broken... Addie Downs and Valerie Adler will be best friends forever. That's what Addie believes after Valerie moves across the street when they're both nine years old. But in the wake of betrayal during their teenage years, Val is swept into the popular crowd, while mousy, sullen Addie becomes her school's scapegoat.

Flash-forward fifteen years. Valerie Adler has found a measure of fame and fortune working as the weathergirl at the local TV station. Addie Downs lives alone in her parents' house in their small hometown of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois, caring for a troubled brother and trying to meet Prince Charming on the Internet. She's just returned from Bad Date #6 when she opens her door to find her long-gone best friend standing there, a terrified look on her face and blood on the sleeve of her coat. "Something horrible has happened," Val tells Addie, "and you're the only one who can help."

Best Friends Forever is a grand, hilarious, edge-of-your-seat adventure; a story about betrayal and loyalty, family history and small-town secrets. It's about living through tragedy, finding love where you least expect it, and the ties that keep best friends together.

Reviews:"Former mousy types, rejoice! In Weiner's delicious latest, a popular girl hits trouble long after high school and only the geeky pal she once shunned can help." —People

“Warmly and realistically drawn…” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Two reveiws on BN.COM:
Another GREAT Jennifer Weiner book! First, I must say that I love everything Jennifer Weiner has written. This book is no exception. The characters are well defined, and you will want to sit and read until you are completely finished. A great "pool" or "beach" book. The only disappointment I have, and why I could not give it 5 stars, was I felt the ending was a bit rushed. I'm not saying that the ending was bad or anything, but it was abrupt. Her carefulness of the characters throughout the book was awesome, and then, clunk. I still enjoyed reading the book very much, and would definitely recommend it.

I must be missing something: After reading the pre published reviews and then customer reviews, I really looked foreward to this book. I did, however, find it very disappointing. I found that I could go from one section of the book to another without really missing anything and I never truly connected with the characters. I didn't find either of the two main characters particularly appealing. Maybe I was expecting more, but this book just didn't deliver it for me.

Review: Olive Kitteridge

November OBC Selection
2009 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction Winner
I have wanted to read this book for a while (since it was first published actually), when it won the Pulitzer I knew it would be added to our reading list since my local book group which really enjoys reading smart/award winning books.
Elizabeth Strout is the author of three novels: Abide with Me, Amy and Isabelle, and Olive Kitteridge. Recipient of many awards, including the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. She is on the faculty of the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and lives in New York City. (Source: Random House)
This is the story of Olive Kitteridge and is told in short stories. I was pulled into the book in the first few chapters, a story to with a story told by her husband. You might question if Olive really loves her husband as you read the book. She also appears to have a stiff relationship with her only son and she awkwardly moves through life. I do not want to give away the story but can tell you this is one of the best Pulitzer Winner’s I have read and I highly recommend this book.
Watch for another post after my book club discusses the book later this year.

Here’s a review I found on BN.COM that I thought summarized the book:I have long been a fan of Elizabeth Strout, but was not sure that I'd like this book because it's a collection of short stories. However, I soon fell in love with the book and the character, Olive Kitteridge, although she really isn't very likable. The author's short stories take place in a small town and Olive pops in and out among the town people, even if her appearance is so minor as walking through a restaurant lobby. I loved the way Olive's personality was perceived so differently through the eyes of each character and the effect she had on each.

Elizabeth Strout has crafted a series of short stories revolving around Olive Kitteridge, a retired math teacher in a small town along Maine's coast. In many of the stories she is barely present, yet is always an influence on the characters. Like her or loathe her, the reader cannot be indifferent to Olive, or totally unsympathetic. One of the most intense and memorable stories is "A Different Road", about a traumatic experience in which Olive falls briefly in love with a most unlikely character. Olive's dysfunctional relationships with just about everyone, especially her husband and son, are often ineffably sad, but with occasional hints of redemption. Each story is completely absorbing.

Interviews of interest:- Audio interview at BN.COM
- Winning the Pulitzer
- A conversation with Charlie Rose
Type: Fiction, 286 pages, Trade paperback
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.
As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
Reviews:“Perceptive, deeply empathetic . . . Olive is the axis around which these thirteen complex, relentlessly human narratives spin themselves into Elizabeth Strout’s unforgettable novel in stories.”–O: The Oprah Magazine
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her. . . . [Elizabeth Strout] constructs her stories with rich irony and moments of genuine surprise and intense emotion. . . . Glorious, powerful stuff.” –USA Today

Review: Girls in Trucks

Quirky, Original, Fun
Girls in Trucks in the first novel for Katie Crouch. She grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and now lives in San Francisco. It's a little bit autobiographical, but not too much and took five years to write. (source: author website)
Let me start with a confession… I was originally drawn to this book by the cover. It’s just a beautiful photo and made me think of the south. This book is not what I expected but I’m very happy I read it – a refreshing story!

While looking at reviews online I found one on that mirrors my thoughts, here it is:

Each chapter jumped from one important event in Sarah Walters life to another. From life as a debutante in South Carolina to the fast pace and stressful dating scene in New York City, you desparately hang on to every word and detail. Dresses, boys, alcohol, drugs, sex, work, family, friends, money and love! You will have read probably 100 pages in what feels like ten minutes when you realize two hours have past! Such a great read for the beach, poolside, rainy day or before bed!

It might seem like the easy way out (copying a review) but it expresses the book so well. Let me mention that when I was looking at the reviews on BN.COM, a lot of people didn’t like this book and a few didn’t finish it so it’s not for everyone.

Click here to watch a 3 minute video clip

Type: Fiction, 272 pages, trade paperback

Sarah Walters is a less-than-perfect debutante. She tries hard to follow the time-honored customs of the Charleston Camellia Society, as her mother and grandmother did, standing up straight in cotillion class and attending lectures about all the things that Camellias don't do. (Like ride with boys in pickup trucks.)But Sarah can't quite ignore the barbarism just beneath all that propriety, and as soon as she can she decamps South Carolina for a life in New York City. There, she and her fellow displaced Southern friends try to make sense of city sophistication, to understand how much of their training applies to real life, and how much to the strange and rarefied world they've left behind.When life's complications become overwhelming, Sarah returns home to confront with matured eyes the motto "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia"- and to see how much fuller life can be, for good and for ill, among those who know you best.Girls in Trucks introduces an irresistable, sweet, and wise voice that heralds the arrival of an exciting new talent.

“GIRLS IN TRUCKS is an appealing first novel, short on romance in one sense, but steeped in yearning for it." — Chicago Tribune"With her gritty, vibrant portrait of Charleston, Crouch brings a fascinating culture to mainstream America." — Boston Globe

Review: The Summer House

Family Dynamics, Enjoyable read
Summer House is a perfect book selection for me – I enjoy reading about personal growth, family issues, survival and more. Thank you to Pump up your Book Promotion for sending a copy and offering me the ability to participate in a virtual tour for Summer House.

Nancy Thayer is a New York Times-bestselling author and Summer House is her 19th novel. She is the mother of Samantha Wilde, whose debut novel, This Little Mommy Stayed Home, comes out on June 23. Nancy lives on Nantucket.

I do not have a big family so I am always interested is reading books about family dynamics (understanding this is fiction of course). The story takes place at Nona’s home on Nantucket over a summer when three, almost four generations of Wheelwrights invade her home. But this is Charlotte and Helen’s story just as much as it is Nona’s.

Charlotte is Nona’s thirty year old granddaughter, who is sharing the house with Nona. Charlotte left the family business a few years prior and is running a successful organic vegetable stand. As we watch Charlotte and her mother (Helen) work through some personal issues, we also watch the extended family fight over trivial things from hosting family meetings over the small profit from the vegetable stand, throwing parties, and/or struggling to hold some type of bond when family seems most important. I would pass this book along to someone looking for a light/summer read.

A conversation with Nancy Thayer:
Tell us a little about yourself: I live on Nantucket with my husband Charley and our two cats. Our house is old and filled with books. Charley reads as much as I do, and we both cherish our books, so most of the walls of our home are lined with bookshelves. My son Josh is 36, a computer geek, reads constantly, and my daughter Samantha Wilde also reads--and writes. This June her first novel, This Little Mommy Stayed Home, will debut with Bantam/Dell. Feel free to visit my website which is filled with a lot of biographic information, but the anchoring constants of my life are my family and books, the ones I read and the ones I write. My mother is 91, and reads a book a day. I consider her a fabulous role model!

Do you write daily? I write every day except Sunday, and I find a day of rest really refreshes me. The other six days of the week, I grab a cup of coffee and go up to my study before eight a.m. and work until around one. I've kept to this schedule for oh, about a thousand years now. If I'm writing, I'm a pleasant person for the rest of the day. If I don't write, I'm not as happy and not as pleasant (ask my husband). . .except when I'm with my grandchildren.

What was it like getting your first novel published? All I ever wanted to do was write. I wanted to write books when I was four years old. I read constantly, and taught freshman English in various colleges, and all through my twenties I struggled to find my voice. I tried to write a romance novel and tried to write a "literary" novel and both were terrible. I wrote short stories and got rejected, and then some got accepted, and I wrote a novel which an agent took on, but no publisher wanted, so I huddled away with my typewriter, and got very introverted. I knew no one else who was writing. I felt weird and lost. Then I had my children, a little boy, and a little girl, and suddenly I knew what I wanted to write about. I wrote my first novel in the first person, and my voice was clear and authentic. The day my agent phoned to tell me that Doubleday was publishing /Stepping/, I was overjoyed. I got divorced the same year my first book came out. /Redbook/ magazine condensed /Stepping./ I received a lot of wonderful letters from readers. I got a contract for a second novel. I popped more champagne corks that year than any other time, and I kept the empty bottles lined up on top of the bookcase. Doubleday threw a book launch party for me in New York and it was all just absolutely wildly glamorous. Really a dream come true.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I don't have a kindle, but I love new technology, and if you think about it, a book is a kind of technology. Anything that allows people to read is fine with me.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Rewrite. Step away from the manuscript, take at least a week to do something else, then read your book with fresh eyes, and be willing to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. This sounds hard and it is, but it's also quite exciting to see how inserting a new paragraph or sharpening one's language and finding the absolutely perfect word can make a book more compelling. You think: Oh, /that/'s what I meant!

What are you reading now? I just finished Emily Fox Gordon's brilliant novel, /It Will Come to Me/. It took my breath away. Also just finished a Tony Hillerman mystery, and the hilarious/informative nonfiction book /Rapture for the Geeks/ by Richard Dooling. Last night I read Peter Robinson's new mystery /All the Colors of Darkness/. Did I mention that I'm an insomniac?

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: 'Life Among the Savages' by Shirley Jackson. And 'The Shell Seekers' by Rosamund Pilcher. Both are "domestic" novels. Both made me fall in love with my own life. I read them over and over again.

Just for fun:
Favorite Season: Winter. Because I have to stay inside and have more time to read.

Morning or night: Morning, definitely.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Phish food. I eat an entire pint at one sitting. I often imagine writing Ben and Jerry a thank-you note. Then I get on the scale. . .

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: My son took me on a two-week cruise up the coast of Norway two years ago. Our ship entered all the fjords and we went all the way to the Arctic Circle. It is the most extreme, terrifying, gorgeous place. It made me feel in my heart and in my gut that there really is a heaven, and a whole lot more to being a human being than we ever imagine. I would go there again and again and again--except right now, the more fascinating place in the world for me is the house where my grandchildren live!

Type: Fiction, 368 pages, hardcover

After years of wandering from whim to whim, thirty-year-old Charlotte Wheelwright seems to have at last found her niche. The free spirit enjoys running an organic gardening business on the island of Nantucket, thanks in large part to her spry grandmother Nona, who donated a portion of land on the family’s seaside compound to get Charlotte started. Though Charlotte’s skill with plants is bringing her success, cultivating something deeper with people–particularly her handsome neighbor Coop–might be more of a challenge. Nona’s generosity to Charlotte, secretly her favorite grandchild, doesn’t sit well with the rest of the Wheelwright clan, however, as they worry that Charlotte may be positioning herself to inherit the entire estate. With summer upon them, everyone is making their annual pilgrimage to the homestead–some with hopes of thwarting Charlotte’s dreams, others in anticipation of Nona’s latest pronouncements at the annual family meeting, and still others with surprising news of their own. Charlotte’s mother, Helen, a Wheelwright by marriage, brings a heavy heart. She once set aside her own ambitions to fit in with the Wheelwrights, but now she must confront a betrayal that threatens both her sense of place and her sense of self.As summer progresses, these three women–Charlotte, Nona, and Helen–come to terms with the decisions they have made. Revisiting the lives and loves that have crossed their paths and the possibilities of the roads not taken, they may just discover that what they’ve always sought was right in front of them all along.

“Nancy Thayer has a deep and masterly understanding of love and friendship, of where the two complement and where they collide.” – Elin Hilderbrand

“I read it straight through, and when I was finished all I wanted to do was walk barefoot on the beach with my best friend.” - Luanne Rice

The New York Times - Janet Maslin This well-wrought, appealing book…is packed with literally down-to-earth charm, what with a central character who escapes her family of starchy bankers by lovingly tending her vegetable garden.

Review: The Diary

Sweet, Poignant, a love story

Eileen Goudge has written 16 novels, with another book to be released this fall. I encourage you to visit her website, it’s filled with great content. Here’s a sample (the last line of her Biography): Yes, happy endings do exist, in life as well as in fiction. There's only one catch: You have to write them for yourself. I wish every one of you success in making your own dreams come true.

As children we often forget our parents lived a life before having children. The Diary is the story of two sisters finding their mother’s diary and learning about their mother’s past. As they read the diary they learn that their mother had two great loves in her life.

I enjoy reading novels told in letters/diary entrees so I knew I would like this book. An easy, fast read keeping you engaged from beginning to end. She takes you along with her and keeps you wondering where she is going.
Type: Fiction, 207 pages, Trade paperback

When sisters Emily and Sarah stumble across an old diary while cleaning out their dying mother’s attic, they are stunned to learn that she was in love with another man before she married their dad. As they read on, they are left with more questions than answers.

“I've always loved reading a good romance and this one . . . oh, this one, is special. The Diary is a lovely book, tender, poignant and touching. It really comes from Eileen's heart.” — New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber

Review: Coming for Money

A fast paced page turner, Smart
The book title and subject matter peaked my interest - I wanted to read this book if for no other reason than hoping to learn a little more about the financial industry. Thank you to Pump up your Book Promotion for sending a copy and offering me the ability to participate in a virtual tour for Coming for Money.

F. W. vom Scheidt is a director of an international investment firm. He works and travels in the world’s capital markets, and makes his home in Toronto, Canada. He is also the author of a new book, Coming for Money, a remarkable and provocative novel about the world of international finance and the human quests for success, understanding and love. (Source: website)
Coming for Money is action packed from the first chapter, by the time you are 30 pages in so much has happened and you will find yourself absorbed in the story.

This is the story of Paris Smith, a man who is grieving the death of his wife and having to keep it together while he finds a solution to a $100 million dollar issue. The first part of this book reminded me of Wall Street (remember Gordon Gecco?) mixed with a dab of John Grisham. As the book continues you follow Paris as he discovers himself, opening up to reveal a sad grieving man and finding new life.

Click here to read an author interview

Author Q&A:
Tell us a little about yourself: I am a director of an international investment firm. I work and travel in the world’s capital markets, and makes my home in Toronto, Canada.

Do you write daily? My responsibilities do not allow me to write daily. But, daily and continuously, I store thoughts, concepts, people, situations and language. When traveling and working in international locations, I concentrate not on looking out from my own life to see something different, but on assuming the lives of others to learn how to see differently.

And, always, I seek to maintain integrity in my struggle with questions without answers: who am I? Why am I here? What comes after this life? The result of this process is that, when I have an opportunity to write, I have something to say.

What was it like getting your first novel published? Probably the most important aspect of it to me personally was that I wanted to write as truthfully as possible about the life I know best; and having my publisher accept the novel was some affirmation that my writing had succeeded in having someone else experience some of what I experienced.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I don’t know anything about electronic books. Maybe there’s a good stock tip; invest now and have the stock double in a few years when the technology becomes widely accepted.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Write.

What are you reading now? Blindness, Jose Saramago; The Lay of The Land, Richard Ford; Mathematics From The Birth of Numbers, Jan Gullberg; Jesus For The Non Religious, John Shelby Spong

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: Islands In The Stream, Ernest Hemingway

Just for fun:
Favorite Season: Autumn
Morning or night: In my profession, money never sleeps, and either do you. I sometimes work 24 hours straight.
Favorite ice cream flavor: I don’t eat ice cream. I drink single malt scotch. The calories are about the same. But the whiskey delivers a significantly greater appreciation of the remarkable journey of life.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: I already travel too much. I value stillness.
Type: Fiction, 250 pages, Trade paperback

International investment firm director and author F. W. vom Scheidt’s Coming For Money is a remarkable and provocative novel about the world of international finance and the human quests for success, understanding and love --- fast-paced, honest, and deeply felt. One man is caught between the unrelenting demands of imminent success or failure in his career, and his private heartbreak over the loss of love in his life. Engrossing, intelligent and totally original, Coming For Money introduces a talented author.

Reviews:“…an unusually talented writer…characters that come to life and are credible…vivid, realistic… often exerts that almost-mesmerizing effect of film noir.” – Patricia Anderson (Suthor of passion Lost)
“Impressive and original… a work that is subtle and unusual, a literary page-turner that is a rare pleasure to read.” – Jennifer Barclay (editor of AWOL, Tales for Travel-Inspired Minds)

Review: The Wednesday Sisters (MMBC10)

Five women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship (source: author site)
A MMBC member suggested The Wednesday Sisters to me about a month ago and asked if we could possibly select this book to read for the MMBC. I’m so pleased to announce that not only will we be reading The Wednesday Sisters as a MMBC selection but we will be meeting with Meg Waite Clayton while in Napa later this year!

I will hold off with my detailed review for November when we discuss the book but I would like to share that I really enjoyed this book. It’s a story of five women who meet at the park and become a strong support system for each other as they learn to write, parent, discuss current events and survive life’s obstacles.

I loved the historical part of the novel, which takes place in the last sixty’s/early seventies. It’s interesting to read how women, wives and mothers may have responded to current events. I was too young to have lasting memories from the early 70’s, it was really enjoyable turning the pages and hearing how women lived life. They were daring women. I highly recommend this book!

As part of today's announcement, Meg Waite Clayton has offered two copies of this novel for a drawing. Please send me an email with ‘The Wednesday Sisters’ in the subject line, along with your mailing address by Monday, July 6th. I will pick two winners at random. DRAWING CLOSED
Below you will find a brief author Q&A along with a link to some video files.

Click here for Video clips and interviews from the authors website

A conversation with Meg Waite Clayton:Tell us a little about yourself: Why is this always such a daunting question? I’m a novelist, but I didn't start out being a novelist. I started out as someone who wanted to be a novelist but had no idea how one went about that - much less any faith in my own talent. I went off to the University of Michigan thinking I would become a doctor, and emerged after seven years as a corporate lawyer. It was another seven years before I worked up the nerve to give writing a serious try. I was thirty-two by then, and pregnant with my second son, who was eleven when my first novel was published.

Along the way, I wrote short stories and essays, the first of which was accepted just a few weeks after I wrote it, and published in Runner's World. That was definitely an exciting moment, seeing my little essay in airport newsstands all over the country.

I've also been raising children all the years I've been writing, as the Wednesday Sisters in my novel do. As a result, I can write anywhere, and anytime. Believe it or not, many pages of my first novel were written at Chuck e Cheese, loud as it is, while my then quite-young sons played in the climbing structure, which they would do for hours.

Do you write daily? Absolutely. What I lack in talent, I try really hard to make up with discipline. Since my sons have been in school fulltime, my rule for myself is 2,000 words or 2:00. When I’m writing first draft—the hardest part of writing for me—I sit down every morning when my youngest heads off for school (my oldest is now at University of Chicago), and I work until I have 2,000 words or my clock ticks over to 2:00. If I have 2,000 words by 9:30 in the morning, I can spend the rest of the day however I want (hiking, reading, eating chocolate—which, admittedly I do a lot of while I’m writing). But the truth is if I have 2,000 words by anytime before 2:00, I rarely get up even for lunch, as that is a great writing day. And once I have a first draft, I can revise forever. That’s the sweet spot of writing for me.

What was it like getting your first novel published? It was absolutely amazing, but also a little bittersweet. I worked with a writing group in Nashville for years. When we first started meeting, none of us had published anything but one little travel article. By the time I moved to California, we’d all published short things, but none of us had yet sold a book. At our last gathering, I gave the others bottles of champagne, so that when the first of us sold a book we could celebrate together in spirit, at least.

Literally days after we settled into our new house in California, I got a call that my first novel had sold. It was lovely, of course, kicking aside the packing boxes to celebrate with my family, but I did wish I could have celebrated in person with the friends that had carried me all that way, too.

I sent out new bottles, and when not quite a year later Brenda Rickman Vantrease sold her first novel, The Illuminator, we popped corks again. And it wasn’t our last champagne either: we now count seven books published or being written under contract among us. THAT is what friendship has done for me.

I’ll confess that I cried when I first saw my first novel in a bookstore, too. My husband saw it first, and called me. Someone bought a copy while we were standing there admiring it, and asked if I’d sign it for her—which of course I did!

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I have great affection for neighborhood book stores—I love to browse books—so I worry what electronic books will mean to the future of bricks and mortar stores. But I do already listen to a lot of audio books, and at almost every book club I’ve visited for The Wednesday Sisters, someone has read it on a Kindle. It may well turn out to be the itunes of the book world. And certainly what Google and libraries including the one at my alma mater, the University of Michigan, are doing in terms of providing access to out-of-copyright books is amazing. I was sent one of the first “espresso” books to come off of the University of Michigan espresso book printing machine, and it is a lovely thing.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? “A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.” -William Faulkner

It can be really hard to put your work out there and face the inevitable rejection, but every published author I know could wallpaper the old mansion in The Wednesday Sisters with rejection notes. The alternative title for The Wednesday Sisters was The Wednesday Sisters Writing Society, and my friend Brenda likes to say it’s “a how-to-get-published manual disguised as a wonderful novel.” I certainly mean it to inspire people to start writing, or to keep writing, whether they write for publication or for personal exploration—or to reach as hard as they can for whatever their own personal dream might be. I have a writers’ page on my website full of tips and exercises, and I host a blog called 1st Books on which authors write about how they got started, also meant to help writers keep the faith. It includes a post by Brenda titled “A 136-Rejection Overnight Success,” about her path to selling her first novel in a six-figure deal after being rejected by 136 agents.

What are you reading now? I’m rereading Michelle Richmond’s wonderful No One You Know, which is just out in paperback.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: Charming Billy by Alice McDermott and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (both of which I suppose are modern classics)
Just for fun:Favorite Season: Fall
Morning or night: Night
Favorite ice cream flavor: Chunky Monkey
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: Just one? So many places I want to go! Buenos Aires. Alaska. The South Island of New Zealand. The South Pole. But I guess if I only get to pick one, it would be Iguazu Falls, on the border between Brazil and Argentina.

Type: Fiction, pages, Trade paperback

SynopsisFive women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendshipWhen five young mothers–Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett–first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write a novel herself, and the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. The five women slowly, and often reluctantly, start filling journals, sliding pages into typewriters, and sharing their work. In the process, they explore the changing world around them: the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and a women’s movement that challenges everything they believe about themselves. At the same time, the friends carry one another through more personal changes–ones brought about by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success. With one another’s support and encouragement, the Wednesday Sisters begin to embrace who they are and what they hope to become, welcoming readers to experience, along with them, the power of dreaming big.

"Meg Waite Clayton's The Wednesday Sisters is a heartwarming novel about the joys and complications of friendship, an inspiring story for anyone who has dared to dream big. Clayton's characters are the kind of women you can imagine joining on the park bench—for a good laugh, a good cry, or a spirited conversation about literature and life."— Michelle Richmond, author of The Year of Fog and No One You Know

"Readers will be swept up by this moving novel about female friendship and enthralled by the recounting of a pivotal year in American history as seen through these young women's eyes."— Booklist

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