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A Little Aside...

I know I’ve been pretty slack about keeping my blog updated. Excuses, excuses, I know, but really, life’s been crazy busy.

So rather than toiling away at a new post today, instead I’m going to just throw some names out there. Writers I enjoy. This is a random off-the-top-of-my-head selection, so if I’ve forgotten someone, I’m sorry! It’s early and I’ve been sick all week so have slept like a snake with one eye open. Bear with me.

So I’ll start out with my friend Kim Stagliano, whose memoir, ALL I CAN HANDLE: I’M NOT MOTHER THERESA: A LIFE RAISING THREE DAUGHTERS WITH AUTISM comes out this fall. I’ve known Kim for several years now and am so delighted that her amazing story is soon to appear on the pages of a no-doubt bestseller (it”ll be out this fall). She is one of the smartest, funniest women I know and I have admired for years how she handles with such grace, aplomb and humor what would drag many other people under. You’ll just have to read her memoir (or “Kimoir” as she likes to call it) to understand what I mean, but truly, she is about as close to a diminutive Albanian (with Indian citizenship) nun as you’re gonna get without having to have taken vows of chastity (she has, after all, had three children).

I can’t wait to read the entire book and I hope that you’ll run out and put it on your pre-order list right now.

Another author I’ve been thinking about is Lisa Dale, who is so delightful and whose writing is evocative and thought-provoking. I’ve been promising Lisa all summer that I would do a book giveaway with one of her books and I really have meant to but you know my excuses about being overwhelmed  (see above, crazy overloaded schedules). Lisa—if you’re reading this, let me know and I’ll add it in here!!! Lisa is a lovely writer and a lovely person and just a very thoughtful one as well. She is on the fast track to becoming a big name in women’s fiction so do check her out.

Okay, so some other writers I’d like to mention. I often cite Danielle Younge-Ullman when I discuss the inequities with the book business. Danielle is one of the most talented writers I know. Her book Falling Under is one of the most kick-ass books I read the year it came out (the same year my novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver was released). In fact it’s about the kick-assiest of kick-ass books. But as you will note when you link to it on Amazon, it is no longer available from the publisher, because it was left to wither on the vine. Which is a shame, because the book is awesome. So while Danielle won’t even see a penny for the sale of the remaining used books, you should buy them anyhow, because you’ll be amazed at her writing and the passion therein.

Eileen Cook is another friend whose writing I love. She’s funny, smart, clever. While she started out writing humorous women’s fiction, that genre is for some bizarre reason not in favor with the reading public, and so she took a turn to YA and mid-grade fiction, and is starting to burn up the charts there. I LOVE the cover for her YA novel Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood. I love that Eileen didn’t let that little detail about no one buying humorous women’s fiction get in the way of her forging onward in her writing career, and instead her little flower is pushing through the sidewalk cracks in another neighborhood. Check her out.

JoAnn Ross is a lovely writer as well. Despite being a hugely successful New York Times bestseller (The Homecoming is kicking butt on the Times list), she is always willing to take the time to talk with readers and other writers. She’s toiled in this business for many years and has seen a lot of ups and downs and many, many changes. Talking with JoAnn is often simply reassuring, which is a good thing in this business.

Malena Lott, well, she’s another of my writer homegirls. I love her savvy business sense when it comes to marketing and publicity, and am charmed by her writing style. She needs to have had about ten books out by now, but that women’s fiction market is prickly at best, so she treads water while deciding what her next course of action is, but whatever it is, you should check her out. I really enjoyed Dating DaVinci and think you will too. I have a feeling she’ll be doing what many authors are doing now–putting her next book up digitally, as she has a fan base anxiously awaiting her next novel.Throwing a few other names into the pot: Jamie Ford—adore him, his writing, and absolutely love that he hasn’t let success go to his head. He’s a talent to be reckoned with. Beth Hoffman, ditto. She’s sweet, clever, smart, fabulously talented writer. Check her out. Sarah Pekkanen—she’s hilarious and charming and much fun, love her writing. Eve Brown-Waite—her fish-out-of-water memoir First Comes Love Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life about contending with life in a sometimes confounding difficult African nation is fabulous and hilarious. Ad Hudler—such fun, terrific writer, very truthful in his writing, which I love. Hilarious. Oh, in the better-late-than-never category, I just got around to reading Mary Kay Andrew’s Savannah Blues. Charming, fun, intelligent. She has a keen reporters eye for details that I appreciated, and she is great fun to hang out with (and has such a lovely agent and publicist, to boot!).

Ooooh, there are soooo many writers I’d like to shout out to right now but my middle-aged brain is only coming up with a handful. I’ll add more as they come to me. But in the meantime, check out the aforementioned and I hope you find you love them too!

Categories: Books, Jenny Gardiner, News, Parrothood: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Slim to None

This Little Pig Went Wee Wee Wee All the Way Home

Don’t worry, I’m not about to write about swine flu. Just had to clear the air on that, what with the pig reference in the title. No, instead I’m going to regale you with far more compelling subject matter: wee wee. Well, not exactly. I’ve been thinking about wee-wee a bit lately, but really I’m not going to talk about it. At least not in it’s truest form.

You see my daughter is in an upcoming musical at her high school. She loves to sing and do all of those theatrical things and my husband and I have enjoyed watching her grow as a performer and we were duly thrilled that she was going to try out for the musical this year. I pictured her belting out songs about the corn being knee-high by the Fourth of July, or being Hopelessly Devoted to whomever was the closest thing to John Travolta that the school could scratch up, or maybe even getting a bit edgier and joining the ensemble cast in a rousing rendition of Seasons of Love from Rent.

But instead, she and her peers will be singing about pee. Yeah, I know, that sounds so terrifically disgusting. But really, it’s nothing but funny. They had a new drama teacher this year who wanted to undertake something a little bit different than the usual high school musical productions, to give everyone something to talk about, and she decided that this year they would put on Urinetown. Yep, that’s the title. Urinetown.

And then I got asked to help to publicize the play and I have a background in public relations so I was more than happy to do so, but then the reality kicked in once I actually started talking it up. Every time I’ve mentioned this play to anyone, I’m met with this:

“Urinetown? As in urine town? Oh.” And then their eyes glaze over. And I can’t say that I blame them because, I mean, the title is a little off-putting. 

I even thought about pitching it as You’re In Town, figuring nobody would know the difference. I came up with the line I’d use for reporters:

“I wanted to let you know that the high school will be putting on a play, and it’s been fabulously well-received on Broadway. Tony Award-winning, in fact. Yeah, uh-huh. Uh-huh. It’s called You’re In Town.”

I figured they’d just sort of in their minds mix it with Our Town, an old chestnut that gets dragged out by all kinds of high school drama departments during play season. 

Admittedly I’m not quite “in the know” in the world of drama, despite a potentially lurid addiction to People magazine. But that’s more to do with pop culture than actual theatrics. 

The extent of my acting prowess consisted of a quasi-starring role as Aunt Sally in Mr. Popsack’s sixth grade production of Huck Finn. I made quite the memorable entrance when I tripped over a tree stump prop in a night scene during the first few minutes of the play, flipping heels over head and landing on my back. Despite my abject humiliation from that gaff, I received rave reviews, and Charlotte Tragard, the actress in our modest little high school, pulled me aside and told me I had a future in the arts.

Little did I know that future would be in trying to convince people that a play about pee is a must-see production. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Urinetown, don’t let the title scare you. It’s good, clean fun for the whole family. And perfectly relevant for the times in which we live, complete with corrupt politicians, corporate greed, and ecological devastation thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love? 

Yes, sometimes I feel as if I’m flacking the live action version of the children’s book series,Captain Underpants. More like Captain Dirty Diapers. But I take heart in knowing that it’s a fabulous play and has lots of terrific singing and you know, in some ways it brings me back to the day when changing diapers with my own babies and I probably sang about wee-wee, just to keep the kids entertained. So it all comes around. 

Plus, my friend had a good point the other day.

“Hey,” she said. “At least it’s only pee! You could have been asked to publicize a production of The Vagina Monologues.”

Categories: News, Parrothood: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Welcome Guest Author April Henry

April Henry is the newest addition to the Girlfriend’s Cyber Circuit, and is celebrating the launch of her latest novel (co-authored with Lisa Wiehl), Face of Betrayal, which is sure to keep you up reading and the lights on till dawn.

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

About the author

April Henry knows how to kill you in a two-dozen different ways. She makes up for a peaceful childhood in an intact home by killing off fictional characters. April had one detour on her path to destruction: when she was 12 she sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to noted children’s author Roald Dahl. He liked it so much he arranged to have it published in an international children’s magazine.

By the time she was in her 30s, April had come to terms with her childhood and started writing about hit men, drug dealers, and serial killers. She has published six mysteries and thrillers, with five more under contract. Her books have gotten starred reviews, been on Booksense (twice!), translated into four languages, short-listed for the Oregon Book Award, and chosen as a Quick Pick by the American Library Association.

April co-wrote Face of Betrayal with Lis Wiehl, a legal analyst on FOX. They have a contract for three more Triple Threat mysteries. 

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

“A sizzling political thriller. … The seamless plot offers a plethora of twists and turns.”

–Publishers Weekly

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

–Romantic Times

Welcome, April!

JG: Tell me a little about your book.

AP: In Face of Betrayal, Katie, a 17 year old Senate page, disappears. The prime suspect: the Senator who may have been more than just a mentor. Three women – an FBI agent, a federal prosecutor, and a TV crime reporter – team up to find out what really happened.

JG: What got you writing in the genre in which you write.

AH: It was kind of accident. I wrote the book I wanted to write –Circles of Confusion – and my agent told me she thought it would sell well as a mystery. The idea of it selling was enough to sell – I had already written three other books that hadn’t sold. She was right – I had a two book deal in three days. I’ve since realized that the kind of books you right at first are like a brand. Readers expect you to continue to write in the same genre. 

JG: Favorite thing about being a writer?

AH: When the words come so quickly it’s like I’m transcribing and grinning like a crazy person. That happens about once a year. Unfortunately.

JG: Least favorite thing about being a writer?

AH: The one time I couldn’t get on the same page as an editor. It was excruciating.

JG: What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author?

AH: Watching a book come close to being made into a movie. It was a huge long shot that didn’t pan out, but it was fun while it lasted.

JG: What’s your favorite type of pie?

AH: Cherry, made with bright red pie (sour) cherries. Runner up: lemon meringue.

Categories: News, Parrothood: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver