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Welcome New York Times Bestselling Author Allison Winn Scotch

I’m thrilled to have Allison Winn Scotch join me today. Her latest novel, Time of my Life (in which she explores what might happen if you could live your life all over again, and change the course of history) has met with enormous success and hit the New York Times bestsellers list. It was also chosen as a Today Show must-read for the fall season, received a glowing review from People Magazine, and has been optioned for a film by the Weinstein Company. Allison and I have been on a number of online writing groups over the year, and I know her as a very gracious person willing  to share with other up-and-coming writers and someone who has worked very hard for her success. I can’t wait to read her novel, which is sitting atop my to-be-read pile.

JG: Tell me a little about your book.

AWS:  Time of My Life is the story about a woman who, on the surface, seems to have it all.  But when you peel back her layers, you discover that she is deeply unhappy and has lingering “what ifs” about her past.  Rather than face her current problems, she wakes up one day seven year in her past – at her old job, with her old boyfriend – and has the opportunity to rewrite her future.

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

AWS:  I write commercial fiction, and I write it because I read it.  I’m not going to pretend that I pore over highly literary works: I like books to suck me in, entertain me, and spit me out when they’re done.  Look, I’m a working mom with two young kids…I simply don’t have the mental energy to read a book that’s going to take a month to finish because I have to reread every other sentence to fully understand the hidden meanings.  I like sharp, intelligent, thought-provoking commercial fiction…that I can finish in less than a week. So I hope that my book meets all of those criteria! It’s definitely one that if I hadn’t written I’d pick up.

JG:  Favorite thing about being a writer?

AWS:  The freedom of it.  I love being able to schedule my day as I so choose; to hang out with my kids and then retreat to my office and get some work done; to totally blow off days if I’m not in the mood but to also hunker down and write for hours on end when I’m inspired.  I also love that I can create something from nothing but what is purely in my imagination.  It is so, so cool to get that finished book from my publisher and think, “Wow, this is 100% all me.”

JG:  Least favorite thing about being a writer?

ASW:  The freedom of it. When I’m not writing–which I’m not at the present moment because I’m rooting around for my next book idea–I have no one to blame by myself. And I put a lot of pressure on myself to jump-start my work, but if it’s not happening, it’s not happening…so…I’m waiting to be inspired by my next big idea. And that can sort of suck. 

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

ASW:  OMG, that people somehow think I’m famous.  Seriously.  I run into old friends or acquaintances who say, “You’re famous now!”  Which is hilarious.  Because a) I’m not and b) really, I’m not.  And if I were, I’m incredibly grateful that there is no US Weekly for writers.  Because I walk around all day in my sweats, looking like total crap, and if a paparazzi were to follow me, I’d definitely be listed in that “Stars without make-up” section!

JG:  What’s your favorite type of pie?

AWS:  Strawberry-rubarb.  I love the combination of sweet and tart.  Which, yes, is also a metaphor for my personality.

 

Allison Winn Scotch is the author of a novel, The Department of Lost and Found. She is a frequent contributor to numerous magazines including American Baby, American Way, Bride’s, Cooking Light, Family Circle, Fitness, Glamour, InStyle Weddings, Lifetime Television, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, Parents, Prevention, Redbook, Self, Shape, Stuff, USA Weekend, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health, and ivillage.com, msn.com, and women.com. She lives in New York with her husband and their son and daughter. 

Categories: News, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Multi-tasking for the Multi-tasker

Okay, class. Today’s lesson is on multi-tasking. For the uninitiated, multi-tasking is the process of doing as many things as humanly possible in the same space of time: fixing dinner, cleaning dishes, feeding the dogs, writing a book, scrubbing the floor, fighting for world peace. It’s one way to maximize the limited 24-hour day.

It is a skill that has been honed throughout millennia by women in particular. Often times they receive their inaugural multi-tasking trial by fire upon the birth of their first child, whence they are called upon to perform such challenges as soothing a screaming newborn over their shoulder while picking up the burp cloth that’s inconveniently fallen on the ground with their toes while simultaneously attempting to clean up the projectile vomit said screaming child has just emitted while letting the barking dog out because the barking dog is what caused the child to scream in the first place. Oh, and cook dinner, dust the bookshelves and make the bed. While carrying a basket of laundry up from the basement.

Of course, when the husband comes home at the end of the work day and finds the new mother looking as if she just gave birth (again) and asks, “What did you do all day, honey?” implying that it looks as if she’d parked her butt in front of Oprah and didn’t even get up to go to the bathroom, a woman has to learn to cast that sphinx-like smile and just glibly tell her man, “oh, a little of this, a little of that” (either that or club him). But we know better.

Women are excellent multi-taskers. I have female physician friends who I’m sure could readily perform a C-section, bake a pie and clean the dishes, if only the operating theater were within reach of the kitchen.

Another friend of mine wins the award for multi-tasking. I saw her one time, shortly after her baby was born, on a neighborhood stroll. The baby in a jog stroller, the dog on a leash, and a book in front of her face. If that’s not an ambitious undertaking, killing three birds with one stone, nothing is.

I have found over the years that I can multi-task with just about everything. I read while brushing my teeth. Sometimes I clean my sink while blow-drying my hair. Check my e-mails, talk on the phone, feed the dogs, and clear my desk. You get the drift. I like to think of it as hyper-efficiency. My husband calls it ADD.

But I’ve found there’s one task that absolutely thwarts a person’s ability to seriously multi-task, and that is driving. Now, to a certain extent, we all multi-task when we drive. It’s an inevitable side effect of the process: checking mirrors, scanning the horizon, glancing over your shoulder before going into the passing lane. Even to the point that you might be eating a burger, licking an ice cream cone, or drinking hot coffee with one hand while driving. Who hasn’t steered with their knees occasionally?

Of course the cell phone has enabled those of us who spend an inordinate amount of time behind the wheel to at least partially fulfill the need to multitask. As a mother of three, I’ve spent several hours a day over the past decade or so couriering my charges to their various and many activities. At least with a cell phone I can take care of returning phone calls that are only interruptive when conducted at home, or catching up with someone I’ve neglected to contact in ages.

But I yearn for the ability to do more behind the wheel and long for the day that technology will catch up with a mother’s need to achieve while driving: how about a plug-in blow dryer so I can dry and drive at once? Or a way to fix dinner while stuck in traffic at 6 p.m.? We’ve all see those ambitious ones who boldly do the idiotic while behind the wheel: applying make-up, curling eyelashes, shaving, for God’s sake. That’s about as crazy as trying to perform a pedicure while tooling along the road. Those undertakings are obviously foolish. But really, I think the blow-drying idea is imminently do-able, provided of course that styling brushes are not required.

Having now ushered two kids through driver’s ed, where they learn to drive the way we’re supposed to drive, however, I realize that my days of ambitious achievement above and beyond the task of getting to and fro have drawn to a close: I now have a driving-age backseat drivers who are ready and willing to correct every little transgression I might possibly make while in the course of my daily driving. 

Because after all, while idly sitting at a traffic signal catching up on my reading is a useful way to spend the forty-five seconds during which I’m stuck at the light, it’s probably more incumbent upon me to pay attention to other drivers. That is, not looking at what they’re wearing or how funny they look belting out a song alone in the car, but rather whether there are last-minute light runners who might impede my forward momentum once the light does change to green. Alas, it looks as if my days of multi-tasking are now limited to off-road moments. And that’s a good thing.

Categories: News

Welcome to Guest Author Nadine Dajani

Today’s guest author is Nadine Dajani, who’s led quite an interesting life, in many exotic locales, which certainly influence her novels.  Her second novel, Cutting Loose, has drawn praise from Publishers Weekly as “engrossing.”

Please Welcome Nadine Dajani:

JG: Tell me a little about your book.
 
ND: It’s a friendship tale that unfolds backwards… and spans a few continents! When Ranya, the pampered, sheltered daughter of wealthy Middle-Eastern parents finds out that the Prince Charming she’d shelved her virginity for would rather bed Paolo the decorator-cum-underwear-model than her, she decides to leave humiliation behind and flees towards the comfort of Harrods and Harvey Nic’s across the pond. Except her parents don’t let her have her way this time, and demand she come home or else find a way to fend for herself. Luckily an accidental run-in with a hot young Miami mogul and a less lucky encounter with an unfriendly childhood acquaintance, Zahra, see Ranya accepting a job working for Rio, a Latina editor of a Miami fashion magazine with a serious chip on her shoulder. The different ethnic backgrounds and temperaments of this unlikely trio – not to mention their romantic designs over a couple of seriously eligible bachelors – is what sets off the fireworks. Think of this book as Girls of Riyadh meets The Dirty Girls Social Club. 
 
JG: What got you writing in the genre in which you write?
 
ND: I fell in love with the voices of chick lit authors early on, and the versatility of the genre. I know that for marketing reasons publishers started slapping pastel colored covers on anything that was lighthearted in tone and directed at women. And though I never took issue with the covers, it did annoy me that all chick lit writers, the good, the bad, and the ugly, were looked down upon as inferior in the same way. I think that much of chick lit leans towards mainstream fiction, which is just a way of saying “topical” or “of general interest” and that’s why I love writing in this genre – the freedom to cover whatever topics I want, even potential downers like racism and immigration, with a light, funny tone.
 
JG: Favorite thing about being a writer?
 
ND: I love “research”. The first scene in Cutting Loose is inspired by an actual (unfortunate) event that transpired while I was visiting a friend in London and was having lunch on the rooftop terrace at Harvey Nichols. Every morning when my friend would leave for work and I’d hit the London shops, she would say: aren’t you supposed to be writing??
And I would say: I am! Promise! I’m researching!
Now that she’s read Cutting Loose and recognized her city in the pages, she has conceded that I was in fact “researching” : )
I love that writing is essentially an excuse to learn about things that have always interested you, or at least to be open enough about the world around you that you see every chance encounter, every unexpected interesting locale or event as potential fodder for creativity.
 
JG: Least favorite thing about being a writer?
ND: The discipline. I have to admit that it’s a struggle for me to get words on the page every single day, though I really wish I was one of those writers who could sit down and be creative every morning between the hours of 5 and 8 am and then go off and start the rest of their day. I also hate this newfound addiction to Amazon rankings… 
 
JG: What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author?
 
ND: I live in the Cayman Islands, which is a small enough pond that you can easily feel like a big fish if you tried. I love that after a spread in the local paper when my first book came out, everyone – from the girl who usually books my airline tickets, to barristas at my favorite coffee shop to a stranger who’d actually read my book and recognized me from my author photo – they now smile and ask me how the writing is going when they see me. Being published in fiction also opened the door for my travel writing – a huge dream that fell right into my lap after Fashionably Late was released. 
 
JG: What’s your favorite type of pie?
 
ND: Apple, hands down. There’s something about the baked-apples-and-cinnamon combo that gets me no matter what shape it’s presented in. And pumpkin isn’t exactly popular in the Middle East, so I’ve yet to taste pumpkin pie… I guess apple wins by default anyway.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon to Palestinian parents, Nadine spent the first nine years of her life in Saudi Arabia before settling in Montreal. While Nadine could definitely think of better ways of spending a year than devoting it to mastering the French language, the experience (and all that duty-free terminal shopping) would turn Nadine onto the wonders of world travel and the quirky, unexpected (and usually hilarious) ways cultures meshed (or stubbornly refused to). As an adult she moved to the Cayman Islands to pursue a career in, what else – offshore banking. And while Nadine has yet to see her “golden parachute” she did get to reap the rewards of Caribbean relocation by island-hopping to nearby Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras and Miami whenever the travel bug bites.

Nadine’s travel articles have been published in Atmosphere magazine. Cutting Loose is her second novel.  

Categories: News