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Category: News

Welcome My Good Friend, Guest Author Malena Lott

Malena Lott and I stumbled upon each other at a writing conference a few years back on an escalator. Well, I guess we’d chatted briefly at a cocktail party, then ended up leaving at around the same time, and by the time we were on the escalator I knew we’d get to be good friends. She’s got that sweet southern charm peppered with a bit of mischief and is a lot of fun to hang with. I was so honored when she asked me to read her book for a cover quote and really enjoyed it thoroughly. I was happy when Malena joined the Girlfriends’ Cyber Circuit, and I’m happy to tour her wonderful novel. Welcome, Malena!

JG:  Tell me a little about your book.

ML:  Dating da Vinci is the story of a young widow, 36-year-old Ramona Elise (Mona Lisa), during her Renaissance (awakening), with the help of a handsome immigrant named Leonardo da Vinci. She desperately wants to find la vita allegro, joyful living, and da Vinci’s passion is contagious. The story follows her journey of body, mind and spirit to creating a wholly new life and letting go of the pain of the past.

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

ML:  I’ve always loved stories about relationships, period. Human drama and the range of emotions that go with it just fascinate me. I’ve read and enjoyed so many great authors over the years, including all of John Irving’s novels, who really taught me so much about how far you can take a character, but then I also really think laughter adds so much to life.

JG:  Favorite thing about being a writer?

ML:  Getting paid for something I love to do is a great joy. I also don’t mind marketing the book since my other hat is as a marketing and branding consultant. I love the whole process of writing – the ideas, building characters, dialogue and weaving the story together.

 JG:  Least favorite thing about being a writer?

ML:  You naturally worry about the business side of things – and some things you just can’t control. The publisher is responsible for so much of whether or not your book will be a success – the sales, distribution, marketing, packaging, co-op (or in most cases no co-op) and so on. And then it’s up to the readers to buy the book, so that part of it is tough. Even NYT best-selling authors tell me they are still nervous about all that stuff, so I don’t think it entirely ever goes away, no matter your success.

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

ML:  It’s always a nice compliment when people get surprised/excited look on their face when they hear that you are an author. The publicity is always an interesting ride – who will pick up the story, who will want to do radio/TV/print/web interviews and so on. And this year I had a digital billboard up for two weeks promoting the book on a busy highway in Oklahoma City so that was something new for me.

 JG:  What’s your favorite type of pie?

ML:  Hot apple pie with ice cream is a nice choice, but I sure do miss my grandmother’s peach cobbler, too.

Malena Lott writes humorous and heartfelt mainstream women’s fiction novels. With national speaking experience, she is a brand and marketing consultant and facilitates personal and professional development workshops for women. Dating da Vinci is Malena Lott’s second novel. Lott is a married mother of three and resides in Oklahoma. Lott invites you to her web site where she has posted cooking videos, contests and an excerpt of the first chapter: www.malenalott.com.

Welcome Guest Author Jessica Brody

 

I’ve gotten a little backlogged with GCC guests so I have a few to put up in the next week or so. Today please welcome Jessica Brody, whose novel The Fidelity Files debuted last June. I love what USA Today said about it:

“Sisters unite! This is a total revenge fantasy for anyone really tired of men with overactive zippers.”

Welcome, Jessica!

JG:  Tell me a little about your book.

JB:  The Fidelity Files is the story of a beautiful, L.A. woman who works as an undercover “fidelity inspector,” hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the faithfulness of the men in their lives. Except no one in her life knows what she does. Her friends and family all think she works for an investment bank. 

Of course things get even more complicated when she meets the sexy and sophisticated Jamie Richards, the only man she’s ever fully been able to trust.

But is a fidelity inspector really capable of having a normal relationship?

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

JB:  It’s pretty simple, really. I write the kind of books I would want to read. I don’t see the sense in writing in a genre you don’t enjoy. I’ve always loved chick lit and women’s commercial fiction. Emily Giffin, Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding are some of my favorites. In fact, it was Bridget Jones’s Diary that inspired me to write novels in the first place. So it seemed only natural that I would write in the same genre.

JG:  Favorite thing about being a writer?

JB:  The flexible schedule. Essentially I can work whenever and wherever I want. Three in the morning, nine at night. I love not having a boss or a time clock telling me what I have to do and when.

JG:  Least favorite thing about being a writer?

JB:  The flexible schedule. It makes it very easy to procrastinate!

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

 JB:  Seeing your work translated into other languages is pretty bizarre. I saw a sneak peak at the German translation for my book and I was like, “Holy cow, I have no idea what I wrote!” That’s pretty surreal.

 JG: What’s your favorite type of pie?

JB:  Haha…this question made me laugh. I’m not a big pie person, but I will have to say there’s this berry farm on the central coast of California called the Linn’s and they specialize in growing the Ollalieberry (which is a cross between a Youngberry and a Loganberry). I’d never heard of it before but it’s divine. And their Ollalieberry pie is to die for!

Jessica Brody  graduated from Smith College with degrees in economics and French. A full-time writer and producer, she lives in Los Angeles where she is currently working on her next novel.

 

To Hell with that Home-cooked Meal...

I’ve been trumped by the hair net brigade. My ace in the hole as a mother has lost its curb appeal, if you will, thanks to food services at my son’s college.

When your kid leaves for college, a mom has little pull remaining. Not much to draw that child back home again. When I was a kid, one of the few things I looked forward to was a good home-cooked meal upon my return to the home front.

My freshman year dining hall experience ran the gamut from the infamous (and much-loathed) chili-dogs to a fine-dining item known as “shrimplets”: a glob of batter with dessicated shrimp flakes mixed in, molded into the vague shape of an actual piece of shrimp and deep-fried to golden goodness. I knew it was time to get home to a good meal when shrimplets on the menu began to sound tasty.

We also had what was at the time the very cutting-edge salad bar. But this was in the early 80’s, so the salad bar was doused with sulfites to preserve it’s “freshness”, and thus left a bitter taste and had an undesirable numbing after-effect that left me generally eating only the chow mein noodles on top and none of the wholesome veggies beneath. 

My son is attending a school that touts the nation’s top-ranked dining hall experience. So great is the food that it is repeated as a mantra by most students, faculty and administration. Harvard might boast about the best education, but this place, dammit, they’ve got you by the balls with fabulous food.

When we attended orientation, I was dragged kicking and screaming (almost literally: I detest cafeteria food and had been looking forward to finding a nice restaurant in town, enjoying a leisurely glass of wine and some actual food) into the dining hall. My husband insisted: “We have to get the entire dining experience.” Why, I have no clue. But I relented so as to not have a hissy fit in front of my son and his potential peers.

When we arrived in the dining hall, I practically heard a choir of, well, not exactly angels, but something that would indicate this place wasn’t serving shrimplets. A quick glance around revealed dining stations everywhere: Asian, Mexican, vegetarian, breakfast for dinner, a dessert bar (our dessert was one item, rarely something one would choose to eat if given the chance to eat either that or gnaw on one’s own flesh). Hell, they even had a damned churrascaria. Who goes to the trouble to have a churrascaria for a bunch of college students who would gladly eat shrimplets if given no other options?

Now my husband has never met an all-you-can-eat venue that hasn’t thrilled him to the core of his being. He rises to the challenge and slathers his plate as high as it’ll hold it. And goes back for more. And more. And more. He was a very happy camper at the dining hall that night, particularly as he gloated at me, the doubting Thomas, who wanted nothing more than to hate the food and want to toss it at him. Take that, dammit, and gimme my glass of wine and my goat cheese appetizer!

Now when my oldest brother went away to college, I, the loving, baking-obsessed kid sister that I was, whipped up a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Back then shipping things wasn’t as simple as it is today. We didn’t keep packing materials handy, things took ages to get to their destination. Undeterred, I rifled through the house and found soft packaging for  those cookies: I securely buffered the batch with cotton balls, sent it on its merry way. Where it no doubt sat on a variety of sweltering trucks in the early days of September en route from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. By the time my brother got my well-intended gift the cotton had glued to the stale cookies and there was to be no salvaging of the things.

I’ve entertained the idea of sending my son cookies. This time I could even overnight them so they wouldn’t be stale. And I’d avoid the cotton balls in favor of maybe bubble wrap. The only problem is my cookies will be no draw to the cheesecake, creme brulee, mousse au chocolat, and the myriad other desserts at his daily disposal. 

By extension, those meals he might yearn for prepared by my loving hands will pale in comparison to the lobster, tenderloin, shrimp creole and lord knows what else they’re offering up at that place.

I want to lodge a complaint! They’re making school so desirable that my son will never want to come home. I guess the upside is it’s making my husband want to re-enroll in college, just for the meals alone. Maybe I can talk him into that, and I’ll be off the hook for cooking dinner for a couple of years: not such a bad downside to being usurped in my mommy role, eh?