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Category: Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Welcome Guest Author Brenda Janowitz

I’d like to give a big New Year’s welcome to Brenda Janowitz, whose latest novel, Jack with a Twist, I can’t wait to read on my upcoming vacation! 

Brenda is a New York attorney with an interesting background, so be sure to check out her website and blog for more. Clearly she scored the hat trick with her looks, brains and talent ;-) ! So let’s get to it with Brenda:
Tell me a little about your book.
JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) is the story of Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller, who plans the wedding of her dreams, all while litigating the biggest case of her career…. which just so happens to be against her perfect fiancé.  Hilarity ensues.  Really.  Marian Keyes called it “a funny, sweet romance” and Carole Matthews said it was “[a]nother fun-filled page-turner from Brenda.”  Ironically, I wrote JACK before even getting engaged myself!
What got you writing in the genre in which you write.
I’ve always been a writer. In fact, that’s the reason why I became a lawyer in the first place—trying to find a career where I could write full time. But I’ve always had a real love for fiction, and I’d find myself practicing law and thinking about these fictional stories that I wanted to write. When I was invited to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding, my life slowly but surely began to resemble some of my favorite chick lit novels, and I said to myself, ‘I’ve just gotta start writing this stuff down…’
Favorite thing about being a writer?  Least favorite thing about being a writer?
For me, writing the book is the best part.  I had no idea that once I finished writing my book, that the real work would then begin.  As you’re writing your first novel, you tend to think that that’s the hard part—that once you finish, fame and riches await. 
In reality, it’s a long road to getting your grand opus published, and there’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears involved with getting it onto book shelves and then marketing it.
Presumably, fame and riches will be there at some point, but it’s a hard long road to get there!
What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author? 
Speaking at conferences is always a blast for me.  It’s so great to be a part of something for a weekend, or even a day.  Walking around the hallways, it’s always fun when people you’ve never met before know your name.
There have been quite a few crazy stories from all of the speaking engagements I do.  I’ll tell you later.  J
What’s your favorite type of pie?
I’m a big fan of basics, so for me, it would be a toss up between apple and blueberry pie.  I like it hot, and then I’d throw a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and you just can’t go wrong!
Brenda is the author of JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) and SCOT ON THE ROCKS (How I survived my ex-boyfriend’s wedding with my dignity ever so slightly intact), as well as the short story BASED ON A TRUE STORY.  You can learn more about Brenda at and check out her blog at

Christmases Past (or should I say "Passed"?)

Christmas time is as much about smells as experiences: the minty aroma of a just-licked candy cane, boughs of pine wafting their wintery bouquet throughout the house, cinnamon sticks perfuming the pot of warm apple cider that simmers on the stove. No doubt about it, smells can evoke strong memories of Christmases past.

For me, the smells of Christmas past aren’t quite so idealized, however. In fact, there’s one distinctive odor that always harkens me back to Christmases of yore, but this odor is not one you’d like to capture in a bottle for memories’ sake. You see, when I recall the Christmas Days of my youth, burnished foremost into my brain are recollections of being trapped in the back seat of our Custom Cruiser station wagon en route to my grandparents’ house, with a perpetually-flatulent brother poised to strike every 5 minutes for the duration of the 2-hour drive.

I was always stuck next to him in the middle seat—you remember, the one with the hump at your feet, which forced you to keep your knees jammed up against your chin, so that every pothole that the car hit caused cranial injuries. It was one of those older cars, where you had to crank the window down by hand. Being western Pennsylvania, it was bitterly cold most Christmases. Which meant that if said gaseous brother was courteous enough to actually lower the window after stinking up the car, he was also inclined out of spite to keep it down until my tears froze on my face from the lashing Siberian wind.

There was no chance of getting that window back up until dad—busy with the job of chain-smoking Viceroy 100’s up front–pulled out the big guns and threatened my brother with one of those hairbrush spankings we all feared. What with the fraternal rotten egg smell, the enveloping fug of smoky gray haze pouring forth from dad’s cancer sticks, and the painfully depressing sounds of dad’s favorite, the Montavani String Orchestra, butchering Christmas tunes on our tinny-sounding AM-only radio, I was assured that the ghosts of Christmases past were doomed to haunt me well into adulthood.

Year in, year out, Christmas day was the same. First, tear through Santa’s bountiful gifts. Next, dress up in our Sunday best for what felt like an eternity of solemn fidgeting at church. Then pile into the car for our annual Christmas Day dilemma: stay warm, while silently being sickened by the toxic flow of fetid odors emanating from my brother’s seat, or suffer the Dr. Zhivago-like frigid chill of driving across the tundra to Altoona, PA, with all the windows open. Once we got there, it was nothing but fun, but the torture we had to endure to get to our destination was almost more than I could bear. By the time we arrived, our olfactory systems had endured such trauma we could no longer smell the Christmas turkey or even the wafting aroma of my grandmother’s freshly-baked pies.

Years of intensive olfactory therapy have allowed me to laugh at those stinky treks to my grandparents’ house each Christmas. I do feel a little sorry for my brother’s wife and kids, who eventually became the unwitting victims of his gaseous fury.

Imagine my delight when I learned recently that generations of siblings to come will be spared the gruesome car rides of my childhood. You see, last year when my family gathered for Christmas, my oldest brother graced our smelly sibling with the ultimate in personalized gifts, in homage to our years of suffering at his hands (or rather, his volatile bowels). He gave him a pair of boxer shorts equipped with replaceable charcoal filters, to keep those silent but deadly odors from wafting beyond the borders of his drawers. Technology to the rescue! Oh, to have had this back in the good old days. 

Happy Holidays!


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Holiday Welcome to Guest Author Melissa Clark!

I’m happy to have author Melissa Clark visiting with me today. The genesis of her very successful debut novel Swimming Upstream Slowly came about in a really funny way.

“The idea was born because I was having lunch with a friend and overate,” she says. “I lifted my shirt to expose my bloated belly and the friend said, half joking, ‘Are you sure you’re not pregnant?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, right, from a lazy sperm.’ I went home that night and started outlining the idea for a movie. I decided, eventually, to write it as a novel instead.”

Need I say more? Please welcome Melissa Clark…


JG: Tell me a little about your book.
MC: “Swimming Upstream, Slowly,” is about Sasha Salter, who wakes up one day and finds she’s pregnant, only she hasn’t had sex in over two years. To her unbelieving ears comes the doctor’s diagnosis – she’s been harboring a ‘lazy sperm’. She must now retrace her love life and figure out who the father is, all while her career is burgeoning. 
JG:  What got you writing in the genre in which you write.
MC:  I’m not sure what genre I write in! I’ve always been fascinated by the medical world. Medical Chick Lit?
JG:  Favorite thing about being a writer?
MC:  Writing. Knowing other writers. Having the ability to practice my skill 24/7. Writing conferences. Book publications. 
JG:  Least favorite thing about being a writer?
MC:  Writing. Isolation. Achy fingers. 
JG:  What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author?
MC:  I was invited to speak at the Carmel Authors and Ideas Festival. There is a famous food writer named Melissa Clark who writes for the NY Times and I was sure they meant to invite her. I wined and dined with the likes of Frank McCourt and Elizabeth Edwards. I gave a talk during which I explained that I thought they invited the wrong Melissa Clark. The audience thought it was hysterical. They were cracking up, but I was really venting my insecurity. The head of the program came up to me after the reading and said it was great, but never assured me…a few months later a friend, after hearing that story, told me she knew the other Melissa Clark–they had been in a wedding together–and gave me her email. I wrote about that experience and she replied, “That’s okay, everyone thinks I wrote the lazy sperm book.”
JG:  What’s your favorite type of pie?
MC:  Apple. WIth a heaping scoop of ice cream.
Melissa Clark is the creator and executive producer of the award-winning television series, ‘Braceface’, and has written for shows on the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and Fox. She received a master’s degree from the writing program at U.C. Davis, and currently lives in Los Angeles. This is her first novel.