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When Vacation Should've Been Staycation...

Ahh, holiday weekends: those bastions of escapism we all so crave. And all too often live to regret…

The idea was a peaceful weekend at a relative’s lake house. We brought a friend and her kids along who needed to get away and chill even more than we did. Buwith the holiday weekend now past, I desperately need to recover from my non-restful getaway.

In the interest of disclosure, I should admit that I’m not a lake person. The idea of stagnant water teeming with things like poisonous snakes and trash and the fuel discards from tens of thousands of boats and jet skis (oh, and an entire valley of rotten trees and lord knows what else that might lurk beneath one’s floating body, as this is a lake created from flooding a large tract of land) doesn’t make me too thrilled. The mushy gushy unidentified bottom, the clay-rusted water that stains your swimsuit, the decomposing leaves on the top, and other stench and detritus along the lake’s shorelines just do not appeal to me. Give me the wash of crystal blue ocean waves, the soothing sound of seagulls, the brilliant twinkle of sun reflecting off sugared sand beaches any day.

My sister-in-law used to refer to the lake house as Cape Fear. As in, “Oh, no! You’re going to Cape Fear again?” She knew how not-keen I was for the aforementioned reasons. Throw in my small children who needed to be watched like hawks in order to avoid drowning, being flung from a pounding motor boat, poisonous snakes and spiders, ground wasps, ticks, sunburn, and about a hundred other safety hazards, and being lake-bound meant being stress-bound for me. The absence of air conditioning in sweltering heat along with other missing accoutrements of modernity like a dishwasher didn’t add much to the charm. To top it off, the nearest town—a limited escape hatch–is a bit, well, cheesy. The kind of place where they have a “Junque Shoppe” and another that sells “Biskits.” As the fourth grade spelling bee champ, I am rarely amused by deliberately freakish misspellings of common words, even if to be cutesy.

But as my brood has gotten older, the trip has become a bit easier. Enough so that while I still contend it’s pretty much camping with a roof (and I do loathe camping)–what with the massive amounts of foodstuffs, linens and other items you have to lug along for even a few days–it’s not quite as hazard-filled. And since I’ve not been away anywhere just to relax in easily a year, our getaway sounded almost fun. Almost.

We arrived later than planned after a harried Saturday morning of packing, topped off with last-minute inclusion of every blanket and spare pillow we owned (which I would have to wash upon our return). My bug-averse daughter discovered the room in which she’d be sleeping was infested with hundreds of jumbo ants, whose eradication took top priority.

Meanwhile, I’d unleashed the dogs to run free, to hear only moments later the piercing yelps of pain from our Labrador echo hauntingly across the water: a neighbor’s dog had raced onto the property and promptly latched onto her hind quarter with a very powerful and unrelenting jaw, leaving her bleeding and endangering my daughter who tried to break up the melee. Bizarrely, the owner of the dog (which had a rap sheet of previous bites) chose to scream at us rather than apologize profusely, as protocol would dictate.

Killer Dog
Killer Dog

After spending the first hour trying to track down a veterinarian that actually worked on a holiday weekend (with limited cell phone service, natch), I then had to divert to the lovely vet’s to have our dog treated.

Meanwhile, a neighbor across the cove had decided to destroy the serenity with a gas-powered leaf blower, then to set fire to five towering mounds of wet leaves and branches that smoldered for several hours, filling the cove with blinding smoke and leaving everyone choking in its wake. This despite my husband’s entreaties to cease the burning, what with all of the fumes wafting our direction.

The lake was overrun with other fun-seekers, churning up the normally calm waters to hurricane proportions. Not one inclined toward seasickness, I felt green in the gills as the boat towed our tubing kids in treacherous currents. Sure I could’ve stayed on shore, but felt the need to actually witness what I figured were the inevitable tubing-related head injuries that would result from the foray into fierce waters. Call me crazy, but I hate the idea of naively waiting back at the house, only to have someone come racing in to tell me we need to find emergency medical help.

Now THAT'S a mean looking dog

By days end an aged and rotting chair in which I was lounging collapsed, and I sweated to near-fainting proportions while cooking dinner for 13 in the stifling air of the a/c-free kitchen, my R&R a mere specter of its former potential.

Back home now, I’m tackling the nearly twenty loads of lake-related laundry, remnants of my relaxing escape from life’s drudgeries. I might be done washing by my next vacation. That would be the one sailing in the Keys, right where several million gallons of oil and toxic solvents are wending their way. So much for that relaxing vacation , eh?

Categories: humor, Jenny Gardiner, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me, women's fiction

SLIM TO NONE is available now!!

Hey all! I haven’t even put this up on my website yet, I’ve been so crazy busy, but I HAVE ANOTHER BOOK OUT!!! The title is SLIM TO NONE and details follow, as well as a sneak peek of chapter one.

This one I’ve put out in a different sort of way–it’s exclusive on Kindle (though you can also get it through the Kindle app for iPad and iPhone as well as for download to your PC) till July, then will be available unlimited for all e-readers and as a POD (publish on demand) through Ingram’s, one of the major book distributors. My literary agency launched a digital imprint and I decided to put this book up with the debut of the line. I LOVE this book and know that you will too!! And oh, did I mention there are fabulous recipes in the book too?

Here’s the premise:

In SLIM TO NONE, Abbie Jennings is Manhattan’s top food critic until her expanding waistline makes staying incognito at restaurants impossible. Her cover blown on Page Six of the New York Post, her editor has no choice but to bench her—and suggest she use the time off to bench-press her way back to anonymity. Abbie’s life has been built around her career, and therefore around celebrating food. Forced to drop the pounds if she wants her primo gig back, Abbie must peel back the layers of her past and confront the fears that have led to her current life.

I loved the idea of taking this character who has to eat for a living and then make her not be able to eat in order to continue being able to eat for a living. You got that? The book is funny, sweet and poignant and I really hope my readers will be able to get hold of an e-reader to check this out!!
Here are some author blurbs on it:

With a strong yet delightfully vulnerable voice, food critic Abbie Jennings embarks on a soulful journey where her love for banana cream pie and disdain for ill-fitting Spanx clash in hilarious and heartbreaking ways. As her body balloons and her personal life crumbles, Abbie must face the pain and secret fears she’s held inside for far too long. I cheered for her the entire way.

—Beth Hoffman, bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Satisfying as a Thanksgiving dinner at Mom’s. … Jenny Gardiner’s  heroine gives us a sarcastic but provocative look at our love-hate relationship with food. You’ll eat this up in one sitting.

Ad Hudler, bestselling author of Househusband and Man of the House

Jenny Gardiner has done it again – this fun, fast-paced book is a great summer read.

Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Opposite of Me

And here’s an excerpt:

I am not a glutton. I am an explorer of food.

~Erma Bombeck

Chapter 1

A Teaspoon of Sugar

I miss my Spanx. I outgrew them about fifty pounds ago. Somewhere between the decadent foie gras at La Grenouille and the joyfully simple pigs-in-a-blanket at Payard Patisserie. It was like a seasonal transition: it happened so gradually I didn’t even notice it, until one day my control-top-pantyline-avoiding-God-Bless-America-for-inventing-these-things Spanx refused to oblige me by fitting comfortably.

No longer gently hugging my curves, respectfully holding all of me in, they’d become a boa constrictor and I their victim. Evidently Spanx are made for far thinner women than me. And so I graduated up to Flexees. But now, as I ready myself for yet another meal out by attempting to contain my expanding girth in my latest girdle of choice, it’s become abundantly clear that I’ve fallen into Flexee disfavor as well. I heave a sigh of resignation. What’s a girl to do when her life revolves around having to eat for a living?

#

“Jesus, this is a mess,” my best friend Jess says as she trails small heaps of greasy lupini beans across her plate with a fork, forming them into a smiley face with what appears to be tears streaming down its cheeks but is probably just excess oil. Jessie mocks the bean face with her own broad smile. Her blond hair, the color of farm-churned butter, softly frames her face in the flickering light of our table’s blazing torch. Jess’ truffle-brown eyes twinkle with mischief: my tasting assistant caught playing with her food.

I nod in agreement. So far what we’ve seen at Puka, the new pan Italian-Hawaiian-Greek restaurant in midtown Manhattan, doesn’t look too promising. I’d held out hope, what with the luau décor, tiki lamps aglow, and the bouzouki player plinking out a half-decent version of That’s Amore. How often can you get a taste of Hawaii, Greece and Italy in one sitting? I dip my pita bread into the complementary poi served in a dugout coconut bowl in the center of the table, hoping for a miracle. Instead, I choke on the soupy gray paste and reach for my water glass, which is still empty.

“Jess, gimme a swig of that!” I point to her glass of water, my hand around my throat for emphasis. I can’t wait for a reply and instead grab the water and throw it back, like Zorba tossing down a flaming shot glass of ouzo.

“Appetizers suck, they can’t even keep our water glasses filled, the signature tiki drinks haven’t materialized despite waiting over half an hour, and the freebie poi appears to be the key ingredient in the fixative that holds up the wallpaper,” I mumble as I jot down notes surreptitiously in my iPhone, mindful to be sure that no one is paying attention to my musings.

“Sure, it’s not exactly Le Bernadin, but seriously, Abbie, it’s all relative,” Jess says. “At least it’s better than the donor kebab I’d have been eating had you not called me at the last minute to come along tonight. But for you, yeah, I’d imagine this pretty much bites the big one.”

“At this place, I’m afraid to bite anything here, big or small. But seriously, I’m just looking at the silver lining in this stormy cloud. Without the bad restaurants, imagine how much fatter I’d be. At least here I have no desire to eat even the smallest of portions. So it’s a little diet in disguise.”

Jess laughs but just barely, and instead squirms in her seat, clearly hating my fat reference. She’s lodge pine-thin and could probably go on a week-long eating bender and still lose weight. That is if food really even mattered to her that much, which it doesn’t. I, on the other hand, seem to have assumed the uncanny silhouette of a beluga whale, while cursed with the sluggish metabolism of a three-toed sloth and blessed with the culinary palate of a Michelin reviewer. Not always a good combination if you savor your size-tens. Oh, wait, I’m in Manhattan. Make that size-twos. And I, Abbie Jennings, am most definitely not a size two. Maybe size twenty-two, perhaps, but I’ve lost count, so who knows?

“You can’t help it, Abs,” she says. “It’s not like you go around stuffing your face with donuts.”

“Yeah. Instead I ingest a steady diet of the world’s richest food.” I shrug. “Ah, well, occupational hazard, I suppose. As are restaurants like this. People are expecting me to rate this place, so I’ll review it. Sure, I always hope for good things from a restaurant, but I’m totally prepared to call them on it if it’s lousy.”

Our waiter arrives, his vision evidently obscured by the pile of leis stacked along his neck, and sloshes two martini glasses filled with something resembling transmission fluid before us. They’re on fire. How adventuresome. Jessie dips her napkin in what’s left of her water and blots the splash of alcoholic neon that has landed uninvited across the front of her white silk shirt. It looks like someone smashed a firefly on her boob. Lei-Boy returns moments later with our entrees: cold, congealed grouper for me and seared mahi-mahi for Jess that looks as if the chef used a blow-torch on it. A hardened heap of Minute Rice accompanies the entrees, with beans that in an ideal world would be green, but are instead a sickly shade of cadaverous ash.

“Bon appetit, I suppose,” I say, not at all looking forward to that first bite. I hate to be disingenuous, but at thirty bucks a plate, the kitchen could’ve at least tried.

Jess scoops a bite of fish with her fork and pops it in her mouth, just as Lei-Boy rushes over and wordlessly grabs her plate away. Fast on his heels is an angry-looking bald man in clogs, checkered pants, and a chef’s toque, hurling what must be obscenities in Greek, maybe Italian, but definitely nothing gently Polynesian sounding. He smacks Lei-Boy up the back of his head, dislodging a few leis onto my grouper.

An A+ for presentation, I jot down in my phone.

“What is up with them?” Jessie asks.

“Hell if I know.” I reach for my transmission fluid to quell the drought in my mouth. As it reluctantly washes down my throat I can’t help but elicit a hairball noise.

A swarm of hula dancers closes in on our table as the bouzouki music gives way to a pulsing luau thunk. If I am seeing properly beyond the blur of grass skirts–my God, how do they do that?–there appears to be an extra from South Pacific pounding a drum back there.

“Aloha, wahini,” the Greek chef intones through a volcanic crater-sized smile. His accent is deceptively French-sounding. “E komo mai. Welcome. Buona sera. Good evening.”

I expect him to throw in a Phi Beta Kappa just to incorporate all of the restaurant’s themes. “Ladies, zere has been a slight mistake in zee kitchen.” No thanks to Lei-boy, I’m thinking. “Pleeze, allow me to present you vees more better food.” Our Greek chef sounds like he must’ve apprenticed for a hell of a long time in Paris.

With this, our drinks are rounded up, and in their stead are placed two smoldering cocktails that appear to contain dry ice. I peer into the void of my thermally-reinforced cup (artfully disguised as a small volcano) and see through the rising steam something somewhat thick and orange-ish red. I look at the chef–the spitting image of Telly Savalas without the lollypop–for the go-ahead from him, wondering if one can actually ingest dry ice. I always thought it was toxic.

He motions with his hands to drink up. “Ladeees, ees gud. Ees a Lava Flow. Really, really good. You drink, no?” He rolls his “r” with such authority I feel this is an order, and I comply, placing the drink to my lips with apprehension and taking a tiny no-thank you sip, trying not to make a face, in case it’s disgusting.

I taste a slight dribble, licking my lips to catch the overflow. Not bad, actually. Sort of cool and warm at the same time, like Ben Gay on the rocks. I’ll give them credit: it’s certainly different.

Telly is on to the next order of business already, seeing that our new entrees are properly plated. Lei-boy and his assistant, Hula-girl bring out two heaping dishes of food, much of it unidentifiable but at least it’s piping hot. Telly Savalas leans forward, so close to me I can smell the garlic on his breath, and wipes a smudge of sauce from the edge of my dish with his towel. He adjusts the plate a quarter-turn and bows while wishing us buon appetito (why he didn’t say this in Greek is Greek to me).

“Whoa!” Jess stares at me as if she’d just witnessed the shocking conclusion to a weird movie. She takes a bite of something in front of her. “I don’t know what that was all about, but bring it on, baby. If we’ve gotta go through that to get some of this, I’ll volunteer to be the sacrificial lamb.”

I don’t know where to begin on my plate. Everything looks so unfamiliar, yet appetizing. I decide to aim for the starch first, and settle my fork into a generous portion of what turns out to be risotto with bite-sized pieces of suckling pig. I’ll take creamy risotto over that vile poi any day. The pork, so tender and juicy, has me humming Mele Kalikimaka, cause it feels like a Hawaiian Merry Christmas gift.

I next try the entrée, a tender, flaky and surprisingly un-oily mackerel sprinkled with feta cheese and olives and cloaked in taro leaves. I have to give Telly some credit, I didn’t know how this place could pull off merging three such divergent flavors, but somehow it works despite itself.

“I can’t believe how fantastic this food is,” Jess mumbles through a bite of her pineapple-balsamic glazed wild boar spare ribs with tzatziki sauce. “Who’d have thought you could actually assemble a menu with Italian, Hawaiian and Greek food? I honestly thought it was a joke.”

“Joke’s on us, cause this stuff is amazing.”

After dinner ends, Telly returns with a selection of desserts (including a baklava made with mascarpone cheese, coconut and pine nuts), a tray with sample shots of grappa, ouzo and okolehao, and a somewhat excessive appreciation for his customers.

“You like, no?” Telly asks me as he hands me a leftovers bag with more in it than we had on our plates, I’m sure, then straightens out my napkin in my lap. I really don’t like people fondling my linens in restaurants.

“It was wonderful,” I tell him, shooing his hands from my lap (after all, I don’t need old Telly to get an up-close look at my too-tight Flexee-induced bulges.) Despite the culinary false start. I might even have to give the place three stars.

“Meesees Jennings, on behalf of zee entire staff of Puka, I sank you for dining vees us zees evening,” Telly says as he bows repeatedly while backing away from me and disappearing into the kitchen. “Zee meal is on zee house, vees my undying gratitude.”

I look at Jessie and blanch. Meessees Jennings, he called me. Missus fucking Jennings. How stupid could I have been? I should’ve known! There was no mistake. The only mistake is that my look has become unmistakable. For the third time this month, I’ve been recognized in a restaurant.

“Son of a bitch,” I groan under my breath. “Mortie’s gonna kill me. He’s going to absolutely kill me.”

#

Shaken by the revelation that my food critic cover has been effectively blown, I leave Jessie to pay the bill and slip out a side door to hail a cab, handing my bag of leftovers to a homeless man on a nearby grate. Well, slip might be a gross understatement, considering at my size, I’m probably beyond the point of slipping out of anyplace with much facility.

I tip the cab driver too much, just grateful to be away from there and able to go home to ponder this most unfortunate turn of events. I plod up the flight of steps up to our brownstone and unlock the door, flicking on the hall light as I regain my breath from that exertion. Tartare, my beefy tomcat, weaves a few figure eights around my ankles before meowing as he always does to go outside, even though I don’t dare let him out on the mean streets.

“William?” I call out for my husband, who I’m sure was planning to be home tonight. I’d invited him along to Puka but he declined, saying he was going to catch up on some things. I’m beginning to suspect that being married to the food critic of the New York Sentinel holds very little charm to William at this point. It was never something he’d wanted for us, but he was willing to put up with it, if it made me happy.

If it was up to William, we’d leave Manhattan in a New York minute (excuse the pun). He cashed out years ago after the teeny little start-up company he worked for hit it big during the tech boom, and now only dabbles at his day job for fun, waiting for me to pull the plug on living in the city. He’d like nothing more than to escape the traffic, the noise, the excessive demands on his wife’s time. Maybe start a family. Oh, jeeze, the thought of me getting pregnant at this weight is one I simply can’t contemplate. Not without a fat finger of bourbon to help tamp down the hysterics that accompany such thoughts.

My Harvey Nichols pumps–optimistically purchased when I could lay claim to that size-ten physique–click with groaning desperation across my polished hardwoods. I think if they could talk they would beg for mercy. Please, give us a freaking break and don’t wedge your bloated feet into us, they’d say. We weren’t meant to haul so much weight; we’re not tractor-trailers, you know!

No, they’re not, but I feel like I am. A tractor-trailer loaded with cargo but out of gas on a desolate highway. I switch on the living room lights, peel off my unforgiving shoes and sink into the butterscotch leather sofa, which gasps like a dying man beneath my girth.

“What to do, what to do,” I ask Tartare, who is clearly unconcerned with my dilemma as he strains to escape my grip. I stroke him with one fingernail in his sweet spot at the curve of his chin and he relents, frozen with feline desire. I wish my problems could be solved by a little chin scratching.

I lay my head back and take in the living room. William and I argued for weeks on the color we’d paint this room. He wanted cranberry. I finally won the argument and chose a distinct chestnut shade. I actually brought a wedge of my favorite chocolate–from this amazing French chocolatier in the East Village–to the paint store because the color was precisely what I was looking for. I knew I could readily relax in a room that reminded me of Guillaume’s to-die for ganache.

“William?” I call again but get no response, so I hoist myself up and pad to the kitchen. The varnished concrete floor is cold on my feet, so I slide them into my banana split slippers, which I always keep nearby. Comfortable shoes are so important for cooking. I’m feeling very agitated by what happened at the restaurant, and decide that the only thing to take my mind off it will be to whip up something tasty. As I reach for the cabinet that houses my cookbooks I notice a note on the counter.

Abbie,

The house was kind of quiet so Cognac and I decided to get away. We hopped on the bike and headed down to the Jersey shore for a couple of days. Call if you need me. Or better yet, come join us. Maybe we can prowl the backstreets in search of a new restaurant. We’d sure love the company.

Love,

William

p.s. Don’t worry, Cognac is secured into the sidecar with his doggie seatbelt.

William keeps insisting Jersey is retro, thinking that will lure me down there with him. I had enough of Jersey growing up, thanks. I’m not ready to revisit my past, even under the guise of campy fun. I ball up the note and toss it in the trash, then send him a quick text message. I think I’ll keep mum for now about what happened this evening. No need to bother him with details, especially when I’m sure I can clear this all right up in the morning.

“Hi sweetie. Sorry u weren’t home when I got back. Have fun with poochie @ the beach. I’m off 2 bed soon so don’t worry about calling. Luv, me

I rifle through the cabinet and pull out grandma Gigi’s recipe box. For me, job stress–or any kind of stress, really–means concocting an old favorite from her collection. I leaf through the worn pages of Gigi’s recipes until I find precisely what I’m looking for. I pull out the card gingerly, as the corners are dog-eared and yellow with age. Albumen stains speckle it, as well as grease marks from her lard-smeared fingers. Grandma’s impeccable cursive sweeps across the card, even and angled, precise. Like baking: methodical and exact.

I pull out the flour, salt, butter, and shortening and begin to blend together the ingredients, putting a little muscle into it as I mix, adding ice water to consistency. Five simple ingredients that combine to sooth my nerves and please my palate.

Next I mix the pudding, then slice bananas. Crack eggs, separating yolk from white. Pull out the Kitchen-Aid mixer, whip the whites on high with a pinch of salt. Adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, a splash of vanilla for good measure.

I dust the granite countertop with flour and roll out two crusts: I think a pie might be just the thing to turn around Mortie’s mood when I break the news to him. Who can’t get happy over a banana cream pie? It’s the mother of all comfort foods, the comfort food of all mothers. At least for my grandmother it was.

As I slide the pies into the oven, I glance at the clock and realize it’s past midnight. I’ve been cooking for almost three hours. Just about long enough to forget that tomorrow I have to face my boss.

BANANA CREAM PIE

*this is a single recipe, but you might as well double it if you’re going to go to all the effort.

FOR THE PIE CRUST

Preheat oven to 375.

With pastry blender mix 2-1/2 c. Wondra Flour (it’s the only flour for this pastry) with one stick softened butter (8 tbl.) and 1/2 tsp. Salt

Then add 6 rounded tbls. Crisco shortening (do not under any circumstances use the butter flavored, and by all means don’t even consider using any other brand of shortening). You can use the Crisco shortening sticks, just cutting at the appropriate line.

Blend till mealy.

Add 5-6 tbl. Ice water, mix with pastry mixer until dough pulls together but is not gluey. If needed, add a little bit more water. If too damp, a small bit more flour.

Gently pound into a ball, and roll out on floured countertop or pastry sheet until 1/8” thick.

Roll gently onto pastry roller and ease into pie pan. Snugly roll crust up. Poke holes along bottom of pie crust with fork to allow crust to breath.

Place baking parchment on top of crust, pour rice or pie weights on top of parchment, to weigh crust down as it bakes.

Bake for ten minutes, then paint inside of crust with a mixture of one egg white and 1 tsp. Water. Replace the parchment pie weights and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove parchment with pie weights and bake another 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

FOR THE FILLING

Use two packages of Jell-O brand banana cream pudding mix (not the instant). Hard to find but worth the effort. You may have to track it down on the Internet. Cook as directed on package, using slightly less milk. As the pudding thickens, separate out three egg whites and yolks. Just before pudding comes to a boil, add about 1/2 cup of the pudding into the egg yolks, stir well, then pour in to the pudding that is just coming to a boil. Remove from stove and let cool. (by the way, don’t even bother making homemade banana pudding. It’s not nearly as good).

FOR THE MERINGUE (a vital ingredient to this pie’s success)

Using the 3 egg whites, whip with mixer on high with a pinch of salt. Add, one at a time, 9 tbl. of sugar (take that! South Beach!), then 1 tsp. vanilla.

TO FINISH PIE

Preheat oven to 350. Once crust and pie filling are cooled, line bottom of pie crust with banana slices. Add filling. Spread meringue on top. Bake for 15 minutes, till meringue is a light golden brown on top.

Categories: Jenny Gardiner, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Slim to None, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me

Welcome to the funny, charming Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen and I became e-buddies when she was chosen to be one of the 2010 members of the Debutante Ball, a group blog in which a group of debut authors posts regularly for a year, after which time the mantle is passed on to a new set of authors. I had the great fortune to have been a member of the Debutante Ball two years ago when my debut novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver was released. It was a wonderful experience to be able to share that debut year with authors at the same stage, professionally, and it’s been such an added bonus to have joined a growing sisterhood of incredibly talented and interesting writers that includes the likes of Sarah.

Sarah Pekkanen’s debut novel, The Opposite of Me, will be published March 9 by Washington Square Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and is being hailed by bestselling author Jennifer Weiner as “Fresh and funny and satisfying. A terrific book about sisters that actually made me laugh out loud.” Rights have also been sold in Italy, Holland, Spain, Germany and Australia. Please visit Sarah at www.sarahpekkanen.com

I’m so happy Jenny asked me to guest blog today, because I adore her books (who couldn’t love the story of a potato-sized parrot who terrorizes an entire family?).  But I think I also need to get a parrot – or at least do something to make my life more interesting. You see, after a publisher buys your book, they want to know all about you.  Apparently it’ll help book sales if, during an interview with a snooty literary magazine, you can casually toss out the fact that you once cut off your own hands in an artistic fit of self-loathing and you now type your luminous prose with your nose. Or, say, that you work as a welder by day and go to med school by night and wrote your novel in the on-call room while the other, weaker interns tried to catch a catnap for the first time in 17 days.

So I’m sitting here trying to come up with interesting anecdotes to reveal as I look back over my past, um … er… 25 years (I hear you all snickering, and it’s just not kind!). Should I tell my publisher that I was once rejected as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune? It crushes me still; I have a Rain Man-like ability to guess puzzles with only a letter or two showing and I know I would’ve sailed through to glory of the bonus round. Hey, it may not be the most useful talent, but it’s the only one I’ve got.

Maybe it would be better if I let them know about the time I was waitressing and President Bush (the first one) came into my restaurant. Being me, I bumped into another waitress and sent both of our trays of drinks crashing to the floor. Margaritas and shards of glass splattered everywhere, and I swear, I was inches away from being taken down by a Secret Service agent.

Somehow, I don’t think this is what my publisher had in mind. “Clumsy ‘Wheel’ Reject” just doesn’t carry the same cachet on a book cover as, say, “Pulitzer Prize Winner.”

So while I search my mind for possibilities (once I chased a Jon Stewart-look alike through the streets of Manhattan before realizing it was just a random short, grey-haired guy! Oh, and my left foot is slightly bigger than my right one!), I’m also trying to come up with other ways to get my book to fly off shelves. I’m thinking a new subtitle might be in order. How does this sound? The Opposite of Me: Naked Pictures of Brad Pitt.

Actually, I’m too scared of Angelina’s wrath for that ploy. Plus the snooty literary magazines might frown on it (but you just know they’d look, don’t you?)

So I’m off to take up bungee-jumping, or maybe top the Guinness Book of World Records for the most chocolate eaten in one sitting (I’ve been informally training for years!) In the meantime, thanks so much for reading this and I wish you all a happy Spring!

Categories: News