siblings in my books + bonus excerpts

Me and my sisters. I'm the one in the middle!

Me and my sisters. I’m the one in the middle!

Friday was National Siblings day and so I’ve decided to devote my blog post this week to siblings, specifically the roles they play in my books. In many women’s fiction novels, a character’s relationship with her brother or sister is featured as prominently as the love interest. In some cases, the sisters are estranged; in others the sisters are as close as best friends; in other books, there is an underlying competitiveness and so on. Emphasis is often placed on the order in which the siblings were born because, as anyone who has a sibling knows, our younger and older siblings often have a huge impact on our personalities.

In Just Friends with Benefits, there is not much attention paid to Stephanie Cohen’s relationship to her older brother Sam, except that Stephanie feels she somehow disappointed her mother by being single post-thirty while her brother got married and had children in his late twenties.

“Why don’t you try one of those speed dating events?” my mom asked.

“How do you know I haven’t?”

My mom smiled brightly, her sky blue eyes twinkling with hope. “Have you?”

“Nope.”

“Will you?”

“Probably not.” I looked away before I could witness my mother’s smile fade and her eyes go dull.  I figured she was silently lamenting her only daughter’s failure to graduate college and beyond without earning her “MRS.” Sam had done his job getting married nine years ago at the socially acceptable age of twenty-seven.

In A State of Jane, much attention is paid to Jane Frank’s close relationship with her older sister, Claire. Unlike Stephanie, Jane is actively searching for her “soulmate.” But, like Stephanie, Jane’s older sibling is happily married. Jane loves and admires her sister, but at one point, things get very heated between them:

You have Kevin. You have a baby on the way. Mom likes you better. You have everything and I have nothing.” I blinked away the tears burning the corners of my eyes.

Claire stood up and flung her purse over her shoulder. Facing me, she said, “You must be kidding.”

Sniffling, I looked up at her and said, “No. Not kidding.”

“I think it’s very convenient how you recreate history, Jane. Again, to make it all about you. Who was the one in the gifted and talented classes all through grammar school and junior high while I had to go to the Huntington Learning Center for one-on-one training? Who had a nine-year love affair with practically the first boy she ever kissed while I went to the senior prom with my best gay boyfriend? Who was daddy’s little prodigy while I had to intern at his law firm just to get a little attention? I have everything? Please. Get over yourself. You’ve been single for less than two years of your adult life. Deal with it.”

“This is my apartment and I don’t have to deal with anything.” I stood up and placed my hands on my hips defiantly.

“Then I’m leaving your apartment.” Claire put her coat on and walked to my front door. Turning around to look at me one more time, she said, “No one has the perfect life. No one,” walked out and closed the door behind her.

In Blogger Girl, Kim Long has very little patience for her younger sister, Erin. Probably because Erin idolizes Hannah, Kim’s high school nemesis, despite how Hannah treated Kim. It doesn’t help that Erin sees no reason to hunt for a new job after being laid off, choosing to live a life of leisure while her husband brings home the bacon.

“Anyhoo, you know I don’t read chick lit, but if Hannah wrote it, it’s probably great.”

Normally, I would defend chick lit, especially since Erin read almost all historical romances, which did not exactly qualify as The Great American Novel either, but I was more bothered by the second half of her statement. “The book will be great because Hannah wrote it? Based on what? She wasn’t even in honors English classes in high school and as far as I know, has no writing experience.” She wasn’t in honors English yet managed to get into Brown. Of course she did.

“Well, she majored in fashion design and spent a semester in Paris and her book is about a fashion designer in Paris. Why do you hate her so much? I noticed you guys aren’t Facebook friends.”

Raising my voice, I said, “I don’t hate her, Erin.”

“What? You still upset she made fun of your last name?”

“It was your last name too.”

Yeah, but I’m not really short,” Erin giggled.

“Okay, so I called to wish you a happy birthday and I did. I should get back to work.”

“C’mon Kim, I’m only teasing. It was so long ago. She’s a sweetie now. But anyway, thanks for the birthday wishes. I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”

Although I doubted Hannah was a “sweetie” now, I didn’t bother to argue the point with Erin. “Sounds good, bye.”

In How Do You Know?, Maggie Piper is an only child. Having grown up sharing a room with her first cousin, Cheryl, she looks up to her like an older sister and values her opinion above almost all others.

“I adore Doug, Mags. He feels like family and always has. But if he’s not the right guy for you, then he’s not the right guy for you. You’ve never been completely certain, so maybe it’s for the best. And remember, I might have married younger than you, but I didn’t have kids until later in my thirties. You have time.”

All I wanted was Cheryl’s blessing and she’s given it to me, along with reassurance I’m not five minutes away from menopause. “Thank you. The lingering doubts suck, though. I wasn’t sure he was the one when we were together and now that we’re not together, I’m not sure he’s not the one. I wish I could see into the future.” I run a hand through my hair and let out a loud sigh. “Argh!”

“Sorry, Magpie. No crystal ball here. There are no guarantees in life. Even the most passionate relationships sometimes fizzle. And sometimes the couples who seem perfect to the outside observer are not what they appear. Life is all about risk. You take a leap of faith and hope for the best.”

My stomach sinks. “So are you saying I should have taken that leap with Doug?”

Cheryl stands up. “This goes beyond you and Doug. There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect couple.’ It takes a lot of patience and compromise to maintain a happy relationship for the long haul even under the best of circumstances.”

As you know, my next novel is a follow-up to Blogger Girl. Although I’ve already given you some insight into Kim’s relationship with her younger sister, I’m going to treat you with an excerpt from Novel Girl. As a disclaimer, the excerpt is subject to change during editing:

“I have a great idea!”

What is it?” I held my breath, allowing myself to believe Erin could really help me.

“Why don’t you ask Hannah for advice on getting an agent?”

I felt my face get hot. “No way!”

“Why not? She’d probably be a good source of information since she’s already experienced everything you’re going through.”

I wondered how many agent rejections Hannah got before Hilary Grossman of Grossman and Gold Literary took her on. I estimated less than ten. I hadn’t queried her yet, even though she had a great reputation and, according to Agent Query—a popular research website for authors seeking representation—she was accepting submissions in chick lit. I didn’t trust how my fragile ego would handle being told by the agent who fell in love with Hannah that “my book didn’t engage her as much as she would have liked” or, worse yet, getting a form rejection. It was one thing to confide my despair over fighting with Nicholas in a moment of weakness, but to voluntarily seek advice from Hannah about publishing? No fucking way. “I’ll think about it.” When a monkey flies out of my ass.

“You do that! Okay, I’ll let you get back to work. Days of our Lives starts in five minutes and I need to throw a load of laundry in the dryer. Gerry threw his boxers in with my delicates!”

My happily unemployed and unencumbered baby sister led such a tortured life. “You better go then. I’ll tell you about me and Nicholas next time.”

I heard Erin suck in her breath. “Wait. What about you and Nicholas?”

“Next time. Kiss kiss.” Before she could respond, I hung up with a satisfied smile. In the future, maybe she’d think twice before interrupting me right as I was about to tell her what was new in my life. But probably not.

And finally, the most important family of all: Mine. I’m the youngest of three girls. In some ways, we live up to the stereotypes of how the youngest, middle, and eldest child is supposed to behave, but in many other ways, our personalities defy these generalizations in a big way. But that’s for another blog…

In the middle again - I think they liked me best :)

In the middle again – I think they liked me best :)

I'm the one who looks like a boy...

I’m the one who looks like a boy…

A House of Cards

I have a full plate.

I’m not only referring to my Passover dinner plate, which was very full indeed. And quite delicious. I’m referring to my increasingly busy schedule. As you know, I have a full time job as a trademark paralegal in addition to being an author. With being an author comes marketing and promotion responsibilities. Even though I have a publisher, much of that role falls on my shoulders so it’s a good thing I enjoy it. I also have a lot of friends, am close with my family, and exercising is a big part of my life. Throw in standard maintenance activities like food shopping, cleaning, laundry etc. and I’m a pretty busy chick. I’m not suggesting there aren’t plenty of people who are equally swamped or even more so, but sometimes it’s overwhelming and I long for a less active lifestyle. I covet downtime. I’m not shy or withdrawn but like most authors, I’m an introvert at heart. It takes a lot for me to get cabin fever and as a result, I often wish I wasn’t addicted to working out because running/spin classes take up a huge chunk of my weekend that could be spent just relaxing with coffee and a book or binge watching TV. I sometimes even wish I wasn’t a writer because that takes up several evenings a week along with chunks of my weekend and I struggle for time to get my errands done, especially when I have plans with friends or dates. If I removed exercising and writing from my plate, I would have so much more of that downtime I crave. BUT exercising makes me feel strong and healthy and writing makes me happy even when I’m sad and positive happiness is unattainable. So, for me, giving up exercise and/or writing is not an option and I’ve learned to balance my life accordingly.

I can't stop writing!

I can’t stop writing!

view from my run

view from my run

But lately I’m finding myself taking on even more. My dream is to someday quit my day job and write full-time. Since it’s unlikely I will ever make enough money on my books to live in the style to which I’ve become accustomed or even close to it, I’ve taken on manuscript critique/developmental editing clients on the side as the first step to increasing my writing-related income. The time I devote to this is not instead of writing, marketing, running, friends etc.—it’s in addition to.

My friends supporting me and my books!

My friends supporting me and my books!

On top of that, I was asked to join the executive committee for Light the Night – a fundraising initiative of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Leukemia is a cause very close to my heart because it stole the life of someone I loved so much. I’m having trouble saying no because it feels like saying no to Alan and I can’t do that. And I would love to support the cause to find a cure in any way I can. Accepting this additional appointment means more juggling of my existing responsibilities as well as more sacrifices to that coveted free time.

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

But wait, there’s more. I’ve decided to redo my apartment. I looked at it the other day and it was as if I was seeing it for the first time and I hate it. Suddenly I am determined to make it better: a new kitchen set (because mine is more than ten years old and falling apart), a new dresser (see above), a new coffee table (because I hate the glass top and can’t stand the smudges), and maybe a small desk (because leaning over my coffee table to write is not comfortable). Shopping for new furniture is another activity I will need to juggle with my writing, food shopping, friends, TV watching, editing for clients etc.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve told my publisher I would be interested in taking on an additional role should they think I could add value. In response to my offer, I was told they assumed I was too busy working full time and writing. I am probably too busy and I question my sanity for even bringing it up, yet I’m passionate about the book business and know anything related to it wouldn’t feel like work.

My awesome publisher!

My awesome publisher!

As you can see, I’m currently in no hurry to remove my plate of any of the above things or slow down,  but I am afraid I’m nearing my limit and something’s going to have to give. What happens when I take on even more? I want to make sure there’s room in my life for something or more specifically someone else and I worry with each new activity/interest/responsibility I add to my life, I’m nearing my threshold.  If my life could be compared to building a house of cards, what will it take to make the house fall down? I like to believe the aspects I consider vital to my happiness now is indicative of my life at this moment in time and that at such point in time my lifestyle changes, what I consider vital to it will adapt accordingly. As with most questions, the answer will come with time. In the meantime, I secretly (or not secretly) hope my current passions will lead me to the most important passion of all—love.

And I just remembered baseball season is starting tomorrow! Go Yankees…

2012-04-20_20-10-42_235


interview with my mom!

I try to write a blog post a week and I typically write my weekly post on the weekend. When I’m out of town, as I was this weekend visiting my mom so we could both do our taxes with the family accountant, it makes finding time to write a post very challenging without neglecting […]

[Continue reading...]

Hope vs. the worst-case-scenario

I love the feeling of being hopeful and excited and anticipating good things. It’s a rush. The future is wide open and bright and great things are comin’ around the mountain. In contrast, when things take a disappointing turn, which they often do, it’s like a punch in the gut. Sometimes being let down hurts […]

[Continue reading...]

Maggie Piper dishes her thoughts on tv, smug marrieds, and turning the big 4.0.

Maggie Piper

For my blog post this week, I thought I’d introduce you all to Maggie Piper, the heroine of my latest light women’s fiction release, How Do You Know? I’ve asked Maggie a series of questions and she was kind enough to answer them honestly, even some of the more personal ones. By way of background, […]

[Continue reading...]

my love/hate relationship with New York City

To use a phrase I’m sure you’ve never heard before, “I love New York.” Specifically, I love New York City—so much so that it’s practically a main character in three out of my four novels. I love New York City, but there are times when living here makes me crazy and I wish I could […]

[Continue reading...]

why writing a sequel scares me

When I finished writing Blogger Girl, I was sad to say goodbye to Kim, Nicholas, Bridget and the rest of the cast of characters (even condescending Hannah and evil Daneen), but I moved on to writing How Do You Know? on the assumption that Blogger Girl, like Just Friends with Benefits and A State of […]

[Continue reading...]

New Release – The Marrying Type

Such a great cover!

I don’t often feature guest posts on my blog, but I think this new release by author Laura Chapman sounds like so much fun. Featuring a wedding planner, reality television, and one of my favorite cites in the world (Charleston, South Carolina), I can’t wait to tear through the pages of this book and think my […]

[Continue reading...]

First reading at Barnes & Noble – check!

BandNSign

Even though I’ve been a published author for four and a half years and have four novels under my belt, I participated in my first ever public book “reading” this past Thursday night at the Barnes & Noble in Manhasset, New York, along with fellow Booktrope authors Hilary Grossman and Jennifer Gracen. For those of […]

[Continue reading...]

Fairy Tale Fun Blog Hop featuring Kimberly Long from Blogger Girl

magicmorselspic

THE WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN AND THE BLOG HOP IS CLOSED. THANKS FOR PLAYING! Welcome to the Fairy Tale Fun Blog Hop! Unless mine is the first post in the hop you are reading, you already know that the theme of this blog hop is princesses. We are supposed to compare the heroine of our novel(s) […]

[Continue reading...]
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 167 other followers