because I’m “middle aged”

I dreaded turning forty and the unofficial entrance into “middle age.” I think I started worrying about it around thirty-seven and remember going to bed on my thirty-ninth birthday vowing to take advantage of the next three hundred and sixty five days of my thirties. I’m not sure I really did. Honestly, there is only so much “taking advantage” one can do when they work a full-time job, have professional and personal responsibilities, and the days just go by so fast. I lived the year as best as I could. I enjoyed the good times, got through the bad ones, had fun, worked hard, traveled, paid my bills, blah, blah, blah. I handled my fortieth birthday well, but I will admit to anyone who asks that it was mainly because I was dating someone and hoped he would be “The One.”  My biggest fear was turning forty and being unattached romantically. Kind of shallow, I know. But it is what it is and I’m grateful for the timing of that relationship :).

It’s been a few years and I still struggle with aging often. A lot of it is because of how media makes women “of a certain age” feel irrelevant. I don’t want to feel that way, but I’m easily swayed, at least if I’m already feeling down about something. At the same time, I’m beginning to accept the whole “middle age” thing. I’m certainly at the beginning of it so that’s good, right? And, really, all it means to be “middle aged” is to not be “young” and not be “old.”

I’m even able to embrace some aspects of “middle age.” Sure, I have to go to more doctors for prevention than I used to, cover my greys more often than I did a decade ago, if I didn’t exercise regularly, it’s quite possible my slowing metabolism would not bode well for my stomach and thighs, and there is a group of men out there who might not consider me good on paper merely because of the year I was born (even men born five years earlier than me). But I’m not yet at the age where I need to get a colonoscopy (cheers!), I’m not even close to being fully grey, I don’t have many wrinkles yet, my shape is more or less the same as it was in my thirties, and any man who will only date younger women or who would dismiss me based on being over 40 is not a man I would want anyway.

I also see the world in a different way than I did in my twenties and thirties.

Because I’m “middle aged” and not “young,”  I’m able to appreciate how I look now knowing I’m going to keep changing. Even ten years ago, I’d probably take it for granted.

I’m also able to understand that if a man wouldn’t “swipe right” solely based on my age, it’s about his ego and I don’t let it shatter my own. I’m not so sure I’d have been so strong in this conviction even a few years ago.

Because I’m “middle aged” instead of “young,”  I’ve been around long enough to make mistakes, to recognize that they were mistakes, and to acknowledge that they were my fault. Although looking back often makes me want to turn back time and get a do-over (it really does), it also helps me from making the same mistakes in the future. I hope I get the opportunity to use these lessons while I’m still middle aged and not old.

Because I’m “middle aged” and not “young,” I’ve seen a lot of people get sick and die. I hate this fact of getting older, but it also keeps me from taking the people in this world I love for granted.

Rather than look back and lament the ending of my “youth,” why not appreciate all the things I can still do now that I might not be able to do when I’m “old?” For example, today I run upwards of twenty miles a week. Who knows if I’ll be able to do this in a couple of decades?  I hold down a full-time job and just signed a seven-book publishing deal because my brain is intact and I’m healthy. This can change at any minute and I’m “middle” enough to know that. Today, I can go out with my girlfriends and still get hit on by men (“boys”)  in their twenties. I doubt this will happen when I’m in my seventies. God willing, I still have plenty of life in me and opportunities coming my way to make my life a great one.

A big pet peeve of mine of late is when people in my age group refer to themselves (and me by association) as “old.” We’re not old. We’re in the middle! And it’s a pretty great place to be. Let’s enjoy it before we’re old!

What are you afraid of?

 

THE ENEMY IS FEAR. WE THINK IT'S HATE; BUT, IT IS FEAR.GHANDI

I was pretty fearless when I was younger. I went on all of the roller coasters, even the ones that went upside down! I would try almost any food and, according to my mother, liked just about everything. I auditioned for (and landed) roles in school and camp plays. I collected caterpillars and let them crawl up my arm. I went to summer camp not knowing a soul and came out with great friends. At nine years old, I had a crush on a boy in camp and so did another girl in my group. Despite rumors that the boy liked my campmate, I expressed my interest and it turned out the boy liked me back! My first boyfriend 🙂 Basically, I was up for any challenge. There were a few exceptions. I went through a weird stage where I adopted other people’s fears as my own, and I spent a couple of months terrified of bridges. I stole the fear from Jennifer Davidson during our sixth grade trip to Washington D.C. and my mom still brings it up on occasion. But for the most part, fear wasn’t really part of my vocabulary.

As I hit my teens, I was not quite so courageous. I stopped going on the roller coasters for a few years, became too self-conscious to follow my passion for acting, and was too afraid of what other people might think of me to express my true feelings or stand up for myself.

I’ve never recovered my bravery toward performing in public aside from Karaoke in groups, but I’m back to going on the “scary” rides (except for the REALLY frightening ones), learning to embrace speaking in public (kind of a necessity as an author), and I definitely do not cower away from defending myself when necessary. I care what some people think of me, but only the people whose opinions I actually respect. In short, I’m no longer afraid to be myself.

But I’m still afraid of a lot of things. For example:

My mother dying – She’s healthy, knock wood, and not exactly ancient, but whenever I think about it, I start to cry. I even had a panic attack in the shower the other morning. (I know you’re reading this, Mommy, and I’m sorry I brought it up. I love you and wish you the happiest of birthdays!!)

My sister dying – Apologies for the morbid trend here. I don’t worry about this on a regular basis at all, but when I do, it’s a doozy. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Driving – I had my driver’s license back in the day—only took me three tests—but I let it expire by accident. I was never comfortable behind the wheel and haven’t done it in close to twenty years. I probably should take lessons again, but I don’t want to. I have chronic nightmares about being behind the wheel and losing control.

Living without Alan – I’m panic-stricken over being forced to go my entire life without ever seeing, speaking to, or hugging my best friend/boss/mentor/cheerleader/shrink outside of my dreams. I miss him so much, it physically aches, so I can still only think short term—today, tomorrow, or the next day.

Never meeting “The One” – I’ve always assumed when the timing was (finally) right, I’d meet “The One” for the long haul at last—the man I want to spend the rest of my life with who feels the same way about me—but between the wrong guys and the unavailable ones, it’s like searching for cellphone service in 1979.

Meeting “The One” – As much as I want to commit fully to someone, I’m terrified I’ll feel smothered or find it difficult to balance the freedom and lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed with my new coupled life. I hope giving up some independence will be worth it for the right person.

Losing my ability to write – Whenever I’m going through a tough time, writing makes me feel better. It’s really the one thing I can do that is guaranteed to wash away stress from my “real life.” I don’t know what I would do if something happened that prevented me from writing. What if I went blind or suffered from permanent writer’s block, or some other brain malfunction?

Cancer – Getting it, my family getting, my friends getting it.

Getting old – I’d much prefer aging to the alternative, but I dread the aging process—wrinkly skin, sagging neck, losing muscle tone despite working out five-six times a week, inability to stand up straight, people treating me like I’m a non-entity or a sweet old lady, losing my faculties. My grandmother told me after the age of twenty, life moves really fast and she was so right. Although every Monday, I wish Friday will come quickly, I don’t want life to pass me by!

Becoming invisible to the opposite sex – I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoy attention from men. I like being flirted with and checked out. I don’t know if I will ever get to a point where I don’t care what I look like or whether others find me attractive and so the aging process (see above) scares me.

Dying – I don’t want to! Maybe if I knew what happened after we left the physical world, I wouldn’t be so afraid. Experiences I’ve had in the last year have convinced me that there is something else, but I don’t know what it is and hope not to find out for a long, long time.

Those are the major things on my list. What are you most afraid of?

 

Losing it

I am not a patient person by nature like the majority of the other women in my family. A single unsuccessful drive around a crowded parking lot at a shopping center is enough for my mother and one of my sisters to lose their shit and go home without even bothering a second rotation. I don’t drive, but I’ve typically been the person in line at the bus terminal tut tutting at how long it is taking a person to purchase a round trip ticket to Suffern because, really, how long should it take to purchase a round trip ticket to Suffern??? And how do some people manage to spend ten minutes at an ATM machine? How many transactions are they doing for the love of God?

Despite my genetic disposition for impatience, I’ve definitely become a bit more relaxed and “go with the flow” with age, even more so after I lost my best friend to cancer because how much time I wait in line at Duane Reade seems so trivial in comparison to the tragedies we face every day. But I do still have my moments and yesterday was one of them.

I needed to get my taxes done and my accountant is my mother’s former employer of close to twenty years. Even though my mom retired several years ago, he generously does her taxes, along with mine and my sister’s, for free. Since his office is near my mother’s house, I stayed over at her home the night before and we had a lovely mother/daughter night. On Sunday afternoon, my sister and her husband met us at the CPA’s office and after we each had our turn, the four of us went out for an early dinner. My mother assured me that a 4:30 dinner at the diner would be early enough to catch the 6:00 bus back to the city. If I missed that bus, I’d have to wait an hour and wouldn’t be back in my apartment until about 8:30. With Monday morning looming and very little time to myself over the weekend, I desperately wanted at least a few hours to decompress before going to bed and starting an entire week of work.

Enjoying my family’s company, I was oblivious to the time until my brother-in-law mentioned it was 5:38 and if I wanted to catch the 6pm bus, I needed to hurry. My mother suggested that we would be pushing it, but I insisted we at least try because I really did not want to have to wait another hour. I rushed to the bathroom and assumed the check would be paid in the meantime. (My mother already said she was treating us). When I got back to the table a few minutes later, they had just asked for the check. This was when I lost it. My sister offered to pick up the check so that my mother could take me to the bus, but my mother wouldn’t have it. I tried to throw cash at the table so we could get going but she said no. And then she pulled out her credit card. Knowing a credit card transaction would take even longer than paying cash, I became more and more vocal and emotional about my desire to go home. I’m pretty sure folks at other tables heard me, but I couldn’t help myself. I almost cried at the thought of getting home after 8 with practically just enough time before bedtime to unpack and prepare my lunch for the next day. I visualized the week ahead of me with zero downtime over the weekend and I barely remember kissing my sister and brother-in-law goodbye before yelling at my mom to hurry up. “Come on!” I begged. Significantly less stressed than I, my mom took her time, which only ignited my crazy flame! Then when she stopped the waitress to ask about a 10% off coupon, I stormed out of the restaurant, ran to the car, and stamped my feet until she finally emerged. It was a temper tantrum at its very best (worst).

Fast forward, I made the 6 o’clock bus and arrived at my apartment shortly before 7:30, which I considered a decent amount of time to unwind before bed. On the way to the station, I had apologized to my mother for being so insistent, but tried to explain how I was dreading a stress-filled week at the office and really REALLY wanted a little time to decompress. She understood as did my sister when I texted to let her know that I made the bus.  But for most of the bus ride, I was so embarrassed and ashamed by my behavior and pondered exactly when I was taken over by a lunatic. It wasn’t the first time my freak flag waved at intense speed and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but I wasn’t proud of it. I stand by my desire to make the early bus. I even stand by my frustration over the possibility of missing said bus. I just wish I could have been a bit more subdued about it.

In those moments when “crazy impatient Meri” takes over, I sometimes wonder what people around me are thinking. What if the love of my life (a man I have not yet met or at least do not think I have) observed me in one of those moments and decided I might be cute, but I required anger management more than a dinner date? I worry that my best friend Alan was watching me from Heaven and shaking his head in disappointment. The problem is that once I find myself in one of these tailspins, there is no turning back until it has reached its natural conclusion. I cannot be talked out of it in the moment and it must run its course. The key is holding it all in to prevent letting any of the crazy out in the first place. I am successful most of the time, but as evidenced by last night’s incident, it’s far from foolproof.

I’m only human, you see, and I think my positive attributes way compensate for the negative ones, but I do hope other people lose their shit sometimes, too!

Do you? Please share an example in the comments so I know I’m in good company 🙂

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-mar-2016

Musings of a forty-something

Until recently, I was loath to confess I was a “forty-something.” I preferred that people make their own assumptions of how old I was based on how old I looked which, I’ve been told enough to believe, is probably a decade younger than I am. Perhaps this email is an example of that “go-with-the-flow” and “I don’t-care-what-people-think” attitude those who’ve gone before me promised was one of the benefits of entering this decade.

In many respects, my life is more similar to younger women in that I am unmarried with no children. This means I can take vacations whenever I want, spend my money how I please, sleep in on the weekends or stay out all night, date anyone I want or no one at all etc. and it’s no one’s decision but my own. But while my life might resemble a twenty-somethings on the outside, below are a few issues with which I never concerned myself back then, but do now Ad Nauseum:

The impending “change of life”

In my twenties and thirties, “menopause” never entered into conversation unless we were talking about our mothers. My mother was in her fifties when she went through it, and my older sister is a couple years shy of fifty and still gets her period. Since I generally have regular cycles myself and am still closer to my thirties than my fifties, menopause was one of the few things I didn’t fret over when I turned forty. Yet, women only a year or two older (and even younger) than me talk about “the change” as if it’s going to happen next month. They throw around the phrase “perimenopause” (another word I never heard until turning forty) around the way we said “happy hour” in our twenties. Now, if my cycle is a couple of days early or my PMS worse/better than the month before, I freak out, wondering if it’s perimenopause. These same fluctuations never bothered me before.

Fifty-year-old men

In my early-mid-twenties, I had a flirtation with a thirty-year-old man and remember thinking he was so old—way too old for me. And in my late twenties, when one of my friends dated a guy who was pushing forty, we thought she was crazy. I remember thinking “no way!” when “older men” sent me emails on dating sites. Even now, my first impulse when a man of fifty approaches me is to grimace and think, “He’s too old!” I’m struggling with the realization that fifty is not too old because I’m not as young as I used to be! Part of it is that I look younger than my age while most of the available single men I’ve met of fifty look fifty (or older). It makes me feel like I’m dating my dad. (None look as good as the cute guy on the Our Time commercial or Fitz on Scandal!) But another part of it is denial that I’m actually not in my twenties or thirties anymore. Being in my forties doesn’t mean I can’t date men in their thirties, but it probably means I should at least be open to meeting a man in his early fifties, too.

Health

I used to blow off small ailments on the assumption they would pass quickly. When I told my hair stylist I had to stop for a snack on my way to my appointment because I was experiencing hypoglycemia, he urged me to check it out with a doctor because as we get older, we can’t take minor things lightly anymore. I told him I’d been experiencing occasional episodes of hypoglycemia for years so it wasn’t age. “Still,” he said. ”We’re no spring chickens anymore!” (He’s a few years older than me.) I replied defensively, “I’m not old either!” But it did strike a nerve. Between my many friends, someone is almost always experiencing some sort of health ailment. When we’re out to dinner, sharing great food and wine, the conversation will often turn to health problems and I’ll think, “There is no way we’d be having this conversation ten years ago!”

Spinsterhood

I was inspired to write my fourth novel How Do You Know? as a result of my own feelings and fears about turning forty. I wanted to show it from the perspective of a single, never-been-married woman rather than the usual married, separated, or divorced standpoint. Most people loved the book, but several commented (rather passionately) that at thirty-nine (“almost forty!”), Maggie was way too old to be having such insecurities about her relationship and should be more mature and settled. They said they didn’t know anyone who would act that way at thirty-nine (“almost forty!”). Well, despite the fact that most of my friends found me very similar in personality to Stephanie from Just Friends With Benefits, the character of Maggie was closer to me in mindset than any other character I’ve ever written and I was about her age when I wrote the book. I know I’m not supposed to take it personally, but I did feel judged for not being more settled, for wanting to find my own happy ever after, and for choosing my happiness over settling with someone because it better fit societal norms. This kind of judgment is not something I experienced in my twenties or most of my thirties. I want to believe my five nieces and nephews think I’m “cool Aunt Meri” but I do fear they think of me as their spinster aunt even though I have a great social life, including relationships with men, and I don’t own a cat. I could absolutely be in a serious relationship if I wanted it badly enough (I get offers…), but at this point in my life, I hold my happiness above all other things and unless I’m more content with the guy I’m dating than I am without him, I’d rather keep enjoying the freedom. I do hope I meet someone who fits the above criteria and I haven’t given up hope of it happening, but in the meantime, I’m okay.

I’m sure I can come up with additional subject matter that clogs my brain space now that never even entered it ten to fifteen years ago, but I don’t want to depress anyone! Rest assured, some aspects of this decade are actually better. And while I often yearn for my thirties (my favorite decade so far), I actually look better now than I did in my twenties, and am a more interesting and strong person by far.

Maybe for next time, I’ll list things I used to think about in my twenties that no longer cross my mind at all. I’m sure there are plenty and I’m not so old or far removed that I can’t remember them 🙂

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-feb-2016

California Dreamin’

In case you’ve been under a rock, trapped beneath a dresser, or in a coma, those of us on the east coast are in the midst of Blizzard Jonah, Blizzard 2016, Snowzilla—whatever you want to call it—it’s snowing out there.

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My Saturday morning spin class was canceled, as were my lunch plans with a friend, and so I am in a Mother-Nature-imposed but not unwelcome hibernation right now. I finished watching the first episode of Shades of Blue and am turning off the television to write this blog as I haven’t posted one since the day Novelista Girl was released a couple of weeks ago.

This time last week, I was in California with some of my favorite author friends/soul sisters for the third annual Beach Babes weekend. The weather wasn’t great, but it didn’t matter. We go there for the comradery and break from real-life, not for the weather. (Although if I’m being honest, sitting on the back porch, walks along the beach, and jogs up the mountain do go better with a sunny, cool breeze than rain, wind, and fog.)

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That being said, I cherish this week away with my fellow beach babes: Eileen Goudge, Josie Brown, Francine LaSala, Samantha Stroh Bailey, Jen Tucker, and Julie Valerie so much. We all write different genres, have very distinct voices, and are at varying levels of experience in our careers and yet we all manage to learn from each other.  We are so very distinct and believe it is our diversity that makes us work so well as a group. I can’t imagine most random groups of seven women thrown together in a house for five days would get along as well as we do. Seriously, have you watched The Bachelor? Granted, we are not all competing for the same guy, but the beauty is we’re not competing at all. I wish for their success with the same ferocity I wish for my own, and I know the feeling is mutual. And, gosh, I think I might cry right now because I miss them so much. We are already counting down the days until next year when we will meet for the fourth annual Beach Babes weekend, and one of them already pointed out that because it’s Leap Year, we’ll have to wait an extra day—darn you, Julie Valerie for actually being good at math!!

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Besides benefiting my writing skills (and I’m positive that the input, honesty, and talent of these ladies is an asset), better ways to promote, and the ups and downs of securing the dream agent and the big New York City publishing deal versus small-press publishing or self-publishing, these are some of the things I learned in California

Making poached eggs is not as difficult as I thought.

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Great things are in my future as I long as I stop thinking so much.

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My friends are quick to jump to my rescue and stop me from acting impulsively when an outsider stabs me in the back.

 

Eileen was right: throwing fancy clothes in my suit case “just in case” was not necessary.

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One very small person can pee A LOT in the course of a day.

Sitting in the back seat of a mini-van is very conducive to car sickness.

Two cups of coffee is all it takes to hang with folks who insist on waking up at an obscenely early hour in the morning despite downing several bottles of wine the night before.

Seth Rogan was robbed of an Oscar nomination for his role in Steve Jobs.

“Ride Like The Wind” by Christopher Cross with nice background vocals by Michael McDonald is a great distraction from fearing death by insane turbulence.

And my favorite of all:

My friends love me just the way I am and I love them right back.

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Release days, free days, sale days: Oh My!

Today is a big day. Huge. COLOSSAL.

It’s the release day of my fifth novel, Novelista Girl. The standalone sequel to my fan favorite third novel, Blogger Girl.

Readers first met sassy Kimberly Long in Blogger Girl, and now the feisty New Yorker is back in a sequel packed with quick wit, friendship, heartache, and of course, romance.

Kim runs the most popular chick lit book blog on the web, loves playing house with her sexy lawyer boyfriend, Nicholas, and is finally pursuing her lifelong dream to become a published author. At first glance, her life is five-pink-champagne-flutes worthy.

But is there more to the story than meets the eye?

After hearing the phrase “chick lit is dead” more times than she’s read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim is driven to desperate measures, seeking advice from up-and-coming chick lit author, Hannah Marshak, her high school nemesis and resident “mean girl.” As if Kim doesn’t have enough on her plate balancing her secretarial duties with her blog Pastel Is The New Black, shrugging off the growing pile of agent rejections, and keeping her best friend from turning green over Kim’s budding friendship with Hannah, Nicholas is so blinded by his career ambitions, he doesn’t see that their home sweet home could use more than a dash of sugar.

This is the year when all of Kim’s dreams—professional and romantic—are supposed to come true, but will the story have a happily ever after, or will Kim end up unpublished and all alone.

This novel can be read as a sequel or as a standalone and is best accompanied by a cocktail, preferably a pink one.

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

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But wait, there’s more:

My fourth novel How Do You Know? is FREE on Amazon. Yes free! It is currently number #23 in the entire FREE Kindle store and #1 in Women’s Humorous Fiction AND Coming of Age!!

Life doesn’t happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age is just a number.

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding toward her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0.

As Maggie reenters the New York City dating jungle, suitors present themselves quickly, but who is “The One?” Is he a sexy coworker, one of many bachelors at a speed-dating event, or is he the man she already set free? How do you know? Her fun-loving friends and supportive family, including meddlesome “no-filter” Aunt Helen, eagerly share their (often unsolicited) opinions, but Maggie is determined to find her own way, even if she falls on her face—repeatedly.

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And finally, my bestselling debut novel, Just Friends With Benefits, is only 99 cents!

When a friend urges Stephanie Cohen not to put all her eggs in one bastard, the advice falls on deaf ears. Stephanie’s college crush on Craig Hille has been awakened thirteen years later as if soaked in a can of Red Bull and she is determined not to let the guy who got away once, get away twice. Stephanie, a 32-year-old paralegal from Washington, D.C., is a 70’s and 80’s television trivia buff who can recite the starting lineup of the New York Yankees and go beer for beer with the guys. And despite her failure to get married and pro-create prior to entering her thirties, she has so far managed to keep her overbearing mother from sticking her head in the oven. Just Friends with Benefits is the humorous story of Stephanie’s pursuit of love, her adventures in friendship, and her journey to discover what really matters

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Three novels for only $3.98! It’s big, huge, COLOSSAL, but it will only last, well, a week! So grab your copies now!

 

Welcome Shelly Hickman to the Celebration of Chick Lit Tour

Today, I would like to welcome Shelly Hickman, author of the Fortytude Series to share why she loves chick lit. (I absolutely agree with her favorite movies, by the way.)

 

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All About the Chick Lit

 

I suppose my love of chick lit stems from my love of humor in movies—namely romantic or family comedies. And by family comedies, I don’t necessarily mean suitable for families, but stories that may or may not be appropriate for young viewers that center on family relationships. (This is 40 comes to mind. Definitely not appropriate for young viewers!)

 

Some of my favorites, to name just a few: When Harry Met Sally (obviously), Notting Hill, It’s Complicated, About Time, Parenthood, As Good As it Gets, and as already mentioned, This is 40.

 

I do prefer the more light-hearted stories that are purely meant to entertain and uplift. However, I can also appreciate stories that can get a bit heavy-handed with the drama while also throwing in some laughs. My husband didn’t care for This is 40 at all. He thought it was too close to real life and pretty much a downer.

 

Though I can understand his feelings, I liked it because it was so real, yet it allowed us to laugh at all the heartache life can throw our way. Parenthood was the same way. There were some serious issues going down in that movie and we were not only permitted—but encouraged—to laugh about them.

 

In a way, such stories are unifying. So often it’s easy to feel isolated, like we’re the only person who’s going through something, or that our family is. When you’re in a crowded theater and dozens of people laugh at something you wouldn’t typically find funny in real life, there’s a sense of, “Hey, I bet these people have been there, too. And it’s okay to look back and laugh about it. That’s just life, baby!” (Sorry. Somehow in my head I heard Austin Powers saying that.)

 

Let’s face it. Life can deal us some pretty harsh blows. Becoming immersed in a story filled with characters we care about and watching them deal with their hardships with a sense of humor definitely has its appeal. At least for me, it does. I consider chick lit the literary equivalent to romantic comedies in the theaters. Okay, admittedly some of the conflicts in chick lit aren’t earth shattering, and we enjoy the lighthearted read. But I’ve also read chick lit that tackles some tough life circumstances (I try to do it in my own), and still maintains its humorous voice. Given my love for such stories in the cinema, it’s no surprise that these are the stories I most enjoy writing.

 

Quite simply, I must have humor thrown in with my angst. Without it, life’s just too damn exhausting!

All Book Covers

 

 

 

 

 

NOVELISTA GIRL – January 6, 2016

Readers first met sassy Kimberly Long in Blogger Girl, and now the feisty New Yorker is back in a sequel packed with quick wit, friendship, heartache, and, of course, romance.

Kim runs the most popular chick lit book blog on the web, loves playing house with her sexy lawyer boyfriend, Nicholas, and is finally pursuing her lifelong dream to become a published author. At first glance, her life is five-pink-champagne-flutes worthy. 

But is there more to the story than meets the eye?

After hearing the phrase “chick lit is dead” more times than she’s read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim is driven to desperate measures, seeking advice from up-and-coming chick lit author, Hannah Marshak, her high school nemesis and resident “mean girl.” As if Kim doesn’t have enough on her plate balancing her secretarial duties with her blog Pastel Is the New Black, shrugging off the growing pile of agent rejections, and keeping her best friend from turning green over Kim’s budding friendship with Hannah, Nicholas is so blinded by his career ambitions, he doesn’t see that their home sweet home could use more than a dash of sugar. 

This is the year when all of Kim’s dreams—professional and romantic—are supposed to come true, but will the story have a happily ever after, or will Kim end up unpublished and all alone?

This novel can be read as a sequel or as a standalone and is best accompanied by a cocktail, preferably a pink one.

 

celebration of chick lit tour

I’ve been a very bad blogger. Someone should spank me—please? JUST KIDDING! That’s a shout-out to a private joke between me and my late boss/BFF, who would have turned 58 today.

 

Anyway, I’ve been extremely busy gearing up to release my fifth novel, Novelista Girl. We have a blurb and cover (both to be revealed in a couple of weeks) and a tentative publication date of December 14th. I’m in the midst of going through the proofed manuscript and putting together a fabulous pre-release tour which has left me little time for blogging.

 

When I released Blogger Girl in 2013, I hosted a Celebration of Bloggers tour on my blog to turn the spotlight off of the author and onto the fabulous book bloggers I work with regularly. When I released How Do You Know? in 2014, I hosted an Age is Just a Number tour and asked authors, bloggers, and others to share their thoughts on aging. To ring in the publication of Novelista Girl, I’ve decided to host a Celebration of Chick Lit tour. As anyone who has read Blogger Girl knows, Kim Long is a champion for the genre of chick lit and since Novelista Girl follows her journey, I want to know why some of my favorite authors write chick lit despite the pesky phrase we always hear that “chick lit is dead.”

 

Chick lit is so not dead and I will have about fifteen authors on my blog to prove it, including Erin Brady, Cat Lavoie, Becky Monson, Laura Chapman, Stacey Wiedower and more. I will also tell you why I write chick lit.

 

This tour will get underway as we approach Thanksgiving. For now, I wish you all a happy Tuesday!

I’m letting my books speak for themselves!

My last post was extremely personal and raw. The multitude of comments and shares suggests that it touched many readers who were able to relate. I’m glad about that, but being so open and honest is draining and I couldn’t do it two weeks in a row. So, as a change, I’m focusing this week’s post on my books and what’s going on with them. And as a treat, I’m going to let them speak for themselves:

How Do You Know? – Thanks for letting me go first even though I’m the youngest. My characters are older so that should count for something, right? Anyway, I have some exciting news to share. Only, I was told that I’m not allowed to share yet because details are still being worked out. Sorry! In the meantime, I received my 57th review on Amazon this week and it was 5 stars! Woohoo! I would really love to catch up to my older sisters so if you haven’t left a review yet, please consider doing so. Pretty please?

Just Friends with Benefits – I’ve been a best seller in the UK for several months and consistently in the top 100 on the humor list. I’m very excited to be reaching chick lit readers and fans of romantic comedy across the pond. Like a good wine, I’m getting better with age!! Be sure to read my sisters too!

Blogger Girl – I was republished by AmazonEncore last year and—

A State of Jane – so was I!

Blogger Girl – Excuse me, we were republished by AmazonEncore.

A State of Jane –  It’s very exciting to be part of Amazon Publishing. We’ve recently been included in a special promotion for members of AARP offering discounts of up to 50% off our ebooks. If you’re a member of AARP, be sure to check out Amazon.com this month for an exclusive discount just for you!! http://amzn.to/1Ha5qwA

Blogger Girl – *rolls eyes* – Since I was so rudely interrupted, I’ll also speak on behalf of my sequel, Novel Girl. Her name might change, although I’m hoping we’ll hold onto the “Girl” part since “Girl” is very hot in books right now. Anyway, my sequel (whatever its name will be) is completed and with the final beta reader. We’re hoping to send it to the editor in the next month or two for release later this year. No spoilers but there are lots of exciting developments in store for main character Kim and her friends and frenemies.

And now a word from the author:

While waiting to begin final edits on Novel Girl, I’ve started writing a prequel to the series. The working title is Kim and the Mean Girl. I’m bringing Kim, Bridget, Hannah, and Jonathan back to high school in 2000. I asked several people who were teens in 2000 what it was like, have been binge watching Gilmore Girls, and added more YA to my TBR for inspiration. I’m currently reading To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han. The writing process is fun, particularly since I’ve never written YA before and I’m also writing from both Kim and Hannah’s perspectives. I hope this novella (aiming for 100-150 pages) will appeal to lovers of chick lit AND YA. It’s already 16 pages.

I’ve come up with what I think will be the plot of the second installment of the Seeking Happily Ever After series. This book will feature Maggie from How Do You Know?‘s friend Amanda. Again, no spoilers but think The Vow meets Glee meets The Best of Me.

I’m also toying with writing a novel inspired by the relationship between me and my late boss featuring a thirty-something single city girl and the ghost of her late mentor/best friend. It will be humorous yet heartbreaking at the same time.

I haven’t decided which one, if either, to write first. If you have a preference, be sure to let me know although I make no promises. And that’s it for me and my books. Books, say goodbye to my followers.

 Books: Later, followers!!!

Dwelling

I was planning to write about part two of my vacation from real life—when I returned to New York City after my trip to Barbados just in time to greet my fellow authors from faraway lands who were in town for the Book Expo America Conference. I had such a fantastic, if not exhausting, time but I don’t feel like writing about it. My friend Samantha Stroh Bailey wrote a terrific recap here if you’re interested.

I was also thinking about doing a mass giveaway of my most recent novel, How Do You Know? I think it’s my best writing so far and I want to reach a larger audience but I don’t feel like promoting today either. (Although if you want a free ecopy, send me an email as I’m in a generous mood.)

My books are lighthearted, fun reads but my heart is too heavy right now to write a light, fun blog post. I miss my boss/best friend Alan so much and I can’t shake it off. Maybe I don’t want to shake it off. Missing him keeps him alive but the pain right now is excruciating. Don’t get me wrong, not a day has gone by since he died that I haven’t missed him and thought about him a hundred times an hour. But sometimes it’s a dull pain—I know he’s gone and I hate it but I go to work, write, spend time with friends, exercise, watch television, date, and yes, enjoy being alive. Other times, more often than not in the last week, the pain is sharp and I feel the grief so deep in my bones that I can’t breathe. The silliest things set me off and I break down while doing my ab routine at home, while doing sprints in spin class, while making coffee in the pantry at work etc. For instance, I cried remembering how Alan would sometimes reply to my emails/texts with a simple “Ok” and when I would complain that he wasn’t really listening to me, he’d respond, “Ok” again just to piss me off. I couldn’t be angry with him because I was too busy laughing. Another example: I was getting ready for work one morning, listening to a concert on the Today Show, and from out of nowhere, I heard Alan’s voice saying, “O No You Dit-ten” and I felt my heart in my throat.

The man could read my moods like no one else. He would take one look at me and know when I was having a bad day without my saying a word. He’d say, “What’s wrong, Merrybeth?” and my lips would tremble and the whole story would come pouring out. The amount of time he spent trying to cheer me up when I was down could be measured in years. I think about going the rest of my life without hearing his voice or his laugh and I’m terrified. I wonder how I will navigate this crazy world without his encouragement, guidance and humor. He had such faith in me and tried tirelessly to make me see myself the way he did but he died before he succeeded. Every day, someone’s life is irrevocably changed due to the death of a loved one and somehow the world keeps turning but right now, as I hover over my tablet at the coffee shop blinking back my tears, I can’t breathe.

It’s called a grieving “process” but a process suggests that it will end and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t miss him with a fervor. I don’t publicly dwell on my grief very often and only share it with a select few in sporadic outbursts. I think I’m embarrassed. Like I should be “over it” by now and the fact that I’m not makes me weak. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough but how does one “try” to stop missing someone? Alan used to implore me not to dwell on things I couldn’t control and I’m dwelling for sure. I’m sorry, Alan.

When I first started blogging on this site, I wrote a post called Blog Vows promising, among other things, to keep it real:

I vow to keep it real.  I will not paint my life as one of perfection because we all know that no one’s life is perfect.  I will post the good, the bad and the ugly.  But the ugly will not include pictures of myself after a two hour run or after just waking up in the morning.  I vow to post about my books and my writing but also anything on my mind I think might be of interest to my followers, including but not limited to events in pop culture and humorous observations about life in New York City or anywhere else my travels take me.   

So, today I’m keeping it real by admitting that I’m having a difficult month. But it’s time to wrap this up. My plan for this afternoon was to spend an hour on my blog and two hours on my fiction but it’s almost five o’clock and I need to get home and prepare for my evening out. Stay tuned for my next post which will hopefully correspond to the humorous, light tone of my novels! Similar to a good book, I like to keep you guessing and, truth be told, I often surprise myself.