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.

Summer Beach 30+ eBook Giveaway

Contest runs April 15th – May 16th

With the winter (hopefully) behind us and spring in the air, it’s time to think SUMMER. I’m thrilled to include “How Do You Know?” in this massive giveaway with 30+ ebooks up for grabs.

Featured Image -- 1978

Enter here:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/47c7cd174/

beachreadsgiveaway

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…

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

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, Maggie is a thirty-nine-year-old marketing manager who lives and works in New York City. She’s an only child of a broken home, but considers her first cousin, Cheryl, more of an older sister since they grew up in the same house and even shared a room. Maggie’s love life is, well, complicated as you can see from the book blurb:

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. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.  

Appearance-wise, Maggie is 5’5” and doesn’t have much in the way of curves. Her hair is strawberry blonde and she has blue eyes and an abundance of freckles. She looks closer to thirty than forty, although it doesn’t make her feel much better about the impending 4.0. I’ve always pictured Maggie looking like the actress, Sarah Jane Morris.

Maggie Piper

Maggie Piper

Without further ado, let us begin the interview:

Me: Thanks for joining me today, Maggie! Let’s jump right in. What is it about turning forty that scares you so much?

Maggie: Wow! You don’t waste much time, do you? Haha. Honestly, I just thought I’d be somewhere else in my life by forty and fear that my opportunities to get there are dwindling away. At the same time, there isn’t much I would do differently.

Me: By ‘somewhere else’ can I assume you mean married with children?

Maggie: Yes. You don’t really hear about too many forty-year-old women who’ve never been married and the media clogs my vision with images of older men with younger women. I fear that I’m approaching an age where I won’t be appealing to the opposite sex. It makes me antsy and scared of the future.

Me: But you have a boyfriend, right?

Maggie: Had one. We broke up recently. I love Doug, but I wasn’t sure it was right. I wanted time to figure it out, but he didn’t want to give it to me.

Me: What about the people who say it is selfish or immature of you to not have your shit together by now?

Maggie: I say those people haven’t walked a mile in my shoes. There are people who think I’m putting too much emphasis on my love life and should just relax and let things happen. But the people who say that are usually the ones who have never struggled in that department. Navigating the dating world is not easy for most of us. I’m guessing the naysayers have never come so close only to have the rug pulled out from under them. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, hurt someone they cared for deeply because they knew it wasn’t right. It’s like that Match.com commercial with the woman who tells her friend that if she wasn’t married, she’d totally go on Match. She can only say that because she is married.

Me: Bridget Jones referred to them as “smug marrieds.” Do you agree?

Maggie. *laughs* Some of them, yes. But not all. Of my three closest friends, one is happily married, one is recently divorced, and another hasn’t had a relationship in close to a decade. Yet, none of them judge me for feeling the way I do.  These are people who might not understand where I am coming from based on their own experiences, but they are able to look beyond their own lives and appreciate that not everyone figures things out at the same pace.

Me: Onto a less serious question, is it safe to say you have an addiction to television?

Maggie: Ha! Yes, I do. I’ve been binge-watching television since way before Netflix was born.

Me: What are your favorite shows?

Maggie: I’m a sucker for the legal-suspense type shows, like The Following, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order: SVU. But I also enjoy the sharp wit of shows like Grimm, Veronica Mars, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Castle has it all.

Me: What are you looking for in a romantic partner?

Maggie: And we’re back to this line of questioning, huh? I’m not sure. I think that’s my problem. I wanted the break from Doug to figure that out. I don’t want to hurt anyone in the process, but I want to be happy.  As much as I love male companionship (and sex), I want to commit for the right reasons; not simply so I can tick off “married” on questionnaires. But how do you know when you’ve found what you’re looking for? How do you know when it’s right?

Me: I wish I knew, Maggie, as I ask myself that same question often. I hope you find the answer.  Is there anything else you’d like to say to those who read How Do You Know?

Maggie: I would just hope that after people read my story, they pause before making assumptions about where someone should be in life based on the year they were born. Not everyone has the opportunity or even desire to take the more traditional path and some folks have a longer learning curve. Don’t invalidate someone’s insecurities/doubts just because you did not experience them yourself. With each birthday hopefully comes more wisdom, but “growing up” is a life-long process.

First reading at Barnes & Noble – check!

BandNSignEven 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 you not in the know, Manhasset is a town in Nassau County, Long Island.

 

As I mentioned in my blog post a couple of weeks back, I get very nervous at the thought of public speaking. Past experiences have left me lacking confidence in that regard. As you can imagine, booking this gig at Barnes and Noble, while a dream come true in one respect, was a nightmare in another. Terrified, yet determined to see it through, I made it my mission to kill it, or at the very least, not make a fool of myself.

 

I chose an excerpt of my newest release, How Do You Know? that I considered intriguing enough to pique interest in my story without giving away anything not already exposed in the book’s back cover blurb. A very dialogue-heavy scene, I sought advice from author friends who have far more experience at readings on how to best distinguish between which character was speaking. Thank you to my mom for this brilliant suggestion and to Eileen Goudge, Josie Brown, and Jen Tucker for their willingness to share their wisdom.  At the advice of these authors, I marked up the scene to include additional dialogue tags (I said, he said) where necessary and add phrases such as “I thought, I wondered” to indicate inner thought.

 

 

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As a result of this wonderful advice, my devotion to rehearsing the reading for two weeks prior to the event, and perhaps a little magic set off by the designer shoes I had purchased the night before, I am proud to announce that the reading went off without a hitch. Despite nursing an awful cold, I think it’s fair to say I rocked it. I didn’t read too quickly, which was my biggest fear. I remembered to include the added dialogue tags to avoid confusing the audience. And I managed to make eye contact with the audience every so often rather than keep my head buried in the book. Folks laughed at all of the right times which fueled my confidence.

 

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In my wildest dreams, truckloads of devoted fans would stand elbow-to-elbow for an opportunity to hear their favorite author—me of course—read from her book.  In reality, however, while we had a full house, the majority of the audience consisted of friends, colleagues, and family of Hilary Grossman and most of them were there to see her. I blame the crazy cold and the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey for the absence of my fangirls (and boys). But while I’m fairly certain the majority of the attendees were not my target audience, they were very attentive and respectful to all three of us and I managed to pique the interest of a couple of them who purchased a signed copy of How Do You Know? at the end of the evening. Another promised to download the ecopy on her Kindle when she got home.

I’m so excited to have my virgin reading behind me and look forward to my next opportunity. The second time will be even better, I’m sure 😉

Thank you to Hilary Grossman, Jennifer Gracen, and the staff at Barnes & Noble for making it possible!

Public Speaking – Gah!

I like having my voice heard when I speak. It bothers me when I feel ignored or when the company I keep pay half-assed attention to what I’m saying while looking over my shoulders at what is going on behind me or taking what they think are furtive glances at their phones. I enjoy holding a captive audience of one or two or three, whether on a date or out with friends—when it is my turn to speak, of course, as a balance of give and take makes for the best conversations.

I’m not opposed to speaking. I’m quite skilled at it, in fact. I don’t, however, enjoy public speaking—as in getting up in front of a crowd of people. At All.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that at the age of thirteen, I stood on a stage in front of upwards of fifty people and, not only spoke, but sang. Not only did I sing, but it was in Hebrew!! I totally did it for the gifts and the party, but still…If asked to do that today, no way. No effin’ way!! Even that day, I vividly recall my sisters and me unable to contain our laughter when called upon to lead the congregation in “Adon Olam.” I suppose we were cute in our own way, but I doubt it was what the rabbi, cantor, or my mother had in mind.

In order to graduate high school with a Regents diploma, I had to take a semester of Public Speaking. The class consisted of giving a series of oral reports on various topics in front of the classroom. The only ones I remember are “pet peeves” (mine was people who make too much noise when they eat); interview (we were paired with another classmate to role-play the interview process); and a demonstration. For my demonstration, I taught the class how to carve a pumpkin. Only my hands shook so badly, my friend Eric had to do the actual carving. A nervous girl should not be armed with a knife…I received an A- in the class. The writing was consistently spot-on, but my performance left something to be desired. Specifically, the teacher complained that I spoke too quickly. I was trying to get it over with!

But the most memorable public speaking experience for me was in ninth grade when we had to describe some aspect of geography in 3D. I don’t remember much about my actual report, except that I *attempted* to create a globe out of clay. I stood in front of the class and read my oral report. At the end, relieved to have it behind me, I asked the class the required question, “Any questions?” One hand flew up—Dante Golio. With a straight face, Dante said, “Can you repeat that?” apparently referring to the speed with which I spoke. The entire class, including my teacher Mr. Sherman, broke out into hysterics. Mortified and feeling betrayed by my teacher, I ran out of the class and directly to the girls’ bathroom where I sobbed. I’ve never fully recovered.

I write all of this to tell you that on the evening of Thursday, February 12th, I will be doing my first reading at Barnes & Noble in Manhasset (Long Island), along with fellow Booktrope authors Hilary Grossman and Jennifer Gracen. I’ve done my share of book signings and author-related cocktail parties, but this is my virgin “reading” and, yes, I’m quite nervous about it. Excited for sure, but anxious. What if I read too quickly? It’s always been my cross to bear. What if I suddenly lose my ability to read at all and the words just blur into strange characters on the page before me? What I trip on my way to the podium? These questions and more will be answered in a little over a fortnight, along with a three-four page monologue of How Do You Know?.

I will be sure to report back, but if you’re in the area, please stop by to support me (or take pleasure in my discomfort).

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Shake it off. Shake it off. Managing expectations with respect to fans

When I wrote my first novel, Just Friends with Benefits, I basically winged it. I was walking to work one day when an idea for a story popped into my head. I made the decision to write a book and never looked back. I had no formal training and no experience, but the novel was pretty well received. I considered it a very positive start to my writing career and looked forward to releasing my second novel, A State of Jane.

Everyone who read A State of Jane before it was released commented on how much my writing had improved. The pacing was tighter, the story flowed easier, and the humor was sassy and fresh. I assumed if people enjoyed Just Friends with Benefits, they would LOVE A State of Jane. And many of them did. But then negative reviews came flowing in—Jane was unlikeable, the ending was not satisfying. Some preferred Just Friends with Benefits. Even though I stood by my plotting decisions, I was devastated. How could people not understand that Jane was a work in progress? How could they not appreciate the growth of her character and applaud her independence? How could they not notice how much I’d honed my skills?

My third novel, Blogger Girl, had both a “nice” main character and a more typical romantic comedy storyline. On top of that, I was still growing as a writer. If people enjoyed Just Friends with Benefits, I knew they would love my more polished but equally romantic Blogger Girl. And if A State of Jane wasn’t light and fluffy enough for them, I was certain Blogger Girl would win them over.

The reviews for Blogger Girl were by and large very good. It made it onto about ten blogger’s lists for the best books of 2013, has 111 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5 and only one 1 star and zero 2 star reviews. For the most part, it is the fan favorite. Still, there were some naysayers, especially on Goodreads—Kim is too aggressive and full of herself. She’s so insecure! And she doesn’t do any work. One person wrote a review on Goodreads that my writing gets worse with every book. In her opinion, Just Friends with Benefits was, by far, my best book, followed by A State of Jane. She hated Blogger Girl with a passion.

*Sigh* For the love of God, who do I have to sleep with to write a book that everyone likes?

My fourth novel, How Do You Know? was released last month. I thought: this is it. This is by far the most emotional and heartfelt book I’ve ever written, and my growth as a writer is evident. My fans will be delighted! It’s got it all—sass, humor, romance, heartbreak, likeable characters. I’m as good as golden!

And then I had two bloggers who adored Blogger Girl and who enthusiastically agreed to read How Do You Know? decline to write a review because they didn’t connect with it as much as they would have liked. I appreciated their honesty and willingness to refrain from writing a review, but “ouch.” Then the doubts came flooding in. What if I am a bust at writing women’s fiction? Should I stick to chick lit? What if everyone hates this book except my mom, sister, beta readers, and publishing team? But then glowing reviews for How Do You Know? came flowing in: “Meredith’s best book yet.” “Meredith Schorr has done it again.” “I loved this book as much as her others.” My confidence soared again until I received a four star review from someone on New Year’s Eve who said How Do You Know? was engaging enough, but she liked my other books much more. Despite the four-star review, I was disappointed that it wasn’t her favorite.

And then it occurred to me that I’m a multi-published author and to expect every reader to enjoy each of my new books more than the one before is…well…expecting too much. Not to mention that unless I want my previous books to stop selling, I should hope readers will have different preferences so that there is consistent buzz for all of my books. The reality is that not everyone has the same tastes. Some readers prefer pure escapism to depth. Some people love a flawed character they can root for even as they scream at her. Others don’t want a character who might remind them of their own shortcomings. Some folks appreciate an uplifting, but realistic ending; others prefer the fairytale. Some people get a kick out of grown up characters acting juvenile and making fools of themselves. Others think it just makes them look foolish.

The good news is that between four novels, I now have something to please or offend *almost* everyone. I say *almost* because you can’t please everyone. At least, as evidenced in this blog, I have not mastered that skill yet. But as long as I continue to please people more often than not, I will be happy. I’m going to keep writing the stories that inspire me to the best of my ability—which will hopefully continue to improve with each book, even if some fans still prefer an earlier book.

farewell to 2014

This time last year, I was really looking forward to putting 2013 behind me. In 2013, I broke up with my boyfriend, my sister’s beautiful dog Gypsy passed away, and my boss of seventeen years and best friend was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of Leukemia. So, despite the fact that my third novel and fan favorite Blogger Girl was released to outstanding reviews, and my debut Just Friends with Benefits was re-released by my current publisher, Booktrope, to surprisingly best-seller status, the year was pretty sucky all in all.

2014 started out much better. I began the year with a trip to California with several other authors where we talked, laughed, and drank lots of wine with the beach right outside our door. I met up with a guy I had dated several years ago and had such a wonderful time, I was certain we’d get a second chance. Best of all, my boss found a 100% match for a bone marrow transplant. Things were looking up. Unfortunately, the trip to California only lasted a few days and I returned to New York City and the Polar Vortex with a cold that lasted about four months. Despite the connection I was certain was mutual while out with the guy from my past, he kept putting off a second date until I had to assume he didn’t share my feelings. Worst of all, by far, my boss/best friend lost his battle with cancer, passed away in July, and broke my heart into a million pieces.

2014 wasn’t all bad. My publisher released an ebook collection with my three first novels on Valentine’s Day that made the Kindle Top 100; Blogger Girl and A State of Jane were re-released by Amazon Encore pursuant to an exciting licensing agreement with Booktrope; my fourth novel, How Do You Know?, was published in December, Just Friends with Benefits was released as part of a romance anthology called Blended for Love; and I am already halfway through the first draft of my fifth book, Novel Girl.

More important than “book” stuff, my friends and family really stepped up after my boss died and showed me how much they loved me. Their patience, understanding, and unwillingness to let me feel alone showed me how truly blessed I am and I will be forever grateful even while I’m still dealing with my grief on a daily basis.

I’m no mathematician, but I know that with each passing year, I will get a year older which, as those who know me are well aware, doesn’t thrill me. That being said, I am truly ready to put 2014 behind me. Although I have goals for 2015—publication of Novel Girl, possible solo trip out of the country, potential running of New York City marathon, refurnishing of my apartment—I am not making any formal resolutions. All I really want is to be happy.

Or perhaps the resolution is to figure out what it is that makes me happy and go after it.

Thanks to all of you for keeping up with my blog this past year. I hope I have entertained you with my life and book updates. Happy New Year to you all and see you next year!

When age isn’t just a number

It’s no secret I believe there are too many stereotypes associated with age. For the most part, I deplore hearing/reading about how people are supposed to look, feel, dress, behave etc. simply based on the year they were born. I organized an entire blog series associated with the phrase, “Age is Just a Number” and one of the reasons I wrote my newly released light women’s fiction novel How Do You Know? was to redefine how some folks perceive women in their late thirties, early forties.

That being said, from personal experience, I cannot deny some things have changed for me over the past few years and the best explanation for these involuntary alterations in my life is that I’ve gotten older. I wouldn’t necessarily describe most of these changes in terms of being “good” or “bad” but yeah, things have changed. For instance:

I can’t drink more than a few alcoholic beverages without losing some, if not all, functionality the next day. This doesn’t bother me all that much because I don’t enjoy being “drunk” as much as I used to and am happy with a nice, pleasant buzz. I have too much to do to risk losing an entire weekend day sleeping off a hangover. While feeling tipsy feels good, crossing over to “drunk” feels icky. And a Sunday Funday isn’t as fun for me anymore if I know I will suffer for it on Monday. Knowing what will happen if I drink too much helps me make wiser decisions, not necessarily in the moment, but when planning my activities. In all honesty, I do over-indulge from time to time anyway because I sometimes lack the self-control to stop after the buzzed state. Case in point: This past Friday night, I drank way more glasses of wine than I needed to and I paid for it on Saturday when I was a zombie and rendered incapable of being productive. My excuse was that I was out celebrating the release of How Do You Know? but I don’t always have an excuse and I do it anyway. But I turned down an invitation to watch football at a bar with friends this afternoon to spend the day writing, something I’m positive I wouldn’t have done even a couple of years ago. Some people might lament this change in preference and say, “I’m getting old” but because I truly had no desire to drink today and looked forward to a day of writing, you won’t hear any complaints from me. It is what it is.

Whereas I used to have no problem sleeping in—sometimes until close to eleven—now I have trouble sleeping later than 9:30am even after a late night. Some people still consider 9:30 late, but it’s pretty early for me relative to my sleeping habits of younger years. This doesn’t bother me either because starting my day earlier leaves me with more time to get things done.

While I’ve always known how deadly cancer is in an abstract sort of way, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen and experienced first-hand how devastating, far-reaching, and indiscriminate the disease is. These days, I can’t even hear the word without getting sad and afraid. A diagnosis of cancer by someone of my young age is not the “norm” but I’ve seen it happen enough to know it’s not that rare either and it freaks me out to the point that every doctor’s appointment—even the routine check-ups—cause me anxiety. While I’ve always worried about my mother’s health, now I find myself more aware of the mortality of younger people, like my sisters and friends. (It’s worth noting that my best friend lost his battle with cancer earlier this year and this tragic event, and not my age, could also be the cause of my anxiety.) It’s not just cancer and other diseases, but with age, I’ve become more aware of the simple randomness of life and knowing that things can change on a dime.

When I watch television shows, I no longer crush on the young son. It’s all about the dad or “adult” male character. I have a feeling if I watched an old episode of Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron would no longer do it for me. (Although neither would Alan Thicke). (Exception: I’d still lust after Jordan Catalano in My So Called Life. )

I can’t be as brutal on my body without suffering consequences. I can still keep up with the twenty-somethings on the track and in spin class, but I find myself with Achilles Tendinitis and other aches and pains afterward if I’m not careful. Whereas I used to take my limbs, joints, etc. for granted, I don’t have that liberty anymore. Sometimes I lift heavy boxes at work and forget that I’m not eighteen anymore. Just because I can do these things, doesn’t mean I don’t need to be more careful.

I have no desire to stay out really late. I love to go out to dinner and have drinks with friends or go on dates, but I’m perfectly happy to get home by midnight. I’d rather get up early (9:30…) and get things done than get home past 3am and sleep the day away. Contrast this with my younger days when I prided myself with closing down the bar.

I have more patience. When I find myself in a long line, I’m less likely to tap my feet in annoyance or mumble expletives. When I break items or have trouble putting them together, whereas I used to cry and throw tantrums, after an initial expression of frustration: “Shit!” “Motherfucker” “For the love of God!” I’m better able now to take a deep breath and calmly form a game plan.

Finally, I have more appreciation for the journey of each day and the importance of making myself happy, living in the present, and not worrying so much about tomorrow. Every day counts, whereas in my youth, I thought I’d live forever. I still need to work on this, but it gives me something to look forward to as I get older!

So, yes, age sometimes really is more than a number and things do change as the years go by. As my late and great best friend Alan said to me only a couple of months before he died when I complained about getting old, “None of us get younger, but we don’t have to succumb to it. All we can do is deal with it.”

 

Happy Publication Day to How Do You Know?

It’s finally arrived! Today is the official release day of my fourth novel, How Do You Know? Although I love all of my book babies equally, this book is especially close to me as its themes are extremely relevant to where I am in life. I believe the book will resonate with so many women—single, in a relationship, or “it’s complicated” alike. I sure hope I’m right!

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BLURB:

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach? 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. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

 

“If Doug isn’t “the one,” am I wasting time that should be spent on finding the man who is? And at almost forty, has that window already closed? Is passionate love only available to the young?

I know I will have to work through my feelings eventually, but it’s not something I want to do on my birthday. The truth is I absolutely want to get married. I’m just not certain I want to marry Doug.

But my heart also aches at the thought of losing him.”

Buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OGQII9E/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0D67KXN7041J840S7M6E&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Know-Seeking-Happily-Ever-After-ebook/dp/B00OGQII9E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1416414201&sr=1-1&keywords=how+do+you+know%3F

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-do-you-know-meredith-schorr/1120809409?ean=9781620155875

Also available on iTunes