In the celebration of motherhood…

Nineteen authors from around the world were given six weeks or less
to prod
uce a story involving a mother, and the result is here! 

In A Kind of Mad Courage, we have a collection of tales that will make you laugh, cry, and truly appreciate the “mad courage” of motherhood. 

 

Samantha Stroh Bailey – “Hide and Seek”

Regina Cash-Clark – “Autumn’s Eyes”

Laura Chapman – “Oh Baby”

Elke Feuer – “The Sacrifice”

Diana Gliedman – “Love in the Time of Cannibals”

Carey Heywood – “A Poem for Mommy”

Wendy Janes – “Verity”

Francine LaSala – “Monkey Bread”

Sheryn MacMunn – “Last Words”

Nikki Mahood – “This Year’s Love”

Karen E. Martin – “Two Thousand Steps”

Heather McCoubrey – “Emily’s Promise”

Monique McDonell – “A Tale of Two Mothers”

Maria Schulz – “Like a Boomerang”

Jen Tucker – “Heartstrings”

Donna Valenti – “In the Nick of Time”

Julie Valerie – “LLL”

k.c. wilder – “Lady in Red”

Louise Wise – “Becky’s Mum”
 
Amazon.UK | Amazon.com

Bringing the pain of real-life into fiction

Sad. Scary. Tragic. (But Funny!)
by
Francine LaSala
I got a call from an old friend the other day. We’d fallen out of
touch over the years, but she reached out when she’d heard I’d been through a
significant loss. We spoke for a while, sharing memories and getting caught up.

Then she told me the thing I most needed to hear.
“Francine,” she said, “I know you’re going to come through this.
Your sense of humor always pulls you through.”

77p/99c for ONE week only (ending November 8th) 
I thanked her, as you do when people say seemingly absurd things
to you at times such as these. And then I thought about what she’d said and why
she’d said it.

I have always been in the awkward habit of laughing when I hear
terrible news. Not
all terrible news,
but those things that are so terrible that sorrow somehow doesn’t seem
appropriate. That giggling (yes, crazy), somehow makes more sense. It’s not
schadenfreude. Maybe it is
schadenfreude. But whatever it is, it’s the defense mechanism that gets me through.


I do it in writing, too. All of my books–the two that are
published, and the ones that are in progress and will be published next year–have
all been born from some pain or loss. For Rita
Hayworth’s Shoes
, it was the heartache of a boyfriend’s betrayal. For The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything,
it was the fear of financial ruin, dread of the dentist–among other things. No
one would ever call my books “tragic”; they’re all totally screwball
and silly! Yet they center on various plights of the human condition. Laced
with laughs.

I don’t think you need to be sick in the head like me to find the
humor in any given situation, and then weave that humor into your own stories. Sometimes
you can do it with a situation; sometimes with a kooky character you bring in
to the situation to help break the tension. The
Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything
is peppered with these characters.
There’s Char-a’tee Pryce, who continually mocks protagonist Mina Clark for
allowing the world to roll over her. There’s neighbor Harriet Saunders, who
takes all of Mina’s “bad mother” anxiety and flips it on its ear. (I
wrote a character piece for Louise
Wise
a few months back that will give you a taste of just how kooky Harriet
is.

What I’ve come to learn is that in any horrible situation, there
is the possibility to laugh. To take “Turn that frown upside down” to
the extreme in your life and in your books. It feels good to laugh. It pulls
you (and your characters) out of the gloom and doom; it helps you take a step
back and detach so you can breathe.


Here’s just such an example from The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything (which is on sale this
week for 99 cents, BTW!):

  “Girl, you in trouble. You better start watching your ass.”
  “What do you mean?” Mina was more than a little taken aback by Kim’s foreboding tone.
  “Have you made any new friends lately?”
Mina had in the past several days made more new friends than she had in years, but she gave no reply.
  “I’m gonna take that as a yes. Okay, well, here’s how it goes. Don’t trust anyone. You hear me, girl? No one.”
  “What do you mean—”
  “What I mean is, the bank’s watching you. You know this. And they got folks working for them. Out in the field and such. Spies, I guess you could call them. Special agents. Could be anyone—”
  “Kim, are you drinking?”
  “Look, I’m not shitting you here. They’re around to keep tabs on you. They’re gonna tell you all kinds of stories, like they’re looking after you—that kind of thing. So you gotta know this. It’s gonna get much worse for you soon, especially if you keep bouncing your payments. You and your family are gonna be in some serious trouble. You gotta watch your ass—”
  The connection cut out. Mina checked the caller ID and tried to call Kim back. She was greeted by a few shrill siren-like noises and an automated message. “The call you have made cannot be completed. Please check the number—”
  She hung up and dialed again.
  “The call you have made cannot be—”
  Mina hung up again. Now she had to pull herself together. This was not adding up. No phone gets disconnected that quickly.
  Why did she have so many new friends in just a short time? Coincidence? Maybe she had decided to open herself up to having new friends. Although all of them . . .Harriet and the other mothers, Char-a’tee, Alex . . .they’d all seemed to steamroll her into being friends with them, hadn’t they? And what of her old friends?   She hadn’t heard from Esther in days. Was Esther still angry with her? Was she pushing Esther away? And how the hell did she get her car back?
  Mina couldn’t think clearly and she began to fear the worst. That Dr. Barsheed might have been right. That knowing too much too soon could take her mind, and now she was in the midst of losing it completely. Was anything any of these people told her even true?
  Mina found Emma in her room, sitting in the middle of the floor, naked. She had managed to find and open a set of magic markers, and had completely covered the entire surface area of her hands in bright green. She had also drawn a giant green circle around one eye. With a red magic marker, she’d colored in her belly button, spilling over to her tummy. It looked like she’d been stabbed.
  Mina sank against the doorjamb and cried. Emma came over to her, snuggled her mischievously marked-up naked body into her mother’s lap, and said, ever so sweetly,
  “Don’t cry, Monny,” before peeing all over Mina’s pants.
  “What do you mean?” Mina was more than a little taken aback by Kim’s foreboding tone.  “Have you made any new friends lately?”Mina had in the past several days made more new friends than she had in years, but she gave no reply.  “I’m gonna take that as a yes. Okay, well, here’s how it goes. Don’t trust anyone. You hear me, girl? No one.”  “What do you mean—”  “What I mean is, the bank’s watching you. You know this. And they got folks working for them. Out in the field and such. Spies, I guess you could call them. Special agents. Could be anyone—”  “Kim, are you drinking?”  “Look, I’m not shitting you here. They’re around to keep tabs on you. They’re gonna tell you all kinds of stories, like they’re looking after you—that kind of thing. So you gotta know this. It’s gonna get much worse for you soon, especially if you keep bouncing your payments. You and your family are gonna be in some serious trouble. You gotta watch your ass—”  The connection cut out. Mina checked the caller ID and tried to call Kim back. She was greeted by a few shrill siren-like noises and an automated message. “The call you have made cannot be completed. Please check the number—”   She hung up and dialed again.   “The call you have made cannot be—”  Mina hung up again. Now she had to pull herself together. This was not adding up. No phone gets disconnected that quickly.  Why did she have so many new friends in just a short time? Coincidence? Maybe she had decided to open herself up to having new friends. Although all of them . . .Harriet and the other mothers, Char-a’tee, Alex . . .they’d all seemed to steamroll her into being friends with them, hadn’t they? And what of her old friends?   She hadn’t heard from Esther in days. Was Esther still angry with her? Was she pushing Esther away? And how the hell did she get her car back?  Mina couldn’t think clearly and she began to fear the worst. That Dr. Barsheed might have been right. That knowing too much too soon could take her mind, and now she was in the midst of losing it completely. Was anything any of these people told her even true?  Mina found Emma in her room, sitting in the middle of the floor, naked. She had managed to find and open a set of magic markers, and had completely covered the entire surface area of her hands in bright green. She had also drawn a giant green circle around one eye. With a red magic marker, she’d colored in her belly button, spilling over to her tummy. It looked like she’d been stabbed.  Mina sank against the doorjamb and cried. Emma came over to her, snuggled her mischievously marked-up naked body into her mother’s lap, and said, ever so sweetly,   “Don’t cry, Monny,” before peeing all over Mina’s pants.

What’s the craziest thing you ever thought was funny? Please share by leaving me a comment below.

Introducing…
The Girl, the Gold Tooth
and everything

Mina Clark is losing her mind—or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake—a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. 

A routine trip to the dentist changes everything for Mina, and suddenly she’s not sure if what’s happening is real, or if she’s just now fully losing her mind… especially when she realizes the only person she thought she could trust is the one she fears the most. 


A Goodreadsgiveaway for the paperback copy is running now through November 8! Please feel free to
share the link starting Monday, October 28: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/70037-the-girl-the-gold-tooth-and-everything-a-novel

To celebrate GIRL turning one, the eBook will be 99 cents for one week only. This is a limited time offer that is perfect for your readers to discover this quirky satire for themselves. Please be sure to spread the word!
FRANCINE
LASALA
has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to
sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres.



She is now actively taking
on clients for manuscript evaluations, editing services, copywriting (covers,
blurbs, taglines, queries, and more), website and blog creation, and developing
kickass social media campaigns. 



The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and
The Girl, The Gold Tooth and Everything, and the creator of The “Joy Jar”
Project, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York.


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I’ve been awarded a Reality Blog Award

Thank you, Anita Stewart for nominating me for an award. I don’t get nominated often so forgive me for blowing my own trumpet here.

I’VE BEEN GIVEN THE REALITY BLOG AWARD!


Anita has asked me a few questions. Check out her blog www.ancientbreeds.co.uk and her answers to the below questions. My questions and answers are below:

Q: If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
A: I wish I’d been this dedicated at writing earlier. I’m sure I’d be ‘doing lunch’ with Marian Keyes if I had.

Q: If you could repeat any age which would it be?
A: Ten years old. Wouldn’t it be fun to live the childhood years again? Wouldn’t want to stay there, mind, but to relinquish all responsibility for a day. Bliss.

Q: What really scares you?
A: Losing my parents. I’m at that age now where I realise they won’t be around for ever.

Q: If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
A: Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea. I’d like to know what’s going on inside his head. 


Thank you, Anita. That was fun! And to keep the ball rolling I would like to nominate fellow chick lit authors Francine LaSala and Sarka-Jonae Miller head to their blogs for their answers to the question.

Dishing the Dirt with best-selling author, Matt Dunn.

From Simon and Schuster to indie. 
Romantic comedy novelist, Matt Dunn, has chosen the indie route with his latest book, A Day at the Office. Read his amazing interview here . . .

You’re a man in a woman’s genre, top of the pile too, how does that
make you feel?
Thanks, though I’m not even sure I’d be top of the
slush pile! To be honest, I don’t think about it. I just try to write
entertaining stories about real people, and hope they appeal to both men and
women. If there’s one thing ‘unique’ about someone like me writing in this
genre, perhaps it’s simply that I can give the male point of view. Though I do
write as a woman (or two) as well in A Day At The Office, so maybe that’s all
changed!

At last count, you have seven published books, have you stayed with
the same publisher with those seven?
No. Simon and Schuster published my first six
novels, but I published A Day At The Office myself.

Out NOW!
Amazon.UK
Amazon.com

You’re an accomplished writer of many novels, but how long did it
take you to get where you are today?

I’d known I wanted to write since I wrote/read out a piece at school assembly when I was fourteen – I’d put a few jokes in and they actually got a laugh, and I was hooked – but didn’t know what to do about it until I read High Fidelity in the late nineties, and realised there might be a readership for the kind of thing I wanted to write. A couple of years later I ‘decided’ to take a sabbatical (when my headhunting business collapsed thanks to 9/11) to write up the idea I’d been toying with, and actually finished the first draft pretty quickly. It took a while to get it published (see below) but to be honest, I wasn’t in any rush – rather than spend my evenings typing in a draughty garret, a friend of mine had loaned me his villa in the south of Spain, which was nice. From typing the first word to actually seeing the book on the shelves probably took around five years. Though playing a lot of tennis didn’t help speed the process up.

How did you find your agent? Was it in
a long line of writing submissions and receiving the rejections before being
signed, or were you one of the lucky ones and found the process easy?
I took the traditional route of sending my ms off to agents and publishers, and had the usual load of rejections (31, I think), so no, it wasn’t easy, especially when the ones who did deign to reply with anything more than a ‘no’ would often give me conflicting advice (‘loved the plot, characters need work’, followed by the next one saying ‘love the characterisation, but the plot needs developing’) but every third or fourth one would give me a little tip, or suggest how I could make the manuscript better, which I tried to take on board – the best being ‘read the bestsellers in your genre, and see how they achieve their page-turning quality’. Eventually, after a LOT of rewriting, and after being a bit smarter in the way I approached them (making personal contact by directly emailing ones I knew who represented similar writers, making my approach email more ‘salesy’), an agent took me on.


 In A Day at the Office was there a
character you loved over all the rest? For me, I found Nathan a little cold and
self-absorbed, Sophie was an excellent chick-lit type of character, but my
favourite was Calum, the ginger short guy. So vulnerable and adorable!
Calum was certainly the most fun to write – but I
tend to try not to show favouritism to any of my characters. Unlike my previous
novels, which were all told from the point of view of the main protagonist, A
Day At The Office is an ensemble piece, and I think it might have been tricky
to get the balance right if I’d been tempted to give all the best lines to one.
Having said that, I developed a real soft spot for Sophie.

What I like about your books in
particular is that the characters seem like your average Joe Blogs on the
street. There was one character that stayed with me (secondary character) who
was forever talking about cars. No matter the conversation, it always went back
to cars! I think the book was called The Good Bride Guide. Also, there isn’t
any swearing or too saucy scenes, do you have an aversion to writing those
scenes?
Thank you – that’s a great compliment! I try very
hard to write real people, even though some of my characters (Dan from the
Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, for example) might seem like I’m pushing it a little.
And no – I don’t make my books overly sweary, or write sex scenes, for three
reasons – firstly I don’t think they add to the type of books I write, secondly
because my mum reads my books, and thirdly because I’d hate to write a sex
scene based on, ahem, personal knowledge, and find out I’d been doing it wrong
in real life!

What’s the worst part of being a
writer? (confessions are encouraged here :))
 Hmm. Worst part about a job where I get paid
to make up stories… Er… Nope. Oh yes, hang on, the osteopath bills, from
being hunched over my laptop all day every day! And my addiction to twitter.
And of course the rejection. Though if you’re a man who’s had any experience
asking girls out, you’re used to that.

What are writing conventions really
like? An excuse for a booze up or full of serious like-minded people having
sombre conversations?

I’ve never been one for conventions – of any type. Book launch parties, on the other hand (when they still happen) are usually drunken affairs. In my experience, writers do drink a lot. Especially when someone else is picking up the tab.


What is your writing schedule? Do you
plan, have charts and write a certain amount of words on a daily process, or do
you wing it.
Get up, make the ten-yard commute to my desk, do the Guardian crossword over breakfast (yes, really – it’s like my word warm-up stretch), glance at my mortgage statement, panic, and start typing! I usually set myself a daily word target (1000 words if I don’t have a hurriedly-approaching deadline, 2,000 if I do, or if I’m writing two different books at once like last year – though I’m not keen to do THAT again). Quite often, once I’ve hit that target, I’ll stop, no matter whether it takes me an hour (I wish) or ten hours.


In terms of planning, I start with a premise, and then come up with a title, write the first and last lines, then simply go about filling in the (90,000-odd word) gap. I tend not to plot beforehand – I quite like seeing where the characters take me en route to the ending. Then I re-draft and re-draft until I’m happy (or run out of time – which is more often the case).

When you’re reading for pleasure do you choose books in the
genre you write or do you prefer to read something completely different?
I love reading books in my genre – there are some
really funny writers out there, but tend to read a real variety, and usually
have two or three books on the go at once; a couple of fiction, plus something
non-fiction. For example, I’m currently reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants, plus
Jonathan Tropper’s latest (he’s my current favourite writer), and The Hundred
Year Old Man… That’s the great thing about eBooks – you can carry loads with
you, and dip in and out of them, e.g. when you’re on the tube, or out shopping waiting
outside a changing room while your girlfriend tries on yet another pair of
jeans/shoes/parades around with a handbag she doesn’t need, etc.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
A love triangle romcom, which is a little easier to write than A Day At The Office, as there are only two (well, three, obviously, but two main) characters (though I’m writing as a woman for one of them again, which I’m still nervous about getting right). Unusually, I’ve arrived at a longer draft of around 100,000 words which I’m trying to cut down and make funny at the same time. Normally the editing process is all about building up from my initial 70,000 word first draft. This time, I’m hitting ‘delete’ a lot.



Do you have a critique partner or do you rely on an editor?
 My editors have always been fairly hands-off
– it was usually my agent who provided the initial feedback critique. A Day At
The Office was all me, though, which I kind of felt confident to do after six
novels.

Do you read your reviews and how do you feel about the bad
ones?
I do read reviews, otherwise I won’t have a clue
whether people like the book or not!
It’s hard not to be hurt by bad reviews,
just as it’s difficult not to let good ones go to your head. With the advent of
the internet, everyone’s a critic, and to be honest, they’re all entitled to
their opinion, though you certainly can’t please everyone. It’s when you’re not
pleasing anyone I think you should really sit up and take notice of what people
are saying!

Like
most of my author friends, it’s the nasty personal ones (and I’ve had a few) that
tend to surprise me most – you sometimes wonder what you’ve done to the reader
to inspire that sort of bile. Generally, though, being in touch with your
readers is a good thing, and thanks to the likes of twitter and facebook I get
to interact with readers on a regular basis, which is great.

I’ve a few questions from my writing buddies
who’d like to interrogate, er, ask you a few questions (I apologise in advance
for Jane’s!):

Now that self-publishing has proved its worth in the
marketplace, what would it take for you to publish independently yourself? –
Prue Batten
A Day At The Office is self-published. I had an idea
I really wanted to write, thought it would work well as an eBook (and wanted to
get it out by Valentine’s Day), and was actually surprised by how quick and
easy (and stress-free) the whole process was.

Would you ever promote an Indie author to your agent/publisher
if you knew and loved their work and even if they didn’t have huge sales? – Ey Wade
Of course – I have done in the past. Trouble is,
what I may think is good may not be the same as my agent/publisher does, or it
may simply be the fact that they don’t think there’s a market for it. Everyone has
to remember that publishing is a business, and unless a publisher thinks they
can sell your book, they aren’t going to publish it. It’s why self publishing
is such a good thing – people can put their own work out relatively
easily/cheaply, and let the public decide.

How many books have you published with this company and do you
think they’ll continue to support your work? And how much effort do you put
into your own promotion? – Catherine Kirby.
A Day At The Office is my first self-published
novel, so yes, I’ll continue to support my work! And at the moment, I’m putting
an incredible amount of time into promotion, through twitter, facebook, blog
tours etc. Fortunately I LOVE social media, so it doesn’t really feel like
work!

Did you ever feel it was time to give up as a writer and what
kept you going? – Francine LaSala.
I think most writers have felt like giving up at
some time or another. It’s a harsh industry, you spend a lot of time on your
own (which is when self doubt can develop) and the nature of the industry means
you suffer regular knockbacks. What kept/keeps me going is the lovely emails
and tweets I get from readers, and the constant supply of jokes I can’t stop
myself coming up with. Oh, and my mortgage/not knowing what else I’d do.

By trade you’re a professional lifeguard – have you given
anyone the kiss of life? – Jane Grant
Yes, and reader, I married her! No, I didn’t
really, but actually, I have given CPR. Though it was a 70-year old man. And they lived
to tell the tale!

Author Matt Dunn

Matt Dunn is an award-winning romantic comedy novelist, including The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, which was shortlisted for both the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance and his latest A Day at the Office.



He has also written about life, love, and relationships for The Times, Guardian, and The Sun, along with a number of magazines including Cosmopolitan, Company, Elle, and Glamour.


How to be a domestic goddess! Or at least pretend to be one.

by Harriet Saunders 
from the novel The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything by 

Francine Lasala 


*Author’s Note:
Harriet’s
Helpful Hints
Harriet Saunders is a supporting character from
my second novel,
The Girl, the Gold Tooth
& Everything. As one of my main character Mina’s only friends, harried
Harriet helps ground Mina in her life–in fun and irreverent ways! The character
herself is a cocktail / composite of all the frazzled mothers I have known,
myself included. In this “Anything Goes” post, I imagined someone had asked
Harriet to write a home-making column, sharing some of her best tips for
domestic bliss. Please leave me comment sharing one of your most incredible
household hints, helpful or horrid. I’d love to hear them. Enjoy!



Squalor
is the new black.

Who says that? I say that! In this day and age,
it’s much more important to over-parent your kids. To get down on that filthy
floor and play with them rather than clean it. Of course there does get to be a
point when cleaning is necessary. In that case…

Never
clean your house in full.
Straightening up is really all you ever have to
do, most of the time. Just let the neighbors’ kids leave their shoes on when
they come over so you don’t have to explain to their parents why their
once-white socks are as black as your soul. (If you don’t care about their
stupid parents and what they think, by all means have those kids run around in
their socks and pick up some of the dirt and grime while they’re at it. Mop,
schmop. Am I right?!)

If you
must scrub, don’t wimp out on the chemicals.
Especially if you clean as infrequently as I do.
As well-meaning as vinegar and baking soda are, they’re just not going to cut
it on a toilet bowl ring that’s had months to set in. No. You’re going to have
to go with the strongest cleaning chemicals you can legally buy. If they burn
your skin and your throat when you breathe them in, you’re doing it right.

If you
want your husband to help you clean, clean naked.
You know you can get your husband to do whatever
you want him to as long as you ask him when you’re naked. Also, cleaning naked
means no bleach stains or other crap on your clothes, which is kind of a plus
because god knows, if you’re hanging around your house with your kids all day,
your clothes are crappy enough as they are.


Don’t
have rugs.
Why? Listen to these words. See these words in your carpets. Play-Dough. Mashed potatoes. Rice.
Grape juice. What else do you need to know?

Do
“all-socks” loads of laundry.
This one may seem practical, smart even, but I
have to be honest with you, it’s just plain lazy. The whole thing about where
do the socks disappear to… It’s no great mystery, folks. They get tangled up
in your other clothes. Speaking of socks, instead of going through the torture
of sorting and balling them up, when they come out of the dryer just pile them
into a giant tub you set in the hallway and let everyone fend for themselves.
It’s great fun! Especially in the morning.

Stain
removal.
Fact: I haven’t been able to keep even a single
article of clothing unstained since I got married. If I went to task to remove
all the stains in my clothes, there would be no time for drinking. So what’s my
solution? I don’t bother–and neither should you. Look, any mother who walks
around in fresh, crisp, immaculate clothing is just doing a disservice to every
other mother out there. If there’s a stain on your shirt, wear a dramatic scarf
or necklace to divert attention. (Unless the stain is by your neck. Then I
guess you’re probably screwed.)

Let’s
see… Let’s see. Oh yeah. Sewing!
Is never worth it. Never.

Dogs make
excellent vacuum cleaners.
Or so I am told. Sammy, my husband, won’t give
in to a dog right now. As if he’s the one who’s going to take care of it! A dog
is a great investment–and cheap if you’re smart about it. If you have enough
kids under the age of eight in your house, throwing and dropping food all over
the place, you won’t even need to buy dog food. Think about it.

Have an
even number of kids.
I don’t know why more people don’t know this,
honestly. When you have an odd number, someone’s always left out, and you can
bet that little bugger’s going to be up your butt looking for a bud. Give the
kid a bud. (Then go grab yourself a Bud or a bottle of gin or whatever’s going
to get you through having all those kids.)


Make
dinners that seem like more effort than they are.
I’ve learned you can make pretty good things with
practically no involvement on your part, and also make the people who live with
you think they’re getting something special while you’re at it. (Be careful of
cooking too well, however. You don’t want them to expect it.) Here’s a recipe:

Pasta
With Meat
(I suppose
you could say “bolognese” if you’re feeling fancy, but that seems like a lot of
trouble to me. And I’m sure more goes into bolognese, but I don’t really care.)

Olive oil
A sweet onion, roughly chopped (some people call
this “country-style” but let’s be honest
that it’s “lazy-style”, okay?)
Some garlic (I’m not going to tell you how much,
that’s between you and your spouse)
A splash of wine, red or white (you know,
whatever’s open)*
A can of crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
A package of ground beef
A box of pasta

1.  Toss into a pot: olive oil, onion, and garlic. When it all gets nice
and soft and hot, splash in wine, then pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt
and pepper. Simmer.
2.  Cook pasta in boiling water for however long it says on the box. (If
you made the pasta fresh by hand, you’re not doing this right.)
3.  Brown meat in a frying pan. Don’t drain it. (Blah, blah, blah
health. But who cares. It’s better this way.)
4.  Now: The sauce goes in to the meat; they both go over the pasta. And
you’re done.

Did you just make special “homemade” tomato
sauce? You bet you did, you clever thing! Now pat yourself on the back, pour
yourself a drink, and go catch up on The
Real Housewives of Whatever
.

* Please
note: Dry vermouth is very cheap and not that tasty. And if you, like me,
prefer to save every last drop of your wine for drinking, I say buy a giant
bottle of dry vermouth, keep it for cooking, and be done with it. (If you do
ever run out of wine or vodka, you can probably tolerate some vermouth over ice.
I’ve suffered it. I didn’t die. Drop a couple of olives in there and it will
almost kill the taste. And remember, it’s cheap! So why not?)
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The Girl, the Gold Tooth &  Everything


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A fast-paced, richly layered, and darkly humorous satire filled with quirky characters and unforgettable moments of humanity! 

Mina Clark is losing her mind-or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year-old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake-a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. 

When a trip to the dentist leaves Mina with a new gold crown, her whole life changes. Slowly her memory and her mojo return. But when everything begins to crash down around her, she’s not sure if what’s happening is real, of if she’s just now fully losing her mind… especially when she realizes the only person she can trust is the one she fears the most. What’s it all going to cost her in the end?

Francine LaSala has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres (fiction and nonfiction) through her company, Francine LaSala Productions. The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything, and four feature-length screenplays, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York. Contact her: francine@francinelasala.com.

The Importance of Being Edited

by
Francine LaSala

When I tell people I’m a book editor, they generally reply: “Wow, you must be a great speller!” Well, the thing is, I’m an exceptional editor, but not the best speller. Gasp! How can that be? Keep reading, because I’m going to get into all the aspects of editing and, most importantly, why you cannot, cannot, CANNOT put your work out there without passing it under a set of editorial eyes–or several even. Even if you are able to spell antidisestablishmentarianism without looking it up. Or spellcheck. (And yeah, I needed both for that.)
First, the WHY.
Number 1: It’s an important part of the process to self-edit, but in all truthfulness, you cannot successfully edit your own book unless you are a robot. It’s impossible for us as human beings to regard ourselves with complete objectivity. I’m serious. You can’t pour out something from your head and your heart onto a page and decide whether it’s good or not. You can feel it, for sure, and some people are very good at that. But our heads and hearts are not reliable and they will also trick us into thinking and feeling that what they believe is good is actually good. (Remember these are the two jokers responsible for your last bad relationship. Still want to trust them completely?) An editor is objective, and that’s essential. (Unless it’s your mom. Don’t ask your mom to edit your book.)
Number 2: As wonderful as you are (and you are wonderful), you know it is impossible for a single human being to know everything. (Many, including my husband will disagree with me about this, but, look, it is what it is.) And hey, even if you do know everything, consider this: You may know too much! That saturation of knowledge of yours could very well affect how you present it, and you can drown your reader in confusion without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s an editor’s task to pare down, to tell you when to rein it the freak in. But sometimes an editor also must let you know what’s missing. What lacks development and exposition and what sorely needs it in order to communicate effectively with readers–scientific essay or love story or whatever you’ve written.
And finally, Number 3: The most obvious reason to work with editors is…the more you see, the less you see. The mind (remember that joker from before who made you suffer that “good-on-paper” guy you wasted the better half of a year dating?) enjoys sabotage, and gets off on tripping up even the most eagle-eyed among us. Especially when the mind is tired, and cranky, and frankly bored to death reading and re-reading the same material over and over again (no matter how genius that material may be). Look, you are always going to miss something. Deal with it. And work with an editor, whose mind (unlike yours) doesn’t care to play tricks on you, and who will see glaring boo-boos you’ve read over ten thousand times and never seen.
And Now: The HOW.
Editors come in all shapes and skill sets. Here’s a rundown.
Acquisitions (commissioning) editor.
May be considered more “marketing” then “editorial.” These are they guys that scan P&Ls to decide what’s going to work for their lists. They read your stuff, but not with the depth of someone who’s actually going to work on your stuff. If you’re indie, they don’t really matter to you.
Developmental editor.
Like a beta reader, but trained. Work with a developmental editor after you’ve completed a draft of your book–before you’ve spiffied up and polished things. The developmental editor lets you know what’s working and what isn’t, and for what isn’t, advises how to make it work. (“Kill Charlie, he’s useless!” or “Save the hot washing-machine sex scene for later in the book, after we get a chance to get to know Fred and Marva and their feelings about laundry”) Once you have this great OBJECTIVE insight, you can use those suggestions to revise and rework. And now you can polish.
Line editor.
These guys have a knack for writing a good sentence and a good grasp on grammar, and make sure that your chosen words are relaying your meaning correctly. And they suggest new words to use if you’re not quite hitting it. The line editor will not (should not!) re-write your book. Rather, he or she will clean up phrases that don’t make sense, help slice out redundancies, and make comments where appropriate (“AU: Fred and Marva and the washing machine…you explain on page 40 that he’s five-foot-four. Wouldn’t he need to be standing on something here?” A good example from my last book: “AU: Peonies don’t bloom in the Northeast in September.” Who knew? Not me. But the line editor did!) Line editors hone in on the details so easy to miss in when you’re all caught up in the throes of the rhythm and the music of the writing of a story (which, as the writer of the story, is where you should be, BTW).
Copyeditor.
A copyeditor’s raison d’etre is to get your grammar right. Like specially trained soldiers, “SEALS” if you will, copyeditors annihilate misspellings, missed words, wrong words, and other dumb crap, and can shame even the most confident grammarian. That’s okay. If you’re telling a story, your crisp command of grammar should not be the part you’re most focused on.
To recap: No matter how Type A you may think you are, if you’re writing, working with an editor is a good idea. Remember: Your heart and your mind are mischievous little beasts who want you to look bad on paper. A good editor is your best defense!

The Girl, the Gold Tooth and everything

A fast-paced, richly layered, and darkly humorous satire filled with quirky characters and unforgettable moments of humanity!

Amazon.com
Amazon.UK

Mina Clark is losing her mind-or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year-old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake-a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. 


When a trip to the dentist leaves Mina with a new gold crown, her whole life changes. Slowly her memory and her mojo return. But when everything begins to crash down around her, she’s not sure if what’s happening is real, of if she’s just now fully losing her mind… especially when she realizes the only person she can trust is the one she fears the most. What’s it all going to cost her in the end?


Author Francine LaSala

Francine LaSala has written nonfiction on every
topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of
all genres (fiction and nonfiction) through her company, Francine LaSala
Productions. 

The author of novels Rita
Hayworth’s Shoes
and The
Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything
, and four feature-length
screenplays, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York.