5/31/11

Amazing Author: Jessica Tinkler

Today's Amazing Author book was written by my friend Jessica Tinkler.

Jessica's book is exactly the kind of book about healthy eating and living that you want to read; honest, straight forward, sensible and inspiring. Real plans for real people, written by a real person who has all of the demands of real life and meets them without the aid of an assistant, chef, and unlimited funds and resources. She's not a celebrity author with an entourage, and for me that is what makes her book and her blog, (shown above, click it to see her link) so great! I've posted some information from her site below, along with links to her great new book. Check it out! You'll be glad that you did.


About Jessica...

I’m a certified personal trainer with National Academy of Sports Medicine and Can-Fit Pro, a certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant with The American Council on Exercise and a certified SPINNING instructor. I have a passion for health and fitness. I know how great it feels to be doing something good for yourself, but I also know how hard it is sometimes to get yourself on the right track. Nothing makes me happier than helping someone feel stronger, healthier and ultimately happier.

THE PLAN; Shop, Stock and Serve

I’m thrilled to announce that The Plan; Shop, Stock and Serve is now available at all online retail locations! Get your copy today!

To purchase in Canada CLICK HERE

To Purchase in the USA CLICK HERE

Here’s a sneak peak:

It’s easy to understand the concept of eating lean protein with vegetables to lose weight, but if you don’t normally eat these foods and don’t have the time to prepare them, following a diet is challenging. The Plan: Shop, Stock and Serve, not only addresses this issue head on, but it provides the answers.

Food is social. It’s front and center when we get together with friends, family and loved ones. We celebrate with it, laugh with it and sometimes even cry with it. How can you expect to come off of life’s emotional rollercoaster without turning to Ben and Jerry’s? Stuff happens! The dinner parties are not just going to stop. Your busy life will not just go away. In order to change the way you eat and drop those pounds for good, you need a plan.

With The Plan:
* You won’t have to follow a restrictive diet. Your plan is made for you, by you!
* All your favorite foods can go on your plan, and yes, you will still lose weight.
* You will only have to hit the grocery store once a week.
* For once, healthy eating will actually simplify your life.
* The Plan is something you can realistically do for life.

Any book can tell you what to eat in order to lose weight. Implementing those changes into your lifestyle is the tricky part. Unlike any other book on the market, The Plan focuses on providing you with the right tools to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. It’s the essential map to healthy eating and living.

The Plan: Shop, Stock and Serve includes a cookbook with over 120 recipes, meal and snack ideas, as well as an exercise and activity guide with over 30 basic strength-training exercises that are easy to do at home.


5/25/11

Amazing Author: Clea Simon



Another Amazing Author interview from Amazing Author, Caroline Leavitt!




I'm back from a whirlwind trip to Toronto and trying to catch my breath! But first a snuggle with my girls. I have freelance work, and a naming job and just sent off my manuscript to some fresh eyes for a good critique. As I try and co
me up for air, let me give you this great interview with Clea!






Clea Simon talks about Dogs Don't Lie, writing, and animal speech


I first met Clea on a writers' site. She was so smart and so interesting that I immediately went out and got her book, Fatherless Women, and we began to email back and forth. Then we met. Then our spouses met, and before you knew it, we were all friends. Clea's one of my best friends on the planet and a fabulous writer, and I'm honored and thrilled to have her guest post on my blog. Thank you so much, Clea!



What would your pet sound like if she (or he) could talk to you? What would his or her voice be?
These are the questions that are at the heart of my new mystery, Dogs Don’t Lie. I mean, we know what our animals sound like in their real state, their natural state, their barks and meows and hisses. But what if we could understand them – if they spoke to us in our language, with human voices? What would those voices be like?
For some reason, it has always amused me to imagine my cat talking down to me. Sometimes, I imagine her scolding me – usually when I’ve done something that I assume must be annoying, like moving her toys to vacuum, or stepping over her when she’s sprawled in a doorway. “Must you?” I hear the disdain in her voice. “Oh, please.”
Don’t get me wrong; I’m neither psychotic nor self-hating. This voice just seems right somehow, and truly, when she comes up to me afterward all purry and wanting to be petted, this pseudo-scorn makes it all sweeter.
But the questions remain, and that eventually led me to create the unwilling animal psychic Pru Marlow. Pru can “hear” what animals say, telepathically, and she is continually surprised not only by what they say but also by how they say it. What their voices sound like – and, by extension, how they view themselves. (I’m not giving anything away, I think, when I reveal that the animals Pru meets in Dogs Don’t Lie often have very different opinions about themselves than their tone-deaf humans do – and often different names. It seemed quite natural, to me, for a neutered bichon frise to reject the name “Bitsy,” for example. In his mind, he was “Growler,” and acted accordingly.)
The voice of my protagonist Pru was another challenge, a bigger one. I was already writing one series when Pru came to me. My Dulcie Schwartz mysteries – which continue this month with Grey Zone – feature a bookish graduate student. Dulcie is sweet, a little na├»ve, and extremely earnest. When I write her, I become her, to the point of adopting her mannerisms to some extent. (Not a bad thing: she’s much neater than I am normally.) But when I started with Pru, I’d been reading a lot of the new female-centered noir (books like Megan Abbott’s Queenpin). And so Pru burst out tough and mouthy. Promiscuous, a little dangerous. Not the kind of heroine you’d expect in a mystery with talking animals, and not the kind of character I’d written before. It was a little scary, but also fun – and the more I wrote, the more her personality developed. Pru’s a cool character. Maybe that’s why her cat, Wallis, had to be even tougher, a take-no-prisoners tabby who isn’t afraid to read Pru the riot act when she steps out of line – or steps over her to leave a room. These characters declared their voices, and I had to fall in line.
Voice, of course, is always intriguing to writers. Questions around voice are key. What tone do we chose? What point of view? Voice is what makes a writer, makes a book. Voice is vital. The funny thing, I’ve come to learn is that in my chosen genre it is often ignored.
Crime fiction, after all, is known for its plotting. The biggest crime fiction names, in particular, ride on action-packed storylines. Boom boom boom – the hero is up and running, taking bullets and felling bad guys. In some ways, it is plotting that separates these big thrill rides from the more old-fashioned classic or cozy mysteries that are more or less what I write. Jack Reacher is never going to puzzle out the clues, just as Miss Marple never broke a collarbone and went on to tackle her suspect. And since these big thrillers are what earn the big bucks – and get made into movies – plot is seen as all important: the driver of series, of sales, and of readers.
This isn’t a complaint exactly. I do love plots and I admire page-turners. I read almost all of Dan Brown’s oeuvre at one point, just so I could learn his structures. Believe me, if I could end every chapter with “and then she saw the gun,” I’d be happy.
And yet, character – voice – keeps coming up. In fact, there’s a funny discussion going on in the world of crime fiction. You’ve heard of Stieg Larsson, the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” author? Well, his books have lots of action, sex, and violence, but what the critics have been commenting on is his heroine – the feisty Lisbeth Salander. It’s like they’ve just discovered characters.
Maybe it’s that they don’t expect them. Maybe, despite the evidence of Dorothy L. Sayers and Donna Leon, Agatha Christie and Denise Mina, they think crime fiction – mysteries – aren’t up to interesting, fully realized characters. But readers do, and we writers are readers. Maybe that’s why I’ve been obsessed by characters recently. Possessed by them. It’s their voices.

5/17/11

Amazing Author: Sarah Jio


It's Tuesday and I have been traveling! Time to catch my breath and bring you this amazing author interview from Amazing Author Caroline Leavitt!




Sarah Jio talks about The Violets of March and authors who help other authors!


Guest Post:

The Jodi Picoult Effect: Why Big-Time Authors Who Help Newcomers Rock!

Caroline, thank you so much for having me here! As a debut author, it’s so lovely and encouraging to be supported by successful writers (you!) who have also been in the same shoes, which is what I want to share a little about today. Being a first-time novelist is both exciting and nerve-wracking (as I’m sure you remember!), so thank God for veteran authors who stick their necks out on behalf of newcomers.

My first novel, The Violets of March [LINK: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0452297036/craforboo-20], is out on April 26 from Penguin (Plume). I sold the book last spring, and after the contracts were signed, I realized that I had a pretty steep learning curve ahead. After all, book publishing was a whole new ballgame for me. I came to fiction from the world of magazines, where I’ve been a contributor to publications like Glamour, Redbook, Health, SELF, Real Simple, O, The Oprah Magazine, and many others. I knew my way around the magazine industry, but books? There was so much to figure out. Blurbs! Marketing! Sales! Book buyers! Publicity! Um, yikes!

Perhaps most daunting was the task of reaching out to other authors and shyly asking them to read my book in hopes of getting an endorsement for the cover. I fretted about this for a long time. Frankly, the whole idea of sharing my work with other authors made me feel so vulnerable (something I needed to get over quick if I was going to be any good at this novel thing!). I thought about the authors I admired and respected and wondered if they’d ever—in a million years—be interested in reading my fledgling debut. Sure, I was proud of my novel, for sure, but there’s something very frightening about sending an early copy to an author you love. But, with great anxiety and trembling hands, I composed an email to Jodi Picoult (you know, the bestselling author of a zillion books, including Sing You Home). I told her about Violets, shared the book trailer, and held my breath as I clicked send.

And guess what? A few minutes later, she wrote back. Just like that. And I nearly fainted.

She shared that she’d already received five other blurb requests that day alone and couldn’t make any promises. But, she said if I still wanted to send a galley over just in case, she’d do her best to have a look. Yep, I sent a galley out that very afternoon, with fingers and toes crossed. And, several weeks later, I nearly fell out of my chair when she wrote to say she enjoyed the book and had written a blurb for me [LINK: http://www.sarahjio.com/?p=1128]. I was 9 months pregnant at the time, and promptly began having labor contractions. (True story.)

Here’s the thing, Jodi has an insanely busy schedule. She’s one of the top-producing authors in the world. She’s basicallysuperwoman. She didn’t have to give me (a total stranger with nothing to offer her in return but insane amounts of gratitude) the time of day, but she did. Her vote of confidence for my novel meant so much to me, as did the support from Allison Winn Scotch, Claire Cook, Sarah Pekkanen, Beth Hoffman, and Kelly O’Connor McNees—all of whom prove that the book world is filled with plenty of terrific, warm and generous souls. If I’m ever so fortunate to be in a similar place of success, I vow to be just as generous to new authors as these wonderful women have been to me.

About me:
Sarah Jio is the author of The Violets of March, out from Penguin (Plume) on April 26, a Target Emerging Author selection and Costco buyer pick. Her second novel, The Bungalow, will also be published by Plume in April 2012. She lives in Seattle with her family and is at work on her third novel. To learn more about her, visit www.sarahjio.com.

5/11/11

Amazing Author: Anne Lamott


Another Amazing Author interview from Amazing Author Caroline Leavitt!


Now in Paperback! Anne Lamott talks about Imperfect Birds





















To say I love Anne Lamott is putting it mildly. She's funny, warm, witty, and more than a few times, she has saved my emotional life, both with her books and with her spot-on advice. She makes you see the world differently (and she makes you laugh.) Her fabulous novel Imperfect Birds is now out in paperback and it's just wonderful. To celebrate, I'm buying copies for my friends AND I'm reprinting an interview with Anne.

Anne Lamott should be a national treasure (complete with a holiday named after her.) Her book on writing (Bird by Bird) is required reading for any budding writer (or anxiety written pro), her book on having a child (Operating Instructions) should be tucked inside every diaper bag, and her novels simply soar. Her newest, Imperfect Birds, returns to one of her earlier novels, Rosie, to tell the story of teenage drug culture and parents being terrified for their the safety of their kids. It's as remarkable as she is--and thank you, thank you, Anne for answering my questions.


Of all your books, this one was the one that absolutely terrified me. It was so raw, so real (plus, I’m the mother of a 13 year old and I worry about the future endlessly) and yet, it also was, to me, the most spiritual of your books, too. Would you say this is because in those dark, scary moments, that’s when there is light (if you can notice it?) Or that being tested give us an opportunity to reveal our best (as well as our worst) selves?
When we are faced with really frightening developments in our lives, like loss or a bad diagnosis or a lost child, we get stripped down to what is true and essential--and this is the most spiritual place we can arrive at. And then to be deeply loved in such a raw and undefended state--without armor, routine, and the ability to Fake it--is the absolute definition of Spiritual.
Knowing Rosie (from your novel Rosie) as a child and then seeing her as a teenager here also made this book more nerve-wracking for me. Because Rosie was the child of an alcoholic mother, I was sure Rosie would never want to have anything to do with substance abuse. Is this usually the case?
There's no such thing as "usually the case". Kids with alcoholic parents have a genetic predisposition to be alcoholics or substance abusers. I really have not observed a "norm". What I've observed in Marin is high-achieving kids with seemingly ideal family circumstances, who have lost their lives, minds, futures, to high risk behavior. We just lost another gorgeous 17 y.o. Marin girl last weekend, about to graduate, who got drunk with her girlfriends about 20 minutes from my home, fell off the cliffs into the ocean, and washed up near Muir Beach.
Elizabeth doesn’t believe in God, though she does seem to have a belief in some things, and there was that powerful scene in the sweat lodge where she feels a glimmer of something larger than herself. Do you think it matters whether you do or you don’t believe, as long as you are open to the moment? And that being open to one moment, like in the sweat lodge, might make you open to more moments?
Yes, I do think there an many many ways to opening our hearts and awakening to the present--and Presence. To seek this presence, of a deep rich reality, the shimmering Now, is to find it. And then some commit to developing this sense of Life, and other people keep hitting the snooze button via workaholism or multi-tasking, which is absolutely life-destroying
For me, the novel was about the reality we create for ourselves—i.e. Rosie’s reality is that what she is doing isn’t so wrong, but James and Elizabeth reality about what she is doing is really something different. Rosie lies, but so does Elizabeth to James. You nail the fierce love parents have for their kids, and the pain when those kids start to pull away into their own lives (as well they should) and their ignorance of the pain it causes their parents. How do you think it’s possible for anyone to really know the truth and reality of someone else’s life? And is there a way we can be better at it?
I don't know that we can really understand what it's like to be another person's, but we can see when people are exhibiting self-destruction and deceit. Parents have to be willing to risk not being the coolest parent on the block, in order to set healthy boundaries, and to impose appropriate consequences for lying, stealing, smoking, etc. A lot of parents so desperately need their kid's affection that they (maybe unconsciously) don't see what their kids are up to--don't see the cries for help, the out-of-controlledness. They don't want to fight with their kids, or have their kids pull away, and so they keep their heads in the sand, or get it to come out OK in their minds--ANYthing that will keep the appearance of closeness: anything to avoid making waves. But as I said, another 17 year old died this weekend.

I’m intensely curious about process, so can you talk a little bit about yours in writing Imperfect Birds? And can you talk about what you are working on now?
Well, novels as you know are a lot harder than stories or essays--it takes close to 3 years, and you never quite know what you're doing. I really try to commit to my characters, and capturing each one's voice and truth, instead of committing to a finished novel. It can be a nightmare for a lot of the process, because you're trying to keep so many plates spinning in the air. So I just to get a day's work done everyday. I let myself write incredibly shitty drafts. I ask one or two cherished writer-friends for feedback. I read novels, to see how other people handle tough stories of being human, and in families, and community; how we survive unsurvivable loss, how we grow, how we age, how we heal, how we keep our senses of humor. And I write everything over, and over, and over; and rely DEEPLY on great editing.
What question didn’t I ask that I really and truly should have?

You could ask how Sam is doing! He is 20 now, a student of industrial design at an art academy in San Francisco, and he and his girlfriend have an 8 month old baby boy, who (along with Sam) is the apple of my eye. His name is Jax; my grandma name is Nana.

5/6/11

What a week!

Since last writing, I submitted my novel changes, heard back that they won't be read for about a month, (some distance is needed for a fresh perspective), took the novel back to fuss over, wrote new pages, had those looked at, and am getting ready to go over the entire book all over again to resubmit to fresh eyes in June. Whew! Add to that my fourth round of revisions on my romantic comedy screenplay, a tough call on another script that I am working on, and sleepless nights with a dog that has hot spots! It's finally Friday, and I am properly knackered.

One thing that I have realized though is that I am always more tired when I have things to deal with that are stressing me. Who isn't? I want to avoid them because I am tired, but in avoiding them I feel badly and even more drained. So I've decided that no matter how tired I am, or how little sleep I get, when I wake up, I have to just get up and get on with it and tackle that mountain of work. Hence being at this desk since 5:30am.

This weekend, I am going to knock a few more things off my list in...I will enjoy it more if I do!

Have a great weekend!
 
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