Book Review: Brunch at Ruby’s by DL White

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 09.55.15DL White has done it: written a wonderful book about friendship and all its foibles in such a way that you don’t want the book to end. In Brunch at Ruby’s, we meet lifelong friends Debra, Renee and Maxine when all three are a crossroads in their lives: Maxine is convinced she’s met Mr. Right (based on standards her mother has instilled in her since her youth–wealthy and cultured and above her station), Debra has been caught in a clinch with her lover and the shit is about to hit the fan at the school where she’s principal (especially since her lover is the Athletic Director at the school) and Renee is struggling to deal with her father and his quickly declining case of dementia.

White takes us through the highs and lows of the women’s lives in alternating points of view and does so with a deft hand. There is NO head-hopping here; instead, we have confidently drawn characters whose voices are unique and whose storylines are differentiated enough that we understand all the time whose story we’re following. This pleases me as there are far too many books out there told from alternating POV in which less confident authors jump from head to head mid-paragraph and end up confusing readers.

What I love about Brunch at Ruby’s is that DL White has taken everyday life and made it so compelling that you don’t want to put the book down. This is a story every woman can relate to–the ups and downs of friendships, marriage problems, dealing with ageing parents–and it does so without becoming maudlin or predictable. Loved this book! Looking forward to DL White’s next release!

My rating?

5_Star

6 IR/MC love stories to read to get your heart racing for Valentine’s Day

shutterstock_152210192I’m not one of those women who usually get so worked up over Valentine’s Day. Hard to believe, right? Especially since I write romantic fiction. But I’ve never been a big fan of the commercial aspect of a day dedicated to love. It could also do with having had a high school boyfriend who’d break up with me just before Valentine’s Day and Christmas so he wouldn’t have to spend money on presents. Good thing I wised up and left him behind. But I do love reading (and writing) love stories, so I thought I’d give you some suggestions for IR/MC novels to get you in the mood for love. Are you ready?

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5: Again for the First Time by Raven St. Pierre

Again for the First Time Cover

What would you do if a stranger approached you and, instead of asking  you for directions, he asked you to marry him? That’s exactly what happens to Lissette when the very handsome Luke proposes to her on a very emotional afternoon when she’s just found out that her ex is now engaged and moving on with someone new.

What neither Lissette nor Luke expect is that she says yes. Suddenly she and Luke are embarking on a journey that has them married within two weeks of meeting.  Jumping into the unknown with nothing but blind faith and a burgeoning attraction for one another, their unconventional relationship leaves their friends and families wondering if they know what they’re doing. And the two must learn to get to know (and trust) one another–even when the odds are stacked against them.

It’s a quirky love story that–even with its improbable scenario–has you falling in love with Lissy and Luke and hoping their newfound love will stand the test of time. Raven St. Pierre does a great job of carrying the reader along the bumpy road of Lissy and Luke’s marriage. A great love story–sexy without being overly graphic, with two well-drawn characters whose flaws make you love them.

4: The Sweetest Taboo by Harper Miller

HarperMillercoverNow I am usually not very interested in BDSM novels, but Harper Miller has done something very interesting here by creating two characters who go into the relationship on equal footing–despite Rick being the dom and Micah being the sub. From the moment they meet in a New York City fetish club, it’s obvious that fate will pull strings and make sure these two will cross paths again.

Like I said, I don’t usually find BDSM novels very appealing, but Miller succeeds in creating two very intriguing characters in Rick and Micah. Also, she takes us into the heart of what has brought them into this world of submission and domination without making the reader lose sight of the fact that this is a love story–a very erotic love story, but a love story from beginning to end.

The Kiss

3: Yours by Tia Kelly

Yours CoverIf you’re more in the mood for a quick read that’s smart, sexy and unputdownable, then this is the novella for you. A chance encounter between two people in need of a second chance at love, Yours chronicles how a one-night stand leads to something more for good girl Theresa Clarke and the very sexy, brooding Spaniard, Javier Fernandez.

After spending a very passionate night together, neither expects to see the other again, but–as is always the case with a good love story–fate decides to bring them together again. There’s off-the-chart chemistry between Theresa and Javier–and even when she tries to deny it, Theresa knows she cannot ignore the feelings she has for him. The same is true for Javier–the desire he feels for Theresa pushes him to pursue her, even when she initially says they cannot see one another or when she assumes all he wants from her is a glorified booty call. Sexy and smartly written, this is one must-read novella.

2: Addicted Allison by Noelle Black

Addicted AllisonI thought I was the only black woman writing sexy stories featuring black women and Nordic men, but Noelle Black has joined me. 😉 Her novella, Addicted Allison, is set in world of luxury hotels and the heroine, Allison, blows off steam after long work days as the creative director for a hospitality design firm by meeting men online for one reason alone–sex.

Enter Mattias, a Swede with a big personality and a love of curvy black women. Mattias is enthralled with Allison and all too soon he makes it clear he doesn’t want to share her with anyone else. Her sexy encounter with him has her questioning what she really wants…and could have her going down a very different path than she initially intended.

This is a cleverly written erotic romance that’s more than a just sexy story. It also goes into the expat experience from a black woman’s perspective and gives us an open-ended but satisfying ending that leaves room to explore more of Allison’s adventures.

1: Maybe BabyMaybe Tonight by me

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Maybe Tonight Cover for WPYes, yes, I know, this smacks of blatant self-promotion but Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight fit the bill. I’m not going to review my own books, but I will tell you that you get to read both Laney and Mad’s sides of their love story–which definitely had an unusual start seeing as they met when she looking into finding a sperm donor to be the potential father of her future children. If you haven’t read Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to get to know their stories and maybe even get hooked on their different sort of love story.

Happy reading!

A girl’s gotta read… my 2015 TBR list…definitely a work in progress.

Happy New YearIn a few days, the clock will strike midnight and suddenly it’ll be a new year. 2015. Eek! Actually, I am not really afraid of the coming year. Since I gave up the practice of making resolutions, my life has been so much calmer.

The only thing I’ve decided I’ll do (besides write more) is take part in the 2015 Read Harder Challenge. I figure I need to be nudged out of my usual reading comfort zone every now and again.

Now, mind you, I usually forget about these challenges about a month into them, but I am going to see if this one sticks. I did tell myself a few years ago that I should read more non-fiction and since I’ve got an idea for a historical novel, I could always say it’s part of my research. 😉

So what’s this challenge? You have to read books that fit within certain boundaries. So here’s what I *think* I’ll be reading in 2015…

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 – (still working on this one…)

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 – God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (coming April 2015)

A collection of short stories God’s Gym by John Edgar Wideman

A book published by an indie press – Gravity by Raven St. Pierre

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQGiovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own  The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (coming in October 2015)

A book that takes place in Asia Salaam, Paris by Kavita Daswani

A book by an author from Africa The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

A microhistory A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-89 by Frederic Morton (not sure if this is a microhistory but it sounds intriguing)

A YA novel – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

A sci-fi novelHalf Way Home by Hugh Howey

A romance novel Fat Girl by Leigh Carron 

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade – Just Kids by Patti Smith

A book that is a retelling of a classic story – Entwined by Heather Dixon

An audiobookHome by Toni Morrison

A collection of poetry North: Poems by Seamus Heaney

A book that someone else has recommended to you – ‘Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma (recommended by Urenna Sanders–thanks!)

A book that was originally published in another language – The History of Danish Dreams by Peter Hoeg

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind –The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin, Ben Avery & Mike S. Miller

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure – Easy Virtue by Mia Asher

A book published before 1850 Love by Stendhal

A book published this year – Chasing Moments by Tia Kelly (coming in February 2015)

A self-improvement book Revision & Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell

Blog Tour: Pig Park by Claudia Martinez

dbt presents pig park

 

18528311Pig Park
Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

ISBN: 978-1935955764
Publisher: Cinco Punto Press
Pages: 256
Genre: YA Contemporary

Plot Summary:
It’s crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga hauls bricks to help build a giant pyramid in her neighborhood park. Her neighborhood is becoming more of a ghost town each day since the lard company moved away. Even her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls into this scheme in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. And then there’s the new boy who came to help. The one with the softest of lips. Pig Park is a contemporary Faustian tale that forces us to look at the desperate lengths people will go to in the name of community–and maybe love.

Book Links
Amazon: Purchase Link
Barnes & Noble: Purchase Link
Goodreads: Connect on Goodreads!
Book Depository: Pick up internationally!

10 Random Thing about Pig Park

1.   I first set out to write a play about a mom and pop bakery fighting for survival, needless to say it went a different direction.

2.  The protagonist’s name was Tomasina until–much like an old fashioned skirt–I shortened it.

3.  Pig Park’s working title was MasaAmerica–a play on the Spanish word for dough (masa) and Meso-America.

4.  I imagined the delicious marranitos (ginger pigs) from Bowie Bakery in my hometown of El Paso every time I sat and wrote about the marranitos at Burciaga’s.

5.  The marranito on the book’s cover is not from Bowie Bakery, rather from Gussie’s across town.

6.   Skinny pigs, sugar-free ginger pigs, are a made up delicacy.

7.   There was no pyramid in the initial draft of the novel.

8.   The pyramid was inspired by a man who walked into the community organization I worked at looking for sponsors to build exactly that.

9.   The real life pyramid was going to be a wood frame topped by thousands of candles.

10. Although I might not want to admit this, I’m most like the mom character in the novel. Yep, I’m a totally a mom.

Author Information 

Claudia GM Author Photo (2)Biography

Claudia is the author of The Smell of Old Lady Perfume (Cinco Puntos, 2008) and Pig Park (Cinco Puntos, 2014). She grew up in sunny El Paso, Texas where she learned that letters form words from reading the subtitles of old westerns with her father. She now lives and writes in Chicago.

Author Links
Website: http://www.claudiaguadalupemartinez.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Claudia-Guadalupe-Martinez/107095645999600
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maquilagorilla
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1010472.Claudia_Guadalupe_Martinez

Book Review: Lifted by Nia Forrester

LiftedWhen I first heard that Nia Forrester was working on Lifted and it would be the third book in the Secret series, I was ready to jump for joy–especially when I heard that this time the focus would be on Tessa, Trey’s younger, a tad bit irresponsible sister. Tessa was one of my favorite characters from Secret and the Art of Endings and I always wanted to know more about her.

This time, we find Tessa in San Francisco, avoiding the friends she’d moved there with since she has lost interest in the bakery they’d started together. Tessa’s living in a crappy apartment, waiting bar at a gay country-western bar called the Hood Range and involved with a woman called Lisa who refuses to come out of the closet. It’s fairly obvious that Tessa is dissatisfied in love and in life. With each of her therapy sessions with Dr. Young, we get a sense of a young woman who is frustrated, resentful and (though she would never admit it) afraid. She’s considering ending her relationship with Lisa because she knows they are destined to fail and whatever attraction she had for Lisa has faded with each time Tessa is forced to pretend she is just a friend. And Tessa doesn’t really see them as being in a relationship–they are just hooking up, with no real strings attached.

Enter Lisa’s younger, a tad bit irresponsible brother, Ty. While Tessa is initially forced to pretend she and Lisa are “just friends”, she finds herself drawn to Ty. There is definite chemistry between them–which Tessa tries to deny at first. She has so thoroughly defined who she is by the fact that she has always been attracted to women that what she feels for Ty unsettles her. And his being Lisa’s brother doesn’t really help things. Soon Tessa and Ty are hanging out, hiding their friendship from Lisa, spending most nights together and growing more and more attached to one another without realizing it. Only Dr. Young and Anzu, Tess’s closest friend, seem to be able to see that what’s going on between Tessa and Ty is more than just friendship and sooner or later Tessa will have to face the music.

I really loved how Nia handled the most complicated question in Lifted: how do we define ourselves? Are we defined simply by who we usually have sex with, or by who we love? This is an issue that Tessa struggles with throughout Lifted and it rings true without ever making the reader feel like Tessa is someone who should not be taken seriously. Tessa and Ty’s relationship and how it grows makes for an interesting story. And how those around them react to it, plus the secrets both keep and how they are revealed….it’s a compelling novel. You’ll find it difficult to put down.

Kudos to Nia for taking on such a charged topic and creating such a beautiful love story. The demanding reader in me wants to read more about Ty and Tessa, but the ending was so satisfying. Sometimes we don’t need to know everything. Imagining the continuation of the adventure is equally fulfilling.

My rating:

5_Star

Cover Reveal: Fear of Heights by Mara White

 

Title: Fear of Heights (Book 2 in Heightsbound Series)
Author: Mara White
Genre: Erotica
Publication Date: September 16, 2014

 

What are you willing to sacrifice for love?

Your family? Your freedom? What about your life?

She’s a wealthy, forty-three-year-old Upper East Sider with a PhD – He’s a twenty-three-year-old Dominican drug dealer from Washington Heights.

Kate Champion always did exactly what was expected of her. She was the perfect wife, the perfect mother – until the day she met Jaylee Inoa.

Their journey travels a path riddled with danger, deceit, scandal and loss – where nothing is as it seems. Yet Kate and Jaylee’s passion for one another remains nearly unstoppable.

Will this daring pair of lovers from two different worlds triumph over circumstance? Can they deny the past in their quest to be together? Or is fear the ultimate navigator – a force more powerful than love?

I’m a reader, a writer, and a lover of all things romantic. I’m also a coffee, hot sauce, ink, telenovela and Bikram Yoga enthusiast. I live in New York City with my husband and two children, and I spend a lot of time on the playground.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heightsbound

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authormarawhite

Author Website: marawhite.com

Author GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7372906.Mara_White

What I Read When I Read About Love

Our Valentine's Day at the Avenue Hotel. Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

I know, I am a few days late–but I was in Copenhagen celebrating Valentine’s Day with my gorgeous hubby. I won a Valentine’s Day stay at Avenue Hotel, a design boutique hotel in Copenhagen’s Fredriksberg district. The stay included a cozy tower room at the hotel (breakfast included), champagne, pastries from Strangas Dessert Boutique and an amazing dinner at Höst. Needless to say, inspiration came to me while I was there and there will definitely be a a follow-up to Maybe Baby.

But while I was there, I starting thinking about which books would be on my Books About Love 2014 list–if I had one.

 

Sex in the Title CoverSex in the Title by Zack Love – a satirical rom-com set in New York City in the 1990s that revolves around the romantic adventures (and misadventures) of five guys who think they are going to conquer the world. Since it’s set in the 90s, the New York we find is pre-smart phone, the Twin Towers are still standing and there’s a wonderful air of nostalgia (perfect for someone like me who was a teenager in the 1980s and in college and grad school in the 1990s). Contrary to the title, the book is not all about sex. It’s more about the pie in the sky ambitions and goals we set for ourselves when we’re young and naive and what happens when we are finally faced with reality. Now, how can this be a rom-com then? Well, Zack Love interweaves the tales of five friends and their pursuit of love. Yes, there are foibles, nothing is perfect–even the people who almost seem too perfect are just as flawed as you want them to be. This is a book with so many laugh-out-loud moments as you are reminded of your own romantic foibles and dreams of youth. Bravo, Zack!

 

cover-jod-webcover-joy-webJust One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Wonderful books about Allyson and Willem, who meet by chance in the UK during an open-air performance of Shakespeare and what happens when Willem convinces Allyson to do something unexpected–go to Paris with him even if it’s just for one day. What happens during that day and, in the next book, as they try to reconnect, is amazing. If you liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you’ll love these books.

 

Is Marriage coverIs Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriae Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks – The title alone is enough to stop you in your tracks but there is more to this book than meets the eye. It is an interesting study of love and marriage within the African-American community and how antiquated ideas of the black woman’s place in society had led to a decline in marriage within the community and the implications it has on US society. Banks questions why it is considered acceptable for African-American men to marry outside of their race while the same is not always true for African-American women. He also examines the mixed messages sent to young men and women by the media, their families, the church, etc about their place in society. So why do I consider it a book about love? Because quite a bit of the book examines why African-American women may maintain friendships or be attracted to men of other races but will not, or are reluctant to, pursue relationships with these men. Since I write a lot about interracial relationships, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that social pressure can prevent someone from seeking love.

 

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024The Flavors of Love by Dorothy Koomson – Dorothy Koomson has always said that what she writes is heart fiction–not simply women’s fiction. Her books are always about love and the choices we make because of love. This book is more suspense than romance–the story revolves around Saffron Mackleroy, a widow whose husband was murdered eighteen months prior to the start of the novel. On the outside, Saffron looks like she’s coping well with her situation–she’s even decided to finish writing the cookbook her husband was working on. But then her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe gets in trouble at school and confesses to something that begins to tear apart the semblance of normalcy Saffron is trying to maintain. And then the person convicted of killing Saffron’s husband begins sending her letters and claiming to be innocent. It’s easy to get hooked by The Flavors of Love. I know I did! Another great one, Dorothy! Can’t wait for your next book. 🙂

That’s it for now! What books would you put on your Books About Love list?

Three More Books to Read This Summer

You all know how much of a book nerd I am. I proudly fly my book nerd flag. 🙂 So while everyone else around me has been going clubbing or sailing or disappearing to summer houses or the Greek islands (and all those other things Stockholmers do when it’s summer), I’ve been working and reading. You may remember I took two weeks off in June, went to Italy, wrote and lived la dolce vita. Since then, I’ve been working, working, working and taking the occasional weekend trip. And all the while I’ve been reading. 🙂

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Cover of Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Love Minus Eighty – Will McIntosh

It’s been a while since I read any sci-fi novels. None has really jumped out at me. So I was really pleased when I heard about Love Minus Eighty through a Twitter connection. The story is set in a future version of New York where one’s love life is as closely monitored like a reality TV show and death isn’t always the end–especially if you’re an attractive woman on the right side of thirty. This addictive novel follows the stories of several interconnected characters as they try to figure out romantic love in an age where technology has taken over. This is not your usual sci-fi novel. It reads more like speculative literary fiction and is a real page-turner. I loved sinking my teeth into it, and I think you will too. The world presented is like Facebook on crack…no, more like Facebook on the most psychedelic drug you could imagine. Hats off to Will McIntosh for such a brilliantly written novel! This was the first time I’d ever read his work and I am already a fan. 🙂

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Cover of French Kissing by Catherine Sanderson

French Kissing – Catherine Sanderson

French Kissing is not a new book. It was originally published in 2009, but I only just heard about it a few weeks ago. I was thinking about booking a weekend trip to Paris and stumbled upon a short interview with Catherine Sanderson and her experiences as an expat living in France. And as an expat living in Stockholm, I always find it fun to read books about others wading in the murky waters of another country’s culture and unwritten rules of society. And Sally, French Kissing‘s heroine, is doing just that while also trying to raise her four-year-old daughter Lila and maintain an amicable relationship with her ex, the faithless Nico. While Nico has moved on with two other women, Sally hasn’t dated and decides it’s time to take the plunge and rejoin the dating market. She does so via Rendez-Vous, the French version of match.com. We follow Sally through a few dreadful dates, a few not-qute-right-but-nice-enough dates and all the while get an idea of what it’s like to date in a foreign language. Sanderson does a great job of giving the reader insight into how the French (and especially Parisians) date and what it’s like raising a bilingual child while also trying to maneuver as a newly single mum. Sally is an extremely likable character. She is definitely not an all-too perfect Mary Sue. And her journey from coupledom to singledom while looking for love is an addictive read!

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Cover of S.G. Redling’s Damocles

I first heard about the plot of Damocles during a Matera brainstorming session. I thought the story–of a crew on a one-way expedition into deep space mission to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence–was intriguing. I couldn’t wait for the book to finally come out, and it doesn’t disappoint. Linguist Meg Dupris and her crew have the daunting task of making first contact with the humanoid inhabitants of Didet, an earth-like planet with eternal sunlight. But first they must overcome the Didetos’ fear that the “earthers” are there as invaders…and they must find a way to communicate when there is no common language. The story moves quickly, with Meg and Loul, a Dideto who predicted that “aliens” would come, struggling to figure out how to interact and learn from one another–and realizing they have more in common than they think. What I really liked with Damocles is how the story is told from both Meg and Loul’s perspective. So we get a very interesting view of just how first contact might be. Two thumbs up!

OK! That’s it for now! Happy reading (and writing)!

Another book found via Twitter: review of True Vines by Diana Strinati Baur

ImageA few months ago I saw a post on Twitter from Gemelli Press and the title of the book it mentioned–True Vinesintrigued me. Being the consummate book nerd that I am, I became completely engulfed with finding out about this book. I tried to do so on my iPhone while sitting on the subway but the WiFi connection kept disappearing (what a luxury problem!), so I decided to wait until I was in the office to continue my search.

True Vines is a beautifully written novel by Diana Strinati Baur that tells the story of Meryl, an expat American dealing with the sudden death of her Italian winemaker husband. Instead of remaining in Italy and taking care of the vineyard, Meryl returns to her hometown in Pennsylvania, where she hopes to start fresh and repair the strained relationship she has with her sister, Janie. But already from the onset, Meryl begins to doubt whether coming home was a good idea. She is unable to push aside the memories of her life in Italy and, in her hometown, she keeps bumping into the very people who led to her exodus from Pennsylvania in the first place. But even with difficulties of readjusting to life in America after having lived a much freer life in Italy, Meryl finds that sometimes life has a way of surprising her with new acquaintances and recollections of the life she had prior to meeting Francesco, the Italian who changed her life.

Each chapter in True Vines reads like a short story. And perhaps it’s the references to winemaking that make me wish I had a glass of red wine–a barbera perhaps?–and a plate of antipasti to savour while I read.

So if you’re looking for literary women’s fiction that will touch your heart and transport you to a vineyard in autumnal fog or a sleepy town in Pennsylvania nestled on the banks of the Delaware River, then you should pick up a copy of True Vines. It’s beautifully written and paints evocative images with light, deft strokes. 

My rating? A definite 5-star novel. Absolutely loved it!

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Happy reading (and writing)!

Happy Mother’s Day, Barbs!

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My mom, Barbara Golden

I don’t usually write about my mom here but I thought it was a good idea since it is Mother’s Day. My mom and I don’t see each other so often since I live in Sweden and she is still in Philadelphia. But once or twice a year, when I am in Philly, I drive her crazy with telling her what to do (like take more walks since her doctor said she should) and she drives me crazy by hovering when I try to cook dinner for her. We bicker with one another but we know we love each other.

When I first told my mom I wanted to be a writer, she thought I meant I wanted to be a journalist. Heck, I thought I wanted to be a journalist too. I thought I could be a clever news reporter by day and a novelist by night. When I was in high school, I won the chance to take part in a semester-long journalism workshop at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. While it was interesting, I realized I didn’t want to be a reporter. I wanted to be novelist. My mom (and my dad) wanted me to have a job with a steady income–I think she really wanted me to be an accountant or a lawyer. But I didn’t have a head for numbers and I thought courtroom antics were boring. Plus, I had this aversion to having to represent anyone I thought was guilty. And when I was in college, everyone I knew in law school always looked miserable. I didn’t want to be miserable. I wanted to be happy writing short stories and novels.

So when I told my mother I was going to graduate school to study creative writing, she was a little concerned. How would I support myself once I graduated? Would I be able to find a job that would pay enough to cover my student loans? While she tried to get me to see reason, she didn’t try to force me into something that wouldn’t make me happy. I think she realized that sending me to a high school that specialized in engineering and science was a big mistake since I didn’t understand anything while I was there. I am still amazed I graduated with as good of grades as I received. I felt lost the entire time.

My mom grew up in Smithfield, Virginia and moved to Philadelphia when she was a teenager. She didn’t get a chance to go to college until she was older and had already raised three kids. My granddad was a bit old school and didn’t believe in paying for his oldest daughter to go to college. He thought she would just drop out and get married. But going to college was always important to my mom, and she encouraged all of us to go–she didn’t want us to be stuck like a lot of other kids in similar situations. She wanted us to see the world and to experience new things. I watched her studying for her courses and it increased my interest in going to college. So–even if I didn’t always tell her this–she was a role model for me. I saw how she worked during the day and went to school in the evening, and I knew I could study too. I knew I could do whatever it took to get an education.

I never used to let my mom read the stories I wrote. I thought she would be shocked or angry about anything I wrote, especially since whatever was going on in my life usually ended up in my fiction. And my mom is more conservative than I am. But when she read my graduate thesis, she didn’t raise an eyebrow at the stories–not even the ones that were a little graphic. She just told me how proud she was of me. And that made me feel like I was doing the right thing.

So I hope my mom is having an awesome Mother’s Day in Philadelphia. I’m pretty sure my brother and sister have done something nice for her. I will treat Barbs to something nice when I am next in Philadelphia. I keep telling her that Tord and I are going to take her away from everything for a few days. Maybe we’ll actually succeed this time. 🙂

Love you, Mom! 🙂