09.15.2016

How Much Of Your Book Is True?

Hello everyone,

Today I’m handing my blog over to author Brandi Megan Granett.  She’s an excellent writer and a regular contributor to Huffington Post. Most importantly, if you need a tin can shot straight off a tree stump with an arrow, she’s your gal. Brandi is an archer and bows and arrows are her thing.

In this blog, Brandi is addressing the question I get all the time, which is, “How much of your book is true?”

So, friends, here is Brandi to talk about her latest novel, Triple Love Score, truth, fiction, her real life, romance, and Scrabble.

 

How Much of Your Book Is True?

by Brandi Megan Granett

When Triple Love Score, my first “romance” novel made the rounds to book bloggers and interviews, one question kept popping up in my inbox:  is any of this book true?  While Miranda’s journey to find out what she really wants echoes my own, her finding internet fame with a Scrabble board and seducing a man or two along the way, isn’t my story.  Her story though was born out of my own love story, and my desire to create something that reflected the choices I found myself able to make after a rough divorce as I stood the precipice of a fairy tale happy ending.

My feelings about fairy tales could be called mixed at best.  I am a sucker for fancy dresses and love the fairy godmother’s magical wisdom.  But the whole love at first sight concept rubs me raw.  What if you miss it, you know, turn head slightly to the left or look over Prince Charming’s shoulder instead.  And what do you really know at first sight anyway?

I met my ultimate prince charming one night at a going-off-to-college party for a friend.  I found Avram in the kitchen making chicken Parmesan at midnight at the behest of a stoner friend eager for a midnight snack.  We bonded over burnt chicken and dirty dishes, our mutual sobriety despite our “animal house” surroundings, and the strong, yet opposing, religious faiths our families raised us in.  When I returned to college, I mailed him a recipe for blueberry muffins in the care of my best girlfriend from high school.  When I never heard back, I didn’t think much of it. How many nineteen year olds, even dorky sober ones, had pen pals before the internet?

We caught back up with each other the following year at a house Avram shared with my best girlfriend and another roommate, a hot guy with long curly dark hair.  We reconnected over a love of food and writing; I marveled at my luck at finding this interesting person again.

Later that night, my girlfriend slipped off with another guy into the bedroom I was supposed to share with her, leaving me no place to sleep as their place didn’t even contain a couch or a carpet on the floor.  When the rest of the group broke up for the night, it wasn’t Avram who offered me a space in his bed, but the attractive and somewhat brooding roommate did—the offer being one of only things he said to me that night aside from a nodded hello.

In the year prior, my dorky, sober self gave way to some traditional college impulses.  I found the whole package alluring.

“Sure,” I said to the hot guy.

So began the triumvirate that shaped life: my future husband, my new best friend, and me.  I could have sex with the hot, complicated guy and hang out with the sober, nice guy—a pattern that lasted for the next nineteen years.

Once, a woman at a party leaned in close and asked, “Are you all just friends, or is it something more interesting?”

“It’s not like that,” I said.

“Oh,” she said with a tone of disappointment before turning back to her Pinot Gris.

Soon after, we agreed to call ourselves siblings to thwart any misguided rumors we didn’t want to explain to my seven year old.

The next Christmas, Avram gave me a bracelet marked, my sister, my friend.

I cried at the sentiment; genetics aside, the description fit.

After hearing about our friendship, my therapist asked whether there was ever any spark between Avram and me.  “Do you hold hands? Anything?”

“No,” I said shaking my head, “Nothing.”  I told her about a recent archery tournament.  My score plunged dramatically, and I dissolved into a puddle of tears and frustration.  I collapsed against Avram for a hug.   His whole body went rigid; he patted my back awkwardly.  It felt like hugging a board.  A friendly board, but a board nonetheless.  No chemistry, no spark, nothing that hinted at romantic love.

Things with the hot complicated guy didn’t really get any better.  He stayed hot and complicated.  We argued. We got married.  We argued. We had a baby.  We argued.  She grew.  We argued.  After so many years and a bunch of counseling, I realized that hot and complicated didn’t always work for a marriage.

I asked for a divorce.

When I told Avram, he didn’t believe me at first.  He offered the same old protest: “But he loves you.”

“Maybe. But it isn’t enough.  It isn’t like this.”

I gestured to the space between us.  While devoid of chemistry, that space radiated love.  During my pregnancy when the doctors ordered bed rest, Avram took off from work and sat at the end of my bed, keeping me company while assuring me the baby would be fine.  He laughed at my jokes and read the stories I wrote.  After I hurt myself playing soccer, he took to coming to my games to make sure I was okay, and because I played soccer with reckless abandon, he more than once took me to the hospital the day after.  When I took Statistics, he ordered the textbook and tried to work along side me to cheer me on.  When I took up archery, he practiced right along side me.

I looked at him that night and saw all of these connections between us.  All of this love between us.  A light bulb moment—all of those things meant love.  The actual every day work of love, not the fireworks fairy tales teach us to expect. And with a flash, I understood I wanted this love, even if our lack of chemistry meant we would live like old cat ladies together.  The together mattered more than any sparks.

“What are you going to do after I’m divorced?” I asked him.  “Are you going to step up or just hope the next guy is as accommodating as the last one?”

“No,” he said.  “Things don’t work like that.” Then he left.

The next day we argued—our first and only time—back and forth via email.  Like many of our conversations, the argument debated a metaphor about writing.

“Maybe we can write a new story.  Maybe we can have a happy ending,” I protested.

“We can’t risk this,” he said.  “You’re my best friend.  And life isn’t a fairy tale.”

But then night came, and exhausted, I shut down the computer believing that maybe he was right; fairy tales didn’t happen in real life.

In the morning, I found this in my inbox, “Life, especially the life we choose, evolves, changes, picks-up new chapters, retells old stories, but it doesn’t have an ending – we’re living it.  The story is about the journey. The story highlights humanity.  Friendship, addiction, adversity, courage, growth, drive, cowardice, pain, song, laughter, silliness, happiness but mainly love. I love the heroine, and I love the story.”

It would be easy to rue the time we spent as only friends as wasted or lost, but doing so would invalidate some pretty wonderful things like my lovely daughter and all the amazing things we did share in our friendship.  I could try to re-write this story as something else, as a fairy tale where dark forces kept us from finding true love, but that wouldn’t be true either.  As much as the love we’ve found feels like something out of a story, I don’t want it to be the kind from a fairy tale.  No offense to love at first sight, but there’s something to be said for taking the long way around.

So I turned to fiction to capture these feelings, the emotional echo behind my own story through Miranda’s in Triple Love Score.  And I hope this answers the question about how much of my novel is true.  In some ways, none of it is true.  And in other ways, it all is.

 

From Cathy Lamb…

A passage I loved that Brandi wrote:

I am filled with a passionate desire to share one key idea with the world.  This idea is that thoughts are things.  The very stuff we fill our minds with spills out and fills our worlds.  By learning what we are thinking and where those thoughts come from, we can change our experiences within the world.

One way to make this happen is to study and revise the stories we tell ourselves.  Just as we can examine a story or film and suss out the meaning behind it, we can do the same for our internal stories.  Once we have experience something, it lives on in us, influencing us, and how we perceive the world as a form of a story.  We can stop being just characters in those stories and become their authors.

Visit with Brandi –

Brandi’s website:  http://www.brandigranett.com/#home
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09.14.2016

Come And Visit With Me

Come and visit with me! I will be at Powell’s Books in Cedar Hills, in Beaverton, Oregon, on Monday, October 3 at 7:00 chatting about my new book, “The Language of Sisters.” Would love to see you there, of course. I PROMISE I will not drone on. It’ll be shortish and I’ll try to think of something entertaining to say.

I will also be at Jan’s Paperbacks on Saturday, October 8th at 1:00 chatting about – ta da! – the same book. Aloha Villa Shopping Center, 18095 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy, Beaverton, OR 97006. If you would like to order a signed and personalized copy of my book from Jan’s, here are the details.http://janspaperbacks.com/node/409

Hope to see you all, I really do. Cheers.

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09.13.2016

Win 32 Books With Liz and Lisa

Liz Clark Fenton and Lisa Steinke Dannenfeldt THANK YOU for including my novel, The Language of Sisters, which almost drove me straight out of my own bleepin’ mind when I was writing it, on your Best Books list. It’s an honor to be here. Me and my odd imagination thank you for it.

READERS, copy and paste the link to enter a contest to WIN all 32 books on the list.

http://www.lizandlisa.com/blog/2016/9/best-books-of-the-month-september-edition

 

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09.12.2016

A Dating Daughter And A Vampire

There are some things you just cannot be prepared for as a parent. The other day Rebel Dancing Daughter said to me, “Mom, how would you feel if I started dating a vampire?”

Sigh. Well, gee whiz. I don’t know. Protect your neck? Stay away from Transylvania? They’re rather pale, are you sure?

Where was the answer to this question in all the parenting books I read?

 

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09.12.2016

Giveaway – The Language of Sisters and Henry’s Sisters

Fun giveaway through my publishing house, Kensington Publishing, in New York City if you’d like to enter.

Copy and paste this link, log into facebook     http://kensingtonbooks.tumblr.com/cathylamb

The Language of Sisters, Henry’s Sisters, and three vases.

Cheers and good luck!

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09.08.2016

Henry’s Sisters, On Sale, Cheap and Sweet

Greetings, all!

Henry’s Sisters is now out in mass market paperback. So cheap, on sale, $4.58. The kindle edition is also on sale, only $4.99. Yet again, cheap.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Henrys-Sisters-Cathy-Lamb/dp/1496707842/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Here’s an excerpt, written from the point of view of Isabelle Bommarito, who truly has some issues:

I grabbed my lighter with the red handle from the kitchen, lighter fluid, a water bottle, my lacy bra and thong, and opened the French doors to my balcony. The wind and rain hit like a mini hurricane, my braids whipping around my cheeks.

One part of my balcony is covered, so it was still dry. I put the bra and thong in the usual corner on top of a few straggly, burned pieces of material from another forgettable night on a wooden plan and flicked the lighter on. The bra and thong smoked and blackened and wiggled and fizzled and flamed.

When they were cremated, I doused them with water from the water bottle. No sense burning down the apartment building. That would be bad.

I settled into a metal chair in the uncovered section of my balcony, the rain sluicing off my naked body, and gazed at the sky scrapers, wondering how many of those busy, brain – fried, robotic people were staring at me.

Working in a skyscraper was another way of dying early, my younger sister, Janie, would say. “It’s like the elevators are taking you up to hell.”

Right out of college she got a job as a copywriter for a big company on the twenty ninth floor of a skyscraper in Los Angeles and lasted two months before her weasely, squirmy boss found the first chapter of her first thriller on her desk.

The murderer is a copywriter for a big company on the twenty ninth floor of a skyscraper in Los Angeles. In the opening paragraphs she graphically describes murdering her supercilious, condescending, snobby boss who makes her feel about the size of a slug and how his body ends up in a trash compactor, his legs spread like a pickled chicken, one shoe off, one red high heel squished on the other foot.

That was the murderer’s calling card.

No one reports his extended absence, including his wife, because people hate him as they would hate a gang of worms in their coffee.

Janie was fired that day, even though she protested her innocence. That afternoon she sat down and wrote the rest of the story, nonstop, for three months. When she emerged from her apartment, she’d lost twenty pounds, was pale white, and muttering.

At four months she had her first book contract. When the book was published, she sent it to her ex boss and wrote, “Thanks, dickhead! With love, Janie Bommarito,” on the inside cover.

It became a best seller.

She became a recluse because she is obsessive and compulsive and needs to indulge all her odd habits privately.

The recluse had received a flowery lemon – smelling pink letter, too. So had Cecilia, whose brain connects with mine.

The rain splattered down on me, the wind twirly whirled, and I raised the Kahlua bottle to my lips again. “I love Kahlua,” I said out loud as I watched the water river down my body, creating a little pool in the area of my crotch where my legs crossed. I flicked the rain away with my hand, watched it pool again, flicked it.

This entertained me for a while. Off in the distance I saw a streak of lightning, bright and dangerous.

It reminded me of the time when my sisters and I ran through a lightning storm to find Henry in a tree.

I laughed, even though that night had not been funny. It had been hideous. It had started with a pole dance and ended with squishy white walls.

I laughed again, head thrown back, until I cried, my hot tears running down my face off my chin, onto my boobs, and down my stomach. They landed in the pool between my legs and I flicked the rain and tear mixture away again. The tears kept coming and I could feel the darkness, darkness so familiar to me, edging its way back in like a liquid nightmare.

I did not want to deal with the pink letter that smelled of her flowery, lemony perfume.

 

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09.06.2016

Gardening, Stress, And A Delphinium

I woke up yesterday and decided that I should plant 400 bulbs to make myself feel better. I needed to feel better.

I planted daffodils. Red and yellow tulips. Two frothy blue flowers.

And crocuses. I love crocuses because when they pop up I know that winter is ending.

It was me and the dirt and the sun and my 400 bulbs.

I planted most of them in the backyard as I’ve added a ton of dirt to a newly cut border.

This summer gardening fever hit hard, the Garden Nerd in me cackled her way out, and I bought a red camellia, two magnolia trees (one died. Waaaa!), blue delphinium, soft pink hydrangeas, a cherry tree, and a bunch of flowering plants that I bought on the side of the road in the country for three bucks.

I didn’t know what they were, I bought them anyhow. Mystery plants.

Gardening takes my stress away. There is something about being covered in dirt, digging a hole with a shovel, and planting something that you know will grow that is soothing and comforting.

Gardening makes my life better, and so often I cannot make anything better.

Sometimes my problems can be fixed, resolved, eliminated, healed.

And sometimes it’s just a matter of living with them the best I can.

Sometimes I cannot write. I don’t have writer’s block exactly, but the words on the page are such crap I wonder why I don’t quit. Or I can’t get a character to move. Or I’m burned out and frazzled.

Sometimes life gets too stressful. Stressful enough that getting enough air down my lungs becomes a challenge. Negative enough to make me want to move to Montana and call it a day.

But a garden…now I can make that better. I can fix it.

In an hour, weeds can be picked and an area that wasn’t pretty is now pretty.

In half a day pots can be filled with geraniums, Alyssum, petunias, impatiens.

In a full day a new border can be dug, dirt dumped, arching trees and purple butterfly bushes added.

I can see improvement. I can take something dull and brown and fill it with delicate fuchsias, spiky ferns, and a gentle red rose.

I have so much more work to do in my garden, in my tiny patch of Earth. In fact, on the left side of my house I simply dumped part of a dump truck full of bark dust down to smother those incessant, pesky weeds.

But one day I want to build a patio and trellis so I can watch the sunset because I truly think that sunsets are a daily, shining gift and I too often miss out on that gift.

One day I want to cut out a curving design in the center of my grass so I can plant a pink tulip tree and add purple sage, blazing stars, hostas, and black eyed Susans.

One day I want to transform a stark corner with a wire fence around it into a book reading area.

But, for now, I’m delighted.

I have planted 400 bulbs.

I cannot wait for spring so I can see them again

 

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09.01.2016

Such A Pretty Face Is Only $2.99 Today

Friends,

I almost forgot!

Such A Pretty Face is on sale today for only $2.99, on Kindle.

How would you feel if you lost 170 pounds? Stevie Barrett did. Her whole life changed.

This is the second chapter of the book…

 

I am going to plant a garden this summer.

With the exception of two pink cherry trees, one white cherry tree, and one pink tulip tree, all huge, I have a barren, dry backyard and I’m tired of looking at it. I almost see it as a metaphor for my whole life, and I think if I can fix this, I can fix my life. Simplistic, silly, I know, but I can’t get past it.

So I’m going to garden even if my hands shake as if there are live circuits inside of them and a floppy yellow hat dances through my mind.

I’m going to build upraised beds, a whole bunch of them, and fill them with tomatoes, squash, zucchini, radishes, lettuce, carrots, peas, and beans. But not corn.

I’m not emotionally able to do corn yet, too many memories, but I am going to plant marigolds around the borders, and pink and purple petunias, rose bushes and clematis and grape vines.

I’m going to stick two small crosses at the back fence but not for who you think. I’m going to build a grape arbor with a deck beneath it, and then I’m going to add a table so I can paint there, as I used to. I’m also going to build three trellises for climbing roses over a rock pathway, one arch for me, Grandma, and Grandpa, which will lead to another garden,  with cracked china plates in a mosaic pattern in the middle of a concrete circle, for Sunshine.

This may sound way too ambitious.

It is. But I see this as my last chance to get control of my mind before it blows.

I can wield any type of saw out there, and I have to do this, even if it takes me years. That I can even think in terms of a future, when I used to see only a very short, messy future, is a miracle.

Why? Because two and a half years ago, when I was thirty two years old, I had a heart attack

I used to be the size of a small, depressed cow.

The heart attack led to my stomach strangling operation and I lost one hundred and seventy pounds. Now I am less than half myself, in more ways than one.

My name is Stevie Barrett.

This is a story of why I was the way I was and how I am now me.

I am going to plant a garden.

 

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09.01.2016

Huffington Post, Secrets, And The Language of Sisters

Thanks to Huffington Post and writer Brandi Megan Granett for this interview. I can’t seem to copy and paste the original to here…technology can be tricky for me. So baffling. So confusing. Here’s the original link to it:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-language-of-sisters-an-interview-with-cathy-lamb_us_57c5be66e4b0c936aabaf407

 

The Language of Sisters:  A Conversation with Cathy Lamb

By Brandi Megan Granett

In Cathy Lamb’s beautiful new novel, The Language of Sisters, she weaves together a tale of family, following sisters, Toni, Valerie, and Ellie Kozlovsky, as they grapple with their family’s past in the Soviet Union and their own futures. 

The Kozlovsky sisters find the power of love to carry them through, and readers will be swept along on the journey, too!

The Language of Sisters features such a diverse cast.  How did you pick these women to create?  Who did you have the most fun with?

I am one of three sisters.  And, I’ll have to say, so peace can be maintained, and no swords will be wielded, that none of the sisters in my book are based on me or my sisters.  Truly. BUT, I do understand sisters, sister friendships, and sister dynamics. It can be a complicated and semi – crazy relationship.

I wanted each sister in the story to represent something, or many somethings, in women’s life journeys. For example, Valerie is a prosecuting attorney with two kids.  She’s juggling full time work, a demanding career, kids, and a husband.  That’s hard, it’s really tough.

Ellie Kozlovsky owns a business designing pillows.  She’s engaged, but is wrestling with whether or not she wants to be married…at all.  What will marriage give her? What will she have to give up? Does she want to give that up? Marriage asks for compromise and sacrifice. Does she want to do either? Is something wrong with her for not wanting to get married or is it perfectly fine that she is most happy on her own?  Does she want to have kids? Really? Is she allowing society’s messages to push her into marriage?

Toni, through whose eyes the story is told, is struggling with losing someone she loves, which happens to all of us, very unfortunately.  She lives on a yellow tugboat on the Willamette River in Portland, and she’s a reporter for a newspaper. She’s trying to breathe again after her life fell apart. Most of us have been there with Toni– the life falling apart and the trying to breathe again part.

Together the three sisters are part of a huge family, immigrants from Russia, with a ton of quirky and odd members who do quirky and odd things.  They’re funny. They cry. They fight. They laugh. So, it’s sister dynamics, and family dynamics, and all the complexities and laughter therein.

I had a lot of fun writing about the girls’ fiery mother, Svetlana, the Russian restaurant she owns, and how she puts the family’s problems up on the Specials board every night and admonishes her kids through her recipes for all to see.

Are secrets always dangerous?

No. Secrets aren’t always dangerous at all.

I absolutely think that some secrets should be forever kept.

Some secrets are dangerous to keep, obviously, if someone else could get hurt, there’s something illegal blah blah blah. We all know when secrets shouldn’t be kept.

But I also think that almost everyone has secrets.  Why share? What would be the point of sharing? Will it cause someone else pain? Will it wreck a life or relationship? Will it bring in more honesty, more wisdom? Does it need to be shared for comfort, for reassurance? Will it cause someone else great happiness if it’s told?

Ya gotta think of all those things…

In  The Language of Sisters  there’s a whopper of a secret. Where did Dmitry, the adopted brother, come from? No one has wanted to talk about it, no one has been allowed to talk about it. But the secret has followed the Kozlovsky family from the Soviet Union, twenty five years ago, and it’s about to explode. In a good and bad way.

What did you need to learn about tug boats to write about Toni’s unique living arrangements?

Oh, I learned more about tugboats than I thought I would ever need to know. But, most importantly, I went to a tugboat that was being used as a home. It, too, had been remodeled. In fact, Toni’s  yellow tugboat on the Willamette River is much like the one I saw in Portland.  The crew quarters are now a closet. There’s an office that used to be the office for the tugboat captain, the bedroom was expanded, the wheelhouse has been remodeled, etc.

You write beautifully on social media about your own daughters.  What did raising them teach you about creating sisters on the page?

Raising daughters is a lovely privilege.  And it’s tricky. You want to raise independent, strong, courageous, interesting, smart daughters who absolutely will not buy into this dangerous and ridiculous media – based image of what beautiful is.

When I created the three sisters in my book, I wanted them to be as I described above. But I wanted them to be real. I never write characters that are perfect. No one is, my characters aren’t. Really, if I wrote a character who was perfect and had a perfect life, everyone would hate her, right?

The sisters really screw up sometimes. They also love to have fun. They go skinny dipping. They go to a bar and Toni does cart wheels across the stage. They go to family parties and, one time, end up in a bathtub together. There’s a fight on a floor with one cousin over a hair brush, and they sew pillows together.

They survived their dangerous childhood in the Soviet Union.  The sisters stick up for each other. They’re great friends. They love each other dearly. That’s what I want for my daughters, and my son, that forever love and friendship.

A very short summary of The Language of Sisters…Three sisters. One brother. A secret that is chasing them down.

A little longer summary:

1) Toni Koslovsky lives on a yellow tugboat in the Willamette River in Oregon. She needed space to breathe.

2) Toni has two sisters. They can sometimes hear each other in their heads, a message coming through. It’s odd, it’s inexplicable. It’s a gift handed down from the Sabonis family line through their widow’s peaks. Their mother had it, too.

3) The family immigrated from Russia when Toni was a little girl. They left a lot of secrets there…and the secrets have been running after them ever since.

4) The family has many crazy members and the dynamics can be mind blowing. You might relate to some of them.

5) Toni has something hidden in a little shed next to her tugboat. She doesn’t want to look at it. She doesn’t want to think about it. But she does.

6) Love. Laughter. Funny stuff. A blue heron, a woman named Daisy, a DEA agent who lives down the dock, a restaurant, a scary man. Pillow making, skinny dipping, too much wine. More laughter.

 

 

 

 

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08.31.2016

Great Thoughts, Great Readers. My Chat With Anderea Peskind Katz

 

 

 

http://www.greatthoughts.com/2016/08/cathy-lamb-1.html

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Cathy Lamb
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