Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hot date

I'm thrilled to announce that my publisher has set the publication date for my second novel, JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don't teach you in law school). It will be out on bookshelves on June 24, 2008 and I'm absolutely thrilled.

The funny thing about that pub date, though, is that I already had it highlighted in my calendar, since it is my father's birthday! I think that it's a pretty lucky coincidence, and can only mean good things for my second book. I always think it's so special when things happen on those dates that are special for your family. My brother was born on my grandfather's birthday, and my first date with my fiance was the same day as his nephew's birthday (which, at the time, he told me was very lucky!). Do any of you have shared "lucky" dates?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sibling rivalry

Just came back from a fun filled vacation with my fiance and we got to visit lots of family. What could be better, right? Well, I guess a fun filled vacation on a sunny deserted island where we don't speak to anyone else but each other for two weeks, but I digress.

I was especially excited to go, since my cousin's wife just had their second child. The baby is an adorable little bundle of love and everyone adores her. Everyone, that is, but her older brother. Sure, he talks a good game-- "I'm a big brother now!" "I love my little sister!" "She's so beautiful!"-- but I couldn't help but notice that he tried to kill her once or twice. Okay, no, he didn't actually try to kill her, but he *did* ask me why on earth I wanted to sit around and hold her when I could go and play with him.

Oh dear.

I tried to explain to him that I, too, am an older sibling and being an older sibling rocks! He asked me why, exactly, being an older sibling rocks, and I couldn't think of one thing. Zip. Zippo. Nada. Which is strange, because I'm incredibly close with my brother. And I never once tried to kill him. (That I can remember.)

The whole thing made me think about siblings and your birth order in the family. I've always thought that your birth order in the family truly makes you who you are (in fact, in my writing classes, I urge students to think about where their characters fall in the birth order of the family).Where are you guys in the birth order of your families and how has that made you who you are today?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Mystery of Chick Lit

We are so lucky today because we have the fabulous Jason Pinter, the Man in Black, guest blogging for us! For those of you who know his amazing work, you know that he writes mystery thrillers. But a recent conversation we had made us both wonder whether our genres are really that far apart from each other…. So, without further ado, I give you our fabulous guest blog for the day:

The Mystery of Chick Lit
(or, is my book schizophrenic?)

Hey everyone. My name is Jason Pinter, and my debut novel THE MARK just came out this summer. Now when I wrote THE MARK, I conceived of it as a thriller. You know, the kind of book that keeps you turning the pages, makes you sweat, hinges on the relationship between the male and female characters, and keeps you aching for more. No, get your mind out of the gutter, it really is a thriller, honest!

Ok, so maybe I need to look at things from a different perspective. Is there a chance that, in my desire to write a great thriller, I wrote a chick lit novel? Now, my experience with chick lit is kind of limited in the literary sense. Though having been with my wife since college, I’m well-versed in the cinematic realm of chick lit. The movies I’ve seen have ranged from the really good (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”) to the pretty decent (“The Devil Wears Prada”) to the downright unforgiveable (“Little Black Book”). Plus I’ve seen every episode of “Sex and the City.”


So I think I have a good understanding of traditional chick lit themes. Now I know there are many, many variations on these themes, so apologies if my interpretations are, like my reading experience, rather limited. So, inspired by Brenda Janowitz, I’ve decided to break down the main plot threads from THE MARK to see if my book really does fit the chick lit mold…

Here we go:

My hero, Henry Parker, 24, comes to New York from Oregon to take a job as a reporter at a prestigious New York newspaper.(Are there any chick lit books that DON'T feature young characters who work at a newspaper, magazine or publishing house?)

Henry's relationship with his college girlfriend, Mya, is falling apart due to something terrible that happened a few months ago.(Relationship troubles? Uh, ya think?)

Henry’s mentor is a legendary—and legendarily scrabby—older newsman who doesn’t take crap from anybody.(Maybe he was married to Miranda Priestly…)

Henry is accused of murder and must go on the run to prove his innocence.(Hmm…not quite sure if this works. But didn’t Bridget Jones end up in a Turkish prison in her second book?)

Henry meets a young woman who offers to give him a ride out of town, not knowing he’s a fugitive.(Aside from the fugitive part, isn’t this the definition of meeting cute?)Henry finds out that no less than half a dozen different people want him dead.(Main character realizes he/she is desired by several suitors? Hello!!!)

A mysterious black-clad assassin called The Ringer is dispatched to find Henry, retrieve a missing package and then kill him.(A strange man who wears all black? Can you say ‘Tall, dark and mysterious’?)

Consensus: Uh…in my effort to write a page-turning thriller, I just might have written the next GIRLS GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING. I’ll leave it to readers to decide for themselves.

Jason Pinter is the author of THE MARK (Mira). Visit his website at

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So, I had so much fun guest blogging over at Trashionista that I decided to do it again! Mystery-thiller writer extraordinaire, Jason Pinter, and I will be swapping blogs this week! I'm up on his blog, The Man in Black, today-- I feel just like "Special Guest Star" Heather Locklear when she came to Melrose Place....

On Friday, Jason will be swinging by my blog to show you that serious mystery-thriller writers can be funny, too! So, please go and check out my post and then come back on Friday to see Jason's post. And, of course, don't forget to check out his amazing debut, THE MARK, which James Patterson called "[a] gripping page-turner you won't be able to stop reading."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Be our guest!

I'm so thrilled to announce that I am guest blogging over at Trashionista today!

When they heard about this humilitating event, they thought I might want to blog about it. And, of course, just like any good writer, I figured, why not! Total humilitation, massive blows to the ego.... who wouldn't want to write about that, right?

Anyway, head on over to Trashionista now to check it out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Is chick lit dead?

There's always talk about chick lit, as a genre, being dead. Which to me, a chick lit author, is highly infuriating. I mean, I still love chick lit. I still read chick lit. And, dammit, I still write chick lit!

But, more importantly, when's the last time anyone declared that an entire genre of writing was dead? Isn't that sort of like saying that mysteries are dead? Or romance is dead? Perish the thought....What do you think? Is chick lit dead? Check out what Trashionista had to say about it this week and let me know your thoughts

Friday, July 27, 2007

Does Johnny Depp do a Grecian accent?

So, in my new incarnation as recently-engaged-woman, my fiance and I (how great is it to say fiance?!?) have been invited on a number of couple-y type activities. Mainly it's just double dates and the like, but one of my fiance's friends had a much better invitation for us-- he invited us to go on a cruise around the Grecian islands this August! It's a tiny charter yacht, and only about 10 people would be going.

I know! Greece!

Now, I've never been to Greece, but I've ALWAYS wanted to go. Beautiful weather, hummus, how could you go wrong?!? BUT, as it turns out, last minute airfare to Greece in August is really, really expensive. Who knew? So, we decided not to go.But before I told my mother that we'd nixed the trip idea, she called me in a panic.

"You know, Brenda, I've been thinking about that trip to Greece," she says. "And I don't think you should go."

Now, at this point, we'd already decided not to go, but it just always tickles my fancy to hear my mother try to tell me what to do even though I'm thirty. Um. Well, you know. Ish. Thirty-ish.

"Why shouldn't we go, mom?" I ask.

"Pirates," she answers.

Pirates? Did my mother actually just say pirates? Can you really use pirates-- actual real life Johnny-Depp-type pirates-- as an argument? And more importantly, are pirates really something that we have to worry about in today's world? And, if so, does this mean that if I go on a cruise, I have to wear a corset?

Apparently, my mom thinks so. The pirates part, I mean, not the corset.

"It's not funny," she says.

"It's kind of funny," I answer.

After an extensive conversation about whether Johnny Depp looked hot in the Pirates movie (I say yes, my mom says he just looked dirty), I finally had to tell her that we decided not to go, after all. She sighed in relief but then told me that she needed to get off the phone.

Apparently, my brother and sister-in-law were considering a trip to the Caribbean.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Like the wedding guest that just wouldn't leave....

Yes, that's right, I've got even MORE wedding stories for you! I've gotten such great feedback from posting the contest winners that I thought I'd post a few more.

This one is from someone who was not brave enough to leave her name. But, it's so funny that I'm sure you won't care!

"For my second marriage, I didn't have to look far for a groom—I married a groomsman from my first wedding! So, what they say is really true: sometimes love is right in front of your eyes. Even at your own wedding."

Anytown, USA

Sunday, July 8, 2007

One more crazy wedding story!

Time for one more crazy wedding story-- my other Honorable Mention! This one comes from the lovely Heather Arthur and she affectionately calls it: Frosting Fiasco!

My story happened when I was about 12 years old. My parents have a HUGE backyard, so my aunt asked my parents if she could have her wedding and reception there. And of course, they said yes.

My grandmother use to make wedding cakes for a living, so to make things easier, she just baked the cake in my parents' kitchen. She even made the frosting from scratch!

Well, my cousin Tiffany(same age as me) and I decided to play a trick on our grandma. The frosting for the cake was in 2 big, plastic buckets and we decided that we would freak her out by taking the buckets of frosting and hiding them. Hilarious, we thought. Not so much! Tiffany and I waited until ol' granny took a bathroom break and as soon as she left the kitchen, we snatched those buckets of frosting and ran out the front door! Well, turned dad and grandpa were in the garage and saw us...buckets and all! My dad started yelling, so we ran. He went running after us! He chased us around the side yard, around the pool, and into the backyard.

That's when it happened. I went running up the deck on the back of the house and I was going to run through the door, into the kitchen and put the frosting back where I had found it. That's not how it turned out, though. I ran up the steps and on the last step, my foot got caught and I fell. The bucket of frosting flew out of my hands and into the air. Mind you, this was the middle of July so the frosting was melting. It went EVERYWHERE! All over the deck, the sliding glass door(where my aunt was going to walk out from), and not to mention, all over Tiffany and me! It was a huge mess and the whole family was so mad at us, and they made us clean it ourselves. Grandma also made us help make new frosting and help put it on the cake. Tiffany and I missed the wedding, due to having to fix the cake, but we were told it was beautiful.

Now I'm 22 and I'm getting married this October. I will make damn sure no one even gets NEAR the frosting!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Time for the honorable mentions!

I really did get so many amazing entries to my crazy wedding story contest. It was nearly impossible to decide! Here's one that won for Honorable Mention by Bobbi Harrison. I loved this story so much. Ultimately, though, it wasn't as much of a "wedding" story as some of the others, but here it is now for your enjoyment! I call this one: Always a bridesmaid....

About a year ago, I joined a popular, Web-based singles community. Admittedly, I signed up as more of an experiment than a way to meet men. I was curious about the guys who were willing to take a shot at finding love online. Were they searching for a soul mate or just looking for another way to hook up? What about the guys in their 40s who had never been engaged or married? (Or, those in their 30s who had three ex-wives?) Were they commitmentphobes? Emotionally detached? Mamma's boys?

Arghhh, who am I to be so judgmental? I asked myself. Like many women, I have struggled with my weight and body image issues for many years. In truth, I wondered if any of the men registered on the site would find me even remotely interesting or attractive.

Soon after I submitted my profile - complete with a not-so-fat photo of myself - I had my answer. Genuinely surprised, I had received a number of e-mails from guys who wanted to get to know me.

One random evening, I checked my account and found a message from a man named Mike. He was tall and attractive, and looked sort of familiar. But after reading his profile, I couldn't imagine where we might have met. And his e-mail certainly didn't seem to indicate that he knew me. Still, I was curious. So I clicked on Mike's picture for a larger view.

When the full-sized photo opened in a new window, it revealed another man standing next to Mike. A man I definitely recognized.

Steven had been married, albeit briefly, to my niece, Tracey, who is six years younger than me. In fact, Mike's default pic had been taken at Steven and Tracey's wedding, where he had been the best man and I, at my heaviest, had been a bridesmaid. As I squinted at the photo, I swore I could see myself in the background, wearing all those yards of purple taffeta.

More than a little freaked out, I promptly cancelled my subscription to the online dating site. My experiment was complete.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

More crazy wedding stories!

Last, but certainly not least is our third winner, the fabulous Larry Doyle.

I like to call his story "The Wedding Assasin."

For reasons that are still unclear to me, all of my wife's ex-boyfriends were invite to our wedding, while none of my ex-girlfriends were. It was nevertheless a fun party, with family, and friends, and people who banged my wife.Then came the toasts.Most of these were of theyou-had-to-be-there-to-understand-how-this-story-could-possibly-be-funny variety, until one of the wife's exes took the mike.

He was a big guy, with basset hound eyes, and a drawer full of prescriptions that were not to be taken with champagne.

He gave most of the toast directly into the glass of champagne. I can't remember the exact content of the speech, only I am fairly certain I was not mentioned. Looking down, he went on about my wife and how wonderful she was, and how sometimes she didn't realize how great she had it, and how sometimes she did things that just mad him angry...

I hadn't slept the night before, and so I was fairly certain his toast would end with him reaching into his jacket and announcing, "And I have a little present for BOTH of them..." I was actually thinking, "Okay, I'm going to shove the wife behind that table, then grab that crystal ladle."

I later discovered that one of my brothers, who was not sleep-deprived and only a little drunk, had picked up the same vibe and had started sneaking up behind the ex-boyfriend, in case he needed to be taken out.

The bloodbath was averted when another of my wife's exes put his arm around the other one, took the mike away, and announced, "So congratulations, Becky and Larry!" the lead the wedding assassin away.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Crazy wedding story contest winner!

I hope you enjoyed last week's first crazy wedding story! Our second winner is the fabulous Tongela Johnson.

Her story is a little something I like to call: "Clean up, aisle three!"

I got married on September 2, 2004, which ended up being the hottest day of the year. My wedding was outside, our guests and our wedding cake were melting. Really...the cake had to be turned around for photos because one side was completely melted.

I'm terrified of bugs and a bee got caught inside my veil during pictures. I completely lost it. I started running and ripping my veil off trying to get away from the bee. I ended up with grass stains all over my dress.

I guess I should have known my marriage was going to be HELL. I met my now ex-husband in Walmart. I keep asking them if I can have a refund.


Friday, June 29, 2007

The contest winners are here!

I'm so thrilled to be announcing the winners of my crazy wedding story contest!

The winners are:

Tongela Johnson
Larry Doyle
Jessica Shevitz Rauch

Here's the first story, by the lovely Jessica Shevitz Rauch. This one's called: "One."

One. They say it's the loneliest number, but I refused to believe that. I may have been invited to my friend's wedding without a date-- thus making me the only person there who wasn't part of a couple-- but that didn't matter. Sure, one of the main reasons it didn't matter was that I was so single I would have to go back pretty far to even attempt to find a date. But still. I can be a One, I thought. One ain't so bad. Especially if the One is me. It would be drag if I didn't even like the One. But that night – like many others – I liked the One. The One was funny. The One was smart. She had interesting stories to tell, interesting opinions to opine. One had a great dress to wear to the wedding and she just got her hair blown out so One was looking good.

One. It's just a number. One. Can be kinda nice. One. Don't have to check with two. One. When she's ready to go, she can just go.

During the drive to the wedding, One didn't have to change the radio station. One could sing as loudly as One wanted. One was getting excited for a good party. One was looking forward to eating as many pigs in the blanket as One cared to.

I made a right into the Country Club – ooh Valet parking – handed my keys to the attendant who kindly opened my car door for me. "Why, thank you". One gets all the attention.

One walked into the hall – yes! cocktails before the ceremony and oh – what's this? I picked up my place card - Jessica Shevitz - and looked inside.

There in bold print –Table One.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Well, I thought I'd be blogging today about my contest winners—I've got three winners for my "crazy wedding story" contest, and I can't wait to share all of their stories with you! BUT, as it turns out, my birthday last Friday turned out to be a wedding story of my own, so that's what I'll be telling you about instead. Okay, okay, it's actually an engagement story, but humor me!

My boyfriend (he was still my boyfriend at this point in the story...) took me out for my birthday dinner at this very romantic restaurant in Manhattan. Before dinner, we watched the sun set and then headed inside to have a delicious meal with a great bottle of wine. The evening was absolutely perfect—I wouldn't have changed a thing.

After dinner, we got back to my apartment and I started getting ready for our trip to Miami. We had an early flight the next morning, and I wanted to get everything set. He told me that he remembered another gift he had bought for me (he'd already given me a gift earlier that day), so he wanted to give it to me. The only thing was that he said that it wasn't wrapped, so could I please close my eyes? I obliged, and when I opened my eyes, Doug was right there in front of me with a ring! I couldn't believe it!

Now, I wish I could tell you that I was one of those girls who was graceful and elegant and said something like, "yes! Oh, yes! A million times, yes! I'd love to marry you!" But, instead, I was one of those girls who was in a state of shock and started saying, "Oh my God! Oh my God!" and then at one point, actually said, "Are you serious?!?" Grace Kelly I was not. Finally, I gained my composure enough to actually say yes, and more importantly, grab the ring. Haven't taken if off since!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Let's work it out

In SCOT ON THE ROCKS, Brooke says that she cannot date Jack since they work together. In fact, their law firm even has a strictly enforced policy against associates dating.

Have you ever dated someone at work? If so, did your company have a policy against it? Do you think that companies should have policies against employees dating each other?When you dated someone at work, did it work out for the best? Was it worth it in the end?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm obsessed!

Today, let's talk obsession!

In SCOT ON THE ROCKS, Brooke is totally obsessed with Douglas, a gorgeous Scotsman who treats her horribly. To me, that relationship rings so true, since I often find that women fall for the wrong man and get completely obsessed, sometimes without even knowing why.

Why do women fall for (and become totally obsessed with) total jerks? Have you ever been obsessed? Have you ever had a guy you simply could not get over?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Book review: GLOSS by Jennifer Oko

Deliciously dishy!

Annabelle Kapner becomes the very news she reports when a harmless little human interest story about a beauty industry job creation plan for refugee women in the Middle East goes terribly out of control.

An insider's peek at the world of morning news television, DC politics and, of course, lip gloss, you won't be able to put GLOSS by Jennifer Oko down. Filled with tons of fun details gathered, no doubt, by the author's own experiences in morning television, you'll have a blast reading GLOSS, and not just for the guessing game of "who's really who" in the large cast of characters that inhabit Annabelle's world. A deliciously dishy and irresistible tale!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Book review: NEXT THING ON MY LIST by Jill Smolinski

Put "Next Thing On My List" on YOUR list!

Do you have a life list? A list of things to do before you hit 25? Neither did June Parker. But when a tragic accident puts her in possession of another woman's life list, entitled "20 Things to Do by My 25th Birthday," June undertakes to complete the list for her. June embarks on a journey that will change her life, and the lives of those around her, forever.

Next Thing On My List is funny, sweet and touching. You'll be rooting for June from the first item on the list that she tackles straight through to the last. This book will make you smile, warm your heart, and maybe even make you shed a tear (in a good way, of course!).
I highly recommend Jill Smolinski's Next Thing On My List!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Booklist review of SCOT ON THE ROCKS

From Booklist: This rollicking debut novel finds heroine Brooke Miller in the midst of a quandary. A successful Manhattan attorney dating Douglas, a handsome Scotsman, Brooke responds to the news that her ex-boyfriend Trip is engaged to a movie star by telling a small lie and claiming that she and Douglas are engaged as well. Brooke figures Douglas is about to pop the question any day now, so she has a nasty surprise when instead of proposing, he unceremoniously dumps her and reveals his infidelity. Distraught, Brooke tries to win him back, then concocts another plan: she persuades her handsome coworker Jack to put on a Scottish brogue and pretend to be Douglas at Trip's wedding. Brooke doesn't imagine just how complicated things can get. A breezy romantic comedy with plenty of laughs.

Kristine HuntleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Let's talk best friends

In SCOT ON THE ROCKS, Brooke and Vanessa are best friends, but are complete and total opposites in every way imaginable. How do Brooke and Vanessa's relationships mirror each other? How do Brooke and Vanessa, themselves, mirror each other?

In your relationships with your friends, do you tend to be close with people who are the most like you, or the most unlike you? In your romantic relationships? (And don't forget to send this to your best friend, too!)

xoxo brenda

Friday, April 6, 2007

Writing exercise: Stranger than fiction


You've got the idea for a book. So, where do you start?

Try this writing exercise to get you going:

1) Picture your protagonist (if you don't have a specific protagonist in mind, use yourself! After all, they say that your first novel is usually all about you....).

2) What does your protagonist want most in life (she has to want something, otherwise there is no point to the book….)?

3) What is standing in her way (try to come up with two obstacles)?

4) How does she overcome these obstacles?
Congratulations! You have the broad outline of your book! Granted, it's a very bare bones outline of a book, but it's something to start with nonetheless. You are on your way to creating a novel that will sell! Post your writing exercises here!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Stranger than fiction

So, you think you've got a story to tell…. How do you tell it?

Ever read a novel and think to yourself, "Hey, I could write that?" Well, you can! But don't be fooled by the fun, informal tone of many of today's novels—it's more than just throwing together a bunch of crazy stories. Good novels must follow the rules of conventional fiction.

With that in mind, your story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There must be conflict driving your story; things must actually happen.

Take that "Stranger than Fiction" moment of yours that you want to turn into a novel and ask yourself: what is the beginning, middle, and end of this story? Post your stories here!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Crazy wedding stories!

I asked you for your crazy wedding stories and I got some doozies!

Here's a sneak peek:"It was bad enough that my brother was getting married before me, but then my boyfriend broke up with me right before the wedding. My best friend said she'd come with me so that I'd have someone to hang out with, and everything was going fine. Fine, that is, until the bride, my sister-in-law-to-be, told me that everyone thought that my best friend and I were lesbians...."

Anytown, USA