Today, Saralee's here to answer some of our questions and also give away not one, but TWO signed copies of her latest release: DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD. Doesn't the title alone just make you want to pick it up and read it? And, um, maybe leave a copy for your annoying next door neighbor? Ahem. But don't tell them that I told you to do that.
Without further ado, let's hear from Saralee:
This is a story of two next door neighbors on
When did you first begin writing?
I'm told that I was writing short stories as young as seven or eight-years old, and that I used to have to pay my older sister a quarter to read them. Turns out that she liked them so much, she'd end up giving me the money back, but I have very little recollection of any of this. Still, I do remember having a class clown mentality. Little did I know that some of my earliest material would be the notes I sent to my kids' teachers. They would always tell me that they couldn't wait for me to write to them to explain some mishap or issue because whatever I said would guarantee the laugh of the day (yay- gold star for me!). That inspired me to give comedy writing a try, and my first audience were the members of my local ORT chapter (supporting Jewish causes). They would all tell me how much they enjoyed my monthly columns and would try to guess who I was writing about (never expecting it might be them), and yet I was "fired". Seems I ruffled a few feathers with one column about the neighborhood, but it was the best thing that could have happened. I decided if I was going to be publicly shamed, I might as well get paid for the gig and that's when I started writing novels.
What are you working on right now?
I am so excited about the novel I'm working on right now. I have always loved exploring the mother-daughter relationship as I did my four novels, A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE (a dead mother), CLAIRE VOYANT (a stand-in mother), FATE AND MS. FORTUNE (a depressed mother) and DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD (two very different mothers). But this story takes this mother-daughter bond to a whole new level of riviting interaction. Here is the story: Seventeen years after a deadbeat mom runs away to become a rockstar/drummer, a hit record makes her rich and gives her hope of reconnecting with her daughter, who is expecting her first baby. It's called BEAT IT! I am so in love with Grace (her mother named her after Grace Slick) and her take on life and love that I have a feeling I'm going to need a literary leash. She is taking me in way different directions than I envisioned. Go Grace!!!!
How do you fight writer’s block?
I'm one of the lucky ones who has never understood the concept of writer's block. I rarely experience it, maybe because I feed my muse M&Ms and chocolate chip cookies. She/he never leaves my side. Ideas generally pour out and the challenge is what to do with all them- figure out which ones are really good and insert here. But not all of this is luck.
I've developed some pretty nifty tricks to keep the ideas flowing, one of which is to do an astrological natal chart for my main characters. Basically I make up a birthdate, do their charts, and find out what they struggle with, what they enjoy, how they think, what worries them- then I turn on the "what if" part of my brain and voila, more ideas. What I love about this technique is that it helps me create three-dimensional characters who seem and speak real. The best compliment I get is when readers tell me how much they could relate. That's when I know I did my job!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Saralee! And thanks for giving away copies of your latest book!
To enter to win a signed copy of DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD, just leave a comment at the bottom of this post. To get another entry, blog about it! OR, to get yet another entry, email five of your friends about this contest (and cc me on the email so that I can account for your extra entry- brenda[at]brendajanowitz[dot]com).
The lucky winners will be announced on July 22nd.