Archive for the ‘Reads’ Category

It’s the 3 Little Things: Mojitos, Disney, & Another Reason Not to Wash My Hair

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

pool-days

Today is the last day of school for my kiddos and our last day having children in elementary school. I can’t believe how the time is flying so I am looking forward to really slowing down this summer.

What did we sign up for them to do to keep them preoccupied all summer?

Nothing.

I am one of those moms that force them to be bored and entertain themselves all summer long.

My days will be spent in a lounge chair at the community pool with a stack of books and I can’t wait to make that a part of our daily summer routine! My health is forcing me to embrace a slowed down routine and to let some things go until I feel better. It was fortunate that I usually have that summer mindset, but now it has become more necessary than usual. I’m thankful I have the freedom to do that with this job. I know it is an enormous blessing.

Here are a few other things that are making me happy this week!

hello toothpaste

Mojito Freshness

This past year we made the switch to natural toothpaste and have been using Tom’s as our brand of choice. I liked it, but I felt like it lacked that tingling feeling that makes your mouth feel fresh, like you would experience with brands like Crest and Colgate. Hello sent me a big bag of adult and kid toothpastes for our family to try and I will admit that I was a little skeptical. I am a traditionalist when it comes to toothpaste flavors, but I decided to try their Mojito Mint and now I can’t imagine using anything else. It is the tingly freshness that I have been missing in my toothpaste and it is all natural. They have a ton of different flavorings to choose from.

My daughter also tried some of their different toothpastes and was nuts about the Bubblegum kid’s toothpaste they offered. She said it tasted like Extra gum and has been wanting to brush her teeth. If you have a tween, you know the struggle is real when it comes to daily hygiene.

It is a natural toothpaste line that is free of sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives. As a creative, I also really love the packaging on these.  You can find this line of toothpaste now at Walmart stores. I highly recommend checking them out!

American Experience: Walt Disney

American Experience: Walt Disney

I didn’t know a lot about Walt Disney, but now I feel like an expert after indulging in the American Experience: Walt Disney that had premiered on PBS and is now available for streaming on Prime. This two-part documentary explored the life of Disney from his childhood until his final days. It shares his successes and failures in a very real way with testimonials from colleagues and family. Historians round out the commentary with their takes on his film career.

This was so fascinating that both of my husband couldn’t wait to settle in for the second part after watching the first.  It was inspiring to hear the things he accomplished, but also really showcased the missteps in business that got us really talking together about what we could learn from it in our own work. I’m not a Disney nut like some of my friends, but I can still appreciate the legacy that he built and that our family has enjoyed on our vacations there.

I highly recommend this one if you haven’t seen it yet!

Dove Dry Shampoo

My New Favorite Dry Shampoo

Dove happened to be a sponsor at Mom 2.0 and they are always generous with the offerings in our hotel rooms to give us a chance to try their products. As a girl with sensitive skin, I have always appreciated their skincare line, but hadn’t really tried their shampoos and conditioners before. As someone who hates to wash her hair (and I have the art in my bathroom to prove it) I was excited to try out their dry shampoo.

This dry shampoo is the closest I have gotten to feeling like I have truly clean hair without the washing. It smells amazing and leaves zero residue on my dark brown locks. I could be a sweaty mess at the gym and use this stuff and my hair smells like I just washed it. It’s also at a very affordable price point so as soon as I got home from my trip, I stocked up for the summer! If you are on the hunt for a good dry shampoo, I REALLY love this stuff!

Shed Makeover

Reading: Girls on Fire has been on my summer bucket reading list so I started with this one this week. Raunchy, dark, twisted. I don’t think this one would be for everyone (all the mature content warnings for this one!!), BUT I am really sucked into this twisted friendship and the mysterious suicide of a fellow classmate. This one is set in the ’90’s so I am appreciating the nostalgia of reliving a little of my youth.

Enjoying: An evening this week with my book club out in the She Shed. We read this book and you can catch my interview with the author on Sunday- yay!!

Addicted: To Blood Orange Candles from Grove. I just placed another order for a couple more because they make me so happy and my house smell so good!

Laughing: At your responses on this- so funny!

Happy Friday, friends!

 *this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

May 2016 Must-Reads

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

May 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I’m excited to share what I have been reading this month with you. I have 8 great recommendations that would be be perfect for indulging in this summer. This month I tackled everything from historical fiction to thrillers to self-help to memoirs. I can’t wait to dig into another stack for June and share those with you too and I hope this post will inspire you to run out and get some fresh books too!

Want the inside scoop on what I’m reading each week? Join our online book club where we talk about books all day every day. This is not an exaggeration! Join me!

8 Must-Read Books for May 2016

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I love when books introduce me to a time in history that I am unaware of. Set in 1945, Sepetys explores the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This ship had promised safety to over 10,000 people, even more than the well-known Titanic. Uniquely told through the voices of four characters, all with different ethnic backgrounds, she explores a hidden time in history in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. This is, perhaps, one of the most researched books I have read as the author traveled to over a half dozen countries to take accounts from passengers, their families, and even deep sea divers to round out her story.  Fans of The Book Thief will appreciate this tragic YA story.

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

I received an ARC of this book- all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Outliers is the first book in a YA trilogy that begins with a single text, “Please, Wylie, I need your help.” When Wylie’s estranged best friend goes missing, she is led on a wild goose chase, with Cassie’s boyfriend, to bring Cassie to safety. The duo has no idea where they are going and the reader is led through over the half of the book to a surprising adventure that bends the genre from thriller to science fiction. Read the book before you see the film because this one has been optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production team!

Be sure to read my interview this week with Kimberly and check out the 3 books she recommends we read!

4 Out of 5 Stars

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Leonora, a reclusive writer, receives a surprise invitation from an old friend inviting to her to a weekend away as one last hurrah before she gets married. Set in a glass house in the woods, the four acquaintances share revelations and begin to realize their party is not alone. Forty-eight hours later, Leonora (Nora) awakes in a hospital bed knowing that someone is dead. Nora desperately tries to piece together what happened, forcing her to revisit times in her past that she would rather leave buried.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to thrillers and this one delivers beautifully.  The pacing is perfect and reads like a great whodunit mystery. Enjoy the ride and then get ready to see this one brought to life on the big screen by Reese Witherspoon’s production team.

Ruth will be joining me this month in our Sundays With Writers series so be sure to watch for that one!

5 Out of 5 Stars

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

If I could make a required reading list for parents, this book would top it. Klebold painfully writes openly about her son Dylan and his involvement in the Columbine shooting. A family, not unlike our family, that offered love and support to their son, becomes part of one of biggest tragedies in history, in part, because they were unaware of their son’s depression. Klebold has devoted her life to helping in the advance of mental health awareness and intervention, even donating all proceeds to organizations that focus on mental health issues.

This was one of the most difficult books I have ever read, but eye-opening that this could happen in ANY family and that it is our job as parents to keep our children’s mental health in check just like we would their physical health. I would recommend reading Columbine before diving in to really get familiar with the story and the inaccurate media portrayal before reading this one!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro

Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro

Set in Depression-era Boston, the book follows Maeve Fanning, a first generation Irish girl, being raised by her widow mother. Maeve engages in risky behavior that lead her to a psychiatric hospital where she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an unstable woman named Diana. Diana runs in an elite crowd, thanks to her wealth, and Maeve begins changing herself to fit in. Dying her red hair to blonde, she begins a job working in a shop selling rare artifacts, being romanced by Diana’s brother, and continuing to engage in her risky behaviors.  As Diana pulls Maeve more and more into her fold, Maeve begins to realize how dangerous it all really is.

Rare Objects was a fantastic exploration of social issues that I would not have considered (like being an alcoholic during the Prohibition, for example) and the dramatic differences in social classes. This was another solid read from Tessaro that could have only benefitted from a bit of trimming in length for a tighter storyline.

Kathleen will be joining us this month for our Sundays With Writers series- stay tuned!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Tuesday Nights in 1980

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

Welcome to the art scene in SoHo in the 1980’s. Prentiss, much like an artist herself, vividly paints the art scene during this time and the story of two unlikely men whose lives become intertwined in surprising ways. The book follows James Bennett, an art critic whose writing is made more beautiful because he has Synthesia, and the rise and fall of that gift when it disappears. Raul Engales is an Argentinian painter running away from his past and the Dirty War who finds that he can use an art studio on a college campus just by pretending he is a student there. When tragedy strikes, Raul & James become friends as Raul’s paintings bring back the gift of Synthesia that James had when seeing his work. They both make tragic missteps along the way though and that is where the depth to the story is truly added.

There is a lot of meat in this story, but there is a feeling that Prentiss could have expanded so much on the storyline of Raul’s sister and what the Dirty War was all about. That said, it would be impossible to not learn something new and fans of art and the Manhattan scenes in the ‘80’s will definitely find plenty to love in this ambitious debut novel. Her descriptions are like paintings themselves, vivid and full of life!

I am so excited that Molly will be joining me this month for Sundays With Writers too! I can’t wait to interview her!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Fans of Masters of Sex will appreciate this fictional exploration of Dr. John Watson and his research that was revered by so many to not spoil children based on his research that he developed during his time at Johns Hopkins. Disturbingly, tests are performed on infants to yield responses from them, all being assisted by Rosalie Rayner. An affair develops between the two that taints their reputation in the medical community and adds strain to an already difficult marriage. When they have children of their own, Dr. Watson uses his own research as a basis for how they are to parent which creates squeamish moments for the reader. Despite it being an uncomfortable storyline, it held my interest all the way through, even when the characters were most unlikable.

Andromeda will be joining me this month for our Sundays With Writers series so be sure to check back for that one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you work in the creative field OR if your heart has always desired to make room for creativity, you will truly appreciate the messaging of Big Magic. I listened to this one on audiobook, with Gilbert reading her book, and it was like listening to an incredible life coach about not giving up on your creative dreams, doing creativity for YOU and not just for the glory of it, and being okay with making mistakes. It is the gentle nudge (and sometimes in-your-face nudge) that you need to hear to get moving on projects that have been pushed away because of risk of failure or lack of time. It’s one I would listen to again, particularly if faced with a slump in my creative life.

Although, self-help books aren’t usually my cup of tea, Gilbert’s no bullshit mantras, are inspiring rather than cheesy.

5 Out of 5 Stars

 

sundays-with-writers-1

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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Amy’s Notebook 06.01.16

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

How to make flower arrangements via Yummy Mummy Kitchen

Source: Yummy Mummy Kitchen

 

DIY floral centerpieces made with grocery store flowers. LOVE!

Have you seen The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge? This is so awesome (and I still haven’t really watched Gilmore Girls, but now I want to!)

Madly in love with this room- love the bookcase styling!!

DIY almond milk French press hack- nice!

Kids backyard field day party – the perfect idea for summer fun!

Ten tips for easy entertaining- I need to work on this.

22 things every woman needs.

Father's Day Cake Toppers via Oh Happy Day

Source: Oh Happy Day

 

Father’s Day cake toppers DIY.

Inspiring kitchen remodel!

DIY room freshener.

A minimalist summer reading guide- fantastic picks!

This is so fun and inspiring for smaller spaces!

Exhausted? It’s time to focus!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Kimberly McCreight’s 3 Favorite Books

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Kimberly McCreight

Author: Kimberly McCreight (Check out her novels: Reconstructing Amelia, Where They Found Her, & The Outliers. Read more about Kimberly in our interview HERE!)

Kimberly McCreight’s  3 Favorite Books

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations by  Charles Dickens

The book that first made me want to be a writer.

On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner

On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner

The book that made me feel okay about wanting to be a writer.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

The book I still read to my daughters even though they are too old for it—actually no, they will never be too old for it! It still makes me cry every time.

This post contains affiliate links! To learn more about the authors featured, please visit our Sundays With Writers series!

Sundays With Writers: The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I have such a hard time committing to series books, but when I heard that The Outliers was 1) written by the wildly talented Kimberly McCreight and 2) that this one had already been optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon’s team…well, who could resist? Just like Julie Buxbaum who joined us last week, Kimberly also took the plunge into the YA genre for the first time in this highly anticipated trilogy. I am so excited to share a little bit behind this creative idea that Kimberly has created for her storyline.

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

FYI- I received an ARC of this book- all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Outliers is the first book in a YA trilogy that begins with a single text, “Please, Wylie, I need your help.” When Wylie’s estranged best friend goes missing, she is led on a wild goose chase, with Cassie’s boyfriend, to bring Cassie to safety. The duo has no idea where they are going and the reader is led through over the half of the book to a surprising adventure that bends the genre from thriller to science fiction. Read the book before you see the film because this one has been optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production team!

Grab your coffee and let’s settle in for a chat with Kimberly this morning!

Kimberly McCreight

I was so surprised to see that you have started publishing in the YA genre after years writing in Women’s Fiction. In an interview you stated that the “boundaries between Adult and YA are more fluid than ever before,” making it an easier transition for you as a writer. Do you think this fluidity between genres creates more adult readers to your books or do you just think that YA books are just becoming more and more adult in language & nature, helping bridge the gap between the two?

I think wonderful books are wonderful books whether classified as YA or adult. That’s always been true. But if adults might have once hesitated in picking up a YA title for themselves, that has certainly changed. The majority of those who purchase Young Adult books are adults buying for themselves. Also I think the lines between all genres are becoming increasingly blurred as writers experiment and readers become more flexible in their expectations—there are literary novels that are sci-fi and historical, mysteries that are women’s fiction and also literary.

The Outliers is the first book in a planned trilogy that you are developing. How did you come up with this creative concept to explore emotional intelligence in this way?

The Outliers was inspired by my daughter who has always been preternaturally empathetic. This has genuine advantages—it helps her move more easily through tricky social situations and deepens her friendships. But it can also be a burden, causing her to be on the anxious side. And these are qualities we share—for better and for worse—as do most of my closest female friends. It was in pondering this connection between my daughter and I that I came to consider a connection between emotional intelligence and anxiety, particularly in women. It was in this “what if” that the seed for the trilogy was planted.

I noticed that you thanked many doctors in the acknowledgements of your book. What type of doctors did you consult in the development of this story and how did they help you round out your book? Did they find this idea of women utilizing emotional intuitiveness as a power plausible with the fictional research you created for Wylie’s dad?

Some of the doctors were Emotional Intelligence researchers, some were neuroscientists and others were simply professors whom I consulted about life as a researcher. Each was enormously helpful even if it was just in getting me the name of someone else might be able to answer my questions. With regard to the specifics of the EQ/Intuition issues, responses ranged between rejecting the proposition outright, to pointing out potential limitations in my hypothesis. But there was one well-known researcher who called my idea intriguing. And, yes, it was a thrill.

However, to be clear, the book is fiction. It not an accurate representation of the state of the research. That’s not what I was trying to do. I was speculating about a set of facts hasn’t been proven—but maybe hasn’t been categorically disproven yet either. Results are always influenced by the way a study is conducted and the book proposes something discovered because unexpectedly because something else is tested in a new way. That is how many discoveries are actually made: accidentally.

If I was tested for emotional intelligence I REALLY feel that I would be an outlier too. I carry around the weight of everyone, I’m extremely empathetic (sometimes to the compromise of my own emotional health), and I am high anxiety. Basically, I’m probably a toned down version of Wylie. Are you empathic, anxious, & attuned to others too? Do you think this is something that many teen girls struggle with?

First, you and I should totally hang out because I am definitely an Outlier too! We’d probably be BFF’s.

And there’s no doubt that teenage girls struggle with anxiety at a much higher rate than boys—the statistics show that. This gender disparity persists into adulthood. However, the jury is out on the cause of this difference—socialization, hormones, or brain chemistry are all possibilities. There is also research to suggest that girls are better at reading facial expressions of emotions.

Do I personally believe that there is a connection between anxiety and gender and intuition? Yes, definitely. But that’s where the scientific aspect of my book ends and the speculation—and fiction—begins.    

The Outliers featured on Reese Witherspoon's IG Feed

source: Reese Witherspoon’s IG feed!

It was announced that we can expect to see this book, The Outliers, in theaters now that it has been optioned for film by Lionsgate with Mandeville and will be produced by Reese Witherspoon’s production team, Pacific Standard. How did you find out this news and about Reese’s love for your book? Will you be involved in the writing of the screenplay?

I could not be more thrilled to be partnering with Lionsgate, Mandeville and the incredible Reese Witherspoon and Pacific Standard. The book was optioned fairly early in the process and they have been amazingly supportive and enthusiastic throughout. I won’t be writing the screenplay, as I’ve got the next two books in the trilogy to focus on, but I have felt wonderfully included in the process. Mostly, I sit around daydreaming about getting to sit in the audience.

Nicole Kidman

As a writer, you also have the unique insight on how this book to movie idea works since, Reconstructing Amelia, will also be made into a film. Is it exciting seeing your book to life? Nerve-wracking? How you picture it?

It is absolutely thrilling to think of both Reconstructing Amelia and The Outliers being brought to life on the screen. When I’m writing, the stories play out in front of me like a movie so I am especially delighted to think of sharing that visual experience with others. Filming has not yet begun on Reconstructing Amelia so I can’t speak to the specifics of how that will feel, but I don’t feel nervous in the least. Working with such amazing artists and studios—Nicole Kidman, Blossom Films and HBO for Reconstructing Amelia and Lionsgate, Mandeville, Reese Witherspoon and Pacific Standard with The Outliers. I have no doubt they will do a superb job in bringing the stories to the screen.   

You had a long journey into publishing starting with a completely different career path as a lawyer. I understand that Reconstructing Amelia was the 5th manuscript you had turned in before you finally reached your goal as a published author. Do you have any words of encouragement for writers that are struggling to see their first book on the shelves? What helped you not give up on this dream?

I was lucky enough to get some encouraging rejections early on, which I held on to as I kept working. It’s important for writers struggling to get where they want to be—whether that’s finishing a book, or seeing it on a store shelf—to know that both the process of writing and getting published are both really, really hard. Almost all successful authors have faced an enormous amount of rejection—and I mean usually in the order of five rejected books, decades of writing, hundreds of discarded stories. The key is to recognize that writing is a craft that we all get better with more practice. True salvation lies in focusing on the work in front of you, and the next idea tumbling around your brain.

kimberly-mccreight

follow Kimberly on Facebook!!

You wrote this book as a warning to your daughters about how the world they grow up in may include people who deem them unworthy. You wanted to remind them they are powerful enough to rise above it and to help them to trust their instincts. Why do you think these messages are so important today for teens and why do you think so many of us struggle in the face of it all to trust our instincts?

It’s important for everyone to learn to trust their instincts. But I do think it’s especially important for girls. We’ve made incredible strides toward equality. It can be easy to think we have arrived at our destination. But in many troubling and fundamental respects women continue to be regarded as less than men. And I do think that women and girls are more often encouraged to doubt their own instincts.

Can you name a time, when you were a teen, that you didn’t trust your intuition and wish you would have?

As a teen, I was exceptionally good at following my instincts. But I can give you an example from just a few weeks ago on vacation when I didn’t follow my instincts. We were snorkeling and the boat started to have trouble near shore while others were disembarking. I had the very strong sense that we should get off then—even though it would mean taking a cab back to our hotel. But I didn’t insist and when the boat ran aground moments later and the motor was killed, I was absolutely kicking myself for not having gone with my gut. In the end my husband, two children and myself all had to literally abandon ship and swim—in life vests—through pretty big waves until we reached the beach. The truth is, even as an adult, it’s easy to doubt your instincts.

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

You can connect with Kimberly McCreight on her website and on Facebook! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

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Amy’s Notebook 05.25.16

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

gluten-free chicken nuggets

source: shutterbean

I can’t wait to try this crispy gluten-free chicken nuggets recipe!

A parent’s guide to Snapchat.

Who knew IKEA bed slats could be transformed into so much?

Absolutely LOVING these shorts (and I truly hate shorts!)

Charcuterie Board inspiration!

Memorial Day outfit ideas.

I love this guy- so happy for his success!

Summer Bucket List charm necklace- how fun would these be to make with your kids?

Money saving tools for lazy people.

Already impatiently waiting on the hold list at the library for this book!

Home-Coffee-Station

source: polished habitat

Organize all the things- such inventive ideas!!

Looks like the IKEA kitchen really does hold up well.

Finally, a plant that can survive in our house- lol!

Backyard inspiration!

A new use for your waffle iron- yum!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Julie Buxbaum’s 3 Favorite Books

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Julie Buxbaum

Author: Julie Buxbaum (Check out her novels: The Opposite of Love, After You, & Tell Me Three Things. Read more about Julie in our interview HERE!)

Julie Buxbaum’s 3 Favorite Books

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I have few distinct memories from childhood, but I do remember sitting on my mother’s lap and her reading The Secret Garden to me. I found my copy again just before I left for college (only a couple years after my mom died) and I re-read it only to discover that it’s a story filled with healing and magic and a little orphaned girl who grows strong even in the face of grief.  I’ve now re-read the book maybe fifty times since then, in part as tribute and in part as therapy, and each time it leaves me soothed. I can’t wait to read it to my own daughter one day soon.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith White Teeth by Zadie Smith

I loved every page of this exuberant novel and it is one of those books that made me want to be a writer. Not because I ever thought I could write anything like Zadie Smith—no one can write like Zadie Smith—but it was so inspiring to me to see a young woman writing with such clarity and zeal and wisdom while still in college and getting recognition for it from the literary establishment.  I haven’t re-read the book in a while, but I still read everything Smith writes, and every single time she takes me by surprise and astounds me with her prose.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

This is one those slow, quiet books that has more in common with poetry than your typical novel. It is lyrical and beautiful and deserves to be carefully read. It’s a meditation on…well, everything and it is one of the most considered and thoughtful and thought provoking piece of fiction I’ve ever encountered.

This post contains affiliate links! To learn more about the authors featured, please visit our Sundays With Writers series!

Sundays With Writers: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

sundays-with-writers-1

I have some really fantastic writers lined up in the next few weeks to share about their new books and today’s guest is a special treat because I have loved her ever since her debut novel, The Opposite of Love. It’s been awhile since I have seen Julie on the shelves and I was so thrilled to see her again, writing a debut YA novel, Tell Me Three Things.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Let me tell you a little bit about, Tell Me Three ThingsThis is the story of a teenager named Jessie, the loss of her incredible mom, and the abrupt new marriage of her father that relocates them to Los Angeles. When her father meets a woman from his support group, he elopes and moves them into the wealthy woman’s home, switching Jessie into the wealthy prep school that her new stepbrother attends. Of course, Jessie doesn’t fit in at all.

When she starts receiving emails from SN (shortened from Somebody Nobody) offering her help and support in these uncharted waters, a relationship blooms and becomes a huge support for Jessie. The reader gets to read this beautiful, hilarious, and always sweet exchange. When Jessie wants to meet SN in person though, the reader is led on the journey with Jessie. Is SN her soulmate? Is SN even real? I guess you will have to read to find out! This is a great one to pack in your beach bag this summer.

Delightfully sweet and everything I love about Buxbaum’s writing! I featured this book in our April Must-Reads this year. 

julie-buxbaum

I have been a HUGE fan of your writing since you wrote your debut novel, The Opposite of Love. It’s been six years since you published your second novel, After You, and you have come out with your first YA novel- what a treat that was for a big fan like me! What have you been up to over these years? You have said that it took you 24 years to get the courage to come up with a YA book. Do you think you will stick around in this genre moving forward?

Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s been six years since my last book, but it really has! In that time, I had two children, wrote an adult novel that now sadly lives in a drawer, dabbled in television writing, and wrote two young adult novels: Tell Me Three Things, which just came out, and a book called What to Say Next which should be out Spring 2017. Yes, I very much hope to continue in YA. It has reminded me of why I love to write. And thank you for being a fan. I’m absolutely honored!

Your main character, Jessie, begins receiving anonymous emails from a person nicknamed Somebody Nobody (SN) who helps her to navigate her new school, the cliques, and which classmates she should align with. I understand this email exchange was inspired by an anonymous correspondence of your own. Can you tell us more about that?

It’s rare that something so magical and weird and wonderful happens in real life that it feels like the stuff of fiction, so when it did, I had no choice but to steal that material for a book. Shortly after I graduated from law school, I received what was essentially a secret admirer-type email from a classmate, and the note came at the perfect time. I was working crazy hours, feeling sort of lost and depressed in my first grown up job, and just feeling down on myself, and this single email somehow managed to change everything. I never found out who he was, and I’m not sure that I ever want to. Just the idea of him, just the idea of someone noticing me—I had never before thought of myself as someone who got noticed—was enough to shift me out of my rut.

tell-me-three-things

(follow Julie’s updates on Facebook!)

How much fun was it to create the subject lines for those emails? I was crying laughing as they changed from Jessie to SN? Did you have a favorite subject line or back-and-forth in this email exchange?

In my first draft, I didn’t have funny subject lines for the emails, and there was just banter in the emails themselves. That came later in the editing process, and yeah, they were super fun to write. I’m one of those annoying people who laughs when writing their own jokes, and they totally cracked me up. I was sad when Jessie and SN moved to IMing, because I didn’t get to keep coming up with them.

One of the most painful things that Jessie must deal with is the death of her mother. Your mother passed away, when you were at the tender age of fourteen, and you were able to use your own personal experience to help craft your story. Why did you think it was important to share a piece of your story in this and would you have any advice to another child who has had to face the unbearable loss of a parent at a young age?

Losing my mom as a teenager was an incredibly isolating experience so I very much would have liked to see myself represented in fiction. But back then we didn’t have the vast Young Adult aisles we have now. I wrote Tell Me Three Things for sixteen-year-old me and if it reaches even one or two teenagers who went through what I went through and can recognize themselves and be comforted by seeing their own experiences reflected in Jessie’s, I’ll be happy. As for advice for someone who is grieving, I think it’s important to be told that though the loss of a parent will never be okay, you will be.  My main character counts in days since her mother died. She tells herself that if she survived one day without her mom, she can survive two. If she survives two, she can survive three. I clearly remember doing that to get through that difficult time. But now, I get to count in years, and in some ways it’s a celebration. I made it, and I’m okay. And though it’s hard to see it right now through that grief haze, you will be too.

Your journey to publishing is such an interesting one! Can you share a little bit about why you quit a promising career as a lawyer to be a writer? What would you say to someone else who feels stuck in a career and feels a passion for writing like you?

I was miserable as a lawyer! I felt bored and uninspired and every Sunday night I would cry because I didn’t want to go to work the next morning. I finally gathered the courage to quit as part of a New Year’s Resolution (actually the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept!) and decided to write that novel I had always talked about. I didn’t really intend to become a writer full-time—the original plan was to write the book and then transition into a different kind of law—but I got super lucky and very quickly had a career. I never recommend that someone quit and pursue novel writing in the way I did—it was a stupid thing to do that just happened to work out for me—but if you have a passion for writing, make it a priority and fit it in any way you can. It’s not easy, but I find that most writers can’t help but write. When I’m not writing, I’m cranky.

I know that, The Opposite of Love, had been optioned for film and I read that Anne Hathaway had been attached to the project as the lead. Is this movie still happening? Can you picture, Tell Me Three Things, being optioned for film?

Sadly, The Opposite of Love died in development, which happens to the vast majority of books optioned to film. I’d love for Tell Me Three Things to be optioned (and I haven’t given up hope that one day The Opposite of Love will get made somehow too!) I live in LA, so I have lots of meetings about both books, though so far we haven’t found the right home for either of them. But I can absolutely picture it as a film, and would love the opportunity to write the screenplay.

headspace

Do you have any tips for us on work/life balance? Any secrets that have helped you over the years to get in adequate writing time and be present with your kids? I know I am always looking for help in this!

I wish I had some magic secret, but I unfortunately don’t. I feel like the whole concept of balance is an illusion. I think it’s all about getting through each day doing the best you can. Do I end some days feeling guilty that I haven’t spent enough time with my kids? Absolutely. When I take the day off because my daughter has the flu, do I feel guilty for not working? Absolutely. The truth is I should probably stop wasting so much time feeling guilty and realize that I am doing my best on every front, and that sometimes I’m going to drop the ball. I’m human. All moms are, and maybe the first step to finding balance is to stop holding ourselves to ridiculously impossible standards. My kids will never have homemade Halloween costumes, my house is always a disaster, and we all eat more frozen food than we should. But in the grand scheme of things, none of that matters. What matters is the fact that my kids know they are loved and are well taken care of and I get to do a job I love. That should really be enough. I do meditate with the Headspace app, and I feel like that’s helped me feel present in my own life in wonderful ways, whether that’s time spent with my kids or at work. But balance? Never really going to happen. My life is just way too messy for balance.

The Incident On The Bridge by Laura McNeal

Who have been your biggest literary influences? Any YA authors, in particular, that you think we should be reading?

The answer changes daily to this question. There are a ton of writers whose work I deeply admire—Zadie Smith, Richard Powers, Marilynne Robinson just to name a few—but in terms of inspiring what I do each day, I’m mostly affected by whatever book I read last that made me wish I had been the one to craft it. I’m not so much inspired in the sense that I attempt to write like an author I love, but instead reading prose that makes me marvel has the wonderful side effect of making me go sit my ass back down in a chair and work harder on my own work. It makes me want to be better.

As for recommendations, I recently read The Incident on The Bridge by Laura McNeal, which is YA but is also very much suited for adult readers, and the book was lyrical and beautiful and heartbreaking and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m now going back to read Dark Water for which she was a finalist for the National Book Award.

You can connect with Julie Buxbaum on her website and on Facebook! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Best of Summer

Friday, May 20th, 2016

little-things

Whoa, this was a rotten week. How’s that for beginning a happy list? I am trying to live in a truthful place on the web and my health is just awful these days. For those just joining my Debbie Downer train, I have a connective tissue disease and am in a health slump right now. I got to spend this week getting a foot x-ray after worrying that I had slipped a bone out of joint. Turns out I did and that I should have surgery to fix the side of my foot, but can’t get it repaired since I’m feeling so bad these days. Pain killers and taping are all I can do while this silly bone is floating in and out of place while I’m trying to sleep at night. Can you imagine waking up periodically like that- it’s awful.

The good news is that I have an appointment with a rheumatologist and I booked a massage for today to work on relieving the pains in my joint. I also ordered some of these (too tired to type that long name today!) because I read that many runners that struggle with knee issues take these and they help. Have you ever taken anything that has helped with your joints, particularly for arthritic issues? Have you heard of this stuff?  I’m so open to anything right now- ANYTHING. I hate feeling like I am 100.

stripes + denim jacket + nude heels + statement necklace

(anniversary outfit for tonight- shop this look!!)

Did I mention it’s our 16th anniversary today? I would say we are living in the, “in sickness,” and “for worse,” part of our wedding vows. He still loves me though and I’m thankful every day for that.

Since I’m in a mood, I thought I would share some of my favorite things for the summer. Here are 10 things I love that are worth sharing again this season!

Liner That Stays

 

 

Revlon Colorstay Eye Liner

Ever since I first started wearing make-up, I have always worn Cover Girl Eye Liner.  I have found though that in the summer, within hours it had faded or had moved under my eyes in other places.  I decided to try to find a new eyeliner to help remedy that and discovered Revlon ColorStay Eye Liner. It is the first eyeliner that I have tried that stays on until I go to bed. It goes on creamy, stays on all day, and is easy to remove with a little eye make-up remover.  I can’t recommend it enough. Perfectly lined eyes in the summer months are definitely making this girl happy!

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

I don’t want to brag, but when I was a kid the kids at school used to call me Casper. Well, who is laughing now, friends? This girl. Because I am TAN…on my legs… with make-up. So.

In all honesty, Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs is heaven-sent for a really white girl like me. It now comes in a liquid form instead of the aerosol. Squeeze a little on your hands and spread on your lightly moisturized (but dry) legs. Then just use your hands to spread the make-up on your legs and it all air dries in one minute. It is truly an airbrushed leg experience and, provided you blend well and pick the right shade for your own coloring, it gives a beautiful finish to your legs. It has a little shimmer to it too, but not overly noticeable.

The best part is that it is waterproof so if you are even at the beach, you will be fine. You need soap to get it off, otherwise it stays right where you put it. Since it has good staying power, one bottle usually gets me through the entire summer!

feedly

Feedly

Is it bad to be a blogger and share that you don’t read blogs? My own blog had taken over my life and I started to feel separated from my own community.  I decided to get back to blog reading and I started using Feedly as my reader. I absolutely love it and I think it has been so good to get back to blog reading again. While I eat lunch, I bookmark items to save for later that I think would fit well with our weekly notebook and I also have started bookmarking them for our Facebook community. Each day at 2:30 (eastern time), I post things to talk about. I think it has added so much more to both my life and our community and I am proud to be supporting people that make me think differently about life. We won’t always agree on these pieces, but I love the conversations that flow from these shares. It has been pretty dead over there so this is how I am working to restore that sense of community.

I can read all my blogs from my phone, my iPad, or from my computer.  Instead of scrolling endlessly through Facebook at piano lessons, for example, I am reading, learning, and bookmarking things to share with you. It’s a much better use of my time.

Although I don’t want to plug myself here, you can also subscribe to our site through Feedly. We need to change the title because it is listed under The MotherLoad, but you can find me over here.

Collapsible-Rolling-Cart

My Favorite Pool Accessory EVER

My best friend got these collapsible rolling carts one year when they were on sale at a local hardware store.  You may not have thought of a Rolling Cart as the world’s best pool accessory, but it really is. I load our entire cart up with our lunches, towels, pool toys, reading materials, sunblock, hats, and snacks. I throw them all in this cart and we wheel all of our stuff out to the pool, saving my back from breaking trying to lug all of our stuff out there.

The best part is that this cart is great in the off-seasons for library visits.  And, yes, we do horde that many library books when we go that we need a rolling cart to bring everything home. If you are looking for a book at our library and can’t find it, chances are it ended up in this cart.

Nads_Wax_Strips

Keeping Things in Check

Look, I’m not going to get into this kind of discussion because some of you barely know me.  I, personally,  don’t have weird body or facial hair at all, but this gal that I know has to keep things in check and she told me these Nad’s Body Wax Strips & Nad’s Facial Wax Strips might work really good to help resolve some issues you might be having.  She said that the best way to use these is to warm the strip a bit with a hair dryer and then follow the directions from there. If the strips leave behind any residue, a little baby oil does the trick to remove it.  If you need to keep things in check too, take some advice from my hairy friend. My hairy friend is super happy she doesn’t have to pay someone else to work this out for her.

Don’t forget, I also found this awesome cream for those with sensitive skin. It’s AMAZING!

Clinique-Almost-Lipstick-Black-Honey

Great Summer Lips

I love a fresh summer lip and this year my new favorite is an oldie, but goodie called Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey.  If you haven’t tried this lip color it is universally flattering and beautiful and I promise does not look anything like what is in its tube. You can pick it up at your favorite Clinique counter in the department store or they have it at Sephora. I absolutely love this shade for summer and I think you will too. It goes on like a gloss and moisturizes the lip. It’s the one you will want to buy extra tubes of so you can grab it and keep in your purse so you can touch them up while you are out and about.

logitech-keyboard

Turning My iPad Into a Laptop

I used to carry around my laptop, but when I got my iPad, I knew that I wouldn’t need to carry that around with me anymore because HELLO…BROKEN BACK. How many pounds is a laptop? Ouch!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand trying to type on the touch screen, particularly when sending lengthy emails or trying to conduct anything for my business. I found this Logitech iPad Keyboard and it has been one of the best tech investments I have ever made. It instantly turns your iPad into a mini-laptop that you can carry in your purse. The battery life lasts forever before it requires a charge with a small cord, making it perfect for me to take to my conferences. The outside of it is metal and durable, helping protect your iPad screen and it latches together magnetically, as though they weren’t meant to be together from the start.

The best part is that it holds my iPad up for me while I am laying in my hotel bed watching Parenthood episodes so that I can hold my Kleenex and cry without having to hold the screen at the same time. Can you just imagine how hard that would be?

But it is also very important for business.

Yes, for business.

Pop_Culture_Happy_Hour

Happy Hour + Yard Work

I really loathe yard work. My whole thing is, you have to make a choice. There is no way that I can have a beautiful lawn and a clean home. If I am working on the lawn, my house looks like a tornado hit it. If I work on the house, people have no clue if the house was abandoned or not.  How do people have pretty lawns and pretty houses? That just baffles my mind. I think we should all just make choices and not judge each other on which one is more important.

My cardio routine on Fridays is to mow our enormous lawn and work on tidying up the sad beds. I started listening to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and (as if my neighbors weren’t already less than thrilled with us), I find myself busting up laughing randomly while listening to this show in the yard.

It is everything you might want to know about books, movies, the arts, and celebrities, but SMART. This not a junky entertainment blog, this is well-curated and thoughtful discussion on what is happening in pop culture with a lot of humor. I finally feel a little more with it about what is happening in the world and I am getting my terrible yard shaped up in the process.

And since I know you guys like happy lists, at the end of every episode they share what is making them happy each week and you want to have a notepad out to jot it all down to go out and find everything they are talking about.

Did I mention the NPR app is FREE? Seriously, you have nothing to lose!

L'Oreal Sleek It Iron Straight Heatspray

I Finally Have Frizz-Free Locks

I have the coarsest hair and in the summer months, it frizzes up in the heat and humidity. NO ONE BELIEVES ME. I decided to document some proof for you! YOU’RE WELCOME!  :)

Monica in Jamaica

I bought this awesome L’Oreal Sleek It Iron Straight Heatspray and I finally have frizz-free locks. It was one of those things that I picked up on a whim and decided to give it a try, but had no expectations that it would work well because it was only around $5.  The first day I used it, my girlfriend asked if I had done something different with my hair. It works that good.  Although I have never been able to go three days without washing my hair, it holds for that long and does a great job straightening your hair with just a blow dryer or can be used dry with your hair straightener. I highly, highly recommend this for your arsenal of hair tools.

Love,

Monica in Jamaica

Braun Silk Epilator

Taking Care of a Hairy Situation

Have you ever tried a new beauty routine that absolutely terrified you? Let me tell you, friends, using an epilator for the first time was the scariest thing I have ever done.  I may have lead you astray in my post about a hairy friend who needed wax strips. This is probably going to shock you, but I am the person who needed them. I know.  This happiness project goes out to all my brunette friends. The ladies who struggle with an armpit shadow even after they have shaved, the ones with the coarse unmanageable leg hair, the ones who have stray chin hairs that have suddenly cropped up since they hit their 30’s, the ones who get razor burn 24/7, whose skin becomes rashy from just seeing a razor, and the girl’s whose lily-white skin tells tales of painful hair removal routines.

I am fist bumping you right now.

I bought this Braun Silk Epilator and it has a million attachments which you can use to remedy whatever your hair situation. It rips the hair out by the roots. It feels as good as it sounds. It has forty tweezers that do it at the same time and can lift hair that is as small as a grain of sand. It really can because I felt every last pull.

The first time was really excruciating because I didn’t do a lot of research beforehand. Here’s what I advise- drink a gallon of wine,  soak in the shower for five minutes, exfoliate well with a loofah, shave so you aren’t grabbing long hairs out, hold it at a ninety degree angle right up close in the shower under the water,  and go all out with the highest setting. The legs are not terrible and the bikini line was a piece of cake since I wax.

The underarms…I almost passed out.  Probably the worst beauty pain of my life.

Now that I am over the first three times of doing it, I love it and am addicted.

Probably the same way people are addicted to tattoos.

It’s kind of sick, really.

I absolutely love how my legs and underarms look. My face is fuzz free.

I am living the blonde girl dream life!

around-the-house-6

(around our house- bucky)

Reading: Rare Objects and it is incredible! I had no idea she had another book out. I loved this book from her so much that diving into her words again has been such a treat! I love a good historical fiction escape and this one is delivering.

capsule-outfit-ideas

(follow my new account!!)

Enjoying: The creativity of putting my outfits together for my new Instagram account. I made a commitment that whatever I lay out for you, I must wear. I promise you, I’m really wearing this stuff. Not only is it good for my creativity, but it helps me feel good to feel put together and to get dressed each day. I’m also getting familiar with Like to Know which can send you an email about each outfit and ideas for replicating it. I have fun putting those together each day.

Sharing:  For my fellow Sweet Valley High friends, enjoy this imagined life for Elizabeth & Jessica when they are 40. Made my day!

Laughing: Since I’ve been down in the dumps, this could not have been timed more perfectly. No bad language and so hilarious that I bet your kids will be busting up too. I had tears rolling down my face watching this. Her laughter is contagious.

 

Happy Friday, friends! xoxo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things!

Sundays With Writers: All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage (Interview)

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

sundays-with-writers-1

Today’s SWW interview is with Elizabeth Brundage to discuss her new book, All Things Cease to Appear. I devoured this book and couldn’t wait to interview Elizabeth about it, especially after reading about her real-life ghost story that had inspired this storyline. I had chills up and down my spine when I read her experience and I think you will too. I’m so excited to share this interview with you today and honored that Elizabeth would be so open to sharing with our readers!

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

I love being part of a local book club and this past month we read, All Things Cease to Appear. I think it is important to set expectations with this one. Do you remember Everything I Never Told You (I interviewed the author too!)? Well, I felt like the setup of this book is similar. We are opening with someone being accused of murdering their wife and then working our way out from there. Some people get disappointed when things work in this direction (maybe thinking it takes away from the mystery of it all?), but I really loved that it opened this way and then the reader discovers more and more of the motive as the story unfolds.

The book opens with the murder of Catherine as the police began questioning the most obvious of suspects… her husband. The book builds out the story of this couple from the purchase of this farmhouse filled with secrets, the failing marriage, and George’s strange double life.

This book is a really deep character study into a sociopath. Brundage writes this book so well that things like the home, for example, become a character unto itself. This is slow, but worthy of the pacing with rich characters. I couldn’t put it down.

We included All Things Cease to Appear in our April Must-Reads list!

Oh, and I wish I could put you by a bonfire for this eerie tale and we could share it with a couple of flashlights! I guess coffee will suffice.  Settle in! 

Q&A With Elizabeth Brundage

Elizabeth Brundage I read a rather chilling story about the house that inspired the location for your book. Just like the book, the house had its own sad story. Can you share with us a little bit about the house you lived in that you were able to draw inspiration from and have you ever gone back to see it since you left?

The novel began with a real unsolved murder.  I first heard about it many years ago.  My husband was just finishing his residency in an upstate New York town and we were considering staying in the area for his fellowship. At the time, our daughter was three, and I was pregnant with our second.  I went to look at a house that had come on the market in a nice, suburban neighborhood.  I was standing in the living room looking out on the back yard and a sensation of darkness came over me – I know that may sound strange, but it did.  I told the realtor and she said that it wasn’t the house we were standing in, but the one just across the yard, shrouded in big pine trees.  She told me a woman had been murdered there with an ax while her young daughter, a three-year old, was home with her.  This story shook me, and stayed with me for years.

We ended up moving to Connecticut for a few years and then, after my husband’s fellowship, we moved up to the Albany area.  By then our daughters were 3 and 6.  We ended up renting a house in a rural area of Columbia County, south of Albany.  The house was a cape, built in the early nineteenth century.  My husband had just joined a cardiology group and I was alone a lot of the time with the girls.  Almost immediately strange things started happening in the house.  One day I was walking on the street and this man, a neighbor, came up to me and told me the house was haunted; the owner had moved away and was stuck renting it out.  He said the owner used to go out to dinner and come home to find the furniture rearranged.  We never experienced that, but there were things that freaked me out.  On Halloween, I turned on my computer and the printer started printing out a skeleton head made up of the word Boo.  This was before the Internet – the only thing running through the computer was electricity.  Then, around Thanksgiving, I came home with my hands full of groceries – I was holding a turkey as I recall – and tried to open the front door.  The knob wouldn’t turn, and then I could hear the doorknob being unscrewed from the inside, as if there was somebody behind the door.  The next thing I knew, the knob came off in my hand.  I wrote that scene into the book.  Once, I caught my youngest daughter, three, pointing at something across the room that I couldn’t see, giggling.  At night we’d get into bed and the mattress would shake as if someone – an invisible child – was jumping up and down on the foot of it.  Soon after my oldest daughter, who was six, informed me that three little girl-ghosts were living in the house. They had all died in a fire, she said, and their parents were up in heaven.  It was creepy, sure, but it was also very sad.  On the day we moved out of that house I happened to open a corner cupboard and discovered three pair of shoes, the sort little girls wore in the early 1800s, in age-appropriate sizes of the girl ghosts our daughter had described.

Both of these experiences came together to help me write this book.  I was interested in writing a ghost story that was not the usual terrifying horror story.  Instead, I wanted to show that the real terror in this world simmers among the living.  I have never been back to that house since, but I took the shoes with me I suppose to remind myself of that time, proof, perhaps, that there’s much we don’t know about this wondrous universe, and that every individual on this planet has a story worth telling.

You open your story right away with the murder of George Clare’s wife. Why did you decide to shape your book in this direction rather than building the story out and then ending with the murder?

I thought a lot about starting the novel with Cole Hale’s story of leaving the farm, but I ended up changing my mind.  The murder is still an open case, and it’s the reason I wanted to write the novel.  It presents a fascinating question to the reader, an invitation to investigate.  I was less interested in the murder as any sort of police procedural and more compelled to explore the people whose lives were irrevocably changed by it, including the murderer himself.

1944.91, 45339

(george inness painting/wikipedia)

Since George Clare teaches art history, did you have to do a lot of research to prepare for his role as a professor or have you always been interested in art yourself? Who is your favorite artist?

I’ve always been interested in art and have studied art history for years.  I did do research on the Hudson River School painters, George Inness in particular, which led me to exploring the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth century philosopher who had a very particular insight into life and death and the notion of an afterlife.  Teaching for many years at various colleges supplied me with plenty of source material to create the Art History Department at Saginaw, the fictional college in the book, and one of the main characters, George Clare, who is an art historian.  Halfway through the book George and his friend Bram have a conversation about the value of art.  I think art is extremely important.  I love many painters; I don’t think I could choose a favorite.

elizabeth-brundage-ig

(elizabeth has a gorgeous IG feed- follow her!!)

Did any real-life cases inspire this story and did you have anyone in your life that helped you craft the character of George?

The murder is based on a real cold case murder that remains unsolved.  Several aspects of the case intrigued me, primarily that the young daughter was left alone all day with her dead mother.  I think that is just heartbreaking.  No, George Clare is not based on anyone I know, thank God.

Do you think that George’s wife, Catherine, was as much to blame as he was in the crimes he committed? Do you think if she had done things differently she could have escaped?

I think Catherine Clare was somewhat repressed by the times.  It was the late 70s, the women’s movement was just getting under way.  Her husband, George, terrified her.  They were intent on keeping on the appearance of an ideal marriage, which, I think, many of us do to some degree.  For reasons that I try to explore in the book, she doesn’t have the where-with-all to leave him.  When she finally musters the courage, it’s too late.

Did you do a lot of research on sociopaths to create George? Did you have any scenes in your book that were difficult to write with George?

Once you get into the head of a character, they are pretty much calling the shots, so it wasn’t difficult for me to write George.  I found him to be a very troubled and fascinating character.  To him, everything he does makes perfect sense and is absolutely necessary for his own survival and reputation.  Some of the scenes when he’s with Willis were hard to write because I knew that he was the last person on earth she should be sleeping with.

Do you feel like you have a better understanding of sociopaths after writing this book? I don’t want to share any spoilers, but do you think that George got what he deserved in the end?

George doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to.  He even chooses his own fate in the end.  That falls in line with being a true psychopath, I think.  He has a spectacular ego.  Yes, I did some research on these sorts of disorders, but I believe that the best way to achieve a certain level of authenticity as a writer is to become a patient, thoughtful, and empathetic observer of life.

This book has a large cast of characters and it is almost like the town itself is a character. Did you have a favorite character you enjoyed writing?

My favorite character is Cole Hale.  Throughout the book, we watch him grow up and become the good man that he is.  I have a real soft spot for him.  I also loved writing his brothers Eddy and Wade.  Eddy has an edge to him, but a deep respect for life.  He never doubts himself because he knows who he is; I was a little in love with him.

Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? (This will be added to one of our most visited posts of must-reads from the authors featured in Sundays With Writers)

There have been so many books that I have loved that have influenced me.  Having to pick one is impossible, but I will offer Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, because it’s a great coming of age story full of fascinating, surprising, various, and brilliantly vivid characters my favorite of which is Miss Havisham, one of the all time greatest creations in literature.

You can connect with Elizabeth Brundage on her website ! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

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