The countdown to Pitch Wars (aka #BoostMyBio)

Obviously, if you scroll through my blog posts, you’ll notice I’m intermittent with my blogging, but that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly writing. A recovering Senate staffer, I’m lucky enough to have a great group of clients who help me pay the mortgage keep me busy writing essays, op-eds, reports, and other communications materials, mostly on clean energy and climate change policy.  For my “fun” writing, I try to carve out time most days (usually in the early morning hours) to work on my women’s fiction novel, RUNNING FOR HOME.

The details on RUNNING FOR HOME: This is actually the first novel (of three) I ever wrote. In 2014, after over 100 unsuccessful agent queries, I put this maiden attempt on the shelf—and proceeded to write two more novels. But I couldn’t get RUNNING FOR HOME out of my heart/head. For NaNoWriMo 2017, I dusted it off. And by “dusted it off,” I mean I cut 70,000 (of 97,000) words, made the end the beginning, and rewrote the premise. What was once a love story that ended in the dust and rubble of 9/11 is now the account of an unlikely friendship that emerges after 9/11.

9/11 fiction? Will people want to read that? 9/11 happened. It was super sad and shaped not only our nation, but the generation born after, including my son, born four days after the heroes of United Flight 93 saved our lives by not allowing the 4th plane to crash into the U.S. Capitol. (See why I had to write a 9/11 story?) While the 9/11 scenes occur in the beginning of RUNNING FOR HOME, the primary focus of the novel is on two strong women who bond as they rebuild their lives after the attack.

What else? I’m constantly reading. Recent favorites include The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, Ensemble by Aja Gabel, You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld, and She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop. I don’t watch a ton of TV but am obsessed with the Bachelor franchise (I have written a novel about that too), UnREAL, The Americans, and Younger. I teach yoga, single parent two teenage boys, and have two cats. Fang (pictured left) likes books. Fluffy likes lap(top)s.

Like many authors, I love coffee (but not after 10am), chocolate, and wine. Especially wine. In fact, inspired on a recent trip to France, my fourth manuscript will revolve around a wine theme. I live on the Maryland side of Washington, DC. (Anyone local want to get together for coffee, chocolate, or wine?) Red Sox fan. Shoe lover. Klutz. What more do you want to know? Ask! I’m an open book.

Why Pitch Wars? On a whim, I submitted to Pitch Wars last year and made a bunch of new friends, as well as scoring an unofficial mentor. I love this community and the circle of support it inspires. Whether or not I get chosen, I know my writing and my life will improve thanks to this experience.

Good luck, team. I can’t wait to see your books come into the world.

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My favorite reads of 2017

I just added to Goodreads the latest (and probably last) read in 2017, marking 110 books read this year, 35 more than the goal I set in January.

I hear you ask: how do you have so much time to read? And to that question I respond, I wish I had more time. To be a good writer, I have to be a voracious reader. Thus the librarian recognizes me, Amazon gift cards put a smile on my face and a stack of untouched books pouts next to my bed, each wanting to be the next up. Also facilitating my reading appetite, I gave up cable TV in 2015 and Facebook in 2016, two conduits of time suckage. I sleep and read better without the digital distractions. Not that I don’t partake in social media (hello, Twitter) or watch TV; Project Runway, Game of Thrones, the Bachelor franchise and Veep vie for my attention. But I like books better. And I love recommending books. Not every story is for everybody, thus I put careful consideration into what books I push on which friends. But hands down, the following were my favorite reads of 2017.

Fiction:

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge. The last book I read in 2017 is one of my favorites. This gripping account of castaways stranded on a remote island reeled me in and left me sobbing.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. The most anticipated book of 2017 did not disappoint as the story effortlessly floated between points of view (so hard for the writer to pull off). I cared about each character and felt their absence once I was done reading.

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta. No one conveys disaffected suburbia better than Perrotta and this tale made me laugh out loud. As a Gen-X-er, it was refreshing to read about a woman my age taking on life’s challenges from parenthood to dating.

Touch by Courtney Maum. I cannot stop thinking about this book and how prophetic the notion that someday our digitally obsessed culture may pay for human touch. This work of fiction inspired real life efforts to connect on a deeper level than our handheld devices permit.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The old school Hollywood glamour and grit of this novel kept me turning pages and the love stories gutted me. I read the last 150 pages on an airplane, where my body heaving sobs earned me sympathetic glances and the offer of a package of tissues.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. I felt like I was taking that New Year’s Eve walk with Lillian, who in my perfect book world could meet A Gentleman in Moscow. A lifetime of ups and downs recounted in one night, this story will forever make me look at New Year’s Eve—and a life well lived—differently.

Nonfiction:

Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson. I am not including my dad’s book just because he’s my dad. Hudson Booksellers listed it as a top ten of 2017, as did the Washington Independent Review of Books. This account of a little-known troop of Jewish naturalized American soldiers returning to their homelands to fight Hitler tells a story of redemption, patriotism and bravery.

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose by Joe Biden. I am a sucker for gut-wrenching stories and listening to Biden talk about his son’s illness and death gave me new perspective on the former Vice President, his family’s strength, and what it means to be a public servant. I only rolled my eyes a few times.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. I like nonfiction books that teach me something I don’t already know, and though I live in an urban area not immune to poverty, reading the housing struggles of the Milwaukee families profiled in this work reminded me how even when times are tough, how very lucky I am to have a roof over my head and not have to choose between food or shelter.

What were the books you couldn’t put down? Give me your recommendations. I’m preparing my list for 2018.

Happy reading!