Notes from a Drama Queen

Mental Health

Monday, February 23, 2009

So, yes, I'm adorable. If you have any doubts, check this out:

You can find more on Youtube.

And I'm delighted to announce that DOGS AND GODDESSES has been on the New York Times Extended list for two weeks, which is really quite delightful. I love that book, and apparently other people do too (it got starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal).

I've been listening to my books on audio recently, and I find they're perfect for putting me to sleep. Lest you think my books are soporific, let me explain. When I was very young I'd tell myself romantic stories to put myself to sleep. As escape from the stress of a difficult home life, I'd make up complicated and wonderful tales (and then started writing them down in fifth grade). I can even remember back to kindergarten or first grade when I was in love with Peter Pan and wanted to be Wendy. Unfortunately I didn't realize Peter Pan was Mary Martin, or I might have had gender issues the rest of my life.

Ah, but back to my tale of mental health. (Can you tell I'm writing historicals? My language is becoming very arch). You can find a few of my books at iTunes. I'm just so hip! Anyway, I downloaded them, and it's been fascinating. I've discovered THE WIDOW is a much better book than I remembered, though the audio is disappointing. That one is abridged and I hate the stuff they cut. However, it was very interesting to see that they were able to cut there, meaning the stuff I'd originally put in that spot might have been redundant.
The version of ICE STORM is wonderful, with a great reader (though some of the voices are a little off and Reno sounds a bit like Charlie Chan), and ICE BLUE is almost as good. So I curl up next to my husband, put my earphones in, and fall asleep.
Yesterday I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (TMI, I know) and in the fog of sleep, as I pulled off the earphones, I thought first, "I love story." And then the words came into my mind, "I love me."
That surprised me enough to wake me entirely. When you're in that half-awake stage there aren't any lies, any defenses, and for that to come through is really astonishing. And comforting. And I realize, despite my flaws, that I do love me.
Most of all I love my books, with a grand passion. But I love that I'm generous, kind, unwilling to take shit, have the best husband in the world, live in a beautiful place, have fabulous cats. The list could go on forever.
In fact, I'm the person I wanted to be when I grew up. Except fatter.
But then, everyone's fatter than they want to be.
Loving oneself is an absolute prerequisite to mental health. Now I've never had a long-term relationship with mental health -- more a question of one-night stands, but I think I'm at the point where I can stand tall and let the craziness of life flow by me.
Which is quite wonderful. Who would have thought I'd finally get it together at the age of 60?

So I'm hoping you can love yourselves as well. It makes all sorts of things possible, and trust me, we're all magnificent, even if some of us cover it up more than others.

Throw your head back, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after me -- "I'm fabulous! A goddess! I love me."

Trust me, it's good feeling.

Home again

Monday, February 16, 2009

The life of the New York Times Bestseller (yes, we hit #29!) returns to normal. The mini-book tour is at an end, the Goddess Reunion is over (we spent our last night rolling on the floor over Big Trouble (the Dave Barry movie) and Tropic Thunder (we have no class but damn, it was brilliant).
We took off the next day after a delicious breakfast, I had a belated Valentine's Day dinner with my beloved Richie, and now I'm home, ready to ...
Sandwich generation again. But enough of whining. Here's what I learned:

FAMILY is what you make it. Sometimes family turns out to be a couple of fellow writers you're so attuned with that everything feels right when you're around them.
GLITTERING PRIZES come and go. Making the NYT extended is lovely, lovely, lovely. But what matters more is that the book works.
ANIMALS RULE. Jenny has three fabulous long-haired dachshunds -- Wolfie, Veronica and divine Milton. I have three fabulous cats -- Cello, Pooska and Phantom. They cuddle. They curl up on your chest. They bring the blood pressure down and give you a warm feeling in your heart.
BOOK TOURS are exhausting. You'd think "what's the big deal?" but really, they wear you out. Nothing is nicer than having a long line of people wanting us to sign books, but in the end you're wiped out and ready to make an absolute pig of yourself at Steak N Shake and then you have to sit up all night in a chair so you don't get a killer case of heartburn and ... but I digress. They're exhausting, but part of the job, and it's fabulous to meet readers. Plus there's the aforementioned Steak N Shake, which is divine in moderation.
AIR TRAVEL sucks. 'Nuff said.
And I'd do it all over again at the drop of a hat.
If you could choose your family, who would you pick? I'd pick Lani and Jenny and Richie and Lani's children, and I'd pick Vermont. They'd pick me but they'd pick Cincinati. To understand the absurdity of that choice, check this out:

Tell me about your chosen family.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I've collaborated again. This time with Jenny Crusie and Lani Diane Rich, and we had absolutely the best time in the world. We met in an apartment in Greenwich Village, at Jenny's magic house in an enchanted forest, and on-line, and the three of us cobbled together a strange and wondrous tale of three women who discovered they are destined to be goddesses, the first sign being that their dogs start talking to them. My character is Abby, a warm, easy-going earth mother who wants to feed the world without ever listening to her own hunger, and she meets up with an extremely hot, extremely grumpy professor. She's a virgin, but once she runs into Christopher Mackenzie her virginity and her abstinence soon disappear. She has a huge black Newfoundland named Bowser who's most definitely an old soul, and if Abby had just listened to his wise advice she would have avoided a lot of trouble.
In the meantime, Lani has a control freak web-code writer named Daisy, who falls in love with Noah, who isn't who or what he seems, and a hyperactive Jack Russell terrier named Bailey, and Jenny has Shar, a college professor of a certain age who falls in love with a god who's up for sacrifice. Not good prospects for a happy ever after. She's got Wolfie, the highly neurotic long haired dachshund, and a lot of reservations.
Plus lots of supporting characters and one hell of a villainess. How can you resist?
It's coming out on Tuesday, and I promise it's laugh out loud funny (at least, I laughed out loud and Lani's and Jenny's parts). So enjoy.
For more information go to
Okay, end of commercial. I gotta say I really love collaborating. Writing the same thing over and over again can make me start to feel stale. That's one reason I'm taking time off from the ICE series to write three quick historicals. Because it's been so long since I've been able to write a wickedly decadent Georgian hero who drips lace and disdain and debauchery, and a relatively virtuous heroine who doesn't put up with his crap.
There's the saying -- so many books, so little time, which usually refers to reading. But man, I've got so many books to write that I'll never get through them all.
It's like what Auntie Mame said -- "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death. Live!"
Joy doesn't take money. The world is full of wonderful and fascinating things that don't cost a cent. In particular, you can go anywhere in books, whether you're reading them or writing them. Right now I'm having a fabulous time in 18th century Paris (pre-Revolution). I'm going to get to Colombia where poor MacGowan is being held captive by rebels, and then I'll probably travel to the land for fairy tales with Jenny and Lani -- magic towers with witches and princesses and dumb-ass princes who aren't nearly as delicious as the wicked wizards.

And the good thing is, you can get to that world for cheap (the price of a book) or a visit to the library, you can go anywhere within the limits of imagination, and you know as well as I do that there are no limits.

So tell me, what world are you looking to go to in the next few weeks?