Thursday, May 19, 2016

Interview: Cathy Lamb, author of MY VERY BEST FRIEND

As part of the launch of my latest novel, A Perfumer's Secret, I'm interviewing the wonderful authors who took the time to read and endorse my book. Today, I'm chatting with Cathy Lamb, author of 10 (yes, you read that right -- 10!) amazing novels. And her 11th is set for release later this year! 

So let's talk about her latest release, My Very Best Friend, a story of friendship, but also love in general, loyalty, forgiveness...

Cathy, there are so many themes from life in this novel! What inspired you to write this story, and to set it in Scotland?

I was inspired to write My Very Best Friend in Scotland because I wanted to fly across an ocean and see men in kilts.

Ha! No, the REAL reason I set the book in Scotland is because Rebel Dancing Daughter, our oldest, goes to college there and it gave me a splendid excuse to visit her. Plus, I love Scotland, the Highlands, the perfect, gentle peace of that country, the music and the food. Did I mention the food? I love the food.

Plus, readers love to travel in books and I thought my readers might like to travel with me.

Throughout the book, Charlotte remembers legends told by her father. They create such rich imagery and remain in the reader’s mind long after closing the book; Were these a product of your imagination, or are they legends/stories you had heard or found in your research?

All of the legends I told in the book came right out of my  imagination. I did read Scottish stories, lore, etc. but those stories were mine. I love legends, magic, miracles.

How did you research the book? Did you travel to Scotland? Do you have a Scottish heritage?

We do have Scottish heritage! I even have a letter from an ancestor talking about how our people were from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and England.  All desperate, destitute, needing a new life in America. The Great Britain ancestral part was recently confirmed with DNA from

I have been to Scotland twice, once when I was much younger and totally broke, and then last year when I visited my Rebel Dancing Daughter. I love it. I could live there.

You are such a prolific author, with 10 published books and another on the way. How do you develop your ideas? Do you already have ideas for the next few books in your mind, or do you sit down to think about the next one once you’ve completed your most recent manuscript?

My ideas come from all over. 

I started Julia’s Chocolates with a vision of a crying woman on a deserted, dusty street who was throwing her wedding dress into a dead tree.

With The Last Time I Was Me I was in Welches, Oregon, walking along the river, and wondered what it would be like to run naked at night down that pathway. The whole vision made me laugh, for numerous reasons, but I made Jeanne Stewart do it.

I am so intrigued by artists who make creative, wild art and I gave that skill to Stevie in Such A Pretty Face. She made fantastical, huge chairs, then hid them in her shed. I built part of the story around those chairs. 

For Grenadine in What I Remember Most, I knew I had my story when I thought of her name: Grenadine Scotch Wild. It took off from there.

The trick is to be open to new ideas flowing through. The beach helps. So does chocolate and coffee. My garden is a total distraction because I would often rather be digging in the dirt than working.

When ideas for the next book come to mind but I am still writing the current book, I write them down in a document called – wait for it – Ideas For Books. And then I put them aside. My brain is small and tired. I cannot have multiple ideas floating around in my head or I’ll get confused and flip the characters and plot lines around and a story that is set in Oregon will suddenly move to Montana and the characters from different novels will become friends or enemies.

Total literary and mental chaos.  

When I finish one book, I take a break, then start journaling ideas for the next book. I have a small addiction to journals.

What can you tell us about your next book? And do you have a release date set?

My next book is titled The Language of Sisters, and it’s out September 1. A few clues about the story…

1.      Toni Kozlovsky lives on a yellow tugboat in the Willamette River. She needed space to breathe.

2.      Toni has two sisters. They can sometimes hear each other in their heads, a message coming through. It’s odd, it’s inexplicable. It’s a gift handed down the Sabonis family line through their widow’s peaks. Their mother had it, too.

3.      The Kozlovsky family immigrated from Russia when Toni was a little girl. They left a lot of secrets there… and the secrets have been running after them ever since.

4.      The family has many crazy members and the dynamics can be mind blowing. You might relate to some of them.

5.      Toni has something hidden in a little shed next to her tugboat. She doesn’t want to look at it. She doesn’t want to think about it. But she does.

6.       Love. Laughter. Funny stuff. A blue heron, a woman named Daisy, a DEA agent who lives down the dock, a restaurant, a scary man. Pillow making, skinny dipping, too much wine. More laughter.

7.      I hope you like it, I truly do.

This is a snippet from Charlotte Mackintosh in “My Very Best Friend.” Charlotte is a time travel romance writer who has no romance. She lives like a hermit on an island and goes skinny dipping. She puts her four cats in a specially made cat stroller. She’s different. She’s a lot of fun.

“I detest flying. You could correctly call it ‘pathologically afraid.’ I cannot breathe on planes. I know that I am going to die a fiery death as we plunge into the ocean.

I have studied planes, their engines, and why they stay in the air in depth. My studies took two years. I understand mathematical aerodynamics description, thrust, lift, Newton, and Bernoulli’s principle.

I even had three tours at Boeing.

I have talked to pilots and engineers and examined blueprints for planes. Yet the sensible part of me knows that the plane will crash at any moment because nothing this large, heavy, and rigid was ever meant to be in the sky.

This knowledge is in direct contrast to my physics studies. I acknowledge this dichotomy.

I sat down in my first-class seat. I need room if I fly. I don’t want to be sandwiched next to strangers who will be intruding upon my space by body part or by air. I prefer to die within my own confines.

Inside my carry-on bag I had these things: Travel-sized bottles of Scotch. My list folder. A handkerchief. Travel-sized bottles of whiskey. My own tea bags—chamomile, peppermint, and for my adventurous side, Bengal Tiger. Three journals to write in if my writer’s block dissolves. Pictures of my cats. Travel-sized bottles of tequila.

Two books on gravitational physics and evolutionary biology.

I adjusted my glasses. If we’re going to crash, I want them to be sturdily placed on my nose so I can see our doomed descent. My glasses have brown rims. I affixed clear tape on the left arm, as it’s cracked. I’ve been meaning to go to the eye doctor to get it fixed, but the tape seems to be functioning well. It does make my glasses tilt to the left, though. Not much of a problem, except if one is worried about appearance, which I am not.
I rechecked the top button on my beige blouse to make sure it was still fastened. I had been able to get most of the blueberry and ketchup stains out of it. If I end up in the ocean, I want to be covered. No need to show my ragged, but sturdy, bra.

My underwear is beige or white, and cotton. When there are more than two holes, I throw them out. High risers, you could call them. I like to be properly covered, no tiny, lacy, itchy tidbits for me, even though I put McKenzie Rae, the heroine in all of my time travel romance novels, in tiny lacy tidbits that do not itch her.

If we crash, I can assure you that my underwear will stand up far better to the fire and flying debris than a tidbit would.

I situated my brown corduroy skirt and took off my brown, five-year-old sturdy shoes and put on my blue slippers with pink rabbit ears that Bridget sent me. I took out a tiny bottle of Scotch, as my hands were already shaking.

My seatmate, a man who appeared to be about my age, was white faced. “I hate flying,” he muttered. I heard the Texan drawl.

“Me too. Here. Have a drink.” I pulled out another bottle.

“Thank you, ma’am, I am much obliged.”

We clinked our tiny bottles together. His hands were shaking, too.

We both breathed shallowly. “Close your eyes, inhale,” I said. “Find your damn serenity. Think of your sunflowers…bells of Ireland…catnip…sweet Annies…wild tea roses…”

“Think of your ranch…” he said, barely above a whisper. “Think of your cows. Your tractors. The bulls. Castration day.”

The vision of castration day was unpleasant. I closed my eyes again.

We inhaled.

We drank.

We shook.

We took off. I started to sweat. So did he.

“My turn,” he said when we were done with the first bottle. He handed me a tiny bottle of Scotch out of his briefcase.

“Cheers to aerodynamics, thrust, lift, and Bernoulli’s principle.”

“Cheers to your green eyes, darlin’. Those are bright twinklers. Brighter than the stars in Texas, may she reign forever.”

“Thank you. May Newton’s laws reign forever.”

Third round on me.

Fourth on him, ordered from the flight attendant, who said cheerily, annoyingly, “Nervous flyers?”

The fourth round did the trick. We decided to sing the National Anthem together, then “Frosty the Snowman” and two songs by Neil Diamond. One was “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which made him cry, so I cried, too, in solidarity. The annoying flight attendant asked us to be quiet.

We sang “The Ants Go Marching Down” in whispery voices, then I taught him a Scottish drinking song about a milkmaid. We woke up in Amsterdam, his head on my shoulder.

I wriggled him awake. “It was a pleasure getting drunk with you.”

“The pleasure was all mine, green eyes,” he drawled in his Texan drawl. “It seems we have arrived alive.”

“We did our part. Praise to Newton.”

We stumbled off the plane, shook hands, and I caught the next flight to Edinburgh. I forgot to change out of my blue slippers with pink rabbit ears before I walked through the airport. No matter. The top button on my beige blouse was still buttoned and I was in one piece.

I put my hand to my head. Lord. I hate flying and I hate airplane hangovers.”

Thanks, very much, Cathy, for stopping by!

Check out these links to keep up with Cathy's news...





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Research in Provence, A USA TODAY interview, and the Scent of Happy...

The quote in the image above is a little clue about who I'll be interviewing right here tomorrow... I'm very excited about that!

In the meantime, I thought I would share links to guest posts I've written, an interview and even an excerpt of A PERFUMER'S SECRET... Happy reading! 

USA Today -- Happy Ever After (Interview with yours truly) 

Tall Poppy Writers blog (Behind-the-Scenes: Novel Research in the South of France) 

Shelf Pleasure (What Does Happy Smell Like? When the Sense of Smell Guides the Author…)  

My Novel Opinion (Excerpt, A Perfumer's Secret) 

Women's Fiction Writers (4 Tips to Make Sociological Issues Shine in Fiction) 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Launch: A Perfumer's Secret...

Escape to the South of France and the world of perfume in this novel of a lost perfume formula, family secrets and love... I'm delighted to announce the release of my novel A Perfumer's Secret.

As part of the launch, I've got a lot of exciting things going on today. And I hope you'll follow along! Here's the agenda...

Tall Poppy Writers blog (Behind-the-Scenes: Novel Research in the South of France) 
USA Today -- Happy Ever After (Interview with yours truly) 
Shelf Pleasure (What Does Happy Smell Like? When the Sense of Smell Guides the Author…)  

About the book:

Perfumer Zoe Flore travels to Grasse, perfume capital of the world, to collect a formula: her inheritance from the family she never knew existed. The scent matches the one worn by her mother, who passed away when Zoe was a teenager. Zoe, competing to create a new fragrance for a prestigious designer, believes this scent could win the contract—and lead her to the reason her mother fled Grasse for New York City.

Before Zoe can discover the truth, the formula is stolen. And she's not the only one looking for it. So is Loulou, her rebellious teenage cousin; Philippe, her alluring competitor for the fragrance contract; and a third person who never wanted the formula to slip into the public in the first place.

The pursuit transforms into a journey of self-discovery as each struggles to understand the complexities of love, the force of pride and the meaning of family.

Find A Perfumer's Secret on Amazon!

Happy reading!

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Perfumer's Secret: A Sneak Peek at my Guest Post Agenda...

A Perfumer's Secret, my novel set in the flower fields of the South of France, is set to launch on Monday... and as part of the launch, I have an exciting month of guest posts lined up! I hope you'll follow along. Here is a sneak peek at the agenda and what I'll be writing about!

May 16:
Tall Poppy Writers blog (Behind-the-Scenes: Novel Research in the South of France)
USA Today -- Happy Ever After (Interview with yours truly)
Shelf Pleasure (What Does Happy Smell Like? When the Sense of Smell Guides the Author…)
May 17:
My Novel Opinion (Excerpt, A Perfumer's Secret)
Women's Fiction Writers (4 Tips to Make Sociological Issues Shine in Fiction)

May 18:
Always With a Book (What is Love? My Favorite Love Story Ingredients)

May 19:
Right here on Adria in Paris: My interview with Cathy Lamb, author of My Very Best Friend

May 21:
The Debutante Ball (Do Characters Have to be Likable? No. Here’s Why…)

May 22:
Writer Unboxed (Meeting the Reader’s French Expectations (Or Not)!)

May 27:
Writers in the Storm (What’s in a Name? How to Avoid the “Claire” Confusion)

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Win Paris, Rue des Martyrs!

Paris, Rue des Martyrs is just the right book to put you in the "Paris in the Spring" kind of mood... And now you can win the book (ebook format)! Just head to the bottom of this post and enter through the Rafflecopter widget.

As you'll see, to enter, you just have to follow me on BookBub. (If you haven't heard of BookBub, it's a website that alerts readers of deals on great ebooks.) By following me on BookBub, you'll be the first to know about my book deals and new releases!

Thanks and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother’s Day: It Started with a Dress…

My girl and the dress

Today, my daughter is wearing a dress that my grandma made for me when I was her age. So yeah, at the ripe old age of five, she’s going vintage. When I showed her the dress, I wasn’t expecting her to want to wear it, this classic little number with a ribbon of lace around the neck—how could it compete with the Frozen dresses or Cinderella T-shirts? And yet, the story of my grandma making clothing for me somehow won out over Anna, Elsa and the Frozen fashions.

Then there are stories of my mother and me; how we would go shopping, drink tea, take a walk on the beach, save fallen birds, get drenched in Florida storms. Even the simplest memory delights my daughter, who now wonders “What does Grandma do in the clouds all day?” I answer, “All of the wonderful things she never got a chance to do when she was here.”

My daughter and I will never have one of those photos of my mom, my daughter and me—three generations happily smiling for posterity. But my mom is still so much a part of our lives. It’s almost as if, in every photo of my daughter and me, Mom is perched there right behind us, whispering her stories into our ears. 

And so this Mother’s Day, I will whisper back “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” Because she is with us through our memories, our values, our laughter and even our behavior (the times when I say “Oh no!! I sound just like my mother!”).

Mother’s Day is all about celebrating our mothers and their mothers forever—after all, their love is endless. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Interview: Award-winning Author Amy Impellizzeri

Today I'm delighted to chat with author Amy Impellizzeri, who so kindly has supported me in the launch of my latest novel, The Creepshow. Amy is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and award-winning author of Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) and Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015). (I loved Lemongrass Hope; a truly magical book that you'll want to add to your reading list!)

Amy, you worked at a big Manhattan law firm. Did you write Lawyer Interrupted before or after your departure, and what inspired you to write the book?

I left my Manhattan corporate law gig in 2009 for what was supposed to be a one year sabbatical. By the end of the year, however, I had done something I had not originally expected to do. I had successfully transitioned from a 13-year litigation career. I had joined the executive team of a start-up company and I had started a book that would ultimately become my fiction debut, Lemongrass Hope. I wrote in various journals about my transition from Biglaw, but in 2013, when an agent named Kathy Welton called me out of the blue to talk about pitching Lawyer Interrupted, I said “You have just described the book I have been wanting to write for 4 years now!”

I know you’re a big supporter of equality in the workplace. What can we as authors and readers do to support the cause? 

Well writing a book like The Creepshow is a great start! 
I love the conversation that this book is generating. I have spent a lot of time lobbying for legislation (particularly in my home state of Pennsylvania) that would make it illegal to discriminate based on parental status. Did you know that in most U.S. states, it is perfectly legal to ask a job candidate whether they are a parent – and whether they are a single parent – and to make hiring and firing decisions based on that information? As long as you ask BOTH men and women the question, it is not considered gender discrimination. But we know from the statistics that this loophole results in discrimination against largely single mothers – much as described in The Creepshow.

How did you transition from law to becoming an author of fiction? Was fiction writing something you’d always wanted to do? 

I was always a writer. But in college, I put away my creative writing journals and decided to focus exclusively on legal writing. I spent the next 20 years of legal training and my legal career writing in other people’s voices – and not my own. When I left the law in 2009, I broke out those old journals, found my voice again, and never looked back. I love writing fiction  - love writing in my own voice finally! - and hope it’s something I can continue to do for a long, long time!

Is there anything you miss (or things you don’t miss) about your legal career? Will we ever find the courtroom in any of your future books, in fiction or nonfiction?

I wouldn’t say I miss my legal career. For me it was a leg of the journey that I loved for a long time. Until I didn’t. I definitely attack my writing like a litigator (searching for plot holes, and painstaking attention to detail, for example) so it has definitely affected me in this leg of my journey as well. Funny that you ask about courtroom scenes in my novels! In the manuscript I am working on (which with any luck will be my THIRD novel – more about my second novel below!) there is indeed a trial scene or two with a very unique defense put forth by an expert witness. I specialized in expert witness testimony in the later years of my litigation career so these are scenes that are really fun to write! 

Lemongrass Hope is a magical realism/time travel love story. What can we expect from you next? Will your next book be in the same genre?

My second novel (which does not have a publication date just yet, but I hope to have some good news on that front very soon!) is entitled Secrets of Worry Dolls. It does not involve time travel, but it does span over two decades and takes place in both Guatemala and New York City. There is indeed a bit of magical realism and mysticism in Secrets of Worry Dolls. I don’t want to reveal too much more just yet other than to say it is a story about mothers, daughters, and sisters, and of course … secrets!

Thanks, Amy, for stopping by! 

You can keep up with Amy by checking out her website, or following her on Facebook and Twitter


Here's what Amy had to say about The Creepshow: "An insider's look inside the messy world of high finance--a kind of 'Devil Wears Prada' for international investment firms--The Creepshow also delivers a poignant modern love story set in Paris. What's not to love?"