9 in ’09 with Tish Cohen and Book Giveaway

This Friday Canadian writer, Tish Cohen, joins me for 9 questions.  I reviewed Inside Out Girl last year and it was a 2008 favorite.  Tish is a novelist, YA writer, and children’s book author.  Visit her website http://www.tishcohen.com/ for more information.  Thank you so much for answering my questions and for offering a free book, Tish!

Ms. Cohen is graciously offering a signed copy of Inside Out Girl to ONE lucky reader.  To enter please leave a comment on this post after reading the interview, one entry per person.  There are no shipping restrictions.  I’ll draw a winner next Friday, February 6th, at noon.

Cover Image

1. Your first book, Town House, is being made into a movie.  Can you tell us a little about the process and how involved you are?

I’m not involved in the process beyond getting to read the script and hearing which actors are being considered.  But I’ve learned a great deal nonetheless–most of all that Hollywood is a hurry up and wait industry.  I think it’s important to trust the people who are making your film adaptation – I feel pretty lucky with my studio, producer, screenwriter, and director.  They all want to produce a quality film and I couldn’t ask for more than that.

2. I loved your novel, Inside Out Girl, and it’s most compelling character, Olivia, who is stricken with NLD (nonverbal learning disorders).  What is the one thing you want people to know about this disorder?

My close friend is a family therapist and once told me her favorite clients are the children with non-verbal learning disorders, because of their loving dispositions–naivete’, and utter inability to connect with other children.  She loved that they talked too close, constantly knocked things over, said the wrong thing, and still got lost on the way to the restroom down the hall in an office they’d been coming to for five years.  Often they can’t walk up the stairs and talk at the same time, their clothes are inside out and their lack of motor skills means they can’t brush their own teeth.  If you tell them to jump in a lake, they probably will.  Frustrating, to say the least.

But they will hug you until you weep.  They not only wear their hearts on their sleeves, but on a neon sign above their heads.  They see nothing wrong with marching straight up to the meanest clique in middle grade or the bully everyone fears and wrapping themselves around them in a full-body hug.  And they cannot for the life of them see why they’re rejected.

I thought about what it would mean to have a child with NLDand the joy and pain that would entail.  Then I wondered what that parent would do if he found out he was dying and had to leave his daughter in a world that doesn’t understand her.  The reason I chose a father and daughter for this story was very deliberate.  Parents of girls with conditions such as NLD or Asperger’sface a very real threat, especially as their daughters reach adolescence.  Girls with social disorders can be so naive that they can be easily preyed upon by males.  And lacking a healthy level of skepticism or wariness, they can easily be lured into dangerous situations.

3. You have written two novels and a children’s book.  How is the process of writing the two different?

Honestly, all the same elements go into a children’s book: character development, plot development, subplots and layered storylines, etc.  It’s all there but the energy is amped up.  Kids’ books can be quite a bit of fun and it’s always interesting to mine your children’s school lives for funny happenings!

4. What is the best aspect of life as a writer?

Hmm…great question.  There are some things that are exciting–the film stuff and the TV stuff (Zoe Lama has been optioned for a television series), meeting other authors at literary events, forming close friendships with other writers who “get” what you’re going through.  But I think the best aspect would be making up lives and characters and worlds for a living.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  It gets to the point thinking about imaginary people keeps you sane!

5. How did you first get published?

I had certainly had much rejection before Town House sold.  I secured an agent withmy first manuscript, but the book didn’t sell.  And rightly so, as it was severely lacking in plot!  I probably would have given up at that point but the rejections were quite encouraging so I wrote another manuscript using what I’d learned from the rejections.  Also, I realized at that point I needed an agent who was more familiar with the fiction market (my first agent was primarily non-fiction) and parted ways withher, eventually landing the agent I have now.  He’s a dream agent and was willing to work with me as I got the next book ready for sale.  But that book didn’t sell.  Came close but no sale.  In the meantime, I wrote Town House, again, learning from my rejections.  Then when it came time for my agent to send Town House to editors, I made a decision.  If no one jumped on it right away, I would go fill out an application at The Gap.  The book went out on a Thursday and, unbeknownst to me, the editors slipped it to literary scouts who work for Hollywood and a week later we had a film offer from Fox.  It sold as a book one week later.  The film thing was a huge shock, totally unexpected.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

One of my favorite quotes is from Steve Martin.  “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

7.  What are you reading right now?

Meg Wolitzer’s The Ten-Year Nap.  Great book.

8. If you got stuck in the life of one fictional character, who would you choose?

Miss Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.  Horses, long dresses, and Mr. Darcy.  Need I say more?

9. And finally, what are you working on right now?

My debut teen novel, Little Black Lies, is coming out in September, so I’m working on edits.  And my third novel for adults comes out in a year, so I’m writing the first draft and having a ball with it.

Books by Tish Cohen- Town House, Inside Out Girl, Zoe Lama children’s books.

Leave a comment to be entered in the free book drawing.




Working Stiff, by Tori Carrington

Cover ImageFinished 1-28-09, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2008

Book 4 of the Sophie Metropolis series

“I’d been so busy questioning the restraints on my life, I haven’t had a chance to focus on the possibilities. 

My parents’ fault?  Or my own?

The jury was still out on that one.  Although the verdict wouldn’t matter…

Now it was up to me to convince myself that there wasn’t a thing out there I couldn’t do.”

Chapter 27

Sophie Metropolis is turning into quite the successful private investigator.  She has a few big cases under her belt, but is far from esteemed in her Astoria, Queens community.  Now she is asked to find a dead body that has disappeared from her Aunt Sotiria’s funeral home and hired to prove an alleged murderer innocent.  Her assistant is as sassy as ever and her pseudo reformed cousin is proving helpful. 

While business is booming, her personal life is getting complicated.  Her dog, Muffy, is acting weird and when a stray black cat takes up residence in her apartment the high-jinks ensue.  Sexy Greek, Dino, is warming Sophie’s bed until a chance encounter leaves her questioning their relationship.  And when hot Aussie, Jake Porter, rolls back into town he knows just how to make Sophie forget about Dino.

Sophie seemed a little more introspective and perhaps a little depressed this time around.  Maybe is was her messed up romantic life and her fight with her sister, but Sophie was less irreverent in this book.  And I missed her nosy Greek family.  I did love that her relationship with Muffy is evolving.  Overall, I liked the book, but maybe not as much as the previous ones.

I’ve mentioned before that this series reminds  me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but with more heart.  The characters are comical without being cartoon characters and there are fewer (okay, none) outrageous shootouts.  This was my least favorite Sophie Metropolis mystery and I still prefer it over Stephanie Plum.

Why We Suck, by Denis Leary

CD Audiobook CoverFinished audio 1-25-09, rating 3.5/5, humor, pub.2008

Let me start by noting that I listened to the abridged audio version read by author, Denis Leary.  I never listen to abridged books on tape and I didn’t know that’s what I had until I was halfway through.  That being said, I am not interested in reading this book in full.  Denis Leary has such a unique voice that it would not be the same if I read it.  His biting wit is better heard than read.  So, for the first time ever I am recommending an abridged cd over the actual book (gasp).  Another benefit of the cds?  The Irish music played between chapters.

My favorite aspect of this book were the endless stories of his Irish American childhood.  Stories of “when I was a kid…” were not annoying with Leary’s acid tongue.  My favorite story was one that involved Denis being shot in the head with an arrow by his brother and then running home with the arrow still sticking out of his noggin.  There is also an ongoing conversation with his mom which is funny and will probably remind you of at least one person you know (in a good way).

This book will offend you.  Somewhere, something will rub you the wrong way, but if you wait a few minutes you will probably be chuckling again.  I laughed out loud often, even though I never like jokes involving Jesus and I thought he went on a bit too much about having a mom home all the time.  There are plenty of things that will make you laugh- Dr.Phil, annoying children, his new love affair with Oprah, and the circus that is paparazzi.

Denis Leary received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Emerson College.  So he’s DOCTOR Denis Leary to the masses 🙂

Teaser Tuesdays

teasertuesdays2TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers


“He used to have a habit of tinkering around with my sheila (my car), even as I’d tried to tempt him into tinkering with something else (me).  Strangely enough, he had a habit of popping up at just the right minute whenever I needed help.  Something that didn’t sit well with me because I liked to think I could take care of myself.”

Working Stiff by Tori Carrington, page 61

Come on, tease me with your current read!

Who’s that Prez Quiz?

CONGRATS MARK!  Have you been studying?

In honor of the the new President  this week’s quiz is full of quotes from past Presidents (of the United States!) and one from our new President.

Here’s how to play…Identify the President and leave a comment with the # and the name and I’ll cross it off the list. No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun! 

Possible Presidents left-Wilson, Eisenhower,  Truman, Washington, Nixon, Clinton, CArter,  Kennedy

1.” A man is not finished when he is defeated.  He is finished when he quits.”–RICHARD NIXON

2.” We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war.”–JIMMY CARTER

3. “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”  RONALD REAGAN, Mark

4. “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”  ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Mark

5. “You can’t know too much, but you can say too much.”  CALVIN COOLIDGE,  Janet

6. “Do not pray for easy lives.  Pray to be stronger men.”–JOHN F KENNEDY

7. “Success is not the measure of a man but a triumph over those who choose to hold him back.”–BILL CLINTON

8. “I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”–WOODROW WILSON

9. “I despise people who go to the gutter on either the right or the left and hurl rocks at those in the center.” —DWIGHT D EISENHOWER

10. “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’  liberty’s teeth.”–GEORGE WASHINGTON

11. “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make.  Either you are with us, or are you with the terrorists.”  GEORGE W BUSH, Elena

12. “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”     FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT, Jason

13. “I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances…This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.”  GERALD FORD, Kathy

14. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”–HARRY S TRUMAN

15. Americans…still believe in America where anything’s possible-they just don’t think their leaders do.”  BARACK OBAMA, Mark

Second Nature, by Alice Hoffman

Cover ImageFinished 1-23-09, 2/5, fiction, pub. 1994

There was the faint possibility that Roy was right, that she’d become so intent on having things her way she’d stopped thinking altogether, driven by something as untrustworthy as pure emotion.  She now had, after all, a man in her kitchen who could easily murder her and sneak out the back door without leaving any footprints behind.

Chapter 2

Robin is an almost divorced mother of a teen son.  The Wolf Man had been living with the wolves in northern Michigan since he was three and was found later, as an adult, wounded by two hunters.  The Wolf Man, eventually known as Stephen, refuses to talk to the medical doctors and he is locked up in mental hospitals until Robin comes along and rescues him.  She whisks him away to her home in suburbia and plans to teach Stephen what he needs to know to blend into society and someday make his way back to Michigan.

I could not get past the ridiculous premise to completely enjoy the characters in the story.  A wolf/man who has lived with a wolf pack from the age of 3 1/2 with no human interaction, can read, write, hold conversations with strangers, and begin an affair all within the span of a few months?  There were many other storylines—Robin’s divorce, Connor’s first love, an aging parent’s declining health, and a brother’s nervous breakdown–that were all interesting and engaging, yet the wolf man was always there to remind me how outrageous it all was.  His character kept pulling me out of the story.  That being said, I did like other characters and the true emotions of love, loyalty, and betrayal.

I’ve read other Alice Hoffman titles I liked, but this was a complete miss for me.

9 in ’09 with Carla Neggers

This Friday New York Times bestselling author, Carla Neggers, has graciously agreed to answer 9 questions.  She has written over 50 books and 10 best sellers.  I have reviewed The Widow and The Angel. 

Carla graduated magna cum laude from Boston University and lives with her husband in Vermont.  You can visit her website for more information, http://www.carlaneggers.com

I met Carla last May at a book signing here in Cleveland (photo below).  She was charming and gracious enough to spend an hour answering our questions.  When I contacted her yesterday about doing this interview she contacted me and answered my questions within 24 hours.  Thank you Carla! 

1. I loved the Ireland setting for The Angel and I know it was inspired, at least in part, by a family vacation.  Have any other of your travels shown up in your books?
Ireland’s incredible. I can’t wait to go there again! I’ve been to almost every place my books have been set. One of my early mainstream novels, BETRAYALS, is being reissued in March (with a stunning new cover), and part of it is set in southern France. Where I’ve never been. I must go, don’t you think? Many of my books are set in New England, where I live, so that’s easy; and Boston is “my” city. THE RAPIDS, one of the books in my “U.S. Marshals” series, is partly set in Holland. My father was Dutch, and I have many first cousins there. In fact, we’re heading to Holland this summer for a visit…via London and Paris. 😉
2. You have written so many books.  Would you consider any of the characters favorites or more personal to you? 
Every character is an individual to me. I can see them — they’re no more interchangeable in my mind than my six brothers and sisters are to me. Right now, I’m totally taken with the Rush family in THE MIST. They own boutique hotels and have a penchant for spying. And the Davenports…Will Davenport makes a brief appearance in THE ANGEL but takes center stage in THE MIST. He and Lizzie Rush have to stop an American billionaire bent on violent revenge.
3. You are a New York Times bestselling author.  What advice do you have for other writers who are trying to achieve that goal?
Focus on writing the best book you can. There’s an old saying that a good book is a writer’s triumph and a bestseller is a publisher’s triumph. And celebrate every milestone on the way. Don’t wait to make the bestseller lists to break out the champagne!
4.  Do you read reviews of your books, in print or online, and how do they affect you?
Everyone appreciates a compliment! 
5.  Do you have any rituals or routines when you are writing?
I try never to eat at the computer. 🙂 
6.  I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?
I have two mottos. One is from the Tao: “Let life ripe and fall, force is not the way at all.” The other is from a friend: “Anxiety focuses the mind.” They’re not as contradictory as you might think!
7.  What are you reading right now?
THE MEMORIST by M.J. Rose. It’s fabulous! 
8.  If you were placed in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?
One who lives happily ever after!
9.  And finally, what are you working on now?
I’m writing COLD RIVER, the sequel to COLD PURSUIT — which has my first-ever true cliffhanger ending. We know “whodunit” but we don’t know the mastermind behind the killers. COLD RIVER is set in Vermont in the middle of winter…so research is easy. I’m going cross-country skiing on my lunch hour today. Research!
For a complete list of Carla’s books, click here.

A Gentle Rain, by Deborah Smith

Cover ImageFinished on 1-20-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2007

Shakey pointed a fake finger at me.  “You and that scar-faced mare?  You’re racin’ for all of us who are missin’ a part or two.  You probably won’t win, but at least you’ll get in the game.  You’re proof that God needs even the angels who are missin’ a wing.”

Chapter 20

Kara was raised as one of the elite.  Worth millions, with powerful friends in all the right places, she always felt inferior to her very successful relatives.  When her parents die she discovers she had been adopted and decides to find her bith parents.  Mac and Lily are still together and living on the Thocco Ranch.  Kara changes her name and heads to Florida where she ingratiates herself into the lives of everyone at the ranch. 

Ben Thocco has come up the hard way.  Born dirt poor he lost his parents at a young age and had to escape to Mexico with his younger brother so the courts would not separate them.  Now, in his late 30’s, he is a successful Florida ranch owner still caring for his younger brother who suffers from Down’s Syndrome and a serious heart condition.  His ranch hands are special needs adult who contribute to the ranch and form a makeshift family of society’s outcasts. 

This story of mentally challenged adults and a love between two people who need each other really touched me.  The theme of being different and being loved and accepted anyway is one that we should all be reminded of from time to time.  The book drew me in because of the people, but there was also so much story to tell.  Ben is fighting to save his ranch and his brother’s life and Kara is trying to come to terms with her wealth and what is best for her birth parents. 

I thought the last section of the book had more story than it really needed and I wish I could say more, but it might spoil it.  The end was too tidy and that is the only reason this didn’t rate higher for me. 

This book will appeal to many people.  Jane Austen fans will love the quotes sprinkled throughout the book.  Floridians, ranchers, and horse racing fans will enjoy the story.  Anyone interested in the emotional impact of finding out you’re adopted will not be disappointed.  And, of course, anyone who has someone in their life that is different will appreciate the story of the Thocco Ranch.

The Angel, by Carla Neggers

Cover ImageFinished 1-18-09, rating 4/5, romantic suspense, pub. 2008

This is not a sequel, but it is book 2 of the Boston PD-FBI series.

She joined him at the table, her cheeks flushed as she buttered a small piece of bread.  “Once upon a time,” she said, laying on her Irish accent, “there were three brothers who lived on the southwest coast of Ireland–a farmer, a hermit monk and a ne’er-do-well, who was, of course, everybody’s favorite…


 And so begins the magical tale of the three brothers and the Stone Angel.  This Irish legend is the basis of Keira’s impending six-week trip to Ireland.  She is a successful folklorist and illustrator who is researching Irish stories for an upcoming conference and the trip to Ireland is both professional and personal.  Her mother, now a religious recluse, had gone to Ireland in her youth and returned home pregnant with Keira.

Keira’s uncle, Boston homicide detective Bob O’Reilly, was concerned about her, even more so when she discovers a man dead the night before she leaves.  When he doesn’t hear from her in Ireland he calls a search-and-rescue expert to find her.  When Simon finds her the sparks fly and Simon stays by her side as they head back to Boston.  Once back in Boston a wide range of characters and mishaps prove that the legend may have some truth and every one who knows about it is at risk.

This book really does have a magical feel to it.  There are angels, fairies, Satan, and evil, all fighting an ageless battle.  I’ve never really been interested in fairy tales or folktales, but I must admit there is something very romantic and mystical about them that I’ve never really appreciated.  Also, I fell in love with Ireland even though most of the action was in Boston.  The mystery and rugged beauty appealed to me and now I might have to put Ireland on my list of hopeful vacation destinations!

This is not a sequel, but I think you will not fully appreciate this story without reading the first, The Widow.  My review is here.  Abigail, Owen, and Abigail’s father all play significant roles and I appreciate that she incorporated them into the story instead of them being relegated to a mere mention here and there. 

Book 3, The Mist, will be released this summer.  I am looking forward to it 🙂

Teaser Tuesdays-A Gentle Rain

teasertuesdays2TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

I had found my birth parents and their protective mentor.  He seemed a fine man, albeit brusque and sardonic.  Their lives with him appeared stable, productive and content.  Thanks to quirky coincidence, I had won the opportunity to be part of their lives.

A Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith, page 71

Yes, I cheated a little by including a few extra sentences, but I couldn’t help myself!  Let me know what your teaser is.  I look forward to getting some new book ideas.