Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Wade Rouse has something to "confess"...plus a book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Today we welcome Wade Rouse who, according to The Today Show (NBC), is the "laugh-out-loud-funny" and "must-read-author," and per USA Today, has a "wise,witty, often wicked voice." Wade attended Drury College (now university) and graduated with a bachelors degree in communications with honors. He then moved on to receive his masters's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Wade has written four non-fiction memoirs: AMERICA'S BOY, CONFESSIONS OF A PREP SCHOOL MOMMY HANDLER, AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEBODY WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM, and IT'S ALL RELATIVE (which is a Goodreads 2011 choice award nominee in humor-please vote). Wade is also the creator and editor of the hilarious dog anthology, I'M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP (reviewed here).
Wade lives in Michigan with his partner, Gary and their dog, Mabel. When he's not writing, some of Wade's favorite pastimes include marathon running, going to movies and the theater, and is obsessed with fashion, reality TV, and non-fat, triple shot white chocolate lattes.
Wade is here to share a guy's perspective on Chick Lit and is giving two copies of "Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler" to some lucky readers in the US.
You can find Wade at Facebook, Twitter, and the following websites:
Random House Speakers Bureau
A Dude on the Importance of Chick Lit
I grew up in the rural Ozarks (picture Winter’s Bone), not an easy place for a little boy who had a fondness for writing and a love of ascots. For my tiny town’ middle school talent contest, I sang “Delta Dawn” – while holding a faded rose – to an audience that made the fellas from "Deliverance" look like the Jonas Brothers.
They didn’t just giggle, they boo’ed me offstage.
My mother was waiting in the wings, where I yelled at her, “How could you let me do that?”
And she told me, “You were only being true to yourself. No one should ever stand in the way of such honesty and courage.”
My mom – a hospice nurse who believed that prayer and penicillin could save nearly any soul – then proceeded to hand me two gifts: A little, leather writing journal and a copy of American humorist Erma Bombeck’s first book, At Wit’s End.
“You will need both of these to make sense of your world,” my mother told me.
I instantly fell in love with Erma, a middle-aged woman who seemed to be suffering from just as many self-esteem images as I was, but who was able to deal with life, love, family, laundry, and work with humor and heart. She became a role model: A writer who raised awareness through laughter (Erma gave voice to millions of American housewives whose lives were largely overlooked a the time), and united everyone – no matter how diverse – through humor.
That started my lifelong love affair with women writers and humorists, and “chick-lit” long before that term was even en vogue.
I found great strength and comfort in these writers and their work. As a gay man who had yet come to terms with his life – largely due to the tragic death of my older brother, Todd, weeks after he graduated high school, and the ensuing grief it caused my family – I insulated myself from the world, largely by gaining over 100 pounds to bury myself, much like I had my sexuality and my brother. I never really learned who I was. I lost my voice and my courage.
Ironically, I found myself in the midst of a real-life chick lit novel when I accepted a job as PR director for one of the nation’s oldest, richest, most prestigious prep schools. While I was hired to handle communications and branding for the educational institution, my real job – as I was told in my final interview – was to be the “Mommy Handler,” catering to an insanely wealthy, insular and meddlesome Lilly Pulitzer-clad clique of women I would later term the “Mean Mommies.” My work? To keep them occurpied and out of the school’s hair.
I took that job not only for the money and prestige but also because I believed that I could make up for my own trying childhood and painful school past. I believed this job would make me popular. It made me a patsy. This group of Mean Mommies used me as their “help,” their amusement, their errand boy. I not only packed their luggage but they dressed me as Ronald Reagan for Halloween and brought me a red onesie so I could be Cupid on Valentine’s, a look not really appropriate for an adult professional.
And I let them treat me that way because I had zero self confidence, horrific self esteem, and because I longed so badly to be part of what I considered the “in-crowd” for once in my life. I believed that this group of wealthy, beautiful matriarchs had everything – money, looks, homes, cars, fashion, vacations – but, in reality, they had nothing. They were trapped, like me. Only I hadn’t yet realized I was the only one who had a way out.
In the midst of all this chaos, I visited my parents at my family’s cabin in the Ozarks. I went floating down the ice-cold creek on innertubes with my mother, just like we’d done when we were young. I was complaining about my job, when my mother grabbed my innertube and said, very quietly, “Are you being true to yourself? Where is your courage?”
And then I began to re-read Erma, and discovered a host of new writers, like Jane Green (Jemima J resonated deeply) and, later, Lauren Weisberger (I was truly living The Devil Wears Prada), whose work not only comforted me but also enlightened me.
I could be strong.
I could be happy.
I could be me.
On a whim, I quit my job, left the Mean Mommies and moved to the woods of Michigan to become a full-time writer. I have now written four memoirs, the second of which was entitled "Confessions of A Prep School Mommy Handler" about my tenure at that prep school. Yes, it is a book about the privileged, but it is also a book whose foundation is about self-esteem and finding oneself. I was thrilled it resonated with so many, was critically acclaimed, and became a Breakout Book pick at Target.
In the past six years as an author, I have taught at Erma Bombeck’s Humor Writers Workshop, the largest humor writing group in America, where I was honored to meet her children. One of her sons contacted me recently to say how much he enjoyed my work. And I also had the privilege of working with and meeting Jane Green this year, at the NYC launch event for my current book, "I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship," the hilarous anthology about humorists’ dogs, a portion of whose proceeds benefit the Humane Society of the United States and which features a Foreword by Chelsea Handler’s dog, Chunk, and essays by many great women writers, including Jane Green. I told Jane, as we were having a drink and bite to eat after the event, what her writing had meant to me. She smiled graciously, said “Thank you” in her charming English accent, and then leaned in to hug me, holding me close.
And there was my happy ending.
I realized that, just like in chick lit, dreams really can come true
We are thankful to Wade for giving us the guy's view of chick lit and for sharing his book with our readers.
How to win "Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)
Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is another topic on which you'd love to hear a "dude's" perspective? (If you ARE a "dude," what one female-themed topic would you want to write a guest post about?)
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines, as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.
US only. Giveaway ends November 13th at midnight EST.