|Photo by Brenda Bersani|
**Giveaway is now closed**
As 2013 began, people started looking for ways to be more positive about their lives. There's been the concept of a "joy jar," where you put little pieces of paper with good things that have happened to you, even in the smallest of ways. There's even a virtual version on Facebook. It's so nice to read about the simple things in life that make people happy on a daily basis.
Our guest today, Wendy Francis, captures that concept in her debut novel, Three Good Things. It's about two sisters who aren't completely satisfied with their lives and long for the advice from their mother, who passed away years ago. Her motto was: "At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened."
Wendy Francis is a former senior editor in book publishing. Her writing has appeared on The Huffington Post. (Great article about When Harry Met Sally. A must read!) She's also been featured in local magazines, such as The Improper Bostonian. Wendy is currently a freelance editor and writer living with her family (including a four year-old son; she and I should definitely talk...) outside of Boston.
She's here today to answer some fun questions...which are in groups of three! It's the last day of animal month and I think you'll enjoy what she had to say on the topic! Additionally, Simon and Schuster has FIVE copies of Three Good Things to share with some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!
Visit Wendy at her website and on Twitter.
Three things you can't be without when you're writing:
Aside from a cooperating laptop, I rely most days on the following three things to jumpstart the writing process:
• Hazelnut coffee with a dash of cream. As my family knows all too well, nothing gets done around here until I’ve had my early morning infusion of caffeine.
• Multiple Pilot Precise V7 Rolling Ball pens. Have you tried them? It’s easily the best pen in the world. I like to review what I’ve written the day before and edit on the page with these pens. It probably makes me old-school, but old habits die hard.
• A picture of my four-year-old grinning. Whether it’s on my laptop, my phone, or a framed picture on my desk, his impish grin spurs me on. On really tough writing days, I have a bag of red Twizzlers at the ready.
Three authors who have inspired you:
Oh, there are so many! I guess if I had to narrow it down to three, it would be Elizabeth Strout, Elin Hilderbrand, and Lee Woodruff.
• I love Elizabeth Strout’s characters and her finesse for bringing a place to life, as if the book’s setting is a character unto itself. She’s a master at crafting both beautiful stories and gorgeous prose.
• Elin Hilderbrand’s affection for Nantucket, one of my favorite places on earth, wins me over anew with each book she writes as does her ability to conjure up wholly new and wonderful characters and storylines time and again.
• Lee Woodruff was an author I first discovered in her memoir, In an Instant, where she tells the harrowing story of her journalist husband Bob Woodruff’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury. I’ve since read her other books, including her recent novel, Those We Love Most, and I’ve come to admire her work even more.
• If I could have a “baker’s three,” I’d have to add Claire Cook to the list, whose sense of humor and nod to “late” bloomers in fiction inspire me every day.
Three pieces of advice you have for someone who wants to write a novel:
• Be patient. You won’t write your first novel or your best novel in the span of a few weeks. It takes time, and often setting your pages aside for a few days or weeks can give you some fresh perspective when you go back. Writing is a labor of love; it needs a lot of nurturing.
• Be honest with yourself about what’s working -- and what isn’t. Sometimes it’s hard to let things go that aren’t working. I’d written a few chapters that were getting in the way of the overall narrative for Three Good Things, and they ended up on the cutting room floor. But it was for the best. The book was stronger for having lost them!
• When you tell a story. . .“Have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the (reader).” As Steve Martin famously says in Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, it helps to keep the plot/purpose/point of your story in mind as you’re writing. You can have dynamite characters and crystalline prose, but it doesn’t add up to a novel until you have a real narrative thread.
Three favorite animals from TV shows:
• Snuffleupagus. Is there any animal better than Snuffy? He’s everyone’s hero because he persevered for so many years despite the fact that no one believed in him.
• Snoopy. So he’s a cartoon character, but he’s one of my favorites of all time. When he gives Lucy a big, sloppy kiss and she runs around screaming, “Help! Help! I need disinfectant!” I find him especially irresistible.
• Eeyore. Who doesn’t feel a little sorry for and enamored of Eeyore? He’s so gloomy, he makes everyone else’s life look like roses.
Three favorite animals from movies:
• Brinkley in You’ve Got Mail: To quote directly from the movie: “Brinkley is my dog. . .[He’s] a great catcher who was offered a tryout on the Mets. But he chose to stay with me so he could spend 18 hours a day. . . sleeping on a large pillow the size of an inner tube.” I think that pretty much secures Brinkley’s place in movie lore.
• The penguins in March of the Penguins. The penguins in this movie deserved Academy Awards as far as I’m concerned. The cold, the hardship, windswept Antarctica! How on earth did they survive it all? I live in awe of those birds.
• Marley in Marley & Me. If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right. I’m a dog person, and I think every dog person fell in love with that rascal Marley and his antics. Just so long as we weren’t the ones taking care of him. . .
Three favorite zoo animals:
• The gorilla. I like the gorilla’s expressions and the way he watches you through the glass, as if he’s about to reach out and grab you. You know those gorillas are thinking wise thoughts and if only they could talk, they’d have some good stories to share.
• The lion. I like the lion because of his regal bearing but also because he seems to nap a lot. I’m slightly jealous that he gets to be king and still get all that sleep.
• The giraffe. He strikes me as a rather elegant, somewhat smug animal who figured out long before everyone else that if he grew a long neck he’d have access to all those leaves up there on the tree.
Thanks to Wendy for spreading her good cheer and to Simon and Schuster for sharing Three Good Things with our readers.
How to win Three Good Things:
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: Who are your three favorite animals from a movie or TV show (or a combination of both, such as two from a movie and one from TV)?
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.
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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends February 6th at midnight EST.