Thursday, December 13, 2018

Kim Gruenenfelder's Top Five of 2018...plus a book giveaway

We're pleased to have Kim Gruenenfelder back at CLC to celebrate the recent publication of her latest novel, Hangovers & Hot Flashes. She's here to tell us what made her happy this past year and she has one copy of her book to share with a lucky reader.

Kim Gruenenfelder lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son, and continues to avoid anything even remotely resembling a real job. Her acclaimed debut novel, A Total Waste of Makeup, has been published in six languages and eight international editions to date. In addition to her other published novels, A Total Waste of Makeup, Misery Loves Cabernet, There’s Cake In My Future, Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink, and Love the Wine You’re With, she has written feature films, episodic teleplays and two stage plays.

Kim also created the word “eciah” (featured in Love the Wine You’re With), and is the founder and curator of the website eciah.com. Kim loves her fans and readers, who can contact her at her website, as well as follow her through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (Bio courtesy of Kim's website.)


Synopsis:
Michelle, Zoe and Alexis are friends who have one thing in common. They are all in their 40s and all wondering the same thing: “Now what?”

Zoe, the mother of 17 year-old twins about to abandon her for college, misses the romance of her twenties, and desperately wants just one more first kiss. Thinking outside the box, she convinces her husband Carlos to embark on an open marriage. Which leads to a new set of problems and questions: How does she pick a “non-skeevy” swinger’s club, do men of a certain age even want sex with no strings attached, and does ordering a glass of Syrah these days really signal to would be suitors that you just want to f*@# them in their car? Most importantly, will getting to be with someone else help or hurt her marriage? And if that someone else is an ex who effortlessly morphs into a fantasy man who says and does all the right things, how does Zoe choose between the life she has and the road not taken?

Michelle has made it her routine on her way home to stop one block from her house, park, stare into space, and dread the next few hours of her life. She’s tired of juggling her very full time job as a real estate agent with the full time job of parenting two kids (without much help). She and her husband Steve have not had sex in over a year. Michelle doesn’t have a road not taken, but she’s at a fork in that road. Does she take the easy path, and spend the rest of her life with a man she loves but no longer likes? Or go the hard route: Divorce. Living life with one income, single parenting, lonely Thanksgivings, and kids who may never forgive you. And how does a girl start dating again when all the rules have changed since she took herself off the market years ago?

Alexis is the self-made multi-millionaire we all aspire to be. She’s the creator of a slew of hit TV shows and the head of a wildly successful production company. She’s got the dream car, the stunning house on the beach in Malibu, the black AmEx. Everything is going exactly according to plan, and there’s a lot to be happy about. But she also has Connor, her on-again/off-again boyfriend of twelve years. Plus she’s going through early menopause, and now wonders how she forgot to have kids. Her life plan is suddenly thrown into further disarray when Connor shows up with a stray dog, which he leaves with her. Which is just the beginning, as that mangy mutt leads to a teenaged dog walker, a middle-aged widower, and her Sunday morning brunches possibly being replaced by church.So what do you do when nothing in your life is working the way you saw it in your head, and the unplanned life might make you happier?

Knowing their girlfriends will always have their backs, Michelle, Zoe and Alexis confront their new realities with honesty and humor, while trying to find happiness amidst hangovers and hot flashes.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)


Top Five Favorite Moments of 2018

1. Going to New York for a long weekend to see the 50th anniversary production of Boys in the Band.
 
I had seen the movie adaptation of the play with my mother as a kid, and it deeply changed the way I saw the world at that time. The cast included Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells and Matt Bomer, and was one of the most superbly acted plays I have ever seen. Which was certainly part of what made it a top five moment. But when I gave it some thought for this essay, I realized my top moment really came from the decision to go. I desperately wanted to go, and wanted my husband and son to see the play. But it was in New York, and we live in Los Angeles. And it seemed like a ridiculous waste of time and money to fly out for just three days. But then I realized, “Why is it a ridiculous waste of time and money? This is really important to me, and it’s an opportunity I will never get again.” And sometimes you have to follow what your heart tells you to do, and not your head. Not always, not every day, but occasionally. Because life is too short to always play it safe.

And then, if you’re really lucky, your son will walk out of the theater and say, “I want to direct that play when I get older. That was amazing.” And all will be happy in your world.

2. Watching my son play the lead in a Shakespeare play.

My son Alex played Bottom in his high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream earlier this year. And you would think, “Three hours of high-schoolers botching Shakespeare?” (Or at least that was what I thought before I saw it.) But his school specializes in the arts, and many of the kids have parents who are professional actors. They’re really good. More than a bunch of 16 and 17 year-olds have any right to be.

My exact favorite moment came not when Alex was on jumping stilts as ‘donkey Bottom’, although that’s a very funny and probably the most famous scene. But the moment that really hit me was when he popped his head out of the curtain as ‘actor Bottom’ performing for the Duke. And he commanded the room.

And if I had never been a parent, I would have never had that moment.

As anyone who is a parent knows, it can be hard, expensive, so so constant, and you’re frequently not sure if you’re doing it right. Plus, it doesn’t look anything like you thought it would. My first inkling of this was when we were trying to get pregnant, and I imagined having a little girl I could shop with, and dress in frilly pretty clothes. Instead, I got a boy. A really awesome boy, but one who, when I dragged him to the Bloomingdale's Home Store to shop for a wedding gift, spent the entire time glued to his phone. At some point, after giving him the pluses and minuses of buying a place setting of formal china vs. a collection of super soft towels, I muttered in exasperation, “Can you please give me your opinion?!” And he looked up from his phone to say pleasantly, “Oh. Whichever one will get us out of here the fastest.” Frilly clothes? He wears combat boots, black jeans, and a combination his father’s old concert T-shirts from 80s rock bands and current concert T shirts from Green Day, Queen and Metallica.

So, it didn’t look how I thought it would look. And what a gift. Because, man, I frequently watch that kid do stuff I could never do, and I am constantly in awe. My dream could have never included watching my son do Shakespeare (my favorite author of all time), but only because I didn’t dream big enough.

3. Seeing the galleys (which are the printed books sent ahead of time to give you one final chance to make corrections) of Hangovers and Hot Flashes for the first time.

Those of you who have read me know I write romantic comedy novels about women who are around thirty. And I have fun doing it, and am proud of my work. But Hangovers was a creative departure from my previous five books. The characters are all in their mid-forties, and they are dealing with totally different problems from characters in my other books. I still write about dating, and I’d like to think I’m still funny, but I was trying to do something a little more soul searching this time around.
When I first pitched the idea, several editors told me not to write the book. I heard, “Women in their forties don’t buy books.” And/or, “Women in their forties will buy a book about women in their twenties, but women in their twenties won’t buy a book about women in their forties.” I was warned spending a few years writing it was financial suicide.

Then one night I was talking to my agent, Kim Whalen, about what I really wanted to write next, and I told her all about the characters in my head and the challenges they would face, and she smiled and said, “Do it!” I then described the scene where Alexis talks about early menopause and she burst out laughing.

So I spent a few years writing something totally new. And the book might very well be financial suicide – it just came out December 11th, so I don’t know yet. But my #3 moment is similar to moment 1 in that I let my heart guide this one. And rarely has my heart made the wrong decision.

4. Writing a chapter about Charlie and Drew: two of my characters from A Total Waste of Makeup and Misery Loves Cabernet.

Okay – there’s kind a weird story behind this. So a writer friend of mine asks me about my mailing list, and I say, “I don’t have a mailing list.” and she has a hissy fit. It is quickly decided by a table of women writers that I need a mailing list. I ask how I should compile one. My friend Quinn suggests I put on all of my social media that I am compiling a list, and that anyone who agrees to go on the list can vote for 2 characters for me to write about, and I’ll write a free scene to show what they’re up to these days. Over 90% chose Drew and Charlie (which is interesting because they are from books that are over 10 years old, and Drew isn’t even a main character.)

Misery Loves Cabernet ended Thanksgiving night, so I started the chapter very early the next morning as Charlie opens the door to her boss Drew (a movie star) inexplicably dressed in a tuxedo. I had no idea why I wrote him like that, but had faith he would let me know within the hour why he was dressed that way. And he did.

Within a few hours, I had written Chapter One of what could be a third in the series. It turned out, I had missed these two, and I spent my evening after my writing day kind of floating on air. The next day, I cleaned the chapter up a little and sent it off.

And got fan mail! And several people asking if I was writing a third in the series. So I started writing more, and even wrote my ending to the book (just the last paragraph). Now – I have since been distracted with Hangovers and another little non fiction project, so I haven’t given it my full attention, but I’m kind of digging the idea of continuing with Charlie’s journey. And, after so many years of being the insecure writer wondering if anyone out there even really likes my work, reading that fan mail was absolutely my top moment #4.

(By the way, if you want to catch up with Drew and Charlie and get on my mailing list, I’m at kim@kimgruenenfelder.com.)

5. Tyra Banks saying to me, “You get it, because you’re skinny like me.”

Okay, I know, that’s a ridiculously shallow top five moment. But when a former “Sports Illustrated” cover model tells you that you look like her in any way, shape or form, that’s a topfive. It just is.
I’m kidding. Kind of. Tyra was actually in the middle of telling me a story and when she said that, I put up my index finger and said, “Hold that thought. I have to text my husband to tell him a Victoria’s Secret Angel just said I was skinny like her.” Then I typed, hit send, looked up at her and said, “Okay, go.” And she finished her story.

I directed her and her mother Carolyn earlier this year when they recorded Perfect is Boring, a light, empowering, nonfiction book I highly recommend for teen and tween girls. The first time Tyra walked into the studio she wore sweats and no makeup, and she was so ridiculously stunning that I thought a little jealously, “What? Did God give with both hands, both feet and an ear?” But then I started talking to her, and it was like we had been friends since college. She is one of the most supportive, loving, “girl power” women I have met in a long time. During lunches and breaks, we’d talk about parenting, dating, eating (we shared 4 desserts on our last day together, how much do I love this woman?) and modeling. Okay, I did not talk about modeling. I listened. But I learned how to take a selfie and that I should get my hair out of a ponytail more often. I guess I could say my top five moment was the reminder that successful women don’t need to compete with each other.

Nope. “Skinny like me”. Still Number Five. Just let me have this one.

Thanks to Kim for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends December 18th at midnight EST.

18 comments:

Janine said...

No tv series made me happy. I've watched some good shows, but I wouldn't say any left me feeling happy.

Sherry said...

The Resident

Suburban prep said...

I like Last Man Standing.

traveler said...

I rarely watch tv since there was very little to suit me. Mrs. Maisel is my favorite now.

Linda Kish said...

The Good Place

Kimberly S said...

I can't say that any tv series made me happy. I don't watch much tv I would rather read a book. If I happen to see anything it's on the Hallmark channel.

dj n bj non said...

Live PD

Jessica Meddick said...

The show 911

Mary C said...

Fresh Off The Boat

jean602 said...

I watch Hallmark movies all the time.

Dianne Casey said...

Young Sheldon

Mary Preston said...

THE GOOD PLACE is a lot of fun.

Rita Wray said...

I don't watch any series just movies, news and HGTV.

Grandma Cootie said...

Poldark

bn100 said...

none, didn't watch much

Kate Vocke said...

I Love Grace & Frankie!

Kelley B said...

I love this Is Us! Happy.... sometimes, sad sometimes.

RD said...

Murphy Brown!