Thursday, October 1, 2020

Jen Lancaster's welcoming ways...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Jolene Siana
We are thrilled to have Jen Lancaster back at CLC today to celebrate the publication of her latest memoir, Welcome to the United States of Anxiety. Jen is legendary at CLC. Some of us have met her in person and we've featured Jen and her books many times throughout the past ten years. She is hilarious and there is a part of this interview that will have you rolling on the floor. Thanks to Amazon Publishing, we have TWO print copies of Welcome to give away!

Jen Lancaster is a New York Times bestselling author who has sold well over a million books. From Bitter Is the New Black to The Tao of Martha, Jen has made a career out of documenting her attempts to shape up, grow up, and have it all - sometimes with disastrous results. Her NYT bestselling novel Here I Go Again received three starred reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly). Her memoir I Regret Nothing was named an Amazon Best Book of the Year, and she's regularly a finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards. She loves bad TV, terrible wine, and will die before she gives up her Oxford comma.

Jen can often be seen on The Today Show, as well as CBS This Morning, Fox News, NPR All Things Considered, among others. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and her many ill-behaved dogs and cats. 

Hear the stories behind Jen's books on The Stories We'd Tell in Bars podcast, available on iTunes, Podbean, Spreaker, GooglePlay, and iHeartRadio, among other entities. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Jen online:

Synopsis:
When did USA become shorthand for the United States of Anxiety? From the moment Americans wake up, we’re bombarded with all-new terrifying news about crime, the environment, politics, and stroke-inducing foods we’ve been enjoying for years. We’re judged by social media’s faceless masses, pressured into maintaining a Pinterest-perfect home, and expected to base our self-worth on retweets, faves, likes, and followers. Our collective FOMO, and the disparity between the ideal and reality, is leading us to spend more and feel worse. No wonder we’re getting twitchy. Save for an Independence Day–style alien invasion, how do we begin to escape from the stressors that make up our days?

Jen Lancaster is here to take a hard look at our elevating anxieties, and with self-deprecating wit and levelheaded wisdom, she charts a path out of the quagmire that keeps us frightened of the future and ashamed of our imperfectly perfect human lives. Take a deep breath, and her advice, and you just might get through a holiday dinner without wanting to disown your uncle.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
My favorite compliment is when readers tell me that I write what they're thinking. I love creating the feeling of connection, that we're not alone in how we view our worlds. Given how isolated so many of us are now, that's more important than ever. 

I particularly love when readers tell me they've taken advice that I've given (or, let's be honest, mistakes I've made), finding ways to improve their lives. I've heard from people over the years who've lost weight or traveled solo or simply started self-advocating. Being an agent for positive change is gratifying.

It's important to note that most authors will tell you not to go searching for compliments, and that particularly applies to googling yourself. The comments section is the devil's playground. If Shakespeare were alive today, I guarantee someone's one-star Amazon review would have him curled in a closet, drinking tequila straight from the bottle.

What is something you learned from writing your previous memoirs that you applied to Welcome to the United States of Anxiety?
Having written so many memoirs, especially without tangible achievements like creating the electric car or sending a rocket to Mars, I learned that I despise writing about myself. I can't imagine anything more myopic than continuing to prattle on about me, me, me without these stories serving some greater purpose. Publishing a book right now about my getting day-drunk in a pool would be tone-deaf. While I can't say I'll never write another memoir, 2020 is not that time.

I loved writing Welcome to the United States of Anxiety because it felt like I was genuinely helping. Our world is a scary place, so shedding light on what shouldn't frighten us felt like the right thing to do. While I did share some personal experience in this book, it's not about me so much as the collective we. I took a deep dive into information, creating fact-based calls to action that will help readers deal with their stressors. We're up against algorithms programmed to determine our hot buttons and force misinformation our way, so of course we're more anxious than ever. My intent was to help lessen that for readers. (Yet I never lost sight of the fact that sometimes getting day-drunk in a pool is the best way to do so.)

If there were a soundtrack to go along with Welcome, what are some songs that would be on it?
The ideal soundtrack for this book would be my favorite summer soundtrack--a smooth and easy blend of yacht rock, especially as I make so many references to the late '70s and early '80s. 

Those decades seemed like simpler times, but if you listen to some of the music, there was a lot of darkness. Take Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues," for example. The song is a mellow groove... about having a midlife crisis in the middle of suburbia. In it, Donald Fagen fantasizes about drinking scotch whiskey all night long and dying behind the wheel. Or how about Benny Mardones's "Into the Night," a tune in which a grown man just can't leave a sixteen year old girl alone. Pal, you should have been in jail, not on the Billboard chart. This music is a fine reminder that sometimes the past seems rosier than it actually was. 

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
If you'd like to escape all things 2020, thank you very much, I can't recommend Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone enough. This novel is a fascinating look at homesteading the Alaskan wilderness, perfect for fans of Educated and The Glass Castle. My only caveat is to read this while it's still sunny and warm, as her breathtaking descriptions of the Alaskan winter chilled me down to my very soul.

What is the funniest thing you've heard someone say recently?
Hmm. I've left the house maybe ten times since March, so I've not had much of a chance to eavesdrop or interact. Instead I'll share the funniest thing that's happened to me. I've had a weekly virtual game night with my best friends for the past six months. A few weeks ago, a sinus infection sidelined me and I didn't feel like drinking wine and screaming into a Zoom screen for three hours. I sat out that night.

To make me feel better, my friends decided to send me care packages. Instead of soup or flowers, they went a different route. For almost two weeks, a different bachelorette-party item arrived at my house daily, with each card signed by "the Dick Fairy". My friends know I'm how uptight I am, so they delighted in embarrassing me. I received pornographic chocolates, cookies, stress balls, and coloring books. They #metoo'd me every time I opened the mail, much to their delight.

One friend sent an exploding cannon of dick-shaped glitter. After I'd opened it, I saw that the shipper had mixed up the notes. Mine read, Congrats on your new apartment, Georgie! I hope you enjoy this dick confetti, from Kelsey. The note I was supposed to receive read, From the Dick Fairy. So this poor kid who was likely so excited to move into her first apartment by herself probably thinks she has a weird stalker because my friends are funny.

Related note: I'm never sitting out of game night again.

What is a guilty pleasure for you?
My biggest guilty pleasure right now is Zapruder-ing certain Bravo shows. It's no longer enough for me to watch; now I am compelled to listen to every podcast recap, and there are... a lot of them. I particularly love the "Watch What Crappens" guys as they reenact the episodes with pitch-perfect imitations of housewives' and crew members' dialogue. It's my happy place!

Thanks to Jen for chatting with us and to Amazon Publishing 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 October 6th at midnight EST.

13 comments:

Melissa said...

I'd like to read her book title, By the Numbers.

Nancy P said...

New author for me. This one sounds interesting.

Nancy said...

First I would like to read her book Here I Go Again.

Nancy
allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

traveler said...

I would enjoy By the Numbers.

Mary C said...

The Tao of Martha:

Grandma Cootie said...

Bright Lights, Big Ass

Mary Preston said...

No favorite yet. BY THE NUMBERS for me.

jodi marinich said...

she is a new author for me and i would read this one first

rubynreba said...

I would like to read By the Numbers.

bn100 said...

By the Numbers

Linda Kish said...

Bitter is the New Black sounds like one I would enjoy. Actually, they all sound terrific.

diannekc said...

Jen is a new author to me. Would like to read Welcome to the United States of America.

Suburban prep said...

I have not read ony of her books before. I would love to read the Tao of Martha or Pretty in Plaid.
I would love to read this new one The United States of Anxiety