Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Precious, by Sandra Novack

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on stage with Sandra Novack, author of the excellent novel Precious.  Sandy and I are both debut novelists living in GA, so it made sense that the GA Center for the book asked us to do a reading together.  

srw_91  (This is Sandy.  Isn’t she pretty?)

After the reading I bought Sandy’s book (of course!) and since then I’ve been reading it every chance I get.  I finally finished the book today, which is both good and bad.  Good because I got to read the wonderfully poetic ending that is–at its heart–a paean to writing and story telling; bad because I no longer get to keep reading the book.

But, gentle readers, my loss is your gain.  Because while I have finished the book–you, perhaps, have not yet read it.  And I, generous soul that I am, would like to give one lucky person a (gently used) copy of Sandy’s book. 

Here’s the deal:

Email me a brief description of someone or something that is precious to you.  Email me at  For your effort, I’ll put a lottery ticket with your name on it in a big hat, and on Friday of this week (May 15th! my sister Lauren’s birthday!) I will draw one of the names and send that person ze book. 

Also, please feel free to post the descriptions of your precious things in the comments section of this blog.  (But to get a lottery ticket you must send me an email.)

And now to whet your appetites for Precious (which, by the way, if you don’t win you can buy at yer local indie bookstore or B&N or Amazon), let me sing its praises:

There are writers out there who are cynical, self-consciously clever, self-satisfied, maudlin… Sandra Novack is not one of them.  Her novel about the Kisch family, told in beautifully crafted language, is elegiac, wise and full of heart.  She tells of people with no easy escape routes, people for whom life is almost never easy and is too often heart breaking.  And yet–in this book–the spirit is tenacious, and again and again there is redemption. Love breaks through.  Life goes on.  The power of story telling redeems us.

Send me details of your precious things…and this wonderful book might be yours!



THE drawing, in pictures

We have a winner!

But first, pics of the drawing.

This first picture here is of all of the lottery cards that were entered in the drawing. (Note: I used old business cards of mine as lottery tickets, so they’d all have the same weight and shape.)

Look at all them cards!


Second pic is of Alan shuffling a portion of the cards.  Yes, folks, we trained in Vegas.


This pic is the big moment.  Alan (my husband, and the official “drawer”) has not only closed his eyes to insure impartiality–he’s taken off his glasses!


Alan has pulled the winning card…


And it’s Melanie (Lasoff) Levs!!!


Big congrats to Melanie, who must email me her address by midnight tomorrow, May 5th. 

And thank you so, so much for everyone else who entered. I loved reading y’alls haikus, plus your thoughts on gratitude, s’mores, peeps, Peeps, favorite foods from childhood, unorthodox foods, mom’s names, etc. etc.

And keep checking in with me.  Next week I’m running another contest, giving away a copy of my friend Sandra Novack’s excellent first novel, Precious.

Ciao for now.


Today I am wearing a sandwich board that reads, “The End is Near.”

No, I am not engrossed in a Tim LeHaye novel.  Nor am I watching Apocalypse Now, or “The Rapture Update.”  I’m not even stocking up on canned goods.  What I am doing is posting the very last challenge of the mother of all mother’s day contests.

Yes people, we have reached the end.  Pomp and Circumstance shall be played.  Boring graduation speeches will be made.  Tomorrow every one has to go look for an entry level job.  That is, after I draw one lucky lottery ticket from the over 150 entries.  Remember, the lucky winner will receive a batch of Ruth’s brownies.

(One caveat: after I announce the name of the winner, which I will do tomorrow on this website, he or she must email me with their mailing address by May 5th, or else I will draw a new winner.)

And dudes, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to repeat myself: these brownies are good.  Damn good.  Hot.  (Cue that soft porn music they always play on the Barefoot Contessa.) True depth of flavor.  Moist.  Laden with chocolate chips. Sinful…

Before we all get too worked up, let’s move on to challenge number 10: cultivating an attitude of gratitude.  Yes, people, it is Sunday and I am a preaching.  (Praise the lard and pass the biscuits.)

I once went to this great church where the pastor liked to say, “I’m more concerned with life before death than life after death.”  Which was to say: the life you have now is important. It matters what we do with it.  It matters how we spend it.

Sometimes I forget this.  Sometimes I spend too long on the computer, screwing around. Sometimes I anesthetize myself to the life around me.  Sometimes I forget how much I have to be grateful for.

A good exercise is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. At the end of the day, think of three things you are grateful for that occurred during that day.  This does not mean you have to block out bad things, or hard things, or real things. This does not mean you should plug your ears to the insane incarceration rate in this country, or the torture memos, or news of melting ice caps.  It just means you should also take time to focus on the small good things.  (Or the large good things, for that matter.)

Here’s my list for today:
1) Grateful for the fried egg and cheese sandwich I ate this morning, made with pastured eggs from a nearby farm.

2) Grateful to have a loyal dog who rolls around on the floor in joy every time I return home from a trip.

3) Grateful to have a mama who is alive and healthy, and willing to bake brownies to give to my contest winner.

What are the three things you are grateful for today? Email them to me at and you will receive a lottery ticket.  And post them in the comments section of this blog, so everyone can see them and feel all warm and gush-y inside.

And thanks, y’all, for playing the mother’s day game.  It’s been wonderful reading everyone’s comments. I’m grateful for all you shared.


Mother’s Day Contest, challenge number 9

Drove back from Asheville today, so I’m a little late on getting challenge number nine up.  Sort of feels like turning in a paper late.  Hope you guys don’t dock points off my final grade…oh wait.  I no longer get grades.  Now I get reviews and Amazon ratings.

Am in the middle of eating a thin mint Girl Scout cookie.


Frozen.  I always eat my thin mints frozen, probably because when I was growing up my parents would buy so many Girl Scout cookies that we had to freeze them or else they would go stale.  At least that’s what my mom claimed.  Probably she just didn’t want me to eat multiple boxes at once.  But it got so that I became accustomed to the taste of a cold thin mint.  It’s refreshing! Kind of like a Junior Mint. (Anyone remember that Seinfeld episode about the refreshing Jr. mints???)

My parents were in Asheville, too, just to come to my reading and support me.  Really sweet. And thinking of familial support, our favorite YA author Lauren flew all the way to Atlanta for my launch event at the Margaret Mitchell house.  (Boy were her arms tired. Ba dum bum.)  For that same launch event my in-laws flew in all the way from New Jersey (insert repeat of tired arms joke here) and my poor husband has heard me read so many times that I SWEAR he now knows my book by memory.

This is all to say, it’s nice to have peeps.

As far as Peeps the Easter marshmallow treat goes, I’m not that into them.  I think they are cute and kitschy, but I experience no craving when I think of them.  And thoughts of most foods can send me into a craving, most notably a BLT with summer tomatoes and homemade mayo.


(Excuse me while I wipe the drool off the keyboard.)

Which brings us to challenge number nine: What’s your thought on peeps and Peeps?  Email me the name and a brief description of the person (or peeple) who is most in your corner.  Also email me whether or not you actually enjoy eating Peeps.

You know the drill: Send your answers to  And post your answer in the comment section too, if you’d be so kind.

I wonder if a Peep would work for a s’more?  Probably not if your vegetarian.


Mother’s Day Challenge # 8

Hey all y’alls,
(As Britney Spears might say.)

I am one tired woman.  Drove to Asheville today, from Highlands, on a highway that clung to the side of the road, following a river, blasted between a mountain.  Gorgeous, gorgeous.  Met for coffee with my old friend Jane Carter, who is loving life in this Carolina mountain town. Read at Malaprop’s, which was great… though I think it is time for me to start reading new material. Usually I read from chapter four of the book, titled “Clay Bird,” the chapter about Missy stealing Louise’s bird.  It’s a good one (self aggrandizing alert), but it’s time for me to read new stuff.  The only problem is, I get embarrassed reading aloud the racier scenes, and most every other chapter has a racy scene.

(Which is really just a sublte way of saying: Go buy the book now!!)

Anyhoo–we have challenge number eight to attend to, don’t we?  Can you believe we are here already, rounding the bend on the mother of all mother’s day contests? Running the final mile of the marathon? (Well, the ten-mile-a-thon?)


Challenge number eight is simplicity itself.  What is your favorite thing about spring?  Email me your answer, and please, for community sake, also post your answer in the comments section below.

My favorite thing about spring, hands down, is that I get to eat strawberries.  Yes, I am one of those freaks who only eats strawberries in season, and the strawberry season in Hotlanta usually begins around May 1.  Lord.  A flat of berries bought from the farmer’s market creates a heavenly, honey perfume.  And if you buy enough berries at once, you really are mandated to make a strawberry pie.

I had my first spring strawberry tonight.  There’s this farmer who takes the leftover produce he doesn’t sell during the day, and goes table to table at downtown Asheville restaurants, shilling his goods.  The friends I was eating with were like, “Oh there’s that old farmer dude trying to sell his leftover produce…” meanwhile, I was frantically waving him down to come to my table and sell me some berries.

Email your favorite spring thing to me at and a nice, springy lottery ticket will be yours.


Y’alls, this one is going to be short and sweet because I’m in Highlands, North Carolina and only have internet access while sitting at Buck’s Cafe. And apparently they are closing soon because the young guy who works behind the counter is currently sweeping around my feet.

(Why am I in Highlands you ask? Why, I was doing a book signing at the fantastic Cyrano’s Bookshop on Main Street.  And tomorrow I’ll be at Malaprop’s in Asheville, 7pm…)

Anyway. Le challenge.  Highlands, a mountain town, full of fresh air and outdoorsy people (also full of, oddly, women in fur coats in the winter) makes me thinking of camping.  And camping makes me think of S’mores  So here’s the challenge question: what is your S’mores philosophy?  Is it burning the hell out of the marshmallow, blowing out the fire, then sliding the burnt thing onto your graham cracker and Hershey bar and pretending that carcinogens taste good?  Or is it slowly, lovingly, roasting your marshmallow to a golden brown? (Guess which is my preferred method?)

Also, how many Hershey bar rectangles do you put on your S’more?  I always liked using half a bar myself, but I’m decadent like that…

Email me your answers at  Please include
1) your preferred marshmallow roasting method and
2) your preferred number of Hershey bar rectangles.

And if you–sacrilege!–use some other type of chocolate besides Hershey, let me know that, too.

The reward for your email diligence? One shiny lottery ticket with your name on it, to be entered in the drawing.


(This is the size Hershey bar I like to use in my S’more.  Note the hands.)

Highlands, Asheville!

More contest challenges to come, but first wanted to write a quick note to say that I will be at Cyrano bookstore in Highlands, NC this afternoon from 4-6pm.  And tomorrow I’ll be at Malaprop’s books in Asheville, NC at 7pm.  Come on over and say hi!

And look for challenge #7 later tonight…

Brownie challenge # 6

Imagine receiving a batch of Ruth’s, Lauren’s, Ruth & Lauren’s (my mother! my sister! my mother! my sister!) amazingly decadent triple chocolate brownies in the mail.  Would that be the best thing you ever received by post?  Or what if you won Lauren’s ducky contest and got an enormous ceramic coffee cup filled with chocolate and books?  Would that top the list of best things delivered?

For challenge number six, tell me the best thing you ever received in the mail (and I’m talking snail mail, people): be it an acceptance letter, a giant stuffed elephant sent from a particularly Republican boyfriend, a renewed passport days before your trip to China, whatever, just send me the details.  You know the drill–send the answer to and you will receive one lottery ticket for the May 3rd drawing.

Alternate challenge: If nothing has ever come for you in the mail besides bills and junk, don’t despair.  There’s another way to win a ticket.  Simply recommend my book to someone.  Email me the name of the person you recommended it to, and you will receive another ticket.  And if you want to take both challenge options, that’s cool, too.  I’ll give you two tickets.

And don’t forget: srw_104 (the postman always rings twice.)


Mother’s Day Challenge #5

How do you love your mama? Let us haiku the ways.

You know the haiku form, right? A three line poem that goes a little something like this:
first line has five beats
second line has seven
last has five again

Your challenge? Right a sweet/ funny haiku about your mom, or mama, or medea, or mommy…

Here’s one I wrote about my sweet mama:

though her voice is soft…
hands are manicured weekly…
inside she is wild.

To receive a lottery ticket to be entered in the drawing, email your mama-inspired haiku to me at  Extra points go to folks who also publish their haikus in the comment section of this post.

Mother’s Day contest challenger NUMBER 4

Dear readers,
Today’s challenge might make some weep and gnash their teeth. Is it because I ask you to record footage of yourself hauling rocks up a steep hill?  Undergo dental drilling with no laughing gas? Order a McRib sandwich and consume the whole thing?

No, no and no.  All you must do to earn another lottery ticket is to attend my reading tonight at 7:15 pm at the Decatur library, 215 Sycamore Street, 30030.  The reading is sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book, and good times will be had by all.

I’m reading with Sandra Novack, whose novel Precious is getting all kinds of rave reviews.  The reading is free as a bird, only lasts an hour, and will involve the dispersing of cupcakes to a few lucky audience members.  So come on down to Decatur!! (Which, fyi, is a very cool town about 5 miles away from downtown Atlanta.)

But here is where the weeping and gnashing of teeth comes in: What happens to those of you who live no where near Decatur, GA?  Well, folks, AirTram has some amazing deals on flights, as does Delta. (joking, joking.)

If you can’t get here, all you have to do to earn a ticket is force encourage one of your Atlanta or Decatur dwelling friends to go to the event.  Once there, just have them say, “Chelsea Kaplan sent me,” or “Liz Harmon sent me.”

Simple, yes?

Hope to see some of y’all there!