A friend and I were talking about the importance of the first real jobs we ever had. Getting our first paychecks, having cash in our pockets, knowing we earned that money on our own. Knowing what it took to earn it. My first job was at a car wash in Darien, Connecticut, where I grew up. I was sixteen and it was the start of the summer. My boyfriend had gotten a summer job there and I wanted to be with him so I went to the owner and asked if I could work there too. There were no girls working there at the time, just guys – one older man named Jimmy (I just now remembered his name after all these years) and a lot of young kids like my boyfriend and me. [Read more…]
After writing The Wedding Thief I became more interested than ever in weddings. When the pandemic hit and didn’t go away, I wondered what couples who had planned to be married were doing. Were they postponing their weddings, postponing their receptions/celebrations, postponing everything, or going ahead with some abbreviated versions? I recently talked via Instagram Live with four “Covid brides” – from Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Connecticut – to find out how the pandemic affected their plans and what they ultimately did. Each story is unique and, fortunately, each one has a happy ending. Watch the interviews here: Kate McGoff; Molly Moss; Jessica Sandman; Emily Hapken.
I enjoy weaving music into my novels. In my latest, The Wedding Thief, Sara Harrington loves the music commonly referred to as the Great American Songbook – music by Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, and Johnny Mercer, among many others. Sara’s late father, a Broadway producer, was a big fan of that music and Sara grew up listening to it. Of course, the real fan is me, but I also love classical, Broadway tunes, jazz, blues…. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I mention more than twenty songs in The Wedding Thief. If you’d like to see what they are or to have a listen, click here to check out the playlist on Spotify.
I inherited a sweet tooth from my father. He loved desserts and somehow even managed to stay trim all his life. Good DNA, I guess. Fortunately for Dad and me, my mom was a great cook and an incredible baker. She never made anything from a package or a mix. She made it all from scratch – cakes, pies, cookies, whatever.
I still have the Fannie Farmer cookbook she loved to use, fourth edition, copyright 1965. The cover is mottled with stains and has separated from the spine. The pages have yellowed. Still, it’s my favorite cookbook. Every time I use it, I think of Mom.
Maybe it’s not surprising that sweets are an element in each of my novels. In The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, blueberry muffins are important. In The Rules of Love & Grammar, apple pies play a big role.
In my latest novel, The Wedding Thief, a bakery called the Rolling Pin is known for its orange chocolate chunk cookies. They happen to be a favorite of mine (as are, of course, apple pie and blueberry muffins). The recipe is on my website. Orange zest, orange extract, and three kinds of chocolate make these cookies really special. And the recipe is easy.
I’m working on a fourth novel now and I think the featured dessert will be another pie. I’ve got just the one in mind. But I can’t share that information … yet.
In my novel, The Wedding Thief, the Rolling Pin bakery is known for its orange chocolate chunk cookies. Orange zest, orange extract, and three kinds of chocolate make these cookies really special. Here’s the recipe:
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp orange zest
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp orange extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
4 oz milk chocolate, chopped into chunks
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks [Read more…]
I had such a great time talking to Robin Kall, of Reading with Robin, who has probably interviewed a thousand authors. And now me! Tune in here to see us discuss The Wedding Thief, what makes the characters tick, and the whole idea of sisterly sibling rivalry – especially when a man is concerned.
We talked about Sara, the older sister who is still in love with her former beau, Carter; Mariel, who is about to marry him; and Camille, their mother, who just wants her estranged daughters to reconcile before the big day. Which explains why she summons them home by telling them she’s very ill (but can’t discuss it over the phone) when she’s not. Well, she is an actor!
I had so much fun taking over my publisher’s (Little, Brown’s) Instagram page last Thursday, two days after my book, The Wedding Thief, came out. It was great connecting with readers and with other authors about the book and about writing in general.
The post that got the most views was a photo of a manuscript page from an early draft. There were notes in the margin (through the comments function in Word), notes in pen, and notes on yellow stickies. As I explained in the post, that page didn’t even make it into the finished book. Between that version and the final, the manuscript went on a diet and lost 90 pages! A lot of weight to lose, but definitely better for the book’s overall health.
It was really interesting to hear from other writers about their writing process and to get their reactions to mine. No two writers go about it the same way. And we all have tips and tricks that we can learn from one another. A good friend of mine writes all the dialog for her scenes first, then fills in the action, observation, internal narrative, etc. After she passed that idea onto me, I started using it here and there as a way to vary my own process.
In case you’re wondering, the post that got the second highest number of views was the one of our Tonkinese cat, Cinnamon (who doubles as my assistant), curled up and asleep next to a little outline I build as I add each chapter. And he didn’t even know he was being featured!
I had a nice chat about my new book, The Wedding Thief, with John Valeri for his show, Central Booking. John, formerly of the Hartford Books Examiner, asked a lot of great questions about the book and about my circuitous route to a fiction writing career (journalist, lawyer, author).
Sometimes I wonder how many books I would have written if I’d gone straight into writing novels and hadn’t worked in magazine publishing or the law. But I think those experiences were necessary for me to get where I needed to go. Maybe I wouldn’t have been ready to be a fiction writer earlier in my life. I certainly don’t regret the time I spent doing other things. I met wonderful people, I learned a lot, and I had fun. I have no complaints. Still, I’m glad to be doing what I’m doing now. Being an author is my third career and it’s the one I’m keeping.
You can watch John Valeri’s interview of me by clicking here.
When Sara Harrington of The Wedding Thief arrives at her childhood home in Connecticut one July day, she’s greeted by this picturesque driveway, complete with a horse barn and day lilies bowing over the stone wall. I would love to have grown up in a home that had this driveway and barn – which is probably why I was attracted to this photo and used it as inspiration for where the Harrington sisters grew up and where their mother still lives. This property is located in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
This beautiful home is where Sara, the main character in my novel, The Wedding Thief, grew up. Well, not really. This house, located in an idyllic area of northwestern Connecticut, was owned for many years by the actor Denis Leary and his wife, Ann. I used it as inspiration for the Harrington family home. I re-imagined the inside to suit my needs for the story, but stuck pretty closely to the look of the house’s facade and surrounding grounds when describing the place where Sara grew up. It’s to this home where Sara returns in the opening chapter of the novel.