Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Summers Giveaway #2 and My Own Personal Dove Campaign

First things first, CONGRATULATIONS to Vikki and Amy, who won the first Five Summers giveaway and who will now be blessed with my handwriting (and possibly pizza stains, no promises) on their very own hardcover copies of The Greatest Young Adult New England Camp-Based Melodrama of Our Time!

Second thing: Yes, this is another giveaway (scroll down for the widget), but I want to give you guys some sugar for putting up with my endless self-promotional efforts surrounding the book (it will, eventually, ACTUALLY come out, I promise). And I'm sure that by now you've seen the viral Dove real beauty video in which women describe themselves to police sketch artists, right? And you've probably even seen the parody with the totally average dude who calls himself a "white Denzel Washington." So this will be relevant. To everyone but Denzel. (And you should still buy the book, Denzel. You owe me. I sat through The Bone Collector!)

So anyway, you guys know what I look like in real life. Lord knows this blog doesn't need another selfie. But please know that this is how I see myself, most days:

Since this photo is actually of me, I feel like I'm allowed to say what we're all thinking, which is: Buzz, your girlfriend: Woof!
And here is how I see myself on days when I get drunk at lunch:

But if I gave my description to any sketch artist, surely they would see deep down to where my soul glows like a bejeweled bolo tie reflecting a gorgeously buoyant pompadour:

Okay, now we can start the raffle. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 22, 2013

A-lei We Go

This is one of those posts when I make excuses for not posting. BUT I have an okay excuse this time. You can tell it's legit because it has nothing to do with a Bravo TV show and bad sushi choices.

(Also, I want to take this opportunity to note that the title of this post is such a terrible play on words that it should probably be a nail polish color. I'm thinking something coral that only looks good on people with skin the color of mahogany leather.)

Anyway, for almost a week, we've been in Honolulu for my friend Tara's wedding. It took us awhile to get here, thanks to an American Airlines glitch, but after 27 hours of travel (longer, I feel compelled to point out, than it took us to get to the Philippines last year) we arrived, pale and grungy and still shivering from New York's 40 degree spring temperatures, to this:

I know. Disgusting, right?

Our luggage decided to keep us guessing and went rogue for about a day, but we persevered by purchasing garish new bathing suits and ordering umbrella drinks with names like "Greg Brady's Wipeout."

Both Jeff and I had to work on the trip, so I'm embarrassed to say that we've spent little time on the beach. Sam took in most of the sights from a perch on Jeff's shoulders...

... through his closed eyelids...

...or through the lens of my iPhone camera, as we shamelessly hammed (or, maybe, Spammed, since here in Hawaii they are partial to canned meat product) in our hotel room:

On Friday, Jeff and I celebrated TEN YEARS of togetherness. (We watched Point Break on the floor of the hotel room on my laptop, sharing a set of headphones and a miniature bottle of champagne. So, yeah, preeeettttty classy.)

On Saturday, I watched one of my oldest friends walk down the aisle and ugly-cried into my lei.

For most of the rest of the time, I sat looking out at the ocean while I typed in my oversize "Barack the Vote" tee shirt.

So it hasn't been the most relaxing break. The jet lag is just wearing off in time for our flight home tomorrow. But, hey, I know I'm lucky. Anywhere I get to go with these guys is a pretty sweet deal.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Five Summers Giveaway Numero Uno (Una?)

My book comes out May 16. Tomorrow is my 33rd birthday. So I'm kind of excited, and I need to celebrate.

Normally my definition of "celebrate" is sitting on the couch in maternity leggings (shut up, 18 months is still postpartum) and watching Jeff dance to Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It" while we cue up the latest episode of Modern Family on Hulu and he refills my wine.

I feel, however, that this calls for something... classier. But only just.

That's right, I'm giving away a copy of Five Summers! S'mores is how I do it, Montell. (I am still, in many respects, a lowercase g, but I have big dreams.)

OK, so first, to get you pumped, check out my book trailer! That's me doing to voiceover (Bobcat Goldthwait regrettably declined) and I have a cameo at the 23 second mark, at age 16:

And now, the giveaway. If I've coded this right (which I probably almost definitely have NOT), this should give you a bunch of easy options for entering (that's what she said, I know, let's move on) by Tweeting, Facebooking, liking various pages and sharing the book trailer.

Only one winner will be chosen this time, but I'm going to do three more giveaways after this one, so keep hope alive.

The sweepstakes starts NOW and ends on Thursday, April 18 at 9:00 pm. Please share the widget and tell your friends.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh, AND, because I love you, especially if you've gotten this far down:


Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Sassy Curmudgeon Book Fair: Dear Rick, Dear Teri

Back in February of 2010, I got a Facebook friend request from someone named Teri Brown.

"Hello!" she wrote on my wall the next day. "Your blog is sunshine-y goodness. Thanks for bein' a friend!"

Now. I am naturally standoffish around people I don't know, but how could I resist that message? Instantly I knew that Teri--or TB, as she went by on Blogger--was good people. Her (now semi-defunct) blog, Year 31, was quirky, smart, funny, and unfailingly polite, which was I think what hooked me most. Here was a nice Midwestern girl who was super cool without using expletives. I mean, what the fuck, right?

Over the course of a few months, Teri and I began exchanging blog and Facebook comments and then personal emails. It was the first time that a blog reader started to become a real-life friend, and it was both thrilling and totally anxiety-producing. I never had pen pals as a child (SHOCKER), and since Jeff and I started dating at 23, I never looked for love online. So this was my first digital relationship with someone I had never actually met.

Fast-forward a few years. TB, her husband Rick, and their adorable son move to the Philly area, where it just so happens Jeff and I have a wedding to attend (and a disgusting number of cheesesteaks to stuff into our heads). We pick a time and a place to meet. It's just like You've Got Mail, except we both have our husbands with us and neither of us can pull off a shag bob. (OK, fine, I can only speak for myself.)

So there, in the City Where the Fresh Prince Was Born and Raised--in a playground, no less, where he reportedly spent most of his days!--we became official BFF (blog friends forever, or until we delete them out of shame).

Teri has a new blog, but more importantly she just published a book, Dear Rick, Dear Teri, which is climbing the Amazon memoir charts.

What Teri did, which is both deceptively simple and incredibly brave, is transcribe all of the long-distance love letters that she and Rick wrote to one another in the late nineties--before anyone had cell phones or email addresses--after they met by chance at a Missouri Days Inn. Teri was a sheltered seventeen year-old from Kansas City; Rick was an exotic twenty-something Californian with a past. Her account of their meeting feels impossibly magical, like a scene from a movie, but the ensuing correspondence is so endearingly real (I would venture to call it adorkable) that it gives you that thrill of first love all over again--not just the perfect sweetness, but also the embarrassing honesty and insecurity.

TB agreed to let us in on how and why she turned her letters into literature:

UL: What made you decide to turn your correspondence with your now-husband Rick into a book?
TB: I've always known that I wanted to tell our story, because it's so unique, but I've struggled with finding a way to do it. Last fall, a friend suggested that I read 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (which is all the correspondence between an American writer and a British bookseller over 20 years), and I loved it. When I began reading through all of my own letters, I realized that the story pretty much told itself in the same way and something just clicked.

UL: How did you publish it?
TB: I decided to self-publish through CreateSpace (Amazon's self-publishing subsidiary) since I'm a terribly impatient person. I considered submitting to agents and big publishing houses, but that process somehow felt more intimidating than doing it all by myself. I will say, however, now that I've been through the process, I envy writers like you who have a team of people working on the book with you! Having to design my own cover, do most of my own editing, and do all of my own promotion is a tedious job--and I still really have no idea what I'm doing. I'm learning as I go. [Ed. note: I also have no idea what I'm doing, but yes, having people who DO know is comforting :)]  

UL: What were your feelings transcribing those letters? You seem to have left every word--even the painfully, ever-so-relatably cringe-worthy ones--in tact. Did you edit them at all?
TB: It was really fun to transcribe all the letters and basically relive it all. There were details I forgot in there--like the date we met. All these years, I had it in my head that we met on July 12th, but it was July 11th! That seems insignificant, until you find out that our son was born on July 11th. How could I have overlooked that?? I did a little bit of editing--mostly spell-check and changing names of people I didn't want to embarrass as much as I've embarrassed myself (because OH MY GOD I AM SO EMBARRASSED BY MY OWN WORDS), but I thought it was important to keep the integrity of the letters intact. I haven't read it again since I published it, and I probably won't since I get a rash every time I start to think about how the whole world is basically reading my diary from that year. I'm keeping my dermatologist in business right now.

Vomit from the cuteness, and the awkwardness.
UL: Obviously this will be an amazing artifact for your son, Sylas, to have when he gets older, and for you and Rick to treasure... but what made you feel that your story would resonate with the big, wide world?
TB: Well, I didn't know if people would identify with it, but I figured it was worth a shot to publish and find out. Since then, I've gotten a steady stream of emails from readers who have written to me to say that it did resonate with them, and I really enjoy hearing that. It's good to know that my humiliation wasn't all for naught!

UL: Do you and Rick still write each other letters?
TB: We haven't in a long time. Most of our correspondence these days is "the repairman is coming on Saturday!" through email or "NO PLASTIC WRAP IN THE RECYCLING BIN!" on a note over the recycling bin (seriously, why can't he remember this??). Sometimes I'll write him a letter or a note, but it's pretty rare these days. That's so sad!

On the contrary, the fact that these letters are rare make them extra valuable, so stock up now!

You cam buy the paperback or Kindle version on Amazon. The paperback is also available on Barnes & Noble's website.

And as a special promotion, readers of The Sassy Curmudgeon can download a FREE Kindle version of Dear Rick, Dear Teri TODAY. So what are you waiting for? Go get it!

Speaking of giveaways, check the blog tomorrow for the first Five Summers sweepstakes. I don't say "woot" as a rule, because it sounds like a drunk sorority girl noise crossed with a bodily function but fuck it, what the hell. WOOT. LaMarche, out.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Sassy Curmudgeon Book Fair: Lost in Suburbia

Do you guys remember book fairs? My elementary school used to do a bake sale at the same time, so mostly I remember getting two cupcakes for a dollar. But also, apparently, there were books. Or, mainly there were books. Incidentally, there were cupcakes. They did not call it a "cupcake fair." Although in retrospect that might have been a better marketing angle.


For a number of reasons, I have decided to host a book fair here on the blog this week. My reasons are as follows:

1. I know a lot of wonderful writers who have new books coming out and I want to celebrate them.
2. I have no cable and thus cannot watch the Mad Men premiere, and so I'm re-teaching myself how to read printed words instead of just poking blindly at my Roku controller while drooling.
3. I needed an excuse to use this Weird Al READ poster from Y2K:

4. I also have a book coming out soon. (Not that there's any way you'd already know about that...)
5. If I have a book fair, there have to be cupcakes, right? That's like a rule? I'm pretty sure it is. 
6. It gives me an excuse to make a special blog banner, which is one of my great joys in life:


Today I'd like to spotlight a writer, blogger, former fellow low-aimier, and all-around hilarious lady, Tracy Beckerman, whose "momoir" Lost In Suburbia: How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs, came out last week!

(I have to say at this juncture that I totally judge books by their covers--I find it to be pretty accurate--and this is a kick-ass cover. I also employ this tactic in other parts of my life. For instance, I choose wine based on labels. Also, my therapist is named Bill Murray. True story.)

This is Tracy:

Tracy is a nationally syndicated humor columnist and "hip, hip lady," to quote Slater from Dazed and Confused. And reading her book is like sharing a bottle of wine with one of your best friends and telling all of the inappropriate stories and naked (sometimes literally) truths--like, say, that time the overtired mohel "missed" at the bris--that make you laugh so loud your husband gives you the side-eye from across the kitchen pass-through, because he is suddenly paranoid you're talking about him--which, let's face it, you probably totally ARE.

Her writing reminds me of two of my all-time favorite humorists, Erma Bombeck and Laurie Notaro.
And even though I have never lived in the 'burbs, I would consider moving there to be neighbors with someone like Tracy.

So, please, do yourself a favor and buy her book, either at a "real" "book store" (whatever that is) or at one of these fine online retailers:

In conclusion, here is a photo of someone giving a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama cupcake nipples.

It was the best I could do.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Klassic Lit, Kardashian-Style

A year or so ago, my friend Beth gave me the Kardashian's "novel" Dollhouse. It was a joke gift, something free she had gotten at work, but I was kind of excited. I mean, check out the creativity they employed for the plot:
Nothing is more important than family. Just ask Kamille, Kassidy, and Kyle Romero, three beautiful, loving, deeply loyal sisters. Their mother has remarried and their new stepfather, a world-famous all-star baseball player, has come complete with two stepsiblings. Life in L.A. is pretty typical for this newly blended clan. 
I don't know where they come up with this stuff.

So, yeah, that was dumb. But not nearly as dumb as this:

Oh, that's right. If you love J.D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, or Fyodor Dostoyevsky, you'll love this delightful re-imagining/sullying of their time-tested masterpieces. From the book jacket:

The Katcher in the Rye: Kole Kaulfield, a handsome prep student, embarks on an adventure in New York City, where he thinks a lot about random things and seems sad, until he wears a special hat and talks to some ducks or something and feels better.

The Khosen: Two girls, Kamden and Kendra, meet playing softball and become best friends even though Kamden is Greek Orthodox and Kendra is a Kabbalist. Kamden's dad is kind of a dick. Also it's olden times, and no one has iPhones.

The Kanterbury Tales: At a really exclusive dinner party, some Pilgrims tell each other stories, and most of them rhyme.

Katch-22:  An Armenian pilot named Kanye Kossarian flashes through time, sort of like Lost, only instead of being dead at the end he's kind of just crazy and a total bummer.

Krime and Punishment: Kody Kaskolnikov is a really poor fashion student who decides to murder the owner of a high-end consignment shop so that he can do nice things for other poor people, and find out what killing feels like. And also get some new pants.

The Kount of Monte Kristo: At 19, Kobe Dante seems to have the perfect life: he's engaged to a hot girl named Mercedes, he's about to get his own yacht, and he's famous for making fried turkey sandwiches, which sounds gross but is really lucrative. But then his friends get him arrested and there's like a thousand pages of stuff after that.

I, Klaudia: Ancient Roman socialite Klaudia, who struggles with a stutter, vacations with her family to Kumae, where she meets a really ripped lacrosse player, and also some prophetess helps her stop talking weird.

The good news is, we can stop looking for the next Great Novel of Our Time. Sorry, Franzen. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.



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