What Happened When My Daughter Read My Novel

My final edits for The Glass Wives were accepted – which means the manuscript goes into queue for copyediting, and for all intents and purposes, big changes have been completed.  Cue ominous music. Then, when my editor sent me the finished, digital document, I had an instantaneous flash of an idea – the kind that comes from nowhere and then seems obvious – almost like I’d been daft not to think of it before.

“Do you want to read the book?” I asked my 16-year-old daughter.

Her eyes widened – and if you know Chloe, this is quite a sight.  Eyes big and round and bright blue, accented by immaculately plucked eyebrows, lined most days into a modified Cleopatra, with sometimes delicate, yet always deliberate, swipes of not-tested-on-animals mascara. Or false lashes, depending on the occasion.

She nodded and smiled wide.

As I emailed the word doc to her hand-me-down Kindle, I had two thoughts. First, coupled with her mama-love bias would be her AP English analytical skills. Second, with the springboard for the novel being an event in our real lives, I wanted to know if she had any misgivings about the plot or characters.

“Let me know if anything bothers you,” I said. “I’m not changing it, but I still want to know.”

She just rolled her eyes and chuckled, as if none of that surprised her.  Humor and robust candor are the cornerstones of our relationship. I reminded her it’s not her usual reading fare, and she understood.  When she’s not entrenched in her normal school year, she reads a book or more per week, but she’s not reading book club books, or up-market women’s fiction. She’s reading epic YA, sweet romances and classics.  But she was game.  Then I told her the most important part.

“There’s no sex in it.”

Her shoulders relaxed.  She was visibly relieved. My friends are usually visibly disappointed.

Chloe decided to read The Glass Wives on her daily trek to the gym.  Now I don’t want to include any spoilers, but she texted me in dismay and delight over the story every day for over a week as she read.  And I caught her reading at home as well.  She told me what she liked, where and she was annoyed with the characters, when the happenings and twists made her sad, glad, happy, heart-warmed and relieved.   Her favorite parts are my favorite parts.  They’re my editor’s favorite parts.  They are some of my critique partners’ favorite parts.  Chloe said it was believable – and best of all she laughed when I asked if saw how it was fiction.

“Well it’s obvious where you got the idea,” she said, almost gloating, like she was part of a big secret that isn’t one.  It’s not a secret that my kids’ dad died in 2004.  It’s not a secret that The Glass Wives is about a woman whose ex-husband dies suddenly. “But other than that,” Chloe said.  And again, more eye-rolling.

She did call me on something she did once that I attributed to my main character’s ten-year-old daughter, but it was more like Chloe was honored to be sprinkled into fiction than anything else. She laughed with me about all the people who will be sorely disappointed not to find themselves within the pages, what the characters look like to her, what the house looks like, what she thinks happened after The End.

Speaking of The End – she was satisfied. It’s not tied neatly with a bow and she appreciated that the reader is left to discern what’s next.  Chloe liked that there was ample resolution, and that throughout the book things weren’t always what they seemed, but by the end, all fit together and made perfect sense.

And as she well knows, that only happens in fiction.

Amy xo

And yes, I have two kids.  My son, Zachary, is 20 and not a reader of fiction, he’s a reader of sports. He’s a writer too, about sports.  He was pleased Chloe read it, and more pleased I didn’t expect him to do the same. 

If you want to see a compilation of photos I attribute to The Glass Wives, check out my Pinterest board by clicking here

The Truth About Writer-Moms By Author Lauren Baratz-Logsted

If you don’t know Lauren Baratz-Logsted, you should! She writes women’s fiction, chick-lit, YA and middle grade books. She’s also a kick-ass editor and I should know because she helped me with an early version of what now The Glass Wives.

And, as you may have guessed, she’s also a mom!

Lauren’s “nice guy romance novel”, The Bro-Magnet, has catapulted to the top of the Kindle charts (as I’m typing this, it’s #2!) and lucky for you — it’s FREE until Sunday, May 20th.  Here’s the link so you can check it out yourself: THE BRO-MAGNET on Amazon. 

Congratulations Lauren!  

If Nothing Is Actively Crawling, The Place Is Clean Enough

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Recently, the Working Mom v Stay-at-Home Mom debates got a rehearing in the press. There’s one group that is often ignored in these things, the gray area where people like me reside: the Work-at-Home Mom. I’m a specialized kind of work-at-home mom. I am a writer.

Writers can be funny people. Often, you’ll hear women who are writers – or more properly, women who want to be writers – say, “It’s impossible to get it all done. I don’t have time to write because I’m too busy taking care of my family.”

Here’s the thing about lots of writers: They’ll find any excuse not to write.

Here’s the thing about me: I’m not like lots of other people.

True confession time: I am an indifferent housekeeper and an absentee cook. My motto regarding the former: “If nothing is actively crawling, the place is clean enough”; regarding the latter: “The microwave is my friend.”

The way I achieve balance is through multitasking whenever possible. While pregnant with my daughter, I read those books that say you should talk to your baby as much as possible – in the womb and out – to encourage language acquisition. The problem with being a writer is that when you spend whole days in a basement cave alone, silently pouring words out onto the page, you are not necessarily big on talking aloud. This means that the idea of making baby babble was out for me. Instead, when my baby was still inside me, I read Proust to her (no wonder she likes cookies); and a few months after she was born, when she started on solids, I used to read the Letters to the Editor from the New York Times, doing different accents for whichever state or country the letter writer was from, while feeding her in her high chair (no wonder her vocabulary is so good that at age six, she told me the problem with Amelia Bedelia is that “she takes things too literally”). Arguably the greatest multitasking feat I ever accomplished was writing the first draft of an entire novel, Vertigo, while breastfeeding. Obviously I didn’t do this all in one session. Since I was breastfeeding on the left while typing on the right, it resulted in a lopsided look for a time, but at least my child got fed and the book got written.

The best advice I ever got about mothering was from a friend who doesn’t even have kids. While I was still pregnant with what I knew was going to be a daughter, my friend told me, “The best gift you can give your daughter is the model of a strong woman pursuing her dreams with joy and determination. That way, when she grows up, she won’t feel she needs the world’s permission to do the same.”

I have done that.

This does not mean that there is not the occasional twinge of guilt. Occasionally, I ask my daughter, “Wouldn’t you rather have a different kind of mommy? You know, one of those cooking-and-cleaning mommies?” To this, she invariably replies, “No, I want the mommy I have.” Here’s the thing, the best thing of all: She is proud of what I do for a living and she has always known how deeply she is loved.

No, you can’t have it all. You can’t do it all either. But there is no reason in the world why you can’t do what you love.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of 24 books for adults (The Thin Pink Line), teens (The Twin’s Daughter) and young readers (The Sisters 8 series, which she created with her novelist husband and her daughter). You can read more about her life and work at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com.