The Next Big Thing

My savvy novelist friend Mary Glickman has offered to tag me on her blog. I’m supposed to post answers to questions about whatever I’m working on at the moment, and then tag a new author friend’s blog at the end, where they will have posted something about their Next Big Thing.

My instinctive reaction was to lose Mary’s email and blame it on Christmas.

That worked fine for a while, but Mary’s a lovely person and eventually my conscience got the better of me. So I emailed to thank her and explain that I did not have a blog.

(Okay. I do have a blog, but until now it hasn’t been public. The only person I’ve shown it to is my sister. There has been a lot of dysfunctional dithering – partly because is not available and I’m not sure if is an accurate way to describe myself. These things can take on such significance and weight that I end up completely frozen. Besides, I’m working on my next book, and it’s a memoir. If I start blogging about what’s on my mind, what’s left for the book? A puzzlement.)

Mary’s been writing a long time and I think she must have sniffed a classic case of writer’s block, because she hit me right back:

No problem. If you don’t have a blog you can post on your Facebook author page instead. Totally acceptable.

This is not what I needed Mary to say. So I lost that email too, and blamed it on New Year’s until I could come up with another excuse:

Thank you so much Mary, but I can’t write about my Next Big Thing. It’s another memoir and it’s a surprise.

Still no problem, Mary shot back. Write about your first book instead.


I’d run out of holidays to blame, so I sucked it up and finally wrote a bunch of answers, and the process turned out to be kind of fun. But when I previewed the post in the Notes section of my Facebook fan page, it just didn’t look right. So thank you Mary for finally coaxing out into the world. 

What is the title of your book?

When I was writing The Habit I played around with a few titles that illustrated whatever was foremost in my writing mind at the moment. I kept a list, and the one that stuck the longest had to do with the most common questions that came up when I told people I was writing a book about my elderly mother and our complicated relationship. Was my mother still alive? Yes, she was. Was I going to wait until she died to publish? That second question always got a laugh.

For a long time, my favorite title was Nobody Dies at the End of This Book, because my mother had no plans to die, ever, and even if she did, I did not want her to miss out on the fun, because she had been such a cheerleader for the book.

Luckily, a very perceptive friend came up with a title that made a little more sense and left room for some cover art. The Habit illustrates our story both literally and thematically: My mother is now a nun, so she wears a habit. And, my mother is my habit.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was emailing updates about our mother’s medical situation to my out-of-town siblings, and I got a little creative. One sister urged me to turn the emails into a book.

What genre does your book fall under?

Memoir   nonfiction   creative nonfiction   comedy   tragedy   tragicomedy   horror  Slightly supernatural thriller with subtle religious undertones, redemptive in nature, a little more than loosely based on a true story.

As much as I can remember of it, any way.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Maggie Smith is the obvious choice to play my mother. Lately I’ve been thinking Tilda Swinton could play me, because she’s both funny and serious and she and Maggie kind of look alike. Or how about we get Meryl Streep to play both of us?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

To quote one of my favorite reviews: “A sometimes searing, often hilarious account of a mother-daughter relationship Hallmark probably doesn’t have a card for.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

No and no. Published by Open Road Integrated Media – they are the tits!!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

All my life, or about two years, depending on how you look at it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Some have compared it to Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, although Burroughs and his mother make Ma and me look like angels. At least my mother didn’t have sex with my psychiatrist.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’d say David Sedaris gave me the courage I needed.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This is a good book for people who either have or are about to grapple with eldercare and Sandwich Generation issues. There are helpful tips, as well as cathartic been-there-done-that/awfully-glad-it’s-over-with type stories. Plenty of illustrations – my mother is an artist. If possible, get it as an e-book on a color reader of some sort.

As I said, I’m writing another memoir right now. It would be very helpful if people could read this one first so I don’t have to re-explain who everyone is….

And, introducing Bettina Hoerlin, author of Steps of Courage, a wonderful book about her parents’ journey from Nazi Germany to America. To read Bettina’s post, click here. Bettina, you’re It!


6 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing

  1. Susie, terrific job with the blog and a great Next Big Thing entry. Welcome to the group! And don’t worry about cheating- at least your entry was about a book people could read (not a trunk novel like mine…). All good things- Will Hahn

  2. I’m so glad to hear that you’re writing a memoir. When I finished The Habit, I passed it along to my mother, and I also put in a request for our library to carry it (they ordered it!). As I was reading The Habit, I kept thinking of what a compelling character *you* are, and am glad you’re putting more of your story out there. Do you intend to talk more about your writing style or the writing process in your memoir? Or will you talk about it here on your blog? Also, might you start a virtual book group or writing group through your site? You have such a funny, unique style/voice, and I think you’d be a fabulous book group leader or teacher (if you aren’t already!).

  3. Thank you for this warm welcome everyone, especially Mary. Will: keep writing. Candyce – love that you are spreading the word about The Habit. Not sure what I’ll be sharing about the writing process other than that it is driving me crazy at the moment. Let’s see if inspiration strikes.

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