Literary Friday ya’ll….

It’s the first Friday of August. Kids are headed back to school and summer is winding down. PS: Have you already started to see the Halloween stuff in stores? Ugh, I wanted to stomp my foot the other day and scream “It’s July, for Pete’s Sake! JULY!” I held back, tho, because I’m nice 😉


1. Deep South Magazine– chock full with good news this week for #literaryfriday: DBF news (Decatur Book Festival), giveaway for Beth Albright’s The Sassy Belles, 2013’s most talked about books, and Hemingway look alike’s!


2. Interviews this week on Traveling With T include: Amy Shearn where she talks about who make a perfect rusalka if The Mermaid of Brooklyn is made into a movie and Randy Susan Meyers where she tells about “the butter in the cookies” and a special surprise for book clubs that have selected The Comfort of Lies to read!


3. Author Spotlights this week on Traveling With T include: Amy Shearn where she confesses something that may get her Author Card revoked, her Pinterest obsession and her #literarycrush. Randy Susan Meyers tells her #literaryconfession- her confession is likely to cause raised eyes in the literary world!


4. Have you been seeing the #ctbs posts and wondering what that’s all about? #ctbs = Conquering the Book Stacks. Here is the info and here is my goals (which may get revised as I update weekly!)


5. Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club is back at Traveling With T- August’s Book Club Selection is: The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers. Here is the reading schedule and here is the opening thoughts. Discussion questions will be posted Aug 9th- so plenty of time to get the book!


6. Two reviews were posted on Traveling With T this week: Finding Colin Firth by Mia March and The Recipe Box by Sandra Lee.


7. Missed out on my Bloggers Made of AWESOME post? Here it is!


8. I haven’t picked my #fridayreads yet- need to look at my #ctbs list!


9. Want to win a copy of The Mermaid Collector by Erika Marks? Visit Goodreads!


Happy Reading!

Author Spotlight: Amy Shearn

the mermaid of brooklynMonday, Amy Shearn was at Traveling With T for an interview- today it’s all about the Author Spotlight and #literaryconfessions, #literarycrush and more!

Warning: Do not drink anything while reading this- Amy’s quite funny- and she has a way with words!


Author Spotlight: Amy Shearn

What are some of your favorite books, Amy?

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is the novel I’m always going back to. I just started rereading it for the millionth time. To me it’s the perfect novel – it’s beautiful, funny, sad, complicated, simple. It’s about one day in the life of one woman but it’s also about everything. It’s essentially Ulysses, but without being an asshole.

If you could choose to be a character in a book- who would you choose?

What a great question! Maybe the title character of Virginia Woolf’s (much-stranger-than-Mrs-Dalloway) novel Orlando? Orlando gets to be both a man and a woman and live for 400 years and have all sorts of adventures, which seems pretty rad to me. Though upon consideration I’m not sure I’d actually like to be a man (no offense to men).

If you were not an author, what would you like to be?

Recently I’ve been having some hot-and-heavy fantasies about working in a bookstore. I know it’s not all just reading, talking to people about books, and petting the bookstore cat, but in my fantasy it is. 

Do you have any #literaryconfessions? 

 You know, I was just thinking about how I’ve never read Philip Roth! How has this happened? I think I might get my Author Card revoked for admitting that. I also don’t really read magazines, despite writing for them. I don’t dislike them, I just always end up with a book instead.

Do you have a #literarycrush?

I completely have the hots for Mr. Darcy, who’s such a brooding grouch. It’s so annoying. (Mr. Darcy, my crush, all of it.)

What is your favorite song?

It’s overplayed in every coffee shop in New York City but I still get happy when I hear Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” I love the strange lyrics, and the way it reminds me of a very happy, creatively alive time in my life and the beginning of my relationship with my husband. It’s about dying, a little. It’s also the most romantic of all love songs! I swear.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Oh, too much social media, like everyone else. I have to severely limit my Pinterest time or every evening of my life would disappear in an ether of lovely kitchens, glamour shots of typewriters, and nicely-laid-out quotations about being brave.


*Special thanks to Amy Shearn for this Author Spotlight!


Amy Shearn can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and has a website. If you’ve enjoyed the Author Spotlight, grab a copy of The Mermaid of Brooklyn!


Interview with Amy Shearn- author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn

the mermaid of brooklynA few months ago, I was sent a copy of The Mermaid of Brooklyn– and I’ll be honest- I did not know who Amy Shearn was. The cover drew me in- but the writing made me stay. It’s funny- with a biting wit that is similar to The Nanny Diaries (in my opinion). After reading it, I had 2 regrets: 1. that I had finished and 2. that Amy is a New Yorker and I’ll probably never get to meet her to tell her in person that I enjoyed The Mermaid of Brooklyn.

Amy was kind enough to agree to an interview- today, we’ll talk about The Mermaid of Brooklyn, Jenny Lipkin, and much more! She’ll be back Wednesday to talk #literarycrush, #literaryconfessions, and guilty pleasures.


Interview with Amy Shearn

Amy, how did the idea of The Mermaid of Brooklyn happen?

I was shopping with my grandmother for shoes to wear at my wedding when she told me the story of how a pair of shoes saved my great-grandmother’s life. My great-grandmother, a tiny, tough woman named Jenny Lipkin, was a virtuosic seamstress, a self-sufficient ball-buster, a strong mother of three girls, and the wife of a really awful man – and yet the tale my grandmother told spoke of such inner turmoil, vulnerability, even a touch of the poetic. This story stuck with me, and somehow combined in my mind with the idea of the rusalka, the malevolent mermaid of Eastern European lore. I was trying to write an essay interweaving the two ideas for the longest time, until one day when I was describing it to a friend in the hopes she could help me untangle it all, and she said, “Um, that’s a novel.” The final piece fell into place when I became a mother. I found myself fascinated by the parenting culture of Park Slope, Brooklyn – half-loving it, half-amused/repelled by it – and that was when I was ready to start writing the book.

Is Jenny Lipkin based on you, Amy? Or any mothers you know? Or is more of a collective idea of mothers everywhere?

I think every character in a novel is a little part of the writer. From the outside, Jenny’s life certainly looks like mine. I live in Brooklyn, I have two kids (although when I was writing the book I only had one), and when I was writing the first draft of this book we lived in a cramped walk-up apartment that was making me crazy. Like Jenny (and like many writers and bookish types, I think) I often find myself feeling like a bit of an outsider, observing everyone else, looking in.

That said, I based her character largely on the original Jenny Lipkin. I knew so many mothers who battled with post-partum depression or depression in general that I felt it was important to speak to that, too, although I was lucky to not have experienced anything so dark and awful after the birth of my babies. And my husband doesn’t disappear on gambling binges! Phew.


How long did it take to write The Mermaid of Brooklyn?

The first draft took about two years, fitting neatly in between the birth of my first child and the birth of my second. Then my agent had some revision ideas, so I spent a few months working through those, and then of course my editor had more notes, and the whole process of her reads, the copyediting, the proofreading, and all that other publishing side business that took another year or so.


The witty lines- I’ve read other reviews that compare the biting wit of A Mermaid in Brooklyn to The Nanny Diaries. Do you have any thoughts on that comparison?

Oh, that’s so nice! I have no idea since I haven’t read The Nanny Diaries, but I’ll take it as a compliment.


Do you think The Mermaid of Brooklyn would make a good movie? Have you ever wondered who could make up the dream cast? I’ll be honest- I’m very interested in knowing who would be the rusalka.

I would love to see TMOB as a movie! While I was writing it I happened to see the film All The Real Girls and thought that then-Zooey Deschanel and then-Paul Schneider would be great as Jenny Lipkin and Cute Dad, mostly because they had this great chemistry, and because I have a weird embarrassing movie-star crush on Paul Schneider. I don’t know – Jenny would be hard to cast, particularly since one of her defining characteristics is being tiny, with size 4 feet (it’s a pretty important plot point!). A lady who works at Powerhouse on 8th, this great bookstore where I had my book launch, told me she pictured the rusalka as Bette Midler, which I think is pretty perfect.

In The Mermaid of Brooklyn, you do not sugar-coat the life of a mother with 2 young children. I find that refreshing.  Have you encountered readers who think otherwise?

Oh gosh yes. A few reviewers seem to find Jenny to be quite awful, as if having negative thoughts about the constant, brutal, unappreciated work of parenting meant you didn’t love your kids or weren’t a good mom. A mother-writer I know scoffed at this, and told me over Chinese food the other day, “Any mother who says she hasn’t had thoughts like Jenny’s is LYING!” I think some readers find Jenny to be whiny and self-pitying, too. She is, of course, and that’s part of why she needs so much help from Bette Midler. I mean the rusalka.

It’s hard to be honest about how hard parenting is, because of the fear of being judged – but I’ve found some of the most satisfying experiences to come out of writing this book are all the mothers who say to me, “How did you know? It’s like you’re inside my head! I’m not alone!” We have to be honest with each other. It makes us all feel a bit less mad.

Have we heard the last from Jenny Lipkin? Is her story over? Or might you revisit her one day?

I can’t imagine writing anything else about this character. I love her, but it was hard to spend so much time with her voice in my head. I actually wrote a note to myself while slogging through a millionth round of revisions – I may have even tweeted it! – to remember that writing about a depressed person can be very depressing. It’s like hanging out with that downer friend…for years.

What are you working on next, Amy? Are you still gathering ideas or do you have a book in mind?

I’ve been thinking about, researching, and outlining a new novel for some time now, but only in the past few months have I started writing it. Now that I’m really writing it I feel like I can’t talk about it or I will jinx it somehow. But I’m excited. It feels good to be actually writing again.


*Special thanks goes to Amy Shearn for agreeing to be interviewed!


amy shearn 1Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn, can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and she has a website as well. Recently, Amy had an article in the New York Times Opinionator section, A Writer’s Mommy Guilt.


To read Traveling With T’s review of The Mermaid of Brooklyn, visit HERE.

Literary Friday ya’ll…

Friday 🙂 Hope everyone has big weekend plans!


1. Deep South Mag– #literaryfriday is off to a great start! There was a Beth Hoffman Twitter chat (super-fun!) Other tid-bits: Beth Albright will guest post on Deep South Mag next week, news of TAMPA, Zelda and Hemingway news, and more!

If you missed the Beth Hoffman chat- use #southernlit to read a transcript on Twitter! Need more Beth Hoffman? Here’s the interview and author spotlight that posted on my blog this week!


2, I just finished (last night) reading Finding Colin Firth. It was fabulous! I enjoyed it! So much! Want to win a copy? Comment on my interview with Mia March for a chance! Need more Mia? Here is the Author Spotlight!


3. Wanting to know what the August Book Lovers Unite online book club selection is? It’s The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers!


4. My #fridayreads IF YOU WERE HERE by Alafair Burke, THE PAINTED GIRLS, and I’m trying to decide on a 3rd book!


5. Coming up soon on the blog: posts about meeting Stephanie Evanovich (Big Girl Panties), Susan Crandall (Whistling Past the Graveyard) and Anton DiSclafani!


6. Like Mermaids? Check out the blog next week- there’ll be talk about a Mermaid that live in NYC (Brooklyn, to be exact!)


Happy Reading 🙂

Literary Friday ya’ll…

Friday. Pretty spring day. I’ve been enjoying my morning coffee while watching these 2 small brown birds make a nest near the breakfast nook area.  It’s a good day.

1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday: A honor for Square Books, news about The Great Gatsby movie, and much more.

2. #giveaways: Luxury Reading is giving away a copy of Wendy Wax’s latest While We Were Downtown Abbey and She Reads is giving away a copy of The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley.

3. Other She Reads news:

1. Books and Wine: A Pairing for The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow.

2. She Reads April Book Club Selection: And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

3. Book Review: Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg

4. A Room of Her Own: The Writing Space of Patti Callahan Henry

4. What is your #fridayreads? Mine is Going, Going, Ganache by Jenn McKinlay.

5. Books that I have read lately and really enjoyed:

1. The Affair by Colette Freedman

2. And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

3. Learning to Fly: An Ucommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog by Steph Davis

4. Nickled and Dimed to Death: A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery by Denise Swanson

5. The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn

6. Life After Life by Jill McCorkle

6. Have you made your bucket list? What about your book-ish bucket list? Here’s mine: Traveling With T’s Book-ish Bucket List


Happy Reading 🙂


The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn

Jenny Lipkin, mother of 2 girls, married to Harry. Living in Brooklyn. Struggling with her life as a mother of 2 young girls- feeling overwhelmed most days. One day, asks her husband Harry to pick up some cigarettes- and he doesn’t return. And that is the beginning of Jenny’s life changing.

If Jenny thought she was overwhelmed earlier- well, without the help of Harry- life begins to spin in ways that she never thought possible. Her in-laws wonder where Harry is, her kids want to know, and her friends as well. On a day that should have been a normal day, just a day where her mother in law watches the girls and Jenny has a bit of a break- she makes a deciscion that alters Jenny’s life in some dramatic; yet honestly truthful ways.

Jenny’s ally, a ruesalka, makes Jenny take a look at her life- a look at her role as a wife and mother. Through the ruesalka, Jenny has to reassess her perception of motherhood, marriage, and relationships with friends and family. Through this, Jenny learns about herself, life lessons, and happiness.

Jenny’s role as a mother, her interactions with the kids, her thoughts that she’s afraid to tell others- it’s a refreshing and honest look at motherhood. Amy Shearn does not sugar-coat the emotions  a mother of 2 young children could feel- it’s a story that mothers should read; however, it’s a book that others can enjoy as well. The Mermaid of Brooklyn combines wit, life lessons, and learning about yourself into one delightful book.