Brenda Janowitz: Hybrid Author (plus giveaway!)

Brenda Janowitz official headshot

Today, the adorable Brenda Janowitz is back at Traveling With T! Not only is she adorable (look at that face and hair!) but she is also GENEROUS! Thanks to Brenda, 1 lucky winner will win her 2 previous books, Scot on the Rocks and Jack With a Twist! *Note: Both books are Kindle books.

Thank you, Brenda, for stopping by again!

Brenda Janowitz: Hybrid Author

They call me a hybrid.  But, like any obsessive fan of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES would assume, I’m not actually half vampire/ half werewolf.  Although hybrids are super hot.  I wouldn’t mind sidling up to a hybrid, thank you very much.  Especially Klaus.  Wait, are you guys not watching THE VAMPIRE DIARIES?  Why on earth not?!

But I digress.

What they mean when they say I’m a hybrid is that I’m a hybrid author.

Back in 2007, Red Dress Ink (remember them?!) published my first novel, SCOT ON THE ROCKS.  The following year, they published my second novel, a follow-up to the first, JACK WITH A TWIST.  It was so thrilling—all of it.  First, to be represented by a New York City agent, and then to get a two book deal by a major New York City publishing house?  It was all just a dream.

Then, a funny thing happened.  Red Dress Ink closed its doors.  Most of the titles moved over to Harlequin’s women’s fiction imprint, MIRA, but mine did not.  Mine sort of… died.

Both books went out of print.  At the time, I was working on a lot of stuff—making babies, trying to write my third novel in the spaces between, and getting adjusted to this new life of mine out in the suburbs.  Which included lots of babies and trying to find time to write.  My agent told me that when books go out of print, it activates the reversion clause in your contract.  I’ll spare you the legal mumbo jumbo, but suffice it to say—I was able to get the rights back to my first two novels.

“What will I do with them?”  I asked my agent.  “Why do I need them?”

While I was moving out to the burbs and making babies, the publishing world had changed.  Author friends of mine were self-publishing their back lists, and my agent (and said author friends) thought I should, too.

So, my books had one life—a fancy NYC publishing house life, and then another—the gritty do-it-yourself indie life.  Sort of like a vampire.  The books may have died, but they’re back!  And they are totally going to suck your blood.

Okay, I’m kidding.  My books do not want to suck your blood.  (Although I’m sure your blood tastes delicious, I mean no offense.)  My books want to make you embarrass yourself in the subway from laughing (I’ve gotten that email from numerous readers and it makes me smile each time someone tells me that!).  They want to make you forget your problems for an afternoon (two different people read my second novel while getting chemo and told me that it helped them to keep a smile on their faces through an awful situation).  They just beg to be read on a plane, or a bus, or a beach (you could also read them on a subway, on a train, or by a lake.  I don’t discriminate.).

So, I’m a hybrid author.  I’ve re-published my first two novels myself on Amazon Kindle, and my third novel (RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE) was released by St. Martin’s on July 2nd.

In honor of my hybrid status, I’ll be giving away copies of my first two novels.  Just leave a comment below to enter to win.  And if you want to tell me your favorite VAMPIRE DIARIES character, well, that would be very cool, too.

* Want to read more about Brenda? Here is more: Interview With Brenda Janowitz, Author Spotlight: Brenda Janowitz, Recipe for a Happy Life review

**Giveaway ends August 19th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be notified Aug 20th.

Author Spotlight: Brenda Janowitz

Brenda Janowitz official headshotBrenda Janowitz stopped by Monday for an interview about her newest book, Recipe for a Happy Life. Today she reveals her #literarycrush, #literaryconfessions, and which Hollywood actress she’d like to play the role of Brenda if her life was made into a movie!


Author Spotlight: Brenda Janowitz

Who are some of your favorite authors?

-I love books by Elinor Lipman, Emily Giffin, Julie Buxbaum, Jennifer Weiner, and Allison Winn Scotch, so those were the authors who served as my inspiration as I wrote.  I hope that readers will find the warmth, truth and laughter that are the hallmarks of these authors in my book as well.


What book (or books!) will you always make room for on your shelf?

-The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird.  The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman.


If your life was made into a movie- what Hollywood actress do you wish to portray you in the movie?

-What a fun question!  I absolutely love Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Garner.


Do you have any #literaryconfessions?

-I must confess, I didn’t love Fifty Shades of Grey like everyone else did!  I remember the week I heard about the book—two different friends were raving about it.  I immediately downloaded it, but I have to say: I don’t get it?  What was so desirable about that relationship?!  Clearly I missed something.


Do you have a #literarycrush? 

-I always really loved Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind (I read the book after I saw the movie, so did I even have a chance after falling for Clark Gable?!).  See, I really do love the bad boys.  All of which makes the Fifty Shades of Grey thing even more perplexing.


If you could pick a best friend from a book- who would you pick? And why?

-I absolutely LOVE Bridget Jones!  Can I be friends with her?!  She is hilarious, a ton of fun, and at the end of the day, really cares about her friends and family.  Isn’t that what life’s all about?  Friends and family.


Brenda- tell us what your idea of a perfect day is.

-There are so many ways to answer this one!  I think as a mom I should say something like: with my husband and children, blah, blah, blah.  But let’s face it—I’m a mom, I work… the perfect day is one spent at a spa!  Preferably with a glass of proseco!

*Special thanks to Brenda Janowitz for this author spotlight!

For more information about Brenda, please check out her website. Be sure and check out my interview with Brenda for a chance to win a copy of Recipe for a Happy Life!

Recipe for a Happy Life by Brenda Janowitz

recipe for happy lifeHannah Goodman had a different life growing up than most. Her mother, Gray, a famous photojournalist did not believe in things like trust funds or the typical mother/daughter relationship. Rather, Gray wanted Hannah to make her mark on the world in her own distinctive way.

Hannah’s grandmother, 6 times a widow, wants Hannah to have the comforts of home- a nice wardrobe, good education (without drowning in student loan debt) and to be able to fit in and converse with rich people.

Hannah tries to balance both worlds- her mother’s expectations and her grandmother’s- then one day, her world comes crashing down. Craving a need to get away, Hannah escapes to the Hamptons to live with her grandmother. While there, Hannah begins learning life lessons from her grandma. Lessons that Hannah is not sure she needs- but lessons anyway.

Between days of sun, parties, good food, wine and spending time with her grandmother – Hannah finds out two things that irrevocably change her life. Only then does she begin to understand there is more than one type of recipe for a happy life.

Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

Recipe for a Happy Life is a book that is fun, with great characters. It does have some moments that are deep, there is some sadness and some lessons. A nice book to sit at the pool with and read. Perfect for fans of chick-lit type books.

Monday Mashup


It’s been a lovely few days off due to the 4th of July (although my blog was still having things posted!) I read, ate homemade ice-cream, and visited with family. And thought of how, next 4th of July, I’ll be an aunt- and have a baby niece or nephew to take patriotic pictures of!


1. The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman- still plenty of time to enter my #giveaway– but Goodreads is also hosting a #giveaway!

2. Final Sentence by Daryl Wood Gerber (you might know her as Avery Aames)- well I’m hosting a #giveaway of that as well!

3. Recipe for a Happy Life– interview and #giveaway with Brenda Janowitz! Plus Brenda was featured at Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers website- read all about why Brenda Janowitz’s third novel was worth the wait for her (and the readers!)


Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club

4. It’s July- so the adorable Jen S of Book-alicious Mama got to choose the book- She picked The Painted Girls!  Join in the chat all month long!


Happy News!

Love at First Book celebrates 1 year as blog! Join me in congratulating, R, for this achievement- and here’s to many more!






Interview with Brenda Janowitz- author of Recipe For A Happy Life

recipe for happy lifeBrenda Janowitz, author of Recipe for a Happy Life, stopped by to answer questions about the writing process, who would be perfect for a movie version of Recipe for a Happy Life, and much more. Read on for Brenda’s fun and interesting interview!

Interview with Brenda Janowitz


Brenda, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview. Recipe for a Happy Life sounds like a fun read!

-Thanks so much!  I’m so delighted to be here!!


What was the inspiration for Recipe for a Happy Life?

-One summer, when I was single, my Grandma Dorothy informed me that she would be renting a house in the Hamptons.  No more of these silly share houses I was doing with my friends each summer.  They were getting me nowhere (read: still single and over thirty).  Instead, I was to stay with her and she would help me meet someone.  The only problem with this scenario was that I was sure she’d meet a man before I did.  She had sparkling crystal blue eyes and a killer figure.  My own hazel eyes and good birthing hips were no match for her easy glamour and style.

When she found out that a Hamptons summer rental costs more than the gross national product of some countries, the idea sort of fell apart.  But it gave me an idea—what if a young woman spent the summer out in the glamorous Hamptons with her even more glamorous grandmother?


Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life or created from your imagination?

-See above: my grandma Dorothy!  But becoming a mother also inspired me, as did my own mom, who is my best friend.

Both of my own grandmothers really inspired me to come up with the character of Vivienne, the glamorous widow six times over.  Neither was a widow six times over, but both of my grandmothers were very glamorous ladies.  When I think of my childhood memories, I’m not likely to picture them in aprons baking cookies.  I picture them in evening gowns.


This (Recipe for a Happy Life) is your 3rd book. Does the writing process get easier with each book?

-I don’t think that it does.  Every time I finish a book, I feel like everything I know about the world—everything I ever knew—is wrapped up in those pages.  It feels like I don’t have anything more to say.  I’m amazed each time I come up with something new.


If Recipe for a Happy Life was made into a movie- do you have an idea of a dream cast?

-Oooh, this one’s tough, because one of the main characters in the book is a 76 year old grandmother.  There’s not too many 76 year old grandmothers running around Hollywood. 

I think Joan Collins would be perfect to play the part of Hannah’s grandmother, but my editor likes Shirley Maclaine.  (Joan, Shirley, call me!)

For the granddaughter, there are so many talented actresses I love: Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Garner, Drew Barrymore.  The list could go on….


Brenda, can you describe Recipe for a Happy Life in 15 words or less?

-Oh God, no.  I definitely cannot.  I can’t even do it in less than 30!!  But here’s as short and sweet as I can get it:

When Hannah finds herself spending the summer with her glamorous grandmother, a widow six times over, at her sprawling beach-front Hamptons estate, she learns that there’s more than one recipe for happiness. 


How long from beginning to end did Recipe for a Happy Life take to write?

-Years and years!!  I began work on this novel back in 2006, before my first novel was even published.  But I don’t think I was ready to write this story just yet. 

I picked it back up after finishing my second novel, which was published in 2008, and then worked on RECIPE for years after that. In the time since I began this novel, I met my husband, got married, bought a house, bought a car, and had two children.  Shortly after getting my book deal, I lost my Grandma Dorothy, who gave me the initial idea for the book. 

So, yeah, I guess you could say it took a long time.


When describing your books, would you use the term “chick lit”?

 –My first two novels would be classified as “chick lit,” which is to say they’re smart, funny novels with heart about a single girl living in the city.  And that’s exactly what I was at the time.  But just as I’ve grown up, my writing has grown up, too.  But that doesn’t mean that I mind the “chick lit” label.

I’d consider this novel commercial women’s fiction, but you can call it anything you like.  I think that any label that helps readers find authors and books that they love is a good thing!


Are there any book signing/book tours in place for Recipe for a Happy Life?

-My publicist is working on it as we speak!  I’m hoping to have a few readings set up soon.


Brenda, what are you working on next? Do you have an idea or are you just gathering ideas?

-I’m about 2/3 of the way done with my fourth novel!  But don’t ask me what it’s about.  I never really know what a book is about until I’ve completed a first draft.  Up until it’s finished, it’s just a bunch of ideas on paper.  It’s the re-draft that really turns it into something.

* Special thanks to Brenda Janowitz for agreeing to this interview.

Brenda Janowitz official headshot

Brenda Janowitz, author of Recipe for a Happy Life, is working hard on her fourth novel. If you read and enjoy Recipe for a Happy Life- consider checking out her earlier works- Scot on the Rocks or Jack with a Twist. For more information on Brenda, check out her website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

** Giveaway! A lucky person will win a copy of  Recipe for a Happy Life! To enter, comment with your recipe for a happy life! Please include your email address (you may use the AT and DOT). Contest is open to US only (sorry!) Giveaway runs from Monday, July 8th- till Sunday, July 14th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be announced July 15th!