Author Spotlight: Wendy Francis

three good thingsToday, Wendy is back to reveal her #literaryconfessions and more!

 

Author Spotlight with Wendy Francis

Wendy, when you are not writing, what do you like to do with your time?

Most days, I’m doing something with my five-year-old son, whether it’s playing street hockey, baseball in the front yard, or drawing pictures of animals (I always forget the neck for some reason).  He’s an active little guy and keeps me busy. Like any writer, I also love to read, then read some more.  Reading is still the great escape for me that it was when I first discovered new worlds in Harriet the Spy or The Island of the Blue Dolphins. I also like running, aka jogging. I used to run a fair bit but then stopped because of a knee injury. Recently, though, I’ve been trying to get back into it and hope that soon three miles won’t feel like twenty.

Could you tell us who some of your favorite authors are?

There are so many! I’ll read anything by Elizabeth Strout and Kent Haruf. They’re both masters at creating a sense of place and unforgettable characters. For sheer literary heft, no one can pack a wallop in a sentence like Pat Conroy does.  But I also love fiction that features strong female characters, often with a sense of humor. For that, I turn to Elinor Lipman, Jennifer Weiner, Elin Hilderbrand, Nancy Thayer, and Emily Giffin. I guess you could say my literary tastes are all over the map, but that’s how I like it. I’ve just started J. Courtney Sullivan’s The Engagements, and I’m enthralled.

Do you have any #literary confessions?

Well, I’ve never read War and Peace, and I’ve read only parts of Anna Karenina. I always figured I’d pick up Tolstoy later in life when I was smarter.

Do you have a #literarycrush?

I’ve pretty much been in love with Nick from The Great Gatsby (not the movie Nick) since first reading the book in high school. He’s smart, decent, hails from the Midwest, but also has a certain vulnerability that appeals to my protective side. And I was completely charmed by those unassuming McPheron brothers in Kent Haruf’s Plainsong. They strike me as the type of men who would appreciate someone’s inviting them over for a proper dinner. As for real life literary crushes, I always thought I’d enjoy sharing a stiff Southern drink with Pat Conroy. His memoir, My Reading Life, is one of my favorites.

What are some of the books you look forward to reading in 2013?

My reading pile is high! Elin Hilderbrand’s new novel, Beautiful Day, is just out, so that will be in my beach bag. I’m also looking forward to Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.  Others on my list: Karen White’s The Time Between and Nancy Thayer’s Island Girls.  And I’ve yet to read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: I’m told it’s not really about baseball, and I’m looking forward to it.

If you could be best friends with a character in a book, who would you pick? And why?

I really loved Hildy in Ann Leary’s The Good House, even if Hildy has a drinking problem she won’t admit to. Hildy is well-steeped in her New England town’s history and has a fabulous sense of humor matched by her compassion for her friends and family. I’ve no doubt that it would be a hoot to be her friend.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

A perfect day is one spent relaxing with my family, preferably somewhere near a beach.  It would include swimming, goofing around with my son and step-kids, and reading.  Ideally, it would also be topped off by a glass of wine and a late-night dinner with my husband. Nothing too out of the ordinary but spectacular nonetheless.

 

*Special thanks to Wendy Francis for agreeing to this Author Spotlight and revealing her #literaryconfessions and #literarycrush.

 

For more information on Wendy, check out my Interview with Wendy Francis, or Wendy’s website.  To read my review of Three Good Things, click HERE.

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Interview with Wendy Francis- author of Three Good Things

three good thingsToday, Wendy Francis- author of Three Good Things– was gracious enough to find time to answer some interview questions about Three Good Things, why she’s writing now instead of being an editor, and why a kringle should be something we all can experience. Check back on Wednesday, when she’s back for an Author Spotlight- complete with #literarycrush and #literaryconfessions.

Interview with Wendy Francis

Wendy, what was the inspiration for writing Three Good Things?

After being a book editor for several years, I very much wanted to try my hand at writing. When I was home alone with my one-year-old son, I figured it was as good a time as any to give it a go. At the back of my mind was a story about two sisters whose mother died when they were young. Ellen was the first character I imagined for Three Good Things. I knew she was at a turning point in her life, recently divorced, in her forties, and about to open a bakery. I was also missing the Midwest, where I grew up, and wanted to recapture its spirit – and its signature pasty, the kringle – in my novel.

How long did Three Good Things take to write?

I wrote the first draft probably in a year, but then I did a fair amount of revising over the next year. From start to publication, it was about three years.

Are any of the characters in Three Good Things based on people you know in real life? Or are they created from your imagination?

I don’t have a sister, but I’m very close to my mom. In many ways, she was the inspiration for the bond between Ellen and Lanie. And though Ellen is much more outspoken than I am, I share her affinity for proper grammar, the Midwest, and, of course, kringle.  Lanie ended up being the easier character to write, if only because I’d just had a baby myself, so all those great baby firsts (and sleepless nights!) were still vivid in my mind.

Your character, Ellen, opens a shop called the Singular Kringle. Why not a cupcake or cookie store? What, in your opinion, made a Kringle the food to feature at Ellen’s store?

This one is easy to answer! I grew up in Wisconsin, where kringle is a staple for breakfast, tea, you name it. It’s a delicate Danish pastry that has nearly thirty layers of butter and a filling – apple, almond, or blueberry, to name a few. I probably don’t need to say anything more than “thirty layers of butter,” but authentic kringle is mouth-watering. Racine, Wisconsin, is the American home of kringle. In fact, I recently learned that State Representative Cory Mason has proposed that it be named the official “state pastry.” That’s how seriously we Midwesterners take our kringle! Since the book is set in Wisconsin and my own personal dream is to open a kringle shop one day, it seemed natural that it would be Ellen’s dream as well.

If Three Good Things was made into a movie, do you have a dream cast?

Wouldn’t that be fun?! Let’s see. . . I love Rachel McAdams (she played Allie in The Notebook) for Lanie. Ellen would have to be played by someone with humor and sass: maybe Sandra Bullock? As for the fellows, Max has to be sexy and sultry: Eric Dane from Grey’s Anatomy? For Henry, how about Greg Kinnear (he seems as if he has a gardener’s soul)? And Lanie’s husband, Rob, would be well-played by any of those cute, earnest-looking young actors – Jake Gyllenhaal and John Krasinski are a couple who come to mind!

Wendy, you were a former senior editor in publishing. Now you are an author. How are the lives different? How are they similar?

Good question. I wrote a little piece about this called “A Letter to the Author You’re About to Become” on the Huffington Post (http://huff.to/10ZEATC). In a nutshell, it’s a lot harder being an author than an editor! You’re much more isolated, and there are long stretches of time when you wonder if what you’re writing is any good. Self-doubt seems to be an essential part of the writer’s life. On the other hand, so is that wonderful feeling that you’ve created a whole new world on the page.

“At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened” is a phrase that is said in Three Good Things –it’s the advice that Lanie and Ellen’s mother gave them. Is this advice that you pass on to your family and friends?

Though I don’t think anyone in my family would accuse me of being a Pollyanna, I am a big believer in taking time to stop and appreciate the little things in life.  Maybe it’s the Midwestern girl in me talking, but I love a good, drenching rainfall, a rosebush in full bloom, an amazing view, a good laugh. I’ve since come to learn that a lot of people try to recall three good things at the end of every day.  I think it helps a person keep perspective, even when the world appears to be breaking your heart.

What are you working on next, Wendy? Can you give us any hints?

I’m writing my second novel, which features three women who are all facing various challenges in their lives. I wanted to write a story that captures the kaleidoscope of experiences that many friends seem to be confronting right now – balancing work and marriage with caring for their children, their own aging parents, and their own health.  But it’s also a summer novel, set on the East Coast, so you can count on some romance and a few salty characters as well.

*Special thanks to Wendy Francis for agreeing to be interviewed!

wendy francisWendy Francis, author of Three Good Things, a former senior editor and currently hard at work for her 2nd book. Look for Three Good Things in stores or online. Like Wendy’s writing? You can find funny and poignant posts of hers at Huffington Post. Wendy also has a website and Twitter page.

To read Traveling With T’s review of Three Good Things, read HERE.

*GIVEAWAY: A copy of Three Good Things is up for grabs! Comment on this post and tell me what’s the best mother-ly advice you have ever received! Giveaway is open to US only (sorry!) and will run from July 15th- July 22 at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be notified on July 23rd. Please include your email address (you may use the AT and DOT).  While no extra entries will be awarded for following Traveling With T or liking my Facebook page- if you’ve been enjoying the content lately- give me a like or a follow!

Literary Friday ya’ll……

Today, The Great Gatsby releases. And the people have been excited, the tv has shown the trailer multiple times, and everything’s a-buzz foe The Great Gatsby! In related news, Erika Robuck’s latest, Call Me Zelda, was released earlier this week (I’d like to know who the marketing genius was who saw a prime opportunity to release CMZ the same week as TGG came out in theaters- because that person- that person has their game face on!)

 

1. Deep South Mag has been counting down to Gatsby all week long! Their #literaryfriday is basically filled with Gatsby! So sit back and read and enjoy!

Not enough Gatsby for you? Well Deep South Mag has more: Gatsby Companion Reading List!

Is Zelda more your thing? Deep South Mag has the answer to that as well: Zelda Gets Her Day

2. Amy Sue Nathan and her debut novel- The Glass Wives, has been twirling around the book world for a bit- early readers of The Glass Wives have been tweeting and blogging very positive things about Amy’s debut. When she’s not writing or getting ready for a book launch- Amy Sue Nathan has a website called Women’s Fiction Writers. It’s smart, funny interviews and talks with interesting women (this week alone- she had Wendy Francis, Three Good Things author and Erika Robuck, Call Me Zelda author.

Here are the 3 posts I read this week that I really felt needed to be shared: Three Good Things (ok Many More) from Wendy Francis, Author Natalia Sylvester Says the way to Support Women’s Fiction Is to Keep Writing It, Writing Words and Book Banter with Erika Robuck.

Specifically, pay attention to Natalia Sylvester’s article- women’s fiction is much harder to define than I’ve ever thought- but it needs to be supported. Needs to be bought, read, enjoyed. Natalia has some insightful thoughts.

3. She Reads announced this week that Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline would be the May Book Club Selection. It’s a fascinating book- fast read, interesting characters, and has a historical aspect to it. Join me and others at end of the month as we discuss Orphan Train at She Reads!

Orphan Train: Featured Recipe

May Book Club Selection: Orphan Train

Bookmagnet’s review of Orphan Train

Love At First Book’s review of Orphan Train

The Book Wheel’s review of Orphan Train

Traveling With T’s review of Orphan Train

Want to read more reviews of Orphan Train? Use #srblog on Twitter- and you’ll see tons of reviews!

4. Looking for a non-fiction book to read with a great online book club? Join Rebecca (Love at First Book) and Allison (The Book Wheel) as they read A Train in Winter. Details, sign-up and more are posted already.

5. My #fridayreads is Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman and Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandreth. What is your #fridayreads?

6. Looking for books? Like Pinterest? I have 2 Pinterest boards that might interest you! Beach Bag Reads 2013 and The TBR List that Ate an Entire Town

7. ICYMI: 3 reviews I posted this week- Big Daddy’s Rules: Raising Daughters is Tougher Than I Look, Deadly Harvest, and Game Drive

8. And look today for more info about Traveling With T’s online book club- beginning in June!

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Wednesday Mashup…

Got A LOT to catch up on! Read on for articles you need to be reading, giveaways you should be entering, and more!

Articles You Should Be Reading:

1.Dana Bate, author of The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, has this to say about writing: Find Your Voice. It’s an article that asipring writers should read!

2. Randy Susan Meyers poses the question: Are Writers Badgering Readers?  It’s an interesting question, because in the land of social media- a person can promote their book till the cows come home- and it costs little to nothing. And does that help or hurt the writer? While Randy’s article takes a lot of other things in consideration- my thoughts on the social media aspect is this: I LIKE to see the author interact with fans, bloggers, and more on social media. It makes for a pleasant experience. I know that the bottom line of being an author is selling books. I get it. I don’t dislike you for wanting to make a living. In fact, as I’ve said before- authors are some of my favorite types of people.  There are some things I don’t like about social media for authors- but for the most part, it’s a good fit.  But remember- social media is not your personal platform for selling- if you think that, you’ve missed out on the “social” part of social media. And just like your mama taught you- if you see someone that has bought a book, or is talking positive about the book- a simple “thank you” goes a long way.

3. Wendy Francis writes about A Letter to the Author You’re About to Become– advice and more for people in the process of becoming an author.

4. The Affair by Colette Freedman was April’s #gr8books online book club discussion. And Colette was fun- letting the online book club know some future work she has planned, and talking extensively of the plot of The Affair. After the Twiiter chat, she wrote this blog post about it. Colin Firth, Brad Pitt and why I love book clubs is funny and a great summary of the amazing people who participate in the #gr8book chat.  As I read the article, I was touched to see that 2 of my comments that I made in the post was listed in the “Some of my favorite tweets from the discussion” section- I’ll let you guess which 2 sound like me 🙂

Giveaways:

1. Great New Books is giving away Priscille Sibley’s book, The Promise of Stardust.

2. Lilmommareader’s blog, Read Baby Read is giving away The Good Woman by Jane Porter.

3. Bookmagnet is giving away The Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman.

She Reads:

As you know, I’m a She Reads blogger, Twitter chat hoster, and online book club leader- so I like to make sure other readers are aware of what’s going on at She Reads. April’s book club pick is AND THEN I FOUND YOU by Patti Callahan Henry- it’s fiction; but based on the real life experience of her sister. Beautifully written, heart-tugging and so much more- it’s a book that begs to be read.

I’ll be hosting the Twitter chat with Patti Callahan Henry on April 29th from 2-3pmEST. Use #srchat to join in. There will be a giveaway- and you’ll need to be particpating in the chat to be considered for the giveaway. Hope to see you there!

But, wait, there’s more! Can’t make it to the Twitter chat? No problem! April 29th- May 6th will be the online book club discussion at shereads.org/forum. Come, talk, tell me what you loved about the book. Or what you didn’t like. The discussion will last all week- and I love to hear from readers!

1. Dear Reader: A Note from Patti Callahan Henry

2. Featured Recipe for AND THEN I FOUND YOU

3. Release Day and launch party for AND THEN I FOUND YOU

Looking for Spring Thrillers? She Reads has a list! Spring Thriller Round-up

 

 

 

Three Good Things by Wendy Francis

At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened.

Ellen McClarety is recently divorced from Max- a man she loves; but with his quick get rich schemes- life was hard. And it took a toll on their marriage- with her being the responsible one. After divorcing Max, Ellen finds herself the owner of the Singular Kringle. Ellen has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into making the Singular Kringle a place to come to, a place to find friendly faces, sweet treats and a tip for the day. Her hard work is paying off- and she’s beginning to feel really good about everything- until an email arrives.

Lanie, Ellen’s sister, is married, a lawyer, and has an adorable baby boy. Lanie is fighting the working vs mother issue- she’s feeling stressed about the hours at work and knowing that she’s missing out on important things at home with the baby. Between work and being a mother- Lanie’s missing out on husband/wife time- and begins to wonder about the state of her marriage.

With Ellen trying to balance a business and have a personal life; and Lanie trying to work, be a good mother and a wife- they rely on their mother’s advice about looking for 3 good things in the day. Between the advice and the sisterly bond- even the things that appear to be daunting or worrisome, can be overcome.

Three Good Things reminds readers that there should be a balance to life, that there will be sorrow, there will be happiness- but that life is like a kringle- no one ingredient should outweigh the others.

Recommended for beach bound readers, for people wanting a quick and easy read, and people who want to read something fun and lighthearted. Grab a glass of sweet tea and enjoy!

Literary Friday ya’ll….

Friday- oh Friday. And sunny!

1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfriday- Joshilyn Jackson cover reveal, Jill McCorkle, 2 giveaways, and more (even some The Great Gastsby news!) Grab a glass of sweet tea- and soak up some #literaryfriday!

2. Speaking of Jill McCorkle, I had the pleasure of meeting her at Turnrow Books last night. She is adorable, funny, charming and so much more. Look for my blog post next week with pictures and tidbits of information she revealed as she read from her latest book, Life After Life.

Traveling With T’s review of Life After Life by Jill McCorkle.

3. Tonight, in a fit of luck, I will be at Rita Leganski’s book signing at Lemuria Books. You may remember that The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow was She Reads March Book Club Selection. I’ll be taking notes and pictures- so look for my blog post next week!

4. What is your #fridayreads? Mine is Three Good Things by Wendy Francis!

5. For those curious about when the Patti Callahan Henry Twitter chat will happen- it appears April 29th will be the day. As details are finalized, I’ll keep my readers in the know. If you’ve read And Then I Found You– or want to read- do consider joining us for the chat- it’s kept as spoiler free as possible!

Happy Reading and have a great weekend!

PS: Thanks to the new followers and commenters- you’ve been noticed and I appreicate you stopping by!