Guest Not-So-Normal Author: Lani Diane Rich

Guest Not-So-Normal Author: Lani Diane Rich

Okay, it’s Not All About Me again. That’s three times in little over a week. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it up. Not focusing on myself three times in ten days!! That is just getting to be a little too little self-absorption, if you ask me.

Still, if you’ve had about as much of me as you can stand and if you like romantic comedies, today is your day. Because today, it’s all about Lani Diane Rich, award-winning author of Time Off for Good Behavior, Maybe Baby, The Comeback Kiss, and Ex and the Single Girl. Not only is she a funny and fun writer, but the hero of Maybe Baby and The Comeback Kiss is a BIRD THIEF. (Okay, the bird thief wasn’t the official hero of Maybe Baby, but he was MY hero, and that’s what counts. Also Babs. Babs is fantastic.) Lani’s new book, Fortune Quilt, comes out March 6. And I just learned that it’s a Booksense Notable pick! Congratulations, Lani!!

Meanwhile, some of you may recall that a few days ago I promised you I DID INDEED know someone who could pass as normal and that I was going to prove it to you. Unfortunately, right after I posted that, I popped over on Lani’s blog, and she was prattling on about how birds and forest animals had been combing her hair getting her ready for the Prince’s Ball. So…another plan to prove I know some normal people foiled.

Still…normal. That’s probably just another way of saying boring, right? So who needs normal? On to Lani, who has taken a break from the Forest Animals Salon to chat with us…


Laura: I love the cover of this book. In fact, I have always loved the cover of my own book, but now, because I am so greedy, I have cover envy, and I wish my next book were coming out with this cover and that it was called The Fortune Quilt. What do you think of this cover? Do you think it reflects the book well?

Lani: Oh, my God, when I first saw that cover, I thought I’d died and gone to author heaven! I do love it, and I think it reflects the book really well. In the past, some readers have been a bit surprised because the covers of my books had a real chick lit feel, yet once they opened it – no shoes, no shopping! (Although, really, most chick lit books never had that, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) I feel like this cover conveys the tone of my writing a bit more accurately; there’s a maturity to the cover which I don’t think was present in my previous covers. Plus, I don’t think there’s a book cover in the land that can’t be made better by a frog wearing a crown. Don’t you agree? 🙂

Laura: Of COURSE, I agree. Especially classy frogs like the one on your cover. So I saw you got a really good review from Booklist. Isn’t that Aleksandra Kostovski great? We love her. She has excellent taste. But I also notice she thought The Fortune Quilt more sentimental than your earlier books, although in a good way. Do you want to talk about that? Do you feel it’s true, and if so does this book show an evolution in your writing in some way?

Lani: First, yes, big love to Aleksandra. I’ve never met her in person, but I respect her reviewing, and have been really flattered that she’s liked my stuff so far. I think the sentimental thing is a matter of opinion, so I’ve got no argument with it. I do hope that my writing is evolving, and becoming more sentimental as part of that process is fine by me. I think that each book requires its own flavor, its own tone, and you have to be true to that. The Fortune Quilt is definitely a highly emotional book; a lot of intense stuff happens to my main character, Carly, throughout the book. Her mother returns after disappearing for seventeen years, her best friend falls in love with her, the show she works on gets canceled… basically, the entire foundation of her life cracks beneath her feet. Part of her challenge is that she’s so shut off to her own feelings. So, yeah, I think it’s great that Aleksandra thought it was more sentimental; I think the story required that, and I hope I delivered.

Laura: I’m playing a little bit devil’s advocate here since I blog myself and enjoy it. Not to mention Blame It on Paris is a true story, so I’m all out there. But sometimes I have mixed feelings about the writer blog/forum phenomenon. Sometimes it’s like the man behind the curtain isn’t behind a curtain anymore. He’s so visible I end up thinking as much about him as the show he’s putting on. So some days I wonder if there isn’t something to be said for mystique. Wouldn’t it be nice to have mystique? I probably should have thought of that before I wrote a memoir. Anyway, since you also blog and participate very actively in certain forums, what are your thoughts about/reactions to that? (And I’d love to hear from anyone reading this interview about this topic as well. How do you feel about authors’ online presence?)

Lani: I don’t know. The thing I love about Literary Chicks is that it’s a group blog. I only post once a week, and the rest of the time, the other girls are entertaining the troops. Plus, I’m a huge fan of all of my fellow Chicks, so I get to not just be the writer, but also the fan. It’s perfect. That said, I think that blogging can be a double-edged sword. Some people do what I’d call “oversharing,” thinking they’re writing to a few close friends, when that’s not really the case. Literary Chicks gets about 2,000 individual visits a day – I try to be careful of what I share. For some reason, though, I still have trouble watching my language. It’s part of my schtick that I have no class, though, so I guess it works for me! Besides, if anyone has trouble with a little colorful language, then it might be best for both of us if they avoid my books anyway!

Laura: Lani, you do, too, have class. LOTS of class. And it’s nothing to do with language. Meanwhile, you have two kids, a successful writing career, you participate in a lot online…how do you juggle it all? This question is for me, because I need tips.

Lani: Oh, sweetie, I have to tell you. I’m. So. Tired. Seriously. Between writing the books and keeping the kids alive, I have no idea what day it is half the time. I can’t tell you how frequently I get calls from friends wondering why I’m twenty minutes late for our lunch date. It’s because I still think it’s last Tuesday. So… I don’t know how much help I can be to you! Except to say that there is no shame in feeding the kids Cheerios for dinner. No shame at all.

Laura: Hmm. Here I’ve been beating myself up whenever I resort to organic baby food out of a jar instead of making it from scratch. I wonder if I’m too hard on myself? Okay, this question is for the other writers who might read this interview: what is one thing about the writing career that you have learned since signing your first contract that you think every aspiring-to-be-published writer should know?

Lani: Wow. That’s a big question. I’m feeling the pressure. I think what every writer needs to know is that the work itself is the reward. Being published is a wonderful honor, and I’m thrilled to have that, but one thing that I’ve come to realize is that, while it’s great to have my name on the spine of an actual book that’s actually read by actual people, in the end, the work is the reward. And you have that reward whether you’re published or not, so try not to let the fact that this business is maddeningly frustrating get you down. So much time is spent focusing on that Big Prize (which, in reality, simply means you’re trading one set of problems for another set, with deadlines) that I think sometimes it gets really easy to forget why you came to the page in the first place. No matter what happens, what agents reject you or what lists you never hit, the joy of the story is always there for you, and in the end, it’s the only thing a writer can really count on.

Wow. That’s uncharacteristically profound. I feel like I should curse now. But it’s your website, so I’ll only say, “Thanks for having me!” 🙂

Laura: And thank YOU, Lani, for coming on, and for all your books! I can’t wait to read The Fortune Quilt. Everyone, Lani will be stopping by at some point, so feel free to ask her any questions you may have in the comments!

  • I KNEW there was no such thing as a normal author. I am pretty sure those things are mutually exclusive!! (And since I write myself I can say that. Nobody normal would decide to write thousands of words just for fun, right?) And Hurrah for Cheerios for dinner. Yes, Laura, organic baby food out of the jar is FINE. JUST FINE. Even the occasional NON organic bit of food will be okay, and you can trust me, because I am very OCD about what my kids eat, so if I’m telling you that, it’s true. 🙂 (Nicholas has even been known to eat the odd bit of non-food and survive, but I swear I didn’t serve it to him.)

    Lani, thank you for the reminder that the publishing is not the thing. I’m working on something knowing full well that nobody beyond my husband and my writing partner and maybe my sister will read it. But if I didn’t write and I didn’t blog what on earth would I do with all the words banging around inside my head? It would explode, and then who would feed the children their Cheerios for dinner?!

    March 3, 2007 at 11:33 am
  • I haven’t read the book, but I HAVE seen this cover and could never put my finger on what really attracted me to it even before I read what it was about. I’m like that about covers . . . I know I’m not supposed to judge the writing by it (and I don’t, really) but how else are you going to pick a book sometimes from the hundreds that line the shelves?! It’s that visual side of me that is drawn to them, so I just wanted to say yay for this one! I think it was the colors too that were so appealing.

    And yes, I resolve to write not for the fame or fortune, but simply to get rid of the voices in my head . . . even if that means I’m only making room for new ones! 🙂

    March 3, 2007 at 2:33 pm
  • You all are opening up whole new worlds to me with this Cheerios for dinner thing. I was so at a loss when the doctor said she wasn’t supposed to eat chocolate for the first year. I was WRACKING my brain trying to figure out what else there was to eat.

    Ditto what Lani said. If you’re not writing primarily to write, then…well, accounting is a much steadier job path.

    March 3, 2007 at 8:43 pm
  • I like the presence of authors online, but I can imagine it gets a bit weary for them, sometimes. There is always the possibility that people want something from you and then there is a loss of privacy, possibly.

    I love being able to talk to writers whose work I admire.

    But, as a newspaper writer who is fairly visible in my own little venue, I have a bit of a hard time being so accessible…

    Not sure if this makes sense….

    March 3, 2007 at 10:38 pm
  • Hey, everyone! Laura, thanks so much for having me here! How fun! But I do have two comments…

    A) Normal is totally overrated.
    B) Is there something wrong with Cheerios for dinner? Seriously? What about Rice Krispies?

    Okay – now to the comments…

    Amy wrote: “Lani, thank you for the reminder that the publishing is not the thing. I’m working on something knowing full well that nobody beyond my husband and my writing partner and maybe my sister will read it. But if I didn’t write and I didn’t blog what on earth would I do with all the words banging around inside my head?”

    Absolutely. My thing on it is this – we’re all called to different things for different reasons. Sometimes it’s to be published, sometimes it’s because the person who was meant to read it, whose life will be affected by reading it, is your sister, or your best friend. Or your dog eats it and then you have to take him to the vet and the vet is your soulmate. Sometimes it’s because you’re supposed to be published, for whatever that brings you. I’m a big believer in fate, and I think it all happens the way it’s supposed to, and you have to embrace that what’s yours will come to you, if you pursue it. That said, Michelle, you can’t know that you’ll never be published, either. You have to be willing to embrace what comes, and that means pursuing all possibilities. So open yourself up – you never know.

    Wow. That was a little zen-preachy, huh? Oh, well. What are ya gonna do?

    Michelle wrote: “I know I’m not supposed to judge the writing by it (and I don’t, really) but how else are you going to pick a book sometimes from the hundreds that line the shelves?!”

    Exactly. That’s why cover is so important. Cover is the first thing to grab a reader; if you’re lucky, they’ll get to back cover copy. So I’m excited you like the cover, too! I’m just starting talks about my next one, but that’s shaping up to be even better – can’t wait!

    And yes, you don’t write for fame or fortune, because it probably won’t happen. You write because you can’t not write, and that’s what makes it yours.

    Mimi wrote: “I like the presence of authors online, but I can imagine it gets a bit weary for them, sometimes. There is always the possibility that people want something from you and then there is a loss of privacy, possibly.”

    You know, it’s really not bad. Honestly, the fan encounters, both online and in person, that I’ve had have been beyond lovely. I have the coolest fans ever. My problem is that I just don’t have time for everything, and the family and the writing have to come first. I do what I can in the extra time, and leave it at that. Being able to do things like this is so much fun, and I love meeting new people who have great taste in authors (like Laura!)

    March 4, 2007 at 8:29 am
  • I was so upset yesterday when Lani casually mentioned “Oh, Laura posted an interview from me on her blog today” and I realized that it would be almost a full day before I could actually read it. GREAT interview, Laura. You could hardly have picked a better person. Unless, of course, you just interviewed yourself, right? it’s got to be about time for ALL ABOUT *YOU* again, right?

    For the rest of you, GO OUT AND GET THIS BOOK. I had the pleasure and good fortune of reading The Fortune Quilt last month, and I have to tell you that it was just FAB-ulous. Yeah, if you know me, then you know what that means, right? Seriously, Lani is a wonderful writer, and also a very terrific person, and you’ll be missing something really special if you don’t get this book.

    March 4, 2007 at 1:38 pm
  • I like the contact, too, Mimi. 🙂 I originally just intended to have a blog so that I could occasionally post news informally without having to update my site. But then it just kind of grew, with the interaction with people.

    I just wonder about it, though. Is there such a thing…gasp…as too much me?

    March 4, 2007 at 5:01 pm

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