Monday, April 25, 2016

Indie Awesome (Part 2): Meet Olivia

So I am finally going back to my Indie Awesome series where I talk about other awesome Indies. Problem is that there are so many awesome Indies that it's hard to know where to start.  So...I started locally, with a woman I consider myself lucky to have met this past year.
I'd like to introduce you to Olivia Wildenstein, a friend from the Geneva Writers' Group. She is not only a YA author but a mom three times over who (somehow) makes time to write.  Olivia writes with a freshness that is surprising and fun.  In my opinion, she is definitely an Awesome Indie, because not only does she take pride in her craft, she also has a great sense of how important it is for Indies to support each other.  She's generous and innovative and not afraid to take a risk.  She's recently released her YA suspense novel, The Masterpiecers.  I got to read the ARC, and let me tell you, I devoured the thing.  It was a great ride that kept me guessing throughout.

So...I asked her to tell us five things we most likely wouldn't know about her.  And I found out that the two of us have a couple things in common, (cooking aside)... 


My childhood dream was not to write books; it was to write menus. I wanted to open a restaurant, and not a bistro-style one, I wanted the 3-star, 28-Zagat rated sort of restaurant with glitzy tableware and glamorous customers.

My father, who has a passion for food, organized for me to meet Maguy Le Coze of Le Bernardin (which is one of the best restaurants in New York City). It was a pivotal moment in my restaurateur ambition…for it eradicated it. I walked out of there knowing that the food business wasn’t for me. Why? Because to have the best restaurant, you had to work at all hours of the day and night, and you had to forget about having a family—or at least, about raising one. I was 16 at the time. Even though it would be another nine years before I felt the call of motherhood, I wasn’t ready to swap my freedom for a wooden spoon and chain. Little did I know that ten years later, I would choose a profession where I would work at all hours of the day and where I would strive to obtain those coveted stars (5 instead of 3 in the book business). The difference was, that in the end, I got my family, which has made the choice of pen over whisk entirely worthwhile.

I cry at least once a week. I bet this is why my husband has chosen a job that involves traveling and why my kids don’t make a fuss when I drop them off in school. ;) I’m a very sensitive person. I cry when I see a YouTube video of a woman giving birth, when I listen to a song that reminds me of someone, when I read a sad book. I cried when I wrote Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti.

I believe I’m genetically engineered to be overly-sensitive. When I was younger, I would dream of growing tougher skin so that I could be that cool kid in high school who just didn’t give a crap. I actually tried to bargain with God: I told Him/Her that I would stop complaining about having microscopic cleavage if He/She made me less susceptible. I must have caught Him/Her on their day off because that never happened. So I went back to asking for bigger boobs. Which never happened also. Which leads me to item #3 on the list of things you don’t know about me.

I’m agnostic. And not because my superficial prayers weren’t answered, but because I just have trouble believing we are someone’s puppets on some giant game-board where horrific things happen right along extraordinary ones. If there was a God, then why isn’t that person punishing people who sexually exploit children? Why are there still gaping inequalities in our world? Why do some bad people get away with it? Yes, this inspires authors, but I would rather answers than writing material.


I change my mind at least twenty-seven times a day. This is the reason I published my first book, Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti—if I hadn’t I would still be tweaking it. This is also the reason why I set up a pre-order for The Masterpiecers. Without a deadline, I endlessly write and rewrite every sentence. I work much better under pressure and with a deadline. I completed my paranormal mystery novella, Rose Petal Graves, on the day I had to hand it in to the wonderful Poppy Lawless to be included in the faerie anthology she put together: Enchanted: The Fairy Revels Collection.


I’m sure you now find me a riveting person, but what truly matters, is that you find The Masterpiecers riveting, so that you’ll read the sequel, The Masterminds. Instead of Aster & Ivy narrating the story, there will be two spanking new narrators…drumroll…Brook & Josh. You’ll get to see their sides of the same story, like in the TV show The Affair; you’ll get a stop-your-breath plot twist you never saw coming in Book 1; and last but not least, you’ll get your no-more-loose-ends ending. How great does that sound?

Now I really should go back to writing it to have it done by October 15th. Yes. I voluntarily gave myself a deadline. :)

Thank you, Olivia!

Check out Olivia's WEBSITE for more info and fun.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bread and Butter

Sunday, I took my girls to a brunch put on by an association supporting a center for the blind in Cameroon. A friend of mine is involved in the group and told me it would be a way to get a tiny taste of what the blind experience.

You see, the brunch was in the pitch dark.

We were led into the room by our non-seeing guide, a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us. One by one, our guide showed us to our seats and told us what we would find on the table in front of us.  As this is Geneva, the breakfast was typical local fare: bread, butter and jam for making tartines.  There was also a jug of orange juice, cap firmly on.

We felt about for our plates, found our knives, napkins and cups then set about trying to make tartines and pour juice, relying on our others senses besides sight... and also relying on the goodness of our neighbors to help when we were at a loss.

I would like to tell you that I learned a great deal from the morning.  That I now have a greater understanding of the blind.  Or that my other senses really took over and the juice was sweeter and the butter creamier.  That I could hear every little whoosh or snap in the room.

But that was not the case.

Instead, I had a good laugh.  Elodie got jam all over her jacket and Emma stuck her fingers in her juice.  I made a mess, a mass of butter on my plate and cup as well as my bread, and was glad my napkin was thick.  We giggled and held each other's hands as we passed the juice or jam.  It was a moment of family and sharing and discovery and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Once we were outside in the sun, we smiled under the brightness.  We talked about how fun it was to play in complete darkness for a few minutes.

Because we all knew it was only a few minutes. We all knew that the next morning, we'd be back to making tartines in our well-lit kitchen, everything in sight.

I cannot imagine that darkness every single day, every single moment of my life. I cannot imagine the challenges faced and the rewards reaped. The courage and strength needed. The trust, too.  A few minutes did not teach me what it was like to be blind.   A few minutes taught me instead that I knew nothing about being blind.

So what did I take away from the experience?  Any lessons learned?  I'm not sure.  Except perhaps that the bread and butter of my own life is warm and sweet and plentiful. And that I often forget it.

This morning, I sliced fresh bread for the kids.  We buttered it and slathered it with jam.  It was easy.

And it was good.