Race your little fingers over to Amazon and pick up both books. This deal won’t last forever, and hey, how can you resist feeding your soul for such delicious prices?
Race your little fingers over to Amazon and pick up both books. This deal won’t last forever, and hey, how can you resist feeding your soul for such delicious prices?
Even though Mother’s Day has recently come and gone, I spent some time looking at our wonderful list of books that made me think of how amazing mothers are, and three instantly came to mind.
HEART WARRIORS by Amanda Adams blew my “mother” doors off the first time I read it because of the dedication and sacrifice Amanda made for her son, Liam. Let’s face it, moms are the heart and soul of most families. When we fumble and flail, so does the family. We have to be stronger than the sum of our parts, and Amanda’s brave and terrifying story highlights the guts and love it takes to be a mom by standing up to doctors, asshat observers, and anyone who failed to help Liam get better. Brava, Amanda, you’re one helluva Momma Bear.
FIGURING SH!T OUT by Amy Biancolli made me sit back and take stock of what it’s like to deliver tough news, be strong, and have all the answers. My life has been pretty gilded, but one flaw (of the many) is that I always felt I had to have all the answers for my kids when they were younger. And sometimes there aren’t any answers, and the only thing you can do is hug them and admit that you’re floundering just like they are.
We would do anything for our kids not to hurt, and a piece of us dies when we see them suffering. One poignant scene in Amy’s raucous, tender, brilliantly written book is when one of Amy’s daughters is so bereft over losing her father that her own thoughts turn fairly dark. Amy fervently prays for her husband to visit her daughter. Next morning, the daughter awakens with a whole new perspective, saying her father came to her in a dream and told her he was happy and that he loved her. Niagra Falls…went through a box of Kleenex. But what Amy’s book also did for me is show the power of not being afraid to redefine oneself through losing a cherished love. It made her a better person and mom. That has my mom-o-meter quivering over Achingly Stunning.
A CHICK IN THE COCKPIT by Erika Armstrong is an upcoming release (Nov. 2015). Erika’s book, in a nutshell is “A brilliant career in the sky brings aching despair on the ground.” What mother doesn’t become a Bitch-Bear-From-Hell when her kids are at risk? Erika’s skyrocketing career as an airline captain is seriously damaged when her abusive husband threatens her life and the welfare of her two daughters. The lengths of what she endures is stuff you just can’t make up, and I cheer and screech every time I think of her journey to protect her life and her kids. The angst and fabulously amusing humor popped my #1 Mom of the Century cork. And who doesn’t love a plucky book club who comes to Erika’s rescue at a hugely critical time? I salute them and bow before Erika’s incredible fortitude, MamaBear-itude, and brilliance.
Definitely put this on your To Be Read list. In fact, go buy all three. They’re feel-good-in-the-face-of-shit-odds stories that make all the cells in me vibrate at a different frequency. And that’s a good thing!
Looking for an amazing read? Take advantage of Amazon’s January special for FIGURING SHIT OUT by Amy Biancolli. Brilliant writing and a healthy sense of humor will keep you turning the pages.
Looking for great Christmas gifts? Our two new releases are an excellent choice.
FIGURING SH!T OUT: LOVE, LAUGHTER, SUICIDE, AND SURVIVAL…what an amazing book. Beautifully written, and a lovely gift to anyone who’s looking to, well, figure sh!t out.
Michelle said this in her Amazon review:
“Highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a powerful read from start to finish, a gift of the heart from the author to readers. This is the kind of book that permanently changes one and then leads to bulk purchases to give to friends. It is that special. It is also heart wrenching and hilarious, profound and delightfully profane, insightful and inspirational. Most of all it is gift of raw honesty, grief, courage, faith, grace and a life-saving sense of humor. While I do not know the author I knew her late husband Chris years ago and know that he was an extraordinarily gifted person in many ways. Chris was brilliant and generous with the heart of a saint. His passing makes no sense, and the author helps us understand that it never does and never will, `tis the nature of mental illness, which needs to be brought into the light for greater understanding. Chris’s gifts live on in Amy and through their three children (as well as in this and his own books of spiritual triumph). The author, whose brilliance and writing I have come to treasure, has generously opened her heart to share that love and discernment. Namaste.”
FINDING DAD: FROM “LOVE CHILD” TO DAUGHTER is about following your heart, even when it makes no sense, forgiveness, and fatherlessness.
A. Raymond said this in his Amazon review:
“I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I watch Kara Sundlun on TV and knew of her story. Having always loved tales of family reunions I ordered a copy as soon as I could. It’ s a great read! Kara showed amazing grit and determination, especially for a teen, in pursuing her father insisting that he acknowledge her but even more importantly that he be part of her life. Theirs is truly a love story for the ages. The fact that he was a wealthy Governor who lived in a world she probably had never even dreamed of made the story that much more fascinating. I was also more than impressed with her sensitivity to her mother who had raised her as a single parent yet was supportive of Kara’s need to connect with the father she had never known. If any aspect of this story interests you, read the book – you will not be disappointed.”
Click here to watch Kara’s powerful interview on HUFFPO LIVE.
The Rescue Beagles dragged Amy Biancolli kicking and screaming into the Batcave in order to help us celebrate the release of her wonderful book FIGURING SH!T OUT: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival.
Now, one would have to have their bellybuttons inverted to believe that Love and Laughter belong with Suicide and Survival – and that’s what makes Amy’s book so amazing. In fact, when Amy’s lovely agent, Jane Dystel, sent me the proposal, I tried to politely decline because I was thinking, “Oh no, not another death book.” Jane, in all her wisdom told me (politely) to shut up and read it – it’s not like anything in the marketplace.
She was right.
I did laugh. In fact, my sides ached…which isn’t easy. I may love to laugh, but I’m not a patsy. However, Amy’s humor is sinfully delicious, and she writes with an extremely deft hand. She knows the absolute meaning of balance and never spends too much time wading through any one emotion so that you’re emotionally spent. I came out feeling good…and I felt good about Amy and the path she’s currently walking. Because none of us are immune to SH!T. We all are magnets to some extent, and it’s how we deal with it when it dumps in our lap.
I decided I want to be like Amy; healthy, unafraid to not have all the answers and willing to stumble through the unknown with a modicum of indignity and humor. Which is why I had to have her manuscript. It’s a soothing balm for, well, FIGURING SH!T OUT.
So, Amy, you took a huge step in baring your soul to readers. Did aliens posses you to write this book, or was there something more earthbound that had you taking cyber pen to cyber paper? Therapy? Insanity? A message to share?
Funny that you mentioned aliens, because my son and I have been binging on The X-Files lately, and I’m starting to think I was abducted. Initially I had no plans on writing anything, because living through the grief was hard enough. But then, gabbing one day with an old friend with a huge laugh, I cracked some joke about writing a book – and he needled me until I did. This was right in the thick of that first year, maybe nine or ten months after my husband’s suicide. I was still living through the worst of it, so writing a book was an insane thing to do. But so much about that first year was insane, and my life had already veered so wildly off script that I was open to anything.
I loved the ending of your book. I stood up and cheered. And that’s what we do when we wade through any kind of darkness and punch through on the other side. Doesn’t matter what the “it” is – the important thing is that “it” affects our life – be it death, illness, losing a job, teenagers (oh, don’t even get me started), or financial strain. It’s all SH!T, and it must be dealt with. Did you see progress throughout your first year, going from Point A (hideous grief) to Point B (meeting a Mr. Manly Pants)?
Yes. I did. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it does have a blessed insistence about it, moving us along despite the wounds we carry. But it was more than just time. If indeed I did make it from Point A to Point B, writing the book helped me get there. Once I set to work on it, it felt necessary and healing. There’s something intensely therapeutic in telling our own stories and making sense of our own lives. If we can see trauma as a starting point – as an opening chapter in the narrative – then we can open ourselves to growth and then progress, however fitfully, toward some kind of happy ending. Maybe that happy ending is just a tiny, silent epiphany as we sense the arrival of hope. But if you see Point B in the arc of the story, and compare it with Point A, it’s huge. Quite a lot of life happened to get there.
Being able to find the humor in really tough situations is a godsend, but is that something that can be learned, or are you just hardwired that way?
I don’t know if I’m hardwired that way, but my mother saw the funny in everything. She was a wise soul and an absolute, blunt-talking pisser who faithfully loved and cared for my father in the long years following his suicide attempt and slide toward dementia. Her life, career and marriage changed forever, but she bore those changes every day with humor — and she’s been my guiding spirit and inspiration in the wake of Chris’s suicide.
Also, grief isn’t monochromatic. It’s not just black-on-black. Punctuating the hard tears of that first year were bizarre, darkly comic experiences that really were godsends. I had to laugh at them because I had no choice, and I’m profoundly grateful for the friends and family who laughed along with me. I’m not unique: anyone, facing any kind of loss or traumatic disruption of the normal, has to let loose now and then. Some of the sh!t that hits is too surreal to believe, and if you can’t laugh at it, you can’t live.
You wrote about New Amy vs Old Amy, and I wondered how New Amy is different from Old Amy.
Well, it would be nice to say that New Amy is less of a reflexive apologizer than Old Amy, who routinely drove her friends batty with cascading “sorries.” I described my efforts to overcome this in the book, but lately I’ve been backsliding. Sorry about that. But rest assured I’m still swearing a heck of a lot more than I used to. It just snaps out in colorful bursts, like Pop Rocks. Otherwise, I was never a good housekeeper; now I’m terrible. I was never much of a disciplinarian; now I’m the laid-back slacker-mom who gives her kids a pass for everything shy of criminal activity, because they’ve already been punished enough. And they are such beautiful, inspiring, awesome creatures, full of life and guts. Old Amy thought so too, but New Amy is more determined than ever to count her blessings and treat each day as a gift, because God only knows about tomorrow.
And for the record, Amy has TOTALLY backslid on the “sorries.” I think I managed to collect 4 in one day.
So there you have it, folks. Amy’s book reads like you’re sitting across the kitchen table from her, sipping coffee laced with brandy, laughing, crying, commiserating in sisterly Kumbuya fashion. So rush out and pick up a copy so we can all Kumbuya together. And if you’re in Albany, don’t miss Amy’s blowout of a book event.
And here is a terrific article on Amy by All Over Albany
The Times Union has a wonderful article about our clever and talented author, Amy Biancolli. Her book, FIGURING SH!T OUT: LOVE, LAUGHTER, SUICIDE, AND SURVIVAL is capturing attention because of Amy’s ability to seamlessly marry tragedy and humor into a book that’s the perfect scratch-where-it-itches.
And really, how can anyone resist a woman wielding a toilet plunger? Go. Read the article. Buy the book. If your life is roiling in SH!T, then Amy’s book will become your bible. Pinky swear.
I appreciate a good story that says, “Holy crap, Pricey, wanna hear what happened to me?” But the operative is “holy crap.” It’s like when Barry Petersen’s wife, Jan, was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s while he was still CBS’ Asian correspondent. How do you care for the love of your life and still maintain your career? JAN’S STORY oozes “holy crap!”-itude…by opening a vital discussion about the unique problems of Early Onset Alzheimer’s – which include love, working, saying goodbye, all while trying to maintain a job. There’s nothing else like it on the marketplace and there’s a huge readership, so it’s easy to see why it’s a bestseller.
And I reject many, many other Alzheimer stories because they lack those qualities.
Now, I realize “holy crap!” stories are subjective, and what I perceive to be a “holy crap!”-tastic story and the author’s perception of “holy crap!”-tastic could be as far apart as my bank account and retirement. Since we pour time and gobs of money into each title, I have to depend on the marketplace. What’s already out there? Is what you’re saying unique? Will they buy it?
Using that as a litmus, I’ve been going through my latest round of query letters, and nearly all of them lack that “holy crap!” element that will merit the marketplace’s attention in numbers large enough to blip the reader radar.
I know – I can hear you screaming from here: “What the hell, Pricey, what makes a memoir “holy crap!”-worthy?? It’s all so subjective.” Well, here’s my take on it: We all experience life in a myriad of ways. Some get debilitating diseases or have the motherlode of Bandini drop in their laps. The thing with memoirs is that Life happens to us, not through us…and it’s how we choose to deal with that crap that makes a story.
Ye Olde Cancer/Addiction/Death/Divorce/Life Change
These are the members of the Unholy Cinquinity tribe – so named because there are 5 instead of 3 – get it (oh the cleverness abounds)? These are the hot buttons that usually melt my brain before I finish reading a query letter. Why? Because they’ve been Written. To. Death. Unless you have a huge platform or have an incredibly unique message, these books are next to impossible to market.
But don’t despair…be aware.
For example, when Amy Biancolli’s lovely agent sent me her proposal over Christmas vacation – I wanted to reject it outright because it’s about losing her husband. In my mind’s eye Joan Didion already sailed that ship with THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING. But her agent prodded me, so I huffed and puffed and committed to read the first chapter. Well, a few hours later I finished the entire manuscript because I couldn’t put it down. Not only is Amy’s writing some of the best I’ve ever read, but her story is unique when compared to all the other books of the same genre.
Of course, it details losing her husband, but it’s also about putting the pieces back and FIGURING SHIT OUT. It’s irreverent, poignant, honest – and carries the universal theme that we all have shit that needs figuring out, and we don’t always have to do it with dark-cloaked-respectful-whispers-knit-eyebrows seriousness. Sometimes gallows humor is the closest thing to sanity, yanno? I see Amy’s book as an inspiration for anyone wallowing in their own shit.
That is a “Holy crap!” story I know I can sell.
Conversely, I’ve rejected two other “death” books in the past two weeks that were, indeed, sad, but basically rode on Joan Didion’s coattails. Heartbreaking, yes, but there was no hook.
I feel horrible for all of these stories, but what makes it marketable? These same experiences have happened to many others, so I always have to ask mysel, “Who cares?” Sure, it’s cutthroat and heartless (I have no soul, remember?), but so is publishing. If you don’t have your Big Girl/Boy panties on and objectively pre-screen yourself, then you’re going to suffer a lot of rejection. Which sucks.
I see many stories that are more like therapy sessions than marketable books. They’re too personal, so I sometimes feel like a Peeping Tonya. Many times, the stories are a rehash of books that are already crowding store shelves, so the “holy crap!” elements already exist…in someone else’s book.
If you write in one of the Unholy Cinquinites, you have to be able to defend your story’s viability:
Writers of the Unholy Cinquinities who have a grip on these questions are in a better position to understand the “holy crap!”-ness of their stories and highlight those elements in their query letters so a heartless, soulless editor won’t reach for the bottle before hitting the Reject button.
Like I said, Don’t despair…be aware. Now go out and embrace your “holy crap!”-ness.
As a So Cal gal, Spring came with my having never really paid much attention because all the seasons are pretty much the same. Oh, we may have the occasional rain or wind, but for the most part, our seasons pass without fanfare. ”
“Duuude, the waves are gnarly, wanna hit the beach?” That’s when we know it’s Summer. Or Fall. Or Spring.
“Duuude, had to put on a hoodie over my t-shirt and shorts.” That’s when we know it’s Winter.
My trial by fire in Pittsburgh has been a delicious ride. Snow! Rain! Weather! Hell yes, baby! No more getting away with a hoodie over my t-shirt and shorts. No, siree. I’m thinking in layers these days. Sweatshirt, jacket, scarf, hat, hood, mittens…in between mutters of “holy grits and weenies, it’s cold outside!” Takes me a half hour to get dressed, only to remember that I need to go pee.
So the arrival of Spring yesterday brought promise of warmer weather. Tossing off the coats. Skipping through the yard with sandals. Um. Yeah. Got 1.5 inches of snow, instead.
Looking outside, the snow has all but melted, and replaced it with a sense of renewal. I know those little flower buds are eager to belt their bad selves out of the ground and make the world all gorgeous. Even the Rescue Beagles seem more eager to sing the song of their people by baying at every moving particle that floats past their window.
So it’s with that sense of renewal that we bid adieu to our beloved Pittsburgh and head for our next adventure in…Burlington, Iowa. Where, you say, scratching your head as you google Mapquest. Yah, it’s right on the Mississippi River. In the middle of nowhere. It’s a quaint little town that’s home to some burgeoning new projects, one of which the hubs is on for the next couple of years. Wow. We’ve been Westies, then Easties. Now we’re going to be Mid-Westies. There’s symmetry in being a part of all the major food groups.
It’s funny in a way. Most of my friends are looking at retirement in the somewhat-near future, settling down, looking at ocean cruises to Mexico and Alaska, yet the hubs and I feel like we’re just getting warmed up. Oh, we’ll return to California when we retire, and the kids start sprouting grandkids. But for now, it’s fun to see new things, and meet new people. So I guess you could say my life is stuck in Spring mode – even in the dead of December…or end of March.
Spring is about newness and getting all twitterpated about wonderful possibilities. So it’s no small wonder that I’m editing two fabulous new books that are scheduled to come out in the Fall. Hoo boy, talk about excited.
Amy Biancolli’s sense of humor is so deliciously dry and witty, that I find myself routinely gasping for air in between gusts of laughter. FIGURING SHIT OUT: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival is destined to be one of those books that people talk about in the grocery line, or the bank (does anyone go to the bank anymore?), where someone is guffawing, “I’m telling you, this book is hysterical.”
The inciting moment is anything but funny, but Amy looks at life through a different lens, and it’s refreshing and honest. We aren’t issued a set of Life Instructions when we’re born. The Cosmic Muffin sits back and pats us on the head and says, “Sorry, but you’re gonna have to figure Life out on your own.” Amy’s take on life is like putting a sprig of mint in my tea.
Connecticut is lucky because they have Kara Sundlun as their morning wake-up call on her show Better Connecticut. But we’re all lucky because in November, we’ll have her fascinating book FINDING DAD: Love Child to Daughter. Kara discovered she was the love child of her mother and Rhode Island’s governor, Bruce Sundlun, and made the tough decision to meet him…even though he didn’t want to. And it all played out in the media. And you thought you had it tough?
In so many ways, Kara had to be the bigger person and meet her father nearly 80% of the way. But what happened because of her decisions is what makes me believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, and unicorns. Human nature is a funny thing, and where I would have tossed in my towel and punched out, Kara hung in there, and ended up with exactly what she’d always dreamed of.
So happy Spring to y’all. Hope it doesn’t snow on your parade. But if it does, go read a good book. A Behler book. I guarantee that you’ll walk away muttering, “I wish it’d snow, so I can read more.”