Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ghastly-Gift Gathering

Yesterday, the Charlottesville branch of the Worldwide Literary Ladies Luncheon gathered at Milan indian restaurant for the annual White Elephant gift exchange.

Going clockwise: that's yours truly (Janis Jaquith) with hand raised, Fran Slayton (who has wonderful publishing news that may not yet be disclosed), Jenny Gardiner, Laura Rydin Ventre, Marianne Sullivan, the intrepid Susan Wright, and Erika Raskin.

And lucky me, I got what has to get the award for "Most Desperate Gift, Ever." A can of beans, courtesy of Rose Elliott.

Marianne Sullivan having a "what the hell is this?" moment with a ghastly, multicolored ceramic bowl festooned with stuck-on ceramic fish. She decided it would make a good water bowl for the cat. (Although the ceramic fish could be cause for some feline frustration...)

That's Susan Wright holding her Hokie Napkins (unfortunately, the Hokie turkey doesn't show in this shot). Additionally, this tacky collection of Virginia kitsch included a snow and glitter globe of Jamestown, and a Hokie-bird golf tee.

Laura Rydin enjoys, temporarily, the painted-lady glasses that had been happily perched on a windowsill in my gracious kitchen for the past two years. (My gracious kitchen is painted the same periwinkle blue as the ladies.) My husband suggested last week that someone else's house -- anyone else's house -- would be a good place for the glasses. With a heavy heart, I wrapped them up for the LLL wingding. But Laura, the very soul of generosity, wouldn't hear of keeping the glasses, and they are now back home in my g.k.

Jenny Gardiner actually LIKES the collection of Christmas tree decorations she received.

I regret to report that the winner of the Tackiest Gift Prize (wrapped with panache by Erika Raskin) was not captured in a photograph. It was a plastic box (the kind a corsage should come in) filled with taupe satin rosettes. (Even if you could make a taupe rose, why would you?) Elizabeth Howard was the baffled recipient. ("Whatever would you do with THESE?" We suggested that she strew them on her sheets to wow her husband.) Although they didn't actually smell like some musty artifact from Miss Havisham's hope chest, they looked as though they ought to.

I raise my virtual champagne glass to Literary Ladies everywhere: Charlottesville, Denver -- wherever you may be. May 2008 bring inspiration, finished projects, wide distribution, and fat checks. Cheers!

(And many thanks to Elizabeth Howard, who took these photographs -- and had to take home those crappy roses.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Jenny Gardiner's Publishing Adventure Enters a New Phase

You may recall, back in May, this headline from our blog: Jenny Gardiner Snags Publishing Contract!

Jenny has just entered the "advent" stage of her publishing adventure: The book will appear in bookstores in January (and at $6.99 it's not much more than an Eggnog Latte at Starbucks -- and easier to justify) and the reviews are beginning to appear. (Much like Sally Field, you could say, "They like her! They really like her!")

The first review is from
Before commencing with the accolades for Jenny Gardner’s new book, “Sleeping With Ward Cleaver”, let me say that Jenny is always welcome to have dinner at our house. I can’t imagine how someone who wrote this book wouldn’t be exceptional funny (like Molly Shannon), bright (like Madeleine what’s her name Secretary of State), and perhaps, even a little sarcastic. Just my cup of tea for a dinner guest!

Jenny’s book is a romantic comedy about a working mother who find herself and her husband again through all the paranoia and delusion that we all experience as parents and spouses. Luckily, Jenny’s book helps us all see the humor in the situation. The book is a well written and easy read.

The first chapter had me in stitches. Children puking. Planned and dreaded sex nights. Poorly trained pets. Poop. Oversexed single friends. And a husband who behaves like Ward Cleaver. A little something for all of us to relate to in our own lives.

This is book is the “Bridget Jones Diary” for all of us married and harried mommies! And perhaps, a good gift to give to our younger and single girlfriends. It’s a gentle and humorous way to give them a glimpse of what’s to come . . .

What I love the most about this book is the ending. It left me understanding myself and my husband a little more. I just wanted to give him one of those long and sumptuous hugs that say, “I understand.”

And at the end I was left understanding the delicate dance in romantic relationships a little more. “Sleeping With Ward Cleaver” was the perfect romantic comedy for a 30-something Mommy, who still wants to be a sexy and sassy gal, despite the spit up encrusted on all of my clothing. I can only hope Rob Reiner and friends, will put this sassy book on the big screen!
And this review is from

With five kids, a part-time job and a husband who barks orders while not actually helping, Claire Doolittle's life sucks. Because of her resentment toward her once loving husband, Claire has come to hate sex and allows her husband access to her body once a week, if he behaves.

When she receives an email from an ex-boyfriend, it conjures up memories of the past and Claire realizes just how far off the mark her marriage has gotten. Though she loves her handsome husband Jack, she doesn't like who he's become but feels powerless to change things.

She writes the ex, Todd, back and the pair are soon trading emails of enlightenment (even if Todd's goal is to get into her pants). Meanwhile, Julia, a young, beautiful colleague is hot for Jack. When Jack goes on a business trip to Miami, Claire gets an unexpected offer from her in-laws to watch the kids so she can join him. Jack is not pleased with the idea and soon Claire learns that Julia will be going too.

Claire backs off, but follows Jack to Miami to see if he's cheating. While in Miami she gets more than she bargained for.While the plot, a middle-aged worn out mom who's sick of her husband, does not crackle with intrigue and may hit too close to home for many, the story manages to be a page-turner.

Jenny Gardiner brings to life Claire Doolittle with such vibrancy that I feel I know her. Such was my concern over Claire's and Jack's happiness, that I couldn't put the book down which is a rarity for me.

With her sharp wit and hilarious descriptions, Ms. Gardiner has a delightful voice that left me wanting more.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rose Elliott's Latest Book of Poetry

Announcement from LLLer Roselyn Elliott:

My second poetry chapbook, AT THE CENTER, has been selected for publication by Finishing Line Press, and will be released February 15, 2008.

“The poems in At the Center are tough medicine; and the tougher they are the more beautiful. Roselyn Elliott has a skill for turning pain and illness into poetic transcendence, and then leaving us there, on the heights….Here is a poet who has seen the gleaming, exposed heart of autopsy, the cold and rigid patients “in their sweet blue gowns” and honors the drama of their lives. Let us be thankful for these poems of two worlds, the mortal and the spiritual.”
-- Robert Stewart,
Outside Language: Essays, and
Editor, New Letters

“In this moving collection, Roselyn Elliott stands at the center of the human experience, where the perception of pain and death collides with a fierce, impotent compassion. Speaking with the nurse's precise knowledge of the body and the poet's grasp of the disembodied, she illuminates the excruciating 'ballet' of patient and caregiver.”
--Sharon Leiter, The Dream of Leaving

You may have already received a postcard announcing the publication, and
if you’ve already ordered At the Center, my sincere thanks. Since advance sales determine the number of copies printed, would you please consider passing along a copy of the order form (either as a printout or a forwarded e-mail) to a friend who might be interested in the collection? Please note that if you place your order during the pre-publishing period (before January 18), shipping is FREE. After that, please add $2.00 shipping. Books will be shipped after February 15th.

Thank you!
Roselyn Elliott

(Please mail all orders to the Finishing Line Press address below or order online at and click on “New Releases”)

Please send me ______ copy(ies) of At the Center, by Roselyn Elliott, at $12.00 per copy.
Enclosed is my check (payable to Finishing Line Press) for $__________