Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post you've written. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and discover fantastic writers.

Please try to read as many as you can, or at least the post before and after yours.

Link up and have a great weekend!


Okay, here's your chance.

For this week's RemembeRED prompt, we're borrowing a prompt from Writing the Memoir by Judith Barrington.

In her chapter "The Truth: What, Why, and How," she asks her readers to:

"Tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in your life that you are proud of."

Look easy? I'm guessing it will be a bit tougher than you think.

We are so used to downplaying ourselves, of apologizing for pointing out our own accomplishments. And? We'll have none of that here!

Your word limit is 700 words.

Come back and link up on Tuesday, May 3rd.

Happy Remembering!


I know I was supposed to announce this yesterday, but life totally got in the way.

I know you all understand.

Anyway, the winner of Rebecca Rasmussen's new novel, The Bird Sisters is....

Hooray, Anita!!!

I couldn't find contact info for you, so shoot me an email at sluiternation @ and I will get you hooked up with The Bird Sisters.

You have until noon on Sunday to reach me and then I'll choose someone else.

Red Writing Hood - Fight

Your assignment this week was to write about a fight - the reasons behind it, the repercussions, etc. Show us. Use description.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Red Writing Hood

This week, we want fightin' words.

Write a piece about a fight. What happened? Why? Who "won"? What were the repercussions?

Show us. Use emotion. Description. If it's a fist fight, what did it feel like to hit someone - or be hit? What does it feel like to be screamed at - or get the silent treatment?

This can be fiction or non-fiction. Your choice. Word limit is 600 words.

Come back Friday and link up!

RemembeRED- Bad/Good

This week's RemembeRED prompt was to write about a time something seemingly terrible happened, but looking back, it brought something wonderful.

Can we talk about back labor? No?

Anyway. Please only link up if you've done the prompt.

Katie wrote a beautiful post, The Right Wrong.

Link up!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guest Author Interview - Rebecca Rasmussen

Today we are pleased to introduce you to Rebecca Rasmussen.

Rebecca is the author of the new novel, The Bird Sisters, and she is here today to talk about her book, writing, and how she went from there to here.

Tell us about your book that is about to hit the stands!

Welcome to my novel:

When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds’ heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can’t, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who’ve brought them. The two sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.

But back in the summer of 1947, they knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn’t change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn’t exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly’s eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? How did you go from wanting it to actually becoming a published author?

I actually wanted to be a lawyer when I was a girl – I had big dreams of helping mediate divorces and make certain children were taken care of properly. I am a product of divorce, which made that vocation make a lot of sense to me when I was a kid. After I grew out of that phase, I wanted to be a great track runner. It wasn’t until I got to college and took my first creative writing class that I fell in love with writing as an art form and a means for self-expression. During those years, I am certain I wasn’t very good at writing, but I had a very strong will and was determined to get better. I wrote every day for the next decade or so and here I finally am today with a book.

What has been the best part of your novel journey and what has been the most difficult?

The best part of my novel journey was finding a way to honor my grandmother (the novel is based on her life to some degree). The moment I finished the book I could sense her smiling at me from above, which made me very happy and proud of what I had accomplished. The hardest part, I think, has been the road to publication. It is tough to have no control over whether or not your book sells to a publisher and then whether or not it does well in the marketplace. Having faith in your story is so important, and it has lifted my spirits time and again. I also have a wonderful family who supports me every step of the way and is proud of me regardless of sales figures.

Book or ebook?

I love to hold hardcover books in my hands, but I don’t begrudge people who love ebooks. My husband adores his Kindle and that’s actually how he is reading The Bird Sisters right now!

What are you reading right now?

I am so excited to be reading Susan Henderson’s novel Up From The Blue – it is a touching story about a young girl who is trying to survive the circumstances of her family. I am also reading books by Melissa Senate and Claire Cook, and I have been perpetually re-reading Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. All gorgeous books!

Who is your biggest literary inspiration?

Carol Shields. She is a wonderful Canadian writer, who very sadly passed away after a long battle with breast cancer several years ago. Her books are meaningful to me because they take ordinary life and somehow, through her clean and clear prose, make it extraordinary. I adore her sense of humor, too. Her lightness. Her heart.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started on the journey to becoming an author?

I wish someone had told me how good I would need to be to myself. I think writers are some of the most sensitive people around. Of course not everyone will love my book, but it is always a difficult thing to hear no matter where you are along in the process. My motto is ‘have a good cry then let it go.’ Breathe deeply. Enjoy your accomplishment.

Any advice for the writers of The Red Dress Club?

Work hard. Write a lot. And no matter if you publish a single sentence, take the time to be proud of yourself. Take the time to find joy in the process. And again, give yourself lots of hugs and maybe a chocolate or two!

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for sharing with us! You can learn more about Rebecca by visiting her website, liking The Bird Sisters on facebook, and by following her on twitter.

You can also purchase her novel here.

Today is your lucky day!

Rebecca has GENEROUSLY offered to give away a copy of her novel to one of you!!!

All you have to do is comment on this post about what your favorite novel is.

Want an extra entry?  Tweet the giveaway and come back and tell us you did.

I want to win a copy of the new novel @thebirdsisters by Rebecca Rasmussen from @thereddressclub #giveaway #trdc
This giveaway will be open until 4pm EST on Thursday, April 28.
The winner will be chosen by
Legal stuff:  Rebecca Rasmussen is providing the spoils for this giveaway.  No compensation was made to The Red Dress Club, Katie, Nichole, or Cheryl.  We just love giving you guys stuff when we can! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post you've written. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and find fantastic writers.

Try to read as many as you can, or at least the one ahead of you and behind you.

Link up!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Letter/iPod

This week you had two choices for prompts.

The first was to write a formal letter to you or your character's greatest fear. The second was to select 10 songs that would be on your character's iPod and would tell about that character.

Cheryl wrote a letter to her character's lover: Just once more.

Please only link up if you have done the prompt.


This week we want you to recall something in your life that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back, brought you something wonderful.

A positive from a negative experience.

But WARNING:  Avoid cliches like "blessing in disguise" or "hindsight is 20/20".

Be creative, but succinct.  Do this in 600 words or fewer.

Link up will be Tuesday, April 26.

Happy remembering!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Katie's Pick

I will admit I have been a bad reader lately.

I blame life.

Anyway, I have been reading like crazy this week, and I have a whole list of notes next to me about posts that I love that I could put here this week.

But I narrowed it down to On the Beating of His Heart by Pauline at Aspiring Mama because I personally connected to it in a way that made me smile.


When I was a kid, I used to think he had swallowed a clock.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

With every beat, the sound signaled the opening and closing of his valves. I imagined it was probably what Captain Hook sounded like, if you stood close enough to him in a dream.

My father’s heart.

Right away I am in love with this post.  I love the childlike idea that her dad is like a cartoon a dream.

As a child, he had suffered from rheumatic fever, leaving him with no choice but to check in for heart valve replacement surgery at the age of 23. While his broken heart was being fixed in one hospital, my mother was in another giving birth to my third sister.

The funny thing is, I remember life before Sonya was born. I was only four when she entered the world. But there is a distinct before and after in my young memory. A time when it was just me and Veronica. But I can’t remember my father without the scar on his chest that ran from his collar bone to his belly button.

Again, this shows the childlike understanding of things.  The Before and After of a sibling--because that affects the writer's life.  However in her mind her dad ALWAYS had the scar, the tick tock, because that surgery didn't directly impact her like the birth of a sister.
I’ve searched and searched my memory. Dissecting each one piece by piece. My grandmother’s smile. Crying with arms outstretched because I couldn’t move my feet in the shoes connected by the bar made to straighten out my turned in gait. The sweet smell of canela tea being made.


In all of them, I can see my father. And when I see him, I see the tip of the scar poking out of the top of his V-neck shirts. And what I can’t see, I can hear.

I am a little confused about the paragraph about searching out her memory, because I can't picture where she is or what she is trying to find.  The first time she saw her dad after the surgery?  Just a BEFORE time?  

I love the image of the shoes with the bar though, because my brothers both had those.

And I adore the line, "And what I can't see, I can hear."  It is a great reminder that our memory isn't just made up of snapshots in our mind.  We experienced things fully. 

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

My husband says he used to think my father just had a really loud watch. (this made me giggle out loud!) It wasn’t until later that he learned of my father’s surgery and the resulting sound effects. It wasn’t something you picked up on unless you knew it was there, really. But my sisters and I did. And that’s how we saved ourselves from getting yelled at while giggling in bed together after we were meant to be asleep. No matter how hard he tried to sneak up on us; even if he managed to avoid the one squeaky floorboard right outside of our bedroom; even with the television blaring in the background…we heard him.

This is where I got tears.  This reminds me of my own dad.  My dad has a habit of shuffling his feet and releasing air through his lips so that they vibrate, so when I was in my room, I could hear him shuffle down the hall going "pffft pffft pffft" and I knew he was going to come in and say goodnight.  He wasn't very good at sneaking either.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

And we stifled our giggles and feigned sleep, just long enough for him to ease back out and close the door behind him.

I love the joy in these memories.  The giggles and the love.  The soft spot for that ticking sound.

I told Pauline in the comments that this post read like a gift wrapped in a bow of love to her dad, and then I found she lost her dad three years ago.  

That is when I couldn't let this post go.

Thank you, Pauline, for writing such a lovely piece this week, and for sharing your dad with us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

RemembeRED - Red

This week's memoir prompt was to write a piece inspired by the color red - but you were not allowed to use the word "red" in your story.


Oh. Sorry. Got carried away.

Anyway - link up ONLY if you have done this prompt!

Katie has written a raw and powerful post: Waves of Guilt

Monday, April 18, 2011

Red Writing Hood

For this week's Red Writing Hood prompt, we're again going to give you two choices.

The first one can be written as non-fiction from your point of view or fiction from your character's point of view. It is to "write a formal complaint letter to your deepest, darkest fear."

The second is fiction: "Take a character from one of your stories and examine his or her iPod playlist. What 10 songs best describe the character?"

Both these prompts are from Writers Digest.

Come back this Friday and link up!

Burned out?

We all know about Bloggy Burnout. We all have bloggers we've followed who've decided to stop, for various reasons.

The biggest cause is burnout.

Bloggers get tired of the pressure to come up with new stuff every day. Of pouring their heart into a post only to get a couple comments. Of becoming obsessed with stats. Of wondering why certains bloggers don't come around anymore.

I get it. I so do.

And now I'm starting to see it for our writing prompts.

That pressure to write. That pressure to get something, ANYTHING, down. The feeling of disappointment when it doesn't come together. The fear of concrit.

Maybe you get upset when you don't get the comments, the concrit, the praise that you wanted.

Thing is, you are not obligated to do the prompts. It should be something about which you're excited and challenged, not something hanging over your head like a bad smell.

Writing is hard.

Writing is hard.

There are days where you just aren't feeling it. To me, those are the most important days to work on the discipline of writing. As one Major League Baseball manager says, "Anybody can play when it's sunny out."

That being said, we all have busy lives. Work, family, friends, our blogs - it's a lot.

We just want to let you know it's okay if you don't want to do every prompt. It's okay. Pick the ones that appeal to you. Read a few more than usual the times you don't.

We love to have all of you. We love reading your stories - and we DO read them, even if we don't always comment - and hope you have found a supportive home here.

Mostly, write for yourselves. In the end, you're the only one who matters.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post of yours. It's a great way to find new bloggers and some fantastic writers.

Try to read as many as you can, or at least the one before and after you.

Link up!

Friday, April 15, 2011


This week, we're borrowing a prompt from Natalie Goldberg from her amazing book on writing memoir, Old Friend from Far Away:

Goldberg offers this challenge:

“Give me a memory of the color red. Do not write the word 'red' but use words that engender the color red when you hear them. For example: a ruby, a tomato, fire, blood.

Writing has the elegance of mathematics. Try to write economically. A red cherry is redundant. Cherry is enough unless it’s one of the yellow ones from Washington state. Then it’s a yellow cherry. But, otherwise, cherry immediately wakes up the color red in the mind.”

Come back on Tuesday, April 19th and link up your posts.

In the spirit of writing economically, let's keep this post at 600 or fewer words.

Happy remembering!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Phone call/Funeral

This week you had two options from which to choose: a middle-of-the-night phone call from a person from your past, or a week after attending a funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard telling you the friend is not dead and to meet at a pizza place.

We can't wait to see what you've come up with.

Please only link up if you've done the post!

Winner of The Literary Ladies!!!


You all sure love a good giveaway!

Nava recently emailed me bursting with joy at your response to her book and wishing she could give each of you a copy.  But alas, I could only choose one of you...and thank GOODNESS for because I could have never picked!

So without further ado...
and comment #42 is....
Yay for May!!!  Email me at sluiternation (at) and I will hook you up with your winnings.  You have until Saturday afternoon to get back to me or I will be choosing another winner.

Ok, so you're not May but you REALLY want the book?  You can go buy it can enter my giveaway of this book on Katie's Bookcase on Monday!  Hooray!

Also, I would love your you like giveaways like this?  This may seem like a ridiculous question, but I want to know from you what you like to see in this space on Mondays.  Is the mix of writing tips, author interviews, and review/giveaways good?

Give me your opinion!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Our twitter chat will be at 9 EST, 6 PST tonite. Use hashtag #trdc. It's also easy to use to follow our stream.

If you have topics you'd like to discuss, @ or DM me on twitter. Make sure you're following @ksluiter, @itsmoments and @mommy_pants.

Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Pick

There are times when I read something and before I've reached the end, it feels like my own story, as though the author has climbed into my mind and written my thoughts.

Those pieces are relatable and they resonate.

I was swept away by one such piece last week and I have chosen it for The Pick this week.

Stolen Treasure
, by Galit, from These Little Waves, was truly gorgeous.

I look at him through red rimmed eyes. He wipes my cheek dry with one thumb and asks, Are you happy?

Yes. No. Sometimes.

Yes, when I’m focused.

No, when I falter.


I love this back and forth...the "yes, but" thought process is presented beautifully.

We sit in the center of our bed like our three children often do. Our room is large but this space in it is small. Our toes touch. Our voices conspire.

He is loving mixed with worry. I am anxious laced with anger.

I love the above line...Galit beautifully marries complex emotions here.

Anger because he dared scratch beneath the surface of what I want seen. I am faltering.

When I’m focused, I see a straight path to my treasure. The obstacles along the way are simply tasks to complete.

But inevitably, I falter. I falter. It is my own undoing every single time. I steal my own confidence. My own vision. My own focus.

I hide these treasures somewhere deep inside until they are no longer visible. And I replace them with ugliness. Fear. Insecurity. Jealousy.

What makes you happy? He asks, leading me back.

The kids, you, writing, I list my gems one by one, keeping track on my fingers. I try to hide behind my words, but I can’t.

The line above echoes the earlier parallel that Galit draws between her children and her husband and herself. They sit on the bed, just as their children do. She counts on her fingers, as her children do.

I slump and put my counting hand down. I need a break. He smiles, because this he can fix.

We talk quietly. Share days. Make plans.

I tuck my children into bed again.

I take advantage of a hot shower and soft fleece.

I ignore my multiplying to do list and spend time with a friend.

Wine and laughter soothe my soul. I share my writing goals. They are big and seem far away.

I’m scared to try.

You’ll be great.

When I falter, kind words wash over me without making the tiniest of imprints.

This line is perfection. I love the idea of being impervious to the external world when she falters.

When I’m focused, I open the door, gently unroll each one, and welcome it in. Believe in it and allow it to restore me.

I have a choice to make, a task to complete. Let go of my stolen treasures and continue down this spiral or consciously stop. Refocus. Reclaim what is rightfully mine.

I come home and softly make my way through each sleeping room.

I breathe in the stillness at each stop and place one hand on each rhythmic heartbeat just for a moment. Careful not to wake, ready to summon the goodness back to me.

Galit never fails to choose her words perfectly, never wasting even one. "Summon the goodness back to me" is packed with rich meaning.

I tiptoe downstairs and melt into the large green chair. I wrap myself up in the sheer yellow blanket, open my laptop and begin to type.

Each tap of the keys is a claim: These treasures are mine. I see them. And I am taking them back.

My goal is still big and far away. I type my way towards it.

If I'm honest, I'm hard pressed to find anything about Galit's piece that doesn't work for me. Though I think she could lose this last line, as I think the piece is stronger without it, I do see that she's trying to tie things up by repeating the idea of her goals being "big and far away."

This piece will stay with me. By the time she climbed into the green chair and covered up with the sheer yellow blanket, she was me. I was her.

Lovely job, Galit. Your writing envelopes me and beckons me to reread.

Your writing is a gift to us all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

RemembeRED - Garden hose

Your assignment this week was to write a memoir piece inspired by this picture of a garden hose.

Katie wrote about Wasting an afternoon.

Link up - but please, only if you have done the prompt.

Red Writing Hood

This week's prompt asks you to stretch your creative muscles.

We're talking fiction here. Unless this really happened to you. In which case that is AWESOME!

Before you all go scurrying away at the "F" word, let me just say 1) it's not that scary and 2) the point of this group is to encourage you to try new things.

If you have any questions or need someone to hold your hand and tell you you can do it, feel free to @mommy_pants me on twitter. Or leave me a note in the comments.

We're even going to give you a choice of two prompts so you can see which one moves you. Both are from Writer's Digest.

"In the middle of the night, you get an urgent call from a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Something terrible has happened. What is it and why is he/she calling you?"


"One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, 'I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one.' "

Have FUN with this! Word limit is 700. Come back this Friday to link up!

The Literary Ladies -- Review and Giveaway!

You read that right, my lovely writers:  Today I have a book review AND a giveaway for you!

Recently I was contacted about Nava Atlas's new book project, The Literary Ladies:  Guide to The Writing Life.

Not only was I excited to devour this book, but it fits PERFECTLY with the mission here at The Red Dress Club.

Nava Atlas gathers up twelve "Literary Ladies" and beautifully weaves their thoughts (collected from letters and writings) in with her own words on all the aspects of really pushing through to be an author.

Wondering why we write in the first place?  There is a chapter on that.  Let Anais Nin inspire you with her explanation of how writing is like breathing.  It must be done.

What about dealing with rejection?  There's a chapter on that.  Madeleine L'Engle dealt with more rejection than you could imagine with her book, A Wrinkle in Time

How do you develop a strong voice?  Again, there's a chapter on that.  Willa Cather and Charlotte Bronte will give two differing sides on the "write what you know" advice.  This chapter actually made me think of Cheryl and her addition to that advice "...and what you don't!"

And this is just a sneak peek!  I wasn't too startled to find many of my own self-doubts in the writings of Virgina Wolfe, but I was shocked to find how much Willa Cather and I have in common.

I've only read through the book once and already my copy has those post-it flags all along the sides signaling places for me to come back to when I need a literary kick in the pants.

On a personal note, this book was exactly what I needed to read right now.  I've been having all sorts of writerly doubts that have sent me into a funk in my writing.  This book is a like a support group for women writers showing us the work that was done before us, and assuring us that we are not alone in our ups and downs in this life we are choosing.

One of the most powerful quotes for me came from the beginning.  When I finished reading, I went back to the chapter on Becoming a Writer.

"This need to write was for me as strong as the need to live.  I needed to live, but I also needed to record what I lived.  It was a second life, it was my way of living in a more heightened way."  
~Anais Nin

Yes.  Exactly.


I promised a giveaway, and I will not disappoint!

Nava emailed with me and told me that she would LOVE to give one of you writerly ladies (or guys) a copy of her book!

All you have to do is leave a comment telling us who your literary inspiration is and why.

Want a bonus entry?  Tweet the following and come back and leave a separate comment telling us you tweeted.

It's a Literary Giveaway with @TheRedDressClub and @navaatlas2 for her new book, The Literary Ladies

One winner will be chosen and announced after noon est on Thursday, April 14 using

Want another opportunity to win? Ash, a fellow Red Dress Clubber is also hosting a giveaway until midnight tonight.  Get your entry in there too!

The legal stuff:  Nava Atlas sent me (Katie Sluiter) a free copy of her book for review and is providing the spoils of this giveaway.  The opinions in the review, however, are all my own.  You can buy a lot from me, but you can't buy my thoughts and opinions.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post you've written. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and discover fantastic writers.

Please try to comment on as many as you can, or at least the one before and after you.

Link up!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Treasure

This week's prompt was to write about a treasure that was stolen from you or your character, and what you did about it.

Katie brings us back to college with her post Beer Run.

Cheryl continues her saga of a mother's descent in It used to be wine.


This week, we're giving you a photo to take you back in time.

In 700 or fewer words, show us where your memory takes you.

Remember that this image is merely inspiration. Your piece needn't have a hose in your piece, but we need to easily see how you were inspired by it.

Come back on Tuesday, April 12th to link up!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cheryl's Pick

My pick this week is a new writer to me. And to us, as it was her first time linking up with The Red Dress Club.

It is by Kate of And Then Kate. She wrote a fiction piece based on the prompt about writing from the perspective of someone who gets under your skin.

Kate did a fantastic job of showing. Her clues to her main character's condition are sprinkled throughout. She doesn't beat you over the head with it, but there's enough there to understand there's something wrong.

The internal dialogue was really well-done. It also makes you wonder if you've judged someone the way she is being judged.

I flip down the visor to check my reflection. More eyeliner, I think. Make ‘em look bigger. Friendly. Then I take out the lipstick, one final time. Pink. A bright, creamy pink. Peony Dreams, the saleslady told me, a name that seems kind of stupid now. I get out of the car and head toward the preschool, straightening my shoulders.

I love the line about the name of the lipstick, because it implies she was hopeful when she bought it.

The pick-up line outside the classroom is the same as ever. Chatter about sales at Target on one side of me, gossip about peewee soccer on the other. I stare at the same wall-mounted collages that I stare at every afternoon, creations that the kids made back in winter, sparkly with clumps of glitter and clumsily stuck-on snowflakes. Hallway traffic has loosened the snowflakes on Ava’s collage and a few are hanging by just their corners, fluttering lackadaisically in the breeze of people walking by.

Suddenly someone bumps me from behind, and I turn instinctively.

“Sorry!” the other mom says. “I’m always telling my son to be careful and there I am, bumping into people!” She smiles at me.

Go! I think. I widen my eyes and stretch my pink lips in a horizontal direction. I feel the scar tissue at the corners of my mouth protest in that years-old way, but I keep going. Practice! the doctors always used to say. Your body needs to relearn what the accident made it forget.

This is where we learn why she's wearing so much makeup. The description: "stretch my lips in a horizontal direction" instead of saying "she tried to smile" really illustrates what a difficult process this is. And we get that this accident happened awhile ago. And that something we take for granted - an instinctive smile - is physically painful for this character.

“No problem!” I say. ”Happens to the best of us!”

The woman’s smile falters.”True, true,” she replies, then waits in case I have something else to say. But I see that she’s already pointing her body in the other direction, away from me, so I say nothing. It takes her a second, but then she moves on. They usually do.

Here we learn the way it's affecting her daily interactions. Not sure if the last line is necessary, though because it seems a little self-pitying and she doesn't seem like that.

Finally, the door to the classroom swings open.

“Come on in, moms and dads!” Mrs. Wilson exclaims, something she says every day, even though I have yet to see a dad in line. My neighbor told me once that Mrs. Wilson’s father died in Vietnam, when she was a baby. Sometimes, while staring at the collages, I wonder if losing her dad gave her a soft spot for fathers in general. One probably has nothing to do with the other, but it’s something to think about besides snowflakes.

I like the detail about the teacher's father dying. I think it would work better without the last line, because I found it distracting.

Ava spots me as soon as I walk in.

“Mommy!” she yells, rising from her little chair.

“Hey, baby,” I say, and reach down to hug her. Ava grins, a huge smile that bounces off the windowsills and popsicle-stick windmills and everything else in the room.

This is poignant because it reminds us of the unconditional love of our children. I love the image of her smile bouncing around the room.

Before we leave, Ava asks to use the bathroom. As I struggle to close the bathroom door behind us, a door that has never closed all the way, I hear voices.

“We still on for a moms’ night out on Friday?” one voice asks.

“Definitely!” answers a second voice.

“Is everyone going?” queries a third voice.

“I think so. No, wait. Ava’s mom didn’t say she was going. Did you e-mail her about Friday, Jackie?” says Voice #1.

There’s a brief silence, then Voice #2 answers. “This is going to sound awful, but I didn’t. I know this makes me a horrible person, but…she never smiles when I try talking to her.”

Voice #2 pipes in. “No, that’s not awful. I feel the same way. She doesn’t smile. Plus all that makeup…”

This dialogue is spot-on.

Ava flushes the toilet and the voices fade and then disappear altogether.

“Ready to go, Mommy?” Ava asks when I don’t immediately follow her out of the bathroom.

“Sure, sweetie,” I say. “Let me just check my lipstick.”

But I don’t.

The end makes me wonder if the overheard conversation will affect any change on her. Will she let her "real self" show without makeup so she can get to know the other women - and so they can know her? Kate has built a really interesting character here which is another reason why I loved this post.

Monday, April 4, 2011


This week's assignment was to write a post about a sound or scent that brings you right back to your past.

Katie wrote about child's play.

Please only link up if you've done the prompt.

Red Writing Hood

Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?

Write a post - fiction or non - and tell us about it. Word limit is 600.

Come back and link up with us here Friday.

Guest Post - Laurie Notaro

Yes friends, you read that correctly!

Today's guest post is from best-selling author, Laurie Notaro.

Laurie is the hilarious talent behind The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club, Autobiography of a Fat Bride, I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies), We Thought You Would Be Prettier, An Idiot Girl's Christmas, There's A (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going To Hell, The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, and Spooky Little Girl.

Not only is Laurie full-on funny, but she writes both fiction and nonfiction, making her the perfect fit for The Red Dress Club.

Ok, ok...I will stop TELLING you about her and let her speak for herself.

Laurie Notaro: The Interview

How long did you try to find a publisher for "Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club" before you opted to self publish? In hindsight, would you change anything about that process?

I didn't take the decision to self-publish lightly, and thought about it for quite some time. I studied the contract and really made sure I knew what I was getting into. But in the end, I decided that having a product that I could sell in the physical sense was more important that whatever stigma self-publishing had at the time. I had been trying to get the book published for seven years with clearly no success.

I didn't see any other option, and at that point, on-demand self-publishing was much less expensive than it is now. I think it was $100. I figured I really didn't have much to lose, so I took a shot. I was able to advertise on fairly cheaply, and it was those ads that caught the eye of a literary agent, who then contacted me.

In hindsight, I wouldn't have changed anything, but I do realize that luck had an enormous role to play in all of this. My ad popped up to the right person at the right time, and had my agent not seen that one-inch by one-inch cover of my book, who know what would or would not have happened. I might still be trying to get Idiot Girls published after all of these years.

What books are on your nightstand?

Right now I'm reading "Wicked" because we're going to see the play soon and I thought it would be fun to know the story beforehand. I'm enjoying it very much, although everyone keeps telling me that I will be angry because the ending is different in the musical. I thought I already knew the ending--doesn't she melt like a grilled cheese sandwich? If she becomes Miss America though, people are right; I will be pissed.

Paper or ebook?

Oh. Paper. Paper. Paper. Although to tell the truth, I look at the mass amount of books I have and think, "Oh, I certainly don't want to move those cross country AGAIN." I see the benefits and convenience of the ebook, but I love book covers. And when someone comes to a book reading with a copy that's beat up, dog-eared, might have fallen in the bathtub or is all scruffed up, I know that's a book that had been read, loved, used.

I don't have an ebook reader, and I love having a book in my purse; it's much more tactile than pulling out my iphone and trying to read those tiny little words. But I may feel differently the next time a moving van pulls up to my house. I have a feeling there's going to be a big book garage sale at my house very soon.

How difficult is it to do humor? Funny seems hard to do in print—it doesn’t always transfer well to the page, yet you totally pull it off. Your secrets?

Humor can be difficult because it's so subjective, and if you try to make someone laugh and fail, there are times when people can get rather hostile. It's pretty interesting and it's a dynamic you really don't see that much in other genres. I think they key is to know who your audience is, and to keep the material as honest as possible.

So much of the "funny" in writing anything humorous works because it is real and the reader relates to it on some level--either they share the same viewpoint, something similar has happened to them, or they can see it happening to themselves.

If you start getting too crazy with the narrative, you can lose that relatability, particularly in non-fiction, and all of a sudden, you have readers throwing metaphorical tomatoes at you.

I think another vital point in writing humor is timing--the push and pull of the rhythm, sentence structure and delivering your punchline. That takes some practice, but it's fun practice. I like to write as conversationally as possible, like we're both sitting in a bar and I'm telling you a story. That's the way I've found it works the best for me, but every writer has a different perspective or method. You have to find the voice within yourself and determine how good the fit is with your material.

Is it tough to go back and forth between fiction and non? Do you feel like one is more difficult than the other to write?

I do love both. I love non-fiction because I like doing joke after joke--there aren't any characters to set up necessarily, a very limited narrative and the payoff is fast. The plotting can be just as complicated as a piece of fiction, but I can draw more readily on actual events and people, which I love. I really enjoy setting up a scene.

Fiction is so much fun, though. It's like a 1000 piece puzzle you need to fit together perfectly, and sometimes, you don't know how things are going to conclude at all. Fiction is full of surprises and revelations that non-fiction doesn't have--I already know how the non-fiction is going to end. But with a novel or short story, the characters develop, have nuances, and sometimes do their own thing.

I remember that when I was finishing "Spooky Little Girl," the relationship between Alice and Martin suddenly took an unexpected turn and I just found myself writing a pivotal plot point that I didn't know was there. Moments like that are exhilarating and very exciting. But in the end, overall I really just want to deliver a good, solid story and make people laugh. That's my main goal with fiction and non-fiction; I want a nice payoff for anyone who picks up my books or work.

It's not generally tough to go back and forth in between the two genres, because a part of me is always thinking about the next book as I'm writing the last book. It's always fun to start a new project, to do the research and figure out the puzzles--big and small--of both. I like changing back and forth, and I hope I get another shot at fiction. I have a great story idea!

Any other advice for our readers/writers?

Tenacity. Writing is a deeply personal experience and at the same time, a very public one, so I think that dealing with criticisms and responses to your work can hit a little closer to home than, say, if you were writing a marketing report.

I think that's true of anything creative. You put a chunk of yourself out there and are pretty vulnerable; sometimes you have to be pretty brave to put yourself on the line like that. It's important to believe in your work, and believe in yourself as a writer. If you are producing what you believe to be good stuff, that's really what matters because your name is on it. Bottom line.

Getting published is very difficult, and it's getting even harder as the industry changes. But if writing is something you really love to do, you have to keep going and trying and pitching. Sometimes, all it takes is being in the right place at the right time and things start to click. It can be an instance of luck, opportunity, or the right person seeing your work. So that means that you have to be out there as much as you can be. You have to believe in yourself and use that as your power to continue going forward, even if you think you're treading water.

Thank you so much to Laurie Notaro for doing this interview with me. And for calling me a "doll".


So what do you all think?

Don't forget to visit Laurie's website, "like" her on facebook, and follower her on twitter.

And you really should read her work too, if you haven't already. But be ready for the funny. 'Cause she brings it. Hard.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post - that YOU have written - from your blog. It's a great way to find amazing new writers and new blogs.

Please try to comment on as many as you can, or at least the one in front and behind you.

Link up!


I once told a friend that I love her posts because I read with my nose, and she has the unique ability to describe the olfactory sense perfectly.

Sounds can do the same thing.  Have you ever heard a song and suddenly you were swept back to a time in your life you had pushed to the back of your memory?

For many of us a scent or a sound can bring back a rush of remembrances.

This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory.  Don't forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!

As usual, word maximum is 700 words, but you can do fewer.

Post is due for link up on Tuesday.

Happy remembering!