Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Have you ever read the New York Times bestseller list and wondered, “How the hell did she make it on there?” And no, I’m not talking about authors who actually deserve a permanent spot there. I’m talking about c-list celebrities and the questionable wisdom they have to impart in book form. It is truly unfair. As aspiring authors, we toil at our craft day in and day out, but yet some driveling Hollywood starlet can land a 6-7 figure book deal by the mere fact she’s a frequent topic on TMZ. And then she writes some dumb memoir—with an army of co-authors—about her daily struggles in the Fred Segal checkout lines and her Botox gone awry. Now she looks like a Vulcan. So what.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be a celebrity. As many of you know, I don’t have the verbal restraint to lead a public life anyway … but I do admit to envying celebrity book deals. (I also envy their admission into prestigious universities as well as their free swag, but that’s another blog).

First of all, I want a long career writing historical romance and I’d like it to be modeled after Eloisa James (our illustrious guest chef this Friday). She’s completely original in that she turned romance on its head with her ensemble casts spanning multiple books. What’s more, she writes the most lovable and interesting women in the genre. Period. I adore her. She's one of the most talented, generous and accessible authors I know. *pause here for fangirl frothing* But while I do not even come close to James’ prodigious abilities, I can’t help thinking that if I were a ding dong celeb, I’d already be on my way with my skills as they stand now.

If I were a celebauthor, I’d throw my fame around and demand the opportunity to write other kinds of books, in addition to romance. I’d want to write a book on what to expect when you get a boy. Growing up in a family of girls, you can imagine my hourly bewilderment in the raising of a child with testosterone. After all this time doing so, I have discovered boys are a different species. So as a means of motherly catharsis, I’d like to write a book with chapters on Property Depreciation, Boogers and Things You Thought You’d Never Say (for example, “Don’t lick the couch”--and yes, I've said that).

I’d also like to write a spiritual memoir in the style of Elizabeth Gilbert’s EAT, PRAY, LOVE. Tremendous book. If only I could hit that perfect balance of vulnerability, self-effacement and humor.

I’d also like to pen a collection of essays, maybe even a collection of blog posts, a la the Carrie Bradshaw character in SEX IN THE CITY. My collection, however, would range in topics from Family to Laundry, Travel to Cooking (possible chapter title: Always Add More Garlic).

The other book I’d like to write is a toilet book--the sort that will engage a reader for the brief duration they’re occupied with ... uh ... stuff. As I have absolutely NO short-term memory, I list copiously, so I’d like to have a book of lists. It doesn’t sound that interesting, but I once read the glorious PILLOW BOOK by Sei Shonagan, a lady-in-waiting to an 11th century Chinese empress. In addition to chapters detailing her daily life, there were many chapters of simple lists. Rare Things, Embarrassing Things, Splendid Things. Here’s a taste.

29. Elegant Things:
A white coat worn over a violet waistcoat.
Duck eggs.
Shaved ice mixed with liana syrup and put in a new silver bowl.
A rosary of rock crystal.
Wisteria blossoms. Plum blossoms covered with snow.
A pretty child eating strawberries.

Gorgeous, isn’t it? But since I cannot even come close to that kind of verbal ballet, my list would go something like this:

1. Good Names for Animals:
Phillip – cat
Raul – not to be used obviously, like on a Chihuahua
Kevin – cat or dog
Henri Robert (with a silent “t”) – big lummoxy dog
Octobird – should be used obviously

That’s appropriate bathroom material, isn’t it?

Now how about you? Other than romance of course, what other books would you like to write?


Nicki Salcedo said...

JP, you are crazy. And you do come close to verbal ballet. I love it.

Hmmm? I would write a self help books so I can go on Oprah. Some potential titles.

"All the Things Wrong with You are Actually Your Best Qualities"

"Best Kept Weight Loss Secrets: Chewing Gum, Flossing, and Sex"

"How to Annoy People so They Leave you Alone"

"Google Stalking"

"Attracting Wiggas after 30" (If you don't know what a Wigga is, just google it, ladies)

JP, I would read your book if you were a celebrity or not.

Sandy Elzie said...


Love your dry humor. (Would work nicely in a book, but would not be recommended for households with only one bathroom or with more than a 3 to 1 ratio of kids to bathrooms)

I would write a book about my childhood growing up in the south...during a time when children were seen and not heard, went to church EVERY Sunday, every child behaved in school or got punished...and punished again when they got home after the parents found out how they had acted. A book about a time when children could celebrate school getting out for the summer by tucking a sandwich in a brown paper bag and joining several others to hike through the woods for the long as we got back home in time for supper.

Then I'd finish the book about my mother...Cora...about an even more "free" era, but an also scary time of wars (WWII) and rumors of war (Korea)

But, alas, Romance is my chosen genre and this is where I spend the majority of my time, but someday.....


Debbie Kaufman said...

After years of contract social work, I think I could write the antithesis of parenting books. I'd call it 101 Ways to Screw Up a Perfectly Normal Child!

J Perry Stone said...

I was so worried I wouldn't be able to log on today as my dad's internet connection seems to be working with the help of tinfoil and a paperclip.

Nicki, growing up in DC, of COURSE I know what a Wigga is. I did not, however, know you could lose weight by flossing your teeth. I love your first book and I totally agree with that one.

Sandy, I didn't think about the one bathroom problem, which is weird because every THanksgiving at my grandparents' house is branded in my memory what with their one bathroom and 18 house guests. I'd love to hear stories of your South. I walk around here in North Carolina, reading all the beach shanty names and stories roll into my head like the tide.

How far are you on your mother's book?

Debbie, I would buy, read and give that book as presents. I'd also like to be a contributer since I have so many years teaching experience. Seriously, sometimes the best thing is to learn what NOT to do.

J Perry Stone said...

And Nicki, YOU'RE the verbal ballarina.

Nicki Salcedo said...

No, you are! We can be a verbal ballerina dancing team. Or we can arm wrestle for the title.

Marilyn Baron said...

I loved your post. Your comment about getting a boy in a family of girls brought to mind my family. My parents really wanted a boy and after three girls, they kept trying and finally got their boy. His name is Paul and his nickname is "Can Do No Wrong," because no matter what mischief he got into (and it was a lot) we were always blamed and if we told my parents it was Paul's fault, they would say, "Not my son." We're glad to have him of course.

Also, I got to live out your fantasy of writing a "toilet book" so to speak. Early in my public relations career, I produced "The Johnny Journal" for a client who managed a multiuse complex (Hotel, shops, residences, etc.) which was, as it sounds, a newsletter you read in the toilet stall. It was printed and hung there so people could take a copy and read it in the John.

Marilyn Baron

J Perry Stone said...

Marilyn, I swear to God you are speaking of two male relatives in my own family. Those are the sorts of men who are always charming, always smiling ... and can get away with murder. I can imagine the frustration as a sister, but also the adoration.

Actually, my current hero is that sort of man.

I LOVE the idea of a Johnny Journal. Do you still have a copy?

Nicki, no YOU are (and I can do this all day so be warned)!

Susan May said...

Great post. Very funny. People wonder where writers get their inspiration-life. We all have books in us we just have to get them out. One of my books would be: Why won't my kids move out when they say they hate it here? Another would be: The Downside of Valuing an Education: Your kids live with you till they get one. Every stage of life has a book in it.

CiCi Barnes said...

J, love your wit. You so could write a funny tell-all book.

I could write a book on the opposite side of yours. I grew up around 8 boys, not brothers - I'm an only child - but first cousins. Every Sunday after church we ate lunch with my grandparents, and of course, while the adults talked, the kids went out to play. I was the only granddaughter, so hanging with the guys was my only option. I then had two boys. Testosterone hangs in the air around my house.

Now, comes along two granddaughters. I struggle trying to figure them out. I need to write a book on dealing with girls.

Sandy, another reason to think we were separated at birth. Everything you said above about your childhood was the same for me. Maybe we could collaborate.

Great post, J.


Kim said...


Nicki-Love the Wigga book!

hmm, my first celeb best seller would be "A Week of Bliss-A Marriot, J Perry Stone, Santa, Kim and their secrets.

Next up would be "Stop Whining About the Life Given to You: Rise Above and Be a Productive Member of Society" aka Don't Be a Crack Whore. (um, can I say whore?)

And then I'd write a cookbook. None of the recipes would have less than a lb of butter.

J Perry Stone said...

"Why won't my kids move out when they say they hate it here?"

Susan, my mother is reading this over my shoulder and we've decided you're a) our kind of woman, and b) in line for a huge advance if you do, in fact, write that book.

Cici, I cannot stop thinking about you. I'm walking around the beach, and all I can think about is you and how much you'd love it here. Please tell me you're writing a novel that takes place at the beach.

The other thing I want to say is that you and I should get together and trade wisdom because I'm completely confused when it comes to my boy. I'm getting better, but still. He just refilled my shampoo bottle using the hose. Why, I ask you? (Sandy, you'll be glad to know he got in trouble for this as we tend to subscribe to old-school parenting)

J Perry Stone said...

Kimmie, you can say whore. And I love your first book.


And why does butter make everything better? Hey, that's your title.

Kim said...

Butter definitely makes everything better.

I'm so jealous you're at the beach! Its icky, rainy and humid here. I need sunshine and a/c.

On a serious note, I would love to write a book about the real life of being obese. Life in the Fat Lane.

This year's conference book is title "What Happens in DC Gets Splattered All Over the Internet" ;)

daflowers said...

You are wonderful and your writing is real. Realness, note I did not say reality, is something lacking in most of the "memoirs" that that are coming out today. (Not to mention that I do not understand how someone under the age of 30 can write memoirs.)
Your words flow as if they come from a real woman with a real brain. I have been waiting for your book since we left school. I still hope to get my very own autographed copy someday. :-)


Carol Burnside said...

Loved the post, but I've never really wanted to write anything that didn't have romance in it.

Wait. I take that back. My first published short story was about a family reunion in my childhood and had no romance. Huh. Imagine that. :)

P.Mason said...

And here I was feeling a little left out yesterday with all the pink Disney princess movie parties you all were holding without me.
I have two teenaged boys, and I was almost asphixiated this morning by the cloud of hormonal testerone in the car.
Nice to start off the morning smellin' good and with an AXE high.
I would write The Official and Authorized
Survival Guide for the Male Teen Animal-- Learn how to:
Channel Surf 4 Shows And Play XBox At the Same Time Without Going CrossEyed! Eat for Free -- and Avoid Bankruptcy -- with Sam's Club Samples! Evaporate and Apparate with Money! Food! Car Keys!... Know How to Keep His Pants Up Invisibly And What Pattern Boxers Are In! Fix His Broken Heart When It Gets Stomped On By That Awful Girl Who Needs More Clothes!
And here's where I request a HowTo Guide on Playing GuitarHero Without Cursing from one of you talented writers, since I taught my own sons some new vocabulary last Christmas.
I would buy Nicki's book on Weight Loss Secrets at the same time I bought Kim's Pound of Butter Cookbook...Makes a good set for Mother's Day.
Thanks for the funny posts this week. I needed that.

terrio said...

I want to write the book "How NOT to kill your co-workers." Or perhaps someone else could write it and send it to me ASAP or I'll be writing a book called "Doing Time For Killing My Coworkers."

And thanks for the heads up about the book for this Nationals. I'm now plotting how NOT to be included in that one. :) I realize this is futile, but whatever.

Did I mention I love this blog? I'd read anything you right, J. Anything!

P.Mason said...

I misspelled TesTOSterone!
I must still have AXE in my brain.

J Perry Stone said...

daflowers, I totally agree there should be an age limit for memoirs. It just makes me so mad.

Kimmie, I'd read either one of those books. And it better not be splattered on the internet (and yes, Ter, you're included so save your breath!)

Carol! You published a non-romance? That makes me lol. But I agree with you. The most interesting stories to me are the ones with romance in them. I even loved Eat, Pray, Love because I knew the LOVE was waiting for me at the end.

J Perry Stone said...

P Mason, I am so with you on every one of your chapters, but I'm REALLY afraid of the Girl who Stomped on his Heart One. Thing is, I'm better suited to reasonably deal with a boy hurting my girl, but the other way around? NO! Rotten girl!

Having a rough day, Terri? What's wrong, puddin'? Take a deap breath and vent your angst here.

J Perry Stone said...

And daflowers, Terrio, et al, thanks for your compliments. Means so much!

MsHellion said...


I loved Eat, Pray, Love--what a great book.

I wish I'd written Lisa Kleypas' contemporaries...they're so wonderful...but I'm actually more jealous of screenplays. I WISH-WISH-WISH I had written Shakespeare in Love...what an awesome story!

And I so wish I'd been along for the ride of writing Pirates of the Caribbean. *LOL*

And I do wish I had written Harry Potter. Not necessarily for the fame or fortune (though they don't hurt) but because I love the imagery and language and world building JK Rowling creates and makes it look so effortless. Brilliant!

terrio said...

Just one of those day, dumplin'. :) I hate when reality smacks me upside the head and reminds me HS never really ends, we just go out into the workplace and deal with the same juvinile, immature crap forever. *sigh*

I too loved Eat Pray Love. Still haven't removed it from the nightstand even though I finished it months ago. Not sure I could write a memoir, but I'd love to write something about positive thinking. It really does work! (Which is why I'm trying very hard to think positive about my co-workers right

Cyrano said...

I commented earlier and for some reason it didn't show up. And I wrote a crap load as always. Blast it all, here's a crap load more for ya.
Anyhooo, before I comment on your stellar post I'd like to talk about boys. You mentioned yours as having a couch fetish. That's impressive, but did he ever cover himself, limb from limb with maxi pads? Hmmmm?
Mine did. He was five and wanted to be Darth Vader (don't we all?) He had this great plastic light saber and he and his friend were slashing at each other in the back yard. They dissapeared for a while into my neighbor's house and then re-emerged covered in armor. Only the armor wasn't metal, it was made up of about thirty maxi pads, with wings mind you. They had raided my neighbor's bathroom cabinet and slapped the sticky white rectangles all over their bodies, arms, legs, foreheads, chins. It was quite a sight. I only wish my movie camera had been charged because I might have won 10,000 dollars on AFV. I have photos somewhere, I'll have to look.
Now in reference to your question, I feel compeled to say that I would definitely write a memoir on my life with the spawn of Satan. I lovingly call my tween daughter (she's twelve) the spawn of Satan. When I say this, she smiles sweetly and replies, "Wouldn't that make you the Devil, Mother? Of course it would, but we're not talking about me.
People always say, "Oh, Blake is so sweet, so well behaved. I wonder, are they talking about the same kid? It appears she's a pint sized Jekyl and Hyde. To the outside world she's mild mannered Jekyl. To me, she's the devilish Hyde. What is it about teenage girls that makes them all lunatics? Is it really hormones or could it be something darker, like pure demonic evil flowing through their veins?
Oh well, I guess I have a few more years of this, possibly until she turns 16. My mother tells me I became normal at 16 and then she smirks and says I'm being paid back for the many hormone induced rages I accosted her with all those years ago.
So that would be the book I write if I didn't write romance, a best seller on my life with the spawn of Satan. (Big grin. I adore the child despite her affiliation with the dark lord)
Excellent post J and as always, I loved, loved, loved every word and laughed all the way down to the end.
Have a brilliant afternoon,

Tami Brothers said...

You guys slay me!!! I spent an hour just reading the comments here. LOVE them all. I can especially relate to P.Mason. I'm coming up behind ya with the boy. Some of your book titles have me worried.... (We are already overdosing on AXE....=-< )

JP, you rock. I would never have come up with this idea of trying to figure out titles of books. I had a few ideas then lost them while reading the comments. I'll have to think some more. Maybe I'll just go back up and re-read the comments. They were all that good!!!


Tami Brothers said...

Ohhhh, Tamara. I forgot to comment on your son and his "armor." I (thankfully) caught my son as they were pealing off the stickies. (in the women's restroom at pool - I still have no idea where they got a package of those things in that public restroom....)

I would have been mortified then. Now, I can think back on the incident fondly and wonder what would have happened if I had let him....

Gannon Carr said...

J, you crack me up! I would buy all of your books. :0 And I hear you on the boy. I'm from a family of girls and I have two sons and one daughter. Boys are a mystery.
I would definitely write a book on Bathroom Etiquette for Boys, otherwise titled "Don't Miss". Honestly, I don't have the proper "equipment" for peeing standing up, but I think even I couldn't miss that big of a target! I make them get down on the floor and clean up. I wonder why they don't enjoy it?! LOL

Should I worry about spilling any secrets at Nationals? Maybe I should bring the wine!

J Perry Stone said...

MsHellion, me too! I wished I'd written SIL. What a great screenplay. For that matter, I also wish I'd written Shawshank Redemption and the Color Purple. Crap, I feel another blog post coming on. Your fault entirely. And ditto on the LK contemps.

Terrio, positive thinking DOES work. I just wish the jerks around us would practice it, eh? ;)

Tamara, Oh. My. God. The scary part about your post is my own, personal girl experience with "armor." My sister "became a woman" years before I ever did. She threw such a fit about using maxi pads, my mother suggested other options. As it turns out, my neighbor friend and I found a HUGE box-full in the trash the next morning. We proceeded to stuff the seat of our bathing suits full and fat and then shake our booties at the end our street just as cars drove by. One guy in a truck stopped and started hooting. Of course, we took off up the hill, but couldn't run very fast as we were laughing too hard. I guess the moral of my story is (and just learned today), boyhood isn't too far away from girlhood.

As for your Spawn, I understand. I taught 9th grade once and marched right into my principal's office at the end of the year and demanded she give me the Seniors. It wasn't the boys who killed me half as much as the girls.

J Perry Stone said...

Tami, Axe overload is far better than stinky feet. Apparently, Eeu de Stink Foot is the smell of choice for a 9 year old. Oy. And I STILL want to hear the books you'd write if you weren't writing romance.

Gannon. Yes. Bring it. You are the lube to our fracas. And also the spice.

As for your "Don't Miss" book, I once walked past my son's 3 year preschool bathroom and found him and another little boy FENCING WITH THEIR PEE STREAMS!

Honestly, is it happy hour yet????

Gannon Carr said...

J, it's five o'clock somewhere! Cheers, sweetie!

Cinthia Hamer said...

OMG, J...I read the first few sentences and KNEW you were the author!

If I were to write something other than romance, I'd like to write "travel narrative", books in the spirit of Under The Tuscan Sun and The Sex Lives of Cannibals.

Also, a long-running series with a main character like Precious Romotswe (The #1 Ladies Detective Agency books).

I'd like to write cookbooks, one of which I'd title as homage to you, "Always Add More Garlic".

I'd like to write a book of essays, since I'm always writing bits of this and that about little events in my life that seem important in the moment. Generally, when I look back on them, I either laugh or cry.

I'd write a how-to book: "How to keep a marriage alive for 30 years without killing your husband (even if you sometimes want to--badly).

Gannon, I'm so sorry I won't be at Nationals this're so much fun to hang out with--and you have great taste in wine! :-)

Nicki Salcedo said...

No, you are. I can keep this up all day, too. Love you, JP.

Linsey Lanier said...

This group is even more talented than I thought! These would make some great non-fiction books. I think "All the Things Wrong with You are Actually Your Best Qualities" would make Oprah's list.

And I'm certain "Property Depreciation, Boogers and Things You Thought You’d Never Say," J's book about raising a boy after being in an all-girl family, would make it, too.

"Why won't my kids move out when they say they hate it here?" would be a winner, too. As well as "Life in the Fat Lane."

I would buy and read all of the books everyone mentioned. This was just too funny!

I used to be a tech writer and my fantasy was to write a book that would make people understand their computers so well, they'd never have to ask another question. Am I a dreamer or what? LOL.

Seriously, I would like to write a writing craft book someday. But like all of you, fiction writing sucks up my time. I love it, though.

Yes, I'd say we have several verbal ballerinas among us. Great post, J.