Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Master Brooks's Bookses: Potty Training by the Book

           I’ve come to the conclusion life is all about change. Just when you’re comfortable with the status quo, suddenly you’re adjusting—adjusting to things like a big boy's bed...or a little brother. I’ve always been fairly flexible in adapting to new situations, but the latest change being thrust upon me has me somewhat perplexed. It seems that now, instead of continuing to wear my comfy, dependable diaper, I’m required to go through a regimen called “potty training.” I’m not sure I like it. Besides being a little scary—what if I fell right through that hole in the seat?—the potty is not nearly as convenient as a diaper. I mean, with a diaper, when you’re ready to go, you go, right?
            I admit, however, there have been a few upsides to this process. I got a super new potty seat that is bright, shiny red and has pictures of my favorite movie stars, Lightning McQueen and Mater. I also got a matching stool that helps me reach the lavatory. And, oh yes, there’s flushing. I love flushing. Pushing that silver lever and hearing that great whooshing sound are empowering. But even with these perks, I’m not completely sold on the idea of using the potty.
            As with the other changes in my life, I fear I must bow to the inevitable. And I’ve found one of the best ways to master life’s challenges is with the help of a book. If you or a loved one is presently facing this stressful rite of passage, let me recommend My Big Boy Potty, written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Maxie Chambliss. I closely identify with Michael, the protagonist in the story. He is about my age and size. Like me, he enjoys playing with his toys, and he loves reading books. At the first of the story, he wears a diaper—just like I do. Ms. Cole explains how Michael learns to use the potty, and by the end, he is wearing BIG BOY underpants! 

            I haven’t quite reached that point yet, but I’m making an honest effort. And when I’m successful, I hope I get a pair of big boy underpants with Lightning McQueen and Mater on them. In the meantime, I’m finding the bathroom is a good place to get in some quality reading time.

Instead of goldfish, I give My Big Boy Potty five flushes!
(I know, I'm being silly.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

This is a blog tour that's been circulating for quite a while. I was excited when friend and gifted author Sonia Gensler contacted me to participate and gave me a chance to share my work in progress with you.

What is the working title of your current/next book?

Cross Dressing is the book I just completed.

Where did the idea for CROSS DRESSING come from?
One afternoon my husband and I were driving across Oklahoma City, and I saw someone’s clothes strung along the freeway. I started thinking, boy, someone’s going to be really disappointed...or angry...or up the creek when they get to where they’re going and discover they have no clothes. I started thinking about all the possible scenarios. A plot was born.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely women’s fiction. It’s what I love to read most, and it’s what I love to write. 

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

My book actually has two protagonists because it is two stories running simultaneously, connected by a wardrobe exchange. Wendie Malick would make a great 56-year-old Estelle Grant-Perkins. In picking an actress for this role, I feel my choices are limited because, as we all know, “mature” actresses are not exactly  in huge demand in the U.S. film industry. Fortunately, that situation is improving, but it’s still a problem. I began writing this book before Hot in Cleveland ever aired, but when I saw Malick in that show, I immediately thought,  Estelle!

The choice for my second protagonist, 26-year-old Paige Perkins, is Emma Stone. She has spunk and sensitivity, and she fits the physical description perfectly.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Near the crossroads of the country, two women reach across generational divides and cultural prejudices to find surprising answers to the question: “Do clothes make the woman?”

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m in the process of pitching it to agents right now. I’ve had one book published by an indie publisher to whom I’m grateful for putting my debut novel in print. It was an excellent learning experience, but one of the lessons I learned was the value of a good agent. If the agent angle doesn’t pan out, I’ll see what direction to go then.

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

About two years. I’m pretty slow, and contrary to popular advice, I edit as I go. I try not to, but my inner-English teacher rears her ugly head and starts  correcting me.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are lots and lots of books within women's fiction and every other genre that deal with the "trading places" plot line. But I'm going waaay out on a limb here and comparing Cross Dressing to Sense and Sensibility--only with a contemporary, southwest flavor. I can hear all of my critiquing partners screaming "What?!" but when you think about it, both books deal with women of different generations who find themselves in reduced circumstances. They must rely on their resourcefulness to survive, and they learn much from each other. And there's some romance thrown in along the way!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When I reached a certain age as a teacher, I started observing the dynamics between the new, young teachers and the...let’s say... more established ones. At the same time, my own daughter was entering the work force, and she and I would discuss her situations with older co-workers. In my case and hers, these weren’t always situations of conflict. Some were, but others were very positive mentoring/learning relationships for both the old and the young. And that is the way it should be. When women of varying ages and circumstances work together to support and encourage each other, they all benefit. That is a message I hope comes across in my book.
 And I must admit to a not-so-hidden agenda of promoting Oklahoma and, in particular, Oklahoma City. I love reading books about New York City, but, hey, life—interesting life—happens in other locations, too.  Rural Oklahoma has beauty and charm and a no-nonsene, laid-back approach that appeal to many. At the same time, Oklahoma City is a metropolis on its way up. It has much to offer in the way of culture and entertainment. I wanted to share that message with the rest of the country and even—pardon me for dreaming big—the world.


Be sure to look out for the next installments of The Next Big Thing next week, February 22nd, on the blogs by authors C. D. Jarmola and Jennifer Collar McMurrain.