How We Label

I am a browser of book stores. There is a Barnes and Noble about a fifteen minute walk from my house and I try to stop in every week to check the stacks.

In my particular BN, the recent fiction is along the front right wall as you walk in: the heading at the top screams RECENT FICTION, and then there are subheadings on the shelves below- historical, Other worlds, etc. There used to be a sub heading “Women’s Fiction”. And one day there wasn’t a subheading that said women’s fiction…

I used to like the WF section. More than likely, the books that I chose were from that section. They tended to be fiction set in the present, and the protagonists tended to be women who were over forty, and they weren’t too sad or depressing or heavy. There was probably not a big twist or reveal. They tended to be written by female authors, so I felt a sense of simpatico. They were books I wanted to get lost in for a few hours.

Now that section is no more.

And I am a little saddened.

Of course I wonder why they would get rid of that sub,sub genre. Was it that they were termed women’s fiction? Is that not “in” to say that?

Is it because we shouldn’t think that there are books that only women would be interested in? Are we excluding books from male viewership? Personally, I know my Husband looks forward to nothing better than picking up a book about two women who have been best friends forever and then something bad happens and they have to persevere… (that’s sarcasm for those who don’t know my husband)

What’s wrong with labeling something women’s fiction?

Are we embarrassed to be women who like those books? Cause I’m not. Sign me up for a story about a recent empty nester, or a woman who has faced a health scare, or anything of that sort…I like these books and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

What do you think about sub labeling fiction?

Do you have a problem if a section is labeled “Women’s”?

How do you like to browse at book stores? Do you wander or do you have a favorite section?


Stereotypical Fiction

As long as we have fiction, we will continue to have stereotypes.

I know. That’s a pretty bold statement to start off a Monday. I’m basically saying that we will never stop judging and assuming one’s character based on certain traits and characteristics and mannerisms. Well, as long as we keep writing books anyway.

X drove a Mercedes. When you read that sentence, what does the word Mercedes bring to the story that car doesn’t? Wealth, privilege, debt, flash?

If I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a pinky ring and Italian leather loafers what do you see in your mind?

I I said X drove a Mercedes, wore a Swiss watch and donned bright white tennis sneakers, what do you picture in your mind?

If I said that X drove a 1972 Mercedes, wore birkenstocks and no jewelry, what would that tell you?

If you thought gangster, WASP and hippie are you stereotyping? Are you assuming the final tally based on the digits, even though I never used the words gangster, WASP or hippie?

Are you an old fashioned stereotyper? Or are you just deciphering clues?

Is the whole process of show not tell an exercise in how to stereotype?

I watched a medical drama last night. The character in the hospital bed said “Girl, you have to see the Doctor, He fly.” If you read that line of dialogue in a book, would you make any assumptions about the character? Would it be stereotyping if you made an assumption about the speaker of that dialogue?

When we read fiction do we make assumptions based on description? I wrote in one of my passages last week “couch with welcoming back support”. I was, as someone said, trying to denote that the speaker was at least in middle age. Young people never look at a piece of furniture and wonder about it’s comfort, or how easy it will be to get in or out of it…but some older people do. Not every person of a certain age thinks about the comfort of a chair…but some do… Is it wrong to guess the character I was describing was oldish?

So, do we rid our lives of fiction so that we can lead a life with no judging others based on characteristics?

Or do we just learn to deal with the fact that humans stereotype, always have stereotyped and always will?

My Month in Books- March

It’s time for March Book Madness! This is what I read from February 25 till March 24.

TitleAuthorHow I heard about bookRating
Anxious PeopleFredrik Backmannot sure1
Klara and the SunKazuo IshiguroGood Morning America Book Club2
BraveyAlexi PappasReal Simple3
Finlay Donovan is Killing ItEllie CosimanoPersonal browse at physical Barnes & Noble4
All The Bright PlacesJennifer Nivenmy daughter5
What’s Mine and YoursNaima CosterJenna Book Club (Today Show)6
Infinite CountryPatricia EngelReese’s Book Club7
Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary that Will Actually Help to Get Your Life TogetherRachel Wilkerson MillerGood Housekeeping8
The Ex TalkRachel Lynn SolomonPenguin Newsletter9
Super HostKate RussoPersonal browse at physical Barnes and Noble10
How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her HouseCherie JonesGood Morning America Book Club11
This is the order in which I liked the books. It does not mean that the top one is the great American novel, a page turner or the feel good book of the century. Nor does it mean that the bottom book is bad. It just means that some books made me feel more than others.
This month’s BINGO card is courtesy of

I may have only read 11 books, but I was lucky in what I read!! BINGO on the first try with this card!!

When I Podcast about this I will give a bit more insight into these books if you are interested in my unscripted commentary!!

Truth or Fiction

My Daughter recently read the 2006 book “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini.  While reading the book, she thought the fictional High School in the book sounded a lot like a school she considered applying to when it came time to choose a high school.  (In Manhattan we apply to public high and middle schools) So, she researched Vizzini, found that he did indeed attend that particular high school, and more distressing, found that Vizzini committed suicide in 2013.  The manner in which he killed himself was the same method that the protagonist in the book attempted.

Last week, the author of  “How to Murder your Husband” was charged with, you guessed it, murdering her husband. (disclaimer- I have not read this book or done research on the subject)

So what do you think today’s topic is going to be?

After finding out what happened to Vizzini, my daughter asked me “Even if a book is labeled fiction, should we question what the author has written about?  Is it our responsibility to delve deeper into the harsher things authors write?”

I responded- “I don’t know.”

As a would be novelist, I know that I am writing a fictional story.   Are there similarities to me? Sure.  My main character drinks tea.  I drink tea.  It was easy to write a detail about something I know- it added a little depth and didn’t require me to do research. It has become a harmless quirk which makes the character delightful (at least I hope it does- we all know I am not delightful…) But the topic of my story, the plot? Well, that’s fiction…

Let’s just think about Gillian Flynn.  Would you want to be married to her?  I know “Gone Girl” freaked me out.  I actually said “No Way” multiple times as I read it. Could you be married to her and not wonder what was really going on in her head?


Does a reader have the responsibility to wonder if someone is writing fiction, or a thinly veiled memoir? Do the loved ones of an author need to worry if an author keeps writing about disturbing topics? If your significant other, or your co worker or your child is writing about suicide do you say something?

One of the first commandments of fiction writing is “Write what you know”. Under that assumption it would be safe to assume that all fiction contains some truth, or relates to the author in some way. But how do we tell truth from fiction? At what point to we say “Wow.  Maybe this should be looked into.”

Now as Vizzini had been in a mental health facility, I’m pretty confident that his loved ones knew of his struggles.  But what about other authors? What about the ones who write about things, but haven’t had any outward signs?

Should the reader of a fictional work question the content? Or should we just go with the assumption that the work is mostly fiction?

March Writing Update

I finished my writing class a few weeks ago.  On the whole I found Fiction 2 very helpful.  I thought my teacher did a really great job at teaching us how to move a story forward.  I think it was a good decision for my to take this class, though I am opting to not take a class this semester. I may take one again in the fall, but I know my free time is lacking over the next few months, and I am loving working with my informal writing group consisting of women I met in class.

I’m working on rewrites of my novel.  I’m about halfway through, and the biggest thing I’ve realized is that I need to listen to my gut feelings about things.  Getting feedback from readers is extremely valuable, but sometimes it’s not always advisable to make the corrections they think you need.  Sometimes, their opinion is based on their particular life circumstances.  When receiving feedback you need to really disseminate the helpful form the not so helpful.  For example, when I presented work to Fiction 1 class, they gave me suggestions.  When I incorporated the suggestions and presented it to Fiction 2, their critique was that I should have done it differently (more like the way I originally did it)  Maybe my first draft wasn’t well written, but the idea behind it was solid.  I just needed to rework my idea.

I have learned that I have a very macro approach to work.  It’s most noticeable when I critique my writing group works.  I’m finding that I’m clearly focusing on the arc of a work- looking for the beginning, middle and end.  I’m more focused on making sure the characters have credible growth or non growth throughout the work.  I am less focused on the micro aspects when I’m first reading.  In my mind, the outline has to be solid before you start focusing on sentences and word choice.  I’ve seen people write beautiful sequences, but they have no rhyme or reason as a whole work.  I’ve become to think of it as a writer writes things, an author tells a story.  I don’t know if this is right or wrong, I only know it’s how I feel.

My next bit of self discovery deals with emotions.  Remember a few weeks ago I talked about how I’m a numbers girl trying to be a writing girl?  Well, I notice that when  I write I am stingy with emotion.  I think that’s part of my analytic, logical gene poking through.  I know I can be emotionless in many situations: I have to get past this when I’m writing, especially as I’m writing a love story.  Love stories should include some sort of emotion.

On the advice of my writing teacher, I am waiting to look for an agent.  He thinks I should have a solid second draft that includes all the plot holes I have discovered.  I think he’s right, so that gets pushed off for at least two months.

And then there’s my blog, which I still love writing, and look forward to writing every day!

So get out there and write!!




I went to an open house at Gotham Writer’s Workshop last night  (they were serving cider and cupcakes) .  I have been considering taking a writing class for some time now, and a free 1 hour class seemed a good way to put my toe in the water.  I signed up for Beginners Fiction, which is, you know, fiction for beginners.  Our teacher had us introduce ourselves and reveal our guilty pleasure.  Of course- one woman said her guilty pleasure was that she read all the Jane Austen novels.  Can you imagine somewhat that would admit to something so guilty?  I mean really- what other skeletons could be hiding in her closet……

For the second part of the class, we were given 15 minutes to write a story using our guilty pleasure.  Since I didn’t get to read my story out loud- I am presenting you with my story.  Remember- it’s first draft and unedited and I know there are some plot issues…..but any other critique is welcome and encouraged.  Don’t worry- we return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Maeve and Sheila sit in Maeve’s upscale living room, wine glasses in hand.  They are here to discuss Sheila’s apparent lack of love life.

“You are so being Catfished?” Maeve says.

“What is with you and that show?  I am not being catfished.” Sheila replies.

“Have you ever actually seen this guy?”

“No.  He has a busy job.”

“Please.  All jobs are busy.  It’s why people get hired.  There’s work that needs to be done- hence, they create a job.”

“No.  Seriously.  He’s a Doctor.”

“I’m calling Max- he’s tough.  He’ll agree with me.  This guy is not a Doctor.  I thought you said he works in a shelter.  And knits blankets for orphans.”

“Now you’re being ridiculous.  He’s a Doctor.  A busy Doctor.  The last time we were supposed to meet he got called on an emergency.”

“Why doesn’t he schedule a meeting when he’s not on call?”


“Well what?  My husband is a busy doctor.  But he’s not always on call.  He has a life.”

“I know you have the perfect life.  Handsome Doctor husband.  Perfect child.  Perfect apartment.  Perfect job.  You don’t know what it’s like being single.”

“Well, you’re only going to know being single.  You realize this gorgeous doctor you met on Tinder, but never actually met is not real.  Can’t be real.”

“You have a gorgeous Doctor who’s real.  Why can’t mine be real?”

“Because you’ve been sexting for 4 months and only seen pictures of his better half.  How many face shots have you seen?”

“Well. one or two sort of blurry pics.  We start texting, and things get all hot.”

“How come no FaceTime?”

“He usually texts from the hospital.”

“Ok.  Isn’t that cat fishy?  Why only from the hospital?  He’s hiding something.”

“Don’t sabotage my relationship.”

“It’s not a relationship.  You have fictional sex 5 days a week.  You never even talk to him on the phone.”

“Well, he’s….”

“Busy.  I know.  But don’t you think he’s hiding something?”

“Like what?”

“Like what?  He’s married.  Or he’s 18.  Or he’s in prison.  Or he’s a she.”

“No.  I can tell he’s a man and he has maturity.  The beauty of his language.  He gets me.  No prisoner or child would get me like that.”

“It smells….fishy to me…”

“Stop.  I’m tired of being alone.”

“But you’re still alone.  I bet if you text him he won’t answer.  Try it.”

Sheila takes our her phone and sends a text.  At the same time an iPhone buzzes in the apartment.  Maeve’s husband enters the living room, picks up his phone, grimaces and shuts off his phone.  He kisses the top of his wife’s head and walks away.


Ok- it was really hard not to self edit as I was typing it in!  I have more plot issues than I thought…but there you go!

And this ad addition that I forgot the first time around!  My guilty pleasure is the tv show Catfish!!



Sunday Wrap Up

I’m trying something new today.  I’m not always inspired to write new content on the weekends, but I like the idea of trying to post every day.  So I’m toying with writing a weekly wrap up- citing the best and worst of things that I saw/read/listened/ate in the past week.  If I continue to do this, I promise I will learn how to include links.  I’m just not in a learning mood today.  I also don’t like summaries- I hate when they give too much of the plot away, so you just get my rating system- which is 0-5. I also don’t take pictures of my food- I eat it.  Maybe I’ll eventually post a picture of empty plate.


  1. Pasquale Jones- dinner- Pork shank for 2.  Possibly the best pork dish I’ve ever had.  {4.5}
  2. Trivia Night at Gramercy Ale House- fun {3.5}
  3. “A Dolls House- Part 2”- live theater- Golden Theater- NYC-   Spectacular.  Acting first rate.  Play was brilliant.  {4.9}
  4. Cups and Cones ice cream.  Creamy, delicious, interesting flavors.  Loved the ginger. {4}
  5. Ilili Box- dinner/lunch- spiced chicken wrap (moist chicken, good wrap bread, spiced perfectly), Brussel sprouts (roasted, walnuts and grapes- and you even feel healthy) green lemonade  (yummy) {4.2}
  6. “Standard Deviation” by Katherine Heany. (fiction)  Book made me laugh out loud- and that doesn’t happen often. {4.5}

In the Middle

  1. Gallagher’s Steak House -restaurant- Staff wonderful.  Had 10 ounce filet from lunch special (which is great deal, and filet was excellent) But not all the steaks were as good- and while it is a nice place- you can do better for steak in NYC {3}

The Worst

  1. “The Sunshine Sisters” by Jane Green.  I used to love Jane Green, and looked forward to her books.  Now, I feel like she takes a weighty topic, but then surrounds it with schlock.  Writing more depressing than depressing premise.  {1.5}
  2. “Beatriz at Dinner” (movie)- Starts off with interesting premise.  Falls apart in the middle. {2.8}


This is a work in progress- sometimes I need to put something on the page and then work it out. I sometimes get stuck in my head and worry too much about the details. I hope to figure out a better way to present these ideas.