I’ve always had a thing for her back cover blurbs. And, not only do they keep up the promise of what’s advertised, but they’re devilishly witty, too. Just like the author. She knows that she is “one of my favorites” and not just for her creativity or mad writing skills, but for her professionalism and friendly personality all over. She’s a wonderful author and a wonderful writing friend to have. She’s also an editing/developmental colleague and I admire her turnaround work immensely. Heck, if I had to replace my editor, I’d go to Francine. And… her book covers are stunning. Seriously. Love it!
Oh, and because Francine and all of you were so patient with my recent back surgery/doctor dilemma that kept me from updating for the past 10 days or so, I have a special treat for you all. Well, technically Francine has a special treat — she’s allowing me to include an excerpt from her recent novel for your enjoyment.
Told you she was awesome…
Meet Francine LaSala
Francine has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres. She is now actively taking on clients for manuscript evaluations, editing services, copywriting (covers, blurbs, taglines, queries, and more), website and blog creation, and developing kickass social media campaigns.
When did you first tell a story?
Oh, I think I’ve been telling stories since I could talk.
What was it about?
Dunno. Probably about a blanket and a lovey?
Did you ever make up imaginary friends or beings for the sake of boredom or general mischievousness?
No, not friends. But when I was in first grade, I did invent a whole “secret identity” for myself. I told my whole class that I was a princess and in order to save my “country,” my classmates all needed to capture three specific kids on the playground to feed to the dragons. I’m not sure why I chose the kids I did, but they were dutifully captured. And then everyone was like WTF?! (the first grade equivalent) when the dragons never came…
Who influenced you the most as a writer?
In the beginning, my dad. He used to tell us a lot of crazy stories at bedtime. I’m second-oldest of four and I’m not sure how I slept at night, let alone how my younger siblings managed. It’s hilarious when I think about it now! But if you’re asking me about author influences, then for sure, Angela Carter (Wise Children), John Irving (The World According to Garp), and Voltaire (Candide).
Favorite book, ever. Yes, I am limiting you to one.
Candide! It’s a perfect satire, and no matter if I’m writing rom-coms or psychological drama-mysteries or whatever it is I’m doing, there’s always some element of satire to it. I’m not good at serious.
Easiest part of writing for you would be….?
Having written. (Okay, that’s not me. That’s Dorothy Parker!)
What is your most dreaded, please-don’t-make-me part of writing?
Writing sex. I’m no prude–I’ve ghostwritten three sex manuals! (And I was single in New York City for years…) But there’s nothing in the world as excruciating as writing sex. It’s just awkward and weird and it zaps the fun out of the idea of it. Instructional is far worse than fictional, but even fictionally, it’s almost impossible not to sound crass or cheesy when you’re writing sex.
If you could have dinner (and dessert) with any fictional character who would it be and why?
I would enjoy having dinner with the little girl from Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job, and living on the edge (literally) by continually baiting her to say “kitty” throughout the meal.
Any sage advice you can pass on to fellow writers that you wish someone had told you sooner?
Never read reviews. Like, ever. The bad ones deflate you but the good ones can make you soft and full of yourself. Reviews have a way of influencing art, but I don’ think that should be. I think you should just write what’s in you. If it has an audience of one, great. Of one million? Lucky you! But a book never works if you force it out of you. (But please, for the love of all that is holy, be edited. Please!)
Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals? How do you write?
Rituals… I used to have so many. I needed quiet! And wine and cigarettes! And junk food! Then I had kids. Now I spend a lot of time writing in the playground and in the car and in the bathroom. I have so few needs these days when it comes to getting me to write. Just need an idea and the ability to mentally block the chaos. Oh yeah, and time. 🙂
What is the color of your editing pen? Yes, I’m serious.
I use a pencil. Standard black. I change my mind a lot.
Of the senses (all six), what is your favorite sense to write?
Scent. Smells evoke so much and can connect us to things on so many levels. There’s nothing as grounding in a description than the scent of what you’re describing.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you break through it?
I don’t believe in Writer’s Block. It’s inefficient. If a story’s not coming out, I say try switching to another one. (Which I guess in its own way is inefficient, as then you end up with a bunch of WIPs and no completed works!)
There’s all the hoopla over being a Pantser or a Plotter – which team are you a part of or are you somewhere in between?
A bit of both I guess. I can’t write without a sense of where I’m going, but I’ll never force a story to conform to what I had initially wanted it to be if it wants to be something else.
About Francine’s Work
My most recent release, The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything, is a satire on suburbia, motherhood, the self-help industry, the dental industry, the corruption of banks… Just a mixed bag of crazy. 🙂
What makes your book different from all the rest?? What genre would you put it in?
Genre-wise, I think it’s satire, though it gets classed as “Mom Lit” and also “Mystery” a lot because there is a sort of mystery in it. What makes it different is that there’s an element of magical realism to it, which you don’t always find in Mom Lit and Mystery. 🙂
Who was your favorite character to create?
Char’a-tee Pryce, without hesitation. I stopped writing her almost a year ago and I still miss her.
What is the hardest part about writing this book?
It was a puzzle, and every piece of dialog and action had to fit together just so, or the whole thing would unravel. Did I mention the protagonist has amnesia? It’s not easy to write from the point of view of a person who can’t remember anything.
What is the easiest part about writing this book?
The book really poured out of me–it really wrote itself. Making sure all the disparate pieces of it fit together was the only hard part.
Have you always loved and written in this genre or was another your first love?
I write in different genres all the time. It makes agents and traditional publishers nuts, which is why I’m happy to be publishing with Diversion Books right now. They pretty much let me write what I feel like writing. It’s very special to have your publisher believe in you like that!
Do you have any other projects that you’re working on?
I actually have about four WIPs I’m working on right now (see above: Writer’s Block). The one I hope to release this summer is a multi-generational dysfuctional romance about crazy people who talk themselves into being okay about being nuts. I call it A Comfortable Madness and I’ve been writing it for about twelve years. (Now who’s crazy?)
Excerpt from Francine’s “The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything“
A wave coursed through Mina as it had in Smitty’s. That sense of power rose in her again and she charged across the room, over to Jack and to the phone. She pulled it away from him with a force she didn’t know she had.
“Who is this?” she shouted into the receiver.
“Ma’am, this is Bob from—”
“Are you threatening my husband? Are you fucking threatening my husband?” she shouted into the phone.
“This matter is between us and your—”
“Are you threatening my husband with my kid’s safety, you fucking vulture?”
“Look, he owes us money and—”
“And what? You’re going to kidnap his child if he doesn’t pay you, you fucking viper?”
“Mina….” Jack stammered, and Mina waved him away.
“Put your supervisor on the phone, you bloodsucking pig. Do it now!”
“You are not authorized to speak—”
There was a click, and then the sound of muzak.
“Mina, you really shouldn’t be…”
“Jack, let me handle this.” The muzak stopped and another voice spoke.
“This is Mr. Templeton. How can I help you?”
“Look, Templeton. I know we owe you money. But we have no money. And if your fucking minions ever call here threatening my family again, I’m going to come to your offices and I’m going to rip your balls off with my bare hands, and then I’m going to feed them to you!”
“Mina!” Jack gasped.
“Because I’ll tell you this, you shit-sucking low-life. I know we have rights. We have the right not to be threatened, and we have the right to report you if you so much as suggest doing any kind of bodily harm to anyone in this house!”
“Yes, but the fact remains…”
“And I also have the right to tell you to stop calling this fucking house. And you know what happens if you don’t respect that request and you keep calling? Do you?”
“Are you threatening me, Mrs. Clark?”
“Nothing in the rules says I can’t,” she said, having no idea if anything she was saying was even true, but it felt so good to say it, she couldn’t stop herself.
“And I’ll tell you another thing. Not only should you not be threatening me and my family, you disgusting, usurious troglodyte!”
“Troglo-what?” Jack whispered.
She cupped the phone and whispered back. “Cave dweller.”
“Oh…” he said. “Huh.”
“You heard me!” she screamed into the phone. “You should be getting down on your fucking knees every night and thanking God that we don’t pay our bills so that you can keep your pathetic, beggarly job, without which, you would be just like us. Except we’re better than you. Because I tell you this, I would never do your disgusting job. I would eat my family before I’d stoop to your level!”
“And you know what, fuckwad? I’m going to get down on my knees and pray tonight. I’m going to pray that the tides turn and people do get to start paying their bills again and that you lose your fucking vulturous job and end up in the fucking street. And my dearest wish is that if anyone you ever harassed is out there with you, they tear you to shreds. Like they do to child molesters in prison.” Her uncle’s face flashed before her in that instant and she felt equally sick to her stomach and angry, more angry than she’d ever felt in her life.
Now there was only silence on the other end of the line. “Call my fucking house again and I will find you. Now good day!” she screamed, and she slammed down the phone.
Mina’s heart was racing. Sweat formed on her brow. She was short of breath, like she’d just run a mile or had an explosive orgasm. She felt empowered. She felt invincible. She was exhilarated. Alive!
Jack approached her, an incredulous look on his face. “What was that?” he asked, not breaking his stare.
She blew her bangs up out of her eyes, her breath cooling her forehead.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her into a smoldering kiss. Her whole body was on fire as she returned it. “Oh Mina!” he gasped, as he pulled her into another deep, intense kiss. “You’re back. It’s you. You’re back.”
Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything: viewBook.at/B009NF9VQ2
Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes: viewBook.at/B007ZHVB1I
The “Joy Jar” Project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318621974904272/