Wednesday, November 11, 2015

**GIVEAWAY** Interview with Amy Sue Nathan - The Good Neighbor

First Happy Veteran's Day! A Heartfelt thank you for your sacrifices to serve our country.

Please welcome Amy Sue Nathan to the blog, she's here today to chat about her second novel, The Good Neighbor.  Please enjoy our chat then enter to win a copy of your own sponsored by St. Martin's Press, US ONLY. 
Giveaway details below
Click HERE to read a review by friend and fellow blogger Kathryn at The Book Date.




















ISBN-13: 9781250048585
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 10/13/2015
Length: 272 pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound



Overview

When small lies have big consequences...
Things are a little rough for Izzy Lane. Still reeling from the break-up of her marriage, the newly single mom moves back to the Philadelphia home she grew up in, five-year-old Noah in tow. The transition is difficult, but with the help of her best friends-and her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman-Izzy feels like she's stepping closer to her new normal. Until her ex-husband shows up with his girlfriend. That's when Izzy invents a boyfriend of her own. And that's when life gets complicated.
Blogging about her "new guy" provides Izzy with something to do when Noah's asleep. What's the harm in a few made-up stories? But when her friends want to meet the mysterious "Mac," someone online suspects Izzy's a fraud, and a guy in real life catches her eye, Izzy realizes just how high the stakes are.

Giveaway is for one print copy of
The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan
US ONLY
Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter
Good Luck!


Read en Excerpt:





CHAPTER 1
The Banana Song

The doorbell rang and I knew it was my ex, just like when my lip tingled and I knew it was a cold sore. Most Wednesday nights I was ready for my midweek parenting respite. Not tonight. Tonight I longed for a snafu in Bruce's plans — a flat tire, a meeting, a hangnail. So tonight he was twenty minutes early. Of course.
Even so, I sang, "Daddy's here," and scooped Noah's toys from the kitchen table, shoving them inside his Spider-Man backpack along with two dinosaur books. I tucked in Spidey briefs and a clean sweatshirt, smoothing it hard as if to mark my territory.
My stomach rumbled and I slid my hand to my belly. Hollow gurgles akin to pregnancy flutters skittered across my palm. I smiled, remembering the moment I'd felt those first movements from Noah. I loved every one of them, even as they became an elbow in my ribs or a foot on my bladder.
I gathered the last of the boystuff, combed my fingers through my hair, and opened the front door. I left the storm door closed and wrangled Noah into his coat, hat, and mittens, which he plucked off. He reached up and touched my cheeks with his still-soft hands. I crouched down so we were nose to nose. I smelled apple juice, soap, and a hint of boy.
"See ya later, alligator!" he said, accenting the last syllable.
"In a while, crocodile!"
Noah linked his arms behind my neck and I stood. His legs dangled and his chest bounced with giggles. What would it be like when he was taller than me, taller than everyone, like Bruce? I was grateful, with a mother's longing, that he still had a round, soft face and fine, almost-black hair.
I nodded at my ex. Noah pushed out the door and hugged his dad with a force that landed Bruce against the metal railing. He kissed the top of Noah's head and held him at arm's length, as though memorizing the details. Bruce loved Noah like I did. That was something I still counted on, something I was grateful for. Something I needed to remember.
"Where's Amber?" Noah asked. His r's sounded like l's.
"Amber's in the car, buddy. She can't wait to see you."
My world had seized the moment I realized I was sharing Noah with someone other than Bruce. One day I watched my small child look up at Amber and reach for her hand. He smiled at her, and her meek grin widened. Amber took his hand in hers and patted it. I was awestruck. Or maybe dumbstruck. I was not surprised Amber warmed to Noah. That part I understood. But I was surprised how easily he reached for her. He held out his hand. He trusted her. He was a little boy who needed to be safe and happy and included. Yet instead of feeling a rush of gratitude and a momentary freedom from responsibilities, I burned, singed by an unlikely betrayal. Did he call her Mommy by mistake — or worse, not by mistake? Get a grip, I'd told myself. Bruce will have many more Ambers. Then I realized, for Noah's sake, that I didn't want that either.
Noah shot imaginary webs from his palms and Bruce fell back with a flourish. He ughed and arghed and begged Spider-Man to release him, but his performance was flat. Bruce sounded constrained, without enthusiasm. This was not his best trapped-dad voice.
"If Spider-Man lets me out of this web, I'll drop him off at school in the morning."
"Okeydoke," I said, instead of No shit. Bruce had been doing Thursday-morning drop-offs since school started in September.
"Smells delicious in there, Iz. If you're making your lasagna, he must be some guy."
I closed the door and leaned my back against it. Why did Bruce mention familiar details — my hair, an old sweater, the smell of lasagna? Didn't leaving mean he could no longer lay claim to these things? It was harder to forget, harder to forgive, when he kept poking into the past and pushing it forward. I shook my head to scatter the thoughts, then scurried to the kitchen knowing "some guy" was really "the girls," and they would be on time. My veggie lasagna would not be. It was bubbling on the sides, but soft and runny in the middle.
My lasagna brought me comfort. Moving "back home" had brought me comfort, too. And a little bit of shame. You grow up, move out, go to college, work, get married. You do not move back home with your small child in tow. Unless you need to. And I had — so I did.
Though I arrived months ago, I was still making the transition from living in the house-where-I-grew-up to living in that house as the only grown-up. But I was getting there. A moment of optimism blew through me, like a sigh of relief from the universe.
Still, lasagna from scratch was ambitious on a school night. Maybe I should have nuked a pizza on one of those silver crisping trays, opened a bag of Caesar salad, and squeezed dressing from a tube. Or ordered in. Who was I kidding? I, Izzy Lane, did not order in when the girls were coming for dinner. Even on a Wednesday.

* * *
Jade and Rachel arrived at the same time. Rachel leapt to hug me before she even closed the front door. Rachel moved the way she did throughout our childhood, as if she were Tinker Bell — just now with hips that swayed from the weight of four children under seven.
Jade looked up from her phone and surveyed the scene, her arms crossed, her foot tapping.
Rachel and Jade connected only through me. Opposite in demeanor and appearance, they were my perfect fit. Rachel's bounce balanced Jade's stillness. Jade's urban vibe muted Rachel's suburban air. I was a little like each of them, except they reveled in the lives they'd built from scratch. I loved them — despite their contentment.
I went to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of wine.
"We haven't done a Wednesday dinner in ages," Jade said. "What's up?"
"Can't I just make dinner for my two best friends when Noah's with Bruce?"
"No," they said in unison.
Rachel sat on the arm of the chair I still referred to as "Dad's." She tapped her fingers in sequence, from pinkie to pointer. One two three four, one two three four, one two three four. Over and over, as if she were waiting for something — and that something wasn't wine.
"I can't stand it anymore," she said.
"Stand what?"
"When are you going to tell us?"
"Tell you what?"
Rachel exploded with the fervor of a pageant toddler on Pixy Stix. "About Mac!"
"Mac?" Jade asked.
"How do you know about Mac?" I asked, dumbfounded. And maybe even a little dumb.
"Oh, come on, Izzy. You know I've been reading your blog! And so have all the girls at mahj."
"Her blog?" This was Jade. This was Jade getting annoyed. "Why am I the last to know these things?"
"I told you about it. ..." I put my hands on my hips, a vague gesture of self-defense. "I didn't make a big deal about it, but I did tell you."
"She's right, Jade. She did. She started it the day Bruce moved out. But she calls herself Bizzy, remember?"
"That's what you did when Bruce left? Turned to your computer and made up an alias?"
"No, not exactly," I said, although — yes. Exactly. "It was just, well, I needed an outlet. Some sort of journal." And to be someone else. Someone whose world wasn't upside down and inside out. I was also someone else who didn't realize her first cousin had been taking notes.
Rachel's hands moved as if she were conducting a symphony. "When you wrote about the date where the guy squirted ketchup all over his eggs and how you had to clean off the lid of the ketchup bottle when he went to the men's room? It hit me. No one enjoys cleaning dirty ketchup lids like a Lane."
Rachel should know.
"Jade, you should see the comments! There are tons of them."
Jade perked up. Tons of comments had gotten her attention.
"She's totally an advice goddess. Izzy told one woman to stop trying to be someone she wasn't, because then the right guy wouldn't be able to find her. That's genius, right?"
It was good advice. Why was I surprised? Though I'd never thought of my master's in school counseling as a boon to my blogging escapades before, it was.
"It's true, the advice I give seems to be helpful to people. But some of the stories I've told aren't exactly ..."
"They're awesome! Tell Jade about your dates."
"Dates? You've gone on more dates? I thought you said it 'wasn't the right time.'" Jade used air quotes. Jade hated air quotes.
"When it's the right person, it's always the right time," Rachel said. "Tell Jade about Mac!"
"Who's Mac?" Now Jade crossed her arms.
"Her boyfriend!"
No. I was not telling anyone about Mac.
"You have a boyfriend?" Jade stood and went to the closet. She took out her coat and draped it over her arm. "I worry about you every weekend when you say you're doing nothing, when you won't meet me in town, and now I find out you're really out tooling around the city with a man you're keeping a secret? Oh my God. Is he married?"
That's what she thinks of me? "I am not tooling around with anyone!"
"Okay, so you don't want to call him your boyfriend." Rachel grinned. "But you're seeing someone. Mac is amazing. From everything Izzy told me — well, she didn't tell me, really — he's smart and funny and handsome. She met him on JDate —"
"Stop!" I yelled. "He's not what you think. It's not what it seems."
Rachel put her hands over her ears. "Please! I don't want to hear it. Let your old married cousin live vicariously through you a little longer." She grabbed me again. "Nobody's perfect, you know."
Rachel was wrong. Mac was perfect. Mac was perfect because I'd invented him — all six two of him, with his full head of dark hair, his humble upbringing, his self-made career. What was his career again? Did he have one? I wasn't sure. Oops. But more important than any career was that Mac was devoted to me. Of course he was. He was my cyber version of Weird Science.
Mac had appeared just in the nick of time, on a Saturday morning in October. Amber and Bruce had shown up at Noah's soccer game in matching Temple Owls sweatshirts. Stupid matching sweatshirts. The blatant coupledom punched me in the gut. I had always wanted to be a matchy-matchy couple, but not Bruce. I had bought us matching Phillies T-shirts and caps one Hanukkah, but he refused to wear his when I wore mine. The Hanna Andersson striped pajamas I ordered for us and Noah, the ones in which I imagined we'd look like a catalog family, stayed folded and bagged. Then Noah grew, Bruce moved out, and I got a full refund.
Bruce and Amber's sweatshirts, in Temple's official cherry and white, were crisp and new, yet worn. Nonrefundable.
They sat in front of me, our usual effort to appear united. We exchanged our tactical greeting: Bruce took Noah's duffel bag; I reminded him about the cosmic bowling party that afternoon, and decorating the sukkah at the synagogue the next day.
"I know. We'll be there," Bruce said. Amber nodded. They refocused on the field and leaned into each other's shoulder.
We'll be there? Since when were they a we?
"I'll be there, too," I said. "But now I've got to go. I have plans with ..." Who on earth did I have plans with? "My boyfriend."
I could have said I had a report to finish or that I was having lunch with Rachel. I could have offered nothing more than good-bye. But I didn't because it wasn't enough. I wasn't enough. I wasn't a we. I was a me. A me, myself, and I. And I was alone, laden with inadequacy. Embarrassment filled me. The matching sweatshirts had been my tipping point and I'd invented a boyfriend. So what?
Back then, the mere fa├žade of moving forward had left me aglow.
Tonight my cheeks burned with embarrassment.
"Well, I have to tell you, I'm relieved," Jade said.
"Excuse me?"
"I thought you were going to say you were getting back together with Bruce."
I leapt toward Jade and hugged her. "Really?"
Did she know something I didn't?
"I had no idea why you invited us here. Just coming for dinner on a Wednesday seemed a little unusual, Pea, I've got to be honest." Jade threw her phone into her oversize pocketbook. She used the nickname she'd given me at Penn the day our freshman English professor anointed us two peas in a pod. "You hole up here, in this house, and never leave except for work. Yes, you take care of Noah. Yes, you go to work every day. But that's all you do. And then you invite us over on a Wednesday night when I know it's the only night you have to yourself."
All I had wanted was company for dinner, a glass of wine, a few belly laughs. "I am so sorry you're worried about me." I swallowed air. Rachel would have to live her romantic dream through someone else. "There's more."
Rachel clasped her hands. "You're in love!"
"No!"
She whispered, "Pregnant?"
"No!"
"Then what?"
Keep it light. No big deal. It's all a phase. Like Pilates.
"Mac isn't exactly how he seems."
"Is anyone?" Jade asked.
In real life I hoped the answer was yes.
"Just enjoy yourself," Jade continued. "But I want to hear more about this little blog of yours, missy!" She dug out her phone, tapped, and scrolled. "There, got it! The Bizzy Blog. Very cute." She held it up, showcasing a miniature version of my make-believe life.
"It gets ... well, it got, a few thousand hits. Per day." This was true. I worked to keep my smile in check. "Apparently, I'm good at it." They were not the most important words, but hearing them aloud reminded me that the blog had served a purpose. I had created something that connected me to others. And it was mine. It belonged only to me. My thoughts and words were not like dishes or towels or dining-room chairs, or even a five-year-old boy.
No one could leave and then claim half.
Rachel and Jade stared at each other, then at me, then back at each other. I often felt them vying for top branch in my confidante tree, but now I sensed a kinship between them.
"The thing is, though — I mean, the issue is — Mac's not real." There. I said it. I stood, ready to purge my reasons for embellishing my life and manufacturing men, and more important, for not telling them any of it.
"It's fine," Jade said. "I get it."
"You do?"
"Mac's not his real name. And he probably doesn't know you're writing about him. Bloggers do that all the time. Change names to protect the innocent, so to speak. So you made up a name and he doesn't know you write about him. No big deal."
"What's his real name? I want to Google him! Is he really a dentist?"
How had I forgotten that Mac was a dentist?
"Look, it's okay if you don't want to tell us his name for a while," Jade said. "I don't tell you everything either, especially about the men I date. It's just — easier. I think it's normal."
If this was normal, I was in big trouble. "Wait, you don't tell me everything?"
Jade just lifted her eyebrows and smirked. "No. So I guess we're even."
"All I care about is that you're happy," Rachel said.
I wanted her to make me accountable — or to encourage me to be accountable to myself. I wanted her to challenge me, fight me, but Rachel wasn't a fighter.
"Taking care of Noah by yourself, working, dating, and then you have this blog and you meet this Mac ... it's easy to get caught up. I'm planning my reunion and I can spend hours online looking up classmates and sending e-mails. It sucks me right in. I lose all track of time. But I don't understand wanting to share your life with strangers more than with us."
It was easy to banter with strangers, sometimes more so than talking to my friends, or my brothers, or my parents. I had grown weary of my mother's rolled eyes and weak redirects when I talked about Bruce. I cringed at how some of my married friends thought it would be great to be single again. My brothers were compassionate, but wouldn't be caught dead back home. How many times could they listen to me say the same old thing? But sometimes the same old thing was all I had. Writing about it enabled me to make sense of the nonsensical. Plus, strangers had no expectations. They were patient. Even prodding. If they were bored, they were silent. If they rolled their eyes, I couldn't see. To me, the words adhered to the virtual page as new, and without consequence.
I knew nothing of search engines or keywords or that "A Bad Date with a Defense Attorney" would result in hundreds of hits and rampant advice about finding a new lawyer.
But apparently some folks actually read the post and commented about real-life Paul the Deviant DA, the perfect-on-paper Jewish lawyer who brought me an erotic novel on our second date because I'd said I liked to read. The people who chimed in on that post were keepers — unlike Mr. Shifty Shades.
My readers didn't feel like strangers. They were people who helped me forget about Bruce and divorce and moving back home. They were the ones who cheered me on when I wrote about blurting out "Mac" at the soccer field. Of course, I'd left out the part about making him up. I'd intended to be honest, but the truth slipped out of my fingers like Noah's green slime. And it was just as messy.
Rachel stepped closer to me. It wasn't my intention to hurt her feelings. My intention was to safeguard my own.
She twirled her fingers in her short brown curls. Rachel twirled her body when she was happy, her hair when she was not.

(Continues...)



Amy Sue Hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Tell everyone a little about your new novel.
Thanks for having me! The Good Neighbor is about divorced mom Elizabeth "Izzy" Lane who invents a boyfriend and then blogs about him and the posts go viral. What could possibly go wrong, right?

Wow a blog that goes viral is a rather timely premise.
Did the idea come from your own blogging experience?
The idea for the novel actually came from a 1945 movie called Christmas in Connecticut where the main character (the original Elizabeth Lane) is a magazine columnist in New York lying about her life, marital status -- just about everything! Of course, mayhem ensues. My blogging experiences informed everything behind the premise because I know what it's like to have an online persona (although a truthful one) and how the internet can take over sometimes.

Would you shelf this book with the chick lit, women’s fiction, or perhaps general fiction?
I'd put this book with women's fiction because of the serious threads woven throughout the novel about divorce, secrets, friendships, and accepting yourself the way you are. There's humor in the story for sure, but it's not about shoes or shopping. I also opt for hopeful endings as opposed to definite happily ever afters.

I love the less is more look of the cover for both your novels.
Did you have a hand in the choosing?
Nope! I'm thrilled that the team at St. Martin's Griffin is so good at interpreting my novels in a way that resonates with readers and with me! I never had a vision for either cover, and both exceeded my expectations. I mean--THAT DOOR!

So Amy Sue you’re no writer virgin but how did the birth of you the novelist happen?
I had no intention of ever writing fiction, but about ten years ago I started writing a memoir and when I realized that meant telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about myself and my life, I turned my sights on fiction.

Sticking with that subject I love author’s “I got the call” stories.
Will you share yours?
I don't have one! Maybe I should make one up? ;-) I went through a long revision process on my first novel with my first agent before signing with him, so it wasn't a surprise. When he sold my debut novel it had also been a process of a few weeks of talking to the editor and hoping (praying) for a yes. So while I was thrilled (and relieved) it was the culmination of so much. It was back in 2011, and I probably took a nap after jumping around and making some calls.

My blog will soon be 6 and you’ve been blogging since 2006, wow and I’m considered grandma Moses in my group of book bloggers.
Do you think blogs are more viable now with blogs for every subject, or were they better in “the good olde days” when we grannies started?
I think blogs are harder to get off the ground today because there are so many, and everyone is vying for readers and competing with all kinds of social media. When I started blogging and reading blogs, that was the end-all-be-all.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
What’s on the menu at the Nathan home?
I love cooking for and hosting Thanksgiving! Since my daughter and I are vegetarians, all of the sides will be vegetarian-friendly (no one can tell the difference) but I'll prepare a turkey for everyone else. She and I will eat "turk'y" and it's delicious. And since I am a lover of all things pumpkin besides pumpkin pie (I think it's a texture thing) I'll make a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
Wow I also include a Pumpkin cheesecake on my Thanksgiving table!

Amy Sue can you tell us what you’re working on now or is it still top secret?
I can tell you we're planning publication for Spring 2017 and that it's due to my editor in January. The working title is Left To Chance and this book is truly the book of my heart.

Thanks for sharing some secrets and being a good blog neighbor
Are your author events/signings listed on your website?
(My events will have all been concluded by mid-November but there's all kinds of info on my website amysuenathan.com and my blog womensfictionwriters.com)


Connect with Amy Sue- Website Facebook - Twitter
MEET AMY SUE:
I was born and raised in Philadelphia and am a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism (a degree I actually use). I’ve called the Chicago area home since the late 1990s, and am the proud mom of  two grown children (my favorite oxymoron). In addition to being a writer, editor, and blogger, I’m a dog-lover, vegetarian, not-so-secret crafter, and lover of all things wine and chocolate.

Today's Gonereading item is:
The Reading Woman 2016 Wall Calendar
Click Here for the buy page







a Rafflecopter giveaway

14 comments:

  1. This sounds like it will be a really fun read full of mayhem and lots of laughs. I so want to watch that movie now too, it sounds like a lot of fun!

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  2. Thanks for this captivating novel which interests me greatly. I have read Amy Nathan's novel and enjoyed it greatly. I could relate to it and the writing and characters were realistic and memorable. This novel would be a treasure. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Wow traveler, glad to hear you loved her book!

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  3. Loved this novel and really enjoyed the interview. I so love the cover too of this one. What... we have to wait to 2017 for the next one! Still, when it's worth waiting for that's okay!

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    1. Thanks for reminding me that you read and reviewed this Kathryn, I've added a link to your review.

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  4. The memoir is a blessing in disguise then. I guess it's divine providence that the inspiration for this book came about

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  5. This would be my first chance & this book look likes the perfect place to start.

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    1. Hi Rhonda, first visit here?
      Thanks and good luck!

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  6. I enjoyed the movie Christmas in Connecticut and love that it was the inspiration behind this story. Lovely interview and thanks for the excerpt.

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    1. I Loved that story too Kim, I think there's another retelling of that tale out this year too but I can't remember the title now. LOL senior moment :)

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  7. This is a new author for me, but looking forward to reading her books.

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    1. Hi Patricia welcome to the blog and good luck!

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