Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Glimpse Into Author Caeli Wolfson Widger's Writing Routine + Giveaway! (US/Can)

Real Happy Family
Caeli Wolfson Widger

Part-time actress, full-time party girl Lorelei Branch isn’t famous yet, but she’s perfected a Hollywood lifestyle full of clubbing, fashion, and the latest juice cleanse. When Robin, her sister-in-law and agent, throws a plum job her way, Lorelei jumps at the chance and auditions to be the new girl on television’s hottest reality show, Flo’s Studio.

Enter Colleen, Lorelei’s pill-popping mother, who wants nothing more than to see her daughter win the fame and glory she never had a chance to pursue herself. But Lorelei’s dream of becoming the next reality star is dashed when she loses the spot on Flo’s Studio to a stunning African woman. In an attempt to defend her daughter against what she calls a rigged contest, Colleen goes ballistic and delivers a racist rant on live television, sparking a national media frenzy. Lorelei flees the limelight, humiliated and broke, with her slacker boyfriend Don and heads for Reno where she begins to self-destruct.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Branch family starts to come apart at the seams. Colleen and her husband, Carl, are quietly drifting apart. Darren, Lorelei’s older half-brother, is stuck in Florida working on a contentious film set while his wife, Robin, continues the tedious regimen of fertility drugs meant to help them conceive a child. Desperate to bring the family together again and make things right, Colleen hatches a plan to stage an intervention for Lorelei on the reality show Real Happy Family. Soon the entire Branch family is entangled in a mission to bring the prodigal daughter back into the fold.

Will Lorelei ever forgive Colleen? Will Real Happy Family air their most sensational intervention yet? All roads lead to a seedy Reno hotel room, where a reality TV crew is waiting.

How I Developed My Writing Routine

I'm quite structured when it comes to my writing routine, but not from any inherent proclivity toward discipline—I am not a natural scheduler or conscious goal-setter. For years (the whole of my 20s, basically), I wrote according to no schedule at all, whenever I "felt like" it, whenever the elusive muse happened to descend which meant, not nearly enough.

Then I hit my 30s and starting having kids and realized that if I didn't get serious about a daily writing habit, I might never publish anything. You hear a lot about the challenges of writing or producing other types of art during the early parenting years, but for me, having kids was the thing that got me firmly to commit to producing a certain word count every day. And since my days were occupied with chasing young toddlers around, and I was incoherently exhausted by 9pm, my only option for writing time was the early morning. So I wrote Real Happy Family by setting a goal of producing 1,000 words a day between 5am or 7am, no matter what (well, almost!).I'd often have to give myself a ridiculously dramatic mental lecture when my alarm went off at the crack of dawn: "would you rather sleep a little more or DIE without ever finishing a novel?"

And somehow I stuck to the routine, so on the rare morning I slept in and didn't write, I felt bereft and anxious. Those mornings became essential not only to my productivity, but to my sanity and sense of well-being.

I started this routine in March 2010 and with the exception of a few weeks here and there (childbirth is one of the few allowable excuses!), I've adhered to my routine. In addition to the pragmatic necessity of writing in the morning, I also prefer it because I'm closest to my unconscious mind, and my brain is not yet cluttered with the all the data and concerns of a typical day.

Now, I can't imagine not writing in the morning. It's one of my purest pleasures.

Unfortunately, I can't offer much of a glimpse into my "writing cave," because I write at the kitchen table—I've been exiled there by my kids! But it's where the coffee maker is so it works just fine!

About the Author

Caeli Wolfson Widger received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana.

Her work has appeared in such publications as the New York Times Magazine, Another Chicago Magazine, and the Madison Review, as well as on NPR and CBS Radio.

She currently teaches for Writing Workshops Los Angeles, and has taught in the past for Brooklyn’s Sackett Street Workshop and at University College London.

Real Happy Family is her first novel, and she’s hard at work on another.

When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with her husband and three children, working at her unliterary day job, or jogging while thinking about writing and/or new soup recipes.


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished print copy of Real Happy Family—yay!! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:

If you (or your family) were to end up on a reality TV show, what would it be titled and what would it be about?

Don't forget to include your email address or Twitter username in your comment so I know who to contact when I choose a winner. Don't make me track you down!!!! No email = No entry!
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Caeli and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC and Lake Union!
Giveaway ends April 17th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, international readers! Check out my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!