Happy evening all! Francine LaSala is our featured author this evening. Thank you so much Francine for participating in this blog tour! Enjoy the read everyone!
Title: The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything and Rita Hayworth’s Shoes
Author: Francine LaSala
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Humor / Magical realism
Blog: Francine LaSala’s Clippings In The Shed (clippingsintheshed.wordpress.com)
Social Media connections:
The “Joy Jar” Project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318621974904272/
Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes: viewBook.at/B007ZHVB1I
Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything: viewBook.at/B009NF9VQ2
Release Date: Both books available now
“Like hanging out with your funniest friend over a glass of champagne, Rita Hayworth’s Shoes is both hilarious and thought-provoking. LaSala knows how to combine humor and romance for a story the reader can jump inside and enjoy.”
—NY Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry
“The Girl, The Gold Tooth and Everything has affected me deeply. I don’t think I’ve read a book quite like this. Dark, intense yet also funny, this novel kept me up at night because I couldn’t stop reading… The secondary characters are phenomenal and the reader is never quite sure what is real until the very last page.”
–Samantha Stroh Bailey, author of Finding Lucas
Excerpt from The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything
Jack grabbed Mina by the hand. “I have something for you. Dessert,” he said, and he shot her an impish grin. She nearly lost her breath as he led her out of Emma’s bedroom, but felt a terrible pang of disappointment and frustration as he turned away from their own bedroom and down the stairs.
“Sit down,” he said, and headed into the kitchen. “And close your eyes.”
She sat for a moment by herself and soon she felt Jack’s presence next to her. “Open your mouth,” he whispered, and again she complied. The next thing she knew, a luscious sensation swirled in her mouth, a velvety surge of creamy chocolate.
“You like it?”
She opened her eyes. “I love it. It’s heaven!”
“Open,” he smiled, and he fed her another bite.
“This is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever tasted,” Mina said, as she savored every luscious morsel. Then the flavor took on a whole new dimension…no longer a food but a place, and before she knew what was happening, the word “Paris” slipped from her lips.
Jack stopped cold. “What did you just say?”
“Paris,” she said. “I know. It’s silly, right?”
“No,” he said. “Here, keep eating. Tell me what you’re feeling now. What you’re thinking.”
“We’ve been to Paris,” she said. “Me and you.”
And memory began to trickle over her like a light drizzle of rain. “It was warm. Spring? It was…. It was….”
“Come on, take another bite,” he urged.
She squished the chocolate around in her mouth as more images started popping up for her. “We were sitting in a cafe. A cafe on the river. A man was…juggling?”
“And then, another man, he drew our picture?”
Jack now had tears in his eyes. “Hang on, I’ll be right back,” he said, and he jumped up from the table and headed for the basement. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. “Keep eating!”
Mina took the spoon in her hand and stirred the smooth mousse around on her plate. The cafe. The river. The juggler. The painter. All as real for her as the mousse in her bowl. All a part of her, now coming back.
Jack raced back into the kitchen, a package under his arm. “What about the painting? Anything coming back to you about that?”
“It’s not a painting, is it? A caricature. Yes, that’s right.”
She closed her eyes. She smiled. “We’re wearing formal wear, hanging from the Eiffel Tower like King Kong and Fay Wray… A tuxedo on you. A wedding gown on me. My hair pulled up in bun. A beaded bodice…”
Jack produced the package, carefully wrapped in brown paper, and tore it open for her. “Is this what you see? Is this what you remember?”
The drawing was exactly as she had remembered it, in all its comic absurdity. “He made me King Kong,” she pouted.
“You were a little curt with him. I think he was getting back at you.”
“Ah,” she said, and she stared at the drawing, the first stirrings of her memory finally returning. She noticed a necklace drawn around her throat and pulled the image toward her to take a closer look.
“What is it?” Jack asked, and Mina absently clutched at her throat.
“A pendant,” she said. “A dragonfly?” Jack looked panicked and tried to snatch the drawing back, but she held on to it too tightly. “My necklace?” she asked, the fingers of her other hand at her throat as if the pendant was something she always wore and had suddenly lost without realizing until now. “What happened to my necklace?”
Jack was silent. He looked away.
“Sweetie, I’m sorry. I can’t tell you that.”
“But the dragonfly. It means something. Something important, I’m sure. The other day, in the park. In my notebook. I started sketching a dragonfly. It means something to me.”
“Forget Dr. Barsheed. I need to know. Jack, please. I need to know why.”
Jack took her face in his hands and kissed her gently. “You’ll figure it out. I know you will. But not now,” he said, and he kissed her again. “Try and stay focused on Paris, on what you remember.”
Mina sighed. “Our honeymoon. The hotel. La Villa Maillot. The room key with the red tassel. The odd golden wallpaper in the room. The tiny bed…”
Jack pulled her close and kissed her more passionately now. “Yes, the bed. Let’s hear more about the bed,” he whispered, his hot breath on her neck seeming to melt her clothes away.
Francine LaSala has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks (Carny Folk) to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres through her company, Francine LaSala Productions.
Please provide a snippet from your most recently released book.
1 When did you first start writing?
I’ve been writing since before I could scribble words, always telling family and friends fanciful things that may or may not have been true. Some of my teachers considered me to be “lying,” but the best ones recognized that this is how writers evolve, and, within reason, encouraged me telling my tales.
2 Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
2I used to want to be a book editor (so, I’m kind of a one-trick pony, I guess). In fact, I spent many years as an editor (and still edit the occasional novel and also some nonfiction). What I came to realize is that while I get a lot out of helping others develop and share their ideas, I feel like the quintessential me when I develop and share my own stories.
3 What genre do you prefer to work within? Or do you mix it up?
I like to write where my imagination leads me. One of my published books is a quirky romantic comedy, the other a kooky drama/mystery. My WIPs range from women’s fiction to erotica, to a dalliance in the paranormal. Just like I don’t like to eat the same thing everyday, I don’t like to write the same thing.
4 Where does your inspiration for these stories (this story) come from?
4My stories usual spring off an event or series of events that either happen to me or others I know. I pretty much take the reality, or my interpretation of it, and re-spin it with some threads of magical realism. That’s where the fun really begins!
5 What has your publishing experience been like?
5I came up through traditional publishing and thought that with all my experience and connections, it would be easy-peasy to publish fiction. I have authored / co-authored more than 30 nonfiction published books! Was I ever wrong. Traditional publishers like strong, sturdy platforms. I would have been better off doing anything else with my life and growing an audience for myself at it. So that was one obstacle. The other? Please see question 3. (Did I mention how much traditional publishers hate genre jumping??)
6 Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? i.e. You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
6I used to have so many wonderful routines, like one might have standards for dating until one becomes desperate and “must have a heartbeat” becomes the criteria… Now I have children and a mortgage and other huge expenses and unbelievable inevitable distractions so I no longer have the ability or even the wherewithal to enjoy a luxury like a having routine for writing. Really, all that’s required for me to write these days: “Must have a heartbeat.” (Though without music, mostly terrible music, I’m nothing.)
7 How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
The characters in Rita Hayworth’s Shoes were named, for the most part, by my good friend’s daughter, who was six years old at the time. (Except for Jane Austen-Rabinowitz. Wine named that character.) The characters in The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything pretty much named themselves. Though if I’m to be honest, Char-a’tee Pryce came from my years working as a copywriter for the Black Expressions Book Club, which featured a slew of urban lit. Place names just pop into my head, which is why they’re usually so corny.
8 In your most recent work, who is your favorite character and why?
8I love Char-a’tee Pryce from The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything. She’s strong and sassy and just a powerhouse of encouragement and empowering thought. So much more than the empty pretty language of the “rock-star” self-help guru Zander Randalls! (Though I do adore Zander as well.)
9 Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
I learned so much from both books. Some different things but if I had to call out a common thread, it’s that a lot of people struggle with identity and self-worth. It takes many forms, it manifests and corrects itself in many ways, but it’s as rampant as any epidemic.
10 How did you/do you market your work?
I do a ton of social media marketing, and I find I get the best results when I give more of myself to my networks than information about my books and reviews to read. My blog is probably the most important marketing tool I have, next to my network of writer friends, which is definitely my most valued and valuable resource.
11 Can you describe the feeling you had when you saw your published book for the first time?
I’ve been working in book publishing (as a book editor) since the last century (ahem…) so I was quite used to seeing the fruits of my labor when I received the advance copy of my first-ever book, Britney Spears: Stylin’. I used to write a ton of those “teen-dream” books as Maggie Marron. It was fun! I do have to say, it was a big thrill, and with all the books I’ve done, it never goes away. Like holding your child for the first time.
Right now at the top of my list are Christopher Moore and Mary Doria Russell, though I do also so love John Irving, Stephen King, Carl Hiaasen, and Margaret Atwood.
13 Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
For me it’s never about “block” anymore–it’s finding time. Too much other crap to slog through, which takes time and, more importantly, focus off my WIPs. I have found that a great way to get the creative juices flowing, though, is walking. I have a jogging path in my complex. Many scenes and dialogs developed in my head while walking or running on that path, so I actually have to carry a pen and a small notebook with me, which looks just as weird as you’re imagining it does.
14 What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
RUN! Ha, just kidding. (No, I’m not kidding. Seriously. RUN! Run as far as you can in the other direction! [Ha, not really. I am just kidding. (Okay, no, I’m not. As fast as your legs can carry you. Go. Now. Get a stable, happy job!) Writing is a happy job mostly.] Keep writing.) Just be sure to keep a thick skin and stay true to what your heart feels like writing. And be sure you’re able to drink a lot.
15 Are you working on anything new? If so, can you tell me about it?
15Always working on a ton of things, including some possible collaborations and author events. I’m not focused enough at this moment to share about my WIPs, but maybe after a jog on that path. Or after I finish this wine…?