Claire Cook's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Crack open the bubbly! Because one of our favorite authors and people is in da house. Claire Cook is back to partay with us at Chick Lit Is Not Dead because her eighth book- Best Staged Plans- is out TODAY! (Has it already been a year since we celebrated the release of Seven Year Switch?) Where did the time go? And speaking of time...where does Claire find the time to write so many darn novels? (*She recently revealed the answer to that question over at International Chick Lit Month. Hint: It starts with waking up and ends with at the crack of dawn!) Anywhoo, back to the partay!  Best Staged Plans synopsis: Sandy Sullivan is a professional home stager who lives and works in the Boston suburbs. So getting rid of her own house and downsizing should be a breeze, right? Well, best staged plans and all, Sandy’s husband, Greg, is dragging his feet and their son, Luke, has returned home and moved into the “bat cave” in the basement.

Sandy reads them both the riot act and takes a job staging a boutique hotel recently acquired by her best friend’s boyfriend. The good news is that she can spend time in Atlanta with her recently married daughter, Shannon. The bad news is that Shannon soon receives a promotion and heads back up to Boston for training, leaving Sandy and her Southern son-in-law, Chance, as reluctant roommates. And then Sandy suspects her best friend’s boyfriend may be seeing another woman on the side. Fixing up houses may turn out to be easier than fixing up lives.

And if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of five copies of Best Staged Plans. We'll randomly select the winner after 6pm EST on Thursday, June 9th.


5 DO'S


1. Do rise above the negativity. People will tell you why you can’t or shouldn’t do whatever it is you want to do. Sometimes seeing you go after your dream reminds them of what they’re not doing in their own lives. Sometimes it’s simply jealousy. But whatever the motive, don’t let it hold you back. You have to decide you’re just going to do it anyway. You might want to protect yourself a bit in the beginning, too. I didn’t tell anyone about my first novel until it was finished. You don’t need anyone’s permission – as Nike famously said, just do it!

Long shots happen every day. Believe in them. Believe in yourself. And if there are people in your life who aren't supportive of your dreams, dump them if you can. Or at least stop sharing your dreams with them.

2. Do work your butt off. It’s tough out there, so make it a point to always do more than the situation requires. I did this when I was trying to break in to the publishing biz, and I continue to do it on a daily basis. I meet every deadline. I dive back into a manuscript again and again and again - whatever it takes to make the novel I’m working on as good as it can be.

3. Do decide to be who you really are. The buzz word these days is branding, but I think of it as authenticity.  Being a novelist is the first job I’ve ever had where I wasn’t pretending, or at least trying to pretend, to be a slightly different person. Who I am and what I write are totally in synch. There’s tremendous power in that!

And remember, if everybody’s doing it, it’s already been done. Put a little surprise in everything you do. Originality counts!

4. Do remember karma is a boomerang. This is the truest thing one of my characters has ever said. So do something nice for someone and set that boomerang in motion.

It’s easy to get needy when you’re struggling to figure out what’s next, or you hit a low point in the rollercoaster of your life, but many of the fabulous things that have happened to me (including the Must Love Dogs movie and a Today Show feature!) were triggered by something nice I did for someone else. People talk; your actions determine what they say.

5. Do make friends with the Internet. Whatever your goal, the Internet can help you get there. Learn everything you can about the world you want to conquer – it’s all online if you take the time to look for it, including an ehow video on just about everything! Get your computer and social networking skills up to speed and start connecting – new readers are discovering my books through Facebook and Twitter every day. I’ve also learned to design my own website and taught myself iMovie and Photoshop – so helpful for putting my own stamp on things and interacting with my amazing readers.


Don’t wait around for someone else to make it happen for you. “Nobody gives you power. You just take it,” Roseanne Barr once said. Boyohboy, do I wish I’d learned that one earlier. Here’s the truth: you’re only the center of your own universe. Everybody else thinks of you as a far lesser planet – and that’s if you’re lucky – most people aren’t even thinking about you at all! I think I spent far too much time waiting around politely for other people to give me my power, when, to mix metaphors, I was like Dorothy and those ruby slippers – I had it all along.

So whatever it is you want in your life, figure out how to make it happen yourself. You’ve got the power

Thanks, Claire!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Claire Cook wrote her first novel in her minivan in the parking lot outside her daughter’s swim practice when she was 45. At 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the adaptation of her second novel, MUST LOVE DOGS, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. Midlife rocks! Her seventh novel SEVEN YEAR SWITCH has just gone into paperback, and her eighth, BEST STAGED PLANS, will be published today! And make sure you connect with Claire on Facebook and Twitter, too!