Gwendolen Gross's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

It's such a treat to find a great book.  We usually can tell there's something special about them on the first page-like love at first site!

That's how we feel about Gwendolen Gross and The Orphan Sister-she had us at page one!  So we're jumping up and down that she agreed to share her 5 Do's and a Do-over with us today.  We think The Orphan Sister should be on your short list to read this summer-it's a fun read that also has some weight to it-a perfect balance! And we HEART the cover too!

Here's what it's about: Clementine Lord is not an orphan. She just feels like one sometimes. One of triplets, a quirk of nature left her the odd one out. Odette and Olivia are identical; Clementine is a singleton. Biologically speaking, she came from her own egg. Practically speaking, she never quite left it. Then Clementine’s father—a pediatric neurologist who is an expert on children’s brains, but clueless when it comes to his own daughters—disappears, and his choices, both past and present, force the family dynamics to change at last. As the three sisters struggle to make sense of it, their mother must emerge from the greenhouse and leave the flowers that have long been the focus of her warmth and nurturing.

For Clementine, the next step means retracing the winding route that led her to this very moment: to understand her father’s betrayal, the tragedy of her first lost love, her family’s divisions, and her best friend Eli’s sudden romantic interest. Most of all, she may finally have found the voice with which to share the inside story of being the odd sister out. . . .

Doesn't that sound great?  Leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies of The Orphan Sister!  We'll choose the winners on Friday July 15th after 6pm PST.


5 DO's

1 .Do listen-to your children ("what if a dog flew up on a stage and ate a battery and then he farted and then the sky exploded and then..."), to your spouse or love in whatever format, to your friends, your neighbors (who provide so much fascinating material), your parents as much as you can bear, your siblings, the woman at the Trader Joe's checkout, your own needs and desires, the birds.

2. Do become comfortable with silences-they're rare. There's a Tom Lux poem about the voice you hear in your head when you're reading; the brain does so much work all the time, I think it's okay to stop talking and pay attention sometimes. I'm thinking, in particular, about when I was first teaching writing and I'd ask a question and there'd be two seconds of silence and I thought that meant I had to leap in and fill the quiet with more information. Sometimes waiting, instead, gives other people a chance to articulate. Sometimes the best thoughts come from temporary respite-or even temporary discomfort.

3. Do walk the dog. If you don't have a dog, walk your ferret or your goldfish. Maybe not a stuffed animal; that's just weird. I suppose I'm saying both be kind to animals and remember that you have feet. Sometimes it's more important to get rained upon and be out in the world than to catch up with your Twitter feed.

4. Do be as supportive as you can. Of other writers. Of your best friend breaking up with the boyfriend you thought had impaired personal hygiene skills at the get-go. Of your husband's new interest in vintage Mustangs, your daughter's crappy fight with her best friend-and subsequent defense of said best friend when they make up. Of your mother in her bad-hair phase-it's her hair and says nothing about you. Of yourself. Don't beat yourself up over food, or the shirt you thought looked fantastic but is now too tight, or your resume, or your parenting skills. You get a do-over every tomorrow.

5. Do remember you don't always get what you signed up for. Sometimes you end up in the jazzercise class you wanted, but sometimes you tick the box for Art in Contemporary Japan and find yourself in Practical Auto Repair. Stay or go, but don't fight mistakes too bitterly unless you cannot live without a particular resolution. No one in auto repair wants to hear you rant, and maybe you'll learn to change your own oil.


I wish I'd been a better learner in high school and part of college; I'd know more. I've always loved learning, but I was impatient, and I didn't really know how to study until senior year of college. I think I finally realized the power of cumulative work-that I didn't need to write all my papers in one day, and that studying happened over time. This learned patience works well for novelists-three pages a day and you have a first draft in 100 days. Then you can fall in love with revision. I used to want to put the roof on the house by bedtime.


To read more about the lovely Gwendolen, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter.