Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday's Special is...Promise the Moon!

Promise the Moon by Elizabeth Arnold

Click here to order from Amazon.

Elizabeth's website.

We're opening the July menu with a trained laboratory chemist. Who better to defend ethanol as an essential food group?

Elizabeth Joy Arnold began writing in her spare time when she realized chemistry wasn't her calling. Now she spends as many as 16 hours a day inside the heads of her characters. Both Promise the Moon and her first novel, Pieces of My Sister's Life, were published by Bantam. Elizabeth lives in New Jersey where she is hard at work (16 hours a day, rumors have it) on her third novel.

It's a well known fact that all chemistry majors build a homemade still during their sophomore year. We expect blueprints from Elizabeth by the end of the day.

What Promise the Moon is all about:

When war and its aftermath take Josh from Natalie and her children, she must find a way to heal her broken family. And so Natalie begins writing letters from Josh that she hides for young Anna and Toby to find—notes from heaven that attempt to explain why he left, to offer comfort and wisdom. But when Anna suddenly reveals that her father has been speaking to her from heaven, divulging stories only Josh could know, Natalie must uncover the secrets of her husband’s past—secrets he hid to protect his family.

An excerpt to whet your appetite:

After stabbing myself yet again with the upholstery needle, I threw it and Anna’s Halloween costume across the arm of the couch. “I give up!” I told Helen. “Why couldn’t they choose to be something that comes pre-packaged for twenty bucks? Whose idea was this, anyway?”

“Um, I guess I have to say it was Madison’s, sorry. She fell in love with penguins after that Happy Feet movie, which she’s seen so many times I’m considering taking out the scissors and causing the DVD irreparable damage.”

I smiled. “It was actually just a rhetorical question. I know it was Madison’s idea, I was trying to make you feel so bad you’d want to take over for me.”

“Don’t blame me. I was trying to convince Madison she wanted to wear a sheet with eyeholes.” Helen stood. “More coffee?”

“Yeah, thanks. And Band Aids, if you have them.”

I sat back on the couch. But it was not one of those couches meant for sitting back on, a Victorian style thing with no padding, so I ended up angled awkwardly against one of those types of pillows shaped like an Italian bread loaf. Helen had inherited most of her furniture from a great-aunt, and the rooms in her house looked like they should be roped off, and contain descriptive plaques.

She returned with two mugs of coffee, a box of Band Aids under one arm. Helen was in her early forties, a tad plump, and each time her husband Jack started a tour of duty she let herself go, gained weight, let her graying roots take over until a month before he was due home, when she stopped eating and dyed her hair back to coppery blonde. He’d been away for eight months now, and Helen looked at least ten years older than she actually was.

I reached for the box and she sat next to me and handed me a mug. “I can’t believe you’re leaving in two days. Madison was almost in tears last night.”

“I know.” I studied my fingers, chose two that seemed the most traumatized, and strapped on Band Aids. “Anna won’t tell me how hard the move is for her, but I know she has to be upset about it too.”

“She’s stoic.” She took a test sip, coughed and said in a choked voice, “Ooh, recommend you let that sit a minute before you try it.”

“What do you mean, stoic?”

“Oh, you know.” She shrugged. “I ask how she’s doing, and she always says she’s fine, never complains.”

“Yeah, she doesn’t complain.”

I thought of how she’d dealt with the depressive episodes her dad had suffered since returning from Iraq. On bad days he wouldn’t leave the bedroom, would lock the door and not let us in. For me, talking to him through the door while knowing that I’d get no answer was too painful, like being hung up on, that feeling of hopelessness and not mattering. But every day after school Anna had sat by his door, sometimes for an hour or more, talking about her day, somehow managing to make herself sound upbeat. “The therapist says she’s repressing her feelings, and the goal of therapy is to lure them back out, or whatever.” I looked down into my mug. “Not that it worked. You should’ve seen our family sessions; all the kids did was shrug.”

Now answer me these questions three (best answers, as judged by Elizabeth, earn an autographed copy of her book):

1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?

2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?

3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?


johannes kepler said...

1. She would most like to have a needle poked between her 3rd and 4th vertebrae, an impromptu acupuncture that would grant her temporary euphoria.
2. She likes to snip out a string of paper dolls, an early sign of her emerging psychoses.
3. Just one, Neil Armstrong. She gave him the best haircut he ever had.

laughingwolf said...

1. needles to poke her eyes out, so as never to have to make another asinine penguin outfit :O

2. she uses scissors to cut patterns in her pie and bread dough

3. the one who promised her the stars and milky way, too, just for her promise to dance with him in paradise

JessicaG said...

First I wanted to say I loved your book, Elizabeth! And I'm not just buttering you up so you'll give me a signed copy. Although, you know, I wouldn't mind a signed copy. ;) But I thought the book was beautifully written, and so thought provoking (as was your first), so thank you! Keep writing 16 hours/day so I can get my hands on your next book soon.

Okay, the questions:
1. I'm going with the premise that she's a touch sadistic, because of the cruel things she puts her characters through. So my first thought when I saw questions about needles and scissors was Guy de Maupassant, who has in several occasions written about sewing up privates. So...Elizabeth would like to be jabbed on a body part I will not name, but that rhymes with tagina.

2. Going back to de Maupassant, she uses her scissors to threaten male anatomy.

3. See number 2. (Nobody likes to see their male anatomy threatened.)

fairyhedgehog said...

1. In her chignon.
2. For cutting up rejection letters.
3. Thousands offered her the moon and stars for one sweet smile but she turned them all down for her husband's true love (and his help with her books).

Travis Erwin said...

1) The tip of her big toenail. Come on, how bad could that hurt?

2) Clip her toenails of course.

3) Ten and she had the purtiest toenails.

ChrisEldin said...

Travis is scaring me....

LOL!! Keep the comments rolling in!

Sous chef, Chris

Anonymous said...

Welcome Elizabeth!

Can you make a still, really? I do hope you share plans. We won't tell the reve'nuers. ;)

Needle poking? Oh my. Of course, being a roast, that could be a meat thermometer.

--Sous Chef, Jason.

Dennis Cass said...

"Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?"

In the butt. Because at some point someone has to be the first to make a butt joke on this site, and today it's going to be me. (Jessica's "tagina" joke doesn't count.)

"Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?"

She likes to clip coupons. For 15% off the purchase of a new butt. (Think of my reply as a vaccine.)

"How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?"

Dozens. Because she has a nice butt. (Now I'm being serious.)

BernardL said...

1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?

In the ass the next time she agrees to make a Halloween costume.

2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?

To cut out thick foam earmuffs for the next playing of 'Happy Feet'.

3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?

Just one: her first movie date, who promised her the moon if they didn't have to go see 'Fried Green Tomatoes'.

Sarah Laurenson said...

What a fun roast today. Have absolutely no inspiration for the answers to the questions. Hate needles!

But I'm reading with pleasure - the excerpt, the roastmaster's comments and the comment trail. Roast away all!

Stephen Parrish said...

Jessica's "tagina" joke doesn't count.

That was a joke? I figured she was referring to "angina," since neither "Red China" nor "Carolina" are anatomical.

Charles Gramlich said...

1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?

Anywhere except some place on her body.

2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?

She runs with them.

3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?

A werewolf or two. She cuts back their winter coats in summer.

Elizabeth said...

So sorry I'm late to my roasting! It's 95 degrees here and my AC seems to be broken, so I've been on the phone all morning being told by various contracters that when the temp's over 90 degrees, they're swamped, so I should've tried calling last week. Okay, hello?

About to read the posts...

Stephen Parrish said...

Welcome, Elizabeth. Did you bring your blueprints?

ChrisEldin said...

Poor Elizabeth really is roasting.

(That's an awful joke, but somebody had to do it)

Sous chef, Chris

Elizabeth said...

Johannes, I totally have to try that vertebrae thing. (Yeah, I don't think so. I'd rather get my euphoria from fermented grapes.)

laughingwolf--How very, very touching and Danielle Steel-ish! (Blotting away a tear.)

Fairyhedghog--True story...After I signed my contract with Bantam, I took all my rejection letters, which I'd been saving for some Godknowswhy reason in a filing cabinet, reread them so I could sort out the ones that said nice things (but then rejected me anyway), and then held a ritual burning of the rest. There were so many letters that I almost set the neighborhood on fire.

Jessica--Every single thing you said made me blush. I have absolutely no comment.

Travis--you're right, I do have purty toenails.

Dennis--And a purty butt.

Southern Writer said...

1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?

In her haystack, of course.

2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?

Run with them.

3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?

Countless men. She developed the recipe for Blue Moon beer, which contains four drops of the Essence of Moon in every bottle.

Southern Writer said...

Shoot. I didn't get to subscribe to this thread. That's why I'm back so soon. *tiptoes out now*

Miss Savannah Spitfire: said...

My, my, Miz Elizabeth,

It sounds like you're having a hot, hot day!

I'll wait until this evening to ask you any questions pertaining to mooning, or being promised the moon, and/or those delicious Moon Pies...

...unless you'd like to share sooner, honey.

And if you do, please just feel free to let us know what you're thinking about these lunar type subjects. Especially any that may be, you know, edible.

mlh said...

1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?

Why would she want to stab herself? She looks wonderful, and I've heard some scary things about those Botox treatments.

2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?

I was going to say paperdolls, but someone beat me to that answer. Hmm? Maybe she dresses them up and acts out famous slasher movies.

3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?

Crap! I don't know how many. I'll guess three guys and she probably drugged them to get the promises. She is a trained chemist, after all. Slip me some Love Potion #9 so I can find my dream guy.

Chumplet said...

1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?

Someone else's finger.

2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?

It would be too embarrassing to say, what with all the body parts being thrown around today.

3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?

I'd say just one, and he's still trying to find a rope long enough. I wonder how long he has to wait before the promise is null and void?

Elizabeth said...

It seems to me that an inordinate number of these posts are about my drinking habits. I don't know where you heard these rumors, people, but they're completely and totally untrue. I've never tasted (nor manufactured) a drop of anything alcoholic, unless you count the several gallons of OJ that I've unintentionally let ferment in the fridge. And the gallons of milk. And the gallons of grapefruit juice. And the gallons of moonshine.

I do not drink, ever. Also, I am a virgin.

Elizabeth said...

Also, there are a number of comments that refer to me being sadistic and psychotic, slashing and stabbing other people's body parts and innocent paper dolls.

(These, I guess, are a little bit true. Because, you know, to be a writer of novels that feature the family members of people who are dying or dead, you have to enjoy inflicting pain on your characters and your reading public.)

Anonymous said...

No drinking?? I suddenly feel those plans for my new still slipping away. Oh, the moon don't no longer shine. :(

Sarah Hina said...

1) In her funny bone

2) Mow the lawn

3) Too many to count. They would have offered anything to, um, drain her still.

What?? She said she's a virgin.

Elizabeth said...

Jason, et. al,

Don't fret. I can actually show you how to make beer from ingredients found in almost any grocery store. All you need is baking powder, a liter of Diet Coke, a chewing gum wrapper

Bernita said...

I couldn't possibly top all these creative answers.

Just want to say it sounds like a lovely, lovely book.

Stephen Parrish said...

All you need is baking powder, a liter of Diet Coke, a chewing gum wrapper

That's your blueprint? THAT'S your blueprint? Was your college accredited?

Travis Erwin said...

Me, scary?

Shona Snowden said...

Aw, LW has such beautiful answers. As for the rest of you and your rhyming body parts - I'm lost for words. Clever, though, very, very clever.

Sous chef, Shona

Xujun Eberlein said...

Hi Elizabeth, perhaps you don't mind a serious question? I was reading the comments on Amazon about your book. I wonder how you handle negative comments? I'm asking because I may soon face the same question myself.

Robin S. said...

OK- I'll give these a go...

1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?

Well, it all depends on the type of needle and if the stab was playful or painful, because, as with anything, 'it all depends' are words to live by. And I'm guessing Elizabeth already knows that.

2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?

Cutting up any other stuff that seems to be crying out to be cut off...from an amended bad haircut to an uncool book reviewer that may have thought they caught her gist but missed the subtle subtext in its entirety.

Cut cut cut,not with abandon, necessarily, but certainly, and without fear, when necessary, is what I say she'd say.

3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?

Well, Elizabeth, I can only go by my own past experience, here, and extrapolate just a tad, but, in my opinion, the number of those promisers can be from one to one hundred, my dear, and it doesn't really matter, because one over-promiser is one too many. After that, the count is rendered meaningless.

Kim Stagliano said...

) Stabbed in a lime green balloon filled with the gin from her still, held over her mouth in breathless anticipation of a trickle of relief from the rigors of writing

2)She years to cut her character's 8 months of gray hair

3) Gin of course. To Clooney, who has escaped Miss Snark's clutches, but only just.

Elizabeth said...

Xujun--Really good question. I guess the important thing is I've heard way more good comments than bad, and I've learned to care more about professional reviews than reader reviews, because reader reviews are so subjective. I also love checking my Inbox every morning, because the letters from readers always brighten my day. I can focus on those rather than the couple of people who felt differently.

So yes, the bad comments do sting, but I also know that almost all of my favorite books have gotten bad reader reviews on Amazon, along with the good ones. Not everyone's going to feel drawn to every book, just like not everyone feels drawn to anchovy pizza.

I also realize that, because my books are in mass market paperback, some people pick it up expecting a certain kind of book, which isn't the kind of book I write. I don't write perfect characters, for example--They all have flaws, because I think they're more interesting that way. That was the gyst of the few negative reader comments I got on my first novel, and I guess it's true for this one as well. Natalie isn't a perfect mom--Even her ten-year-old daughter isn't perfect, because who among us really is? (I, for example, lie about drinking...)

And for Promise the Moon, the one negative review said the book was depressing. Well I wouldn't say it's depressing but granted, it is somewhat sad. It ends on an upbeat note; there's a lot of healing going on, but if you're expecting romance or chick lit, I wouldn't recommend picking the book up.

So not everyone is going to like the stories I'm drawn to write, and I think it's more important to focus on the letters and reviews from people who do. Yeah, you'll get negative reviews, because everyone does. But you have to keep remembering that they don't really reflect the quality of your work!

Elizabeth said...

With all that said...Robin, if you have any ideas on how to actually find and cut up bad reviewers, please let me know...!

Sharon Grayson said...

You guys are so freakin' funny! I'm not even going to try to answer the questions, because there's no way I'd win. Just know I'm laughing.

I'm just writing because I've already read both your books, Ms. Arnold, and may I say you are a gifted writer? I LOVE your books, couldn't put them down.

A fan, in Halifax, Canada.

Shona Snowden said...

Elizabeth, how well-balanced you sound. Your argument is completely logical, but I think I'd still be in a puddle of tears and kleenex.

Kim: "To Clooney, who has escaped Miss Snark's clutches, but only just." I don't think so. Remember he just broke up with Sarah Larson? Who do you think was waiting in the wings with her pail of gin and red stilettos? He will never escape the talons of true love...

Stephen Parrish said...

I'm with Shona. I never could understand what motivates readers to post negative reviews, especially vicious ones. Obviously they think if they don't like the book, it's a bad book. But why do they want the rest of us to know?

lainey bancroft said...

1. Elizabeth would like NOT to be poked anywhere with a needle. 16 hr writing days give her a higher purpose than that of a pin cushion.

2. She likes to use her scissors to curl ribbons, because everyone knows curled ribbons are perfect on almost any halloween costume....Or, um, is that Christmas preasant?

3. Alas, no man has ever offered Elizabeth the moon. Although, the clerk at the corner store did offer her a moon pie if she did...the unmentionable. I like to think she didn't. =)

Miss Savannah Spitfire: said...

Oh my, now Lainie.

Moon Pies are the BEST! And they don't even require skewering or stewing or anything else.

You just rip that plastic open, honey, and have at that gooey goodness.

And, Miz Elizabeth, I believe you deserve an eight pack of Moon Pies, to match up with how sweet you are!

Shona Snowden said...

Stephen makes a good point.

I don't think I would have a major problem with people posting a 'I didn't like this book, because in my opinion xxx' kind of a review (but I'm not saying there wouldn't be application of kleenex). The reviews I hate are the ones that say 'this sucks'. No suggestions that it might be an individual opinion and no reasons given to support the conclusion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I think it should be clear that it is just that - an opinion. Not a fact.

Lainey's nice.

What's a moon pie? Is it made in the same test tube as a Twinkie?

Chumplet said...

If I remember correctly, a moon pie is a pair of graham cracker cookies with a cream filling and covered in chocolate. Mmmmm....

Elizabeth said...

Man, you guys are creative and funny! Some of you are obviouslly writers. Thanks for making me laugh! Writing's such a solitary thing that it's great to be brought out in public every once in awhile, even if once I get there I'm insulted.

The issue is, I've been told that I now need to pick a winner. I went back to read through everyone's comments, and it's taken me this long because I can't decide. Blah!

I feel like drawing out of a hat. But, okay...for making me blush and for her poetic talents (not because she likes my books, although that was certainly nice too), the winner is...JessicaG. Congrats!

And thanks so much to all of you for participating, and to Steve for hosting. This was so much fun, and you guys are hysterical!

(Shona...You SOOO have to try a moon pie. It is pure chocolate-marshmallow heaven, one of nature's perfect foods...)

Shona Snowden said...

Congratulations Jessica!

Not sure a moon pie would survive shipping to Oz... I'll look out for them next time I'm in the US!

ChrisEldin said...

Elizabeth, Thanks so much for playing along!!! Your book will definitely be on my shelf very soon. It looks like the kind of layered book I'll read more than once.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and congratulations to Jessica!!

(Steve will be by soon. I think. He's in Germany, and it's 3am right now. I could've sworn the caffeine drip would keep him going. Maybe he's cleaning the house with his caffeine buzz....)


Stephen Parrish said...

The Red China/Carolina chick won!

Congratulations, Jessica. Visit Elizabeth's website to send her an email and give her your address. Your prize was well earned.

Stephen Parrish said...

4:00 a.m. I didn't know I could type this fast, not while running the vacuum cleaner anyway.

Chumplet said...

Stephen, ya gotta stop mixing the caffeine with the Red Bull.

Congratulations, Jessica!

Ello said...

It's nearly 11pm and here I am, late as always. Sigh. Sorry to have missed this. It looked great!

fairyhedgehog said...

Congratulations Jessica!

And thank you Elizabeth for making this so much fun.

laughingwolf said...

way to go, jessica! :)

mlh said...

Congratulations, Jessicag!!

JessicaG said...

Oh, yay! (Doing a happy dance.) I didn't log on last night, so only just saw this now. I'm one of those people who's never won anything in my life. (That's what they all say, right?

Elizabeth, I'll write to you with my address. I'm so excited! Like I said, I just loved both your books, you're truly one of my favorite authors, and--as a wannabe writer--I've learned so much about writing from reading you. I've given both books to my sister and a couple of my friends to read, but I'm excited to know I'll get a new, uncracked copy all for my very own! With your signature, no less.

Thanks again, and thanks to the book roast organizers. I love this site.