Friday, March 25, 2011

Guest Author: Susan Mallery, ALREADY HOME

Hosted by Kate

Hey, banditas, I'm thrilled to welcome my good friend, Susan Mallery, to the Lair! Susan's next book, ALREADY HOME, is coming out in a few days and I can't wait for you all to read it! It's a step away from the romance she usually writes. ALREADY HOME is a fabulous, emotional story about a woman with two mothers. Take it away, Susan!

Does anyone else get ticked at advice columnists when they advise people to see a therapist? I mean, okay. I understand that therapy is healthy and is sometimes necessary, but I feel like that answer is a cover-your-butt protective move.

When people write to an advice columnist, they want honest-to-goodness advice. They do not want to be told to ask someone else for advice.

Plus, it deflates my voyeuristic balloon. (Yes, it’s all about me.) I want to read about the crazy things people do and think and say, and then I want the advice columnist to present a solution that I can either cheer or mock.

Here are letters from three characters from ALREADY HOME. I want you to give them advice. I promise not to mock you… unless you tell them to see a therapist.

Dear Banditas,

I made a big mistake. I opened a kitchen store. What was I thinking?! I don’t know anything about running a store. I’m a chef. Or at least, I was. I seem to have lost my mojo in the kitchen, which is why I thought opening a store might be a good idea. But it was an impulse, and now I’m drowning. I have three years of lease payments to make and no clue what I’m doing. The last thing I need is another complication…

So of course that’s exactly when my birth parents show up unannounced in my store. And Banditas… they’re weird. They said the Universe told them to come. They’re from California, they would have named me Butterfly, and they don’t eat dairy. Seriously, what kind of person chooses to live without cheese?!

But they said I have two brothers and a niece on the way. And my birth mother looks a lot like me. I am a little curious about the life I didn’t have. But what if I hurt my real mom by spending time with the woman who gave me birth? What should I do?

- Torn in Texas


Dear Banditas,

My daughter! My little Butterfly! For 31 years, we celebrated her birthday. Missed her. Waited for her to find us… until the Universe told me not to wait any longer. Finally, our family is reunited. Why is she fighting it? I want to share the world with her, and we’ve lost too much time already. If she doesn’t open her heart to me, how will she open herself to the man I’ve found for her? I don’t want to wait any longer. How can I convince her to stop turning me away?

-Earth Mother


Dear Banditas,

My daughter’s birth mother is getting to be a pain. I don’t hate the woman; how could I? I was born to be a mother, but I couldn’t have children. Serenity made my life complete when she gave Jenna to me. I want to be open-minded about this whole thing, but Serenity is being way too pushy, and my instinct is to protect my daughter. Why is Serenity so insistent that Jenna jump whole-heartedly into a relationship with the birth family she just met? Why does everything have to happen now, now, now?

How can I help my daughter? Should I step in and tell Serenity to back off? Or should I encourage Jenna to get to know the people whose DNA she shares?

-A Real Mom

Okay, Romance Banditas, put on your Advice Columnist hats. Pick a question, or respond to all three. What advice would you give the women of ALREADY HOME?

And while you're thinking of Susan, you absolutely must rush right over and join her Members Only area at There, you'll find extended excerpts, contests, freebies, exclusive short stories, games and videos, and more.


mariska said...


Jane said...

Congrats on the upcoming release, Susan. I'm not great at giving advice, but I would probably tell Earth Mother to not push her daughter. She's probably trying to take in all that's happened and you need to give her time to accept the situation and I have no doubt she'll open her heart to you.

Gillian Layne said...

Dear Torn in Texas: Life is messy, and (thankfully) allows you to press the reset button many, many times. Indulge your curiosity, and believe that your mom will love and support you no matter what. Moms are good like that. :)

Can't wait to read this, Susan!

Christine Wells said...

Welcome to the lair, Susan! It's great to have you back here with us. Looking forward to ALREADY HOME! Thanks, Kate, for hosting Susan today.

Oy, I am not good at giving advice! Does anyone take advice, anyway? But I'd have to say--Earth Mother, stop being selfish and give your daughter a bit of space. Real mother, tell your daughter it's OK to spend as much time as she likes with Earth Mother but assure her that you'll always be there for her, no matter what. Not sure about the shop--maybe Torn could give cooking lessons/demonstrations or even sell some home-baked cookies along with the homewares?

Looks like I'll have to read the book to see how it all turns out!

Anna Sugden said...

YAY! Susan is back in the Lair! I can't wait to read this - I know it will be yet another keeper to add to my already heaving Susan Mallery shelf.

Dear Earth Mother,
Eat cheese!
And trust in the Universe to let things unfold as they must - don't push yourself or you will end up pushing her away forever.

Dear Real Mom,
You've raised a wonderful daughter - have faith in her. Support her by believing in her and all will be well. And to ease the frustration serve cheese sandwiches to Serenity!

Dear Torn in Texas
Believe in yourself. Trust your instincts. And remember, ice cream is a great source of inspiration!

Gillian Layne said...

Anna, is that your GH final in Contemporary series? Congratulations!!!

Anna Sugden said...

It is Gillian! Thanks so much! And, the cool coincidence is that this is the book that Susan Mallery critiqued for me a while back and it is thanks to her advice that it is a finalist!

SusanMallery said...

Good morning! Thank you so much, Kate, for hosting me here today! I love the Romance Bandits, and I don't get the chance to stop by nearly often enough. Looking forward to a fun day!

SusanMallery said...

Congratulations, Mariska! So we have at least one winner already today - Mariska has won the Golden Rooster.

Did I get that right?

Good luck to all the writers here who entered the Rita and GH. Let us know if you get good news today!!!!

SusanMallery said...

Jane, That's excellent advice. Serenity is oddly insistent in the book that everything has to happen now. You'd think that the Earth Mother type would be more willing to take the long view of things.

SusanMallery said...

Thank you, Gillian, both for the advice and for your enthusiasm about the book. Just a few more days until ALREADY HOME is launched into the world! (And will, I hope, be adopted by many, many readers. :D)

SusanMallery said...

Christine, thank you so much for the warm welcome! I love coming here. ::sigh:: There aren't enough hours in the day to visit all the places I want to visit.

I'm great at giving advice, but isn't it frustrating when people don't take it? LOL

SusanMallery said...

LOL, Anna!!! I love your advice. "Eat cheese!" I think that advice is appropriate in every circumstance. And even better to advise Beth (the adoptive mother) to sneak some cheese into Serenity's sandwich. LOL! Talk about passive-aggressive.

SusanMallery said...

CONGRATULATIONS on the GH nod, Anna!!!!! Woo hoooooooo!!!!!! I'm dancing for you!

Kate Carlisle said...

Susan, Welcome!!!! We're thrilled you're visiting the Banditas today. Careful, though... it can get crazy here in the Lair. Mostly in a good way.

Anna, Mega Congratulations on the GH nomination!!!!!! I'm so excited for you! WHEEEEEEEE!!!!!! How are you going to celebrate tonight?

SusanMallery said...

Thank you, Kate! It's so good to be here.

As Anna mentioned, I had the pleasure of reading her GH finaling ms, and I'm not at all surprised to see her name. Just excited and happy! SOOOO happy for you, Anna!!!!!

amy kennedy said...

Dear Torn in Texas,
Take a moment and breath. Then put your birth parents to work. If the Universe told them to come, maybe this is their purpose -- to help you. Let them.

You don't have to feel anything for them yet, and allowing them into your life doesn't disavow your feelings for your mom. I say, if they want to be there for you, let them.
Sincerely, Amy

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks, Kate! The bubbly is chilling in the fridge ... and I've been looking at cool shoes ;)

Thrilled to see another Bandita final too - YAY Nancy!!

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks, Susan - truly, you've been amazing help and wonderful inspiration. Hope you'll be in NY to have a drink!

catslady said...

I would tell them all to stay open minded, leave the door open to all possibilities but to go slowly! I seem to be albe to give others advice but never take my own (sigh).

Jennifer said...

Hey Susan! I'm really excited about ALREADY HOME!

I want to give advice, I do, but I'm just cracking up to much. I mean, one mother is enough for any woman...but two? I would need a therapist too!

Really looking forward to reading ALREADY HOME and seeing how it all turns out.

SusanMallery said...

Amy, great advice! I especially like that you said, "You don't have to feel anything for them yet." That's why poor Jenna is so torn. She doesn't really feel anything for the strangers who have appeared in her life, but Serenity and Tom aren't allowing her the space she needs to come to terms with her suddenly extended family.

SusanMallery said...

Woo hoo, Bandita Nancy!!!! Congratulations!

Maureen Child, my very good friend (and fellow plot group member, along with the fabulous Kate Carlisle), has been nominated for another RITA!!!! So exciting!!!

SusanMallery said...

Anna, I will be in New York, and I will definitely be drinking! LOL I'll see you there!

SusanMallery said...

catslady, LOL I can relate to not being able to take my own advice. I like to think that's what makes us human.

SusanMallery said...

Jennifer, I know!!! And what almost makes it worse for Jenna is that both her mothers are really good moms. They're both very loving and nurturing, which means she can't bring herself to just throw up her arms and run away.

Janga said...

Susan, I loved Already Home! I read an eARC from NetGalley a couple last month. I particularly appreciated the two good mothers, each in a strong marriage. It's much more common to see bad or dead mothers.

And congrats to Anna S. and Nancy on their GH nods!

Nancy said...

Susan, welcome! Your post is a hoot.

I am terrible at giving advice, so I'm not going to dip a toe in these waters, but your characters sound great. I love the way you've set them up.

Didn't you do a conference program called "Writing More, Writing Better?" It was a big help to me.

Nancy said...

Anna, congratulations on your finalist status! See you in New York!

SusanMallery said...


Thank you! I not only read your review, I linked to it on my website and in my fabulous new Susan Mallery Free App for the iPhone and Android. :D Thank you so much! I especially loved that you keyed into the fact that Beth and Serenity are both excellent mothers. I've written some truly awful mothers over the years, but I hope I balance that out by writing some of the mothers I admire, women who love their children deeply.

SusanMallery said...

Nancy, yes, I did the Writing More workshop. If anyone wants the handout from that workshop, which shows how you can write 3-4 category books per year, plus write a book of your heart, AND have time for an actual life... just email me via my website. I'll be happy to send it to you!

Congratulations to you, too!

Maureen Child said...

Hi Susan! LOVE the book! and that cover is gorgeous!

My advice to the women?? Star in a sequel! =)

Anna Sugden said...

Maureen!! Congrats!!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Susan!!! Welcome to the LAIR!! I'm bouncing back and forth between the RITA/GH lists and trying to get some pages written. Sorry to be late to the fun. :>

Congrats on nabbing the Rooster, Mariska!

And Nancy and Anna....WOOOHOOOO! on the GH noms!

Kate Carlisle said...

Congratulations to you, too, Nancy!!! So excited to have some Banditas in the running!!!!

And a shout out to my buddy, Maureen Child, too, who got a well-deserved Rita nod for her novella. It was a warm and wonderful Christmas story! I love those. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Nancy, I agree with you! Susan's workshop on "Writing More While Writing Better" is one of the best ones ever given at RWA. Hey, I'm being objective here! I got so much out of that workshop. It really works and it's so simple. I'm hoping she'll give it again some day soon. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

*Ahem* I happen to have Susan's app on my Droid and it's so much fun. It's totally free (hey, that's fun, right?) and it's loaded with so much cool stuff. For instance ... you have to see to believe the number of outfits her adorably tiny dog, Nikki, owns. Way more than me, that's for sure. It's too hilarious!

I give it two thumbs up! :-)

SusanMallery said...

Woo hoo, Maureen!!!!! Or should I say - what is it now? - SEVEN time RITA Award Nominee Maureen Child? Thank you for stopping by on your special day!

SusanMallery said...

Thank you, Jeanne! I'm having a lot of fun today. And yes, I've also been bouncing back and forth between here, the RITA/GH nominations, and, er, actual writing. LOL No wonder my head is spinning!

SusanMallery said...

Thanks for the kind words about my app, Kate. We're having a lot of fun with it! Next Tuesday, we get to test out the "push notification" setting to let my fans know that ALREADY HOME is in stores. At some point, we'll test out the push again with a contest just for the people who downloaded the app. When you sign up, you tell them whether or not you want to accept push notifications. If you say no, I'll understand, but just FYI that you won't be able to join in the contests, in that case.

You'll find the app by searching for my name in the iTunes App store and on the Android market.

Louisa Cornell said...

Mariska got the GR !!

And VraiAnna and Nancy got Golden Heart Nominations !!! WOOOOT !!!

What a great premise for a book, Susan, and so very relevant these days.

I would tell both mothers to trust the gifts they gave their daughter and to let her find her way to both of them in her own time.

And to our heroine, few women have the good fortune to have two women who love them unconditionally. Take everything you learn from these women and use it to plot your course in life. And anything you want to do you can do - one step at a time and when a mud puddle comes along - jump in it! Almost every bad or disappointing thing in life washes off with enough soap and water and love.

SusanMallery said...

Louisa, what a beautiful sentiment. Thank you for sharing that!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Kate & Susan,

1. Daughter can see birth mom but only
with real mom present. This way they
both can get to know her. Real mom can
help keep an eye on the situation,seems
as though birth mom should be named bulldozer!

2. Birth mom needs to realize that the
daughter has a primary family in place.
Birth family gave her up, they can be a
part of her life only if she allows it.
They can't just walk back in & take over.

3. Real mom should counsel daughter to
go very slowly in getting to know the birth family and the fellow they are
pushing. Daughter doesn't want to get
tied into a lifetime of mistakes!

Pat Cochran

Gillian Layne said...

Kate, you're right, Susan's website is great! I've been digging through the recipes and am now starving...the roasted potato salad is calling to me. :)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Can't wait to read this one.

Here is a go at the advice, not really my cup of tea but it sounds like they all have some issues.

Dear Torn in Texas,
CHILL!! That's better, one step at a time get's the job done. First the store, honey, there are business classes you can take to get up to speed, take them. Enjoy the store, it is your baby, you are the boss, make it the best ever. Your Mojo will come back, just look at it as a hiatus and breathe.
Oh cool, two loving mothers, what more could you ask for? Your real mom loves you enough that she chose you, talk to her, tell her what you feel, you are naturally curious if some of your more odd idocyncracies came from the birth parent. It is important that you know where you come from even if they didn't raise you. Give your real mother lots of love and your birth mother your attention. Ask lots of questions.

Dear Earth Mother,
You need to chill out. Don't push her, and her name is not Butterfly. I feel for you, really I do, but you are asking a lot for her to just take you into her heart. You were by choice a stranger for 31 years waiting on the universe to fix it. So not happening. What do you mean you have a man for her?? If she doesn't know who you are or any of the why's and what fors she is not going to be amiable to having a man thrust into her life too. No woman is going to take that from anyone, birth mother or not. I don't think it is really about what you want is it? Are we not focused on what your daughter might want. I think you need to take the time to find out without trying to push what you want down her throat.

Dear Real Mom,
First let me say you are a wonderful person! Now that I have that off my chest let me also say that you raised her and you have to have faith in your raising. Yes, it is natural for you to want to protect your daughter, but she is 31 years old and needs to find out who she is and why she is. She can't do that with you running interference.
I would be asking Serenity what the rush is, is there a problem you need to know about? In the meantime let your precious daughter know that you understand she may be curious and it is okay with you for her to find out. She doesn't need you to run interference but she does need your encouragement.

Pat Cochran said...

BTW, just wanted to take a moment to
congratulate Anna S. and Nancy on
finaling for the Golden Heart!

Woo-Hoo! Yay you two!

Pat Cochran

Kate Carlisle said...

I love-love-love all the wonderful advice everyone's giving today!! We have the absolute best friends in the world here in the Lair! :-)

SusanMallery said...

Pat, I love your advice! It's so specific, I can tell you're really getting into it, which delights me to no end. :) I especially like your advice about daughter only seeing birth mother with adoptive mother present. Does it change your opinion if you know the daughter is 31 years old?

SusanMallery said...

Gillian, thank you! So glad you like the recipes page. It's a work in progress. Just today, I posted the Slow Cooker Cheesy Beef recipe. Sadly, I couldn't eat very much of it since I'm on a stupid diet.

SusanMallery said...

Dianna, OMG, you are the BEST! I love all your advice. I can't wait to hear what you think of ALREADY HOME. You'll get to see whether or not the characters paid any attention to your wise words. :)

SusanMallery said...

Kate, this really is great, isn't it? I love how everyone's really getting into the advice columnist mindset. And not one of you has told them to go get therapy! LOL Though honestly, it probably wouldn't hurt.

mariska said...

ouch, i just realized that i haven't 'submitted' any of my advice :)

i try ;
Real Mom : Let your daughter be with her DNA mother. assure her that you'll always be her mother as it always be.
i guess Serenity being too pushy, because she thought that she could be a good mom too like you do ? :)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

SusanMallery said...
Dianna, OMG, you are the BEST! I love all your advice. I can't wait to hear what you think of ALREADY HOME. You'll get to see whether or not the characters paid any attention to your wise words. :)

I am sure I am going to love it Susan, you hooked me way back when with the Marcelli sisters and had me on a scramble for your back list. I really don't expect them to heed my wise words since I have a 32 year old daughter and she doesn't listen.....LOL

Nancy said...

Clearly, many of you are much better at giving advice than I am. There are some great responses here. :-)

Nancy said...

Thank you for the congrats, Anna, Susan, Janga, Duchesse, Kate, Louisa, and Pat. Unlike Anna, I have needle feet, which make buying shoes anything but celebratory. So far today I have celebrated with a 7-layer bar from Brueggers and a caramel frappuccino at the airport Starbucks while waiting for the dh and the boy to come home.

I may buy a purse. I like purses.

Nancy said...

Congratulations to Maureen on finaling in the RITA!

MsHellion said...

#1: You're suffering Buyer's Remorse. You know, the kind of sick in the stomach feeling you get when you commit to a big ticket item, like a house or a car, and you wonder how the hell you're going to manage. Congratulations, you're an adult and good news, it's perfectly normal. What you need to do is stop letting the stressors of your personal life cross over to your business life, because I'm pretty sure that's why you're overwhelmed.

You can do something about the business. It's totally within your power to put your business degree or cooking skills to good work and sell kitchen products. Host cooking demonstrations in your store, or maybe even have cooking classes for the community. You'll draw in customers, play up skills you already have, and everyone inspired by your cooking or their newfound skills you've taught them won't be able to resist buying everything in your store.

As for the personal life crisis, you can't control the feelings of everyone around you. Doing or not doing stuff with your birth mother is not going to keep your real mother from freaking. And not doing stuff with your birth mother is only going to make her more annoying if that's possible. Much like your business problem, you're going to have to take the bull by the horns and stare it down--and your birth mother sounds like a Taurus to me. Either together or separately, sit them down and TALK. Just because you share how you're really feeling doesn't mean they won't love you anymore. They're your mothers--they always will. It'll work out. Just like your kitchen store.

#2: Earth to Earth Mother--for someone who thinks she's open and understanding, you certainly are unempathetic to the reality that your daughter is feeling torn between loyalties. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Tell your daughter you want a relationship with her and WAIT for her to make the first move--because frankly it's HER move. Sit back and wait for the Universe to respond--you should know how to do that.

#3--Your daughter loves you; you are her mother--and you need to stop making this situation about you. Drink some wine, tell your daughter you'll be there for her no matter what, and try not to growl every time you hear Earth Mother's name. You know as well as I it's only natural to be curious about the woman who gave you up for adoption. We've all watched Oprah and know how complicated feelings are where being given up for adoption are concerned. Just be her mother and know Earth Mother can never displace you. Pinot Noir is a good wine option in case you were wondering.