In the Land of Blog I can go anywhere world-wide, and it’s cheap, no airfare, and no auto cost. It only takes time to travel! Let’s not mix it up with time travel. I’m not going to shoot through space into another sphere, and wonder where I am and what year it is, until I see newspaper headlines, or heaven forbid, hieroglyphics on a cave wall.
No, this kind of travel is time spent in the Land of Blog connecting with fellow bloggers. To date, there are twenty-two countries highlighted on my Blog Stats Map! All this connecting done in the comfort of a home computer, cell phone, iPad or any electronic device that gets me onto the World Wide Web, and into blog websites!
Believe me, I’m going somewhere with this, so let’s cut the quips and go straight to the U.K and meet author Ellen Hawley in Cornwall. First, how did I get there from here (the U.S)? Ahhhh, it’s almost a fairyland story with magical fairy dust. There’s got to be a fun fairy dust trail (or is it tale) there somewhere. I know that’s a feeble attempt at humor.
The very first day of October’s WordPress Blogging 201, I met Ellen, a U.K blogger. Well, I met her comment in the communicate-to-one-another Commons! Intrigued by the comment? Not sure. But I do remember that blogger community encouraging invites to check out their blog sites. So I head over to Ellen’s, Notes from the U.K. Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.
In a nanosecond I got there and immediately liked the clean lines of her WordPress Twenty-Ten theme, and the header, a misty cliff-edged Cornwall ocean scene, caught my eye. Then there was a playful profile photograph, Ellen in a black turtleneck sweater pulled up covering half her face, with slightly tousled white hair, and light blue eyes peeking out. It went along with her funny, wry, sophisticated writing style. Right away I wanted to emulate that for my own WIPs. Then I saw what was listed on the black bar in the header, About Me and The Divorce Diet. Yep, The Divorce Diet is the catchy title of her new book.
There have been tons of praiseworthy reviews about Ellen’s three books on her website, so why am choosing to sort of review this one? Well, two books are already published. And The Divorce Diet will be released on December 30th. Ellen says, “Just in time for everyone to have a brand new copy to read on National Hangover Day!” So I choose to review this one because I’m Ellen’s blogger friend, not a book reviewer, and I can fly book news around the world into The Land of Blog, at no cost. It’s a thank you for Ellen showing me the way to put good humor in writing.
I don’t have to say much about Ellen and her writing, it’s all on her blog and website. However, there are some things I found out about her from our blogging connections. She’s thinking of adding more personal facts/things on the About Me. She’s short in stature, and with words sometimes! She’s annoyed with lists of questions on anything like surveys, and especially numbered interview type questions.
Before I uncover more about her, here’s the one question that started our blogger to blogger connection.
C.E.Robinson: Always curious about ex-pats from the US. It’s not in the About why you are there!
Ellen Hawley: Good question and one I hadn’t thought to address. Short version? Wild Thing and I fell in love with the place and after we retired realized we could actually manage to move here. Getting to stay involved quite a battle (see the posts filed under “In the Beginning” for the tale). I’ll try to write something more extended about the whole issue. Thanks for bringing it up.
C.E. Robinson: Good to hear you’ll write about it. We’ll get to know the beginning more. Not sure if I mentioned it, but I was an ex-pat for 15 years (long 5 year stays in Italy, Greece and Japan). People seem to always want to know the why about living, moving abroad.
Ellen Hawley: It’s what I want to know about other people, it just didn’t connect in my brain as something I should write about. Thanks again.
From that exchange, and several others, I got bold and asked, “Could I do a blog write-up about you and your book, The Divorce Diet?” Even bolder, I asked, “Why did you write this story?’ I thought readers would like to know her connection to the main character Abigail. Luck and a sprinkle of fairy dust got me an okay to write it, and an in-her-own-words backstory about writing The Divorce Diet.
Ellen’s Backstory About The Divorce Diet
I started The Divorce Diet to make my friend Janneen laugh when her marriage was falling apart. She did, so I kept writing. Abigail’s story isn’t Janneen’s, but Janneen inspired everything that’s best about Abigail. Janneen also contributed a drawing to the book and, after my editor suggested adding a few recipes at the end, we worked together on them. Or as close to together as two people can when they live on opposite sides of the planet. (We were both living in Minnesota when I wrote the first draft for her. She has since moved home to her native New Zealand and I’m now in the U.K.) Janneen’s a far better cook than I’ll ever be, and working together involved one of us originating a recipe and the other one testing it to make sure it worked as written, often suggesting changes.
The title actually came before the book–the only time that’s ever happened to me. We were talking about the fact that Janneen had lost weight in the midst of this miserable time, one of us (I think it was me but I wouldn’t swear to it) said, “The divorce diet,” and I said, “That’s a great title.” The story poured itself into the space the phrase had made. I usually struggle with my novels. I’d love to be the kind of writer they come easily to, but I’m not. This one, however, almost wrote itself.
That last sentence doesn’t take the endless rewrites into account. A lot of work followed that easy first draft, but in hindsight at least it all seems to have flowed easily.
The Divorce Diet is a novel that should be dedicated to every woman who ever walked away from a man – or a diet. It’s bitingly funny and insightful, while celebrating food and self-discovery – just don’t read it while you’re hungry. It’s perfect for fans of Julie and Julia and Eat, Pray, Love.
C.E. Robinson’s Comments
Ellen, you were not short on backstory words, and I thank you for giving me more about you. Your blog writings are a travel in time to and in the UK from where you lived in NYC and Minnesota. Some of that came together in this blog post. That’s a lot, but you always have new posts and exciting news to share. Bloggers and book readers will be intrigued to know more about you and your writing, on their own time, at no cost. Oh, well maybe a little cost when they buy your books! I’m telling them to just follow the magical fairy dust trail to your blog, website and books, and have fun reading!
Ellen Hawley has published two previous novels, Open Line (Coffee House Press) and Trip Sheets (Milkweed Editions). Her short fiction and essays have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Ellen has worked as an editor and copy editor, a talk-show host, a cab driver, a waitress, a janitor, an assembler, a file clerk, and for four fun-filled hours, a receptionist. She has also taught creative writing.
More about Ellen: She lived in Minnesota for forty years and now lives in Cornwall, where she feeds a blog—as well as two cats, one dog, one partner, and any friends who stop by. Awards include a Writer’s Voice Capricorn Award, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and a Loft-McKnight Award.
Divorce Diet: http://www.kensingtonbook.com/author.aspx/31599
Web site: http://www.ellenhawley.com/
Blog site: http://notesfromtheuk.com