This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Deborah Serra and Nancy Serra Greene will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Welcome to Long and Short Reviews, Nancy. If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
Probably need to make a list. It might be my first crush. I was a freshman in high school and I fell so hard for this adorable boy in my English class. I had no idea how to approach these new overpowering emotions, and no clue he was way too immature to even notice the girl giving him loving looks. So, to get his attention, I sent him a long love poem…unfortunately, I wrote it – enough said.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
I want Dobby the house-elf from Harry Potter because he’ll clean my home!
How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
My sister and I are both voracious readers. We read in all genres and so we’ve read a few memoirs in our day. What we found was that most memoirs are either entirely depressive or entirely comedic. We were committed to writing a more balanced piece, because while your kids leaving home is certainly a sad event, and those feelings are raw and real, it is not a tragedy. We wanted to achieve misty-eyed nostalgia and not pass-the-valium depression, along with many moments where our audience could laugh along with us and enjoy the journey. Our publisher Library Tales Publishing totally understood this line for us, and they said as soon as they laughed out loud they knew they had a winner.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice I ever received was to never get up for the day at the end of a chapter. Always leave in the middle of a scene, or in the midst of a dialogue exchange. It’s the primer you need for tomorrow.
The worst advice – don’t quit your day job.
Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
2 BROADS ABROAD: Moms Fly the Coop is a non-fiction humorous travel memoir written about a road trip my sister and I took around Ireland. It is an irreverent, sometime poignant, always funny look motherhood and moving on.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
Oh, so many good possibilities! But now I’m not sure I know the line between paranormal and magical. I would love to be able to teleport. If I could close my eyes, imagine being somewhere, and then be there that would be such a great gift. I could visit all of the majestic and awe inspiring place on Earth in the blink of an eye.
What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
They might be surprised to learn that because of this 2 BROADS trip I’m feeling very differently about my empty nest. My direction in life and the plans for my tomorrow have genuinely changed. I really do see this time as an intermission in my life – a time full of selfish (if temporary) opportunities. The trip did that for me. If you read it you’ll understand why.
When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?
When we wrote descriptions of people we met along our Irish road trip we always began with the physical because this mirrors reality. What we see first in people is their appearance and right or wrong we make judgments, even if they’re only subconscious. What I like most in books I read is when the exterior of a character is in conflict with their true nature. Like Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities: an attractive, cynical, and completely self-serving man, who inside is beset by regret and who finally makes the ultimate sacrifice for love. I think he is one of the most interesting characters in fiction.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
This book 2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop is a travel memoir so the plot unfolded as we traveled around Ireland that would definitely make us a pantser. (Which is pretty much how we took this trip – impulsively by the seat of our pants.) We started in Dublin and then drove around the Emerald Island, on the wrong side of the road, at 100 KPH. It was quite the wild ride: a little scary, a little funny, and even a little dangerous a few times.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?
I learned a great deal. It was my first book, while my co-author and sister, Deborah, has been a professional writer for decades. What I learned was the truth of that old expression “writing is editing”. I couldn’t believe how many times my sister wanted to redo the pages. I remember thinking one time if she sends me that same page again I’m going to strangle her. It was an education to see how a few sentences here or there can make a difference, and also how detailed Deborah needed to be to feel ready to let it go. It was a funny reversal for us. I’ve always been the organized detail person and Deborah has always been a bit wild and less controlled, but when it came to writing she was so focused. We learned a lot about each other, even after we were sure we knew everything.
When sisters, Deborah & Nancy, discovered that motherhood was a temp job they decided to run away from home. After packing up that last kid for college, and facing the sad stillness of their suddenly quiet homes, they decided to leave the country. 2 BROADS ABROAD: MOMS FLY THE COOP is a funny, irreverent, occasionally poignant travel tale of their impulsive road trip around Ireland.
In this witty warm-hearted adventure, they experienced some of Ireland’s quirkier history while sharing universally relatable stories of maniacal school coaches, neurotic neighbors, and tiger moms. Having kicked that empty nest into their rearview mirror, the sisters took off careening down the wrong side of the road, making questionable choices, getting trapped in a medieval tower, sneaking Chinese take-out into a famous cooking school, drinking way too much, and gaining a changed perspective on their lives ahead.
Enjoy an excerpt:
“Your youngest is leaving for college? Aw, empty nest?” Then, sappy eyes followed by a plaintive grin and, “What will you do?”
Before my sister and I decided to run away from home we were bothered by that question. There was something minimizing about it, minimizing and not completely untrue. Motherhood had been so deceptive, the greatest paradox in life: every single bleary-eyed day felt a month long, and the years went by in an instant. They flashed by like lightning and left a desiccated scorch mark wearing my clothes. It was disagreeable to imagine what life would be like childless: there would be the family tree, and there would be the mom who’s the center of the family tree, standing leafless, bare (and it has been a while since I looked good bare). There was some solace as I glanced around me to see my younger sister, Nancy, would be standing there bare as well. We were embarking on this progeny-shedding calamity simultaneously as both of our youngest daughters, Nicole and Olivia, were leaving for college the same week.
I knew that Nancy hadn’t really focused on it yet. And then, we met at Fashion Island in Newport Beach near her home to get a birthday gift for our mom. We ran into two of Nancy’s neighbors, Vicki and Susan.
“Nancy,” Vicki asked, “doesn’t Nicole graduate from Corona Del Mar High School this June?”
“Yes,” Nancy said. “She’s going to the University of Washington.”
“Oh,” Susan lifted her eyebrows, “you must be devastated.”
“What?” Nancy looked confused. “No, actually I was happy for her. She worked really hard. It was her first choice school.”
“But so far away!” Susan added in that annoying singsong tone.
Nancy shifted her feet, a move I knew well as her sister. It was something she always did when she was being told something she did not like to hear.
“It’s not that far.” Nancy said.
“It’s a plane ride. You need an airplane to see your daughter.” Susan said loudly.
“Yeah.” Nancy turned to me in an effort to change the subject. “You remember my sister, Deborah?”
“Of course.” Vicki smiled. And we exchanged hellos. Vicki seemed normal, but I had an inkling that I might have to slap Susan.
Susan continued on with her one thought. “With your son gone already, and soon Nicole, well, Nancy, I guess you’re all alone now.”
Nancy shifted her feet again. “I’m still married, Susan.”
“Sure. Sure. Right. So that’s better than nothing, huh?”
Nancy and I both froze. Did she just say that?
“You know,” Vicki tried to cut off Susan, “when Terrie’s youngest left she bought a Chihuahua puppy. Cutest thing you’ve ever seen. And the Walkers gave a room to an exchange student from Sweden,” she explained happily.
Nancy nodded. “That sounds like a good plan.”
Susan opened her mouth to speak again and I wasn’t sure whether I should just smack her now and be done with it, or let her continue. I made the wrong choice.
“Remember Pam Winthrop?” Susan leaned in. “When her son left she started eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every day until she put on 60 pounds. Sad, really, tragic. Even her kneecaps were fat.” Then Susan turned to me, “So, Deborah, isn’t your youngest graduating, too?”
“I’m leaving the country,” I said.
Susan cocked her head. “What?”
“I’m leaving the country,” I repeated matter-of-factly.
“So am I,” Nancy said. I looked at her. I saw the decision in her eyes. “I’m going with Deborah. We’re taking a long trip together – a sisters trip.”
“You are?” Susan sounded a little thwarted, which Nancy found gratifying.
“Yup, in the planning stages.” Nancy smiled at Susan who was clearly disappointed that we were not miserable as anticipated. “Nice to see you though, Susan, Vicki. Got to go. In the middle of booking flights and stuff. So much to do!”
We turned away and strode with purpose toward the door.
I whispered, “Susan’s a real gem.”
“She did me a favor.”
“I’ve been so busy I just wasn’t thinking about it.”
“And I haven’t been able to think about anything else,” I said. “When I’m awake in the middle of the night it runs over and over in my mind.”
Nancy said, “When I heard that crap Susan was dealing, all of a sudden I realized, there’s no way am I plodding into that sunset with fat kneecaps carrying a Chihuahua.”
About the Authors:
Deborah Serra has been a sought-after screenwriter for twenty-five years having written for NBC, CBS, Sony, Lifetime, Fox, and others. She was a recipient of the 2012 Hawthornden Literary Fellowship. Her first novel was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award given by the Faulkner Society in New Orleans, LA.
Nancy is a graduate of San Diego State University. She worked in medical sales before stepping away to raise her two children, at which point she became: Team Mom, Snack Mom, PTA member, Assistance League Volunteer, and the list is never-ending. Nancy was the editor and publisher of the Buffalo Hills Echo newsletter with a circulation of 1400. She also designed and managed her community website.
Buy the book at Amazon.