How Marathon-Running Is Like Novel Writing

B&NBatonRouge2Novelist (and New York Giants fan) Richard Fulco, author of There Is No End to This Slope, took some time out of writing and raising twins, to interview me about Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears for Fiction Writers Review.

We talked about writing (duh), what being a “real” New Yorker means, the murder of the Tooth Fairy, and running. Among other things I said that somehow came out managing to sound smart:

“Marathons are a huge project, but you tackle it one mile at a time. That actually helped me with writing novels. It’s two hours at a time. You just do the small stuff.”

Go read the whole thing.

A Few Nights at The Four Seasons in Bora Bora

Beautiful Bora Bora

Beautiful Bora Bora

Back in grad school, my friend Jason — who has a talent for pinpointing insecurities and emotions you didn’t even know you had — once asked me, “Do you ever have this feeling that they’re going to catch on to you? That they’re going to realize you’ve been faking it all along?”

I didn’t think I’d had that feeling before, but once he said it, I recognized it immediately. (Which is why Jason’s a good writer and possibly a hypnotist.)

I was reminded of that feeling once or twice at The Four Seasons in Bora Bora. For those of us born in a certain region and raised in a certain economic bracket, a place like The Four Seasons can be a bit overwhelming. And every once in a while I found myself expecting a security team to show up to escort us off the property. “Okay, Wheaton. The charade is over. Back to the trailer park with you. They’ve got a six-pack of Miller Lite and a box of wine waiting, we’re sure.”

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Did I Mention That I Ran the NYC Marathon?

At around Mile 7. Was not feeling like this at around mile 18.

At around Mile 7. Was not feeling like this at around mile 18.


Sunday was my third NYC Marathon. Did you know this? I don’t know if I told you guys.

My favorite tweet of the day (directed at me): “A guy already finished and Snaps is still taking selfies.” (I’m Snaps.)

Long story short, I wanted to beat my Philly Marathon PR of 3:59. That didn’t happen. Not even close. Especially in the last 10 miles.

But 4:21 was good enough for 22,588th place. So there!
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Going to the Chapel

Yes, we did get an overwater bungalow.

How’s that for a finish line?

On November 2, I’m running the New York City Marathon. On November 11, I’m getting married.

I’d tell you to save the date, but you’re not invited. Don’t feel bad, though, no one is. Cara and I decided to skip the stress and hype and expense of the modern American wedding celebration and opt for a small private ceremony and honeymoon all in one. So we’re going to Bora Bora. And Moorea. And Tikehau.

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Just Like My Mother Used to Make

Overheard in the deli this morning — uninterrupted and spoken with an almost stereotypical New York accent:

“How much is your large coffee? … You know what? Fuck it. Give me large coffee. I can’t make up my mind today. Been hit in the head too many fucking times. … I gotta tell you, you guys have a nice set up. The food? The pancakes? Holy shit. Your pancakes got bananas in them. Just like my mother used to make. … Whoever you got cooking for you is fucking amazing.”

Can We Make Her Younger?

Mama (l.) and Aunt Delores outside the old house in Grand Prairie in 2011

Mama (l.) and Aunt Delores outside the old house in Grand Prairie in 2011

When I set out to write a novel from the point of view of a 50-year-old woman, I expected a little bit of trouble. Not so much with the writing, mind you. I’ve written from the point of view of a woman numerous times. And when I finished writing “Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears,” I was pleased with the results, in particular the main character Katie-Lee Fontenot (when I wasn’t hating myself and the book and writing in general).

But when it comes to getting a book published, the writer’s opinion on his own writing isn’t exactly relevant, especially if said writer hasn’t been anywhere near a best-seller list. I knew this. I knew there’d be some worrying about a guy’s name at the bottom of a book that can be seen as, depending on your definitions of the genres, Southern women’s lit, commercial women’s fiction or even the much-denigrated but extremely lucrative chick lit.

When it comes to selling my books I’m somewhere between a pragmatist and a shameless pimp. If someone had asked me to drop my first name and go with K. Wheaton — or hell, Liz Wheaton (remember that?!) — I would have considered it. If someone suggested I have an arm-wrestling match with Jennifer Weiner, I’d definitely do it.

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Waltzing Through Louisiana

B&NBatonRouge2Last week, I was down in Louisiana for a couple of readings/signings for my latest novel, Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears. Firstly, I want to offer my condolences to those people who didn’t show up. Because surely your failure to show up was due to a death in the family. I’m quite positive that after I traveled across the entire country and after you promised to show up and yet you didn’t, it wasn’t because you simply were tired or forgot (especially after my 1,653 reminders) or didn’t feel like it. So again, I’m sorry for your loss.

Instead of a sympathy card, maybe I can sign my tear-stained pillow cases or pieces of my broken heart and send that to you.

I think I handled that well.

Now, then. I would like to thank Octavia Books in New Orleans — and Veronica in particular — as well as Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge — and Courtney at that store — for hosting me and making both events go swimmingly and putting me at ease.

I still get nervous at these things, often for different reasons. In New Orleans, I was worried that exactly four people would show up — Felicia, Eric, Kelsey and Kelley. And they did. Because they’re the best. But so did other people! Some high school friends I hadn’t seen in forever and even some people I didn’t even know. This was my very first reading ever in New Orleans, so I was pleased with the turnout. Here is a photo of the crowd, taken by me.

ReadingOctaviaCrowd

And here is a photo (taken by Veronica) of me doing god knows what. I’m not one of those people who acts out scenes or talks (a lot) with my hands. My favorite guess, from someone on Facebook: I was doing The Carlton.

ReadingOctaviatheCarlton

In Baton Rouge, where I knew it would be mostly family and friends, I was worried someone would be like, “HEY THIS CHARACTER IS BASED ON ME AND WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?” That didn’t happen. And there were a few high school friends who showed up that I haven’t seen since the Paleozoic era. Could turnout have been better? Yes. But any reading with more than five people is a success — even for famous authors. It should also be pointed out that a) it was the most beautiful weather ever in Louisiana, so people might have been outside b) it’s college football season and c) it was the first day of squirrel-hunting season.

Here’s a photo of Nick and me. I don’t seem to be embarrassing the child. I need to work on that.

ReadingBatonRougeNick

And a photo of Mama and me. (That glowing skin and bright smile I’m sporting is from three days of fried food, including chicken from Willie May’s Scotch House.)

ReadingBatonRougeMom

Daddy and them were there. I can’t even remember if someone took a picture. These things are always a blur. But Daddy’s not on Facebook, so I couldn’t go steal pictures from his profile.

So that’s that. Both of those lovely stores now have signed copies on hand, so go over and buy one. And, if you’re an e-reader sort, the book is actually on e-sale at the moment for the low, low price of $1.99. (I’m not going to make any money off of that, but it’s a good opportunity for you to push it on your friends!)