Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Early to Rise, as Long as I Can Open My Eyes! by Jenny Gardiner

This morning I was up at 4:45. A.M. I'm normally an early riser anyhow, because I like to get to the gym before the birds are up. But not that early. Not many things will force me out of bed at such an ungodly hour. Having to catch a flight to somewhere exotic? Most definitely. Of course a sick child in the middle of the night does the trick as well, like it or not.

But today, I got to arise well before dawn so that I could appear on a morning TV show. And I couldn't have been happier. Even if I couldn't exactly open my eyes for the first hour.

You see, I have discovered I love being on TV shows. Not because I want to see my sorry mug broadcast all over the place, but because I have so much fun talking about my book (SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER).

Now, I did actually work in TV news when I was in college. My blonde ambition was to be an anchorwoman. At a really big station in a huge market in a great city. Where I could sit behind a desk and talk a lot. Laughable? No doubt. But this was the 80's. Helmet hair, happy talk and all. Shortly after graduation I abandoned my grand dream because I didn't want to have to spend years living in small towns working my way up to those larger markets and bigger cities (plus I'd have had to work nights and weekends and the pay was so far below poverty level I would have had to live in a box beneath a bridge span which would have really meant not getting enough sleep). Besides, when I worked in TV news back then, I was dreadfully nervous whenever I was on-camera. I fumbled and hemmed and hawed and felt like an idiot. I was fine when working from a script, recording a report I'd written and edited, but the on-camera stuff? Eek! Trust me, no one will ever see my audition tape in which I interview a 6-foot tall man in a furry rabbit costume delivering bunny-grams. And not because the rabbit-man was so ghastly, but because I was.

I used to always joke that I'd be a terrific salesperson, as long as I believed in what I was selling. I'd fail miserably at selling ball-bearings, weapons of mass destruction, or any boxed set of Lawrence Welk shows, for instance. I just couldn't drum up the enthusiasm for them. But if was something I loved, then I could sell it to just about anyone. I used to sell these adorable Folkmanis handpuppets I'd discovered at a giftware trade show I'd attended with my husband. When my kids were little, I was the neighborhood puppet pusher, showing up in the parking lot at pre-school, selling those crazy puppets to my friends from the trunk of my car. I could've just worn a trench coat and opened it up to the discerning client to view my wares, for as seamy a sales gig as I had. My goal wasn't to make money---rather I just wanted to get lots of discounted puppets for my kids, so I was willing to sell them to my friends at cost in order to meet the minimum order requirement. I did the same thing with this really funky jewelry made in strange third-world islands in the South Pacific I'd discovered a few years earlier. For a while I was the go-to gal for wild Ooga Booga earrings in my neighborhood and amongst family and friends. But you can only wear so much of that stuff before growing weary of it.

These days my sale is way easier, since I'm selling my humorous women's fiction novel SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER instead of bizarre jewelry or weapons of mass destruction. First of all because it's way cheaper than a Folkmanis puppet. And far more stylish than the tacky earrings from Bali. Plus, I really believe that women out there will "get" this book and have a fun time reading it. The circumstances of my protagonist, Claire, are universal, and letters I get from readers every day affirm this. So many women are happy to find this character whose life so closely resembles their own. So the selling is simple. And sometimes you just can't get me to shut up about it. Because, you see, the other thing about me is I am a serial chatterbox. Back in elementary school, I was constantly getting into trouble for flapping my jaw. The teachers would move desks around to keep me from talking. I got red check marks on my report card for gabbing when I should've been doing long division or splitting infinitives or something equally boring. I must've been a social animal before my time. If only there was a career path that involved chatting, I'd have been at the top of that professional heap by now.

But now I realize I've finally figured out how to combine my past loves/bad habits all together in one. First off, I'm writing for a living. How lucky is that? And while as a writer one has to sell their product a lot, hey, lucky me that I'm selling something I love and really believe in. And I get to do it while chit-chatting--something I still tend to do an awful lot anyway (my family is always having to drag me away from a conversation in order to get somewhere on time). To top it off, I'm back on television, albeit many pounds later, alas. I guess I should be happy it's not on nights and weekends.

So if you happen to run into me and I'm blabbering on about my book, understand that I just can't help it. My teachers couldn't shut me up all those many years ago, I can't always find a cozy little TV morning show on which to freely gab. Sometimes I just have to get it all out of my system. Even if I have to get up in the middle of the night to do it.



Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

Jenny - I'm so excited for you! Sleeping with Ward Cleaver is pretty easy to talk about - although it sounds like you could make grocery list chit chat interesting!! Do you feel like a proud Mom? What's it like to hold your book in your hand? And what under eye concealer do you use? ;)

Go Ward Go!

Joanne Levy said...

4:45 a.m.? That qualifies as ungodly for sure.

Good on you, you media queen!

"Puppet pusher" - hilarious. I can just see you on the corner of the playground: "pssst, wanna buy a puppet? You know you wanna - first one's at a discount. You like, you know where to find me."

Jenny Gardiner said...

Oh, man, I totally needed that concealer this morning. Hideous bags under my eyes. Could it have been due to that wine I had last night? Oy!
Joanne, you are so not far from the truth there. I was shameful. But they were awfully cute puppets..I learned the hard way that kids don't actually do much with puppets. I think they're one of those kid-toy fallacies. You give the kid the big box with the puppet and the bow on top of the box and the kid plays with the bow and never looks at the gigantic ostrich puppet again! Though they did consume much of my kids' useable bed space for years...

Suzanne Macpherson said...

Jen, I was watching Paula Poundstone on the telly - comedy channel- and she was talking about her OCD taking the form of talking- she said, don't worry, even if you weren't here I'd be talking LOLOL> I call that never a dull moment, and the Gift of Gab. Teachers always used to mark me like that to-and throw chalk. LOL. Ah the good old days. Woohoo for television show spots! Ward is winging its way into all kinds of hearts, as well it should. I love those puppets!! I had a dragon for my kids. At this point I have been forbidde to buy stuffed animals for my kids. SIGH (note For My Kids hee hee hee)

Gigi said...

HI Jenny,
I popped over to your site and checked out your book.
Sounds like a real hoot.
I also am a great salesperson for something I believe in. Not that I have ever gotten paid for selling stuff I just talk something up if I like it.
Hey that is one things authors like too, Word of mouth.

Gail said...

VERY exciting Jenny. You're a TV star!!

Jess Riley said...

Jenny, you crack me up--and remind me of myself as a kid! I was constantly in trouble for talking in class.

I want to know about the undereye concealer, too!

Jenny Gardiner said...

Oh, Suz, I remember the chalk-throwing. Once I had my knuckles rapped for talking in class. Come to think of it all those times you have to go to confession in the catholic church, I could've been confessing to my talking problems LOL. Oh, never mind, by then I was in high school and had it under control. Well, except for when my Latin teacher yelled at me and called me a Bubble Head for talking in 11th grade. Now THAT hurt ;-) . Bubblehead???
Gigi--thanks for checking it out! I hope if you get a chance to read SWWC that you love it!
Gail--star? Or legend in my own mind? I suspect the latter!
And Jess--somehow I could tell you and I were like that in school!

Jenny Gardiner said...

Hey--this is from my friend Therese who was having trouble registering for blogger, so she wants me to post it:

Jenny, You are just like all of the characters in
"Sleeping With Ward Cleaver" - always on the move!
Anyone who hasn't yet purchased "Ward" should rush to
the bookstore, before they sell out - but "Ward"
should come with a cautionary label, warning that it
will cause insomnia, since it is impossible to put
down! Therese Gilardi

(and thanks, Therese!)

Danielle Younge-Ullman said...

Hilarious, hilarious post, Jenny! And great window in to your life and (fabulous) personality.

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations, sounds as if this
really is a great book! I'll be
looking for it on my weekend trip
to the bookstore. Folks are on
the way to believing that I live at
the bookstore! There are so many
great books out now that I'm at
the bookstore every weekend!!

Pat Cochran

Estella said...

Have put your book on my Wish List.

Jenny Gardiner said...

Thanks Danielle! Pat and Estella, hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it!

Lois said...

Well, I would imagine being a gabber makes it easier to be able to talk about your book! LOL I just look at it in terms of me. . . I'm not an author, but I would never be able to do it. I can gab when need be, but it's not usually on stuff people want to hear. LOLOL


Jenny Gardiner said...

I figure at least I'm no longer getting those glaring red check marks on my report card ;-)