Announcing: My Rotten Release Day Chart Twerk!

blogbookhead_3If there’s one thing I’ll never fail to procrastinate about, it’s promoting my books. I mean, I worked really hard on them, I’m super proud of them, and I wrote them hoping lots of people would enjoy them. But taking that step to say, “Please buy them” just feels kind of, y’know, icky.

Promotion is the writers’ equivalent of a root canal, a tax audit, or sitting through a marathon of all 97 Transformers movies back to back. I would do just about anything short of colluding with Russia to get around it.

So I’ll make this quick.

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Maddie – loves fairy tales, can’t stand her stepbrother

My books are coming out, and I think you’re going to love them. They’re fun, irreverent twists on four beloved fairy tales, with lots of humor and heart. They’re great for kids and fun for parents who like to read to kids. They answer questions like “What if the glass slipper fit one of the wicked stepsisters before Cinderella got a chance to try it on?”, “What if Belle wasn’t beautiful?” and “What if the seven dwarfs were kick-butt karate masters?” You can read more about them here.

 

Obviously, I’d love to see them sell a bunch of copies. Then, hopefully my publisher would order more books in the series and I’d get to spend even more time with these characters I’ve grown to love. So that’s my pitch.

Um… please buy them?

Since there are four books, you can take your pick! Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, Snow White. Buy whichever one is your favorite fairy tale, and you’ll see how Maddie and Holden mess it up and then try to fix it. (If you want to read them in order, Cinderella is book 1, but reading them in order isn’t essential.) Check one out and see if you like it — or heck, just grab all four at once! That’s a great idea, too! (Ick.)

 

Have I convinced you?

Well, wait! Don’t do it yet!

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Holden – can’t stand fairy tales, loves driving his stepsister nuts

Here’s the thing: if everyone who’s planning to buy one or more My Rotten Stepbrother books does so at roughly the same time, they’ll make a much bigger splash. They’ll rank higher and get more attention, which could lead to more people discovering them. I did this with my memoir Mommy Man, and it made a huge difference. Thanks to all you awesome readers and followers, that book went to #1 in its category, #2 on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers chart and #260 overall. (That’s right. It was in the top 300 of every single book on Amazon!)

So I’m asking you to do me a huge favor. If you’re going to buy one or more of the My Rotten Stepbrother books, please do it as close to 12pm on their release day, August 1st, as you can.

If Amazon is your preferred vendor, then do it there. But if you like to support brick and mortar stores or another online retailer, then please stick with them. Anyone who sells books in 2017 is OK by me. Or buy the eBook if that’s what you prefer. Those are great, too. FYI a fuller list of vendors and links to their My Rotten Stepbrother pages can be found here.

And of course, if you’re coming to one of my events, I’d love for you to wait and buy the book(s) in person so I can sign them and support the stores that are hosting me.

august1Tuesday, August 1, 2017. 12pm your time, wherever that is. Or as close as possible to then as you can manage.

Mark your calendar, follow my tweets or leave a comment below if you’d like to be reminded by email.

OK, thanks for listening to my shameless sales pitch. See, that wasn’t so painful after all. And I did it without any help from the Kremlin. Yay me.

(Ick.)

 

Does Belle Have Stockholm Syndrome? Emma Watson Responds – and so do I.

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As pretty much everyone in the universe knows by now, Disney’s live-action version of Beauty & the Beast comes out on March 17. And as readers of this blog know, my book My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty & the Beast (along with 3 other books in the series) comes out August 1.

beautybeastdisneySo I was really excited to read this interview with the new Belle, Emma Watson, from Entertainment Weekly, where she addresses the tricky subject of whether Belle’s love for the Beast stems from Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition where prisoners fall in love with their captor.

“Belle actively argues and disagrees with [Beast] constantly. She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought.”

– Emma Watson, Entertainment Weekly

It’s a great point, although I address the subject a bit differently in my version. In My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty & the Beast, Holden, the rotten kid in the title, enjoys needling his fairy tale-loving stepsister by pointing out plot holes in her favorite stories. With Beauty & the Beast, one of the things he mentions is how messed-up it is that Belle falls in love with a creepy recluse who’s holding her prisoner.

Yes, I’ve written a kids’ book about Stockholm Syndrome.

It’s all presented in a fun, kid-friendly way, of course. Holden insists that there’s no way Belle really loves this guy, and soon, the feuding step-siblings are thrust into the tale, where they become characters who have to give the story back its Happily Ever After. Holden is a lawyer who has to defend the Beast against kidnapping charges, and his step-sister Maddie is Belle, whose father is trying to deprogram her and get her to date other men.

I love that Emma Watson put so much thought into this topic, and after you see the movie, I hope you’ll check out my version of the story for a whole different perspective, with an unexpected fairy tale ending all its own.

Coming Soon: My Rotten Stepbrother Books!

I’m happy to announce that my new book series for kids has a publication date! The series is called MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED… and will be available from Capstone Publishing on August 1, 2017. The books are about a girl named Maddie who loves fairy tales and her obnoxious stepbrother, who loves pointing out the plot holes in her favorite stories. His gripes are actually pretty spot-on… so much so that he breaks the stories, and the two feuding step-siblings have to go into the stories to try to fix them and give the characters back their happily ever after. It’s a fun series for kids around age 6-10 with lots of humor and surprises.

I’ll post when they’re available for pre-order, and I plan to do some events and live readings around the release. There may even be some chart twerking involved. In the meantime, you’ll notice some changes to this site as I focus on promoting my new career as a children’s author!

Here’s a little more info on each book in the series, along with the official cover reveals! The artwork is by an amazing designer named Aleksei Bitskoff.

mrsr-cinderella

Book 1: MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED CINDERELLA

Holden points out the ridiculousness of a man needing a shoe to track down the woman he supposedly fell in love with. Wouldn’t he remember her face? And don’t a lot of women have the same size foot? What a bad plan!

Soon, he and Maddie are thrust into the story, only to find that the Prince is now engaged to a Wicked Stepsister, and the Fairy Godmother is a little miffed that Cinderella disobeyed the one rule she gave her and stayed out past midnight. Will Maddie and Holden be able to set things right, or will Cinderella remain a miserable housemaid forever?

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Book 2: MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED BEAUTY & THE BEAST

Holden doesn’t get it: if the Beast gets cursed for being shallow, why is he allowed to break the spell by marrying a total babe? If that’s the case, has he really learned anything? And how do they know Belle’s feelings are real? Maybe she has Stockholm Syndrome, where prisoners fall in love with their captors.

The next thing they know, Holden has become a lawyer in a fairy tale version of France, forced to defend the Beast on kidnapping charges. Maddie is a confused Belle, convinced by her dad to play the field and see if there are better options out there than a short-tempered monster who held her in his castle against her will. Together, they explore where beauty really comes from and figure out if Beauty & Beast were really destined to be together.

mrsr-aladdin

Holden thinks Aladdin has it all wrong. He can wish for anything, and all he wants is for a princess to fall in love with him? Lame! If he had three wishes, the first thing he’d wish for is a million more wishes. Then, a hoverboard. Oh, and having no parents would be great, too.

Well, all his wishes come true when he becomes Aladdin, and for the first time, he has no interest in fixing the fairy tale. Life with a genie waiting on you hand and foot is SWEET! How will Maddie convince him to give all this up so Aladdin can marry the princess and they can go home? It won’t be easy, since she finds herself thrust into the story as a camel, and her rotten stepbrother refuses to use one of his wishes to change her back to a human.

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Book 4: MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED SNOW WHITE

Holden has been messing up fairy tales so often that now Maddie can’t help doing it herself. She’s playing Snow White in the school play, and she can’t help wondering why the princess doesn’t just gorge on some greasy food and give herself acne to get her jealous stepmother off her case. Holden has his own thoughts, like how Snow White should be training the dwarfs in karate so they can kick the Queen’s wicked butt.

Soon, Holden is the Huntsman, Maddie is Snow White, and a major showdown is looming. Plus, the step-siblings are given the chance to break the spell that sends them into all these fairy tales once and for all. Plus, Holden gets to make a decision that could get his annoying stepsister out of his life for good. What will he choose?

* * * * *

Can’t wait for you to read these books. I’ve had so much fun writing them, and they’re already garnering rave reviews from my own kids. More details soon!

 

 

 

My Son Wore a Dress

This is a followup to my post “My Son Wants to Wear a Dress”, which can be found here.

As soon as I decided I was just going to let Bennett wear a dress, public reaction be damned, he stopped asking.  Little did I know he was just waiting to raise the stakes.

The next time he asked, we were on vacation in upstate New York, visiting Drew’s family.  This was the day we were going to the zoo.  We’d been talking it up to the kids all week.  Just as we were picking out clothes, Bennett made his intentions known.

“I want to wear a dress!” he chriped, his voice rising an octave on the key word.

As usual, Drew and I kind of stalled.  We’d been hoping we could blur the gender lines quietly at home – at least initially.  Letting him make his drag debut at the zoo might mean throwing him literally to the wolves.

His sister Sutton must have noticed my hesitation, because she stepped in to do the dirty work.  “No, Bennett,” she said.  “You can’t wear a dress.  It’s not OK!”

“Come on, Bennett,” I said.  “Let’s go pick one out.”  I couldn’t control how the rest of the world reacted to my son’s attire, but I wasn’t going to let his own family shame him for wanting to express himself.

As I stripped him of his boy clothes, Bennett couldn’t stop smiling.  “I’m going to wear a dress outside!” he cheered.  “I’m going to wear a dress outside!”

Maybe the kid was more aware than I realized.  So wearing the dress outside was the triumph?  Maybe he wanted to see how strangers reacted.  That’s awfully subversive for a not-quite-three-year-old.

We have a rule with Sutton.  Whenever she wears a dress, she has to wear shorts or leggings underneath.  Being the fuddy-duddy daddies we are, we refuse to contribute to the hoochie-fication of today’s toddlers.  Our little girl wasn’t going to be some primped-up preschool strumpet.

And neither was our little boy.  If he was going to wear a dress, he was going to put something on underneath it.

The problem was that none of Bennett’s shorts really went with the dress.  Neither did his very boyish navy blue sneakers.  He didn’t care.  The dress was all that mattered to him – but not to me.  I didn’t want people to think this was my idea of a flattering ensemble for my son.

Suddenly, I’d be the one getting judged.  “I can’t believe those dads put that poor little boy in a dress… and didn’t help him accessorize!”

He looked silly.  At least I thought so.  To be honest, I don’t think he even checked himself out.  All he wanted to do was dance.

“Twirl!  Twirl!  Twirl!” he shouted, as he spun around again and again, watching the dress float up around him.

Suddenly, I wondered if he got the idea to wear a dress from Beauty & The Beast.  The way Belle dances in the ballroom and the camera zooms in on her gown rising majestically around her — it was so magical.

For Bennett, the dress was a toy he could wear – part pants, part hula hoop.

It was nice to see him so happy, but there was one person who could derail that joy in an instant – and she was waiting for him at the bottom of the staircase.

It was, after all, a vacation.  We’d only packed two dresses.  Sutton was wearing one, and now her brother was wearing the other one.

Her favorite dress.

I was terrified what she would say.  I very cautiously brought Bennett to the top of the staircase.

“I’m wearing a dress!” he trilled, and his sister glanced up for a look.

All of us froze in that moment.  Once again, it was like Beauty & The Beast, right after Belle has been dolled up by the coat rack and miscellaneous flatware.  When the Beast sees her, he smiles, and you know everything is going to be OK.

“You look so pretty!” Sutton squealed.  “Now we’re both princesses!”

Whew!

Bennett scurried downstairs, and they danced together, twirling and twirling, until they both fell over, giggling.

Drew and I went to the zoo prepared to clock anyone who made a comment about Bennett’s dress, but nobody said a thing.  We were the only ones who were the least bit uptight about it.

On the way home, we stopped for lunch.  Our waitress leaned down to me and Drew.  “You have such beautiful girls,” she said.

I wasn’t sure what she meant at first.  Was she saying what she thought my son wanted to hear?  “Such beautiful girls” – wink!

It didn’t seem right.  He may have been wearing his sister’s clothes at the moment, but my son is very much a boy.  He plays with trains, builds Lego towers, splashes in mud puddles.  He even announced recently that when he grows up, he wants to marry a boy… just like both his dads.  What’s more boyish than that?

When the waitress returned with our food, she made another comment.  “You two fellas are so lucky to be here with such beautiful women!”  I realized she was being totally sincere.  She hadn’t noticed Bennett’s shorts or sneakers, hadn’t thought much about his short hair.  Because he was wearing a dress, she assumed he was a girl.

“Thank you,” I said, “but this guy’s a boy.  He just wanted to wear a dress today.”

My Son Wants To Wear a Dress

If you’re wondering whether gay parents are more likely to raise gay kids, you should know that my 2 1/2 year-old daughter has already announced that she wants to marry a boy when she grows up.  No particular boy, not at this point, just “a boy”.

Where did she get this crazy idea that you can marry, you know, people of the opposite sex?  I blame Disney movies.  Ariel and Eric, Tiana and Naveen, Beauty and the Beast.  Daddy and Daddy just can’t compete with love stories like those, especially without any Menken-penned showtunes of our own for her to dance along to.

I’ve even reminded her that girls can marry girls, at least here in New York.  No thanks, she’s marrying a boy.  And her brother is going to marry a girl.

So she says.

Like most boys his age, Bennett hasn’t shown much interest yet in marrying anyone, of either gender.  But he does want to wear a dress.  Badly.  Lately, he’s been asking me every day.

I read absolutely nothing into this, of course.  It’s not like either of his dads was ever into the drag thing, but he certainly hears about dresses an awful lot.  His twin sister is obsessed with them and gets a lot of attention for them, so I don’t blame him for thinking something magical will happen if he puts one on.  He’d definitely get a lot of attention.

Of course, that’s my fear.  I don’t care if the kid wears a dress, whether or not it ends up being something he wants to do when he gets older.  But I know if he wears a dress to the playground or the zoo, some schmuck kid (or, perhaps more likely, grown-up) will feed him that nonsense that “boys don’t wear dresses”.

If that happens, it might not be a big deal.  He might go, “Oh, really?  They don’t?  Why didn’t you tell me that, Daddy?”  Then again, he might cry.  I’m just not ready for the world to teach my kid shame.  I grew up in the closet myself, albeit a slightly different one, and I don’t want that to happen to him.  For now, I don’t even want him to know there is a closet.

So when he asks me to wear a dress, I don’t say no.  I tell him he can do it “later” (as in when we’re not going outside for a while).

“Later” also means when he’s old enough to understand how other people might react.  And if he wants to wear dresses anyway, then I’ll have his back — plunging, ruffled or otherwise.

I’ll also remind him that he can marry whomever he wants, no matter what society – or his sister – might tell him.