I felt so lucky when Book Sparks offered me the opportunity to become a part of their fantastic book tour and book blogging program for Kaira Rouda’s novel Here, Home, Hope. Here, Home, Hope tackles issues related to families, parenting, marriage, and friendship. There is plenty of drama, conflict and excitement in this standard-sized novel of women’s fiction and a thoroughly excellent debut from Kaira Rouda. As a reader, I could not have asked for much more. Stick around for my book review but first, here is a glimpse at the life and works of Kaira Rouda, author of Here, Home, Hope, herself.
do you ever get flack for being labeled a “chick lit” writer? What’s your take on the whole debate over the label?
I’m thrilled to be here! Thank you for having me. And as for being labeled a “chick lit” writer, I’m happy to be labeled in the fiction world at all at this point! It has taken me so many years to finally see my dream of publishing a novel come true that you can call it whatever you’d like – as long as you like it! In fact, HERE, HOME, HOPE just won a 2011 Indie Excellence Award in the Chick Lit Category. So I’m celebrating my chick-lit ties.
Seriously, though, I do understand the debate, and I would love to come up with a description for what it is I write that doesn’t imply frivolity, which is the problem with this particular label. Labels in general are limiting. While the tone of my work overall tends to be light, there are deeper messages in all of my novels and the characters certainly aren’t all “chicks”. There are hens, too.
I’ve found throughout my career that women are the toughest on other women. So if we all stick together, celebrate each other’s work and voices, our differences and our common struggles, labels fall away, and we all are elevated. Together women are unstoppable.
Q: Congratulations on all your charitable contributions and business awards! How do you find time for everything?
Thank you! It’s funny, when I look back at the awards and the like, the ones that mean the most to me are the ones that signify a milestone accomplishment – starting a shelter for homeless families; starting a fast-growing business; creating a brand. I love the creation process – whether it’s business or books. It’s my passion.
I learned a long time ago that balance is something I swing through on the way to something else. A priority to me, in my life, always has been giving back to the community. I truly believe we need to LEAD the change we want to see in the world. We cannot just complain about what’s not right – we need to do our part to help solve the problems.
And, for me, I am blessed with a supportive husband and partner who stands beside me every step of the way, and kids who understand that when I’m happy and fulfilled I’m a better mom.
Q. As an entrepreneur and very accomplished business woman, do you have any advice you could offer women who are in the process of building their careers and/or pursuing their dreams?
Well, yes, I have a bunch of advice, actually and that’s why I wrote my first book: REAL YOU INCORPORTED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. (Wiley) The book is packed full of inspirational profiles and an 8-step process for articulating your personal brand and bringing it to life as a unique competitive advantage. While I wrote the book for entrepreneurs, I’ve been thrilled to find that women who are pursuing more corporate career paths also find it important to define their personal brands. In our world of 140 characters and constant information, it’s critical to be able to articulate your strengths and passions.
Another key point: Don’t let others get in the way of pursuing your dreams. Hurdles are for jumping. If I let a 15-year stack of rejections stop me, I wouldn’t be doing this interview today.
Q. What advice do you have for wannabe writers out there?
See above. But also, embrace the power of choice that is available today. There are so many more ways to facilitate the dream of publishing your work. Publishing is in the middle of a tremendous shift. Keep an open mind – and never give up.
Q. I read on your web site that you spent much of your growing up years moving around. How did this affect you? Do you have a favorite place and why?
That’s a great question! Actually, that piece for my website is the first time I’d written about my rather nomadic upbringing. What I believe it gave me was a distinct feeling of place, of setting. I longed, not surprisingly, for roots. But, I also enjoyed the time spent experiencing different parts of the country. All in all, it was the best of the roots and wings childhood.
My favorite place in the world is beside the ocean, with family and friends. Any ocean. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. And now that we are living in
Southern California, my Midwestern friends come to visit, and I’ve been blessed with great, new friends here.
Q: How did you come up with the fictional town of
? Does it draw from the various places you lived? Grandville
Grandville is very much the setting of my life: Upper middle class suburb, often adjacent to a well-respected college. Setting to me is the backdrop that allows my characters to wander and become. I would love to attempt a novel not set in the suburbs, but for now, that’s the setting that speaks to me.
Q. Sounds like you’ve always known you wanted to be a writer. How did you make the final leap from behind the scenes, writing for marketing and advertising copy, to the front lines, writing your own novels?
I’ve been on the front lines, so to speak, for many years, too, just not as a fiction writer. I was the
Central Ohio society columnist for 10 years, and I’ve written for numerous regional and national publications during my career. In fact, it was important to me to keep writing for publication even if my day job involved marketing or business writing and later management. Secretly, at night mostly when the kids were asleep, I’d work on my novels. I finished the first manuscript back in the mid-1990s. You’ll never read that one, but it was a start. I’ve been writing and submitting queries and receiving rejections ever since. Two years ago, when my husband and I sold our company, I decided it was now or never. I put my full heart into my longest-held dream – much like I’ve told numerous other women to do – and finally, my dream has come true.
Q. What do you love most about being a novelist? Least?
I love the creation process. Sitting down and starting a story. I am the worst at revisions. As we speak, I should be revising. Perhaps I’ll procrastinate a bit longer.
Q: Do you have a certain routine to your writing? A daily schedule?A favorite room, laptop, table, writing tool or anything else?
I need a laptop, a cup of tea and my dogs. Right now, I don’t have a daily schedule as I’m really working hard to spread the word about HERE, HOME, HOPE. The way I figure it, if almost 2,000 books are published a day, it’s up to me to let people know mine is one of them. When I walk into a large bookstore it’s daunting and exciting. Exciting to see your novel on the shelf ~ mine is often next to Phillip Roth, no less ~ but daunting to realize just how many choices readers have today. And that’s just in the physical bookstore. So more than anything, today, my routine involves trying to tell people about HERE, HOME, HOPE.
Maybe someday, if I can create thewriting career that I dream of creating, if people enjoy my stories enough, if my kids are all happy and grown, then I could enjoy a pure writerly life. Although, I’m not sure I have the temperament for that. I love my life right now. I feel truly blessed.
Q. What is something that most people wouldn't necessarily know about you (that you would be willing to share here, of course!)?
Most people are surprised to discover that I am a reluctant public speaker. I suppose given my years in marketing and in business, the assumption is that I’m comfortable with that component of this process. I’m not. I, like most writers I have met, love to write. Not talk to big groups. I love being behind the scenes and I love creating. Self-promotion, including public speaking, is a tough but necessary part of being a writer today. That said, I have had a blast so far during my book tour, meeting people, answering questions about the novel and travelling to new places. So far, I’ve had stops in
Santa Monica, Malibu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Capitola, Sacramento, Piedmont, Dayton and . Next up are Columbus Dallas, Phoenix and . Once I get going, start talking, the audience makes it easy. It’s just the starting that’s the tough part. Indianapolis
Thank you so much for including me here! I’ve really enjoyed answering these questions!
Thank you so much to Kaira Rouda for stopping by Lip Gloss and Literature today and taking the time to answer my questions.
To visit her on her own site, follow this link: www.kairarouda.com or check her out on Facebook or Twitter.
Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda
In this story Midwestern mom and wife, Kelly Mills Johnson, is about to go through a midlife crisis...or so she thinks. She’s got her T2C –Things to Change – list kept all over the house, little yellow notes strewn about on post-its, reminding her to, be good to herself, try a yoga class, and many other self-help and inspirational mantras. As much as she tries to stay true to her plans and goals, she can’t help this feeling of emptiness inside her; and with her boys at camp for the summer and a successful husband, Patrick, who works long hours, Kelly's been feeling more sad than ever. Just as she’s on the verge of crying at the drop of a hat, again, she is approached by good friend and neighbor Kathryn, who presents her with an opportunity to get outside of herself. Kathryn asks Kelly to look after and care for her anorexic daughter, Melanie, for the summer while she and her husband try to work things out in their disintegrating marriage. Kelly, instinctively agrees and hopes she might be able to be a role model to Kathryn’s troubled teen and if nothing else, maybe she can learn a thing or two to prepare for her two own sons’ teenage years.
In addition to caring for a brooding and health-challenged teenager, Kelly’s other best-friend, Charlotte, introduces her to the real-estate related career of home-staging, and Kelly helps her turn around a home for sale by redecorating it to appeal to the masses of buyers. Within a week the home is sold and Kelly’s found her calling in an illustrious career. Determined to go into business for herself, Kelly doesn’t seem to even have the time to feel sorry anymore. However, ideas and dreams of partnering with
go out the window when it’s brought to Kelly’s horrified attention that the house Kelly’s just fixed-up has been sold to Charlotte and her new lover, and Kathryn’s soon to be ex-husband. How can Kelly go into business with a friend who’s dating the father of the troubled teen who’s been living with her all summer long? Charlotte
Kelly confides in her husband Patrick, whose always been supportive and rekindles a relationship with an old high school friend, who turns out to be just the role model Kathryn’s daughter needs to cope with her eating disorder and family melodrama. Before Kelly even realizes it, she just might be the glue that holds her family and friends together (and probably always has been).
Just when everything’s teetering on the edge of disaster, it inevitably blows up. Charlotte and Bruce’s affair is revealed. Progress with Melanie’s eating disorder hits a crucial point.
receives life-changing news about her own family and soon to be ex-husband. At a time when everyone needs love support and above all, a little hope, will Kelly and her friends be able to come together? Charlotte
This novel tells several stories of courage, change and growth in one. The author sets up the book in expertly defined sections, giving the book its aptly named title: Here, Home Hope. I recommend this book to women of all ages, as there’s a story for women at each stage of life in here. You might find yourself, turning page after page, racing to the end to find out just what exactly Kelly and her friends will do for each other, what they will learn and how they will grow. This was a very heartfelt, poignant, moving novel. A-plus.
View the book trailer of Here, Home, Hope Here. For a reading Guide for anyone seeking to Read Here, Home, Hope as part of their book group, can be found Here or to purchase your own copy of Here, Home, Hope, click Here.