Megan Amram, author of Science…for Her!, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Megan Amram

author of Science…for Her!

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Portland, Oregon, United States. Like most Americans, I don’t know any other countries. Is Australia in Florida? I was raised in Portland and schooled at Harvard University, where I provided diversity by being one of the only dumb people there. I once worked as a clothes folder at my local mall, and it’s still my favorite job of all time.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was 12 I wanted to be an actress or a pharmacologist. When I was 18 I wanted to be a comedy writer or filmmaker. I’m only 27 so I cannot even IMAGINE what I’d be at 30. Dead, right? That’s SOOOOO OLD!!!

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I would be dead of old age at 21. Now I’m just an old 27 year old old woman. Everything hurts all the time. Oh God. I’m SOOOOOO OLD!!!

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

The three Toy Stories. They affected me greatly, mostly because now I know that toys come alive when you leave the room. Those Toy Stories are such incredible documentaries!

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

As I state in my book, trees create unrealistic expectations for a woman’s body. We will never be as tall and thin as trees! That’s why I want to kill as many trees as possible. Writing a book is a great way to kill trees!

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

My book Science…for Her! helps women understand science by putting it into their comfort zone (a women’s magazine.) Everyone knows: women’s brains aren’t constructed to understand scientific concepts, and women’s hands aren’t constructed to turn the heavy covers of most textbooks. That’s why I created a fun, flirty, lightweight book for women of all sizes! Except plus sizes!

Grab a copy of Megan’s latest book Science…for Her! here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

I want all women to know that methamphetamine is a GREAT way to lose weight!

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Hello Kitty, because she doesn’t have a mouth.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I would like to get down to my birth weight. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write all you can! Writers only discover their voices through producing a ton of work. Even if you think it’s bad or juvenile, keep at it and let people read your work. Great advice, me! Alright, that will be one thousand US dollars, please! Just write my name on the bills and drop them in a mailbox, I’m sure they’ll make it to me somehow!

Megan, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Megan’s latest book Science…for Her! here


Science…for Her!

by Megan Amram

Megan Amram, one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment,” Rolling Stone’s “25 Funniest People on Twitter,” and a writer for NBC’s hit show Parks and Recreation, delivers an addictively hilarious science “textbook”—tailored to the special needs of the fairer sex.

Comedy writer and Twitter sensation Megan Amram showcases her mordant wit and gift for parody in Science…For Her!, a laugh-until-you-can’t-breathe, faux-expert compendium of scientific knowledge that Megan believes is absolutely vital for the female population. Part hilarious farce, part biting gender commentary, Amram blends science and Cosmo to highlight the absurd way in which women are still portrayed in both arenas. Operating under the conceit that “science is hard enough for most people, let alone women,” Amram tackles crucial scientific topics like Biology: This Spring’s Ten Most Glamorous Ways to Die (“Choke to death on a latte”); Chemistry: Periodic Table Settings (“one of the most important building blocks of chemistry. But boy does it look drab!”); Earth Science: Fashion Staples for Each Step of Global Warming; Space and Technology: Tips for Hosting Your Own Big Bang; and the most pressing issue facing women today: kale!

Combining the off-beat humor of Amy Sedaris, the mock-expertise of John Hodgman, and a sly, clever design, Science…For Her! is a satirical gem of the gender stereotypes in the world of science, glossy magazine culture, and society in general.

About the Author

Megan Amram is a writer for the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. Since she graduated from Harvard in 2010, she has amassed over 400,000 Twitter followers who enjoy her hilarious brand of off-beat humor. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, Vulture, and The Awl, among others. Her viral video “Birth Control on the Bottom” prompted Jezebel to call her a “national treasure”. She lives in Los Angeles.

Grab a copy of Megan’s latest book Science…for Her! here

Samantha Verant, author of Seven Letters from Paris, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Samantha Verant

author of Seven Letters from Paris

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Los Angeles at UCLA hospital in October of 1969, and I led the quintessential beach baby lifestyle…until my biological father drove off into the California sunset, leaving my mom and me in the sand. (Where are those tiny violins when I need them?) After spending some time with the grandparents at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, mom and I packed up our bags and headed to Chicago in 1972. In 1975, my mom married Tony, the only father (and best dad in the world) I’ve ever known. He formally adopted me at the age of ten, shortly before the birth of my sister, Jessica.

A classically trained mezzo-soprano, in 1985 I attended The Chicago Academy for the Performing and Visual Arts, choosing theater as my major. In 1986, because of my father’s rising career in the world of advertising, our family moved to Boston and two years later to London. Along with these moves, my interests and dreams metamorphosed and art became a big part of my life. I traded in arias and monologues for advertising design, graduating cum laude from Syracuse University, and moved back to Chicago.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I suppose I’ve always been a creative type – a bit of a renaissance woman who believes in self-expression, but without the tattoos. I’m terrified of needles. At the age of twelve, I wanted to be singer or an actress, or maybe a dancer. And I wanted to be Nadia Comaneci, the gymnast. (This last career option was cut short when I tried to back-flip off a mailbox and broke my arm). At the age of eighteen, I wanted to be an artist. And at the age of thirty, I was a graphic designer. It wasn’t until my late thirties I discovered a love for the written word, a place where I could express myself by singing with my voice, acting out scenes, and designing worlds all on a blank page. I’m surprised the writing bug didn’t bite me sooner, considering I’ve been a book omnivore since the age of three. Note: I was an early reader not an actual book eater.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Samantha Verant

Like most eighteen-year-olds, I thought I knew everything about everything. As I grew older, I realized I didn’t have the world figured out. At all. In fact, I’m always learning something new. (Currently, the French language and all those dreaded conjugations keep me busy). Although I try to keep the spirit of my inner-eighteen-year-old alive and kicking, I now know that life is about figuring things out one day at a time and that there are no short cuts.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

I’ve traveled the world, lived in many places, and worked many jobs. I’ve been married and I’ve been divorced. I’ve had many successes and more than a few failures— always on the search for the one thing that truly excited me. Then, one day, I finally found everything I’d been looking for: a passion for the written word and true love. Writing not only enabled me to open my heart, it led me to southwestern France, where I’m now married to a sexy French rocket scientist I met over twenty years ago. The above has definitely impacted my life and has opened up a new and exciting career path to me. With two books out on the market, I can now proudly say ‘I’m a writer’ without an affected accent. Damn straight. I’m proud.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

What! Say it ain’t so! Books will never be obsolete! Books shape our lives, challenging us to learn and to think. They transport us and open us to new worlds and ideas. The electronic media avenues support books, not vice versa. I chose to write Seven Letters from Paris because I believe it delivers a message of hope. But to get to that message, I needed a beginning, a middle, and an ending– to tell the whole story. And writing this memoir allowed me to do just that. I’m more than happy to talk about my book on TV or on the radio. And, like any writer, I’d love to see Seven Letters from Paris: The Movie. So if there are any interested parties out there, you can find my contact info on my blog. Can I insert a Dr. Evil laugh here? mwa-ha-ha.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Seven Letters from Paris is the true “second chance” story of how I restarted my life and rebooted my heart.

Five years ago, I was on the cusp of turning forty…and a woman on the verge of a potential nervous breakdown. The recent victim of a company wide lay-off, I owed over twenty thousand dollars on three different Visas with no hopes to pay it off. Anger and resentment had taken its toll on what started out as a happy marriage. For eight years, I’d been sharing the guest bedroom with my black Labrador retriever, Ike. I didn’t have actual kids, save for my furry replacement child.

Instead of spinning my wheels on the corner of misery and despair all alone, I met up with my best friend of twenty-something years, Tracey. Over a bottle of pinot noir, our conversation changed from my imminent divorce to happier times, specifically our 1989 trip to Paris. Tracey pitched me an idea: we were going to create a love blog using the seven old love letters I’d received from Jean-Luc, the sexy French rocket scientist I’d met at a café when I was nineteen.

Intrigued by her idea (and looking for an ounce of hope), I pulled Jean-Luc’s letters out of their plastic storage container that very same night. Instead of hope, I found regret. I began questioning things like: why didn’t I have children? Did I really have issues with men because my biological father deserted my mother and me? If Jean-Luc was so special, why did I dump him at a train platform and never answer even one of his seven heartfelt letters? And, more importantly, why did I hang on to his letters?

A realization hit: I’d been so afraid of falling in love I’d never truly done it.

I knew, in order for me to move on and live out the happy life I desperately wanted, I needed to deal with these questions from my past — one regret/problem at a time, starting with the easiest one first. Thanks to Google, it was easy to find Jean-Luc and I got off to a quick start.

When I sent off my two-decade-delayed apology, I thought I was only looking for forgiveness. I wound up getting a lot more than that. One email led to another, and I was able to do something I hadn’t been able to do in the past: I opened up my heart— online. I also found the courage to change everything in my life.

HEA. All the way!

Grab a copy of Samantha’s book Seven Letters from Paris here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

People need to open up their hearts, to dare to live and to love big, and to not be afraid to fail along the way. I think many people in this crazy world of ours are terrified of change and taking risks, so I’d like to see that change. We only have one life. It’s up to us to take accountability for our happiness.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

This is going to be a clichéd/canned answer: my mother. She amazes me. I mean, how many women on this planet can say that one of their best friends is their mom? Well, mine is. In fact, she is my best friend. This is not to say we’ve never had our issues. I was a sixteen-year-old once. And she can have her “opinions,” whether I want to hear them or not. But my mom and I grew up together. At the young age of twenty-one, she gave birth to little me and was forced to put her dreams aside. Instead of being bitter, she always surrounded me with love and unwavering support, pushing me to be the best person I could be. Not many people are content living vicariously through somebody else. My mom was…and is. Seven Letter from Paris is not just a story about rekindling a romance with a sexy Frenchman; it’s also a love letter to my mom. Yes, she’s read the book. And, yes, it made her cry– happy tears, of course!

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Here we go. The cat is about to be let out of the proverbial bag. I’m a genre jumper. Not many writers have romantic memoirs and middle grade books about mutant kids coming out at the same time. (I thought about using a pen name for the MG, but why bother? The truth? It always comes out). With that said, I’d love to write memoir book two, continue writing middle grade, and explore all of my passion projects, one, of which, is a historical fiction/magical realism concept about wine. So, yes, I want to be a successful genre jumper and not hide behind a pen name. Wish me luck?

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Oh, boy! I have a lot of advice. Work on your craft. Connect with other writers. Build up your platform, your social connections. No matter how supportive she is– your mother is NOT a critique partner or a beta reader! And neither is your sister, spouse, or best friend. Put your work out there. Yes, with strangers. Remember that publishing is subjective. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Learn the business of publishing. Never pitch your work as the next big seller. Take critiques with an open mind and don’t get angry. Your writing partners want the best for you. When critiquing others, go for the sugar, salt, sugar method. (What’s good about the story, what needs to be worked on, and what totally rocks). Kill your darlings. (There will be things you think are awesome or funny, but others, simply put, will not). If you’re writing a memoir, hire an editor to work with you on the manuscript before you pitch it to agents and/or publishers. You will need an objective eye. Celebrate your victories…and your defeats. You’re one step closer. Forgive typos; they happen to everybody. Roll up your sleeves, prepare to get dirty, and work hard. Don’t send your work off to an agent or publisher until it’s polished. Revise. Edit. Repeat. Be patient. When you can’t stand to look at your manuscript anymore…it’s ready.

Even if you have to shelve your first manuscript, or the second, no matter how amazing you think it is, don’t let it get you down. The great thing about writing is you can always dust yourself off and turn the page. Write another book. Revise. Edit. Repeat. This business takes guts. Are you ready to earn your racing stripes?

It took me seven years (there’s my number) to get where I am today, meaning two books under my belt. My publishing journey wasn’t easy and there were no short cuts. (Some people get lucky! We will lynch them later.) Alas, the most important advice I can give is: Never give up! It takes an extraordinary amount of courage to put yourself out there. If you really want to be a writer, you can do it.

Sometimes I call myself Seabiscuit. Thankfully, I found the right people who believed in me and pushed me forward. Now that I’ve been trained by the best, it’s off to the races. If I fall down, I’ll just dust off my knees and get back up. Giddy-up.

Samantha, thank you for playing.

 Grab a copy of Seven Letters from Paris here


Seven Letters from Paris

by Samantha Verant

In the best romantic tradition of Almost French, a woman falls madly in love with a Frenchman in Paris, but with a twist. It takes her twenty years to find him again …

Samantha’s life is falling apart – she’s lost her job, her marriage is on the rocks and she’s walking dogs to keep the wolf from the door.

When she stumbles across seven love letters from the handsome Frenchman she fell head over heels for in Paris when she was 19, she can’t help but wonder, what if?

One carefully worded, very belated email apology, it’s clear that sometimes love does give you a second chance.

Jetting off to France to reconnect with a man you knew for just one day is crazy – but it’s the kind of crazy Samantha’s been waiting for her whole life.

Truth may be stranger than fiction but sometimes it’s better than your wildest dreams.

Deliciously funny, honest and beyond romantic, Seven Letters is the perfect feel-good gift for any woman with a heartbeat.

 Grab a copy of Seven Letters from Paris here

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Text Publishing- you could win a prize pack worth over $700!

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Text Publishing and you could win this amazing prize pack worth over $700!!!

Just buy any title in Text Publishing’s Booktoberfest Showcase and you could win!

Click here to enter Text Publishing’s showcase

Our Top Pick

The Rosie Effect

by Graeme Simsion

‘We’ve got something to celebrate,’ Rosie said.

I am not fond of surprises, especially if they disrupt plans already in place. I assumed that she had achieved some important milestone with her thesis. Or perhaps she had been offered a place in the psychiatry-training programme. This would be extremely good news, and I estimated the probability of sex at greater than 80%.

‘We’re pregnant,’ she said.

The Rosie Project was an international publishing phenomenon, with more than a million copies sold in over forty countries around the world. Now Graeme Simsion returns with the highly anticipated sequel, The Rosie Effect.

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are now married and living in New York. Don has been teaching while Rosie completes her second year at Columbia Medical School. Just as Don is about to announce that Gene, his philandering best friend from Australia, is coming to stay, Rosie drops a bombshell: she’s pregnant.

In true Tillman style, Don instantly becomes an expert on all things obstetric. But in between immersing himself in a new research study on parenting and implementing the Standardised Meal System (pregnancy version), Don’s old weaknesses resurface. And while he strives to get the technicalities right, he gets the emotions all wrong, and risks losing Rosie when she needs him most.

The Rosie Effect is the charming and hilarious romantic comedy of the year.

Click here to enter Text Publishing’s showcase

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG : Roy Higgins: Australia’s Favourite Jockey by Patrick Bartley

roy-higginsThe Melbourne Spring Carnival throws up uncertainty as quickly as the odds change in the Melbourne Cup all-in market. The favourite one day, can find himself the despised outsider. Every year we play the guessing game that is the Spring Carnival.

It’s never an exact science, and in my thirty-eight years as a racing writer, I’ve seen Caulfield Cup winners and likely Melbourne Cup victors pull out an indifferent track gallop, draw a bad barrier or rain affected track as the punters watch their hard-earned go down the drain, figuratively speaking.

In the spring of 1965, the Caulfield Cup favourite was scratched the morning of, and only one man thought she’d ever make it to the first Tuesday in November. That man of course, was arguably Australia’s greatest ever jockey – Roy Higgins. I had the pleasure of working with and relying on Higgins for information during my time as a daily paper journalist, and his account of the three incredibly crucial weeks between the two Cups was pivotal to the bond between horse and jockey that would transcend Australian racing and connect with the hearts of the general public.

After nearly falling in her final lead up to the Caulfield Cup, Light Fingers’ trainer Bart Cummings had no choice but to withdraw her from Australia’s second most important handicap. Unlike humans, you can only treat horses to a certain degree. You can’t over-medicate them because they can go off their feed. Light Fingers was a small, lightly framed mare as it was and she needed all the strength she could muster to get to the Melbourne Cup. It was a balance of easing the pain with medication, but at the same time being able to work her into fitness so that she was ready for arguably the toughest race in the Southern Hemisphere.

Ironically, she was in so much pain that she couldn’t have a jockey on her back, and instead Cummings and his team had to swim her in the Maribyrnong River, hoping that those miles of swimming would translate to miles in her legs.

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Patrick Bartley

Higgins told me that during this uncertain time, where his favourite horse, who he called ‘Mother’ because of her calming nature for the other horses in the stable, that he wasn’t sure she would make it to the Cup, but he was willing to forego rides on other fancied runners in the hope that she would make it.

“There was no shortage of outside offers once Light Fingers came out of the Caulfield Cup. Other stables had written her off, but I stood my ground. She had so much to offer, I was prepared to stay with her. I knew, unlike other trainers and owners, that Bart was working around the clock. My filly’s so good that if she gets to the post she just might win and if she does it would break my heart not to be her rider.”

As history tells us, this tiny chestnut mare, who had a heart as big as Phar Lap, not only made it to the barriers, but she wore down another of Cummings’ runners who was a big, strong colt and had had a faultless preparation, called Ziema. Higgins said that because Light Fingers had been used to calm Ziema down when he was being unruly around the stable, that when the colt felt her presence, he started to slow down and wait for her, which was when she stuck her neck out and did the unthinkable.

I remember visiting Higgs’ house many times over the years, and of all the winners he had ridden, and the great races he had won, the only framed photo was of Light Fingers.

Even though that was almost forty years ago, every spring carnival tells similar tales. From Big Philou in 1969 to the Caulfield Cup’s shortest-priced favourite in forty-one years, when Maldivian played up at the start and was withdrawn thirty seconds before the gates opened, the Spring throws up things that no trainer, punter or racing journalist can prepare for, but must quickly adapt to.

Grab a copy of Roy Higgins here


roy-higginsRoy Higgins

by Patrick Bartley

Everyone loved Roy Higgins. A warm and genuine character with a great sense of humour, the boy from the bush was known as ‘The Professor’ for his freakish ability to read the track and his easy eloquence. He became a household name not just for his work in the saddle but as one of the first jockeys to embrace the media.

Higgins’ racing record was extraordinary. He rode Bart Cummings’ first Melbourne Cup winner, Light Fingers, in 1965, and was one of a handful of jockeys to win the grand slam of racing: the Golden Slipper, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup. Over his 30-year career, Higgins clocked up 2312 wins, including 108 Group 1 races. All this, despite a never-ending battle with his weight.

Roy Higgins died in March 2014, aged 75. His televised funeral took place in the mounting yard at Flemington, a fitting tribute to the humble man who had a profound effect on horseracing for more than five decades as jockey, commentator and teacher.

This is a celebration of a great Australian, with racing royalty, friends and family sharing their stories and memories of Roy Higgins, the gentle trailblazer who touched their lives.

About the Author

Patrick Bartley is the chief racing writer at The Age. In 2013 he won his second Bert Wolfe Award, the Victoria Racing Media Association (VRMA) award for Media Excellence in Victoria. Leading up to that award, Patrick had won three consecutive VRMA awards for Best News Story. Patrick’s investigative reports with John Silvester, into Tony Mokbel’s racing interests in 2007, were recognised by many as highly influential pieces. Penguin published On the Punt, a collection of Patrick’s columns, in 2010.

Grab a copy of Roy Higgins here

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Thames & Hudson- you could win a prize pack worth $700!

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Thames & Hudson and you could win this amazing prize pack worth over $700!!!

Just buy any title in Thames & Hudson’s Booktoberfest Showcase and you could win!

Click here to enter Thames & Hudson’s showcase

Our Top Pick

The Forever House

by Cameron Bruhn, Katelin Butler

Imagine a home designed and built especially for your family to grow, evolve and create memories in over a lifetime.

The Forever House celebrates 23 such dwellings through the intimate stories of the families and architects who created them.

Featuring the Seidler house in Sydney and an introduction from Peggy Seidler for the 60’s section, The Forever House covers the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with an essay introducing each section.

These are homes, still lived in today by the families that had them commissioned.

Click here to enter Thames & Hudson’s showcase

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and The Five Mile Press- you could win a prize pack worth $999!

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and The Five Mile Press and you could win this amazing prize pack worth $999!!

Just buy any title in The Five Mile Press Booktoberfest Showcase and you could win!

Click here to enter The Five Mile Press showcase

Our Top Pick

Little Elliot, Big City

by Mike Curato

Amid the hustle and bustle, the big crowds and bigger buildings, Little Elliot leads a quiet life in the big city. Little Elliot faces a unique set of challenges in his daily life.

But he doesn’t mind! There are too many wonderful things to enjoy. Whether meeting that special friend who lifts him to new heights, or finally getting that long-awaited cupcake, it’s the little things that count in this sweet story.

This message will resonate with every reader, little or big.

Click here to enter The Five Mile Press showcase

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Murdoch Books- you could win a prize pack worth over $800!

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Murdoch Books and you could win this amazing prize pack worth over $800!!!

Just buy any title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase and you could win!

Click here to enter Murdoch Books’ showcase

Our Top Pick

Sepia

by Martin Benn

Sepia, is quite simply, one long, exquisite, “wow” moment.’ – John Lethlean, Weekend Australian Magazine

Renowned chef Martin Benn takes the reader on a culinary journey through 60 of his exciting dishes. Based around four degustation menus, the book highlights the technical mastery and sheer beauty of Martin’s food, with its deep connections to Japanese cuisine and flavours and its focus on texture and contrast. Included is the recipe for Martin’s incredibly intricate, exquisite Chocolate Forest Floor. Text, design and photography combine to recreate the atmosphere and the sophisticated, art deco feel of his Sydney restaurant, Sepia.

Interspersed among the menus are narrative features exploring the workings of the restaurant, and the stories of its staff and clientele, while location photography captures a sense of old-fashioned, cosmopolitan glamour.

Click here to enter Murdoch Books’ showcase

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