Saturday, February 11, 2012

What would you title your autobiography?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Someone in the audince at Love in Murder (YAY, LIM!) asked me a question I'd never been asked before. "What," she asked, "would you title your autobiography?"

Well, that stopped me for a moment. And then I said: "The Juggler."

And I don't even have to explain why,right?

Which is why it's so perfect that Avery Aames here today---say cheese!--to talk about the same kind of thing. Avery writes the incredibly successsful Cheese Shop Mysteries, and she was one of my first friends in mystery world. Remember that, Avery?

AVERY AAMES: At Crimebake, right? Before either of us had sold a book!

HANK: Exactly. And little did we know, right?

Anyway, I'm at the Mystery Writers of America University today, teaching "What I Wish Someone Had Told Me" about the world of writing and publishing....and so it's even more appropriate that Avery's visiting the Reds today, talking about:

by Avery Aames

I have to admit, before I write anything else today, that I adore your blog’s new logo: It’s the View. With bodies. Of course, being a mystery writer (and perhaps a lazy reader), I first read “without bodies” and wondered whodunit.

I’m not typically lazy. In fact, I’m anything but. Ask anyone who knows me. I try to fit double the amount of what I can do into one day. I make an extensive to-do list and try to accomplish it, but at the end of the day, if I haven’t, how do I feel? Dejected. My self-worth is shot. And I’m hyperventilating with worry. Since January first, I have been trying to “fix this” aspect of my personality. I’m not sure I can, but I am attacking the problem head-on, one day at a time.

Balance. It’s hard to find balance in this crazy world. Everything is moving so much faster. Where did the horse-drawn cart and the laidback Tara-style afternoons go?

Balance. As a writer, we have deadlines, whether self-imposed or dictated by a publisher. For a long time, that was all the writer had to do...write. But nowadays, writers have to do more. Not only do we have to interact with our family and friends—and interact nicely because family and friends do not like a cranky writer—but we have to interact with the rest of the world, too. In this crazy new paradigm, writers have to be the whole package. We have to do our own websites and public relations. We set up book signings. We go to conferences. We blog. [I even have to cook and take photographs of what I cook for my blog. Who knew I’d have to be a cook and research tasty cheeses when I became a writer? Lucy, I know you know what I mean!] And we maintain a Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and whatever else personae.

I’m a Gemini, but even for someone with two distinct personalities [oh, yes, ask my family and friends about that!], wearing multiple hats is hard. The businesswoman can do a lot, but while she’s busy, the writer wants to write. And if the businesswoman takes control, the writer wants to hide under the covers until it’s safe. Sometimes she throws a tantrum. [That’s the little girl writer, of course.]

Have I said yet that I hate the Internet? I hate the obligation of it. But I love it, too. That’s a conflict. [Conflict is good in writing, not in life.] I resent that for business purposes we need a presence in the virtual world. On the other hand, I love the Internet because it draws so many fabulous and interesting people into my virtual room. I want to converse and learn and share. It’s fun. But when I hunger to write, how do I slam the door without seeming antisocial?

Writing is such a personal time. I love spending time with my characters. I enjoy getting involved in their lives. I crave for the times when I become lost in an “alpha state” of concentration and my characters come alive and talk to me. I hate when I have to break from that trance and return to social networking. Don’t get me wrong. I love sharing recipes and promoting my friends’ excellent work, and I truly enjoy hearing my friends’ good news, but the balance…

It’s all about balance. As I said, starting January first, I’ve been trying to find more balance. Set rules of when I can be online and stick to them. I’m meditating more with the help of a good meditation tape.

And I’ve even posted a note beside my computer to remember to: breathe when necessary.

Balance. What do you do to maintain balance in your life?

HANK: Sigh. That assumes we can.

Or what would you title your autobiography?

And the Reds will give away a copy of the Cheese Shop Mystery of your choice to a lucky commenter!


Avery Aames is the Agatha award wining, nationally bestselling author of The Cheese Shop Mystery series, which launched in 2010 with THE LONG QUICHE GOOBYE. The latest Cheese Shop Mystery is CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT (Cheese Shop Mystery book 3). The Cheese Shop Mystery series follows cheese shop owner Charlotte Bessette as she dishes up tasty morsels of goodness while solving the murders that threaten to the peace and charm of the quaint fictional town of Providence, Ohio.



Charlotte Bessette—proprietor of Le Petit Fromagerie, affectionately known in Providence, Ohio, as the Cheese Shop—is busy setting up her tent for the town’s Winter Wonderland faire, where she’ll offer fine wines and scrumptious cheeses. In the midst of the preparations, Charlotte meets an old friend of her mother, Kaitlyn Clydesdale, who has come back to Providence with plans to start a new honeybee farm.When Kaitlyn is found dead in the cottage of Charlotte’s assistant Rebecca, suspicion falls on Rebecca’s boyfriend, a honeybee farmer himself. Charlotte knows this beekeeper wouldn’t hurt a fly, so she decides to find the real killer. While the town buzzes with gossip, can Charlotte catch the culprit without getting stung herself?

“[A] lovely Tour de Fromage. It’s not Gouda, it’s great!”
—Lorna Barrett, New York Times bestselling author

“Absolutely delicious! This is the triple crème of the crop: a charming heroine, a deceptively cozy little town, and a clever cast of characters. This is more than a fresh and original mystery—Aames’ compassion for family and friends shines through, bringing intelligence and depth to this warm and richly rewarding adventure.”
~ Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha-winning author of DRIVE TIME

AND IN THE EXAMINER.COM, Crime Fiction in National review, The Long Quiche Goodbye was included as one of the best books of 2011.


  1. ANd the winner of Clare Donohue's book from yesterday's book is...Lisa Alber! Lisa, email me at h ryan at whdh dot com and we will get you your book! xoo

    SO--who's juggling what today?

  2. My six word memoir is "A Work in Progress...Heavy Construction". I'd probably use that for the title of my autobiography, too. Putting more of a writing slant on it, though, I'll say, "A Work in Progress...Constant Editing".

  3. Mugsy, that's great. I think all of us could go with under construction!! A work in progress is so appropriate for authors. ;)

  4. Avery, you have lovely handwriting, assuming you wrote the card. So few do, nowadays, so it's refreshing to see a nice hand.

    Since I retired from my last business five years ago (still working for my husband, though, taking care of his books and tax stuff, but that's almost on auto pilot at this point), I've been flopping around at loose ends, unable to find my next path. I've had three distinctly different businesses, including writing non-fiction, each very rewarding. Just can't decide which way to jump, and now that all the kids are gone and I have long stretches of peace and quiet, you would think I could accomplish anything.

    Maybe the theme of my life would be "Chaos Equals Creativity".

  5. I think my autobiography would be titled "Are you KIDDING?" Emphasis on the word kidding. And you gotta say it in a loud, disbelieving, shrill voice.

    I've come to understand firsthand how life truly is stranger than fiction!

  6. Jennifer .
    , I just burst out laughing .. And I'm in a classroom! Oops.. So funny.

  7. Karen, thank you. I always copied my mother's handwriting. ;) I should have been a forger. Lol. Love the title if your life.

    ~ Avery

  8. Jennifer, I laughed out loud. I think we can all relate to that title. How about "What a joke!" That fits so often, too.


  9. Hank, so jealous can't be at MWA university!

    Avery: Yes, know exactly what you mean! To my husband who's just about to tuck into his dinner: "Wait wait! Don't eat that?"

    John: "Is there something wrong with it?"

    Me: "I have to take a picture for the blog!"

    My autobiography: She wandered, but eventually got there:).

  10. My reminder to myself to appreciate the journey, "Life is Good" . . . but since I don't always remember,
    "Wait! Wasn't this just the practice round?"

    My P.T. has a beautiful poster "Breathe" (repeated about 50 times).

  11. When I met my husband I got a peaceful feeling that told me that I could live with this man.
    So I would call my autobiography "Home, at Last!"

  12. Re balance: no easy answers, but I think the key is to remember that balance is constantly changing -- it's not static. Might help to think of it as harmony.

    And for me, watch what I put on my do list. Just because I CAN do something doesn't mean I SHOULD or NEED to!

  13. Hank, I am loving these titles!!

    Lucy, eventually. Yes, not all of life's paths are direct routes.
    I hope everyone has picked up Lucy 's new Appetite for Murder. Delicious!

  14. Storyteller Mary, love it! The practice round. Do over, please! Lol

    Marie, I just said Awww out loud. What a sweet title.

    Leslie, I agree. We just can't do the whole to-do list. I keep a to-do list and try to accomplish 5 things every day. The problem? I add 5 more. Ha!


  15. It's To Laugh-in Spite of It All. Being older, and struggling with multiple health issues, and some of the detritus of family life, I look for the laughs, and the momentary touching with some one over something. It can be absurd or moving or a shared anger at world events. The internet has been a gift to me. To find the laughter is very important-and to share it even more so. Your books make me hungry ;)

  16. Nice to see you here Avery.
    For balance, I give myself some time. Without regular breaks,I'm not as productive.
    My title: the pacifier. I try to live in peace with myself,family, friends and to help others to find it.

  17. Lil, to laugh in spite. How true. Hang in there. I'm so pleased to see you here!

    Danielle, I truly understand being a pacifier. People ask me how my protagonist Charlotte is like me and I say we are both fixers. We like everyone to be happy.


  18. Hi Avery, this is fun! I've been trying to shorten the title of my autobiography since your blog was posted early this morning. I decided if I didn't want to miss out on commenting I'd better get it posted now and worry about the rewrite later. Here it is: WALKING IS HIGHLY OVERRATED: READING A BOOK IS NOT.

    If I could fit the love of cheese in there I would. I have ancestors from Calvados and found the best ever at a little place in Villeray. They had a cheese server/chef/person, but what do you call that! Do you know what I mean? I never did figure that out. My French is not very good at all, and I left with no recollection of how he was referred to-- so nothing to translate! I just remember the huge smile on his face when I selected the calvados cheese, totally worth it for that alone.

  19. Reine, love your post. The long title wouldn't work on the spine of a book, but it fits a Twitter post. ;) I don't know the word you are looking for, but what a fun memory!!

  20. Reine, a cheese expert is called an Affineur.

    (Yes, I did have to look it up. So?)


  21. Hi Karen, You are so cute! I did some looking myself and think he was probably a maître fromager. I'm still thinking about that dinner we had in Tucson and wondering why we didn't get the grilled scallions with queso fundido! Next time, okay?

    Ohhhhh . . . not to be believed: my captcha is CONSCAL!

  22. Mine would have to be "No One Gets Out of Here Alive Anyway" . I've tried to maintain a sense of humor about life, and not take myself or anyone else too seriously. That's my balance. Laugh, laugh, laugh! husband and I fight like cats and dogs. Yet whenever he puts his arms around me, I can feel the tension drain out of my body. So I understand what you mean. It is like coming home.

    Captcha today? pinesse --doing the small things with style

  23. Karen, an affineur is someone who ages and tends to cheese, often for other people or farms. Jordan, a cheese farmer in my mysteries, is an affineur, too. A server is probably a word like fromagier, similar to sommelier. I'll definitely be checking this out. ;)

  24. The title of my autobiography could possibly be (I had trouble picking just one:-)
    "Not Until I Finish Reading This Chapter"
    Or it could be "So Many Books...So Little Time"
    Or "I Read It In A Book Somewhere"

    Anyway, you get an idea of what my life is like. As for balance, if you take a look around my condo you will instantly notice that I could also title my autobiography "Hates to Clean; Loves To Read".

    What do I think about cheese? Have you noticed that my last name is the name of a cheese? Oddly, Romano cheese is not one of my favorites.

    Looking for your books!

    Deb Romanocheese

  25. I'll hold you to it, Reine.

    Ah, thanks for the information, Reine and Avery. You learn something new every day, if you pay attention, right?

    None of my captchas ever make any sense, in any context whatsoever. ciesompr Seriously.

  26. Just got home--and am transported by how terrific you all are!

    MWA-U was fantastic..please come when we're in your neighborhood.

    Avery, congratulations on your mad success. It's just--terrific..xoxo

  27. Avery/Daryl (is that right?) I love your comment about balance because that's what I find difficult in my life. I long for stretches of time to get lost in the world of my fiction, but other obligations call--like the grandchild I keep every afternoon after school or the lunches with friends that I don't want to give up or the tax information I simply must gather for the accountant. But what would I title my autobiography? I've been thinking a lot about that lately because I wish I'd known at thirty, even forty, what I know--understand--now. I would be such a better person, parent, grandparent. So I'd call it something like "Finally Growing Up at Seventy." Think it would sell? And I'm not sure I'm a finished product yet.

  28. Deb, love the hates to clean title. ;) If you don't like Romano, you have probably only had the processed kind. Try a yummy nutty Parmigiano.

  29. Hank, thank you!!! For your friendship, for your support. I adore you.

    Judy, I'm not a finished product is a great title, too. Don't be too hard on yourself. I think we are all WIP's.
    Hugs to all and thank you for sharing,

  30. I think mine would be "Are you ever going to stop reading and clean the house?"

  31. Sue, yours made me laugh out loud. I would love to read, read, read. But I find myself writing, writing, writing. I really have to carve out time to read, but I love it when I do! Clean the house - forgetaboutit! :)