Fun fact: the books in my French Twist series are based on my life. Admittedly, it was a little scary to divulge such intimate details to the general public, but the stories were just too good not to share. (Spoiler alert!) The first book, French Twist, chronicles the whirlwind romance my husband and I shared, ending with our first wedding. The second book, French Toast, details the next two weddings (it’s a long story) and French Fry tells the story of my pregnancy with our first child.
As I began writing the last installment, I cast my mind back to what life was like before I had children. I slept as late as I wanted to sleep, had time to do whatever I wanted to do, spent as much money as I wanted to spend (within reason) and was generally allowed to be as selfish as I wanted to be. Life was pretty great!
But then the clock began to tick and my husband and I decided to start a family. I remember being filled with excitement, dreaming of all the things I would teach my child and of the wonderful person he would be. Little did I know, I wouldn’t be the only one doing the teaching. The following is the crash course I received in my first year as parent.
Sleep is overrated.
Prior to my son’s arrival, I was used to eight hours–or more–of sleep per night. Once he moved into the house, I pretty much moved out of my bed. The precious little sleep I was able to capture took place in his room. Whenever I tried to leave his sanctuary after his nightly feedings, I would be met with cries of alarm (which easily could have woken the entire neighborhood), despite the fact that he was sleeping when I put him in his crib. Why are babies equipped with supersensitive parental radar? It’s eerie. So, I would settle myself in the rocking chair, grab what little sleep I could and drink a bucket of coffee the next morning. No problem!
Your wishes (and needs) come last.
Remember those lazy Saturday mornings when you could read the paper (or a good trashy magazine), go out for a late brunch and then catch an afternoon movie? Or when you were allowed to rest by yourself when you were sick? I don’t. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was allowed to do anything by myself. It’s certainly more manageable now, but that first year with my son was truly eye opening. Little things like taking a shower or, I don’t know, using the bathroom, became difficult. Taking a trip to the grocery story necessitated a strategy session with your spouse–complete with a chart of nap sessions, emergency exit strategies and what felt like a week’s worth of baby paraphernalia in case of any diaper and/or spewing incidents. To say life became a lot more complicated would be an understatement.
Your priorities are out of whack.
Before my son, my priorities were different. I thought more of going out with friends, shopping and taking vacations. (Yes, I was quite shallow.) After my son was born, I realized that to truly enjoy life, you need to see the big picture. I learned to be grateful for each day we had together, rather than longing for time to pass until the next fun thing I planned to do. I learned to truly appreciate everything I had been given–my family, my friends, my health and this incredible little person who would spend every day of his life showing me his unique perspective of the world.
You won’t mind one bit.
Did I miss the sleep? You bet I did. Was it hard for me to put the baby’s needs above my own every minute of every day? Absolutely. Do I regret a minute of it? Nope. Pregnancy and childbirth were not the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, but the payoff was incredible. The birth of my son resulted in my transformation from a well-rested, intelligent, fun-loving person into the exhausted, intellectually challenged, worry wart that I am today. And I am definitely the better for it.
Glynis never expected in her wildest dreams to be a writer. After thirteen years in the Human Resources Industry, she decided to stay at home with her two amazing sons. Ever in search of a project, she was inspired to write the story of how she met and married her wonderfully romantic French husband, Sebastien, in six short months. The end result became her first novel, French Twist. As this was just the beginning of their epic love story, Glynis continued to chronicle their adventures in the sequel, French Toast and the final installment in the series, French Fry.
When Glynis is not writing, she is trying to keep the peace amongst the three men and two cats in her life, finding missing body parts (Lego pieces are small!), supervising a myriad of homework assignments and keeping a tenuous hold on her sanity by consuming whatever chocolate is in the vicinity.
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I grew up in the suburbs of New York City. Not to disparage my childhood home, but it’s rather quiet–not at all the hotbed of activity one might expect to provide fabulous story ideas. My adult life took me to both Chicago and the Bay Area, eventually sending me back to the suburbs of New York. While I believe the areas I have lived have influenced my writing to some degree (the locations certainly make an appearance in my books), I believe the people I have met along the way have had a more lasting effect. My first trip to France to meet my husband’s family was packed with story ideas!
Tell us your latest news??
I’m thrilled to have completed my French Twist series with this final installment, French Fry. I never dreamed I would write a book, so having written a trilogy makes me positively giddy! Although, Sydney and her posse will be making an appearance at some point next year in a holiday novella. French Roast must be written for the name alone!
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
My foray into writing began with a dream. I woke one morning with the idea that I had written a book about the whirlwind romance my husband and I had experienced ten years earlier. Given that I had never thought I would become a writer, I dismissed the idea as ludicrous! However, a few weeks later the idea was still nagging at me, so I decided to give it a try. Three months after that, I had written the draft of my first book, French Twist! I still wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t had that dream.
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
I have always had a great love of Chick Lit. I’m a romantic at heart and nothing pleases me more than following an enchanting fictional character’s journey to happily ever after. I grin from ear-to-ear during the adorable meet cutes, swoon at each and every stolen moment and tear up during confessions of love. I am delighted when there is a good dose of humor thrown in with the romance. Consequently, Sophie Kinsella and Helen Fielding are at the top of my reading list! Becky Bloomwood and Bridget Jones are very near and dear to my heart.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
The heroine of my French Twist series, Sydney Bennett, has been in my head for a very long time indeed. In fact, she has never left, since she is based on my personality. She has quite the neurotic streak, which drives me a bit batty, but it provides some great story material!
What motivates you to write?
Making people laugh! Everyday life can be exhausting. I love being able to provide people with a distraction from the pressure of their responsibilities. Nothing combats a stressful day like a nice long giggle!
What is the hardest part of writing?
Keeping things fresh! It takes a lot to write a book which will keep people interested from beginning to end. My aim is to tell a good story, with a colorful cast of characters, good pacing and just the right amount of drama. Finding this delicate balance is a true art form.
I also struggle with finding the time do write. I have two young boys, so my house is constantly filled with activity. I’m one of those writers who needs complete silence to work and this only happens when my boys are in school or asleep–which means my writing window is extremely limited!
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Writing my first book taught me that I did actually possess the ability to tell a good story. (I wasn’t quite sure until I wrote the last line!) With each book I have written, I have enhanced my ability to both engage my readers and make them laugh. While I love all the books in the French Twist series, I am particularly proud of French Fry. This gives me hope that writing my next book won’t be quite as intimidating as I originally thought!
Where do you get your ideas?
The three books I’ve written thus far have been based on my life. The major ideas have come from true events, but I did embellish (and completely fabricate) a few things to create a bit of drama for my characters. I must admit, making your family members act out your fictional plots is rather fun. My next book will be a complete work of fiction, so my ability to come up with engrossing story ideas will be put to the test. It’s one thing to add ideas here and there, but coming up with enough brilliance to sustain an entire novel? That will take a little more elbow grease!
What does your family think of your writing?
They are my biggest supporters and have all made important contributions to my books. My sister is one of my editors as well as the genius behind my gorgeous covers. She is also the reason I began writing in the first place. If she hadn’t been my cheerleader, I never would have made it through my first book. My husband is my final beta reader and always provides insightful feedback. (Fun fact: My husband was initially surprised at my stellar sense of humor in prose, which in turn, surprised me since I find myself to be very witty.) My sister-in-law has enviable story editing skills which have vastly improved my series. And I’m thrilled to tell you that my teenage nieces and nephews have devoured my books! Can you imagine? It feels incredible!
I’m sorry to say that neither of my parents lived to see my books published, but I like to think they are out there somewhere bickering over which one of them was misrepresented more. My father is actually one of the most popular characters in my series. He had a very memorable personality!
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Don’t give up! The road to becoming a published author is long and arduous–whether you choose to self-publish or go the traditional route. It won’t be easy and you will most likely doubt yourself often. Just remember why you began writing and do your best to find joy in it. I also highly recommend taking advantage of the amazing resources and support networks at your disposal. I have discovered many helpful author groups through Facebook and Twitter, which have led to invaluable knowledge and close friendships. It takes a village, peeps!
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading The Secret Keeper Holds On, the fourth book in Brea Brown’s Secret Keeper series. Ms. Brown sure knows how to rock a story! She reels me in every time with her witty dialogue, well-developed characters and relatable plotlines. This wonderful series follows the relationship between Peyton Stratford, a strong, caring woman who has trouble keeping her opinions to herself and her pastor, Brice Northam, a lovable man who fights to see the good in everyone who crosses his path. I’m happy to know that when I finish this one, I still have two more to go before I finish the series.
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