By Lisa Barr
Apparently, EVERYONE thinks I’m blowing them off lately. But I’m in Barely Breathing mode, spreading myself too thinly across the landscape of my life. I know you KNOW what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there. Too much going on at once — even for those of us who THRIVE on Drama, LIVE on Drama, BREATHE Drama. Thank God, good things are ahead … but even good things can be WAY stressful.
The bottom line: I have no chance of balancing ANY of the pieces of my life for the next three months.
How do I keep up with blog demands, my fall book tour (lots of travel), insure my three kids’ intensive schedules happen (on time), keep my hubby happy, stay in contact with friends (remembering birthdays, anniversaries, their kids’ special events), AND maintain my sanity?
It’s 4 a.m. right now, and I can’t sleep. No Surprise. I’m making lists and lists on my mini yellow pad app on my iPhone … that’s ALL I do these days. Keep my head under the covers so I don’t wake up my husband with the phone light while I inflate MORE lists — and these lists have sub-lists, and so it goes …
Here’s the gist: My debut novel “Fugitive Colors” arrived on my doorstep on Rosh Hashanah (Kismet? Or was it the handiwork of my Grandma Rachel from Up Above?). The novel is going to be released on October 1st in bookstores nationwide. The UPS Plop at the front door was definitely an awesome, defining moment, as the brisket aroma filled my kitchen. My middle daughter who had the stomach flu for six straight days actually got up off the couch for the first time to see what her Mom was going gaga about.
Yeah whatever. Back to the couch.
“Honey,” I called out to her, shlepping (scraping) the 100-pound boxes across the kitchen floor. “This is so exciting. I can’t believe it. Can you take a picture so I will remember this moment?”
“Seriously, Mommy?” she said. “That’s weird.”
“Weird? Seriously?” I crossed my arms and stared her down.
I live and I most certainly will die in the “Land of Selfies” (aka: Three teenage girls who snapchat “The Pose” 24/7. You know, head tilted just so, duck lips puckered as though they were collagen-ed, long hair wrapped around their necks to one side).
“Okay, fine.” My daughter then “generously” offered up ONE shot. “Good or bad — take it or leave it,” she said. I took the deal. (hence, the frizzy hair in the above photo, the sun glaring in my face — in other words, a Selfie-Reject).
Fugitive Colors … I know you’re saying you think you’ve seen this before … and you have. Okay here’s the back story, and the story WITHIN the story. (We’re women — NOTHING is just ONE story).
It was the early ’90s … and I was the managing editor of Today’s Chicago Woman sent on an assignment to cover the “Degenerate Art” Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was there that I learned how the Nazis went after modern artists and art with a vengeance. Hitler, considered a third-rate artist in his youth, had his share of rejections — and once he had power, he wanted payback. He used the Third Reich to plunder, loot, confiscate, and steal some of the greatest art of our time. I knew I had found my story, which would eventually become the backdrop of the historical-fiction tale of my first novel “Fugitive Colors”. Three young artists living in Paris in the early 1930s find themselves in a world in which a paintbrush is as lethal as a gun. Not to mention all the goodies accompanying them: love, lust, art, sex, and revenge.
Fugitive Colors challenges the reader: How far would YOU go for your passion? Would you kill for it? Would you destroy others who get in your way? Or, would you protect it at all cost?
The novel won the Hollywood Film Festival’s first prize for “Best Unpublished Manuscript” (Opus Magnum Discovery Award), but then life took a wrong turn, and I had to get my kids through a nightmare divorce, forcing me to shelve the book for more than three years to deal with our personal family trauma and get my girls back on track.
And then things shifted … I met The Fab Boy Next Door, remarried, and he adopted my kids. I then dusted off the manuscript, revised, and put it Out There again. I didn’t want to lose more time, so I self-published on Amazon in April 2012, just days before I launched GIRLilla Warfare. A few months later, a New York agent signed the novel, and soon after, Arcade Publishing purchased the rights of the book … and here we are now poised for a nationwide launch. The book tour begins on September 30 and runs through November — New York, Chicago, Ohio, Houston, Denver, New Jersey …
Sleep? Pa-lease. Back to my lists. Throw in six days a week of field hockey, volleyball, Dance Team, ACT tutoring, and then, of course, there is Homecoming around the corner (2 of my 3 girls are in high school — don’t get me started on the endless dress searches and appointments — Yes, I had to call a Family Meeting to organize this masterpiece).
So, Girlfriends — you know damn well I could keep this rant going — but the bottom line: How am I going to pull this off?
Every night my husband says, “Lisa, this is YOUR dream. So many years you put into this. It’s here, we will manage. I can do this.”
But can he? Who could possibly do all that WE Moms do?
Here’s the deeper secret that’s exploding inside me, bigger than the 500 things that need to get done or I’m toast … I’m scared.
All the What-IFs are going full force … WHAT IF the novel tanks? WHAT IF it’s a huge success, and I have to be away even MORE? WHAT IF my kids resent me for all the traveling? Worse, WHAT IF if they don’t miss me? WHAT IF they need me desperately — GIRL Drama — and I’m traveling? WHAT IF I can’t get my blog out? WHAT IF my friends are sick of hearing about this book, blah blah blah? WHAT IF my husband meets someone else, and forgets me?
Oh, I could go on … Fear hath no boundaries. At least not in my world.
And then there’s that other piece — I’m so damn excited, I could stand upon my rooftop and scream. Years of fighting for a story that has consumed me, that I’ve dreamt about — characters I love and created — a world of men, women, love, sex, intrigue, art, and history. Perhaps, in my small way I can make a difference by exposing the historical truths within my fiction. Writing is the side of my life that belongs to ME exclusively — separate from ALL my other roles: Mommy, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Sex Goddess, Chef, Chauffeur, Cleaning Lady, and Punching Bag.
So here I am, facing that fork in the road — livin’ the dream — afraid of it and yet psyched to embrace it. And then (WHAT IFs aside) … Lookout, here come the “Will’s” …
Will you love it? Will you hate it? Will the novel make you want to stay up past your bedtime to read just one more chapter… And The Ultimate WILL: Will you bring my novel to the carpool line?
Okay, Girlfriends, this is a brand new page for me … Let’s share it. If you read my book, I have only ONE demand or don’t bother reading: Fugitive Colors goes best with good red wine, a fabulously scented candle, and a comfy blanket.
Happy Reading xoxo Lisa
PS. Hot Off The Press — Get Your Copies NOW (pick your fave site):
Also available for purchase in your local bookstore. AND, if you want to discuss the book, you know where to find me — here at The Blog, or at The ‘Bux …