Monday, March 9, 2015

Beauty and the Bridesmaid

Could love be a nip/tuck away?
Having endured her mother's fourthwedding, hypnotized by makeover shows and tempted by a Zvengali-esque image consultant named Kennedy J, über bridesmaid Dot Lindell launches into an odyssey of self improvement, plastic surgery and therapy.
Then new and improved Dot encounters former high school hottie John Miller. She begins a risky deception, convincing both John - and herself! - that she's a totally different person. Maybe she can pull it off: after all, she's unrecognizable.
But John introduces Dot to his best friend and that bully from her nightmares Jack Weston. Jack has changed since high school, too. He's grown more dangerous.
Beauty and the Bridesmaid is a darkly comic tale of transformation and choices, frenemies and friendships, the heroic saga of a nice woman who only wants to look in the mirror and feel beautiful, but may find the price higher than she bargained.


“She’s very pretty, Jasper.”
He shakes his head in denial. “She’s whiney.” The fine lines at the corner of his eyes crinkle, making him appear confused. “She’s got these fingernails like Wolverine’s.” He holds up his hands, makes a claw fist. “You know, the guy from X-Men?”
Secretly, I’m thrilled to hear this little stab at Penny Perfect. “Trying to get voted out of group?” This seems to go over his head. I switch course, “So how’d you meet?”
“She does my mom’s hair. Apparently that makes her perfect for me. Perhaps because we’re both unmarried and disease free. Well, I am anyway. A slam dunk, right?” He drops his voice a notch. “She has two kids by two different men and a ring through her belly button. She scares the crap out of me. And she brought her friend. She asked if she could bring her BFF along for company. I thought it was a book, or some weird breed of pocket dog. Instead she brings her girlfriend along.” He sighs heavily, shakes his head.
Note to self: introduce these two to Sean Driscoll ASAP. “So does your hairdresser know Rupert Rooney or the bride?”
“Neither as far as I know. My mom belongs to the bride’s bridge club. She sent me as her emissary while she’s off in Mexico on a cruise.”
I nod. “Ah, the ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ gals. Your mom’s a player?”
He stifles a laugh. “That’s not an expression I would normally equate with my mother, but yeah, that’s her group. I take it your mom’s with them too?”
I grin. “My mom’s the bride. Thus, the shocking fashion faux pas.” I wave at my dress.
He grins back. “No kidding? You know, Dot, she looks amazing. Really.”
Damn it she does. Which is great, honestly. Nothing quite says wonderful like your mom looking amazing at her forth wedding. A muscle in my cheek tenses up. “It’s nice of you to say so.” Everyone always does. Bless them.
The redhead struts over and drops a proprietary hand on Jasper’s arm. She snaps some chewing gum, an oddly infantile behavior in the face of this aging population. “You ready, Dr. J?”
I raise both eyebrows at Jasper. “Doctor?  Do you play basketball or carry a stethoscope?”
He finally achieves that fuchsia shade I feared. He dips his head toward the girl. “Tiffany, this is Dot Lindell. Dot, my date, Tiffany Bunch.”
I want to say something snide. I really do, but thank god for social niceties. “Nice to meet you, Tiffany.”
At that moment, Aunt Vonda sends out the stink eye from over at her position near the cake table. Rats. No time to grill my new friend Tiff about Jasper’s medical credentials. “Gotta go.” I pin Jasper with one last look, trying to read a profession there. Nothing. Clearly my career as a psychic has stalled. I do the hitchhiker thumb over my shoulder, aiming in Vonda’s direction. “Duty calls.”
“Nice seeing you, Dot.” He nearly stumbles when Tiffany tugs him off toward the bar.
From my spot behind the cake table, where I remain Velcroed by Aunt Vonda’s frequent glares, I observe the new couple do the honors. Mom and Rupert look like teenagers rather than a dignified married couple. Rupert Rooney, (who I’ve secretly been calling “Lord Rooney” given his stiff upper lip style), wipes smashed cake off his face and beard, eyes crinkling with laughter, while mom giggles behind her hand like a geisha. I’m struck by a sense of possibility. Maybe this one will work for her.
I know, I know. It’s the spiked punch talking.
Still, what if this is the real thing? What if this time mom has found that Vaseline covers the lens and she Rupert are running through a field of wildflowers into each others’ arms? What if this is real? I take a mental snapshot of them: Rupert’s hand a gentle brace in the small of her back, she leaning slightly into him, acknowledging the touch.
I swipe a fist at my damp face, leaving a thin trail of mascara on the back of my hand. No one thought to add pockets to the hibiscus dress, so I’m stuck without a Kleenex. I wipe the mess onto the side of the dress, leaving a dark smudge on the already vile fabric.
Good riddance.
I serve cake for hours. For days. Forever. My hands continue to push cake, but my brain takes a holiday, creates little mini movies. In one, John Miller sweeps in, demanding I dance with him. Magically, the loud dress I wear disappears replaced by some Barbara Cartland inspired ball gown. Like Barb’s heroines, my body in that dress appears waif-like, delicate.
Then Jasper Atkins – that’s DOCTOR Jasper Atkins – swaggers onto the dance floor wearing hospital scrubs. He drags me from John’s arms. The two face off, scowls of testosterone fueled anger on their faces as they prepare to fight for my hand.
So I’m a bit startled by Tiffany Bunch’s open palm shoved in my face. I lurch back, worried she plans on punching me out, before I come to: she wants cake. Her vacuous gaze makes it clear that she doesn’t recall our brief meeting, or more likely, chooses not to recall it. I’m just the help and she wants free cake. Give it.
I slap a broken piece on a plate, happy to note that it is a bit short on frosting. I shove it unnecessarily hard into her hand. It’s a paper plate. Maybe she’ll tear a nail? A girl can dream.
Eventually the new couple makes their exit, an exodus of their friends and family in their wake. I schlep behind the partygoers, tidying up so mom doesn’t lose her deposit. That’s the price for not helping with wedding plans. I pay the caterers with checks Rupert Rooney filled out in advance. I make a quick pass around the floor using an enormous mop head designed for the purpose, but refuse to go the extra mile and search for a dustpan. I cut the lights and lock the door behind me.
I’m alone in the dark in a sweat stained, mascara marked taffeta dress. There’s no one around to offer me a ride.
I have to ride the bus home in this damn dress.

And now an interview with the author! 

tell me about yourself, and your writing.
                I’m very, very worried nearly all the time. I worry about my kids (did I teach you all you need to know?), our dog (she has dandruff and rheumy eyes), my backyard (a swampy, mossy, mud pit), political unrest, pick a topic and I’m probably concerned. As a result, I read a lot of self help. My ‘self’ is pathologically needy.
When not hard at work worrying, I read Dean Koontz or binge watch Breaking Bad and Law and Order reruns. Sometimes I take computer science classes (because computers are close to magic) or daydream that the Property Brothers have appeared to redo my interiors. I have a dusty English degree, a year’s worth of interior design classes, half of a computer science degree, and a certification in Hypnosis. I’m still a bit fuzzy on how that creates a career.
I write about and for women. Biology and history make life women’s lives complex and paradoxical. Brain science says there’s no such thing as multitasking. I say, “Ever watched a working woman with small children?”

How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
                Penned my first work “Candy and her Horse” at age five (my mom claims the illustrations were spectacular). I started sneaking into my brother’s room to borrow his typewriter a few years later after reading Edgar Rice Burrough’s Mars series. Figured I could improve the story and pocket my first million by age thirteen. What an obnoxious child.
                Beauty and the Bridesmaid is my first published novel, (Women’s Contemporary Fiction). I’ve also written a comedy screenplay (No Job Too Small).

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
Oh, I’m definitely a stray-er. I have notes for a YA novel about a teen pregnancy, a paranormal film concept, and I’m pestering my husband to collaborate on an obscure sport comedy. My current project is a series of essays titled, “That’s Not Funny: Why I’m Worried and You Should Be, Too.” My artist daughter is doing the illustrations.

Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
Pants city. Unfortunately, writing that way rarely delivers a compelling and workable plot. I have to slog through lots of drafts and oodles of rewrites.  

What is a typical writing day like for you?
            I would love to claim I sit down at 8:00am and churn out genius for eight hours straight. The ugly truth is nothing useful happens till after 10:00pm. That should be the title of my next book: “How to Avoid Finishing Your Novel”. After ten o’clock, I’m no longer stressing over what to make for dinner or if our stinky carpet should be replaced. I open my laptop to the current project and plug away till midnight. Lately I’ve been practicing writing with a timer to sneak past my exceedingly loud inner critic, Vince. That guy has a nasty habit of smirking at every single word I type. This makes writing notoriously difficult. My sweetest dreams involve typing “The End.”

Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
                I pretty much inhale Dean Koontz. There’s something about the way he crafts his openings, delivering just the right amount of character detail while  dropping you instantly and believably into the story world. “One Door Away from Heaven” and “The Husband” are definite favorites. I never met police procedural I didn’t like, (Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly and such). Anne Lamott’s description of School Lunches in “Bird by Bird” made me laugh out loud in the dentist’s office. I connected deeply to Bernadette Fox in Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go Bernadette.” When I want to panic, I reread The Handmaid’s Tale. To recover from reading the Handmaid’s Tale and feel joy again, I read anything by Martha Beck.

What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
The plan is to complete a collection of essays by May, then go back to writing novels.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
            I used to think it would be wonderful to be able to help the police solve crimes using psychic intuition. I suspect that kind of talent comes with baggage, though.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
            No dragons. Lost our first house to a fire, so I’m not keen on anything that literally breathes fire. Unicorns are cute but there’s that horn thing. I’m a tad clumsy and I can see no end to the property damage. Let’s go with a Sarimanok. I found a picture on Wikipedia. Here’s a link: It’s colorful, it’s brought dinner – see the fish in its beak? – and it’s supposed to bring good fortune according to the fine Maranao people.   

Tell us a little about your latest release.
            Years ago I attended a bachelorette party with a bunch of models. The event should have come with a warning label: “Do not follow models from place to place if you suffer from body consciousness, failure to date in high school or suffer from depression.” Their beauty opened doors, bought them drinks, and invited conversation from strangers. And at the same time, I felt like I’d been draped in a cloak of invisibility. Beauty and the Bridesmaid grew out of a desire to allow an underdog a chance to wield that kind of power. Dot’s transformation and its unforeseen consequences, however, are pure fiction.

What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
                My iPod and a paperback.

Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
                Absolutely. Mr. Koontz, let’s get cracking on that paranormal thriller.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
                That’s a tall order. Let’s run with the Buddha. I’d ask for guidance on quieting my mind, since it’s pretty noisy in there.

What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
                I sing in my garage, steal design hints from shows like The Property Brothers, and take classes. At the moment I’m taking Python Programming.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
                Full disclosure: I am married to the book’s author: Robyn’s Egg. It’s a dystopian thriller about a couple trying to purchase a baby from a corporation that controls the distribution of children. There are so many cinematic moments in that book that I think would translate brilliantly to film.

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
                I sure wouldn’t mind being able to play a wicked guitar.

Favorite color?
                Subject to change without notice, sky blue.

Weather: Hot or cold?
                Hot and sunny.

Favorite place to read?
                Curled up on the couch, glass of iced tea at the ready.

Favorite meal
                Rib eye steak, loaded baked potato. Please do not share with my cardiologist.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
                Nestea Instant Iced tea.

If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
                I’d love to visit Barcelona and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica. Then again, I’ve seen those commercials for Atlantis in the Bahamas. I do love a party pool.  

Author Bio:   

Lisa Souza was raised on the mean streets of Spokane, Washington, one of five siblings wrestling for attention and hot meals.

She has a degree in English because both her husband and parents insisted she buck up and finish something. Without outside pressure, she fizzled out on an interior design program, bailed on computer science after two years, but rallied to complete her certification in hypnosis in 2012.

Lisa lives in the Snohomish Valley with her first husband Mark, (author of Robyn's Egg), two stoic children, and Tater the rescue dog, whose ancestry is very much in question.

Goodreads:      (still waiting for Author Profile Approval response)
Amazon “Buy” link: 


Anyone who leaves a comment below will be entered to win a copy of Beauty and the Bridesmaid. Print copies will be available for US winners and eBook for international. Please leave your email in your comment! 

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