Friday, May 14, 2010

Guest Blogger, Grace Coopersmith

Please join me in welcoming author Grace Coopersmith as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Grace makes her contemporary fiction debut with a humorous and poignant romantic tale of a finicky young socialite. Here’s a brief synopsis: “In NANCY’S THEORY OF STYLE (which goes on sale May 18) Nancy Carrington-Chambers struggles to find fulfillment after abandoning all the trappings of her seemingly perfect life—but never giving up her style.
Nancy Edith Carrington-Chambers was born into the right family, studied at the best schools, befriended the popular crowd, dressed to the nines, and married the ideal man in Todd Chambers. But a year into her marriage, she realizes the dream house she built with Todd is more of a tacky nightmare. Unable to live there a moment longer, Nancy escapes to the elegant apartment owned by her family in San Francisco's posh Pacific Heights. Taking a break from her once flawless storybook marriage, Nancy dedicates herself to her event planning business, Froth, and hires the assistant she has always coveted: a gorgeous, impeccably groomed, gay, British man, Derek.
While Nancy is busy preparing for San Francisco society’s most exclusive fundraiser, her eccentric cousin flits off to Greece—and without any warning leaves her precocious four-year-old daughter Eugenia in Nancy’s care. With Derek’s help, Nancy is able to make a new life for herself and Eugenia. But Nancy can’t help worrying that she's becoming too attached to the girl… and far too attracted to her assistant. And at the moment that should be Nancy's biggest success, her world comes crashing down.
Grace dropped by today to talk about writing with “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”

Sir Donald Wolfit, a Shakespearean actor who passed away in 1968, is attributed with saying on his deathbed, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” As someone who writes primarily (but not exclusively) humorous fiction, my tendency is to make jokes about my own work. I think it’s more comfortable for a humorist to be self-deprecating. We’re used to be the kids in the back of the room, placed there to be minimally distracting in our constant quest to make our classmates laugh.

Because when we do cause others to laugh, oh, la, the feeling is utterly delicious.

The challenge is to make the laughter spontaneous and natural. Our humor must appear to be effortless, and I think that’s why people assume that we’re
not as passionate about our writing as someone who chooses to write tragic stories. No, we work hard, but we prefer to give others those moments of joy that can be had with a funny story.

My character, Nancy, is the girl you love to hate. She’s pretty, privileged, judgmental, and self-centered. She separates from her increasingly boorish husband to work on her event planning company, Froth. She leaves their horrible McMansion in a half-abandoned development and returns to her chic bachelorette apartment in San Francisco’s posh Pacific Heights.

The very first thing she does is hire an assistant to help her resurrect one of the city’s most venerated fundraisers. Her assistant, Derek, is impeccably dressed, British, gorgeous, and gay. Things are going well, when Nancy’s irresponsible cousin abandons her four-year-old in Nancy’s care. Somehow, Nancy, her assistant, and the child begin to forge a sort of family.

Nancy begins to let go of the tight control she’s had on the details of her life. Little by little, we learn that Nancy’s life has not been the “lovely, lovely” image she projects. It is more like a beautiful piece of glass that has a slight crack. The crack is only visible when you hold the glass to the light, but it is enough to make the glass much more fragile than it appears to be. (Yes, I stole that image from Henry James, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.)

When Derek asks Nancy why she puts on parties, she says, “Something magical happens when the ambience is right and people are celebrating. It’s momentary and elusive, but as glorious as a butterfly. I want to think that creating that shared joy is important.”

And that’s why I love writing stories that make people laugh and feel happy – I want to think that creating a shared joy is important.

Grace, thanks for sharing this background on your writing. It gives us more insight into the character of Nancy.

For more information on Grace and her writing, check out her website at


  1. I love the way that Nancy's past (backstory) have been worked into the book and the way that her life isn't exactly as she's portrayed it. Very interesting.

  2. Another great interview. You are the greatest at this. I love funny books -because I think I'm funny. :( I will get this one. A debut novel. Yes!

  3. Humor is difficult! It's not something at which I excel, that's for sure.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on humor writing. Sometimes it seems the most effective humor is that which shines a light on every day life, bringing smiles of familiarity to the audience. Best wishes on your debut!

  5. Elizabeth, Teresa, Diane and Joanne, thanks so much for dropping by. Humor in writing has to be hard but it does add so much for the reader when it flows smoothly.

    Grace, thanks for guest blogging today and sharing your thoughts on humor and writing.

    Off to work shortly, hope everyone has a wonderful Friday.

  6. Sounds like a great read - we get to see behind the surface of an intriguing character. Nice!

  7. Hi, everyone, sorry I didn't get back earlier, but I've been swamped about the release of my book.

    Thanks for your comments! When I told my (very funny) brother yesterday the quote, he started laughing, so I said, "Well, comedy isn't hard if you're really funny." I should have said that writing a funny book is funny. Some people are born funny. You see those kids who just crack you up.

    I hope you'll have a chance to pick up my book!

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on humor writing.
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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.