4 Reasons Why You Should Pre-Order “Womanskills”

Books have all kinds of uses: a chunky square to fix a wobbly table, extra kindling for when the zombie apocalypse hits, and sometimes they’re even fun to read. Sometimes.

Which brings me to my book, Womanskills. Some of you may remember that I was “writing” something. Some of my friends may remember that over the last year I went into hiding to get it all done. And finally, FINALLY, it’s here. The book pubs on October 15, but I’m hoping you’ll go ahead and pre-order it for a few reasons. (PS— Cover is below in case you’re thinking, Her? Writing? Not possible. Well, it IS, and I DID.)

WomanskillsCover

REASON ONE: This is a book for strong, feminist women

When you see the title Womanskills, that can mean a lot of things. And some people might immediately think this is a book telling women how to behave, which sounds terrible. It’s not that. What I can tell you as a feminist and as the person who wrote this thing, is that this book addresses situations only women have to face; mansplaining, equal pay, and having certain expectations placed on you because of your gender.

Womanskills lays out these situations and provides ways to kick them to the fucking curb so you can spend more time and energy being the strong, badass woman you are. Don’t get me wrong, this also deals with basic, everyday things, like how to actually find a bra that fits, learning how to make an exceptional cup of coffee, and ways to get all of the pet hair off of your couch. OK, that pet hair one was maybe more for my benefit than anyone else, but I figured out some seriously amazing ways to make your home fuzz-free. (The secret involves cleaning gloves. It’ll change your life. I promise.)

Even if you don’t feel like a badass all the time, by the end of the book I hope you feel more empowered to take on the world and deal with the everyday things we all go through. Womanskills is all about adding to your skill set, helping you become more independent, and giving you confidence in the idea that yes, you can snake your own damn drain and negotiate a higher salary all in the same day.

REASON TWO: I wrote a book I wouldn’t hate reading

I didn’t want to pick this hefty square up in 10 years and feel like I’d made a mistake. The Internet is certainly forever, but so is a book as long as you keep it on your shelf. So, I made this fun to read. There are Oregon Trail jokes, ’90s movie references, and plenty of mentions of pizza as a lifestyle choice.

I also made sure it looked the way I wanted it to. For example, this book has some amazing designs and I worked with our illustrator, Kelsey King, to make sure we were showing diverse women — older, younger, different body shapes, sizes, colors, sexual orientations, etc. All women are queens who are too good for this earth, so you’ll definitely see that throughout the book.

Kelsey King, courtesy of Voyageur Press

Kelsey King, courtesy of Voyageur Press

REASON THREE: It’s funny! And people other than me agreed!

Just check out these actual reviews from people who read my book and tell me the lie.

  • “Even though I live with a woman, and even lived inside one for a while, until recently I had no way to help them, because I’m a man. Now, however, I can just hand them a copy of the funny, thoughtful Womanskills.” – Rob Delaney
  • “This wise, irreverent compendium of life hacks finds the sweet spot between Amy Sedaris and Worst Case Survival Guides, filling in a much-needed gap in every woman’s bag of tricks. An instant classic.” – Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black
  • “This is the smartest, funniest, most patient friend you can get in book form without that book actually being haunted.” – Kristin Chirico, senior editor, BuzzFeed
  • “Erin brings her unique brand of charm, cheek, and fierceness to this much-needed how-to guide. Womanskills are human skills, but the voice speaks directly to my powerful generation of ladies. I now know that my bras don’t fit, my salary could be higher, and I totally should have proposed to my husband instead.” – Jessie Rosen, Time Top 25 Blogger, founder of 20-Nothings.com
  • “In Womanskills, La Rosa is that know-it-all friend who you don’t want to punch in the face. Because she’s hilarious and has lots of great advice for navigating that weird period when you’re supposed to be an adult but have absolutely no idea how to be.” – Lilibet Snellings, author of BOX GIRL: My Part-Time Job as an Art Installation
  • “I have come to count on Erin for her practical and hilarious wisdom. With Womanskills, you too will have access to her advice-from how to cook like a real adult person to how to survive being single again.” – Lucy Keating, author of Dreamology
REASON FOUR: If none of the above excite you, just remember that books are super easy to throw at people you hate

Just saying ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

You can pre-order Womanskills on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at IndieBound — and then let me know you did so I can buy you a big thank you drink!

How To Write An Amazing Plot Twist

I love a good page turner. There are few things more satisfying to me then starting a book and not physically being able to put it down. So much so that you look up from said book only to realize that you’ve been in your pajamas all day, and now it’s nighttime.

Such was the wonderful case when I read Jessie Rosen’s Dead Ringer — a YA novel that is chock-full of secrets, and has one of the most amazing plot twists I’ve ever read. Seriously, this plot twist will make you scream. I was yelling at this book. I didn’t know I was capable of that.

Which is why I asked Jessie for advice on how to write a great plot twist. Not only because I aspire to be a writer like Jessie someday, but because I wanted a look inside the mind of someone who came up with this plot twist. Jessie, in turn, wrote all about it for today’s guest post. Her advice is, as always, on point and full of unexpected turns! Buy Dead Ringer here so we can discuss this plot twist together, please.DeadRingerCover

How To Write An Amazing Plot Twist, by Jessie Rosen

There is little I love more than a gasp-inducing, throw-the-book-across-the-room, shout a four-letter-word plot twist. BRUCE WILLIS IS ALSO DEAD?! SHE’S HER SISTER AND HER DAUGHTER?! HANS WAS EVIL ALL ALONG??!!

But loving them and writing one are two very different things. And yet, when conceiving of the idea behind my first YA novel, DEAD RINGER, plot twist was the whole point. I (like to) think I pulled it off (Erin thought so!). Here are my tips for twisting a plot so hard it makes your reader’s heads spin.

STEP ONE: Start with a completely insane idea that you’ll never be able to pull off

The twist wasn’t an after thought for DEAD RINGER; it was the entire pitch. I started with, imagine if __________?!?! And then I spent at least a month thinking, nope, too ridiculous. Coming up with a way for it to not be complete and utter insanity was my job. It can be tricky to reverse engineer a twist into an existing world. I recommend twisting first and straightening second. Also good advice when dancing.

STEP TWO: Decide when and how you’re going to do the big reveal

Again, work backwards. If you know when and how you’d like to spill the story’s biggest beans you can figure out how much meat you need before and after that moment. I wanted a very late shock ala GIRL ON A TRAIN, but a book like GONE GIRL features a mid-point reveal which is equally excellent. Pick the “Girl” you prefer, but know before you go.

STEP THREE: Select your red herrings

Herrings, plural. When developing characters to fill out your world you need to consider who we’ll think is involved in the mystery and why. I have one sort of red herring and one real red herring (and as much pickled herring as possible, always). A lot of plot came from that fact and needed to be carefully woven.

STEP FOUR: Never ever lie to your reader

You’re keeping a big, big secret, but every detail still has to make sense when the reader finds out what’s been up all along. It’s so fun to play with dialogue, language and description that dances that like (watch THE SIXTH SENSE for a master class), but do not step over!

STEP FIVE: pour everything you’ve got into your big reveal scene

In DEAD RINGER I reveal the twist to the audience in once scene but to a character in another. Double bang for my buck! Both of those moments were my absolute favorites to write and, shockingly, came the easiest. What does this say about my mental state? Let’s not dwell on that.

And finally STEP SIX: Read as many twisted plot examples as you possibly can

Getting it right is about feeling what works and doesn’t from your own reader’s ear. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat (please forgive the aggressive cat-related saying, Erin), but this is your big Hitchcock moment, so you get to make it your own.

Good luck! God speed! Coffee helps! Can’t wait to read it.

4 Important Things I’ve Learned About Wedding Planning (So Far)

I have been engaged for all of three months, but I’m already feeling like an expert on this wedding planning thing. Maybe it’s because I’m completely Type-A, and therefore all of my big wedding decisions were made within a month, or… Yeah, no, it’s because I’m Type-A.

In the process of booking a venue, finding a day-of coordinator, and making reservations at six bridal stores to find a dress, I feel like I now have some newfound knowledge. The problem with my knowledge is that after I get married it’ll be completely useless. So for anyone planning a wedding, or thinking about a wedding, or just wanting practical event planning tips, I have some sharing-is-caring tips for you:

Wedding Advice

  • Take people’s advice, and ask for it early on. I actually wish I’d done this a bit sooner, because people have been through this circus before you, and they’re more than happy to impart this otherwise useless knowledge that they’ve absorbed. So ask, and you will receive a lot of gems. (FWIW, A Practical Wedding has been life changing for me.)
  • Become friends with Google docs. I’ve heard and seen on Pinterest that lots of women make binders (binders FILLED with weddings!), but you’ll want the digital version of the binder. I have a wedding folder that has spreadsheets for our guest list, venue options, cake options, DJ options… so many goddamn options. And if you actually want a physical binder, just print out your Google docs. They come in handy when you get a random call from a vendor at 11 on a Tuesday and need to remember what you discussed previously.
  • Weddings can be so expensive. All of the little details and things you must have for the day of… But basically, you can just say “eff it” to a lot of these. No one will hold it against you if you decide not to spend $500 on guest favors. No one loves Jordan almonds THAT much.
  • When you feel stressed about planning, it’s time to take a “let’s celebrate!” break with your partner. People will tell you, “This is supposed to be fun! Relax!” and they have all the best intentions in the world when they say this, but it’s also ignoring the fact that planning a big event comes with stresses. So, take breaks. For us, this has meant a few things. Sometimes we’ll open a bottle of champagne that we were given as an engagement gift and have a Netflix date. And one night we went to the restaurant where we had our first date and told them we were getting married. (Which led to free appetizers, and a free bottle of champagne to take home.) Basically, relax and drink when you need to. And you will need to.

Any advice I missed, marrieds or people planning things? Please share in the comments!