The Sweet Ruin of Swag...and Sex With a Younger Man

by Paula Neal Mooney

Be prepared.

If you're a blogger -- one who hasn't yet experienced the thrill of padded packages arriving via uniformed messengers driving noisy missing-doored trucks -- someday someone somewhere will send you something for free in hopes that you'll blog about it.

The smarter and more effective swag-senders will offer to pay you cash or Amazon gift certificates to blog about their bevy of booty and hold you to an exact schedule, which is what mega-publisher Simon & Schuster, Inc. has done for me.

Send in the swag...
A couple of weeks ago I received two copies of Sweet Ruin by Cathi Hanauer.

I'd jumped at the chance to blog about Cathi and picked her latest offering from a list of other books e-mailed to me from Mother Talk because I'd already fallen in love with the ground-breaking much-buzzed-about-and-savored bestelling essay anthology that Cathi edited called The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage.

The sweet ruin of swag

The irony of all this swag-getting is that the blogging career that I've poured endless time, energy and devotion into blessedly building a following large enough to attract the swag-senders -- it's the selfsame business that leaves little time to absorb the swag itself.

So with a subdued level of the same type of anxiety produced in my pre-test, No Doze filled Florida A & M University days, I fanned thru the 9/10ths of Sweet Ruin that I hadn't yet read the day before the review was due, searching in a cliff-notes needing stance to fill in the holes of the missing answers I wanted to know.

The Sweet Ruin saga...

I can tell you that Cathi's writing is as exquisite as her editing, pretty on point when it comes to painting a portrait of a work-at-home mom living life in the suburbia she inhabits, as well as her conversations with her daughter.

But in reading the passages about the main character Elayna Leopold, I found myself more drawn to wondering how much the woman who engages in an affair with a younger man mirrored the life of the author herself.

Uh oh...I feel another chart coming on:

Author vs. Main Character

#CharacteristicCathi HanauerElayna Leopold
1 -Age??? No wikipedia page35
2 -OccupationAuthor/EditorEditor
3 -HusbandDaniel Jones, editor of The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and FreedomPaul, workaholic lawyer
4 - BoyfriendHopefully DanielKevin, a 20-something man
5 - KidsSon and a daughterSon (who tragically died in infancy) and a daughter, Hazel

Sweet Ruin or Savior?

And yet, while the aura of Sweet Ruin has set ablaze in me the not-so-dormant desire to create a novel myself -- I've begun and metaphorically burned many of the same ilk a dozen times -- I will again wait until my Author and Finisher releases me to do so.

I totally understand the desire to work out one's sexual angst in print so as to excise those demons on the page and not in real life...but I also understand now that writing them out in this manner can be akin to writing your life's "coming attractions" instead.

Life imitates art.

Art imitates life.

Like The Secret states, what we focus on is what will grow larger, so that why I've turned my focus (Lord help me) from writing my cautionary-tale fantasies into building a career as a webmaster who acts as a conduit to lead masses to Christ.

Sweet Ruin thru the light of Scripture

Being a Christian, I can't help but to filter everything I see and read thru the truth of the Bible, and I wonder even more about Cathi (or her AP-styled editors) who litter her pages with lower case g'd "Oh my god" phrases throughout the pages.

Remembering to be in the world but not of it, I dip in and out when too much of the latter invades me.

Because of the theme and such, Sweet Ruin just may join the other wonderful yet 9/10ths unread books overflowing from my bookshelf -- for if it's taken me more than three months this go 'round to make it thru the Book of Mark, certainly it will take as long to be sweetly ruined by Cathi's prose.

And for any readers who want the same, be the first to leave a comment then shoot me your mailing address to paulanealmooney at gmail dot com, and I'll send my extra copy on to you.

In the meantime, not so coincidentally, I just found out that Cathi will be less than an hour's drive away from my house this week signing books. Maybe I'll take my free copy of Sweet Ruin on over for her John Hancock...and to get some answers to my blanks above.

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Chris the Geek said…
The novel seems a bit saucy. I know I have contacted you before, but I think you would really appreciate this. Anyways, I think your blog is pretty awesome. I'd be glad to offer you one of my awesome, super soft shirts in exchange for a link. Go here for details or email me.


Chris Geek
zaki said…
It's nice to get gives and blog about it....
kystorms said…
Morning Paula

Long time no comment from me, I have been totally absorbed in what I am doing with the Save Jericho Campaign, but I saw this post this morning, and HAD to comment :-) I cant wait to read this book, it sounds like an interesting read.

thanks for letting us know about the feeling of the truck bringing swag.... one day I hope to hear a truck outside my house too!

zaki said…
Hey Paula,

Howdy! How's your WP going on...
I'm slowly learning the WP...
The initial part is hard. but once we got it, it will be ok....

check out my new

Still a lot more to adjust and beautify....
tAnYeTTa said…
I wish I had the time to read a book. I want to read a book. I really do. :)
Hey Chris the Geek...
I like that name.

I just popped over to your site.

When will your blog be up on that site?

The novel does seem saucy. I didn't get to any saucy parts. Don't know if I will.


Hey Zaki!
Your site is loading and loading and loading now...

Can't wait to see it!

Where's it hosted?

Hi Lisa!
Yeah, I've been traveling and working. Long time no comment, too.

But I knew that title would grab some clicks!

Thanks for writing.

Hi tAnYeTTa
You crack me up every time I see your name and think about your funny writing.

Anyway, you'd be GREAT at writing a novel.

One page a'd have a 365-page novel by a year.

I say write one, don't worry about reading one!

Donbizblogger said…
I did an interview with a new novelist and published it on my site. I was really amazed by the fact that she's completed 2 novels and is working on 2 more . . . with a publisher waiting for 1.
Donbizblogger said…
I meant to say she invited her friends to my blog and I had about 45 new visitors that day!

Another way to increase traffic, especially for us newbies, help someone else get noticed - on your blog!
Anonymous said…

We look forward to your Godly book. We pray the Holy Spirit leads you to write that book soon.
zaki said…
Hosted in my country...
I'm still learning and improving it....
Darrell Tyler said…
This is an interesting story to watch. As soon as I get home I check the news to see if there is an update. I hope they find her alive.


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