Category Archives: Book Club

The Apart at the Seams Book Tour is Here!

Melissa Ford's third novelSeveral book lovers are sharing our thoughts about Melissa Ford’s third novel, Apart at the Seams. Even if you aren’t part of the tour and even if you haven’t read the book, check out what people are saying — you might find that this book is one you want to put on your wishlist.

NEWSFLASH: Apart at the Seams has been chosen for the Kindle Amazon Daily Deal for TOMORROW, September 5.

Via the links below, you’ll hear from book tourists as we answer questions put to each other in our virtual book club. Next we’ll hear from the author herself as Melissa Ford responds to the questions we posed to her about her characters, her sideways sequel, her writing methods, and other juicy tidbits from behind the scenes.

See the master list at the bottom of this post, following my own contribution to this book tour.

My stop on the Apart at the Seams book tour

Melissa is adept at exploring big themes for women who are trying to have it all. She lets us peek in as her characters sort out competing emotions: Self vs partner. Career vs relationship. Ambition vs presence. Excitement vs stability. Creativity vs contentment. These conundrums appear in my own life and are likely to have near-universal resonance.

As a companion novel to Life from Scratch and Measure of Love, this third book in the series takes a sideways narrative with Rachel’ best friend Arianna (you don’t need to have read the prequels for “Apart at the Seams” to work for you). This single mother and aspiring fashion designer has just taken her relationship with Rachel’s brother, Ethan, to the next level. And Arianna gets an incredible opportunity through her fashion house, one that involves hanging out with a Jon Stewart-esque cast on a late-night TV show.

But! Inevitable cracks appear in her relationship as demands are made on her and priorities shift. How can Arianna be both true to herself AND in relationship with a man who has such differing values?

Melissa examines these knotty problems from all angles. As I read, I see so much of myself in her heroines.


 Three questions from the book group and my responses:

Why didn’t Arianna ever loser her temper and go off on people who were annoying her?  She’s the straightforward, no nonsense, Midwestern girl who gets things done.  As a straightforward, no nonsense, Midwestern girl, my expectation would be that someone would get a serious dressing down…especially considering her stress level.  But maybe Minnesotans are more like Canadians than other Midwesterners?

Maybe geography isn’t the main thing that goes into straightforward-no-nonsenseness.

I first had to gain clarity (a very gradual process) within myself before I could express to others my emotions and preferences. In previous stages I have experimented between the extremes of being aggressive to get what I want (my teen years, during which I was an erratic bulldozer with my parents) to being very passive about it all (early romantic relationships, hierarchical work relationships). I’ve modulated that pendulum in recent years and in most situations I can be appropriately assertive.

But it took trial and error — and time. I think time, rather than place, is what kept Arianna from being as straighforward-no-nonsense outside her head as she was inside her head.

It feels as though Arianna would become irritated with Ethan for not doing things she needed him to do yet she often wouldn’t verbalize clearly what it was she wanted or needed. Why do you think asking for exactly what you need makes you feel so vulnerable?

This goes back to having clarity within, with having healthy boundaries around what is and isn’t reasonable to expect from a person and relationship, and being able to articulate those expectations — asking for what you need. These are traits I continue to develop (there is no there there).

When not quite confident of where one person starts and another begins, and when unsure of a code of behavior, Arianna resorts to what so many women do — being the “good girl.” I have been taming my inner Good Girl for decades. She emerges when I feel out of my element. And when she does, I become a consummate people pleaser, taking care of the other’s needs while seething that my own aren’t being addressed.

I think it is very vulnerable to be authentic — to live without a mask, without a barrier between you and the world (or just the other in a relationship). To do so, you are clear within yourself, you set and patrol boundaries that are respectful to you and the other person, and you have courage to ask for what you want. It’s a very vulnerable state — and paradoxically, a sign of incredible inner strength.

Arianna has several major events that are downplayed by Rachel. How would you have reacted if this had happened to you? Would you have made the effort to repair the friendship?

My first inclination with discord is to look within. Was I the one who didn’t share enough? Am I expecting my friend to read my mind? Are my expectations too high regarding the important people in my life? Do I expect that others will supply for me something that I could very well supply for myself?

After my exercise in introspection, I  take a look at the other person. Did she know what I needed in that moment? Should she have known (and how?)?  Did she deliberately slight me? Is there other evidence that this relationships is waning?

I may decide to speak up to my friend, I might say:”Hey, when that big thing happened to me, I feel as if you weren’t really there for me. What was going on for you?” If my friend has repeatedly not been there for me and I’ve tried to address it multiple times, I may simply let the friendship die. If I myself am in a funk, I would tell myself to “snap out of it! — stop being a victim and move on.”

So yes, I would make an effort to repair a friendship by looking within, by talking it out, and by asking for what I want. But if the person is unresponsive to my overtures, I would not belabor my efforts. I would not close the door forever, but I would not continue my efforts on something that’s just not there at a point in time.

To continue to this book tour, please visit the links below. Comments are much appreciated by the book tourists!

  1. Lori of (see above)
  2. Kim Court
  3. Esperanza at Stumbling Gracefully
  4. Anne Bauer of The Sound of Hope
  5. GeoChick
  6. JodiFur
  7. Kathy at BloomingBurghBoomer
  8. Mina
  9. Bronwyn Joy of Journeys of the Fabulist
  10. Tiara
  11. Katherine A of Inconceivable!
  12. Elizabeth of Project Progeny
  13. Judy Miller
  14. Kathy of Bereaved and Blessed
  15. APlusEffort
  16. A

Thanks for following along on our book tour, and be sure to come back for Saturday’s batch of posts!

Sign Up for this Book Tour: Apart at the Seams by Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford's third novelShe had Mr. Right all sewn up . . . until Mr. Wonderful came along.

That’s the teaser line for Melissa Ford’s latest novel, Apart at the Seams. Though it’s the third in a series, Melissa calls it a “sideways sequel.” Which means that if you’ve read Life from Scratch and/or Measure of Love, you’ll be primed for the viewpoint of  Rachel’s best friend, Arianna. And if you HAVEN’T read these other novels, you will enjoy getting to know Arianna for the first time — without missing anything.

I invite you to participate in a Virtual Book Tour.

It’s easy and it’s fun (and it’s how I started blogging).

  1. Sign up today.
  2. Get and read the book.
  3. Discuss it in September with other readers.

The book is available via Amazon in paperback ($13), Kindle ($7) and at various other booksellers. I’ll provide the forum here; you just need to provide your own coffee and danishes (or wine and Cheetos, if you’re so inclined).

The Author, Melissa Ford

Novelist Melissa FordYou may recognize Melissa from her long-running and popular blog Stirrup Queens. Melissa’s first book is the nonfiction Navigating the Land of IF, a guide through the various neighborhoods of infertility. Melissa is section editor for BlogHer for Blogging & Social Media and for Health. She’s a baker, a wife, a Nationals superfan, a mother to twins, and my friend.

As a special treat, Melissa will participate in this book tour by responding to reader questions. So if you think of any while you’re reading the book, capture that thought.

How does a Virtual Book Tour work?

  • August 1: Last day to sign up for the tour. You’ll find the “Book Tour Signup” form below.
  • Read the book between now and mid-August. Reserve it from your library or purchase from your favorite bookseller.
  • August 15: Come up with up 1 or 2 discussion questions to ask of other participants (not Yes-or-No). A question for the author is optional.
  • Shortly thereafter, you’ll receive a list of questions from other participants. From this list you will choose any 3 to answer on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, one will be provided for you.
  • September 4: posts go up! Links to participant stops on the book tour will be posted here on so you can read, comment and discuss with each other — just like a face-to-face book club, but with less coffee cake and more keystrokes.
  • Please follow this blog and spread the word to interested parties (tweet, share, G+ with the buttons at the bottom of this post).

I am rapidly closing in on the end of Apart at the Seams and am eager to discuss it with you. So fill out this form ↑ .

Measure of Love: Book club post about Melissa Ford’s latest novel

Soooo, some of us are sitting around in a virtual coffee shop, talking about a book we signed up to read. Some have read the book, some are be in the process of reading it, and some are going “D’oh! I knew I was supposed to have something ready today!” Others are sitting within earshot of us, not participants in the book club but intrigued by what they’re hearing, and are saying to themselves, “Hmmm….sounds like a book I’d like to read.”

Measure of Love by Melissa FordThe first selection in this GRAB(ook) Club (Gonna Read Anyway Book) is Melissa Ford’s Measure of Love, the second in a three story arc (preceded by Life From Scratch and followed next year by Apart at the Seams.)

Each of us on the tour is posting one question, and the others will answer in the asker’s comment section.  My question happens to be one that you don’t have to have read the book to answer, so don’t click away just yet. I’d love for you to chime in below.

Can you remember a time when you’ve struggled with loyalty? When you’ve found it hard to be loyal to two people at odds with each other or when you’ve found your loyalty to a person to be at odds with what you yourself think or feel?

As Rachel remembers Arianna’s loyal-but-blah boyfriend Ben from college (Chapter 11), she recalls how she supported Arianna in breaking dates with him, how she rolled her eyes about him, how she steered Arianna away from stable and caring Ben in lieu of the edgier Pete. Now that Rachel’s brother Ethan is the caring and stable boyfriend in Arianna’s life, she reconsiders the value of loyalty. Rachel must figure out how to offer her loyalty to both her best friend and to her brother when loyalty to one appears to be at odds with loyalty to the other.

Have you ever found yourself in a bind when it comes to loyalty?

After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for Measure of Love.  You can get your own copy of Measure of Love by Melissa Ford at bookstores including Amazon.

What I Learned About Openness in Adoption By Writing a Book on Open Adoption

Happy blogoversary to me! Six years ago today I popped my blogging cherry with a short post about my intent to join the Barren Bi+ches Book Brigade. We were soon to discuss Peggy Orenstein’s fabulous Waiting for Daisy, and that book tour turned out to be my entrée into the ALI (Adoption/natal Loss/Infertility) community.

popping a cherryI’ve been the participant and the host on numerous occasions, but on this day of note, I get to be the book club’s author answering reader questions. How perfectly aligned is that?

A few days ago, Mel led a virtual book tour for my book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole. Fourteen bloggers signed on to share their take on the book and answer each others’ questions about it. They also posed two questions to me, which you’ll find here.

Did you learn anything new about open adoption through writing this book? Did anything surprise you? If so, what?

I did. And that’s because, as Heather put it, “this is the adoption book the Internet wrote.” I learned a lot by asking others in the adoption constellation about their experience with adoption. I learned from adoptees how it feels to be asked who your “real” parents are, and not to be able to get your own original birth certificate like others can. I learned alternatives to the dreaded family tree assignment in school. I learned from first mothers what has and hasn’t worked in their moving forward through grief. I learned from other adoptive parents cases for and against pre-birth matching, paying pre-birth expenses, and formalized adoption agreements.

Though it was unfunny at the time, I can now say that it was funny-peculiar that Crystal and I got a chance to practice what we preach. While writing Chapter 4 about establishing boundaries, a situation arose that Crystal and I had to work through. I was quite frustrated at first, mostly at myself, until I realized the incident was a chance for me to figure out something firsthand so that I could then teach what I knew, not just a theoretical concept. Crystal and I have had mostly smooth sailing over the years, and with our cruise control on I had gotten complacent. The situation required me to go off auto-pilot and figure out what was really bothering me by going deep within: breathe, be mindful, dig, gain clarity. Then zoom back out with clear communication with Crystal and a commitment to our relationship — and to Tessa.

It’s clear, in hindsight, that this uncomfortable episode was actually an amazing gift.

The additions from Crystal are a lovely and really informative piece of the book. I’m curious as to how this collaboration took shape. Did you develop the framework of the book together? Did you have an idea of where you thought Crystal’s voice would be most helpful and just ask her for that specific input? Or Did you work to find or create spaces for things she wanted to add to the conversation?

Crystal and I have talked for years about how we might help others develop the kind of relationship we stumbled into with each other. First we had to take a look at what we did and didn’t do and what has made our efforts a openness successful. For years we have taught classes in the Denver area (hi, Denver Laura!) to share not only that such a relationship doesn’t have to be contentious, but that it can also be enjoyable. More than anything we say in these sessions, people seem to get a lot just out of seeing a template for how an open adoption can look.

The framework of the book is mine. Crystal and I had extensive interviews about her thoughts and emotions at various points of our journey, as well as her own deconstruction of how we got to where we are. For a book that is largely about how adoptive parents and birth parents can be on the same “side,” rather than the traditional concept of competition between the two sides, it seemed important for us to work together on this book.

As for which came first, her words or a space for her words, I believe it was mostly the former. We had a few jam sessions in which we put as much on the table as we had in us. I took notes and the book began to take shape. Sometimes the book fit around her words and sometimes her words fit into the book.

I suppose in that sense, the way the book took its form is much the same way Crystal and I have taken our form.

I am deeply grateful to Mel, KathyApril, Luna, Jessica, Geo-Chick, BabySmiling, m, Esperanza, Leah Jane, AnneAndy, Liz, and Alicia for devoting precious time to reading my book, sharing their thoughts, and participating in discussions with each other about it. This has been an amazing experience for me and I thank you.

Image courtesy of ping phuket /