On to her writing. I am currently reading Best Staged Plans, and I am in love with the double meaning title alone. The main character, Sandy, is a house stager, meaning she helps sellers stage their homes for a quicker sale, but also relates to the saying "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" because the life Sandy has been building is no longer leading to the future she wants. This character is so real, you want to hire her, and that's what helps make Claire's writing style intriguing. Plus, Claire chooses interesting, relevant jobs, situations, and hobbies for her characters that are relevant and give a peek into various trends, lifestyles, and careers.
I also am loving this flawed heroine (I like flawed everything!). This character is a quirky mom--a little scatterbrained, big-hearted, idealistic, and unsatisfied with her current lot in life because it has become dull, routine, and just too cumbersome. She wants to simplify (don't we all?) and downsize--being the matriarch has ran its toll, and she is ready for new adventures and less responsibility. In no way does she have it all together, but that's what makes her lovable. Her mistakes, her inner monologue, her struggles to make decisions are all authentic and interesting. The workings of the human mind are definitely one of the most fascinating subject matters to me, and Claire explores the female psyche and all the million thoughts that run through our head with Sandy, who is basically having a mid-life crisis and just wants to be a little more selfish with her time and energy. Of course, no one understands because she has been the champion for each of them forever.
Another techniques that Claire shared with us is keeping her chapters short and snappy. She feels readers should want to keep reading, have no time to get bored, and keep anticipation high. This works wonderfully in this book with its ten pages or shorter chapters. I find myself saying, "Just one more chapter" because they are short and sweet (but I usually keep going!).
If you haven't read any Claire Cook novels, definitely pick one up: Must Love Dogs is her claim to fame, but she has seven others (including Best Staged Plans): Life's a Beach, Seven Year Switch, Summer Blowout, The Wildwater Walking Club, Multiple Choice, Ready to Fall. All with strong female characters and fast-pace. And feel good that you are supporting a writer that loves her craft, wants to share her secrets to success, and truly hopes that everyone who wants to write can be the on New York Times Bestseller List.