Get Lucky

QUOTES

Here are some Katherine Center quotes–gathered from around the web.  For more, come on over to Pinterest!

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From essays:

 

You are writing the story of your only life every single minute of every day.

–Katherine Center, What I Would Tell Her (Mom 2.0 Video)

 

“Nothing that doesn’t push you past your limits can change your life. It’s true of work, it’s true of parenting, and it’s true — a hundred times over — of love.”

–Katherine Center, Nothing Worthwhile is Ever Easy

 

There is an entire universe of things my mother knows that I don’t.

–Katherine Center, Things To Remember Not to Forget

 

We all carry our mothers inside us.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

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Maybe the past is supposed to fade—and that’s actually a kindness of human memory.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

 

You can’t know what you know now and feel the way you did then.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

That’s what just hit me:  How you really can’t have everything.  You have to give up the old to get the new.  You can’t be the child and the mom at the same time.  You can’t be your young self and your old self at the same time.  You can’t know what you know now and feel the way you did then.  You can’t, you can’t, you can’t.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

 

Our lives disappear, even as we live them.

—Katherine Center

 

We build our lives in moments, and even the ones we can’t remember become the story of who we are.

—Katherine Center

 

The human race has a lot to answer for, and it’s not as easy to feel hopeful as it should be—but you make it more important to try.

—Katherine Center

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The way that I love you makes me a better person.

—Katherine Center

 

The way that I love you makes me a better person, and the way that you love me back makes every sorrow worth it.

—Katherine Center

 

Don’t let anyone convince you that love doesn’t matter.

—Katherine Center

 

We are at our finest when we take care of each other.

—Katherine Center

 

And so my hope for you, good boy, as you grow taller every day, is that you will learn to take good care of yourself, and you will learn to take good care of others—and, someday, you’ll see how those two things are exactly the same.

—Katherine Center

It’s so easy to think that your strengths don’t matter.

—Katherine Center

 

Look for beauty in everything.

—Katherine Center

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The best things about womanhood might possibly even be the conversations.  The chatting.  The gabbing. The whispering.  The hands-on-hips eye-rolling.  The yukking-it up.

–Katherine Center,  Kirtsy Video

 

We’re looking for stories that speak to us.  We’re looking for stories that connect us with something true.  But, instead, a lot of the time we get strippers.  All I’m saying is, when boys are writing the stories, the percentage of strippers is bound to go up.  And real stories about real women kinda don’t get written at all.

–Katherine Center,  Kirtsy Video

 

And despite everything I know now, I still believe, as I did when I was little, that there is an entire universe of things that my mother knows that I don’t.  I still believe that nothing truly bad can ever happen if my mother is around.  I know it’s not true.  But still.  It is true.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

 

I worry constantly about carpool and whether or not I’ve forgotten a carload of weeping children at the school gate.  How on earth does anyone do it?  How did she make it look so easy?  Or maybe time makes everything seem easy.  Or maybe I am really terrified that I’ll never become enough like her to keep her with me. I know that we all carry our mothers inside us.  But somehow that doesn’t seem like enough.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

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From various interviews:

I guess that’s the upside of not being young anymore . . .   You know from experience that the struggle always leads, in some way, to something better.

–Katherine Center

 

I like to write about people who are real and likeable.  I like to write about people who tell their stories in that close and intimate voice we use with best friends. I love the closeness and honesty and vulnerability that come from characters who can talk that way.

–Katherine Center

 

All my main characters are people I’d love to sit around having coffee with. They are people who will tell you honestly about the things that scare them and worry them and trouble them.  Because those moments of connection between women–when they really decide to be honest with each other about their lives–are some of the best things in life.

–Katherine Center

 

Some of the greatest ideas we have come from making do.

–Katherine Center

 

What matters most is how you respond to your heartbreaks and your disappointments and your fears.  What matters most is who you become in response to them.

–Katherine Center

 

Writing a novel is a lot like reading one.

–Katherine Center

 

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Success is doing the right thing for who you are.

–Katherine Center

 

My goal is to try to be as happy as I can — going through every day just as it is.

–Katherine Center

 

If you feel lucky, then you are.

–Katherine Center

 

Look for the good stuff.

–Katherine Center

 

You don’t have to be perfect to be awesome.

–Katherine Center

 

From Novels:

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People are always beautiful when you love them.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

 

In fiction, you can be as true as you want.  Real life is a different story.

–Katherine Center, interview

 

Sometimes there is no way to hold your life together. Sometimes things just have to fall apart.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky

 

There is no tenderness without bravery.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky

 

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It’s vital to learn how to make the best of things.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky

 

Beauty comes from tenderness.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

 

It’s always better to have what you have than to get what you wanted.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky

 

I suddenly understood what it was, exactly, people longed for when they longed for their youth.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

The eyes see everything through the heart.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

 

When you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

 

It’s more important to be interesting, to be vivid, and to be adventurous than to sit pretty for pictures.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

 

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“Here’s what I tell myself now. That it’s vital to learn how to make the best of things. That there is no tenderness without bravery. That if things hadn’t been so bad they could never have gotten so good. And that it’s always better to have what you have than to get what you wanted. Except for this: Every now and then, when you are impossibly lucky you rise above yourself-and get both.”

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky

 

I believe women are too hard on themselves. I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you. I believe the eyes see everything through the heart–and nothing in the world feels as good as resting them on someone you love.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

Laughter is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Cellulite is beautiful. Softness and plumpness and roundness are beautiful. It’s more important to be interesting, to be vivid, and to be adventurous than to sit for pictures. A woman’s soft tummy is a miracle of nature. Beauty comes from tenderness. Beauty comes from variety, from specificity, from the fact that no person in the world looks exactly like anyone else. Beauty comes from the tragedy that each person’s life is destined to be lost to time. I believe women are too hard on themselves. I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you. I believe the eyes see everything through the heart–and nothing in the world feels as good as resting them on someone you love. I have trained my eyes to look for beauty, and I’ve gotten very good at finding it.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

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Text from the Mom 2.o Video:

 

What I Would Tell Her (If I Knew What To Say)

You are a miracle.

And I have to love you this fiercely:  So that you can feel it even after you leave for school, or even while you are asleep, or even after your childhood becomes a memory.

You’ll forget all this when you grow up.  But it’s okay.

Being a mother means having your heart broken.

And it means loving and losing and falling apart and coming back together.

And it’s the best there is.  And also, sometimes, the worst.

Sometimes you won’t have anyone to talk to.

Sometimes you’ll wonder if you’ve forgotten who you are.

But you must remember this:  What you’re doing matters.

And you have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.

The truth is, being a woman is a gift.

Tenderness is a gift.

Intimacy is a gift.

And nurturing the good in this world is a nothing short of a privilege.

That’s why I have to love you this way.  So I can give what I have to you.  So that you can carry it in your body and pass it on.

I have watched you sleep.  I’ve kissed you a million times.  And I know something that you don’t, yet:

You are writing the story of your ONLY life every single minute of every day.

And my greatest hope for you, sweet child, is that I can teach you how to write a good one.

how to make a comfort list

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In Get Lucky, the main character makes a “comfort list” of things that are soothing.  Here it is:

“Things that are comforting:

Tea.

Warm water on your skin.

Thick socks.

Humming.

Laughter.

Fireplaces.

Having someone arrange your fruit in a smiley face.

Having someone refuse to examine your imaginary tumors.

Watching old movies with Mackie.”

And while I’ve never actually made a list like this, myself, I’ve been thinking lately that I maybe should.

Because having a book come out is exhilarating and thrilling and amazing.  And it has the dream-come-true quality that so many things do for me now that I make my living as a novelist.  But the truth is, having your dreams come true — though truly, indescribably awesome — can also, at times, be a little stressful.

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So here is my own comfort list for this month.  (And for the record, even just making the list is comforting.)

  • Reading to my kids. (About to start Harry Potter 7!)
  • Watering the garden.
  • Watching at the garden–and all its butterflies, bugs, bees, lizards, and caterpillars.
  • Cooking dinner.
  • Listening to NPR.  (Oh, NPR! I love you!)
  • Writing the next novel.
  • Daydreaming about the next novel.
  • Researching the next novel.
  • Taking a shower.
  • Curling up next to my sweetie at the end of the day.
  • Watching my kids do dance contests.
  • Watching 30 Rock.  (So good!! MMMPH!)
  • Reading.  (Right now it’s Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project–along with a book about whales.)
  • Napping.
  • Snuggling.
  • The sound of the dishwasher.
  • Gabbing on the phone.
  • Cracking jokes in the kitchen with my husband while he makes tea.
  • Making coffee.  (Even if I never get a chance to drink it.)
  • Boogieing to 70s stations on our WiFi radio.
  • Imagining how I’d like to redecorate the house.
  • Date night.  (Eating Ethiopian food until we’re so full we can barely walk and then going to the movies.)

So: There’s a start.  Actually, the more comforts I think of, the more I think of.  Which is, of course, comforting in itself.

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the Lockhart Library

Last week, I drove out to Lockhart, Texas, with my mom for a book event.  The library in my new book is based on the historic library in Lockhart–the oldest library in Texas.

It was so amazing to get to stand in the library that had sparked so many ideas in my head and read from the book there.  Though the library in the book is shabbier than the well-cared-for library in Lockhart–had to be, for the plot.

Here’s the excerpt I read in Lockhart, standing in this library, in front a a stage where Willam Taft once spoke.

The truth is, by the end of the morning, I would be very grateful that I hadn’t beheld the building for the first time in a tiny picture on a page.  I don’t know how I had managed to grow up in this town and never once visit this library, but until that morning, when we all drove over together to visit, I had never seen it.  And as tired as I was after my late night, and as warm I already felt in the morning sun, I will never forget the moment I lifted my eyes up to that building for the very first time.

I must have been the only person in the group who hadn’t seen it before. Everyone else climbed out of the caravan of cars we’d driven, gathered up cell phones and blackberries and notepads, and headed in, heads down.  But me, I stopped still on the walkway.  I leaned my head back and my mouth fell a little open.  I felt a tickle, almost a shyness, in my chest, the way you might if you suddenly bumped into a movie star at a cocktail party—some mixture of surprise, and delight, and the self-consciousness that remarkable beauty inspires.

There is no question that the objects that surround us impact our experience of the world.  Right?  Sitting on the deck of an ocean liner is not the same experience as, say, taking a seat on the subway. Standing in a field of flowers is not the same thing as standing in line at the DMV.  Picnicking next to an enormous oak tree is not the same thing as picnicking next to a stump.   Sunlight is not the same thing as fluorescent.  Inside is not the same thing as outside.  Beautiful is not the same as ugly.  These statements aren’t just opinion, right?  They’re facts.

I’m not sure if I can describe the building.  I’m not sure a catalog of its details—the red brick, the balustrade, the limestone carvings, the stained glass—can do it justice.  Later, Howard would describe it to me as a Classical Revival Greek cross plan with vaulted pavilions forming the arms.  In fact, I’d collect all sorts of words to describe it, like pediments and entablature and pilasters.  But really, in the face of something as solid and as heroic and as real as that building, words are just a little thin.  It’s like trying to sum up the Parthenon.  What would you say? It has tall white columns, and lots of carvings, and it’s really, really big.

One thing I can say: seeing this library knocked the wind out of me.  The way the look of it created the feel of it:  The shine of that old wavy glass in the windows.  How the bricks and trim and stone all came together and made it more than just what it was.  The scale, which managed, impossibly, to tower over you and welcome you, to feel both enormous and cozy, both regal and kind.  It rose up out of the little park of St. Augustine that surrounded it:  Its feet so firmly on the earth, but its octagonal dome and widow’s walk railing brushing the sky.

That said, it did need some work.  The paint was peeling, the gutters were sagging, one of the massive stone ball finials had fallen off and was resting in two cracked pieces by the entrance.

Howard did not fail to notice me gaping.

“You’ve never even been here, have you?”

“Of course I have,” I lied, falling in line behind him.  And then, “A long, long time ago.  So long ago I can barely remember.”

Later, Howard would walk me through the photos we’d take that day and explain the architectural principles that made the building what it was.  How the shapes and angles all played off each other and made relationships that were pleasing to the eye and soothing to the soul, how the arrangement of windows and columns and doors could speak to primal human needs for safety and order and connection.  By the end of the day, I would be starting to understand the psychology of the architecture—not just that it was beautiful, but why.

But at the time, all I knew was that the experience of standing before this grand, slightly neglected building, somehow, in some way, made me want to be a better person.

video: make your own luck


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I’ve just made a new trailer for Get Lucky that tries to feel a little bit like the book.

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I was super-lucky to get to use photos taken by my beautiful pal Andrea Jenkins of Hula Seventy, who is an amazing photographer, artist, blogger, and mama.  Beyond amazing, actually.

I’ve been trying to make this video for a while.  I’ve had the images and music lined up forever.  But I had trouble finding the right words.  I tried reading a few different book excerpts, but nothing was right. So I finally put the whole project aside.

And it’s amazing how, with creative things, NOT thinking about a problem so often solves it.  Or, at least, not concentrating on a problem.  I just kind of put this video project on a shelf in the back of my head and did a gazillion other things for a while.

 

And then, the other day, my husband was messing around online, and he said, “You should make a word cloud out of the first chapter of Get Lucky.”

Y’all know what word clouds are, right?  Word clouds lay out words from a piece of writing visually. Like, for example, here’s my author bio as a word cloud:

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And as soon as I heard my husband say that, I also heard a little “ding!”  The ding of my mind finally, suddenly, knowing with total certainty exactly what to do.  Like magic.  My very favorite kind of magic.

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praise for Get Lucky

“[A] thoroughly enjoyable girlish romp.”
– Library Journal

“Center delivers an original, engaging, and touching novel populated with quirky and lovable characters, and ripe for discovery by readers looking for a cheering read.”
– Booklist

“Center has hit a home run with Get Lucky . . . There is no other author out there who does women’s fiction better.”
– Wendy Robards, book blogger

“Center’s prose is charming and funny.”
– The Houston Press

“A hilarious and touching take on what it means to be a grown-up, Get Lucky asks the quintessential question of whether we can ever go home again. You can’t help but root for Sarah right until the end, and will no doubt laugh and cry with her along the way. A must-read.”
– Julie Buxbaum, author of The Opposite of Love and After You

“Center is a master of creating modern hero(ine) journeys, and this is one of her best.”
Book Club Classics

“Center presents a fresh take on the bond between sisters with this engaging and colorful family drama.”
– Cincinnati Public Library

“Center has a talent of giving personalities to even the most mundane characters.  She makes it easy for readers to fall in love with the people in her books.  The reader becomes invested in the future of these characters; once you start one of her books, you can’t stop until it’s finished.”

S. Krishna, book blogger

free LUCK for everybody

So we had the book launch party for Get Lucky on Saturday.

I really wasn’t sure how many people would show up, but I knew it would be a fun time.  Especially since I’d be reading the first chapter of the book, which is pretty feisty.

The opening paragraph is all about how the main character, who works for an ad agency and has just finished working on a bra campaign, stumbles on a website that gives her a crisis of consciousness.

In truth, the word “boobs” appears in the first chapter many times.  Many, many times.  More times than I’d really noticed before I was standing up reading it in front of a crowd of — I’m guessing — something like 100 people (my mom’s guessing 150, but she’s my mom).

A crowd that included one of my favorite six-year-olds.

Photo by her mama.

She didn’t seem to mind too much, though.

Photo by the brilliant Karen Walrond.

Photo by the brilliant Karen Walrond.

I had such a great time.  On Twitter, before the launch, I promised we’d give away free luck with every book to everyone who came to the party.  And I feel like we did.  Or, if not luck, at the very least: gratitude.  Which is really kind of not that different.

radio interview

I had such a fun time this morning talking with Christopher Gabriel on his radio program at WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota.

Of course, I wasn’t in Fargo.  I was home, in my pajamas.  As all writers should be at all times.

We had a great chat, and I found myself thinking, afterwards, about how radio really is an art–how there’s a music to it. Christopher Gabriel just has a voice that’s fun to listen to–friendly, enthusiastic, funny.  For me, like with a good story on the page, it’s a lot about the voice.  A good voice makes you want to listen.

Click here to listen.

book trailer for Get Lucky

Get Lucky is a novel about many different things, but one of them is sisters.

I have two sisters, myself–I’m the middle one–and so I know a lot about the subject.

Here’s a book trailer I made using my mom’s Super 8 home movies of us as children.  The redhead who’s working so hard on her cartwheels is my big sister.  The blondie scampering all around is me.  And that sweet little baby with those gorgeous big eyes is my little sister.

I cannot watch this video without tears coming to my eyes.

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And I have written quite a bit about these videos–both in essays and fiction.  Here’s an excerpt from Everyone Is Beautiful when the main character’s mother sends her their old family home movies in the mail:

I was mesmerized by the movies, there in the living room.  Sam was still on my hip, and the boys were still in the kitchen.  I suspected they’d found the boxes of maxi-pads and panty liners that I’d bought at the store and were now sticking them to every surface in the kitchen.  But it was okay.  Wasteful, but okay.  Sometimes I was willing to shell out a box of maxi pads for a few minutes to myself.

I watched the DVDs for almost fifteen minutes.  I saw my parents bringing me home from the hospital, my mother cradling me in a yellow blanket, my father holding me on his lap and reading the paper.  I watched our first cat, Liberace—a pet I only remembered from pictures.  I hadn’t seen these movies in years.  When we were younger, back before the Super 8 projector broke, we used to make popcorn and watch them on the wall of my parents’ bedroom.  I don’t remember once ever feeling sad or melancholy or lost during those movie nights.  Back then, it was just fun. We’d tease each other and throw popcorn at our old selves.

Now, the movies had me in tears.  Of course, the timing wasn’t great.  And the company that had transferred the reels to the DVDs had added a wistful musical score that really emphasized the passage of time and how all things fade and die.  And the flickering, ethereal quality of the images made it my childhood seem so dated, so vintage—it was as if it existed in a past so distant that I’d never be able to reach it again.  Which, of course, was true.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

It really is amazing how the past disappears.  I can remember what it felt like to be that little person, but I can’t, of course, be that person anymore.

And the tension between what you lose as you leave your childhood behind and what you gain as you grow up and become your own person really captures my imagination.


And as for my sisters, the close childhood I spent with them remains to this day the standard I use to judge all closeness.

d-o-n-e-!

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I just finished my 3rd novel and sent it to my editor.  I’m totally in love with the story and having a hard time making myself stop writing.  It’s called Get Lucky and it’s the story of a woman who offers to have a baby for her sister.  Then hilarity and, of course, heartbreak ensue.

Here’s a little excerpt, just for fun:

Mackie and Clive envisioned my pregnancy like a long stay at a family-owned spa. They were going to cook for me and pamper me and spritz me with gratitude every day. Mackie had read every book in existence about optimizing those nine months, and she fully believed that a happy mother made for a happy fetus. And I was willing to run with that. They were going to play Brahms on their house-wide speaker system to nurture the baby’s intelligence—as well as Billie Holliday for wisdom, Al Green for passion, and James Brown for total badass-ocity. Mackie was going to cook feasts every night and keep the house stocked with organic, high fiber food that was free of trans-fats, artificial colors, synthetic hormones, and phthalates. They were going to buy me a gym membership (no pressure!), a feng shui pebble fountain, and a birthing ball that converted into an ergonomic desk chair.

They said I didn’t have to worry about finding a new job until after the baby. That way I’d have my options open when we were done. I could follow my plan to go back to New York and resume my fabulous ex-life, or “please, please, please stay in Texas.” Either way, everybody won. They were getting a baby, and I was getting a 40-week, all-expense-paid, health-and-wellness-oriented, baby-riffic vacation. Easy.

The gorgeous photo up at the top, by the way, is from the amazing Aimee at Greeblemonkey.com.  If the feeling of finishing your third novel were a photograph, that photo could easily be it.  That’s exactly what it feels like.  You can buy that photo in her Etsy shop, and I may do just that–so I can have this feeling every day.