A Pinch of Ooh La La
by Renee Swindle
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by NAL Trade
Abbey Ross, who runs her own bakery in Oakland, California, is known for her visually stunning wedding cakes, but lately, Abbey’s own love life has become rather stale. According to her best friend, Bendrix, Abbey’s not the spontaneous young woman she was when they were teenagers listening to the Cure and creating attention-grabbing graffiti. Of course, her very public and humiliating failed relationship with a womanizing art forger might have something to do with that. Nevertheless, it’s time for Abbey to step out of the kitchen—and her comfort zone—and Bendrix has even handpicked a man for her to date.
Samuel Howard is everything Abbey’s dreamed of: handsome, successful, and—most important of all—looking to raise a family. But a creamy icing might be needed to hide a problem or two. When Samuel complains about disrespect for the institution of marriage, Abbey’s reminded of her nontraditional family, with thirteen children from various mothers. And when Samuel rails about kids having kids, Abbey can’t help but think of her twenty-year-old sister who’s recently revealed her pregnancy.
Soon Abbey is facing one disaster after another and struggling to make sense of it all. Her search for love has led her down a bitter path, but with the help of her unique family and unwavering friends, she just might find the ooh la la that makes life sweet.
A story about how amazing a "nontraditional" family can be, along with jazz and the ever-embarrassing quest to find true and perfect love in our thirties; A PINCH OF OOH LA LA will have readers salivating over peach and goat cheese tarts while tapping their feet to the thoughts of jazz classics.
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Guest Post: How I Begin by Renee Swindle
I usually begin with either voice or scene when I’m starting a novel. When I began writing Shake Down The Stars, for instance, I imagined a woman hiding out from her family while they celebrated her sister’s engagement. She was alone and drinking scotch even though it wasn’t noon. It’s this kind of scene that makes me curious enough to explore a character’s full story. A Pinch Of Ooh La La, on the other hand, started with voice. I imagined hearing a woman complaining about a “public humiliation.” For example, during the opening chapter, Abbey, the narrator, says: “When it comes to love, there’s nothing worse than public betrayal. I was thirty-three when my heart was drop-kicked and sent flying through the air…”
After hearing snippets of Abbey story, it became a matter of lots of daydreaming and imagining how she was humiliated and thinking about her background and personality.
I love jazz so I selfishly made Abbey’s father a legendary jazz pianist. Abbey’s dad also has several ex-wives of different races. His many marriages leave Abbey with four step-moms and twelve siblings. I’m an only child and I wanted to imagine what it would feel like to grow up in a huge family made of artists who give parties and play music together. Of course creating such a big family also generated lots of plot twits and drama.
Since I love to bake, I made Abbey a bakery owner. She also designs wedding cakes, which gave me the opportunity to describe all the couples who come in to order wedding cakes. I think it’s a fun exercise to imagine which couples will last or not.
Once I’m well into the first or second draft I start to understand the themes of the novel. There’s a lot of humor in A Pinch Of Ooh La La, but writing it also helped me explore the theme of “doubt” and how we sometimes experience doubt in our relationships. How do you know if you’ve met the person you should spend the rest of your life with? How do you know when you need to make allowances in a relationship or when you’re making so many you’re losing yourself?
Hopefully you can tell that A Pinch of Ooh La La covers a lot of territory! I hope readers will feel as if they’ve met a fun family and people they might not see in their daily lives.
No matter how I start a novel, my goal is always to leave the reader wondering what will happen next. My aim is always to write a “can’t-put-it-down” novel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Renee Swindle is a California native. She grew up in Vallejo and Lynwood and then went on to earn her BA in English from University of California, Irvine and her MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University.
Renee is the author of several novels including Please Please Please which was an Essence Magazine/Blackboard Bestseller; and also Shake Down The Stars.
Renee has been featured in Essence Magazine and has also been interviewed on KPFA, Blog Talk Radio and various local radio shows and local cable shows. Her writing group, The Finish Party, was featured in O Magazine. Renee’s work has also been published in Germany and Japan.
She currently works as a professor of English. For the last fourteen years she has lived in Oakland with her rescue dogs and loves it.
Find Renee on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/reneeswindlebooks
Follow her on Twitter @renee_swindle
Check out the latest and greatest on her website http://www.reneeswindlebooks.com/