Cocktails, law and motherhood … Janis Powers writes about empowering the working mom.
I started writing Mama’s Got a Brand New Job over ten years ago. My job as a travelling management consultant imploded after I had my first child and I was frustrated, disappointed and upset. I loved being a mom, but my new job put a huge damper on my old one. Like many women in this situation, I hit the computer for some keyboard catharsis. And that’s how Mama’s Got a Brand New Job began … as an autobiography.
After a few months of writing, I sent some pitch letters to agents. I didn’t have a completed manuscript but I didn’t care; I yearned for the validation of my professionalism that I was used to from so many years in the workforce.
And I got it. Agents loved the story concept – how a professional woman transitions to motherhood. They also wanted more chapters. I didn’t have them. I poured over the outline I had written and realized that there were way too many intimate details in my story that I did not want to share with the rest of the world.
So I was just going to have to make it all up.
I had a name – Maxine. That was the back-up choice for my daughter’s name. And I had a profession – lawyer. That was my back-up choice for a career. And then there was New York. I live in Austin, Texas, but I grew up right outside Manhattan. Setting the story in this familiar place was like going home.
I started writing vignettes – short stories that wound up as scenes in the book. I wanted to create Maxine’s world and live in it before I really had a plot. The first scene I wrote was the baseball scene at Citi Field. The next one was the oyster-eating scene with the rep from the French perfume company. And I wrote plenty of scenes that never made it into the book, including a scene at a live auction and a fantastic scene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
After years of writing, I realized that I needed help. I got in touch with Alexandra Shelley, editor of the New York Times bestseller, The Help. After a few starts and stops, I finally got on her calendar…three years later.
Her editorial review was exactly what I needed. I wound up cutting characters and re-jigging the plot. Most importantly, I figured out how the book was going to end. I spent another six months writing and finally finished the manuscript! I hope you enjoy Mama’s Got a Brand New Job!
Meet Maxine Pedersen. Patent attorney by day, cocktail enthusiast by night, Maxine’s key function at work is to fix her boss’ bumbling social gaffes with her wit and charm. Her expertise helps win an account with a French perfume company. Her pregnancy almost ruins her career. Maxine’s maternal femininity finally brings contemporary women’s fiction a character who loves to work, and who loves to be a mother. Maxine Pedersen celebrates the unity of these two disparate ideologies. In doing so, Maxine will help change the conversation about what it means to be a “working mom,” and empower women to find the best solutions for their unique circumstances.
Janis Powers has had a lot of jobs. Yale graduate, architecture major, M.B.A., management consultant, stay-at-home mom, amateur chef, inveterate traveller, Janis is now channeling her energy into writing. She blogs regularly on political and social issues for The Huffington Post. You can check out her posts on her Provocative Perspectives website at http://www.janispowers.com