Charlotte Nightingale has the worst luck in the world. Her cluttered apartment is the poster child for shar chi—poison luck in the realm of Feng Shui. Her boyfriend’s a jerk, her job sucks, she’s broke and her own family seems to hate her. Every day is a bad hair day. Kwan, a handsome Chinese food deliveryman and aspiring Feng Shui practitioner, takes pity on Charlotte. While Charlotte searches for the money to pay for the Emperor’s cashew chicken Kwan has delivered, he surreptitiously begins to move things around in Charlotte’s apartment in accordance with the ancient art of placement—hoping to improve her life. Charlotte’s luck subsequently appears to change in a big way. It goes from bad to worse—or so it seems.
Charlotte finds a photo of her boyfriend with another woman, her car dies, she is fired from her job, the plumbing in her apartment explodes, and making matters worse, Charlotte’s perfect perky designer-obsessed blonde sister is about to marry a square-jawed, richer-than-god, insanely handsome plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills and the entire family loves nothing more than to rub Charlotte’s nose in it.
Is it bad luck that sends Charlotte careening through calamity after calamity, or is it merely a matter of perspective? Without a loser boyfriend, beater car and crappy job, Charlotte is free to embark on a great adventure that will awaken in her a world of possibility where nothing is as simple as it seems. Until, in the end, Charlotte realizes that everything she ever wanted was right under her nose the whole time.
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About the Author
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Q & A with Pamela Ferderbar, Author of Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale
I'm so happy to welcome Pam Ferderbar, witty author of Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale, to A Literary Vacation today! She's stopped by to tell us a little about herself and her book. So enjoy and continue after the Q & A to learn more about Fng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale.
Hello Pam! Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale sounds hilarious! I love the idea of deciding whether our lives are ruled by luck or something else. Where did you come up with the idea?
Watching the news one night in L.A. I was taken by a story about Feng Shui and how these giant corporations like Sony and Disneyland were hiring Feng Shui practitioners to work with their architects, landscapers and interior designers to make the spaces more conducive to positive energy. I thought, really? Then I started reading about Feng Shui and I was hooked. About a week later I woke up super early, like 3:30 in the morning, and the character of Charlotte Nightingale just came to life. It was like she sat on my shoulder and told me her story. I wrote the novella in six days. Of course there were months of editing, but the story—the thing was instantaneous. It’s the only time in my life that has ever happened.
What does a typical day in your life look like? When do you fit in time to write?
Right now I get up around 4 and start working on the promo and marketing of the book, and I’m still at it at midnight. Once all this book launch stuff has passed I expect things will go back to normal-ish, and I’ll be writing writing again. Since moving back to Wisconsin I haven’t actually done any real writing—it has all been book promo and marketing. I am absolutely itching to get back to writing. How do I see it panning out once all this launch stuff has passed? Ah…in a perfect world I’ll have a couple of photo assignments each week, which will take 20-30 hours between shooting and editing the images. That’ll leave me with 3 solid days to write and maybe even an afternoon off. I’ll try to make it count!
A lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work, but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?
I LOVE social media. I don’t know how people got close to their readers before. With social media you can be fully present and have an actual dialog with someone on another continent. And that person’s opinion matters, because if you’re writing about a basic human issue, like insecurity, grief, fear—that’s global, right? Americans haven’t cornered the market on feeling bad about themselves. Plus readers give me great ideas. Questions are the best thing ever. The more I question what I’m writing, the better I become at the craft of storytelling. Storytelling hinges on the people listening to your stories. If it’s not important or authentic to them, forget about it.
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?
I am all over the place. People give me “dog books” all the time. I love dogs. My heart breaks over animal abuse, so I am easily sucked in to anything dog. I never thought I was a biography buff until I read The Kennedy Women by Laurence Leamer. Holy smokes, it read like the most lush, gorgeous prose ever. Could not put it down. Patti Smith’s Just Kids is one of the finest pieces of writing I've ever had the pleasure to read. Talk about perfection. Pure. Perfect. Writing. I loved Keith Richards’s bio Life. I found myself saying “aw” a lot. From Keith Richards yet. Who knew he was such a sweetie, right? I recently read Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants, which was funny, as expected. I also just read John Cleese’s biography So Anyway, and I was blown away by its poignancy. I love it when you learn what it is about a person’s past that forms them as the person we know. I couldn’t put Cleese’s book down. It was bittersweet. Not at all what I expected. I loved Gone Girl, found The Girl on the Train tedious until the last 20 pages or so, then it all seemed worth it---ish. You’ll have to check Amazon and Goodreads for more of my reviews. I read a lot.
Are you working on any future books at this time? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
Oh, yeah! It’s funny, people seem to have the idea that if you’re not at a computer or pen in hand, you’re not writing. But I’m “writing” when I’m in the tub, the car, staring into space, or reading. It’s those quiet little spaces in between “doing stuff” where the real work gets done. The inspiration, the epiphanies all take place in those cubbyholes of time. So while I’m going nuts trying to get Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale off the ground I’m also thinking about the next phase in her life. Plus I am working on a companion book to the Charlotte series. Yes –she’s going to be a series! The companion book is a compilation of the best (worst?) #CharlotteMoment submissions embellished by illustrations and my photography. I’m also a couple hundred pages into a novel called Mo’s Indian. It’s funny, but more “literary” than Charlotte, if that makes any sense. That could take years to complete. Or not. You never know what happens in my cubbyholes!
Publication Date: June 21st, 2015
Publisher: Three Towers Press (an imprint of HenschelHAUS Publishing)
Pages: 240 (Hardcover)
Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale is an uplifting and hilarious fable about empowerment and perception, and the magical things that happen when we begin to see the glass as half full.
Everyone has had one of those days. For women, our go-to therapy is usually telling a best friend, mom, sister or cousin about the incredibly awful/embarrassing/annoying thing that has happened to us, and then they tell us they have never heard of such an atrocity! It makes us feel better to be heard and understood.
For Charlotte Nightingale, every day is one of those days. It’s not that she’s necessarily doing anything wrong; inauspicious things just seem to happen to Charlotte pretty much end-to-end from the time she wakes up until she goes to sleep at night.
Charlotte is like a lot of us—working a job we hate because we can’t afford not to. She drives a piece of junk car, has massive student loan debt, wears thrift shop clothes and never does anything nice for herself. Under the weight of life, just life, Charlotte is not fully present in her own existence. She phones it in. She is not really living.
Readers tell me that they relate to Charlotte. “That is so me.” “I am Charlotte.” “You won’t believe what happened to me.” “I just had a total Charlotte moment!” This is the genesis of the #CharlotteMoment.
Each time a reader posts #CharlotteMoment to social media it will, a) prove cathartic and make her feel better, and b) it will appear on my website. Once a month I’ll feature the best (worst? funniest? Charlotte-est?) #CharlotteMoment and the person who submitted it will win a prize. Every woman ought to be rewarded for surviving Charlotte moments, but we will have to begin with one per month!
Posting the Charlotte moments is a way of saying ‘you are not alone.’ There’s safety in numbers. Laughter is the best medicine. I think women really like this book because by laughing at Charlotte’s misadventures, we are really letting go of some of the junk we carry with us. Charlotte feels inadequate, overwhelmed, powerless. But we see that she’s a good person, and perhaps all she needs to thrive is a little kindness. A touch of good luck. Some grace. Feng Shui.
Enter Kwan, the gentle soul, the only soul who reaches out to Charlotte for no other reason than he is kind. His small acts of kindness, good fortune and Feng Shui may seem to go unnoticed by Charlotte, but these gestures make all the difference in the world. For reasons she doesn’t comprehend, Charlotte begins to walk with her shoulders back and her chin up.
Is it Feng Shui, magic, or grace that puts Charlotte’s life in order, or is it something she’s always had inside of her, and all that was needed to wake it up was a little kindness? What do I think? Well, I think maybe it’s a combination of all these things. Then again, Feng Shui is powerful stuff. The question is, what do you think?
Pam Ferderbar was born and raised in Wisconsin, the only child of two loving but quirky parents who fostered her creativity by setting a place at the table for Pam’s imaginary friend Dokka, and preparing his favorite invisible food, muggar. After graduating Marquette University with a B.S. in Journalism, Pam worked at Ferderbar Studios, the family advertising photography business where she honed her skills as a TV commercials director and was paid to play with imaginary friends called actors.
In 1994, Ferderbar moved to Los Angeles where she directed commercials for Microsoft, Wells Fargo Bank, Bally’s, ITT and others, and in her spare time wrote screenplays such as Bob Dylan Stole My Wife, for which she is currently seeking financing for a Wisconsin-based production. In 1998 she wrote the novella Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale, sparking a bidding war for the movie rights. New Line Cinema purchased the rights in a record-breaking $800,000 deal, and a few months later all the executives on the project were fired and Pam’s movie was shelved. Classic #CharlotteMoment. As Charlotte would say, “It wasn’t my fault!”
After completing a novel based on the novella Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale, Pam returned to Wisconsin in 2013. Pam’s father Tom Ferderbar, a student of the great Ansel Adams and a master photographer himself, tutors Pam in the art of photography. Pam is working on a second Charlotte Nightingale novel and a companion book with reader’s “Charlotte moments” complimented with illustrations and Pam’s own photographs. Pam and her friend Dokka continue to play and eat mugger.
Pam is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, and the Coalition for Photographic Arts/Milwaukee.
Learn more about Pam on her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+