I’m Not Marta

The Bellevue Barnes & Noble Launch Party on Thursday night for Odd Mom Out wasn’t just successful–with over 100 guests–we also sold out.  150 copies sold and we were short about 20.  Fortunately a shipment of 40 arrived Friday noon.  I dropped by the bookstore to sign their stock and by this morning they only had sixteen left.

Odd Mom Out is a hot ticket in Bellevue.  It’s also put me in the hot seat.  More than one woman took time to tell me that my neighbors in Yarrow Point were upset with me, or that I’d offended someone else with my portrayal of the Bellevue mom.  I heard some of this Sunday night two weeks ago at the Medina Book Club Party, too. 

When asked in an interview Thursday afternoon why I lived in a place I disliked so much I looked at the interviewer and shook my head.  “I’m not Marta.”

I chose to live here.  I like living here.  I totally take advantage of all the creature comforts I write about in Odd Mom Out and again in May 2008’s Alpha Mom.   The schools are tremendous.  The libraries state of the art.  The public parks plentiful and gorgeous.  The shopping outstanding.  Hair salons plentiful.  Starbucks and nail salons on every corner.  Trust me,  I’m a happy camper.

But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a little bit unreal.  Remember, I grew up in California’s Central Valley.  Our biggest claim to fame was being America’s Bread Basket.  Bellevue is no bread basket.  It’s more like Barbie’s Dream Castle—pretty and manicured and sparkly and expensive.  Heck, even Neiman Marcus is opening a huge store in downtown Bellevue in 2009. 

I don’t mind controversy over the book.  Not every reader is going to adore prickly, fierce, passionate Marta’s approach to life.  But what a shame if I only wrote one kind of heroine, and our society approved one kind of woman. 

My neighbors don’t need to be upset or offended.  It’s a fictional novel.  I made up the characters and created interesting conflicts to intrigue women all over the world.   

During the interview in my living room Thursday the reporter asked me if I had a motorcyle.  I shook my head.  He asked if I wanted one.  I shook my head.  He asked if I wore combat boots.  No.  Camo pants?  No.  Do I have local friends?  Yes. 

“I just can’t believe you’re not Marta,” he repeated.  “You made the character so believable.  She seemed so real.  I was sure she was you.”

I thanked him.  I mean, he was paying me quite a compliment.  Marta should feel real.  She’s out of my imagination but she does live in my world.  She’s as close to me as Jackie and Kai, Holly, and Taylor who gets her own book in May.

My characters need to live and breathe in the story.  I’m a writer.  My job is to write well.


  1. I just finished Odd Mom Out & I loved it. I could not put it down! I really thought that Marta was a great character. It seems like the debate between working vs. stay at home moms is getting louder and this book addresses some of the stereotypes. I am a working mom who loves her job and her son but I respect the stay at home moms who work just as hard or harder than I do. I wish that everyone could respect each others’ choices or situations. One way is not the right way for everyone or every family. I cannot wait for more details about the sequel!

  2. I LOVE this blog Jane!!! Odd Mom Out is such a great book, but obviosly some people need something to complain about. Marta is such and awesome character and she is so real, but definately not Jane! I can’t wait to meet you one of these days.

  3. Jane, I told you this the other night, and I’d say it to any of those women so outraged! over your portrayal of Bellevue and the women there.

    I’m a native of Washington state. I’ve also lived on Seattle’s Eastside long enough to have met some fairly snobbish and cliquish women there. I’ve also met those who are kind, loving, generous and tremendous friends. It’s comical that anyone should be so upset over a fictional account of Bellevue and the surrounding community.

    In the meantime, “Odd Mom Out” is a great book. If they’re refusing to read it, they’re missing out — plus, maybe it might foster a bit of discussion in those book clubs about WHY some of the women of the community are perceived the way they are by others…

  4. tsk tsk tsk. People can’t tell between fiction and non fiction these days? How sad. well at least you know you are doing your job well! yay! I totally re-read OMO and *sigh* Marta is soooooo cool! especially since she rides a motorcycle and dates a hottie . and… she’s a single mom… and so on and so on.

  5. How ridiculous and great at the same time!!! Every community has this issue and that is why your book is so great because millions of moms out there will be able to relate and feel empowered by Marta!!! woohoo! Great job, Jane!

  6. I loved your I Am Not Marta post! You said it all so well. And honestly does everyone think that every writer is every character they write about??? Hello, fiction!!

  7. Jane, you GO girl! I haven’t even read Odd Mom Out yet, but know that I’ll be able to relate well to the overall theme being that I am a 10-year resident of Bellevue (primarily for the schools) and have yet to feel grounded here. Wish I had known about your B&N visit in time to be a part of your support crowd – you get 3 cheers from me!

  8. I had given a copy of Flirting with Forty to a good friend because I knew she would enjoy it. She emailed me from Sydney yesterday telling me she’d recognized your name on the cover, bought Odd Mom Out at the airport and read it. She loved the book and said the town reminded her of Lake Oswego on steroids (where she lives and I used to live!) As someone who always feels like the odd mom out, I cannot wait to read this.

  9. You’ll be happy to know that I went Friday and picked up my seven reserved copies from B&N. (Yes, I will be asking you to sign all of them!) I also moved the ones left on the new release table to the front and center of the table. Who can see them on the backside? We want people to see it from the moment they walk in the store don’t we?

    I’ve read almost half, and this is by far the best story you’ve written so far, Jane. Of course, that’s in my not so humble opinion. I haven’t decided if I really like Marta or not. Sometimes yet, sometimes, not so much. I really like Eva. And, unfortunately, I even know a few moms like Taylor. Ick.

    You have outdone yourself this time, my friend. Job well done. See you Sunday!

  10. Oh Jane, 5 Spot should be ashamed of themselves. The artwork for “Odd Mom Out” is absolutely appalling! The cookie cutter moms look like poorly dressed seventy-plus year olds, from a Floridian retirement community– the “odd mom” looks about as alternative/bohemian as a Faith Hill wannabe. Truly hideous! It saddens me that the cover isn’t as witty and creative as your prose. Shame on your publisher. They really owe you one!

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