Jessica Strawser is back with her third book–FORGET YOU KNOW ME–about adult female friendships, being in over your head, and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay 

Friendships grow stale, a marriage erodes, and a woman is in over her head in this domestic drama/women’s fiction, the third from the very talented Jessica Strawser. 

forget you know me.jpg

FORGET YOU KNOW ME is about crackling life-long friendships, eroding marriages, precarious health, and the wobbly years of mothering young children. It examines the tumultuous evolving relationships between girlfriends, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, women and men/just friends, and even neighbors–maybe that single dad could be an object of your affection?

Strawser is definitely a talented writer and absolutely ‘gets’ the busy mom-life of raising two young children. She’s snappy and highly observant ala Jennifer Weiner meets Emily Giffin so if you like their work, I think you’ll find a nice cross-over appeal.

Molly and Liza have been best friends since childhood. But Molly gets married, settles down and raises her children in their hometown of Cincinnati while Liza remains single and leaves for Chicago, though she’s really not happy. Meanwhile, things are growing stale with Molly—mom to Grant, 5 and Nori, 3. Her relationship with husband, Daniel, is strained and well, she’s not feeling all that healthy these days, either.

There are plenty of secrets and stress and lies and how they all tie together in the tangled web of being at our best-or not. FORGET YOU KNOW ME has an ongoing underlying theme of ‘getting in over your head.‘ 

“Strawser is a clear master of the craft, drawing together a plot that seems at once impossible and fully believable. The novel’s pulsing anxiety continues through the triple narration … The tapestry of story and character will lure book clubs and lovers of emotionally complex fiction.”


Told in multiple POVs, we get a glimpse of how all these relationships work. Or don’t. I enjoyed the small-town setting of the book and appreciate Strawser’s snappy dialogue and acute skills of observation.

Please join me in welcoming Jessica back to the author interview series.

Leslie Lindsay:

Jessica, I am always so interested the seed of a book for an author—was it a situation, a character, a setting…what got your wheels turning?

Jessica Strawser:

Usually I write from a central question or a theme, but with this story, it was the opening scene—or, rather, the rapid-fire opening sequence of scenes—that came to me and would not let go.

high angle shot of suburban neighborhood
Photo by David McBee on

Leslie Lindsay:

I think it’s normal for people—women in particular—to grow apart from once-close girlfriends. Sometimes we meet because of circumstance—we’re in the same high school bio class, for example, or college roommates, neighbors—at the time it works, but then we just sort of grow apart once the stress of marriage, work, and kids come into the picture. Have you experienced this personally?

Jessica Strawser:

Well, I’ve reached a stage of (bracing myself to say this word…) midlife where I’ve observed a lot of once-close relationships growing apart, often in spite of the best efforts of all involved. Particularly if you have young children and if your closest friends are not in the same city or at the same life stage, as is true for the characters in FORGET YOU KNOW ME, those tend to take a backseat as we put our families first. It’s wonderful to get together with old friends and pick up right where we left off, but I sometimes feel a little sad afterward, because it punctuates that we aren’t in touch with each other’s day-to-day the way we once were, the way we might still wish to be.

backlit dawn foggy friendship
Photo by Helena Lopes on

Leslie Lindsay:

I love the cover of FORGET YOU KNOW ME and find it reflects the intimacy of relationships and small-towns. Can you talk a little more about that—and the danger of being ‘too close?’ And also—that tiny little airport—like a blast from the past!

Jessica Strawser:

FORGET YOU KNOW ME isn’t exactly set in a small town, but in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where I live—though I took care with the location, featuring some outlying points that are meaningful to me, and thus become so to my characters. There’s a lot of forced intimacy, particularly between Molly and her neighbor—who is present (physically and emotionally) in ways that her husband is not—and between Liza, her brother and his pregnant wife, who end up taking her in. Tiny Lunken Airport, where Liza takes a job, really is like stepping back in time, and she meets some inescapably influential characters there. And the Cincinnati Nature Center pivotal to Molly’s story line thrives with a close-knit community of members, volunteers and visitors.

Leslie Lindsay:

But there’s a darker, slightly more sinister aspect of ‘being in over your head’ for almost all of your characters in FORGET YOU KNOW ME—was this a theme you wanted to explore, or did it just sort of evolve?

Jessica Strawser:

I set out with this in mind. They’ve been in over their heads for a while, and what happens in that opening video chat is going to force everyone to face up to the things that have come between them—whether being honest with themselves as well as the people they love means finding a way to reverse course, or parting ways.

gray bridge and trees
Photo by Martin Damboldt on

Leslie Lindsay:

What do you think of when you find yourself avoiding the page? Is there something—or someone—who seems to ground you? Maybe that Nature Center that appears in the book?

Jessica Strawser:

I actually write at the Nature Center quite a bit; I love the library there and the freedom to walk the trails when my mind needs a breather. I’m bullheaded about forward momentum, so tend to write through frustration more than I avoid the page—but usually when I’m procrastinating it means there’s something I haven’t thought through enough, some plot points I haven’t connected yet that are holding me back. That’s when I often need to step back, take a macro rather than micro view of the story, and regroup.

Leslie Lindsay:

What’s obsessing you these days? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Jessica Strawser:

My kitchen! Thanks to a random electrical storm, the overhead light fixture died the same day FORGET YOU KNOW ME came out, and it turns out replacing this particular fixture isn’t so simple. Naturally there were also some related upgrades we’d been putting off… But home improvement projects and book tours don’t mix!

two black wooden bar stools near table and french door refrigerator
Photo by Sarah J on

For more information, to connect with the author, or to purchase a copy of FORGET YOU KNOW ME, please visit: 

Order links:

Jessica_Strawser_credit Corrie Schaffeld (2)ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Strawser is the editor-at-large at Writer’s Digest, where she served as editorial director for nearly a decade and became known for her in-depth cover interviews with such luminaries as David Sedaris and Alice Walker. She’s the author of the book club favorites Almost Missed You, a Barnes & Noble Best New Fiction pick, and Not That I Could TellBook of the Month selection now new in paperback. Her third novel, Forget You Know Me, released to raves in February 2019 (all from St. Martin’s Press).

Currently serving as the 2019 Writer-in-Residence at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Strawser has written for The New York Times Modern Love, Publishers Weekly and other fine venues, and lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two children. She tweets @jessicastrawser, enjoys connecting on Facebook, and speaks frequently at book clubs, libraries, writing conferences and events that are kind enough to invite her.

Let’s stay in touch. Join my email list for (very) occasional updates and hellos.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 



#womensfiction #domesticfiction #families #marriage #Ohio


[Cover and author image courtesy of St. Martin’s Press and used with permission]



In My Brain Today: Guest Post and Give-a-way: Luca’s Lashes

By Leslie Lindsay

What a fun week!  I am blessed with yet another guest post from author Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of the “Luca Lashes”  a collection of kids’ ebooks and interactive apps – aimed at kids ages 0–4 – that turn“fear of firsts” into fun.

Created by long-time educators and husband/wife team Nicole and Damir Fonovich, the series was inspired by their little boy, Lucas, and their desire to help him be brave in all his childhood discoveries. The newest release is Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor. Other 2012 ebooks cover first swim lesson, airplane ride and first haircut.

Take a look below for a fun Luca Lashes contest! Okay…take it away, Nicole!!

Nicole Anne TortorelloNICOLE FONOVICH, M.Ed, is a tech-savvy mom blazing a new trail in children’s publishing. (image source:

“Taking your child to the doctor? Five tips to help them say “Ah” with confidence. Winter is on its way and everyone knows what that means. Not skiing, not hot chocolate, not kissing under the mistletoe. Colder temps bring cold and flu season, sick kids and doctor’s offices. (Cue sniffles and sneezing.) Any self-preserving individual will avoid sick people like the plague. But if you’re the parent of a young child you might not have a choice. Here are five life-changing tips for bringing your sick child to the doctor’s office and surviving the sniffle season ahead.   (image source:

1. Avoid it at all costs.  Crying babies, snotty noses, heat-seeking germ missiles that love to embed themselves inside busy working mothers. These are all the things that await you at the doctor’s office. So if you can avoid it, do. The most efficient way is to have your child immunized. This requires some preemptive planning. Go early, the sooner the better. That way you can avoid all the mayhem of bringing a sick child to a doctor’s office full of other sick kids.

2. Choose wisely. When it comes to sticking sharp things into your child’s skin, the friendlier the better. Don’t just settle for the first pediatrician that accepts your health insurance. Look for a doctor who works well with your child’s personality. Ideally it is someone who is great at distractions. “Dear sick little baby, here is a cute, fuzzy little bear.” The needle will be in and out before your baby knows what hit her. Be picky when it comes to your child’s doctor. You’re the one who will end up paying in the car ride home

3. When all else fails…play doctor! So, you’ve done your best. You got your child immunized; you disinfected every surface in your house; you even kept her away from the coughing kid at the playground. But, she still came down with the flu. What’s worse than a sick, irritable kid? A sick kid who is terrified of the doctor. You have no choice. She’s spiked a fever and it’s not coming down. Before you drag baby to the doctor, prepare her for what to expect. Buy a toy doctor kit with things like a stethoscope, shot dispenser, and a fake plastic hammer. She will become familiar with the sites and sounds of the doctor and associate them with fun rather than fear

4. In the waiting room, play some more. Waiting rooms are germy places, and the last thing you want is to get infected yourself or to make your child even sicker. This is where your handy dandy iPad comes in use. It can provide great entertainment and distraction without having to share any germs.

5. Take control for your baby.  Be a model for your child. Project confidence, not fear when at the doctor. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and get all the answers you need. Bring a pen and paper, take notes, and be inquisitive. This helps your child see the doctor as a resource for help and information. There’s no need for nervousness here.

With these tips you can turn a potentially dreadful experience into a lot of fun for your child (and yourself), one that they will be eager to repeat in the future. Regular doctor’s visits will be a piece of cake after this, allowing children to enjoy an important part of a lifetime of health benefits.

Bio: Nicole and Damir Fonovich are co-authors of Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor, available at all app/ebook marketplaces. For more helpful suggestions, visit the Luca Lashes YouTube Channel and

*** Enter the Luca Lashes contest!***

Readers: Comment on the post with your most interesting story of taking your kid(s) to the doctor and you’ll be entered to win a gift pack complete with a toy doctor kit, fun bandaids and a $20 Baskin Robbins gift card for use after their next appointment!  [Comments must be entered into the blog, not Facebook or Twitter] to be considered for the gift pack.  Contest is being facilitated by the author of Luca Lashes, not me.]

Special Guest Post: Author of “Fearless,” Maimah Korma

By Leslie Lindsay View Karmo_Cov_S1.jpg in slide show (image source: PRbyTheBook, 10.25.12) 

I am honored to feature a special guest Maimah Karmo,  a breast-cancer survivor and the founder of the Tigerlily Foundation, an organization that educates, empowers and advocates for young women affected by breast cancer. The idea was born after her second chemotherapy treatment, and when she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to tell her story, Oprah’s advice was emphatic: Maimah must write a book.

So Maimah did. Fearless: Awakening to My Life’s Purpose Through Breast Cancer (Brown Books, October 2012) is about her transformation, and how she learned that a challenge can be a gift.

And now here’s Maimah on her journey:

“You’ve connected with some amazing, inspirational women along your journey. What have you learned from them?”

MK: “I have learned, as one of them said, “to eat life with a big spoon”.  Life is so short, and we are so powerful. The women who make a difference don’t live scared – they show up and say what’s on their minds.  They are passionate, purposeful, have faith and an amazing personal strength that comes from a sense of knowing oneself. They live with their heads held high and are never victims of this or that, but tend to see life with the glass half full, learning from mistakes, living with grace and knowing that their actions reverberate on a larger scale.”

[Leslie’s note:  LOVE this concept of “eating life with a big spoon!”] 

“What was connecting with Oprah like? (Everyone always wants to know!)”

M.K. “She was amazing. She is a wonderful host – compassionate, kind and warm. You almost forget she is there, you feel like you’ve known her forever and that you’ve sat on that couch before with her in her living room.  She has a way of focusing on each person and making them feel special. She was amazing. I love her even more after meeting her. She is 100% the real deal and is doing so much to help so many.”

[Leslie’s note:  how often do we bump into others who are the ‘real deal?’  What can you do to make each person you interact with feel special and important?  Do it everyday and you’ll begin to see benefits for yourself.]

(image source: Breast Cancer Awareness Pink

Fearless is a stunning account of Maimah’s upbringing in Liberia—which was uprooted when she was 15 years old, and her family was forced to flee to the U.S.—to living the American Dream, watching it all fall apart with a breast cancer diagnosis, and ultimately, bouncing back.  Loook for it where books are sold, available Novemeber 1st, 2012.

Today, Maimah has made her mark in the world of breast cancer, and her work has been celebrated everywhere from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Redbook Magazine to ­­­­Good Morning America.

For more information on Breast Cancer Awareness, see:

[Leslie’s Note: October is a special month for me–it’s the time of year I celebrate my wedding anniversary to my suportive hubby, but also a time for remembering my Grandmother who passed away from breast cancer nine years ago. She would have been 80+ years old on October 20th. Here’s to Breast Cancer awareness month.] 

For more information on Maimah and her work with the Tigerlily Foundation, please see, and MAIMAH KARMOwas born in Monrovia, Liberia, and lived there until fleeing to the United States with her family in 1989. She lived in New Jersey before moving to Virginia, where she currently resides with her daughter.

Thanks to PRbytheBook for allowing “Practical Parenting…with a Twist!” to feature Maimah on her touching journey. 

The Teacher is Talking: Self-Awareness, a Quiz (from “The Winner’s Brain”)

By Leslie Lindsay

Here’s a new milestone:  This is my 501 st blog post!  Wow.  That’s a lot of blogging since 2009.  If you are new to the blog, welcome and thanks for reading!

I blog daily, Monday thru Friday on various topics related to kids, parenting, education, childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), crafting, and more. 

Tuesdays are “The Teacher is Talking” and today marks #2 in a series of tips and ideas you can use for your noggin, from “The Winner’s Brain.”   (that is, making it just a wee bit better than it was, say yesterday).  Last week, I blogged on this topic,and a representative from Harvard University Press “found” the post and contacted me.  She generously offered to send me a couple of copies of “The Winner’s Brain” (2010) for a lucky blog reader (or two) to win!  You just never know what will come of your blogging.  Details to follow on how to get one of those copies.

For today, we will talk about “Win Factor #1: Self-Awareness.” 

What is “Self-awareness,” other than being aware of who you are?  From the book, “a well-developed self-awareness makes you more effective in your relationships, your job, and every aspect of your life….you are more aware of how you relate to the rest of the world and how the rest of the world relates to you….by becoming self-aware, you gain insight into why things happen to you the way they do–and how you can increse the chances of creating circumstances favorable to success.”

Boost Your BrainPower:  When you understand your talents and limitations, your self-awareness is increased.  When you have a sense of what motivates you, you tend to choose activities that keep you going.

So, do you know yourself the way others do (public versus real-self)?  Take this quick quiz and see.  Answer quickly and honestly.  Ask a friend or spouse to do the same–about you–and then compare answers.  If there is a large discrepancy between what you think and what they think, then your public and private self may not be congruent.  Ready?!  Go!

1.  Do/Would you trust me with a secret?

2.  Could you call me if you had an emergency

3.  What’s the strongest factor that makes me a good friend?

4.  Do you think I easily forgive people or am I a grudge holder?

5.  What does my nonverbal language say to others?

6.  Am I am optimist or pessimist?

7.  What do you get tired of me talking about?

8.  What do you notice that I do when I am feeling uncomfortable or nervous?

9.  What one word do you think describes me best?

Okay…Class dismissed! Stay tuned for details on how to get a FREE copy of “The Winner’s Brain” by Drs. Fenske and Brown (Harvard University Press, 2010).

Product Details  (image retrieved from 5.01.12)




In My Brain Today: Tabatas is my Life (not really)

By Leslie Lindsay

So, last week I decided to take a new exercise class.  I have been doing the same-ol, same-ol and had stopped seeing results/feeling good about the routine.  It was time.  So, skimming over the schedule for the spring classes, I choose to take “Intense Cardio Interval.” Sure, it sounded…well, intense but hey–if you don’t challenge yourself, you won’t change yourself.  I went.  It was hard.  It was really, really hard.  There were times I thought I may croack over and die right there in the studio.  But, I stuck it out and loved how I felt afterwards.

The instructor called it tabatas.  What?!  I had never heard the term before.  Sounded like tobaggan, of you ask me!  But we weren’t doing any major snow sledding.  And dogs weren’t involved.  Though I felt dog-tired when I was done.

So, the deal with tabatas is you work out at your highest intensity ever for 20 seconds (sounds like a cinch, right?!) and then you get a 10-second rest break.  You do the same cardio deal for a 4-minute cycle, then switch to a weight interval for another 20-10-4 (minute) stretch for an entire 60 minute class. And so I did it (sometimes reluctantly so).  Interval training is supposed to be the best form of exercise, “You’ll burn about 600 calories in just this class…and you will continue to burn even more for another 24-48 hours afterwards,” the instructor chirpped.

But, here’s what I was thinking as I was huffing and puffing:  “20 seconds on, 10 seconds off…humm, sounds like my life.”   Bear with me.

I get 20 seconds to pee in private before a kid or a basset hound waddle in the bathroom.  Now I get 10 seconds to finish before…”Mom!  Can I have a snack?”  20 seconds to walk to the pantry and pour a bowl of Goldfish for my 5-year old.  20 seconds to tell my husband about my day before I am interrupted with a 10-second whining kid, “Do you know where my AquaPet is?”   20 more seconds to figure out where in my daily tirade I was.  Oh yes…now the dog wants to go out.  A 10-second “break.”  It’s constant like that all day and night.  20 seconds to explain that picking your nose is really a gross habit and spreads germs.  10 seconds wiping the dog snot off the back door.

I think my life is intense interval training…but, geez…what am I training for?  And that is what is in my brain today, Thurday April 26th 2012.

For more information on this type of interval training, see:

Apraxia Monday: The book has launched

By Leslie Lindsay

It’s been a long time coming.  Close to 4 years, in fact.  I set out to write a book–albeit–a bit relunctly at first on a topic very unfamiliar to me: childhood apraxia of speech (CAS, or just “apraxia”).  When my daughter was just 2 years, 6 months old we were puzzled as to why she wasn’t talking like all of the other children her age.  She was quiet.  She was sweet.  She was smart.  So, why would something as simple as talking be such a challenging feat for my little sprite?

Sure, we understood most of what she needed–a grunt here, a gesture there, a soulful stare.  We knew when she needed to be held, when she wanted a snack or a drink.  But we never actually heard her say, “I’m hungry” till much later than typical.

When my daughter was diagnosed with CAS in 2007, I had no idea what it was, let alone how I could help my daughter.  Well….fast-forward 5 years and I sure know a heck of a lot more now that I did before!  (Maybe more than I bargained for…and probably still not enough of this neurologically-based speech disorder).

This past weekend, we “launched” my labor of love (no, my daughter is still safely tucked in her in 1st grade classroom).  But the book, “Speaking of Apraxia” that was written in her honor went out into the hands of other parents who are walking the same apraxia path we did.  It was like a little send-off for the book.  And in some ways, I am a little apprehensive.

Will it do okay out there in the big-wide world all alone?  Will it get into the hands of those who need it?  Will I need to send some care packages from time to time?  Yes…I suppose I will.  I will be back here at my trusty laptop pushing it forward and cheering it on.  I will be here to chart the course when the waters get a little choppy.

For my book has launched…but I will always be at the helm.

You may be interested in this review from just posted over the weekend:

Copies of Speaking of Apraxia can be purchased through my publisher, Woodbine House (, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.