ABOUT CRUMBS AREN’T ENOUGH
With $80,000 in student debt, an alter ego named Crazy Charlie, and more than her fair share of hang-ups, Charlie Bennett is on a mission: a mission to feel better about herself.
By all accounts this shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, Charlie has graduated from the best universities, has good friends to keep her sane, and an impressive resume to boot. But her poor choices in men (and therapists) have left Charlie feeling fat, fretful, and fed up. She knows something has to change–she’s just not sure what.
When the elevator doors open and Jack Hudson appears with his perfect smile and perfect teeth, Charlie thinks she’s found her answer. A Taye Diggs lookalike who sees through Charlie’s imperfections, Jack could be The One–and not just because he can make strawberry shortcake from scratch. But as their relationship develops without any sign of a commitment, Charlie is left grabbing for crumbs yet again.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Raquel. Can you tell us what your latest book, Crumbs Aren’t Enough, is all about?
A: Crumbs Aren’t Enough is a novel about Charlie Bennett – an accepter of crumbs. She’s on a mission to feel better about herself and get married. By all accounts, this shouldn’t be hard. Well, the feeling better about herself, definitely shouldn’t be hard, since she is an awesome woman. She’s smart, funny, successful, the life of the party, and she has great friends. Why doesn’t she feel good about herself? She thinks she’s too fat, and because of her low self-esteem, she has the absolute worst luck with men. Guys have lied to her, cheated on her, and dumped her. Her poor choices in men have left Charlie feeling fat, fretful, and fed up. All seems lost for Charlie as she approaches her 30th birthday with a self-imposed marriage deadline and no prospects, until she meets Jack Hudson. Jack is really good looking, nice, smart, and best of all he seems to really like Charlie with all her imperfections even her not so nice alter ego, Crazy Charlie. As their relationship develops, Charlie thinks could Jack be “the one.” She goes into therapy worried that she may mess up the relationship and lose her last chance at happiness. The novel goes through the therapy process with Charlie. It’s a fun book with some great life lessons.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: I was inspired to write this novel because my own personal relationship challenges. Like Charlie, the main character, I accepted a lot of crumbs from men I dated. I had lots of crappy relationships and I couldn’t figure out why. This went on for years. I wanted to have a great relationship, I wanted to get married, but I couldn’t seem to attract the right guys or develop positive romantic relationships. Then, I found an amazing therapist and she changed my life. Throughout the therapy process, I learned that a big part of my problem was I didn’t think ‘I was good enough.’ Not even good enough for the crappy men I was dating. This feeling was the direct result of my low self-esteem. My self-esteem was low for lots of reasons and if you are interested in hearing more please contact me at raquelwhiting.com. But, needless to say I didn’t feel good about myself and that needed to change. I needed to build myself up before I could even think about getting in any romantic relationships. When I finally got to that place of feeling good about myself and knowing that I was ‘good enough,’ I could start attracting the right relationships. I don’t think I was alone in this struggle. In fact, I’ve watched some of my friends go through the same battle. So I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned during my journey to self-love and acceptance with other women. I want other women who are in crappy relationships to know that there is a different way. They can have better relationships and they should demand them. I’ve had people ask me why I didn’t write a self-help book or a memoir instead of a novel. My answer is always the same – while I am passionate about helping women feel better about themselves and hence attract the right relationships, I am not an expert and I don’t ever want to give people the impression that I have all the answers. But, I believe I am a great storyteller and I hope the story that is weaved in Crumbs Aren’t Enough will help other women get to the place where they are seeking out the best relationships. I hope women can relate with Charlie and learn from her clear mistakes. She is such a fun woman and she is easy to love and when you love her, you want the best for her.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
A: The characters of Crumbs Aren’t Enough are 80% based on my real life friends and people I’ve come in contact with. For example, the character Ryan is based on my best friend Peter who is just as awesome as Ryan is in the novel. I am thinking about writing a novella on Ryan’s adventures in Hong Kong. He is such a great character whom everyone loves. There is one character whom I developed from my imagination, Stephen Covington. It’s funny, I have been asked by readers a lot if he is based on a real person. Just the other day this happened, and when I explained that he was completely fictional, my friend said that the pain from that relationship was so vividly developed that he was shocked that he was fictional.
Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?
A: If I had to wish one thing for every reader of Crumbs Aren’t Enough, it would be that they finished the book and determined that they don’t need to accept crumbs in their relationships — they realized they deserve the full meal and should demand it. A reviewer at Bibliotica.com wrote “Crumbs Aren’t Enough should be required reading for every woman who has ever not loved her job, not chosen the right man, and not been pleased with her own body.” I was so excited when I read this because it meant I had accomplished what I set out to do.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A: Charlie Bennett, the flawed, crumbs-accepting main character of Crumbs Aren’t Enough, has just walked into the office of Sarah, one of her friends at the law firm, and found the guy she is crushing on, Jack, in there with Sarah with the door closed. Now, when you read the novel, you will see that this is a pretty innocent situation between Jack and Sarah but Charlie has lots of self-esteem issues and doesn’t see it that way. She leaves abruptly and runs to her office. She is hyperventilating at the thought of Jack liking Sarah and not liking her. This is the moment of truth for Charlie and she makes a really big decision as a result of this situation.
Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?
A: The excerpt below is from the Prologue. The entire book is written from the point of view of the main character, Charlie Bennett. If you are intrigued by this excerpt, I encourage you to pick up a copy on Amazon.com. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
So here I am as an adult, working through those same self-esteem challenges. I still weigh more than I should. I have braces on my teeth. I am still trying to find my way professionally, and have $80,000 in law school loans that I will be repaying each month for what seems like the rest of my life. I owe this debt despite the fact that I decided not to practice law. I hated being a lawyer—the 80-hour weeks, working in isolation (it’s nothing like the TV shows), all of the pressure. But apparently this is not a sufficient reason for loan forgiveness. Please keep this in mind if you are considering law school.
Most people looking at my life from the outside may wonder why I would have trouble accepting myself. I am a very social person who has lots of friends. I’ve been told I am pretty even if people follow that up with “You would look even better if you lost weight.” But, generally speaking, I feel like I got good genes in the looks department.
Despite the fact that I am lost professionally, I initially had high hopes for my professional life. I graduated from a great college at twenty and went to a top-ten law school. I have had some pretty amazing jobs, including high-ranking political campaign positions. My first job out of college was a policy position in DC. I’ve even testified before Congress on policy issues and I was a panelist on a national debate show for three years.
Since you just met me, I want to be clear: I am not trying to boast or brag. I am not one of those people. You know who I’m talking about. The “I’m so great at this” people. That is not me at all. In fact, as you get to know me better, you will see that I really don’t take myself too seriously.
Like many people, maybe even you, I spent years not liking myself. I worried that other women were prettier than me, skinnier than me, better than me . . . I hated my freckles, the gap between my front teeth, and the birthmark on my right foot. I thought my thighs were too big and no matter what exercises I did, I couldn’t get those skinny legs that women have on TV. You know, the legs that men seem to salivate over. I was always on a new diet or trying a new exercise class. I think I attempted every TV exercise fad—the Ab Roller, gliders, Tae Bo, the FIRM. I would see the ads and tell myself that if I could get those abs, that butt, those arms, then I would get the man of my dreams. And if I liked a guy, forget about it. I spent a ton of time trying to change myself to make him stay.
But things are different now.
Want to know how it happened? Well, we have to keep chatting. I can’t tell you everything right away. We just met!
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: My typical day usually includes a morning workout (ok, let me be honest, I’ve been slacking off because I’ve been sick) and about 9-10 hours at work. I am an executive at a K-12 education company and it’s a pretty demanding job. I spoke to another writer recently and she told me how she writes during her lunch break. I felt so jealous because I am using on conference calls or in meetings during lunch so I don’t get that daytime writing. When I get home, I have dinner and get to work on my passion, writing. Charlie has more to tell and I want to make sure I get it out quickly.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m working on the second novel in the Charlie Bennett series – No More Crumbs. Crumbs Aren’t Enough is just the first part of Charlie’s journey. I don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t read Crumbs Aren’t Enough yet but it is just the first step in her story. It’s funny, now that people are finishing the novel, I’ve been asked “when is the next novel coming out” which makes me happy but puts the pressure on. They just can’t wait to get back into Charlie’s world.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Raquel. We wish you much success!
A: Thank you for the opportunity to share a little about Crumbs Aren’t Enough. It has been a labor of love for me but a fulfilling one because I believe every woman deserves the full meal.
Hi, my name is Raquel Whiting Gilmer and I am a wife, daughter, aspiring mother (I don’t have any kids yet but I want them.), sister, friend, small group leader, lawyer, entrepreneur, confidant, advisor, blogger, twitter attempter, soon to be published author, and accepter of crumbs. Well, a recovering crumbs accepter. What’s a crumb accepter? Is it as bad as it sounds? It’s bad, but it’s preventable and curable.
Freedictionary.com defines a crumb as a small fragment, scrap, or portion. And it defines accepter as one who accepts. So a crumbs accepter is one who accepts small scraps. No bueno, right? How did I get like this? Well, I think my low self-esteem was the root cause of it. And I’ve learned that when your self-esteem is bad then you will accept anything including crumbs in all areas of your life. BTW, my biggest crumbs area was definitely my relationships with men.
Things are different now and I have committed myself to Live Crumbs Free. Live crumbs free? Yes, I am committed to not accepting crumbs in any area of my life. But to get to this point, I had to do some work. I first had to work on my self-esteem. And after lots of therapy I got to a place where not only did I have high self-esteem but I started a website, http://www.perfectlyme.com, and a girls’ program, Perfectly Me Girls to encourage other women and girls to embrace and love who they are and not judge themselves by the world’s standards. Our motto is I’m not perfect, I’m just Perfectly Me.
Once my self-esteem was on the rise, I could start to look at the crumbs in my life. And I knew I had to deal with my personal crumbs and I’m happy to report that after many failed relationships and mounds of crumbs, I met the love of my life and married him. Yay!!! I have the full meal and then some now and it has changed my life. I want everyone to have that full meal and I know how bad the crumbs are so I’ve written my first novel about a woman struggling with relationships who finally figures out that Crumbs Aren’t Enough. I hope you will read my blog at http://www.raquelwhiting.com, check out my novel, and follow me on twitter, @perfectlyraquel, as I dole out advice and wisdom (my limited wisdom) on keeping your self-esteem high and getting rid of the crumbs.
Visit her at http://www.raquelwhiting.com/