Author’s Corner: Tomi Tuel

How did your book come about?
My first husband and I divorced eleven years ago when, after a short employment at the Franchise Tax Board, he met someone there. Imagine turning the corner to see your spouse holding hands with someone at work, then carrying on your way to the meeting you scheduled with 30 other people. It’s sort of like being smacked with a two-by-four at 50 mph. Then getting up and announcing, “I’m okay. Didn’t feel a thing!”

I had spent six years finishing graduate school and four years establishing a good reputation at work, and when that happened it was like someone had taken all that hope away. I tried to leave the department at one point, then I got mad and decided she could leave, not me. Eventually she did and so did he. This year I will celebrate my fifteenth year at Franchise. And my advice to anyone in my same shoes is stay, you will outlast it.

Humor pulled me through. I was lucky. I had hilarious friends and I tried to surround myself with them as often as possible. A close friend of mine, a natural born comedian, went through a divorce at the same time.

For years, we had talked about writing a book together. He’d call me and say, “I just had the worst date of my life!” I’d remind him that his date last week was the worst date of his life and ask, “What, did you go out with her again, you blockhead?” Then he’d start to describe her to me, “Do you remember Mama from that movie, Throw Mama From The Train?” I would cringe for him. He’d say, I think I have a chapter for the book. Hence, the Crap Meter (chapter 4) was born.

I got tired of talking about writing a book and after five years, I wrote my version. I liken this book to that pregnancy book everyone gets when they’re expecting their first baby, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” except my version is “What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting.” I have a chapter on how to handle all those uncomfortable firsts, like the first time you run into the ex in public, the first nights alone in your own bed, the first time you go to court.

How has the book been received?
John Gray, bestselling author of the “Venus and Mars” books, endorsed my book, calling it, “Charmingly uplifting, insightful, and funny.” It took eleven months of following up every month to see if he had read my manuscript. When I made my last call, I told myself I had crossed the line of pestering and this was the last time I would call. His staff was great and told me he sent me his endorsement, but my email had bounced. Had I never made that call I never would have got what has been the single biggest endorsement that has opened so many doors.

What has helped is a three-part recipe of: 1) fake it till you make it; 2) just say yes; and 3) you have nothing to lose. It’s worked so far, and has landed me guest appearances on “The View From The Bay,” twice, “Sacramento and Company,” “Good Day Sacramento,” KCRA 3 News, “The Mark and Brian Show,” “Armstrong and Getty,” and KFBK to name a few. This week I’m submitting material to “The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon” and Howard Stern. It’s also in this month’s issue of the “Sacramento Book Review.”

It sounds like both a memoir and a how-to guide.

My mission was to help those who landed on the same battlefield that I did and make them feel better about their life despite the challenges divorce brings. I try to help readers see how they may have contributed to their own relationship woes and offer tools (from the ‘Tuelbox’ at the end of each chapter) to help avoid, self-diagnose, and even cure problems.

Everyone has their own unique divorce story, but the lessons from divorce are universal. Sometimes figuring out your part in your own divorce is the hardest and longest lesson. When you have the courage to look inward and grow from your shortcomings, you will blossom into a better, stronger, and wiser person for it. I know I have.

We hear you got your job through an ad in the old Capitol Weekly?

Yes, that is correct, but when people ask me, “What do you do?” I tell them I am a writer, unless of course they tag “for a living” onto their question. Then I have to be honest and tell them I work for the state.

I never knew my years of tax auditing and review critiques would give me the thick skin to make it in the publishing business, but it did. I am rejected all the time. Sometimes they don’t even get back to me. My husband is my biggest supporter and reminds me that someday when I make it, I will wallpaper my new walk-in closet with all my old rejection letters.

And yes, I am married, but not to the man who ‘inspired’ my first book. I’m also working on two romance novels, “Oyster Shell Roads” and “Emails from Daniel.”

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