Because stumbling blindly through menopause is less fun than it sounds

The Menopausal Woman and the Approach of the Holiday Season

Posted by Robin Donovan

As we turn the corner and head full speed at the holiday season, many menopausal women have an additional burden to carry along with their never-ending quest to make the season bright and cheery. They have to fight their own body’s attempt at sabotage.

The dreaded scale

The dreaded scale

By now some of you have already surmised where I’m going with this. As a fairly typical menopausal woman I recently had a saliva test to measure my cortisol level and the function of my adrenal glands. Guess what? They were through the floorboards and I was told I needed to start taking steroids to jump start them.

The problem was I’d been trying to lose some weight. It had been a slow process but it had been working. Once I started the steroids, the weight loss stopped.

Then I went to my GP and he decided it was imperative I drop a few pounds. He wants to see me in January. This is NOT a recipe for success! I think he does it on purpose so it will ruin my entire holiday season – which for me includes my birthday and my anniversary.

Unfortunately for menopausal women everywhere – I don’t think my story is rare. I am left with a choice: ruin my entire holiday season and shun holiday festivities in order to diet drastically or sacrifice my health. Is there no happy medium?

The menopausal woman and stress

Posted by Robin Donovan

I just came from a seminar on stress management. He gave some very good advice; unfortunately, none of it is practical for us so we’re going to have to go another way.

Stress Anyone?

Stress Anyone?

First he said breathing is extremely important. That’s fine, we all have to breathe. Unfortunately, he went on to say that the only relaxing breathing is the kind where your stomach goes in and out – big time. He said “forget about your bellies and just breathe!” What do you think? Yeah, I’m not doing any breathing that makes my belly look any bigger than it already does! So thanks but no thanks.
Next on the list was: Get a good night’s sleep. Need I say more? How the hell much luck have you been having with that lately? And how easy is that to change?
His third point was finding time to relax while you’re awake; with my energy level being what it is and my ability to take a minute to sit still probably similar to yours. The best luck I HAVE with sleeping is when I’m trying to relax while awake.
So let’s recap the sleep issue: I can’t when I need to at night, I can’t NOT when I sit down to relax.
The final issue that he brought up is to wear relaxing and non-constricting clothing. Oh crap. I have three kinds of clothing: 1. Chico/JJill soft dress clothing – I wear it a lot – but you can’t wear it exclusively, 2. Comfortable, hang around the house clothing – which I do wear – but only around the house, and 3. Regular clothing – which may be comfortable on Monday and so tight it strangulates me on Tuesday – so sue me, I bloat!
So, in summary, we’re screwed!
Does anyone out there have some suggestions that will work for us?

Review of The Percussionist’s Wife by Monica Lee

Posted by Robin Donovan

The Percussionist’s Wife is a simple story of betrayal. The author turns an all too familiar tale into a fascinating and complex examination of an intelligent woman’s journey through a dark, life altering, episode. By sharing her thoughts and her thought process as she navigates this unbearably painful sojourn in her life, the author reveals the nuances that plague a woman during times of intolerable strife. Put simply, sometimes she’s brilliant and insightful, sometimes she’s into self-blame, sometimes she’s deep into denial and rationalization, almost sounding childlike in her naiveté.

Percussionist's Wife

Percussionist's Wife

Who among us has not wondered at our own level of intelligence when faced with a painful dilemma that would hurt far less were we to succumb to denial and rationalization? The author’s brutally honest portrayal of her daily mental climate is all too familiar. It is the most honest accounting of the disparity in our thought process as we move in and out of despair, hope, fury, relief and virtually every other emotion that plagues us as we work our way through life situations that make us feel frightened, insecure, self-doubting, angry and often worthless.

The author put herself out there so we could learn from her experience. She put herself out there so that we can feel worthwhile when we’re feeling worthless, and we can feel as though we’re not alone when we’re most alone.

If I were forced to find fault with The Percussionist’s Wife, it would be that the author, and protagonist, is clearly an intelligent and well-balanced individual, yet we only see the paranoid or rationalizing sides of her, and we don’t get very much information about the parts in her life that are working and wonderful. I think the dichotomy would be even more appalling were we to see how truly successful she is in other parts of her life.



Monica Lee is a personal historian, blogger and writer. A former reporter and newspaper copy editor, she also worked for years as a marketing executive with Creative Memories and Homemade Gourmet. A native of Minnesota, she blogs about her everyday life at and writes about writing at She lives in northern Illinois with her second husband.

Is it smart to feature a menopausal woman in a book trailer?

Posted by Robin Donovan

If she’s the menopausal author of the Donna Leigh Mystery: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch, featuring a menopausal amateur sleuth, you probably have no choice.

I’d love to get some feedback on my Book Trailer. Please take a look and tell me if it would make you want to read the book.


A Huge Thanks to The Lit Coach for including me in her post: Blogs That Work and Why!

Posted by Robin Donovan

Blogs That Work and Why

by  |  on August 23rd, 2012  |  4 comments


Tuesday, I shared the Five Pillars of Effective Blogs as I shared with the LARARWA group this past weekend:

Compelling Content, Consistent Posts, Fresh Ideas, Engagement, and Share-ability

Today, I’d like share with you some of the blogs I discussed and why they work.

Yarnagogo – The blog that launched Knit Lit Romance author Rachael Herron’s career. Rachael shared with me that not only did her blog come before she scored an agent and a three book deal, it pretty much sealed the deal. Her agent and editorial team loved her authentic voice and how she connected with her audience.

Girlfriends Book Club – This collaborative blog featuring Women’s Fiction heavy hitters Ellen Meister, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Marilyn Brant, Maggie Mar (who I had the great pleasure of meeting at the LARA event) and many more, is a prime example of great content, consistency, fresh ideas, robust engagement with the audience and a community of sharing between most involved on the blog.

I asked Ellen Meister about how the blog began and how they’ve found success as a popular blog. Here’s what she had this to say:

The Girlfriends Book Club blog rose from the ashes of The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, which was a group of commercially published women authors who posted about each other’s books. That went on successfully for a number of years and eventually just burned itself out. Author Karin Gillespie deserves some kind of medal, because she not only ran the GCC but continues to coordinate and schedule the group blog.
It’s a tremendously effective way of reaching people, because there’s strength in numbers. With 40 writers as part of the group, the blog pulls from a vast network.
As it turns out, the majority the blog’s readers seem to be aspiring writers. Recognizing this, we post a lot of writing and marketing tips for aspiring authors. My most popular post was 20 Social Media Tips for Writers. Other favorite posts include 16 Tips for Writing Sexy Scenes18 Novelists Share Their Writing Routines and Girlfriends Share Tips on How to Be a Productive Writer
As far as promoting our own books, it’s clear that the most popular posts are the ones that offer giveaways.
Importantly, the women in the group are tremendously supportive, and we help spread the word about each other’s posts with Tweets and Facebook status updates.

Menologues – Robin Donovan, author of Is it Still Murder Even if She Was a Bitch?, began blogging about menopause “because stumbling blindly through menopause is less funny than it sounds.” She wanted to reach a community of women who were going through what she was going through and it worked. Robin had a clearly defined audience, wrote specifically for them and soon, her blog was picked up by Vibrant Nation.

Twinfatuation – Twins expert and author Cheryl Lage has a world-wide audience, has written for an impressive array of national and local magazines, and ezines, has appeared on Martha Stewart Live Radio, has been called by The Today Show and so much more, mostly because of her blog. But like many bloggers who author books, she didn’t begin with a blog. Cheryl contacted me when I was a literary agent and she, a mother of adorable toddler twins and a writer with a great idea about a book for parents of twins and multiples. Cheryl’s story is very special to me and I was delighted to share it on literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog (another fabulous blog!). I encourage you to read the short post on how we started building her platform as a twin parenting expert before we sold her manuscript. You may see some of your questions and concerns answered in the robust comment thread.

A Walking Carnival – This has got to be my favorite slice of life blog ever. I like to say Deirdre Lewis, the creator of AWC, is the love child of Erma Bombeck and David Sedaris. A filmmaker and screenwriter by trade, Deirdre’s unique quirkiness shines through her blog as she takes you through her neighborhood in Echo Park, CA, to a dusty old camera shop, to an airport book store and to her father’s house. There is no post I don’t absolutely love. This blog is ALWAYS fresh, pretty consistent and I feel the content is spectacularly good. One of her latest posts is an all imagined dialog between two car mechanics – notice how the conversation reveals so much about the narrator. Deirdre is not repped by an agent, but it won’t be long before she is. She uses the blog to discover her voice and hone her craft. Works for me!

What blogs do you absolutely love and why? Share them below.





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Comments (4)

  1. Ellen Meister, August 23, 2012
    Thanks so much for another terrific and informative post, Erin. And of course, the shout-out for the Girlfriends Book Club blog is much appreciated! Here’s a recent update–the wonderful Maggie Marr is now at the helm. We’re so lucky to have people like Karin and Maggie to lead the way! Ellen Reply
    • TheLitCoach, August 24, 2012
      Ellen, thanks! I truly feel what you all contribute to the blog world, especially with regard to educating writers, is so valuable. I really enjoy the blog (and need to comment more often!) and am happy to refer writers to it. While I was speaking about GBC in front of the group, Maggie was in the audience. She smiled when I mentioned the name so I stopped and asked her if she knew of the blog. When she said she was ON the blog I nearly died! I was THRILLED to meet a GBC member. Reply
  2. Marilyn Brant, August 23, 2012
    Thanks so much for the shout out, Erin! I feel lucky to be part of the GBC because, as Ellen said, it’s such a tremendously supportive group of writers. I truly enjoy getting to read the posts of the other contributors and have found the readers to be really receptive to the diversity of topics and voice, too. Looking forward to checking out the other blogs you recommended!! Reply
  3. TheLitCoach, August 24, 2012
    Thanks, Marilyn. The GBC blog is so unique and really is a compelling example of how to collaborate with your fellow authors online successfully. Reply

Guest Post: Menopause and Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Oh Joy!

Posted by Robin Donovan
Trans Vaginal Mesh revision surgery

Trans Vaginal Mesh revision surgery

This post comes to us compliments of guest author, Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the general public about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for

If you are a woman who is approaching menopause or have already gone through that change in life, there are a few things you should be looking out for as far as your pelvic health is concerned. No doubt, your doctor has given you a long list of signs and symptoms of various health conditions and diseases to watch for, but there is one common health issue that many doctors forget to include on that list for their female patients: pelvic organ prolapse (POP). If you have children, you are at risk, since POP becomes an issue for nearly half of all women who have given birth, and menopause is prime time for the condition to make itself known.

What POP is and How it Happens
Pelvic organ prolapse is caused by pelvic floor stretching or weakening. The pelvic floor is the structure that supports pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus and rectum, keeping them in their proper positions to ensure that they can perform their functions efficiently. Made up of muscles and connective tissues, the pelvic floor can be gradually damaged over a woman’s lifetime.
The biggest factor in that damage is the stress placed on the pelvic floor by pregnancy and childbirth, but other factors can also contribute to the development of POP. Heavy lifting, obesity, high-impact sports, pelvic surgery, chronic coughing or frequent constipation can be risk factors, and genetics can also play a role, since POP tends to run in families.
Then, menopause comes along, bringing with it decreased estrogen levels that can reduce elasticity in the pelvic floor. This is often the last straw for weakened and stretched tissues that have been just barely maintaining support for those pelvic organs.
What to Look For
Many women who have pelvic organ prolapse have no symptoms at all. On the other hand, women who have severe POP can have symptoms that are very troublesome and have a big impact on their day-to-day lives. Among the issues reported by women with POP are pressure, pain or a lump in the vagina or pelvic area, painful sex, vaginal bleeding, urinary problems and difficult bowel movements.
In severe cases, women may see tissue protruding through the vaginal opening. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about them, since getting treated early can help keep POP from getting worse.


Women who suffer mild to moderate pelvic organ prolapse symptoms often find relief with a regimen of pelvic floor exercises, weight loss and dietary changes. A pessary is often prescribed, which is a device that is inserted into the vagina to support the organs.
Severe symptoms may require surgical intervention. However, if you have POP and surgery has been recommended, there are a few things you should be looking out for there too. Many POP repair procedures over the last decade have included the use of transvaginal mesh implants, devices that are inserted through the vagina to support pelvic organs. Unfortunately, they have been linked to a growing number of serious complications.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the most frequently reported problems include mesh erosion through vaginal walls, organ perforation, mesh shrinkage and infection. These complications have caused pain for a lot of women and many times the symptoms are irreversible. This had led to the filing of a transvaginal mesh lawsuit by thousands of women seeking justice for their injuries. Often, more surgery is needed to correct these problems, and the FDA says that these procedures show no better clinical results than traditional POP repair.

Please address any questions on the above topic to the patient advocates at Public Outreach Department at 800-452-0949.

When the Journey through menopause is long it takes a toll.

Posted by Robin Donovan

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a relative who recently turned 46. She asked me “when does menopause typically start?” I said “the average age is 52.” Then she asked “and when does it end?” My response “never.” She looked at me quizzically so I explained.

Read more ›

The Menopausal Woman and Summer Travels in Europe

Posted by Robin Donovan

Do the Europeans truly understand the concept of air conditioning? I think not!

For the past two weeks I have had the wonderful good fortune of traveling in Italy and France. Although I’ve been there before, my trips are typically during ski season – being married to a ski fanatic as I am – and the beauty is far more arctic during trips of that nature.



Seven years ago I visited the same villa in Anacapri and the experience was nothing short of paradise. That was pre-menopause. This time, my ankles – and other select body parts – swelled to gargantuan sizes preventing me from performing many simple tasks – such as bending.

The welcome – although minimal – a/c in our suite was not considered necessary throughout the living areas of the villa. Ironically, internet access was only available in the non-air conditioned living area where the six travelling cousins and their respective spouses all checked in to the office between sweat drenched dashes to their suites for sustenance against the unrelenting heat and humidity. Yes, everyone was sweating – not just my menopausal self. I, however, took it to an art form!

While the rest of the cousins traipsed diligently around the island, desperate to keep from missing a single sight, I spent my days in the pool, swimming and reading my book (yes, I read the book in the pool – it was my only chance for survival). I only joined the rest of the group for meals and boat rides which enabled us to dive into the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea periodically – and even that was not relief enough!

Seven years ago the prospect of dining al fresco morning, noon and night was impossibly romantic and charming beyond belief. This time, although the food and wine was still manna from the gods, the constant stream of sweat shooting from my hairline and down into my eyes before dripping unceremoniously from my chin might have taken a bit of a toll!

As we moved on to meet friends in Paris and the Alsacian region of France, it became apparent that air conditioning is not often considered at all necessary to the good, but thin blooded, residents of France. There just wasn’t any! And there was no place to hide.

I had a wonderful time – but should the opportunity ever arise again – I will arm myself against heat prostration or I’ll stay in my air conditioned office and search for beauty on the internet!
One key thing I observed consistently: when you are soaking wet and sweat drenched like an old smelly dish rag – seeing the locals walk by in heavy sweaters and, in some cases, leather jackets DOES make it more painful. I don’t know why – it just does!

A Big Thanks to Erin Reel: The Lit Coach

Posted by Robin Donovan

Check out the wonderful post that Erin Reel, The Lit Coach, wrote on her blog after interviewing me last week:

From Blog to Book with Robin Leemann Donovan
by TheLitCoach | on June 21st, 2012 | 0 comments

I love book titles that really get to the heart of what the book’s about. I also have a penchant for humor. When I was invited to attend a book reading/signing event for author Robin Leemann Donovan, I was only too glad to go – with at title like, Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch?, how could I not be entertained? And I was! In the decade I’ve been working with authors and their books, I don’t recall laughing quite so hard at a book reading. Totally refreshing.

The Lit Coach Interview

The Lit Coach Interview

Donovan, a Managing Principal at Bozell, one of the top advertising agencies in the country, understands the vital importance of hook. At the urging of a friend, Donovan created Menologues, a blog devoted to helping women stumble less blindly through menopause. Her hook? Clearly humor but also authenticity – Donovan blogs, writes and speaks off the cuff, from the heart and with authority not just about menopause but about topics important to women 50+, who have largely been ignored in publishing and other media. That organic combo works for her. From my perspective, she’s on to something.

I asked Donovan for her three most important, need-to-know tips about writing and blogging. Here’s what she shared.
On Writing

Prepare for nothing happening as you would expect it.
Take notes on every chapter so you know where you’re going, where your loose ends are and when to tie them up (very important for mystery writers).
Get your work professionally critiqued and proofread. Friends and relatives are not your best beta readers, except my mother and I’ll loan her out.

On Blogging

Be specific. Stand for something.
Be relatable. Be authentic.
Be prepared. Do your homework. Discover and understand your market. Don’t touch on topics that everyone’s touched. Know what’s important and what isn’t.
Be open to the realities of the people around you and their unique experiences. Avoid stereotypes.

If you’ve had success creating a book from your blog, share your tips (and links!) here.


What Do Bras Have To Do With Menopause? If You Have To Ask Don’t Bother Reading This!

Posted by Robin Donovan

Before entering menopause what did I know about it? Apparently nothing. I’d heard that unbalanced hormones would make me sweat and act weird and even frighten people. I didn’t hear that clothing itself would be a daunting challenge from that point on.

Read more ›

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