Jen Lancaster on Mistakes, Mid-Life Crises, and Regretting Nothing

Jen Lancaster hasn't always gotten it right.

The New York Times bestselling author's love of Kraft American singles prevailed when she tried to "culture up" (and bring fancy but stinky cheeses to her life), and she wrote an entire book about weight loss without reaching her goal. But  Lancaster isn't one to let mistakes get in her way. 

She'll be at Changing Hands in Phoenix on Thursday, May 14, to talk about her 11th book, I Regret Nothing, in which she sets out to turn crisis into opportunity as turning 50 years old looms a little ways down the road. 

Actually, Lancaster's whole writing career was born out of crisis. Growing up, she says she wanted to be a journalist. That is, until she realized how little they make. But after losing her six-figure, dot-com era executive job, Lancaster found herself in the unemployment line, designer handbag in tow, for about two years. So she started blogging, airing her frustrations for all the Internet to read. 

"It was kind of a slow burn," Lancaster says. "People started to find [the blog], and the more they commented on it and like it, I thought, 'Well, maybe this is something.'"

About three years after she started her blog, Jennsylvania, she published her first book, Bitter is the New Blackin 2006. And in the almost 10 years since, Lancaster has published about a book a year, with I Regret Nothing being the most recent.

"No one looks forward to their 50s," Lancaster says. "This is not the time when all the cool stuff happens, so now's a really good time to get at those things that are on your list that you've wanted to do."

Essentially, Lancaster made a bucket list and crossed off each item, from removing her ankle tattoo that was the result of an all-out girls' weekend to running a 5K, and wrote about it all in her 11th book.

Between touring around as an author (while nursing a ruptured Achilles tendon in a giant medical boot), faithfully continuing to blog, and keeping up her side business of refinishing furniture, it's hard to believe Lancaster has has the time to crank out a book a year. But she says she can't help it.  

Whether it's a witty memoir or a fictional story about two completely opposite women who have to put their differences aside to help their best friend, Lancaster says writing is just what she does and she feels fortunate to make a living off what she loves. 

"[As a writer,] people can't stop you from writing," Lancaster says. "People say, 'How do you find the time to write?' Well, how do you find the time not to?"

Lancaster is at Changing Hands in Phoenix, 300 West Camelback Road, with I Regret Nothing ($26.95) and Sam Pillsbury from AZ Pillsbury Wine for a meet-and-greet and wine tasting on Thursday, May 14, at 7 p.m. Purchasing the book from Changing Hands provides admission for two to the event. For more information and to purchase the book, visit changinghands.com.  

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