Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’
For she has learned it doesn’t matter how literary critics describe her novel:
“Strong writing keeps the reader sucked in to LeCraw’s painful family drama debut. It is a story of deep and searing love, between siblings and lovers, but most powerfully between parents and their children.”
– Publishers Weekly
Friends, acquaintances, and inquiring minds ask her THE question.
Prepare yourselves, writer friends: someday you really are going to finish that book, and a publisher will buy it, and will then actually publish it, and then the question will be asked, over and over: “What’s your book about?”
Looking confused and scraping your toe in the dirt and answering, “uh, life?” is, I have discovered, not the right answer.
Reader friends, here’s the shocker: we writers write books and we know who they’re about, and what happens; but we are so immersed in our imaginary worlds that it’s hard to step away and get the big picture, the view that someone who hasn’t read the book would, hopefully, get right away. What is it about? Don’t ask us.
The process of reducing your book to a few lines starts early, when you have to begin querying agents—and I’m convinced this is at least part of the reason that the whole agent-search thing has been turned into a Web industry of massive proportions. Writers are convinced there’s some alchemy involved in landing an agent, and are desperate for the formula. But what is really freaking them out is having to say what their books are about—coming up with the vaunted “elevator pitch.” It’s a true art in itself. It’s narrative and enticement and psychology, crammed into the length of a haiku.
But here’s the rub: novelists write things that are, well, long. We are sometimes rather strange people. We sit in little rooms, alone, for the much of the day. We are not marketing geniuses. Reducing our magni opi to a few lines that will make an agent/publisher/book buyer want to grab that book and never let it go is not necessarily our strong suit.
In my case, I somehow managed to write a query letter that worked; and among the many varieties of relief I felt was the comfort in knowing that, now, the vast roomfuls of marketing geniuses at my venerable publisher were going to take over the job of telling everyone what my book was about. (Imagine my surprise when entire paragraphs from my query letter reappeared, verbatim, in the first drafts of the flap copy.)
Recently, I stumbled upon a crucial clue to this whole conundrum. I was at a reading being given by the wonderful writer Katharine Weber, and she happened to mention that when she had been in school and had had to write a paper, she had always written the paper first, and then the outline. I sat there in dawning comprehension. I had been absolutely sure I was the only freak of nature who had ever done that. Who outlines something that’s already written? Besides, well, me? But when I questioned her further, she said that every novelist she had ever known claimed to have done the same thing.
See? We have to write it, and only then do we know what it’s about. And the more distance, the better. In five or ten years, I’ll have my debut novel, The Swimming Pool, down to one crisp sentence. To a word.
For the record, though, I do have an elevator pitch now. The Swimming Pool is the story of a young man, Jed McClatchey, who is mired in grief for his parents, dead seven years ago. He falls in love with an older woman, Marcella Atkinson—who, he then discovers, was his late father’s mistress; and then he, and we, begin to wonder if she knows anything about the unsolved murder of his mother.
So there it is.
But wait. Please wait. (This is me, holding the elevator door open and calling to you as you exit.)
The Swimming Pool is also about relationships–if anything, more about the relationships holding up the big juicy taboo one than that affair itself. (Now you’re turning around.) It’s about the bonds between lovers–but also between spouses and siblings and, especially, parents and children, and the way those bonds intersect and conflict. It’s about secrets, and the ripple effects of secrets long kept. It’s about all the things parents will do, misguided and otherwise, to protect their children.
In my fantasy, you’re stopped in your tracks now, and you’re nodding.
I say, What’s my book about? Really? Well, it’s like all novels. It’s about life.
Welcome to 2010! May it bring us all the best in reading our authors’ best writing…TRUST: There is a great deal to look forward to just in the next few weeks.
Also I offer a thousand thank yous to our friends/authors who shared memories these past three weeks in Happy Holidays. Hopefully you enjoyed their posts, being entertained and learning more about our writers…well beyond their pages.
RSVP: Not necessary, in fact bring along a friend or two!
Announcement: The winners of Barrie Summy’s I So Don’t Do Spooky are: Alicia and Randy. Congratulations! Please contact me with your mailing address as soon as possible.
More than likely those visiting this site would agree that books are among the best holiday gifts with autographed ones being perfection! Autographed, is that possible without going to a book signing?
Indeed it is and, with the holidays only more than a month away, this Fairy Godmother contacted authors who had had a new book released within the past six months to ask, “Do you autograph by mail?” So anyone searching for that unique, reasonably priced, perfect present, here are what some of our authors do:
Arrangement with a local bookstore:
Eve Brown-Waite (read Presenting Debutante Eve Brown-Waite and First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria) says:
” Via a special arrangement with my local bookstore I can purchase, personalize, autograph and send a copy of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA to anyone in the USA for just $25. That would be the cost of the book itself in most stores. This book would make a great gift for any world traveler, do-gooder, or Peace Corps-type on your holiday list (also, anyone who just loves a good read). I don’t make any money on this, but it certainly helps spread the word about my book and supports a great, independent bookstore. I need all orders by BY NOVEMBER 15 in order to ensure delivery by the holidays. Anyone interested can contact me at Evebwaite@comcast.net.”
“I made an arrangement with my local indie, Quail Ridge Books & Music — 800-672-6789 — in Raleigh. When a reader calls and orders an inscribed copy, the store lets me know and I drop by to inscribe it before they ship the book. For basic autographed copies, they ship from signed stock that they keep on hand.”
Ivy Pochoda (see Ivy Pochoda’s The Art of Disappearing) says:
“If you’d like autographed copies of my book, contact my local bookstore BookCourt — 718-875-3677 — in Brooklyn.”
Books in the mail:
Mia King (Mia King and Table Manners is doing a holiday special – $20 for a signed/dedicated book of choice and ceramic “live simply” plaque. $5 shipping. Contact email@example.com
“If people send me a book with return postage, I will autograph and send it back. But let’s say for the holidays return shipping is on me. They just have to buy the book and send it to: Carleen Brice, P.O. Box 7108, Denver, CO 80207.”
Maud Carol Markson (Looking After Pigeon) provides two options:
“I could send out personalized book plates or if the person prefers, he/she could purchase the book directly from me and I could send it to them ($20.00 would probably cover the cost of the book and the packaging and shipping to anywhere in the US).) Contact MaudCarol@aol.com
“I do mail out signed book plates, as well as sign books mailed in to me.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CJ Lyons (Urgent Care):
“I offer my readers customized signed bookplates.
I’ve sent dozens of these all over the US and abroad, even had a few people ask for several, all personalized to various friends they were gifting with my books.” Contact email@example.com
And with this early planning you can do the same!
Five weeks ago today, Ivy Pochoda became a debut author when The Art of Disappearing appeared on bookstore shelves. And, although the day before the novel’s release The Divining Wand posted — Ivy Pochoda’s The Art of Disappearing –, it was Ivy’s own post, Let the Games Begin written on the same day, that really tells her story.
Yes it’s all about a dream coming true after years on a journey of writing, finding an agent, selling the manuscript and publishing THE book. Yet have you ever wondered what happens next? How about more hard work and a chaotic schedule. Here’s a note from Ivy received a few days ago:
This has been a crazy month. The readings, the reviews, and rest of it have been superb. I’m heading into my last leg of appearances until the New Year, so I thought I’d send out the dates. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in attending, I’d love to see you!”
For those fortunate to either live or be visiting Massachusetts and Vermont this week, you might want to stop in at one of these book readings/signings:
Today, October 20th, 2009 — 7:00 pm
Reading at Porter Square Books
Porter Square Shopping Center
25 White Street
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 — 7:00 pm
Reading at Norwich Bookstore
291 Main Street
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009 — 7:00 pm
Reading at Northshire Bookstore
4869 North Main Street
Manchester Center, VT
For the rest of us there’s WritersCast, the voice of writing that offers Ivy Pochoda: The Art of Disappearing. Please do listen to this fascinating interview.
One week ago today, Therese Walsh became a debut author with the release of her novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Again the day before the book appeared on store shelves The Divining Wand posted, Therese Walsh’s The Last Will of Moira Leahy, while Therese celebrated her day by writing a reflective post, over the weekend, entitled, How a debut novel affects its author.
Yesterday, Monday, 19, 2009, Therese launched her WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour at The Muffin and plans to travel the Internet for interviews and discussions from today, October 20th – Friday, November 13th. Simply scroll down the WOW post to view her blog stops for, at several of these sites, there will be a chance to win a copy of her novel.
Two different authors, two different novels and two different ways of debuting all poised toward one goal — another novel and a writing career! Remember them, read them, follow them and one day you’ll be able to say you “knew them when…”
After six consecutive Mondays of presenting new releases or debut novels, there is a lull in the flurry of publication…at least for our authors. Yet what perfect timing since it allows this Fairy Godmother to carry on a tradition that began on my former blog — Seize a Daisy — and present this year’s The Christmas Book by Neiman Marcus.
The luxury, Dallas-based retailer, known for offering its customers, the ultimate in cutting-edge, dream-fulfilling gifts, has done it again by providing lush, high-quality items for everyone’s wish list. For example there’s a His and Hers Icon A5 Sports Aircraft, a customized Cupcake Car, and a sustainable design art chandelier. This year’s featured car is the 2010 Jaguar XJL Supercharged Neiman Marcus Edition. Hmm, a but too much even for a wish list? Well the store appears to have taken the economy into account and more than 40% of the gifts are under $250.
When first published in 1926 as a 16-page booklet, the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book was initially intended as a Christmas card for the store’s best customers. Building on that tradition through the years, the book has managed to maintain its personal touch while evolving into a legendary holiday source for unique and magical gifts.
Indulge in a bit of daydreaming and browse through The Christmas Book…it’s eco-friendly!
In choosing an author as I would a friend, I’ve “met” and made wonderfully caring writers/friends during the past three years. And Judy Merrill (Moticka) Larsen (All the Numbers) is certainly one of them. In fact, shortly after we met and a post of her debut novel appeared on my former blog, Judy was inspired to create her own blog, Not Afraid of the “F” Word. However you may have heard that inspiration struck again on Monday afternoon when Judy launched JUST BE NICE… in an attempt to reclaim respect and civility for today’s society.
The author’s “About Me” description is simply put: I’m a middle-aged midwestern mom, wife, novelist and former high school English teacher. I’m a mom/step-mom to five between the ages of 16 and 24. I tried to teach my kids (and my students) to be nice. It’s not rocket science. I’m trying to spread the word.”
What prompted the author to take on this new platform? I’m sure you know, we al know, but here is Judy’s explanation:
“Yesterday [Monday] morning, on my way home from the gym, I started thinking about the insanity of rudeness . . . and I posted about it on my regular blog (Not Afraid of the “F” Word). Carleen Brice (love her!) e-mailed me and said I needed to write a non-fiction book using my mom and teacher experiences to promote good behavior. Non-fiction is a bit out of my comfort zone (plus I’m in the middle of writing my newest novel) but, in the shower, I thought, hmmm, maybe start an internet movement . . . a new blog . . . let’s be nice, let’s get people talking/demonstrating about kindness and accountability and showing you can disagree politely. That kind of thing. What we learned from our parents/teachers/preachers and teach to our own kids.
So, I started a new blog. And put it out on FB. And people twittered about it. And then I heard back from the twitterers that people had asked how we get the movement started. And, after a brief moment of “‘I have no idea what I’ve just gotten myself into’” panic, I thought, heck ya, let’s start a movement. Carleen (my muse in this) suggested the “‘Tuesday’s child is full of grace’” idea, and I love your idea about “‘Friday’s child.’” I started a group on FB and have had over 130 visitors to the new blog in the past 24 hours. Folks are linking from all sorts of blogs and on their FB walls. It’s so gratifying to see good behavior being talked about rather than just the bad.
For now, and until I really get a sense for what I’m doing, I’m going to hold off on a press release (until someone tells me not to!) and I’m also thinking of bracelets (like the LiveStrong ones). I’m open to ideas and help.
But from the comments/e-mails I’ve gotten, people are very excited about this — all over the country. That’s thrilling to me.”
As well it should be, especially since Judy updated me a few hours later with:
“The word is clearly spreading . . . over 400 visitors [to the blog] since it started yesterday afternoon. Wow!”
And to think that all this excitement and support is about Just Be Nice.
If you wish to learn more, have suggestions or merely weigh in with moral support, please visit JUST BE NICE where you can read Monday’s initial post, What Mama Said, followed by the second post, Tuesday’s Child Is Full of Grace.
Also consider joining the JUST BE NICE Group on Facebook.
Judy Merrill Larsen’s all-time favorite book is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and on the right-hand sidebar of her new blog she notes: “Atticus Finch taught Scout to walk around in someone else’s shoes. He was right.”
And so too is this author, well beyond her pages…
[Note: The Book Giveaway comments/entries will continue to be accepted for Ivy Pochoda's The Art of Disappearing until this evening at 7:00 p.m EDT. Here's a great opportunity to win a most memorable debut, don't let it pass you by!]
[Note: It's mid-week of the continuing celebration for The Debutante Class of 09 and it's time to spotlight Eve Brown-Waite's adventurous memoir which debuted in April.]
From the cover of her memoir, Debutante Eve Brown-Waite’s “eye” peeks out from behind the jungle foliage of either a Latin American, Asian or African country, and one can only imagine what she has seen. Perhaps it’s something exotic, dangerous, or yet another test of daily survival during her years in the Peace Corps? But tomorrow — April 14, 2009 — readers throughout America can follow her journeys when they pick up and purchase First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life. And yes, that’s correct, it all began in her quest for love…well, sort of.
By reading (and you know you will) the brief bio, on the back flap of the book’s dust jacket, you’ll learn:
“Eve Brown-Waite was a finalist for both an Iowa Review Award and a Glimmer Train Award, and the first runner up for the 2008 New Millennium Writings Award for stories she wrote about her time abroad. She lives with her husband and two children in Massachusetts.”
You’d like to learn more, wouldn’t you? Well, to immediately know and love Deb Eve, all you have to do is read her September 5, 2008 Debutante Ball post, Last One Out … or Eve in a Nutshell. This writer with the large and engaging personality may only be 5′ 2″ but TRUST that most of her is all heart.
Since Deb Eve has written a memoir — which she has told us is all true and funny –, the backstory of what inspired and/or motivated her to write the book should be obvious. However it’s the December 5, 2008 post, Do the Dictionary and Thesaurus Count? OR My Love Letter to Anne Lamott, by Deb Eve that explain the real reasons. Hmm, a book that changed her writing…what could reading First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria do for you? Here’s the Synopsis:
“College graduate Eve is looking for a meaningful endeavor and settles on the Peace Corps. Though she’s not sure a life without creature comforts is for her, she is certain of one thing: John, the Peace Corps recruiter, is the guy for her. The couple faces a two-year separation when Eve receives a placement in Ecuador. Reluctantly, Eve leaves John and heads to South America where, after a time, she finds her niche reuniting lost children with their families—until a coworker’s rape brings up traumatic memories for her and she’s sent back home. Though her stint in the Peace Corps is over, a future with John means a life less ordinary, and soon after their marriage he accepts a job with CARE in Uganda. Once there, Eve finds the people welcoming but the lack of amenities—the power is turned on for only three hours at night—and the persistent insect population daunting. With an appealing, down-to-earth voice, Brown-Waite chronicles her adventures abroad in an accessible, humorous tone sure to appeal to armchair travelers.”
And the literary trade journal, Kirkus Review says:
“A laugh-out-loud debut . . . a refreshing voice . . . As revealing as it is entertaining.”
Why not test such high praise out right now by reading, Chapter One In the Beginning (There Was John).
Now how’s that for a tease? Deb Eve “hooks” us without even leaving home! A few weeks ago, though, she finally shared a few of her adventures by writing: “One of my sweetest and most fulfilling memories of living abroad – and specifically in northern Uganda – was finally mastering the art of cooking – fine meals – up in the bush.” To be truly amazed, read the entire post, The Real Reason, by Deb Eve.
It’s the fun in life that this memoirist seeks out, just visit her website and click The Author to learn:
“We had a saying in the Peace Corps: “‘If you go to Latin America, you’ll come back fomenting revolution; If you go to Asia, you’ll come back spiritually enlightened; And if you go to Africa, you’ll come back laughing.’” All of which begs the question: what happens if you go to Antarctica? Well, I can’t answer that question. But I can tell you what happened to that wacky girl who graduated (after only five and a half years) from the State University of New York College at Oneonta (school cheer: “‘Give me an O; Give me an N; Give me a beer!’”). She went to Latin America, Asia and Africa, and she came back a weird amalgam of Che Guevara, Mother Teresa and Erma Bombeck! She also came back with malaria and roundworms. But at least she’s never alone!
“For seven years, I lived in Ecuador, Uganda and Uzbekistan – sometimes with the Peace Corps, sometimes with CARE, and sometimes just following my big, brave, do-gooder husband around the world. I am neither big nor brave, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from going to some pretty far-out places and getting into some pretty dicey predicaments (or jail or someone else’s civil war). I live in Western Massachusetts now (with the guy I call “‘St. John’” cause he hates when I refer to him as “‘the live organ donor,’” and with the two kids we made with stuff we had lying around the house). Being back in the states hasn’t stopped me from writing about life in the rest of the world – and it hasn’t necessarily kept me out of trouble (or jail) either.”
So what does Deb Eve hope to accomplish — in addition to entertaining you — with First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria? After much serious thought, she shared her purpose in the recent post, Calling All Angels, by Deb Eve. And for anyone who didn’t click the linked “How much good can a do-gooder do with one good book?,” here are the writer’s Causes.
Almost ready to head on over to your local bookstore or order First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria online. Eve Brown-Waite will take you places that even she never dreamed of going, but she did and those experiences changed her life. And, while merely reading about her adventures likely won’t change your life, it could very well change your perspective on living in this world…enjoy!
For every author the first time they see their book on a bookstore shelf brings on a goosebump moment, however there are other such moments and Deb Eve agrees:
“It was an entire year of goosebumps. A year of goosebumps and frustrations in a funny way. But one of the goosebumpiest, most joyful moments had to be on the evening of my book release event – the big one in my hometown. It started with a window FULL of my books in the local bookstore. What a thrill! Then two and a half hours of people LINING THE STORE waiting to get my autograph! People kept asking if my hand was getting cramped. But the honest truth was, I could have happily signed books forever! I really felt like a celebrity as John and I walked down the street to my party. I had flowers and balloons and people were waving and cheering. Then we walked into the party and my jaw dropped. Everyone stood up and applauded as I walked in. I was absolutely speechless (and that does not happen very often for me!). I felt like a superstar. St. John took the stage and said the sweetest things and then I had to speak. I talked about why I had felt compelled all these years to write the book. Why I just couldn’t give up. Why I HAD to share the story of where I’d lived, what I’d seen and how I knew we really all were connected. And people cried! They actually cried. And then lined up to buy some more books! We sold 186 books that night. It was the most amazing evening of my life.”
[There are goosebbumps galore too for Deb Founder Tish Cohen who announced hat “film rights to Inside Out Girl sold to producers Steven Pearl (Untraceable, The Baster) and Rosalie Swedlin, with the wildly talented Allison Burnett (Fame, Untraceable, Autumn in New York, Feast of Love) adapting for film” with Tish herself signed on as consulting producer! Congratulations Tish!!!