Friday, August 25, 2006

Dog Love

Hop on over to GalleyCat to see a great photo of our wonderdog Ginny, and read about why she’s the cutest dog ever. (Hint: An underbite helps). While you’re there, browse the other posts on this excellent book and publishing blog, and you’ll be the first on your block to learn that Norman Mailer is coming out with his first novel in ten years.

Thanks to Ron Hogan and Sarah Weinman of GalleyCat for posting Ginny’s pic!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Bella Stander Poetry Contest

If you’re in the mood to read some REALLY bad poetry (and come on, who isn’t?) then head on over to Miss Snark’s blog. Miss Snark is a literary agent whose prolific, funny, and yes, snarky blog normally deals with publishing questions. This week, however, she held a poetry contest. Why? To make Bella Stander laugh.

Who’s Bella Stander? And why do we care if she laughs? She’s a writer and book reviewer, an organizer for the Virginia Festival of the Book, and founder of Book Promotion 101, a workshop that teaches newbie authors like me how to launch our babies into the cold cruel world. I took Bella’s workshop last year and found it excellent. Afterward, I had the pleasure of chatting with her for a couple of hours over Chinese food, and that was even better. She’s a fount of book world wisdom, and funny as hell to boot.

This past May, Bella took a very nasty spill off a horse. On Tuesday she went in for yet another surgery, this time on her fractured (and poorly healing) humerus. Not one to pass up fun with homonyms (humerus/humorous—the possibilities practically boggle the mind!) and with the goal of rallying Bella’s spirits, Miss Snark announced the contest and threw open the blog doors.

Eighty-five entries in 48 hours. Twelve hours for blog readers to cast their votes, and—ta da! Results are in. The poem written by yours truly (#44) landed in a 3-way tie for third. (Yeah, I see you back there, I know what you’re thinking. No, I didn’t vote for myself. Not even once. Scout's honor).

So Bella, I hope we made you laugh and that your humerus is on the mend, and do you have any idea how hard it is NOT to make bad puns on the word humerus? (Must refrain…mustrefrain…)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Library Love

I'm a lifelong devotee of libraries, and now, the love quotient has just skyrocketed: Tallulah Falls has been selected as an August 2006 Great Reads book (category: "Real Teens, Real Lives") by the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Thank you, CML!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bookseller Love

I'm having the most amazing time meeting booksellers.

Now, I’m a shy person. Always have been. I have a particular phobia about calling people on the phone; I just assume they won’t want to talk to me. It’s like my fear of spiders, which my sweetheart (see previous post) keeps trying to talk me out of. Yes, I know I’m much bigger than they are. Yes, I know they’re probably more scared of me than I am of them. What my sweetheart doesn’t get is that’s why it’s called a phobia—because it’s not rational.

Which means it’s taken a bit of time to get my nerve up to call local booksellers, asking if I can stop in for a drive-by signing. The purpose of a drive-by signing is to meet the booksellers and sign whatever copies of my book they have on hand. Easy, yes?

For me? So. Not. Easy. I’m the girl who will wander through a store for half an hour, rather than ask a clerk for assistance. My boyfriend will ask for directions before I will—that’s how bad it is.

However. Armed with advice on Approaching Booksellers for the Shy and Retiring from Bookseller Chick, the anonymous blogging maven of all things book retail, I called the first store on my list. As soon as I said my name, the person on the other end of the phone cried, “Oh, hi! We’ve been trying to get a hold of you! One of our customers told us about you and we want to set up an event with you!”


I have to say, after that, it got easier. At that particular bookstore—St. Johns Booksellers, right in my own neighborhood—I spent close to an hour dishing with the owners, Liz and Nina, two lovely women who are so passionate about books I left inspired to write the best novel ever, just so they would like it.

At Broadway Books, owner Roberta was just as welcoming. And at A Children’s Place, Portland’s wonderful children’s bookstore, Kira and I got to yakking about the amazing Shannon Hale (who also publishes with Bloomsbury—hi, Shannon!) Kira led me to Shannon’s newest novels, Enna Burning and Princess Academy, and also introduced me to Edith Pattou’s East, which I’m in the process of devouring. Thanks, Kira!

This week I’m going to continue my rounds. I can’t wait to see whom I meet next!

Oh, and that event I mentioned earlier? I’ll be reading from Tallulah Falls at St. Johns Booksellers, 8622 N. Lombard, Portland, Oregon, at 7 PM on September 20th, 2006. See you there!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Behind Every Successful Writer...

Tess Gerritsen is an award-winning writer of thrillers. She also writes an insightful blog about writing and publishing. Her latest post, “Only Another Writer Would Understand,” is a beautifully written essay on the difficulties of being married to a writer.

I understand what she’s talking about. I could write the companion piece: “Only Another Veterinarian Would Understand.”

Fortunately, my significant other is a veterinarian, too. We both understand fourteen-hour days and the lack of weekends. We consult each other on the hard cases and commiserate over the heartbreaking ones. We accept the near-absolute certainty that we’ll arrive late (or miss entirely) any event for which we buy tickets. And still, sometimes, we get frustrated with the demands of each other’s careers. For spouses who don’t belong to the same profession, those frustrations must get enormous—even when they are entirely supportive of their loved one’s vocation.

How much worse it is, then, when the spouse is not supportive.

Years before I had the great good fortune to find my sweetie (and long before I started writing), I experienced exactly that. The attitude ranged from comments like, “Why would anyone spend money on a cat?” to a silent, condescending indifference toward anything veterinary-related…because after all, “it’s just not important.”

Bye-bye. Better to be alone, than with someone who thinks my work—my passion—is trivial.

Writers with unsupportive spouses hear a lot of the same kind of thing: The writing is a “hobby.” It’s "not important." It’s a "waste of time." And when the rejections arrive (as they always do): “I told you so.”

I changed career mid-stream. I took a pay cut to pursue writing. I spend countless hours in my office tapping at the keyboard, and countless more musing about characters and plot points and story problems. My sweetie sure didn’t sign up for that. He thought he was getting a veterinarian who liked to read. Without warning, he ended up with a writer, complete with angst, negligible odds for success, and an anemic cash flow. And throughout it all (Quitting my job! Haywire schedule! Rejection after rejection!) he has been my champion. Because it makes me happy. Because he thought I should go for it. And because he’s the most excellent man on earth. To say I’m blessed is the understatement of a lifetime.

To those struggling with this issue, I can only say: Don’t ever, ever settle for less.