Four Authors Walk Into A Bar

Okay, it was a restaurant, but still.

Renee Rosen, Me, Amy Hatvany, Nicole Lynn Baart

Renee Rosen, Me, Amy Hatvany & Nicole Baart

Last weekend I attended the Heartland Fall Forum in Chicago, an annual trade show where Midwestern booksellers get to check out the latest books from big, small, specialty and regional publishers and meet with authors. That also means that authors get to spend time meeting those booksellers and talking about books.  And as you can see, authors also get to hang out with each other.

The lessons I learned at Heartland are lessons for any writer who wants to be out and about talking about his or her book, either now or some day.

Four Lessons I Learned At Heartland (Before I Got To The Bar)

1) Wear comfortable shoes. My shoes were very comfortable when I walked around the house, got in and out of the car and went out for dinner, but hoofing it all over a conference hotel was a different story. I also learned that Band-Aids in hotel gift shops cost about 50 cents a piece. And are worth every penny.

Continue reading

A New Year, A New Post, And A New Look For Women’s Fiction Writers

In honor of forging ahead with my new novel (untitled), jumping into my new stage of life (empty nest), celebrating the Jewish New Year (5774) and scheduling many new book events (calendar to be updated), Women’s Fiction Writers has a new post by me and—a whole new look (but no more parenthetical phrases)!

I hope you like the new digs as much as I do! 

Amy xo

A Writer’s Ring Of Truth

photo (13)It’s been a while since I wrote my own post on my own blog.  I’ve spent the summer promoting The Glass Wives, writing my next novel (still untitled), working on freelance editing projects, looking for a job outside the house (I’m “opting in”) and mostly, getting ready to send both kids off to college. No, it didn’t take all summer to shop and pack and prepare the kids. It took all summer to prepare me.

And it will probably take a little longer.

It’s not like I’m new to life-altering changes, but each one seems to be like the first.  Except for one thing.

This time I know I’ll be fine.

Continue reading

Seven Lessons From My Debut Book Tour

Two months ago when THE GLASS WIVES was published, I started my career as a published author by celebrating with friends. It wasn’t until two weeks later that I did my first event. It’s counterintuitive at times, to realize that I spent years writing a book alone, chatting with writers and authors online, and now, part of taking my career to the next level meant standing up in front of real live people and talking. I was nervous but excited by the prospect of doing it. I’m not shy, nor am I an introvert. But this meant being fully responsible for the experience of the audience. Yes, people are responsible for their own happiness—but book events almost transfer the author into the role of entertainer.

Don’t let that deter you or scare you. The things I learned on what I loosely describe as my “book tour” which consisted of eight events in the Chicago area, ran the gamut. I spoke to a high school creative writing class, a crowd of two, a crowd of fifty, and I participated in a group reading, and a panel at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest. My one “out of town” event was in my own hometown of Philadelphia, where I knew, or knew of, all seventy people in the audience. I was related to some and had known others since elementary school. I had not seen many of them in thirty years. Or more.

And while these lessons were based on my experiences over the past two months, and your mileage may vary, I’m thinking that the debut author experience is a somewhat universal one.  I’ve also been told that every book feels like a debut, so I’m going to make sure to read this list in 2015 when my next book comes out! (More on that soon!)

Amy xo

SEVEN LESSONS FROM MY DEBUT BOOK TOUR

1. People are not there to see you fail. 

This was kind of a revelation for me. Not that I ever thought I’d have hecklers, but the acknowledgment that everyone was there because they wanted to be, with an expectation that they would walk away pleased, kind of freed me from feeling pressure. I’m not sure why. Just remember, the people in the audience are in your corner, whether you know them or not.  Unless you have a nemesis who attends book events, of course. But really, look around. People are smiling. (So smile back!)

BOOK LAUNCH CHLOE CLASS

2. Don’t feel compelled to read.

What I mean by this is—read your audience. If it’s filled with people who’ve read your book, you might be able to refer back to certain scenes when you talk. If your audience is mostly people who’ve not read your book, or there’s a mixture, read a bit, talk a bit, then read again. I’ve been to readings where I’ve thought “I can read it myself, talk to me.” And there are times I was riveted by an author’s audible rendition of her own work. Know your strengths. We’re all storytellers so remember to tell a story.

book launch flossmoor 9

3. Leave plenty of time for questions.

People are curious by nature, and if your book talk touches on different topics, you’ll spark the audience members’ imaginations. And moxie.

book launch flossmoor 8
4. Serve snacks.

Even if you go home with most of them, it emits a generous and welcoming vibe. And fully bellies make for happy listeners. Will some people just come for the cookies? You bet. Maybe next time they’ll come for the cookies and the book!

JPEG AMY BOOK SIGNING 7_10_1320130710009JPEG AMY BOOK SIGNING 7_10_13book launch flossmoor 2

5. This is a celebration. Don’t forget it. 

It’s easy to let nerves get the best of you sometimes. Remember this is a celebration of a book and its author. Go out before or after. Toast with friends and family. Don’t shy away from letting it be all about you this once.

book launch renee 2 book launch glen ellyn dinner


6. Every event and sale is worthwhile.

I drove an hour and a half to a book store and there were two readers in attendance. I’d been alerted by many author friends that this happens. But if you add in my daughter, her friend, and two booksellers, there were six people in the audience. I sat in a chair, talked about my book, read a bit, and talked some more. Then the readers and booksellers asked questions. Books were sold. Then I spent an hour talking to the booksellers about books and publishing. I knew it was a worthwhile trip, even if we did get lost on the way home.  And just the other day I was invited back to speak to this store’s in-house book club. Why? Because the book sellers read and talked about my book. And probably because they could tell I was happy to be there even if we didn’t fill the room.

book launch lake forest 4

Two! These are the two! There were four people behind them. My daughter deftly took this photo to hide the fact that there were so few in attendance, but I’m coming clean!

book launch bn panorama

A crowd of seventy from my point of view!

7. And my most important lesson of all? The one I can’t deny any longer no matter how hard I try? (And I do, believe me!)

I talk with my hands. 

JPEG AMY BOOK SIGNING 7_10_1320130710130JPEG AMY BOOK SIGNING 7_10_13

Back To Women’s Fiction Writers Business-As-Usual. Almost!

On Tuesday on WFW, I’ll start once again posting interviews and guest posts from some of your favorite and new-to-you women’s fiction authors. Oh yes, along with my own news and views on occasion (one perk of hosting this site).  

But today I wanted to tell you about Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago. It’s June 8-9 in the—you guessed it—Printer’s Row neighborhood. I’ll be on a panel on Sunday, June 9th at 3pm with Henriette Lazaridis Power and Thea Goodman, moderated by Parneshia Jones. You can find out more about Printers Row by clicking here. It’s all free, you just have to register for a ticket to attend!

In preparation for the Lit Fest, I was featured in the Chicago Tribune on Saturday and again in the Trib’s Printer’s Row Journal today. 

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 7.07.51 AMI have to say it’s very strange—yet I feel very fortunate to be included in the Tribune and to have THE GLASS WIVES celebrated so publicly.  

Something else going on that you may have caught wind of on Twitter or Facebook, is that I’ve signed another book deal with Brenda Copeland at St. Martin’s. Yep! I get to write another work of women’s fiction, FALLING INTO PLACE. This one is about Izzy Lane, a divorced mom and anonymous blogger whose lies about a wonderful (fake) boyfriend land her a job as a relationship columnist with a popular website. The problem is, she hasn’t dated in years. FALLING INTO PLACE explores not only the way one’s online life can intrude on real life, but why someone lives with ‘life lies’ and what has to happen to make her come clean and deal with the consequences. In Izzy’s case that’s not only her family and friends, but her readers.  

And in addition to all the book hoopla, today is my daughter’s high school graduation and on Friday my son heads to New York for a summer internship. We are a very busy family! 

I hope you’ll stick around for the next part of the writing and publishing journey and lots of new interviews with women’s fiction authors. WFW is scheduled through October 2013—but just let me know if you or someone you know should be included!  

Thanks for everything!

Amy xo

Recipe For The Perfect Launch Party

When it was time to think about celebrating the arrival of The Glass Wives, I thought I didn’t want to have a party. Then I realized that you only have your first book come out ONCE (although author Melanie Benjamin tells me every launch feels like a debut).  A fabulous friend generously offered to host a party for me at her home. I made a list of the people I wanted at the party. The list was short. Yes, her house could have accommodated a larger crowd, but I did not want to celebrate with a lot of people, only the people, for the most part, who were real friends and had be truly supportive through the process of writing and seeing my book through to publication.  The people who were there before the book and would be there after the book. The people who would have been there if there were no book. And that’s what made it perfect for me. And for the first time in a long, I did allow it to be about me. Actually, most of my friends insisted upon it. 

I knew were the right people to invite.

Amy xo

Recipe For The Perfect Launch Party

(as seen on The Debutante Ball)

First, you’ll need two packages of the best napkins on the planet.

napkins

Then, you’ll want to find a wonderful friend and host.

P1020737

Slowly add her homemade tea cup candles to the table-scape.

launch party candles.jpg

Then, add one BFF who flew in from 800 miles away.

Photo on 5-14-13 at 5.38 PM #2

Mix in one critique partner you met online, but now count on in real life.

launch party pamela.jpg

Stir in a huge stack of books to sign. Approximately thirty, or to taste.

launch party signing.jpg

Sprinkle with great friends and one amazing daughter. 

launch party bunch.jpg

Top with wine and food (and rugelach favors tied with a bow) and enjoy!

Twelve Things I Learned My First Week As A Published Author

1. People you never expected to contact you will do so with kindness and enthusiasm, and sometimes with chocolate. 

2. People you expected to contact you, will not.

3. Urgent Care Centers will be open in the middle of the night even when your book has launched just in case your 21-year-old cuts his finger on a broken glass at 1 am.

4. Photos will pour in from all over the country with sightings of the novel you wrote. Sometimes you won’t even know the people who snapped and sent the photo. 

5. Someone will criticize your story and then say she read it in one day because she couldn’t put it down, making your head spin. 

6. You will check Amazon rankings even though everyone has said the numbers don’t matter.

7. Amazon rankings will delight and/or destroy you (sometimes in the same hour) even though everyone has said that the numbers don’t matter. 

8. Washing machines will leak. Because they can. 

9. Sleep will elude you, except in the middle of the day.

10. Speaking to a group of high school creative writing students (daughter included) will be the highlight of the week. 

11. You will receive many teacup gifts, and hope that your publisher puts jewelry on your next book cover (fingers crossed). Or a tropical island. 

12. You will realize that this is the best job for you, just like you imagined. 

Best book launch napkin ever!

Best launch party napkin ever!

A Promise, A Win, And A Beach Read

beachreadI’m not a competitive person. I met one of my closest friends about twelve years ago during my short-lived attempt at golf, when we were both taking group lessons at a local country club. We’d met before, so when we were paired up for the morning, nothing seemed amiss. Except, this was a competition. Someone had to win. Someone should have wanted to win.

“You can win,” I said. “I don’t really care about winning.”

“Me either!”

We’ve been friends ever since.

I do compete with myself, with assumptions, and with naysayers.

That was, until this morning when I started feeling like a politician. You know, the imaginary honest kind.

THE GLASS WIVES is listed as a Best Beach Read for 2013 on Goodreads and OMG I want to win. I don’t even know if there is a way to win. But I find myself on social media asking for votes.

If you are on Goodreads and so inclined, here’s the link: http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/35381.Best_Beach_Reads_2013

If you’re not on Goodreads or not inclined, that’s fine too. I hope you’ll read THE GLASS WIVES and pass the word the old fashioned way.  You know, on Twitter.

Debut authors like me need help from readers. Word of mouth = help. Voting will increase the visibility of THE GLASS WIVES on Goodreads where a gazillion (precise number) of readers gather to learn about books. Learning about an unknown author opens up readers to the possibility of giving the book a try.  And that’s all we can ask for right?

So, while I promise, promise, promise NOT to fill your in-box with daily travails of a debut author, as you can see, there’s a lot going on and sharing the journey makes it more fun.

Yep, even more fun than winning.

A Debut Author’s Target Practice

target pracice

If you’re a writer like me, and you are trying to get published like I was (and am, because there are always more books to write and sell), then you know that publishing comes, free of charge, with a barrel full of waiting and disappointments.

But while we’re waiting, and even while we’re waiting to be disappointed, we must get on with our lives.  So I did.

One day while THE GLASS WIVES was out on submission with editors, even though I knew I might hear from my agent that day, I headed to Target. What better way to pass the time than to look at dog beds, towels, socks, shampoo, and depending on the store, fresh veggies? Truly! It’s all my divergent dreams within the same four walls (nail polish, lawn art, small, colorful appliances, and hot popcorn), which serve as a procrastinator’s writer’s best coping mechanism.

So there I was, walking the aisles of one of my Target stores (I have three), and my phone rang like I knew it would the way you know that you’ll find the missing ingredient in your cabinet as soon as you buy a new one pound bag. I stopped in the middle of the decorative/throw pillow aisle, off to one side, and answered.

Bad news. An editor had passed on the book. Along with the no came comments that were inconsistent with other things we’d heard from interested and non-interested editors. Was this editor the ONE who was right? Or was this editor the ONE who was wrong? The fact that authors know in their heads that acquisitions are subjective has no bearing on the emotional upheaval that comes with someone telling you your work isn’t good enough for them.

My agent and I chatted.  There were kind words and consolation.  We were sallying forth. I hung up the phone, checked my list, checked the time, checked around me—and burst into tears.

I wasn’t simply teary. It was rejection waterworks. Unstoppable. Unconscionable. Unbelievable. Then I started coughing to mask the crying. I mean, coughing up a lung is much more preferrable to crying hysterically when you’re in Target. My literary life passed before my eyes, lost in the cotton and silk, embroidery and tassels.  I couldn’t see a future amidst the fluff.

I don’t remember what was in my cart (no throw pillows, they now give me nightmares) but know I went straight for the check out and drove home.  Lesson learned. When waiting for a call from your agent, my best advice is to renege on your responsibilities and stay the hell home. Or at least carry tissues so you don’t have to open the rolls of Charmin and say, “Oh, it’s allergies, really,” to every shopping, staring stranger.

Needless to say, not long after my “unfortunate Target incident,” that same novel sold to the right editor at the right publishing house—Brenda Copeland at St. Martin’s Press.

And on May 14th, THE GLASS WIVES will be available, DRUMROLL PLEASE…in Target stores.

Bullseye. 

Wives, Widows, and Wishes

I’m sure you’ve seen the articles, ads, reviews, and press for The Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman, a memoir about six young women who were in mourning and started getting together to support one another and became friends. Then came a book.

Hey, I wrote a book about widows too. In case anyone was wondering.

The thing is, and it’s a weird thing to say, and I haven’t read the book, and I don’t wish death and loss on anyone ever, but these women had a label and situation that inspired the sympathy, empathy, compassion and camaraderie they needed and deserved. They were able to find others like themselves.

In my real life, my ex-husband died, and like my main character Evie, I found myself to be an ex-wife with a dead ex-husband.

Try finding a support group for that.

For me, in real life, divorce support groups never worked, either before or after my ex’s death.  I was not your everyday divorced mom. I worked at home and got along with my ex who happened to actually fulfill his duties as a father.  And by the time I divorced, I was no longer angry or bitter.  Annoyed at times, perhaps, but otherwise, fine and even at times, dandy.

I’ve had people tell me I was lucky my ex died. Yeah, my tolerance was, and remains, pretty low for people who say things like that to me. Insensitive is the nice word for what they are.  It’s clear that unless there are horrible extenuating circumstances, your kids are better off with their other parent in their lives. Even if he or she is riddled with faults, as all exes are. And it isn’t lost on me that if you have an ex, you are one.

Widowhood support groups certainly didn’t work for me after my ex died. I didn’t even qualify for those. And for that, I’m grateful. I don’t always believe thing happen for a reason, but I’m pretty sure that the reason I survived years of a craptastic marriage and thrived in the aftermath of divorce, was so that I would be rock solid when my kids needed me most, and forever after.

I think the interest in books about horribly sad, sometimes inspiring situations, most likely what Saturday Night Widows is like, is so that people can read and experience without actually, you know, experiencing anything at all.  They learn, wonder, put themselves in the places of the people or the characters. If the writer did his or her job, readers get a true sense of emotion and situation, whether the book is fiction or fact.

I think the people who’ve already read The Glass Wives have enjoyed it because they get to tread into a situation they can’t imagine for themselves. Heck, I wrote it, and although the springboard for the novel lies in truth, I wouldn’t have wanted to live out some of the details of Evie’s life either. I think that’s what made it so much fun to write.  It’s true, I wish I had a freezer full of cookies like Evie always does. I wish I would meet a Jewish George Clooney (how I imagine a character in the book, ha!). I wish I worked in a snazzy gift shop because it sounds like fun.  I wish my two best friends lived right next door to me, one on each side.

But really, I wish my ex was alive so that I had to come up with a whole different idea for a novel.

That being said, I’m wondering…are books about widows the new, um, black?

Jeez, I hope so.

Have you read the advance praise for The Glass Wives? You can do so here

Book Covers, Tea Cups* and Blustery Cold

In certain scenes in The Glass Wives, Evie and her friends Beth and Laney drink coffee at Evie’s kitchen counter.  Nicole, on the other hand, drinks tea. And yes, I know the cover isn’t literal, but I can’t help it…I like a little literal now and then, and there is both literal and metaphorical meaning in this cover. As there is in the title.

But more importantly, what’s in your cup today? 

Today I had Starbucks Blonde Roast (made at home) which is my weekend coffee (too $$$ for every day). But tonight in my cup I think I’ll take something a little stronger, just to offset the cold and add to the ambience as the dogs and I hunker down for movie night in front of the fire!

And yes, this is the final cover, which I just happened to see today as I was poking around on Goodreads!  64 people have added it to their to-read list, and two early readers have given it five stars. I know that opinions vary with all books, but that was a very nice way to start a very cold Saturday!

Amy xo

Why the asterisk after Tea Cup? Because technically, based on a few China cup experts I know, these are indeed coffee cups, based on the shape and the absence of a saucer. Not that I needed them to be coffee cups because I’m literal and the characters drink coffee not tea. But I’m just saying.  That my friends, is called cover karma. 

Pink/pink, blue/pink, or pink/blue. I think it's  the perfect cover for The Glass Wives.  Hope you agree! (If you've read it, or when you do, chime in!)

Pink/pink, blue/pink, or pink/blue. I think it’s the perfect cover for The Glass Wives. Hope you agree! (If you’ve read it, or when you do, chime in!)