Recently I had an interesting packet in my mailbox from Debbie Macomber. Though we've popped up on many an author's mailing list, this one had some unusual inclusions that I thought were worth a mention.
First up, coupons. For a decent amount ($2) off Macomber's upcoming hardcover books. Here's the smart part: they're only valid during the first week of a book's release, when sales are especially crucial.
Next came stickers and a bookmark listing the dates of all of Macomber's 2010 paperback and hardcover releases. You're meant to put the stickers on your calendar, a nice touch.
Finally, there's a chatty, full-color newsletter that includes recipes, stories about Macomber's family, and news about upcoming books. This is perhaps the most typical item in the package, but it's well done and appealing.
Obviously mailing hundreds of envelopes full of $2 coupons is not the most efficient way for a new or midlist author to make it to the top of the bestseller list—but what about creating downloadable documents and sending out an e-newsletter containing links to items like these? That's something that most publishers—or even authors—could fit into their marketing budgets.
Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann
May 25, 2010, Spiegel & Grau
Seven years later, the novel has been revised and republished with Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau. At 640 pages, it is a brick of a book, and my advice for you is to read with a pencil in hand, because you will want to remember sections of Hamann's rich prose as she chronicles the life of Eveline Auerbach through high school and college. Evie falls into a passionate, painful and even obsessive kind of love with Harrison Rourke, her high school's visiting drama coach. The excerpted scene takes place right after Evie has agreed to spend the summer with Rourke in Montauk:
It was there that I met myself, there that I discovered my soul’s invention, the feminine genius of me. I often thought about life beyond the summer, acknowledging that an end was imminent, that I needed to prepare. The world sloped against our door like a barren belly—I could feel it. Had I been sentenced to death, I could not have interpreted time with a fiercer consciousness—every twilight seemed to be the last, every rain the final rain, every kiss the conclusive aroma of a rose, gliding just once past your lips.
If he loved me, love wrought no change in him. He did not speak of such things, and neither did I, because words and promises are false, resolving nothing. I was an American girl; I possessed what our culture valued most—independence and blind courage. From the beginning he had been attracted to the savagery in me that matched the savagery in him, and yet, what bound us was the prospect of that soundness unraveled. I began to unlearn things I’d been taught. Often I was afraid, but my fear was a natural fear, a living fear, a fear of the unknown. I would not have exchanged it for a wasteland of security. It kept me vigilant through the night.
It seems like this has been the year of the book anniversary: Spot. Shrek. To Kill a Mockingbird. And now Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew. The Secret of the Old Clock, book one in the iconic series, was published on April 28, 1930. . . meaning that, believe it or not, Nancy's officially 80.
After Justice Sonia Sotomayor mentioned Nancy during her Senate confirmation hearings, the New York Times ran an article titled "Nancy Drew’s Granddaughters." An excerpt from the piece:
[Sotomayor] has said that her Nancy Drew represented boldness and intelligence, the books a gift from a hardworking single parent. In recent years, Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gayle King and Diane Sawyer have described themselves as fans.
How many of you are fans? Whether you grew up on the classic mysteries with the yellow spines or one of the many modern versions, I'd bet the phrase "blue roadster" means something to you. Or that at one point in you life you've asked friends if they identify more with Nancy, Bess (boy crazy/best-friend-on-a-diet) or George (tomboy). Or maybe you even tried to solve a mystery.
To commemorate this anniversary, Grosset & Dunlap has released a new cover for The Secret of the Old Clock. What do you think? (I'll always prefer the yellow spines—in the summer, I used to read one of those babies a day at the pool.)
Related in BookPage: The biggest fans should check out Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak, a fascinating nonfiction book that provides a behind-the-scenes look at Nancy's origins.
On May 25, the winner of the Audio of the Year will be announced at the Audies Gala. Three finalists were chosen for their "excellence in production as well as by their ability to create new interest in the audiobook format through creative and innovative publicity and marketing." The three nominees are all worthy, but Patrick Swayze's memoir, The Time of My Life perhaps has the most poignant behind-the-scenes story. Producer Elisa Shokoff worked with Swayze on the recording during the last days of his life. Here's what she had to say about the experience.
Only a few days before Patrick's 57th birthday in late August, during what was the last month of his life, we began recording the audio version of his memoir. Although the recording became Patrick's final work, and we carried it out under the most unusual & difficult circumstances, it unfolded in the most usual way for Patrick. His well-known passion, intelligence and quest for perfection never dimmed. He was determined to finish the reading with his high standards intact. That determination informed everything we did. It was an exhilarating time.
We set up our equipment in his beloved music studio at the ranch he shared with Lisa Niemi on the edge of the Angeles National Forest in the San Fernando Valley. In the 10 x 12 studio were Patrick, sometimes Lisa, recording engineers Steven Strassman & Matt Cartsonis, two large (often sleeping & snoring) dogs--Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Kuma & Standard Poodle Lucas, and me.
Together, we would begin at dusk and work late into the night. Before, in-between and after recording, it was clear that Patrick was gravely ill and in terrible pain. But when he was actually reading, the weight of his illness seemed to lift and it was easy to forget that he was even sick. A wonderful, kind, cowboy-storyteller emerged; full of life and humor and a heightened compassion. The resulting audiobook is a testament to the great and graceful performer that he was.
Read more about audiobooks in our monthly column.
Ice Cold is Tess Gerritsen's eighth book in the Rizzoli & Isles crime series, and if the trailer is any indication, this book will be creepy, adrenaline-pumping and a page-turner.
The novel follows Boston ME Maura Isles to the seemingly abandoned town of Kingdom Come, where she and some friends are stranded in a blizzard. Abandoned houses—with food still on the tables—are suspicious, and the group gets the feeling that someone is lurking in the darkness. After Maura's body is found in a ravine, homicide detective Jane Rizzoli comes to investigate the town's "twisted history". . .
Will you read Ice Cold, out June 29 from Ballantine? An icy thriller sounds about perfect for the heat of summer. . . and just in time for TNT's new Rizzoli & Isles series.
Also in BookPage: Browse our Tess Gerritsen archives.
At BookPage, we have been struck by the high number of impressive spring debuts. A few of our favorites, in no particular order (click the titles to read a review):
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
This Is Not the Story You Think It Is (a memoir) by Laura Munson
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
Do you agree? Which debut is your favorite? Do you have any titles to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
The Bellwether Prize has just been announced online—Naomi Benaron won for her novel Running the Rift.
The Prize, which comes with a $25,000 award and guaranteed publication by a major publisher, was founded and fully funded by Barbara Kingsolver. The mission of the Prize—given to a first-time novelist—is to "advocate serious literary fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships." Benaron's novel will be published by Algonquin.
In a press release, Kingsolver said that Running the Rift:
engages the reader with complex political questions about ethnic animosity in Rwanda and so many other issues relevant to North American readers. . . For one, it conveys the impossibility of remaining neutral within a climate of broad moral compromise—even for purportedly apolitical institutions like the Olympics.
Now, Benaron teaches at Pima Community College in Tuscon (in addition to working with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project and being a triathlete and a certified orthopedic massage therapist!).
In the past, BookPage has covered Bellwether winners such as The Book of Dead Birds (Gayle Brandeis), Mudbound (Hillary Jordan) and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Heidi Durrow). I will eagerly anticipate more information about Running the Rift.
Do you have a favorite novel that addresses social justice issues?
Last night, the 2010 James Beard Award winners were announced. The award highlights the year's best cookbooks in several different subject areas. We at BookPage were especially pleased to see Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, cookbook columnist Sybil Pratt's 2009 favorite, take home the prize for General Cooking. Get your taste buds ready, because this week's recipe will be Thomas Keller's delicious take on Pineapple Upside Down Cake, from the pages of Ad Hoc at Home. Did anyone try David Lebovitz's Nonfat Gingersnaps over the weekend?
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2010 James Beard Award Winners (links take you to the BookPage review)
Real Cajun by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe
Baking and Dessert
Baking by James Peterson
Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology by Randall Grahm
Cooking from a Professional Point of View
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute with Judith Choate
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Thomas
The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews
Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky
Reference and Scholarship
Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita
Pasta Sfoglia by Ron and Colleen Suhanosky with Susan Simon
Writing and Literature
Save the Deli by David Sax
Coming in October from Little, Brown—The Wolves of Andover, the prequel to the 2008 hit The Heretic's Daughter. Dallas novelist Kathleen Kent tells the story of Martha Allen and Thomas Carrier, who in her earlier novel experienced the Salem Witch Trials. Their courtship sounds equally daunting: Thomas, who played a significant role in the English Civil War, finds himself pursued by assassins sent to the New World from London, while Martha navigates the complicated world of a household servant.
Related in BookPage: Our review of The Heretic's Daughter.
Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame is launching a new series, the latest Sookie Stackhouse book is is out and more—it's a big week for reviews and features on BookPage.com! Which book will you read first? (Click on the book titles to keep reading.)
Interview with Leah Stewart about Husband and Wife
Sarah and Nathan are just your average American couple: still in love after more than 10 years together, they have a toddler daughter and an infant son; Nathan is a well-regarded novelist poised for commercial success with the release of his new book, Infidelity. Sure, Sarah isn’t writing poetry much anymore, and she hates her day job, but sacrifices must be made in the name of family. Then Sarah learns that Nathan’s new book isn’t all drawn from his imagination. He cheated on her, at a writer’s retreat, while she was pregnant with their son.
Review of The Red Pyramid—book #1 in Rick Riordan's new series
The author of the wildly popular Percy Jackson series introduces a new set of heroes to his legions of fans in Book One of the Kane Chronicles series. Siblings Carter and Sadie Kane have been raised on opposite sides of the globe—Sadie with her grandparents in London and Carter with his father, who travels the world studying Egyptian artifacts.
Review of Get Capone by Jonathan Eig
I’m a Chicago guy. Been one all my life. So I thought I knew everything there is to know about the “Chicago Way.” You know, using hustle and muscle to get power and money. But along comes this other Chicago guy, Jonathan Eig, to teach me some new things. His book, Get Capone, is about the guy who made the “Chicago Way” famous. Al “Scarface” Capone, that is—the most notorious Chicago gangster of all time.
Interview with Charlaine Harris about Dead in the Family
For an author who gives a lot of interviews, Charlaine Harris knows how to keep a secret. She's working on a new series, but can’t share the details (“people who talk don’t write”), she's cagey about where Sookie’s telepathic abilities came from, and she won’t say whether Sookie really wants to live her life with a vampire.