At BEA last week, the BookPage team got to meet a number of notable people. Actor Zach Braff and his brother, author Joshua Braff. Justin Cronin (The Passage), Gail Caldwell (Let’s Take the Long Way Home), Joshilyn Jackson (Backseat Saints) and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games). I silently swooned as Trisha and I found ourselves in a hotel elevator with Cory Monteith, star of Glee and total dreamboat. But the crowning glory of the celebrity-spotting week—at least for me—came on Thursday afternoon.
Trisha and I were walking around the Javitz Center, making our way back to the BookPage booth, when I saw him: Pat Conroy, my favorite author, deep in conversation with someone I didn't recognize. Trisha can attest that she has never seen such a high-level freak out from me. I literally stopped in my tracks, paced, stared and obsessed over what to do. Would I go say hi? Would I just watch from afar like a crazy person? Would I pass out? Finally Trisha just told me if I had this chance and didn’t say something, I would regret it forever. So I took a deep breath, walked over and opened with, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but you’re my favorite author, and I just had to come say hi.”
Mr. Conroy smiled, took my hand and said, “Well, thank you so much. Now, what’s your name, darling?” We chatted briefly about his novels, Charleston and how he plans to keep writing as long as people keep reading. His southern drawl was everything I hoped it would be, and I was thrilled—and honored—that someone of his literary stature would take time out of his day to talk with a fan. I thought I loved Pat Conroy before. And now I know it’s the real deal.
Have you gotten the chance to meet your favorite author? If you did, what would you say?
by Adam Ross
Knopf, June 22, 2010
The story is about video game programmer David and his obese wife, Alice, who is highly allergic to peanuts. Though David loves his wife, he often contemplates her death in the day-to-day routine of their marriage, and when she dies on account of her food allergy, David is the primary suspect. Throughout the book, Ross makes reference to Hitchcock films; Escher's Möbius strips; and Sam Sheppard of the highly public murder trial. I'll stop there in my summary, except to say that Mr. Peanut might just keep you up at night. Wrote Stephen King, in what has to be one of Knopf's favorite quotes of the year: "And it induced nightmares, at least in this reader. No mean feat."
Edited by the legendary Gary Fisketjon (who has worked with Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, Donna Tartt and many others), Mr. Peanut is part marital drama and part police procedural, and as the opening paragraph demonstrates, it will hook you from page one. We'll be running a review of the novel and a Q&A with Ross in the July edition of BookPage, but based on the excerpt below, will you pick up Mr. Peanut?
When David Pepin first dreamed of killing his wife, he didn’t kill her himself. He dreamed convenient acts of God. At a picnic on the beach, a storm front moved in. David and Alice collected their chairs, blankets, and booze, and when the lightning flashed, David imagined his wife lit up, her skeleton distinctly visible as in a children’s cartoon, Alice then collapsing into a smoking pile of ash. He watched her walk quickly across the sand, the tallest object in the wide-open space. She even stopped to observe the piling clouds. “Some storm,” she said. He tempted fate by hubris. In his mind he declared: I, David Pepin, am wiser and more knowing than God, and I, David Pepin, know that God shall not, at this very moment, on this very beach, Jones Beach, strike my wife down. God did not. David knew more.
I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend! Anyone finish a good book?
As always, we're highlighting a lot of new content on BookPage.com, from summer romance novels, to kid thrillers to nonfiction page-turners. A few of my picks:
A small-town kid takes on a big-time case in Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, John Grisham's first book for middle-grade readers—and book one in a planned series—will no doubt have wide appeal. Precocious tween bookworms will admire Theodore Boone, a 13-year-old wannabe lawyer, and reluctant readers will keep flipping the pages due to an action-packed plot.
William Rosen tells a story of inventions in The Most Powerful Idea in the World
William Rosen’s The Most Powerful Idea in the World tells the story of how steam power became the catalyst for England’s Industrial Revolution. And a convoluted tale it is, involving the country’s wealth of natural resources (coal, iron, copper and water for powering machines and transporting goods), the comparatively high literacy rate that enabled common folk to educate themselves in science and technology, a patent system that protected the rights of inventors and gave them economic incentive to both create and refine devices, and a population large and wealthy enough to form a profitable market for products the new industries turned out.
Maggie Pouncey writes of a father's surprising legacy in Perfect Reader
“It was after her father’s death Flora returned to Darwin.” With this simple (and pleasingly Victorian) sentence, Maggie Pouncey launches the tangled doings of her accomplished debut novel, Perfect Reader.
Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe, a debut novel about a pastor's wife-turned-aspiring Hollywood actress, is filled with such precision and grace that author Jenny Hollowell seems like a veteran, according to BookPage reviewer Kari Edgens.
The novel comes out a week from today, but you can get a preview now in the book trailer below, which includes an excerpt from chapter 43 (don't let that number scare you off; the novel's 256 pages):
Also take a look at Edgens' review of this "engrossing read on the obsessive nature of celebrity."
Will you read Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe? Can you recommend any other book trailers?
One of the biggest deals of the year was announced last week at BEA. Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series has been capturing the imaginations of millions since 1980. We interviewed Auel in 2002 about Shelters of Stone, the fifth book in the series, and ever since have been receiving questions about when, oh when, Auel would release the sixth and final book. The answer: March 2011. Here's the deal as announced by Publisher's Marketplace:
THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES, continuing the story of Ayla, her mate and their little daughter, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become one of the Ninth Cave community's spiritual leaders and healers; rendering the terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity, and daily lives of Ice Age Europeans as real to the reader as today's news, to Bantam Dell.
This expanded version of the popular feature from the print edition of BookPage shares the release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in June. Which June release are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments.
The Passage By Justin Cronin
The buzz book of the summer, this is the beginning of a trilogy set in a bleak future. Read our interview with Cronin.
The Lion By Nelson DeMille
Grand Central, $27.99
Special agent John Corey returns to track—and kill—a Libyan terrorist (known as “The Lion”) in DeMille’s sequel to The Lion’s Game.
Death Echo By Elizabeth Lowell
Two special ops agents are drawn together as they investigate a global conspiracy.
Uncharted TerriTORI By Tori Spelling
More candid reflections on celebrity life in Hollywood from wife, mother and TV fixture Tori Spelling.
Imperial Bedrooms By Bret Easton Ellis
The author of Less than Zero returns with another chilling take on American life—about a screenwriter who must confront personal demons.
Frankenstein: Lost Souls By Dean Koontz
Koontz's take on one of the classic scary stories of all time is haunting, timely and fierce.
Sizzling Sixteen By Janet Evanovich
St. Martin’s, $27.99
Evanovich’s 16th novel featuring spunky New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is sure to be another sassy, sizzling romp.
Family Ties By Danielle Steel
A woman fights to escape a sociopath who has her under his control in Steel's thrilling new novel.
Sena Jeter Naslund is not the type of author who does the same thing twice. She's told the story of Moby Dick from the woman's point of view (Ahab's Wife); portrayed race relations in the Civil Rights Era South (Four Spirits); and channeled a queen's point-of-view to tell Marie Antoinette's tragic tale (Abundance).
Her new book, Adam & Eve (Morrow), which is being published on September 28, is another departure. Set in the near future—2020—it tells the story of Lucy, a young widow whose astrophysicist husband has entrusted her with a major secret. There is life in outer space, and just before Thom died he had come up with the evidence to prove it. Lucy is the only one who knows, and she has the evidence on a flash drive she wears around her neck. The repercussions from this ripple out, affecting three religions and endangering Lucy's own life, as Naslund explores the explosive intersection of religion, tolerance and science.
Speaking of bloggers (thanks again, Rebecca!) -- news recently broke of a big book deal for The Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson. Jenny will write Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir ("Little House on the Prairie, but with more cursing," according to Publisher's Marketplace) for Amy Einhorn Books.
Do you read The Bloggess, or any of her columns ("Ask the Bloggess," "Goodmom/Badmom," "Sexis Funny")? Will you check out her memoir?
If you had to make a prediction, which blog will become the next book deal?
Sometimes I wish I were still assigning fiction -- I'd love to get the first crack at reading Nicole Krauss' Great House (Norton), which will be published October 4.
The first novel from Krauss since The History of Love, Great House also explores the effects of the Holocaust and the Diaspora, though its scope encompasses other acts of erasure, like Pinochet's Chile. It centers on "a stolen desk that contains the secrets, and becomes the obsession, of the lives it passes through." In the lives of Krauss' four narrators, the desk comes to represent all that they have lost and all that has been forgotten in the chaos of life. Let's hope this one is just as multilayered and moving as The History of Love.
Related in BookPage: Read an interview with Krauss about The History of Love.
Today is the first-ever Book Blogger Convention, and instead of posting the usual "Best of the Blogs" roundup, we are thrilled to welcome Rebecca Joines Schinsky to The Book Case. Rebecca is Associate Director of the convention, but she is probably better known for her smart and funny posts at The Book Lady's Blog--on everything from author events, to new books to her disdain for Nicholas Sparks. Below, Rebecca offers her advice for starting a book blog; if you've ever wondered about sharing your love for reading with a larger audience, you've come to the right place. Thank you, Rebecca!
When Eliza asked me to write this post, my first thought was, “Finally! An excuse to share all of the wisdom I’ve earned the hard way these past two years!”
Then I remembered that I’m really just making it up as I go along…
But I must be faking it pretty well if Eliza thought I actually, like, know things about blogging, so I figure I’ll take a stab at it. How bad could it get? I mean, I’m already known as that girl who talks about throwing her panties at authors.
(See what I mean about making it up as I go along? You can plan that kind of ridiculousness.)
Anyway, without further ado, my top five tips for new and would-be book bloggers.
Do Your Homework
I started blogging the way I do most things--I jumped right in. That was fun, but I did it without any real knowledge of different blogging platforms, software, gadgets, etc. I had (briefly) used Blogger in the past and didn’t love it, and several of the blogs I was reading at the time were on Wordpress, so I just trotted over to wordpress.com and signed up for an account. Then I proceeded to stumble my way through it.
That’s not a bad way to learn, but it is very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, and it can be stressful. If I had it to do over again, I’d spend more time learning about the options, talking to established bloggers (BTW, I love getting email from new bloggers and people who are thinking about starting), and considering the possibility of self-hosting. I’ve just made the transition, and I wish I’d started off self-hosted from the very beginning.
Also: do some googling and make sure there’s not already a blog or business with the title you’re considering. I really learned this one the hard way, as The Book Lady’s Blog started under a different name and changed when I got a scary “cease and desist” email from a business I’d never heard of but who had a copyright on the title I’d chosen.
Don’t Obsess About Free Books
Getting review copies and ARCs (advance reading copies, which are also called galleys) is privilege, not a right, and you don’t have to get them in order to write a fabulous blog.
Start off reviewing whatever you like, whatever you are reading. Sign up for the early reviewer programs at Goodreads and LibraryThing. Subscribe to Shelf Awareness, and click on their banner ads for ARCs. (You’ll be tempted to go crazy on it at first, but beware: the TBR pile will quickly grow to frightening size, and you’ll be wondering why the hell you requested that book in the first place.)
As you develop your blog and build your profile in the community, publishers and authors might reach out to you to ask you to read and review their books. It’s exciting when that happens, but don’t lose your head---accept the books you are actually interested in and pass on the rest. Consider posting a review policy on your blog that will help interested parties identify the books that will be a good fit for you.
Bottom line: you’re not entitled to free books, and it’s important to learn the etiquette that goes along with requesting them and reviewing them.
Regardless of what your goals for your blog may be, you need to get connected and meet people. If you *really* just wanted a place to record your thoughts, you’d write a diary. Blogging is about sharing your thoughts in a public forum, and it is much more fun when you have a little help from your friends.
Visit and comment on blogs you enjoy. Participate in the conversations that crop in the comments on your blog. Jump into the craziness that is Twitter. Don’t be intimidated by the supposedly “big bloggers.”
Social media is the great equalizer---you can tweet alongside your favorite authors and your idol bloggers, and there’s a good chance they’ll tweet back. All you have to do is reach out.
Which brings me to:
Save the Drama for Your Mama
So the post you wrote didn’t get any comments, or a blogger you’ve visited and commented on hasn’t commented on your blog, or someone didn’t respond to your tweet, or maybe you’re just feeling left out and lonely. These things happen. To all of us. You and your angst are not special.
Put your big kid underpants on and deal with it.
Nobody likes to read a whiny blog post about how alone you feel and how badly you wish more people would comment on your blog (hello, can we say fishing for compliments?), and nobody---really, nobody!---wants to read another post or tweet about blogging cliques. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that no two people define the “big bloggers” the same way, and there’s no secret blogging mafia who controls the internet.
Really, it’s the internet. It’s open to EVERYONE.
Take a few days off if you need to. Think about why you started blogging in the first place. Send an email to a trusted blogging friend. Remember that other bloggers have lives, too, and it’s probably not personal.
But keep it to yourself.
And please, for the love of all things sacred, don’t write a post that you know will be controversial just to stir the pot and drive traffic to your blog. Yes, the bump in hits will be nice, but it is so not worth it. Do you really want to be thought of as that person?
Be Yourself and Have Fun
Yes, it’s the same advice your mother gave you when you headed off to summer camp, but it’s still applicable. In fact, starting a blog is a lot like going off to camp in some ways. You don’t really know anybody, and you have to just put yourself out there.
My blog has A LOT of my personality in it, but that’s not a requirement. You can be as private or public as you like, but be true to yourself and your voice. Sure, it might sound like fun to write all of your reviews in Yoda-speak at the beginning, but how sustainable is that? Do you really want to be saying, “Loved this book a lot, I did” for the next ten years?
Talk about books the way you’d talk about anything else. Let your readers get to know you.
Anybody can write a summary or review of a book and post it on the internet. By being yourself, you make your blog a unique space, and you give readers a reason to keep coming back.
Also: do what works for you. There’s no right or wrong way to write a blog, no set number of required posts per week, no mandate on how often you blog or what you blog about.
If you build it, they will come. Write great content that reflects who you really are, and you’ll eventually find the right audience.
Photo by PJ Sykes.