Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just wanted to let you know I'll be interviewed about My Life with the Lincolns on Book Bites for Kids, an online radio show, tomorrow (Wednesday, June 30) at 12pm PST. You can listen through the link above, and you can even call in with comments or questions at 646-716-9239. MLWTL received a lovely review over at the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.

I've been so encouraged by early reader response I've received for Delta Girls--thank you to everyone who has emailed me about the book. I recently wrote a Delta Girls-related guest post, What We Don't Know We Know for Christina Baker Kline's fabulous and continually inspiring blog, Writing/Life. It was not an easy post for me to write--it delves into my mom's suicide and what came up for me when I remembered, through proofing the book, that one of my character's mothers in Delta Girls had also committed suicide--but it felt important to explore.

Thank you again for your support through all of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In honor of the release date of Delta Girls, Asher and I put this little YouTube video together. Please excuse the poor video quality; it's the best I could do with my webcam. As you can see, I'm wearing my Pear Fair tshirt to celebrate the book launch. :)

I also was interviewed by the lovely Susan K. Perry, author of Writing in Flow, for her Psychology Today column, Creating in Flow.

On an unrelated, but also celebratory note, my friend Kryn let me know that The Book of Dead Birds is included in this Feminist Summer Reading List. So cool! I don't even mind that they misspelled my name. :)

Thanks to everyone for all of your support on this launch day!
I can't tell you how excited I am to welcome Laraine Herring to my blog today (the launch day for Delta Girls!) I've known and loved Laraine and her work since we were in grad school together around 10 years ago. During one of our residencies at Antioch University, I had a dream that we had gone to an indoor swimming pool together. The water was full of huge sea creatures and I chose to stay safe and dry on the concrete surrounding the pool, but Laraine didn't hesitate; she dove right in. This felt like such an apt metaphor for Laraine (I even used it when I introduced her at her senior reading)--she is fearless as a writer, able to plunge in to the darkest, most painful material and emerge with something beautiful, something that holds the light. Her books about writing, Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice and the forthcoming follow-up, The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice, are revelations--they will wake both you and your writing up and help you become a braver, stronger, truer writer. I can't recommend them enough.

It is through her amazing fiction that I first met Laraine, though, and I know that it is through her fiction that she most wants to be known as a writer. I am so thrilled to see Ghost Swamp Blues finally make its way to print after several incarnations that I've had the honor and pleasure of reading over the years. This book will knock your socks off; it will haunt you with its beauty, its rhythm, its power.

To win a copy of Ghost Swamp Blues, post a comment below about what haunts you, as a writer or a human being (make sure to include an email if you don't have a blogger profile with contact information.) I will pick a poster at random to receive this stunning novel.

Here's Laraine in her own words talking about her process of writing the book, and our process of sharing work. (In the spirit of sharing, I am also posting about the process of writing Delta Girls and our creative exchanges over on her blog--you can win a copy of Delta Girls if you comment there, as well.). Enjoy!

GHOST SWAMP BLUES: Finding the story through the swamp

I started writing Ghost Swamp Blues after reading Chitra Divakaruni’s novel The Mistress of Spices. I was fascinated by Divakaruni’s magical realism, and her primary character, Tilo, who operates a shop of spices she sells to customers to help them with their desires. I wanted to be Chitra Divakaruni, and, as long as we’re confessing, I’d read Beloved in undergrad school and I wanted to be Toni Morrison too. You can imagine the block I sustained trying to imitate them! Those two authors taught me that I could do something magical too, and I soon began to hear the voice of Lillian. However, my first connections with Lillian were not at all magical, and not at all filled with honeysuckle-laced desire. I had an image of a foggy island surrounded by tulips and a steep arched bridge that people had to cross to get to Lillian. Then I wrote a scene about her mixing tuna fish and mayonnaise in a white ceramic bowl. I bought books on tulips and put pictures of tulips in various stages of growth up around my house. A year later, I still didn’t have much writing, but I had established the most important element of fiction writing for me: the haunting.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My novel Delta Girls comes out in three days and I'm full of nerves. The two trade reviews I've received so far have not been great (the nicest thing Publishers Weekly had to say is that the book is "heartwarming but forgettable." I suppose I could be like those movie ads that take snippets from bad reviews and use them to their favor--turning something like "This movie is the most stupendous waste of time" into "Stupendous!" on billboards--and just say "Publisher's Weekly called my book heartwarming!" but that feels disingenuous.) I was starting to doubt myself as a writer, starting to think that the book is bound to bomb, that I'll never be able to publish my work or be taken seriously as an author again, but then I started hearing from readers who've read early copies and I'm feeling a little bit more hopeful (not that the doubts have gone away entirely. Why is doubt such an integral part of the writing life?)

Cindy at CindyREADS posted lovely reviews of both Delta Girls and My Life with the Lincolns on her site and ubiquitous review Harriet Klausner says "The Delta Girls is a delightful compelling character study that rotates subplots between Izzy and Karen as the tale looks deeply at mother-daughter relationships...With a great twist that brings the two sagas together, fans who appreciate a discerning look at motherhood will enjoy this thoughtful tale." (Okay, I left out the sentence in between where she says the storyline meanders a bit as the characters are established, but she still gives it five stars.)

The lousy thing about the lousy trade reviews is that they're right at the top of the Amazon page for everyone to see as they contemplate buying the book. So I am going to step outside my normal reticence over such things and gently ask that if you enjoy reading Delta Girls, please post a review at Amazon (or your favorite bookselling site--I especially love Powells.com). It's very hard for me to make such a request, but the publishing industry is hurting and writers are scared, and it's so hard for any one non-blockbuster book to get much attention, so a positive review would make a big difference in helping readers find the novel. I suggest you do this for all books you love, especially those by little known authors. Writers appreciate it beyond words. I know I do. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my warm but forgettable heart. ;)