Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Win a Picnic for your Book Club

Today is the day The Underside of Joy begins its new life as a paperback. Paperbacks are great. They're inexpensive. They fit perfectly in Christmas stockings. (Sing it with me...The Underside of Joyyy to the Woooorld!) They fit in purses. They fit in picnic baskets. Book clubs love paperbacks. And I love book clubs.

Hanging out with Les Girls book club.

Book clubs are smart, and funny, and they often serve delicious food. They have passionate discussions about people who existed only in my head for six years. These readers have actually taught me things about my own book, which is pretty cool. Many of the groups I've visited have had a picnic theme to tie in with the Life's a Picnic Store in Elbow. How cool is that?

Towne Centre Books hosted this lovely picnic for their book club.


I'm truly grateful to all the book clubs that have read The Underside of Joy. It's been such a privilege to talk with you.

As all of this rolled around in my head, an idea struck me, as they occasionally do. I thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to deliver a Sonoma County picnic to a book club so it arrives in time for our skype visit?" And then I thought, "Yes, that would be fun."

So that's what we're doing. Contact me to schedule a skype or phone visit to discuss The Underside of Joy in January, February, or March and I'll enter you to win a picnic--chock full of goodies and wine from the region--delivered right to your doorstep. You'll eat, drink and be merry, and we'll chat about Ella and Annie and Zach and the whole Elbow gang, along with step-parenthood, grief, joy, Italian-American Internment, food, vineyards, postpartum depression, childhood secrets, family, nature, and how every once in a while, life really is a picnic. Check out my website for more details.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pretty in Paperback

I took yet another break from blogging over the summer so I could focus on writing my new novel. Some people can do more than one thing at once. This is called multi-tasking, and I've heard that it's quite useful. Unfortunately, this skill doesn't come naturally to me. I am a one-track kind of woman. Oh, sure, life forces me to at least attempt the octopus approach on a daily basis (I did somehow help to raise four children) but it's never pretty. So if you ever see me with toothpaste on my eyelashes and mascara on my teeth, you'll understand.

And now that the kids are living out in the world and feeding themselves, when I'm deep into my work I become sort of useless. I avoid cooking, cleaning, shopping, and errands. (My husband might divulge that I avoid many of these things even when I'm not in the thick of writing, but this is my blog and I'm not giving him the password. He'd have to start his own blog, and that's not happening. The dear man is too busy shopping and cooking.)

So this summer, while much of the population took to the beach, lost in reading a juicy novel, I was trying my best to write one.

My new novel was relentless. It would not let me go. Every morning as I stretched, sipped my coffee, and pondered the possibility of say, planting flowers or heading out to the beach to enjoy the incredible weather, my novel would say, "Like hell you are. You're staying right here in Alaska, freezing your keester off with Kache and Aunt Snag and Nadia." And I obeyed. A writer never wants to tick off her novel-in-progress.

On particularly hot days, this had its benefits. I remember when it was over 100 degrees and I happened to be writing a snow scene and had actual goosebumps. See? I may not be able to multi-task, but there are times when a focused imagination comes in handy.

While I was trekking through Alaska in my head, the hardworking, multi-tasking folks at Plume transformed The Underside of Joy into this wonderful paperback edition, which hits stores November 27th and is now available for pre-order here.

I am in love with this cover. I love the vertical treatment of the horizontal photograph, the reflection of the sky and the little girl. And I'm extremely grateful for the stamp of approval from the talented Jennifer Weiner.

I may not have spent much time playing on the beach this summer, but whenever I look at this cover, I'm right there...with Annie and Zach and Ella. I missed them while I was gone.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

UK launch for The Underside of Joy

Beginning May 10th, this little girl will be perched on bookshelves in stores throughout the UK. And as if she's not sweet enough, here's a really sweet deal to add to the pot: For a limited time the publisher is offering the e-book here for a special promotional rate of a mere £1.99. Yep. Sweet.

My UK publisher, HarperCollins UK, has done such an amazing job. I was able to meet my editor, Sarah Ritherdon and my publicist, Liz Dawson, for lunch when I visited London last summer, and they were both so kind and gracious and fun that when we hugged good-bye, I felt like I'd known them for years instead of hours.

I'm extremely grateful for Sarah's and Liz's hard work and enthusiasm--along with that of the entire Harper team. Special thanks to: Heike Schuessler, who designed the beautiful cover; Harriet Sands, Laura Fletcher, Oli Malcolm, Sarah Collett, and Tom Dunstan, who've been doing a terrific job with sales; likewise Catherine Friis, who made great things happen with international sales, marketing guru Liz Lambert; and publisher extraordinaire Kate Elton. Everyone has gone to great lengths to see that The Underside of Joy finds its across-the-Atlantic audience.

So far, so good. Early readers have chimed in with truly lovely reviews, some of which are listed here and here.

So I'm excited to see how my book baby does on its first trip abroad. In the meantime, I'm heading up to Alaska as I write this (gotta love inflight wifi) to see my oldest son, Daniel, graduate from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. So proud of him for a million reasons. After graduation, we'll be traveling with Daniel on the Kenai Peninsula, where my novel-in-progress is set. If you've read this blog in the past, you know how much Alaska inspires me. Maybe I'll even have a blog post for you when I return that isn't about The Underside of Joy. Now wouldn't that be something?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Over-the-Top of Joy

Well, hello there, book.

Today is my official publication day.

So this is me. At our perfect local bookstore, Copperfield's, in Sebastopol, California. Yep. This is me, seeing my novel, The Underside of Joy, on a bookshelf in a bookstore for the very first time. I look pretty calm, but don't let that fool you. I felt like hugging and dancing with every customer and staff person in the store, and then running out to the sidewalk and doing the same with all the pedestrians -- and their dogs -- before leaping from hood to hood on the cars waiting for the light to change.

I'm a little excited.

What's even more overwhelming, though, is the gratitude I feel. You would not believe how supportive my family and friends have been. Friends I've known for years and years, and friends I've just recently met on the internet. I've never published a book before, but by the way they've all been shouting from the rooftops, you'd think that no one had ever published a book before. They have been ordering The Underside of Joy as if it were a survival kit and we had sudden proof that the Mayans were right after all.  (For many reasons, besides the fact that this is the year I'm finally getting published, I do so hope they were wrong.)

There is an amazing team of professionals, who have also become friends, working extremely hard to see that this novel finds its way into the world. My agent, Elisabeth Weed and her associate, Stephanie Sun. My foreign rights agent, Jenny Meyer. My editor, Denise Roy, my publicist, Amanda Walker, and all the people at Dutton. Kathleen Schmidt at KMSPR. And then there's all the foreign publishing houses that also took a chance and bought The Underside of Joy from an unknown author.

This was going to be short, but I'm on a roll. There have been many thoughtful reviewers, who really get the book and are able to describe it so much better than I can. Some of them are quoted here on my website. A great review just appeared on The Associated Press wire, which goes out to a ton of newspapers and websites. Lindsey Mead, a writer whose work I so admire, wrote a lovely, insightful review on her blog, A Design So Vast. More reviews are beginning to appear on blogs, which I'll post links to soon.

And my family! My relatives and in-laws have cheered me on for decades. My sister, Suzanne, and my sister-in-law Julie have been competing for chief volunteer publicist. I have an incredibly supportive husband, Stan, and four great kids, Daniel, Michael, Karli, and Taylor, who've lived so closely with my writing, it was like having another sibling they had to put up with.

There will be a book launch party on Saturday, January 14, at Copperfield's at 1:00. At the exact same time the 49ers will be in the playoffs. Have I mentioned that we have a Joe Montana Christmas tree ornament? My husband, smart man that he is, will be taping the game. If you're in the area, and you're not a football fan, come by. There will be picnic food in honor of the store called Life's a Picnic that's in the novel.

I could go on and on. I know. I already have. But the thing is? This doesn't even scratch the surface. My acknowledgement pages go a little deeper. But I would need to write another novel-length manuscript in order to thank everyone who has had a hand in this day. My heart is full, and so are my eyes. Thank you all.

My son Michael outside of Copperfield's.