The Launch Party of Trespassers – 11.1.14

About the time I first learned to read is about the time I knew I wanted to be a writer. But if I’d known at the age of five that to be a writer I can’t just write books, but I must also promote myself and speak in public, I might have looked a little further into alternate potential career choices.

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The sign!

So it was with much trepidation that I approached my launch party for Trespassers. It didn’t matter that the majority of people there would be people who love me and wish me to be successful. I was still nervous. And then I discovered Barnes & Noble had not yet received my books. Funnily enough, that little bit of news was much less stressful than one would expect because my publisher had drilled into our heads that we must always have books on hand. Of course in the scenario she painted, the bookstores sold out of books, not that they had zero books to sell! Nevertheless, I had a box of books sitting in my closet just waiting to save the day.

Amanda and Robyn, the folks at Barnes & Noble, felt pretty awful for not having the books. But they were extremely kind and encouraging, assuring me I would be great. Amanda even told me that she’d read my book the day before and liked it! Now, if she was lying, I don’t want to know about it. It was exactly the kind of encouragement I needed. They also had placed a paper rose on every seat and filled a mug full of them for display on the signing table. In my book there are paper roses that are pretty important to the main character so I was really touched that they did that for me. Of course they didn’t know how to actually make paper roses so they put out a call over the loudspeaker asking if anyone in the store knew how to make them. One gentleman came up and offered his help. He ended up making a bunch of them and got a B&N gift card for his efforts!

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The signing table with books displayed and a mug full of paper roses!

There was a good crowd that turned out: my dad, who was in town visiting; my husband and kids of course; my dearest friends who have supported and encouraged me through this process; many of my friends from the book club I participate in; and quite a few of my husband’s employees, too! (You may think they were trying to earn brownie points from their boss; I appreciated their kindness and was so touched that they came.)

My captive audience!

My captive audience!

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My dad, me, my husband, my three sons. The mustache on my 7 yr old was in anticipation of the toast he intended to make.

Members of the Mt. Laurel book club

Members of the Mt. Laurel book club

But the rest of the details are completely fuzzy. My friend Julie introduced me (she was also my photographer for the day) and I remember being so touched with what she said, but I couldn’t have repeated it. I talked, but I have no idea what I talked about. Was I loud enough? I don’t know. Did my answers to the Q&A make any sense? I couldn’t tell you. Mary helped me at the signing table, which was a good thing because who knows what I would’ve signed without her post-its. I don’t remember what I signed. I hope I spelled everything right.

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Here is Julie introducing me.

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Here I am with Mary who is helping to ensure I get everyone’s names right!

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Reading from TRESPASSERS

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Wouldn’t you like to know what was said here? I sure do! 🙂

All in all I think it went well. I have asked my friends, my husband and they all said I did great. And I must rely on their word because I really have no idea.

Here are my two favorite pictures from the day:

He found a dollar bill on one of the bookshelves!

My 4 yr old found a dollar bill on one of the bookshelves!

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I love this picture. I don’t look nervous at all, but as if I’ve autographed books for years.

First Review on NetGalley!

My publisher forwarded my first review posted on NetGalley today and it is a good one! (To put it simply, NetGalley is a site publishers use to give booksellers, librarians, reviewers digital access to books.)

I know not everyone will like Trespassers – I’m trying to remind myself of that all the time – because no book can be liked by all people. Everyone has different tastes so it is inevitable that I’ll get some bad reviews.

But today it is good! I just wished the reviewer worked for Oprah. 🙂

I don’t even know if I’m allowed to share the review since it won’t be posted until closer to pub day (October 27th!), but a few quotes couldn’t hurt, right?

“…This book broke my heart…the writing is so real and deep…I have been waiting for a character like this since I read all of Gillian Flynn’s books…it was a perfect ending…This is a masterpiece that shows a new side of troubled that we haven’t seen in a while.”

If you aren’t familiar with Gillian Flynn, she wrote Gone Girl, which was a bestseller and is being made into a movie. I’ve only read that one of hers, but it was good!

This was exactly what I needed to hear. Some of the things the reviewer mentioned as positives (like the ending) were the very things I’d been second-guessing lately. I’m going to take this as a sign to let it go. The book is written; it’s too late to change it anyway. It is what it is. I could kiss that reviewer because now I can breathe.

The Size of the Effort

IMG_6807Last month I opened a box that had just been delivered expecting a gift for my youngest who turned four. Instead, I was quite surprised to see it was a box of books. MY books, or more specifically, my Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) which I, or a publicist, send out to reviewers.

I wish I could say I became teary-eyed at the sight of them. Or that I jumped up and down and screamed. But I didn’t.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t excited or happy because I was. This should have happened years ago and I’m disappointed in myself that I took this long to make it happen.

But when I held it in my hand, I was surprised to see it wasn’t very big. It is a normal size book, of course, but it is so much slimmer than I’d anticipated. Two hundred and fifty-two pages don’t exactly make a phone book, but still I thought it’d be heftier.

Turns out the size of the effort is not always represented by the width of the spine.

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Nothing Like the Life I’ve Lived

Often, a writer’s first novel is filled with many autobiographical elements. And when this is pointed out, it is not usually in a favorable light, but more a sign of their inexperience. That’s not to say that an author’s fourth or tenth novel doesn’t also have autobiographical elements within the pages, but they are probably better hidden, less obvious. Maybe.

My first novel, Trespassers, is about to hit the bookstore shelves this fall. It is a story filled with darkness, a story of an abused and neglected child grown into a woman who struggles with her past. Her mother is an alcoholic who favors her son over her daughter. She is neglectful and accusing and miserable.

She is nothing like my mother. But people read my first novel and they wonder. They look for possible autobiographical references. How could a seemingly happy woman write about such a dark subject? What must she know about a life of abuse, neglect, misery? But the life depicted within my first novel is nothing like the life I’ve lived. I am fortunate.

My mother is the kind of person who writes handwritten thank you notes, sends birthday cards through the mail, cooks and delivers meals for people within her community who are sick or recuperating. My mother will give things away to people because “they need it more than we do.” I get my love of reading from her.

Not to leave my father out, he is the kind of person who keeps a smile in his pocket and gives it out freely. He is always quick to help others and I am continually amazed at his wealth of knowledge. I can call him up and ask him the most random question and he almost always knows the answer. (My husband is like that, too.) He was the kind of dad who was very involved, getting down on the floor with my brother and I and wrestling or playing. And seeing him with my children, his grandchildren, I think I’ve finally decided the reason we always had rocking chairs was because he loved rocking us to sleep.

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Aren’t my parents adorable here?

When I was a little girl, sometimes after church we would have a few people over. We’d pick up donuts from a local shop, Larry’s, and when our guests arrived, the house would smell of fresh brewed coffee and donuts. The cinnamon twists were my favorite, but the glazed were also popular. On this particular morning, my mother was sitting cross-legged on the floor probably because the comfy seating was for our guests: my grandfather (my mother’s father) with his smiling eyes and easy laugh and an older woman, a close friend of the family whose name I cannot recall, but I remember she smelled strongly of flowers. My dad was there, of course, his tall frame towering over us, the china plate looking especially delicate in his large hands. There may have been others present, too, probably at least one pair of aunts & uncles, but no one else sticks out in my memory. Either my brother hadn’t been born yet or he was napping because I was the only child in the group. This did not bother me because I was allowed to join them. I was perfectly content to listen to their adult conversation and join in laughter amongst friends, even if I didn’t always understand the humor. There was the sound of fragile teacups placed on saucers and the warmth of sunlight streaming through the windows. I looked over at my mother, at her long brown hair ’70’s-straight and I was completely overwhelmed with my love for her. To me she was glamourous in that moment and it struck me speechless.

Of course I remember this moment so vividly because in my childish exuberance, I launched myself at her to give her a kiss, which could have been a sweet moment between mother and daughter, but actually resulted in a much surprised mother and a daughter’s sloppy, wet kiss smeared across her mother’s cheek. I suppose the only thing I can be thankful for is that I did not choose to fling myself at her when she held the fragile teacup to her lips or we both would’ve been burned with hot coffee.

Larry’s has long since closed and my grandfather and the floral-smelling lady have both passed away. I doubt my parents remember this particular Sunday decades ago when life was simple and the donuts were fresh. But I remember.

And I am grateful to have parents who loved me so completely, who encouraged me in pursuing dreams that didn’t always make sense and supported me when I did dumb things as we all do. They’ve driven across the country with me – more than once – and have spent a small fortune on me. They have laughed with me and they have consoled me. They are nothing like the bad adults depicted in my novel.

I wish there weren’t people who have experienced lives like the fictional one I wrote about in Trespassers. I wish we lived in a world where children were never hurt by those closest to them. I wish everyone could have loving parents like mine, who, although not perfect certainly did their best.

Perhaps my next novel will have parents similar to mine, but I can assure you my first novel is not autobiographical.