Saturday, February 28, 2009

Away... But Still Thrilled

Hi everyone,

Sorry I missed last weeks post! Unfortunately I'm not going to be any better this week either. Last week my computer crashed and no matter how hard my lovely husband tried to get it back up and running, he couldn't. He explained to me what the trouble was, but basically all that it ended up meaning was that we had to go out and buy a new one! I then had to try and remember all of my passwords and email addresses, many of which I can't recall. That was last week.

This week I'm not at home. I'm actually away on an writing assignment and won't be returning home until tomorrow. I'm actually sitting in a internet coffee shop doing my best to concentrate over the terrible noise. Regardless of this fact, I wanted to send out my much excited best wishes to Jillian and Tracy on their debut books!!!!!! I ask my husband to order them for me yesterday, but for all I know he could have gone online and ordered a book about WWII instead. When I get home I'll make sure the books have been ordered. I can't wait to read them both.

As for the questions...I apologize for having to do it this way. I hope you can both still answer them. Again, good luck with your books and congratulations!

My Questions

How has your family (husband, children, parents) reacted to the publication of your book? Have any of them marched into a bookstore and bought all the copies? Are they telling all their friends, neighbors and distant relatives to go out and buy your book? Have you gotten any surprising reactions from people when you have told them that you are a published author? What one person were you looking forward to telling the most?

Sorry. I know these are more than a few questions. I hope you don't mind.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lights... camera...

Now, you all know I come from an acting background, so for my question to our Lovely Launching Novel Girls, I thought it might be fun to take a little trip to the casting couch! I asked Jillian and Tracy to fantasy “cast” four of the characters from their debut novels, The September Sisters and A Taste of Magic, with real live actors!

Don’t forget, all you have to do to be entered in the draw to win is leave a comment in the comment trail!

Let’s see what Jillian has to say about her characters – and who she’d like to see play them on the silver screen:

Lesley, I have to say I love your question because it combines my two favorite things, books and movies. It also gave me permission to spend lots of time on one of my favorite websites, IMdB, and still say that I was “working.”

Since you asked for four, I decided to cast the family in my book, the main character Abigail Reed, her younger sister Becky, (who disappears), her mother Elaine, and her father Jim.
First Abigail – For her I would choose Abigail Breslin, who is not only one of my favorite child actresses right now, but who also shares the same first name with Abigail Reed. Perfect! I loved her in Little Miss Sunshine, but I also recently saw her in Definitely, Maybe. As I was watching that I may have even mentioned to my husband that she would be perfect for the movie version of Abigail, in a year or two. I think she plays smart and strong and unique very well, and these are all characteristics that I see in my Abigail.

For Becky, I choose Elle Fanning (Dakota Fanning’s younger sister). In the book, Becky is described as petite with straight blonde hair, the opposite to Abigail’s darker skin and curlier brown locks. I don’t know much about Elle’s acting, and I think the only thing I may have seen her in is an older episode of House, but I think she has the perfect look for the part.

For the mom, Elaine, I choose Naomi Watts. In the book, Elaine is supposed to be petite and blonde like Becky, so Naomi fits for looks. But I’ve also loved Naomi’s acting ever since I saw her in 21 Grams. Elaine might be the most complex character in the book, and her depression borders on mental illness at times. She is beautiful, but also broken. I think Naomi Watts could absolutely pull this off.

For the Dad, Jim, I pick Matthew Fox, who I’ve been a fan of since his Party of Five days. Jim is supposed to be intimidating and controlling, but underneath, he means well and is trying to do what he thinks is best for his family. In some ways, this reminds me a little of Matthew’s character on Lost. Plus I just really, really like him, and wouldn’t he and Naomi Watts make a cute couple?

Thanks so much, Lesley, for this fun fantasy trip!

Thank you Jillian! Now let’s see what Tracy had to say:

This is easily the hardest question of the week for me. Why? Because I think different actors bring a unique style to any role they play, and therefore, figuring out who would bring just that right "something" to my characters is nearly impossible. it my best shot, here we go:

In the role of Elizabeth Stevens, I'd choose Sandra Bullock. She has the same physical characteristics as Elizabeth, but my reasons for choosing her extend beyond "looks." I loved her in While You Were Sleeping, Two Weeks Notice, and Congeniality. She's funny, which is a huge plus for Elizabeth, but she also expresses the deeper emotions of her characters, which is a necessity in Elizabeth's case.

I had to think long and hard about Nate Sutherland. Finally, I settled on Mark Ruffalo, because Nate is serious, but also sweet and fun. I loved Mark in 13 Going On 30, and that's pretty much how I see Nate, except, of course, Nate is a cop.

Grandma Verda is such a fun character, that my first thought was Shirley MaClaine, because who does zany humor better than Shirley? The problem is that Grandma Verda is quite a bit older than Shirely, but if there was a way to make it work, she'd definitely be my first choice. Other than Shirley, I'm not sure who else I would choose. Hmm, I'll have to give it more thought!

There are a lot of other characters in A Taste of Magic, but coming up with these three were difficult enough, so I'm stopping here! Thanks for a great (and TOUGH) question, Lesley!

Thanks Tracy!

Congratulations again, ladies! Keep that party rolling!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In which Tracy and I admit to wanting to be grandmas. . .

First, let me say how awesome it is for me to be sharing this amazing week with Tracy! I got my copy of A Taste of Magic a few days ago, and though things have been a bit crazy and I haven’t had much time for reading, I have read the first few chapters and I’m loving it. As for me, this week has felt surreal, exciting, overwhelming – I’ve been doing lots of interviews and guest posts around the blogosphere, so if there’s anything you want to know about me or The September Sisters – it’s probably out there now. Just check out my personal blog for links.

So for my question, I asked: If you could be one character in your book for a day, who would it be and why?

Tracy said: At first, I thought this was an easy question, but the more I thought about it, I realized it wasn't. I love all of the characters in A Taste of Magic, so choosing one wasn't easy--at all.

Elizabeth, the heroine in the book, is awesome AND she has magic, so that's a very compelling reason for me to pick her, because I'd love a little magic. Plus, she has these hot men clamoring after that's another great reason. Even so, I realized that while being Elizabeth for a day would be FUN, there is another character even more compelling to me.

Grandma Verda, Elizabeth's grandmother, is my choice. She's so quirky that being her for a day would be a blast! She also has this right-on-target instinct about people, about life, that would make being her so very interesting. In addition, she seems to bring out the best in everyone around her. And let's not forget her perfect manipulation skills (which, of course, she only uses in the most dire of circumstances!).

Yeah, I can definitely see enjoying a day spent as Grandma Verda.

And here’s my answer: Even though I asked the question, I had to think about my answer for a little while, too! It seems like the obvious answer for me would be, Abby, the main character in The September Sisters. I love that she’s strong and quiet and smart, and that she has this amazing ability to see people for who they really are, underneath. But I sort of feel like I’ve already spent a day in Abby’s shoes. Actually, a lot of them. Having spent months writing from her point of view meant I thought about her and dreamed about her and day-dreamed about her constantly.

So I decided I would also want to choose the grandmother in my book, Grandma Jacobson. Grandma Jacobson actually has a very small role in the book and only in flashback as she died a few years before the story takes place. You know that pretty sapphire blue heart you see on the cover? Grandma Jacobson bought them for Abby and her younger sister Becky a few years before the book begins, when she was on a trip to Madagascar. She was the kind of crazy old lady who traveled the world, said whatever was on her mind, and loved her granddaughters fiercely. She was brave and interesting and didn’t let anything stop her. Actually, in a lot of ways, she’s my opposite. I tend to be more quiet and reserved and afraid of more things than I’d like to admit. And that’s why I’d choose to be her for a day – just to experience life from a totally different place.

Both A Taste of Magic and The September Sisters are officially out in the world now! Pick them up, read them, enjoy them! And don’t forget, comment on this post or any of the others this week, and be entered to win a signed copy of A Taste of Magic and The September Sisters.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

T & J - All eyes are on you!

It's your Launch Week! That also means the Novel Girl's have free books to give away. Please make sure to leave comments - that's all you have to do.

With my pub date still months away, I'm living vicariously through each of the other Novel Girls. I'm so excited for you both, Tracy and Jill, and I can't wait to read your books. I'm venturing into Nashville today to buy both of them at our local indie store, Davis-Kidd, and I hope to send you pictures from the bookstore (that is if I can figure out how to upload the photos on my own!!)

When I was starting down my road to publication I would devour success stories from authors who had struggled through rejections from agents and publishers. I posed the question to both of this week's newly published NG's and here's what they said . . .

Lisa: Is there anything about your road to publication that might encourage aspiring authors to keep on keepin' on? Or was your agent/publisher process quick and easy. In other words, were you lucky right out of the gate or did you have to work hard for it?

Tracy: To use your expression, I did "sell" right out of the gate. Meaning, the full manuscript was only submitted to one editor at one publishing house, and he purchased it. However, my road to publication wasn't as easy as that makes it sound! I had many rejections from agents on this novel. Some of them broke my heart. One of them even halted my writing for about two weeks. I never said I wasn't emotional, LOL.

But after the offer came in from the editor, two offers of representation came in from two amazing agents. I just needed to figure out which agent was right for me, and I did. Michelle Grajkowski is enthusiastic, smart, and amazingly supportive. At the end of all those rejection letters, I ended up exactly where I was supposed to.

So, my encouraging note to aspiring authors is simple. Keep submitting, because you never know when the right agent, right editor, for your story, for your voice, will read it, love it, and call you.

Jillian: There was nothing easy about my path to publication, and I certainly didn’t get lucky right out of the gate. My first attempt at getting an agent started in 2002, with a novel I wrote before The September Sisters. Despite the fact that dozens of agents told me it was unsellable, most of them also told me I was good writer and should try them again. So that was something that inspired me to keep going, despite all the rejection.

In late 2003 I wrote the first draft of The September Sisters. As I wrote, for the first time, I thought about what might be sellable, and this influenced some of the decisions I made in writing the book. I knew I wanted to add a mystery into the plot and also write from only one point of view in first person (My first novel had been in third person from five points of view.). I also wanted to write a coming of age story. I’m not sure why I thought this would be more sellable, but for some reason, I felt very sure it was. But then when I got rejected by some more agents again, I felt completely deflated and gave up on my writing career for awhile.

The things that inspired me to get back into it were distance (After nearly two years I missed writing and could also see more clearly how to revise the book.) and having a baby. When my son turned one, I realized that I needed to make my dream of a writing career more than just a dream – to show him what was possible in life. Or at least, I had to try. But my decision to throw myself back into my writing didn’t make the path any easier -- still another two years (and lots of rejection) would go by before the book would sell.
So yes, my path to publication was absolutely long, and a struggle, and also a roller coaster ride full of crazy highs and incredible lows, but in the end, it was all worth it. And besides, I’m sure I wouldn’t be appreciating this awesome launch week half as much as I am now if it had all just been quick and easy!

Thanks, ladies!

As crazy as this week must be for you both. Please take time to relish in what you've created and accomplished. Congratulations and please drink a glass of bubbly for me!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Party On!

The Release Week par-tay continues! Make sure to pick up your copy of Jillian Cantor's The September Sisters and Tracy Madison's A Taste of Magic! I'm still waiting for mine...(Amazon, I'm looking at YOU. Again.) but I SO cannot wait to dive into these awesome books!

If you haven't ordered your copies yet, what are you waiting for? Click over to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders or any other online retailer and order them!

I'll wait...

OK. Ready?

It's so much fun celebrating my fellow Novel Girls and their releases. It's kind of like how I imagine my release week will be...minus the nerves and shaking hands!

For my interview question, I tried to come up with a good "stumper." Which wasn't that hard because this subject was particularly difficult for me. My question is: If you had to come up with an alternate title for your book, what would it be?

Jillian: Funny you should ask about an alternate title, Maureen, because The September Sisters actually sort of is an alternate title already, or at least, alternate to the one I originally came up with. The original title was Even to the Edge – it’s a line from the Shakespeare Sonnet I wrote about a few weeks back, in which it says about love. “. . .it bears out, even to the edge of doom.”
I’m pretty terrible with titles, and I agonized over this one for a long time after I wrote the book. I settled on Even to the Edge sometime in early 2004 just before I started sending the book out to agents for the first time. I didn’t necessarily love the title, but it stuck. And it stayed this way, all through the submission process, until the book was sold.

One of the first things my editor said to me was that she thought we should come up with a new, catchier title. I agreed with her, but at the same time, it was hard to think of the book any other way – as if I’d given my child one name at birth, and then when he was four years old decided to change it.

So the title brainstorming session was on. My editor came up with Hearts of Stone (referring to that necklace you see on the front cover) which we both liked but didn’t love. I sent my editor a list of maybe 20 possibilities, one of which was The September Sisters. She liked that one, and also suggested that the book could be called The Thing With Feathers, after the line in the Emily Dickinson poem “Hope,” “Hope is the thing with feathers.” My editor said she always thought of Abby like that little bird in the poem, fluttering around, trying to keep her head up. I loved that image and also really liked that title, until I realized that there was already another book called Hope after the same poem. So then we both agreed that The September Sisters was the best choice.

At first I had trouble thinking of the book with this title, but now it seems so perfect that I can’t imagine it any other way!

Tracy: Actually, A Taste of Magic is not my original title, so choosing an alternate title is easy, as I'd just fall back on my original! When I began writing the book, this title came to me immediately, which rarely happens. It is: A Spoonful of Sugar...A Pinch of Magic, and it really describes the book perfectly, since Elizabeth is a baker and bakes her wishes into cupcakes, brownies, and other yummy stuff.

We ended up not using it because of its length, but I still love it!

Thanks guys! Sounds like Crazy Title Fun Was Had By All.

Don't forget to leave lots of comments for a chance to win a signed copy of either The September Sisters or A Taste of Magic! You want one, you know you do!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Release Week Begins!

This week marks the release of Jillian Cantor's novel, The September Sisters, and my novel, A Taste of Magic. So...we're basically walking on air. Okay, huge, huge, huge understatement!

Actually, for me, my book is already in the hands of many readers. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have had the book in stock for a little over a week. I've been getting emails from folks saying they HAVE my book. What a surreal feeling that is!

All week long, Jillian and I will be answering questions from the rest of The Novel Girls, today is my turn to ask. My question is: How did you celebrate when you first sold your novel, and how are you celebrating the release? Anything fun planned?

Jillian: Any celebration that I have usually revolves around food, and book sale/release celebrations are not any different for me! The day my book sold I went out to dinner to celebrate with my husband and two kids. It was an especially nice dinner out because my younger son was still a newborn, and we hadn't been out to eat yet since he was born. Lucky for us, he slept through dinner, and me, my husband, and my older son got to enjoy the meal. We went to a new place, an authentic New York deli that had just opened, a rarity in the southwest, and something that my husband and I miss (having grown up back east). Plus, we thought it fitting to be in a "New York" restaurant to celebrate the good news coming out of New York earlier in the day!

I'm not sure what I'm going to do on the day of my launch yet, but I know we'll probably go out to dinner some night this week to celebrate. Two weeks ago, though, I had a little pre-launch lunch with two other author friends of mine whose books also came out in February - Laura Fitzgerald, author of Veil of Roses and the newly released One True Theory of Love, and Morgana Gallaway, author of the Nightingale. We met at a crepe cafe, sat out on the patio in the gorgeous Februrary Arizona sun, drank coffee, discussed our launches, and of course, savored our delicious crepes. So yeah, celebration, good food, book-talk. Count me in!

Tracy: Okay, answering your own question is a little weird, but here we go...

After my book sold, I had several celebrations...all of them awesome. Some very good friends took me and my husband out to a really nice Italian restaurant for dinner the weekend after I first received the news. Then, the next week, another awesome friend sent me a bottle of very (very) nice champagne. Yum! We shared the champagne with my parents in another celebration. I also celebrated wtih my local writing group in a variety of small ways--coffee out, book talk, and a lot of fun.

For my launch celebration, there will be (again) several different things going on. My aunt is having a launch brunch for me in March, which I'm really excited about. Another friend is having a party for me, and of course, me and my husband will likely sneak out this week while the kids are at school for a celebratory lunch. Sometime this week, I'm heading over to a couple of the local bookstores to "visit" my book with some friends. LOL! I can't wait to see it on a shelf.

Don't forget! Be sure to comment on any of the posts this week (or all) for a chance to win autographed copies of The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor and A Taste of Magic by Me (um, Tracy Madison) :)

Also, stop by my blog today ( and join in my celebration there! Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense author (and a very close friend of mine) Lisa Mondello has answered some questions, and is also giving signed copies of her book away.

I'll be around all week--celebrating!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Novel Girl News

This coming week is release week for Tracy Madison's A Taste of Magic and Jillian Cantor's The September Sisters!! All week, The Novel Girls will be celebrating the releases by interviewing Tracy and Jillian.

We'll also be having a contest and giving away signed copies of both A Taste of Magic and The September Sisters. All you need to do to enter is comment on any of the posts this week -- for every post you comment on, you get 1 entry into the contest!

The Novel Girls