A list of things that happened over the last few days plus tomorrow

  1. Conversations & Connections. The panels were packed, people were sitting on the floor. When Art Taylor read as part of the keynote, the conference ran out of copies of On the Road with Del and LouiseThey had to start a waitlist.
  2. Spring came. (see above. The view from my cabin’s back window. Taken with an iPad, no filter)
  3. Anthony Ballots were due.
  4. Edgar Awards.
  5. Malice Domestic. Congratulations to Barb Goffman for winning the best short story prize. Congratulations to Art Taylor for winning the best first novel prize. His West Virginia fan club  was tracking twitter and drinking a little too much.
  6. My mother, who is 87 and has the flu, casually came up with a brilliant idea for a short story epilogue to The Juliet. Involves finding a skull in the desert 20 years later. Emerald inside. Mom says, “I should write these things down.” Um, yeah you should.
  7. Panda-bro Todd Tavalozzi’s Looking Into The Sun reached number 1 in War novels during his free day on Kindle.
  8. Matt Magelssen-Green’s delightful essay, “Roleplaying as Live-Action Fan Fiction” is available on the Alternating Current Press blog, marking the last of my choices as guest editor to go live. Woo hoo! Plus Matt is one of the BEST EGGS.
  9. My Father-in-law just read my book and doesn’t know why it isn’t a bestseller.
  10. Tomorrow is the LAST DAY of my Goodreads Giveaway for a signed copy of The Juliet. Get on that, ya?
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The Origins of The Juliet at JMWW and Conversations and Connections

The endlessly generous and talented Jen Michalski invited me to write a post for JMWW’s recently relaunched “Origins” series in which authors talk about the seeds of ideas and inspirations that grew into their books. You can read my Origins post here. In the post I ramble on about Mom’s influence on the book, as well as the original research I did, and how I manipulated it.

In other news I finished (I hope!) a long-ish short story called “Artie & The Angels,” which is about what happens when a young woman who inherits a house on the Bayou Teche suspects that there’s a man inside a refrigerator that’s been dumped in the waters behind her new home.

This weekend brings Conversations and Connections, a one day conference with practical advice on writing that is just about sold out. See? only 1 ticket left!

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I’ll be serving on a panel with my dear friends and fellow novelists, Steve Himmer and Art Taylor. The panel is called, “The Art of Creating Imagined Spaces Inside Real Places,” and here’s the description:

Three novelists—Steve Himmer, Laura Ellen Scott, and Art Taylor—talk about the techniques and risks of inventing non-existent locales and integrating them into real settings. What does authenticity mean when you manipulate known places in fiction, and how does “world-building” happen? And in this context where do invention and cultural appropriation intersect?

This year C&C is starting at it’s new home, George Mason University. The event on Saturday will be out at the Arlington Campus–where the law school is housed. Yes, THAT law school. We’ll do our best to dispel any bad mojo while we’re out there. Should be fun!

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Goodreads Giveaway:10 signed copies of The Juliet! Plus Laura’s Weird Day

The good news is that the Goodreads Giveaway for The Juliet launches today, and it’s going strong. I’ll be giving away 10 signed copies when the giveaway ends on May 2.

The weird news is that a Pileated Woodpecker dove into our car on the way to the cabin today–this was after we’d accidentally driven over a skunk carcass. Not sure if these are omens or just natural rites of spring, but when I got back online I discovered that Amazon has included a bacon recipe book among my titles:
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Apparently it can take up to 3 days to get a book removed from your amazon bibliography, so in the meantime I’ll be contemplating what this could mean for may “brand.”

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Course Description: Confession Writing

CRWT 499/701 Confession Writing 

Credits: 3 (NR)

Workshop. Practice in writing confessions and confessional literature in genre other than student’s declared track (POE/FIC/NFIC/DRA). Presentation and peer critique required. Readings in confession and recantation history. Satisfies alt genre requirement for the MACR as well as Capstone Synthesis for BA CRWT. 

This section is HYBRID: Cross-listed undergraduate/graduate, meets New Royal campus and online, appropriate to residential status. Additional Technology and Security fees apply. (See Registrar’s page for scale)

Prerequisites: Open to CRWT students classified as C, EC, or G. L with POI only.

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What Color is Your (Independent) Bookstore? Launch Week Round-up

Happy Easter, happy everything! It was a heck of a launch week, with a guest talk in a publishing seminar, two readings, lots of books to sign, a tidal wave of internet promotion, and of course, the holiday, for which we rushed to the country to set up an egg hunt for our gosh-daughter. She’s 8 now, but a wonderful actress, and it’s always fun to watch the gas-lighted become the gas-lighter. It must have been particularly tough for her keep up the act of innocence, especially when she came across a huge bag of Easter stuff in her parents’ car the day before. She’s a terrific, smart kiddo, declaring this year’s egg hunt haul “the best ever,” thereby guaranteeing that the adults will attempt to outdo themselves next year.

The DC launch event at Upshur Street Books was lightly attended—not unexpected for a mid-week rush hour reading—but it was a delightful party made bright by friends Art Taylor, Danny Collier, Lucy Jilka, Joe Killiany, Terry Nebeker, and David Olimpio, who came all the way from Jersey with Rothko, his internet famous dog. The gosh daughter was there too, and she peeled the edible emerald decal off the cake and said, “I know what happened to The Juliet!” Then she jammed it into her mouth and made monster-yum-yum noises. Despite the low attendance, I somehow had a generous wad of cash in my grip when we got back into the car to go home. My husband, Dean, and Art Taylor—who also read from his great book, On The Road With Del and Louise—talked politics all the way home, while I sort of disappeared inside my own happy bubble. The top pic looks like a band pic.

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The Northern Virginia launch at One More Page Books drew a big crowd—it was Friday night, when a lot more people were ready to relax and kick off the holiday weekend. I was joined by Erin Fitzgerald, who read from her exquisite novella, Valletta 78. Erin stayed at our place, and in addition to being a terrific writer, she has the patience of a saint with my dogs. The older pup freaked out every time Erin used hand gestures or took an audible breath, whereas the younger one was smitten, on the edge of obsession. This is her rolling around on Erin’s sheets, followed by Erin and me at our author table:

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The great news about the NoVa launch is that the store sold out of copies they ordered, and had to use some of my copies to meet demand. Erin and I signed a TON of books, and almost missed out on the cake. Terry Nebeker, who attended both readings, almost stole the show though, with her non-ironic cowboy hat and cardboard mustache.

Finally, something that my husband and I found interesting—but you may not—is that Upshur Street Books is green inside, something we referred to as indie bookstore green after the event, remembering that OMP was green, too. But wait. One More Page is blue now. It used to be green. I can prove it. This is from 2014.

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I guess that isn’t super-interesting, but it just goes to show how an author sees the world with wonder and joy when her book is released, lol. In either case, these are great little stores with excellently curated selections, very knowledgeable and clever staff, and a devoted clientele. These are not just shops, but destinations—beautiful models of the independent bookstore renaissance.

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The Juliet is OUT, and the DC launch is TONIGHT

The Juliet was officially released yesterday, and today we brave 66 at rush hour so I can read at Upshur Street Books in DC with my good friend Art Taylor. Tonight’s event (7pm) was listed in Brightest Young Things calendar picks, so if we’re lucky we’ll draw a good crowd. That said, there are lots of literary events going on this week–ahead of the AWP conference in LA next week–so i’ll be happy if just a few good friends show up.  Plus–cake.

It’s a strange but delightful feeling to finally be able to promote and sell The Juliet. I started notes on the book back in 2012, and began writing with seriousness in late 2013. The book was submitted to Pandamoon and accepted in late 2014, so I’ve been nursing this baby snake a good long time.

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The Juliet On My Doorstep

A box of print copies of The Juliet arrived at my home yesterday afternoon, and I’ve been celebrating ever since, but now comes the season of promotion. This morning I tried my hand at cheezy tweeting (tying my cursed emerald to St Patrick’s Day), and that fell flat–possibly because nothing can beat my dog’s photobomb that I posted last night: 12841328_10154653513439202_8325487644328745022_o Next week is launch week, though. I kick off Monday, the 21st, with a presentation about publishing for a graduate class that will also include potential MFA applicants. The official release DAY is the 22nd, I give a reading in DC at Upshur Street Books on the 23rd, and on the 25th I’m reading at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA.

 

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Blurbs, Blurrgh

Last week was Spring break, but I was doing anything but relaxing. We finished the last round of edits on The Juliet mid-week, and I was panicking about the blurbs that hadn’t come in. See, everything was on track for there to be physical books delivered in time for the Northern Virginia launch at One More Page Books on March 25, but no one told our chief book wrangler that I had a DC launch schedule for two days earlier at Upshur St. Books (yes, both shops are ones that the President has visited on his annual holiday shopping tour). To make that deadline we had to send off the book files at least a day earlier than planned, and by 6:30pm Thursday night I was frantically refreshing my email, hoping that my blurbers would come through.

A quick note on blurbs—the jury is still out as to whether they have any effect on selling your book, but their appearance certainly lends an air of legitimacy to your art. Asking for and collecting them is sort of terrifying and embarrassing—Please read my book and say you love it in public? Writing them isn’t so bad, but I spend too much time crafting those one or two sentences that will permanently adorn a book’s cover, like a tattoo. I can’t imagine how I’d react if someone asked for a blurb turnaround time of only a week. Which is what I did.

So at 7:00pm Thursday night, Art Taylor was commencing a panel at the Burke Centre library, where he would lead a discussion about literary and genre fiction publishing experiences. The panel included me, Tara Laskowski, and Steve Weddle. Just as Art was doing the introductions, I received a blurb—a really fab one—and I frantically copied and pasted it into a message to the publisher, typing on my iPad, which I held under the table, which wasn’t all that clandestine seeing as there was no skirting. Everyone in the audience could see what I was doing, and the only one who couldn’t was Art. Sorry, Art.

From there we all had a great session, but I don’t think we talked lit vs. genre as much as Art had planned. The audience–bigger than I had expected—was mostly writers with significant experience, including several members of the local Sisters in Crime chapter, so we mainly talked about our different paths to publishing. Art has been successful in selling his short stories to commercial crime magazines, Steve Weddle works with an agent, and Tara and I are having truly positive experiences working directly with our publishers.

Once I got home, the next amazing blurb arrived, and by morning the final blurb. They are all so wonderful, and were produced so quickly, I can’t help but feel that I’ve got some serious karma to work off. So once all the blurbs were sent off and the information is updated on my various pages, there isn’t much more for me to do for The Juliet until the book actually comes out.

Which is NEXT WEEK. And if you can’t wait until then you can order a print copy directly from CreateSpace, NOW.

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The Juliet Pre-sale! –and a new rhythm for promotion

The Kindle version of The Juliet is live for presale, and things are hopping as we hustle to get the ARCs out to potential reviewers before the official pub date of March 22. We don’t have much time, but I’m finding that my karma is holding out, and people are being incredibly generous, especially as I’m asking for the impossible—blurbs before Friday. Simultaneously, we are in the final rounds of proofing, and even with five sets of eyes on the manuscript, there’s lots to correct and massage. Luckily, the editing team is a collaborative one, able to translate my MLA habits into CMS ones with nimble efficiency, and our conversations are as real-time as possible:

Z: Is “snorfling” even a word?

LES: I think so. This is from a veterinary site: Does your pet keep you up all night scratching and snorfling (chewing and sucking noise)?

I’ve also been very lucky in scoring events without a lot of lead-time—I’ll be doing two readings during my launch week. The first will be at DC’s Upshur Street Books on March 23, and the other will be at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia. Technically, these events and venues are close together, but the always congested I 66 is more like a moat than a highway, socially speaking.

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Reston Reading Series Launched!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading at Reston’s Used Book Shop yesterday, helping kick off a new monthly reading series with poets Gregory Luce and Carina Yun. Though The Juliet is not released yet, I gave away bookmarks, read from the middle like an insane person, and even sold a couple of copies of Death Wishing. A 4 year old friend attended the reading, so I did my best to say “shoot” and “darn” as alternatives, but he still had a problem when I said “son of a gun.” I gotta clean up my act, I guess.

Photo by Art Taylor.