The Things We Save was recently named a semi-finalist in the BookLife Prize for Fiction sponsored by Publishers Weekly!
It's a busy weekend... Saturday, September 17th, I'll be visiting with the Barrington Writers Workshop. Then on Sunday, I'll be joining a group of diverse writers for a season opening reading event at Waterline Writers in Batavia. In between, I'll be watching a lot of football. Yes, I am hopelessly addicted since I started doing research on the game. Fun, fun, fun!!
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Someone said this first, but there seems to be some disagreement as to whether it was the poet, playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde or the American humorist Will Rogers. The saying IS engraved on a plaque at his memorial, so even if he didn't originate the line, he must have said it enough times to make, yes, an impression.
But it's true, especially when you're writing, well, just about anything. You have to grab your audience by the eyeballs and the mind so that they make the decision to follow where you want to lead.
The proofreading service Scribendi has created a wonderful infographic of 34 fabulous opening lines. Are any of your favorites here?
I have the pleasure of chatting about my novel with the Bookies of the Crystal Lake Public Library on Wednesday morning, June 15th at 9:30 AM. Looking forward to another lively discussion!
I love books. Everyone who knows me knows that.
I also love dessert, being an infamous chocoholic and ice cream addict.
Put them together and obviously, I'm in heaven.
So, when I discovered this infographic about desserts inspired by books, well, you know I had to share it with you! And you can find many more luscious items at Shari's Berries! So if you are craving delicious, check them out.
... Hockey season begins!
The NHL just released the 2015-16 schedule which fittingly begins on Wednesday, October 7, when the Chicago Blackhawks will raise their latest Stanley Cup banner to the ceiling of the United Center. But how, oh how, to occupy your time between now and then and get your hockey fix (particularly since this summer in Chicago seems to be trending wet and gloomy, making us think more of dreary November than sunny June)? And since most of the other teams in Chicago are... as usual. Okay, so maybe it's not been THAT cold... but we've definitely been lacking in sunshine. And the Cubs actually are contending this year... for now. But if it rains, well, how better to while away a rainy summer afternoon than with a good book... a good HOCKEY book. So presented for your consideration, an eclectic mix of titles all about "the Fastest Game on Earth."
Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories
Stan Fischler, Sports Publishing, 2013
Who doesn't love an incredible factoid told with style and verve? A well-known sports broadcaster presents photos and recollections of amazing, hilarious and absurd events that took place during hockey games over the past half-century, including Bill Mosienko scoring three goals in 21 seconds,Rene Fernand Gauthier accepting a challenge to shoot the puck in the ocean and Sam LoPresti facing 83 shots on goal in one game.
Crossing the Line: the Outrageous Story of a Hockey Original
Derek Sanderson, Harper Collins 2012
Because everyone enjoys a rise, fall and rise again story... set against a fresh backdrop -- HOCKEY! Here's an eye-opening story of the life of one of hockey's greatest players of the 1970s era. At the high point of his life, Derek was playing for the Boston Bruins, he was the highest paid athlete in the world and he was a winger for Bobby Orr. His rough and ready-for-anything style helped lead his team to two Stanley Cups. But the high was not to last (it rarely does) as he plummeted so low he ended up sleeping on a park bench. This is a story about Derek's rise to fame, his fall into blackness and his struggle to pull himself back onto his feet. That may sound familiar, but the candid, engaging writing style breathes fresh life into this "fall down twice, get up three times" tale. Today, Derek is a financial adviser for young athletes to help keep them from making the same mistakes that he did.
Bob McKenzie, Harper Collins 2014
You can't miss with a book with the word "confidential" in the title! McKenzie has over 350,000 hockey fans following him on Twitter and millions more on The Sports Network TSN. He's the quintessential hockey insider with over 35 years of experience in analyzing the game. He definitely has the access and the experience to bring some juicy stories to light. In this book, he goes behind the scenes, covering the inside stories, some lesser-known personalities and the events that shape the game.
Don't Call Me Goon: Hockey's Greatest Enforcers, Gunslingers and Bad Boys
Greg Oliver, ECW Press 2013
Because I never could resist a bad boy... In professional hockey, enforcers are often as popular with fans as the stars. Called upon to duke it out with a fellow troublemaker, or to shadow an opponent’s top scorer, these men get the crowds out of their seats, the sports-radio talking heads buzzing, and the TV audience spilling their beer in excitement. This book highlights a rogue's list of mayhem-makers from old timers like Joe Hall and Red Horner; to legendary bruisers like Tiger Williams, Stu Grimson, and Bob Probert; to fan favorites Tie Domi and Georges Laraque; and contemporaries such as Arron Asham and Brian McGrattan. It also explores the issues that plague the NHL’s bad boys — suspensions, concussions, controversy — and looks ahead to the future of tough guys in a changing era.
The Boys of Winter: the Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980s U.S. Olympic Hockey team
Wayne Coffey, Crown 2005
Yeah, so you know how it ends, so what? Some things are definitely worth revisiting. The author digs deep to depict the personalities and the breathtaking action on the ice. This saga of how coach Herb Brooks motivated a roster of 20 amateur, mostly college-age young men to orchestrate victory over an established Soviet team of seasoned, professionally trained skaters may be familiar, but believe it or not, it still offers suspense and heroism. Brooks emerges as an obstinate, aloof, but savvy coaching genius who elicited perseverance, grit, and a strong ethic of teamwork. This was a team full of dreamers, rather than a Dream Team.
So there you have it, five books to enrich your hockey dreams until the boys of winter make their return...
Anyone recognize themselves?
Infographic courtesy of Grammarly
Okay, so not long after I won last year, I was advised by a writer from New York, a person who is actually here with us this morning, (and you know who you are), that, as part of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for future publishing efforts, I should auction off the naming rights to a character in said future book. Now I have to admit that when I heard this, I just burst out laughing, because, as the people who actually have to live with me know, with all apologies to Janet Jackson, MY middle name is CONTROL, and my confirmation name is FREAK, so there’s just no possibility of God’s green Earth that letting someone else name even the minorest of characters is ever gonna happen. I can’t go for that, no can do.
Well, here we are, one year later. And my hair is finally under control. (Temporarily).
At the recent announcement ceremony for the 2015 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project, I was asked to speak about how winning the first STBF contest increased the sales of my novel, The Things We Save. Well, it did. Yes, sales of my book, both in print and e-book, increased, both through sales to libraries and the public. But I’d really rather talk about the year itself. Because I have been so nice and sweet all year, which isn’t really me. So I think it’s time to unleash my inner Arya Stark and stick ‘em with the pointy end. (At the ceremony all the committee members started exchanging sidelong glances and mouthing “did you vet her speech?”) No worries, no disrespect shall pass these lips or be penned by these fingers...
I traveled to 7 counties promoting my book. In fact, back in January, between home, work and library visits, I was in 6 counties in the span of 24 hours. Lots of mileage on my old Honda.
This year, besides flashing by so quickly, has been a collection of moments; and since music plays an important role in my life, some of those moments remind me of songs: so I think I’ll do a little David Letterman riff and give you sort of a top five countdown.
The Darryl Hall and John Oates “I Can’t Go For That, No Can Do” Moment:
Okay, so not long after I won last year, I was advised by a writer from New York, (and you know who you are), that, as part of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for future publishing efforts, I should auction off the naming rights to a character in said future book. Now I have to admit that when I heard this, I just burst out laughing, because, as the people who actually have to live with me know, with all apologies to Janet Jackson, MY middle name is CONTROL, and my confirmation name is FREAK, so there’s just no possibility of God’s green Earth that letting someone else name even the minorest of characters is ever gonna happen. I can’t go for that, no can do.
The Lady Gaga "Papa-paparazzi" Moment
Yes, I have actually been recognized in a variety of public places: my local library, Mariano’s Fresh Mart, the UPS Store. Now, of course, that initially can be very a little exciting. Maybe I’ll have to stop ranting about “celebrity authors.”
But while this type of recognition is a little heady, it’s also definitely walks the razor’s edge of weird. Because when people recognize you, you also start to think that they are not just looking at you, they’re LOOKING at you. Like, with judgment in their hearts. Making a note of the fact that you are binge-listening to all the Game of Throne audiobooks. Eyeballing the contents of your grocery cart. You can read their faces like a talking book. Hmmm, red wine AND the extra large bag of Lindor Assorted Truffles. Must be that time of the month.
And, yes, sometimes they want to snap a selfie with you. Of course, the running joke of this whole year is that my hair is never quite ready for the camera. Because even though my middle name is Control, that’s just something that’s always been and always will be, beyond my control. Except for today. So there’s at least a couple of Facebook posts out there that could qualify as hair-shaming.
The Taylor Swift “Shake it off” Moment:
Got my first 1 star review the other day. Have you all gotten one yet? On Amazon. Under the heading “Waste of My Time:” “This author uses some really wonderful descriptive words. But that is the best thing I can say about this book. The story is just stupid. I just don't care about the main character Claire. There is nothing about her to like. If you don't get me interested in the main character, or even a secondary character, then it's all just a bunch of pretty words.”
Well, there is the consolation that this person also gave Wild by Cheryl Strayed a one-star review. So I have come to the conclusion that she just doesn't like strong but flawed female protagonists who tell it like it is!
And, just like Taylor, I could break into song: “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate and I’m just gonna shake, shake shake it off” .... So, I’ve learned that just like when you go to the beach, the more exposure you have, the more likely you are to get burned. Oooooh, pass me the ointment.
The Most Wondrous Moment of All...
Then there was this moment... it happened in the fall at the Chicago Ridge Public Library. Not a lot of people had showed up... four or five. I went through my presentation and was doing my question and answer session... and a woman spoke up... and she said that she had loved my book... that it had made her laugh and cry... and she mentioned that a certain passage I had written had reminded her of her grandmother's house... of the bathroom in her grandmother's house ... of the black and white tile on the bathroom floor of her grandmother's house... and she started to cry. And I can't tell you what that meant to me... how incredibly moving that was for me... as a writer. To know that what I had written, the words that I had written... had made such a powerful connection with this reader. Because that's what writing is all about... making connections with another human being...
And I think that was fame enough for me....
To find out more about me, click on the Not Your Average Jo tab.