Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In Her Own Write Celebrates Author Patry Francis

I admit it, the internet is my crack but hey, through on-line resources for writers such as Publishers Marketplace, Zoetrope Studios, Lit Park, and Backspace, I have formed some amazing cyber relationships with other authors from literally all over the world. Even better, because I'm lucky enough to be an hour or so away from New York City, I've had the chance to meet a lot of these writers in person as they pass through for readings and signings and too cool, they've ended up becoming my real world friends as well.

A lot of us started our careers at the same time. I joined Publishers Marketplace around five years ago and started reading a blog by a writer named Patry Francis called "I'm Really Not a Waitress". Is that the greatest name for a blog or what? At the time, I Was Really Not a Paralegal so I identified with Patry in a big way. And isn't she beautiful?

Anyway, after years of working as a waitress and raising four children while dreaming of being a published author, Patry got a book deal for her incredible novel, The Liar's Diary. When she made the announcement and I read her blog post about it, I threw my fist up in the air and shouted "Yeah!"

So imagine how thrilled I was to meet her in person last May at the Backspace Writers Conference in New York City...I hung out with Patry, Tish Cohen, Jessica Keener, Robin Grantham and Susan Henderson, and even though I'd never met Patry, Jessica, Robin, and Tish in the flesh before, we instantly bonded and it was as if we'd been friends for life. Susan and I had clicked the same way when we met back in 2002.

It was so cool -- six neurotic, hyperventilating women writers all about the same age (give or take erm, ten years) -- who connected like only six neurotic, hyperventilating women writers can. It was truly a beautiful thing.

Okay, I was the only one hyperventilating. The others were calm. I swear. Alright, maybe not Jessica. And maybe not Tish. Yeah, maybe not Robin G, either. Possibly Susan was calm, but she's sneaky, she could have been acting. But Patry - definitely calm, and one of those people who have a calming presence on others.

And so a few months ago, just a couple of days after after Thanksgiving, I gasped when I came across this entry in Patry's blog:

"Three weeks ago I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Then the news got worse: a cat scan revealed spots on my liver, a possible metastasis.

So how does a lifelong neurotic and avowed hypochondriac deal with that kind of news? Initially, not too well. The day I got the scan results I went home, drank too much wine, cried, yelled at the wonderful husband who was as anxious as I was, and avoided calls from friends and family members. I preferred to sit in the dark and drink my misery to the last drop; thank you very much.

But the next morning I woke up in a different frame of mind. It was a bright November morning; I had work I love to do; and after only twelve hours, I was already tired of my own despair and fear. I couldn't change the fact that I was ill; I couldn't make the road ahead pain or anxiety free, but I could get out of bed and take the dogs to the beach. I could pick up a common, translucent shell and hold it up to the light until it revealed just how uncommon it was. Then I could put it in my pocket and take it home to remind me--just in case I forgot.

Fortunately, last week an MRI revealed no sign of metastasis; and I'm optimistic about my surgery next Thursday. Still, it's been a difficult time. The other night I was watching a British movie called Greenfingers. In it, a character says, "You have to learn to make adversity your ally." I knew exactly what he was talking about. I may not be ready to call adversity my ally yet, but it is certainly my teacher.

One thing I learned was that for every ounce of trouble I was forced to drink, I would counter it with two ounces of bliss. Not the cheap bliss I attempted to find in a wine bottle, but the real thing. The kind I saw in that thin shell when I held it up to the light. The kind we all have inside us if we choose to draw on it.

I really think this is where we so often go wrong . When bad things happen--whether it's disease, rejection, mistreatment, percieved or otherwise--we allow it to control us. In other words, we pour ourselves another glass of poison when what we really need is the antidote--a double shot of BLISS!

My grandfather, who I called John, said it more succinctly: "No kick." (Translation: No complaints.) I've written about his two word exhortation here and elsewhere, but it has never meant more to me than it does right now. When asked to expand on his philosophy, he said, "Once you give in to complaining, you're all done."

Well, John, I'm not done yet.

Peace and love to all--"

I fell apart when I read that and, completely freaked out, I fired off emails to Karen Dionne at BackSpace and Susan Henderson at LitPark. Just as I knew they would, they both sprung into immediate action along with authors Laura Benedict and Jessica Keener. And so thanks to those remarkable, tireless women and their coordinated massive campaign via email, their websites, and other various on line and real world networking, January 29, 2008, is officially PATRY FRANCIS BLOG DAY, with approximately three hundred (300!) authors participating, and I'm going to deliberately list them all below, and with good reason, which you will find out shortly.

Here is the official press release put together for this day:

"Writer Patry Francis published her debut thriller, THE LIAR'S DIARY, this past spring; this fall, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Long before THE LIAR'S DIARY was published, readers flocked to her blog. There, she writes about her life with inspiring, unsentimental candor.

The paperback release of THE LIAR'S DIARY, is January 29th. Given that Patry won't have much energy for promoting the release, a few of us writer/blogger types thought we would try to give the book a boost.

We're planning a THE LIAR'S DIARY blog day on January 29th, asking folks to mention the book and link to Patry's website (www.patryfrancis.com) and/or the book's Amazon page right here

Now you might be asking yourself, okay, but where do I come in? Well, it's quite simple, really. What we are actually asking that you click on either of the above links and purchase one paperback of The Liar's Diary for yourself and one for a friend anytime between today and February 1, 2008 (or beyond if your finances do not permit an immediate purchase). Our goal is to not only get the word out about Patry's brilliant debut novel and help her promote it while she recovers from her surgeries, we want to send it to #1 on the best seller list.

So, what else is in it for you besides owning an amazing, amazing book and helping out an amazing, amazing author in need?

Well, here's where I come in, along with the list of 300 authors below. The first ten people who send me proof to my email address at Robin81700@gmail.com that they have purchased two copies of The Liars Diary are going to have their choice of gifts. I will either mail you one of my books, autographed...or, okay, okay, I realize you might already have all of my books (har har) or I simply may not be your cup of tea. Therefore, I have decided that since there are three hundred authors so generously giving their time and participating in today's event, if you would rather have a book written by one of them, just say the word, and I will forward you, by email, an Amazon gift certificate for any one of their paperback books. Just looking over the list of names, you cannot go wrong.

And next up is my challenge. After you read The Liar's Diary, I would like you to write a review, to either post on Amazon, your own blog, or to send to me so that I can post it here. If I receive enough reviews, I will have a dedicated day where I publish them all though I would still ask that you forward them to Amazon as well. The upshot of this whole challenge is that in my "humble" opinion, whichever one of you writes the most compelling review, well, you will win a $50.00 gift certificate from Amazon for books by any of the below authors.

I think this is a pretty fair deal, don't you? Buy two books to help out Patry, get a third book of your choice free...write a review...and quite possibly win $50.00 worth of books by incredible authors.

So let's get back to Patry and her book.

Here's the synopsis of The Liar's Diary, as eloquently written by Patry herself -- or at least I think so, since that's the way it appears on her website. Gah! I know, I know, I'm a writer - I should fact check before babbling. Anyway...

"What would you do if your best friend was murdered—and your teenaged son was accused of the crime? How far would you go to protect him? How many lies would you tell? Would you dare to admit the darkest truths—even to yourself?

Jeanne Cross is an ordinary suburban wife and mother with a seemingly "perfect" life when Ali Mather arrives on the scene, breaking all the rules and breaking hearts. Almost against her will, Jeanne is drawn to this powerfully seductive woman, a fascination that soon begins to infect Jeanne's husband as well as their teenaged son, Jamie.

Though their friendship seems unlikely and even dangerous to their mutual acquaintances, Ali and Jeanne are connected by deep emotional needs, vulnerabilities and long-held secrets that Ali has been privately recording in her diary.

The diary also holds the key to something darker. Though she can't prove it, Ali is convinced someone has been entering her house when she is not at home-and not with the usual intentions. What this burglar wants is nothing less than a piece of Ali's soul.

When Ali is found murdered, there are many suspects; but the evidence against Jamie Cross is overwhelming. Jeanne's personal probing leads her to the question none of us would ever want to face. What comes first: our loyalty to family—or the truth?

To further entice you, here is the official trailer for the book:

Come on. You know you want this book, and you know you have someone in your life who would love a surprise gift as well. Let me make it easy for you and post the Amazon link again right here.

And now I'd like to give you some more of Patry and her brilliant and self-depreciating wit. Here's the blog entry she made when she first sold her book:

originally posted: November 14, 2005

I bought these shoes a couple years ago on sale for $14.99. A deal! I called a few of my waitress friends who came out and bought two or three pairs. But not me. See, I didn't plan to wear those ugly black clunkers much longer. Back at home, I was writing my little heart out (mostly in secret, lest people think I'm crazier than they already do). But also in secret, I believed something great was going to happen to me. Something miraculous. I was going to find an agent who had faith in me; and somewhere, somehow I was going to get a book deal.

This summer, when the soles sprung their first official hole and rain or every gooey gross substance on the kitchen floor leaked through saturated my socks, I refused to buy another pair. Nor did I replace my yellowing tuxedo shirts. This, you see, was going to be my last season as a waitress. Those who had heard I found an agent, asked almost daily if I'd sold the book.

"We're revising," I said. "Maybe we'll go out with it in the fall."

People gave me the kind of looks reserved for escapees from the asylum. "Better get a new pair of shoes, hon," they said as they walked away.

Meanwhile, the holes in my shoes got bigger and the soles got thinner. But I was not buying another pair. Well, at least not till next spring. But worse than the problem with the shoes, my backaches required more ibupfrofen to quiet them, and my feet ached so much that sometimes I still felt them in the morning. Everything was telling me that the work I did was too physical for my ectomorph body, and that I'd been doing it for far too long. And yet the only Plan B I had was a miracle.

Then last Thursday around 11:30 a.m. the phone rang as I was wandering around the house with a coffee cup in my hand thinking about my work in progress. On the other end of the line, the most amazing literary agent in the known universe, Alice Tasman of JVNLA (Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency) greeted me cheerily.

"I have some very exciting news for you," she said. "Dutton has made an offer on your novel."

While she gave me the details of the offer, my eyes drifted toward my waitressing shoes which were sitting in a square of light in the middle of the floor.

"You mean I can hang up my waitress shoes?" I said.

"You can burn those babies," she replied.

What happened next and for the rest of the day can only be described as the five stages of happiness. In the countless times I imagined getting this call, this was not how I thought I would feel.

Stage 1. Weeping and shaking. Tears of joy? I'm not sure. They felt more like tears of shock or of something shattering inside me. When I called my husband to tell him the news, I was crying so hard that he was certain someone had died. "What!" he finally screamed on the other end of the line, giving me the kind of response I thought I would have.

Stage 2. Numbness. I proceeded to call everyone I know, everyone who believed in me, or didn't believe in me, and tell them, it happened. The words, the call I was waiting for since I was eight years old and first dreamed fo being a writer had been spoken. And yet, as I heard the happy responses of friends and family, I felt surreal. Who got a book deal? Me? It couldn't be true.

Stage 3. Drunkenness. Remember that good champagne I said I was drinking the other night? Well, it wasn't for nothing. It was then followed by a celebratory dinner and a bottle of pinot noir.

Stage 4. Crashing. When I came home from dinner, I went up to my room and fell into an exhausted, intoxicated sleep with my boots on, the pointed toes directed toward the ceiling like the wicked witch of the west. For a full hour, I slept the sleep of the dead.

Stage 5: Bliss. When I woke up, I found myself in the middle of the most beautiful room in the world. Who cares if the walls were still a pukey green and I had been planning to get new curtains for about three years now? It was my room. My life. And it was an amazing place. As I wandered around the house at midnight, I opened random windows and shouted out them. I did a victory lap around the lonely streets of my neighborhood. At 1:30 my cousin Ali called and the two of us laughed giddily the way we did as adolescents when a cute boy from school smiled in our direction. I noticed that all my animals, who are usually asleep at that hour, were up and trailing me around the house, wondering what was going on. The two dogs had dragged their toys out, obviously sensing the aura of celebration that I exuded. Whatever game I was playing, they wanted to play too.

I know that this kind of happiness cannot last,and probably shouldn't, because it's pretty much a full time job. "You gonna do the laundry, Mom. I need some jeans," my son asked a day or two into my bliss. To which, I answered, "Sorry, I'm too busy being happy. Maybe next week."

I also know there's lots of hard work ahead. But this has been my week for singing. For doing little dances in the middle of the grocery store. For my first sip of good champagne."


And then a year later, Patry could not resist the following equally poignant journal entry:


A year ago today, something incredible happened to me. Let me set the scene: It was around eleven in the morning, and I was in my study writing when the phone rang. I shambled toward the kitchen, coffee cup in hand, a defiant bunch of characters still carrying on a spirited dialogue in my head. I was still wearing my pajamas.

My first thought? Maybe it was my agent calling to say she'd sold my book! An amazing coincidence maybe? A sign that that I possessed the gift of prophecy? Nope.

Actually, that thought has passed through my mind every time the phone rang for years -- even before I had an agent. In fact, I've probably been dreaming about that phone call since I was nine years old and I first started writing stories instead of multiplication problems on my papers during math class.

The only difference was that this time I was right. This time it was my agent. And this time she wasn't calling to say hello, or to suggest a revision or to tell me that we'd gotten a pass. This time she began the conversation with the words, "I have some very exciting news..."

What happened next, I recorded in detail last year. This year I want to talk about the expectations those words carried for me. (The illustration above may give you some idea of my modest hopes.)

While I waited tables and dreamed and scribbled by moonlight, I'd come to believe that if I ever sold a novel, I'd never have another moment of self-doubt, the grouchy old man in the deli would smile when he saw me and toss in an extra quarter pound of smoked turkey, and it would never rain on my birthday. Slowly, in the course of the past year, I've been disabused of nearly all my out-sized expectations.

In actuality life has both changed immensely -- and not at all.

Ten Things That have Changed:

1. I eased my way out of my waitress job -- with baffling reluctance, I might add.

2. When I told people I was a writer, they didn't do that funny thing with their eyebrows, or sneak each other sidelong glances, like they had in the past.

3. On my tax form, I wrote WRITER all in caps, instead of waitress. I wonder what the IRS thought about the row of exclamation points at the end.

4. I worked more hours than I ever have in my life and I loved every minute of it.

5. I learned that in today's market, the success of any given book depends as much on the writer's efforts as it does on the publisher's.

6. I became an enthusiastic promoter.

7. I threw around strange terms like "my publicist," "my editor," "my galleys," like I'd been doing it all my life.

8. I made some amazing new friends.

9. I went to New York for only the fourth time in my life -- and this time I went "on business."

10. I realized that self-doubts, rainy birthdays, and grouchy guys at the deli never go away. And what's more, I wouldn't have it any other way. If life was perfect, what would we write about?

And the one thing that hasn't changed? This morning, around eleven O'clock I was in my study, talking back to a troublesome character, and sucking on a cold cup of coffee. And yes, I was still in my pajamas. In the end, that's still what it's all about."


Finally, here's a really cool article I found - an interview with Patry, which blew me away, especially since she talks about the Backspace Conference in May of last year where I finally met her:

Diary of a First Novelist

"Two weeks ago in New York, I had the privilege of appearing on a panel at the Backspace Conference. It was my first experience at a writing conference, and one I'd recommend to anyone in our solitary profession. During my four days in the city, I made friendships that feel destined to last, impressed the hell out of myself as I sipped martinis in the Algonquin bar, and attended crowded literary cocktail parties. I also had a chance to speak to an audience about my experience as a debut author.

But the highlight of the week was one I almost missed. A writer by the name of David Morrell was scheduled to give the keynote address. From the brief bio included in the schedule, I quickly decided that Mr. Morrell wrote the kind of taut male thrillers my husband sometimes reads, but I never do. (One of his early novels was First Blood, the basis for the Rambo series.)

I'd met the author during one of the "mixers," and he seemed like a nice man, but I doubted he had much to say to me personally. After all, we were different kinds of writers. Or so I thought. I will always be grateful to the friend who convinced me to stay for his address.

By the time it was finished, I realized that there is only one kind of writer worth being, and David Morrell had given us a living demonstration of who that was. As the writing cliche goes, he didn't tell us how to captivate an audience, he showed us. And he did it so powerfully that many people left the room in tears--and everyone left inspired.

He began with a simple question: why do you want to be a writer? Then, after eliminating all the easy answers, he moved on to a statement that has stayed with me. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something like, "I'm going to tell you my story, but as I do, you're going to hear your story."

And as he spoke, sharing a story that held us entranced and left us deeply moved, that was exactly what happened: He told us his story, but in the universality of the emotions it evoked, we heard our own. And strangely, miraculously, we understood it better than we ever had before.

That, I realized, is the storyteller's art, the purest form of literary magic. It's what every reader or moviegoer hungers for when we open a book or enter a theatre. We want to go on that mythical journey that will not only entertain us; it will expand our hearts, illuminate the dark places inside us, and ultimately enlarge our vision of what it means to be human."


I was in that room with Patry while David spoke and when he was finished, we both left the room totally choked up. But sadly, being a hopeless fan girl, I had to go back in and try and talk to him afterwards, anyway, and yeah, yeah, we already know what a dork I am courtesy of my last experience trying to have a conversation with a world famous author...argh...Neil Gaiman...I still turn purple just thinking about that debacle...but fortunately with David I was totally unable to speak and merely burst into tears instead.

Here's a picture of Patry at the GalleyCat Party held in connection with the Book Expo in NYC which was held concurrently BackSpace Conference and which party I got to attend for a big five minutes with Jessica Keener before the two of us had to jump in a cab, ridden with high anxiety, because the BackSpace banquet was unfortunately being held the same exact time as the GalleyCat party.

Outside the GalleyCat party: Susan Henderson, Bethanne Kelly Patrick, Bella Stander, Patry Francis & MJ Rose.

That's okay, we had a blast at the banquet. So what if we didn't get to hang out with Bella Stander and MJ Rose...sniff..sob...

Oh, I'm kidding.

And now, without further ado, thank you so much to the many, many authors who are participating in today's event (and a huge thanks to Susan Henderson for providing me with all of the below links) and remember, all you have to do is buy The Liar's Diary for yourself and a friend, and you can select a paperback written by yours truly or anyone listed.

Laura Benedict, who came up with the idea. Patry's editor at Dutton, Julie Doughty. Her agent at the Jean Naggar Literary Agency, Alice Tasman. Her publicist, Laurie Connors. Eileen Hutton at Brilliance Audio. Dan Conaway from Writers House. Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management. Eve Bridburg at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth literary agency, The Red Room, where I am proud to be a participating author. And...

Mario Acevedo
Susan Adrian
Samina Ali
Christa Allan
Joelle Anthony
Jorge Argueta
Melanie Avila
Tricia Ares
Terry Bain
Gail Baker - The Debutante Ball
Anjali Banerjee
Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Elizabeth Bartasius
Carolyn Burns Bass
Brett Battles
Laura Benedict
Pinckney Benedict
Janet Berliner
William Bernhardt
Alexander Besher
Marcie Beyatte
Brenda Birch
Roberto Bonazzi
Raven Bower
Laura Bowers
Beatrice Bowles
Tara Bradford
Gayle Brandeis
Stacy Brazalovich
Susan Breen - Gotham Writers Workshops
Heather Brewer
Eve Bridburg - Zachary Shuster Harmsworth
Sassy Brit
Heatheraynne Brooks
Josie Brown
Pat Brown
Ruth Brown
Ken Bruen
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Aldo Calcagno
Austin S. Camacho
Bill Cameron
Lorenzo Carcaterra
Vincent Carrella
Karen DeGroot Carter
Rosemary Carstens
Cynthia Clark - Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine
Jon Clinch
Kamela Cody
Oline H. Cogdill - Sun-Sentinal
Tish Cohen
Eileen Cruz Coleman
Myfanwy Collins
Laurie Connors - Penguin
Eileen Cook
Richard Cooper
David Corbett
Auria Cortes
Bill Crider - Pop Culture Magazine
Kim Cristofoli
Ann Mare Cummins
Sheila Curran
Kristie Cutter
Jordan Dane
Josephine Damian
Daryl Darko
A.J. Davis
Kelli Davis
Alyssa Day
Alma Hromic Deckert
Jim DeFelice
Mike Dellosso
Katrina Denza
Bella DePaulo
Karen Dionne
Felicia Donovan
Julie Doughty - Dutton
Gerry Doyle
Firoozeh Dumas
Christine Eldrin
J.T. Ellison - Killer Year
Sheila Clover English - Circle of Seven Productions
Kate Epstein - the Epstein Literary Agency
Kathryn Esplin
Rachel Fershleiser at SMITH Magazine
Ryan Field
Michael A. FitzGerald
William Floyd
Natasha Fondren
Jamie Ford
Connie May Fowler
Heather Fowler
Therese Fowler
Jenifer Fox
Thaisa Frank
Michelle Gable
Gary Gach
Leighton Gage
Neil Gaiman
Colin Galbraith
Jayson Gallaway
Jane Ganahl - Red Room
Erika-Marie S. Geiss
Linda Gerber
Shane Gericke
Tess Gerritsen
Karin Gillespie
Anne Glamore
Kathi Kamen Goldmark
Jewelle Gomez
Susan Helene Gottfried
Deborah Grabien
Elizabeth Graham
Caroline Grant
Robin Grantham
Bob Gray - Shelf Awareness
Nancy O. Greene
Robert Grudin
Lisa Guidarini
David Habbin
Jim Hanas
Lynette Hart
Melanie Harvey
Michael Haskins
Melanie Lynn Hauser
Bill Hayes
Maria Dahvana Headley
Susan Henderson
Heidi the Hick
Georgia Hesse
Billie Hinton
Vicki Hinze
Lori Hope
Khaled Hosseini
Eileen Hutton - Brilliance Audio
Gina Hyams
International Thriller Writers
David Isaak
Susan Ito
Lisa Jackson
Arachne Jericho
Allison Johnson
Jen Jordan - Crimespree
Jungle Red Writers
Lesley Kagen
Polly Kahl
Jessica Keener
Charles Kelly
Lisa Kenny
Jackie Kessler
Merle Kessler
Kristy Kiernan - Southern Authors Blog
A.S. King
Jeff Kleinman - Folio Literary Management
Sandra Kring
R.D. Laban
Rebecca Laffar-Smith - Writers Roundabout
Clair Lamb
Daphne Larkin
Judy Merrill Larson
Caroline Leavitt
Virginia Lee
Leslie Levine
Mary Lewis
Richard Lewis
Sharon Linnea
Julie Anne Long
CJ Lyons
Jonathan Maberry
Amy MacKinnon - The Writers Group
Tim Maleeny
Ric Marion
Nancy Martin
Adrienne Mayor
L.C. McCabe
Ellen Meister
Christa Miller
Kyle Minor
Jacquelyn Mitchard
P. A. Moed
Terri Molina
Pat Montandon
David Montgomery
Alexis Moore
Joe Moore - Inkspot
Amanda Morgan
Sarie Morrell
Amy Nathan
Tia Nevitt
Carolyn North
Martha O'Connor
Andrea Okrentowich
Lori Olivia
Aimee Palooza
Michael Palmer
Stephen Parrish
Marie Peck
Marcia Peterson - WOW! Women on Writing
Jason Pinter
Anthony S. Policastro
Douglas Preston
Terese Ramin
Jody Reale
Martha Reed
Janet Reid - FinePrint Literary Management
Kamilla Reid
Lance Reynald
Michelle Richmond
Maria Robinson
John Robison
James Rollins
M.J. Rose - Buzz, Balls & Hype
Renee Rosen
Jordan Rosenfeld
Russell Rowland
Anneli Rufus
Hank Ryan
Marcus Sakey
Harris Salat -Visual Thesaurus
Rachel Sarah
Maria Schneider - Writer's Digest Magazine
Nina Schuyler
Dani Shapiro
Rochelle Shapiro
Charles Shaughnessy
Jessie Sholl
Robert Siegel
Clea Simon
Lynn Sinclair
Shelley Singer
Sisters in Crime
Robin Slick
BPM Smith - Word & Bass
Bridget Smith
Claudia Smith
Kim Smith
Stephie Smith
Alexandra Sokoloff
Char Solomon
James Spring
Emilie Staat
Maryanne Stahl
Bella Stander
Kelli Stanley
Marta Stephens
Bronwyn Storm
Jennifer Talty
Judith Tannenbaum
Mindy Tarquini
Charles R. Temple
The Outfit
David Thayer
Joyce Tremel
Danielle Trussoni
Louise Ure
N. L. Valler
Barbara Vey - Publishers Weekly
Bev Vincent
Brenda Wallace
Therese Walsh - Writer Unboxed
John Warner - Tow Books
Gary Wassner
Brenda Webster
Sarah Weinman
Kimberly M. Wetherell
Dan Wickett - Emerging Writers Network
Jennifer Weiner
Laura Wellner
Susan Wiggs
Liz Wolfe
Cheryl Wyatt
Stephen Wylder
Irvin Yalom
Belle Yang
Dawn Yun
Michele Zackheim
Victoria Zackheim
Ernie Zelinski
Crystal Zevon

Thanks, Patry, for being an inspiration to us all -- and a huge, huge thank you to Laura, Karen, Jessica, and Susan for arranging this extraordinary event. Now here's hoping all of you will take me up on my offer...and if the above list is too daunting, I will be only too happy to assist you with a recommendation for the gift book of your choice.

(Oh God, I wouldn't even know where to begin. Tish Cohen's Town House? Ellen Meister's Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA? Terry Bain's You Are a Dog? Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Vertigo? Maryanne Stahl's Forgive the Moon? Jordan Rosenfeld's Make A Scene? Neil Gaiman...like, everything he's ever written?)

ETA: I just learned by reading other blogs celebrating Patry today that you can also order The Liar's Diary directly from her publisher, Penguin Books. If you order that way, you can get a 15% discount. Just add the book to your cart and type the word PATRY into the coupon code. Here's the link!

Finally, I know a lot of you also hang out at LitPark with me so you probably all read this on Monday, but in case you missed it, here's a link to Susan's post of yesterday which includes a note from Patry's husband. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby.

P.S. Wow! The response so far is overwhelming and it's not even 9:00 a.m. yet. So let me tell you about the emails I've received. Thus far, Tish Cohen, Ellen Meister, Jessica Keener, and Laura Benedict have written to me and offered copies of their books to send to you as gifts once I have fulfilled my initial offer to the first ten of you who buy a copy of The Liar's Diary for yourself and a friend. Patry's agent, Alice Tasman, has offered ten copies of the book as well and I'm trying to figure out how to work that in...perhaps someone would like a third copy for a Christmas gift or maybe you already bought a couple copies and would like books by one of the wonderful people who have organized this event. So I'm thinking that if you bought, say, a book by Tish Cohen and a book by Karen Dionne, I could send you an extra copy of The Liar's Diary courtesy of Alice. Keep checking back here and at LitPark - I will figure this out and I already know that the list of authors contributing is going to grow and grow as the day progresses.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Coming Attractions: Big Celebration: This Blog, This Tuesday

What will I be celebrating on Tuesday, January 29, 2008? Or should that be "who" will I be celebrating? Or do I mean to say both?

Will there be a challenge issued?

Will there be prizes? Presents? Lots and lots of presents?

You betcha.

Don't forget to stop by.

P.S. And um, I've re-opened comments. What the hell.
P.P.S. Well, I tried to re-open comments. I did everything I am supposed to do, including double-checking the changes on the template. Oh well. Maybe they will magically reappear later.
P.P.P.S. Yay! I figured it out! They're back!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Odds and Sods for Monday, January 21, 2008

I was looking over the archives of this blog the other day and realized that back in 2004 when I first started my journal, I was still working full time, Julie and Eric were still dependent, meat eating teenagers (and the four of us ate dinner together every single night) the whole family was still heavily involved in Rock School, and somehow I was able to make daily "saga" blog posts, crank out two novels, and write a hell of a lot of flash fiction and longer short stories.

Now I'm semi-retired, J&E are self-sufficient vegetarian adults who only live here part-time, and you would think I'd be pumping out War and Peace sized works these days. Or at the very least, never skipping a day without blogging. Au contraire, kimosabe.

I'm busier than ever but I think that's mainly because I've raised the bar for myself. I'm writing/editing two major novels simultaneously right now, one of which I've been working on almost three years, and I want them perfect. And to say I'm obsessed with that is putting it mildly. So please forgive the lag in keeping you updated here.

Of course the upside of that is today I have a bunch of cool stuff to report. Like, Julie Slick, who maybe one day will find the time herself to sit down with Scott Abernethy to finish her website, is now an official Lakland bass artist.

Lakland was just kind enough to send Julie the below Duck Dunn Signature Bass for her interview with the print version of Bass Player Magazine while they build her a custom Bob Glaub Signature Series bass for her upcoming tour, and that will be her main axe. (And please take note of the newest date added - the Milford Music Festival June 6-8, 2008 though it's my guess, since Dave Mason headlined last year, that they are the headliners for the June 7 or Saturday night show and I will let you know as soon as I find out for sure)

Yes, I know, that is one beautiful bass and one beautiful daughter...sitting underneath one beautiful Adrian Belew original painting.

Also, there is a very cool interview with Julie up right now at Ground Control Magazine.

In the interview, Julie says that she records and produces a local band, Cheers Elephant. Well, in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer, Cheers Elephant got an awesome mention in an article right on the front page of the Arts and Entertainment Section which you can read right here.

And I cannot believe another year has passed, but this Friday, Julie and I will be having her annual birthday lunch at Le Bec Fin. You can read the archives from January 2005, January 2006, and January, 2007. We've been doing those yearly celebratory lunches since Julie's 12th birthday and even though Le Bec Fin is outrageously expensive and pretentious, it's the world's most special place to celebrate a special occasion and oh my God, how is it possible that Ms. Julie will be twenty-two years old? But if you are new to this blog and peek into the aforesaid archives, you will see that every single year, we have a memorable experience so it is well worth every cent.

And what is Eric up to, you might be wondering?

Well, on Saturday he spent the day teaching in Wilmington, Delaware; then hopped a train to catch his good friends the Benevento Russo Duo at the Fillmore in Philadelphia...after which he took the red eye Greyhound to the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he had a lesson Sunday morning with Kenwood Dennard. I went into kind of neurotic mother mode knowing that Eric spent an entire night on a bus then walked out into subzero weather in Boston but as it turns out, he had an incredible time; Kenwood paid him some pretty high compliments (and if Eric were home to read this, he'd probably make me take that last sentence out but oh well, he's not here so I have free reign)...anyway, after that, Eric hopped a bus to Albany to hang out with his, um, special friend Katy and hmmm...since Eric isn't here to censor me, I have to post her photo because she's probably one of the most gorgeous girls (other than Julie) I've ever laid eyes on. She stayed at our house over the New Year holiday and I couldn't stop staring at her.

Oy, Eric is going to kill me for this but I could not resist. (Don't worry, Eric, I will take it down if you want me to but everyone who reads MySpace and Face Book already knows - I've gotten emails from friends WHO IS THAT ABSOLUTELY STUNNING GIRL WITH ERIC?????)

So Eric is hanging out with Katy until tomorrow, then he's hopping Greyhound once again for a gig tomorrow night with the Black Lodge Ensemble in Philadelphia.

Starting Thursday, he heads out on a mini-tour with Delicious, and here's the dates/times for that:



In a perfect world, I'll have more on the Delicious tour along with more links and posters later in the week.

But for now, I need to cut this off and get back to work. Though I do have a few final thoughts I want to share, just for fun.

Like, the following things make me crazy:

In a world where our government outlaws trans fats, why am I hearing radio and television commercials every five minutes for a certain evil corporate chain who is advertising a breakfast of Milky Way Hot Chocolate and a donut with thick chocolate icing studded with M&Ms? Why am I hearing two untalented white rappers on behalf of yet another evil corporation relentlessly singing I'm Into Nuggets Y'All, I'm into Nuggets Y'all for deep fried processed chicken bits and hey, hey, did I mention I'm into exterminating all bad white rappers for the good of mankind? (And as a side note: Are there any decent white rappers? I think not! And heh...that remark makes me doubly glad I've closed the comments section here)

And to end this rant, please, I'm begging you. Unless you are my brother, whom I love dearly and know for a fact is on the road constantly as a result of his job -- or you are my agent or an editor or publisher -- NEVER NEVER NEVER send me an email which says "Sent from my wireless blackberry".

I loathe those things. I loathe that expression. It makes my blood run cold. Don't ask me why, but it does. And if you send me an email with that at the bottom and I know for a fact you are just a normal person like me with regular access to a computer, I will hit "delete" without even reading what you have to say.

Okay. I feel better now. Off to gentle with my novel in progress. (Reference to Robert Fripp intended. He calls himself the cranky old goat; I relate so much to what he says sometimes I'm going to start calling myself the cranky old doeling).

Yeah, yeah, doeling is the proper name for a female goat. At least according to Google.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Odds and Sods for Monday, January 14, 2008

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger but to be honest, I've been so busy I simply have not had the time. So let's play catch up, but it's got to be quick.

Today, 39 and Holding...Him, for which, as I've probably mentioned here a few thousand times, I am both editor and contributor, is now available in print (yeah!) and here's the link to order your copy today.

Secondly, there was so much great stuff left over and I have such brilliant friends to solicit, there will in fact be a Volume II called 39 and Still Holding -- and here is the cover for that, also done by the brilliant Nick Belardes, and as I've probably also announced a few times already, Nick not only did both covers, he has really great stories in each as well as five haikus in Volume II. And the model for both covers is the fabulous Matilda Kay, who also has a fantastic piece in Volume II and I do believe this is her first published short story so I am thrilled to be the first editor to introduce her to you and also quite excited that her story will appear with some "celebrities" in the writing world. I believe Volume II will be published May 5, 2008 which will be here before you know it and I'm very psyched at the fast turn around.

I want to talk more in depth about the contributors for both books as the lineups are truly stellar but I will have to get to that later this week. Right now, I am writing two books simultaneously, editing one (Daddy Left Me Alone with God) to the point where I have pages and pages of chapters printed out and I'm shuffling them like cards, trying to re-arrange the order and now I know what wanting to crawl into the fetal position truly means but I am determined to get this book right once and for all and trust me, I will.

In other news, I've received a few emails from readers: What happened to the comments section on your blog? Is your blog broken? Can it be fixed?

Erm, the answer to that is No. After much deliberation, I decided to discontinue comments. Please don't take it personally. Like I said, I am in serious writing mode and sometimes when I do a blog post, I spend the day stalking myself...I mean...reading all of your comments, which I adore and mean a lot to me. But it's time consuming and then I feel obligated to comment back, or worse, like with the last few posts, I've been too busy to do that and then I suffer guilt.

So I think the best solution for now is to disable comments. My new website has a very cool contact page where you can comment to your hearts content and it will be emailed to me.

Most likely when The Adrian Belew Power Trio embark on their month long tour -- which is less than five weeks away! -- I will reopen comments because as you know, whenever Julie and Eric tour with Adrian, my blog becomes a shrine to them.

In light of the above, I know I have a lot of nerve asking you all this, but I'm a nominee for best contemporary author over at Rites of Romance. If you have a little extra time on your hands -- like two seconds -- here is the link to cast your vote for me.

And really, that's it for now. I have to get back to writing!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tonight: The Adrian Belew Power Trio on WXPN!

I am so psyched it's ridiculous. First, I'd like to roll out my brand new amazing website. Isn't it gorgeous? Many thanks to Scott Abernethy, my incredibly patient and talented webmaster, who made it all happen. Scott is also webmaster for Planet Crimson, Eric Slick, and co-webmaster for Adrian Belew, among others. So to say that I am in very capable hands is putting it mildly.

You can now easily access this blog by going to my website. The opening lines of each day's journal post will appear on the home page and you can merely click on that to get here.

Second, heart be still, tonight, between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., dj Jim McGuinn at WXPN, the ONLY real rock and alternative music radio station in Philadelphia, will play a selection from Side Four Live!.

Here's a little bit about WXPN and what a big deal this is:

"WXPN, the nationally recognized leader in Triple A radio and the premier guide for discovering new and significant artists in rock, blues, roots, and folk, is the non-commercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. WXPN produces World Cafe®, public radio's most popular program of popular music hosted by David Dye and syndicated by NPR, and the Peabody Award winning Kids Corner hosted by Kathy O'Connell. WXPN also produces the alternative rock service, Y-Rock On XPN as its secondary radio channel in HD that is also available online. WXPN serves the greater Philadelphia area at 88.5 FM, the Lehigh Valley at 104.9, Worton/Baltimore at 90.5 FM, Lancaster/Lebanon at 88.7 FM, Harrisburg at 99.7 FM, and the world via online streaming at XPN.org and XPoNentialMusic.org.

Broadcast Area
WXPN broadcast area includes Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and worldwide on XPN.org/listen_live/listen.php

* WXPN 88.5 FM in the greater Philadelphia/South Jersey area
* 104.9 FM in the Lehigh Valley
* 90.5 FM Worton/Baltimore
* 88.7 FM Lancaster/York
* 99.7 FM Harrisburg

WXPN studios are located at 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

So. Tonight. Between 6-7:00 p.m. Tune in as described above, or listen via the internet to the live stream which you can access right here.

Special thanks to all involved in making this happen: Gary Slick, for relentlessly "stalking" XPN (just kidding, he's been unbelievable, though...racing to the station after hours of work and providing Jim with a CD, following up with emails and phone calls, and doing his best to convince him that we aren't crazed stage parents but devout music lovers who pinch ourselves every day that Julie and Eric are in a band with one of our musical heroes), Program Director Dan Reed, and DJs Matt Reilly and Jim McGuinn. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now. What cut(s) do you suppose Jim will play?

Oh god. I am hyperventilating just thinking about it.

And if you really want to get the word out there about how awesome this CD is and personally thank the folks at XPN, please join their forum and post your thoughts. And erm, it would help immensely if you would also add that you'd like them to keep playing the CD, and even recommend your favorite selections.

Finally, before I go, just a note that Eric has updated his blog and he's got some really funny stuff in there. He makes me laugh out loud.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Odds and Sods for Wednesday, January 2, 2008

So as you can see, I've been redecorating in here for the New Year and gone from basic black to classic white. Why? Well, in the next several days I will be unveiling my new, more colorful website, and I am OCD enough to want the blog to kind of match part of the site...especially since you will now easily be able to access my blog via my regular website and my brilliant new webmaster has set it up so that the first few lines of my latest journal entry will appear on the front page of my new site.

Oh, I am so dying to post a link to it now so you can all see it but it's still under construction.

You had to see what I went through just to change colors. Oh. My. God. If you change templates with blogger, you lose all of your links which would have meant I would have lost every single thing on the right hand side of this blog -- my awards, the photo of Dennis Kucinich (ha)...everything. So I tried to be a lazy smart ass and copy my entire template from the "basic black site" to the new white one, not realizing that the HTML codes for the colors are scattered throughout the entire template. So I actually had to make up a dummy white blog and manually, line by line, compare it to the template of my old blog, and switch the colors one by one...the whole process took me over two hours and I still don't have it quite right (like, I think I somehow lost the thick margin around the header, etc.) but I am so proud of myself for figuring this out myself! As I've mentioned many times, to say that I am technology challenged is putting it mildly.

Also, before I get to the news of the day, I'm just reminding you again about the release of 39 and Holding...Him, for which I had the pleasure of being editor:

"Let's face it, 40 is the new sexy! And Phaze is celebrating with this sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching, and always passionate collection of mature heroines who set out to prove that once you crest the hill, you begin to pick up a little speed.

Features stories by Robin Slick, Victoria Blisse, Fenner Jeckyll, Jalena Burke, N.L. Belardes, N, Missy Lyons, Shanna Germain, Rebecca Adamsi, and Belinda Franklin.

Get ready for the second exciting volume in this series: 39 and Still Holding!"

The print version should be out within the next couple of weeks, but for instant gratification for your Kindle, Sony Reader, or just an instant digital read in general click right here.

More importantly, today, January 2, 2008 only, the paperback version of Three Days in New York City and Another Bite of the Apple are on sale for 25% off - to get the discount, enter OHOHOH in the coupon code box when you check out. This goes for all other Phaze paperbacks as well!
Okay, how hilarious is this? As you can see, I found it on the Fender Guitar Forum Board:

This all stems from the fact that guitarist Jeff Beck hired a bassist -- a young girl -- who kind of resembles Julie, and also hired Zappa drummer Vinnie Colaiuta...erm...the similarities to the Belew Trio end there, though...just know both bands are awesome -- but the Belew Trio came first!

Anyway, when I found this via Google and read that guy's remark, I broke out laughing out loud and just had to post it here.

So I have a new link on the right hand side of my blog - it's a fantastic, creative website/journal I visit daily called Cecil Vortex. And as if I wasn't already a fan, Cecil recently published a three part interview with Adrian Belew. Here is part one, here is part two, and most importantly, here is part three!

"...CV: With all the projects you've been working on, what are you most excited about?

AB: Right now the trio that I have has touched a creative nerve, has done something amazing that I can't really explain. It's like it's reinvented my music for me -- the trio being Eric Slick and Julie Slick. Eric is twenty. Julie is his sister; she's twenty-one. Eric plays drums; Julie plays bass. And it's just so incredible to have this newfound canvas, which is the three of us playing music together.

They are young, energetic, unjaded, and just completely ready to do anything, like eager little puppies wanting to do it all. And yet they're so adult in their abilities and the mechanics of their instruments and in their understanding of all music.

Because of their parents, they grew up in their living room surrounded by twenty-five guitars, a set of drums, and three thousand vinyl records. They live in Philadelphia; they still live with their parents. They don't even have driver's licenses yet.

CV: Oh my God.

AB: From age eleven on, Eric and Julie have been learning all the music that I grew up learning and everything beyond that. So they know the Beatles -- and they shouldn't at age twenty, but they do -- they know King Crimson and they know Zappa and they know all the stuff. The end result is suddenly I'm thrown into this wonderful fire with two young, brilliant players, and it's caused me to almost rethink what I do. I have to now take everything I've done and I can put it back into a new form -- a trio form -- with a younger, more aggressive kind of attitude.

CV: What drove you to bring on players that age?

AB: I was looking to form a trio and had tried two different lineups. The first lineup I tried, my thinking was, use someone locally, so we could woodshed here in Nashville where I live and I have a studio. And I tried some local players [but] that didn't work. So my second thought was, okay, I'll go to tried-and-true people that I've known for a long time -- some older players, older friends of mine. And that worked a bit and was pretty good, but it wasn't perfect; it wasn't the right chemistry.

So I was still looking and thinking, “Well, I still really want to do a trio.” I felt that that would help define my current writing as something different from the Bears or from King Crimson or from my past solo work. So it was important to me to get that kind of lineup.

At the same time, Paul Green brought me to his school [The Paul Green School of Rock Music] to be a guest professor for a week. And while I was there he said, "I just have to have you play with my favorite two students I've ever had, the Slicks." And so I did. I played just one song with them and I knew. I just knew, wow, there's something amazing here. It was almost like a chemistry that you couldn't manufacture and you just knew it. They were really wonderful kids, and the more I got to know them, the more I realized, oh, this could really be the trio that I've been looking for.

It didn't immediately work once we stepped out. I mean, every show has been good. But they've all gotten better. And this last round where we just played six shows on the East Coast was almost phenomenal. I couldn't believe it. Every night was just great. Every song sounded fantastic. The tour was happy. Everyone was in good spirits. The audiences were, I think, blown away. And so this is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing….

I'm still in the Bears and I'm still in King Crimson, so it doesn't eliminate those things. It just means that here's another thing that is more my own personal form. And I can really see what I can do with it and how I can take it further and further. So creatively that's very exciting. It's like you've found a new vein in the mine.

The strange thing about creativity in general and being musical and so on -- it's entirely what keeps you young. And this is off the subject of anything you've asked but, to me, that’s one of the best rewards about it. I feel like a twenty-five-year-old. You know, I'm fifty-seven years old; I don't feel that way at all. And when I went to my thirtieth class reunion, I looked like I should have been in a, you know, a different class. [laughs] Because all the people who turned out from my class, they look so much older than me now. And it's not just your looks; it's not that. It's more to do with your spirit. It keeps you so young, to do this for a living.

It's all work. Everything is work. No matter what you're doing there's some work involved in it. It's your livelihood. But I see so many people whose livelihood just burns them out, and the idea of my livelihood being something that really kind of energizes me all the time is -- it's very fortunate. I think it's true and I think it's true of a lot of musical and creative people. It becomes like a bonus. Even if you're not as successful as someone else, you still get the bonus that it keeps you young."

So how cool is that?

And to All Good People on the Yes Forum Board, thank you!

And to Andrew Greenaway, a/k/a The Idiot Bastard, thank you so much for this review:

"ADRIAN BELEW: SIDE FOUR (LIVE) (Adrian Belew Presents, ABP2167)

Track list: Writing On The Wall/Dinosaur/Ampersand/Young Lions/Beat Box Guitar/Matchless Man/A Little Madness/Drive/Of Bow And Drum/Big Electric Cat/Three Of A Perfect Pair/Thela Hun Ginjeet.

Apparently before this was released, some radio station in the US was playing the Adrian Belew Power Trio’s tracks from the Zappanale #17 CD I helped compile. And it’s pleasing that for those CDs we included two tracks not found here: I Remember How To Forget and Lone Rhinoceros. Not listed on the sleeve here is Adrian’s foray into Beatles band’s Within You Without You during Drive. Nice. Adrian and Slick siblings, Eric and Julie, are rightly named the Power Trio – the force of some of their playing can knock you clean off your feets: try the thunderous opener or A Little Madness (renamed here due to dead Mr Katchaturian, and featuring a reference to 21st Century Schizoid Man slipped in by bassist Julie), and see if you can stand still. My favourite track though is the more dreamy and effects-laden Matchless Man – one he unfortunately couldn’t play at Zappanale due to some of his gear going astray. This sure is a fine album, and a great record to start your career with – we’re gonna hear a whole lot more from Julie and Eric, that’s for sure. And if Mr Belew can keep coming up with tunes like those from his back pages covered here and playing as great as this, then he too is gonna be around up for a goodly while longer."

Awesome, Andrew. Thank you!

So today is back to reality, the holidays are over, and normally I am mildly depressed this time of year but there is so much to look forward to I cannot complain. A new website, daughter Julie's 22nd birthday (lunch reservations at Le Bec Fin and dinner reservations at Amada already made), Eric's mini-tour with Delicious at the end of January and then the month long Belew tour in February/March...yep, no reason to be depressed at all!

And there is also lots of writing news as well but this post is already on overload so I will report back here tomorrow with that. Those of you who have submitted to 39 and Still Holding - I hope to have acceptance/rejection letters going out by the end of this week so we can start the ball rolling with that. Cool? Cool!


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Book Sale!

Okay, Happy New Year and all that -- a lot more later -- but for now, two very important writing announcements. Today...okay, yesterday...marks the release of 39 and Holding...Him, for which I had the pleasure of being editor:

"Let's face it, 40 is the new sexy! And Phaze is celebrating with this sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching, and always passionate collection of mature heroines who set out to prove that once you crest the hill, you begin to pick up a little speed.

Features stories by Robin Slick, Victoria Blisse, Fenner Jeckyll, Jalena Burke, N.L. Belardes, N, Missy Lyons, Shanna Germain, Rebecca Adamsi, and Belinda Franklin.

Get ready for the second exciting volume in this series: 39 and Still Holding!"

The print version should be out within the next couple of weeks, but for instant gratification for your Kindle, Sony Reader, or just an instant digital read in general click right here.

More importantly, today and tomorrow only, the paperback version of Three Days in New York City and Another Bite of the Apple are on sale for 25% off - to get the discount, enter OHOHOH in the coupon code box when you check out. This goes for all other Phaze paperbacks as well!

Okay...more...lots more...