Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An e-Party for Susan Henderson and Up From the Blue

I am so excited about today's release of my friend Susan Henderson's debut novel, Up From the Blue, I feel like a little kid. For those of you on Facebook, you know Jessica Keener, Tish Cohen and I have an event announcement up, and we'd love it if you would join in today's celebration by blogging, commenting on Facebook, using The Twitter, The Tumblr, whatever! The reason for our party is to see if we can all unite and make Susan's book #1 on the best seller list. You can click the "on sale" link in the next paragraph for various "to buy" options.

I had already written this blogpost a few days ago but I was just over at Sue's website and I could not resist copying part of her post here. I could feel her joy radiating off the page. She's so cute.

"It’s finally happened! My book is on sale today! Thank you if you can help spread the word!

Here’s the pretty cover, including the very cool, purple spine:"

I agree. That is gorgeous. And so perfect for the book. New York Times best selling author Jamie Ford gives Up from the Blue a stunning blurb on said cover:

"Beautiful and maddening, hopeful and condemning, simple ket like a knot that takes a lifetime to untangle...(a) rewarding story that still haunts me."

And oh, this book. It's more than just one "you can't put down" - it will leave you breathless. You will fall in love with Tillie, the young narrator, and with Susan herself, who writes brilliant lines like:

"Some people, not many, can reach the most tender spot within you and hold you there--sometimes without even knowing that's what they've done."


"Sometimes the easiest thing to do is nothing. You just make do. Keep your mouth closed and hope all the rattling goes away. You walk home from school, pretending everything's the same, running your hand along the hedges and fences, like there's nothing waiting for you but your homework."

I am in awe of Susan. You have to read this book. The story itself is mind boggling and full of both big and subtle little surprises.

You're going to see a lot of people blogging reviews today. I'm adding in one I found last night courtesy of amazing author Robin Antalek...read what Robin has to say about Up From the Blue right here.

Also, one of my favorite authors and FB pal Caroline Leavitt has a really cool interview with Susan.

In addition to reviews and interviews, everywhere you look around the web today, you're going to see glowing tributes. Susan has given so much to the writing community via her website, where she has tirelessly promoted authors via brilliant interviews and reviews...like this one about some famous writer guy and his hair.

I would love to tell you the whole, amazing story of Susan's road to publication but that is hers to tell and one I am sure she will be sharing with many other interviewers over the next several months.

So instead I will tell you about how I met Susan. It was one month after September 11, 2001. As I struggled with a way to cope with my grief, I went on line looking for kindred spirits in an old AOL chat room called "The Authors Lounge". Trust me, no one in that room was a real writer, but I did meet one person who was pretty serious about his craft, and he suggested that I join Zoetrope Studios, a new online writing community founded and financed by Francis Ford Coppola. Back in 2001, we were a bunch of unknown writers who blindly sent our stories by snail mail to literary reviews with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, only to receive said envelope back in about a year with a tiny piece of paper - the dreaded form rejection: "this doesn't quite fit our needs" or in my case, "have you ever considered pottery as a hobby instead of writing?" Heh...I remember that editor's name and if I knew his address, would have sent him all six of my books :) So it was at Zoetrope that I met Susan and another wonderful author I mention a lot here, Ellen Meister, who is currently awaiting publication of her third book with the fourth already sold. Other Zoetrope Hall of Fame alumni include authors Ron Currie, Jr., Nicole Mary Kelby, Claire Cameron, Hannah Holborn, Jim Tomlinson, and perhaps one of our most famous, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

We used to have real world Zoetrope get togethers in NY, and the first time I met Susan in person was in December of 2002. She walked into the restaurant and everyone's head turned at this gorgeous, gorgeous woman, who came with a big photo album of her husband and kids. She melted my heart when she did that...ha ha, you know me, I have a soft spot for family pride and would have done the same had I thought of it. Ah, it was before the digital era, when people had real snapshots; not ones we have to squint at on iPhones. Yeah, yeah, I'm still a luddite at heart.

Sue and I clicked, and a few months later, she handed me what looked like a box of copy paper. Inside was the very first version of Up from the Blue. It was before laser printers and if you wanted to share stuff you had written, you had to go to Kinkos and make copies - hence the box. I did not realize at the time what a gift she had given me. A bunch of us were swapping novels for critique - we were all excited about this brave, new publishing world - and I did not immediately process the trust Susan had to have had in me to share this deeply personal and beautiful story in its raw and tender stage.

I'll have that version up on eBay in about an hour. :)

Oh, I'm kidding.

So yeah, after that first meeting in NY, we made sure to get together a couple of times a year. Here's a photo right before we all got "famous" - there's Susan, second from the right, top row, Ellen is directly beneath her, and I of course am the one in the shades on the far left. We could only dream of what was to come...

And then our little group expanded via other online groups, and we met Tish Cohen and Jessica Keener and that friendship led to the Great Canadian Writers' Retreat, which was a life-changing experience for all of us, and if you haven't already read my post, please do, as it will give you a little more insight into our friendship and why it is we write.

Yeah, that's us in Canada, Jess took the photo...Tish actually made us exercise by walking even though I was at a point in my life where I was happy never to venture outdoors. Thank God for Tish.

Getting back to Susan, she recently gave an interview titled "At What Point Can you Call Yourself A Writer", which you can read right here. It made me cry.

Susan, you have always been a writer but today, you have validation. I am bursting with pride for you, and I'll be back throughout the day to add more links and comments as they come in via Facebook and Blogger, etc.

But in the meantime, everyone...let's take Sue to number one!