book author

The Next Big Thing

My buddy, Reavis Wortham, invited me to be part of a Blog Hop, and I can't say no to Reavis, especially when he's wearing his cowboy hat, so here I am, participating.  (You really should go on over to the Rev's site and check out his award-winning mysteries–they're pretty awesome.)  The questions for the Hop pertain to my next novel, though I think a bit about Emma Jean might sneak in here and there, it's the nature of things.

Speaking of which, the nature of a Blog Hop is that once you're done, you tag other people.  I think I was supposed to come up with five, but ended up with four.  No matter, they are all great writers with fun projects.  Check out the list at the end of the questions. Then go visit them and say hi.

1: What is the working title of your book(s)?

I don't have a working title for the book, I just refer to it as Jemima B.  That's the name of the main character.  When I wrote Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, I knew the title from the very start, it came to me along with the idea for the book.  But this time I'm just not sure.  I like it when authors have books with similar titles so it might become something like Jemima B Something Something Something.  Ideas are welcome, though I realize that it might be helpful if you knew something about the book before you named it.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

Oh God.  I don't know.  People always ask me this, and I have a hard time answering because my novel ideas come to me as a process of accrual.   One idea combines with another and then another and then I'm writing.  But to look back and point to any one moment or specific idea is difficult.  I will say that my stories always begin with a character.  And then I see her in a situation.  And it goes from there.  In Jemima's case, I saw her sitting in a crappy motel room and I realized that she was very out of place there–that she was an elegant, wealthy woman, so I wondered why she was there.  And that's how it started.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Women's Fiction.  Though I think it's really stupid that that is a genre.  We don't refer to Men's Fiction do we?  No, of course not.  Also, I'm in the process of inventing my own genre, which is Baby Boomer Women's Fiction.  Or, it could be called Fiction for Women of a Certain Age.  You could also call it Romantic Comedy, though that makes me nervous because I don't think Jemima is as funny as Emma Jean. And, I'll stop now.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Meryl Streep should play Jemima, even though Jemima has dark hair and doesn't look anything like her.  Just because she's Meryl Streep and she's amazing.  If Nathan Fillion was a bit older, he could play Frank, Jemima's ex-husband.  They don't look anything alike, but both have that same devil-may-care attitude.  And then we could choose Jennifer Lawrence for Jemima's daughter, even though that is a relatively small part.  Regardless, I'm sure she'll be chomping at the bit to take it.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Well-to-do Malibu matron and entrepreneur Jemima Brooks is forced to face harsh new realities when the life she knows and loves is suddenly taken away from her.  (That sounds like a bad romance novel, but I've never been good at writing elevator pitches for my books.  You should hear me try to explain Emma Jean.)

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

Don't know yet.  I sold Emma Jean to the indie publisher myself, and I've been very happy with them.  I have this idea, though, that I'd like to experience all three main modes of publishing–indie, self, and Big Six.  I'm toying with the idea of self-publishing my MFA novel, so I think I'd like to try my luck with Jemima at a big house.  I say that like it's easy.  It's not, I tried with Emma Jean.  Still and all, one of my goals for 2013 is to get a literary agent.  So let's just say, for the sake of argument, that she'll be represented by an agency.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I'm still working on it, and I think I'm about 2/3 of the way through.  I made good progress on it last fall, but the Emma Jean book release has slowed me quite a bit.  Come March, I'll be ready to seriously return to it.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Here's my latest point of comparison–Nick Hornby, who wrote About a Boy and High Fidelity.  One of my advance reviewers said that Emma Jean kind of reminded her of him.  I'll take it!  I think my stories tend to have that same combination of romantic comedy with a somewhat sentimental heart (even though sentimental is a dirty word these days).

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See answer to #2. Though I will also say that seeing people suffer during the recession inspired (if that's the right word) me. There were so many cases of people flying high one minute and hitting rock bottom the next. That experience interests me. How do you cope? How do you move forward through your suddenly changed reality?

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Writers will appreciate this–this novel is coming out completely differently than any other I've written. In the past, I've always hewed to writing in strict chronological order. That felt natural to me and not constraining. But this time through, I've had far more of a tendency to write scenes out of order. And, too, much of it has been written by hand in a spiral pad and then transferred to the computer. Jemima just refuses to deal with the computer first.

Okay, that's it for me! Now I turn it over to these wonderful writers, who will publish their answers to the questions on February 6th.

Candace White  Ain't Got Enough Gravy  

Beverly Army Williams Pomo Golightly 

Leisa Hammett Leisa Hammett 

Sharon Henry-Jones Making the Best of It 

Mandy Webster Write on the World

P.S. By the way, since we're speaking of novels here, tomorrow is the last day to get $50 off my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  Check out all the details here. 

Emma Jean Cover Image is Here!

EmmaJeanCoverFinalHere it is!  The cover image for the novel, due out on February 12th.  I'm really happy with this cover because I think the woman in the image has the verve and energy of Emma Jean herself.

A bit of background on the process of selecting the cover.  My wonderful editor sent me three trial versions and asked me what I thought.  One of them looked like a car ad to me, with the model featuring a come-hither expression that looked to me like she was trying to be sexy.  She was draped over a bed with a laptop in front of her.  Good effort, but no.

The second one showed a close-up of a blonde woman with glasses reading a book.  I was tempted by this version, mostly because of the fact she was reading, but I didn't think the model looked much like Emma Jean.  She seemed a bit dowdy to me.  As my editor said, "I think Emma Jean is more put together than that."

The third version was similar to what you see on the right, but it showed only the model with slightly different typestyle.  I asked if we could add something literary-esque and my editor suggested the books.  The first version had the stack of books a bit taller and looked like they were about ready to topple over on top of her.  But then this version was presented to me–and I loved it.  They even used my favorite color, purple!  (In the novel, Emma Jean has a thing for purple pens.)

I feel blessed to have been so involved in the cover image.  I have no idea if this is normal or not but it's great!

So I'm counting down the days until release date, mastering Facebook, lining up guest posts and reviews and feeling a bit nervous about it all to be honest.  (By the way, if you're interested in a guest post or review or know anybody who might be, drop me a line.)

Any thoughts on the process?  Any questions?  Leave me a comment.