Monday, November 8, 2010

15 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

This week features several contemporary releases, as well as a long-awaited fantasy/horror hybrid. Thankfully, has made finding these books easy. Read on to find something enticing! Be sure to check out the author interviews and giveaways all the way down at the bottom.

This week's interviews

The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante
  • From Goodreads: Julia just graduated as her high school valedictorian, has a full ride to college in the fall and a coveted summer internship clerking for a federal judge. But when her older sister, Sophie, shows up at the graduation determined to reveal some long buried secrets, Julia's carefully constructed plans come to a halt. Instead of the summer she had painstakingly laid out, Julia follows Sophie back to Vermont, where Sophie is opening a bakery - and struggling with some secrets of her own. What follows is a summer of revelations - some heartwarming, some heartbreaking, and all slowly pointing Julia toward a new understanding of both herself and of the sister she never really knew.

How long did you work on this book?
I actually wrote this book during an entire school year that I was teaching 10th and 11th grade English. The idea for the book had bitten me hard at the end of the summer, and I knew that the only way I would get it finished was to write it before I had to go in to teach every day. So every morning, I set my coffee pot for 3:45 a.m., and then I woke up and wrote from 4:00 a.m. until 6:30. (Along with 3 cups of very strong coffee!) It was only 2 and 1/2 hours a day, but it was time that I devoted solely to the book. I think it paid off!

How was your journey to publication?
My journey to publication took 10 years - which to some people may sound like forever, and to others only a drop in the pond. Honestly though, if anything of mine before that ten years had been published, I would still be mortified. It took me a long time to find my voice - and then just as long to find someone to listen to it. My rejection pile was a mile long, but my belief in myself was even longer. That's not to say I didn't despair. I did. Quite often, in fact. But something always brought me back to try again. And that's what you have to do. Every time someone knocks you down, you get back up. Again, and again, and again. Eventually, someone stretches out their hand.

What advice would you like to pass along to other writers?
- Never give up.
- Read as much as you write.
- Don't get bogged down by how much other people have accomplished; stay focused on yourself and what you're doing.
- No matter what, write.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
That it doesn't change anything. Just because you're published doesn't mean you get to play by different rules. If anything, you have to work harder to stay in the game. Which, in the long run, is a good thing.

Wish by Joseph Monninger
  • From Goodreads: Bee’s brother, Tommy, knows everything there is to know about sharks. He also knows that his life will be cut short by cystic fibrosis. And so does Bee. That’s why she wants to make his wish-foundation-sponsored trip to swim with a great white shark an unforgettable memory. But wishes don’t always come true. At least, not as expected. Only when Bee takes Tommy to meet a famous shark attack survivor and hard-core surfer does Tommy have the chance to live one day to the fullest. And in the sun-kissed ocean off a California beach, Bee discovers that she has a few secret wishes of her own. . . .

How long did you work on this book?
I worked on this novel for approximately a year and a half. Part of the story involves sharks…and I’ve been reading about sharks all my life. So part of the answer rests on what we call work. In some ways, it’s a meaningless question. I’ve been writing a thousand words a day for a long time. Wish is merely the most recent project. We wouldn’t ask Kobe Bryant how long he has been working on his most recent win over the Suns. He’s been perfecting his jump shot since he was five, no doubt.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Termites ate my first full-length manuscript in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where I was stationed in the Peace Corps. And it probably gave them heartburn. It was that bad. But gradually I figured out what I was doing. I wish, actually, the road had been a little longer. I was probably published before my style was ready on all fronts.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Stop listening to me and go write. And read. And write some more. Turn off your television, too. I haven’t watched TV in my adult life….although I love TV and love watching sports. TV eats way too much time.

On the career side…be polite. Be respectful. Be fair. Quit expecting the whole world to pay attention to you. We writers are a needy bunch; don’t be too needy. Learn to take a punch on the chin and stand your ground. Realize much of what writers yearn for is illusory. You’re still the little conscious bee buzzing around inside your head. Contracts, good reviews, flattering comments won’t change a single thing about that. I’d rather know a good person than a good writer.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Well, again, we think being published will change something. It won’t, really, unless you become an overnight billionaire like the woman who wrote Harry Potter and I can’t speak to that kind of success. I once heard a book of mine, The Viper Tree, was going to be reviewed in the NY Times. Big deal, right? I went to a bar in Manhattan and read the review. I squinted at it, drank a little, read a little more, squinted again, and so forth. By the end, I realized nothing had changed. So, there. A good review in the NY Times and not a single thing changed. I think we have to ask ourselves as authors why we’re in this business. If the answer isn’t something like: I take pride in my work and I enjoy doing it, then we ought to find something else to do. Hoping for outside approbation is a chump’s game, because it also means we need to take our detractors’ words to heart. Naturally we like the little bit of money and the little bit of praise we get, but ultimately that isn’t food to march on. I like sentences and words and telling a story. When I know I handled something well, gave a good description of an event or a setting, that’s my payment. When I go back and read it again five years later and discover it still hangs together, still gets at the essence of things as I see them, then that’s my pat on the back.

The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant

  • From Goodreads: Carmen Navarro rings up customers at the Quikmart, bored to tears. It’s a job, and she needs it. But Carmen’s true love is music: she dropped out of high school to sing with the Gypsy Lovers and land a recording contract, someday. Just a few miles away, Ryan Sweeney hunches over his books, a studious cadet with his eye on West Point. There’s not a single girl at the Valley Forge Military Academy, and that’s fine by him. But when Ryan, on a day pass from campus, spots Carmen, with her shining black hair and snake tattoo, his pulse quickens. Carmen, who normally rolls her eyes at the stiff Academy soldados, can tell this one is different. She slips him a note: “Come hear my band.” A romance begins, unlikely, passionate . . . and quickly imbalanced. In an enthralling narrative of obsessive love, the novel builds to a stunning close.

How long did you work on this book?
I had to look back in my notes for the answer to this. I actually proposed the idea to my Knopf editor, Joan Slattery, when we were at a conf. in NYC in Nov. of 2007. I think I was finishing my historical novel Ringside 1925 and also starting my 1960’s novel Kaleidoscope Eyes, so at that point, I just made some rough notes about possible settings, characters, etc. Then—the actual drafting of the ms. , once I started the story, took me about 10 months. Then there were revisions, of course, and they took about another 6 mos of back and forth between me and Joan and Allison Wortche, who also helped to edit the book.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
If by this you mean my FIRST publication, that was actually 21 years ago. I submitted a proposal for a non-fiction book about working mothers at a time (1989) when there weren’t many current career books for children. It was also a time when the market for kids’ books was flourishing and editors were more willing to work with new/ unpublished writers. I sent that proposal out to 14 different publishers and got 11 rejections, 2 offers to write one of their own projects (but not the one I had proposed) and one offer to expand my proposal into a series of career books for kids—which, of course, is what I ultimately did. So—I began my writing career in non-fiction, moved into biography, and later into poetry and fiction.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Most of the writers I know who have endured and have published in different forms and genres understand that the WORK of writing is difficult, time-consuming, decidedly UN-glamorous most days (we work at home in our sweats w/ only the dog for company!) and often frustrating. That being said, we wouldn’t want to do anything else because, for reasons which are probably unique for each one of us. What is not unique, is that many of the people who come to our workshops or conferences seem to be more excited about being “a writer,” and about being able to see their name on a cover and tell people they have “a book out” than actually doing the writing. So—it’s important to ask yourself if you love the PROCESS of writing more than the idea of “being a writer.” If the answer is yes, then you need time, practice, and a good editor or critique group and you will eventually see the fruits of your labor.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
“Being an author” has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. Before the internet, the writer wrote the book in relative privacy and obscurity, and the publisher handled all of the marketing, publicity, reviews, etc. Today, “being an author” means not only writing the book, but also staying in touch with your readers, reaching out to new markets for your work, helping the marketing dept. w/ PR, and generally feels much more like running a small business than being a literary artist. The challenge has become how to find time to do it all and still maintain your craft. I think this is true for all writers now, regardless of genre or target age group.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
  • From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury. There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them. Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind. Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay. But it’s not.

How long did you work on this book?
I wrote The Marbury Lens in about three months. That's my usual pace for writing a book and having it in the kind of shape I want it to be in before sending it off to my editor or agent. Through four novels, I have only worked with one editor, and the revision and editing phase has varied from project to project. The Marbury Lens went relatively quickly, but that's principally due to the fact that Liz (my editor) has taught me how to be a better writer. The latest book, Stick, which will be out in 2011, had almost no follow-up revision/editorial work. Oh... and I wrote that book last November during NaNoWriMo, just because I wanted to be part of the energy of all these people writing. So I finished Stick in about 5 weeks -- and that's all the way through to the final draft stage.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
My journey was probably not typical. I was "dared" into seeking publication by my dear, lifelong friend, author Kelly Milner Halls. I had written numerous novel-length works of fiction before this, but I decided, in 2004, to give it a shot with a novel called Ghost Medicine. I didn't know the first thing about the publishing industry, although I had worked as a writer in the past. I figured it would be a good idea to get an agent. So, the only rejections I experienced occurred initially because I thought -- like a lot of inexperienced, dumb writers -- that any agent would do, so I asked a few of the totally wrong people to take me on. I got some nice letters of advice regarding the type of agent I should be querying, so I did some homework and figured the best agent for what I'd written would be Laura Rennert, from the Andrea Brown Agency. I sent Laura a letter, and she came down to Los Angeles and took me out to lunch and offered me a contract. We worked on some ideas for revisions on the novel for quite a while, and she sold the novel within a year, I think. It came out in 2008. It was followed by In the Path of Falling Objects, in 2009; The Marbury Lens, which just came out; and Stick, a kind of experimentally-structured postmodern YA that will be out in 2011.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Sometimes it is okay to "tell" and not "show." If you have a thick skin, you will probably not be a good writer. Quit your day job, get out of your comfort zone, and go bump into stuff.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
What's been most surprising to me is probably the diversity of backgrounds and life stories of all the authors I've met. We really are a very broad group that shares in common just one small trait -- the love for written (and sometimes visual) expression. It's also been one of the very coolest things -- meeting people whom I consider to be heroes of mine. So many of them are so much braver than I could ever be.
Additional Releases

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux
  • From Goodreads: Blaise Fortune, also known as Koumaïl, loves hearing the story of how he came to live with Gloria in the Republic of Georgia: Gloria was picking peaches in her father’s orchard when she heard a train derail. After running to the site of the accident, she found an injured woman who asked Gloria to take her baby. The woman, Gloria claims, was French, and the baby was Blaise. When Blaise turns seven years old, the Soviet Union collapses and Gloria decides that she and Blaise must flee the political troubles and civil unrest in Georgia. The two make their way westward on foot, heading toward France, where Gloria says they will find safe haven. But what exactly is the truth about Blaise’s past? Bits and pieces are revealed as he and Gloria endure a five-year journey across the Caucasus and Europe, weathering hardships and welcoming unforgettable encounters with other refugees searching for a better life. During this time Blaise grows from a boy into an adolescent; but only later, as a young man, can he finally attempt to untangle his identity. 

Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman and Lisa Pazer
  • From Goodreads: “You all believe that losing one-hundred-plus pounds will solve everything, but it won’t. Something far heavier is weighing on you, and until you deal with that, nothing in your lives will be right.”
    –Betsy Glass, PhD, at first weekly group counseling session for ten severely obese teens admitted into exclusive weight-loss surgery trial
    Patient #1: Female, age 16, 5'4", 288 lbs.
    Thrust into size-zero suburban hell by remarried liposuctioned mom. Hates new school and skinny boy-toy stepsister. Body size exceeded only by her big mouth.
    Patient #2: Male, age 16, 6'2", 335 lbs.
    All-star football player, but if he gets “girl surgery,” as his dad calls it, he’ll probably get benched. Has moobies—male boobies. Forget about losing his V-card—he’s never even been kissed.
    Patient #3: Female, age 15, 5'6", 278 lbs.
    Morbidly obese and morbid, living alone with severely depressed mother who won’t leave her bed. Best and only friend is another patient, whose dark secret threatens everything Patient #3 believes about life.

    Told in the voices of patients Marcie Mandlebaum, Bobby Konopka, and Annie “East” Itou, Teenage Waistland is a story of betrayal, intervention, a life-altering operation, and how a long-buried truth can prove far more devastating than the layers of fat that protect it.

The lovely Jen Bryant has offered a copy of THE FORTUNE OF CARMEN NAVARRO for one of our luckly readers! Andrew Smith has also offered a signed copy of THE MARBURY LENS! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and fill out the form below for a chance to win. Contest closes at midnight EST on Wednesday, November 10th. US residents are welcome to enter. Good luck!

Happy reading,
Martina & Marissa


  1. I love how you include each author's road to publication. Always so inspiring and hopeful. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the inspiration. Cecelia's journey that took 10 years to publication really inspires me to continue on. And it's okay if the journey is slow or fast.

  3. I look forward to these posts every Monday. I love reading the author's stories, plus I can make out my shopping list!

    Thanks ladies!

  4. These are always fascinating to read. I have to say, I'm awfully jealous of Andrew Smith's writing process and timelines :)

  5. I love reading these. I TOTALLY agree with Joseph Monninger--TV is a big waste of a writer's time. (I do watch DVDs, however, for relaxation/info; movies can even help ya think about plot, character, etc.) But I have no idea what the popular TV shows are these days.

  6. Wow, great books and I really loved so many of their answers to your questions. Joseph Monninger provided many thought provoking answers. Especially regarding what surprised him about becoming published. True, it doens't change much. :) It's important to examine your reasons for writing in the first place.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  7. Wow. I LOVE hearing about the success stories and journeys of other writers. Thanks for the inspiration! :-)

  8. I remember meeting Andrew soon after Ghost Medicine came out. He's had an amazing path to publication. I can't wait to read The Marbury Lens.

  9. We are having a Holiday Bloganza where each blog participating offers one gift to the pot. One entrant will win ALL the prizes. They MUST follow each blog to win. Extra entries will be to follow on facebook, twitter, networked blogs, etsy... ect.

    Good way to get more followers' Check it out. Please read carefully, this is not a giveaway for one blog... many blogs are linking up then on November 22 we will offer all the prizes for a HUGE GIVEAWAY!!

  10. I've already got MARBURY LENS on my to-read list. Would be great to win a copy. :)
    It's also nice to know that Andrew is a fast writer, like me. Sometimes I feel like I should be spending agonizing months on my novels, just because the vast majority seem to.

  11. Awesome contest and interviews! Thanks, as always.

  12. I really appreciate your reviews and interviews! Thanks for the chance to win great books too!

  13. Really interesting reading here! Good luck to all ofmy US friends :)

  14. Love these posts! I've been wanting to get my hands on a couple of these books for a long time.

    Andrew Smith's GHOST MEDICINE is one of my favorites and I can't wait to read THE MARBURY LENS.


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