From the 2013 Debs…
Deb Kerry had a lot of fun today signing books at the Spokane Valley Barnes & Noble, but mostly she’s just excited about a new writing project. And Deb Amy’s launch, because nothing is cooler than a book birthday.
Deb Susan received a great review from Publisher’s Weekly, who said “Spann matches period detail with a well-developed whodunit plot in her promising debut.” Hooray!
Deb Amy is officially a published author! Is there any better news than that?
Past Deb News
Deb Mia King is appearing at the Hawaii Book and Music Festival today at 2pm. Details here.
Deb Tiffany Baker’s upcoming novel MERCY SNOW is available for pre-order on Amazon (and be sure to check out her lovely cover).
Deb Dish – What’s your favorite cover art (aside from your own)!
Deb Amy: Okay, I’m not playing favorites, but I will say that I love the cover of THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER by Jael McHenry. I wish I could hang it up in my kitchen. Take a peek here! And I not only love the cover, I loved the book.
Deb Kerry: I don’t have a favorite cover. There are so many that I love. The most recent one that I’ve fallen in love with is The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
Deb Susan: This is a hard one! I’m going to say my favorite cover is the one on the book I get to read next … because it’s the one hiding the next awesome adventure!
Your Turn!! What book cover do you consider your favorite?
It’s Saturday, which means it’s time to open up the dance floor to a Guest Deb! Today we welcome Alison Heller, author of THE LOVE WARS. Currently a divorce lawyer, Alison lives in New York with her husband and two young daughters. THE LOVE WARS is her first novel. Here is a little about the book:
Breaking up is hard to do. At least the first few times.
Even though Molly Grant has only a handful of relationships behind her, she’s already been through more divorces than she can count.
At the premier Manhattan law firm where she’s a matrimonial attorney, the hours are long, the bosses tyrannical, and the bonuses stratospheric. Her clients are rich, famous, and used to getting their way. Molly’s job—and primary concern in life—is to work as hard as possible to make sure they do. Until she meets the client who changes everything….
Fern Walker is the desperate former wife of a ruthless media mogul. Her powerful ex is slowly pushing her out of her young children’s lives, and she fears losing them forever. Molly—haunted by an incident from her own past—finds herself unable to walk away from Fern and sets out to help her. She just needs to do it without her bosses finding out.
Now, as complications both professional and personal stack up, Molly can only hope that her own wits, heart, and instincts are enough—both in and out of court.
Alison has offered to do a little Q&A with us this morning, so pull up a chair, curl up with your coffee, and join us in welcoming Alison to the Ball!
As an author have you ever been star struck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it?
I met Susan Isaacs once briefly in upstate New York. I’m a huge fan of hers, but out of respect for the fact that she was on vacation with her family, I tried to play it cool. (Not really a strength of mine, playing it cool, but I think it went alright.)
Do you prefer to write during the day or during the night?
In an ideal world, I would wake up, have a lovely fortifying breakfast and, clean and alert, sit at the computer with a perfect music playlist. (All other noise would be obliterated through a cone of silence.) In reality, I write whenever I can, except late at night. I generally shut down at eight p.m., and to accomplish anything after that—writing or otherwise—I have to be pushed beyond my normal level of motivation (i.e., scared of missing a deadline or completely in the throes of the story.)
When becoming an author, did you have any speed bumps along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?
Yes, for sure – perhaps the biggest speed bump to becoming an author was those thirteen years I focused solely on getting a law degree and being a lawyer. (What was a I thinking?) I’m kidding, of course (a little bit). I still enjoy lawyering, but there’s something very satisfying about the creative outlet of writing.
Even after clearing away the space and time to write, there have been bumps along the way – rejections and self-doubt and frustrations with everything from the writing process to some industry practices. Overcoming them, thus far, has been pretty simple. I just listen to that little voice that wants to keep writing and continue, however slowly, over the speed bumps.
What 5 things do you have to have with you when you are writing?
Very pertinent question! I live in New York City where space is at a premium. My writing desk is the size of a postage stamp and in my bedroom, so I take to the streets a lot and before today might have answered this question by saying, just my computer. After today, when I sat at a coffee shop completely surrounded on all sides by vocal and enthusiastic Italian tourists (seriously, about 12 of them, all with shiny hair and lovely scarves), I revise. I need:
1. Background noise not to exceed 110 passionate decibels
2. My computer
3. My phone, to rest my fears that nothing is happening to one of my children while I’m absorbed writing
4. The Internet for quick research and breaks
5. Pants. I think I would be distracted otherwise.
What is next on your plate?
I have a book coming out through Penguin/NAL next year and I’m really excited about it. And I’ve started drafting the next one after that.
Thanks so much for joining us, Alison!
Alison has offered to give away a copy of THE LOVE WARS to one lucky reader (US only)! Just tell us in the comments — have *you* ever had a tyrannical boss?
Visit Alison’s web site Find Alison on Facebook Follow Alison on Twitter
Six years ago on a dark and stormy night, I started writing a dark and stormy memoir.
Can you believe it? What was I, meshuganah?
Do you know when you write one of those you have to write about other people, not just yourself? And when you write about yourself and those other people you can’t pick and choose what you share? And you have to 100% honest? Well, it’s true (just ask James Frey). So, since I wasn’t willing to do that in that way, the memoir idea tanked and the pages of my 72K word manuscript called Every Other Weekend went into the never-to-be-seen file.
What did I learn from abandoning that project? That I liked writing long form. I was a journalist, PR writer, columnist and essayist. And now I wanted to write something with — you guessed it – chapters! A few brave writer-friends suggested I try fiction. I laughed. I slapped my thigh. I couldn’t even make up bedtime stories when my kids were little. I fancied myself without much imagination. But, I wanted to write so I clicked on my discarded manuscript and changed the names. Not enough. I refocused the plot. There ya go, fiction! Ok, it was roman à clef, or, thinly veiled fiction. I figured if The Devil Wears Prada was a smash and no one was sued, I’d just call mine The Devil Wore Spandex and we’d be in business. No such luck. I was so caught up in matching up people and things and actions and reactions from the fiction back to reality that it made me feel like I was in a Chinese restaurant choosing dinner components from Column A and Column B.
Slowly I abandoned 99% of the traces of truth from the manuscript as I had best writer epiphany of my life: Just make it all up.
And so I did.
In the interim, as I deleted, revised and rewrote, the middle of the book became the beginning and the beginning became a memory. The end of the book became the middle which left me without a middle or an end. It also left me without a title, with characters who didn’t fit their names and plot points that made no sense.
Making things up is good. Making no sense is bad.
When I finally typed The End on a real live, women’s fiction manuscript it was called Starting From Scratch and the main character’s name was Tracy and she opened a bakery as a way to start a new life (get it? from scratch? ha!). She was pretty much a goody-two-shoes with a spatula.
Gag. Me. Now. (And use the spatula.)
Then, the cliché police knocked on my door. The reality-check police were close behind.
I rewrote the novel. Tracy became Evie (I pronounce it Eh-vie, short e.) Her best friend Bev became Beth because face it, you can’t have an Ev and a Bev. Well, you can, but you shouldn’t. Evie became a math teacher instead of a cupcake baker although she does bake cookies for her kids (I have sweet tooth, what can I say?) I can’t do math or bake so they were both fun characteristics to write (also Evie no longer teaches math). The main character’s motives for change became a little more self-centered, realistic, palpable. I typed The End a few more times before I queried and once more before I found my agent. Then I typed it again and again. And again. The story which started as a memoir and evolved into full-blown fiction bears very little resemblance to the book I started about six years ago or the one I finished two years after that. It was always a matter of making the book as good as it could be.
Why am I reminiscing on the origin of the novel that became THE GLASS WIVES? That same debut novel that was published on Tuesday by St. Martin’s Griffin and can be found everywhere books are sold? Because I’m working on a new novel. One I feel is solid as is and has potential to be even better. One that I want to also find its way to bookstore ereader shelves. I want to remember the trajectory of the first journey—take the lessons I’ve learned and impart them to myself so no one else has to do it for me.
What have I learned from the journey of my women’s fiction manuscript to published debut novel? That I can’t reluctant to write the story I have in me right now at this minute and then allow it to change. Or, make it change. Make it different. Make it up. Don’t play it safe. Change names, arcs, plots and titles until it fits and flows. To be stubborn and persistent. To reach high — women’s fiction readers deserve books that read true.
I deserve it too—all of it. That’s another lesson I’ve learned. All because of a misbegotten memoir, a little Spandex (don’t ask), and a lot of hard work.
What was the path of your latest book or work-in-progress? Was it stormy or smooth?
When I read THE GLASS WIVES, I found myself moved by Deb Amy’s writing, drawn to her protagonist (Evie) and emotionally involved in the story and its outcome. I read the book in a single day, which is testament to Deb Amy’s writing and character-development skills. Deb Amy’s novel took me on an emotional roller-coaster in which I alternately pulled for Evie’s happiness and shared in her frustrations.
But most of all, I was attracted to Evie Glass’s love for her family and her dedication to preserving it — even when “family” suddenly meant something very different than what Evie might have chosen for herself.
THE GLASS WIVES made me examine my own definition of family and ask myself “how far would I go to ensure the well-being of the people I love.” It also made me consider (yet again) how “family” means something different to every person, and yet none of those definitions is “wrong.” For some, “family” may include only parents and children, while for others it encompasses friends, lovers, cousins, and many others with whom we choose to share our lives.
And yet, for every person, the “family” is a foundation of incomparable importance.
Robert Frost once said that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Deb Amy’s novel demonstrates that concept … and shows how very powerful a mother’s love can be.
I’m not as strong a woman as Evie Glass. Had I been faced with the situation Evie faces — an ex-husband’s second wife, showing up at the door with her baby in tow, asking to move in and share my life — I’d have told her to hit the road. And yet, as I followed Evie’s journey through THE GLASS WIVES, I came to realize that Evie’s ability to re-define “family” for her children’s benefit (and, ultimately, her own) gives her a special strength and a level of class that I now aspire to attain.
I’ve always believed that the definition of family is both individual and vitally important. THE GLASS WIVES brings that concept – and the costs of placing a family’s needs over the individual’s desires – front and center. And although the journey isn’t always an easy one for Evie Glass, she handles the twists and turns with strength and well-written grace.
How important is your family? Would you be willing to open your heart and home to someone you didn’t initially consider a likely friend?
… for my imaginary book club! I’m not in any real book clubs because I’m terrible at it. I only read the books I pick myself, and even when someone else’s pick sound terrific, I tend to buy the book and forget about it until the night before, at which point I read the book club questions in the back in a frenzy planning to fake it. Then at the actual club I walk in and the second thing out of my mouth is a confession that I didn’t read the book, because the book club questions make no sense to me and faking it would be futile.
This surprises absolutely no one who knows me. I will read the books in my life in the order I see fit, and if that means I’ve read two serial killer thrillers before getting to that Pulitzer Prize winner, so be it. Does anyone want to start a book club with me to discuss the books we were actually reading when we were supposed to be reading our book club books?
If I were in a book club I would want the trio of best friends from THE GLASS WIVES, Evie, Laney and Beth, to be in my club too. They are fun and funny and seem to have excellent taste in men, clothes, and especially cookies. And they are powerfully and sometimes painfully honest with one another, which would make for a lively club discussion. We would probably never get to the sanctioned back-of-the-book questions, though. Too many other things to gossip about.
Today, in honor of Deb Amy’s big launch, I’m going to suggest some ‘book club questions for the rest of us’ for THE GLASS WIVES. Sure, there are great and thought-provoking book club questions at the end of the book itself and plenty of things to chew on from the story, things that will really get your brain going. But what if you don’t want to provoke that much thought? As always, when it comes to not thinking too much, I am here for you.
To follow along, you’ll need to know the general thrust of the story, and so I give you The Jacket Copy to start us off:
Evie and Nicole Glass share a last name. They also shared a husband.
When a tragic car accident ends the life of Richard Glass, it also upends the lives of Evie and Nicole, and their children. There’s no love lost between the widow and the ex. In fact, Evie sees a silver lining in all this heartache—the chance to rid herself of Nicole once and for all. But Evie wasn’t counting on her children’s bond with their baby half-brother, and she wasn’t counting on Nicole’s desperate need to hang on to the threads of family, no matter how frayed. Strapped for cash, Evie cautiously agrees to share living expenses—and her home—with Nicole and the baby. But when Evie suspects that Nicole is determined to rearrange more than her kitchen, Evie must decide who she can trust. More than that, she must ask: what makes a family?
Or, to put it another way, there’s this woman, Evie, whose husband has recently left her for the younger and blonder Nicole, and fathered a kid with her, and then boom, had the gall to kick the bucket, leaving them all somewhat adrift, emotionally and fiscally. And Evie has these two friends, see, who help in some ways and hinder in others. And they all have to renegotiate everything they thought they knew about each other. And there are cookies.
Everyone up to speed? Great! Then I present:
Deb Kelly’s Book Club Questions for the rest of us!
(Don’t forget to comment and get your chance to win a free copy of the book… answering one of these questions gets you brownie points if not bonus points in the sweepstakes…)
1. If you could steal the life of one of the characters in THE GLASS WIVES, which would it be?
2. Does this book pair better with red or white wine? Why? And does anyone have any red or white wine?
3. What food item in the book do you most wish you had a recipe for? What food in the book would you never ever eat? Hint: there is chopped liver in the book.
4. Have you ever lived in a place like Evie’s idyllic Chicago suburb? Would you love or hate having your neighbors know your bidness?
5. Which character (dead or alive) from the book would you be happiest to drop off at a distant bus stop and never come back for? What about which real-life neighbor?
6. Which is a worse quality in a friend: being too nosy or being too secretive?
7. Which are you?
8. Could you ever befriend an ex’s new squeeze? Have you? Would you always be secretly looking for their flaws/trying to feed them fattening food, or is that just me?
9. Did anyone bring cookies to this club meeting?
10. How excited are you to read THE GLASS WIVES?
From the moment I met Evie Glass, the protagonist in Deb Amy’s engrossing debut, THE GLASS WIVES, I felt as if I knew her. She seemed so…well, so real. Evie is a Jewish woman who went to Northwestern and likes to bake cookies. I am a Jewish woman…who went to Northwestern*…and likes to bake cookies. Hmm…
Okay, so there are numerous ways in which Evie’s struggles and crises are different than my own (thank goodness!), but Amy portrays Evie’s story so vividly that I could identify with all the challenges Evie faced throughout the story.
There were so many things I loved about THE GLASS WIVES, from the layered, complicated friendships to the evolving notion of “family,” but for this Jewish gal who likes to bake cookies, I particularly appreciated the references to Jewish food and culture peppered throughout the story. The book opens at a shiva and closes at a Passover seder, with a smattering of Jewish and Yiddish references in between. There’s talk of brisket and chopped liver and Tam Tams and macaroons. Be still my heart!
As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I love all things food and cooking, and Amy totally nails the importance of food in Jewish culture. Jews like to feed people. It is what we do. In the opening chapter, as people bring Tupperwares and foil-wrapped trays filled with food to the shiva after the death of Evie’s ex-husband, Amy writes, “Death was horrifying enough, but death and hunger would be a shanda, a disgrace.”
Yes. A thousand times yes.
One character brings rugelach, a cookie-like Jewish pastry, and so I figured to celebrate the launch of THE GLASS WIVES (Out TODAY!! Go buy your copy!!) I would share my Hungarian great grandmother’s recipe for rugelach. For some reason, my family always called these schnecken when I was growing up, which doesn’t really make sense because I’ve since discovered schnecken are an entirely different Hungarian pastry, but I digress…
So, without further ado, I give you the Greenspon family rugelach recipe. Let’s all bake cookies and celebrate with Deb Amy as her book baby enters the world! And if you’d like to win a copy of THE GLASS WIVES, just comment below and tell us what roll food plays in your family and/or culture!
* Okay, so I went to Northwestern for grad school, not undergrad, but for the sake of my argument, let’s not quibble over details.
Image by imperatricks via Flickr Creative Commons
Rugelach (or as my family called them, schnecken)
Yield: ~60 rugelach
You can fill your rugelach with whatever you like — raspberry jam, chocolate chips, nuts, you name it. My favorite fillings are apricot jam and golden raisins, or raspberry jam.
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1/2 lb. cream cheese
2 cups sifted flour
1 egg yolk (save the white)
1 cup sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Fillings of your choice (apricot jam + golden raisins, raspberry jam, Nutella, etc)
To make the dough, mix all of the dough ingredients together in a stand mixer or food processor until the dough comes together. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before making the rugelach. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the dough into 7 wedges. Using one wedge at a time, roll out into a flat circle about 1/8″ thick. Spread a thin layer of preserves or other spreadable filling along the outer edge of the circle. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar evenly all over the inside of the circle. If using apricot preserves, line the edges of the circle with golden raisins. Cut the circle into eighths. Roll each eighth from the outer edge in, forming a crescent shape. Seal the ends. Brush with the reserved egg white and roll in the remaining cinnamon sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
I am privileged this morning to invite you to party week here at the Deb Ball, where we are celebrating the release of The Glass Wives by one of our illustrious Debs – Amy Sue Nathan. I’m sure you’d like to see a picture of the cover, so let’s start there:
Very pretty, isn’t it? Sort of peaceful and companionable. But appearances can be deceiving.
Evie and Nicole Glass share a last name. They also shared a husband.
“When a tragic car accident ends the life of Richard Glass, it also upends the lives of Evie and Nicole, and their children. There’s no love lost between the widow and the ex. In fact, Evie sees a silver lining in all this heartache—the chance to rid herself of Nicole once and for all. But Evie wasn’t counting on her children’s bond with their baby half-brother, and she wasn’t counting on Nicole’s desperate need to hang on to the threads of family, no matter how frayed. Strapped for cash, Evie cautiously agrees to share living expenses—and her home—with Nicole and the baby. But when Evie suspects that Nicole is determined to rearrange more than her kitchen, Evie must decide who she can trust. More than that, she must ask: what makes a family?”
The awesome reviews are already piling up for Deb Amy’s novel. This one, by Shine, Shine, Shine author Lydia Netzer hits the nail right on the head, as far as I am concerned:
“Reading The Glass Wives is like driving down a familiar street and having one of the houses you thought you knew open up on hinges to reveal its secrets. Nathan firmly but with good humor peels back the layers of suburban “normal” to reveal ethical ambiguity under a publicly rigid moral code and tenuous bonds between strangers under strict definitions of family. Evie Glass is the neighbor you want to know all about, and her story is told with charm and frankness to create an illustration of friendship and motherhood that feels very real.”—Lydia Netzer, author of Shine, Shine, Shine
I would add to this only that Amy excels at capturing on the page a realistic process of grief in all of its manifestations. Her depiction of friendships between women is equally real and from the heart.
As part of the fun this week, we are offering up a copy of The Glass Wives to one lucky commenter. All you have to do to win is show up here at the Ball and comment on the posts. The more you comment, the better your chance of winning! And you know you want a copy of this lovely book for your very own.
That said – why wait? The Glass Wives is available now for pre-order, and officially releases tomorrow.
We’d love it if you would drop a comment below to congratulate Amy on the birthday of her first book!!!