Pub Day: MODERN GIRLS Goes Into the World

MODERN GIRLS Pub DayI’ve started this post at least twelve times, but keep deleting it because I can’t seem to find the right words. Today is my pub day. That deserves capitals. Today is my Pub Day.

PUB DAY, people! MODERN GIRLS is officially in the world.

Unreal.

People have been asking how I’ll be spending my Pub Day, and the honest answer is “quietly.” If the snow is melted (yes, snow; Boston got a couple of inches Sunday, and it was still falling well into Monday night), I’ll go for a run. If not, I’ll exercise inside. I have a hair appointment. It’s an early release day from school, so I’ll be supervising snacks and saying, “No, you may not use the Xbox” every 5.7 minutes. Then it’s normal carpooling duties: viola and piano lessons for one; hip hop dance class for the other. We’ll probably order in sushi–my favorite–and open a bottle of something that bubbles in the evening. My big challenge for the day will be staying off of Amazon. I need to ignore those ever fluctuating sales rank numbers and focus on my calm. I am in this for the long-haul, hoping people will talk about MODERN GIRLS, and that it will spread by word of mouth. Sales numbers are not something I can control, so I shall ignore them. [Would you mind waiting one second. I just remembered I need to go check something on another site. I’ll be right back…]

And that will be my pub day. My launch reading will be on Wednesday night, when I’ll have been a seasoned published writer of forty-eight hours, and therefore able to speak with authority and experience.

For the past month, I’ve heard, “Aren’t you excited?” Yes, I’m excited. I’ve got shpilkes (Yiddish for nervous energy). But I’m also something else that’s harder to define.

MODERN GIRLS by Jennifer S. BrownThis week the other Debs are writing about family expectations, which factors greatly in MODERN GIRLS. How do we live up to the expectations of our families? The novel takes place in New York in 1935. Dottie, who is 19 years old, is her mother’s hope: Dottie will be the one to go to college and become an accountant. Her mother, Rose, is an immigrant who longs to be involved in politics and the world at large but has tamped down those feelings in order to mother her children; she is pleased that Dottie will live a new–a modern–kind of life in America. The plans are thwarted, however, when Dottie becomes pregnant. To complicate matters, Rose, who thought she was done with that part of her life, discovers she too is with child. Both grapple with their own desires versus their family’s expectations and traditions.

My own parents were always open to whatever adventure I was undertaking. They worried about me, but never placed limits on what I could do. My children, though, are the ones that I think about in terms of expectations. I am their example, their guide for what can be done in the world. My children watched as I struggled with writing that first novel and the rejections that came from querying agents. They saw my excitement when I signed with Laney and my disappointment when the first novel didn’t sell. They observed me plugging away at the next novel, spending years writing, rewriting, researching, and writing some more. They celebrated with me when the novel sold, and they’ll be with me Wednesday night as I share it with my friends and future readers at my book launch. It’s their high expectations I want to live up to. I want them to see that it’s not always easy and that things don’t always happen when you want. But they should know that sometimes, if you work hard and you’re lucky, things can work out the way you’d like.

On Sunday night, my ten-year-old had a bad dream, and she crawled into our bed at 4 a.m. I woke up the next morning to her snuggles. She looked up at me and said, “I’m so proud of you, Mom. You wrote a book!”

So how do I feel about my Pub Day? Excited, yes. Nervous, too. But I think the word that’s been eluding me is this: Satisfied. I feel satisfied that I created characters I love. Satisfied that others will meet Dottie and Rose. Satisfied that I’ve found this amazing community of writers through Debutante Ball, Twitter, and Facebook who will commiserate with me and celebrate with me and stand by my side no matter what happens. Satisfied that I am a role model of perseverance and dedication for my children.

Pub Day. No fireworks. No drunken parties. No fanfare. Just me, my book, and my family.

And of course those damn Amazon sales ranks.

Thanks for sharing this day with me.

Now could someone please pry this computer from my hands?


I’ve got some readings planned already! If you’re in the ‘hood, please join me!

Boston area
April 6, launch at Porter Square Books
May 11, Brookline Booksmith with Lynda Cohen Loigman
June 23, Harvard Book Store with Marian McMahon Stanley

New York
May 10, Eldridge Street Synagogue Museum with Lynda Cohen Loigman

Baltimore
May 15: CJE reading and discussion at the Jewish Museum of Maryland

For more details or to learn about other readings I’ll be doing, visit http://www.jennifersbrown.com/events/.

I’m also thrilled to visit with book groups either in person (within an hour/hour and a half from Boston) or via Skype. For book club info, visit http://www.jennifersbrown.com/book-clubs/.

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Jennifer S. Brown is the author of MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin). The novel, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Learn more at www.jennifersbrown.com.

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This article has 16 Comments

  1. Congratulations Jennifer! I’ve loved being a silent witness to your path to publication (via the Deb Ball). You deserve all sorts of success! Your novel looks fantastic and I’m excited to read it! Enjoy your big day!

  2. Congratulations, my wonderful talented friend! What a long-awaited day, and how happy I am to celebrate!!!!! Even though I’ll immersed in a liquid (tonight is Deep Water Class #1) rather than raising a glass of same, I’m still toasting you in spirit. Can’t wait for your reading!!

  3. I love this post. It’s so true — it’s our children’s expectations of us that matter most of all. And you have more than exceeded yours, and set them a powerful example. Congratulations on launching MODERN GIRLS and what I’m sure will be a long and fruitful literary career!

  4. I love this post. Satisfied is a great word and a great feeling–one that sustains over the long haul. Congratulations!!!!!!! Thrilled for you!!

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